Tag Archives: transit

Transit Works to Win Back Riders

Woman wearing a mask on a busGetting on a bus or train wasn’t a first choice for most during COVID-19.  The thought of being in an enclosed space with more people than comfort allowed sent car sales soaring and boosted micro-mobility in cities. But with the pandemic waning and more people going back to work, school, and other destinations in person, getting people back on transit is a priority.

President Joe Biden made transit a big part of his new infrastructure plan, calling it fast, safe, and clean. And lower-income people rely on it more than others, but making it a viable and attractive choice for everyone is a challenge.

An AP story run over the weekend examines the challenges and potential solutions to getting people back on transit as a choice and making them feel as safe as possible. It’s a great read–find it here.

 

Transportation, the Environment, and Legislation: Thinking Outside the Box

white electric self-driving vanBy Kathryn Hebert

Transportation systems produce the largest percentage of greenhouse emissions in the US (more than 28 percent). President Biden is committed to addressing environmental issues through his multi trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal.

Last December,  the governors of 13 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, plus the District of Columbia, signed an historic multi-jurisdictional memorandum of understanding called the Transportation Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P), which commits each state and identifies policies that advance environmental programs to improve quality of life, create jobs, and maintain critical mobility sources. The goal is to decrease greenhouse carbon emissions by 26 percent in 10 years and increase investments in an equitable, cleaner, and more resilient transportation system.

The TCI-P will cap carbon dioxide emissions from gasoline and on-road diesel fuel and require suppliers to purchase allowances for carbon emissions produced by fuel covered by the cap.  It is expected that the cap will decline over time, which will translate into reduced emissions.

What does this have to do with parking?  Parking is critical to the implementation of many environmental programs and projects and will continue to play a major role. During the pandemic, we all learned to pivot, adjust, repurpose, and leverage parking assets to create economic activity and opportunity. There is a huge opportunity for the parking industry to step up and be part of the process, the program, and the future. Vehicles are already transitioning to hybrid and electric and soon thereafter, autonomous vehicles will become mainstream. All these vehicles still need to be parked somewhere.

There are technical, infrastructure, and parking management opportunities everywhere. We are all now talking about curb management and mobility hubs that will safely and equitably manage all mobility sectors. Let’s get together and think outside the box! Read more here.

Kathryn Hebert is president and CEO of TPMConnect and a member of IPMI’s Board of Directors.

Should Transit Agencies Manage Micro-mobility?

Micro-mobility share has traditionally been managed by municipalities, campuses, or the agencies that brought it into a system. But one expert writes things like bike-share should be managed by transit agencies, and some are beginning to move in that direction.

David Zipper, visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, writes that bike-share is a natural fit for transit agencies, which have begun seeing themselves as greater mobility providers, particularly since the onset of COVID-19.

“In many ways transit agencies are better equipped to manage bikeshare than cities. Transit staff have much more experience operating and maintaining fleets, for instance. They can also more easily integrate bikeshare into their own stations to simplify intermodal transfers — solving transit’s pesky ‘first-mile problem’ of reaching a station—and allow riders to book a multimodal trip,” he writes at Bloomberg CityLab.

Transit agencies, he says, are perfectly matched to managing bike-share and micro-mobility. Read more here.

Time to Re-think the Goals of Transit

woman with face mask texting on the phone while traveling by bus.By Lesli Stone, CAPP

I was recently listening to an NPR Podcast, All Things Considered, where the topic was “What is the Future of Public Transit in the U.S.?” There were a lot of great points made in reference to system budget deficits and what relief could be expected.

The discussion continued with the expected, well-thought-out arguments regarding service cuts being a result of lower ridership–the resulting reduced service being a catalyst for even lower ridership, and the death spiral continues. Then I heard the following:

“One of the problems we have is that we’re very focused on maintaining the status quo. Everything about the investments we make in our transportation system are ensuring that people can continue to get around in the same ways that they did, you know, 10 years ago. And so for the most part, the transit options we’ve been giving people have been very similar year in, year out. And many of the support programs that have been announced during the COVID crisis have been about maintaining that status quo.” Yonah Freemark, Urban Institute.

What if we are doing it wrong? What if our “new normal” requires a new way of thinking about an old problem? The morning commute now looks very different for many people. Our choice travel destinations are no longer the same.

Maybe now is the time to think about transit in a very basic way. Who is going places and where, exactly, are they going? How can we help them get their safely and conveniently? How can we help them plan their trip?

Before we can decide what the future of transit in the U.S. actually is, we probably need to decide if the status quo is actually what we are aiming for. If so, then we should feel free to carry on. If not? We should redefine the actual problem that we are trying to solve.

Lesli Stone, CAPP, is general manager at National Express Transit Corporation.

IPMI Webinar: Curbing COVID-19 at the Curb, presented by Matthew Darst, Conduent Transportation.

Curbing COVID-19 at the Curb

Matthew Darst, JD; Director of Curbside Management; Conduent Transportation

Register here for this webinar.

Or purchase the entire 2021 professional development series bundle.


How we think about traveling and commuting in the cities where we work and live has changed dramatically with the spread of COVID-19 . We drive less, eschew public transportation, and are less likely to use shared mobility devices.  This new definition of mobility has exacerbated declining municipal revenues. Cities and states face a unique challenge: stimulate local economies and generate revenue all while working to reopen responsibly to prevent new hot spots of infection and protect public health.

Curbside technologies offer unique solutions to help fund government programs while safeguarding the public. Curbside technologies can help monitor and mitigate viral spread, provide economic relief to constituents, and create a path for municipal revenue recovery. Cities have an opportunity to quickly pivot and utilize metered parking, permit parking, citation issuance and processing, and data science to achieve critical municipal goals.

Attendees will:

  • Identify curbside strategies for reducing the risk of contagion, providing relief to customers, and helping fund critical municipal goals.
  • Assess curbside data for its effectiveness as an early indicator of people congregating/flaunting social distancing guidelines, the need for enforcement, and the spread of COVID-19.
  • Detail best practices and measure the effectiveness of amnesty and relief programs for constituents and revenue recovery efforts.

Offers 1 CAPP Credit towards application or recertification.


Presenter:

Matthew Darst, JD; Director of Curbside Management; Conduent Transportation

Matt Darst, JD, oversees Conduent Transportation’s analytics team, helping cities use data to better manage curbside resources to promote social equity, improve pedestrian safety, and increase physical distancing during the pandemic. Prior to joining Conduent, he served in the public sector for 16 years.

Register here.

IPI Webinar: Potential Impacts of City-Level Parking Cash-Out and Transit Benefit Ordinances

On-Demand Webcast: $35.00 for IPMI Members, $85.00 for Non-Members

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The vast majority of employers provide their employees free parking at work, which encourages employees to drive alone. Parking cash-out enables employees to choose cash instead of free, employer-provided parking, substantially reducing the rate at which people drive alone to work. But this has not been implemented broadly. This presentation will provide an overview of cash-out policies; highlight the results of a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) analysis of six different possible cash-out ordinances, for nine different cities, to estimate their potential impacts; and offer information on the real-world implementation of cash-out policies at the municipal level. A literature review of the impacts of parking pricing and commuter incentives will be shared as part of the presentation.

  • Objectives:
    Inform the audience of the expected benefits of commute pricing incentives to improve parking management, including better utilization of existing parking supply and reduced vehicle-miles traveled in turn leading to less congestion and reductions in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and other related externalities.
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different city-level parking pricing and incentive policies in terms of both implementation challenges and policy impacts.
  • Explore the robust and creative analytical, techniques used to evaluate policy alternatives and how they can take advantage of the work performed in the FHWA project to help with their own analysis.

Presenters:

Allen Greenberg, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, has analyzed and advocated for sustainable U.S transportation policy from both inside and outside of government for 25 years. As a senior policy analyst at the Federal Highway Administration, Mr. Greenberg cultivates, develops, and manages transportation pricing pilot initiatives, including many parking pricing projects. Earlier, Mr. Greenberg worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and League of American Bicyclists. He holds a Master in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Virginia and a B.S. in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

 

 

 

Colleen Stoll, City of Santa Monica, Calif., is the Transportation Demand Management Program Manager for the City of Santa Monica. The TDM program proactively manages congestion, improves air quality, and reduces automobile dependence in Santa Monica. It requires annual trip reduction plans from developers and employers with 10 or more employees. When Santa Monica started the TDM Program over twenty years ago, the number of solo drivers driving to work was 80 percent. Today, that number has been reduced to 62 percent in the mornings, and 58 percent in the afternoons. Last year, that translated to over 12,300 fewer car trips per day.

Case Study: National Review of Public Transit COVID-19 Delivery Programs

woman wearing mask on busBy L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

I was reviewing some literature on transit operations during the COVID-19 pandemic recently and ran across a case study of  transit agencies pivoting to repurposing a portion of their fleets to address COVID-related community needs.

The case study, authored by Al Benedict and Mallory Livingston Shurna of the Shared-Use Mobility Center, and Todd Hansen of Texas A&M Transportation Institute, explores some of the examples of public transit delivery programs that arose in response to COVID-19, and highlights how they operate, who they serve, and how the differing needs of customers and geographic areas influence program design.

An excerpt gives you a good overview of the case study report:

Well before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on traditional transportation patterns and services in the spring of 2020, many transit agencies and cities were already pursuing innovative ways to meet the unique needs of customers with mobility difficulties. However, these services have taken on increased importance during the current pandemic, in part because many paratransit-eligible customers are elderly or have health complications that make them more susceptible to the coronavirus. Many agencies have also cut back fixed-route service for the time being, further challenging customers’ ability to access essential services.

The full case study addresses the following topic areas:

  • Customers and Partners
  • Operations
  • Finances and Budgeting
  • Equity Issues
  • Rural Programs

Case Study Conclusions:

Transit agencies across the country have adapted to meet the needs of their community members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic—and food delivery programs are just one example. The programs reviewed here offer a way for transit agencies to provide essential services through food, prescription, and in some cases mail and package delivery.  These services are geared toward the most vulnerable populations, including the elderly and persons with disabilities. The programs reviewed here demonstrate that these programs can be implemented without interrupting existing transit service. Given ridership is down across the country as a result of COVID-19, they often take advantage of a transit agency’s underutilized fleet and help to keep transit drivers and staff employed.

Note: The FTA clarified in June 2020 that agencies can use CARES Act funds – as well as Section 5307 and Section 5311 funds administered as part of the Emergency Relief program – for delivery of essential services through January 2021. Agencies seeking additional resources are also encouraged to look into FEMA’s Public Assistance program for the purchase and distribution of food during the pandemic.  The success of these programs may have a life beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, as there will undoubtedly be an ongoing need for certain populations to continue to access these services where traditional public transit is not a feasible option.

This case study can be downloaded here.

L. Dennis Burns, CAPP, is regional vice president, senior practice builder with Kimley-Horn.

Urban Mobility After COVID-19

More of us are working from home than ever—some with no return to office in sight. Buses and commuter trains are running nearly empty in some markets, cars stay parked for weeks at a time, and the demand for bikes is unprecedented.

COVID-19 has had huge effects on the way people get around, but what might it mean for the future of cities? The City Fix, a publication of the World Resources Institute, has some thoughts:

  • Active mobility (walking, biking, scootering, etc.) will remain popular and cities may decide to widen or create dedicated spaces for those transportation modes, away from cars.
  • Working and learning from home may never go back to pre-pandemic, low levels, which may translate to less traffic, more open space, and less tolerance for crowds on and off roads. This may lead to more taxes for road users who hope to get from place to place on more than two wheels.
  • Transit may shift from scheduled services to on-demand, tailored routes—sort of like Uber but with buses. Startups may play a big role in developing the technologies to make this happen.
  • Nature-based infrastructure becomes a bigger, more visible part of transportation.

Curious about this vision? Read more here. Let us know in the comments—is this an accurate picture?

 

 

Pandemic Travel Patterns Offer Hints About Future

Woman wearing a mask on a busThe world collectively has learned a lot since COVID-19 begin forcing shutdowns and stay-home orders. Experts say that’s true for travel patterns, and the way people shifted theirs during and after lockdowns may offer a glimpse of the future of human transportation.

Bloomberg CityLab says, “The lessons of the great transportation freeze of 2020 could guide future policies as many cities reopen and attempt to build a healthier future.”

Travel declines varied by mode when shutdowns started, says the report. Walking and driving both saw declines but the most drastic was on transit, as local governments and health experts advised people to stay off buses and trains if possible. Today, walking and driving are beginning to bounce back but transit use remains low.

“Bike-share systems around the world gained popularity as commuters fled transit systems: In Beijing, the three largest bike-share systems reported a 150 percent increase in use by May, according to the research firm ITDP. Ride volumes grew some 67 percent on New York City’s bike-sharing system in early March,” the report says, noting that personal bike sales doubled this March over one year prior.

Other findings include environmental effects and the effects of transportation changes and shutdowns on Black and other minority groups.

Read the whole story here.

 

 

A New (Ab)Normal

transportation, parking, curbside COVID-19By Chris Lechner, CAPP

As the U.S. begins to open up in ways large and small, the mobility industry is preparing for a broad range of outcomes. There are two fundamental questions facing all of us:

  • How many people are coming back to our venues?
  • How are they going to get there?

The answers will determine our ability to accommodate mobility demand and allow us to begin to explore policy responses to the new (ab)normal.

We know that many businesses are increasing telecommuting and educational institutions are preparing to extend remote instruction. Many businesses have had to reduce their workforces, and local and state regulations have barred whole categories of activities. Even before formal lockdowns were implemented, many services were already experiencing cancellations of reservations and declining business. All of these factors would indicate that for the vast majority of use cases, total demand for mobility will be down.

Mobility professionals are well aware that most of the approaches to reducing traffic and parking congestion–buses, carpools, vanpools, and rail–require density and close physical contact. If people are unwilling to get onto densely packed modes of transportation or if those transit systems reduce their capacity to provide for physical distancing, people will be forced back into their cars or choose not to make those trips.

The balance between less demand for mobility in total and less demand for shared mobility as a percentage of the whole will dictate what our streets, structures, and curbs look like for the foreseeable future.

Chris Lechner, CAPP, is manager, data analytics and strategic projects, with UCLA Events and Transportation.