Tag Archives: transit

Putting Places Worth Visiting in Parking Priorities

Traditional cities are typically found on and around transport routes–rivers, roads and railways. They occupy strategic locations for trade, security, crossings, and meeting points. Streets/roads define the city/urban form as both paths and edges. In the past few centuries, attempts to fix the city have focused on the restructuring of the road and transport systems. New transport technologies have been central to the rethinking and reshaping of the city; that has been the case in the past and will very likely be the case in the future.

Rethinking parking for the twenty-first century requires that we think beyond the professional silos we have created. There is a need to integrate parking with a range of evolving policy areas and new challenges and opportunities. The extent of change will vary by place, but a helicopter view highlights a number of notable trends. These include the rise of AI (note how this may also radically improve urban transit options and reduce costs), electric vehicles, and provision of charging stations with parking, the booming car-share/ride-share economy, a decline in dependence on the private car, a concern to minimize climate change impacts and improve environmental outcomes, and rethinking cheap/free and expansive park-and-ride in favor of transit-oriented development.

Learn why it’s so important to factor in destinations and places worth visiting when setting parking priorities, in the November issue of Parking & Mobility.


New Ways of Thinking About Transit

passengers on a bus wearing protective masks during the Covid 19 pandemic.By Lesli Stone, CAPP

In the months since we became fluent in COVID-speak and learned what a modern-day pandemic looks like, we have all become familiar with the “new normal.” Everything seems to have been touched and changed by this virus. How we celebrate holidays, how we get our groceries, even how we get from place to place are different.

It could be easy to view all of these changes as negative. There are certainly more than enough can’ts and don’ts floating around for all of us. But I think we can all agree that some good things have been brought forward, as well.

What do you do with a school bus when there is no school? How about deliver meals to students who might go without otherwise? Multiple school districts, along with their transportation providers, began delivering meals to children who needed them most. They also brought supplies and became mobile hotspots so teachers could continue teaching and pupils could continue learning.

When we return to the old normal or the new new normal, depending on your point of view, we would do well to remember the flexibility of transit and its ability to be nimble and meet existing needs. We should use these lessons to create efficiencies and additional uses for our often-idle rolling stock. Now that we know better, we should do better.

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

Cities Using Transit to Get People to Nature

Bus traveling on the asphalt road in rural landscape at sunsetSeattle’s popular Trailhead Direct service, which shuttles people from the city and its suburbs to popular trailheads, resumed running in June after a COVID-19 hiatus. More cities are following suit, offering public transit service to trailheads, parks, and areas of nature away from the so-called concrete jungle.

“Trailhead Direct represents what outdoor recreation groups and transit planners alike believe will be increasingly necessary in years to come: an alternative to driving for people who want to spend some time in nature,” writes news site Yes!

Other cities are already using transit to get people to trails, and a new bill in Congress would offer significant funds to launch similar services around the U.S.

Read the whole story, including case studies of places where it’s working, 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.

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.


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.


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.

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?