Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Transit stuff

Protest sign against Tide light rail
Protest sign against the Tide light rail system, Norfolk.

1. Washcycle reminds us that the light rail system in Norfolk, Virginia opened yesterday. See "30000 people ride the Tide> opening day" from WAVY-TV. It's been controversial, partly because of cost overruns, leading to changeovers in leadership for the agency.

Plus, rather than include both Virginia Beach and Norfolk in the original service, eventually the transit agency figured out that it wasn't worth the time and energy necessary to get Virginia Beach to commit, so they went ahead without including VB, figuring that seeing the service in operation increases the likelihood that Virginia Beach will end up participating.
Bike rack on the Tide Light rail, Norfolk
Washcycle points out that they have bike racks in the light rail cars.

2. I didn't realize that Jerusalem has launched a light rail line as well. See "Jerusalem's little train that almost could" from Haaretz.

A pedestrian looks as a light rail tram passes by in Jerusalem August 21, 2011. After numerous delays that have plagued the project since Israel began building it in 2002, Jerusalem's light rail system started running on Friday. Travel on the train will be free of charge for the first two weeks. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

If light rail can be integrated into as historic a city as Jerusalem, we can probably manage to figure out how to do it for streetcars and light rail in the DC region, without unduly ruining it for motor vehicle drivers...

3. Awhile back, people in the vicinity of the Linthicum light rail station in Anne Arundel County called for the station to be closed, because of crime problems. See "Shut Linthicum light rail station, most tell MTA at hearing: MTA is proposing to cut back service at station, but other users call it a lifeline" from the Baltimore Sun.

In Gresham, Oregon, Tri-Met has been playing classical music at a station that has had problems similar to those in Linthicum.
Crime Fighting Mozart
The TriMet light rail stop at 162nd Avenue is shown Wednesday, March 30, 2011, in Portland, Ore. Since November, at this light rail stop the regional transit department has approved the playing of classical music in an effort to ward off the kind of crimes that happen when people just hang around. A bill making its way through the Oregon Legislature would expand the program to all light rail stops in Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties deemed high-crime areas by police or residents. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(This still gets to my point that far more crimes are committed in association with automobiles, but we don't ban automobiles.)

4. The Los Angeles Bus Riders Union continues to make the case that transit resources made available to bus riders continue to diminish in the face of expansion of the fixed rail transit network. See "L.A. transit activists rally for a federal probe: Cutting back on bus lines hurts L.A.'s low-income, nonwhite residents, the Bus Riders Union says at a forum where participants share their experiences and concerns" from the Los Angeles Times.

5. There is a statewide campaign in Rhose Island to preserve transit service there. Save RIPTA: RIPTA Riders for Public Transit.
Save Rhode Island Public Transit

6. The American Public Transportation Association reports that "80% of transit systems faced with further cuts, fare increases" according to Metro Magazine. From the article:

Public transit systems are faced with implementing new service cuts and fare increases on top of cuts and increases enacted during the past budget cycle, according to a new study released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

The report, Impacts of the Recession on Public Transportation Agencies , noted the top three causes of stress in operating budgets among public transit systems were local/regional funding, state funding and increasing fuel prices.

Nearly 80 percent of public transit systems have already implemented fare increases or service cuts in 2010 or are considering them for the future because of flat or decreased local and/or regional funding, with 71 percent of responding agencies seeing flat or decreased local and/or regional funding and 83 percent seeing flat or decreased state funding. The decreases are on top of an already stagnant funding situation in 2010.

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