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.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

What they won't be doing at Dulles Airport: free transit from (not to) Logan Airport, Boston

One of these days I'll weign in on all the b.s. about extension of Metrorail service to Dulles Airport and beyond in Loudoun County, and the backlash currently underway (see "Silver Line expansion plan draws scores of speakers to  Loudoun meeting" from the Post).

Notions Capital calls our attention to this Boston Globe article, "MBTA to give free rides from airport: No Silver Line fare in test to cut Logan’s congestion."

The Globe piece illutrates the general point that the Loudoun County transit debacle illustrates to a "T."  From the article:

In 2011, Logan handled nearly 29 million passengers and is on pace to eclipse that in 2012, setting another record. But parking is constrained by Logan’s limited footprint and by federal and state environmental laws that cap the number of airport parking spaces in East Boston. Massport’s plan to attract as many as 37.5 million travelers annually hinges on its ability to promote public transportation and other alternatives to driving.
A 2010 survey found that 70 percent of travelers to Logan arrived in their own cars, drove rental cars, or were dropped off by car or taxi, with the rest coming by bus, van, subway, ferry, charter, or courtesy shuttle, according to Massport, which wants to shave the percentage to 65.

The local debacle has to do with the fact that providing transit to and from regional airports should be considered a matter of regional/metropolitan importance and transit planning/transit expansion planning shouldn't be strictly the responsibility of particular jurisdictions--it's too important.

Anyway, as a transportation demand management initiative, the Massachusetts Port Authority is testing providing free transit for arriving passengers at Logan Airport, hoping to achieve a 5% increase in people using modes other than the automobile, especially because the airport lacks the ability to add more parking capacity.

Note that free transit initiatives in high-demand locations, such as "fareless square" in Portland, Oregon are reasonably effective in reducing automobile use. But decreased revenues for transit systems limits the ability to maintain such services ("Fareless Square ending for Portland buses; MAX, streetcar still free in zone" from the Portland Oregonian). Also see the series on free transit from the Tyee.

Another free transit initiative I've been meaning to write about is how Northside Pittsburgh development interests (Alco Parking, Pittsburgh Stadium Authority, the Pittsburgh Steelers Football Team, and Rivers Casino), including a parking structure-lot operator, are subsidizing the provision of free transit to the new transit stops there, the Allegheny and North Shore stops on the new North Shore Connector, which opened up a few months ago.  See "Trips on North Shore T will be free" from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Note that the Pittsburgh example has a professional sports team, the Steelers, "subsidizing" free transit, which must be unprecedented.  Certainly, local professional sports teams have not been too forthcoming in doing something similar in DC.

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