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, July 10, 2018

Greater Washington Partnership issue brief on mobility (transit) fare systems

WRT my pieces on the sustainable mobility platform ("Further updates to the Sustainable Mobility Platform Framework"), the need to create an integrated regional "transport association" to plan and operate transit in an integrated and coordinated manner ("The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authorityassociation") and the need to integrate railroad transportation into the transit media fare card system ("One big idea: Getting MARC and Metrorail to integrate fares, stations, and marketing systems, using London Overground as an example")

I had no idea that the Baltimore transit agency and area local transit agencies are looking at separating from the WMATA SmarTrip system.

That would be terrible.

But I shouldn't be surprised, given how discoordinated the region is.

The Greater Washington Partnership has produced a paper, UNLOCKING THE PROMISE OF INTEGRATED MOBILITY IN THE CAPITAL REGION, calling for transit trip planning and fare integration and the inclusion of other modes beyond transit, including private services--something which public agencies have a hard time with ("Another example of the need to reconfigure transpo planning and operations at the metropolitan scale: Boston is seizing dockless bike share bikes, which compete with their dock-based system").

From the paper:
These principles were developed through extensive analysis, direct engagement with stakeholders and decision-makers, and with input from our nationally recognized Mobility Steering Committee.

The Greater Washington Partnership’s Integrated Mobility Principles
  1. Put the user experience at the center of ticketing and trip planning investments
  2. Build capacity for interoperability and new functionality in planning and ticketing systems for public and private mobility services
  3. Ensure that new ticketing systems equitably empower all consumers
  4. Leverage new ticketing systems to learn, experiment, and transform the travel experience
Near-Term Actions
  1. Establish strategic goals and plans for a single platform for all trip planning and ticketing in the Capital Region
  2. Incorporate fare capping into public transportation payment systems
  3. Pursue regional and national funding opportunities that move toward seamless ticketing across all mobility options in the Capital Region
  4. Avoid transportation agency procurements that preclude opportunities to innovate and integrate with other public or private mobility providers across the region
  5. Convene leaders of regional public transportation agencies regularly so they can share what they have learned
Outside of all the various transit services, I don't think that full integration of payment systems beyond transit is essential as I wrote a couple months ago, "Integrating payment systems in the Sustainable Mobility Platform."

Montreal integrated mobility using the STM Opus Card.

However, in Montreal, the stored value transit card can be used for certain bike share and car share applications.  In Ontario, all but one transit agency uses the system developed in Greater Toronto and paid for by the province.  So the same card can be used across the province.

It would be nice, but people manage to deal with having separate apps for different components (car sharing, ride hailing, bike share, scooter share).

More importantly, the amount of one off programming necessary to create such a platform and keep it updated and maintained is considerable and probably not supportable even at the multi-state scale.

What's really needed is for the GWP to advocate for the creation of a German style integrated transport association. Integrating fare media is but one element of such a program.

-- "Route 7 BRT proposal communicates the reality that the DC area doesn't adequately conduct transportation planning at the metropolitan-scale," 2016
-- "The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authorityassociation," 2017
-- "Verkehrsverbund: The evolution and spread of fully integrated regional public transport in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland," Ralph Buehler, John Pucher & Oliver Dümmler, International Journal of Sustainable Transportation (2018)--
-- Transport Alliances - – Promoting Cooperation and. Integration to offer a more attractive and efficient Public Transport, VDV, the association of German transport companies

Note that VDV coordinates a common software and IT system for interoperability of fare payment systems called the Smart Ticketing Alliance, which operates across Germany.

Even the Raleigh-Durham GoTransit model of collaboration across transit agencies would be a step forward compared to the DC area, which doesn't even have a single integrated transit information call center.

WMATA bus study.  Separately, WMATA is wondering about the future of its bus operations ("With ridership falling, Metro will spend $2.2 million to study bus business model," Washington Post), which I will be writing about, and this is the flip side of the same question, which is how to get more people to use transit and how to make the system more successful.

-- "Making bus service sexy and more equitable," 2012
-- "Will buses ever be cool? Boston versus the Raleigh-Durham's GoTransit Model," 2017

Integrating fare systems is only one element.  And if WMATA isn't leading this effort well enough, it should be taken over by the MPO.  E.g., in Greater San Francisco, the MPO--Metropolitan Transportation Commission, not BART, the regional commuter heavy rail system, runs the transit media integration system.

When gas is cheap, transit is hard.  Even with integrated fare media systems and a German style transport association planning and coordinating and integrating transit operations, recognize that as long as the region is set up to prioritize automobility, and gas and parking is comparatively cheap, it's incredibly difficult for transit "to compete" with the car.

Only with hyper levels of concentration and limited road capacity, such as in New York City, does transit become the preferred choice.

In DC's core, with a street grid that prioritizes the movement of pedestrians, bikes, and transit over the car, limited parking, and a concentration of housing, employment, and activity centers, sustainable mobility works great too and is already working well, despite the failures in transit planning and coordination.

Although it could work even better, were the various elements of policy and practice integrated and coordinated.

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