What's happening at other transit agencies?

A Portland MAX light rail train pulls into the station. Photo by Flickr user camknows.

This weekly post features news from other transit agencies and planners from around the world. Did we miss a good story? Let us know in the comments.

Under pressure from riders, TriMet promises to consider longer transfer times (Portland, Ore.)

A coalition of transit riders in Portland has won a small victory in its effort to extend transfer times to three hours from the current one-and-a-half hour window. The group successfully convinced the transit agency’s board of governors to study the feasibility of a three-hour transfer on TriMet’s bus and light rail lines. Advocates view extended transfers as a way of assuaging the effects of recession-induced service cuts, which have led to longer waits. While the board endorsed the study, it doesn’t look like they’re actively supportive of the transfer extension. Joseph Rose of Oregon Live reports that “TriMet considers the idea an epic policy shift that could cost more than it’s worth.”

Line of the Week: MAX Green Line (Portland, Ore.)

With Portland on the brain, here’s a quick review of the MAX Green Line from local blogger Jung Gatoona. Be sure to check out the time lapse video of the route and admire all the bus and transit only lanes.

Metro Atlanta voters warm to mass transit, poll shows

In sprawling Atlanta, voters are warming up to the idea of expanding the city’s mass transit system and improving alternatives to driving. That’s a good sign for the transportation sales tax referendum that will be on the ballot next year. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that “voters in 10 counties will be asked to approve a 10-year, 1-cent sales tax…expected to raise $7.2 billion.” Here are some more interesting poll numbers from the AJC:

Overwhelmingly, 91 percent of voters said it was important to address the region’s transportation problems to improve its quality of life and economic future. Additionally, 67 percent said the region’s traffic congestion is deteriorating their quality of life. And 82 percent said it was important to do more to encourage everyone to commute to work by bus or train.

RTD seeks private-sector boost (Denver, Colo.)

Denver has a big transit expansion plan called FasTracks and even a dedicated sales tax to fund it. However, like Measure R in L.A. County, the revenues trickle in over time. Denver transit officials are looking for ways to get more revenue up front and thus accelerate a number projects, according to the Denver Business Journal. While America Fast Forward could help Denver in that regard — as I wrote back in March — FasTracks backers are reaching out to the private sector to see if there are opportunities for the vaunted Public-Private Partnership.

More money, more problems: MUNI spends more, but customer satisfaction falls (San Francisco)

Here’s a quagmire for you: Transportation Nation reports that San Fran’s transit operator MUNI has increased overall spending and on time performance, but riders are less satisfied than they were in 2004. Check out the story to read some hypothesizing from MUNI and what they’re doing to improve the transit experience.

New strategy for transit to North Meck (North Carolina)

The Naked City blog writes that transportation planners in the Charlotte, N.C. metro area are looking to innovative financing schemes to plug a budget hole in a proposed commuter rail line. I’ll admit, this approach is new to me: “Use the rail line as an economic development strategy for both passenger rail and freight rail.  And form a formal partnership among [the cities of] Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson so they can share tax revenues from new development, via a Joint Powers Authority.”

Passengers taking the strain of transport costs (London, U.K.)

Transport for London boasts a farebox recovery ration of over 50 percent, meaning that over half of its revenues come from fares. Most transit agencies in the U.S. would envy that figure, but the BBC reports that high fares are taking a toll on commuters. The issue is turning into a battleground in the London mayor’s race. Incumbent Boris Johnson wants to raise fares by the rate of inflation plus two percent, while challenger Ken Livingstone announced that he would cut fares by five percent if elected. Johnson maintains that the extra revenue is needed for infrastructure improvements.

14 replies

  1. @Mospeada

    “Metro is not in the process of adding a cheap drive thru on its lands or drive up pharmacy.”

    Why not? I don’t see anything wrong with it. There’s places like that all over the world.

    I can be waiting for the subway in the Brussels Metro and there’s a kiosk at the platform where I can buy a sandwich while waiting for the train to come.

    I’d waiting for my train at any JR station in Tokyo and there’s a vending machine where I can buy a cold bottle of green tea while waiting for the train.

    I’d be waiting for the Underground in London and I can buy the latest copy of the London Times while waiting for the Tube.

    Not only are they convenient, but I feel much more safer with stations that have businesses right there than any dull, dark, bland train station in the US.

    It makes me feel assured that there’s an extra set of eyes, the people who work there, keeping me safe without relying on over-reacting police officers patrolling around making people feeling uneasy.

    Compared to that, look at what we have. The Imperial/Wilmington Station is a dump. Nothing nearby or nothing at the station. Illegal vendors touting me to buy over-priced candy or whatever they are laced with it. No police presence, not even anyone manning the station. The station is littered with garbage due to poor maintenance and the place reeks of urine.

    With the place devoid of any business activity and poor maintenance, I don’t feel any safer there and would rather want to get the heck out of there as fast as I can.

    And that’s supposed to be a key transit center where the Blue and Green Lines connect? It’s a shame we have this.

    Imperial/Wilmington would change a lot even with a mini Taco Bell stand or a mini CVS Pharmacy or something there.


  2. @ Frank M

    Metro is already in the works of fixing the Imperial Wilmington Transit Center


    You keep arguing how much good retail at stations will provide yet never specifically state which regulations metro is using that’s keeping them away. It certainly not the not no eating or drinking on trains and/or platforms rule. There is already evidence to suggest that’s not deterring retail from stations.

    And the lack of mini cvs and starbucks on the surface stations is most likely due to fact that these business can’t afford to pay Metro the market rate for its land. That’s why metro is waiting out for big developments like those on Hollywood/Highland and Hollywood/Vine. Or the soon to be Mariachi Plaza development, NoHo Artwave, NBC Universal on the Universal City Station, and the New Imperial/Wilmington as show above.


  3. @Mospeada

    “business can’t afford to pay Metro the market rate for its land”

    Anything the government owns and wants to charge is ridiculously overpriced. Just look at Metro’s “facts and figures” on how much it costs taxpayers to replace a sign at each station; $100,000 to $300,000? What kind of screwed up formula they used to get that figure pretty much questions Metro’s reliability. What are they using, space grade titanium alloy signs made by NASA? $500 per screw? $800 per hammer? $50 per inch of paint? It’s ridiculous.

    I honestly don’t know what Metro would want to charge for a monthly rent for a small kiosk space on a platform but if Metro expect retailers to pay $3000 per month for a 50 square feet of space, Metro really has no business skills whatsoever.


  4. @Frank M

    Clearly a government agency that is expected to generated $182.5 Million dollars from lease revenues, advertising, legal settlements, vending revenues,
    local contribtutions, CNG tax credits, film site revenues and other miscellaneous revenues has no business skills whatsoever