What's happening at other transit agencies?

A Calgary Transit BRT vehicle cruises along a snowy sidewalk. Photo by Flickr user Mikesoron.

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.

Calgary: Half of downtown commuters take bus, C-Train

The Calgary Herald reports on a pretty amazing commuting flip-flop over the last 15 years. Half of all commuters to downtown Calgary in 1996 drove alone, while 33 percent took transit. Today, only one-third drive into downtown while half now arrive by bus, BRT or light rail. Any city would gladly take nearly a 50 percent increase in downtown transit commuters — think of all the congestion avoided! That said, there have been some logistical challenges that come with more robust ridership. In particular, 60,000 transit riders enter downtown in just one hour of the workday morning, meaning that Calgary Transit has to commit a large number of its transit fleet to serving people headed only in one direction. Another interesting factoid: Only New York City has higher downtown parking rates in North America than Calgary, according to the Herald. Avoiding spending $470 a month on parking is a great reason to take transit.

Amtrak sets record of 30 million passengers in past 12 months, the most since railroad created

If intercity rail projects don’t seem to be getting a lot of political love, it’s not for a lack of riders. As this Washington Post article notes, the railroad’s ridership is booming, up 5 percent over last year and up a whopping fifty percent over 2001. Back then you could still find gas for under $2 and relatively cheap regional flights. The increase of both the price of gas and the popularity of Amtrak would suggest that further investments in intercity rail are sound and needed. The Obama Administration done admirably with the resources it has. But as well all know, Congress holds the purse strings.

Maryland Governor O’Malley urges lawmakers to consider 15-cent gas-tax hike

More from the Washington Post: Like pretty much all states, Maryland is facing declining federal investment in state infrastructure projects. The situation is urgent enough, apparently, that the state’s Democratic governor has grabbed onto the “third rail” of transportation finance by proposing a 15-cent gas-tax hike. O’Malley encouraged Marylanders to embrace collective sacrifice for the greater good of improving transportation and putting people back to work.

St. Paul (Minn.) offers long-range Central Corridor development vision

An extension of a light rail line in St. Paul won’t open until 2014, but city planners are trying to get a jump on encouraging new transit-oriented development along the corridor. The Minneapolis Post reports that city officials have published a special “TOD Guidebook” for the Central Corridor to encourage the creation of walkable, mixed-use communities along the line. The paper notes that one political key will be ensuring that existing residents and businesses are not negatively impacted by the changes. A copy of the guidebook is available here [PDF]. You can also check out our story on how America Fast Forward could help the Twin Cities region build out its transit system.

Chicago proposes “congestion fee” on parking to fund transit

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual has proposed a $2 downtown parking surcharge to boost funding for transit by $28 million annually. New York Streetsblog reports that all major candidates promised to better fund transit, but it’s interesting to see just how the Emanuel administration chose to do. The fee would bolster transit ridership in two ways: by making driving a less appealing option and by providing extra funds for better service. Chicago Tribune columnist Jon Hilkevitch, however, thinks Emanual should instead consider emulating San Francisco’s SF Park system. Readers with long memories will recall that SF Park allows the city to tweak (often meaning increase!) parking meter prices to ensure that there’s always one or two free spots on every block. Doing so provides reliable access for drivers to businesses and cuts down on traffic caused by drivers hunting for spots.

6 replies

  1. I have several comments for this.

    I have no comments for Calgray Transit but Calgary Transit needs to get rid of their older fleet but sadly they don’t get the funding for new buses by the government, the only part you stated that was an opinion was where you said “. Avoiding spending $470 a month on parking is a great reason to take transit.” Well I agree it costs it but it’s not the reason to take mass transit. Many middle class and rich people can afford and are not changing their ways.

    As for Amtrak, good for them.

    I do have a comment about “Maryland Governor O’Malley urges lawmakers to consider 15-cent gas-tax hike”, I think charging 15-cent gas tax is unconstitutional just like LA Metro’s and Mayor’s LAC Measure R sales tax and Europes Anti-car polices and even Chicago of Mayor focing the city workers taking the bus.

    No, I’m NOT a republican nor democrat saying this, I am saying this as independent and freedom person. I think the car drivers need to be left alone, like I said this is a capitalist country and no one should try to force ar drivers onto mass transit.

    I know the government and TAs don’t care what I think but I know what goes on.

    Plus MTA Maryland just got the FTA ferderal grant a few days ago, so no big deal.

    As for bus service, if it’s reduced then it’s good because it saves mone but however the democrats will never understand “waste of money” and “freedom” which why I hate them and even people that vote for democratic canadiates because they support communisum and socialism. I hate the republicans too, so don’t worry.

    I got no comment for the “St. Paul (Minn.) offers long-range Central Corridor development vision.

    However, I do have a comment for “Chicago proposes “congestion fee” on parking to fund transit”, and my comment is that this is not fair to car drivers to pay extra for parking. This is unconstitutional, first forcing city workers to take mass transit and now this. This is why I hate democrats because they try to spread their “socialist” adgenda against the people that support freedom, same with republicans.

    This will not slove any budget crises problems but however CTA may not do any service cuts nor rasise fares but ONLY if the unions agree to work changes: http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/8302172-418/cta-wont-hike-fares-in-2012-if-union-agrees-to-work-changes.html

    However Like I said, if people want better mass transit then maybe they should “tell” Obama to stop wasting money on wars but Obama doesn’t care what the people think or want.

    That is all I got to say.

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  2. @ betterfuture

    Congesting pricing on roads and higher parking fees are CAPITALIST ideas. Their is a limited supply of parking or road space so you raise prices to ensure their is a free flowing road or adequate amount of open parking space for customers

    Raising the gas tax is in fact constitutional. Not sure how you would arguer otherwise. Gas taxes pay our PUBLIC highways and right now and they are doing a poor job of doing that. Car drivers need to pay their fair share to cover their infrastructure cost so we need either higher gas taxes to pay for highway maintenance or convert every highway into a toll road so it becomes more of a user fee (CAPITALIST idea). Either way car drivers need to pay more.

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  3. @betterfuture

    There’s no such thing as “free lunch” in this world. Everything costs something and in a capitalist world we have to pay for our goods and services.

    Our roads aren’t free too; they are paid for with tax dollars. But there are a lot of things that our tax dollars need to be spent (national defense, disaster relief, national parks, weather, space programs, etc.) so we cannot cover our transit costs just with tax dollars. Unlike other countries, our country is huge. Taxes alone cannot keep our roads and national infrastructure in good shape. That’s why our infrastructure is deteriorating and crumbling.

    Congestion pricing is needed. There’s nothing socialist about it; it’s just simple economics 101: supply and demand. When there’s huge demand for it at peak congested hours, start charging for it more. If you don’t like it, there’s ALTERNATIVES. That’s the key difference between capitalism and socialist, you’re still given an ALTERNATIVE choice. Learn how to ride a motorcycle which are exempt from congestion pricing. Take public transit. Carpool with co-workers to save on costs.

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  4. @betterfuture
    We are living in tough times and people’s wallets are hurting. You may think that rich and the middle class can continue to afford driving around in cars, but the rising cost of fuel is making many of us start seeking other alternatives.

    And the availability of choices that we have as Americans still makes us far from a socialist country. Look around and you’ll see many Angelinos making decisions every day. So gas prices are high and it’s starting to hurt. It’s not the end of the world, people all over the world deal with $7 even $8/gallon gas and they get along just as fine. We’ve become so addicted to cars that we fail to realize that there’s a bunch of other alternatives out there.

    Step back and look around. Some people are starting to take public transit. Others are bicycling to work. Co-workers are getting together and start carpooling. And there are those who give up their gas-guzzling SUVs for hybrid vehicles. There are increasing number of Americans who realize they don’t need two cars in their garage, and instead opt to sell one of them for a motorcycle or a scooter and use that for commuting to make a huge savings on fuel.

    And as people are making decisions, transit agencies and cities too also have to make decisions. Our economy is sour right now and people aren’t going with more taxes. With funding cuts, we really need to start looking at every other alternative sources of revenue. This includes everything from start charging for “free parking” at park and ride lots, congestion pricing, moving to distance fares, and seeking additional rental income by allowing red-tape free commerce to occur at the stations.

    This also means ending wasteful government spending. While you may see it differently on Chicago’s mandate, the point was that Chicago was looking at ways to end wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. They aren’t forcing public workers to start taking public transit, they are more than welcome to use their own private vehicles. But they don’t want city of Chicago employees to use taxpayer funded vehicles to go grocery shopping or getting away with parking fines. How would you feel if the Chief of the LAPD used a SWAT van and use that to stock up on food at Costco for his family? Using a SWAT van at a crime scene to end a hostile situation, now that’s tax payer dollars at work. But a SWAT van used to buy groceries at Costco? Now that’s a different story.

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  5. This is the last post.
    @@Frank M You do realize that it will take forever to recover the economy anyways.

    The public transit agencies won’t last forever because this country keeps becoming poorer and poorer.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if US goes bankrupted then there where everything will have to be shut down and privatization will have to happen. The white house is running out of money but they don’t care still.

    But no one cares about what is happening.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the City of LA and california got bankrupted because they are poorly managed.

    The taxes aren’t gonna slove spending problem either anyways to be honest because the govenrment wastes them all.

    The govenrment and public agencies are usually unfair as well, if people think private companies are bad, well so are the public agencies that are poorly managed like Metro.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Metro ends up being bankrupted one day just like the former LAMTA back in the 1960s. This is why private companies were better to have then creating public agencies that caused the mess of the economy.

    All I got to say is that people and companies (even the govenrment and public agencies) only care about the money in reality, not about anything else.

    Now Im done officelly posting here. Goodbye.

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