Transportation headlines, Wednesday, January 14

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Bus spotting in DTLA. (Instagram:  @dtla_everyday)

Bus spotting in DTLA. (Instagram: @dtla_everyday)

Today’s Metro rider profile at Zocalo Public Square: Virgil Avenue to Chandler Boulevard

Obama administration outlines 30-year transportation plan (Washington Post)

The U.S. Department of Transportation began to draft its 30-year look ahead intended to be the “beginning of a conversation about the future.” The report is expected later this year and will be followed by a public comment period.

According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the report will address the challenges facing the country long-term, including population growth in the South and West and funding the maintenance and repair of older bridges and roads.

Foxx also emphasized that while finding new funding sources to supplement the Highway Trust Fund — which covers only a portion of the funds actually needed to repair and maintain highway infrastructure — is important, how best to spend the money demands a closer look. Excerpt:

Beyond those needs for expansion and repair, however, the report will address the trends and technology projected to transform the transportation landscape.

The increasing number of people living in urban centers instead of suburbs may put a higher demand on transit, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

“What people are viewing as this cute, cuddly bike and pedestrian movement could be a real game-changer,” Foxx said.

A death on the D.C. Metro (CityLab)

A look at the recent problems plaguing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency (WMATA) after smoke filled the cabin of one of their trains on Monday, killing one woman and sending 80 people to the hospital. While still acknowledging the public has a a right to be upset, the article ends by putting the recent incident in perspective by citing a 2013 study on transit safety between modes:

Still, in the midst of so much raw emotion, frustrated and upset mass transit riders would do well to remember at least one key fact about transportation safety in the United States: commuting by rail or public bus is still far, far safer than virtually any other mode.

Steve’s headlines post yesterday highlighted Metro Rail’s safety features in the event of a similar incident.

Is Uber’s paratransit service anything but a PR move? (The Daily Beast)

Given Uber’s track record the past year, a healthy dose of skepticism about its intentions is probably warranted. This time, it comes after news that the ride-share company was talking with the city of San Francisco to potentially provide the city’s paratransit services for the disabled and elderly.

On one hand, a former city director of taxi services believes it’s a ploy by Uber to appeal to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates ride-sharing companies in California. On the other side, there are those that believe it could be used as a way to supplement or replace municipal paratransit services that are often subject to reduced service because of budget cuts. Excerpt:

There are a growing transportation officials across the country are interested in the possibility of using TNCs to augment existing services, according to Susan Shaheen, a transportation expert at UC Berkeley.

“Policy makers and decision makers are looking at this tool, and asking the question: Could it be used to advance social and environmental good? It might provide more options for filling gaps in transportation systems, such as for first-mile-last-mile and during disasters,” she said.

The article adds that new start-up companies have already popped up to provide on-demand services for children and the elderly.

Hand sanitizers now on all SLO buses (MassTransit Magazine)

An interesting idea especially during the flu season. From an operations, maintenance and cost perspective, it’s worth noting that San Luis Obispo (SLO) Transit has only eight bus routes.

3 replies

  1. If a private company like Uber can provide para-transit services straight from their own pocket without relying on government, then why is that a bad thing? Less taxes needed and the same amount of taxes can be put to better use elsewhere.