Category: Transportation

By Daniel Sperling and Steven Polzin This commentary is based on, “Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future,” by Daniel Sperling, published February 2018 (Island Press) Bad news for transit keeps rolling in. Transit ridership declined in 34 of the 40 largest metropolitan areas over the past three years. New York’s subway woes continue, Washington Metro struggles with funding and maintenance and, even in Los Angeles with its massive rail system buildout supported by $120 billion in tax increases over 40 years, ridership is declining. Explanations for declining ridership include low gasoline prices, economic growth, increasing car ownership, immigrants’ fear of using transit, homeless loitering, and safety and security concerns.  While ridership routinely… View Article

Time is On Our Side in Transforming Georgia Transit

By Baruch Feigenbaum BARUCH FEIGENBAUMTransportation AnalystReason Foundation The Georgia General Assembly deserves praise for working to improve transit in Georgia. Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, focus on the funding and structure of Georgia’s transit systems. Both bills would create a regional board to oversee transit in 13 metro Atlanta counties, allowing the counties to impose sales taxes for transit projects if approved by voters. The regional board would approve the project lists for any county transit referendum but the taxes could only be spent in the county in which they are raised. Metro Atlanta commuters often live and work in different communities, making an oversight board critical. Many regions, including Denver and Washington D.C.,… View Article

Move Transit Policy in the Right Direction

By Benita M. Dodd A massive expansion of the Streetcar System is envisioned. The cost of the current 2.7-mile loop, originally projected at less than $70 million, was (at last report) around $100 million. When the CEO of the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority resigned last year, he left MARTA in a good place. The agency was in the black. A new 40-year, $2.5 billion transportation sales tax had been passed. Clayton County bus service had been added to the system. Big plans were in the works with the new money: Expand the struggling Streetcar system. Expand heavy rail into Clayton County. Expand rail in the Emory corridor. Expand heavy rail along Georgia 400 to Alpharetta. Add bus rapid transit.… View Article
Metro magazine takes a comprehensive look at the game-changing ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, including Lyft and Uber, that are meeting the needs of commuters and reducing operating costs for public transportation. The article by Michaela Kwoka-Coleman, “Mobility-On-Demand: The Future of Transportation,” was posted on December 26, 2017, and can be accessed online here. It examines examples around the nation of how transit agencies are partnering with on-demand services, for first-mile/last-mile transportation, paratransit and carpools.  Public transportation ridership rates have been decreasing for years, and unless transit agencies adapt their service to embrace this innovation, they will lose even more riders. The University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies reported in October that urban ride-hailing passengers decreased… View Article

Don’t Miss the Bus on Transit

By Benita M. Dodd Most of the large-scale development in Atlanta in recent years has been near transit stations, The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. According to the narrative, corporations are being motivated to move close to MARTA stations because millennial employees prefer staying off the highways and living closer to their jobs.   Interestingly, none of these moves have resulted in improved MARTA ridership. Unlinked rail passenger trips dropped 1.16 percent in the first half of 2017 over the same period in 2016, while bus ridership dropped 3.31 percent. (An unlinked passenger trip is a trip on one transit vehicle; each transfer is counted as a separate “trip.”) This decline is not temporary. It’s a national trend, a result of lower… View Article

New Report Lauds Transit Contracting

By Baruch Feigenbaum In late September, the Eno Center for Transportation released “A Bid for Better Transit,” a report focused on improving transit service via contracted operations. I recommend reading this well-written report, which provides a snapshot of contracting throughout the world. U.S. transit service has long been among the worst in the developed world. One of the biggest differences between U.S. and European agencies is the prevalence of contracting for services. In Europe contracting out is a normal procedure. But in this country, contracting is bitterly fought by unions, urban Democrats and some transit rider groups as inherently inferior to directly operated service. The Eno report starts by providing a history of U.S. transit operations. It reminds… View Article

Commonsense Recommendations for SPLOST Reform in Georgia

By Ron Sifen and Benita M. Dodd Georgia’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is an optional 1 percent county sales tax used to fund local capital projects for a county and participating municipalities. Thirty-two years after lawmakers passed the SPLOST law, lessons learned prove the SPLOST is sorely in need of some updates. Implemented in just 12 counties in the first year it was established (1985) and 15 more the next year, today the tax is imposed in all counties except DeKalb, Fulton and Muscogee, according to the state Department of Revenue. (DeKalb and Fulton have a MARTA tax; all three have an education SPLOST). The tax, which can last up to six years, is routinely renewed;… View Article

Transit Needs a Ticket to Transparency

At its second meeting August 2 at MARTA headquarters, the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding heard from MARTA CEO Keith Parker. By Benita M. Dodd In March 2017, the Georgia House of Representatives voted to establish a Georgia House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding that sunsets by December 2019. The resolution cites the need to study developing a “unified regional governance structure;” “creating efficiency and coordination among providers;” “regional, integrated and comprehensive mass transportation,” and, “an analysis of potential methods of funding.” The commission is charged with undertaking “a study of the conditions, needs, issues and problems mentioned above or related thereto and recommend any action or legislation.” The commission met in June and August 2.… View Article
study by the Mineta Transportation Institute should make policymakers, lawmakers and taxpayers question why streetcar projects are being funded through transportation agencies and grants. The institute examined streetcars in Little Rock, Ark., Memphis, Tenn., Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., and Tampa, Fla. “[T]here does seem to be a real disconnect between enthusiasm for the streetcar and its transportation performance,” the authors found. “In most cities, streetcar ridership is very low and compares quite unfavorably with the ridership on a local bus route operating in the same general area. A strict transportation assessment would tend to regard a streetcar that had lower ridership than a typical bus route as a misuse of scarce transportation resources. “But few of the informants tended… View Article
Georgia is moving toward dynamic tolls and a network of express toll lanes in the metro Atlanta area. The I-85 high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes allow vehicles with three or more occupants to travel free; the I-75 express toll lanes have no high-occupancy mandates but on both, the tolls increase with as the level of congestion increases. Road pricing has its supporters and detractors. In its first fully digital edition, ACCESS Magazine carries an article by Brian D. Taylor on the opportunities in using road pricing to manage and reduce traffic congestion.  ACCESS covers research at the University of California Transportation Center and the University of California Center on Economic Competitiveness. The goal is to translate academic research into readable prose View Article

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Deen Day Smith, Chairman of the Board, Cecil B. Day Investment Company more quotes