Thursday, February 16, 2012

Aging and Disabilities Organizations: Federal Budget Proposal; State Services and Funding

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities
NASUAD posts a chart that translates both the President's proposed budget and expected funding in terms of programs that serve senior citizens. Transportation is included, but the list is vast. NASUAD also released a state-of-the-state report that reviews state aging services. This is one of those reports with fascinating and informative tables for anyone interested in what states pay for which services and what is covered by Medicaid in different states.

Related to the reports described above is one that AARP prepared with NASUAD staff. On the Verge: The Transformation of Long-Term Services and Supports discusses state budgets, staffing and policy trends. Notable is a discussion of the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act.

Paralyzed Veterans of America

PVA and other veterans groups release the annual Independent Budget, a veterans-focused analysis of the President's budget proposals, with advocacy for increased funding in particular areas. There are sections relating to employment, education and medical care. Transportation is discussed in the medical care section.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Associations Educating Members, Urge Members to Contact Congress

Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA has created Reauthorization Central, which contains the different proposed bills in Congress, summaries and CTAA analysis of the legislation, key Congressional committees' documents, Department of Transportation responses and the schedule of possible Congressional actions. Letters to Congress with comments on the funding provisions also are posted, including a joint letter signed on by CTAA, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Reconnecting America, and the American Public Transportation Association.

American Public Transportation Association

APTA is strongly opposing the reauthorization proposal in the House.
The bill eliminates the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and creates the new Alternative Transportation Account that would provide funding for public transportation, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Control (CMAQ) program, and several other programs. Dedicated funding for the new account has not yet been identified.
APTA calls for a predictable and dedicated source of funding. It is supporting a bi-partisan effort in the House to restore transit's funding source. "It is not yet clear if the Rules Committee will allow a vote on this amendment. APTA is urging a full floor vote on this amendment prior to final passage."

APTA has also prepared talking points to use when communicating with members of Congress. These include the point that "[t]he Ways and Means proposal to fund public transportation investment with a one-time appropriation would leave transit without any funding source when those funds run out in 2016."
[Portland light rail near the convention center.]

Planning Organizations at Stake

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations

AMPO and APTA are jointly recommending to Congress that the reauthorization retain all exixting metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), regardless of population size.
Removing the decision-making authority from the local level will reduce the voice of the local government, transit agencies, its citizens, and people in the region. Citizens elect their local public officials to reflect the unique nature of their region, and removing the MPO will only increase the distance between the average citizen and the policy-maker.
AMPO and APTA also oppose the 200,000-population threshold for all MPOs as eight states would potentially be left without one unless the Secretary grants approval that they possess the technical capacity to complete the planning requirements. Some that have served as local planning conveners since 1962 would be eliminated.

National Association of Counties
NACo is concerned about reauthorization proposals that fail to maintain planning organizations.
MPOs between 50,000-200,000 would face an uncertain future and are no longer guaranteed a role in the planning process; efforts to enhance the planning role for include rural regions under 50,000 were not successful; the Surface Transportation Program underwent some changes that may not be beneficial to local governments; and funding for the Transportation Enhancement program appears to be no longer mandatory.
[Portland's Amtrak station.]

Amalgamated Transit Union
ATU is advocating in favor of federal operating assistance for transit systems.
Now more than ever we must urge Members of Congress to do the right thing for our communities by voting yes on the amendment to adopt the original “100 Bus” language which also includes targeted and temporary operating assistance for the nation’s medium size and large transit systems which are also in the midst of a mobility crisis.

Other groups, such as Transportation for America, PolicyLink, and the League of American Bicyclists, among others, are advocating for improved transit funding and multi-modal street networks.

As we go to press, there are House members switching sides to back transit and the Senate is likely to put off a vote.
[San Luis Obispo Amtrak station.]

Local Stories

Two of the biggest logistical concerns for working parents are transportation and child care. One transit agency is doing both. To attract good employees who can work the nontraditional hours that transit and other industries demand, Prairie Transit in Spearfish, S.D., "opened its own state-licensed child care facility right in its new transit center." The article, Community care: Day care centers draw workers to towns, appeared in the Rapid City Journal.

Indianapolis, Ind. - APTA reports that IndyGo performed well during the Super Bowl festivities. The transit agency had a “Know Before You Go” campaign to alert riders to temporary route changes and offered free rides Feb. 2-5, funded by a federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant.
Local fixed route ridership surpassed expectations throughout the entire detour period with a 39 percent increase over average ridership: a total of 325,212 rides over 10 days. IndyGo operated additional buses to accommodate the crowds on fixed route service, reaching a peak of 28 extra buses assisting routes on Feb. 4.

APTA's news also highlights another story, this from Cincinnati, where the Everybody Rides Metro Foundation, administered by Metro in Cincinnati, provided more than a million free rides in the past four years to low-income workers traveling to and from work, job training, and related activities. "Almost 100 agencies partner with the foundation, including Talbert House, Freestore Foodbank, St. Vincent de Paul, Lighthouse Youth Services, and Cincinnati Works."

Hi-Tech Town

Boston transit riders have hi-tech ways to get real-time information and engage in public participation. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is texting real-time information to bus riders. Just the stop identification number and the telephone number are all that is needed. And if you have a smartphone, life is even better because Boston boasts more than 40 apps for transit. Helps having lots of smart, techie college students around. The MBTA is also considering service cuts and fare increases. Like the wired town that it is, Boston's residents are commenting publicly - on twitter. That meeting is so last century. Both stories via the TransitWire.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Transit Users - What Influences Use; Events and Local Stories


Easter Seals Project ACTION

Forming Partnerships with Transit - Online course - Feb. 13-Mar. 26. Designed for transit advocates interested in increasing their role in the design and implementation of community transportation services, the course includes four learning modules: Transportation planning, funding, becoming a transit supporter, and strategies.

Partnership for Mobility Management
2012 Mobility Management Conference - May 9-10, 2012, Long Beach, CA. To be held in conjunction with the Bus and Paratransit Conference (details below), this conference features sessions on performance measurement, forming partnerships with different organizations, non-emergency medical transportation and brokerages, customer focus, information technology, and integration of facilities. The Partnership is a collaborative effort of seven national organizations and approximately 300 individual mobility managers and mobility management professionals from around the country.

Community Transportation Association of America

EXPO conference - May 20-25, 2012, Baltimore, Md. This year's EXPO will feature tracks on mobility management, connectivity and livability, transportation operations, and management, as well as separate tracks on transportation for dialysis, veterans and employment. There will also be a two-day Job Access Conference that will focus on transportation partners, namely economic development, workforce development, employers and chambers of commerce; and highlight the many transportation options for students, job seekers, employees and businesses.

American Public Transportation Association
2012 Legislative Conference - March 11-13, 2012, Washington, DC.
Bus & Paratransit Conference - May 6-9, 2012, Long Beach, CA.
Rail Conference - June 3-6, 2012,Dallas, TX
Public Transportation & Universities Conference - June 16-19, 2012, Fargo, ND. This conference explores the unique needs of university communities and the population they serve, including the issues of universal access and land use development.

American Public Works Association
Sustainability in Public Works Conference - June 25-27, 2012, Pittsburgh, PA.

Local Stories

Children’s Health Fund
Instead of traveling to the doctor, a CHF mobile medical clinic goes to children and families. This entertaining video shows what the mobile clinics do and what that means for families.

At the other end of the age spectrum, a travel training program for older people fosters independence. This article, Program takes aim at seniors' bus fears, about a Wisconsin mobility manager who does travel training, and the older people he is training, personalizes the significance of the training and the confidence, and the mobility that using public transportation provides for those with transportation and mobility challenges. The article appeared in the

Transit Riders by Mode

Minetta Transportation Institute

Understanding Transit Ridership Demand for a Multi-Destination, Multimodal Transit Network in an American Metropolitan Area - Lessons for Increasing Choice Ridership While Maintaining Transit Dependent Ridership explores ridership patterns in the Atlanta area, specifically what bus and rail commuters have in common and what transit variables separate them. Though the report looks at the Atlanta area, the findings seem useful for thinking about transit possibilities and realities in other areas of the country. Here are a few excerpts. Many more details can be found in the report.

Bus riders were overwhelmingly transit-dependent riders, and rail riders included a disproportionate number of choice riders. By and large, rail riders tend to come from zones with high levels of vehicle access and bus riders from zones with low levels of vehicle access. The model results highlight important similarities as well as differences between the two rider groups. In terms of similarities, both bus and rail trips are produced in larger numbers in zones with higher populations and higher population densities, and attracted to destinations with larger numbers of jobs, but generally not areas with the highest densities of employment. Both bus and rail riders are also generally quite sensitive to in-vehicle travel time and transfer time.

In terms of differences between bus and rail riders, bus riders tend to come from zones with lower income, lower vehicle access (as noted above), and higher minority populations. While rail riders also disproportionately come from minority zones, they come from zones with high levels of vehicle access and the income variable is not significant, except in the cases of rail riders destined to more dispersed destinations, who tend to come from zones with lower incomes, but also relatively high levels of vehicle access. Bus riders do not place the same importance on out-of-vehicle travel time to transit as do rail riders ... Rail riders, on the other hand, do place a premium on out-of-vehicle travel time ... This is not surprising given the small number of rail stations and their spatial distribution relative to the patterns of population and employment in Atlanta.

TOD at Destination

The results for the land-use variables also reveal important differences between bus and rail riders as well as insights into the importance of transit-oriented development (TOD). Bus riders in Atlanta are not influenced by the presence of a transit-oriented development at either the origin or destination. The CBD does not emerge as a statistically significant destination for bus riders; indeed, lower density employment clusters emerge as important destinations for these riders. For rail riders, on the other hand, the CBD does emerge as an important travel destination, and two of Atlanta’s TODs (Midtown and North Avenue) emerge as important contributors to rail patronage, in excess of what would otherwise be predicted by the employment levels or densities of these zones.


Length of Wait Time Matters

The variable that had the greatest effect in determining transit ridership was the transit travel time between the origin zone and the destination zone. [T]ransit-dependent ridership, rather than being a fixed amount regardless of service quality, increases tremendously if the transit travel time between origin and destination is reduced.


What we see by looking at the parameters is a model that depicts more affluent, auto- owning riders using transit than does the bus model. The rail riders are willing to use rail transit to get to jobs throughout the region (not just jobs in the CBD), so long as they can walk to jobs once they get off the trains or can easily transfer to frequent buses that do not take long to reach jobs in the vicinity. CBD and TOD at the rail destination (though not at the rail origin) are highly important to potential rail riders.


In-vehicle travel time is relatively less important than out-of-vehicle travel time because trains are relatively fast, and their travel time is not an issue to passengers, in contrast to the depressing effect of slow buses, as shown earlier in the bus models. What really matters, however, are lengthy waits when transferring between trains and buses ... This conclusion is reinforced when we look at the tremendous impact that destination TODs have on multiplying rail ridership in comparison to the insignificant impact that origin TODs have on ridership. Where destination TODs exist, walking to the final destination is relatively short and attractive, and rail ridership to the TOD increases by 500% over what the model otherwise would predict for that zone.