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TRANSIT SYSTEM NEWS
The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, Inc. (TCAT) Board of Directors and senior leadership of Cornell University agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create a more sustainable funding model for the future of the system. The specifics of the University commitment will be released after the full TCAT Board has been briefed on the details. Both parties emerged from the meeting heartened by the significant progress made.
Western New Yorkers had the opportunity to see some of the potential plans to improve public transit between Amherst and Buffalo. A total of 15 plans were presented by The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority at the meeting, including new bus services, rail extensions and bus rapid transit. "The Amherst-Buffalo corridor is one of our busiest corridors, we provide upwards of 30,000 rides, there's the potential for that," Kim Minkel, NFTA executive director said. "When you look at all the development going on, we thought this was an important corridor to focus on.
Geneseo-area residents are now able to use their mobile phones to plan a bus trip or visually track the nearest RTS bus to find out what time it will arrive. Although tailored for the SUNY Geneseo community, it can be used in both Livingston and Monroe counties. The app allows Apple and Android users to access comprehensive real-time information on bus arrival times, nearest stops, routes and service alerts—right from the palm of their hand.
Nearly 200,000 railroad passengers got on or off Amtrak trains in Erie and Niagara counties during the government’s 2013 fiscal year, according to the Empire State Passengers Association, a volunteer organization of people working to improve intercity rail, mass transit and bus service in New York State. Among other Amtrak stations in New York State, it said 764,898 passengers “boarded or alighted” from trains at Albany-Rensselaer, making it the ninth busiest station in the Amtrak nationwide system.
The majority of workers across the U.S. still commute by personal car, but residents of certain states take greener means of transportation, including public transit, walking, biking or carpooling. While technically a federal district and not a state, Washington, D.C. has the greenest commuters in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey. The survey shows that 57% of D.C. commuters get to work in more sustainable ways, primarily by public transportation and on foot. New York takes the second spot with 35%, followed by Massachusetts with 15%.
Officials overseeing the Tappan Zee Bridge project have touted an estimated $1.5 billion in savings thanks to the state’s design-build law. But with state lawmakers failing to renew design-build legislation earlier this year, the law is set to expire at the end of December. “I think it has been a real benefit to the department, a real benefit for the state, and I think it would be a disgrace if it doesn’t get passed,” state Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald.
We tend to think of transportation networks as the result of large public works projects but lately, private hands have been tinkering at the edges of urban mobility. It's time to get the public sector talking again, says Anthony Townsend of New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management. To start the conversation, Townsend and the Rudin Center have released a report intended to provoke city officials, urban planners, and the general public into participating in the future of transportation, rather than reacting to it. Otherwise, he says, decisions made in board rooms today will impact the civic arena for decades to come.
Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau urged lawmakers to approve a “long-term, sustainable” transportation funding measure in order to help advance the efforts by states and municipalities to repair or replace aging infrastructure. Nadeau added that without a multiyear federal highway law, local officials lack much-needed guidance to prepare and execute efforts to modernize their transportation networks.
OTHER NEWS OF INTERST
Helsinki - Helsinki, Finland, is thinking boldly: if its plans come to fruition, by 2025 no one in the city will need to own a car. The Finnish city has committed to a concept called “mobility on demand,” in which a wide range of transportation options from buses to driverless cars to bikes would be meshed together into one system that a person could use to order any trip on a smartphone. The passenger would need to enter just an origin and a destination, and the mobile app at the heart of the program would do the rest, selecting the most appropriate modes of transportation and mapping the best route based on real-time traffic data.
New Jersey - After a highly competitive grant process, New Jersey Transit received $1.3 billion in federal funds to improve the resilience of the state’s transportation system in the event of devastating future storms. The funds include $410 million to develop the NJ TransitGrid into a first-of-its-kind microgrid capable of keeping the power running when the electric grid goes down. Microgrids are different from traditional electric grids in that they generate electricity on-site or nearby where it’s consumed. They can connect to the larger grid or island themselves and operate independently.
Washington - More than 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the second quarter of 2014, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This is a 1.1 percent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of 30 million more trips. Public transportation ridership outpaced urban vehicle miles traveled (VMT) which grew at 0.97 percent for this quarter. APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “Public transportation ridership continues to grow nationally, showing that federal investment in public transit is paying off. With greater travel options, peoples’ lives improve and communities grow.”
NYPTA TRAINING AND EVENTS
This Series is for transit professionals involved with procurement for federally funded transit agencies, especially those involved with pre-award planning and negotiations; contract administrators; project managers; procurement and contracting personnel wishing to improve their skills; transit suppliers; and FTA regional staff who review third-party contracting. Transit suppliers are encouraged to attend in order to understand the agency procurement function more thoroughly.
Series II – October 8-10 in Utica
More information and registration here.