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An American Take on the “Bus Stop of the Future”

College Park, Maryland's "Bus Stop of the Future." Image: Beyond DC/Flickr

College Park’s “bus stop of the future.” Image: Beyond DC/Flickr

Four years ago, the regional transit agency in Paris, RATP, set out to create the “bus stop of the future.” This bus stop would be designed to give riders and even passersby a comfortable place to relax. In addition to a sleek shelter, it featured a bike-share station, a library, and snacks and coffee.

Inspired by that example, College Park, Maryland, recently created its own version of the “bus stop of the future.” Dan Malouff at Greater Greater Washington says it includes many of the elements of the Parisian bus stop, but at a price that’s a lot more reasonable:

They started with a normal bus stop sign and shelter, then added a standard mBike bikeshare station. To help with maintenance, the city chained a bike tire pump to the station sign.

For the library, they staked to the ground a Little Free Library, a pre-fab wood box for people to take and give away free books. There’s no librarian and no library cards; it runs on the honor system, and relies on people donating as many books as they take.

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Today’s Headlines

  • SFMTA Gets Cap & Trade Funds for New Trains (SFBay)
  • SFMTA Interactive Subway Vision Map (CityLab)
  • Red Lanes Staying on Mission (Curbed)
  • The Three Candidates for SF BART Seat (SFExaminer)
  • Approval Closer for Oakland Chinatown Development (Socketsite)
  • More Supply Impacting Rent Increase Rate (SFGate)
  • But Home Sales Tick Down (KQED, DailyJournal)
  • Is this Bye to By Right Proposal? (DailyJournal)
  • Transit Agency Subsidizes Ride Hail (EastBayTimes)
  • VTA Light Rail Delays Due to Damaged Wire (MercNews)
  • Commentary: Will BART Bond Really Fix Things? (EastBayTimes)
  • Commentary: Requiring Licenses for Bikes is Stupid (SFExaminer)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

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Streetsblog Talks with Jeff Tumlin About Oakland’s Transportation Future

Jeffrey Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting, outside a restaurant near Oakland City Hall. Photo: Streetsblog.

Jeffrey Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy at Nelson/Nygaard Consulting. Photo: Streetsblog.

Jeffrey Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting, has until early next year to put together a Transportation Department, pretty much from scratch, for the City of Oakland.

“A better Oakland starts with better streets today, in every part of our city,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf, in a prepared announcement. “We need a world-class transportation department to take a fresh look at our streets, and provide Oakland residents with safer, healthier and more accessible ways to get around, to and from work and school. Equitably enhancing our streets and adding to the array of viable transportation options in Oakland increases the vibrancy of our urban community.”

Tumlin is charged with setting up the department and putting all those goals in motion, as the interim director of the new DOT. Easy, right? Uh, no. From where Streetsblog sits, it seems pretty daunting. If anybody can do it, it’s Tumlin. He’s famous for his work on planning projects all over the world and his uncanny ability to make the wonkiest transportation stuff easily digestible to the general public. That’s important, considering how many voters–and the politicians who represent them–still think better transportation equals widening highways.

Tumlin asked Streetsblog for a sit down to talk about what he’s up to. And when a rock-star of the safe-streets movement asks Streetsblog for a lunch meeting outside Oakland City Hall, he gets it.

*

Streetsblog: So Jeff, what brings you to Oakland?

Jeffrey Tumlin: My charge is actually fairly simple, first thing I have to do is create a DOT for Oakland. There’s currently one employee, that’s me. We need to create an organization. We need all of the details of the organization chart, including how to split administration functions from Public Works and have the resources to adequately staff our administration functions. Do we organize it functionally or by service delivery? Do we organize the org chart according to conventional silos, or do we turn it 90 degrees and organize it by project team or service delivery. Both structures have profound advantages and disadvantages.

SB: 90 degrees–come again?

JT: Is our primary orientation around skill and function area, or is it around service delivery? In a capital project, you can set it up so one group is in charge of planning, another does design, another does operations, and another builds it. And there’s a hand-off that occurs when it moves from phase to phase. Another way of addressing it is instead of organizing a group of people who do nothing but, for example, budgets, instead organize a project team.

SB: So instead of a design department, a planning department, and a bike lane department, you structure it so you have an office for, let’s say, the Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets project, and people from all those specialties are inside that office?

Oakland will be getting more parking-protected bike lanes like this one demonstrated by Bike East Bay. But will the potholls get repaired? Photos: Melanie Curry

Oakland will get more parking-protected bike lanes like this one demonstrated by Bike East Bay. But will the pavement be repaired? Photo: Melanie Curry

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Via Streetsblog California
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California Senate Proposal for Cap-and-Trade Revenues Focuses on Equity

bikeatCapitollabel2The Senate released a spending plan for the unallocated portion of cap-and-trade revenues today, in the form of Assembly Bill 1613. The plan, say Senate leaders and advocates, focuses on environmental equity while supporting projects that will reduce greenhouse gases.

Cap-and-trade revenues, raised at auction from companies that pollute, are required by law to be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sixty percent of the total auction revenues are allocated by formula to several programs that include High Speed Rail, the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, and transit. Just yesterday, the California State Transportation Agency allocated $390 million for transit projects throughout the state, including streetcars, rail extensions, and increased bus service.

The remaining forty percent of the revenue has yet to be decided upon. This Senate plan is a step towards finding agreement with the Assembly and the Governor, each of which has previously proposed slightly differing expenditure plans. Last year, the end of the session passed with no agreement being reached. With only a few weeks remaining in this year’s session, an agreement is not guaranteed, although leaders in both the Senate and the Assembly have said they are committed to finding one.

Meanwhile greenhouse-gas reduction programs, like waste diversion programs, are in limbo until they know whether they will be funded or not.

The Senate proposal has support from advocates for its focus on environmental equity. “This represents good progress,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Alvaro Sanchez. “This proposal means real help to low-income families and their neighborhoods.”

The plan would spend over $1 billion on programs and projects to reduce greenhouse gases, including the Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Transportation programs (which provide incentives for clean vehicles, among other things), waste diversion, methane emission reduction in the dairy industry, healthy forests, energy efficiency, and renewable energy programs.

The Active Transportation Program would receive $5 million under this proposal, which is better than the goose eggs offered in the previous Senate plan but a far cry from the $100 million called for by advocates and included in the original Assembly expenditure plan. As a method of reducing greenhouse gases, active transportation is hard to beat, yet so far it hasn’t received any money from the proceeds of cap and trade.

The plan does, however, set aside $175 million for a new program called “Transformative Climate Communities” that will support disadvantaged communities in efforts to coordinate and combine different projects and programs that together can multiply their greenhouse gas reduction benefits. That could include anything from bike infrastructure to planting trees to building charging stations for electric vehicles.

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State DOTs to Feds: We Don’t Want to Reveal Our Impact on Climate Change

State DOTs don’t want to report on how their spending decisions affect greenhouse gas emissions. Photo: Andrew Boone

Every year state DOTs receive tens of billions of dollars in transportation funds from the federal government. By and large, they can do whatever they want with the money, which in most states means wasting enormous sums on pork-laden highway projects. Now that U.S. DOT might impose some measure of accountability on how states use these funds, of course the states are fighting to keep their spending habits as opaque as possible.

At issue are proposed “performance measures” that U.S. DOT will establish to track whether states make progress on goals like reducing traffic injuries or cutting greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. For the first time, state DOTs will have to set targets and measure their progress toward achieving them. It is strictly a transparency initiative — there are no penalties for failure to meet the targets.

Nevertheless, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), doesn’t want to expose the effect of state transportation policies to public scrutiny. AASHTO has released a 110-page comment [PDF] on U.S. DOT’s proposed performance measures, rattling off a litany of objections.

Here are a few highlights:

AASHTO doesn’t want to measure greenhouse gas emissions

In a meeting with federal officials in May [PDF], AASHTO leaders opposed a rule that would require state DOTs to measure their greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentalists and even some state DOTs support this rule (there is some diversity of opinion within AASHTO). But the AASHTO leadership really dislikes it. In its comments, AASHTO said it doesn’t believe the feds have the “legislative authority” make state DOTs track carbon emissions.

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Today’s Headlines

  • BART Unable to Fire Employee Accused of Beating a Homeless Man (SFGate, SFBay)
  • Muni Pass Fare Increase (SFBay)
  • Vision Zero Radio Ads (SFBay)
  • More on East Bay BART Delays (SFist)
  • Development Rises in New Affordable Housing Paradigm (SFChron)
  • City Readies for Waterfront Development (SFExaminer)
  • Skinny Housing to Replace SoMa Gas Station (Socketsite)
  • AC Transit Tries on Demand Buses (EastBayTimes)
  • Caltrain to get $20 Million from Cap & Trade for Electrification (Almanac)
  • BART Prude Riders Upset by San Leandro Nude Statue (NBC4)
  • Shovels Turning on Downtown Novato Train Station (MarinIJ)

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Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

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Panel Asks: How do We Get More Diversity in Bike Advocacy?

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SFBC director Brian Wiedenmeier introduced Janice Li, Renee Rivera, Lateefah Simon and Tamika Butler for a discussion about racial equity in the bike advocacy movement. Photo: Streetsblog.

SFBC director Brian Wiedenmeier introduced Janice Li (who moderated the panel), Renee Rivera, Lateefah Simon, and Tamika Butler for a discussion about equity in the bike advocacy movement. Photo: Streetsblog.

Yesterday evening, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) held a discussion about diversity as part of its “Bike Talks” series at the Sports Basement Grotto on Bryant Street. Janice Li, Advocacy Director for SFBC, moderated a panel comprised of Lateefah Simon, President of the Akonadi Foundation, Tamika Butler, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and Renee Rivera, Executive Director of Bike East Bay.

The formal discussion about the lack of diversity in the bike advocacy community was preceded by a social with snacks and drinks. “I’ve been very up-front that issues of racial and economic justice are important to me personally, and I am interested in how the SFBC’s work can reflect those values,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, in a conversation with Streetsblog. Wiedenmeier, in several presentations, has stressed his wish that the SFBC broaden efforts to increase the diversity of its membership. “We have a strategic planning process we’ll be kicking off this fall and I think this event is a great way to begin that conversation with our members,” he said.

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A Year After Houston’s Bus Network Redesign, Ridership Is Up

Houston Metro ridership has increased about 7 percent since the bus system was completely overhauled last year. Graph: Rice University's Kinder Institute

Bus ridership is up 1.2 percent and total Houston METRO ridership has increased about 7 percent following an overhaul of the city’s bus network and the launch of new light rail last year. Graph: Rice University’s Kinder Institute

After years of declining bus ridership, last August Houston METRO overhauled service patterns around the city, updating the bus network for the first time since the 1970s. Practically overnight, Houston’s network changed from a hub-and-spoke model to a more grid-like system designed to expand access to frequent service to more of the city. Night and weekend service dramatically increased as well. The country has been watching to see the results.

A year later, Houston officials are taking stock. Bus ridership has ticked up, bolstered by growing weekend ridership, and light rail ridership has increased substantially — a reflection of how Houston policy makers are treating both modes as a unified network, writes Leah Binkovitz at The Urban Edge:

From September 2015 (the first full month after the switch was implemented) to July 2016 (the most recent complete month), METRO saw its ridership on local bus and light-rail add an additional 4.5 million boardings — a 6.8 percent increase.

The numbers are more modest when looking at local bus ridership alone, which saw a 1.2 percent growth in ridership during that period. The light-rail system’s Red Line saw a more sizable 16.6 percent increase.

Local weekend bus ridership is one of the new system’s strongest areas, continuing a trend that begun almost immediately after the redesign was implemented. From June 2015 to June 2016 — the most recent METRO has released more detailed ridership data — local buses saw a 13 percent increase in ridership on Saturdays and a 34 percent increase on Sundays, according to METRO, with similarly strong numbers for rail as well.

Local weekday bus ridership actually dropped over that same time period by 1 percent. However, a 14 percent increase in light-rail ridership amounted to an overall weekday ridership increase of 3 percent. The growth in rail supports [Metro Board Chair Carrin] Patman’s focus on the new bus system’s strong connections to the growing network of lines. And she said, there’s more to come for the system.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Bike Lanes and Pedestrian Improvements Planned for Arguello (SFExaminer)
  • SFMTA Compromises on Mission Turning Restrictions (SFBay)
  • SFMTA Approves “Parking for God” Pilot (SFExaminer, SFist, SFBay)
  • Fight over Van Ness BRT Bus Stop Shelter Design Threatens Federal Funding (SFBay)
  • BART Delays Coming to East Bay (Kron4)
  • BART San Jose Extension Gets State Funds (EastBayTimes, MercNews, BusinessTimes)
  • BART Escalators are as Old as BART (SFGate)
  • BART Board Candidate Drops Out (SFExaminer)
  • Car Traffic and Ferry Demand Strong While Marin Bus Service Numbers Dip (MarinIJ)
  • Hyperloop Dupe is Ending (SFWeekly)
  • Commentary: Eliminate SF Parking Mandates (SFExaminer)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

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Brisbane Baylands Mega Development Plans for Mega Car Traffic

Both of the proposed designs of an 8-lane Geneva Avenue extension include pedestrian-hostile crossing distances of 120 feet at intersections. Image: City of Brisbane

Both of the proposed designs of an 8-lane Geneva Avenue extension include pedestrian-hostile crossing distances of 120 feet at intersections. Image: City of Brisbane

As the City of Brisbane agonizes over how little housing to include in a new mixed-use mega development to be built around a relocated Bayshore Caltrain Station, proposals to sink over $300 million into a new 12-lane Highway 101 interchange and an eight-lane extension of Geneva Avenue remain uncontroversial.

If approved, 7 million square feet of new office and retail space will be built on a huge abandoned rail yard and municipal dump, attracting an estimated 15,500 to 17,500 weekday workers. A proposed 4,434 new residential units would house around 9,900 new residents, although the inclusion of these housing units have proven the most controversial aspect of the plan.

Despite pitching the Brisbane Baylands as a transit-oriented community featuring an “improved street network to minimize traffic volume,” city planners assume that even in 2030, 80 percent of the development’s work trips and 70 percent of non-work trips will be made by automobile. 80 percent of visitors arriving at a 17,000-seat entertainment arena are also expected to arrive by car. Read more…