City Wants High-Tech Traffic Control

Posted by Columbus Transit On June - 28 - 2010

The City of Columbus wants to invest $36.8 million to purchase a high-tech system that would give traffic controllers direct access to coordinate traffic lights across the city. When traffic backs up because of an accident, congestion, or re-routing, traffic controllers could change lights with a flick of a switch to get cars moving more quickly through intersections.

COTA Offices Move Downtown

Posted by Columbus Transit On June - 28 - 2010

The Central Ohio Transit Authority moved its headquarters downtown recently into the newly remodeled building at 33 North High Street. The $13.6 million renovation of the 10-story downtown building includes a new customer-service counter where passengers can purchase tickets and extensive green features such as energy-saving lighting. COTA is in the process of applying for LEED Certification for the renovation. COTA will utilize seven of the 10 stories and will rent the other three out. Notably, the building does not include parking as COTA employees are expected to utilize the bus.

YPCOTA Kicks Off

Posted by Columbus Transit On June - 17 - 2010

Young Professionals Columbus and COTA have teamed up to encourage 'social transit' through a month-long initiative combining transit with social networking.

New Parking Meter Rates Coming

Posted by Columbus Transit On June - 17 - 2010

Crews are changing the parking meter prices and times on meters in the downtown and Short North area, as well as adding 400 new parking meters to previously free spaces. The changes come after a long debate about how best to up rates to help pay for the construction of a new convention center hotel. The original rate change, pulled from the funding plan for the shelved Columbus Streetcar initiative, upset business owners in the up-and-coming Gay Street area and downtown. A commission revised the plan which was approved and is now being implemented.

Improving COTA

Posted by Columbus Transit On 4:33 PM 3 comments

COTA already is improving its service with the tax increase approved by voters. However, what are some other improvements that could upgrade Central Ohio service? The Dispatch published a story with a slideshow of proposed improvements downtown, among them new lighting for bus stops. While this would be a nice addition, perhaps COTA should take a look at Denmark's bus system, given the idea that flexibility is important to riders. The picture here shows a "3" indicating how many minutes until the next bus on this route arrives. In addition, the time is displayed online and can be texted to phones. This type of information greatly increases the ease of use and could convince people to switch to transit. Compare this advanced bus stop to Columbus' signage and you can see the possible upgrades.

Time Recognizes Transit Funding Failures

Posted by Columbus Transit On 9:33 AM 0 comments
In light of the recent accident on D.C.'s Metro, Time produced an article highlighting the massive disparity between highway and transit funding. Despite the rise in ridership, funding for transit has not changed, causing problems in handling the numbers. This problem must be fixed if the US hopes to handle growth and development. At some point, highways will just not be able to handle everyone. Check out the time article here. Enjoy!

Smog in Columbus

Posted by Columbus Transit On 4:52 PM 3 comments

As the summer heats up, smog builds up in Central Ohio. Today, according to this Dispatch story, a smog alert was issued for Central Ohio. The smog, it claims, is caused by pollution from among other things automobile pollution. It has been well documented that public transit is more environmentally friendly than single-person automobiles and has the ability to cut harmful emissions which hurt our health and the atmosphere. Some have claimed that with the upgrades in vehicles and the lagging research in mass transit, cars, over the course of their lifespan and taking into account all components of manufacturing might actually be better for the environment. While I must question the second argument because it stands in the face of so much research, I can say that the second study did not take all things into account.

For instance, looking at the increases in density that follows implementation of mass transit means that it is not necessary for someone to drive everywhere to purchase anything. (Newman, Resilient Cities: The Sustainable Transport City, 1999) Instead, people would be able to return to the tried and true method of utilizing the legs evolution (just kidding, I don't want to get into that fight) gave us. (walking, I mean walking). By utilizing mass transit, density will increase, closer shops will open, and walking will save energy. Additionally, mass transit will increase density and help curb the sprawl of the urban environment. Columbus' population has grown 12.4 percent since 1990. While this is positive, the miles a vehicle travels in Columbus has grown by 31 percent between 1990 and 2000. Columbus has watched its city sprawl dramatically in comparison to its population growth. This needs to be controlled and mass transit can aid in this process.

By implementing rail transit in Columbus, we could decrease emissions, increase density, and reduce urban sprawl while breathing fresher air throughout the region. Beat that vans.

Switching to Transit: Columbus Case Study

Posted by Columbus Transit On 9:07 PM 0 comments
When expanding service or implementing new mass transit options, the question of “will people ride?” plays an important role. Especially given the time and money that go into rail transit, these questions need to be asked before construction begins; however there are strategies for mass transit that can boost ridership. This article, published in the Journal of Public Transportation, utilizes Columbus, Ohio as a case study for public transportation as a means to commute to work. The article both reinforces some already well-known facts about mass transit use and draws some interesting new conclusions.

The study questioned employees at the downtown headquarters of a major corporation in Columbus. All of the employees surveyed commuted by car to work. When asked, the largest considerations in choosing which type of transportation to utilize for their commute depended on the following factors: flexibility, cost, and time. The subjects also responded by saying that as cost increased significantly, flexibility and time decreased in importance. The survey also claims that environmental concerns, congestion, and sprawl are often not concrete enough negatives to convince people to switch to transit because they are not pressing.

Some interesting factors coming from the survey included the idea that in all three groups of respondents (those concerned about flexibility, cost, and time), all said they would be most likely to switch to mass transportation if a light rail system were installed in Columbus. In addition, the survey claims that employers play a major role in affecting how employees commute to work. If companies provide concrete information about commuting, ridership is affected positively.

In concluding, the author gave two suggestions to improve transit ridership: a public-private partnership should be established to help subsidize mass transit to increase frequency and improve infrstructure, and this partnership should work to provide focused, concrete information about the closest routes to the office using public transportation.

Interesting stuff. CBT will continue to dissect this information and exactly what it means for Columbus transit in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading!

3-C Corridor Delayed

Posted by Columbus Transit On 8:10 PM 0 comments

NBC4i posted a story this weekend explaining that the fight for federal dollars for rail transportation in Ohio has pushed back the proposed date of completion until 2011. While unfortunate, it seems the 3-C corridor is still on track for construction.

The Case for Mass Transit, Part 1

Posted by Columbus Transit On 7:51 PM 8 comments
I have often underestimated anger about the use of public funds for public transportation. What I find particularly interesting is that in my view, it is exactly why humans created government in the first place: to embark on community oriented projects. Regardless, I guess someone must make the case for utilizing funds for public transportation. Utilizing the example of the Portland Streetcar, it is easy to see what the point of transportation is. Here are just a few facts that prove this point:
  • Ridership on the streetcar is 30% higher than ridership on a comparable Portland City bus line
  • Investment as a result of the streetcar totaled nearly $3,500,000,000 of development directly within the city's downtown area.
  • Within one block of the streetcar line, housing density in the area has jumped almost 60 percent
This information can be found here. These types of results showcase the numerous benefits of public transportation. That type of downtown development can be replicated in Columbus with an investment in public transportation.

The case for mass transit will continue to be published over the next several months as an ongoing series demonstrating the development opportunities associated with upgrades in mass transportation.

The World Cup and Columbus Transit

Posted by Columbus Transit On 11:02 AM 0 comments
As the first city in the nation to build a stadium specifically for its professional soccer team, Columbus, Ohio could claim to be the birthplace of a reinvigorated American Major League Soccer establishment. Yesterday, when Business First announced that Columbus was on the radar to be the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup host city, it seemed only fitting for our status. According to Business First’s piece however, the decision of which of 37 possible host cities will be chosen will be based on “information from city officials about tourism, climate, security, transportation and promotion.” Some questions about Columbus’s transportation system must be raised. Will Columbus be able to step up to the plate to be the host city? With a massive influx of tourists, national and international, will Port Columbus and COTA be able to meet the demand?

These questions always need to be asked before major events are scheduled. As a transportation blog, CBT recognizes that Columbus does have some major transportation advantages over other cities:
  • A central, walk-able, safe, urban core
  • An abundance of highways as well as an inner and outer belt
  • A strong, expanding bus system

However, while Columbus has some positives, there are a few places where our transportation infrastructure might be an issue:

  • Lack of any rail options to get to the city or move around within the city
  • A small airport with few international flights

While this could be a hindrance in Columbus’s bid to be the host city, it could also serve as a massive boost for a proposed Central Ohio light rail system. This has been proven in the past. Prior to the 2004 Summer Olympics hosted by Athens, Greece, a flurry of transportation construction took place. In response to the large number of international tourists that would be attending the event, Athens constructed a brand new downtown tram line, and built and substantially upgraded its metro lines. These improvements took place as a direct result of Athens becoming the host city.

If Columbus were chosen as host city for one of the FIFA World Cup dates, we can hope that it would galvanize our efforts to see real improvements to our city's transportation infrastructure. With more than a decade until the event, Columbus could totally overhaul its rail network and place itself on the national and international radar. Our city officials should be fighting for this, and CBT will be here to watch.

High Speed Rail in the Works for Ohio

Posted by Columbus Transit On 8:54 PM 0 comments

Governor Strickland and Ohio authorities are working to secure high speed rail right here in Central Ohio. With $8 billion given to high speed rail through President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Ohio has been fighting for a chunk. In April, the Columbus Dispatch wrote a story about the possibility of Ohio claiming some high speed rail funds. Today, the Dispatch released a story with some encouraging news: according to the guidelines released by the Obama administration, Columbus might just see some of those high speed rail dollars after all. This is extremely preliminary, but the future just might hold high speed rail for Columbus. CBT will be here to watch.

CBus Transit Opens

Posted by Columbus Transit On 6:02 PM 2 comments
As one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the state of Ohio, Columbus and Central Ohio deserve multiple options for travelling the city and the region. Right now, the citizens of Columbus sorely lack options for transit. This needs to change, and with the dedicated work of the community, politicians, and yes, even bloggers, CBT hopes to watch a dramatic shift occur. CBT is here to document, inform, and discover what agencies across the region and state are doing to provide you with the means to get where you want to go.
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