Posts Tagged ‘Public transportation’

Trump Budget Would Hit Ohio Public Transit

March 20, 2017

The proposed fiscal year 2018 budget submitted to Congress by the Trump administration would put funding-starved public transportation in Ohio in even more dire straits.

“We’re barely hanging on. It’s just going to make the existing problems even worse,” said Kirt Conrad, president of the Ohio Public Transit Association and CEO of the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority.

President Donald J. Trump wants to cut the U.S. Department of Transportation budget by $2.4 billion, which is 13 percent.

Much of the adverse effect on public transportation could come from cuts to grant programs that benefit public transit systems.

The New Starts program, which was authorized to fund $2.3 billion in new rail or bus-rapid transit lines or to expand existing lines through 2020, was used by Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s HealthLine on Euclid Avenue.

“It [budget cuts] really potentially cuts future transit expansions in the country in general. It’s not just Ohio; in the whole country, public transit is at risk,” Conrad said. “In Ohio, without the federal support, I do not see those expansions.”

Also slated to be cut is the TIGER grant proram, which has also been used to fund transit in Ohio.

TIGER grants have funded rehabilitation of RTA stations, including the Little Italy-University Circle station and the University-Cedar station.

Two TIGER grants awarded in 2016 funded bicycle infrastructure in Cleveland and Akron.

Ohio transportation officials say the state’s transit systems rely on federal funding because Ohio limits the use of gas tax revenue to road projects.

Further squeezing public transit systems is a coming loss of revenue from a Medicaid MCO sale tax, which had been used for transit funding.

Starting in 2019, public transit systems in Ohio will lose $34 annually from that revenue source.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed increasing state funding for public transportation by $10 million to make up part of the slack being left by the loss of the Medicaid MCO sales tax.

“Access to public transit is just getting worse, not better, in Ohio,” Conrad said.

Although the impact of the proposed Trump budget on highway construction and maintenance funding has yet to come into clear focus, transportation officials say that the loss of TIGER grants will have an adverse effect by removing another source of federal funding.

A $125 million TIGER grant helped pay, for example, for the new eastbound span of the George V. Voinovich (Innerbelt Bridge).

The Trump budget would also shift responsibility for air traffic control from the Federal Aviation administration to an independent, non-governmental organization.

NARP Decries Amtrak, Transit Budget Cuts

March 17, 2017

The National Association of Railroad Passengers said Thursday that the Trump administration budget for Amtrak for the fiscal year 2018 appears to have been adopted from a model proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The administration described the budget blueprint as a “skinny budget” and it contains few program details.

NARP contends that while President Donald Trump has talked up the need for transportation infrastructure investment, “his administration’s first budget guts infrastructure spending, slashing $2.4 billion from transportation. This will jeopardize mobility for millions of Americans and endanger tens of thousands of American jobs.”

The budget, which must be approved by Congress, would end all federal funding for Amtrak’s national network trains.

NARP said this would leave 23 states, including Ohio, without rail passenger service.

The Trump budget would also cut $499 million from the TIGER grant program, which has been used to advance passenger rail and transit projects and eliminate $2.3 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s “New Starts” Capital Investment Program, which is used to fund the launch of transit, commuter rail, and light-rail projects.

Political analysts have noted that no budget proposal sent to Congress has emerged without changes.

It is likely that transportation advocacy groups will lobby Congress hard to restore the funding that Trump wants to cut.

Study Finds Public Transit Helps Local Economies

March 9, 2017

The American Public Transportation Association says that 90 percent of public transit trips affect local economies through work commutes and consumer spending habits.

That was the key finding of a study sponsored by the trade group, which said 63 percent of public transit riders use transit systems at least five days a week and 13 percent use them six or seven days a week.

Most riders are in the most economically active years of their lives between age 20 and 64.

More than 70 percent of transit riders are employed. Seven percent are students.

But not all of them are riding to work. Since 2007 use of public transit to go shopping has more than doubled.

Public transit ridership has increased by 37 percent since 1995, which APTA said is a growth rate higher than the 20 percent increase in the U.S. population and higher than the 23 percent growth in the use of the country’s highway systems.

The study was conducted by CJI Research Corporation.

 

No New Ohio Transit Funding Likely

December 16, 2016

All Aboard Ohio reports that the next budget for the Ohio Department of Transportation to be submitted by Gov. John Kasich is unlikely to contain any additional funding for public transportation.

ODOT 2The budget proposal will be presented to the Ohio General Assembly in late January and cover fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

AAO, a rail passenger advocacy group, said that ODOT officials have told metropolitan planning organizations that the budget will be “very tight.”

Kasich recently told the legislature that the state’s revenues have been below estimates and that Ohio may be on the verge of a recession.

The passenger advocacy group noted in its December newsletter that public transportation in Ohio is funded from the general fund and the ODOT budget is separate from that.

Michigan Officials Mull Options After Voters Spurned Commuter Rail Funding Proposal

November 26, 2016

The Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority it examining its options after voters earlier this month narrowly defeated a tax increase that would have funded an expansion of service, including a Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail line.

SE Michigan RTAWhat is certain, though, is that the earliest that the SMRTA can return to the voters with the same proposal is 2018.

“Obviously we’re just trying to absorb what happened,” said Michael Ford, who leads SMRTA.

The proposal for a 20-year 1.2 mill tax increase passed in Wayne (Detroit) and Washtenaw (Ann Arbor) counties, divided voters fairly evenly in Oakland County but was rejected in Macomb County.

“We’re going to have to reassess, understand why,” Ford said of why people voted against the tax plan, adding he plans to convene with the RTA board, which includes representatives from the different communities, to discuss possible next steps, including whether to plan to put a proposal before voters again in two years.

Ford said he remains optimistic that something can be done to expand public transportation options and still thinks that the proposed plan of commuter rail and new regional bus services is a good one.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said that had the tax been approved it would have given the Detroit-Ann Arbor rail link a critical boost.

“Commuter rail is a necessity for Ann Arbor to improve our local economy and to improve our local quality of life,” he said.

Had the plan been funded by the tax measure, commuter rail was expected to begin in 2022.

Tally on Regional Transit Ballot Measures

November 11, 2016

In a final tally, the Community Transportation Association of America said that 39 transit-related measures were approved by voters on Tuesday.

That included four that involved only rail transit, 17 that dealt only with bus transit, and 25 that covered both modes. Three measure involved only roads while one was aimed only at ferries. Of the 46 measure involving transit, 16 also affected roads.

The issues that involved public transportation in Ohio and nearby states are summarized below:

INDIANA
Marion County (including Indianapolis) approved a 0.25-percent income tax to raise $56 million per year for improved bus service and new Bus Rapid Transit construction as part of the IndyGo transit improvement program. It passed with 59.3 percent of the vote.

MICHIGAN
Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw Counties (including metro Detroit, Dearborn, and Ann Arbor) voters rejected a measure to levy an additional 1.2 percent property tax to raise $2.9 billion for the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority over 20 years for a Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail line and a regional bus rapid transit system. The measure failed by about 18,000 votes with 52.7 percent of Wayne County ( Detroit)  and 56.2 percent in Washtenaw (Ann Arbor) voting yes. However, the measure was turned down in Oakland County (50.09 percent voting no to 49.91 percent yes), and 60.1 percent voting no in Macomb County.

OHIO
• Franklin County (Columbus)  voters renewed a 0.25 percent sales tax for the Central Ohio Transit Authority for 20 years with 72 percent of the vote, which will raise $62 million.
• Lorain County voters rejected a new 0.25 percent sales tax for transportation, with 50 percent of the anticipated $9.9 million annually going to public transit, with 74.2 percent voting no.
• Lucas County (Toledo) voters renewed a 1.5 percent property tax for the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority for 10 years with 58.5 percent of the vote.
• Stark County voters renewed a 0.25 percent sales tax for the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority for 10 years with 63.2 percent of the vote.

Voters OK 33 Public Transit Ballot Measures

November 9, 2016

The American Public Transportation Association said that 33 of 46 local and statewide public transit issues were approved by votes on Tuesday.

It said that was a 72 percent paaptassage rate and that collectively the measures represented a $200 billion investment in public transportation.

One of the top plans that won approval was a $120 billion transit plan in Los Angeles County, which received more than two-thirds approval.

It will fund several transit-rail projects in the region, including the Purple Line subway extension and a Regional Connector rail project.Other rail-related measures that won voter approval include:

• A half-cent sales tax increase in Atlanta that will raise $2.5 billion for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority expansions

A $3.5 billion bond measure that will provide funds for repairing and improving Bay Area Rapid Transit’s infrastructure.

• Measures allowing Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia to issue general bond obligations for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

• A half-cent sales tax increase in Wake County, North Carolina, to help pay for a 10-year, $2.3 billion plan to add commuter rail and increase bus service throughout the county.

Ballot measures that appeared to be headed for approval include a $54 billion, 25-year Sound Transit Proposition 1, which would fund an expansion of the light-rail system in Washington state’s Puget Sound region.

Thompson Named RTA Rail Manager

October 29, 2016

Sean Thompson has been appointed as director of rail operations for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

thompson

Sean Thompson

Thompson, who will assume his post on Oct. 31, most recently worked for the Federal Transit Administration overseeing rail safety for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

He has 20 years of experience in rail, including a stint with Cleveland RTA in 2010-11 as the agency’s rail training manager.

He left Cleveland RTA to work for the Federal Railroad Administration as an operating practices inspector and later served as a deputy regional administrator in Sacramento, California.

Thompson also has worked on light- and commuter-rail operations in Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Salt Lake City.

“[GCRTA] is privileged to have someone of his caliber on board,” said Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese in a statement. “With Sean’s expertise, we can sharpen our focus on safety, while we advance state of good repair initiatives.”

Cincy Streetcar Weekend Service Boosted

October 11, 2016

Prompted by higher than expected ridership, the operator of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar has increased weekend service.

CVG streetcarTransdev said weekend ridership has been 300 percent to 500 percent higher than projected by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.

The increase in service was also in response to threats by city officials to take Transdev to court if it didn’t boost service. The city would argue that the operator wasn’t meeting its contractual obligations.

The city’s contract with Transdev mandates that passengers shouldn’t wait more than 15 minutes for a streetcar to arrive at a stop.

Light Rail Track Replacement Begins in Pittsburgh

October 5, 2016

New track is being installed on the light rail system in Pittsburgh this month near the Station Square area.

pittsburghThe construction involves replacing nearly 800 feet track. Between Oct. 3 and 22, service will be restricted in the Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel area. The track has reached the end of its useful life.

Inbound trains will detour across Arlington Avenue and outbound trains will continue to use the Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel.

A supplemental rail shuttle will operate between Station Square and Steel Plaza stations. It will also serve First Avenue Station.

The work is part of an $8.4 million reconstruction project to replace a mile of track along Broadway Avenue.

The rail line is operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Station Square is a former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie depot along the Monongahela River that is now a shopping and casino complex.