Keep Columbus Moving Forward.   Vote Yes on Issue 60.

Keep Columbus Moving Forward. Vote Yes on Issue 60.

There is no better way to put your finger on the pulse of Columbus than to move around it on COTA. While riding the bus, I learn more about my neighbors in a more meaningful way. I have time to take in the city-scape; the good and bad of Columbus unfolding as I stare out the window. I meet some of the city’s characters. They surprise, delight, and invigorate me.  I ride transit and I know the city in a more intimate way than through the windows of my own car.

COTA helps me get where I’m going, but more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to interact with my fellow humans. I want to live in a walkable, dense, lively, smart city with personality. I know I’m not alone.  I want options that make that kind of city a reality. That means more sidewalks, more public transit, more local shops close to each other, more mixed use environments, more character, and more neighborhoods built to accommodate all.We can’t reach that vision without a sound and efficient public transit system.

Over the last ten years COTA has worked to provide better service. Recently they have added the CBUS- A downtown circulator, Air Connect- inexpensive and fast service between the Airport and Downtown, CMAX- Cleveland Avenue Bus Rapid Transit, currently under construction and scheduled to begin service in January. More and more central Ohioans are using COTA. In 2015, we took 19.2 million passenger trips on COTA.  Perhaps most importantly, they have redesigned their system to create more direct and frequent connections to get people where they need to go, more efficiently using our tax dollars to provide better service.

A great city needs great public transit. We should invest in COTA to keep Columbus moving forward. Issue 60 on the Nov. 8 ballot is asking for a renewal, not a new tax, of the 0.25 percent levy currently in place. Our public transit system needs to be able to get us where we are going. Voting yes on Issue 60 will continue to move Columbus forward towards the city I know we can be.

 mmcotadow_10184654Elissa Schneider

Columbus  Resident and Transit Columbus Board Chair

1 Million More. Let’s make room for everyone.

1 Million More.  Let’s make room for everyone.

Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission released an update to insight2050 today. Since 2010, we have added 115,000 people – more than predicted! MORPC’s confident we’ll add at least 500,000 people by 2050. There are many variables to consider, but if this remarkable growth continues, it’s possible we reach the 500,000 mark 20 years early – by 2029. This growth rate would put Central Ohio on pace to add upwards of one million people by 2050.

It’s a critical time for the future of Columbus.

It’s important that we clearly understand the market demand for more compact, mixed use development that is walkable, bikable and transit-friendly. If we are listening, really listening to the results of the insight2050 plan, and the updates released today, we know more sprawl isn’t the answer to our growth. More cars, more development without sidewalks, more hour long commutes won’t make us ready to compete.

And frankly, our communities and businesses have already started to respond to the demographic changes and different market demands by providing more transportation and housing choices. 

If we want to grow sustainably, in a way that embraces the demands for walkable, dense, neighborhoods, we need high-capacity transportation options. It could be anything from BRT, to light rail, and streetcar.  Mass transit will remain crucial as the region adds 1 million more residents. Mass transit is an efficient use of space and money that honors the housing and development that people want.

If we want to compete in the 21st Century, we will need lots of transportation options. A city with mass transit is a city the future will reward.

I want to live in a walkable, dense, lively, smart city with personality. Insight2050 proves I’m not alone.  I want  options that make that kind of city a reality. That means more sidewalks, more mass transit, more local shops close to each other, more mixed use environments, more character, and more neighborhoods built to accommodate all.

-Elissa Schneider Chair, Transit Columbus6440857817_a1f5423c45_b

 

Crazy Good News. Now Let’s Challenge Ourselves.

Crazy Good News. Now Let’s Challenge Ourselves.

Ten days ago Columbus received some crazy good news. Some much deserved validation. Columbus is one of seven finalist for the USDOT SmartCity challenge.  It’s great to be in the company of these six other cities.

Now the work begins. I want us to win. But the truth is the $100,000 might be as important than the $40 million.

Here’s why. Columbus needed this challenge. We needed a push. Even if we lose the contest (which we shouldn’t- we’re a perfect choice, USDOT I hope you’re listening), I hope we take this phase of the process to organize ourselves.

I’m excited to start the hard work. Columbus must confront our coming rapid population increases. We must work together quickly to put forward bold, data-driven ideas to improve lives by making transportation safer, easier, and more reliable. We’ll need to put details to our ideas. Fast.

But we can and we will.

I believe this $100,000 will force us to confront our transportation demons. And we’ve got them. This challenge is about using data technology, and creativity to shape how people and goods are moved. It’s about solutions that lessen demand on transportation infrastructure.*

The solutions included in our proposal will not solve all our transportation problems, but they surely will spark us to do more. I do hope we continue our discussion on light rail, BRT or streetcars. I hope we think about how this $40 million might fit in the bigger picture. I hope we challenge ourselves and each other.  But most importantly, I hope we use the $100,000 as a launching pad for a truly connected Columbus.

-Elissa Schneider, Chair Transit Columbus

*Speaking of….see our blog post on the Transit Pass Program. It’s just good math!

TransitColumbus Logo CMYK-01

Our community leaders should support the Transit Pass Program

Our community leaders should support the Transit Pass Program

There are the things that matter to a thriving urban core. Parking spaces aren’t one of them. Never once have I seen cool shot of a downtown that features a bunch of parked cars. No one is using photo of a parking lot to advertise their city, their downtown restaurant, or to show a thriving city center.

So, let’s put the emphasis on the person, instead of the two ton personal car we each carry with us into downtown.

Let’s ask how we can encourage people who are looking to shed the baggage of their personal car. It’s the smart and open solution. To encourage and support public transit riders is far cheaper than investing in a parking space, which cost $30,000- $60,000 a piece to build. Moving a small percentage of downtown drivers to transit riders frees up space for those with a personal car.

Let’s support more people to open up more parking space. Let’s sustain the momentum behind our downtown renaissance, and use pro-active problem solving to get more people into downtown in a way that does not resort to building more expensive and inefficient parking infrastructure.

The Transit Pass premise is simple. It sets up a plan to financially support more of our downtown workers taking public transit into downtown. Those workers leave their cars at home. It leaves more room for others.  This program has the potential to free up at least 2,800 parking spaces, or the equivalent of four parking garages.

Here’s the math.

Transit Pass Program $2,000,000 =2,800 open spaces
4 Parking Garages $100,000,000 =2,800 open spaces

We can spend $2 million on more people riding transit or we can spend $100 million on 2,800 parking spaces.

The math makes the choice simple. But let’s do it because we believe people downtown are important. Let’s do it because we want more people in our urban core. More people working, eating, drinking, working out, sharing ideas, starting companies, and coming up with big ideas*. Big ideas like the Transit Pass Program.

-Elissa Schneider, Chair Transit ColumbusTransitColumbus Logo CMYK-01

*Interested in big ideas? Check out our blog post on the Smart City challenge.

Priorities and Vision

 timthumb

It’s time to move the conversation forward, Columbus.

Insight 2050, CBUS, UBER, COGO, Car2go, Connect Columbus, TSR, JET Task Force, and COTA Next Gen: all new projects, and in some cases new words, that didn’t exist a couple of years ago. This, combined with strong neighborhoods, record development and new city leadership, is creating new vision.

Much of the vision we can already see: retail downstairs, residents upstairs, shade trees, sidewalk cafes. This is, smartly, a city self-consciously reinventing itself for the 21st century. And we are well on our way to this vision. It’s already happening. A click onto Columbus Underground’s development page will show countless examples.

This is no more little big town. We’re grown up. The Columbus landscape is changing… its people are changing…its generations are changing…its neighborhoods are coming alive.  We are at a tipping point: of WHO WE WERE- and WHO WE WILL BE.

And it’s decision time.

These are scary, expensive, and difficult decisions. They can also be exciting, groundbreaking and transformational. If we are going to invest in new modes of transportation, we’re going to have to think creatively and differently about funding streams.

But let’s not get ourselves worked up into a “funding tizzy” (although there will come a time for that conversation). But the truth is- we’ll figure it out. Money follows a City’s priorities and vision.

So let’s talk priorities and vision.  Let’s talk about the City we want to be, and how we build it.

-Elissa Schneider

Chair, Transit Columbus