Announcing Our Policy Agenda

Have you heard? Columbus is growing! Our region is adding over 100 people per day. By 2050 we will hit 3 million people. With our growth comes opportunity and risk. We are at a moment where we can choose how we grow.

We can create a transportation system that that connects our neighborhoods, enhances our well being and quality of life, gets people to jobs, and protects our environment. Or we can have a future of sprawl, congestion, and damage to our environment.To achieve that positive vision, we must change our transportation system. In order to do that we are announcing a policy agenda that we will push to be enacted by 2025.

Our policy agenda starts with big ideas. These are large-scale, impactful, and can help change the way our region is connected. Following those are specific goals for transit, pedestrians, bike facilities, greenways, and other policy initiatives. This policy agenda is focused on Central Ohio and should be implemented by Columbus, COTA, MORPC, Smart Columbus, and other regional municipalities and partners.

In the coming months we will share more details about these goals and how they can be achieved. We have a wonderful opportunity to create a better connected region that works for everyone, but we have tough decisions to make. We need the support of civic leaders and grassroots citizens to make it happen.

Now is the time for transit.

 

Our Policy Agenda

Big Ideas

High Capacity Mass Transit (Light Rail & Bus Rapid Transit)

Implement at least two of the High Capacity Transit Corridors Concepts identified in the NextGen Plan and Insight2050 Corridor Concept Study. Transit infrastructure in these corridors should have dedicated right-of-way and take the form of Light Rail or Bus Rapid Transit. Based on cost and geographic reach we suggest that the West Broad Street and East Main Street corridors are prioritized while long term plans are made for the remaining corridors.

2020 Transit Ballot Measure

Ensure a much-needed Transit Funding Ballot Measure is on the ballot in 2020 in order to fund transit improvements. An improved transit system that features High Capacity Mass Transit, along with a more fast, frequent, and reliable service network have been recommended by many planning initiatives and is desired by the public. Now is the time to fund that system.

Convert Front Street to Two-Way

When COTA’s downtown service was adjusted several years ago to take buses off High Street, Front Street was chosen as an alternative route for many bus lines. In order to use Front Street though, a conversion of the last remaining one-way portion of the street (Broad to Marconi) was needed but has not materialized. Without a Two-Way Front Street bus lines must take a circuitous route that adds unnecessary time to people’s commute whether they are headed downtown or elsewhere in the community. Front Street should be converted to Two-Way as soon as possible.

DBUS* Circulator

With thousands of new residents and visitors along with massive development there is a need for additional fixed route service to connect various parts of downtown. A new Arena District/Discovery District Circulator in the model of the CBUS would connect the new Confluence Village and Crew Stadium with the Arena District, Columbus State, Columbus Museum of Art, CCAD, the Main Library, Grant Hospital, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (*#saveDthecrewBUS!)

South High Tactical Urbanism

High Street just south of downtown is a notoriously high speed and dangerous urban street. The improvements to High Street in the Short North have made North High a pedestrian and cyclist paradise while cars still speed quickly south through German Village and the Brewery District. A low cost tactical urbanism project on South High could demonstrate how to make this street safer and more attractive.

Transit

  • Align City policy with the Insight2050 Corridor Concepts Implementation Framework.
  • Pilot temporary bus lanes and make permanent successful changes.
  • Install shelters and sidewalks at every bus stop throughout the system.
  • Increase the base frequency to 10 minutes on ‘frequent’ lines (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 23, 34, CMAX).
  • Expand operations to 1:00 am on all ‘frequent’ lines.
  • Implement mobile fare payment by then end of 2020.
  • Work to create better commuter connections to surrounding counties.

Pedestrian Improvements

  • Implement high-visibility crosswalk treatments at all major crossing locations.
  • Construct sidewalks to reach at least 45% of arterials and collectors per the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP).
  • Overhaul the crosswalk placement process to make the following changes:
    • Be responsive to resident requests for new crosswalks at locations generated by the community.
    • Reverse the current crosswalk placement process so that improvements are installed and then measured against pedestrian counts rather than the opposite.
    • Encourage mid-block crosswalks to address pedestrian traffic.

Bike Infrastructure/Facilities

  • Build 100 new miles of dedicated and connected bike facilities.

Greenways

Other Policy Issues

  • Support affordable transit for our low income population.
  • Support the inclusion of multimodal curriculum in Drivers Education courses.
  • Adopt NACTO Guidelines as the Official Design Standards for the City
  • Adopt Vision Zero Goal
  • Pledge to support MORPC’s Regional Transportation Safety Plan
  • Require Tax Incentives for New Developments to Include Multimodal Options Such As:
    • Bus Passes
    • Bike Facilities
    • Shared Parking Facilities
  • Encourage private employers to offer commuter benefits for transit and other multimodal options
  • Encourage the installation of electric vehicle infrastructure
  • Reactivate the Transportation & Pedestrian Commission and regularly brief the commission on the following
    • Vision Zero
    • Adoption and integration of NACTO Guidelines
    • Citywide progress on:
      • Pedestrian Infrastructure
      • Bike Infrastructure
      • Transit Infrastructure

Guest Blog | Transportation is personal: Car2Go a critical thread to the fabric of our urban city

Guest Blog | Transportation is personal: Car2Go a critical thread to the fabric of our urban city

Car2Go, the premiere ridesharing service in our city, announced on May 24th, 2018 that they are shutting down Columbus operations today (May 31st, 2018). With 32,000 subscribers utilizing the service, some making it their primary mode of transportation such as myself, this came unexpectedly to many in our city. Car2Go continued to expand coverage and upgraded its entire fleet of vehicles in 2017, leading users to believe that the ride-sharing business was thriving.

The Dispatch cited that one reason Car2Go gave for exiting the city was slow adoption. On the heels of Columbus receiving the Smart Cities grant, the departure of Car2Go should not be something overlooked by other innovative companies and the city alike.

The article also shared comments from officials who said Car2Go would be missed but that they didn’t consider losing it a blow to the city’s efforts to encourage drivers to shift to other modes of transportation through its Smart Columbus initiative. This could not be further disconnected from the reality of progressive transit enthusiasts such as myself. Early adopters are key to the success of shifting a city’s transit culture. Car2go was that flagship program, existing well before Smart Columbus. It introduced people who live, work, and play in our city’s core a flexible alternative to using their own cars that would otherwise be clogging up our freeways, parking lots, and downtown streets.

As a person who prides herself on not being a car owner, this announcement with only 7 days notice before services end is devastating and will impact my adoption decisions with other private companies. I loved the need Car2Go fulfilled, but now I see more than ever why public mass transit is so critical. COTA, our public mass transit authority, would have never been allowed to do make such radical changes that impact residents with just 7 days notice.

If the city chooses to move forward with future with public-private transit partnerships, it is critical that the residents they serve do not get overlooked. It’s known that innovative transit models may not be sustainable long-term, but the city should do more to ensure a gradual phase-out agreement is in place before the partnership is solidified, should a venture be found unsuccessful.

If the city and its partners want us as residents to shift our lifestyles, it also must understand that abruptly revoked services such as this one will create a significant adverse effect on the lifestyles we were encouraged to adopt. Our lifestyles are built around these modalities. Many of us who do not own cars are now scrambling to find down payments to re-purchase a car by today or find other cost and time-effective methods to make it to our places of work, pick up groceries, and other daily tasks.

Transportation is personal. It is the most basic way residents connect. Transit options must be dependable for effective adoption to take place. When an entire modality abruptly ends, it creates a missing thread in our city’s transit culture and leaves users sideswiped and less willing to trust future private alternatives that can be pulled out from under us without advanced notice or a single public hearing.

Brooke Wojdynski is owner of Verve Creative and a Short North resident.

Will COTA stick to its plan?

By now you have probably heard of COTA’s “TSR” plan, also know as Transit System Review or more recently Redesign that we endorsed earlier this year. Since the formation of COTA in the 1970s, the core system has in many ways, changed very little. This despite monumental shifts in population and development in the Columbus region. Enter TSR, a forward thinking initiative by COTA to comprehensively examine and rethink the design and function of its system.

 

Current Network

(Current Network)

Current Frequent Network

(Current Frequent Network)

Currently the system functions mainly as a hub and spoke network, with all major, frequent lines running through downtown. The results of the TSR study have major implications for how the entire system may work in the future. The study provides an opportunity to vastly improve mobility in Columbus by massively expanding the network of so called ‘frequent’ lines that run every 15 minutes or better. That is if COTA sticks to its plan.

 

Current TSR Plan Network

(Most Recent TSR Network Proposal)

 

A major redesign such as COTA’s has few precedents around the country (Houston recently revamped its system). We do know that in order to expand the frequent network, redundant and low ridership lines will be consolidated, rolled back, or cut. Despite the difficulty of some of these changes the new system will be more efficient, frequent, and will better serve a larger number of riders and provide better overall service. There are however a number of major reductions to the frequent network that was proposed as part of the initial study.

 

Current TSR Plan Frequent

(Most Recent Frequent Network Proposal)

TSR Report Frequent copy

(Original Frequent Network Proposal, Circled Areas Indicate Removed Frequent Service)

 

The images above show a comparison between what was originally proposed as part of the study and what the most recent proposal from COTA looks like. While still a vast improvement in frequent service, the Northwest side and the Near East Side have both seen major routes downgraded to less frequent service in the most recent plan. The frequent routes in the Northwest would have served an area densely populated with demographic groups that are conducive to transit: a large immigrant community, students, and young professionals. The Near East Side route would have served a dense area while also providing a major transfer point that would eliminate unneeded trips through Downtown.

 

TSR Report Frequent with Density

(Original Frequent Network Proposal, Circled Areas Indicate Removed Frequent Service, Density Of Population Shown With One Dot Equaling One Person)

These changes call into question COTA’s commitment to fully implement the TSR study which was originally projected to increase ridership by 10% two years after implementation. With full implementation of the TSR scheduled to take place in May of 2017, there is still time for changes to the plan, both positive and negative. COTA has taken proactive first steps with the TSR to create a more useful, accessible, and efficient transit system and Transit Columbus applauds that effort. Its now time for COTA to ensure success by fully implementing the TSR plan so that one morning, in May 2017, Columbus wakes up to a vastly improved and efficient transit system.

Implementing the TSR changes are one of many of the recommendations of our MoveUs Vision, that seeks to move Columbus towards a multi-modal future. 

MoveUs Slider

 

Petition Link-01

Priorities and Vision

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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

Jaywalking, Street Designing and Walkability in Columbus

Maybe you heard from several news reports, that last week the Columbus Division of Police has begun stepped up enforcement to crack down on jaywalkers and drivers who are not properly yielding to pedestrians. However positive the intent may have been, the tone of the coverage, as well as several quotes from the CPD raised some eyebrows both locally and nationally. For example:

“It’s not just enough to be legally correct in your actions as a pedestrian. You need to give yourself every advantage which includes wearing bright, reflective clothing…” said one.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.27.39 PM

(Google Streetview from 4th Street in Columbus)

If you read these as misguided or as anti-pedestrian you aren’t the only one. As an advocate for walkability and better transportation, reading this, I’m reminded that now is the time to shift the Columbus conversation. It’s easy to catch the light rail or high-speed rail fever, but walkability is just as urgent, if not more, in Columbus.

Sidewalks aren’t sexy, yet 50-60% of Columbus remains without them. Crosswalks aren’t in the news, but all too often they’re ignored by drivers and unmarked for pedestrians. Jaywalkers are coming under enhanced enforcement, but how often are they just responding to unsafe, auto-centric road designs?

You may not ride a bus, you may hate getting on a bike, but one thing you can’t escape is the pedestrian experience. We all deserve a safe way to cross the street, a smooth sidewalk for our feet, or a safe ramp for our wheel chair. Light rail may be long term, but we can build a sidewalk in a week; we can paint a crosswalk in a day.

You’ll soon see a rollout of our MoveUs campaign, aimed at improving multi-modal transportation in our city. The recommendations cover a broad list of topics, but perhaps none are as impactful to every citizen as those aimed at improving experience of pedestrians in Columbus.

Let’s make our streets safe for you and I, and our kids, and our neighbors, and our parents, and our grandparents. Walkability is fundamental to our health and our long-term success as a city. Lets walk with swagger.

Joshua Lapp is the Vice-Chair of Transit Columbus and a Columbus resident

This Place Is

IMG_1723-1There is a spot on streets where art, creativity, safety, walkability and neighborhood identity intersect: the crosswalk. This summer Transit Columbus teamed up with Wild Goose Creative, other community groups, and neighborhood activists in the SoHud, Old North Columbus, and Glen Echo neighborhoods to begin a campaign to implement the city’s first creative crosswalks.

IMG_1629Thanks to generous funding from the Create Columbus Commission, our consortium of groups is embarking on a campaign that seeks to go beyond crosswalks. We’re asking residents, businesses, and all those who care about the neighborhood to tell us what living here, working here, or just passing through means to them. Our “This Place Is” initiative is gathering the story of the neighborhood to pass on to artists who will then integrate that story into the crosswalks.

The result of “This Place Is” will not only be interesting art; the creative crosswalks will bolster pedestrian visibility, safety, and improve neighborhood identity, all while creating a meaningful addition to an often overlooked area. By approaching pedestrian safety and walkability through the lens of art and neighborhood pride we hope “This Place Is” plants a seed that grows throughout Columbus.

To learn more about “This Place Is” visit: www.ThisPlaceIs.org 

2015 to 2050

Its a pivotal time for multimodal transportation in Columbus and Central Ohio. Our city and region are the center of population growth for Ohio. Moving forward we must think comprehensively about how our transportation system will accommodate an additional 500,000 residents and 300,000 jobs that the insight2050 report has predicted our region will add by 2050. Multiple planning efforts are underway to address these issues and more work will follow.

As advocates for a better connected region, we at Transit Columbus believe it is important that our current and future elected officials address these issues. We also believe its our duty to elevate multimodal transportation issues so that the public can be well informed when choosing their future leaders. It is therefore, with great pleasure that we are releasing our Multimodal Transportation Voter Guide for the 2015 Columbus Primary Election.

This is just the first step. As the 2015 Columbus Municipal Election progresses towards November we intend to ensure that multimodal transportation is a defining feature of the campaign. No less than the future of our city and its citizens is at stake.

Joshua Lapp, Transit Columbus Vice-Chair and Columbus resident.

 

Another Stop on the Idea Line

The 2014 State of the City Address by outgoing Mayor Micheal Coleman was an exciting one for transit advocates like us at Transit Columbus. In his address, Mayor Coleman asked the question, among other things, of whether or not rail might be the answer to connect Port Columbus with Downtown. This spurred our organization to convene a studio of OSU students to study the topic. They recently presented their final report and the results are exciting.

The team of OSU students and professor/planner Chad Gibson analysed potential lines in order to understand what would be the most useful, impactful, and economically sound. Their recommendations included two lines: First, a north/south line from Old North Columbus to German Village via High Street costing $335 million; Second an east/west line connecting Downtown and Port Columbus via Broad Street costing $406 million.

Columbus is transitioning to a prosperous world-class city. We are competing with not just our neighboring cities for jobs, talent, and investment but with the likes of New York and Philadelphia. Transit investment is a paramount to our future, and a piece of the puzzle we still collectively need to solve.

This report is a piece of the transit vision for the future. It’s a beginning, a place to start. Its now time for our civic leaders, both current and future, to take the next steps to advance the future of transit in Columbus.

Link to full Report:

http://issuu.com/columbusrailtoday/docs/columbusrailtoday

Op/Ed: Bring it Columbus

Bring it Columbus

Columbus lost the bid for the Democratic National Convention, but we gained so much more. We better know who we are. We put ourselves out there, with the big boys and girls, to be judged. For, maybe the first time, as a city, we said “Hi, World. Pick us, choose us, and love us.” We did it because collectively, as a community, we believe in ourselves. We think we have a lot to offer, and we do. We would have been amazing hosts.

We are on our way to becoming a world class city. We know it. We believe we can get there. The community, humanity, openness and yes swagger, the Democratic National Convention Committee witnessed on their visit is real. The hardships, the grit, and the uneasiness we minimized are also real.

We still have far too many of our neighbors struggling with poverty, and were not yet connected in the ways we should be. Our people are still trying to figure out better ways to navigate this City. We have gaps. Many of us feel it. We know we don’t offer the kinds of transportation options that enable everyone in our community to thrive. We’ve come a long way in the last few years as far as transit options. Still we know we need more choices to bring the very best to Columbus.

These are things we should have moved on a decade ago. We should have talked more. We know this. We were young. We made priorities. We got really good at many things, creating a bustling downtown core and amazing neighborhoods among them.

And so, it’s time. Let’s concentrate on us now. The Democratic National Convention didn’t choose us, and that’s okay. We know who we are and who we want to be. We can become a better connected Columbus. Let’s be it. Bring it Columbus.

Elissa Schneider, Transit Columbus Chair and Columbus resident.