Since the last passenger train left the City of Columbus in the late 70’s we have been without an extremely valuable option in transportation. Many decried the almost build 3C line as too slow to achieve high ridership.
A new proposal, unveiled on Friday, is a line linking Columbus with Chicago via Ft. Wayne at 110 miles an hour. This high speed route would take riders from Columbus to Chicago in 4 hours, with express service available in 3 hrs 45 minutes.
At a cost of $1.285 billion dollars with a return of $1.70 for every $1 spent this line would be an investment in the future for Columbus, Ft. Wayne and the entire Midwest. Similar lines are currently being built or upgraded between Chicago and Detroit, St. Louis, Iowa, and Minneapolis.
We at Transit Columbus couldn’t be more excited about the possibly of connecting Columbus to the rest of the country via rail as well as championing connecting all of Columbus’ neighborhoods via world class public transit.
Where do we go from here, how can we make this happen?
First and foremost, tell your leaders at City Hall and the Statehouse that connecting Columbus via rail is important to you!
Second tell your friends on Facebook, Twitter and around the city that you support rail and you support Transit Columbus!
Lastly support our cause with a donation in order to help us advocate for more rail, transit and biking options! Click here to donate!
Transit Columbus is proud to present a showing of the documentary Trainsforming America at the Gateway Film Center Thursday June 27th! The documentary explores the current car culture of the US, the implications of that culture and the extensive possibilities that a new kind of transportation culture could bring.
In addition to the film Transit Columbus is honored to have Rebecca Sansom the filmmaker for a presentation and discussion following the film as well as a happy hour reception preceding.
Tickets to the event are $10 and can be purchased by following this link!
For more information please head to the Gateway Film Center site. Gateway Film Center is located at 1550 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201 and can be easily accessed via COTA Lines #2, #8, #7, #18. Bike Parking is available as well as a nearby parking garage.
Here’s a great short video (under 15 minutes) from a US High Speed Rail conference two years ago. While the reference to Lance Armstrong towards the beginning has now taken an ironic twist, the message about rail and land-use still holds.
The video is a reminder that it’s not really about the train. It’s about the land use after the rail investment. Ultimately, we are looking for places that are built for cities. Many parts of Columbus and some suburbs are ready for that kind of redevelopment but it shouldn’t be assumed when planning rail projects.
While this talk is about high-speed rail, it can just as easily apply to streetcars and light rail.
Transit advocates and riders have been clamoring for easier ways to purchase bus passes and trip tickets for the COTA Transit System. COTA began answering that call by installing a new vending machine at their Downtown Columbus headquarters at 33 N High Street.
This machine not only provide 24 hour access to traditional day and monthly passes, but also to an expanded categories of ride tickets and allows purchases by credit card.
Through the machine you can purchase these flexible ‘ride tickets’ which come in the form of 1, 2, 5 or 10 trip passes. These are great for the lay rider who may not ride daily but likes to have a pass on hand for when it is needed. In today’s often cashless economy these types of tickets provide the flexibility to ride transit without carrying cash or change.
Transit Columbus supports efforts by COTA to make transit both more convenient and easier to use. This is a great first step by COTA to speed up boarding times and to meet the needs of both current and a new generation of riders.
Spring has arrived, so Transit Columbus is departing on the #21 COTA Bus for a bus bar hop. We’ll start the night off with a $4 cocktail at MoJoe Lounge Downtown in the Lazarus Building at 6:30. At 8:15 we’ll board the #21 COTA for Arch City Tavern where more $4 drink specials await.
A $5 donation to Transit Columbus will give you access to $4 drink specials and we will also provide you with a COTA Pass for our trip on the #21. Whether its your first bus ride or you are a pro you’ll be sure to have a fun time among friends!
Register and Donate below with Paypal!
Cost: $5 Date: Friday, May 10th
Start: 6:30pm —– Depart: 8:15pm —— Arrive: 8:30pm-10pm MoJoe Lounge ——– COTA #21————— Arch City Tavern
149 S High St —— State and High ————— 862 N High
On Thursday March 20th Transit Columbus was generously welcomed to the COTA Mainstream facility at 1330 Fields Ave for a tour and our monthly board meeting. We were very impressed by the lengths COTA has gone to ensure all disabled riders are educated on the system and ensured safe, comfortable rides if Mainstream service is needed.
Pictured below is the Mainstream assessment center which helps COTA both assess Mainstream eligibility and prepare non-eligible riders for fixed route service.
In other Transit Columbus news look for some exciting event announcements shortly! We’re as excited about spring as you are and hope to see you all out at our upcoming events. Remember to walk, bike or ride transit!
The future of high-speed rail in the U.S. remains anything but certain, but in the meantime one person has taken it upon himself to show us what it should look like.
Activist and artist Alfred Twu began working on the map in 2009, in response to President Obama’s plan for high-speed rail. The map has gone viral on Facebook, and a petition Twu created to ask the White House to fund a system like the one he proposed has already received 52,389 signatures.
In designing the map’s routes, Twu relied on studies from government agencies and advocacy groups. He said such a system could be built out like the Interstate Highway System.
“Some artistic license was applied to make it more elegant and have it be a series of distinct lines like a subway map,” he said. “Colors were selected to convey the idea of the U.S. being made up of several interwoven regional cultures that come together at major cities — like an internal melting pot.”
According to Twu, a rail system like the one he’s designed would cost $1 – $2 trillion to build.“Sounds like a lot,” he said, “but divided over four decades, that is around $25-$50 billion a year or 80-160 dollars a year per person. That’s one tank’s worth of gas money.”
Readers, should the U.S. be investing in high-speed rail? Or, considering the country’s persistent economic hardships, is this an unnecessary diversion that would distract us from more important issues?
Here’s a great blog post last week from Mark Lefkowitz with Green City Blue Lake about State of Ohio legislature wrangling the biennial transportation budget. A large coalition of groups, Ohioans for Transportation Choices, is advocating for an amendment to set aside a modest $75 mil fund dedicated towards bike, ped, transit projects.
How about taxing parking lots to pay for transit? That’s an idea that is being proposed in Massachusetts, and one that anyone who has ever been to downtown Columbus might ponder as a way to fund future transit improvements here.
Downtown has, of course, made great strides in recent years, with projects like Neighborhood Launch on Gay Street and the Annex at River South on Front Street filling former parking lots with great-looking residential buildings. However, there are still enough parking lots downtown to significantly affect the walkability and vibrancy of the area. This map from Cole at Biking Columbus shows all the surface parking in downtown (the map is surface parking only, and does not include parking garages):
And Cbus Cycle Chic did a rough estimate of parking and found downtown has about 73,000 parking spaces, or almost one for every worker.
Owners of surface parking lots currently face a low tax burden since they are taxed on the appraised value of the land plus improvements and not on the development potential of the land. Landowners have little incentive to develop parking lots since they are paying very little in taxes (and would pay a lot more if they put buildings at these locations). There have been countless discussions in Columbus and elsewhere about how best to fix this problem, including a two-rate system that would tax land at a higher rate than buildings.
However it is done, taxing parking lots could be a way to fund transit improvements by imposing a small penalty on a form of land use that, while serving a function, does not contribute to the type of vibrant downtown that many of us want to see.