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

We need mass transit!

You may have seen this headline recently: Columbus will ‘leap-frog’ light rail as transit option after Smart City Challenge win. We’re here to tell you being a smart city means more than embracing driverless cars, it means investing in making Columbus a city focused on moving people.

Light Rail, Bus Rapid Transit, and other high capacity transit initiatives are investments that will be mutually beneficial in creating a transportation system that will help move Columbus forward as it adds another million people by 2050. Being a smart city means building a city that is walkable and embracing a future that is people focused, not one that embraces a new era of sprawl and congestion. Transit Columbus supports the Smart City challenge and all the new technologies and possibilities it can bring. But it will not solve all our transit problems. It is a beginning, not an end. To think so is limiting to the future of Columbus. The people of Columbus want transportation options, and we will need public options that will create and honor the dense, walkable future Columbus residents want.    

Columbus has an opportunity to leapfrog its peers by investing in a holistic transportation system that is driven by data, not by abandoning high capacity transit. We know that no one transportation solution will help us accommodate the coming growth in population, it must be an “all in” solution. The future of our city is riding in the choices we make now. Will we succumb to a new era of non-sustainable sprawl or will we pick a new direction, one of people friendly, walkable development that is anchored by a multimodal transportation system that embraces the best technologies of every mode. 

We know the type of city that residents of Columbus want in the future. Thats why we’re launching a petition to the City of Columbus and COTA for a future that includes Light Rail, Bus Rapid Transit and Streetcars: https://www.change.org/p/cota-we-want-light-rail-in-columbus. Join us in creating a better future for Columbus. 

Joshua Lapp

Vice-Chair, Transit Columbus

GUEST BLOG | Why Transit Matters: It Brings People Together

Our Guest Blogger Alex Rosa of Traxler Tees tells us why he supports Transit Columbus and why transit matters!

Public transit is the backbone of movement in any growing city. I can’t help but wonder where New York City or San Francisco would be today if their train system and bus system weren’t as robust as it is. I grew up in New Jersey, about a 40-minute drive from New York City, and I can tell you that trains were my life. In high school, the weekend thing to do was to go into “The City”. I wasn’t even old enough to really experience all that New York had to offer, but that’s what my peers and I did every weekend since we were old enough to convince our parents that the trains and city were safe enough to navigate on our own. That level of independence was paramount in my own personal development, and in just being able to have fun as a kid. Riding the NJ Transit rail from my hometown all the way into the heart of NYC at Penn Station was one of those turning points from adolescents into “adulthood”. I didn’t have to depend on my parents anymore to go out into the world and see the world the way that I wanted to see it. Public transit allowed me freedom to explore.

 

What’s more is that as I got older, the train into the city became like an episode of Cheers. On Fridays you’d hop on the 3:35 p.m. train into the city and see your friends get on the same train to go visit friends or family for the weekend, and it just feels like you’re already at your destination. Even still when I go to my hometown, I’ll take the train into the city to see a friend and not only will I know someone on the train going there, I will definitely see a lot more of my friends coming back on the infamous 1:15 a.m. train that’s the last train out of the city until the next morning, so you either make that train or you’re sleeping at Penn Station until 7 a.m., or just going out until last call, which is at 4 a.m. in the city, and then hanging at the Dunkin’ Donuts in the station for a couple of hours. Either way, the train was the beautiful transient meeting place for all sorts of things. It simply allowed us access to something bigger and better on the other side of the Hudson.

 

Public transit is and can be a multitude of things to various people. Some people finish entire book series on trains, others just love staring out the window watching the world go by, some listen to music, and yet others work on their laptops and coordinate meetings and colleagues on their phones. No matter who you are or what it is that you do, having the option of public transportation opens you up to the opportunity to do more and see more with your time, while you’re on your way to do something else. It forces you to stay seated, get comfortable and just focus on yourself and the things that you are about to go take on. By the time you’ve gotten to where you need to go, you’ve taken the time to focus on yourself, and only yourself, because you don’t have to worry about the road a head, only the journey. You can even go so far as to use it as a time to disconnect and just let the gentle swaying of the train car and the “gudunk-gudunk” of the wheels going over the rails lull you to sleep until you arrive to your next adventure.

 

Ultimately, public transit to me is a way of life. It’s another environment to immerse yourself in while you connect yourself to opportunities that you would lose otherwise. I, fortunately, don’t have too long of a commute everyday, but when traffic hits, I can waste an hour or two a day just being in my car. Unfortunately, I can’t do much else but focus on driving. If I were to have, let’s say a Street Car, I could take those extra two hours and read more, or finish those e-mails I didn’t get to at the office, or better yet, open myself up to meeting a fellow commuter I’ve never met in a city I have yet to experience all of.

 

About our guest blogger Alex Rosa, COO, Traxler Custom Printing

Alex Rosa, originally from Morristown, New Jersey, moved to Columbus in March of 2015 with the ambition to relocate to a growing city where he could make his start. During his time in Columbus he has worked with Founders Factory, Skreened and now Traxler Custom Printing as their COO.

 

In 2016, after working in the apparel production industry for over a year, he opened his own retail company I’m Migrant LLC to use apparel as a way to overcome a struggle that he knew well during his time at The Ohio State University. After joining an AIESEC, a not-for-profit company that facilitated international internship programs, he wanted more than anything to travel the world and contribute to positive change by supporting development projects. Unfortunately, as he found out, having a big heart and an open mind wasn’t enough to go out into the world to do some good. In the end, a lack of resources kept him from contributing to the world the way he dreamt of. Thus five years after his graduation he started I’m Migrant, which takes over 25 percent of its profit and puts it into a fund to send individuals abroad at no cost to them during their time abroad.

Throwback and Move Forward

When Columbus Underground posted an Aprils Fools story on a streetcar Kickstarter, we at Transit Columbus laughed. And then we cried. Just kidding. Kinda.

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There’s certainly an immense amount of silliness to crowdsourcing mass transit through a Kickstarter.  But we hope there will come a time in the very near future where we will collectively decide that moving people by mass transit is important to us.

But until that day, we have an antidote for all those transit loving, people moving, walkable city evangelists. A t-shirt. Yup. Inspired by the Columbus Underground $25 donation kickback, for $25 you can sport the official “Columbus Streetcar” t-shirt!

 

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The t-shirt features a throwback image of the streetcars that once roamed Columbus. Each t-shirt is not only a throwback, but also a kickback of sorts for Transit Columbus. 80 percent of proceeds from shirt sales go to support Transit Columbus for the work we do for a better connected Columbus. The rest of the proceeds stay local with our good friends and t-shirt gurus at Traxler Tees.

Get yours today by visiting TraxlerTees.com.

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.

Car2Go Continues Expansion in Columbus

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As of noon today, October 10th, Car2Go has officially expanded its home area to include the suburb of Bexley and the Eastmoor and Berwick neighborhoods of Columbus. From its initial entry into Columbus, Car2Go has expanded its service area to include Ohio State, Easton, CMH Airport, Grandview, 5XNW, Marble Cliff and the Lennox area as well as the original areas of Clintonville, Short North and other downtown area neighborhoods. Car2Go is one of most important alternative transportation options recently added in Columbus.

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Car2Go is a crucial piece of the puzzle for Columbus area residents who want to forgo a personal car but still require its use intermittently in their day to day lives. By vastly increasing the areas of the city reachable quickly and conveniently without a private automobile, Car2Go has bolstered the multi-modal transportation landscape in Columbus. Transit Columbus looks forward to the continued success of car sharing in Columbus as well as the multi-modal lifestyle it allows and promotes.

Visit Columbus.Car2Go.com for more information!

What would you ask one of the most successful transit advocates in the country?

Think on it, becaindexuse next week you’ll have the chance to actually ask him. Ben Ross was president  of Maryland’s Action Committee for Transit for 15 years, and under his tenure it grew to be one of the largest transit advocacy groups in the U.S. Now he has written a book, Dead End, looking into suburban sprawl and the coming urbanization of America.

He will be speaking and taking questions Thursday, June 5, 5:30-7:00 at MoJoe Lounge Downtown across from the Columbus Commons.

Check out what people are saying about the book:

“I’ve studied a lot of books on New Urbanism. Every once and a long while one of them opens my eyes to an entirely new way of thinking. Such is Dead End.” –Robert Steuteville, Better! Cities & Towns

“Ben Ross’ Dead End is a highly personal account of a larger journey that we are embarked on as a nation — from sprawl to walkable communities, from anoxic, sterile neighborhoods to vibrant, transit-served urban areas that are the wellspring of innovation, economic development and cultural richness.” –John Porcari, Former Deputy Secretary, United States Department of Transportation

“Ben Ross paints the big picture of the battle between sprawl and community from the historic perspective, to the current conflicts to a vision of better land use process. Always focused on the human perspective with subjects as diverse as Jane Jacobs and Pete Seeger to Snob Zoning and Agenda 21, Dead End is an exciting, easy read.” –Parris N. Glendening, President, Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, and former Governor of Maryland (1995-2003)

“This impressively researched and documented history explains the huge pressures for maintaining a status quo that supports sprawl and is unfriendly to walkable cities. Ross argues convincingly that rail transit is ‘the political and mental key that opens the door to urban change.'” –Ross Capon, President & CEO, National Association of Railroad Passengers