2018 Multimodal Voter Guide: Candidate Responses

Candidate responses to the Transit Columbus/Yay Bikes!/All Aboard Ohio multimodal questionnaire continue to arrive…

Here are the latest, grouped by the position/office sought:

Local

Franklin County Auditor

Michael Stinziano (mstinziano@michaelstinziano.com)

Q: The Columbus Region is adding 86 people per day. How should we use active transportation (transit, biking, walking) to address regional growth?

A: As Columbus City Council President Pro Tem, a former State Representative, and the former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, I understand the importance of involving all levels of government in a bipartisan manner to nd common sense solutions to build an integrated public transportation system in our community. I fully support increasing recent efforts to protect and enhance the experience of pedestrians and cyclists in Columbus and support developing neighborhoods that are transit, pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

Q: Is it important to add additional funding for COTA to put towards efforts such as enhancing transit speed, reliability, frequency, to add rapid transit (such as Bus Rapid Transit or Light Rail), and to create connections to other modes?
A: I continue to support additional funding for enhancing transit speed, reliability, and frequency including new, expanded, and realigned bus routes to connect places where people live with places where people work and study as well as new transit choices like bus rapid transit lines, light rail and streetcars.

Q: Do you support prioritizing traffic signals for buses and for people who bicycle and walk?
A: Yes, I support prioritizing traffic signals for buses and for people who bicycle and walk.

Q: How do you plan to ensure Columbus and Central Ohio increases walkability and bike infrastructure throughout the city?
A: I fully support the mission of Transit Columbus to build an integrated public transportation system for people to improve the safety, health, environment and economic vitality of the entire Columbus region. Working together, we will increase walkability and bike infrastructure throughout Columbus and Central Ohio. On Council, for example, I supported the appropriation of $2.5 million for the installation of new sidewalks around Columbus schools. The funding in this year’s capital budget will be used for initial design work for the installation of new sidewalks, with an additional $2.5 million designated in the City’s capital improvement program each year over the next five years to continue work on the projects.

Q: What type of investments in equitable transportation between cities would you support (Columbus to Chicago passenger rail, Hyperloop etc.)?
A: Personally, I support moving forward with proposals to attain passenger rail connections to Chicago although I think we need to be realistic about how long it will take to fund and complete projects like Columbus to Chicago passenger rail and Hyperloop.

Q: What snow and debris removal policies would you support to protect people who walk, bike, and use transit as a form of transportation?
A: I support snow and debris removal policies that protect people who walk, bike, and use transit as a form of transportation, not just snow and debris removal policies that promote vehicular traffic.

State

State Representative

Laura Lanese (laura@lanese.net)

Q: Do you support – at a minimum – increasing state transit funding to replace the loss of revenue due to changes in the sales tax collection? Why or why not?
A: I would prefer to work on transit efficiencies first. I would also look into using funds from the MVFT differently for other purposes.

Q: How would your priorities in active transportation be reflected in State budget decisions?
A: I would prioritize those that are most environmentally friendly and cost effective.

Q: How would your transportation policy priorities address access to active transportation dollars for all Ohio communities, particularly with an emphasis on resource-challenged communities?
A: I would first investigate the success of programs like Smart Columbus to see if their approach is successful. The challenge is to get those in resource-challenged communities to the job-rich communities. I would also leverage and promote the new federal opportunity zones to encourage investment from capital gains in those communities. This should encourage job creation in those resource-challenged communities thereby decreasing the need for transportation out of those communities and saving time and financial resources, as well as improving traffic congestion if we encourage walkability in those communities.

Q: What type of investments in equitable transportation between cities would you support? (bus, passenger rail, Hyperloop, etc.)
A: Bike paths would be my first investment. I believe many people would utilize these not just for health reasons but also economic and environmental. Hyperloop poses some interesting opportunities but I would need to know more about the costs. And with buses, I believe we need to work more on the last mile challenges utilizing business-sponsored shuttles and smaller buses.

Q: Do you support the state creating additional opportunities for local funding of transit and other transportation infrastructure improvements? And if so, how?
A: We do need to increase funding for transportation infrastructure, and I supported HB 415 as one means of doing so.

Q: Ohio’s Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax (MVFT) was passed in the 1950’s to support the building of better highways and bridges. In 2018, those revenues still cannot be spent on developing and improving any other transportation modes. Would you support changing the use of MVFT revenues to better address active transportation needs to move people?
A: Yes. I would look to see if funds like the grade crossing fund are still necessary at that level of funding and whether they could be redirected for other transportation needs.

The Score (part one)

This is the first of a 3 part series focusing on the walkable population of Columbus: What it is, how to improve it, and how it relates to transit.

We’ve all heard this argument: “Columbus is a car city” and in many ways the argument is correct. In a proactive mission to ensure growth in the second half of the 20th Century city leader’s annexed vast swaths of land which was developed into mostly car dependent neighborhoods. This has led to Columbus’ current situation, being both the geographic and population leader in Ohio, while maintaining its place as the 3rd Largest metro in our state (for the next few years anyway).

All this annexation and sprawling development may give the impression therefore that we’re a car city. For around 500,000 Columbusites who live in car dependent areas it’s true. For the nearly 233,000 of us who do live in walkable areas life is much less car centric. Though the City of Columbus itself contains more car dependent residents than the other 2Cs the amount of walkable residents also compares favorably with both Cincy (around 80,000 more) and Cleveland (around 80,000 less) as well as other comparable cities (the cities below are the same ones from the Benchmarking Columbus report found here).

**City

Total Walkable

Very Walkable

Somewhat Walkable

Rank

Portland

492369

216963

275406

1

Milwaukee

416082

200920

215162

2

Cleveland

313638

52831

260807

3

Minneapolis

313429

149728

163701

4

Columbus

232751

90611

142140

5

Austin

202682

65539

137143

6

Cincinnati

145569

42944

102625

7

Kansas City

138710

81213

57497

8

Louisville

124610

33623

90987

9

Jacksonville

79269

6373

72896

10

Nashville

44134

5898

38236

11

Charlotte

43449

16959

26490

12

Raleigh

27097

6431

20666

13

Indianpolis

21445

5289

16156

14

What do these numbers and stats tell us? They tell us that Columbus is doing well in terms of cultivating residents in walkable neighborhoods but also that we have much room to grow. All the cities above us (Portland, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Minneapolis) are known for their urbanity or livability. Columbus should focus on improving walkability in marginally walkable neighborhoods, going the extra mile where the walkable population is concentrated and should encourage population gains in established walkable areas. We need to lead on this issue so that we can be an example to the rest of the country, rather than a follower.

Some of the walking friendly changes to our neighborhoods are simple. Some are complex and time consuming. All are worth the time and investment. Improving walkability isn’t about forcing folks out of their cars but rather giving everyone an option. It’s no coincidence that most of the top neighborhoods for walkability are also some of the most expensive neighborhoods in Columbus (check out the full list here). Walkability is desirable. Even if most of your trips are accomplished by driving, having the option to walk is still important. Let’s extend that option to more of our friends and neighbors. Check back on soon to see how we can do that.

**Data above is derived from Walkscore.com. To view the full data for Columbus and all the cities included please click here.

What’s missing from this picture?

mapmapmapmap-page-001

The Urban Land Institute’s Columbus chapter published this map of cities with rail and/or bus rapid transit systems in existence or under constructions in their Columbus 2050 report. Sadly, the center of Ohio looks a bit empty….

 

Moving soon? A majority of Americans say transit matters when selecting a home

Every year the Urban Land Institute issues a survey on Americans’ housing preferences,014-001 and this year’s was quite interesting. So, what do the people want? It seems they want mixed-use communities, walkability and public transit. Considering the nearly daily news articles heralding the “return of Downtown” or proclaiming that “we’ve passed peak driving” this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Just look around Columbus and you can see dense, mixed-use developments mushrooming up all over the city. It’s a sight to behold.

The wonderful thing though was how many diverse demographics supported transit. Baby boomers, Generation Y, city-dwellers, those with post-graduate 012-001degrees and those making under $50,000 a year are just some of the demographics that ranked transit has a high priority. This helps explain why transit has been performing well in elections recently (in 2012 79% of transit initiatives won at the ballot box). We knew the support had to be coming from some where. It seems though, the support is coming from almost everywhere.

The question is, could something win at the ballot box in Central Ohio? We’ve got Baby boomers, Millenials, city-dwellers and a great university minting new masters degrees by the minute, so something tells me transit might have a chance. Perhaps it’s time to dust off Mayor Coleman’s 2006 streetcar plan, or COTA’s 2009 light rail plan, or, come up with something new and give it a go.

GPS tracking for COTA? It’s coming….

A screen shot from NYC's bus-tracking system

A screen shot from NYC’s bus-tracking system

Today is a day to rejoice. COTA has announced that starting early in 2014 people will be able to see their bus’ actual location in real-time using a GPS tracking system. So now when you’re hanging out in a cafe waiting for the twice hourly #18 to go back home you can keep an eye on your phone and time your dash to the bus stop perfectly. I wonder, will there be an app, or integration with Google maps? The easier transit gets to use the more people will use it, so we applaud another smart improvement from COTA.

For more info check out this week’s Transportation Insider column. There’s also a good bit about Millenials and transportation choice.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/10/07/cota-users-will-get-gps-updates-on-buses.html

Taking transit to work? In Columbus, you probably can’t.

BrookingsColumbusOH-page-001According to the Brookings Institute only 34% of jobs in the Columbus region are accessible within 90 minutes by transit. So, if you don’t have a car and need to get to work, well, good luck.

You can see on the map that the urban core is well serviced. If you live in Hill Top for example and work at a coffee shop downtown you can buy a COTA monthly pass and let someone else do the driving. If you want a better paying job at a distribution center in the periphery though, you’d better start saving so you can make car payments.

So, for the 10% or so of Central Ohioans with no car, those of us whose cars are on their last legs, and folks who just prefer to avoid the stress and cost of driving, there’s a good chance your work options may be limited. For those with no cars and no other options, this inability to get to where the jobs are can have a profound negative impact on their quality of life.

Businesses are beginning to feel the pinch too. Some companies in areas without reliable transit access are having staffing problems, and though we won’t name names, we’ve heard that COTA’s decision to look into expanding service to New Albany is due to several large employers there having trouble retaining workers for lower wage jobs. The trouble seems to be that the workers they’d like to recruit just can’t get to work.

Fixing this problem will not only take improved transit service in Central Ohio, but also more strategic thinking from  businesses as they consider where to locate their facilities. Land in the suburbs may be cheap, but getting there isn’t.

Transit Columbus visits COTA Mainstream

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.

20130322-175759.jpg

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!