Forget Rail...Focus on Our Bus System.... ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Forget Rail...Focus on Our Bus System....

For years, CP has been urging local leaders and citizens to stop screaming for rail, streetcars, trams, gondolas or whatever other transit flavor of the month option suits their fancy. Instead, we must rebuild our existing bus system that we already own and operate. Then CP found this opinion piece online from a recent edition of the Durham, NC newspaper in which a very informed writer says the same thing for his community. Read on:

Forget rail, let's update our existing TTA system

By Mike West : Guest columnist ,The Herald-Sun, Nov 23, 2008

I can understand how it is "sexy" to talk and day dream about a proposed $1-billion rail transit system and contemplate "updated" trolleys for downtown Durham.

But what the Herald Sun editors, business and government supporters of these grandiose and costly proposals fail to address or even discuss, is how best to utilize, deploy, and improve our existing transit systems -- especially the Triangle Transit Authority bus system.

Here is my modest proposal for suggested changes and improvements to the TTA bus system:

* Replace the pitifully inadequate Durham bus stop signs with actual pedestrian shelters with seating.

* Provide curb realignment so buses can pull out of the traffic lanes to load passengers.

* Employ bus rapid transit (BRT) dedicated bus lanes that operate separate from all other traffic modes along the I-40 corridor.

* Install electronic signage at the main downtown bus station that announces approaching buses and that update bus schedules in real time. Provide bus schedule signage at all TTA bus stops.

* Invest more money into sidewalk construction and connect those sidewalks that "go nowhere" - especially to other transportation nodes like bus stops, taxi stands and train platforms.

* Offer some amenities on the bus. How about music (jazz or soft rock) and complimentary newspapers? At the very least, bus schedule brochures should be made available to all bus riding patrons.

* Allow seniors to ride free on selected days and offer back-to-school ride specials to returning Duke, N. C. Central and other school students at the start of semesters. Offer other free ride days to generate awareness and excitement.

* Work together with RTP businesses to offer morning and afternoon express bus routes from downtown Durham to RTP business sites.

* Do a better job of marketing and promoting our local Durham TTA bus system as a viable transit option.

* Restart stalled negotiations with both Raleigh and Chapel Hill on a tri-city regional bus system that would benefit the entire region.

You can tell me these are all impractical and impossible to implement, but consider this point. We have Herald-Sun editors, business and government leaders who are eager and ready to spend our taxpayers' money on a $1 billion boondoggle.

There is now discussion to have local officials bypass the public (once again) and move forward with transit funding from taxpayers' sources that do not require voters' approval. The Herald-Sun's justification is that our leaders know how best to spend our money.

Obviously as one attempts to navigate a car along Durham's crumbling pavement and potholed streets while local officials plead for taxpayers' money to build baseball museums, our leaders have their spending priorities straight -- don't they?

My modest proposal may not be popular and certainly few city or local business leaders are publicly discussing this alternative transit option. But doesn't it make more sense to take a fraction of the proposed $1 billion and instead of dumping it into a huge sinkhole called rail, invest it into improving our existing TTA bus system?

It's not rocket science folks, just some common sense.

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Anonymous said...

Clearly this just makes sense. The amenities referenced such as bus pull-offs, shelters, ITS electronic scheduling enhancements, and a variety of other enhancing tools present a modern, for all the people, approach. The sad fact is that the City has not pursued the assistance programs that have been available for well over 10 years and are still available now to do such things.

Paul Foer said...

Dave Thanks....let's keep working on this!

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