Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

PL #4: Fenton Street, Silver Spring, as a "Signature Street"

http://www.archdaily.com/867693/c-square-plaza-the-marc-boutin-architectural-collaborative

http://www.calgarymlc.ca/urban-parks/

http://www.evexperience.com/area-guide/

Madison Street, West Loop
https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20170324/west-loop/madison-street-skid-row-west-central-association



Fenton Street Parking Inventory

-- Bonifant Street street parking, 39
-- Thayer Street, 27 (at least 10 add'l currently lost to construction)
-- one block of Fenton; 9 west, 8 east
-- Easley Street County Lot (#29), 73 spaces
-- Bonifant Street County Lot (#38), 22 spaces
-- Safeway (private), surface lot, 41; parking garage, 70 (at 1:30 pm 36 in use)
-- Capitol One Bank surface lot, 33 spaces

Valet ?
Fenton Village Public Parking Garage #4

Woodbury Drive/Violet Place -- bike route, SS Intermediate Park, Chicago Ave.
Fenton Street Park - sculpture, bus stop
Fenton Street Community Garden

iden all parking, bus stops, bus station, bike share stations, lib.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Crystal City Business Improvement District promotional video

In updating the previous piece, I came across this promotional video from the Crystal City BID.  It might be a little too fast and jumpy for me, but it definitely puts forth the image of Crystal City as being well-located, very much transit-connected, with a lot happening, plenty of retail amenities, events, and walkability, in short, an interesting place to live.

(Oddly, it doesn't say much about it being a business center in its own right.)

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Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 4 | Making over New Carrollton as a transit-centric urban center and Prince George's County's "New Downtown"

For all the talk about Prince George's County and the opportunity for transit oriented (re)development (Jump Starting Transit Oriented Development in Prince George's County), the biggest problem is that most of the county's Metrorail and MARC stations aren't located in places/sites with the characteristics that support it, starting with some sort of conurbation/center and a block and grid urban design pattern.

I have written that Upper Marlboro, where the County Government is located, not being served by rail transit, typifies the disconnect.  I've suggested that the Government move to New Carrollton, because it is a rail transit hub, but the County has been moving their agencies over time to the Largo Town Center area.

The problem with the county buildings around the LTC is that they are still very much of the suburban development paradigm--spread out, deconcentrated, not well served by transit, without an area plan designed to create intensification and connection.

With the addition of the Purple Line, Prince George's County has the opportunity to do with New Carrollton in terms of intensification and repositioning, comparable to what is happening in Montgomery County at White Flint and in Fairfax County in the Tysons District.

Rather than write a new post, I am reprinting this one from 2014 (with a couple of minor additions).

I will say that I didn't stress enough the potential  for the Purple Line's addition to the area's transit mix as another priming action capable of spurring substantive change in the area's revitalization approach and pattern of development.

But I did suggest in point #12 below how extending the Purple Line west, from New Carrollton to Alexandria, would go along way to further strengthening the position of the New Carrollton district as the primary urban center for Prince George's County.

However, the piece doesn't link the creation of a real center for PGC around New Carrollton as a residential attraction and stabilization initiative.  From the New York Times article "Picking a Suburb to Call Home":
The Simons’ quest for the right community took months of planning and legwork in three regions where they had considered relocating (namely: Long Island; Westchester and northern New Jersey, before settling on Upper Montclair, N.J., last summer. For them, and for most other urban defectors, the house hunting is the easier part. Finding their tribe — that is, a community where they feel most comfortable shopping, jogging or taking their children to school — is trickier.

“It’s less about the home you want to buy and more about what you’re looking for in terms of the lifestyle,” said Kathy Braddock, a managing director of William Raveis Real Estate, which recently created the Raveis Escapes website to match buyers with towns that best reflect their desired lifestyles.
Also see "When the one over neighborhood is in the county next door, and housing prices have been in the tank: Mount Rainer, Maryland."

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Go big or go home: Prince George's County needs to think big and consider better revitalization examples for New Carrollton,


New Carrollton is probably Prince George's County's leading business district although not quite an edge city.  There are a bunch of office buildings including a unit of the Internal Revenue Service, a great many strip shopping centers, and low density housing on the outskirts.

(The County's other two main business districts are at Prince George's Plaza Metro Station and research and government institutions around College Park and Greenbelt.)

Despite the presence of a Metrorail station, the district is decidedly oriented to the automobile, and is centered around the intersection of I-495, the Washington Beltway, and Rte. 50, which is the midpoint between Washington, DC and Annapolis, the state capital.  There are 300,000 automobile trips daily through the area.

The area also has a Metrorail station, the Eastern end point of the Orange Line, along with a MARC/Amtrak railroad station, and will be the eastern end point of the Purple Line light rail line.

The Metro station area is going to be redeveloped in a big way, in an attempt to create a center for the area, and other projects including apartments and more retail development are underway.

New Carrollton images from Wikipedia.has

The Washington Business Journal has an article, "From food trucks to flower marts, how Prince George's will kick-start New Carrollton," about an initiative in Prince George's County to build identity and the "placemaking value" of New Carrollton, although it's not clear from the article that the county's economic development personnel know how to go about doing so.

For example there is a focus on cheap activation actions like "food trucks" and not on creating park and public spaces because they are "too expensive."  From the article:
The ideas from the audience ranged from a tech center, pop-up pet adoption fairs and a monthlong winter wonderland ("with alcohol"), to Internet cafes, summer camps, food trucks, concerts and even Artomatic. Prince George's is in talks with Artomatic, officials said Friday, and county leaders recently toured the vacated 12-story CSC building in New Carrollton as a possible venue. 
Hoskins and his team will build the ideas into a matrix, to determine what is most "implementable," that is, what can be done the fastest and for the least amount of money. A 1-acre park, said Victoria Davis, Urban Atlantic president, would could $5 million to $7 million to plan and build, plus $400,000 a year to operate. Bringing in a busker? That's free. 
"Where low cost and ease of implementation meet," Hoskins said, "these will probably be our first activities."
The article reports that the majority of the Metrorail station users are parking at the station and riding to other locations. From the article:
The Metro station sees roughly 9,000 weekday passenger boardings, including nearly 5,000 park-and-riders. Another 300,000 vehicles pass through the area daily....
Route 50 approaching I-495 and New Carrollton.  Image from AA Roads.

That means that the majority of the transit users aren't focused on New Carrollton outside of access it provides to the subway station.  (This is a problem common to transit line end stations.)

Will Prince George's County truly change its approach to land use and the built environment.  Separately, the county has been claiming a new focus on "transit oriented development" and has just launched a rebranding program ("Prince George's launches Experience, Expand, Explore marketing campaign," Gazette).

With the coming of the Purple Line light rail system, which will have 11 stations in PG County, for the past few years I've suggested that PG County has been given a second chance to re-orient its planning around transit--after all it has 15 stations between the Green, Orange, and Blue lines (plus Fort Totten in DC also serves PG County)--which it didn't do when the Metrorail system was first built.  See these past blog entries:

-- The future of mixed use development/urbanization: Part 3, Prince George's County, where's the there?
-- A recommended new planning direction for Prince George's County
-- Another lesson that Prince George's County has a three to five year window to reposition based on visionary transportation planning
-- Frustration #3: the talk about transit oriented development and Prince George's County 

But while the county claims to be re-orienting their land use planning paradigm towards "transit-oriented development" county development priorities are still more sprawl oriented.

Part of the problem is that Prince George's County has more build out capacity than it has demand, and is torn between supporting any development that can happen, and the interests that are represented, versus more dense projects that are intertwined with fixed rail transit service.

It's hard to construct "place" when the mobility system is focused on the car and there is no center to begin with.

Transit oriented development isn't so much about transit, it's about leveraging transit to achieve concentration and critical mass.  A key understanding is that "transit" oriented development isn't about transit so much as it is about the ability to leverage transit service to create "centers" or places.

The Place-Keeping book was published by Routledge in Europe and among other resources, provides an accessible presentation of the outputs of a major European Union-funded project MP4: Making Places Profitable, Public and Private Open Spaces which further extends the knowledge and debate on long-term management of public and private spaces.

PG County officials need to be more knowledgeable about placemaking and what it means.  Just because someone worked for government in DC doesn't mean that they are experts in placemaking.

PG County needs to be more judicious in their economic development hires if they want to be successful at repositioning the county's real estate development and placemaking agenda.

For example, at the workshop discussed in the article, it was touted that one of the presentations was about DC's attempts to revitalize the St. Elizabeths east campus, an example that is completely irrelevant to New Carrollton and not particularly successful either.

New Carollton needs a real makeover.  A large scale replanning effort for New Carrollton is necessary because its identity and place is diffuse both within the county and at the metropolitan scale.

I think that the County believes rebranding will happen somewhat magically with the redevelopment of the Metro Station site, but that will take a long time, and in itself, isn't enough.

Good examples that are relevant to what needs to happen in New Carrollton, at two scales:  macro and micro.  At the macro scale, involving large scale repatterning of business districts, New Carrollton's needs and opportunities are more comparable to White Flint ("White Flint makeover set to move forward," Washington Post) in Montgomery County, Maryland, Tysons Corner ("Tysons Corner, on the verge of a do-over," Washington Post) and Reston Town Center in Fairfax County, and Towson ("Theater opening is the latest step in Towson's ambitious makeover," Baltimore Sun) in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Some macro scale resources include:

-- The Next Frontier: Retrofitting Suburban Commercial Strips, Local Government Commission
-- Reinventing Suburban Business Districts, Urban Land Institute
-- Reinventing America's Suburban Strips, Urban Land Institute
-- Revitalizing Distressed Older Suburbs, Urban Land Institute
-- Revitalizing Suburban Downtown Retail Districts, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Micro scale examples are about smaller projects sparking change, the development of civic spaces, management and marketing.  The metropolitan area has many good example including Bethesda Row in Bethesda, "Downtown" Silver Spring, Union Market in DC, Crystal City and the Crystal City BID in Arlington ("Can Arlington's Crystal City become a hip place to live," Washington Post), the Mosaic District in Fairfax County, and Prince George's own "ArtsDistrict Hyattsville." The Buckhead district of Atlanta is relevant too.

Macro examples.  The spatial conditions in White Flint and Tysons are more comparable to New Carrollton, although White Flint has had Metrorail service for a long time, but less office compared to Tysons, and office more oriented to federal agencies.  Tysons is one of the nation's premier "Edge Cities" while New Carrollton is the closest that PG County comes to having one.

Towson is a big business district/edge city too.  Baltimore County doesn't have incorporated cities and Towson is the largest conurbation in the County, is the county seat, and has more than 50,000 residents, and a university--but the light rail station is located a couple miles away and transit service isn't integral to the County's land use planning philosophy, branding, and identity.  (I suggested that the light rail line be routed to serve Towson directly, here "From the files: transit planning in Baltimore County.")

The single word that comes to mind whenever I think about Towson is "disjoint."  There's no connectedness, no center, despite having all the pieces in close proximity.

I had worked there for more than 6 weeks before I figured out that there was a shopping mall with a Macy's next to the Trader Joe's, just a few blocks from my office.  That's because my orientation to the district was on foot, not by car.  Without the university students, there would be extremely limited foot traffic because most people get to their destinations by car, park on site, and drive from place to place.

The county's top officials haven't been too keen on focusing on integrating the blocks and buildings into a top notch ground level experience, even if they have an awesome farmers market on a couple remnant blocks of small retail buildings and have made over one of the streets abutting the government center (not called "Civic Square") so that it can be closed off for street festivals and other events.

New Carrollton and Towson have identical issues in terms of planning and the need for better integration and bold initiatives more comparable to those in Montgomery and Fairfax Counties, although as disjoint as I think Towson is, it's much more coherent and centered than New Carrollton.

Nighttime in Reston Town Center.  Photo by Greg Hess.

By contrast to these areas, Reston Town Center has been designed from the beginning to have critical mass and a coherent center, when Metrorail service wasn't even a consideration.

With the introduction of subway service, it's important to note that Reston rather than Tysons Corner is now better able to capitalize on Metrorail access and general trends favoring the creation of place in suburban centers.

Why?  Because Reston Town Center is a "center" already, focused on mixed use--retail, office, and residential, in a "traditional" street grid with blocks, and critical mass density, and unlike the original intention in Crystal City, a focus on ground floor activation and walking.  This ULI article, "Reston Town Center: 45 years in the making," discusses key elements of the program including (1) long-term view, (2) critical mass, (3) branding.

For companies with a suburban orientation and more comfortable locating outside of the center city--Reston Town Center being described as "urban and edgy" by head of a technology firm that recently located there in this WBJ interview--suburban locations like Reston can have real advantages with some companies.

Micro examples.  With the exception of the Mosaic district, these examples mostly involve smaller scale "refreshing" of existing places.  Crystal City is a big office district that is working to reposition as government agencies attracted to Pentagon proximity have relocated.  The district has an advantage in a grid street pattern and Metrorail service, but the built environment had been inwardly focused with limited focus on "the outside," let alone activating it--e.g., the biggest retail district was promoted for being underground.

Where they are relevant to New Carrollton is in how the business improvement district has focused on developing the "community" element and the district's identity by creating and sponsoring events, and embarking on a wide variety of branding and positioning initiatives, including the original introduction of bike share to the county ("A Tale of Two Cities," Arlington Magazine; "Crystal City, Once Cast Off by Washington, Reboots Itself," New York Times).  But this is done along with more substantive physical improvements, it's not merely a focus on "activation" without deeper substance.
Bethesda Row Dining on Street
Dining on Bethesda Row .

Bethesda Row ("Why are people so good at asking the wrong question") is a mixed use development built over many years and renewed a major destination that had declined in response to newer shopping developments.  Downtown Silver Spring is a similar initiative, involving more public financial support, but also the complementary development of civic facilities ("The layering effect: how the building blocks of an integrated public realm set the stage for community building and Silver Spring, Maryland").  Bethesda is stronger than Silver Spring for office space, but both are closer to DC than New Carrollton.

Photo of neon sign at Franklin's, Hyattsville from Hyattsville Wire.

ArtsDistrict Hyattsville ("Where We Live: Historic Hyattsville sees a retail rebirth," Washington Post) is a residential (multiunit and rowhouse) and retail (no office) district on Rte. 1 in Hyattsville.  The only office space there is for the city government with some law offices because of the County court building.

It's noteworthy because the retail portion of the project complements the previously existing Franklin's brew pub, restaurant, and variety store, creating a distinct district, making the area a new, significant and competitive destination for residents in Western Prince George's County, which for the most part lacks defined, attractive town centers.

Image from The Insider's Guide to Washington.

DC's Union Market district is about 20 acres located two blocks from the NoMA Metro station.  A wholesale and retail food district, somewhat controversially it's being refashioned as a mixed use and more upscale retail and residential district.  (Office isn't part of the mix, but it is a couple blocks south, in the abutting NoMA district.)

What's interesting is that this is being spearheaded by a "traditional" shopping center company (Edens) that has been able to shift and become nimble and innovative (they also run the retail section of the Mosaic District) with concepts that are out of the comfort zone of a traditional mall or strip center.

A major element of the repositioning is a wide range of programming--farmers markets, street festivals, "drive-in" movies, and other events, in the former parking lot across from the public market building, which has been significantly "upscaled" compared to its previous focus on serving low-income residents, and is an example of re-creating destinations for new, younger demographics with greater disposable income.

One of the Monroe and Market mixed use buildings, under construction, Brookland neighborhoodDC's Brookland neighborhood and Monroe Street Market mixed use project.  DC's Brookland neighborhood is another example. It's not directly comparable, as it is a university and residential district, served by a Metrorail station, with a somewhat sputtering retail spine along 12th Street NE (it's hurt by being spatially disjoint).

As build out opportunities are exhausted in the core, developers are moving to farther out but still in-city locations.  Brookland has a traditional street grid, and the new development adjacent to the Metrorail station is helping to strengthen walkability while recentering the neighborhood's retail district around the Metrorail station.

It demonstrates how an urban street grid, paired with fixed rail transit service and appropriate and creative mixed use development, can strengthen, reposition, and extend the built environment within a community.

Buckhead is an edge city, big, and one of Atlanta's leading office and residential districts, with a thriving retail district possessing the nation's largest number of upscale boutiques.

In terms of scale, it's comparable to the macro districts listed above, with major highway connections, three subway stations, and a free bus circulator connecting the various subdistricts.  But for the most part, the district isn't in need of repositioning, the way that Tysons and White Flint are working to change. That's why it's listed within the micro scale set of examples.

Despite the district's phenomenal success, it comes up short in terms of parks, open spaces, recreational facilities, and pedestrian and bicycle connections.  (This is typical in districts where the private sector initiates most of the development projects and the public realm becomes an afterthought.)

A planning process, called the Buckhead Collection, has developed a program to address this gap and create a strong network of parks, open spaces, and pedestrian and bicycle paths and trails.

It's a good example of identifying gaps in a district's ability to serve its market, the value of constant assessment, and taking advantage of opportunities to improve and strengthen its brand and positioning, which is exactly what needs to happen with New Carrollton.

Recommendations for New Carrollton and Prince George's County's economic development agenda

1.  Create a commercial district revitalization organization (a business improvement district) for New Carrollton.

2.  Controversially in all likelihood, create a tax increment financing district to fund it.

3.  Create a development, urban design, and branding-identity plan for the district.  Liverpool (Liverpool Vision) and the Georgetown DC Business Improvement District's recent planning initiative (Georgetown 2028: 15 Year Action Plan) are good examples of such plans.

4.  And implement it*.

5.  Including the creation of a business district demographic and opportunity profile comparable to the series that DC has produced on its commercial districts.  (DC Neighborhood Profiles, Washington DC Economic Partnership).  This should be done for New Carrollton as well as other PG County commercial districts.

6.  Like the Buckhead Collection program, make sure that the plan includes a program to create an integrated network of civic facilities (like libraries and cultural facilities) and public spaces, swhich will help to anchor a redefined community and its identity.

7.  Move the County's Government Center, currently located in Upper Marlboro, many miles from a Metrorail station, to New Carrollton and transit proximity and put proof to the county's assertions that it is now in favor of "transit oriented development."

8.  The proposed New Carrollton commercial district revitalization organization should be tasked with the development and delivery of a wide ranging program of events and other programming.  Mosaic District, Downtown Silver Spring, Union Market, and Crystal City are particularly good examples.  (In a very small way, so is the Old Takoma Main Street program.)

9.  Try to identify at least one shopping center owner willing to take a chance on redefinition and work with them to redevelop the center as a "community heart" and center, with mixed public and private functions, along the lines of the Mosaic District, Downtown Silver Spring, and Union Market.

Repurposed "traditional shopping centers" in Phoenix and West Seattle taught me that the building is just an envelope, that even "dull" buildings can be transformed by the businesses inside and end up being very cool.

Photo by Mark Kashman.

In "More thoughts on suburban hipness (it's really about commercial hipness generally, not urban vs. suburban)," I mention a coffee shop in West Seattle, Uptown Espresso on Delridge Way SW, that is located in what would appear to the be the epitome of a boxy, value engineered little strip shopping center dating to the 1960s.

But on the inside it's a really cool place.  Great coffee. You'd never expect a place that cool to be in a strip shopping center. The store is combined with "Gameporium," a game and puzzle store.

10.  On that note, in the to be redeveloped shopping center as "community heart," work to develop some key independent anchor independent "community-developing" businesses such as a coffee shop and pubs (good examples are Continental Lounge in Rosslyn or Buffalo Billiards in DC).

Perhaps one of the cool businesses in Hyattsville's artsdistrict, Busboys & Poets or Franklin's, could be enticed to open branches in a repositioned shopping center.

Another example of a cool business in a "so ordinary and dull" shopping center is the New Hope Cinema Grill in Suburban Minneapolis.

It's a great model for how to bring back a historic theater building --even though this particular operation isn't legacy and in a historic theater but in an old shopping center.

It started out as a way to occupy part of a mostly vacant shopping center. It shows movies, runs a comedy club operation, and holds special events.  They expanded the operation in other vacant spaces next door, adding a bar and grill done in a movies theme, which also schedules live music in buildings adjacent to the theater ("Outtakes Bar & Grill opening in New Hope," Sun-Post).

11.  Create an independent retail development initiative along the lines of the Historic Downtown Los Angeles Retail Project or the Second Street initiative in Austin, Texas.  (Although this type of program should be made available to various other districts in Prince George's County.)

Create a special package of incentives to facilitate the creation of "cool businesses." (Examples include the Neighborhood Restaurant Initiative in Boston, or DC's Great Streets funding program.)

12.  Strengthen New Carrollton's "edge city" position by strengthening its place in the metropolitan transit system by developing a separate transit vision plan, including extending the Purple Line light rail from New Carrollton to Alexandria, Virginia, which is part of the original Purple Line proposal (as pictured below), and the creation of MARC (the state's passenger rail system) railroad passenger service from Annapolis to New Carrollton (and on to Washington).
Purple Line Map  DC Metro
Purple Line concept map from the Sierra Club Metro DC chapter.
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*  From "Economic restructuring success and failure: Detroit compared to Bilbao, Liverpool, and Pittsburgh":

The six components of a successful broad ranging revitalization program.  In writing about the various efforts, I drew the conclusion that successful revitalization programs, especially in those cities that were working to overturn serious disadvantages, were comprised of these elements:
  • A commitment to the development and production of a broad, comprehensive, visionary, and detailed revitalization plan/s (Bilbao, Hamburg, Liverpool);
  • the creation of innovative and successful implementation organizations, with representatives from the public sector and private firms, to carry out the program.  Typically, the organizations have some distance from the local government so that the plan and program aren't subject to the vicissitudes of changing political administrations, parties and representatives (Bilbao, Hamburg, Liverpool, Helsinki);
  • strong accountability mechanisms that ensure that the critical distance provided by semi-independent implementation organizations isn't taken advantage of in terms of deleterious actions (for example Dublin's Temple Bar Cultural Trust was amazingly successful but over time became somewhat disconnected from local government and spent money somewhat injudiciously, even though they generated their own revenues--this came to a head during the economic downturn and the organization was widely criticized; in response the City Council decided to fold the TBCT and incorporate it into the city government structure, which may have negative ramifications for continued program effectiveness as its revenues get siphoned off and political priorities of elected officials shift elsewhere);
  • funding to realize the plan, usually a combination of local, regional, state, and national sources, and in Europe, "structural adjustment" and other programmatic funding from the European Regional Development Fund and related programs is also available (Hamburg, as a city-state, has extra-normal access to funds beyond what may normally be available to the average city);
  • integrated branding and marketing programs to support the realization of the plan (Hamburg, Vienna, Liverpool, Bilbao, Dublin);
  • flexibility and a willingness to take advantage of serendipitous events and opportunities and integrate new projects into the overall planning and implementation framework (examples include Bilbao's "acquisition" of a branch of the Guggenheim Museum and the creation of a light rail system to complement its new subway system, Liverpool City Council's agreement with a developer to create the Liverpool One mixed use retail, office, and residential development in parallel to the regeneration plan and the hosting of the Capital of Culture program in 2008, and how multifaceted arts centers were developed in otherwise vacated properties rented out cheaply by their owners in Dublin, Helsinki, and Marseille).

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Free access to cargo bikes/e-cargo bikes as part of a mobility hub/sustainable mobility platform

The post "Dolly micro-move app as an element of the Sustainable Mobility Platform," from last November updated my mobility shed concept (which others call a mobility hub) towards what I am now calling the "sustainable mobility platform."

But the SMP is more about thinking about mobility in terms of what are called "product-service-systems" or what others call either "Mobility as a Service"/MaaS or "Transportation as a Service"/TaaS.

Nigel, our e-correspondent from New Zealand, calls our attention to changes to an already interesting service in Freiburg, Germany, LastenVelo, which is a crowdfunded cargo sharing program for cargo bicycles ("Why you can hire a load wheel free of charge in Freiburg," Badische Zeitung).

The system is a little clunky in how the rentals work--in whole day rather than fractional increments, but it is free, with voluntary donations requested.

The service sells ad space on the bikes, and aims to use the revenue, up to per year, to fund the program.

VAG, the area transport association and the regional motorist association (comparable to the American Automobile Association) bought two e-cargo bikes to add to LastenVelo Freiburg, in return for keeping their ads on the bikes permanently ("Freiburg offers electric cargo bike hire," Metro Report International).

Mobility Shed Service Elements
Sustainable Mobility Platform centered on a Mobility Hub 
(typically a transit station)

I continue to work out where to place the various rungs on the ladder.  It's easier if you split it out according to trip distance.  These are the elements:

-- Walking
-- Scooters/Skateboards
-- Cycling
---- secure bike parking, air pumps, repair stands
---- access to trailers
---- tandems
---- cargo bikes
---- e-bikes
---- special populations ("Two men leading an effort to provide bikes to homeless," WLOX-TV)
-- Bicycle sharing
---- community system
---- building/campus (e.g., hotel, office building, university, office complex)
---- special populations ("New bike share program gives One80 Place's homeless a way around the city," WCIV-TV)
-- Segways/electric wheels
-- Delivery services (e.g., Dolly; UPS, FedEx, etc.) and package pickup points
-- Transit
---- various bus, streetcar, light rail, heavy rail, railroad services
---- network scale (regional, metropolitan, city; primary, secondary, tertiary)
---- intra-district(Baltimore Circulator, Circulators, San Diego FRED Shuttle); tertiary network (Tempe Orbit)
---- shuttle services (school, employer, residential)
---- microtransit either private (Bridg, Chariot, Israeli sheruts) or public (AC Transit FLEX pilot project, "The newest battleground between public transit and Uber, Lyft is an unlikely one," San Jose Mercury News)
---- van pools (longer distance) (vride)
---- shared taxi type services at edges of the transit system (taxi collectif in Montreal) or intra-district (Via, UberPool, Lyft Line) either publicly subsidized ("Mass transit gets boost from ridesharing," USA Today; "Uber and Lyft Want to Replace Public Buses," Bloomberg) or not
-- Taxis/Ride hailing
---- single trips (equivalent of "single occupant vehicle trips")
-- Car sharing
---- one-way (car2go)
---- two-way (Zipcar, Enterprise)
---- inclusion of a variety of vehicles in fleets to accommodate multiple uses (Zipcar)
---- electric car sharing systems
-- Scooters
---- scooter sharing (Scoot in SF)
-- Car pooling
-- Car rental

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 3 | Some influences

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Part 1:   the principles
Part 2:   the program (macro changes)
Part 3:  influences
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I had some half written blog posts concerning transit innovation and related matters, including:

★ An article "BART has $3.5 billion to spend: Here's what we think they should fix first," from the SF Chronicle listing improvements that could be implemented that would have significant positive impact on ride quality, but it's likely that these items aren't part of the big $3.5 Billion plan.
1. More service, more frequently.
2. Adding more trains during rush periods.
3. Longer trains during rush periods (Make all trains 10 cars during commute hours)
4. Replace or fix the escalators and elevators
5. Add late-night Friday and Saturday service
6. Smooth the rails (rail grinding) in tunnels and other locations where they the contact between the rails and the wheels is very loud and noisy.
7. Working security cameras.
8. Improve the system's ability to deal with weather.
9.  More hand-holds and poles [note that in the DC subway system, I argue that poles are often placed in cars in ways that hinder people from moving deeper into the car and create congestion at the doors]
10.  Train arrival and departure information in station lobbies
This relates to the current system repair program for the DC area Metrorail system in that people don't experience positive changes to their experience.  They are structural improvements that aren't visible and they haven't yet had enough of a cumulative effect to result in improvements in reliability and quality of service.

Plus, they are combined with serious service cuts in frequency and cuts to the bus network, so while one hand giveth, the other takes it away.

Some focus should go towards customer service improvements that are visible--recognizing that as more new 7000 series trains come into service, that is definitely a visible improvement.

A super duper bus stop in Singapore ("Jurong bus stop makes waiting fun,"Straits Times).

Features in the Jurong experimental bus stop, Singapore

★ An impressive systematic station access improvement program by the Utah Transit Authority, discussed in the current issue of Metro Magazine ("UTA Works to Overcome 'Toughest Mile' Challenges").

Their First/Last Mile Strategies Study (lead consultants Fehr & Peers) is particularly good.  The agency pursued successfully a large TIGER grant to implement a large number of improvements across the transit station network.

★  Thanking riders for putting up with service degradation.  Network Rail says thanks for your patience with free cake ("Merseyside railway upgrades brought forward during emergency Lime Street repairs," press release) and Pierce Transit offers a week of free transit ("Pierce Transit rolls out new service plan with free rides," Tacoma News-Tribune).

I have been upset with how disconnected transit stakeholders seem to be from the reality that local transit service quality has degraded so much, partly reflected in the blog entry, "Wrongsizing is not rightsizing" and customers are supposed to just take it (the stakeholders aren't clued in to Hirschman's Exit, Voice or Loyalty and right now we are seeing a lot of exit)

So I was impressed that Pierce Transit in Washington State, which is finally getting enough revenue to restore service that had been drastically cut during the Great Recession, is launching the restored services by offering free trips.

And that after emergency repairs at the Liverpool Lime Street Station were finished, Network Rail gave their apologies and thanked customers for their patience.

★ Transport for London has "product design managers" for the transit system. (And the VIA transit system in San Antonio has an urban design unit.)


-- "The Sign Design Society Event: Defining a City," designworkplan
-- Product design guidelines, Transport for London
-- "VIA urban planner wants to build a better San Antonio," San Antonio Express-News

From the presentation by Ivan Bennett, Design Manger for London Buses:
One reason other systems have failed is the lack of continuity. London bus stops extend beyond central areas and cover all routes in Greater London. Ivan indicated that passengers do not just want information about where they are travelling from, but when they get there, they need the same consistently presented information. People need information near their homes and local areas, not just in the centre of the city.

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Plus, a variety of previous writings including:

-- "Takoma Langley Crossroads Transit Center: a critical evaluation," 2016
-- "Multiple missed opportunities in the creation of the Silver Spring Transit Center," 2015
-- "DC State Rail Planning Initiative," 2015
-- "Making Bus Service Sexy and More Equitable," 2012
-- "Transit stations as an element of civic architecture," 2016
-- "Transit, stations, and placemaking," 2013
-- "Design as a city branding strategy: transit edition," 2012
-- "One big idea: Getting MARC and Metrorail to integrate fares, stations, and marketing systems, using London Overground as an example," 2015

And having recently come across one of the best practice guides from the HiTrans project in Northern Europe, Public transport -- Plannng the networks.

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Reprint: One way to move the DMTVA forward, hire a "Director of Transportation Innovation"

Came across this blog entry from August 2010. It was originally titled "Here's the job description we don't have at MWCOG or WMATA."

Maybe this is the kind of person/unit we need to create at the metropolitan scale, to begin to bring about the DMV Transport Association, modeled after the German Verkehrsverbund ("The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority association"), and the kinds of simultaneous transit network improvements that I outlined in "Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 2 | proposed parallel improvements across the transit network."

Of course, now it's 6+ years later, I wonder how the "Director of Innovation" is doing there ("Development appears to be central to John Tory's transit plans," Toronto Star; "To propel GO Transit, Metrolinx runs on culture of intrapreneurship," Toronto Globe & Mail)?

It doesn't appear as if the projects are quite on the scale that I proposed for complementing the Purple Line.

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MWCOG = the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The Transportation Planning Board of the COG is the "metropolitan planning organization" for the purposes of federal transporation planning and regional coordination.

WMATA = the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority. It runs the metropolitan area subway system and bus services.

The closest organization in the region to this kind of job description is Arlington Transportation Partners, the contracting organization that handles most of Arlington County's transportation management functions, in association with various agencies and people who do work directly for Arlington County and are "government employees."

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DIRECTOR OF INNOVATION
Salary Range: $136,941 to $171,176

Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario, is realizing its vision to bring about an integrated, traveller-focused, multi-modal transportation system that enhances prosperity, sustainability and quality of life for the GTHA region.

To support this, Metrolinx has identified innovation as a core corporate value and is looking for a unique and experienced individual to work with a team of diverse professionals in the transportation, planning, finance and sustainable development disciplines to identify, develop, incubate and champion innovative ideas, concepts and best practices needed to meet Metrolinx’s short and long-term goals. Reporting to the Vice President of Policy and Planning, this management executive will work collaboratively with all Metrolinx business areas, including GO Transit, an operating division, and public and private sector transportation leadership to identify future lines of business at both the strategic and tactical levels.

As the Director of Innovation, you will be responsible for:
  • Researching, evaluating, and filtering ideas and concepts including those from senior management, and working closely with all business areas to use new and existing customer insights to advance the corporate value of innovation.
  • Identifying policies, internal processes, and external services for improved modal integration, efficiency and alignment with The Big Move and overall corporate mission, vision, goals and values
  • Developing and directing research focused on transportation innovation and making improvements to the traveler experience.
  • Developing the business case model to support innovative ideas from incubation to independence
  • Overseeing senior stakeholder forums made up of diverse public and private sector interests to remain current and ahead of the curve.
  • Bringing a diverse perspective to the field of transportation, to grasp issues, opportunities and roadblocks and subsequently utilizing your range of knowledge and political acuity to minimize barriers and to maximize opportunities.
  • Integrating potential innovations with Metrolinx’s “The Big Move” plan, the GO 2020 strategic plan and the overall needs of travellers throughout the GTHA.
Qualifications: Completion of a post-graduate university degree in Planning, Engineering, Business Administration or Public Policy or any combination of education, training, and experience deemed equivalent. Minimum ten (10) years experience in the development of corporate strategy or project management in the transportation and/or urban planning fields that includes direct exposure to, or demonstrated working knowledge of;
· Developing and fostering innovation in policy, procedures and services.
· Managing / Directing high profile and highly complex projects that are organic and require the ability to adapt to changing goals and direction.
· Directing and managing cross-functional corporate teams, and multi-disciplinary consultant contracts.
· Integrating a diverse portfolio of issues into actionable directives.
· Generating and testing hypotheses, and incubating ideas.
· Leading by empowering others to innovate and continuously improve.
· Superior interpersonal communication skills (written, oral, and listening) and extremely strong presentation skills for public audiences and senior public officials.
· Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area planning and socio-political issues (rural, suburban, and urban) that have the potential to impact the success of Metrolinx and its operating division GO Transit.
· Diplomatic personal conduct in highly sensitive and / or political environments, with the ability to negotiate and foster a climate of openness and transparency.
Resumes must be received by the Human Resources Office, Metrolinx, 20 Bay Street, Suite 600, Toronto, M5J 2W3, email: humanresources@metrolinx.com no later than September 15, 2010, quoting File Number 10-220.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 2 | proposed parallel improvements across the transit network

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Part 1:   the principles
Part 2:  the program (macro changes)
Part 3:   influences
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Proposed:
Washington Area Transit Network 
Complementary Improvements Program
2017-2022


Coordinating other transit agency improvements with the opening of the Purple Line.  The opening of the Purple Line should be used as a "priming event" to move transit planning, marketing, and operations forward toward the end game of the creation and launch of the DMVTA -- the DC, Maryland, Virginia Transport Association--an integrated transit planning, management, coordination, and operations entity for the DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas.

While changes to bus services are made in association with the opening of rail lines all the time, deeper system improvements are not usually considered in the context of major launch events, and too often, when stations open, communities have failed to make necessary access improvements, especially for pedestrians and cyclists ("People Won't Ride the Tysons Corner Metro If They Can't Walk to Stations," Streetsblog).

In any case, if the following service improvement and integration steps are taken by other transit agencies in advance of but in concert with the launch of the Purple Line system, not only will the Purple Line's success be significant and immediate, the other transit agencies will benefit as well, but most importantly, so will the area's transit riders and jurisdictions.

Below is a pretty detailed set of recommendations for what I consider to be macro scale improvements to the transit network and the sustainable mobility platform in the Washington Metropolitan area.

I was going to have a fourth post on micro scale improvements, mostly station access improvements, and things like integrating car sharing, treating stations as "mobility hubs" anchoring transportation management districts, incorporating package pick up and other service amenities in transit centers, etc., but it can wait.

Recommendations

The current Metrorail map.

1.  Change the WMATA Metrorail map so that it includes the Purple Line and regional railroad services.

The WMATA map is one of the most iconic graphics depicting Metropolitan Washington, particularly in map form.  It shows railroad connections, but not the actual lines delineating routes of the railroad passenger services.

Changing the map to reflect a coordinated, regionally-scaled transit system will be an important step towards creating such a system.

Map (and service) models for such systems include London, Paris, and major cities in Germany such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich.

Note that without the creation of this proposed program, including the Purple Line on the WMATA map will happen, but not the inclusion of railroad lines.

2.  Integrate the Purple Line light rail line into the Metrorail fare system.

I imagine negotiations are underway for this anyway, but it still needs to be said.  During the O'Malley Administration, it was the expectation on the part of the Maryland Department of Transportation, that the light rail and subway lines would share an integrated and unified "tolling"/fare system, meaning one fare even if the trip was on both light rail and subway.

Currently, WMATA charges a separate fare for each mode (subway, bus), not one fare per end-to-end trip.

Under that method, rather than treating "light rail" the same as Metrorail, they'd want the PL concessionaire to charge its own fare, but would provide a slight discount to Light Rail riders continuing on via Metrorail.

Rather than operating transit for the benefit of the operator, the system needs to be knit together in ways that benefit riders, in this case by having one unified and single fare framework for trips that combine Metrorail and Purple Line service, even though trips occur across two different agencies.

I expect that a unified single fare based on distance is likely to happen for combined subway+light rail trips irrespective of this proposed program.

The Baltimore-area CharmCard is merely a prettier version of the "DC-area" SmarTrip card.

3.  Integrate MARC fares into the SmarTrip/ CharmCard fare media system.

Regardless of the level of actual coordination, the area's surface transit agencies all use the WMATA SmarTrip fare media card (with a couple of odd exceptions), and the "Regional Bus Pass" allows transfer between bus systems without triggering additional fares.

MTA in Maryland uses a separately branded SmarTrip system for local transit services in the Baltimore area.  Although they sell their own card, either card works seamlessly in both Baltimore and Washington.

But unlike the fare media systems in Seattle and San Francisco (or the integration of PATH with the NYC Subway fare card), railroad passenger services aren't part of the SmarTrip/CharmCard system.

While it would be best to add both MARC and Virginia Railway Express to the fare media system at the same time, at a minimum, since the Purple Line will connect to all three MARC railroad passenger lines ("One big idea: Getting MARC and Metrorail to integrate fares, stations, and marketing systems, using London Overground as an example"), MARC should be integrated into the SmarTrip fare collection integration before the Purple Line opens.  This becomes the deadline for the change.

4. Introduce bi-directional passenger rail service between DC and Frederick on the MARC Brunswick Line.

Separately I suggested that "corridor management" be implemented in the I-270-Rockville Pike corridor ("Transportation network interruptions as an opportunity: Part 2" and "Transportation network service interruptions part 3: corridor/commute shed management for Northwest DC and Montgomery County, Maryland) and a key element is bi-directional service on the MARC train line between DC and Montgomery County.  Such service is recommended in the long range plan for the MARC system.

Currently the service runs in only one direction, from West Virginia/Maryland in the morning, and from DC to Maryland/West Virginia at night.

The opportunity for transit capturing commuting trips is high between DC, Silver Spring, White Flint, Rockville, and Gaithersburg more generally.  When the original service pattern was created for this line, there was limited demand for two-way service.  Land use has changed significantly in the 60 years since and now Montgomery County is a job destination for many, but the railroad service pattern hasn't caught up.

Use the opening of the Purple Line to set a deadline for the simultaneous launch of this service.

(Note: because the Camden Line station network doesn't have comparable proximity to major employment and activity centers within Prince George's County, it doesn't present the same kind of opportunity for the creation of an intra-county rapid transit service.)

Tourists, Karlsplatz, Munich, Bavaria, Germany.Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich include trams (light rail/streetcar) in their integrated transit network. Sign showing that Munich's Karlsplatz station has U Bahn (subway), S Bahn (railroad) and Tram service.  Flickr photo by westport 1946. (German cities use the same U and S logos to denote services across their transit networks.)

5.  Consider charging DC-Montgomery County trips on a bi-directional Brunswick Line using the Metrorail/Purple Line tolling/fare schedule.  That would treat mileage from railroad trips in the context of a complete (linked) trip on railroad+subway+light rail as a single fare.

In Germany, "suburban railroad passenger services" are organized as the S-Bahn, and operated as a form of "local rapid transit" where trip pricing is based on zones or the distance traveled, integrated with subway service (similar services exist in other European countries, and in cities such as the London Overground and the Paris RER system).

This is not the case in the US, although Transport Politic suggested years ago ("Expanding Transit Access to Southeast Queens") that transit service for a particularly underserved part of Queens could be significantly improved by better leveraging certain lines of the Long Island RR including adding stations, and adopting rapid transit style pricing for these trips.  (The comment thread also has additional suggestions and recommendations that are quite interesting.)

Peak fares on Metrorail are comparable to MARC fares, although off-peak fares to places like Rockville or Silver Spring are significantly less on WMATA than on MARC.

Maybe it's too much to ask for off-peak MARC fares equal to Metrorail fares for the "DC-Montgomery County" zones on MARC, but at the very least, MARC rides could be integrated into the expected Metrorail/Purple Line unified tolling/fare schedule, and a railroad+subway+light rail trip would incur a single fare, not three different fares for one end-to-end trip.

6.  The White Flint Sector Plan calls for an infill MARC station. Plans to build that station should be accelerated as part of this proposal.

Note that in Boston, New Balance paid for a new MBTA railroad station as part of the development of the Boston Landing complex, which includes the company's headquarters, practice facility for the Boston Bruins, and other commercial and residential properties ("New Balance bought its own commuter rail station," The Atlantic).

The station (rendering above) will cost about $16 million to build and New Balance has agreed to pay the station's operating costs for at least 10 years.  The station will open in May.

With bi-directional service on the Brunswick Line between DC and Frederick, likely the various development interests behind the redevelopment of White Flint could come up with the money for the station.  Baring that, a "public improvement district" could be created to fund it (more about that concept later).

7.  Provide integrated train arrival information screens at Metrorail, Light Rail, and MARC stations.

One of the problems that results from having different agencies doing different things is that there isn't one integrated system that presents bus and train arrival information across the "transit network."

TransitScreen mobility information display, Silver Spring Civic CenterThe TransitScreen display at the Silver Spring Civic Center.

WMATA has five different programs (the screens on the train platforms, screens at station kiosks and occasionally on station platforms, a system for buses at the Silver Spring Transit Center, a new advertising-based program with Outfront Media in Metrorail stations, and a bus shelter system similar to the train platform program).

Arlington County has a different program that integrates information from different mobility operators, Montgomery County uses a similar application, produced by TransitScreen, and DC has a similar digital application.

What distinguishes WMATA's information presentation programs is that they don't provide information for other agencies (except at SSTC, but there is not one integrated arrival-departure board anyway).

With integration of Metrorail and the Purple Line at four stations (Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park, and New Carrollton) and the integration of the Purple Line at three MARC stations (Silver Spring, College Park, and New Carrollton), arrival and departure information for all three rail services should be presented in a common system, across all the separate service platforms, so that a rider on Metrorail knows when the next PL train is arriving, etc.

IMG_2654Arrival and departure screens at Union Station.  Flickr photo by John Corbett.

Ideally, it would be on one screen board, the way that at Union Station, "Amtrak" screens show information for MARC and VRE as well.

Baring that, the TransitScreen format, which provides information for multiple services, but in separate sections of the same screen, would be acceptable.

8.  Provide integrated bus arrival and departure information screens at Metrorail, Light Rail, and MARC stations.

In keeping with the previous recommendation, a similar integrated information system should be provided for bus services, as most stations have two to four different providers.

In this TransitScreen display, Metrobus information is presented in blue, and the DC Circulator bus information is presented in red.

A big issue is providing information for all the different services in one application, rather than different screens for different agencies.

9.  Bus service in certain corridors between DC and Maryland should be extended and/or frequency increased to better link these areas to the new light rail service.

Many of the area's bus services terminate at the city-state line, although there are some exceptions. DC and Maryland should commit to bus service improvements in advance of the PL launch.

(a.) On Wisconsin Avenue, the 30s bus should be extended from Friendship Heights to Bethesda. (b.) The DC L2 line should be extended up Connecticut Avenue at a minimum to the Chevy Chase Lake Light Rail Station. (c.) The Georgia Avenue (70s) and 16th Street (S) lines already extend to Silver Spring, and Q and Y buses travel within Montgomery County along the Georgia Avenue corridor. (d.) The K6 bus already travels from Fort Totten to White Oak on New Hampshire Avenue. This line will serve the Takoma Langley Crossroads Station at University Boulevard when the PL opens.

(e.) The R1 bus serving the Riggs Road corridor north from Fort Totten will serve the Riggs Road-University Boulevard Light Rail Station.

(f.) In the Rhode Island Avenue corridor the Purple Line will serve the University of Maryland campus and will connect to the MARC Camden Line and the northern leg of the Green Line at College Park.  There are various Metrobus services on part or all of the corridor, as well as the Route 1 Ride service from Prince George's County.  These services should be combined into one integrated and branded service.

10.  Montgomery County bus system improvements with the launch of the Purple Line and bi-directional service on the MARC Brunswick Line should include launch of planned Bus Rapid Transit services.  

Like any good transit agency, MCDOT is already planning to rationalize and extend service in various ways in association with the opening of the light rail system, just as they did with the opening of the Red Line.

Besides those changes, they should commit to the opening of the Route 29 BRT service, with consideration of a New Hampshire Avenue leg terminating at either the Takoma Langley Station at University Boulevard or at Fort Totten Metrorail station in DC.

This would combine elements of two different lines as currently planned.  The Route 29 Line is shown as green on the map below, while the New Hampshire Avenue Line is shown as red.
Bus Rapid Transit Route Map, Montgomery County
Map of the proposed BRT system produced by Dan Malouff for the Coalition for Transit.

Flickr photo by MW Transit.

11.  Rearticulate, rebrand, and reposition-extend the Prince George's County TheBus bus transit service. Change the name of the service and the graphic design of the bus livery.

For many years I have suggested that Prince George's County has been given a second chance to reposition its land use and transportation planning paradigm around transit rather than automobility--they didn't do so in association with the original Metrorail system.  Despite changes in rhetoric which now favors "transit oriented development," the County's development priorities tend towards sprawl-promoting projects such as National Harbor and Konterra.

They have the same opportunity for rearticulation with their complementary local transit system. Currently, TheBus system is the least well developed of the suburban transit agencies ("By choosing coverage over frequency, Prince George’s caps what its buses can accomplish," GGW).

In association with service expansion and improvement concomitant with the opening of the Purple Line, PG Department of Public Works and Transportation should commit to a rebranding and redesign of the bus system, which currently isn't very design forward.

In the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area, all but one of the bus systems has agreed to use a common brand, GoTransit, and design, with a specific color assigned to each system, to distinguish it from the others.  

12.  Consider a redesign and rebranding of the the metropolitan area's bus systems into an integrated framework, comparable to that of GoTransit in the Raleigh-Durham area.

This has been discussed in depth here, "Will buses ever be cool? Boston versus the Raleigh-Durham's GoTransit Model."  This gives a  deadline for launch.

From the presentation ("The Sign Design Society Event: Defining a City," designworkplan) by Ivan Bennett, Design Manger for London Buses:
One reason other systems have failed is the lack of continuity. London bus stops extend beyond central areas and cover all routes in Greater London. Ivan indicated that passengers do not just want information about where they are travelling from, but when they get there, they need the same consistently presented information. People need information near their homes and local areas, not just in the centre of the city.
Ideally, a rebranding of the PG County bus system would occur as part of an overall metropolitan-scale process.

As would the creation of a unified integrated customer service center for all of the transit agencies.

13.  Set the opening of the Purple Line as the deadline for the integration of the MARC Penn Line and VRE Fredericksburg Line into one combined railroad passenger service.

This is discussed in depth here, "A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines."  The merged line would connect to the PL at New Carrollton Station.  This puts a deadline for the launch of this concept.
Tom Toles editorial cartoon, 8/1/2016, night service
Tom Toles editorial cartoon, 8/1/2016, late night transit service.

14.  Set the opening of the Purple Line as the deadline for the implementation of a full-fledged integrated Night Owl bus network for the DC metropolitan area.

San Francisco Bay late night bus service transit map.

This is discussed in depth here, "Night and weekend transit/subway service," "Overnight transit service: San Francisco," and "Night moves: the need for more night time (and weekend) transit service, especially when the subway is closed.

This puts a deadline for the launch of this concept.

15.  Create a cheap weekend pass to use the local transit network, especially Metrorail.

Right now, weekend subway service is abominable.  No wonder ridership has declined so precipitously.

In association with the eventual fixing of the system to a state of good repair and the launch of the Purple Line as a way to rearticulate and integrate transit service and improvements to the transit network, the DMVTA and in particular Metrorail+Purple Line Light Rail should implement a cheap weekend pass.

The model is Melbourne.  On weekends and public holidays the equivalent of a full day transit pass is $6.  A WMATA Day Pass is $14.50.

Note that Melbourne has other fare programs focused on transit encouragement rather than revenue generation.  The night-time fare is $4.10 total from 6 pm to 3 am, and if you ride transit early in the morning and your end-to-end trip finishes before 7:15 am the trip is free.

This is more about rewarding riders for putting up with service degradation for many many years, but why not do it?

16.  Incorporate quantum improvements in bicycle facilities across the mobility network in association with the launch of the Purple Line.

With the exception of some bike parking, the opportunity was missed to include significant bicycle accommodations in the new Takoma Langley Crossroads Transit Center ("TLCTC: a critical evaluation").

The Purple Line will include an upgrade of the current Capital Crescent Trail, and is supposed to include a cycle track on University Boulevard.  Bike parking is planned for the stations.

(a.) Treat Metrorail, PL, and MARC stations as "trailheads" for the bicycle transportation network. Besides including air pumps and repair stands at PL stations, which is still not standard practice;

(b.) jurisdictions should work to complete various area bicycle trail projects with the deadline being the launch of the Purple Line, examples being the Metropolitan Branch Trail in DC, and the connector from Fort Totten in DC to West Hyattsville station, in Prince George's County.

(c.) simultaneous with the launch of the Purple Line should be the creation and printing of a "Metropolitan Bikeways Network" map and it should be posted in Metrorail, MARC, VRE, and Purple Line stations.

(d.) Create bike hubs as needed at PL/Metrorail stations. WMATA has secured parking, but not "bike hubs," at an increasing number of stations. Ensure that the bike hub planned for Silver Spring opens simultaneously with the PL.

A new model to consider is the Los Angeles MTA's Bike Hub program.  The first was at the El Monte Regional Bus Station, which is the largest local transit bus station outside of the East Coast and Chicago ("A parking garage for bicycles just opened at El Monte Bus Station," San Gabriel Valley Tribune).

Velofix is a mobile bike repair operation, with franchises across North America.

Bike hubs could be the touch point for the delivery of programs like a bike co-operative, youth programs, "create a commuter" programs, and cycle loan schemes to assist people in trying out cycling for transportation.

Work with mobile bike repair operations and/or local bike shops to create a regular schedule of on-site bike repair options at transit stations.

(e.) Develop an integrated secure bike parking program across the region, anchored by the transit network, modeled after the Parkiteer program in Victoria State, Australia.  Centered on Melbourne, this is a network of 90+ secure bicycle parking cages at railroad and transit stations.

Bayswater Station, Melbourne, Parkiteer Bicycle Parking Cage
Bayswater Station, Melbourne, Parkiteer Bicycle Parking Cage

A cross-network bike parking system should include:
  • key activity centers, not just transit stations.  With the opening of the Purple Line, parking authorities in Montgomery and Prince George's should commit to participating;
  • not just bike cages like the Parkiteer program, but a wide variety of high quality secure bicycle parking options designed according to the location's conditions, opportunities, and potential for the most cost-effective installation.
The way the Parkiteer program works is that "members" pay a one-time $50 fee for a parking card, which entitles them to use any of the Parkiteer sites across the network for no additional cost. Ideally, a wide variety of high quality parking options would be employed.Biceberg underground bicycle parking
The Biceberg underground bicycle parking system works with an above-ground kiosk.

Interior bicycle racks, Logan Square station, blue line subway, Chicago
At the Logan Square CTA station in Chicago, protected bike parking is available within the station, behind the fare gates, in interstitial space.

Note that the Biceberg has the capacity of 23, 46, 69, or 92 bikes, depending on the underground configuration (each unit of 23 equals the cubic feet of one parking space), while the bike cages used in the Parkiteer program have a capacity of 30.


17.  Rearticulate transportation demand management programming and services in conjunction with the PL launch, including a single network of "customer information centers."

Arlington was the first jurisdiction in the area to launch "Commuter Stores," promoting alternatives to driving alone, in particular transit. Other jurisdictions including Montgomery County have similar programs.

PG County does not, and there are gaps in the MoCo program, for example the office at the Silver Spring Transit Center is poorly located and it isn't open on weekends.

If the metropolitan area's bus agencies were to adopt a common branding system, the name, logo, design, etc. could be extended to TDM stores.

18.  WMATA should upgrade its Metrorail station bus shelters.

Another aspect of the balkanized transit system in the DC area is that every jurisdiction has a different program for bus shelters--what Ivan Bennett, product design manager for the London bus program, calls "a lack of continuity."

Metrobus isn't responsible for shelters in the various jurisdictions, although WMATA does have bus shelters on the grounds of many Metrorail stations outside the core. DSC05747
Bus shelters at the Medical Center Metrorail Station. 

Unfortunately, the Metrorail station shelters are dowdy, don't incorporate real-time arrival and departure information, could include advertising as a revenue stream, etc.

Why not use the launch date of the Purple Line as an inducement and deadline for an overhaul of the Metrorail bus shelters across the station network?

 ... although this doesn't address the fact that in an integrated bus service branding system across the jurisdictions, ideally, there would be a common set of transit shelters and amenities across the transit network.

-- Transit Waiting Environments, for the Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority
-- From Here to There: A creative guide for making public transport the way to go, EMBARQ
-- Rethinking the Suburban Bus Stop, Airport Corridor Transportation Association, Pittsburgh
-- First/Last Mile Strategies Study, Utah Transit Authority

The Kansas City Streetcar Smart City "City Post" digital kiosks include a real-time tracker application for the streetcar service ("No need to wonder where streetcar is: Kiosks now offer tracker maps," Kansas City Business Journal). Photo: Andrew Grumke.

19.  Create "sustainable mobility" corridors in Silver Spring (and other places), complementing the new PL.

This concept is something I've been meaning to write about since last summer, as part of a broader set of writings on transportation infrastructure and civic architecture ("Transportation infrastructure as a key element of civic architecture/economic revitalization #1: the NoMA Metrorail Station," "Public improvement districts ought to be created as part of transit station development process: the east side of NoMA station as an example," and "Transportation Infrastructure and Civic Architecture #3: Rhode Island Avenue Pedestrian Bridge to the Metrorail station") and at some point within the next month I'll write a dedicated piece about it.

In Silver Spring, Wayne Avenue and Fenton Street would be targeted for this treatment. Undoubtedly, other streets in the transit shed of the Purple Line are equally deserving.

The idea was sparked by complaints by citizens at a public meeting not happy about the PL not being undergrounded on Wayne Avenue. My response was that at some point, when it comes to urban design-related improvements, the costs need to be borne by the locality, not the transit authority.

But at the same time, why not make the street great in association with the transit project.  (This is also an issue with the extension of the DC Streetcar further into Ward 7 on Benning Road.)

The idea is to apply my "Signature Streets" concept (see the discussion in "Town-city management: we are all asset managers now") and some of the elements introduced along with some of the street-side improvements associated with the Kansas City Streetcar implementation (digital kiosks, wifi, public art, etc.) and concepts in two books, the Transit Street Design Guide published by Island Press and Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns, published by Wiley.

More recently, MoCo's Energized Public Places planning initiative has influenced this recommendationt too, specifically with regard to Fenton Street.

The TfL Healthy Streets initiative aims to develop metrics on ten different criteria for developing plac-oriented street improvement projects.

Note that the Transport for London Healthy Streets Initiative provides some important concepts that can be harvested for development of the Signature Streets concept (see "Transport for London's "Healthy Streets" approach integrates place and aesthetics considerations alongside mobility").

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