Author Archive | Chris Smith

The Policy Folly of Park and Rides

Over at Human Transit, Jarrett has an excellent post detailing why dedicated park & ride facilities (as opposed to shared use of existing parking lots that have another principal function – like church lots) make no sense from either a transportation or land use point of view, especially when there is no charge for parking. We see this absurdity locally, with TriMet charging for card-lock cage bike parking, but allowing autos free parking. (My beef is NOT with charging for bikes, it’s with the free auto parking!)

Historically I think we owe this pattern of development to a degree to the Federal Transit Administration. They used to grade New Starts applications on a metric called TSUB (Transportation System User Benefit) which was essentially a score for how many people you move how far, how quickly. In that formula, boarding a lot of riders from park & rides probably gave you a boost in a score, at least in the early years of operation of your corridor (before TOD built out).

What Makes a Friendly Street?

PSU Transportation Seminar:

Impact of Route-Level Features on Decisions to Walk or Bike

Speaker: Joseph Broach, Portland State University
Topic: Impact of Route-Level Features on Decisions to Walk or Bike
When: Friday, October 31, 2014, 12-1 pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204

Summary: Some travel routes attract people walking and cycling, while others may scare them away. What features of street environments are most important, and how do available routes affect decisions to bike or walk on a specific trip?

Research to date has focused on either large-scale areal measures like “miles of bike lane nearby” or else has considered only shortest path routes. Neither method is suited to capturing the impact of targeted route-level policies like neighborhood greenways. This session will present a new technique for measuring bike and walk accessibility along the most likely route for a given trip. The method is applied to travel data, and results provide new insight into the relationship between route quality and travel mode choice.

Mission and Devolution of Transit

The most recent episode of the Strong Towns podcast is particularly thought-provoking. It presents a panel discussion held off-site during the recent Railvolution conference. The panel includes some well-know transportation bloggers: Jeff Wood (The Overhead Wire) and Jonah Freemark (The Transport Politic).

The topics are wide-ranging and challenge some sacred cows. Two themes I found interesting:

  1. What’s the mission of transit:
    • Providing urban mobility, primarily for low-income or minority populations?
    • Moving commuters to the central city to ameliorate (or avoid) auto congestion?
    • A catalyst for development?
    • Some rational combination of all of the above (but we may lack a framework for rationalization)?
  2. The devolution of transit:
    • When we couldn’t afford Subways, we turned to Light Rail
    • When we couldn’t afford Light Rail, we turned to Streetcars
    • When we couldn’t afford Streetcars, we turned to BRT
    • When we couldn’t afford BRT, we turned to Rapid Bus
    • When…

Whatever your own perspective it’s an intelligent and stimulating listen…

Frequent Services on 122nd Needs an $8M Ante from the City of Portland

An interesting sidebar in today’s Council work session on the street fee: TriMet could justify (and pay for the service hours) upgrading 122nd Avenue to Frequent Service if a series of safety and access improvement were made by the City to help draw ridership from the surrounding area. The cost of those improves is about $8M according to Commissioner Novick.