Tag Archives: mass transit

Commuting Waste Quantified

Portland, Oregon comes out well on a recent study of transportation in the U.S.:
Without mass transit, the average Portland area commuter would spend five hours more a year in rush-hour congestion, costing the region $98 million a year in lost time and wasted fuel, the Texas study says.
The Texas study is the Urban Mobility Report 2009 from the Texas Transportation Institute. It quantifies what we lose from commuting:
  • The overall cost (based on wasted fuel and lost productivity) reached $87.2 billion in 2007 — more than $750 for every U.S. traveler.
  • The total amount of wasted fuel topped 2.8 billion gallons — three weeks’ worth of gas for every traveler.
  • The amount of wasted time totaled 4.2 billion hours — nearly one full work week (or vacation week) for every traveler.
The study recommends strategies for dealing with it:
  • Get as much use as possible out of the transportation system we have.
  • Add roadway and public transportation capacity in the places where it is needed most.
  • Change our patterns, employing ideas like ridesharing and flexible work times to avoid traditional “rush hours.”
  • Provide more choices, such as alternate routes, telecommuting and toll lanes for faster and more reliable trips.
  • Diversify land development patterns, to make walking, biking and mass transit more practical.
  • Adopt realistic expectations, recognizing for instance that large urban areas are going to be congested, but they don’t have to stay that way all day long.
Fortunately, Lowndes County is not a large urban area, so it doesn’t have to be congested. Note that none of the recommendations include “just build more roads.” Two of them involve public transportation. And land development patterns that include services next to subdivisions could help a lot. I attended a recent Valdosta City Council meeting in which inhabitants of one subdivision were bitterly complaining because the developers wanted to put a few stores on a lot next to the subdivision. Maybe as the price of gas goes back up they’ll discover the attraction of walking to the store to get eggs and milk….

“longest and steepest decline in driving since the invention of the automobile.”

Today in USA Today:
The nation heads into the Independence Day holiday weekend amid the longest and steepest decline in driving since the invention of the automobile.

Since the number of miles traveled by motor vehicles in the USA peaked in November 2007, the nation’s 12-month total has dropped by 123 billion miles, or slightly more than 4%. That’s a bigger decline than the drop of just above 3% during the 1979-80 Iranian revolution that triggered a spike in gasoline prices in the USA.

The 4% drop is the equivalent of taking between 8 million and 10 million drivers off the road.

“We may be witnessing the beginning of a fundamental shift in American driving habits,” says Ed McMahon, senior research fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit group that promotes innovative development.

Maybe this would be a good time to implement busses and rail.
McMahon says his research shows that people over the past three years are trending toward compact, transit-oriented developments that mix residential, retail and office uses and encourage walking. Even when the economy recovers, he says, people won’t resume driving at previous rates.
And if they had mass transit to use then instead of cars, we’d all be better off.

Valdosta Transit Implementation Plan

Transit-Needs-Map.png A couple of weeks ago (Wednesday, Jan 7th, 2009), I went to a public meeting on a Transit Implementation Plan for the Valdosta Urbanized Area. Basically, where should the proposed Valdosta bus system run? This is part of the Valdosta Transportation Master Plan.

It was quite interesting that there was such a meeting, at which the various organizers (SGRDC, MPO, and the consultant) actively solicited input from the attendees, in both ad hoc and organized ways. First they gave a presentation and answered questions. Then they asked participants to fill out a questionnaire about where they lived, worked, and played. The presentation for that meeting is online. They even scheduled several more Public Involvement Meetings. Hm, I’m not seeing that schedule online, but presumably they’ll put it up before the meetings happen.

There was pretty good attendance: several plain citizens, the mayor, a couple of city council members, a couple of county commissioners, at least one planning commission member, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, a newspaper reporter, etc.

If you want a bus to run near you, I’d recommend going to one of these meetings, or contacting the organizer, Corey Hull, MPO Coordinator, 229-333-5277.

Lowndes County has a Thoroughfare Plan, which is currently being revised. We’ll see what the public input process for that turns out to be.

Rail for south Georgia and Bill Gillespie

Bill Gillespie and GA-01For a while I’ve been going on about commuter rail for Lowndes County. It turns out there’s somebody running for Congress from Georgia’s First District (GA-01) who wants to do mass transit for all of south Georgia, including busses and rail: Bill Gillespie.

If you’re near Valdosta today, you can meet Bill, and the incumbent, Jack Kingston, at the South Georgia Political Forum. Ask Bill and Jack about mass transit.