Posts tagged with transit
Traffic isn’t just a nuisance; it increases pollution and can make cities less competitive. New transportation strategies continue to be put in place to help redistribute the demand for space and time on roadways. Strategies to incorporate more access and connectivity to transit carry the potential to deliver better environmental outcomes, improved public health, stronger communities and more prosperous and livable cities.
Hong Kong, China
90% of travelling is done by mass transit, the highest rate in the world, moving commuters by rail, buses, bikes, ferries, air transport and cable cars. The 7 million daily riders have access to an “Octopus Card,” which is their transit pass, and also accepted as currency at parking meters, convenience stores and fast food restaurants.
Our state, along with others across the nation, has borrowed concepts from the mainstream transit planning from countries that have notably the best transit systems in the world. By modeling plans from the best, Denver, New York, San Francisco, and Portland are regarded by many as the top transit cities in the country. Future hopes and conceptual plans to build more transit infrastructure across Georgia have many sources worldwide from which to draw inspiration.
It's a fresh start and a new year, filled with high hopes for "Code Green" air quality days, sizable savings on commute costs and laughter from the passenger seat. Feel the optimism of 2012 with this latest "glass is half full" installment of Merging Lanes. It's gonna be a great year.
2012 Calendar Dates to Anticipate
While this year's calendar is shaping up to include a number of important dates to circle - Leap Year bonus day and Mayan prognostications notwithstanding - here are a few that should catch your attention:
- April 30 kicks off the start of Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia. With half of all smog-forming emissions coming from tailpipes, never has it been more important to be air aware.
- July 31 is the day we'll know whether Georgia voters approved a penny sales tax to fund transportation improvements all over the state. There's a lot riding on the outcome of this vote in terms of attracting new enterprise and breaking out of commuter gridlock.
- August 20 marks the beginning of the third-annual Georgia Telework Week, an event to celebrate the successes of employers and commuters who know the best commute is the one from the bedroom to the home office.
And slated for early-November is the 12th installment of The Clean Air Campaign's PACE Awards event, recognizing the best commute options programs in Georgia. Stay tuned for more details.
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In Good Company for Less Traffic, Cleaner Air
More than 1,600 Georgia employers and property managers are working with The Clean Air Campaign and its partners on outstanding programs that support greater use of commute options. Recently, 130 organizations received recognition as Platinum Partners for achieving a specific threshold of "clean commute trips" during 2011. To qualify as a Platinum Partner, at least 20 percent of all employee or tenant trips to an employer’s worksite must involve alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle trips and companies must actively educate employees about commute options. Congrats to these workplaces for raising the bar and proving that meaningful, lasting change in the way employees choose to travel is attainable.
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"Let's Get Physical, Physical ..."
Hitting the wall with your New Year's resolution to exercise more? When your conference call at work is placed on hold, there's only one thing better than listening to the Muzak version of Olivia Newton-John's "totally 80s" hit song: doing an actual workout routine at your desk. When you can't make it to the gym, The Washington Post offered these ideas to integrate into your daily routine, resulting from a study on employee health. No spandex required.
Click here for a printable PDF poster to tack up in your cubicle. And remember, if you don't feel comfortable with some of these moves in the presence of your co-workers, you can always fall back on a human-powered commute for better health.
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China unveiled what is believed to be the world's largest bus, clocking in at more than 82 feet in length and capable of transporting up to 300 commuters. Check it out!
Could you imagine this thing rolling down Atlanta's Downtown Connector? Could you imagine riding on it ... and logging your commute mode as "Giant Bus?"
Recently, I set out on a grand experiment: to utilize MARTA as much as possible for four straight weeks. The first two weeks, my goal was to act as if I didn’t have any other mode of transportation. If I needed to get somewhere, I was taking MARTA.
After a bumpy first day, which saw me miss the very first bus I was scheduled to take, things ultimately improved, and I often surprised myself with my ability to get around town whether it be by foot, bus or train. Early in my experiment, I immediately noticed numerous benefits to ditching my car. Not only did I have more time to read, tweet and blog, I also felt less stress due to not having to sit in horrible traffic each morning. One thing I did miss on my journey, however, was all my stuff. You never realize how much stuff you can fit into a car until it is no longer an option. You quickly learn to carry only the essentials.
During the last two weeks of my experiment, I approached MARTA as if I was a commuter with a car. Having a car allowed me to sleep in two more hours each morning. It also allowed me to keep to my timetable a lot easier. If a bus was scheduled to leave at 8:15 a.m., I could get there just before it was ready to leave. Walking to a bus or train can be a little unpredictable.
During my journey I was surprised by how easy it was to use MARTA and how friendly its staff was. I was also surprised by how many people actually take advantage of MARTA on a daily basis. It seemed like each time I got on a bus or train, it was at capacity. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned during my experiment was that preparation is everything when it comes to using public transportation. Remember the first bus I missed?
If you live along one of the train corridors, I would urge you to take MARTA more often. The sustainability community especially should make the commitment. Biking, walking, carpooling and other forms of mass transit all offer options for consideration. With the cost of gas and the peace of mind I get from not dealing with traffic, it's worth it. Being in the car again seems even more stressful after breezing along the train corridors.
So let me encourage you: commit to using a commute alternative at least one day a week. If you already are, that’s great. But if not, give it a try. Think about the change we could collectively make!
Beth Bond is the editor of Southeast Green. Having owned her own marketing company for over 15 years working with green companies, Beth knew the story of sustainability and green resided here in the Southeast. Since relaunching Southeast Green in September 2008, Bond has been establishing even broader liaisons and partners to help continue the story of green and sustainability.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Since 2005, we’ve convinced more than 70,000 Georgia commuters there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Think green today – and every day – and enjoy the latest installment of Merging Lanes.
Telework Seminar Recap
A panel of telework managers representing a cross-section of industries shared their perspective earlier this week on how to make telework successful. A sampling of some of their observations:
- The lines are blurring between work and home. You see the bevy of people with laptops at coffee houses soaking in java and wi-fi. You see the legions of mobile phone users thumbing e-mail messages. In the Atlanta region, 600,000 commuters telework on occasion. That’s enough people to fill up Turner Field 12 times.
- The decision to offer telework spans a range of motivational factors from attracting talent to offloading real estate expenses to delivering a modicum of work-life balance.
- The biggest obstacle to getting buy-in from managers centers on trust. How can you trust employees to do their jobs from home when you cannot see their nose to the grindstone? Managers have to stop obsessing over this conundrum and trust their employee’s understanding of a simple code: “You have an objective. Get it done.”
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Seeking Relief from the $700 Sting
Gas prices have climbed nearly 90 cents in Georgia between mid-September 2011 and mid-March 2012. How has this affected your discretionary spending? The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates higher prices will cost the average U.S. household $700 more this year in gasoline than in 2010. With wild predictions swirling around about the future of gas prices, now is a good time to take a look at your commuting options. In 2008, $4 a gallon was the threshold that brought more people to reconsider driving alone. What is the proverbial tipping point this go around?
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Clean Air Schools Move to Head of the Class
The education program that brings students, teachers, administrators and parents together for less traffic and cleaner air has reached an incredible milestone on the journey to foster clean air values and awareness. 300 schools across Georgia are now involved in Clean Air Schools programs that reduce vehicle trips on campuses, reduce unnecessary idling in the carpool lane and teach youths about the link between transportation and air quality. Here’s to the next 300 schools.
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Positively Mad About High-Speed Rail
Three-time Golden Globe award-winning TV drama “Mad Men” counts some big admirers of high-speed rail transit among its cast. The show takes place in NYC in the 1960s, when commuters could choose between taking the train into work or driving and being able to snag a parking spot with minimal effort. The producers shot this fun vignette about travel choices as part of an advocacy campaign for high-speed rail.
Worth a vote.
Atlanta commuters, employers and schools are seeking to gain traction Thursday as icy conditions drag into Day Four.
Some workers have literally camped out at work during the week, while others are making the best of it by teleworking and adapting their routines. The situation over these past few days also has one state legislator convinced that more access to rail transit in Georgia could keep business moving forward in the face of seasonal weather and year-round traffic congestion issues.
Speaking of transit, here's a rundown of current service from major metro region providers for Thursday:
- MARTA reports rail service is online and about a dozen bus routes are running Thursday.
- GRTA Xpress is running limited service into downtown, but notes the only departure point for afternoon service will go out of Civic Center Station.
- Cobb County Transit reports local service is operational but express routes are limited for Thursday.
- Gwinnett County Transit advises that service is available on a limited schedule for today.
The big question many news outlets are asking on Day Three of this January snow storm is, "How much is this storm going to cost Georgia businesses in lost productivity?"
Across Metro Atlanta, media reports are still showing that many business operations remain idle as of Wednesday, as workers encounter impassible roads and limited transit access.
AJC is reporting MARTA has established limited bus service on Wednesday, and rail service is running on weekend hours ... but Gwinnett County Transit is still offline. Same story with Cobb County Transit.
Where's the finish line? According to 90.1 WABE-FM, warmer temps are coming for the weekend. Until then, continue to be careful out there! If you have to venture out on the roads, check GDOT's Georgia NaviGAtor tool online or dial 511 for up-to-date road conditions.
Against the backdrop of a terrible environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, everybody's frustrated.
Gulf coast residents are seething at BP. BP shareholders are upset at the prospect of losing billions on their investment. The federal government has lost patience with the progress being made after almost 60 days of dashed hopes (will there be a government takeover of the disaster response when the President speaks tonight at 8:00pm?). And many commuters - including some here in Georgia - are contemplating where they want to fill up their gas tanks, an expression of the public ire directed at (and potential dollars diverted from) British Petroleum.
But something interesting is happening. For some, the anger they feel about the seemingly hopeless situation we're in is starting to morph into something else. Bubbling up from the depths are diverging emotions about the oil spill as it relates to driving:
Some feel guilty about their reliance on cars. From today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reader Sybil Thomas of Whitesburg writes:
"I can bemoan a response that cannot encompass the enormity of the environmwental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But as long as I am still filling up my gas tank with oil-based fuel, I, too, am responsible."
Others feel defensive about their freedom to drive, regardless of the environmental risks. Whichever direction your emotions are channeled, there is a desire for action. And MARTA's annual "Dump the Pump" event is one way to do something with your feelings about the situation. This Thursday, June 17, MARTA is encouraging all Atlantans to take transit to work. Another way to turn your feelings about oil into something actionable is to find a carpool partner and ride to work together once or twice a week. There are resources available from The Clean Air Campaign and RideSmart to make it easy.
Borne out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is at least one positive circumstance. The oil spill is getting more conversations started about transportation options and about accountability. Where do you stand on these issues?
As an avid cyclist, I've done a lot of cycling - but not in the city. My wife and I would drive out to the Silver Comet Trail or drive 45 minutes to an hour away from Atlanta in order to find roads with less traffic where we would ride our bicycles. We usually ride fairly long distances, 30 to 50 miles, sometimes longer.
So when I went to work for the Clean Air Campaign, which is only 12.5 miles from my home, the distance wasn't an issue - but I was definitely worried about the traffic.
I talked to every Atlanta bicycle commuter I could find, and got a lot of advice, and then went for it. I scouted out routes, trying to stay away from main thoroughfares with heavy traffic. I was able to find neighborhood roads for about 7.5 of those 12.5 miles, but there was no way around it - I was going to have about 5 miles on Peachtree Road and Peachtree Street.
One of the pieces of advice I heard was to "take the lane". This means rather than staying as far to the right as possible, if the lane is too narrow for a car to safely pass you (safely means at least 3 feet between you and the car) you should ride in the center of the lane.
It might sound counterintuitive, but even the "Georgia Bike Sense" guide says to move to the left or take the center of the lane in the following situations:
- Left turns
- Avoiding hazards or debris
- The lane is too narrow to share safely with other vehicles
- Passing standing vehicles
- Moving to the left in these circumstances is legal, so keep in mind that staying to the right is not always required and not always the safest place to be."
I ride Peachtree Road/Street from Peachtree Battle to Woodruff Park. In that stretch there are always 2 or 3 lanes. So when I turn on to Peachtree Road, I get in the center of the right lane. In most cases, cars and trucks have plenty of room to move over. Sometimes they get stuck behind me, but I have never had an unpleasant encounter because of that. In fact the only close encounter I've had at all was when I was lax about staying in the center of the lane, and someone thought they could squeeze by me; they went by with a one foot clearance, and that was too close for comfort.
The other important piece of advice I have for bike commuting is to get a rear view mirror. There are several different types; some mount on the handlebar, some mount on your helmet, some even mount on your glasses. I always ride with eye protection, so I went for the mirror on the glasses type. Being aware of traffic to the rear has made the biggest difference for me in terms of safety and peace of mind.
And on the days when I just don't feel like riding that 5 miles on Peachtree, there's always MARTA. The station is only 3 miles from my home, which takes me about 15 minutes on the bike.
Still not sure? Take the "Confident City Cycling" course offered by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
If you've been thinking about bike commuting, Bike To Work Week is the perfect time to just do it. Once I tried it, I found it's a lot easier than I thought it would be.
See you on the road!
There’s a lot going on right now in the world of mass transit, and sadly, it’s looking bleak. In metro Atlanta, C-TRAN’s service ended last week, which affected 8,500 commuters, many of whom depend on public transportation. More cuts are looming for MARTA when the calendar clicks over to the new fiscal year on July 1, 2010. However, we’re not alone. Mass transit agencies across the country are facing budget crises. According to the American Public Transportation Association, eight out of 10 bus and subway agencies are raising fares and cutting service or considering those actions. The timing couldn’t be worse with smog season just weeks away.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for these issues. But there is an influential group out there that needs to find its voice. When more employers in the region show state and local government how important mass transit is for their commuting employees, then perhaps transit won’t continue to be one of the first items on the chopping block when’s there’s a budget shortfall.
What do you think about the local service cuts? Tell us your ideas for how we all can work together to save mass transit in the Atlanta region.
Budget shortfalls across the state have put extreme pressure on transit agencies everywhere to juggle operating costs, plan for service cuts and go back to the drawing board on finding sustainable funding sources.
In metro Atlanta next week, MARTA is working to gather public opinion on how to navigate through some tough financial choices and deliver service for commuters. If you are among the tens of thousands of patrons who commute in to work via MARTA each week, consider attending one of these community forums to make your voice heard.