Flickr user wyn lok.
Detroit's Rosa Parks bus terminal
In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.
Appointed by Governor Pat Quinn last year, the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force has been evaluating the performance of the mass transportation system in Chicagoland and will release a series of recommendations for reforms over the next few months. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) offered an in-depth analysis of existing conditions on the region’s rail and bus lines to help inform the Task Force’s work, and much of MPC’s research was featured in the Task Force’s Technical Memorandum, released in January. MPC’s analysis was also covered positively by Crain’s and Streetsblog.
MPC extended its interactive mapping work through an additional web feature. Last year, MPC produced a map of demographic information, community features and zoning data specifically for the Ashland Avenue BRT corridor; last month, we unveiled a similar tool for Garfield Boulevard on Chicago’s South Side . These maps help people explore the features of their neighborhoods and better understand prospects for new development, particularly around transit stations.
In a series of blog posts, MPC staff also discussed a number of transportation-related issues, including new transportation options in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Super Bowl.
Throughout the Midwest, communities are pushing for more and more investment in their public transportation systems.
The Michigan State Legislature passed a bill for a Regional Transit Authority last year, but the organization has been slow to get its feet off the ground; it remains without a leader. Activists, however, note that Detroit still lacks adequate transit connections to many of its suburbs, depriving a significant portion of the workforce of easy access to jobs, entertainment and other essential resources. They’re hoping they can convince the organization to find new funding more quickly; right now they’ll have to wait until 2016 at the earliest.
A similar situation is playing out in Indiana, where locals have been asking for a more useful transit system for years. The State Senate approved a bill that would allow Indianapolis and other counties to conduct referenda to increase local taxes for transportation—but there remains no promise of additional funding for upgrades.
Up north in the Twin Cities, however, there’s plenty of movement for improved transit. A new light rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul will open this summer, and Minneapolis is planning for another corridor to run through its Midtown District. The project, which may involve bus rapid transit or light rail, or both, would cost between $200 and $300 million and improve crosstown travel in a way similar to the Ashland corridor in Chicago.
Outside of the Midwest, of course, there has also been positive news for new transit investments. The Governor of Florida announced that he wanted the state to contribute $213 million for the construction of a new intermodal facility at Orlando International Airport. The project will connect to the All Aboard Florida rail system, a partially privately financed line that will run between Orlando and Miami.
Finally, in New York State, the construction of the huge new $3.9 billion replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge, which is being referred to as the “New NY Bridge,” may also involve benefits for transit riders. Though the project is being designed without any dedicated lanes for buses or trains, a committee is recommending that several bus rapid transit routes be integrated onto the bridge in order for public transportation riders to share in the project’s benefits.