Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cincinnati group attends intensive bus rapid transit workshop

A leadership group from Cincinnati has participated in the Climate Leadership Academy on Accelerating Bus Rapid Transit, an intensive three-day workshop aimed at helping communities plan, implement, and improve bus rapid transit (BRT) systems.

BRT is a higher-capacity public transit solution that can utilize buses on dedicated roadways, dedicated lanes, or a combination of both. Best designed to serve a large number of commuters traveling between 5 and 20 miles to work, the system provides the best features of light rail with the flexibility and cost advantages of roadway transit.

Held March 26-28 in Cleveland, participants from Chicago; Cleveland; Connecticut; Denver; Eugene, Ore.; Los Angeles; Nashville; and Seattle focused on system standards, creative financing, economic development, and collaboration.

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls has spearheaded the local exploration of BRT, having introduced a November 2010 motion asking the City's Department of Transportation and Engineering to look into the feasibility of BRT as part of a larger multi-modal transit plan.

"To compete in the 21st century, we need cost-effective, innovative transit strategies to connect residents to jobs," Qualls said in a prepared release. "Bus rapid transit incorporates many of the advantages of light rail, but is typically cheaper and can be implemented more quickly, and can often utilize existing roadways. It is an option that is practical, achievable and affordable in the near term."

Cincinnati Metro is exploring BRT as part of its new regional transit plan, for which it is currently soliciting input. The transit service is currently seeking federal funding for a $9 million pilot project for a line connecting Blue Ash to Uptown via the Montgomery Road corridor.

And in a January presentation to City Council's Major Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff identified several workable BRT corridors, including Clifton and Hamilton avenues, an east-west crosstown serving the Uptown neighborhoods, Erlanger-Uptown via Dixie Highway, Gilbert Avenue, Montgomery Road, Reading Road, and Warsaw or Glenway avenues.

Depending on funding, BRT could be implemented as soon as 2013.

The local team included Qualls; Terry Garcia Crews, Chief Executive Officer, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority; Gina Douthat, Director of Communications and Development, Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky; Michael Moore, Director, Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering; Mary Stagaman, Vice President, Regional Initiatives, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Robert Koehler, Deputy Executive Director, OKI Regional Council of Governments; and Tim Reynolds, Senior Principal Technical Specialist, Parsons Brinckerhoff.

The workshop was sponsored by the Institute for Sustainable Communities, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Previous reading on BC:
Metro to update regional transit plan, study Uptown service (3/15/12)
Moore: BRT study should begin 'as soon as possible' (2/28/11)