April 14, 2014

Attendees:

Charlie Bond, Robin Budish, Art Cohen, Peter Duvall, Bob Hellauer, Robbyn Lewis, Mac McComas, Klaus Philipsen, Jimmy Rouse, Sandy Sparks

Welcome and Introductions:

Robin Budish welcomed everyone and opened the meeting.

Further discussion of the Rail Transit “Quick Hits”

Jimmy Rouse reported that members of the Transit Choices group will be meeting with staff members at the Department of Transportation on April 17, 2014. The purpose of the meeting is to have a detailed discussion about the Transit Choices “Quick Hits” recommendations and the plan of action to implement. Jimmy expressed the importance of going to the meeting with specific, concrete ideas about what we are requesting, and why. Methodology is key to successful implementation. Projects for discussion will include, but are not limited to:

  1. Signal Prioritization on Howard Street
  2. Create five perfect Intersections (with user-friendliness in mind that exemplify interconnectedness) and the roll out of Complete Streets
  3. Bike Share
  4. Water Taxi (presently operating three different systems which should be integrated and the plan to renew the current operators lease)
 Discussion Points:
  • Jimmy stated that Maps are an important “Quick Hit” to show transit connections. Klaus Philipsen responded that Robert Smith, MTA Administrator stated in a recent meeting that although the present system map needs improvement, a revised map will not be considered until the Bus Network Improvement Project (BNIP) is complete. As such, Klaus made a recommendation that we ask the MTA to have a staff level meeting to discuss signage and mapping.
  • Art Cohen made the point that every light rail stop in the system is not currently published on a schedule.
  • Bob Hellauer suggested that getting a dollar improvement for each “Quick Hit” that we are recommending is critically important. It would be a valuable piece of information to present at the meeting on April 17, 2014 in terms of how much each improvement would cost.
  • Peter Duvall requested that we ask the DOT how it plans to roll out Complete Streets (beyond the Southeast Baltimore project) throughout the city.
  • Robbyn Lewis reported that Complete Streets will become law and that engaging with neighborhoods is critical. Further, Robbyn shared a hard copy of a PowerPoint titled – Mayor and City Council Resolution 09-0433 “Street and Transportation Project – Complete Streets.”
  • Klaus Philipsen mentioned that bus stops have never resolved to be user-friendly and that many of the bus shelters in the city are withering. These issues should be addressed with the MTA and the City. The cost to install bus shelters is approximately $4,000 – $8,000, however, it is unclear what type of minimum bus shelter is feasible if you have low ridership vs. high ridership.
  • Robbyn Lewis stated that the “user experience” applies to all of the “Quick Hits” and that our recommendations have been driven by motivation to improve the experience for all.

Meeting Calendar

Next meeting date TBD.

 Other Discussion Topics:
  • Jimmy Rouse suggested the work group look at a longer range vision for Marc Train, Light Rail and Metro.
  • Klaus Philipsen recommended that we “rethink” all of the work groups because they need an augmentation. Robbyn Lewis agreed and suggested we talk to the work groups about the organizational structure and possibly morphing into something different.
  • A suggestion was made to schedule an evening celebratory “pot luck” dinner with all of the work groups themed “Brainstorming beyond the Silos.”

March 31, 2014

Attendees:

Robin Budish, Art Cohen, Kelly Cross, Peter Duvall, Kathy Epstein, Paulo Gregory Harris, Jeff LaNoue, Robbyn Lewis, Ed Myers, Klaus Philipsen, Jimmy Rouse, Sandy Sparks, Yolanda Takesian

Welcome and Introductions:

Kelly Cross welcomed everyone and opened the meeting.

Results of February 21, 2014 high-level working group meeting:

Robin Budish reported that the high-level working group meeting with the City, State, BCDOT and the MTA to review and discuss the Transit Choices “Quick Hits” list was very productive. All parties agreed to work cooperatively on the implementation of the “Quick Hits” in a coordinated effort. The plan of action moving forward is to meet quarterly with the City, State, BCDOT and MTA to discuss progress on implementation of the “Quick Hits.” Monthly, we will be meeting with staff members at these agencies. The first meeting is scheduled for April 17, 2014.

Further discussion of next steps towards a long term vision of Rail Transit in Baltimore:

Jimmy Rouse discussed a longer range vision for transit and polled the group about adding a potential streetcar network to the mix. Given that there was consensus from the group to further explore the role of streetcars as another potential transit mode, Jimmy suggested doing a streetcar feasibility study which would cost approximately $75,000. Jimmy then introduced Ed Myers and Yolanda Takesian from Kittelson & Associates to speak to the group about streetcar feasibility studies they have completed both in Baltimore and other cities. Specifically, Yolanda mentioned that she has been working for the last couple of years on the DC streetcar project and suggested the study address what rail can do for the city of Baltimore and how it supports economic development. We should also look at short term mapping, gaps in the system and creating synergy with existing gaps.

 Streetcar Discussion Points:
  • Sandy Sparks – continuity and connectivity are important when designing a transit system.
  • Paulo Gregory Harris – the streetcar study should look at the broad economic development opportunities and take into consideration all strata of citizens. It is also important to have renderings as part of the streetcar study.
  • Robbyn Lewis – equity in economic development is key and is interwoven in the morality of a larger community development investment.
  • Klaus Philipsen – when discussing community oriented transit, equity and community are key. The study needs to make the “case” for streetcars. How can streetcars fill a gap and not be perceived as a “yuppie” toy?
  • Jeff LaNoue – the streetcar study should not take the focus off the work we are doing to implement the Transit Choices “Quick Hits” list of short term, high visibility, high impact improvements to our transit system.

Meeting Calendar:

All agreed to hold the next Rail Transit Work group meeting on April 14, 2014.

  Other Discussion Topics:
  • Kelly Cross provided an update on the recent “Transit Tour” that he led with Jolene Ivey (Doug Gansler 2014 gubernatorial running mate), Klaus Philipsen and others. The tour which was designed to bring awareness about improving Baltimore’s mass transit system, traveled to destinations such as Charles and State Centers, experienced ridership on the Light Rail, walked North Avenue and ended at Baltimore Penn Station. Jolene commented that it was not pleasant to walk some of these areas and pointed out the lack of signage at many of these destinations. Further, Klaus Philipsen added that Jolene and others were dumbfounded by both the ticket machines and turn styles inside the rail stations as well as the lack of signage at all transit stops.
  • There appears to be both receptivity and the political will to make mass transit improvements on and along North Avenue.
  • Paulo Gregory Harris agreed to chair a new work group “Creating Intersections” which will identify intersections where we can make significant safety and pedestrian improvements. The following individuals agreed to participate in the work group:  Art Cohen, Robbyn Lewis, Yolanda Takesian, Kathy Epstein, Kelly Cross
  • Robbyn Lewis – Baltimore needs a transit phone app to deliver “real time” data on bus (and other transit modes) arrival information. Klaus Philipsen responded that the MTA Administrator, Robert Smith said there would be a mobile app available this year with 100% roll out in 2015.
  • Art Cohen – we should look at the comprehensive transit system that Philadelphia has built to see how they have successfully filled in the gaps funded transit projects.

 Creating Intersections/Complete Streets Discussion Points:

  • Ed Myers – rather than focus on just complete streets, think about complete corridors.
  • Paulo Gregory Harris – create five “pilot” intersections utilizing as many “Quick Hits” as possible to build public awareness and good will. Integrate shelters and components of complete streets at the intersections.
  • Klaus Philipsen – include pedestrian safety as part of a pilot intersection.
  • Yolanda Takesian – real time bus arrival should be part of the intersection improvements.
  • Suggested “pilot” intersections: Charles Street before Penn Station, points along North Avenue. All of the Transit Choices work groups will be invited to make further intersection recommendations.