January 8, 2015

Time: 8:00 – 9:30 AM
Location: Enoch Pratt Free Library (400 Cathedral Street)

Darcy Accardi, Eunice Anderson, David Bouchard, Riccardo Boulware, Liz Briscoe, Robin Budish, Mary Colleen Buettner, Art Cohen, Michael Crowley, Rufus Davis, Ryan Dorsey, Peter Duvall, Nate Evans, Maria Garcia, Tom Hewitt, Frank Hejazi, Alex Hutchinson, Jeff LaNoue, Jim Leanos, Chris Merriam, Eric Norton,  Brian O’Malley, Cari Peri, Klaus Philipsen, Wally Pinkard,  Jeremy Pomp, Michael Romeo, Jill Sorensen, Sandy Sparks, Kristin Speaker, Raven Thompson, Michael Walk, Jarren Williams

Moderator: Elizabeth (Liz) Briscoe, Executive Director – Action In Maturity

Liz has a Mechanical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins and Chemistry degree from Towson University.  Previously, she has worked in Health Care Research and Medical Technology.  Currently, she is the Executive Director of Action In Maturity (AIM), a Baltimore City senior center that offers a Senior-friendly transportation program and other social services to improve older adults’ quality of life and independence. AIM collaborates with Baltimore City Office of Aging and other non-profit organizations working with the elderly like GEDCO, Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc., Baltimore City Housing Authority, Keswick Multi-Care, Catholic Charities, and MedStar.

Liz welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the attendees for coming. She then introduced the first guest speaker, Chris Merriam.

Presentation: Chris Merriam, Transit Choices Bike Work Group Chair
Topic: “Bicycle Priorities for 2015 and beyond”

Presentation highlights:

1.  Connectivity
Other bike, transit, pedestrian infrastructure
2. Safety
Buffered/protected bike lanes wherever possible
3. Short & Long-Term Planning
Build what’s funded, plan for future

 Priorities for 2015:

#1 Downtown Bicycle Network
#2 Pratt Street Cycletrack
#3 West Baltimore Bike Boulevards
#4 MLK Boulevard. Sidepath
#5 Falls / Clipper Mill Road Complete Street

Additional commentary with input from Nate Evans, Executive Director Bike Maryland:

  • There is no difference between a sidepath and a sidewalk, other than a sidepath is generally wider.
  • Funding is available for all 2015 above-mentioned priorities. Each project is either in the design or implementation phase.
  • All bikes may be locked to any sign post, if a bike rack is not available. The ideal scenario for securing a bike would be in parking garages.
  • Baltimore City Department of Transportation is planning to issue a Bikeshare RFP within the next couple of months.
  • There needs to be an emphasis on educating the public on the role and responsibility of the driver and car when it comes to sharing the road with bicyclists. The State Highway Administration has launched some education campaigns, however, more needs to be done.

Presentation: Michael J. Walk, Director of Service Development with the MTA
Topic: “Making Bus Transit Improvements: A Primer on Bus Planning & Operations and the MTA’s Budgetary Process”

Michael’s presentation focused on the following: (Disclaimer: Contents of the presentation solely reflect the opinions of the author, Michael J. Walk, and do not represent official or unofficial statements of the Maryland Transit Administration or its governing entities)

1.      Overview

  • MTA is the 13th largest public rapid transit system* in the nation.
  •  Provides services 24/7 and operates over 1,350 vehicles during peak periods
  • Annual ridership: More than 113 million riders in FY2014

2.      Core BUS Service

  • Accounts for 2/3 of MTA’s ridership
  • 75M annual boardings
  • ~250K average weekday boardings

3.      RIDERSHIP FY2014

  • Local Bus – 75,780,350
  • Metro Subway – 14,632,430
  • MARC Train – 9,167,935
  • Light Rail – 8,105,743
  •  Commuter Bus – 4,017,089
  • Mobility – 2,288,802

4.      Question of the Day

  • What does it take to make a simple service improvement to a bus line?
  • Learning Objectives: Basic understanding of…
  • Important considerations for Transit planning & Scheduling

–     Scheduling process and timeline
–     Cost drivers & budgetary process

5.      Transit Planning Game

  • Often Overlooked Planning Considerations

a.      Distance = Time = $$ x 2

–      Driving time is biggest cost factor (wages paid)
–      Any increase in distance and/or time equates to increased cost
–      Added distance gets doubled (round trip)
–      Adding a half-mile deviation is really a mile of cost

b.      Costs are multiplicative

1 mile added to a line w/ 50 round-trips per day
100 miles per day OR
700 miles per week OR
36,500 miles per year

TransitMix: http://app.transitmix.net/map/50449

c.      Layovers

The end of every line is a layover
A place to safely turn a 40’ or 60’ bus around to make the return trip
A place to safely park a bus for 5-30 minutes

d.      Restrooms

Operators need a safe, well-lit location to use the restroom at their layover and/or along the line

6.      Transit’s Dimensions

  • Geospatial: WHERE
    Where to buses run?
    Where are the bus stops?
  • Temporal: WHEN
    Which days of the week? (Weekday, Saturday, Sunday)
    What times of the day? (e.g., 5 AM – 11 PM “span”)
    How long does it take? (running times)
    How often does it come? (frequency)

7.      Possible Types of Improvements

  • Temporal Changes:
    a. Schedule calibration: adjust scheduled arrival times and layovers to more accurately    reflect traffic & ridership pattern
    b. Added frequency: add more trips to make the service more attractive     and/or reduce overcrowding conditions
    c. Adding span: making the service run later or earlier on certain days of the week
    d. Adding days: making the service run on other days of the week that it does not currently run
  • Geographic Changes:
    a. Adding or removing bus stop(s)
    b. Altering a bus line’s routing (alignment)Adding or removing a bus line

8.      Important Legal / Procedural Considerations

  • Title VI: provides protection from undue adverse impacts on minority and low-income populations
  • Requires service equity analysis for every major service change
  • Requires public hearing process that provides adequate participation opportunities for all populations
  •  COMAR Transportation Article 7-506: requires public hearings when
    Adding/removing a transit line
    Altering the alignment of a transit line
  • ADA: requires transit services and information to be accessible to persons with disabilities (stops, shelters, vehicles, signage)
  • Limited English Proficiency: requires MTA provide important information about changes in prominent languages
  •  COMAR Transportation Article 7-208: requires MTA to obtain 35% farebox recovery and sets standard procedures for indexing fares with CPI

9.      Eliminating overcrowding (Intervention Process)

  • Needs Assessment:
    Estimated 9.18% (472) of weekday trips exceed current load standards (standards vary between 100% and 130% of seating capacity, depending on line type and time of day)
  • Root Cause Investigation:
    Ridership Exceeds Scheduled Service
    Ridership Exceeds Operated Service (assuming operated < scheduled)
    Uneven headways artificially peak demand

10.   Root Cause Hypothetical Solution

  • Cause: Ridership EXCEEDS Scheduled Service
  • Solution: Add more trips to accommodate additional ridership

11.   Solution Cost

  • 236 additional trips needed (1 trip per 2 overcrowded – a rough estimate)
    Average trip is 80 minutes long
    Need 18,880 minutes of service per weekday
    94,400 minutes (1573 hours) per week
    81,800 hours per year
  • Personnel: 57 people needed
    ~50 bus operators (46 for runs + 4 for coverage)
    ~5 mechanics~1-2 street supervisors
  • Fleet
    Peak vehicle requirement would increase by ~50 buses
  • Additional Operating Cost: $11,195,966  (using current $136.87 / hour)

12.   What Does all this Mean – Key Take-Aways

  • Budget and geography are the two major control points for the MTA
  • The lengthy and uncertain budgetary process inhibits flexibility to respond to new issues
  • Hiring new staff is continually uncertain / unlikely
  • A problem identified today cannot be addressed until almost 2 years from now if it requires additional resources

How much changes in 2 years?

  • What appear to be “simple” changes are almost never simple
    Cost implications
    Legal requirements

Impacts to public

  • Not excuses – but are important challenges that exist
  • Limits flexibility
  • Limits willingness to spend resources planning changes (extensive work and cost preparing proposals could be abandoned in an instant)
  • Advocates and critics should understand these challenges and (I believe) work to remove / reduce them

13.   References

1. COMAR Transportation Article §7-506 (public hearings) http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gtr&section=7-506&ext=html&session=2015RS&tab=subject5
2. COMAR Transportation Article §7-208 (farebox recovery) http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gtr&section=7-208&ext=html&session=2015RS&tab=subject5
3. Title VI (FTA site) http://www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/12328.html

Discussion Summary:
Meeting attendees were given the opportunity at the conclusion of both presentations, to share their feedback and to provide suggestions, ideas and concerns with the guest speakers. Electronic copies of both PowerPoint presentations will be made available to the full Transit Choices group.

Robin Budish, Director Transit Choices:

  • Acknowledged and thanked Eunice Anderson on behalf of the Enoch Pratt Free Library for providing meeting space.
  • Announced that William H. Cole IV, President of the Baltimore Development Corporation would be the guest speaker at the February Transit Choices meeting.