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FUNDING PROGRAMS 123 ADVOCACY GROUPS 115 SPOTLIGHT: ADVOCACY + FUNDING
The entities and programs highlighted in this section were discovered through investigation into Quick-Build projects to be featured in this report. The advocacy groups in this section have all implemented their own small-scale Quick-Build projects, but the research team found the story of how these groups came about, their relationships with their local government, and how they mobilize their communities to join them in action more robust than featuring their individual projects. One of the groups highlighted, the Better Bus Coalition from Cincinnati, OH, played a pivotal role in the implementation of the Main Street Bus Lane, one of the reportâs 20 featured projects. The other groups (the MARTA Army and TURBO Nashville), through initiating their own Quick-Build projects, have formed invaluable relationships with their transit agencies and city governments that are advancing both transit improvement projects, and the practice of the Quick-Build methodology. The funding programs highlighted were also discovered either as being related to one of the projects in the Project List, or from utilizing the Quick-Build methodology in the formation and execution of its duties. The BostonBRT program provided funding and marketing assistance to four projects in the Project List. The ETC Pilot Program is a test in itself, which applies a new partnership between a transit agency and metro government to address the low-hanging fruit of regional transit improvements. With these entities and programs, the research team hopes to communicate not just additional Quick-Build projects, but also the different ways the methodology can be used to accomplish a variety of, and broader, goals. ADVOCACY: Better Bus Coalition, MARTA Army, and TURBO Nashville are groups that were formed by community members with a desire to improve their transit and built environments, that have made long- lasting impressions on their cities and local governments through new processes or infrastructure, or both. FUNDING PROGRAMS: The BostonBRT program and the ETC Pilot Program are programs or collaborations that identified a need for transit improvements in their re- gions, and through funding, technical assistance, and/or communications resources are helping cities and regions put paper to pavement. 114
115 SPOTLIGHT: ADVOCACY BETTER BUS COALITION THE STORY The Better Bus Coalition has been organized for a little over two years, and in this (relatively) short amount of time has become a prominent transit advocacy group in Cincinnati and gotten the attention of local political officials and transportation leaders. The Cincinnati transit system, formerly operated with entirely private funds, has been struggling to adequately serve all of the residents of Hamilton County. Because of the expansion of the greater Cincinnati area, the majority of the jobs are no longer in Downtown Cincinnati, which, according to the Coalitionâs founder (interviewee), can be alleviated with more cross-town routes. The founder cited other challenges to the bus network, like lackluster wayfinding, and thinks it could be much improved to attract new riders. The Better Bus Coalition is an advocacy group in Cincinnati, OH pushing for an improved and expanded bus network for Hamilton County. The group has taken their advocacy to both the pavement and the paper, first by installing modular benches at bus stops, and then through the publishing of its Better Bus Plan in Spring 2018. This plan put forward the transit networkâs current inadequacies, and identified opportunities for improvement. After months of advocating for a bus lane on Downtown Cincinnatiâs Main Street, the city installed a pilot bus lane in November 2018. Better Bus Coalitionâs Initiatives Bus Stop Benches: â¢ Throughout Cincinnati Main Street Bus Lane: â¢ Main Street between Sixth Street and Central Parkway
116 Upon its foundation, the Better Bus Coalition set out to tackle some of these challenges to the best of their âtacticalâ ability. To address the lack of places to sit at over 150 bus stops in Hamilton County, the Better Bus Coalition raises funds for âDIYâ, tactical benches to install with volunteers. The Coalition can procure the materials for and construct the benches within a week, and they install them usually on weekends with volunteers According to the founder, Cincy Metro neither advocates for nor opposes the benches, they just let them happen. A city ordinance states that citizens are allowed to âdonate park benchesâ. The City Manager is obligated to accept the donation, but then can do what he wants with them. So far, none have been removed and the ordinance is the founderâs response to questions about the benchesâ âlegalityâ. The Coalition has received a lot of positive responses from the public, and through the visibility the benches have given them, the group has started to get political officials more engaged and riding transit. Over time, the founder has endorsed City Council members that support transit, and he believes the Better Bus Coalition has started a âgroundswell of momentumâ in favor of making transit improvements a priority for the city. The Coalition will be working with the city to develop a more streamlined permitting process for the provision of street furnitureâ an initiative called âAdopt-a-Stopâ. In Spring 2018, after months of donated time, the Coalition published its Better Bus Plan, painting a picture of the current outdated service and proposing solutions to both improve and expand it. The plan proposes an updated network that reaches more of Hamilton County, where over 700,000 residents would be within a 5-10 minute walk of a local bus line, and predicts the operating costs of expanding the system. Building off of its plan, the Coalition began pushing for Cincinnati to test a dedicated bus lane, pointing to other national examples and the congestion in Downtown Cincinnati that causes delays in bus transit. In September 2018, the City Councilâs Education, Innovation, and Growth Committee approved the cityâs first ever peak-hour pilot bus lane on Main Street between Government Square and Central Parkway, and the bus lane was implemented in November 2018. Like the next two examples, Quick-Build projects like the Coalitionâs benches first raised awareness, and over time the group built up a reputation for getting things done through collaboration with the local government to help them arrive at interim solutions. CAM HARDY CITY OF CINCINNATI
117 MARTA ARMY The MARTA Army transit Quick-Build projects are the least materials and labor intensive of the projects included in this study, but the impact the group has had within the transit space is great. This project is a strong example of how ongoing and regular collaboration between an advocacy group and transit agency can result in tangible, expedited improvements to a transit network, and itâs evidence that with dedicated resources and intentional communication, a partnership between a transit agency and advocacy organization can be mutually beneficial. ATLANTA, GA The Armyâs Initiatives Adopt-a-Stop: 2014 - Current â¢ Network-wide Operation Cleanstop: 2016 - 2017 â¢ East Point, GA MARTA ARMY
118 THE STORY The MARTA Army was formed in 2014 following the 2013 TransportationCamp South, an âun-conferenceâ hosted by Georgia Tech University and attended by 200 transportation enthusiasts. According to Army founder and current board member (interviewee), one of the forumâs presentations given by MARTAâs chief spokesman at the time gave him the idea to take the task of âmaking MARTA cool againâ into his own hands. To him, this was a goal that could be more quickly attained if it came from the riders MARTA transit served. The interviewee came out of that session with a few goals that would improve transit: crowdsource tangible civic improvements, create a direct line of communication between the agency and its patrons, and create a network of riders that could be activated on short notice for things like political advocacy and natural disaster support. Less than a year later, he created the MARTA Army. Acknowledging that transit can present challenges at a network scale, he set out to develop an organization with scalable initiatives. Inspired by the book Tactical Urbanism, the Armyâs first initiative was Adopt-a-Stop, one aimed at mobilizing and empowering participants to take ownership of their nearest transit stops (89% of Atlanta residents live within half a mile from a bus stop). At the time, neither the city nor MARTA had the capacity to deliver basic stop amenities, like trash cans and route schedules. With Adopt-a-Stop, Army leadership prints and laminates bus route schedules for members to disseminate and post at their local stops. Army members sign up to participate on the website, and assemble every four months (when route maps are updated by MARTA) at approximately 3-4 events, coordinated by Army leadership, across the region to acquire the new schedules. The events are often executed in partnership with neighborhood organizations. The Adopt-a-Stop initiative almost immediately started affecting change at a high level within MARTA. In the beginning, MARTA wouldnât post the schedule changes until almost two weeks after they were initiated operationally. When the Army began its program, the organization made it clear that this was inadequate, and that riders needed to be aware of the schedule changes prior to them becoming operational. According to the Armyâs founder, this had a âripple effectâ throughout the transit agency, and this aspect of MARTAâs service has since significantly improved. Additionally, in June 2016, the Atlanta Regional Commission received $3.8 MARTA ARMY MARTA ARMY
119 million from the state for multi-system transit wayfinding at bus stops. The signs are not solely for MARTA, but the funding was still a major win for Greater Atlantaâs transit network, and was the first time MARTA ever received state funding for transit. Today, there are 450 stops that have been adopted by the program. The Adopt-a-Stop program would not be nearly as effective as it has been if it werenât for the Army and MARTAâs relationship. From the beginning, Army leadership said they would publicly support MARTA, but they also wanted to remain an autonomous organization (there would be no MARTA employees on the Army board). The interviewee said that this autonomy remains an important part of the Armyâs mission. By continuing to execute initiatives like Adopt-a-Stop, the Army continues to both lightly pressure MARTA to find solutions to its service issues, and demonstrate a vast constituency (volunteer counts are at approximately 200) of community members that desire and demand better transit. This demonstration is helpful for MARTA to justify things like increased funding and staff to address service issues. The Army and MARTA relationship is a positive one, with each entity mutually publicly supporting each other and sharing the MARTA brand, but MARTA is still supportive of the Army maintaining its role primarily as an advocacy organizationâ one that can mobilize a community and crowdsource innovative solutions to transit shortcomings. The Army has the full support of higher management at MARTA, but has also established critical relationships at the staff level with employees to help them get things done. To the interviewee, the Army has helped empower MARTA employees who are âjust passionate about the mission of transitâ. The MARTA interviewee said that working with the Army is really fun, and elaborated on some of the specific ways the agency supports the organization. The two entities discuss the Armyâs work plan and initiatives on a monthly call, and support the Army âfilling the gapsâ where MARTA doesnât have the resources. MARTA fully supports the Army on its social media channels, and provides in-kind support like data, schedules, and expedited permitting if needed. The Armyâs second initiative, Operation Cleanstop, crowdfunds trash cans for every MARTA stop in East Point, Georgia, a suburb southwest of municipal Atlanta that is predominantly African American and where 20% of the population regularly rides the MARTA bus. To date, the Army has raised $16,000 from 150 individual donations, which resulted in the installation of trash cans at 100 bus stops. For this initiative, the Army raised the money and the city took on the procurement and installation of the trash cans. To MARTAâs founder, this role taken on by the city has created a platform for the city to work with its constituents on a broad range of transportation issues. This initiative is also an important reminder that MARTA crosses over many jurisdictional lines, and that the buy-in of other municipalities in the Armyâs initiatives is crucial to helping them scale up solutions to address the broader network. Itâs also important to the Army that their initiatives be inclusive of all transit riders, and especially those further away from Atlantaâs core that perhaps rely even more on transit. The Army has recently started collecting data using QR codes at bus stops to better measure its Adopt-a-Stop programâs impact on things like ridership and rider satisfaction. According to the founder, there are other measures of the Armyâs success. First, he thinks that the Army is creating momentum for action to improve transit service, measured by the increased involvement of transit officials in the Armyâs initiatives. Agency members show up to Army events, and interface directly with riders. Agency members witness firsthand the excitement thatâs building around transit, and are less wary of an open line of communication between them and riders. He also thinks that the impact of the Armyâs actions is represented by the diversity of its members. Although a small sample size, itâs encouraging that actual transit riders from across the metropolitan region are participating in Army initiatives. This intimate reach is not something MARTA is capable of fostering, but with the Army as a conduit, the gap between what transit riders need and implementable transit solutions can be narrowed. According to the founder, the Quick-Build process has been pivotal in providing transit improvements quickly, and representing a wide spectrum of transit riders. For MARTA, taking advantage of innovation that has come from outside its staff has resulted in increased trust in the agency to fight for expedited and more representative transit projects, no matter the scale. MARTA ARMY
120 TURBO What started as a neighborhood group with an interest in Tactical Urbanism has evolved into an arm of a prominent Nashville urban design nonprofit. Through incremental projects of various scales, and research and data collection, Tactical URBanism Organizers has formed a relationship with its local public works and planning departments, and has Nashvilleâs government internalizing the Quick-Build methodology. One of the groupâs first projects responded to community cries for more beautiful bus stops, and now theyâre getting closer to making a permanent plaza adjacent to a new BRT stop. NASHVILLE, TN TURBOâs Initiatives Nolensville Pike Bus Stops: March 2015 â¢ Nolensville Pike @ Joyner Avenue stop Modular Bus Shelter (x2): April 2015 â¢ Nolensville Pike @ Glenrose Avenue stop â¢ Nolensville Pike @ Fairgrounds Station TURBO Triangle Triage: March 2018 â¢ Gallatin Avenue and N 11th Street THE STORY TURBO, originally called Tactical Urbanism Nashville, was unofficially founded in 2014 by a few neighborhood activists, one of whom is currently the Design Director at the Nashville Civic Design Center, a local nonprofit whose mission is to âelevate the quality of Nashvilleâs built environmentâ with an emphasis on public participation. The âguerrilla urbanismâ neighborhood group debuted the Quick-Build methodology in August 2014 as a part of a block party in Nashvilleâs Nations neighborhood, demonstrating a four-to-two lane road diet, bike lanes, and parklets in the curbside travel lanes on 51st Avenue N. This road diet was officially adopted by City Council in July 2017. The Nashville Civic Design Center (NCDC) was at first a nonprofit partner of the group, but a year later it was integrated into NCDC, and has since become a
121 part of the organizationâs Reclaiming Public Space initiative as an âaction armâ to help implement concepts based on research from the nonprofitâs projects and publications, and push the local government entities toward getting more comfortable with test projects and innovative transportation solutions. TURBOâs projects are driven in large part by their own research, or initiated upon request from the public (most feedback is received through TURBOâs website). Having started out as a neighborhood group, their relationship with Nashville communities and other nonprofits is a trustful and collaborative one. The group has gained quite the following, and volunteer participation continues to grow with each project. TURBO has been using the Quick-Build methodology more and more to encourage the city to test its projects slated for permanent construction, and to also keep them accountable for allocating resources to transportation improvements. This allows the city to vet projects in the real world before pulling the trigger, and enables more robust public participation that they otherwise may not do. With TURBO providing the opportunity to test and engage the public, it bumps the projects up to higher priority, increasing the likelihood that theyâll be done permanently much faster. The Nolensville Pike Bus Stops, officially the first TURBO project under NCDC, was implemented in March 2015 and April 2015 along one of the busiest, and deadliest, corridors in Nashville. This project took only a few months to design and implement, and included bus stop beautification and the first of two modular bus shelter installations. For these installations, TURBO only needed permission from the private property owners, and the efforts to make the bus stops more comfortable were very welcomed by neighboring businesses and riders, having been requested by the community in the first place. At the Joyner Avenue stop along Nolensville Pike, TURBO installed planters and benches made with wood and tires, with plants donated from a local nursery. The bus shelters were also primarily made of wood, with the addition of corrugated steel panels as weather-proof roofing. These were constructed using a grant from a local church, and were designed to wrap around and over existing benches and be easily deconstructed and reused. Some remnants of the bus beautification remain today, as well as one of the modular bus stops. The design and fabrication for these installations was done entirely by TURBO, funded either through donations or small grants, and they were implemented with assistance from community volunteers. TURBO NASHVILLE TURBO NASHVILLE
122 The TURBO Triangle Triage project, the activation of an unused triangular median refuge adjacent to a new BRT stop at East Nashville Magnet High School, began in June 2015 with signage TURBO installed asking people what they wanted to see in the space. The signs encouraged people to submit input on TURBOâs âget involvedâ webpage (how the organization solicits project ideas from the public, as well as donations and volunteer requests). A month later, the organization planned an activation in the triangle for Tomato Arts Festival, which included turf, a temporary painted pedestrian path through the triangle, and a feedback board. In 2016, less than a year later, TURBO hosted an after-school workshop with the Public Library across the street from the high school to solicit ideas from the students about how the space they wait for transit in every day could be transformed. Some of this feedback contributed to TURBOâs next iteration: an installation in March 2018 in advance of the Complete Streets Conference, when TURBO, a local muralist, and Greater Nashville Realtors transformed the triangle with an asphalt mural, painted a new temporary crosswalk, and installed column wraps. TURBO is still compiling any transit data that might be available for the Triangle Triage project. Anecdotally, they observed people spending time in the March 2018 installation almost immediately, most often when waiting for the bus. Whether it improved ridership has yet to be determined. They used traffic guns for the first three months of its installation, and noticed that cars were slowing upon approaching the intersection. The asphalt mural remains today, and TURBO is looking into grant opportunities to fund a next round of activation, including reworking the traffic flow on 11th St. The project contributes to an ongoing conversation TURBO has with the city about how traffic calming, pedestrian safety, and public art can work together, and is using it to advocate for the permanent closure of a portion of 11th Street at this intersection. TURBO partners with other community nonprofits and businesses for its projects, and has more recently been in regular communication/collaboration with the Metro Planning Department to refine and implement its Tactical Urbanism Permit (which went for a trial run for the TURBO Triangle Triage project). In general, the organization has a good relationship with the Mayorâs office, which has encouraged Metro to collaborate with them. In the beginning, TURBO was implementing most of their projects through the cityâs Special Event Permit process, but now they have a contact in the Planning Department that theyâre in regular communication about formalizing a process for these types of projects. TURBO would approach the city Planning and Public Works Departments with ideas, areas of underutilized asphalt that were canvases for projects, etc., and it was informal at first. Now, the Planning Department is looking to hire an engineer to focus solely on Tactical Urbanism projects, and interface directly with TURBO to more regularly use the new permit. A Transportation Planner in the cityâs Planning Department said during his interview that the ideal scenario is that the city internalize this methodology, and heâs creating a review board to field the Tactical Urbanism Permit requests. The city has acknowledged their value as an entity that can provide resources (funding, data collection, public engagement, etc.), and sees the process as a good strategy where projects align with their goals. Furthermore, the city is progressive and has support from leadership to collaborate with TURBO. Because the city and county are one entity, the Transportation Planner thinks they have the capacity to move projects along more quickly, once the process is complete and the new staff member (engineer) is brought on board. TURBO is happy with how their projects have inspired change at the local level, and that the city has realized the value of the methodology. The permit will continue to evolve as both TURBO and the city see a need for refinements to the permit application and process, but what TURBO and the city have so far accomplished is certainly a success story for neighborhood groups and nonprofits trying to shake things up.
123 SPOTLIGHT: FUNDING PROGRAMS BOSTONBRT The Barr Foundationâs BostonBRT program has propelled Bus Rapid Transit in the Greater Boston Area from a conversation and research topic to tangible projects within only a few years. In addition to its funding for piloting BRT elements, the program has initiated a station design competition, social media campaigns, and continues to look for opportunities to support iterations of local pilots. The Foundation translated its research into a program that has not just gotten people in Greater Boston excited about the prospect of BRT, but that also makes it more and more of a reality. BOSTON, MA BostonBRTâs Awardees Broadway Bus Lane - December 2016 â¢ Everett, MA Massachusetts Avenue Bus Lane - Oct. 2018 â¢ Arlington, MA Mt Auburn Street Bus Lane - Oct. 2018 â¢ Cambridge + Watertown, MA AD HOC INDUSTRIES
124 THE STORY Implementing Bus Rapid Transit in the Greater Boston Area has been a goal of state and local entities in Massachusetts for years. In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) made a push for it, but without corridor-level engagement and local political support, community pushback derailed near-term implementation. The Barr Foundation helped advance this conversation as its Climate team became increasingly interested in BRT for the Greater Boston Area in the face of more intense winter storms that interfered with rail transportation. The foundation set out in 2012/2013 to create a working group to study and report on the feasibility of implementing BRT, catalyzing a revived push for the system. In April 2013, the Climate strategy team, which includes the foundationâs mobility focus area, took a trip to Chicago for a two-day charrette to learn BRT best practices from entities pushing for the system there, like the Rockefeller Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and AIAâs Architects Foundation. This charrette formed the basis of the Barr Foundationâs BRT working group, after which they devised a work plan to help them understand what governance issues needed to be solved at the MassDOT and municipal levels for implementation of BRT, and what level of corridor engagement needed to be met to be able to test BRT elements. The foundation put funding aside to study BRT, and published a report in Spring 2015 on the feasibility of implementing BRT in the Greater Boston Area. By the time the foundation published the report, they had witnessed enough BRT in other places to beg the question, âwhy not get people to experience BRT here?â MassDOT and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) committed to being partners to make this happen if there were capable and willing municipalities to dedicate street space to transit. As a foundation, the Barr Foundationâs role is to catalyze efforts, and they saw an opportunity to bring BRT to the pavement. As a follow-up to their report, in May 2017, they released an RFP for $100,000 in funding, plus additional consultant time, to implement pilot projects to test BRT elements. In addition to their funding supporting actual implementation of BRT pilot projects, the Barr Foundation hoped that the efforts would improve communication between municipalities, MassDOT, and MBTA, and increase the ease and likelihood of expanding BRT across the region. The foundation wanted people to experience BRT features, and they wanted AD HOC INDUSTRIES AD HOC INDUSTRIES
125 to continue the momentum their broader initiative started. Pilot projects were also a way to have these projects happen quicker, as a more immediate follow-up to their report and prior research. By the time the RFP was released, the foundation had already done quite a bit of public engagement around BRT, and it was time for people to experience it on the ground. Three municipalities/teams were selected in June 2017 to receive funding from the Barr Foundation to test elements of BRT: Town of Arlington, City of Everett, and the City of Cambridge/Town of Watertown. The foundation had made it clear that the grants were to be used for planning, design, and execution, and the RFP required that an explicit political champion be included in the applications. Basically, the applications were evaluated for the municipalityâs âreadinessâ, or ability and enthusiasm to implement a pilot project within a year. A critical element for the three pilot projects was the MOU between MBTA and each municipality, which put into writing each partnerâs role in the pilot projects. The Barr Foundation did not draft the MOUs, but facilitated the process. Generally, these several-page MOUs outlined the pilot project goals, each entityâs responsibilities (like planning and design, public outreach, implementation, marketing, and evaluation), and joint responsibilities. Each municipality had a project manager who coordinated with the Director of Operations Planning and Outreach on the MBTA side, regarding things like bus stop relocations (if applicable), the education of MBTAâs drivers, how the operators would respond to the pilot projects, and any physical constraints of how the buses move down the road that may influence their pilot projects. The Director at the MBTA tried to encourage the municipalities to have some sort of consistency in their striping, markings, and design strategies, as the MBTA played the role of regional entity for the pilot projects. ITDP and Stantec were technical experts made available to the selected municipalities, with communications support from Denterlein and creative branding from Ad Hoc Industries The BostonBRT program is heavily marketed on social media, and through the programâs website. The foundation recognized the importance of creative placemaking, and contributed resources to make the pilot project launches fun and inviting. The foundation actively promotes Everett, Arlington, and Watertown/ Cambridgeâs projects on social media, and conducted additional grantmaking to support the installation of bus shelter art in Arlington and a âflower bombâ at a shelter in Everett. The interviewees believe that their promotion is reaching a broad audience, and getting more people engaged in, and supporting, BRT in the Greater Boston Area. They feel as though theyâve âtruly been catalystsâ. The foundation wanted to elevate BRT to be considered a viable mode of transportation on par with rail transit, and they think theyâve really helped moved the needle on this in Greater Boston. Stantec, ITDP, MassDOT, and MBTA all helped the municipalities collect quantitative data on their pilot projects where necessary. Each municipality produced, or will produce, its own final report or evaluation. The Director managing the projects on MBTAâs side said that the pilots have been effective at encouraging municipalities to still make improvements that donât necessitate major capital investments. Thereâs a lot of low-hanging fruit that can be tested, or implemented permanently from the outset, that would have significant impact. For the Barr Foundation, their programâs success was not measured by how many (if any) pilot projects became permanent, but rather how many more municipalities they would encourage to test BRT elements. They were open about the fact that they wanted this program to create a bit of competition within the Greater Boston Area, and an appetite for experimenting with BRT features. As of September 2018, the MBTA Director secured private funding for a âtoolkitâ that will summarize the successes and challenges of each cityâs project, and will be available for other cities to learn about the various resources/tools for making buses more reliable. The Director at the MBTA said that one of the challenges he observed with cities wanting to move quickly was that sometimes short-term tests donât lend themselves well to iteration. For example, using cones is a great way to act quickly and collect fast results, but after that, paint is really the only next option. The length of time between the initial test and paint could be long enough to lose momentum. Additionally, the staff time and enforcement required with just using cones can be something cities underestimate in terms of resources to set aside. The MBTA also worked with a private consulting firm in 2017 to identify routes in the Greater Boston Area that would benefit from dedicated transit lanes, and theyâd like to secure funding to get these communities working on implementing them once the pilot projects are complete and have been evaluated. Given these next steps, it seems the BostonBRT pilot projects have certainly helped reinvigorate the regionâs interest in, and commitment to, incremental bus network improvements. The program is a great example of the power of partnerships, and how even modest resources in the grand scheme of transit projects can give municipalities the extra push and confidence they may need to employ the Quick- Build methodology.
126 ETC PROGRAM The ETC Pilot Program, a partnership between TriMet and Metro, is gaining momentum as a strategy to increase the frequency with which cities in the Portland metropolitan region implement low- cost speed and reliability improvements along some of the regionâs highest priority corridors. With three projects fast-tracked to be completed within 2019, the program is a strong example of how such a partnership can advance small-scale improvements across an expansive regional network. With additional funding identified, the program is well under way within just a year following its initiation. PORTLAND, OR ETC Programâs 2019 Projects THE STORY The Enhanced Transit Corridors Pilot Program, an initiative of TriMet (transit provider for the Portland metropolitan region) and Metro (the Portland metro areaâs Metropolitan Planning Organization), is a recently developed strategy for encouraging municipalities in the Portland region to incrementally improve their transit networks. The Portland Bureau of Transportation, in collaboration with TriMet, recently wrapped up the planning process for its Enhanced Transit Corridors Plan, which was unanimously adopted by City Council in June 2018, and identifies portions of the existing TriMet Frequent Service in Portland that were deemed high priority corridors for small and tactical improvements to speed and reliability. These corridors are ones that would benefit greatly from improvements that would be quick to implement, and for less relative cost than large transit projects. Burnside Bridge BAT Lanes â¢ Central City Portland MLK/SE Grand Ave BAT Lanes â¢ Central City Portland NW Everett St BAT Lanes â¢ Central City Portland
127 The TriMet service within the City of Portland has slowed significantly in the last eight years, leaving jobs less and less accessible to the cityâs growing population. Realizing that this is something that is happening across the region, TriMet and Metro decided to team up to apply this methodology at a regional level. The project manager from TriMet (interviewee) said that they had been noticing delays and stagnant ridership growth across the region, and thought, âwhy not set out to try to improve the entire network?â The partners were confident that addressing issues of speed and reliability would also be a great way to improve ridership. Both TriMet and Metro also saw an opportunity to educate both large and small municipalities on treatments that could improve their service. The City of Portland and TriMet had done a lot of work to develop the Enhanced Transit Toolbox as a part of Portlandâs plan, a toolbox of transit priority treatments containing capital and operational strategies that could be deployed at different scales and levels of investment. With a region-wide program that would help fund the application of these toolbox elements, TriMet and Metro conceived of the ETC Pilot Program to bring the toolbox to other municipalities as an educational tool, and to help other municipalities think through how they could integrate the tools into their capital projects. When Metro received $5 million in regional funds, they worked with TriMet to prioritize the regional networks investment needs. They broke up the Frequent Service network into 10-15 minutes of travel, and analyzed the performance of the routes for reliability and dwell times using a scoring system. The routes that scored the highest were those with the most issues with delays and unreliability. In Spring 2018, Metro and TriMet conducted 12 workshops with the regionâs jurisdictions containing these highest scoring corridors (total of 14), and helped them identify tools they could implement to mitigate the issues. TriMet, Metro, and a consultant design team presented the jurisdictions with high-level concept sketches of treatments that could be applied to the jurisdictionsâ corridors. Over the course of each intensive three-hour workshop, the jurisdictionsâ engineers and staff worked through the issues and possible treatments with the consultant team, with the intent of identifying one or a few projects for which they could apply to the pilot program that would be low-cost and quickly implementable. After the workshops, the municipalities were invited to submit applications for the pilot program to fund the design and issue-to-construction of projects that would address these issues. For the Central City in Motion project map Central City in Motion infographic CITY OF PORTLAND CITY OF PORTLAND
128 selected projects, Metro would lead the 0-15% concept design process, at which point TriMet would continue to develop the project. The jurisdiction would then be responsible for the implementation. Metro and TriMet received 38 applications for a total of 49 projects in the first round of the program, at which point they conducted a second screening process to determine which projects were the most âreadyâ, or implementable within two years of selection. This meant that projects that already had funding and/or political support behind them were moved to the top of the list. The program then divided the projects into two categories, ones that were ready for construction, and ones that still needed to go through the design process, to clarify to what aspects of the projects their funding would be allocated. Following the project evaluation, the program received an additional $10 million in funding (granted to the program from Metro after the state was able to garner more transit funds for its service area) for the implementation of the selected projects, many of which are still being scoped or are in the design process. The partners noted that once a few of the projects got farther along in the design process, they realized that they didnât make sense to implement. This is something the partners said is an important component of the pilot programâ the ability to be nimble and âwalk awayâ from projects to allocate the resources elsewhere. As of January 2019, the program selected three projects to fast-track for construction and completion within 2019. These three projects, which are integrated with Portlandâs Central City in Motion initiative, are all outbound Business Access and Transit lanes (BAT) on corridors with a combined 80,000 plus riders per day. These projects will cost about $3 million of the recent $10 million received, and Metro and TriMet are hopeful that theyâll be able to be implemented by the cityâs internal crews. The program is a pilot in itself, although most projects funded by it will be permanent from the outset. So far, both TriMet and Metro think itâs been invaluable for the partnership between these two entities. Working out how the program can be sustained has strengthened their collaboration, and has helped them come up with a clear strategy of how to tackle region-wide transit issues. So far, the pilot program only takes on educating the jurisdictions on the tools available, and supporting them through the design process. Getting the jurisdictions to implement is what will be another ultimate indicator of the programâs success. Both entities think that the programâs focus on scalable treatments will help jurisdictions get in the habit of thinking about, and integrating, transit projects into more of their roadway projects, especially at a time when the appetite for major transit projects is lower. Additionally, the workshops were important for connecting jurisdictions outside Portland with the regional entities, to bring them all to the same table when they may not have ever collaborated or asked TriMet or Metro for resources. Overall, the program has brought the importance of bus transit back to the forefront of all partiesâ interests at a time when transit ridership is becoming an increasingly important climate change adaptation strategy. Both the TriMet and Metro project managers interviewed said that they hope this program will result in a more robust, permanent program, and that this process has already helped them envision what that could look like. Both also agree that a designated project manager for the program should be hired within each agency. So far, Metro and Portland have worked in parallel on transit improvements in Portland. The Senior Transportation Planner for the Portland Bureau of Transportation (interviewee) said that she really thinks their work, and the pilot program, will have a âsnowball effectâ and encourage neighboring jurisdictions to take an equally close look at how to improve transit. TriMet and Metro are still ironing out not just the permanent funding programâs logistics, but also a strategy for how to support municipalitiesâ implementation of the toolkit on a regular basis. Theyâve made great strides, after decades, in facilitating transit improvements together, rather than each jurisdiction operating within silos, and hopefully the pilot program will just be the beginning of a new direction in region-wide transit prioritization.