Tag Archives: transit

Young Transportation Professionals, the Pittsburgh Chapter

“YPT’s mission is to provide career guidance, fellowship, and networking opportunities for young professionals in the transportation field. We are the future of transportation.

Our goals are threefold:

Professional Development: Provide a regular series of seminars from leading individuals or teams in the transportation field.
Fellowship: Provide an ongoing forum for mutual support and interaction between young transportation professionals, especially for those starting their careers.
Networking: Provide networking opportunities and seminars to help young professionals advance their careers and share innovative ideas”

So join us for the first meeting of our Pittsburgh Chapter on 7/27 at 6pm in Oakland:

Register for Young Professionals in Transportation/Pittsburgh Local Chapter in Pittsburgh, PA  on Eventbrite

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Public vs. Private Transit

Peter McFerrin, a research analyst for Brookings Institute that published the now (in)famous Missed Opportunities study about transit in US , writes at length about the opportunity for private transit in suburban areas in this article published on The New Republic.

And to an extent I do agree with Mr. McFerrin –private transit initiatives can provide a sound alternative to public transportation. The organization I belong to, ACTC, agreed that to allow a private local provider Lenzner Coaches  to replace the service lost as a consequence of Port Authority ‘s recent cuts. The reason why we voted for this alternative service was that since as long as we represent the riders’ interest and we consider the typical rider on those routes a private alternative will be better than none].  And, it is my guess that, unlike the New York pilot program quoted by Mr. McFerrin, Lenzner is running a profitable service.

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Political Campaign versus Social Marketing

        This blog post is the result of an idea that sparked at a conversation over a wine glass during the happy hour that followed the Organizing 2.0 meeting in W.PA. (The hour became hours and the last discussion group broke apart around 1 am in the morning).

            It all started as a debate on how a proper campaign should be organized.  The canvasser shall go door to door and discuss the specific issues each community member does have and build around that. It is not an yes or no type of questionnaire because the canvasser needs to understand the community beyond statistics and appearances in order to provide the campaign organizer with the information that will be used later to build a platform for a specific candidate. Now, that is exactly what I learned about ten years ago from the British women, the political leaders teaching us –young women and potential political workers from East Europe. Yet, two weeks ago, at the discussion table I looked contradicted.

          No, I was saying, you already have an ideology and you need to identify those specific issues that are relevant for it – even more you need to identify the specific community members who already understand the benefits of the particular solution you suggest for these particular sets of issues. Because you need to build relationships with these people and you need to invest in their leadership qualities as they will be the ones promoting the solution… But I was no longer looking at community organizing as a political campaign organizer, but as a social marketer.

                 As a political campaign organizer you are selling a person to voters – a political candidate. What we want to know is what his potential voters need and expect from a legislator.  After you will help to build a platform that answers their specific needs and the third step is to return to the community in question to show people how this platform will answer their needs and meet their expectations.  So do not blame politicians for failing you after elected. First , these specific community needs will change as population ages , economic conditions change , the civil issues at hand do change…And so will a politician’s platform.  

        Plus when you sell a political leader the currency is votes – someone’s specific need may be ignored if a majority support is not perceived. For example let’s take what Republicans learned about Medicare – you can mess with universal, government funded health insurance as long as you do not mess with the universal, government funded insurance of your electorate. Even if your electorate seems to be unable to comprehend that they are benefiting from a universal, government funded health insurance plan when opposing its general counterpart. A politician will only address an issue as long as it will not lead to a dramatic loss of votes. [1]

     As a social marketer you already know the solution. Most times the solution is supported by significant professional research, you just need to sell this solution to community members when they grew (up) used to belief  the solution is fundamentally different. For example , when selling  “transit”  as a solution for transportation issues such as transportation funding,  congestion, travel time, pricing, economic value and so on you may need to address first your target population’s belief that the above issues are always solved by a free market car industry and by increasing mobility. [2]

       It is not much different from selling them an energy efficient washing machine to solve their electric bill issue. It is just harder because you need to reach a deeper level –   you need to change what a person believes.  When selling energy efficient washing machines all you need is to convince that the model you are selling will save them enough on the electric bill to be worth the higher price tag. Because your customer already believes that the solution to his/her electric bill issue will be an energy efficient washing machine. He may doubt that the particular model you are selling does consume a lot less electric and thus it can effectively solve his issue. What you change is this person’s Attitude.  When selling transit to Pittsburgh residents as a way to improve travel time and reduce congestion, you must change their Belief that the solution will always be better mobility when in fact is better access.

Notes:

[1] There are exceptions but those are few and far in-between

[2] This explains why is so much harder to sell transit in the United States.

My Rights as a Pedestrian

A recent article on Grist explainin  “Why are we (Americans)  so angry at the gas pump “– Because we have no choices- notes that suburban sprawl makes impossible (or at best impracticable) other transportation means such as walking, biking or taking public transit.  We do have to drive to work, shopping, doctor, the kids soccer games ,family events, church and so on… So even with a gas efficient vehicle at $3 /gallon we’ve already spent a big chunk of our budget at the pump, if gas were $8.50/gallon as I understand it is now in UK , we’d probably had to stop eating because we would either be unable to afford a trip to the store, or if we put the gas in the car there will be  nothing left to purchase groceries.

the first phase of several projects planned to improve the Route 65 Marshall Avenue Interchange

            One of the solutions pointed in the Grist article mentioned above: limit sprawl from now own, rebuild within urban boundaries with higher population densities.  Shorter distances will make all these options such as walking possible again. Agreed! But we need to do better, and there is something else we need to do first: we need to revise our outlook on accessibility. In many cases it is not distance, but lack of access for cyclists and pedestrians turning away most Americans living in suburban areas who may consider walking instead of driving.

            And our priorities are so skewed that , even in the old city neighborhoods  where pedestrian pathways survived the last six decades, we tend to ignore the fact that their role is not ornamental  but quite pragmatic.  Yes, people do walk on those sidewalks –especially when they are the pedestrian path to a bus route. So really, what were they thinking when they put up this sign?

I am unable to tell you what exactly where they thinking, but I can tell you how to fix it. You can file a complaint with Penn DOT here: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/penndot/districts/district11/d11ccc.nsf

Why file a complaint?

  • Because Penn DOT through their local district is actually required to supervise and in certain cases approve every step of the project in order to comply with FHWA Work Zone Safety & Mobility Rule (23 CFR Subpart J)
  • Because Penn DOT’s specifies in its Publication 46 that, when designing even a temporary traffic control plan, a contractor is required to provide bicyclist and pedestrian accommodations:

Para 6.14.2.4 (c) Do not expose bicycle and pedestrian pathways to unsafe conditions…”, and obviously if your pathway is blocked therefore forces you to step out in traffic you are exposed to an unsafe condition.

  • Because we need to remind Penn DOT that their pedestrian friendly policies are nothing if they are just ink on paper.

 

WE have the same rights as Pedestrians as we do as drivers!

The interior of a friendly transit system

Deutsche Busse -Innen

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Americans are world-wide famous for their pragmatism. However when it comes to designing the interior of a bus their pragmatism went out of the bus windows . The accommodation for wheelchair bound riders in the front of the bus looks as a gauche modification to the original design just for the sake of complying with ADA regulations.

 

 

 

On the other side –German bus designer made sure that they can accommodate any type of bulky, wheel based mobility accessory including strollers, carts and big carry-ons without creating too much discomfort for other riders.

 

 

 

 Image sources:
http://www.stadtbus-fulda.de/Gestern/Standard%202/Wagen%20131.htm
http://www.eifel-rur-bus.de/seiten/nachrichten/2006/nb_2006-12.html
http://www.bergischerbus.net/ablage/schienenkoenig/bus-2009.html