Monday, September 20, 2010
Getting riders to entertainment, shopping and employement
While using an existing rail line for light rail service makes since in many respects, one of the downfalls including the North-South TRAX line is that it has a hard time serving major employment and entertainment spots that were designed around the automobile. As Transit Oriented Development becomes more common in the area that will be less of an issue but until then we have to deal with existing development and working around it.
Sandy is a perfect example of the problem. While the 9400 south station directly serves Jordan Commons, other major spots are not close to the TRAX stations. While this would not be a problem in a pedestrian friendly area, I am sure there is no one who would describe the area between the Sandy Center station and the South Towne Mall as being the least be pedestrian friendly, in fact it is very hostile to the pedestrian.
Even mainline bus service has a difficult time serving some of these destinations. After all, you get off the bus and many times you are faced with crossing a huge swath of concrete with cars speeding through it and their drivers not paying attention to anything except to save two seconds.
The best answer would be to provide call 'n ride services such as Denver's at the Historic Sandy and Sandy Civic Center TRAX stations:
Denver Call N Ride
The other solution would be to provide shuttle services from these stations to the major points in the Sandy Area.
Here is an example of a couple of shuttles that could be run that would take people from the TRAX station:
Route A: From the Sandy Civic Center TRAX station via Sego Lily/10000 South, travel north on 300 West to the SLCC campus then return to 10000 South, then via Jordan Gateway, 10600 South and South Riverfront Parkway through the major office complex there. This route probably could run rush hours only but by adding a couple of destinations could become a full time route.
Route B: This route would travel from the Sandy Civic Center TRAX station via Sego Lily, 700 East and 9400 South to Alta View Hospital. After making a loop through the hospital travel 1300 East and 9400 South to the Gravel Pit shopping center. Then via 9000 South, 300 West, 9400 South, State Street, South Town Ridge, Monroe/240 West, 10000 South and 300 West to the SLCC campus. Then via 300 West, 10000 South and 240 West/Centennial before making a loop around the South Towne Mall and then returning to the TRAX station via 200 West/Centennial and 10000 South.
Optimally you would want to run route B as a bidirectional loop meaning that buses would run both directions around the loop to maximize ridership potential. I designed the routes to service the maximum number of important spots as with routes that would see the fewest problems with traffic congestion.
The next question is the most important that who would pay for this? Right now it is not economically feasible for UTA to pay for this kind of service unless it is able to get a grant to provide the service on an extended basis.
Ideally the city of Sandy should be responsible for providing this service and could contract with either UTA or another agency to provide the service (so long as transfer agreements are made with UTA if fares are going to be charged-unless its something small like a quarter). After all the city of Sandy would see the benefits of this service from providing another way to get more shoppers into the area to providing an alterntative to driving for more people especially considering how congested areas such as 9000 South and 10600 South are.
If, and I do mean if, the city of Sandy would really want this kind of service to be a success, they could work with merchants and employers to market the service and encourage ridership. Sandy could do specific branding of the buses making it part of the marketing program which could even include businesses sponsoring a bus like local businesses in Portland sponsor the streetcars in that city.
Of course then Sandy could go really overboard and buy those buses meant to look like old time streetcars but truly are nothing but a bus with uncomfortable seats.
One of the difficult aspects of getting people on transit is getting them to major employment, entertainment, and shopping destinations in a auto centric environment. In the long term land use plans should focus on transit lines but until then we need creative ideas to get people to major destinations.