This week, Blue Water Wave looks at how agencies in two countries make changes to reduce overcrowding… plus how Chicago creates a more level playing field.
About Blue Water Wave…
BWAT general manager Jim Wilson comments on what’s happening in transit in the Blue Water Area, as well as interesting transit-related developments all around the globe. He observes new challenges, solutions, strategies, trends, and perspectives within the transit industry.
Chicago’s Tax Levels Playing Field
Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, included a new ride-hailing tax in his now approved 2018 budget. Officials expect the tax will raise $16 million in 2018 and $21 million in 2019. The city will allocate the funds to the Chicago Transit Authority for infrastructure improvements.
“Chicago will become the first city in the nation to institute a fee on the rideshare industry dedicated specifically to mass transit and mass transit improvements,” the mayor’s office explained in a statement.
Lyft, Uber, and smaller competitors will pay 67 cents per trip in 2018. The new tax will add a 15-cent surcharge to the city’s existing ride-hailing fee of 52 cents per trip. In 2019, a 20-cent surcharge will increase the total fee to 72 cents per trip.
Recent studies show that ride-hailing services can increase congestion and reduce transit ridership. Chicago’s tax is one way to level the playing field with transit ridership down 4.3 percent. (This is from the latest monthly report, released in May. It compares year-to-date totals from 2016 and 2017 for bus and rail ridership.)
(Sources: chicagotribune.com, cityofchicago.org, chi.streetsblog.org. chicagoreader.com)
Toronto Pilot Improves Streetcar Service
The Toronto Transit Commission launched a $1.5 million pilot program last month in a section of King Street. The one-year program aims to improve streetcar reliability, speed and capacity.
King Street is the city’s busiest surface transit route. Streetcars carry nearly 65,000 people every weekday. Unfortunately, they are often stuck in traffic behind the 20,000 drivers who also use the street.
“There’s a clear imbalance there that we need to correct,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.
Under the King Street Transit Pilot, Toronto gives streetcars the right of way within a 1.6 mile downtown section of King Street. It does not allow motorists to drive straight through the length of the pilot area. Motorists must turn right at most of the area’s 18 intersections. Also, Toronto has removed on-street parking to make way for loading zones, taxi stands and new public spaces.
During the program’s first three weeks, streetcars have already started traveling a little bit faster. During the afternoon rush hour, for example, eastbound streetcars travelled 1.3 minutes faster (from 18.9 to 17.6 minutes). Westbound streetcars travelled 2.6 minutes faster (from 19 to 16.4 minutes).
Officials expect more impressive results in the future. They believe motorists will experience getting adjusted to the program’s restrictions.
(Sources: thestar.com, toronto.citynews.ca, urbantoronto.ca, toronto.ca, ttc.ca)
Bangkok Train Removes Seats
Thailand’s Mass Rapid Transit Authority has removed seating from the middle of all the cars in one train on the MRT Blue Line. It is an experiment to reduce passenger congestion.
MRT Metro implemented other measures to alleviate overcrowding on trains. They include increasing the number of staff during rush hour and maintaining a stock of spare parts for service delays.
MRT Metro has purchased 35 new trains that will be ready for service in late 2019. Metro deputy Gov. Ronnachit Yaemsaard said the current approaches were stop-gap measures until then.
“These solutions cannot solve every problem,” he said. “However, we will continue to come up with new measures to increase passengers’ convenience before the new trains operate in 2019.”
MRT Metro posted on its Facebook that the trial started with one of the 19 trains in service. It added that it will extend the trial to other train cars and will continue until the end of the year.
(Sources: straitstimes.com, facebook.com/BEM.MRT, thestar.com, khaosodenglish.com, channelnewsasia.com, bangkokpost.com)
BWAT General Manager