This week, Blue Water Wave looks at two examples of how national disasters and events can impact transit agencies. SMART responds to last month’s wildfires and Metro Transit gears up for the 2018 Super Bowl. Also: a Detroit suburb explores starting its own bus system and Tampa involves community volunteers in a connected vehicle pilot program.
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.
SMART Reaches Out After Wildfires
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit wants to help those affected by last month’s disastrous wildfires. It is issuing 10,000 free passes and tickets for rides on SMART’s commuter train in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Our community is still recovering and we want to do our part to help,” said Debora Fudge, chairwoman of the SMART Board of Directors.
SMART is offering passes to individual victims and tickets to businesses harmed by the disaster.
Individual fire victims can use the passes for an unlimited number of free rides through the end of the year. The tickets are good for a single one-way train ride during the same time period. Customers of participating local businesses will get a ticket for every $25 spent during the two weekends following Thanksgiving.
SMART also provided free train service for two weeks after the fires started.
(Sources: pressdemocrat.com, usnews.ws, sonomamarintrain.org, northbaybusinessjournal.com)
Tampa Starts Pilot with Volunteers
The Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority is seeking community volunteers for its Connected Vehicle Pilot Program. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $17 million to Tampa and local traffic agencies for the pilot program. It will run from April 2018 to December 2019.
DOT awarded federal grants to three connected vehicle pilots. Tampa’s is the only one with community volunteers.
THEA is currently seeking 1,600 volunteers. The Authority will equip the volunteers’ cars with specialized rear-view mirrors. The mirrors can “talk” to other connected vehicles in the pilot program. The mirrors will alert area drivers to changing traffic conditions and potential dangers. The devices will also interact with traffic signals, pedestrian smart phones and other infrastructure.
Buses equipped with the devices will have priority at traffic signals. About 20 buses and streetcars will participate in the pilot.
Volunteers will each receive a 30 percent rebate of Lee Roy Selmon Expressway tolls (up to a $550 maximum). They be some of the first people in the country to test this type of technology.
(Sources: wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu, tampabay.com)
Royal Oak Explores Bus System
Royal Oak’s City Commission is creating a task force to explore establishing a bus system for the Detroit suburb. Another SMART, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit, currently provides Royal Oak with limited bus service.
“We know public transit increases property values and reduces the need for auto (related) infrastructure,” said Marie Donigan, city commissioner. “It also creates a more attractive business environment.”
Donigan believes Royal Oak could benefit from SMART’s bulk purchasing of buses, fuel and maintenance work.
Royal Oak and SMART staff have met in recent months. They estimate that a city bus system would cost $3.3 – $6.6 million annually. The cost would depend on the frequency of service and number of buses.
(Sources: theoaklandpress.com, romi.gov)
Transit Secures for Super Bowl
On Super Bowl Sunday (February 4), Metro Transit will screen passengers boarding trains that service the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Metro Transit will also require passengers to have a game ticket and the $30 gameday fare.
“This is 100 percent about the security of the stadium and the train and its proximity to the stadium,” said Andrea Mokros of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. The Committee explained that unscreened everyday traffic would pose too great a risk that close to the stadium on gameday. The light rail tracks run inside the stadium’s secure area.
Metro Transit stressed that this option was better than the alternative. The NFL had asked the city to shut down service around the stadium for 96 hours (Friday-Sunday).
Metro Transit will offer free rides to customers whose travel plans were disrupted by gameday precautions.
(Sources: kare11.com, nfl.com)
BWAT General Manager