[tabi] City Commission approves Nova 2010... but not a complete loss

  • From: ericamccaul@xxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2010 13:49:13 -0400

TABI and others:
First, Owen and I would like to thank all of you who wrote to, phoned, or met with StarMetro staff and/or especially the City Commissioners. Also, those of you who contributed ideas enhanced the process. Of course you all know that “we lost”, and I know many of you feel—and have now publicly expressed—that this was a “done deal” long before the public got involved. I don’t disagree with any of this, and I personally am displeased with this incomplete plan passing. However, please do not fall prey to the idea that this is over, or that either we have done no good, or that there is no further opportunity to have influence. (more on these topics below) For those of you who did not attend, or had to leave before the voting (around 8:20pm) here is a record of the Commissioners’ votes and my interpretation of their comments: Gillum: Approve, for the following reasons: 1. Like to see what could be added to the system if the “budget neutral” restriction was removed (more night/Sunday service, greater frequency, etc.). 2. What could we do to provide information/allay riders’ fears about whether the bus is on time, or if they’ve just missed it (at transfer points). [Sila’s point] 3. Suggest that it would be bad to put a half-baked plan into effect, with hopes of improving it later. New riders will not be attracted, for example, if the frequencies are too low. Let’s try to get a really solid plan from the start. Ziffer: For. 1. Need to get those sidewalks in. 2. Need to look at improving night/Sunday service as soon as fiscally possible.
Mustian: Approve. 1. Change is difficult, but needed.
Marks: Approve. 1. Need to get those sidewalks in. They will help the whole community, not just the bus riders. I never realized before that sidewalks are not merely a luxury. 2. We will at the least make this ADA compliant; meeting a higher standard would be great. Lightsey: Approve. 1. Rather than configuring the bus system, which is meant for all riders, to the needs of the few [disabled], we need to find out what alternatives they [the disabled] have. 2. I preferred an earlier version of the map, which provided better overall service, and had been less tailored by citizen input. 3. I would like to see night and Sunday service expanded.

At least 4 of the Commissioners stressed that transfers need to be free under Nova, both to prevent a barrier for current riders and to not dissuade new ones. This was, by the way, the cost model StarMetro used when calculating its revenue for Nova.

Also of note: Matt Brown of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the plan, along the lines that change is needed in general, and that Nova would move workers to employment sites better. The Chamber’s address is: 100 North Duval Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301, phone 224-8116.

Mr. Garrison said that they are now shooting for implementation by the end of 2011. His “hope” is that seating at stops would be doubled within the first 14 months of Nova implementation.

Attendees of note:
Proponents: Kevin Davis, William and Sally Benjamin, Bruce Weaver (though not a strong message), Tom Osteen (professional transit planner), Greg Thompson (Chair of the TAC), Ed Osburn, Joanna Price (CCOC), a representative from the Senior Center (sorry, I didn’t get her name) Opponents: Robert and Sila Miller, John Plescow, Lynn Evans, Linda Pulliam, Owen & Erica McCaul, Charles Gainy, Amanda Bernath (Lighthouse), Sue Ellen Smith, Carol Travis Rountree, Michael Banyas (lives on Thomasville Rd. in an area that will lose service),

Some of you may have seen in yesterdays’ Democrat an article about a schoolchild being hit while presumably walking to a city bus stop before school. Here is the link. Link to article on Tallahassee.com re: Nims 6th Grader hit by car: http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20100324/NEWS01/3240317/1010/Nims-sixth-grader-hit-by-car-in-critical-condition Owen sent a copy of the story to Mr. Garrison and the City Commissioners.

This is relevant to the following:
After the hearing, Mr. Garrison came up to Owen and encouraged him to stay involved with the project as it evolves. Owen said that he’d surely contact Garrison when the first bus rider was hit by a car. Mr. Garrison replied, “I sure hope no one is hit by a car.” Owen said, “Well, under the new system, it’s inevitable.” Ironically, at the time, Owen didn’t know about the Nims schoolgirl (or the pedestrian who was hit on Tennessee Street within the last week).

I will end on a positive note, however. Lest you only think of this as a loss, here are some areas in which our input CLEARLY made a positive difference: 1. Sidewalk construction and repair has become a major focus, and the emphasis is on getting them complete before Nova is implemented. Usable condition of complete sidewalks has been brought to the forefront of the Commissioners’/Mayor’s thinking.
2. Transfers will continue to be free.
3. Implementation has been pushed back to April 2011 at the earliest. The approved plan calls for implementation by the end of 2011. 4. Service into Governor’s Square Mall (not during peak hours, but at least non-peak and weekends)
5. Service to the Senior Center on 7th Avenue (not just Monroe Street).
6. Service to John Knox Rd.

So please, continue to stay informed and involved, and be vocal, because it does pay off.
Thank you,

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