[tabi] Re: a letter re starMetro

  • From: "Lynn Evans" <evans-lynn@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2010 16:05:37 -0400

i got my ride from BBT.

Now I need to work on my talk I will make in from of the commission.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Easy Talk" <easytalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 11:59 AM
Subject: [tabi] Re: a letter re starMetro

Just to let all of you know. Big bend is not providing transportation from the City Commission to-morrow because they say it doesn't fit in there schedule. I say let's flood Ted's phone. his number is 5746266. Sounds like a scam to me.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 11:07 AM
Subject: [tabi] a letter re starMetro

Hi all,

I've been asked to publish the below letter on TABI.  it concerns one
rider's objections to the nova 2010 plan, which will be voted upon by
the city commission at tomorrow's meeting:

My name is John Plescow and I urge the City Commission to vote no on the
Nova2010 plan on March 24th.  More work remains to be done on this plan
before it is ready for an approval vote. It still hasn't been proven to
the satisfaction of the current riders that the actual trip time will be
less. Time riding the bus may be shorter but transit time also includes
such factors as the time it takes to reach more distant stops, waiting
at transfer points for the next bus, actually riding the bus, and then
walking greater distances to reach the final destination point.  Bus
riders will therefore be forced to spend additional time walking and
changing buses on streets that are more than twice as dangerous as the
national average as described by the "Dangerous by Design" study.

Before a vote is taken, more listening sessions are needed to discuss
the proposed weekend, night and Sunday routes. Riders can't evaluate the
full impact of the plan without knowing the stops and
schedules/timetables. Otherwise Nova2010 is still an unknown entity.
More detailed planning for stop placement and schedules/timetables is
needed before a vote is taken and not after the fact.

Early February was not long enough for riders to become aware of the
planned routes for weekend and night/Sunday service. Email, Facebook and
Twitter don't cover everyone. Face-to-face discussion and feedback are
needed. Most riders haven't been shown this part of the plan and had a
chance for input. The proposed maximum wait times of 20 minutes are
measurably longer than the current wait times of less than five minutes
to change buses at C.K. Steele Plaza. Use of the hotline doesn't allow
for group discussion about concerns.

Removing services from previously served areas hinders access for
current riders. It is easy to say that to increase transit speed, some
of the current riders will have to travel further to reach a bus stop.
And this may fall within current transit guidelines. But StarMetro has
always been a system that went beyond just what was required and took
into consideration factors such as the weather in Tallahassee and the
abilities of the riders. The heat here in the summer can be dangerous.
In some cases, making people travel longer distances to stops could be
dangerous as well. This is especially true if they have problems
determining the arrival time of the next bus and have to wait longer at
the stop. People here have planned where they live, work, shop and
obtain medical care based on the current StarMetro routes and to
decrease service would be very detrimental. Coverage shouldn't be
expanded to new areas at the expense of currently served areas. Two
example of locations losing service under Nova2010 are High Road/Ocala
Street between Tennessee and Tharpe Street and  Miccosukee Hills. These
areas will experience a decrease in service under Nova2010.

The Jackson Bluff area of town will face a disproportionate number of
two transfer trips under Nova2010. There are problems with connections
in the Southwestern part of Tallahassee where two transfers are required
on the Saturday, night/Sunday routes to reach any area north of
Tennessee Street.  These connectivity problems are not just a concept
but a real problem for bus riders as they will find it harder to reach
destinations that are currently easy to reach. The Saturday and
night/Sunday connectivity along the north-south axis between central and
west parts of the city is missing. This is present on the Gulf Route for
the central and east parts of the city. The Forest route does this
during the week but doesn't exist to do this on weekends when two
transfers are therefore required to obtain this north-south axis
connection. This is equally true of the night/Sunday N-4 route as well.

StarMetro has always been a very dependable system as to when the routes
have run. Riders could depend on making their appointments for work,
school and medical care because they knew the times the buses should
arrive. While it may be that passengers often are going through the
downtown to reach other places, this isn't a true reflection of the
value of a central transfer point or of the Plaza. The Plaza enables
people to make trips with only one secure transfer. While buses that run
on independent routes may appear to reduce travel time, this is just an
illusion. Instead of the responsibility for getting riders to a location
on time being shared between StarMetro and the riders, this
responsibility would be shifted to the riders themselves. The riders
will need to follow a complex system of networked routes. To reach a two
transfer location, a rider must first start on one route and then
negotiate two more transfers. Missing any one of these two transfers
could leave the rider stranded at a stop. Upon reaching a transfer
point, it will be difficult for a rider to determine how long they will
have to wait for the arrival of a bus.  Even if the wait time is as
short as the maximum time of 22.5 minutes this is a long time for some
people to have to stand at a stop not knowing for sure when the next bus
will arrive.  Transit time for riders won't be less if they spend part
of it at stops away from the Plaza instead of on a bus. The bus might
move faster but the riders won't. Instead of spending time in the safety
of the bus or the Plaza, they will literally be left on the side of the
road in the heat, the rain and the cold.

The current system of timed stops and routes that intersect at the Plaza
enable both the StarMetro staff and the riders to address issues in a
prompt and efficient manner. In addition, the Plaza provides other
amenities that are frequently needed by riders such as access to
restrooms and vending machines. Having some routes that require two
transfers to go somewhere as basic as a grocery store or a doctor's
office is hardly an efficient system. Additionally, the connection
issues on the west part of town need to be resolved first.  Having a
connecting route between Appleyard and Tennessee/Tharpe on weekends and
nights might partially resolve this problem.

Online trip planning sounds good but it is not a viable alternative for
many of the people who ride the bus. With the digital divide that still
exists in Tallahassee, many people don't have easy access to this
information - especially while waiting for the next bus at a transfer
point. Phone banks only work if people at the transfer points have
access to a phone. Despite the prevalence of cell phones, not everyone
can afford to have a phone to carry with them.

Nova2010 may meet transit guidelines as to distance to stops in the
downtown area but this fails to take into consideration the nature of
the buildings involved. These buildings - City Hall, Supreme Court, R.A.
Gray - are essential to citizen participation in government. City Hall
is the center of the local Tallahassee Government and the R.A. Gray
Building contains access to the Division of Elections for Florida as
well as the State Archives with the unwritten history of Florida. For
example, just attending meetings at City Hall under Nova2010 could
require from one to two transfers from Jackson Bluff if the meeting
extends into the evening hours - as frequently happens. Currently this
requires no transfer from downtown to Jackson Bluff. The changes under
Nova2010 would thus make it harder for the people in this area who
depend on the buses to participate in these meetings.

The transportation planners need to think like bus riders instead of
drivers. People who drive cars are more concerned with how fast the
vehicle can more. This can give the illusion that you are actually
reaching your destination faster as well. People who ride the bus are
more concerned with how easily they can reach their destination. They
consider accessibility, dependability and timeliness to be of utmost
importance. The current system may move some buses more slowly but it is
unproven that Nova2010 will actually enable people to reach their
destinations with a shorter transit time. Traveling faster but not
getting where you really need to go is like building a bus system to

Tallahassee doesn't have a grid road system and trying to impose a
strict grid system for bus service doesn't consider true reality. The
current plan to put a grid system in place is an example of trying to
put a square peg into a round hole. It can't be done without causing
damage to either the peg or the hole. Most of this plan could be likened
to smoke and mirrors - it gives the impression that it fits but it
doesn't really do so.

Again, I urge the City Commission to vote no on March 24th in regards to
the Nova2010 plan. However, if  it chooses to go forward with this
proposal the following steps will need to be implemented to ensure that
the poor, the elderly and the disabled are not disenfranchised.

Responsible transition from the currently safety-heavy, accessible bus
system to a decentralized grid system requires, at the least, that these
10 points be not only adequately assessed by StarMetro and City of
Tallahassee administrators, but also be subject to review and comment by
the bus-riding public BEFORE IMPLEMENTATION:

1 A final answer: What will it cost to ride a bus under the new
system?  Two buses, three buses?  During what time allotment? A
specified fee schedule for boarding the bus, specifically addressing
relevant issues of transfers, if used: type (paper, magnetic cards,
etc.), processing (and how to handle fare box errors), time until
expiration, and its effect on the boarding fee for Dial-a-Ride.

2 Where will the transfer points be? If possible, where will the
bus stops be? Specific locations for all stops and transfer points,
designated on a map that is presented not only online, but also on
display (in reasonably large format for general viewing) at C.K. Steele

3 A review of and report on safety/security issues at proposed bus
transfer locations to be conducted prior to implementation of the new
system by TPD and other  appropriate agencies.  This evaluation should
include a study of increased risk to bus riders caused by transfers
taking place at major intersections.

4 A phone accessible system on all days/hours of bus operation for
riders to receive specific information on whether buses are on time and
for reporting problems. An alternative manner of completely handling all
functions currently performed at the ticket booth at C.K. Steele Plaza,
which includes providing route/schedule information, reporting of late
buses or other problems, and ticket purchase. This might be a phone
accessible system, manned during all days/hours of bus operation.

5 A review of the effects the new system will have on current
youth riders (age 18 and under) to schools such as Florida State
University School, especially in regards to transfer locations. For
example, where will their most likely transfer points be. This review
should include a  report on safety/security issues as they specifically
relate to youth riders, focusing on their most popular destinations
(schools, city after-school centers, malls).

6 A report on how the changes to the fixed route system will
affect the Dial-a-Ride System, both in terms of revenue and ridership.

7. Ongoing group information sessions (listening sessions)  to
allow riders to provide feedback to city staff and Commissioners on
routes, schedules, transfer points, and bus frequencies.  Scheduled
"Listening Sessions" over the first 36 months after implementation, at
which current riders can provide feedback to city staff and
Commissioners on how well the system is meeting their needs (routes,
schedules, transfer points, and bus frequencies).

8. Creation of a permanent Tallahassee Bus Riders Advisory
Committee with appointees to be bus riders.  This committee will alert
the city to problems/issues and make recommendations regarding ongoing
changes to the bus system and day-to-day operations.  (The Mayor and
each City Commissioner would appoint one or more citizens each to this
board.  The City Commission would choose its Chairman/Advisor.)

9. Beginning April 2010, detailed monthly reports to the city and
public by StarMetro staff  on Nova 2010's progress and issues. These
reports should be presented to the City Commission, published on
StarMetro's Talgov web page, and displayed (in at least 14pt print) at
C.K. Steele Plaza.

10 A report or action plan improving the recording of bus
ridership, specifically stopping the undercounting of riders that are
not sponsored by the universities or TCC.  This will insure that the
poor, the elderly, and the disabled are not underrepresented and
disenfranchised by StarMetro statistics.

Everyone agrees that there is room for improvement under the current
system but surely StarMetro can come up with something better than Nova
Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI
and please make suggestions for new material.

if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.

Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI
and please make suggestions for new material.

if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.

Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI
and please make suggestions for new material.

if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by 
sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word 
"unsubscribe" in the subject.

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