from the UrbanTallahassee.com e-zine, an alert TABI reader gives us the following article: City Gears up for Transit Transformation Last Updated on Sunday, 13 February 2011 00:15 Written by T.J. Lewis | UrbanTallahassee.com EXCLUSIVE REPORT -- How does the northwest corner of Hartsfield and Mission Roads have anything in common with the block the Aloft Hotel was built on? The answer: StarMetro's Nova2010 Plan. However, before we dive into that, let us first go over some background information to make this whole thing a tad easier to digest. Relax, this is one of those tasty stories. Floridan Block Prior to Construction of Aloft Hotel In 1989, the City of Tallahassee acquired a 1-acre site near present day C.K. Steele Plaza, Tallahassee's downtown bus terminal, with money from the federal government (FTA) that was to be utilized for transit service (StarMetro) in the downtown area. The City of Tallahassee, seeing the need to revitalize and catalyze growth in the downtown area sold this parcel to the developers of the adjacent Aloft hotel, McKibbon Hotel Group, for future expansion of the hotel complex which should include a multi-story office building and parking garage. This parcel was sold for a reported $2.1 Million dollars. Because the parcel mentioned above was purchased with FTA dollars, a condition was placed on the sale of the property that the proceeds from the sale, the $2.1 Million, would have to be re-invested into Tallahassee's StarMetro specifically for the construction of four new "superstops" which will play a major role in the restructuring and regionalizing of StarMetro's route structure per its Nova2010 plan. The FTA would also allow proceeds to be spent on other transit-related projects such as the construction of a transit facility or transit vehicle infrastructure use. StarMetro hopes to use the $2.1 Million for the construction of one (1) SuperStop, a charging station for electric buses, and for repairs to the StarMetro Bus Wash. SuperStop at NW Corner of Hartsfield Road and Mission Proposed StarMetro SuperStop Rendering At a cost of $859,426, StarMetro recommends placing the first of a planned four SuperStops in the city's Northwest Quadrant. The site for the placement of the proposed NW SuperStop is a site crossed by three high-volume NOVA routes. According to city staff reports, this vacant site which the city already owns, would facilitate hundreds of transfers from students and non-students alike daily with student data from both Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College showing large and untapped student riders on Hartsfield Road where student housing has been added over the past few years. With three routes already intersecting at this corner under Nova2010 and plans for adding a fourth, this site is projected to be one of the busiest stops in the StarMetro system. Planners hope to provide it as a permanent layover point for operators and supervisors allowing for restroom breaks, driver relief, and a remote office for administrators. The site may also serve as a remote workstation for the Tallahassee Police Department. As proposed, this site would have the capacity to serve six buses to facilitate transfers. StarMetro has plans for only a portion of the city-owned parcel and hopes to leave the remainder available for other developments. Once approved by the FTA, design will commence with construction projected to be complete by early 2012. Proterra Bus Charging Station StarMetro received a $5.2 Million FTA Transportation Investment Greenhouse Gas Energy Reduction grant for the purchase and incorporation of three electronic buses into the city's fleet and one charging station. The electric buses have an effective range of 30-50 miles of travel between charges and StarMetro is hoping to use $840,000 of the above mentioned $2.1 Million to invest in a second charging station that would allow it to more effectively use the new electric buses. The Proterra system would allow the battery electric buses to pull into a transit center terminal or on-route stop and automatically connect to an overhead system that links the bus top a high capacity charger where the bus is rapidly charged for 5-10 minutes while passengers load and unload. If the station is installed at C.K. Steele plaza, these buses would only operate on routes that lay-over downtown. Bus Wash Equipment Replacement The remaining $400,000 will be used to invest in the replacement of StarMetro's bus washing system. Problems with the current system include its inability to recycle water and difficulty of finding replacement parts to repair it. Planners estimate the replacement would save the city $10,000 annually. Using the funds for this purpose would free up dollars in another city account for the purchase of one additional StarMetro bus under the City's annual 5307 federal allocation. Re: City Gears up for Transit Transformation by mahohmei Tuesday, 22 February 2011 13:21 According to the current Nova2010 weekday map (http://talgov.com/starmetro/pdf/nova2010-weekday.pdf), routes E, F, and S will serve the proposed SuperStop. And a fourth route? What is this route going to be? Hey StarMetro, could you start putting your planning docs on your website?I'm also interested to see what will happen to CK Steele Plaza. It has 22 gates, and Nova2010 will only have six routes meeting there (A, C, D, E, F, and Gadsden Express).Also, I wonder if StarMetro will consider changing the gate identifiers at CK Steele Plaza. Nova2010 is using lettered routes, and with lettered Plaza gates, this could prove confusing. Numbered gates would probably do the trick here. Re: City Gears up for Transit Transformation by meljakefl Sunday, 13 February 2011 11:38 Florida, it wouldnt even matter to identify those planners...this is a done deal, but it was, indeed said, though I'd bet good money they'd tweak their story to say they meant "no one needs to go downtown to transfer buses" but don't put alot of stock in that..those planners have no interest in downtown revitalization (not their job either obviously). Please understand those of us who are so adamantly opposed to this plan do not argue that the current system is flawed, it is. However, StarMetro is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul and this is the fault of the Commission's lack of funding for a good public transportation system. To improve this system effectively, more money needs to be appropriated to make it work. It is something the City has no ability to do or they choose not to. However, if I were looking for larger source of revenue, the first thing I'd have City officials do is re-evaluate their contracts with FSU/TCC/FAMU. Planners have admitted students make up the majority of bus riders but yet when broken down to a per student/per ride basis, they (the schools) are only paying $.60/student (or some amount similar). Thats less than half of what i pay each day per ride (at $1.25). These universities can pay more and should have to. I highly doubt when push came to shove, the universities wouldnt pay more to avoid stranding thousands of students because university officials were too cheap. Patchwork fixes only work until the yarn starts fraying. That fraying will be obvious when someone gets hit by a car walking to their stop on a road in the dark with no sidewalks. Re: City Gears up for Transit Transformation by florida Sunday, 13 February 2011 11:01 Oh my meljake! You paint a very dark picture of the planners and the proposed Nova2010 changes in your comment. I know you're telling the truth with regard to the sidewalks, there has been some movement on those but it has been limited as resources are scarce. I don't agree with the move away from downtown but I understand it isn't necessary for all transit riders to go through there to get where they're going. Did planners really say "no one wants to go downtown" ?? Can you give specific names regarding that comment as you mentioned Gabe Menendez regarding the sidewalks? Re: City Gears up for Transit Transformation by meljakefl Sunday, 13 February 2011 10:38 Just my opinion but being a bus rider, I urge everyone to exercise extreme caution before praising anything StarMetro does as it relates to NOVA 2010. This new transportation system is going to disenfrancise just as many if not more riders than it is going to help. Its going to provide greater difficulty for those who are elderly or disbabled and its proven that it will make many peoples' commutes twice as long as they currently are (quite the opposite effect that they pledged to City officials). For example, I'll have to walk twice as far now to get to my bus (on a busy road that has absolutely NO sidewalks which should be a treat in the dark) and even farther now to get to my office downtown. There is no push to bring people downtown, in fact the planners at StarMetro have repeatedly announced "no one wants to go downtown". The beauty of the CK Steele Plaza downtown was that it provided a safe place for riders to change buses. Now we all get to stand on street corners. The proposed system is actually going to eliminate going inside of the Governors Sq. Mall during peak times in the afternoon which as anyone who rides the bus knows, is usually the mall buses' busiest times. Wow, thats super for our economy and retailers. The planners at StarMetro, some of whom DO NOT even live in Tallahassee nor ride the bus, also promised the Commissioners before their vote last March that sidewalks would be in place. And now, thats not happening. Gabrielle Mendez is quoted as saying "We are going to be woefully short on sidewalks." Mendez is the City's Public Works Director. Re: City Gears up for Transit Transformation by iteach Sunday, 13 February 2011 00:17 Great Work! This seems exciting. This is a step toward an improved transit system, especially for pedestrians desiring to get from the NW student housing and business district to downtown! I can't wait to see the final production. 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.