[tabi] from today's Democrat: piece on Nova2010

  • From: "Allison and Chip Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 10:29:37 -0500

February 6, 2010
Sue Ellen Smith: One rider would put brakes on StarMetro's Nova2010
Sue Ellen Smith
My View

StarMetro's bus system is broken and must be fixed, according to
Tallahassee's transit
planning staff. They say the 32-route, downtown-centric bus system is slow
and doesn't
go where people want to go. More importantly, the city wants the bus system
to pay
more of its own way by bringing in more revenue from riders.
But I disagree that the city's bus system doesn't work well now.
Furthermore, the
Nova2010 plan being proposed by StarMetro threatens to make the bus system
much worse
for many existing riders while discouraging new ridership that the city
needs to
prevent traffic gridlock as it grows in the future.
Nova2010 will cut the number of bus routes by more than half and pick up and
off riders along arterial roads rather than in residential areas and
downtown at
the C.K. Steele bus plaza. This decentralized system, we are told, will
attract new
riders by getting them to their destinations more quickly and efficiently
than the
current system. Even better, all of this change will come at no additional
cost to
the city.
However, this budget-stingy request to attract new riders and revenue comes
at a
cost to current riders and may chill any enthusiasm new riders have for the
Most residential area bus stops will disappear, meaning longer walks and
travel times
for patrons to stops along major roads such as Monroe Street, Capital Circle
and Orange Avenue. Walking distances to their destinations from dropoff
stops will
increase. For example, riders traveling to Governors Square mall will get
only as
close as Governors Square Boulevard or Blair Stone Road and will likely have
to cross
those roads and the mall's huge parking area on foot and in traffic to reach
a door.
Better rethink buying that new comforter from Macy's - it's a haul back to
the bus
As for the newfound "convenience" for riders who no longer will have to go
to change buses at Steele plaza, be careful what you ask for. Most "transfer
for these new routes are simply road shoulders or sidewalks at major
such as Orange Avenue and South Monroe Streets, Mahan Drive and Capital
Circle Northeast,
and Apalachee Parkway and Capital Circle Southeast, and will require riders
to cross
multi-lane intersections to reach them. Prepare for standing in the rain,
new shelters for these streetside transfer points are not in the
plan. Your wait could be as long as 40 minutes if you just missed your
transfer bus.
Decentralizing the bus system means that the buses won't be in the same
place at
the same time, so your chances of missing a connection are quite good. As
for the
Nova2010 plan resulting in shorter commutes overall, it's likely most riders
find their total commute takes more time when multiple bus transfers, missed
and longer walks from residential areas to stops along highways are factored
All of this is not to say that Tallahassee's bus system should be left as it
Rather it is more critical to ensure that plans to improve the system are
set up
for success. A troubled plan that allows only minor tweaking because of
budget constraints is one destined for conflict and ultimate failure.
Current bus
riders with the financial means will go back to driving cars, new riders
will not
materialize, and the city will be faced with an even greater budget issue.
The continued
existence of the bus system itself will be at stake.
StarMetro staff will be asking the Tallahassee City Commission to approve
on March 10. It is in the city's best interest to reconsider its
stance for Nova2010 and send the plan back to StarMetro with a realistic and
budget so that staff can effectively address and plan for legitimate issues
of convenience,
safety and future expansion.
In turn, StarMetro should lose its defensive stance against Nova2010
detractors and
realize that what they most want is for StarMetro and Tallahassee to succeed
by creating
a mass transit system that becomes a model for the Southeast. The current
plan isn't there yet, but with more effort and funding it can be.
Additional Facts
d Sue Ellen Smith lives in Tallahassee and takes the bus to work and other
She participated in the Nova2010 working group, which made recommendations
to the
Transit Advisory Committee about the plan and presented comments and
concerns at
Nova2010 "listening sessions." Contact her at sue_ellensmith@xxxxxxxxxx

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