Hot off of last week's incredibly overhyped "Carmageddon," the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Blue Line light rail system will not be running in my city this weekend because some trees along the line need to be trimmed.
The MTA has assured riders stops along the line will be opened as the work is complete and that buses will be running along the line to transport passengers. The lack of hype surrounding this shutdown made me chuckle. Granted, I know that this is not as big a deal as "CARMAGEDDONNNNNNNN!!!" but it is significant to those in the area who need to get to Los Angeles for work. Seems more important to me that public transit is shut down for a weekend than some area of the freeway, but maybe I'm being irrational.
I also wondered how often public transportation systems have to shut down for similar reasons? How come these shutdowns don't touch off an outcry like we saw here in Southern California last week? (The Northeast Corridor is excluded from that statement, of course.)
So, what does your public transportation system do in the event of a major shutdown? Are they well-publicized? And, does it ever cause a public outcry as great as we experienced here last weekend?
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Transit to rescue city from 'Carmageddon'" here.
At the Denton County (Texas) Transportation Authority (DCTA), we’re constantly looking for unique ways to engage with passengers, generate brand awareness and increase ridership. This year with Valentine’s Day being on a Saturday, we saw a great opportunity to launch a campaign in which passengers could ride DCTA’s A-train commuter rail and Connect Bus for free on Valentine’s Day all day by saying “Be Mine” to the agency’s rail and bus operators. With low-trending ridership in February, we needed to find a way to increase ridership and brand awareness within Denton County and surrounding cities. Launching the Valentine’s Day promotion definitely would help us achieve this.
Seeing a canine passenger on mass transit is not uncommon, but the reasons why a dog might catch the train or hop a bus are varied (remember Eclipse, the Seattle Lab mix that uses the bus, often on her own, to get to the dog park?). Most public transit pooches are working —as K-9 officers or service animals. In the Philadelphia region, other animals — in approved carriers only—are permitted to ride the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s buses, trains and trolleys. However, a new pilot program underway by SEPTA allows registered therapy dogs volunteering at two Philadelphia hospitals to use two designated bus routes to travel to their sites.
To be sure, there is no substitute for offering high-quality bus or rail transit service, but many transit agencies skimp when it comes to marketing, outreach, and education and, as a result, the public often has no idea how good the service may actually be. Buses also have an image problem in many communities, which proper marketing could help address. Witness the huge sums spent by automakers in crafting the image of their automobiles.
The Uber website proudly states that, “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber's rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.” Such hype is common on corporate websites, but when the braggadocio is backed up by an article in the Wall Street Journal that discloses a valuation of $41 billion their ambitious words take on relevance.
As the world changes with the rapid advancement of connected devices and technologies, so must the transportation industry. In a business area where change is sluggish, DOTs across the country must adapt quickly to the evolving technologies that are going to impact their operations and budget. There are at least three technologies that will have immense impact over the next two decades on how we travel and how state transportation departments react to provide mobility — connectedness, big data and automation.