Advancements in transportation technology have reduced emissions, improved on-time performance and enhanced safety. While these are important components of our transit systems, meeting the needs of the 21st Century requires a commensurate shift in our approach to the way we administer our transportation services — service must be convenient and easy to use for the passengers.
In Southern California, three commuter rail operators have successfully offered service to passengers for decades along a single rail corridor. However, with three operators come three independent schedules and pricing structures.
This can lead to confusion among customers who are unfamiliar with the systems. When a rider boards a train, they are not concerned with the name painted on the side, but if that train will take them to their destination.
A new bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown at the end of September will help eliminate confusion and integrate the services along the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail corridor, known as LOSSAN.
The bill, SB 1224 (Padilla, D-Los Angeles), creates a joint powers authority, the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency to govern all train services along the rail line, including administering the state-funded Amtrak service.
The LOSSAN corridor is the second busiest passenger rail line in the nation. It stretches 351 miles from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, connecting major metropolitan areas of Southern California and the Central Coast.
The legislation is modeled after the successful Capital Corridor Rail Joint Powers Authority in Northern California that has increased service frequency and ridership and reduced costs since it was established in the mid-1990s.
The LOSSAN corridor agencies pursued the legislation to bring services under local control to be more responsive to the area’s needs and consumer desires.
Local management of these services will result in:
• More efficient and effective use of resources related to service expansion, frequencies, extensions, connectivity and schedules.
• Improved passenger services, ticketing, marketing and information systems.
• More focused oversight and management of on-time performance, schedule integration and customer service.
• A unified voice when advocating for passenger rail issues at the state and federal level.
This legislation provides the parameters to enhance rail service for the seven million riders who travel along the rail line each year and entice future transit users to jump on board.
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Read our METRO blog, "'Transit going the extra mile to accommodate bikers" here.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.
London is one of the grand cities of the world and in the midst of the cycling revolution. Led by the city’s transport organization – Transport for London, but supported by more fundamental changes in the city’s society, economy and perceptions of lifestyle and mobility, cycling is “on a roll”!
Tech-enabled ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft already appear to be acting as a complement to public transit. Uber analyzed its Los Angeles trip data to in this light. Over the course of a month, Uber found that 22 percent of trips taken near Metro stations took place during rush hour (between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday). This data could be telling us that people are using Uber like they might use bikeshare, as a last-mile and first-mile connection to transit.
Driverless cars have been in the news for quite some time. Last September, I speculated in PC 360, an insurance trade magazine, that insurance premiums for autos could decrease by as much as 40% over the next five years as autonomous cars made travel much safer. I increased my estimate to a 75% decrease in insurance premiums by extending the timeline to 15 years. When I wrote those two articles, I remember thinking how much of a personal paradigm shift was needed to accept a driverless car as safe. Now, it appears that driverless buses are in the near future as well.
What do transit authorities like SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART have in common other than transporting thousands, even millions of riders every day? All were recently ranked as four of the U.S.’s 500 “Best Employers” by Forbes magazine.
SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART were among 25 organizations included in Forbes’ “Transportation & Logistics” category, along with Southwest Airlines, Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific and Greyhound. In fact, SEPTA (#33) and MBTA (#49) placed higher than Apple (#55) and SEPTA was the highest ranked company in Pennsylvania.