Regional Models of Cooperation – Bicycle/Pedestrian and Transit Connections
Webinar Date: November 30, 2016
Volpe Center: Jenna Overton
Jenna Overton: Good afternoon, and welcome to today's webinar on Regional Models of Cooperation—Bicycle, Pedestrian and Transit Connections. This is Jenna Overton from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Volpe Center, and I will be moderating today's webinar. Dwayne Weeks, of the FTA Office of Planning and Environment, will be your host. Today's event will feature a short introduction on Regional Models of Cooperation and the benefits of working together to connect bicycle, pedestrian, and transit networks, as well as presentations from four MPOs who have worked together to build multimodal systems that make traveling via bicycle, public transportation, or on foot safer and more efficient.
Before we get started, we would appreciate it if you could answer a few quick poll questions to give us a better sense of who is in the audience today. The poll questions should be appearing on your screen now. We will give everyone a few moments to answer, and then review the results as they come in. And we can see them coming in rapidly. You guys are quick.
Jenna Overton: Great! So it's looking like we are seeing a lot of planners and programmers in the room so far. Largely from MPOs, state DOTs, and the U.S. DOT. And again, if you're just calling in, we are asking everyone to fill out a few quick poll questions before we get started.
Jenna Overton: Great, I see the poll responses starting to come in slowly, and more slowly, so we will transition back to the presentation. Thank you so much for answering these questions. It helps us to get an idea for who is calling into these webinars. We're transitioning back now.
Jenna Overton: Great! Thank you for taking the time to tell us a little bit about yourselves. So in a moment, we'll introduce Dwayne Weeks, your host for today's event. But first, a few things to keep in mind. At any point during today's webinar, please enter any questions you have into the Chat Pod. Questions will be answered at the end of the webinar. If your question is for a specific presenter, please note that when you submit the question so we can direct it appropriately. Also, today's presentation is being recorded. The recording will be available on the FHWA Office of Planning website within two weeks. If you would like a copy of the slides, you will be able to download them from the Download Pod when we get to the Q&A portion of today's events, at around 2 o'clock. And finally, contacts and links for the Regional Models of Cooperation Initiative will be provided at the end of the event as well. So now, without further delay, I would like to hand it over to Dwayne Weeks to get us started.
Dwayne Weeks: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for joining us on this webinar on Regional Models of Cooperation with an emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle connections to transit. This is very important to the Federal Transit Administration, ‘cause we all know it's essential to have first mile/last mile access to transit facilities. You know, most folks take a bus or a train or alternate modes of transportation, and typically on one end of the trip you need to be able to walk or bike to your trip destination, or take a feeder bus on the other end of the trip in order to make it successful. So we've been encouraging our folks to look at improved pedestrian and bicycle connections to the transportation system.
The Regional Models of Cooperation is intended to advocate for improved regional transportation planning. We all know that most transportation problems don't begin and end at political boundaries or metropolitan planning boundaries, but cross jurisdictional lines. Most transportation congestion issues or quality problems are regional in nature. And most of our transit systems cross many jurisdictional boundaries and they serve an entire metropolitan region.
Now we've been working jointly with the Federal Highway Administration to implement Regional Models of Cooperation as part of the Everyday Counts Initiative. Since 2014, we've issued Planning Emphasis Areas letters in 2014 and 2015, talking about the need for MPOs to do more cross-border, interregional coordination and transportation planning. And why is this needed? It's to recognize mutual needs, goals, and objectives for the entire metropolitan area. We typically have multiple jurisdictions, sometimes two or three states, multiple cities, that all need to work together to address transportation problems that encompass an entire metropolitan area. So we've been advocating for folks to look at local solutions for local problems, address those during the transportation planning process, and work together to identify solutions that address regional transportation problems.
We've had a series of Regional Models of Cooperation webinars as shown on this slide, dating back to January of 2015. And we've covered a wide variety of topics, including Transit Planning, Air Quality Planning, Congestion Management, and others. And now here we are with Pedestrian Bike and Transit Connections.
So we've done a lot of recent work on this. We had a workshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October with a host agency, the Utah Transit Authority. They've done an excellent job organizing Enhanced Pedestrian and Bicycle Connections with our light rail, commuter rail, and regional bus systems. And there's always challenges. There's always room for improvement. So what we want to do at these webinars is identify excellent best practices, and share them with agencies across the country, so that everybody can learn from what other folks are doing and take those examples back to their respective areas and implement them to meet their own needs, you know? So with that, I'm going to run through the quick takeaways from the Utah workshop, and turn it over to our first speaker.
Today's speakers include Martin Rivarola with the Mid-America Regional Council; Jen McGrath with the Utah Transit Authority; Laura Cornejo with L.A. Metro; and Aaron Ritz with the city of Philadelphia. And each presenter has got excellent examples of how they've taken this on within their local respective region. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Martin Rivarola with the Mid-America Regional Council.
Martin Rivarola: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. As Dwayne said, my name is Martin Rivarola; I am the assistant director of transportation and land use with the MPO here in the Kansas City region. We are a bi-state region. So first of all, thank you for the invitation to join this panel.
My presentation this morning, or afternoon, depending on what coast you're on, will not deal with operations or construction of bike, ped, or transit facilities. I want to focus on the coordination of these efforts from the planning level. So in our case that involves a lot of coordination among many partners in the region that maybe needs a little bit of catching up to do. Others on this panel will be dealing with the implementation or construction or operations.
So first of all, for a little bit of context on the Kansas City region for those of you that are not familiar with our region, we are a bi-state region of just under 2 million people. We have 8 counties in our MPO, 119 cities, 5 transit operators. So, as you can tell, there's certainly a lot of complexity in our region and a lot of need for coordination among many jurisdictions.
A little bit more about Kansas City. We do have some challenges. Some are typical of many Midwestern cities. The region has seen growth around the fringes of the region. And there is some emptying out of the middle, maybe with some exceptions for in-fill growth. Most of the employment growth in our region has been occurring around some of the suburban areas that you can see from these two maps that I have here. Our region, because of that, we have some mobility challenges. So we do invest less in transit than many of our peers. Recent analysis showed that our investments per capita in transit were about 50 percent of some of those peers that we compared ourselves against. That leads to limited transportation options, besides a personal automobile, and some other concerns of environmental equity, etc. Our region does continue to suburbanize and poverty is now growing in the suburbs. Access to employment centers by transit-dependent populations is becoming a major concern. We did have a recent Brookings Report that indicated that 18 percent of our jobs are accessible by transit in 90 minutes or less. That's 18 percent accessible by 90 minutes or less. And that puts Kansas City in a ranking of 90th out of the largest 100 metros. So we clearly have some work to do in this area.
However, I do want to point out that we do have some positive momentum in this area, some exciting things to report. Recently our major transit agency, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, has begun closer coordination with a number of other agencies that provide services, including management on some of these other services, all under a unified Ride K.C. brand. We've also added a new mode to our region here recently with the arrival of the Kansas City Streetcar as of May of this year. A lot of energy and a lot of excitement around that. Our agency, our transit agency has begun experimenting with an evolving app-based technology with Micro-Transit Services, such as Bridge. There's also coordination between KCATA and Jackson County, one of the major counties in our region to construct a multi-use bike/ped path along a commuter corridor with the promise of becoming a commuter rail type of corridor in the future. And also we've had a recent adoption of a Regional Bikeway Plan, which does provide some opportunities for synergies between the bike infrastructure and our transit systems. So we do have some momentum. I think the question that we have is how do we continue to build around the successes that we have. And I see here that I do apologize, it's a little bit of a technical glitch with the slide. I'll try to work around that. To help with these efforts, our region was awarded a $1.2-million TIGER Planning Grant in order to create an action plan to double the number of jobs accessible via transit within a 10-year time horizon. We have started this work, along with an update of our Smart Moves Plan. Smart Moves is our long-range regional transit vision. These efforts, I will say, are still underway. They are wrapping up. And what I will be presenting now are really about those efforts.
I think that truly to recognize a new paradigm in mobility, which builds on all the different modes of transportation as a way to enhance mobility, not just a personal automobile or a bus, but really everything that is in between that. So we are building on ongoing efforts that we have. Our Metropolitan Transportation Plan, that's Transportation Outlook 2040, places emphasis on focusing investments along activity centers and corridors, enhancing transit and efforts around complete streets. I have mentioned our complete, our current transit vision around Smart Moves. We have also recently adopted our Greater Kansas City Regional Bikeway Plan, which is a plan that will provide for more trails and on-street facilities throughout the region for use as a viable transportation alternative, not just recreation. So I will talk more about this in a bit.
I do want to mention that all this prior work is being incorporated into this TIGER-funded grant, and we're calling it the Smart Moves 3.0 Plan. So the recommendations from this plan as they're being rolled out as we speak, we believe that this plan now positions transit and mobility in a way that can move our region forward and take advantage of the opportunities and challenges that we have. In a way, the plan is a big step forward. It reimagines transit to mobility. Key elements of the plan, building around fast and frequent transit services; building around mobility-on-demand services, which are all of the other ways people move around besides a car in transit. So that can be a bikeway system, bike/car share, van pool, microtransit, etc. It builds on this concept of mobility hubs that I'll spend a couple of minutes talking about here in a couple slides. And this is a location where transit and on-demand services connect with other options. And also app-based technology and other things that are not typically found in a transit plan. We are including those in these efforts. Housing options, housing policies, and economic development also discussion in that as well. So these are all the elements that are included in the plan as it is being rolled out right now.
So with our Mobility Hubs, the plan builds on that concept of these hubs. These are located in areas of high potential for intermodal and transit connections and activity centers, and along corridors with high implement concentrations and high potential for bike/ped connections. These hubs, we hope, will enable more user control and will make it easier for focused investment in transit-supportive, or transit-oriented development. So what I think I'll do now is I'll go through some examples, some pictures of what this actually looks like as we've gone through our planning process.
Here's an example of a Mobility Hub. I have selected one area that's anchored by a large university hospital, a large employment center in our region. This area is close to the urban core, has some transit service, although there's certainly room to improve in this hub. The first step would be to enhance and increase transit services to a fast and frequent status, with a central connection along a Mobility Hub, and that is the area that is marked in the red dot on the map. So as we take this forward, this Mobility Hub will also be connected into the Regional Bikeway System connections, and complete streets around this area as these get fully implemented.
So part of that concept of building out the Mobility Hubs also revolves around improving first/last mile connections, and providing multiple trip options. So in this case, this hub will also be targeted for expansion of our Bike Share System, that's operated through BCycle, and our car share through Zipcar, as an example. And last but not least, the mobility hub will also include nearby opportunities for priority parking for van pools and car pools. I should also add that all of this work will also build on local efforts by the local governments to increase employment and residential densities along the corridors. And diverse housing options along the areas immediately adjacent to these corridors as well.
So now I want to take a regional look at what that looks like. This is a map of our activity centers in our region. The darker the blue, the more intense and walkable the activity centers, and the lighter the blue, the less walkable or less intense. This map is almost evenly split with a north/south line, which is a state line between Kansas and Missouri. Central business districts is right east of the line, and Missouri, the Mobility Hub I just showed you in the previous picture, is shown as a red dot here on the map. So I will show you how we work to connect this with other hubs via our transit corridors and also our Regional Bikeway System.
This is a map that shows other Mobility Hubs throughout the region. So, as you can see, a great majority of these are located along major areas of activity, and also along major corridors within our region. So next what I want to do is I want to overlay the regional connections included in our Regional Bikeway Plan, and some of those corridors. So what I hope you can see here is a good amount of synergy between the location of these hubs in the Bikeway Corridors, as a great majority of them are located either on a corridor, or within a very near proximity to one. So this we hope would allow for a good first/last mile connection to the system. And we believe that assessing active transportation networks as transit networks rather than recreational facilities can create stronger and more efficient outcomes for all users. And I hope that shows up.
So this is a map that shows the ultimate transit system as it is envisioned now. This map is built on various levels of frequent service, connecting the Mobility Hubs along major activity centers and the different corridors. So these service corridors are determined based on frequency of service, not on mode. The majority of these would be and are bus-based, although a few of these could be rail, or could transition to rail over time. Here's a couple of different maps that show a different depiction of a transit map, which shows all the Mobility Hubs, and as you know they are fed by a combination of mobility services. So this map includes Fast and Frequent in a 30-Minute Service Network. And also the Express Service mainly along some of our regional highways that we have. The entire system is kind of overlaid on local connectors, and which could be Circulator Services, On-Demand Services, etc. So given that we have a goal, an actionable goal of doubling access to jobs within 10 years, we've been doing some modeling of what these improvements could—would yield in regards to jobs access.
Here is a map that we have that shows access to jobs throughout our region, and this is based on current conditions. As you can see, the areas with the best accessibility to jobs via transit are in the core. And mainly along the North/South Regional Spine that's in the city of Kansas City, Missouri. More service in the morning, less service in the evening hours, so access to jobs is decreased. Here is a map that shows what that would look like if we were to implement all of the recommendations that are included in our plan, as we speak.
A couple of things to point out, and I'm going to be going back and forth between the two is the darker the blue, the more access and the lighter the blue, the less access. A couple of things, one is there is a significant increase in suburban access to jobs, which we can see here. But not only that, there's also a pretty good increase on access to jobs in some of the environmental justice areas along the core of the city as well, by providing these connections to, as I mentioned, the employment areas that are located in our suburban areas. So we're pretty excited about that. As we look at what are the results of the modeling that we've done, we do see that the suggested improvements can take us from our current levels of employment access to roughly doubling the number of access to jobs in the evening hours.
So as I did mention when I first started talking that this is a work in progress, first and maybe foremost. Our funding and phasing strategies are in the process of being identified, and we're rolling these out. This plan does describe regional transit vision of over 20—to be achieved over 20 years. However, we do have an actionable 10-year plan that we're looking at implementing. Portions of this plan will be implemented by various partners. Obviously, the KCATA and other transit agencies will implement the service improvements, but not—it will also extend to some of these other mobility strategies may be implemented by private groups, or not for profit partnerships, etc., depending on what those are. Important to point out, the local governments in our region are the ones that are in charge of implementing bike/ped or land use, or economic development or housing policies. So this will continue to be a team effort as we move forward.
So with that, I do think that's the last slide that I have. I'd like to thank you all for your time this afternoon, or this morning. And I'm going to go ahead and close now. Gonna turn it back over to Jenna and I look forward to any questions that you may have at the end of all the panelists’ presentations. Thank you.
Jenna Overton: Great! Thank you so much, Martin, for that description of those marks on robust visioning and mapping at first on Kansas City's very interconnected multimodal systems. And this is a brief reminder for all participants on the call to please enter your questions into the Chat Pod, and we'll get to them after all the presentations have gone. So with that we will transition to Jennifer McGrath of the Utah Transit Authority.
Jennifer McGrath: Thank you! Good afternoon! As Jenna said, I'm Jennifer McGrath. I'm the active transportation planner for the Utah Transit Authority. Quickly, I'd like to walk you through the outline for this presentation. First, I'll give you some general information about Utah, and the Wasatch Front, to orient you to our region. And then I want to talk to you about the reasons that we cooperate and collaborate here by using three examples locally: Utah's Unified Plan, the Wasatch Front Central Corridor Study, and TIGER-VIII, Improving Access to Regional Opportunities.
In 2014, the state of Utah had a population of just over 2.9 million. We expect that the 2016 population will be just over 3 million. Wasatch Front—excuse me, I just moved the slide too fast—the Wasatch Front population, which stretches approximately 80 miles from Ogden to Provo, has a population of about 1.9 million. The UTA service area serves about 80 percent of the state's total population across seven counties. And our service area also includes 3 of the states 4 MPOs, and 85 municipalities covering about 1,400 square miles of land. Also, if you love outdoor recreation, Utah is really the place for you. We have 5 national parks, 7 national monuments, 2 national recreation areas, and 43 state parks. So if you haven't been here, come to the best. Utah's growing fast. In fact, we're one of the fastest growing states in the country. In 2015, we're sixth in the nation for population growth and seventh in GDP. We also have a very high job growth rate at 4.5 percent.
It's really important to recognize the reasons for collaboration within our region. The problems that we have here are not unique to Utah. And I suspect that many, if not all of you, can relate to these. Our transportation problems are the same kind of problems we see nationally. And we recognize here that short-term fixes are not always the best solution, and they often require us to do redo our work. Like many of you, we struggle to find funding for projects, especially for ongoing costs. And with diminishing federal funding sources, that's becoming even more challenging. Another advantage of cooperation is that it allows us to align our priorities with our regional partners. And here in our region, specifically, we really value those relationships that we build with our partners, and in many cases those turn into strong friendships.
Our solution—one of our solutions to these issues was to work together on a Unified Transportation Plan. This plan was put together in order to help us reach our common goals. Things like improving air quality, improving economic vitality, improving mobility and accessibility, for delivering our infrastructure, and providing a safer transportation system.
Another unique aspect of this plan, beyond merely its existence, is that we decided to incorporate bicycle and pedestrian planning. Our goal is really to elevate this to the same level as highway and transit within the plan. And while we don't quite have the programming and funding identified yet, this plan takes us one step closer to implementation, and really shows how serious we are about bike/ped planning in the region.
The next example I want to share with you is our Wasatch Front Central Corridor Study. A few years ago, we were awarded a TIGER Planning Grant for this study, and the focus of the study is to increase the utilization of existing infrastructure, including State of Good Repair, while also exploring alternatives to increasing freeway capacity. We're looking at multiple scenarios in this plan, and they range anywhere from really heavy TDM strategies to heavy capital strategies. We also have blended versions of both of those. A few examples of potential solutions include car pool lanes on arterials, double-decker construction of I-15, and a cycle super highway. We're also looking at transit fare strategies.
I want to give you one more example of why we should cooperate. Here in our region now we have 20 million reasons why we should cooperate. In early 2016, UTA along with dozens of regional partners utilized our first/last mile strategy study as a foundation for a TIGER grant application, which was focused on Active Transportation Access to Transit Projects. The Improving Access to Regional Opportunities grant application sought to remove barriers to transit stations and transportation corridor access as a means of connecting communities, particularly disadvantaged populations, and connecting those folks to community resources, such as jobs, education, and human services, while also trying to improve safety.
In the first/last mile strategy study, which we used as the basis for this application, we selected projects based on the criteria that you can see here. We looked at things like effectiveness in increasing ridership, ability to improve safety, whether or not they were being used successfully by our peers, costliness, stakeholder support, ease of implementation. And then for the TIGER grant application, we really refined that to look more specifically at things like ladders of opportunity, safety, and specific access improvements. We used GIS to do an assessment of the areas around our stations. This is one example of the kind of analysis that we did.
We looked at the bike and walk sheds around the stations to see how many people and how many jobs to be accessed within that buffer. We did similar work to look at access to educational facilities, human services, and then similarly we looked at safety instances around these station locations within these buffers.
The regional impact of this program of projects is pretty significant. We're touching 26 cities within 6 counties, 2 MPOs, and we also are within obviously UTA's service area, as well as UDOT's. The total suggested program cost is somewhere around $88 million.
Just to give you an idea of how competitive this program is, I wanted to share a few statistics with you from the 2016 application process. USDOT received 585 applications for projects totaling over $9.3 billion. The available funding allotment this year was $500 million, so you can see how competitive this funding program is. We were lucky enough to be selected as an award recipient, and actually received one of the second highest awards in the nation after Chicago.
That is all that I have to share with you today. I look forward to your questions after the presentations have been completed, and I'll turn it back over to Jenna. Thank you!
Jenna Overton: Thank you, Jennifer, for those very diverse examples of regional cooperation. And I especially appreciated the details on your TIGER grant application process. And with that, we will move along to the next presenter, Laura Cornejo, from the L.A. Metro.
Laura Cornejo: Hi, thank you so much. I am Laura Cornejo. I'm the deputy executive officer with Metro in Los Angeles. And I oversee the Active Transportation Program here at Metro.
What I'm going to share with you today is a bit about Metro's role in bringing Bike Share to the Los Angeles County Region. As a transportation agency, it's a unique role to play, and so this is really from the vantage point of what Bike Share could look like when integrated with transit. To give you some background initially, Metro provides regional transportation service to the entire county of Los Angeles. We currently operate over 1,400 square miles of bus service, with over 16,000 bus stops. We also have more than 100 miles of rail in operation. We currently have three lines under construction, and more lines being planned.
Once our entire rail network is built out, by hopefully 2040, about 80 percent of all Los Angeles County residents will live within three miles of a rail station. And so to help facilitate access to and from not just our rail stations but also our most used bus stops, we've developed an Active Transportation Network, where we’ve identified a little bit over 2,000 miles of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in order to help facilitate people getting to and from our stations, either by foot, by bike, or rolling.
So as the Regional Transportation Agency, we provide bus service, rail service, and, as of this last summer, Bike Share. We launched our Bike Share System in downtown Los Angeles in July of 2016—oh, I'm sorry, 2015. We have about just over 60 stations throughout the downtown Los Angeles area, about 750 bikes serving the area. And you could see the inset of Los Angeles County, and really what I want to illustrate with that is that our program really is intended to be a countywide program. So while downtown has over 60 stations, it's really just the beginning of what will be a system that's intended to serve the entire region.
Going back to the beginning as to how Metro became involved in leading this effort, there were a number of cities throughout Los Angeles County that were attempting to move forward in implementing their own Bike Share systems. Traditionally, Bike Share is implemented by a local jurisdiction, mainly a city. And so at that time, Metro's role was really to help facilitate and bring all of those cities together to make sure there was some coordination. Each city had different levels of success in moving forward, and so at a certain point, our Metro Board of Directors decided that we, as a transportation agency, should play a larger role. And so in October 2013, our board adopted as a policy that bicycle would be recognized as a formal transportation mode. And then about a year later, January 2014, they introduced a motion that directed staff to look at how we could implement a countywide Bike Share Program that was integrated with our system, with the goals of addressing a first/last mile, but also to the end of integrating it with our transit system looking at it from a customer experience, how we could use our Transit Access Pass in order to get people from one mode to another. And so it was with this direction that we moved forward in really implementing Bike Share as part of our agency structure.
So when we started this process, we really wanted to treat Bike Share as any other transit mode would be treated here in Metro. And so we planned it as though it was transit. We developed a Regional Bike Share Implementation Plan, working with those partners that were interested in being first out of the gate. We put together a working group. We developed ridership estimates. We did some Bike Share Density Analysis and Heat Analysis, really trying to quantify why we were placing Bike Share in certain communities and then, more specifically, where those Bike Share stations should go.
In terms of what our business model looks like, we determined that we as a regional agency would be the lead as the board had asked us to do, but we also took it a step further and said that Metro would own the equipment, we would manage one contract that would serve the entire region. So from the beginning when we put out our RFP, we wanted to make sure that we were bringing in a contractor who would be able to serve the entire county, not just thinking of one city, but really a system that could be applicable across the board and could scale up quickly if we needed to.
Our board also made a strong financial commitment. Stating from the get-go that we, as an agency, would commit up to 50 percent of the capital costs, and up to 35 percent of the net O&M costs. And so that has been a huge financial support for the cities that have opted in to participate. In order to memorialize what our role and commitments are, as well as what the cities that are participating and what their obligations are, we execute a memorandum of understanding with each participating city.
So, as part of our commitment, we provide technical assistance and support to the cities. We conduct feasibility studies, and partnership with them. So really determining if Bike Share is right for them; determining how many stations they should have; the density of those stations; identifying where those station locations might best serve their city in order to meet their local goals and objectives. If a city is interested in pursuing grant funding, we either provide them with the technical information and support them in their effort, or we could serve as the lead applicant, depending on how they want to approach it.
Because this is a countywide system, we lead the marketing and the branding of the system, but then also support the cities at a more local level in conducting outreach to businesses, to neighborhood councils, to other stakeholders that need to be engaged in order to ensure Bike Share is successful. We also, as the Regional Transportation Agency, provide the environmental clearances of the Bike Share System, and we take it one step further, where we also conduct a Title VI and Environmental Justice Analysis. Those items are not required of Bike Share, but we have made the decision to conduct those analyses because we are a Regional Transportation Agency, and again, we want to treat Bike Share similar to how any other transit service would be treated.
At the local level, we looked at the cities to really conduct very localized outreach and education. We look to our city partners and trust that they know who needs to be engaged, what the political dynamics are, what community members need to be brought into the conversation in order to make sure that we have approached and informed everyone that Bike Share is coming, and in order to also make sure that we get input that we need on the station siting process. The cities are responsible for finalizing station locations, so while we work with them in determining where station locations might be best, they ultimately make the decision as to where they would like to see stations. It is their public right-of-way, and so we want to be mindful of that. We also look to the cities to facilitate the permit process, and help us get through that as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.
So again, our board was really committed to ensuring that Bike Share was treated as a first/last mile solution, and that it served as an extension of our transit system. About 45 percent of our transit users arrive by one of our stations by bike. And so while we like to celebrate that, and encourage people to ride their bike or to walk to our stations rather than driving to a station, for those individuals that choose to bring their bikes onto our rail system, and onto our busses, we are starting to see some capacity issues. We do not have any restrictions as to when people can or cannot bring their bikes onboard rail. And so we want to make sure that we're also offering our transit users an alternative to bringing their bikes onto our system, whether it be through high-capacity bike parking, or in this case, Bike Share, where they could leave their bike at home and use the Bike Share System to complete their trip. In terms of station siting process, again, we work with our cities to finalize station locations. And we use a lot of the same predictors of where stations should go, proximity to employment, population density. We also encourage our cities to have bicycle facilities in the ground, or have them in the works by the time Bike Share is launched within their city. We've also had crowd-sourcing feedback open to the community, where we either have a blank map, and invite residents and community members to give us their ideas as to where stations should go, or we give them a list of locations and then we ask them for feedback on those.
We also work very closely with local law enforcement. We engage them so that first they understand what Bike Share is, they understand how it works. We address any concern that they might have about the safety of the system, and oftentimes their questions are regarding whether the bikes can be stolen and recovered, etc. So we provide them a lot of statistics and information on how safe Bike Share is. And then as soon as we're able to, we have demonstrations. We love to get community members and leaders and City Council members onto the bikes, so that they start to feel comfortable and understand how Bike Share works as well.
In terms of integrating our Bike Share into our system, we also took into account the fare integration process. And so from the beginning, we wanted to make sure that we started with something as simple as the language we were using. In Bike Share, typically, you have a Bike Share membership; but you don't have memberships in the transit world. You have a bus pass; you have a rail pass. And so we call our Bike Share—we call them Bike Share Passes. We offered three passes that are very simple and easy to understand, and we try to leverage our existing transit structure as much as possible. So if you look under the Flex Pass, for example, it's $40 a year, and then you pay $1.75 for up to 30 minutes. That $1.75 is what it costs to use our transit system. And so this will help, if in the long term, we're able to fully transition our Bike Share fare structure to be one and the same with our transit fare structure. We've already started to establish that foundation.
We are also looking to address equity—and I'll speak to this a little bit more in a couple of slides—but we are not looking to reinvent the wheel, and create a new administrative function for addressing equity. Rather, we are looking to work off of existing programs that are in existence here at Metro. So, for example, our Rider Relief Program, which is income-based, offers reduced fares to those that qualify. And we have started by issuing coupon codes to those Rider Relief participants by waiving the $40 Flex Pass amount, and encouraging them to join Bike Share. We are looking to grow our program, in order to, at some point in the near future, also recognize students, the disabled, and the elderly, and also offer them reduced rates on Bike Share.
Lastly, probably the most significant way that we're integrating Bike Share into our transit system is how individuals access the bikes themselves. Our Transit Access Pass, or TAP card, is the way that you are able to unlock a bike if you are either a monthly pass holder, or a Flex Pass holder. We broke this process out into three phases. The first phase being that if you registered for a Bike Share pass, you would be issued the pass that you see on the screen, with the Bike Share pass loaded on there. The second step was that if you were an existing TAP cardholder, you could go online, register for a Bike Share pass, enter a unique TAP card identifier code that is on the back of the card, and your Bike Share pass would be loaded onto your existing TAP card. We were able to accomplish those two steps in time for launching our Bike Share System. The third step, which we have just received authorization from our board to proceed with, is what we refer to as full integration. It would be—it would allow, if the board wanted to, for us to be able to go from Bike Share to rail to bus seamlessly, potentially being able to offer transfers between the three. Because there is another Bike Share operator within the county, if those cities and that operator opted into our system, our customers would also be able to go from one Bike Share System to another in a seamless fashion. On the backend, we would be able to recognize distinct first structures, distinct operators, and modes. And we would be able to reconcile that on the backend. But from a customer perspective, this would also make it a seamless transition between Bike Share, rail, and bus.
The other item that full integration would allow us to do is to really start to address equity more holistically. Once we have other Rider Relief onto the TAP, we have the Rider classes recognized by TAP, then we, as Bike Share, would also be able to do that. There's also the potential to load money onto your tap account. And so that would also give us the opportunity to have—to address the unbanked community, and be able to offer a cash option.
So like I said, we've just started to work on this, and hopefully, we'll have some very exciting updates on TAP integration in the near future.
As I mentioned, you know, we are working on equity. I've covered a lot of these items. And so I'll just go ahead and skip to the next slide. In order to support our Bike Share System, we recognize that it's not enough to put stations in the ground and walk away. We realize that it's a program that really needs to be encouraged and facilitated. And so we offer a lot of support to our cities and, as a regional agency, a lot of the activities that we carry out ourselves. So again, you know, instructional messaging, the marketing of the system, working with local businesses to really promote their local businesses and encourage people who use Bike Share to shop locally. Bicycle skills classes. We offer a number of skill classes at varying levels. And for the first time, some of those classes will be Bike Share-specific, taking groups of people out to a station, showing them how to use the kiosk, showing them how to check out a bike, and how to ride safely.
Lastly, we were lucky enough to receive a grant from the Better Bike Share Partnership, and this is a partnership with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Multicultural Communities for Mobility, who are leading this effort. And we are working very closely with them, in order to help define what equity should look like for Los Angeles' Bike Share System, and to make recommendations that can be implemented to better serve our community. So where we are now, you see the green in the middle, which is downtown Los Angeles up and running for four months. As of this morning, we have over 80,000 rides to date. The three other communities that are hashed, those are planned for expansion this coming summer. And the other yellowed cities are those cities that have expressed interest in joining our system, and we are currently conducting feasibility studies on their behalf in order to provide them with order of magnitude costs, how many stations we would recommend and to provide them support in outreach and education, any information that they need in order to be able to make a decision as to whether Bike Share is right for them. And lastly, you know, TAP, which is just covered. So with that I want to thank you, and I look forward to your questions at the end.
Jenna Overton: Thank you, Laura. That was such a strong example of an integrated Bike Share System. I don't think I've seen a stronger example. And with that, we will transition to our last presenter for today who is Aaron Ritz, from the city of Philadelphia. And Aaron, I know that we are a little close to the 2 o'clock mark, but I think that if we run into the Q&A time, that's totally fine.
Aaron Ritz: Got it. I will hustle. <laughter> Sounds good. So my name is Aaron Ritz. I am the transportation programs planner here at the city of Philadelphia in the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, which you can read on your slide. And I am the program manager for the Indigo Bike Share Program here in Philadelphia. And we heard a great example from Laura about how L.A. Metro really thought of this as an integrated system on both a countywide basis, and then also within different modes of transportation. And certainly, we considered both of those things in the planning of Indigo. But what I'm going to talk about today is really on the integration within the communities that are in wherever you're doing, whatever you're doing. And I think that's really a critical component. So often in the past transportation planning has run into a scenario where the public is asking to put in their two cents, and they're told it's too early, and then a plan comes out, and it's suddenly too late, and there's no sort of middle ground to really iterate and learn and develop a plan that suits the needs of the community, and I think that's something we've tried really hard to avoid the negative aspects of that, and really capitalize on the positive aspects of engaging our community here in Philadelphia as we planned Indigo Bike Share System. So I'll give a quick overview of the system, and then we'll open it up for questions afterwards.
All right, so here's kind of the basics of the program. It's a city-owned program in a very similar—as we actually used the same operations team, the same equipment as L.A. Metro, so we're operated by a company called Bicycle Transit Systems. And the bikes are made by the BCycle Corporation. BCycle also is the manufacturer for the equipment in Salt Lake City, so there's a lot of—and also in Kansas City, so we've got a lot of similarities here across the cities. Right now our system is at 105 stations with 1,000 bicycles. We launched last April with about 60 stations and 500 bikes. And we just ticked over a million trips in the past month. We're very excited about that.
The service area for the Indigo System really covers central Philadelphia, and I think I may have neglected to put a map in here, but really kind of the core of the city with our biggest single center of jobs. And one of the features of central Philadelphia, which is maybe not surprising to anybody who's traveled here is that it's a vibrant downtown, which is also amid a relatively poor city overall. So we actually have a very high component of low-income communities within our service area. And as a core of our mission, we really wanted to make sure that we were serving the people who live here, and that's not just people of high income or people who are coming in as tourists, but also those who are low income and people of color.
So here's a recipe that anybody can follow, as long as you have the time and the intention and the effort behind it. So the goal here is to build something that people feel ownership of, and to feel like it's really for them, and of them, and meets their needs. So you're going to need to understand the local context, you're going to need to build the relationships, you're going to need to seek to understand the community needs. And that's only done from building from step number one there. And then also really understand whatever it is you've got to offer fits. And in our case, it's Bike Share. So what does Bike Share mean to you? What does it mean to your community? How would you possibly use it? How would somebody in your family or your friends use it? And then really going out there and being on the ground with the folks who know their neighborhood better than you ever will. Those are the people that live there and work there. And then a piece that you really cannot—you can shoot it down so fast, and you can ruin it so fast, and it's so hard to build back, which is the relationships. And those are sustained through follow-up and communication. So you can't assume that somebody understands what you're talking about the first time you go out there, and you can't assume that they value the same things that you value. You know, maybe your job is to plan a new bus route, or to plan, in this case, a Bike Share station. But until somebody knows what that is, and knows how that might fit into their lives, they don't feel compelled to give you the time of day.
Some things that you can run into, if you are planning in this case a Bike Share System or anything is, you know, the pitfalls. You know, "Why is Bike Share coming to my neighborhood? Why isn't the recreation center down the road being fixed? Why isn't the pothole being fixed in front of my house?" You can also run into questions about, you know, "Who is this for?" You know, I've been here for years and we haven't had a Bike Share before, and I don't see this as something that I would use. I don't see that this is for me. Is this something for those people that you're trying to bring into my neighborhood and change things?" And then also like, what if we put it some place that nobody really—it looks great from our map, it looks great from the ride through that we do, but it doesn't work for the people that live there. And then also you have people that are invested in their communities, and by going around them or simply ignoring them, you run the risk of kind of ruining the taste in their mouth about Bike Share or your project, and also limiting their ability to help you in later portions of the project. So what we want to get to is a place where we're talking to people, and they're thinking about it as their station, or thinking about it as something that supplements the way that they get around and what they do. Something that's really serving the places that are already valued in the community, rather than something that's kind of thrown in on top. And we're going to be using this to connect people with the resources that we have, either elsewhere in the city, or elsewhere in their neighborhood, or even elsewhere that aren't really, really just a Bike Share, but just show us as good faith and knowledgeable actors in the public realm.
When you go to a public meeting, you say, "Hi, my name is Aaron Ritz, and I'm here from the city," it doesn't occur naturally to anybody that you're here from the city from the very specific project of Bike Share. It occurs to them that, "Boy, this person is from the city, and the city has a lot to answer for in my neighborhood. And gosh, why don't I lay all of the issues that I've got on the table for them?" And to the best you can do, answer those things, because that really helps you gain credibility in those meetings. And again, all this stuff, leads to a positive relationship, which then leads you to ongoing success.
And when you do that is when you meet people and when you talk to them again and again, you establish relationships. And there's lots of different ways to start those, but a key factor is the network effect. So if you can reach out to somebody and say, "Hey, I'm here to talk with you about this,” or even better get somebody else to introduce you, if you've got either a council person or a local legislator or civic leader that knows your project and knows you, and can introduce you to the other people that will help you get your message out. Email works, phone calls sometimes work better. And what works even better than phone calls is going out, meeting somebody, and really taking the time to meet them where they are, and interact with them. You can say so much with just a smile and your presence that you can't say on the phone, or certainly can't say in an email. And then really talking with them about what you see as the value, and listening to them and trying to explain the value of what program you've got into their context. Seeing their context really helps this happen. And then going out there and being at meetings, being at events and, you know, rather than having, "On next Tuesday in the evening at some civic institution, we're going to have a meeting about this program called Bike Share," that's one way to do it, but that only gets the folks that a) know about your program; and, b) are interested; and, c) have the time on Tuesday. You can also go to somebody who is meeting, and kind of appeal to them where they are around the community table where they sit, and being present at those meetings. Yes, it does mean you'll go to a lot of meetings, rather than have your one Bike Share planning meeting, but the outcomes are so much better as a result.
And then particularly when you're planning things, it really makes a big difference if you are going out and seeing the same places that people are. And you'll have your constraints that you're working with, but people will also have their constraints. They'll know where, you know, the bus drops people off, where the folks are going to, where the perceptions of danger are in the communities, where the other things are, so a site for this with people really makes a big difference. And then always, you know, following up on folks, and keeping them in the loop, but also keeping them engaged in the process. So, "Hey, last month we planned this Bike Share Station. Here's the diagram that I was able to draw up. And then here next week it's going to be installed." The timeline is quick enough—particularly with a program like Bike Share that folks don't have enough time to really forget you. But at the same time, it's important to keep them in the loop and keep them aware of what's coming. They'll be your advocates, and they'll help you, alert you if something is going wrong.
Here's the obligatory pictures of maps and photos. And this is really, you know, these are in every single planning presentation probably because they're actually really, really important. You need to be engaging people, you need to be asking them about their communities and doing so with diagrams and maps and site visits really is the key. So in the left picture, that's me pointing at the map there. We definitely want a Bike Share Station there in the future.
Lessons from the Road, and this is something that certainly happened with us, but will undoubtedly happen with any project you're doing when you're actually moving from planning to implementation is that, you know, it's an iterative process, it goes back and it goes forwards and it goes sideways, and it goes forwards again. But you have to be prepared for that, and you have to be responsive to that. And doing so, and doing so in an engaged way, does take significant time and energy, so this is something to certainly communicate to your bosses, your supervisors, or if you are the boss and supervisor, to your staff, that they need to be prepared to meet people where they are, and to spend the time doing so. But at the end of this, the result is certainly you spend a lot of time in meetings beforehand, but you end up with a much better product. You don't end up redoing your work. You don't end up backtracking. And you're always setting this up as a foundation for future work, even though the conversations might be uncomfortable.
I want to take a little moment to talk about one of the ways that we tailored the features of our program to meet the needs of our city. And that's with our specific focus on social equity. And so one of the things that we heard when we were doing meetings—and actually we did a set of focus groups before our launch—is that pricing matters, and meeting the expectations of the market. And just as Laura mentioned that they were trying to track their pricing to the transit, because that's how people are thinking about it, that's how we're thinking about it, just as a transportation option. So if you think about the way that bikes—or had previously been priced, and if you're familiar with many of the other systems out there, that standard pricing is a membership that you purchase on a yearly basis. And when people think about membership on a yearly basis, you think about a lot of things that are kind of negative, like your taxes, or like the things of that nature. But when you're thinking about your monthly payments, that's a lot more digestible. People are used to purchasing things on a monthly basis. So you'll see my flippant pricing structure here, which is if you look at $180 per year, nobody really thinks that that makes any sense. But if you look at the same exact cost $15 per month, that's a lot more digestible to people. So we use that as our baseline for pricing, which is kind of a first.
And then also working with other programs that we either have locally or manage in some ways, and so we have a program that offers—so this is a Pennsylvania ACCESS Card, or an image of it. The Pennsylvania ACCESS Card offers discounts. It's the electronic benefits card, where you get government subsidies for food and other services. By simply showing this to one of our representatives, or being able to enter the serial number on the back, you get access, access to our discounted pass, which is $5 a month. So that is really providing a lower-cost option for the folks that do need it more.
And then the last piece is that we were able to do this in a way that allows folks to make their payments in cash. And this was definitely a national first. We're able to integrate cash payments directly with the purchase of Indigo. So we have a—at the time it was a unique partnership, but I believe it's spread fairly rapidly with a company called PayNearMe. And basically you can enter in your information, and it will spit out a barcode that you can print on your computer, or a computer. And then you can—or you can send it to your phone, and you can pay at a 7-11, a Family Dollar Store, or recently they've opened at CVS. So this allows people to pay in cash. If they're uncomfortable with banks, or if they simply don't have a bank account, we're still able to provide the same level of service, because we're providing exactly the same passes. It's no different. You're just paying for it differently.
And then the question of, "Does it work?" And the short answer is yes. And particularly when we're layering on programs on top of one another. And if you look at the pie-shaped chart in the upper left there, that shows our access pass. And that's the discounted pass, and certainly a lot of people are paying for it with a credit card. But even more rewarding is seeing that they're using both of our unique programs, and that is when they're able to use the access pass with things cash. And these programs together—ooh, my thing just blanked out. But I will keep talking. You'll see that we've also made a big difference with low-income populations, that's the chart in the lower left. And you'll note that it's made a big difference in different ethnic groups or racial groups. And you'll see that in the upper right, that we've actually made substantial increases in our penetration into low-income households, and into households of color. So I can't see my screen anymore, but I believe that is the last slide. When the next one will just say, "Thank you!" But I'll refresh and see if I can get back in.
Aaron Ritz: Cool.
Jenna Overton: And thank you very much. That was—to learn about the ways in which you not only engaged the public, but did it in a variety of ways to solicit input that you otherwise wouldn't have, I think is a really good lesson for other communities looking to do the same thing. Great! So with that, we will transition to the Q&A portion of this webinar, so I'm going to transition to that screen now. Okay. And this is a reminder for anyone who is joining us, if you have any questions, please type them into the Chat Pod, and we will read them off as they come in. I see some folks typing now. If you would like to direct your question to a specific person, please note that and we'll do that. Otherwise, we will just throw it out to the whole group.
To kick it off, I have a question for Aaron. Did you—or did the city receive any pushback in attempting to implement the cash basis for the Bike Share System, given concerns that, I guess cash doesn't provide the same collateral for the bikes themselves as a credit card would?
Aaron Ritz: Yeah, that's an excellent question. So that was definitely an area of concern as we were developing the program. And I really need to kind of predicate this all on the fact that, though we have at the city level, social equity placed as kind of one of our core goals, a lot of this programming has been made possible by a grant that started what we're calling the Better Bike Share Partnership. And certainly we've been working with our peers in Los Angeles and other cities to implement some of these programs, but that grant did support essentially a reserve fund locally for us to test at very low risk the idea that bikes would stay in the system. And what we found, quite frankly, is that cash has not made for a much—has not increased the risk of theft to the bicycles. When you sign up, you have to provide your name, your address, your phone number, and also you cannot use the bikes until we mail it to you. And so when it gets to your house, you know, there's an assumption that people are engaged. We know where they live, we know their address, we know their name. And that has proven sufficient. We haven't had any bicycles stolen through the cash program. I will be frank, we have had bicycles stolen, but they tend to be stolen with stolen credit cards, and that's a risk that anyone in any city with any Bike Share System endures.
Jenna Overton: Okay, thank you.
Jody McCullough: This is Jody McCullough with Federal Highways, and I have a question about the—for all of the presenters—about the—how their bicycle programs and their Bike Share Programs have supported the transit connection. Have you seen an increase in ridership at those where you have those connections, or has that improved the system, or are you finding that people are using bicycles for the—as their primary mode for their trip?
Jennifer McGrath: Hey, Jody. This is Jennifer McGrath with the Utah Transit Authority. We don't have a lot of information about that, but what we do have are the surveys that the Green Bike Program conducts every year with their annual members. They have questions on their annual survey that are directly related to the connection between the Bike Share program and transit. So we have some indication that high numbers of those folks, like some are in the mid-90 percent, are using Bike Share at least at some level in conjunction with transit, and that they see it as an improvement to the transit system, and a key component for them in making connections on their trip. So that's about as much as we have right now, but we do have something.
Laura Cornejo: This is Laura from Metro in Los Angeles. We show that maybe about 90 percent of our customers arrive by either bike or by foot to one of our stations. And then as part of Bike Share, we did do some analysis that showed when fully integrated, Bike Share—integrating Bike Share into our transit system would increase ridership on bus and rail. So that's something that we're looking forward to seeing what the impact will be now that Bike Share is actually in the ground and up and running.
Aaron Ritz: And this is Aaron, again. I think that certainly in Philadelphia, we're very eager to see L.A. Metro's work. I think the integration of a single card, so that using your same card to access the bus as transit, I think just reinforces the fact that they're both transit and transportation. You're breaking down that idea that bikes are simply a recreation thing for kids. But really as a supplement to the existing network. You know, among our best performing stations were those that are served by transit, and to be fair, most of Philadelphia is fairly well served by transit compared with many of our peer cities across the country, but, you know, certainly our regional rail stations and our subway and key bus corridors are top performers. So we know that our stations work better when they're located near transit. We don't have a great deal of evidence that transit works necessarily better with Bike Share. I can't hardly imagine it hurting the issue. But I think our system—the system sizes are awfully different. We did the million trips in 18 months. Our local transit agency does a million trips in a couple days. So very different.
Martin Rivarola: And this is Martin with Kansas City. As I said before, we're a planning agency, we don't operate in systems like this. As we were doing the Smart Moves 3.0 Plan, we did look at some of our performance measures that we could develop around this whole concept. One of the things that we found is, we looked at, is what percentage of the trips made by our Bike Share System is for commuting purposes. So we did get that information. And we're going to include those measures up into our plan as we move forward. So that's what we have at this moment.
Jody McCullough: Thank you.
Jenna Overton: Great, I'm going to try to read off these questions as they come in. And so the first one here is, I think it's directed toward Aaron is, "Who repairs the bikes when they get damaged?"
Aaron Ritz: Sure. I just typed in a response there which might be helpful. But there's always got to be some sort of operations beyond that, just as with any transit agency, you’ve got to fix the buses, and put gas in them. With bikes, you have to put air in the tires, and you know, repair them when they are damaged. And in the case of Salt Lake City and Kansas City, I have met both of the operating executives at the nonprofits that do that. And in the case of Philadelphia and L.A., we have a for-profit company that does that work. So they're responsible for everything from selling a pass to a person to fixing the flat tires and cleaning graffiti off of the stations.
Jenna Overton: Great, thank you. And the next question is directed toward Martin. "Can you briefly explain the methodology behind your transit access to jobs analysis, especially for morning versus late evening?"
Martin Rivarola: Sorry, I was working on getting my line unmuted. Yes, we hired some support. The name of the firm is Conveyal, they used the model named Transport Analyst. And they looked at a number of different things, the number of different, a number of different types of data that go into the alphabet soup of data in order to generate that. And they ran the model a number of different times using both the current service, transit services that are available in our region, and then generated the accessibility at a regional level, and then as we were coming up with iterations of proposed improvements, that model was run also again multiple times in order to look at what would be the gains in access. But again, Conveyal was the name of the firm that did that work for us, and Transport Analyst is the name of the tool.
Jenna Overton: Thanks, Martin. The next question is for Laura. "Is there any connection between the Bike Share Program discounts for low-income users and the Metro Express Lane FastTrack account? Is there a one-stop location where a low-income person can obtain information on all available discount programs?"
Laura Cornejo: So at the moment, the Bike Share program is not connected to Express Lanes. That is one of the things that a full integration of TAP will allow Metro to accomplish is to bring all of these different programs, Express Lanes, Parking, Bike Locker Park—Bike Parking, and Bike Share, along with all of the other low-income programs that we offer, all online together, so that we can leverage one another. So in terms of a one-stop location, where people could get information, Metro does have a number of customer service offices throughout the county, and we also work with some agencies that help us to verify whether someone qualifies for one of the programs. But again, that's why TAP integration is something that we've been really focusing on. Because that really allows us to integrate, not just with transit, but with other programs once they're online as well, and expand the program.
Jenna Overton: Great! The next question is not directed toward one person in particular. So I'm just going to throw it out there, and whichever presenter would like to tackle it, it would be great. "How many other transit agencies are operating by Share Systems? Aren't these systems typically run by cities? Could you talk about possibly the pros and cons of a transit agency running the system versus a city or county running the system, please?"
Aaron Ritz: Laura, I think that's probably you and me.
Laura Cornejo: Yeah! Do you want to go first? Or—
Aaron Ritz: Sure. And maybe, Laura, you can verify this. I don't think that there are actually any other North American examples of transit agencies running bike share systems.
Jennifer McGrath: Boise. There is Boise.
Laura Cornejo: Yeah.
Aaron Ritz: Oh, Boise. Right. Oh, wait, nope! And also Las Vegas. I just totally contradicted myself. So it is definitely the norm—well, there actually is—it's really hard to establish a norm. There are a lot of different models. By and large, the bigger systems are owned by a city or a municipality or a group of municipalities, and operated by a for-profit operation. And a lot of—the other prevailing model is where the city may own or may provide funds to a nonprofit operator, or in some cases a nonprofit operator receives funding and wholly owns the equipment and operates it as well. So there's a number of different models. Certainly I would turn it over to Laura to maybe think about the advantages to being a transit agency.
Laura Cornejo: Yeah, I think also with the challenges. I think the first challenge is we, as a transit agency, do not own the public right of way, the cities do. And so there's definitely the need to have that coordination between the agency and the city to make sure that if the stations are being placed in a location that are safe, accessible, convenient, but also that will contribute to the success of the program. To date, that has not been an issue for Metro, we've worked very well with cities that we've partnered with. But that's just something to think about if you're thinking of moving in this direction. I would say the benefits are that you're able to establish one system across an entire region. Because the technology and the software and hardware are all proprietary, if you have Bike Share implemented city by city, you run the risk of having multiple systems that aren't necessarily coordinated. And so from a customer perspective, that can be very challenging.
So having the Regional Transportation Agency carry out that effort could ensure that you have, for the most part, one system across the boards. In Los Angeles' situation, there is another operator. And so we are having to coordinate with them as well. But I think the bigger conversation is really the opportunity to talk about Bike Share as a transit mode, or a transportation mode, as opposed to an afterthought. And that's something that has definitely become very obvious in our effort to bring Bike Share. And having those internal conversations of having Bike Share be at the table when we're talking about services that are being offered to our customers.
Jennifer McGrath: Hi, this is Jennifer with Utah Transit Authority. I just wanted to kind of build on what Laura was saying. We've thought here in the Salt Lake City region about how does a Regional Bike Share System function appropriately? What's the right governance structure for that? And certainly those conversations have included talks about whether or not the transit agency should be the owner and/or operator of that system. And you know, we always run up against the same question that I'm sure a lot of people are challenged with, and that's funding. Because of what Laura mentioned, because it's not yet officially considered a transit mode, there isn't a source of dedicated funding, and so for us in a region where we're not really funded at a very high rate for transit to begin with, it's very challenging for us to think about taking on a new mode without that ability to allocate dedicated funding source to that. The flipside of that is we do think as a region here, we think that it's important, that it is coordinated with the transit system. And whether or not we ever end up owning it is still in question, but we think there are a lot of advantages to tying the Bike Share System to the transit system. A lot of us also think—see it as a transit mode. And because of that first/last mile connection and the strength of that, there are certainly a lot of advantages to having that strong tie and connection to the Transit Authority.
Jenna Overton: Thank you! And that actually perfectly segues into our next question, which is directed toward Laura or Aaron. "Did you give any kind of incentives to people to use the Bike Share System, or the transit system? And is there a way to get people out of their cars and onto transit or bikes?"
Aaron Ritz: I'll start. So we didn't give any specific incentives for people to switch modes. I think the incentives are—well, the way to do that is to make it useful. And I think I spoke at some length during my presentation about really listening to the market, and trying to—at the end of the day, we're in the business of providing people with a service that they either want or need. And when you do that well, you're able to fill a niche. And personally, I don't believe that Bike Share is a solution for every context. I think that there are certainly places where Bike Share doesn't work well. Just like there are places where mass transit doesn't work that well. But by providing high-quality service that is integrated with the transportation network that people already use, you're able to provide them with an option that allows them to quickly change their mind. We had a very, you know, hopefully fairly unique but illustrative example earlier this month. Our local transit agency went on strike. And so we had a record-breaking week, because people really did see this as an alternative for getting around. It more or less doubled our ridership. And because we had planned it well, and we had planned it to serve the same types of uses that our transit system serves, you know, it did fairly well.
Laura Cornejo: Yeah, I think I'll echo what Aaron just said, I agree. I think when you plan Bike Share well, and there's a clear nexus between Bike Share and your key transit stations, then you know, there's more of a likelihood that people will use it to get to and from transit. In terms of promotions to get people to use it, you know, one of the things our board was concerned about is Los Angeles, you know, we're the car capital of the world. Are people really going to leave their cars behind and ride bikes? And so our board really wanted us to make sure that for the walk-up customers that we incentivize them a bit. And so for the first two months, we had a walk-up rate that was half of what our board-approved rate is. And so that was just an introductory rate. Beyond that, you know, we don't do many promotions outside of marketing and showing people how to use the system. We do have free-ride coupons, so if you're thinking of having Bike Share or trying Bike Share, we do want people to try it without them feeling like they're making a commitment. So we will do like one free-ride coupon. And I think that's about it. All we've done at this point.
Jenna Overton: Thank you! And I think that's about all the time we have for questions today. So thank you so much everyone for submitting your questions. And presenters, thank you for your thoughtful answers. I'm going to turn things back over to FTA to close us out of this webinar today.
Jody McCullough: Hi, this is Jody McCullough with Federal Highway Administration. And I just would like to give a special thanks to all our presenters today. I think we got the full picture of the pedestrian and bicycle and transit connection, and this concludes our webinar, and I want to thank all our participants. The recording of the webinar should be posted on the Regional Models of Cooperation website within a couple weeks. And there's other additional information that we've been posting. We have case studies, and we'll be posting a handbook that summarizes this webinar, and also the other activities that have occurred over the last two years. So please visit the website. And our contact information is on the screen if you have any other questions. Thank you very much!