Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 24
2018 BUS & PARATRANSIT CONFERENCE
Golden Age of Transit: Southern California
Seniors Are Having Their Moment
BY BRADLEY WEAVER
Media and Public Relations Manager
Riverside Transit Agency
enior citizens in the Riverside, CA,
area are trading their car keys for
a bus pass thanks to an awardwinning travel training program that's
putting our nation's aging population on
the road to self-sufficiency.
The Riverside Transit Agency's (RTA)
Freedom to Go Travel Training Program is a
free, self-paced process that allows an individual, regardless of ability or age, to learn
to ride RTA's fixed-route bus system. Last
year, 439 people participated in training;
the trainees took more than 95,000 fixedroute trips during the year. Trainees have
said the program provides freedom and
independence that didn't exist with the
previous advance-reservation system.
"When the time comes and I can no
longer drive my car-and that time is
coming soon-I know I'll have something I can rely on to get around," said
Hemet, CA, resident Dorothy Allen.
Launched in 2011, the program,
which is fueled by a federal grant, has
steered a growing number of people
away from costly Dial-A-Ride service and
got them on board the agency's fixedroute buses. The program has trained
more than 1,700 people, generated more
than 380,000 trips on fixed-route buses
and saved RTA $1.5 million.
Art Welch, chairman of the RTA
Board of Directors, said the program is
enhancing people's lives and making
affordable transportation a reality. It's
also gone a long way in making travel
more affordable and helping riders
"We want to help seniors stay as
active and engaged as long as possible,
so they can be assets for their family and
community," he said.
For the growing number of Americans over 65, good mobility can't wait.
Nearly a quarter of Americans over
age 65 don't drive, which can contribute to social isolation, especially in
car-centric communities. A 2009 survey
cited by TransitCenter found that, of
adults 65 and up who hadn't taken a
trip outside their home in the past week,
more than half said they'd like to get
out more regularly.
RTA knows that as the nation's population continues to age, a growing number of seniors will be turning to public
transportation to get around. For many
of them, the dream of mobility has
become a reality.
Since launching the program, RTA
has conducted more than 70 grouptravel training sessions for seniors.
According to participants, the training
is giving them easier access to shopping
and medical centers, as well as the confidence to connect with commuter trains
serving destinations both near and far.
And the training isn't just for seniors.
Many of the trainees have disabilities
that formerly prevented them from
riding fixed-route buses. With the confidence of knowing how to safely access
the bus, many of these customers are
now traveling independently using
Providing the freedom to roam has
been a godsend for those learning to
navigate the bus system. Just ask Oscar
Gutierrez, a college student with dis-
Since launching the Freedom to Go program,
RTA has conducted more than 70 group-travel
training sessions for seniors.
abilities, who uses fixed-route service to
get to his classes for audio-production
engineering. Five years ago, he was
completely dependent on Dial-A-Ride
or family members to take him places.
Now he exclusively uses the bus for all
of his trips.
"The training helped me feel more
comfortable and confident," he said. "I
know my backup plan and how to travel
safely, so I no longer have the fear of
getting lost. I know people will benefit
from this program like I did."
SAN DIEGO RIDERSHIP CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9
12 minutes saw demand increase
by 5.4 percent. Sunday frequency
was doubled from every 60 minutes
to every 30 minutes and ridership
increased by more than 50 percent.
n A route that went from every
20 minutes to every 15 minutes on
weekdays saw ridership increase by
more than 10.3 percent. On weekends, it went from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes and
ridership jumped 28 percent.
n Another route's frequency was
doubled to every 15 minutes on
weekends. Ridership increased by
20.3 percent on Saturday and by
29.9 percent on Sunday.
n Ridership increases on the other
routes ranged from 2.1 percent to
Customers took approximately a
week to adjust to the TOP changes. The
week that TOP went into effect, MTS
customer service experienced a 7 percent
increase in call volume, but this leveled
out the following week. Calls included
inquiries about how to ride with the
new route changes, compliments about
increased frequencies and complaints
about routes we shortened that now
required passengers to transfer.
Points to Consider
Overall, our ridership increases have
been very encouraging. We won't be
able to realize the full impacts of the
TOP strategy until all changes are implemented, and increasing ridership isn't
an overnight process.
Clearly, making the transit system as
efficient as possible for the largest possible population is a smart strategy. Public
transit agencies can't be all things to all
people, but we can really make transit
MTS Opens First Station Since 2005
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) opened its first new Trolley station since
2005-the Courthouse Station, the new downtown terminus of the Orange Line-on April 29.
The opening of the new station, located a few blocks from the previous end of the Orange Line,
is part of preparations for the launch of the Mid-Coast Trolley extension in 2021. Its location is
within one-half mile of more than 44,500 jobs, according to MTS.
24 | Passenger Transport
attractive when we invest in a higher
level of services in the communities
with the highest propensity for transit
Strategic system changes and reallocation of resources to meet market
demands are among the best bets to
turn the tide of declining ridership.
For other agencies thinking of
embarking on a similar process, here are
a few things to consider:
Time Commitment: TOP took about
18 months of planning; implementation
takes about 12 months. Be prepared for
at least a two-year commitment.
Stakeholder Involvement: MTS
held a large workshop with community
stakeholders to enable a two-way discussion of the proposed changes. This was
a critical component to securing board
Community Involvement: MTS
provided the community many opportunities to submit input, including more
than 50 outreach events. Social service
agencies were involved. We provided
feedback forms on our website and the
public was able to comment directly to
board members at several public meetings, culminating in a public hearing.
MTS would be happy to share our
approach in greater depth. Initial
inquiries should be sent to rob.schupp@
COLUMBUS CMAX BRT CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12
enhanced passenger stations, real-time
information screens, USB charging ports
on buses and free on-board Wi-Fi.
Beginning in June, more than 40,000
eligible downtown Columbus employees
and residents will have unlimited access
to COTA at no out-of-pocket cost.
As we continue to bring new riders to public transit, we're excited to
launch C-pass, a unique partnership
with the Capital Crossroads Special
Improvement District and the MidOhio Regional Planning Commission
(MORPC). The goal of the program-
funded by downtown property owners, MORPC, community partners and
grants-is to increase ridership, decrease
congestion and reduce the need for
parking to open new business development opportunities.
In late 2017, COTA installed new
fareboxes on its fleet of 320 buses that
accept smartcards and mobile payments.
We will begin offering these two new
payment methods this summer.
COTA also is a key implementation
partner with Smart Columbus, a regional
smart city initiative that launched
when Columbus competed against
77 cities and won U.S. DOT's $40 million Smart City Challenge in 2016.
COTA is engaged in the development of
an integrated data exchange, common
transportation payment system, multimodal trip planning, connected electric
vehicles and mobility hubs.
Transportation, and especially public transit, are facing unprecedented,
positive disruptions and opportunities
brought by the introduction of technology and data as part of solutions to
mobility challenges. COTA is committed
to developing and implementing the
innovations, partnerships and technologies that will improve the lives of our
businesses and residents today while
positioning future generations for the
promise of tomorrow.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9
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