What’s up with public transit?
On Tuesday morning, Amtrak announced record high ridership in the first six months of the 2013 fiscal year. October, December and January each boasted all-time highs for those particular months. Ridership on their longer routes, like Chicago to New Orleans, also saw huge increases.
“The continued ridership growth on routes across the country reinforces the need for dedicated, multi-year federal operating and capital funding to support existing intercity passenger rail services and the development of new ones,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said.
The Lehigh Valley is also in the process of examining its comprehensive public transit, through funds from the Envision Lehigh Valley grant directed toward LANTa. They’re going to be looking at a variety of transit modes, including their popular bus program. LANTa is currently looking at Bus Rapid Transit, and have done a lot of research in creating more efficient routes for their riders.
A key component to the quality of life of the Valley in the future will be the level of access to alternative modes of transportation like public transit, walking and biking. Currently, we face two major challenges in terms of access to public transportation. The first is the overall level of public transportation service available to residents of the Lehigh Valley. As part of the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANta) 2008 study Moving LANta Forward, a peer group review was performed comparing LANta and the Lehigh Valley to transit systems in similarly sized metropolitan areas throughout the country.
The second challenge is that many areas of the Valley have not been developed in a manner that facilitates the use of transit. For transit to be feasible, residents must be able to safely and conveniently access bus stops to board the bus as well as their final destination once leaving the bus. This requires a comprehensive and safe network of sidewalks, marked crosswalks and pedestrian phases at traffic signals. In addition, our neighborhoods, office parks and retail centers must be designed or retrofitted in a way to allow people to walk into, out of and throughout the developments in a safe and convenient manner. These types of improvements and changes to development patterns will not only facilitate the use of transit but will also facilitate and encourage more walking and biking throughout our communities.