Olson also said the cost of the infrastructure to build greenways or bike trails has proven to be much a more affordable option to help commuters than traditional road expansions.
“This is my third decade involved with these issues and when I first started, the questions I got all the time was why should we do this, why is it even important,” Olson said. “In the last two decades with public safety concerns and health concerns and job creation issues, we’re at a point now where all those issues have come together and now the question we most often get is how quickly can we get it done.”
With the success of Capital Bike Share, Sandra Brecher, chief of commuter services for the division of transit services in the department of transportation for Montgomery County, Md., said that county is launching its own bike-share program to get riders to and from Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority stations within the county, which will be seamlessly integrated into Capital Bike Share in what will be a first for a suburban community in the U.S.
“We think it’s really going to help people in terms of access of a Metro rider to a Metro station or to a bus and give them a place to dock the bike and not having to worry about the bike being there all day,” she said.
Car sharing proves a powerful ally
As CEO of a car-sharing program, Sharon Feigon is trying to change the habits of a country that have been established over the past six decades.
Feigon is CEO of IGO car sharing, a non-profit entity in Chicago — which was recently purchased by Enterprise — that tested out people to see if they would be willing to share cars in an effort to reduce car ownership and create a beneficial economic and environmental impact by encouraging them to walk, ride a bicycle and use transit. So when IGO got a chance to partner with the Chicago Transit Authority, she said it was an opportunity that needed to be seized.
“Working with CTA seemed like a natural fit,” she said. “It really seemed like the natural thing to do.”
In 2009, IGO began a partnership with the CTA which coupled fare media so those who obtained a Chicago Plus CTA card could use the card to access an IGO vehicle. An RFID chip was placed onto the farecards so it could work in tandem with IGO.
Feigon said CTA has provided parking spaces for IGO cars and the addition of the common fare media between the two entities made it easier for IGO members to use CTA trains and buses. The media was paid for by grants and Feigon said the same cards work with Pace Suburban Bus as well.
“At the time we approached CTA we were really fortunate because they were open to it,” she said. “We moved pretty quickly to combine the cards, but it was difficult at first because of the proprietary nature of the software.”
Feigon said IGO is currently working on a project to help assist reverse commuters to the suburbs by giving them access to cars at Metra stations that are actually owned by other IGO members who commute into the city. Commuters who allow their personal vehicle to be used as a shared car as part of IGO would be paid a fee and instead of the car sitting in a Metra parking lot all day, it would be used by someone commuting to the suburbs from the city, who could then use the car to get to their jobs.
For more on green mile, visit www.MassTransitmag.com/10948954