The first full day of the South West Transit Association has come to an end and there was a wide variety of sessions to learn from.
The Honorable Nelson Wolff, Bexar County Judge, began the day welcoming attendees. He gave a little insight to the area with the explosion of growth in several areas of San Antonio. He stressed that whether people want to live in the suburbs or in the city core, there needs to be choices for people and that it doesn't work unless you have a solid public transit system. "Those that live in a city with a streetcar or rail know what I'm talking about," he said.
San Antonio is the only city of significant size that doesn't have rail and that is where the controversy lies, he said. "When you build a streetcar system, it's not for the faint of heart."
A new form of payment recently took over the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Executive Vice President/CFO David Leininger shared their story.
The mobile payment app, GoPass was a one-stop mobile solution for a regional ticketing system for DART, the Denton County Transportation Authority and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. Just looking at DART's available media, Leininger showed a slide that had more than 60 different pieces of media that were in use.
In the approximately five months it's been available, there have been more than 90,000 downloads: averaging 600-650 downloads per day.
"Making something simple was not simple," Leininger stressed. DART had a group of 700 Beta testers. The best thing, he said, was that they created a Facebook page for these testers. The testers talked to each other and when one had a question, another tester would answer it.
One of the most important things was to have buy-in of the bus operators, fare officers and customer service reps. "If you don't," he said, "it won't work."
The operators saw it and the benefits to it. It was easy to use -- for riders and operators. And, he said the operators liked the "cool factor" of having a mobile app. Now DART has those additional "sales people" out there -- the bus operators.
DART even got positive editorial from local paper, said Leininger. He said mobile ticketing is not a solution for everything, but it is a solution for a lot of things. And, it saves money. It costs 14/15 percent to collect cash and with the mobile ticketing app, that is down to 7 or 8 percent.
To read more on mobile ticketing and DART's GoPass, visit www.MassTransitmag.com/11201209
VelociRFTA is the first rural bus rapid transit system in the U.S. The Roaring Fork River Valley is home to 33,000 residents and Roaring Fork Transportation Authority provides service from Aspen to Rifle, a 70-mile distance. The bus service was about a two hour commute. Until September 2013 with the introduction of its BRT service, which has knocked that commute down to an hour.
In 2008, a sales tax referendum was passed in all eight jurisdictions. The dedicated funding source for capital and operating expenses allowed RFTA to go to the FTA to get a Small Starts grant for just over $46 million.
The BRT service features rail-like features, limited to eight stops, frequent service, level boarding, multiple doors, signal priority and exclusive bus lanes at segments.
Light Rail is a Game Changer
Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta spoke of building the "Total Transit Network." He explained that meant many modes, working together. Providing more than 73 million trips a year, he said, "Phoenix is not seen as a transit mecca but dog gone it, we're working toward it."
The 28-mile light rail system connects Tempe, Mesa and Phoenix, and it also connects to the airport via SkyTrain. Due to rail, he explained how development has been a very good story in this area.
For more information on Valley Metro and development in the area due to rail, visit www.MassTransitmag.com/10951203.
A Wild Ride
Andrew Evans, contributing editor for National Geographic, gave a presentation, Ten Weeks, 14 Countries and 12,000 miles - to Antarctica - On a Bus, which garnered a standing ovation from the crowd.