Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Liveblogging JTC Transit Funding Study

Today is the first stakeholder meeting on transit funding and the state role in public transportation.  This stakeholder group will oversee the transit funding study that is underway at the Joint Transportation Commission and was funded by the 2010 legislature.  It looks like TVW is here but the program is not being shown live, although there will most likely be a video available online at a later date.

The meeting is underway and the first hour has been dedicated to introductions around the table. The transit systems introductory comments have focused on lack of stability in funding with the current system.

The main web page for this study and stakeholder group can be found here: http://www.leg.wa.gov/JTC/Pages/TransitAdvisoryPanelInformation.aspx.  On that page a link of study participants is linked.

Intros are over and the consultants are going over this presentation http://www.leg.wa.gov/JTC/Documents/Studies/TransitAdvisoryPanel/StateRoleInPublicTrans_PB%20.pdf.

The four overall themes the consultant garnered from one on one interviews (page 5) are:
1-One size does not fit all
2-Focus on the big picture
3-Meeting state goals

There was a robust discussion on the value (or lack of value) of park and rides.  The private carriers discussed challenges they face when they can't access park and rides.

Now they are discussing the timeline and process of the group which can be found here:

I also got confirmation from TVW that a video of the meeting will be online probably by tomorrow.

The consultants are now getting more into the details of the current state role in public transportation.  They are mainly discussing the interactions between local transit, state DOT and the FTA. I can't find this set of slides online.

Consultants are discussing the current ways the state is involved in public transportation. There isn't much new here.  Bascially the state directly pays for a couple of important programs (HOV lanes, some limited rural intercity bus programs, Amtrak Cascades) and has some grant programs for transit such as the regional mobility grants.  They are also discussing the state authority that allowed the creation of Public Transportation Benefit Districts (PTBAs) and the associated funding options that PTBAs currently have.

The consultants also dedicated a slide to other state policies that are directly related to public transportation but won't be addresses directly in this study.  Those include the Growth Management Act (GMA), Commute Trip Reduction (CTR), and the Greenhouse Gas and VMT reductions acts that have been passed in the legislature.

Major focuses of the study going forward will be:
-Public Transportation as a tool to achieve other state policies
-Urban v. Rural diffrences
-Role of WSDOT
-Unfunded public transportation needs (which the consultant called the 800 pound gorilla in the room)

Consultants are now presenting on the details of current funding for public transportation and unmet needs.

Current public transportation services they identify are:
-Public transit agencies
-Human services transportation programs
-State supported programs (directly supported and grant programs)
-Private operators
-Business sponsored services

There was a lot of discussion about the loss of sales tax revenue for transit agencies.  Rep. Liias suggested that issues between a short term funding gap versus a long term look be teased out, because if we don't find a bridge to help the current transit funding crisis we won't be able to have a long term conversation.

Conversations have moved onto how to craft performance measures for public transportation.  Metro is discussing the performance measures development process they are going through at the regional metro task force.

The last section of today's meeting is dedicated to what other states are doing in terms of their involvement with public transportation.  The presenter used to work in public transportation at the state DOT in California.

Some highlights:
-Maryland is the largest transit operator in the state.  Is the direct owner and operator of local bus, commuter bus, and paratransit service.
-Virgina's state role is largely capital.  Most of its funding allocations are boiled down to six performance measures for the agencies in the state.
-Texas does almost nothing at the state level.  The leave with all of the responsibility and the authority including the annual planning responsibilities.  Very hands off approach in terms of development and funding of local transit.

The meeting is wrapping up leaving these questions on the table:
1-Revisit; is the state focused in the right areas?
2-Asses; Are there areas that the state should be considering?
3-Looking Forward; What does this mean for how performance is measured?

Update, a video of the meeting is now online:

1 comment:

  1. It's good that these discussions are being had. But will the status quo of investing billions in highways actually change? I'm pessimistic about that.