And now a transit pass for the occasional office worker

Also: Charlotte is busy fixing her sidewalks, and more in this week’s Mobile City.

Welcome to “The Mobile City”, our weekly roundup of remarkable transportation developments.

Baltimore Deploys Flexible Transportation Pass

Even if knowledge workers are gradually and hesitantly returning to their offices as immunization rates rise, it is highly likely that the five-day work weeks in the office will become a thing of the past. Today, Mass Transit reports that a transit agency is redesigning its discounted transit passes to reflect this new reality.

A press release dated August 27 in the post announced that the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) has rolled out new three- and 10-day transit passes called CharmFlex, available to users of the CharmPass mobile payment app from the agency.

CharmFlex passes differ from regular passes in that they can be used on consecutive or non-consecutive days. They are also valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. The passes are valid on all MDOT MTA services and I offer a 15% discount on the price of a day pass or one way ticket.

“As Maryland’s economy continues to recover and passengers return to transit, we are excited to offer new fare options that meet the needs of our passengers,” said Holly Arnold, Acting Administrator of MDOT MTA. “CharmFlex offers the best value for money for cyclists traveling only a few times a week or on non-consecutive days. ”

The launch of the CharmFlex pass coincided with the re-establishment of full service on the MTA and MARC systems on August 30. Even though ridership remains well below pre-pandemic levels, it has increased since the spring of this year: ridership in the spring quarter of 2021 on all MDOT MTA services was up 20% from its peak. level of 2020 induced by the pandemic.

Advocates push House to add transit funding removed from infrastructure bill

The $ 39 billion allocated to public transit in the bipartisan infrastructure bill now before the House is more than what the federal government has ever promised for public transit. But according to a report in The Hill, the original bipartisan deal involving the Senate and the Biden administration provided for an additional $ 10 billion for public transit.

“The bipartisan group of senators and the White House agreed to increase transit funding by $ 49 billion in the deal they proudly touted,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America, in a press release Monday. “But they gave up $ 10 billion, giving up their own deal for no reason.”

His group is part of a coalition of 45 professional associations, unions and environmental groups that is now urging the House to hand over the missing $ 10 billion. The coalition bases its advocacy on environmental and equity grounds. As Sierra Club president Ramon Cruz said in a statement, “Transportation is the biggest source of climate-disrupting emissions in the United States and a major source of air pollution, especially in the United States. low income communities and communities of color. But Congress has the power to change that. All communities deserve to have access to clean and reliable mobility options.

If the group achieves its goal, the missing money will most likely be included in the budget reconciliation bill which will only need Democratic votes to pass.

Something similar happened in Wisconsin, whose Republican-controlled legislature slashed state funding by $ 40 million for transit systems in the state’s two largest cities this year. summer, citing cost savings. The Milwaukee Journal Sentry reports that Democratic Governor Tony Evers cushioned the blow by sending an additional $ 25 million in federal funding to the two cities: $ 19.7 million for the Milwaukee County transit system and $ 5.2 million for the Madison Metro Transit. The legislature has not cut state funding for any other public transit system in the state.

“The fact that our most urban centers were targeted by Republican cuts in the last budget was a slap in the face of the disproportionate number of Wisconsinites in these communities who depend on public transportation to get to school, to work, to appointments. you go to the doctor – you call him, ”Evers said in a statement.

Charlotte plays catch-up on sidewalk repairs

WBTV in Charlotte reports that after a February survey found that the city had 242 unfunded sidewalk repair projects that had been on the waiting list for 15 years or more, the city council voted to borrow more than three times that that the city had spent on sidewalk repairs in the next fiscal year.

Council-authorized bond issuance will increase sidewalk repair funding from $ 15 million to $ 50 million in fiscal year 2022. Voters must approve the bonds in an election year next before they can be issued.

The station’s investigation revealed flaws in the system the city uses to assess the quality of sidewalks and prioritize projects. He also found that the city did not regularly reassess sidewalk projects to see if any repairs needed to move up the list.

Ashley Landis, deputy director of the planning and design division of the Charlotte Department of Transportation, was delighted with the huge increase in funding: “We’re going to be able to accelerate our projects, deliver more projects and really scale the projects to the next level. across town, ”she told the station.

In the city’s 2022 fiscal budget, 20% of the money will be set aside for building sidewalks in suburban areas.

New Jersey banks take buses (or other transportation) to support a struggling mall

Many planners support public transit because they believe it can serve as a tool to reshape neighborhoods and communities to promote walking and better urban form. According to a story in the commercial real estate industry’s publication The Real Deal, however, the New Jersey Transit Corporation plans to send transit to the rescue of a struggling mall.

The mall in question is the American Dream Mall, the massive shopping / recreation complex located in the Meadowlands near MetLife Stadium. According to the article, the mall, which opened in phases from October 2019 but closed completely for six months in 2020 due to the pandemic, has a huge debt burden that its owner is using to pay off. its liquidity reserves.

But according to The story of on NJT’s proposal to build a new “Transitway” connecting both the shopping center and the MetLife stadium adjacent to the Secaucus Junction station bus terminal, the crisis NJT hopes to avoid is one of traffic: NJT has problems. Nightmarish visions of traffic on days the Giants or Jets play at MetLife Stadium and the mall is fully open and operational.

A traffic survey undertaken in 2012, when construction of the mall was put on hold due to a dispute between its owner and football teams, predicted 151,000 weekday visitors would come to the mall once it was completed. While Bergen County bans Sunday retail sales, the ban does not extend to theme parks, meaning the American Dream Mall theme park would be open during games.

The agency has just started to study the idea and has yet to stop on a mode of choice, but the chosen alignment strongly favors the bus service. The proposed 7.2-mile route would use exclusively government-owned properties to connect the destinations: an existing bus track at Secaucus Junction, an abandoned NJT railroad line, bus tracks on the New Jersey Turnpike, and a right of way dedicated to the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

The route is expected to carry more than 10,000 passengers per hour than an existing rail line serving the stadium can carry, according to the report.

The proposal has already drawn criticism both for its planned route and its possible cost. A former Long Island Rail Road planning director cited in the article pointed out that the route requires reconstruction of a 123-year-old railway bridge and may take longer than just taking an express bus. from the Port Authority bus terminal in Meadowlands.

Other critics have raised questions about the funding of the project. “Our capital plan is not fully funded. Why should other entities not participate in the financing of this project, in particular American Dream and the Meadowlands ”, asked James D. Adams, member of the board of directors of the NJT. “Why does it look like NJ Transit is fully funding this?” He and fellow board member Robert Gordon argued that the mall and crews should shoulder part of the bill and that public-private partnerships should be explored to build the line.

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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia cream magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Investigator and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities dates back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations dates back this far.

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