Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Welcome

As noted in the profile for this blog, this web location is meant to provide residents of the Lehigh Valley (and others interested in public transit) to comment, suggest and engage in discussions about the future of transit.

The Lehigh Valley is one of the fastest growing areas in Pennsylvania. Its change from a manufacturing-based community to a 'service' community over the past 5 decades has dramatically altered the demand for public transit. In addition, the urban sprawl that has taken place has challenged the ability of transit to respond to changes in travel and commute demands.

Nonetheless, demand for transit has been strong over the years. And during the past decade - 1997-2007 - ridership on the local Metro bus system has grown by 67%.

We can talk more about the past here, but this blog is about the future. Where should new investment in public transit take place in the Valley? This is the central question that needs to be answered and we look forward to a lively and productive discussion!

10 comments:

TriviaPlenum said...

Dear LANTA,

Great idea, great job. I hope you get a lot of productive ideas here.

I moved to Allentown from Philadelphia in 2006. One of the things I most lamented losing was the extensive public transportation service with SEPTA.

Here are my recommendations for improvement:
1) Extend the hours - this would be especially helpful to people who need to get to work early, or work the third shift.

2) Can we get a TRAIN? After moving here, I commuted to Philly for a year. I had to get a ride in, or to Lansdale to take the train from there. Can you imagine the business we'd attract to Allentown with a train line in and out, especially to Philly? And how about in and out of NYC? Wow!

There's a start for you. Thanks for giving us a forum.

Kate Sannicks
Allentown

Rick Daugherty said...

Is there a goal for on-time service with Metro Plus that fits with customer expectations? How is it tracked and reported?

Pete Terry said...

The kickoff meeting last week was great. I have two ideas. Could you make a software application where a potential rider could enter their start and stop addresses and then the software reports how they could use the bus system, the distances they would have to walk/bicycle and the bus schedule?

Second idea, could a map be made which a renter could use to identify what bus service was available near the apartment?

I look forward to the next meeting.

Moving LANTA Forward said...

triviaplenum:
Thanks for stopping by and offering comment. Every suggestion and comment will be reviewed as part of the plan.

Moving LANTA Forward said...

Rick Daugherty:

Yes, there is an on-time performance measure for Metro Plus. Does it fit with customer expectations? We are not certain of this and this may be part of the problem.
The van is 'on-time' if it arrives within 15 minutes on either side of the scheduled time of arrival. That is a half-hour window and may lead to the perception that vans are 'always' late.
LANTA has reviewed the on-time performance of Metro Plus extensively over the past several months and going back a year when the system was operated with two carriers instead of one.
On time goals are 85%. The system is hovering around 89/90%. And when there were two carriers, the on-time performance was about the same.
While there were some bumps in the road in moving from two carriers to one, by LANTA's measures, there does not appear to be a deterioration of service quality.
Paratransit is 'different' transportation and people's expectations may not match what the mode can deliver.

Moving LANTA Forward said...

Pete Terry:

Two good suggestions. The first, having a trip itinerary planner online LANTA is moving forward on right now and hopes to have up and running in a few months. It is part of a grants program that was approved last year to create a 'centralized' transportation website that will contain not only a trip itinerary feature but information across all modes including the ability to match people in car and van pools. The Valley's transportation issues may have to be resolved with a 'combination' of solutions and car and van pools, park and rides may be part of that.

Creating maps with specific information to targeted audiences such as people searching for real estate is a great idea too and perhaps can be worked into the central website as collateral information.

LANTA has just released an RFP for the development of this website. If you want to see an example goto:

http://www.pacommuterservices.com/

Many other communities have similar 'commute' services just do a google search on commute and see what you come up with.

Information is one of the main - and less expensive - improvements to the local transportation system that can aid everyone.

John Stoffa said...

One idea may be to plan for park and ride areas strategically located throughout the Lehigh Valley area. With the significant increase in gasoline and diesel prices, the cost of travel, especially for work, medical, shopping, recreational, other points of destination, such as New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia become especially burdensome. This suggestion is to bring together government at all levels, (federal, state, local) economic development folks, like LVEDC, LVIP, Chamber of Commerce, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, individuals representing open space that has been preserved (eg. farmland preservation, parks, environmentally sensitive,) developers and especially the two counties. The idea would be to begin now to plan for strategically located park and ride areas where people living in the suburbs could drive a few miles, park their cars, and take public transportation (similar to Musikfest). Identifying and acquiring these park and ride areas is especially important now, before we overdevelop.

lantabusfan said...

Dear LANTA.

I was not able to attend the meeting's that were held on the 23rd and 24'th of Sep.so I will share my Ideal's through here.What I'm wanting to see with LANTA is All buses to have a rear route sign in the back and another side sign on the driverside .It would be helpfull to most riders.Especialy at the ATC.Example,say you in line at DD ordering coffee.Your waiting for the 6:00 G to South Bethlehem.But you did not see the sign to the bus that pulled in as you paying for you coffee at least you would have a rear route sign to see what letter it is,and a driverside sign to make sure it's not the Blvd bus.I would also like to see a cut of readings in destination signs.I like how the were easier then they are now.Example H Dorney Park,not ROUTE H-DORNEY PARK &-WILDWATER KINGDOM.Remember they aren't paying you guys to have it say all that.I miss the roll signs plain and simple not technical for a driver to get slamed with questions and the bus gets no were.During rush hr's I think it you be a great ideal especially with school in session to make on all busy routes "A" Hanover Ave only,"E" Hanover Ave only,"G" Union Blvd only,"H" W Hamilton only to provide every other stop to make less ease on drivers and more effective time to make connections at ATC and Gutter and Broad St's Bethlehem.On site transit centers to have ticket vending machines to make purchases of 10 rides,monthly,and 40 ride tickets.To reduce the amout of paper to make many of scheduals I thnk it would be great to have all scheduals printed in a book form with a system map,how to use the bike rack,safety tips,riding rules,how to ride,and last but not least Fares.That is all I could think of for now.If I think of anymore I will return

Moving LANTA Forward said...

Mr. Stoffa:

Your suggestion about preserving land for future park and ride lots as well as rights-of-way for other transit projects is right on target. How can such alternatives be even considered if the land in the Valley is unavailable?

Several major park-and-right lots have been planned in to highway projects locally: the Route 412 lot, the parking facility at Wm Penn and Route 33 and the expanded lot near I-78 and Rte 222. The lot at Wm Penn is designed to be the largest on the East Coast when it is completed!

But what about smaller, local lots for local travel? Some folks are using church or shopping center parking lots now to park and ride the bus to their final destination.

It is time that we study the community and identify locations that lend themselves to intercepting traffic now and in the future, and preserve those locations for future generations.

Moving LANTA Forward said...

Lantabusfan:

Thanks for being a bus fan!

We will incorporate all of your ideas into the plan for the future.

One of the main issues coming out of surveys and comments is that the transit system is difficult to navigate because of either complicated information or just lack of information.

That needs to be addressed.

A new fare collection system would also help to ease payment. An 'ez pass' style of fare payment or some other swipe card would help a lot.

One idea that is gaining a lot of momentum is to do away with print schedules altogether! Make the system information accessible online and at signs at bus stops as well as via cellular phones and PDA's.

LANTA has also just produced a set of videos on "How to Ride the Bus" that includes such things as how to use bike racks and safely navigate the system. This is located at:

http://www.lantabus.com/thevideoroom/

If you have more ideas, we'd like to hear them. It is in everyone's interest to have the best transit service in the Valley.