Mass transit study committee seeks members
Thursday, Mar. 5, 2009
The Metro Columbus League is gearing up for its first study in many years.
At its February meeting, the board of trustees approved a proposal to update the League’s position on mass transit. The proposal will be submitted to members for approval at an upcoming general meeting, but in the meantime, committee members are being recruited so that the study committee can hit the ground running.
The League’s current position on mass transit states: “Support mass transportation in central Ohio.” Unfortunately, no further information is available about the position or the study that led to consensus on the position. With a variety of public transportation options being considered by local and regional authorities, and with $42 million in federal stimulus funds just earmarked for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and the Central Ohio Transit Authority, an update of this position is in order if the League is to play a role in shaping improvements to mass transit in the metro area.
MORPC and COTA have 6- and 12-month deadlines to spend the money. Beyond traditional road projects, MORPC can use the funds on public transit, ports, or passenger rail. COTA’s share, estimated at $14 million in capital transit grants from the Ohio Department of Transportation, does not include the $200 million local officials requested for light rail because the proposed eight-mile line from Downtown to Ohio State along High Street is not far enough along to qualify. But COTA is keeping the project on the table, with hopes of having it operational by 2015.
The League study committee will identify criteria that members will use to decide the League’s support for or opposition to specific types of mass transit. These types will include:
- The current COTA bus system;
- Various proposals currently being discussed, e.g., Mayor Coleman’s streetcar proposal, federally funded light rail, the “3-C” train corridor; and
- Other realistic options for mass transit.
The committee will examine such factors as cost and funding sources, how the transit option meets local needs without duplication of services, success of similar ventures in comparable cities, and environmental impact. The study must be broad enough to help the League determine criteria for supporting or opposing mass transit proposals in both the near and long term.
If members approve the study, then the committee will begin its work, conclude the study within an appropriate time frame, and submit a report to the board of trustees. The board will then structure an education and consensus process for the membership. If consensus is reached, a new position shall be adopted.
If you are interested in serving on the study committee, contact Administrator Amy Pulles at (614) 837-1089. No experience is necessary, but if you do have expertise on this subject, let Amy know.