Transportation Choices

yellow-iconEnhanced Access through Transportation Choices

Objective 1 – Connect communities through a multimodal transportation network including green infrastructure
Objective 2 – Increase transportation choices and modal connections for all users
Objective 3 – Enhance regional transit services and transportation demand management
Objective 4 – Improve transportation system impact on the built environment, natural environment, and regional quality of life

 

Regional Context
Throughout the Mid-South region, transportation investments have historically focused on automobile and freight movement. The region experiences an overwhelming reliance on private vehicle ownerships and there are limited transportation options aside from a personal vehicle. As a result, the region experiences traffic congestion, poor air quality, and high accident rates across all modes of transportation.

The reliance on automobile movement has had an impact on the development of the region. Much of the region has developed in low-density development patterns served by high-speed, high-volume roadways that negatively impact communities. Among many negative impacts, development patterns have led to an environment of low access to jobs for lower income residents, limited transit service in many areas of the region, and high transportation cost burden.

As the region developed new roadways over time, or invested in existing ones, efforts were almost solely focused on building and expanding roads, rather than creating space for additional modes of transportation. As a result, some of the region’s primary commercial corridors, including Germantown, Goodman, and Stage Roads, as well as the eastern end of Poplar Corridor were developed without any, or only minimal pedestrian or bicycle infrastructure.

Pedestrian infrastructure and transit service are closely related. Nearly every transit rider must walk to or from transit for at least one part of their trip. Another factor that makes transit successful is density – large numbers of people and jobs concentrated around corridors mean there is a large market for people to walk to and from the bus route.

Though a low percentage of trips are made by walking, biking, and transit as compared to other regions, recent investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are increasing the viability of transportation alternatives. Simultaneously, cuts to transit funding are requiring Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) to focus on key corridors, leaving other alternatives and transportation demand management strategies to serve the rest of the region.

 

Proposed Outcomes
Addressing the objectives associated with Enhanced Access through Transportation Choices is expected to lead to:
• Better multimodal options including: walking, bicycling, public transit, car sharing, ride sharing, energy efficient vehicles, and private automobile ownership
• Safer and more continuous and accommodating pedestrian routes, including accessible sidewalks, multi-purpose paths, and nature trails
• A more robust network of transportation connections that link communities and local and regional destinations
• Reduced overall transportation costs for households
• Continued improvement of on-street facilities to support all users (motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders, etc.)
• An improved public transit system that serves more riders and connects to other modes of transportation
• Adaptive reuse of excess transportation corridors, such as abandoned railroads or highway corridors

Based on regional context and greatest needs identified for Enhanced Access through Transportation Choices, the following objectives and actions focus on improving public transit, creating greater transportation choices, and expanding options for walking and biking. Actions focus on creating a multimodal transportation system that explores options suitable for lower levels of population and employment density and relies on connections between public transportation and bicycle
and pedestrian infrastructure.

2119-Greenprint-submark-infinity-greenblue

Objective 1 – Connect communities through a multimodal transportation network including green infrastructure

3.1.1 Prioritize transportation investments that connect multiple neighborhoods, municipalities, and activity centers
3.1.2 Prioritize transportation investments that connect neighborhoods to green infrastructure
3.1.3 Identify and improve potential points of access to activity and employment centers
for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit connections
3.1.4 Identify railroad corridors and utility easements and utilize them to complete connections
3.1.5 Retrofit auto-centric corridors to be more bicycle and pedestrian friendly

The concept for a network of green space was developed to ensure connections between home, work, school, and goods and services by treating greenways as one component of a multimodal transportation network. Prior to the development of the Greenprint, the Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) developed a Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, laying the framework for expansion of bicycle facilities across the region. Similarly, Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) completed the Short-Range Transit Plan, which guided realignment of bus routes to create a more efficient public transportation system. The proposed network of connected green infrastructure adds another layer to the multimodal system.

Considering population and employment density and common low-density development patterns in employment and education centers throughout the region, an effective multimodal solution for the region will greatly depend on the interconnectivity between bus, bicycle, pedestrian, and green infrastructure. The map to the right illustrates the connections between the concept map, existing bicycle facilities, and public transportation routes, weighted by trip frequency and how these services impact population and connection to employment centers. Implementation of both the Greenprint and the Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan can help to extend these connections across neighborhoods, cities, and states, creating greater multimodal transportation options for residents.

ISD3 Transportation Networkf implemented today, 78% of the population and 79% of jobs are within one mile of a Greenprint corridor. Ensuring connectivity depends on reliable bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, particularly to make “last mile” connections in many areas of the region. A better connected environment for bicyclists and pedestrians gives people more transportation choices, improves health and safety, and improves overall quality of life. In many places in the Mid-South, basic pedestrian infrastructure is lacking, yet pedestrian activity occurs. However, investing a minimal cost required to make improvements to pedestrian infrastructure can reduce parking and traffic by 5 to 15%.

 

 

Objective 2 – Increase transportation choices and modal connections for all users

3.2.1 Identify and communicate to individuals where multimodal connections exist
3.2.2 Develop policies which encourage higher density commercial and residential development at intersections of alternative transportation modes
3.2.3 Coordinate and expand safety, encouragement, and enforcement programs to promote active transportation
3.2.4 Increase and promote the use of bicycles for commuting and non-recreational transportation
3.2.5 Analyze and communicate information on the comfort and skill levels of bicycle facilities
3.2.6 Ensure investments and decision-making foster a holistic transportation network for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation
3.2.7 Establish goals and metrics to track progress of usage and mode share by transit, walking, and bicycling

Increasing communication of connections between transit, bicycle facilities, and greenways can be enhanced by updating transit maps to include bicycle and greenway connections as well as creating online and mobile applications that allow individuals to map their commute using multiple modes of transportation. Inclusion of customizable information related to comfort and skill levels of bicycle facilities could aid individuals of all ages and abilities in planning and navigating safer trips.

Further, employers in the Mid-South can encourage greater bicycle commuting by offering commuter bicycle benefits or on-site bicycle facilities to employees. A commuter bicycle benefit is an incentive to encourage employees to bike to work. The federal government has a tax provision that allows any employer to provide a reimbursement of up to $20 per month for expenses incurred by the employee in conjunction with their commute to work by bike. The reimbursement is a fringe benefit paid by the employer and is tax-deductible to the employer.

Similarly, employers can support bicycle commuting byproviding on-site bicycle amenities for use by employees and visitors, such as bicycle parking, signage, shower and changing facilities, and repair facilities. Bicycle facilities are included as part of new constructions, but can also easily be retrofitted into existing buildings and employer campuses. On-site bicycle parking facilities can reduce parking and traffic demand by up to 15% for minimal one-time capital investment.

Communities can promote greater use of transit and active transportation in a number of ways, as well:

• Ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other design standard guidelines for infrastructure investments;
• Training and enforcement of ordinances related to bicycle, pedestrian and motor vehicles;
• Improved enforcement of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) interstate lanes;
• Providing information and incentives for ridesharing and carpooling; and
• Implementing bike share programs.

 

Objective 3 – Enhance regional transit services and transportation demand management

3.3.1 Identify and adjust service or provide transportation alternatives to and from employment centers not well-served by public transit
3.3.2 Implement transportation demand management (TDM) strategies, particularly in major employment centers, to shift trips from single-occupancy vehicles
3.3.3 Expand and enhance transit, rideshare, and vanpool programs through branding, outreach, improved infrastructure, and incentives
3.3.4 Secure a dedicated funding source for effective and convenient transit service
3.3.5 Create a regional transit authority to provide transit service to the larger region
3.3.6 Establish goals and metrics to track progress of bus ridership, vanpool and carpool usage, and usage of bicycle and pedestrian facilities

During the public outreach phase for this plan, one of the primary priorities articulated was the need for better public transportation throughout the region. Low-density development patterns and lack of dedicated funding for transit are significant challenges to improving public transportation in the Mid-South. The limited number of bus routes and infrequent service along some lines continue to pose equity issues for people who rely on transit as their only means of transportation to reach services and employment.

Services provided by Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) should be adjusted to improve access to
major employment centers. Along strategic corridors, more rapid transit options such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) should be implemented. This includes exploring dedicated facilities for rapid transit, such as bus-only lanes and use of highway shoulders for transit vehicles, as well as better separation, signage, and enforcement of HOV lanes. In areas where public transit may be less effective, innovative ideas for transportation demand management (TDM) solutions such as rideshare, vanpools, and transportation management associations should be implemented. More information about TDM can be found in the Bus Transit to Workplace Study profile.

Expansion of the current public transportation network will require increased funding. Regional partners should work to secure a dedicated funding source for MATA to provide for more effective and convenient transit service. Because transit issues affect the entire region, consideration should be given to creating a multijurisdictional regional transportation authority to serve more residents, communities, and employment areas of the region.

 

Objective 4 – Improve transportation system impact on the built environment, natural environment, and regional quality of life

3.4.1 Change public policy to include design standards, incentives, and encourage density in support of efficient transportation, transit-served development, and Complete Streets
3.4.2 Conduct a regional assessment of pedestrian infrastructure in proximity to schools and activity centers to identify improvements
3.4.3 Create dedicated funding sources for public infrastructure such as accessible sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic calming measures, and bike lane improvements
3.4.4 Advocate public agencies and private companies for the adoption of “Green Fleets” policies and use of alternative fuel sources
3.4.5 Promote access to resources for biofuel innovation, production, distribution and use
3.4.6 Establish goals, develop metrics and monitor progress towards improved environmental effects of the regional transportation system

In order to improve the impact of the transportation system on the built and natural environments, the Mid-South region can pursue several different actions. Investments prioritized by areas of greatest use and need, such as around schools, along key transit corridors, and within activity and employment centers can have the greatest benefit. Development of the transportation system in the Mid-South should focus on all users by adopting and promoting policies and designs of Complete Streets. More information about Complete Streets in the Mid- South is on the following page. Adopting Complete Streets policies can also serve to improve pedestrian safety in the region. The region should enforce sidewalk maintenance ordinances, explore funding mechanisms for sidewalk repair and maintenance, and ensure sidewalk development and maintenance complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Greater use of alternative fuels in transportation can have a more positive impact on the natural environment. The region should develop an alternative fuel and electric vehicle plan including recommendations for connecting regional suppliers of commonly-used alternative fuel sources to potential consumers, streamlining state and local procurement policies to ease the transition to alternative fuels in large fleets, and increasing public information on alternative fuels and fueling stations in the region. Local governments should pursue adoption of green fleets policies.

Bike parking work