NLC TV Tackles Transit Challenges, Examines Strategies for More Efficient Transportation Management

Article excerpt

Peggy Hetherington doesn't enjoy spending a whole workweek in traffic, and she doubts she's alone in her frustration.

The Bus Design Transportation Marketing Group director, who revealed an alarming statistic from a recent Texas Transportation Institute study that drivers on average waste nearly 38 hours a year inching through traffic on their way to work, is one of three panelists who discussed transportation woes and transit management pros during an NLC TV live Webcast last month.

The Transportation Demand Management (TDM): Challenges and Opportunities for America's Cities flee Webcast was sponsored in cooperation with Base Technologies Inc.

With the study results to support her claim, Hetherington said traffic keeps worsening in cities of all sizes. One major culprit? Economic disparity. And TDM, the implementation of plans and polices to influence drivers' behavior of travel to reduce or redistribute the amount of car use by providing a variety of mobility options, is one tool being utilized in cities across the country especially in urban areas that need to control the rate at which new development attracts cars.

"If your city is planning to grow in the next 10-20 years, you have to start looking at TDM programs to help you manage the road," Hetherington stated.

Panelist Michael Grant, project manager at ICF International, noted several key values that he's determined from his years of experience in transportation and environment policy, research and program development with a focus on TDM strategies.

He reported that TDM strategies:

* Have a near-term impact that's supplied quickly in comparison to building new highways and other transportation infrastructure to accommodate commuters;

* Allow a flexibility that can be tailored to specific business locations or specific times like during a major construction project;

* Meets environmental goals by encouraging alternative methods of commuting such as carpooling, bike tiding, taking public transportation and telecommuting;

* Is cost effective because it's less expensive to reduce cars from the road than it is to accommodate them, especially during a major project such as building new highway infrastructure; and

* Can lessen other transit costs for cities like the amount needed to provide public parking.

Grant also gave an example of a specific type of TDM strategy: the Commuter Benefits Program. With the initiative, employers can offer employees tax-free transit to and from work by bus, train or vanpool. The program goes by a wide variety of names including the Metro Check Program, which is used in Washington, D. …