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Public Comment Report

Coordinated Transit Plan | October 31, 2018


The draft of the Coordinated Transit Plan was released for a 30-day public comment period beginning October 1, 2018. A draft of the document was made available at www.nirpc.org and emailed to stakeholders.

The comments and responses to the draft are listed below. An update will also be provided at the NIRPC Commission meeting on November 15, 2018.


Coordinated Transit Plan Draft Comments & Responses

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

Electronic Comments

1

I focused on Lake County--not much new. Why is there not a fixed route bus on Ridge Rd.--Indiana and Illinois?

Please continue to strongly advocate for the South Shore double tracking, and the WestLake Extension of the South Shore.

Regarding your suggestion about the Ridge Road bus, we will pass your comments along to the fixed route bus operators in North Lake County: Gary Public Bus Corporation and East Chicago. Should they decide there is enough demand for service on Ridge Road, and enough funding available, they may decide to put service there. However, ultimately the decision on where to place service comes down to each individual transit agency.


Thank you for your comments on the West Lake Extension and Double Tracking the South Shore Train. These are very important catalyst projects that spark greater investments in transit over time. NIRPC will continue to maintain its positive relationship with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and support these projects however it can.

No

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

2

We need to provide transportation for these individuals with an alternative that is NOT marked a "special." My daughter has autism and refuses to use SLCCS because it is "the handicapped bus." Why not provide the vehicles without any markings except SLCCS? Must all who use this be "branded"? What we really need is accessible and affordable general public transportation throughout the region.

I looked into the issue that you and your daughter ran into with SLCCS buses. I spoke to the transportation department at SLCCS and asked them to confirm the kind of branding present on their buses. They indicated to me that currently they do not have any kind of "special" moniker on their buses - that they are labeled only as SLCCS transit. The woman I spoke with did elaborate that there is an international symbol of access, or a "handicap" logo, on the side of the bus to indicate that there is a wheelchair-accessible ramp, but otherwise there isn't currently any branding on the buses to distinguish it as a special form of transit.


I also wanted to mention that the services SLCCS provides are open to the public regardless of age or disability status, and many people without disabilities utilize SLCCS services. We have heard from the stakeholders in our planning process and from the public that sometimes individuals feel less inclined to take transit because of the stigma associated with transit being for "special needs." This stigma is something that we're working against to enhance transit access for all people, and reduce barriers to accessibility across the region. If you or your daughter have any input on how we can continue to reduce the stigma of using public transit, we would appreciate your feedback.


I've made SLCCS aware of this issue and I'm also cc'ing them on this message in case I missed something regarding your suggestion or if you'd like any additional feedback.


I also wanted to mention that we appreciate your comment about needing "accessible and affordable general public transportation throughout the region." We wholeheartedly agree. The goal of all of our planning efforts is to expand transit to as many people as possible.


Thank you for taking the time to submit a comment. If you have anything else you'd like to add, please let us know!


Thanks again,

No

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

3

Re: coordination

  • Twofold coordination:o Fixed-route operators with each other (schedules, fare media, technology, etc)

o D/R providers with each other and helping feed/extend fixed route effectiveness

  • The endorsement of using federal funds for ADA transition plan site reviews/improvements is a good suggestion

  • Separate the maps for fixed route and demand response services (possibly include complementary paratransit areas in the latter)

  • Deviated fixed route is not often considered a separate mode, but rather how a fixed-route service provides its complementary service

  • Rapid Bus, defined by infrastructure, branding, dedicated lanes and frequency, should be identified as a separate mode

  • NICTD: most of NICTD’s service area is outside of Lake County; the agency profile should not be in the Lake County section


Re: Local investment

Change “local match” conversation to “local investment”. More investment needed to provide services people want (more frequency, larger service area). Considering the amount of leftover NIRPC grant funds, local match is not an operator-specific issue


Snapshots of service and agencies:

Hello David,


As you know, many of these comments were incorporated into the document as per the Transit Operators Roundable on October 25, 2018. As per request, this message will address the comments made in that meeting as well as a few additional ones you requested here.


“Change “local match” conversation to “local investment”. More investment needed to provide services people want (more frequency, larger service area). Considering the amount of leftover NIRPC grant funds, local match is not an operator-specific issue”

  • “Local match” is distinctly different from “local investment.” In order to more effectively utilize federal funds a dedicated regional local match source is necessary. This point was discussed in detail at the Gary public meeting of the coordinated plan, the GPTC Regional Transit Summit, and in nearly every public meeting concerning transit. While local investment is important, local matching funds for federal funds remains to be a paramount concern in spending down all carryover balances for all transit systems in Northwestern Indiana, including GPTC.

  • The primary purpose of this document is to ensure coordination between transit operators, as well as operators and human service agencies on a


“Separate the maps for fixed route and demand response services (possibly include complementary paratransit areas in the latter)”

Yes.


Changes made:

•Expanded references to GPTC's rapid bus service throughout the document

•Moved NICTD's transit operator profile to a new "Mulit-county" provider section

•Enhanced language regarding local match

•Enhanced language regarding the core services of GPTC and local match

•Enhanced language concerning the beginning of GPTC's regional services

•Enhanced language about North Township and GPTC's changed service area after the decline of the RBA

•Removed the "Service overlap map," and all supporting text

•Added an implementation matrix

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

  • GPTC

  • GPTC is the only agency described specifically with a “local match problem.” GPTC has local support needed for maintaining its core system and, as mentioned elsewhere in the Coordinated Plan, has infrastructure and expertise but lacks regional partners for expansion and higher frequencies. This is different from a “local match problem”. Please modify.

  • GPTC’s return to regional service was in 1996 (Tri-City Connection), not with the loss of RBA service. Please correct.

  • Much like NICTD’s Westlake and Double Track projects, GPTC’s Lakeshore and Broadway services were preceded by specific corridor plans followed by community buy-in and, for both subareas, community investment. Both efforts are worthy of specific mention in the agency summary. Please modify.

  • NORTH: Please explain how North Township’s Dial-A-Ride is similar to GPTC’s service. Additionally, the Dial-A-Ride existed prior to the collapse of the RBA, but was expanded afterwards. Please clarify.

  • SLCCS: Service area size is not mentioned regarding other agencies so it may not really be appropriate here

  • Transit Triangle: The plan’s ridership mention reads as being critical of the project; ridership for other services not mentioned. This critique should be removed.

  • TransPorte: The description of effectiveness due to smaller service area misses the mark - not about service area but that the service area is the same as a municipal boundary (not fair to compare it to other D/R services)

  • Change focus of discussion from number of flyers/emails/meetings to actual engagement and responses

  • 93 human services site visits - explain?

  • Can providers get access to raw data relevant to them?


Public Participation

regional scale. In order to do this, maps with both types of service are necessary.


“Deviated fixed route is not often considered a separate mode, but rather how a fixed-route service provides its complementary service.”

  • The reason deviated fixed route services are called out in this section is to highlight the difference between traditional fixed-route service with complementary paratransit and deviated fixed-route service. The public identified complementary paratransit as the most-ideal choice in providing service to people with disabilities. As such, it would be a misnomer to lump deviated fixed route service into the latter.

  • The purpose of defining the modes in the context of this document was to highlight the regional accessibility of people with disabilities and the elderly. You are correct that there is a distinction here that is important. Further analysis should be completed concerning frequency of service and how that affects transit availability in the region. Unfortunately, this analysis is too broad and time consuming to be included in this document, however other references to GPTC’s rapid bus service have been expanded in other portions of the document.

  • This issue was discussed this at length in our 10/25 meeting. Edits have been received from NICTD and they also indicated they’d prefer their profile be moved to a new section. A new section for multi-county providers has been added.


“Rapid Bus, defined by infrastructure, branding, dedicated lanes and frequency, should be identified as a separate mode”


“NICTD: most of NICTD’s service area is outside of Lake County; the agency profile should not be in the Lake County section”

as an appendix that links 2050 Critical Paths, Coordinated Plan strategies, needs, relevance, and responsible parties

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

Data Trends

  • Some citation should be made that commuter rail reach is improved with fixed route transit, especially at EC, Metro, MC (all have multiple bus lines serving them)

  • Service overlap map and discussion is misleading

  • Could lead to misinterpretation that more service providers equals more transit access (i.e. two D/R providers > one fixed route provider)

  • Of the four cities mentioned in the text as having multiple services overlapping, three are not served by fixed route transit and, contrary to the text and map, have been targeted as poster communities for poor transit access

  • Illustrating the conceit of the misinterpretation: Midtown Gary has only one operator – GPTC – but significantly better transit access (Bmx, R3, L1, L3, L5) than downtown Hammond (D/R, R1 and R4), yet the map suggests that Midtown, with bus service averaging once every six minutes, is transitstarved. o An alternative would be a “quality of service” metric suggested recently - stratify service types (D/R, fixed route, rapid bus, commuter rail) and measure locations by frequency of each type

  • If “quality of service” is not used I would recommend removing the map and elaborating in the text, as the map apparently (based on meeting discussions) purports to identify “transit deserts” yet includes some of NWI’s most transitrich areas, that are simply served by one agency.


Strategies

The service gaps identified on page 41 should be connected to the strategies from the 2050 plan via a matrix or some other method.

“GPTC is the only agency described specifically with a “local match problem.””

  • Language has been expanded to include other transit operators that are also trying to increase their local match. The language has been softened from “local match problem,” to “…finding additional investment to secure and expand their regional services is a challenge.”

  • Language has been updated

  • Language has been updated

  • Language has been updated

  • This issue was discussed in-depth at the 10/25 meeting. The language has been updated to clarify that both services expanded to accommodate a void in service left by the collapse of the RBA.

  • The size of an operator’s service area is mentioned in other profiles. For instance, GPTC’s service area size is also mentioned in their profile as “the largest fixed route operator.” A primary issue facing SLCCS is how to continue to provide the same level of service to a large geographic area that continues to grow in need as more human service agencies move to suburban Lake County. As such, mention of their geographic size is important for context as the reader moves into the outreach and data trends portion of the document. Additionally, as indicated in the 10/25 roundtable meeting, SLCCS indicated that they are comfortable with this language.


“GPTC has local support needed for maintaining its core system and, as mentioned elsewhere in the coordinated Plan, has infrastructure and expertise but lacks regional partners for expansion and higher frequencies. This is different from a “local match problem”. Please modify.”


“GPTC’s return to regional service was in 1996 (Tri-City Connection), not with the loss of RBA service. Please correct.”


“Much like NICTD’s Westlake and Double Track projects, GPTC’s Lakeshore and Broadway services were preceded by specific corridor plans followed by community buy-in and, for both subareas, community investment. Both efforts are worthy of specific mention in the agency summary. Please modify.”


“NORTH: Please explain how North Township’s Dial-A-Ride is similar to GPTC’s service. Additionally, the Dial-A-Ride existed prior to the collapse of the RBA, but was expanded afterwards. Please clarify.”


“SLCCS: Service area size is not mentioned regarding other agencies so it may not really be appropriate here.”


“Transit Triangle: The plan’s ridership mention reads as being critical of the

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

project; ridership for other services not mentioned. This critique should be removed.”

  • This issue was also discussed at the 10/25 roundtable meeting. A representative from the Transit Triangle made recommendations to change the language concerning ridership. We have taken their comments and updated the language.

  • Demand response service providers function more efficiently when their service areas are smaller. To scale up in geographic area a demand response provider has to add vehicles and more operational hours to accommodate those changes. A representative from TransPorte approved the submitted language.

  • The “Outreach Methods” section of the document is a single infographic that comprises a single page. This is the only place where NIRPC’s specific methods in soliciting public input are mentioned. Documenting these steps are critically important in illustrating the steps NIRPC received to get the public response in the plan. The following section “Outreach Trends” is a 17- page section dives into the responses in depth. This section is broken into three sub-sections each highlighting the specific types of response NIRPC received in the largest iterations of our outreach: the ridership survey, the


“TransPorte: The description of effectiveness due to smaller service area misses the mark - not about service area but that the service area is the same as a municipal boundary (not fair to compare it to other D/R services)”


“Change focus of discussion from number of flyers/emails/meetings to actual engagement and responses”

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

organization survey, and public meeting feedback. The 1 page of methods

compared to 17 pages of results is a sufficient level of focus on actual engagement.


“93 human services site visits - explain?”

  • This was discussed at length in the 10/25 meeting. NIRPC staff made 93 visits to human service agencies to drop off paper surveys to solicit more feedback on our ridership survey.

  • The raw data from the ridership and organizational surveys will be shared. It is expected to be utilized in the upcoming year of programming with the Transit Operators Roundtable.

  • The data trends section’s primary focus is on the availability and quality of transit from a regional perspective. In future studies, more attention should be given to fixed route service frequency and coordination with commuter rail, however similarly to the service frequency comment that kind of analysis is too specific for this kind of document. Please note that in several places in the document the importance of coordination between providers, across modes, is identified as critically important and should be prioritized.

  • The map in question was removed to accommodate your comments.


“Can providers get access to raw data relevant to them?”


“Some citation should be made that commuter rail reach is improved with fixed route transit, especially at EC, Metro, MC (all have multiple bus lines serving them)”


“Service overlap map and discussion is misleading (…)”


“The service gaps identified on page 41 should be connected to the strategies

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

from the 2050

plan via a matrix or some other method.”

  • An implementation matrix has been incorporated. This matrix links 2050 Critical Paths, to Coordinated Plan Strategies, to identified needs, their relevance, and responsible parties.

Comments by Telephone

No comments were received by telephone

Letters Received

Comment Reference Number

Manner Considered by Staff

Staff Response

Significant? Need to Modify?

Coordinated Transit Plan Public Comments (October 1 - 30, 2018)

4

(Attachment 1)

Unfortunately, implementing public transit is often challenging. The purpose of this plan, is to hopefully make transit easier and more accessible for riders and more efficient for operators.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides funding to local transit operators to run their services. FTA requires that the kind of accommodations you describe in your letter are present and operational in vehicles their funds help pay for including lifts, securement devices, and seat belts.


To your point, there are many issues that need to be studied. This plan is a first step in better understanding who in Northwestern Indiana needs transit and where do they need to go, however it is an ongoing process that requires participation from regional transit operators, elected officials, and of course individuals like yourself.

No

5

(Attachment 2)

There is no substantive data or study that concludes that transit spreads crime. This is a myth that is sometimes propagated to limit transit expansion projects, but it has no merit. In fact, the more people and activity placed on community streets often leads to safer communities. Modern public transit vehicles are also often equipped with safety features like security cameras. If a criminal was seeking to escape the scene of a crime without leaving a forensic foothold, as you have indicated, they would likely choose any other method of travel that does not include multiple witnesses, a very large (often slow-moving) well-lit and branded vehicle with unique identification numbers, security systems, and well-documented pick up and drop off data.


The methods the federal government uses to allocate funding puts strict limitations on what can be purchased with those federal funds. To “forget public transportation and repair the roads and bridges” is impossible. There are distinct funding sources for building roads and bridges that are separate from transit funding.

No

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Here is the requested feedback for your transportation issue: The northwest Indiana public transportation is a terrible idea. A bus line...originating in one crime area. travelling through another crime area. and ending in another crime area...duh!...just promotes crime.

Northwest Indiana does not need that. Ask yourself just who really is the money behind the push for public transportation. and if you would want any of your family living along the route.

The people whom can most benefit from Public Transportation. are the very ones whose safety is threatened while using public transportation. They are the ones who are the most vulnerable. In effect. they get punished for embracing progress.

Give the people OPTIONS. not give them a safety issue.

When there is a bus line from/through/and to crime areas. this is what you end up with - criminals who move easily within and between communities. who leave no tire tracks. no license plate numbers. no faotprints...and growing crime statistics that are difficult to track. Most urgent and costly of all. is that you have community/region that immediately begins to deteriorate further. ls that what you want for the future of Lake County. Porter County. and LaPorte County? When you connect your counties with a bus. you connect your crime network. (Can you figure out how to do the former. without doing the later?)

Public Transportation creates more problems than it fixes. It makes Crime portable. If you put hired protection on each public conveyance. the cost of use goes up beyond the ability to pay of the ones who most need the service. It makes the efforts laughable. and enables a clear view through the economic veil to see who really benefits from the Public Transportation creation. Better think this through first. That money is better spent on road improvements to help keep the integrity of the existing neighborhoods. Good neighborhoods that people want to raise their families in. do not have bad road systems.

If you want financial growth with population growth and stability. forget Public Transportation. and repair the roads and bridges. Affluent neighborhoods do not have tacky roads.