A report out Tuesday that foreshadows the future of urban transportation in the United States, but the futuristic vision, in a study by the Public Interest Research Group, already is happening in some places. In addition to car and bike sharing and real-time transit information available on mobile devices, the report cites ride sharing and apps that connect taxis or limousine service as harbingers of a transition away from the car-centric culture that developed in the 20th century.
"Places like Washington, New York and San Francisco are certainly ahead," said Phineas Baxandall of PIRG, "but it isn't only the big cities. There are other places like Madison [Wis.], which are taking off. There are hundreds of university towns which have really made enormous headway. University of Maryland introduced real-time information on its transit system and saw ridership increase by a quarter really quickly."
It is all seen as a significant shift in lifestyle and transportation made possible by technological advances and driven by a millennial generation that came of age at the dawn of the Internet era.
It is a generation that makes no move without mobile phone in hand, and mastery of that device has opened an unprecedented array of transportation options.
In Washington, for example, your smartphone can indicate when the next bus is coming, how many bikes are available at the nearest Capital Bikeshare station, and whether a Zipcar or Car2Go is waiting just around the corner. It can summon a taxi or the Uber car service in an instant.
A Washington Post poll of District of Columbia residents this summer found that 13 percent of those surveyed said they had used a smartphone app to call a taxi or limousine. Nineteen percent said they had used car sharing, almost double the number of three years earlier, and 21 percent of those who had not used it said they were likely to in the future.
"The new technology puts car sharing and access to car sharing at your fingertips," said Karina Ricks, and urban planner and former associate director at the D.C. Department of Transportation. "It's transportation where you want it when you want it."
The number of Washington households that don't have a car has risen to 38.5 percent. According to the PIRG report, each car-sharing vehicle removes nine to 13 privately owned vehicles from the street because car-share members sell off unneeded vehicles or simply don't buy them.
"What you're going to see is a demographic shift about what's important to the new generation," Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth said recently. "It's not centered around a prestigious car or car ownership."
Baxandall said that shift is exactly what his new research showed.
"What we found was that millennials were reducing their driving by 23 percent just between 2001 and 2009, a huge drop-off in driving," he said.
Their decision to live in or closer to the urban hubs that many of their parents and grandparents abandoned has been central to an overall decline in American driving, he said.
"Now, it's been eight years in a row that Americans are driving less on a per-person basis," Baxandall said. "That hasn't happened in almost 60 years."
The District of Columbia and Arlington, Va., were early entries into the bike-sharing market, and the numbers of bikes and stations have expanded along with the network of dedicated bike lanes on city streets. The program launched in Montgomery County, Md., last week. The report says there now are similar programs in 30 other cities and at hundreds of universities. Car-sharing companies now have 800,000 members nationwide, the report says.
"Millennials generally want a broader array of transportation options," said Peter Varga, chairman of the American Public Transportation Association. "As we look to our future, transportation systems — particularly public transit — will be built around the smartphone. Smartphone charging stations on vehicles, fare collection via smartphones, WiFi, 4G access, apps that connect public transit."
When Amtrak installed WiFi on a California train line, ridership rose by almost 3 percent, the report says.
"Part of why younger people aren't as interested in driving is the relationships that mobile communication provides," Baxandall said. "Millennials and the new ways that they use transportation may alter the ways that Americans travel as much as the baby boomers did at the outset of the driving boom."
Cold impacts Edmond businesses, city services
Roger Seaton is operating manager of Edmond Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing, 3104 South Kelly Ave., owned by the Seaton family since 1970.
On Tuesday, for the first time in days, the temperature in the Edmond area rose above 32 degrees. At 2:53 p.m. Tuesday, the temperature was 41 degrees at the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport, surpassing the predicted high of 34, according to the National Weather Service.
Seaton’s business offers plumbing services including water line work and repairs to faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. When it comes to plumbing calls, pipes that burst are a priority, Seaton said. It takes a while for pipes to freeze, he said, and residents began calling by Friday. Calls during the cold spell were both about frozen pipes and pipes that had burst.
If you have no water coming out of a faucet, shut off the water upstream and open cabinet doors to get warmer air circulating around pipes, Seaton said.
City alerts public to repeat utility scam
City administrators and public safety officials are jointly warning residents of a scam that has surfaced once again in our area.
Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said a few months ago OG&E warned customers of a phone scam in which a customer is called by a person falsely representing themselves as an OG&E employee.
Monroe said the caller says if the customer doesn’t make a payment on their delinquent account in the next 45 minutes to an hour their utility services will be suspended. Monroe said the caller requests credit card information or that they purchase a money card and provide that account information.
Memorial Booster Club postpones Taste of Memorial
Because school has been canceled for today, the Taste of Memorial has been rescheduled for 4:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 7, 2014. Taste of Memorial has food from more than 30 local restaurants such as Alvarado’s, Flatire Burgers, Fish City, Boulevard Steakhouse, Garbanzo, Chicken Express, The Meat House, Panera and Earl’s to name just a few. A silent auction will be held with more than 140 auction items from local and regional merchants. The tickets are $10 from a Memorial athlete or $15 at the door. The money raised goes to Edmond Memorial Booster Club to help support Edmond Memorial athletics.
Oklahoma Venture Forum to meet Wednesday
The December luncheon of the Oklahoma Venture Forum will be at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday at the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park Conference Center, at 655 Research Parkway, Suite 100 in Oklahoma City. For directions to PHFCC, visit www.phfcc.com/directions.htm.
The guest speaker will be: Stephen Prescott, president, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and the entrepreneurial presenter will be Ryan Laughlin, co-founder/CEO, ClassMind.
RSVP may be made to 341-6545. The cost for guests is $35. For more information, go online to www.ovf.org.
Allegiant celebrates new nonstop service between Oklahoma City, Orlando
Allegiant recently announced new nonstop jet service between Oklahoma City and Orlando via Orlando/Sanford International Airport. The company, known for its exceptional travel deals, is offering promotional fares as low as $59 one way.
“We are pleased to bring a new, affordable and convenient travel option to the residents of Oklahoma City,” said Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant Travel Company president. “We are confident the Central Oklahoma community will appreciate the convenience of flying nonstop to Orlando and the added savings of bundling their air, hotel and car rental reservation together.”
Federal energy efficiency tax credits ending in 2013
If you are planning to do some home improvements to make your home more energy efficient, now is the time to take action. Multiple federal energy efficiency tax credits are set to expire permanently at the end of the year.
Oklahomans have until Dec. 31 to take advantage of a cumulative maximum of $500 in credits for energy-related improvements completed in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The credits are a cumulative maximum of $1,500 for improvements done in 2009 and 2010.
The tax credits are for energy improvements done to existing homes owned by you, and used as your principal residence, said Scott Frazier, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension energy management engineer. New construction and rentals are not eligible for these federal tax credits.
AHS staffing prepares for growth
AHS Staffing plans to move in to its new 4,500-square-foot building in Edmond by Dec. 15.
“We’re excited to move to the next phase of our strategic growth plan and are pleased to be doing it in a great community like Edmond,” said Jerick Henley, president of AHS Staffing.
The new office will be at 3051 Willowood Road in Edmond.
Oklahoma-based AHS Staffing was founded in April 2010 following the acquisition of Houston-based PharmStat Staffing LLC. Since then the company has grown to 10 full-time employees, but projects to double that number in the next few years.
“We started out as a Pharmacy Staffing Agency but now we have a team dedicated to the dialysis industry as well,” Henley said.
Cargazing: Ford Fiesta ST is fast, fun, affordable
High-performance cars often come with high price tags, but the Ford Fiesta ST is proof that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Elements Behavioral Health adds 2 new directors
Elements Behavioral Health enhances and expands its Christian addiction treatment programming with the addition of two new directors.
Charles W. Robinson III, of Edmond, joined Elements last month as its national director of Christian Programming and Outreach. In this role, he will enhance and implement new Christian programming at designated treatment centers in the Elements family of behavioral health care programs.
INTEGRIS Health Edmond receives award
INTEGRIS Health Edmond is proud to announce it has been named a 2013 Guardian of Excellence award winner by Press Ganey Associates Inc. The Guardian of Excellence award recognizes top-performing facilities that consistently achieved the 95th percentile of performance for an entire year. INTEGRIS Health Edmond is the only hospital in the state to receive this distinction for patient satisfaction in ambulatory surgery.
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