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."
Lankford, rest of Oklahoma delegation vote to sue president
A Democratic leader said the House does not have standing to sue the president after members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation voted to do just that.
At 6:28 p.m. Wednesday, members of the House approved by a 225-201 partisan margin H. Res. 676, which gives House leadership the authority to file a lawsuit challenging actions by President Barack Obam
DOC action could save $36.8 million annually
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections expects to avert more than 2,100 offenders by 2021 saving more than $36.8 million annually, an audit states.
Tuesday, State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones released the results of a performance audit of the DOC that was requested by Gov. Mary Fallin. The audit for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2013, distinctly focused on governance, financial management and capacity management.
Audit recommendations included:
Regional Food Bank receives donation
At a special celebration event Wednesday, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced that over the last fiscal year they gave more than $30 million in cash and in-kind contributions to charitable organizations throughout Oklahoma. Additionally, the retailer and its Foundation have partnered with local food banks to provide more than 15 million pounds of food to residents.
City spends $1.7 million on ITS
Public safety will benefit by the Intelligent Transportation System with its implementation by the City of Edmond, said Steve Commons, assistant city manager.
More vehicles are added to traffic volume as Edmond’s population grows. ITS connects all of the city’s traffic signals in order to improve traffic flow in present time with greater efficiency, Commons said Wednesday.
“Some of that can be done through computer automation that tracks how traffic is changing,” Commons said.
Downtown Master Plan accepted by council
The 2014 Downtown Master Plan Study was accepted by a 3-0 vote Tuesday evening by the Edmond City Council.
Fort Worth-based consulting group Freese and Nichols presented their final update to the 1998 Downtown Master Plan. The city hired the group at a cost of $300,000 to make recommendations for future development of Broadway in the central business district.
“There are clearly some short-term (parking) options that we feel should move forward,” said Cody Richardson, of Freese and Nichols consultants of Fort Worth. “Better signage at existing parking lots.”
Lambrecht Construction to build office
The commercial site plan of a physician’s office was approved recently by the Edmond Planning Commission by a vote of 4-0.
Lambrecht Construction plans to build the office at 3917 E. Covell Road in the Fairfax Business Office, north of Covell and west of Sooner Road, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
City to improve traffic flow
The Edmond City Council this week approved a services agreement with Electronic Technology, Inc. For the installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems’ video wall system at a cost of $314,620. The vote was 3-0.
ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.
Oklahoma sales tax takes a holiday
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 and ending at midnight Aug. 3, Oklahomans will be able to participate in a sales tax holiday giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain clothing and shoes free of sales tax.
Yes, retailers may not charge tax, including state and local sales taxes on items that are tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday weekend. The sales of clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 are exempted from sales taxes.
Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs
Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.
Anderson Properties continues to grow
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties recently announced the acquisition of Tulsa-based Prudential Alliance Realty, an eight-office, 150-agent brokerage operating in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and Edmond.
The transaction gives Anderson Properties, a full-service real estate agency a total of 38 offices and more than 600 agents.
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