Friday, May 1, 2009
Dim view of area transit options drives young workers’ frustrations
Business First of Columbus – by Jeff Bell
…Chamber officials have found that access to transportation modes other than cars is a big issue with many young workers concerned about the environment or looking for less hassle in commuting. That makes it an important consideration for the chamber, which has spent the two years working on ways to attract and retain young, well-educated workers seen as vital to the health of the regional economy.
For Easterday, a good starting point is the system of bike trails that snakes through parts of Columbus and Franklin County.
“It’s not much fun to ride on a lot of roads in Columbus,” he said. “I see the trails as a safe way to get from point A to point B.”
Franklin County Metro Parks has 150 miles of trails and plans to add 50 miles if a 0.75-mill operating levy is approved by voters May 5, said Metro Parks Executive Director John O’Meara. Metro Parks also plans to take over management and security patrols of Columbus’ bike trails, he said.
“You’ll see a more unified management system of the trails,” O’Meara said.
As for bus service, Amy Lowe, a staff member at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, said she would like to use public transit to get to her job in downtown Columbus. But that’s not a realistic option, she said, because of the distance to a Central Ohio Transit Authority bus stop from her home in Plain City.
“I’d have to drive halfway to work to get to a bus,” said Lowe, who uses a car on her daily commute.
Accessibility issues have ramifications for young workers and others in need of transportation to jobs, school, medical care and social activities, said Stu Nicholson, spokesman for the Ohio Rail Development Commission.
“If your access is limited,” he said, “so is your freedom. You’re less free to seek a new job or to live in Plain City and work downtown or vice versa.”
Nicholson called Ohio “pathetically” behind neighboring states on per-capita spending on public transit. But he is encouraged by President Barack Obama’s commitment of $8 billion in economic stimulus money for development of high-speed passenger rail lines, including one that could connect to Columbus.
Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration also wants to use federal money to help restore passenger rail service between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. And Columbus officials have not given up on the idea of building a light rail line from north Columbus to downtown, said Chester Jourdan, executive director of MORPC…
Young Professionals on Transportation in Central Ohio
May 4, 2009 by John