Cobb officials eye Cleveland transit system
by Jon Gillooly
February 13, 2013 01:11 AM | 3917 views | 16 16 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As the Cobb County government eyes a proposed $1.1 billion bus line to span from Kennesaw State University to Midtown Atlanta, community leaders on Tuesday heard from an official who has operated a similar, smaller system.

Michael Schipper, deputy general manager for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, told a Cobb gathering about the Ohio city’s downtown 7-mile bus rapid transit line, which opened at a cost of $200 million in 2008.

In Cleveland, riders board the bus on a platform located on a median in the center of the road. The bus uses a center lane so it’s not blocked by cars that have parked on the curb, said Schipper.

The vehicles, at 60 feet long, are longer than traditional buses, allowing them to carry more people.

“We don’t talk about ‘buses’ on our BRT,” he said. “These are ‘vehicles.’ I get in trouble if I call them a ‘bus.’ Just like our stations are stations. So we use a lot of that rail vernacular. There’s a lot more permanence to it. We have stations. We have vehicles. It’s all part of the branding and imaging.”

The cost to ride is $2.25.

Schipper said the farebox recovery — or ratio of operating expenses covered by passenger fares — for Cleveland’s entire transit system is 23 percent. The 7-mile BRT line does a little better.

“It’s definitely in the upper 30s in terms of farebox recovery,” he said.

Schipper said the system’s biggest funding source is a 1 percent voter-approved sales tax that pays for maintenance and operations.

The BRT line has generated more than $5 billion in development, as developers have sought to build along the corridor, he said.

Of the $200 million cost to build the line, $82 million came from the Federal Transit Administration, $75 million from the state, and the rest from such entities as the city and transit authority.

“I think what they’re embarking on here, it’s not a one-size-fits-all,” he said, referring to Cobb County. “It has to fit what the corridor is, has to fit the community, but the bus rapid transit model can be tailored to carry significant ridership, and it can be a catalyst for redeveloping a corridor.”

The luncheon, called “Investing in Transportation Infrastructure and Traffic Congestion,” was organized by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and held at Southern Polytechnic State University.

Also speaking was Arlington County Board of Supervisors member Chris Zimmerman, who spoke of how the rail lines that span from Washington, D.C., to neighboring Arlington, Va., have generated a similar effect in attracting quality development in his city.

Among those in attendance was Michael Paris of east Cobb, CEO of the Council for Quality Growth.

“I think the BRT is great technology, and it’s exciting to see that working,” Paris said after the lunch. “It works in numerous cities, and it has some flexibility to it. The investment is very different from hard rail, for example, so I think to see the way it’s moving people but especially enticing developers to come and build buildings, which are occupied by jobs, and that’s what it’s really all about.”

Cobb has been studying the KSU-to-Midtown bus route. After completing a $1.8 million Northwest Corridor Alternatives Analysis study spearheaded by Croy Engineering, the county launched a $3 million environmental study of the project by Kimley-Horn and Associates, which won’t wrap up for about 16 months.

“At the end of that, what we hope to have is a very clear financial plan and a refinement of all of the work effort that has already been done that has pointed us in the direction of a solution that we have right now,” said Cobb DOT director Faye DiMassimo.

As for how the county intends to pay for the proposed $1.1 billion KSU-Midtown bus proposal, Commissioner Helen Goreham said there are multiple options.

“You look to the feds, you look to the state, you look to the local jurisdictions, the cities, you look to the county, but you also do some very innovative approaches such as naming rights,” Goreham said. “The other approach is you look at the development community that wants to come in and develop higher density facilities. They could form kind of a community improvement district similar to the Town Center and Cumberland districts and also look at a self taxing district whose monies raised are put back into the system supporting the system, so I think there are a multitude of opportunities for funding.”

Tuesday’s event was sponsored by organizations that promoted the $8.5 billion transportation special purpose local option sales tax (TSPLOST) increase that voters rejected in July, including ARCADIS, Croy Engineering and the Cumberland Community Improvement District.
Comments
(16)
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mk- to Pat H-
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February 15, 2013
...don't worry,... be happy, my friend.

Keep up the good work Pat H. Your comments are always right on, educated and informative!!

You are being chased around the comment section by the same idiot that chases me around, under different aliases. He even talks to himself on these comment rails in the 3rd person.(see below-smyrna homeowner & anonymous are him, ha ha)

He's nothing but a smyrna puppet, w/ no ideas or solutions,.. just ad hominem attacks.
Pat H
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February 15, 2013
The sad reality is that he is being paid to attack under anonymous names and engage in personal attacks that accuse the victim(s) of hate!

Alinsky trained tactics and/or Southern Poverty Law Center.

Hopefully, the FBI investigation will overturn some Cobb County practices, and it can never be soon enough.
Ding Dong
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February 15, 2013
I usually would not stoop to your level, but your comments here border on the insane. Smyrna Homeowner and Anonymous are NOT the same person. And I wrote ONE of them and I am not a HE. You did make one true statement, but turn it around on yourself -- "w/ no ideas or solutions,.. just ad hominem attacks." Somebody told me you have been at it since 2009 at least, not only here but on Patch and anywhere that will listen to your constant gripes. The FBI will identify you and Pat H. as bona fide kook cases. Nutso's. To the max. You two sure do think a lot of yourself is all I can say. And have such a persecution complex that is imaginary. Do you two talk to your imaginary friends at the FBI also?

anonymous
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February 15, 2013
Pat H. The sad reality is that you believe yourself. You actually believe the hogwash you wrote. Sad. So sad.
Be Careful
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February 14, 2013
SO let me get this straight. In Cleveland, they cover 23% of operating cost by fares. And for the little "vehicle" route, it's "in the high 30s"? But she doesn't give an exact number. She knows the other number, but not that one. Yeah, sure. This has "bait and switch" written all over yet.

People in Cobb DO NOT want a "vehicle" transportation system that is going to have to be held up with our tax money covering 75% of the yearly operating cost.

And if the "vehicles" are going to run up and down 41, how are people going to get to the stations? Drive from home, park somewhere, walk to the bus station? No thanks, I'll just drive to work like I do now.

How many people who live in Cobb work in midtown?

After you ride the "vehicle" there, then you have to arrange tranport to your office.

And how many people want to go from midtown to KSU?

It's sad that our elected officials can't use some common sense. They fall for what the ARC and Chamber want to do.

Cobb County is NOT New York City. It's not a tightly packed live/work/play area. I've been to NYC. People don't own cars, public transit is great. But here, we're all spread out in subdivisions and apartment complexes all over the place. We're not packed in like NYC. The NYC transit model will NEVER work here. ARC and Chamber, stop pushing it.

Cobb Commission, get your head in the game.
Watcher...
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February 13, 2013
"Tuesday’s event was sponsored by organizations that promoted the $8.5 billion transportation special purpose local option sales tax (TSPLOST) increase that voters rejected in July, including ARCADIS, Croy Engineering and the Cumberland Community Improvement District."

This stunt is terrible! The proponents of TSPLOST have yet to discover that they lost the July vote. Stop this stupid project!
anonymous
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February 13, 2013
I would like to thank our community leaders in both the public and private sectors for being "forward-thinkers" seeking ways to attract quality development to Cobb County. Sounds like many positive team players are involved. I look forward to reading updates.
Pat H
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February 14, 2013
Sure Mr. Lee, thanks for the Chamber input.
anonymous
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February 14, 2013
Pat H: What is your sarcastic comment supposed to mean? Could you do me a favor? Could you post one positive idea during the year 2013? You sure do hate life, don't you?
There is no need
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February 13, 2013
for transportation from Midtown to KSU, except for thugs who roam and rob in Midtown can now prey on citizens in Kennesaw.

Look to the problems Georgia Tech is having with crime. And so you want us to subsidize this bus? When the fares pay for the service, then do it.
frogbreath
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February 13, 2013
In case an illegal immigrant student gets caught driving without insurance or a license, she can fall back on this system to get to KSU for classes.

That is, after she is forgiven by the Cobb judicial system and supported by Papp.

Many criminals do not have jobs. It is our responsibility to provide reasonable transportation for them to take their crimes across the suburban environment. It will be supported under a federal act called Functioning Felony.

Tim Lee and Helen Goreham will say they do not want it then vote for it.
There is PLENTY
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February 14, 2013
Get out of here with that same argument of thugs coming from the city into your quiet and safe suburb to cause havoc. First, Cobb has it's own share of crime. Second, one of the highest ridership routes in the southeast already provides service from Midtown to Marietta, the #10 CCT route. Oh, I guess the thugs are two stupid to know there is already service there! Trust me they are already in their cars doing what they want. "There is no need" for them to wait on a bus to do that!
Say Wha?
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February 15, 2013
Roam and rob? How much stolen property can somebody hide on a BUS? And what do they do when they get off the bus they rode from Midtown to Kennesaw? Hoof it on foot to all these houses you think they are going to rob? Then put the stuff in their pockets (but not too much as to be obvious) so they can walk back to the bus stop with their stolen loot?
mk-chomp chomp chomp
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February 13, 2013
That is the sound of the engineers (Croy in particular), grazing on Cobb's pastures full of SPLOST. The only ones gettinf fat, are the engineers & contractors.

Cobb County has no clue.

If they for one moment think people are going to get out of their cars, to ride a BUS,... er,.. vehicle, that resembles a bus,.. then I have a house to sale you in Smyrna.

The growth has already been decided and mapped out.

Who can't clearly understand economic growth patterns?

Even Fayettevilles big sound stage announcement this week will have a huge effect on growth below the airport.

Face it, the tech & manufacturing corridor, is straight up I-85 , starting in Doraville, shooting up through Gwinnett, putting Norcross, Duluth & Suwanee on the international map.

I will bet my money, that if Marta expands, it will continue up through blue collar 400 corridor & find some sort of federal money to build past the Doaraville station, also.

For Cobb, I have not seen one exciting venture even discussed in 12 years.

The wheels on the bus,.....
Smyrna homeowner
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February 13, 2013
Here is hoping you can sell your house and move to another county. It is always amazing to see how you people find nothing to love about Cobb but continue to live in the best county around. We prefer positive, forward-thinking citizens like the people who put together what sounds like an excellent program yesterday. So, move on already.
anonymous
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February 14, 2013
Amen, homeowner! All this person does is say the same thing over and over and over again--just uses different cities/counties. Fayetteville, Doraville, Gwinnett, Norcross, Duluth, and Suwanee did not just wake up one day and a magic little fairy made improvements to their cities while they were sleeping. The leadership and movers and shakers in Cobb County held a fantastic, informative meeting with people who have been there, done that. What a wonderful exchange of information they had. When MK posts, all it says is this place and that place is better and Cobb/Smyrna is bad. Different day, same post.
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