Friends Of Pathways recently posed some questions to the local candidates regarding transportation and traffic. Here are my responses.
Friends Of Pathways: The Jackson/Teton County Integrated Transportation Plan (ITP) was adopted September 2015 by the Board of County Commissioners and the Jackson Town Council. Have you read the ITP? And if so, what would your top three priorities be toward Plan implementation?
Pete Muldoon: Yes, I have read it. I agree with all of the immediate actions listed in the implementation section (with the exception of Tribal Trails), and wouldn’t want to prioritize any in particular as they’re all important. So instead, I’ll just give you my thoughts on the rest of it.
One of the keys to solving our housing crisis is to dedicate less land to vehicle use. We have some of the nation’s highest land values, yet nearly half of the land in downtown core is currently paved. So finding ways to reduce that dependence on vehicles is absolutely critical. I think that the ITP does a great job of addressing that.
Improving the town shuttle route is important. Improved frequency and better routing, coupled with better public awareness, will really help get town residents out of their cars, and make commuter buses a much more attractive option.
I’d like to explore the possibility of making the Jackson/TV route free. It would make all routes (except the commuter routes) free. There are transaction costs associated with that fare, and it has a negative effect on ridership. Increasing that ridership and the growing the perception of transit as a public good will have substantial community benefits.
I’d also support expanding the employer pass program as soon as possible.
Let’s hire a TDM coordinator as soon as possible. I’m also very supportive of TDM programs that trade parking requirements for employer TDM.
We need to update the parking study.
I’d also like to look into installing wifi on board buses to make them more attractive.
I’d love to see us do a better job of informing visitors of the transportation options, and promoting the idea that a car isn’t necessary. Developing a trip planning app will help with this. We could also look into adding displays to bus stops that show wait times for each inbound route.
We need to change the projected mode share by increasing the number of residents who don’t own a vehicle. We should explore ZipCar service, more frequent bus service, bike share programs, paid parking in the downtown core, car free affordable housing development, improving pathways and developing a culture of alternative transportation. Some of that change may come from national demographic shifts as well.
We’re basing new road construction on very detailed projections of mode shares that extend 20 years into the future. But it’s likely that technological, economic, demographic and cultural shifts will overwhelm the accuracy of those projections. That’s not a reason to do nothing, but it should give us pause when we consider building new roads or widening the ones we have based on those assumptions. As an example, the traffic trigger for Capital Project Group 1 construction (which includes the Tribal Trails Connector) is 20,000 vehicles per day (VPD). The ITP forecast is for that to increase to to 24,400 VPD by 2035. That’s an increase of 22% over 20 years. I’m not confident that 22% is outside the margin of error for a projection with such a high degree of uncertainty. And the VPD carrying capacity of that corridor will likely increase with a redesign of the Y.
My concern with the Tribal Trails Connector is based on my view that:
- It’s a subsidy for vehicle traffic, and when you subsidize something you generally get more of it.
- It will undercut our efforts to move away from SOV use.
- Our traffic projections are highly uncertain.
I’d like to see us move forward with the Y redesign, and postpone a decision on Tribal Trails until we see how our TDM program works and get a better handle on traffic trends. We might also consider eventually constructing a single lane connector that would be restricted to transit and emergency vehicles and as route redundancy for emergency use.
Do you support hiring a full-time transportation director to oversee implementation of the Integrated Transportation Plan?
Yes, I do.
Do you support the 1% local option sales tax for housing and transportation? If not, how do you propose to fund the goals set out in the Integrated Transportation Plan?
Absolutely – if we don’t pass that 1% local option tax we can forget about getting any of these things done.
Do you support Bike Share as a program of START? Will you fund a Bike Share program in the 2017/18 Budget?
I absolutely support it, and it’s one of the planks in my campaign platform. I believe that we need to do everything we can to make biking and walking easier and more attractive to tourists and locals alike. I’ve seen the effects of bike culture first-hand in places like Amsterdam, and it’s amazing what a difference it can make.
When was the last time you rode a bike, and where?
I rode over to Lucky’s this morning. I try to ride in town as much as possible, and I mountain bike as well.