Gainesville City Commission Considers Cheaper Alternative, TSM
Published March 20th, 2014
GAINESVILLE - So many choices so little time. The Gainesville City Commission is looking into a new Bus Rapid Transit system or its cheaper alternative the Transportation System Management. While it is a less costly option, some residents don't agree with either.
The goal is to enhance the transit system. Today commissioners took a look at a study by an outside consultant to see if it's all worth it.
Public transportation-- a service many people rely on. "If we could do something about our transportation to help people and increase its value," Thomas Hawkins a Gainesville City Commissioner said.
The Gainesville City Commission listened to an alternative analysis report of the BRT or Bus Rapid Transit. This alternative, TSM or Transportation System Management, would mostly depend on the city's existing infrastructure but would create more frequent rounds in certain intersections and bring a new transit center to the east part of Gainesville.
TSM would cost about 15 million dollars as opposed to BRT which costs 56 million dollars. Not building anything the city is projected to have about 46,000 riders by the year 2035. By adopting the TSM model Gainesville would gain about 1,000 more riders.
Ed Braddy Gainesville’s mayor said, "Basically what it comes down to is adding 45 riders per year so that by the year 2035 we have the difference... Less than a thousand. That's a lot of money for a very small increase-- for 45 new riders."
On the other commissioners like Susan Bottcher say there are possibilities to have greater ridership numbers. "Communities around Gainesville, Alachua, High Springs, Newberry, Archer, Waldo, Hawthorne... That they are not anticipated in any of our ridership numbers although we do know there is interest on those parts of town," Bottcher said.
After hearing all about the study some residents are still concerned about how much this would cost the city. "We don't need to spend 15 million dollars on this system that is nothing more than a mini brt... It does nothing to help our students on Williston road that are standing out in the rain that need more buses and our residents depend on the bus to get to work and access their healthcare," Debbie Martinez a Gainesville resident said.
April's runoff election can very well be a deciding factor in the matter. Both candidates, Helen Warren and Annie Orlando do not support the streetcars. However Warren does support making improvements to RTS for shorter ride times.
The city has until this summer to decide whether or not bus rapid transit and streetcars are in Gainesville’s future.
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