jarvismj

Greenville Transit

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Did they really just run off the management and then say "wait a minute, we don't want to take responsibility"?

I think the city's reasons to take over the GTA have been veiled. I think the county has been in the dark. I think that the city and county should have supported the existing organization.

But, to let it go so far as to wait until after management resigns and then to say "oh, we were just kidding?" What is going on?

Will the city and county step up and take responsibility for the destiny of the Greenville community when it comes to mass transit?

Recent GNews articles:

<a href="http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200770515023" target="_blank">1

</a><a href="http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007705160423" target="_blank">2

</a>3

Sadly, I don't think that the County wants to or will take responsibility for the transit system. The city I can see wanting to do something more progressive, but in hindsight, it won't get fixed. The entire stretch of GreenLink or whatever its called is set to run within city limits...I'm thinking aloud here, but what if the City of Greenville operated GreenLink outside of the jurisdiction of the GTA? Good idea? Bad idea?

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Sadly, I don't think that the County wants to or will take responsibility for the transit system. The city I can see wanting to do something more progressive, but in hindsight, it won't get fixed. The entire stretch of GreenLink or whatever its called is set to run within city limits...I'm thinking aloud here, but what if the City of Greenville operated GreenLink outside of the jurisdiction of the GTA? Good idea? Bad idea?

I would think we would have no choice but to let it go outside of the city limits for it to be successful.

The County can't ignore the fact that it's the largest in the state and growing a fast rate. :dontknow:

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I'm thinking aloud here, but what if the City of Greenville operated GreenLink outside of the jurisdiction of the GTA? Good idea? Bad idea?

It shouldn't be about jurisdiction. They could operate Greenlink through the GTA more cheaply because of the federal money that is available to the GTA. But, the city would still have to pay for the portion that the Federal Government won't pay because the GTA doesn't have any extra money. That's what I've never understood. If the city is willing to pay for it. Why not step up and do it? Why blame it on someone else? Do you really think that the GTA has ever said "no, we won't operate service where the city wants it"? All I've read is, "we really don't have the money to do what the city is asking".

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I would argue that its largely the city's responsibility why there isn't this grand transit system that folks envision, and why the GTA is a very neglected, poor service.

You name some nice things: West End Field, the Bi-Lo Center, the Carolina First Center, etc.

In all those instances, the city was a conduit, a catalyst for making something happen, they were never the first nor the last cause.

Were it not for the Bomber/ Drive management, West End Field would still be a dream. Were it not for Carl Scheer's investors, we'd still be debating the 'coliseum', were it not lots of private interests, the city at best would be stuck with a white elephant with the purchase of the Expo Center/ New Textile Hall.

The city of Greenville isn't the perfect organization like it is made out to be and they've done their share of odd functions in relation to growth and city development.

I never said the city did those things all by itself. Nor SHOULD it have. Baseball is a private enterprize, but very few if any build there own stadium without any government assistance. My point was that it could have just as easily gone elsewhere (Greer, Powdersville) but didn't because of the city's efforts. AND it's success is in part due to the city's partnership with them, and the fact that despite skeptcism, the location is excellent.

As for the Palmetto Expo center, other than Carolina First (and that was quite recent) what other private interests have invested in it? Everyone THOUGHT it would be a white elephant, but the city has done quite well with it.

What would you name as 'odd functions' the city has done in relation to growth and development? Bike lanes? Kroc Center/Cleveland Park West?

The city was willing to take over a troubled system and put itself in a position to take all the blame if it didn't work out (just like the Expo Center). Instead we are now back at square one. Is it not obvious that at least some savings could be made in administartion overhead versus the current situation?

Go live in Columbia for a few years, and THEN tell me Greenville is doing a poor job. Perfect no, but far better than most cities I know of, including several that are much bigger.

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The city was willing to take over a troubled system and put itself in a position to take all the blame if it didn't work out (just like the Expo Center). Instead we are now back at square one. Is it not obvious that at least some savings could be made in administartion overhead versus the current situation?

Go live in Columbia for a few years, and THEN tell me Greenville is doing a poor job. Perfect no, but far better than most cities I know of, including several that are much bigger.

The system is only troubled because the city won't put money into it.

In 2005 the Greenville community spent about 27% of what its peer groups did on mass transit. Charleston is now up to over $7,000,000 of spending annually up from $2,300,000 in 2005. That $7,000,000 provides many times that of actual spending once the Federal Government's $'s are included. Chattanooga in 2005 - $3.6 million locally. This letter says that Columbia just got 43 new buses, some running on natural gas, compared to the 13 total buses that the GTA runs. Columbia has an annual budget of over 5 times that of Greenville - and they are talking about getting a better funding source. Knoxville has service from 6 am to midnight every half hour - Greenville is something like 6 am to 6 pm every hour. I don't think Greenville locally spends any more than they did in 2005 ($775,000). I know that the city and county are going to start running the buses in Greenville, but I haven't heard anything about more funding.

Here's a copy of some results from Knoxville's long range regional transportation plan meetings. Notice on Knoxville Transit's website, the system is regional and multi-model in nature.

Almost all of the administration costs would get duplicated anyway. This is not about saving $100,000. If the city truly wanted to improve transit, it could do it though the GTA. Supposedly, the only difference in the authority of the new commission is that it would be five members (2 city, 2 county, 1 other). Currently it it's 2 city, 2 county, and 3 state (all of whom live in the city and county). Does anyone really think that if the city said "We want the GTA to run service up the swamp trail to Traveler's Rest, and we'll pay whatever the Federal Government won't", that the GTA would say, no, if you give us your money, we'll spend it however we want?

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The system is only troubled because the city won't put money into it.

Almost all of the administration costs would get duplicated anyway. This is not about saving $100,000. If the city truly wanted to improve transit, it could do it though the GTA. Supposedly, the only difference in the authority of the new commission is that it would be five members (2 city, 2 county, 1 other). Currently it it's 2 city, 2 county, and 3 state (all of whom live in the city and county). Does anyone really think that if the city said "We want the GTA to run service up the swamp trail to Traveler's Rest, and we'll pay whatever the Federal Government won't", that the GTA would say, no, if you give us your money, we'll spend it however we want?

Exactly what would we have to lose by trying it the city's way? If more money meant more of the same, I don't think that would solve anything.

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Exactly what would we have to lose by trying it the city's way? If more money meant more of the same, I don't think that would solve anything.

I don't think we'd lose anything by trying it the city's way (whatever that is). My point is, that if the county doesn't want to recreate the entity that is mass transit in Greenville, why wouldn't the city try to work with the GTA for a change? It seems like all they do is try to get something from the GTA instead of put something into it. The city could do whatever it's been trying to do by dedicating funds to the GTA for a specific purpose (again, whatever that may be). My fear is that while big ideas are tossed about urbanplanet as probables, the city isn't pusuing any of them. If they were, they would present the ideas to the GTA and work together to obtain them. They'd have to do the same thing with a new system, commission, or whatever. If the GTA turns them down (if that's even possible), then the city could point to something that would have been possible had the GTA not been in the way.

Edited by greenvillegrows

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Greenville is in a tight spot with transit, and itsfunding, etc. Someone needs to come up with a plan so the city and county don't feel hesitant to give GTA more funding. What can be done?

Service needs to be increased, but so do riders, not fares. One thing that I think could get ridership up is a park and ride service. It's been thrown around before in the past, but when are they thinking about implementing it? Gas prices make this even more appealing and a growing downtown does, too.

My plan:

Park and Ride stations from Greer, the Golden Strip, Easley/Powdersville(not sure about demand for this route).

Therefore, increase numbers of riders, ticket revenue, and legitimacy.

Then, expand service of normal routes based on the case that you have built for yourself through the prior steps.

It's just an idea, and seems to be more than most people have come up with. I'd like to hear thoughts and feedback and additions to it, as well. Maybe someone will come along and read what we come up with and make something happen. :thumbsup:

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I still like the idea of having free fares on GTA, but with the money crunch going on now that isn't likely anytime in the future. I certainly agree that we need to do something now. The complaining and finger-pointing by government officials and GTA isn't getting us anywhere, is it? Now is the time for Greenville to be a leader when it comes to public transportation. Otherwise, we'll get left behind.

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I think this recent article summarizes the GTA/Transit issue in Greenville very well: Article 1

This second article is pretty hostile, but it, like the first article, certainly rings of "I write it as I see it". Unlike some "conspiracy theories" I've seen out there, it seems referenced pretty well and draws some reasonable conclusions from the referenced material.

Here are some other recent articles: 1, 2.

I can't believe that the discussion is all about how to save more money. Please tell me that someone is talking about how to make it feasible for the masses to use "mass" transit in Greenville.

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GTA needs more funding. Jim, James, or whatever you want to call him Bourey along with the rest of the city and county council is to retarted to figure that out. Where has Knox White been during all of this? Hiding under a rock, I suppose.

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The County is going to revisit the creating of a City/County Transit Commission tomorrow night. Judy Gilstrap has proposed revisiting it. So who knows what may happen.

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The County is going to revisit the creating of a City/County Transit Commission tomorrow night. Judy Gilstrap has proposed revisiting it. So who knows what may happen.

It's like watching Billy Donnovan trying to decide where he wants to go career-wise. :lol:

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The County is going to revisit the creating of a City/County Transit Commission tomorrow night. Judy Gilstrap has proposed revisiting it. So who knows what may happen.

So you're saying there's a chance? :) I hope something positive comes out of this.

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Pre-vote articles: Article 1; Article 2

No one seems to think there was bad management anymore. Someone, please tell me that this hasn't just been a show to avoid putting more money into transit. I still don't hear anyone talking about actual improvements that the public will see.

Edited by greenvillegrows

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If you look at transit ridership in other cities, transit is most used by (1) people commuting into a CBD and (2) low-income people. For example, in Charlotte, the highest-ridership routes are low-income ones in east Charlotte heading into uptown, and transit development is centered among core routes getting people to Charlotte's CBD. Greenville just doesn't yet have a CBD with a large enough workforce of people who have to commute to it to provide enough of a ridership base, and Greenville doesn't seem to really care about getting factory workers and the like to their jobs.

So transit and land use are closely linked. Take all of the office development that's heading to Verdae, Woodruff and I-385 and instead put it downtown and that will definitely help Greenville have a decent transit system. Focus as well on providing routes to factories and those two strategies will help at least somewhat. I see providing a more upscale service as an excellent idea, but it has to be integrated with building a CBD with more jobs and office space and will not pay off as much as it could if Greenville tried to contain sprawl; the Crescent Avenue crowd is simply not going to take a bus to go shopping at Greenridge, for example.

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After the vote article.

"After the denial, Kirven said, "We wish GTA well, and the county's out of it."

What does that mean? Sounds like "if I can't play by my rules I won't play", but the majority of county council voted to stick with the GTA. So, doesn't the county own part of the GTA? What does he mean "the county's out of it?".

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GTA needs more funding. Jim, James, or whatever you want to call him Bourey along with the rest of the city and county council is to retarted to figure that out. Where has Knox White been during all of this? Hiding under a rock, I suppose.

The City manager is representing the city's interests. As such he is negotiating on behalf of the Mayor and city council.

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After the vote article.

"After the denial, Kirven said, "We wish GTA well, and the county's out of it."

What does that mean? Sounds like "if I can't play by my rules I won't play", but the majority of county council voted to stick with the GTA. So, doesn't the county own part of the GTA? What does he mean "the county's out of it?".

I take it to mean, you will get the current level of funding and no more. If there is a shortage, they will be on htere own to find the money (from the Feds or wherever). If there is $.5 mm to be saved, and it isn't being saved, then I don't blame them for not be willing to add funding. This is Greenville after all. For better or worse, taxes don't get raised for too many reasons.

It is glaringly obvious that some savings could be obtained if various admin functions were roled into other existing HR departments (the city and or county). It is also glaringly obvious that relocating GTA off of two prime DT/West End parcels would be a win-win all the way around. But the GTA bureaucratic enertia and petty city/county rivalry will prevent those positive things from happening.

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I take it to mean, you will get the current level of funding and no more. If there is a shortage, they will be on htere own to find the money (from the Feds or wherever). If there is $.5 mm to be saved, and it isn't being saved, then I don't blame them for not be willing to add funding. This is Greenville after all. For better or worse, taxes don't get raised for too many reasons.

It is glaringly obvious that some savings could be obtained if various admin functions were roled into other existing HR departments (the city and or county). It is also glaringly obvious that relocating GTA off of two prime DT/West End parcels would be a win-win all the way around. But the GTA bureaucratic enertia and petty city/county rivalry will prevent those positive things from happening.

I think you are correct as to what Kirven meant. As to his tone, I think one can't help but detect sour grapes.

As for what's obvious, you are probably correct again. What happened, however, was not bureaucratic inertia and petty city/county rivalry. What happened was that this was offered up as a done deal from the start and there never was -- and never has been -- an attempt to get County Council buy-in (let alone community buy-in). There's still no plan, except to consolidate and save money.

Think of the great vision people have for public transportation in the region -- or even just within the county. Now figure out how to get from point A to point B. What we have is a political allegory that matches up to what GTA is. What Kirven did was suggest some utopian vision of where we can go. And then he pointed to the bus shelter and said, "Hop on!" Just like the bus shelters that typify GTA today, when you walk up to one, you have no idea whether the bus will arrive, how long you'll have to wait if this is an active bus line, and you sure as heck can't be sure that you're going to get to the place you intend to get to. That's what the County Council resisted. They said, "We're not getting on."

I think there's a consensus about the need for change and where we all want to go. I don't think there's been a good effort to build a consensus about how to get there.

This whole thing is a mess because changes in the bus service have been railroaded (if I my mix my modes of transit metaphors) from the git-go. Look back at how a few people first made the case that change is needed. They came in making borderline criminal allegations, very sure of themselves and with a clear agenda. The new city-appointed representatives on GTA were heavy-handed and, rather than taking a moment to get to know what was going on, they immediately whipped out a 100-day plan for radical change that they had in their breast pockets before they were sworn-in. Accusations made proved to be false.

In one article that I read, their claims like there's no way to track fares because it's a cash business were wrong because, had these clowns actually set foot on a GTA bus and taken 2 minutes to inquire first, they would have known that there's an incredibly detailed and powerful data trail that's registered electronically as fares are paid. Each and every allegation of misconduct or malfeasance has, over time, proven to be without merit or unsubstantiated (if not shown to be patently false). And yet the "if you say it enough times it will become true" attitude persists -- with Kirven himself clinging to the idea that it is as bad as the first reports claimed.

So, even if you are persuaded that GTA can be so much more than what it is, are you going to get on board with Kirven at the unmarked shelter?

If I may put words into the mouths of 7 county councilors who represent vastly different constituents and span the broadest political spectrum, I think this is all a matter of trust -- or a lack thereof -- in Kirven and those new GTA board members and by voting this down they're saying

"Wait one second! May I please take a look at a route map? We've gone off in the wrong direction already, Butch. And I can't trust the people who are driving this because they're lying to me and I don't know what their agenda is or why they're so insistent that I get on board without knowing more. At the very least I'd feel a little better about this if there were people we could trust who were pointing me to this shelter. But, for now, while this means we're doing something, I have this sinking feeling that it's not the best thing. I want to go to that great place. I want to go now. So tell me WHY I should get on THIS bus to get there."

This was a vote that spoke to a general distrust of Kirven or at least his failure to understand the power of consensus-building. So it's little wonder that there was a twang of bitterness in his final remark. And considering that statement shows that he's more bitter than contrite, I'm not confident that he's figured out that with a little bit of salesmanship and information-sharing he can persuade everyone to get on that bus. He sounds more ticked off that they didn't follow orders than he seems to be interested in working the political process to do what's best.

Edited by Fiddlestix

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Good Op-Ed piece on Greenville Transit from County Council Member Fred Payne in the Greenville news.

G-Rex

That is a great vision. It's also one that's been articulated here -- and appropriated from here -- since long ago. ( http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.ph...st&p=392983 ) Of course that's largely why it's so awesome. :)

I don't think anyone disagrees with Fred's vision and goals for what transportation can be. "Where do we go?" was not so much the issue as it was "What's the best way to get there?" My take on what happened is that you've got 12 county councilors, all of whom are strong-willed and opinionated and self-confident, and I think when the dark sedan with tinted windows pulled up and the burly guys in sunglasses said, "Get on in," the red flag went up and they wondered if that was actually the best way to get where Fred Payne -- and others before him -- dream of heading off to.

Now, that's not to say that the plan -- such that it is -- was bad. In fact, it might very well be the best thing, with no downside. If that's the case, though, why wasn't it sold on its merits and why was so much effort and energy and attention directed at trying to make the case -- mostly without success -- that GTA is borderline corrupt and its managers inept? Right there, you're creating a wedge and inviting people to take sides. Instead of saying, "Here's the way forward. See how wonderful it is?" the message that resonated loudest was that "GTA sucks raw eggs." That only invited people to come to the defense of GTA and directed attention to the past, not the future.

The bottom line is that I still don't know what the best way to proceed will be, but I do know that the way that this was handled was a fiasco of the first degree -- especially if it turns out to be a terrific plan that got voted down.

But that, too, is looking in the rear-view mirror. Looking forward, here's where I think things will go.

First, I've got to share with you the much better name I've heard for the new transit authority. Forget G-REX (or GREX). Think Greenville Rapid Intercity Transit System.

The name isn't just cute. I think it's a clue where leaders are going to turn next. To the cities. The City of Greenville will go about this on its own at this point. But I think there will be an impetus to bring in the other cities within the county and get them linked up. And, in the meantime -- or perhaps once the county finds itself on the outside looking in -- County Council will have gotten its collective head around this and jump on board. But, by then, instead of creating a vision or plan, the county council will find itself getting on board a bus that has a route that's been set and the long-range plan well in place. So the county will have to pay the fare and go along for the ride.

In all honesty, if that's the way it plays out: GOOD! That may be the best of both worlds. I trust the cities to put Humpty Dumpty together again far more than I trust County Council -- or, worse, the collaboration (or conspiracy?) of County and City government that was voted down again this week -- to come up with a cogent plan. Maybe this is a good model for other large ventures: put one government or the other in the driver's seat instead of trying to get lots of people in the driver's seat. Then, once it's running, you ask the others to get on board. All the ego stroking and "city folk v. country folk" squabbling and political dysfunctionality will be exorcised from the process if -- as I believe -- the City of Greenville takes over transit and begins the process of rebuilding it and creating a long-range vision for it.

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Okay, I am now totally convinced that the best thing to happen was for the vote by which County Council effectively removed itself from the process. That leaves it with the City of Greenville and that's a very good thing when you consider that a number of County Council members who voted "no" are now holding back channel discussions to resurrect the issue.

The thing is -- and the veterans knew this -- a motion to reconsider that fails is a major development. To even get the matter back on the floor, they now have to get a supermajority together behind this. They can't even discuss it in committee until that happens. The veterans knew this because that's been a key weapon in some of the ju-jitsu maneuvers of County Council in years past. Sometimes a person who opposed a measure would call for the reconsideration expressly for the purpose of condemning the issue to a 1 year-purgatory before it can be revisited (or unless a supermajority votes to take up the issue anew).

So -- for starters -- what was Judy Gilstrap thinking when she called for the motion to reconsider without first counting the votes? She was ostensibly "for" change, and voted that way, but she knew full well that if her motion failed, the issue was terminal for a full year. What was she thinking?

Now, having just voted against keeping the issue alive in some form, people who voted against it -- the ones who directly doomed it to the purgatory -- are now fretting that they need to take action. Oopsy-daisy.

So, now that County Council has made its bed, let them lie in it for a year. In the meantime, the City of Greenville can proceed with reconstructing GTA as it sees fit without the Keystone, er, County Council bumbling and meddling and otherwise interfering and tripping all over itself along the way.

Yes, I am now officially convinced that, totally unwittingly, Greenville County Council just did the best thing for public mass transportation in Greenville County by knocking itself unconscious as it started to walk down the aisle with the City of Greenville.

Edited by Fiddlestix

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Article in today's Greenville News about GTA. It seems that the city is not willing to give up on plans to improve it somehow:

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs....EWS01/706100348

I couldn't help but think about what the last post from Fiddlestix said. I was reading this article thinking, "This is going to workout better because the city will be able to do its thing without the county getting in the way." I think (hope) that the city realizes the need to make public transit an option for everyone, not just the urban poor. I also hope they recognize the importance of being innovative and proactive NOW.

Since funding seems to be the main issue (regardless of whether some city employees takeover some of the GTA duties)...what do you guys think needs to be done to increase funding for this kind of thing? Local option sales tax? Increasing fares? I'm thinking not only about the current bus system, but about BRT, potentially light rail, etc. Will we have to have support from the federal government, or can these sorts of things be done solely on the local level?

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