Thursday, April 30, 2009
Stakeholder’s Representatives Meeting
April 28, 2008
The Stakeholder groups were represented by the following members:
Artists, Steve Syverson;
Building Owners, Larry Field;
Business/Community Banking, Jamie O’Hearn;
Business/Resources, Terry Williams;
City of Lowell/DPD, Theresa Park;
Education/UMass Lowell, Dr. Joseph Lipchitz;
General Population/LRTA, Jim Scanlan;
Non-Profit Corporations/CTI, Bill Lipchitz;
Residents/Lowell DNA, Ted Lavash;
Building Owners, Marshall Field;
Business/Chamber of Commerce, Jeanne Osborn;
Business/JAMBRA, Tim Shanahan;
Business/Lowell Plan, Jim Cook;
Business/Restaurants, Franky Descoteaux;
Business/Retailers, George Vallaras
City of Lowell/Police Dept., Captain Thomas Kennedy;
Cultural Organizations, L.Z. Nunn;
Education/Lowell High School, Roxanne Howe;
Education/Middlesex CC, Molly Sheehy;
General Population/NMCOG, Beverly Woods;
Visitors/Lowell National Park; Peter Aucella;
Visitors/CVB, Fred Hunter;
Youth/UTEC, Greg Croteau;
Also present was Bill Fife, Enterprise Bank
The meeting opened at 8:35 AM.
On a motion by Joe Lipchitz, seconded by Steve Syverson, it was voted: to accept the minutes of March 24, 2009.
Treasurer Jamie O’Hearn reported a current balance of $1,866.38 Jamie will send the list of members who have not paid their dues yet to the President. On a motion by Joe Lipchitz, seconded by Ted Lavash, it was voted: to accept the Treasurer’s report.
LRTA Director Jim Scanlan gave an overview of the Transit Authority and some of the issues it faces. The Authority has been in existence for 30 years and covers 13 communities in Greater Lowell with bus and para-transit services. It operates as a collaborative effort of federal, state and local government and has a budget of about $10M. The LRTA will be receiving some federal stimulus money and will use it to upgrade its equipment and fare collection processes. About two years ago, they moved the hub from the downtown to the Gallagher Terminal on Thorndike Street which is a inter-modal center where commuter rail, buses, and automobile parking all come together.
Citing some recent figures, Jim said that ridership has increased by 18% between 2005 and 2008, and is up another 9.5% in 2009. The buses were moved out of downtown in response to some requests to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, but subsequent complaints have resulted in the buses serving the northern half of Lowell now swinging through the downtown on part of their routes. In addition, a shuttle service was added between the Gallagher Terminal and downtown in which two shuttles run all day and up to 11 PM with a15 minute headway between them. There is also the Downtown Circulator that runs around downtown on a 40 minute round trip schedule that includes all the parking garages as stops.
Jim has been concentrating on modernizing the fleet and so far 38 of the total 48 buses have been replaced, with some of the new buses running on LNG or a hybrid gas/electric engine. They use smaller buses to run routes that go further out of the City and now have service to Burlington as well as a bus that runs beyond Tewksbury to the Wilmington Commuter Rail station. The LRTA also operates on 5 of the 11 official holidays.
The Para-Transit operation has two components: a handicapped-accessible service and the Road Runner that takes elderly to various appointments. Another special run is made between the UMass Lowell south campus and the Gallagher Terminal, but this is separate from the University’s intra-campus shuttle.
Jim talked about the challenges the Authority faces regarding funding. For some reason, the state subsidy is paid as a lump sum at the end of the fiscal year, which not only causes a cash flow problem, but also can result in reduced funding based on budget cuts that may be made during the year as has happened this year. He said the average cost of a ride is $3.50 but the fare is only $1.00 in the city and the fares have not been raised since 2002. He is looking at a fare study and may have to raise fares somewhat, but can not go too high because at a certain point, the higher fare results in fewer riders and defeats the purpose. He is facing a deficit of over $200,000 this year.
In response to a question about increasing service in the downtown during events or later in the evening, Jim said that he has advocated for this and has tried it with little success. For example, he has tried for the last 4 years to run the Circulator at night, especially between the train station and downtown, but has found very few riders. He said that he would be open to discussing this and other ideas including the use of a separate bus that might be more targeted than the circulator that takes 40 minutes to make a round.
The Center City Committee is open to forming a sub-committee to work with Jim on the connectivity issue.
Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the next Stakeholder’s Meeting will be Tuesday, May 19th.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 AM.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009