Planning During a Pandemic

Building a regional transit plan during an age of uncertainty may seem less than ideal, however, the current times present us with opportunities to envision the mobility future we want to see.

At the onset of CONNECT Beyond, the intent was to identify mobility options for the region. Options that allow workers to access new employment hubs, connect students to higher learning, ensure access to health providers, support independence for seniors, and allow all users to have various mobility options rather than relying solely on a single occupancy vehicle.

Over the last several months, our communities have been reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to navigate how to return to a somewhat normal way of life. In tandem with this, the issue of racial inequity has taken a center stage in our public discourse. The primary intent of CONNECT Beyond is still there, but we must make a concerted effort to be sure that the analysis is meaningful for today as well as for the future.

Today, transit agencies in our region are meeting the immediate need of protecting the safety and wellbeing of transit riders and transit workers through increased cleaning measures and modified operations. Transit agencies have deployed various policies to help “flatten the curve” and provide mobility to all users, especially those who provide essential services that allow for everyone’s life to operate as normally as can be.

Our area transit agencies also continue adhering to long-standing commitments of providing mobility options for residents regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or disability. Area transit operators continue to follow necessary reporting measures ensuring that everyone is treated equally, provide opportunities for public comment for major transit service changes, and incorporate demographic analyses into their planning. We applaud the work of regional transit providers for their dedication, commitment, and follow through in keeping an array of mobility choices available.

Mobility in the Future

Mobility challenges will not go away after the COVID- pandemic. Creating more transportation choices that account for the changing needs of our community going forward is important.

CONNECT Beyond, must take into account the current reality of our communities and extend that vision 20-plus years into the future to ensure that as we grow, our transportation network is resilient and continues to serve as an underlying asset for all members of our community.

Our charge – to create a Regional Transit Vision that includes innovative transportation solutions to enhance mobility and access for people living in and visiting our region – does not change. This effort must think very intentionally about how we achieve this vision and how the values of our communities are evolving, especially over the last several months.

We Need You

We need your input as well as the input from all residents of our region to develop this plan. CONNECT Beyond offers a once-in-a-generation chance to re-imagine what role mobility will play in our region’s future and for us to evaluate how we choose transportation projects that support our values.

We invite you to stay connected with us on this journey.  Click here to see our public engagement activities, initiatives, and touch points.