As the Tappan Zee Bridge Mass Transit Task Force moves towards its final report on mass transit recommendations for the I-287 Corridor, state and local elected officials, nonprofit and business leaders, as well as transit officials and members of the general public gathered for a discussion in Rockland County on the potential benefits and financing opportunities related to bus rapid transit (BRT) and transit oriented development (TOD) this past Friday. The event, organized by Tri-State and co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Westchester and Groundwork Hudson Valley, included speakers from five different states, each of whom had particular and extensive experience with planning or financing transit projects or related development. By the end of the program, it was clear that BRT is not only possible in the I-287 Corridor, but when combined with smart TOD planning, could be utilized as a tool to revolutionize mobility in the Hudson Valley and revitalize local communities.
The event opened with a welcome from Chairwoman of the Rockland County Legislature Harriet Cornell, a strong supporter of improved transportation options for Rockland commuters. Joseph Calabrese, CEO, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, followed with a presentation that detailed the implementation of the HealthLine BRT system and the critical role this new transit option had in revitalizing Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue. Calabrese noted that although BRT was not the region’s first choice, it has been a greater success than people expected (and at a fraction of the cost of a rail alternative) because it was well planned and implemented. ”If we had done rail, it would have cost more than $1 billion, and it never would have gotten done,” said Calabrese. “So we did the best we could with what we had, and it’s been wildly successful.”