Brookings compares transit accessibility across 100 metro areas


As shelters move farther out, network of buses connects homeless with downtown

Author: Steve Hendrix

Mark Fischer might not have a fixed address, but he sure has a fixed commute. On Monday morning, Fischer, 47 and unemployed for almost a decade, started his day as he always does: rolling out of bed at 6:15 a.m., pulling on his two jackets and topcoat and hurrying out to the sidewalk to catch the bus – the homeless bus.

Fischer and a group of about 30 men, most lugging backpacks and bulging plastic bags, stamped their feet to hold off the pre-dawn chill in front of a D.C. shelter in an old warehouse on New York Avenue NE. Promptly at 6:35, an empty white bus, airport limo variety, pulled up. The doors opened and the men shuffled aboard for the trip downtown, to their daily rounds.

The homeless commute might be a little less refined than the one most Washington workers experience, but it is every bit as regular. Each morning, the District government operates a kind of free mini-Metro for the homeless, connecting the city’s increasingly outlying network of shelters with soup kitchens, social service bureaus and preferred panhandling blocks closer to downtown.

Then, each evening, the homeless commuters join the outbound flow. With the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on G Street NW serving as depot, 10 scheduled buses load up to take the homeless back to shelters on the outskirts of town. The city spends about $1.8 million a year on transportation for the homeless, including the daily buses and a hypothermia van that patrols the streets on wintry nights.

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Transport Matters

Addressing the principles of sustainability, spatial planning, integration, governance and accessibility of transport, this book focuses on the problem of providing efficient and low energy transport systems which serve the needs of everybody.

It explores many of the new arguments, ideas and perceptions of mobility and accessibility in city-regions. Looking at evidence from Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK, it considers the meaning of the key concepts of sustainable accessibility, the spatial planning model, and integrated territorial policies.

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Measuring What Matters: Access to Destinations

In what is likely to be an enduring period of constrained public resources, lawmakers and government executives will seek the best information possible for making policy choices and deciding where to make public investments. In a landmark series of studies known as Access to Destinations, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) at the University of Minnesota has opened up new frontiers of information for better policy and investment decisions.

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