Great news everybody, at the NWA Regional Planning Commission Policy Meeting on October 28th 2020 the Policy Committee voted unanimously to adopt Connect NWA with no revisions. Representatives from the four towns; Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville; as well as Washington and Benton Counties were there and voted.
Now it is up to each local government entity to implement the plan. So we are further along than I thought when I first heard this news. The plan for ORBT now is write to our local officials and urge them to implement Connect NWA. Given the rise in the number of Covid cases it may be best to email our city and county representatives. Here is a revised letter you may want to use as a template.
Here is the blank letter:
October X, 2020
Local official name The Honorable —
Anytown, State ZIP
4321 First Street
Dear (insert proper salutation)
I am a member of Ozark Rail and Bus Transit, a community advocacy group for green mass transit here in NWA. You can visit our website here: https://ozarkrailandbustransit.com and look us up on Facebook.
I am writing to you regarding the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission’s Connect NWA 10 Year Development Plan for public tranportation. ORBT supports a more comprehensive plan that includes building a Regional Transit Authority, and battery electric motor units for buses, trains, and light rail trams. We like what we see in Connect NWA. We acknowledge that to start our vision of green mass transit we must begin with the first steps found in Connect NWA.
I am asking you to implement Connect NWA in city council. I do want to add that work still needs to be done to create a Regional Transit Authority. In my opinion the RTA is implied in the agreement for Connect NWA. The RTA will work to prepare for commuter rail, light rail trams, and multimodal transit hubs, i.e. stations.
Stations promote economic growth and focus residential and retail development. Stations with the proper zoning create the population/job density that makes mass transit practical. These zoned areas control the sprawl that uglies up the Ozarks.
Our planet is on fire due to climate change. We must act quickly or we will face a disaster worse than anything we can comprehend. Mass transit is a silver bullet aimed at carbon pollution. The use of battery electric motor units increases the impact of mass transit and brings carbon emissions to zero. BEMUs are technologically mature and commerically available. There are grants for converting our bus fleets to BEMUs. This needs to happen now.
The last thing I want to mention is higher pay for transit operators. We are going to ask drivers to work Monday thru Sunday from before light to after midnight. Operators in markets with a similar population to NWA make as much as twice what our drivers do. In order to build a professional cadre of transit operators, and their support workers, we must raise wages.
Thank you for your time. If you have any comments or questions please contact me at the address/email/cell phone number I listed above.
Please copy and paste the letter to your word processor. Then fill it out and send it as soon as possible.