Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Poll Results: Stop the Silver Lie

Wow. You guys really don't like the Silver Line Phase 3 BRT project or as locals like to call it, the Silver Lie. I know its not a rail project but I thought it was an appropriate project to throw into the mix. Second was BART to San Jose and third was the San Francisco Central Subway which unfortunately for the project opponents got one step further to Federal Funding at the FTA with environmental clearance today.


I saw a few other poll ideas in the last poll series so I'll bring those up soon. I'll probably wait a few days as tonight is a pretty busy news night.

18 comments:

jfruh said...

Out of curiosity, what do people have against the two NYC-area commuter rail projects (East Side Access and Access To The Region's Core/THE Tunnel)? I thought these were rather eagerly anticipated projects.

Rhywun said...

What *I* have against the two NYC projects is the cost/benefit ratio. These two projects are enormously expensive and benefit only the relatively small number of suburban commuters. I believe money should be spent to benefit the greatest number of people first, instead of on projects that are justified more by politics than need.

Carfree Chicago said...

Interesting that Chicago is missing from this list. What about Metra's STAR line or the CTA's Circle Line? I tend to believe the CTA would get more bang for it's buck investing in streetcars than another heavy rail loop.

Thelonious_Nick said...

I don't know much about the BART extension to San Jose. Seems like that would be a highly desirable extension. Why the opposition?

Matt Fisher said...

Don't blame me. I voted for the Silver Lie Phase 3. The SLP3 will destroy a century old rail tunnel, and the MBTA thinks it is a good idea? You know how much I can't stand BRT.

Of course, other busway projects, like in Hartford, could have also been some good suggestions. But if I had a RAIL project of my choice to vote on (if the poll only covered rail projects), it would be the proposed BART extension to San Jose.

martin said...

Why all the negativity?
If we want to talk worst, lets talk about road projects. I think the worst transit project is infinitely better than the best road project.

arcady said...

The problem with ESA and ARC is that they both involve building new terminal stations deep, deep underground, which is tremendously expensive, tremendously inconvenient for people using those stations, and unnecessary, since Grand Central has plenty of track capacity, and the situation in Penn Station doesn't seem terrible either (especially once a good fraction of the LIRR trains move over to GCT). In the case of ARC, in particular, the problem is that rather than expanding the existing system to four tracks, NJT wants to build their own separate terminal, thus greatly reducing operational flexibility if, for example, one tunnel needs to be closed. A three-track railroad has MUCH more capacity than a two track railroad plus a one track railroad.

As for BART to San Jose, the problem there is a matter of cost-effectiveness and priorities. Many Bay Area transit advocates, myself included, believe that there are many project that are cheaper and can produce a similar level of benefit. There are also worries that with such a huge and expensive project, VTA will not be able to do anything else, including expand its light rail system (on the DTEV corridor in particular), fund much-needed Caltrain improvements, or even keep its bus and light rail services running acceptably.

Winston said...

Thelonious_Nick said...

I don't know much about the BART extension to San Jose. Seems like that would be a highly desirable extension. Why the opposition?

The problem with BART to San Jose is that the cost of the project is so large that it will crowd out more useful transit investment. We're talking $6 billion for system that will see fewer than 50,000 daily riders, which is a terrible return on investment. The reason that BART to San Jose is so bad is that BART is a heavy rail subway that is being asked to do a job that would be better done by a commuter rail line.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Martin I don't know about that. I can't always say that a rail project will be better than a road project. Perhaps there is some connector that is needed or a street reconstruction. I'm not saying that any suburban road project is good of course but we can't just say that every rail project is superior to a road project.

And as to the negativity, we can't just be all rainbows and sunshine for every project. We have to look at these things critically. This site is very pro rail and pro transit, sometimes though we need a bit of a kick to make sure we're going in the right direction, and also to hear arguments for and against. For those of you who are wondering why some of these projects are considered bad by other posters, there have been many discussions on the previous poll threads about them and a lot of people have valid points. Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled transit blogging :)

Alon Levy said...

ESA has a good reason to be in a cavern: the tunnel under the East River is deep underground, and a tunnel connecting it to the existing GCT would have to have a very steep grade. The terminal they're building now is at the same level as the tunnel.

In the very long run, I'd like to see plans for connecting the various commuter lines in New York. This means scrapping ARC and replacing it with a project that four-tracks the existing tunnel, and then unifies the Penn Station operations of the NJT and LIRR. In the very long run, it also means connecting Hoboken Terminal with Flatbush Terminal via Fulton Street, and possibly even connecting the Staten Island Railway to GCT via Fulton Street. All of these projects will increase transit ridership and take far more cars off the road than the 7 extension and the currently proposed ARC ever will.

arcady said...

Alon, I'm not sure I buy the depth of the tunnel argument. The subway manages to get to a reasonable level by 57th St/6th Ave, and while the LIRR tracks are on a lower level in the tunnel, they're not that much further down, plus the lower level tracks at GCT are at least three levels down from the street (below the main track level, there's the loop track/lower concourse level, and the lower level tracks are below that). And I'm sure similar things can be said about the NYP tunnels, and yet the trains manage them just fine. What I'd like to see is a GCT-NYP connection, with the lower level of GCT being used by the LIRR, NJT trains (via Penn Station), and maybe even MNR trains continuing to a downtown terminus. And it would be nice if the five different electrification systems in the region were rationalized somehow.

Alon Levy said...

An NYP-GCT connection would be nice too; however, I'd trade that for a GCT-SIR connection, which would ensure every commuter terminal is in an outbound location so that capacity would be maximized, and provide a quick commuter connection between Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

arcady said...

Alon, just out of curiosity, what would your GCT-SIR connection look like, and where would it go?

Alon Levy said...

First, SIR would dive underwater, and connect to Lower Manhattan. This would be on the model of the Cross-Harbor Tunnel between Jersey City and Brooklyn, only it wouldn't need ventilation for diesel fumes. It'd have a station at Fulton Street, connecting to the transit center and hopefully to an LIRR extension from Flatbush Terminal. More speculatively, it'd keep going north, roughly one block west of the Lexington Line, and stop at 14th before joining Grand Central. This would require a choice of whether to connect this line to the main GCT and Metro-North, or ESA and the LIRR; I think ESA would run into fewer problems with intersecting east-west rail lines, but I'm not sure.

arcady said...

Alon, I've heard such ideas proposed before, generally by people who get their geography from a subway map and don't realize that it's 5 miles from South Ferry to Staten Island. A five mile tunnel running along the harbor seems astoundingly expensive and, frankly, unnecessary. And it doesn't make much sense to linke Staten Island's rump subway line (it uses plain old four car subway trains) to a commuter rail system. The capacity/scale just don't match. I think a more feasible solution for SI is to extend the HBLR over the bridge, and maybe in the long term to convert the Bayonne/Staten Island branch of the HBLR into a branch of the PATH system.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Hey Alon, Arcady...you all should write this up so we can post it as it's own post. I'm afraid that all this information and discussion will be left in the comments. So if you all want to write something like a point counterpoint on this, I'll post it.

Alon Levy said...

Arcady, I'm basing my idea for a tunnel on the Cross-Harbor Tunnel between Brooklyn and Jersey City, which wouldn't be much shorter.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I'd connect SIR to. It all depends on ridership projections. But a Manhattan extension would definitely boost transit ridership: for a start, it'd capture close to 100% of the SI-to-Manhattan market, since it'd be so much faster than going through Brooklyn, and it might also induce TOD in the future.

Jeff, I'd be delighted to clean this up and turn it into something coherent enough for a full post. What exactly are you looking for, though - a map on the model of your SF fantasy subway map, or just the debate over ESA?

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

A fantasy map would probably work as a part of the debate. Whichever way you want to frame it would be ok by me...