Friday, October 31, 2008
This isn't about one or the other, it's about both. Stop pitting HSR against the budget. Stop pitting HSR against schools. And stop pitting HSR versus better local transit. If we didn't pass this bond, it's not like the state will toss up $10 billion for a local transit bond. They have already stolen $3 frakin billion!!! in the last 3 years.
Then I started thinking about it. If the County of San Francisco asked me for an extra $100 a year for better transit, I would give it in a hearbeat. Heck I would give $500. Because it would make my life and everyone else's life in the city so much better. Think about it. If every citizen in the city gave $500 a year, this would be $41 per month. That's ~$383 million per year. Over 30 years, that is ~$11.5 billion. What could we do with $11.5 billion here? Well we could build 46 miles of subways at $250 million per mile. That is 4 north South Subway lines and 3 east west subway lines. We'd have a real freakin metro here! $41 per month is all it takes. That is one tank of gas per month. What could we get? Something like this:
Who would want anything like that? That's just a luxury.
Pelosi for HSR. Major firepower will make sure that this project gets its federal funding in the next congress.
A Streetcar for Middletown Connecticut?
Is a DDOT Streetcar ever going to get built?
More on Denver's property increases near light rail:
As I've mentioned previously, many of the people that I've talked with on my trip have mentioned that transit is not good where they are, and it's a deciding factor not just in what neighborhood they move to, but what city they move to. We don't have any data yet on the West Corridor, but anecdotally, I have seen a lot of competition for properties on the west corridor. We lost a bid on a property that was listed for around $100,000, even though we bid $25,000 over the list price.
Homes near light-rail stations along the southeast line, which opened in November 2006, have increased by an average of nearly 4 percent over the past two years, according to an analysis by Your Castle Real Estate. But the rest of the Denver market declined an average of 7.5 percent.
"I know that it's always been a good neighborhood, but I didn't think it was like that," said Humphrey, who doesn't drive and frequently uses public transportation.
The closer a home is to the station, the more its value increases, according to the Your Castle analysis. Homes less than a half-mile from a station increased an average of 17.6 percent, while those 1 1/2 to 2 miles away increased just 0.1 percent on average. The data varied widely among stations, however.
17.6% is no slouching in this economy. I'd love to see the study in more detail, but the initial findings reported look very promising.
St. Louis - An election is being held to give Metro a half cent more in order to keep up with operating expenses and expand Metrolink, the region's light rail system. It's called Proposition M.
Santa Fe - A Sales Tax to extend Rail Runner into the city from Albuquerque.
Oakland/Berkeley - AC Transit is looking to raise the parcel tax $48 annually to pay for operations. This measure is called VV. KK is also on the ballot and would allow AC Transit to build BRT on Berkeley streets.
Los Angeles - This would be a half cent sales tax for capital expansion. It's called Measure R.
Sonoma Marin - SMART will go back to the polls to ask for an 1/4th cent sales tax to build a commuter rail line. It is called Measure Q.
Honolulu - Island residents are being asked whether they approve of a steel on steel transit system.
Kansas City - A half cent sales tax is on the ballot to build a starter light rail line.
Seattle - Prop 1. I'm not going to be covering this as much except for some crucial updates. I'm sure the boys at STB got it covered.
High Speed Rail - $9.9 billion dollar bond for a statewide high speed rail line. This one is Prop 1a.
“The opponents of this light rail campaign are like the people of the 15th Century that were arguing that the Earth was still flat when people have already been around the world,” said Kansas City lawyer Pat McLarney.
I fully understand the idea that excessive land use regulation can raise the costs of home ownership. Smart Growth or anti-sprawl regulations, however, are just as much an implementation of greater flexibility in urban development, by allowing greater densities of housing, tenure and use, than it is a restriction on building. It is pretty well established that sprawl producing land use regulation is that which creates an artificial scarcity by requiring large lots, minimum square footage, and lower densities - driving up prices.HT PublicTransit.US
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's $50,000, high-tech hybrid Chevrolet Tahoe SUV ... was put out of commission Tuesday when a Muni bus sideswiped it.What I mean is that I hope that transit takes over priority from the auto centric bill we have today. Especially SUV's. Isn't Hybrid Tahoe an oxymoron?
Perry noted the roar of traffic below, above and around the crowd, which was gathered on a frontage road overpass. "This is the sound of freedom we hear," he said. "These people need roads to get to work, to church and to school."If that is the sound of freedom, I have a war in Iraq for you Governor. Sure people need roads, but do they really need the particulate matter and increased sprawl this will cause? This is all the pet project of Rep. John Culbertson, who loves him some roads. He promised that the next mega project would be US 290 but hopefully he doesn't get his way. With the Katy Freeway, Culbertson basically had the railroad right of way that paralleled the road paved over. There is a similar situation on 290 that shouldn't happen again.
The Culbertson who wanted to kill light rail all together and was a major reason for me starting this blog. Now I'm not a huge fan of rail in the freeway, especially an 18 lane freeway. But getting rid of that right of way was a mistake. And I wouldn't doubt if it were on purpose. Showing this guy the door would be a huge win for livable communities in Houston. Unfortunately at this juncture, the race isn't that close but it's tightening. We'll be watching this one on election night with the ballot measures. Mostly because this guy is a danger to himself and transit in general.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which already plans light rail on Westpark, paid to have Katy Freeway overpasses beefed up to carry its trains if space there ever is available for them. But Culberson, whose ability to get federal dollars was crucial to the widening project, pledged not to give up a single freeway lane for Metro rail. Brandt Mannchen, the Sierra Club regional air quality chairman, expressed regret at what he termed a missed opportunity to have rail on the Katy.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
An interesting discussion I had tonight with a colleague. He reminded me that the Howard Jarvis people that wrote the Anti Prop 1a junk study with Wendell Cox are the same folks who got Prop 13 passed...
Reuters is reporting that with factory workers in China losing jobs, the government will pump $445 Billion dollars into their rail system and economy.
CHINA will invest nearly $A445 billion in its overburdened rail system as a stimulus measure aimed at blunting the impact of the global financial crisis. The investment is part of plans to extend the country's railway network from the current roughly 125,502km to nearly 160,900km by 2010, Shanghai's Oriental Morning Post reported. The Beijing News quoted a rail official as saying that, while the network needed extending, the massive investment was also intended to help lift the nation's economy as it suffers amid the global woes.I don't know about you all, but I can't even imagine a scenario where we pump that much money into freight and passenger rail lines because our politics would get in the way. That is almost double the demand that exists in the United States for new transit lines and certainly an investment like that in the United States would be an enormous benefit for our future ancestors. Are we going to see the light? Or fall further behind?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
But dominating Obama's platform are ideas geared more toward the metropolis as a whole: a big investment in infrastructure, including mass transit and inter-city rail, that he now also bills as a jobs measure; a network of public-private business incubators; new green-technology industries; a White House office of urban policy that will goad governments within metro areas into working together.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I've got the longhorn patch which has brought me closer to fellow Texans randomly on BART and the Hey Mercedes buttons of my favorite band that have gotten comments from some rock kids. Though no one has said much about the SF Municipal Railway or the Market Street Railway pins, it might be because we're usually smooshed together on the J Church.
The thing though is that unlike bumper stickers, you have to be in close quarters to see what the pins and buttons say, which makes people a bit more cordial than if they were in the space of their own car. No honking on transit.
Jeffrey Tumlin, a transportation planner with Nelson Nygaard, a BART consultant, sees the skewed funding priorities as part of a deep-seated bias against transit in American public policy. "If your road or highway is experiencing bad levels of service, it's assumed that you need to get money to expand capacity," he says. "When you're allocating money for transit, nobody ever asks how crowded buses are."This is a pretty good article from Salon as far as msm goes. Then there is this part, which is the story of most people's life on BART if you're taking the train during peak hours. Sardines.
Four minutes later, another Pittsburgh-Bay Point train arrives and an audible groan goes up in the station: This train is packed too. Inside one car, a poster on the wall applauds riders for taking the train instead of driving: "Thank you for not gridlocking today. Thanks for taking BART." It's not even peak rush hour yet.Second tube anyone?
HT Bus Chick
Friday, October 24, 2008
They basically reconstructed the street and are running the same buses as the Eugene system. It's also another case of a project in the FTA process opening over 10 years after conception. I thought BRT was supposed to be cheaper and quicker to implement? Though if it started today, the project wouldn't even be funded under Ma Peters. It got a Medium Low in Cost-Effectiveness and cost $21 million per mile. I thought the reason for BRT projects was because they are more cost-effective. Basically what this proves is that the FTA doesn't want to spend money on projects that give transit its own ROW. No not painting lanes on the street, but a true separation from other traffic that makes it more effective. Today, its required to get a medium in CE as we've discussed before.
Those projects that do not currently have a rating of "medium" in cost-effectiveness would automatically be precluded from funding recommendation by the FTA, notwithstanding the merits of other criteria applicable to those projects.This is part of the cutdown in projects that has been going on lately. It's recently dropped from 85 projects in the pipe before the 2005 "medium" enforcement to 2007. Not counting small starts, this year only has 31 projects in the New Starts report.
Lest you think that projects are rightly being cut, it should be noted that Denver's Southeast Corridor, Charlotte's South Corridor, the Los Angeles Orange Line, and the Minneapolis Hiawatha Line all had a Medium Low ratings. Those projects have all passed their projections yet would not have been funded under the current process. Anyone else tired of cost-effectiveness being used as a blunt object to bludgeon the alternatives that will truly get people into transit, including rail AND true BRT?
Let's see how this line goes. I still wish it would have been rail and electrified, but it's an improvement in the corridor, one that the FTA would not approve of these days.
To me, when McCain's economist says we should invest in infrastructure "wisely", especially after talking about Dulles, he really means that like Ma Peters, he thinks investing in bikes and transit is silly. He also uses the phrase "performance and accountability in our taxpayer dollars". If we continue to measure performance like they do, the New York Subway and Metro are worthless investments.
H/T Greater Greater Washington via Grist
Options are available for cutting down the cost of the Fastracks program, especially the sections to Boulder. I'm hoping that the stimulus package includes money for them to finish.
Senators are standing up to the transit cuts that would happen if AIG and others go back on thier deals with transit agencies.
Purple Line leaders formed a coalition to be more effective at getting federal funding, or as its known these days, beating your fellow Americans for the scraps.
State legislators from Montgomery and Prince George's counties announced the formation of the Purple Line Legislative Caucus Thursday in order to make a stronger case for federal funding of the proposed light rail or bus line.~~~
Surprise Surprise!!! The Seattle Times columnist says vote No on Light Rail in Seattle. I hope it passes big time under the big blue wave.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
"I want to clear this up. I did not vote for the Trans-Texas Corridor and you're welcome to look at the voting records," he said in a broadcast by KXAN in Austin. Then Craddick, a Republican who was debating his Democratic opponent, Bill Dingus, in Midland, stuck a fork in the Trans-Texas Corridor and declared the ambitious plan done, according to KXAN. "Everybody in Austin knows it's dead," he said. "Everybody across the state knows it's dead. It's just something to be talking about."
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In Portland, city officials are already preparing lists of infrastructure projects they might launch with an infusion of federal money. It would be a nice silver lining for Portland if the economic crunch bought a refurbished bridge over the Willamette, or a streetcar extension.This would be a big boon for cities that have projects ready to go. As I said in an earlier post, it will be a huge deal for cities like LA and Seattle to pass their transit measures. Salt Lake City, Denver, Portland, and Houston already have a lot of engineering done for their new lines and if infused with stim, they could push that money to other transit projects to extend thier networks furthering the gap between them and those which are falling further behind.
If for instance Seattle drops the ball, it will be harder for them to seek stim money for projects that were rejected on a ballot measure. Though it might be a boon for thier streetcar infrastructure, regional transit might suffer from a crisis in confidence where opponents claim the win and the upper hand in cash direction. With the stakes so high for federal funding opportunity, it's important that these measures pass, else an opportunity that happens once in a century to double up on much needed transit capital spending could be lost.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
After years of defeats and futility, Blumenauer is convinced the odds are increasing that Congress could approve this investing as much as $50 billion to improve infrastructure with more next year if Obama is elected.I'm sure we'll see more discussion of this as we get closer to and after election day. Depending on who gets elected, it could break either way. I've already seen a number of opposition blogs and talkers posting an earlier post from the DOT's economist that was posted to Ma Peters blog. That post has also been discussed by Ryan as well. I remember when people were saying Gore and Bush were the same. Even though they were different, no one would make such a statement today with the current candidates and on issues like this.
Monday, October 20, 2008
It hasn't happened yet, but if it does, the agency would have no choice but to slash service drastically. It could also hit BART, Muni, WMATA, and the CTA though there was no hint AIG was involved in those as well.
Things started to go downhill when AIG ran short of cash after running up billions in losses tied to the housing slump. Its credit ratings were slashed and the firm was on the verge of collapse last month when it was bailed out by the federal government.
The lower credit ratings triggered a clause in the lease-back agreements that require the MTA to either find a new firm to guarantee the deals, or reimburse investors for their down payments and lost tax benefits, — a scenario that could cost the transit agency between $100 million and $300 million.
Many of the nation’s largest transit agencies participated in such deals. Among them are the San Francisco Muni system, the BART rail system in the Bay Area, the Chicago Transit Authority and the Washington, D.C., Metro system.
And as people like Minnesota congressman James Oberstar have pointed out, the failure to separate government investment from government consumption has perverse effects on how the government spends money, leading it to emphasize projects that cost less on an annual basis but more on a long-term basis, while also leading us to underestimate the benefits to the economy at large of investments in things like infrastructure, basic research, and so on.As Oberstar said:
Many argue that our current method of accounting biases spending decisions against physical infrastructure by requiring infrastructure to be paid for all at once rather than over its useful life. Thus, infrastructure investments are not judged on their long-term economic return, but rather on a distorted view of their "up-front" impact on the budget.H/T Bellows
Sunday, October 19, 2008
With gas prices coming down many transit agencies might be feeling a bit better about their balance sheets. But it's a short term deal. The oil cartel is looking to boost prices again. I feel like we need to invest more in electric transit including trolleybuses on core routes. Unfortunately, a trolleybus revolution does not seem to be upon us. Wires baby wires?
Muni LRV at Dolores Park
The Derby had an attendance of 75,000.
People were hanging from windows and fire escapes
Lots of trespassers on the private ROW
Soap Box Vehicles. A hamster wheel that spun and a baseball
Here are a few Videos from the Derby. My favorite was the Death Star, but the fastest I saw was the fire truck....woosh.
...Parker said he'll likely brainstorm other ways to raise money so rail lines can be built sooner.After years of spending on things other than transit, the Mr. Parker has the right idea about trying to catch up, which would make it cheaper in the long run. Their 10 year wait for the first line did nothing but cause project inflation and almost lost them thier funding source all together with the referendum last year. Yet Pat McCrory, the Mayor, Gubernatorial candidate, and staunch transit supporter, is against the idea of using any funding outside of the current half cent funding stream.
With the cost of raw materials rising, Parker believes it's important to build Charlotte's rapid transit in the next decade, rather than by 2035, the finish line in the current plan. If the federal government isn't willing to send more money to CATS, Parker said he may bring the Metropolitan Transit Commission and the Charlotte City Council options.
McCrory said this week he doesn't want to consider a new tax or bond to build the transit system sooner. CATS already wants to use some property taxes to build the commuter rail line, and the city of Charlotte is considering the same for the streetcar.
“We'll have to live within the confines of the half-cent sales tax,” McCrory said. “During these economic times we'll have to be both economically and politically pragmatic. And at times, patient.”
In transit funding, patience costs money, and there are other ways to pay for transit projects. Because transit creates value that often isn't credited to it, there needs to be more attention paid to the value is created and capturing it to pay for the project. Putting a cage on it isn't the answer.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
It's a bit old. But its related to this and has some funny quotes.
But while he buddies up to residents of Vienna who are aghast at the thought of thousands of new neighbors, Davis -- who supported transit-oriented development when he was chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors -- really has a different concern. Three Fairfax elected officials told me that Davis explained his opposition to the MetroWest development to them as a matter of party politics: The congressman believes that the people most likely to move into condos and townhouses near a Metro station are -- oh, the horror! -- Democrats.
It's Not About You! - So says the president of a commercial real estate firm in Milwaukee.
There are too many people who want to get on their soapbox and say, "I'm not going to ride it." The point is, it's not about you. The young person, who does believe in green technology and sustainable development, does want it. Whether you believe in global warming or not is not the point. There are a lot of people who do~~~
In typical conservative fashion, Paul Weyrich, usually a staunch supporter for transit says no on high speed rail for California. Good thing he doesn't live here. I imagine he's never driven I-5 either. He uses the reason foundation explanation as to why he opposes it. Robert if you're counting Hoovers vs. Keynes, here's another Hoover for you. He does say this about the project:
Unlike the Reason Foundation, I do not think that this project would be a white elephant.He goes on to deride the ridership estimates like everyone else who doesn't know why they are called "estimates". You know, like the estimates to sell bonds for these grey elephants.
A report on the Purple Line and all its noise and impact issues was released yesterday. The article did not talk however about particulate matter released from an internal combustion engine even if hybrid on the bus. Wonder if that was in the report.
Leaving Town? Some in Seattle say they will leave if the region doesn't pass the transit measure. I think there are some big issues that will come about if the transit measures around the country don't pass. What it might mean is that the region is left flat footed without a plan if and when the next transportation bill provides more money for transit. If we go into new deal spending, the regions that have transit plans in the Space Race will benefit from instant recognition that they have projects ready to go.
Brain Drain + Brain Gain = Negative Brains for Rochester. Keeps the zombies away at least.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This plan, an elevated highway that would operate as HOT lanes and Rapid Bus lanes is a disaster. All it does it keep people driving in one of the densest cities in the United States and creates a huge scar on the landscape.
This is not transit, this is a sprawl inducing anti urban elevated arroyo for auto and oil coin collection. People need to seriously stop thinking that more concrete will solve their problems. The benefit of rail transit is not just the transit itself, it's the communities that are created and the reductions in the need for auto trips. No one is saying that people need to get rid of thier cars. But for a lot of people, relief from the ball and keychain is what they need long term.
Why is such a beautiful place such as Hawaii even thinking about creating such a scar? They should be instead, investing in thier future, because once this road fills up the Pols will tell them they need to build another one. The island is only going to get denser and growing out is not an option.
Most amusing of all, however, is the way the Register conflates the free-market idea of what people want with the socially conservative idea of what people should want. Simply put: Despite its supposedly free-market orientation, the Register can’t imagine a world in which some people might answer their derisive question –“Want to live in a condo by the tracks?” – by saying yes.This is a pretty common theme by urbanists who aren't trying to get rid of people's choices, just give them more. In fact Ryan posted on an Atrios comment today as well:
It never ceases to amaze me how angrily people react to advocates of pro-urban policies, as if the very idea of improving such places is equivalent to war on the suburbs and the people who inhabit them. It’s also strange to be told how people don’t like to live in cities by folks seemingly incapable of grasping the fact that some people don’t like living in suburbs.I've said this before but I believe if there were more urban neighborhoods in cities, more people would be able to afford to live in them. I understand why people live in the burbs. I grew up there and it was a great experience. Right now though, I'm liking my urban neighborhood in San Francisco. And it sure has helped me save gas money.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here are a few select quotes from the report folks might find interesting:
Americans took 10.1 billion trips on transit in 2007, saving 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline – the equivalent of a supertanker leaving the Middle East every 11 days.
“We’re loving our transit systems to death today,”(4) Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) told the U.S. House in a debate early this summer.
Roger Snoble was among those to testify. “In its efforts to exercise due diligence over federal funds, the Federal Transit Administration has developed a system so complex, so replete with reports and analyses and so fraught with delays and schedule uncertainties that it now obstructs
one of the agency’s fundamental goals to assist urban areas in building critically needed transit systems in a cost-effective manner,” Snoble told the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
A 2005 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau found that only 54 percent of American households have access to bus and rail transit, and only 25 percent have what they consider to be a “good option.”
Think about that. This is nothing. No, it's not nothing, it's something. It's a nightmare! Help me! Move it! Com'on move this fu(beep) thing!! Why isn't it moving?!? What can go wrong with a train!?! It's on tracks, there's no traffic! How can a train get stuck. Step on the gas!! What could it be? You'de think the conductor would explain it to us? 'I'm sorry there's a delay we'll be moving in 5 minutes'!! I wanna hear a voice. What's that on my leg?!! *Lights in the train go off*
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
...all are part of a thrust by the regional government to dictate the forced density they advocate. Light rail is basically a density tool, and Metro’s vision of Milwaukie is as one large Transit Oriented Development hub and over-populated switching yard.Much like the Berkeley regressive progressives (TM), its understandable that people are worried about change. But I believe this mans fears are unfounded.
As they expound on the wealth that density and rail will bring to Milwaukie, the throngs of people who will come to shop, the jobs that will be created here, I cringe. They have it backwards. Our valuable downtown property will be converted into park-and-rides or jam-packed transit-oriented developments with inadequate parking; the shoppers and jobs will go to Portland, along with the money. Remember, all roads lead to Rome.Anyone who would take valuable land and turn it into a park and ride doesn't really want to make money. Also, regional centers don't drain to the downtown and the constant worry about parking belies a autocentric thinking that is all too common in this country. I would be surprised if Milwaukie's downtown didn't turn into a vibrant center.
If I were in opposition, I would just do what all opponents do, say the next lowest mode on the totem pole would be better and cheaper. This would effectively kill the density and the transit project keeping the status quo, just like the Nimbys want.
It is clear that the investment in TRAX and Front Runner is paying off. Despite there being only two TRAX lines it carries 34% of UTA's ENTIRE ridership. Add Front Runners numbers into the equation and it is at 40%. When you consider the bus system covers six counties and a couple of hundred routes, it truly shows how well TRAX and Front Runner is doing.Here's the official map they have recently put up on their website for the expansion:
Trax - 51,849
Front Runner - 8,250
"We'll create 5 million new, high-wage jobs by investing in the renewable sources of energy that will eliminate the oil we currently import from the Middle East in 10 years, and we'll create 2 million jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges," he said.
He revisited the subject again later in the speech: "It is time to protect the jobs we have and to create the jobs of tomorrow by unlocking the drive, and ingenuity, and innovation of the American people. And we should fast-track the loan guarantees we passed for our auto industry and provide more as needed so that they can build the energy-efficient cars America needs to end our dependence on foreign oil."
Why is it that Toyota and Honda consistently get the market here in America right but Detroit can't seem to figure it out? Obama talks alot about changing the way things are done in Washington. I think he needs to go a step further and talk about changeing the way we do things in State DOTs, MPOs, and Detroit.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Economies of scale combined with reduced transport costs also help to explain why an increasingly larger share of the world population lives in cities and why similar economic activities are concentrated in the same locations. Lower transport costs can trigger a self-reinforcing process whereby a growing metropolitan population gives rise to increased large-scale production, higher real wages and a more diversified supply of goods. This, in turn, stimulates further migration to cities. Krugman's theories have shown that the outcome of these processes can well be that regions become divided into a high-technology urbanized core and a less developed "periphery".Let's look back to what he's said on transit...
But none of it amounts to much. For example, some major public transit systems are excited about ridership gains of 5 or 10 percent. But fewer than 5 percent of Americans take public transit to work, so this surge of riders takes only a relative handful of drivers off the road.
Any serious reduction in American driving will require more than this — it will mean changing how and where many of us live. To see what I’m talking about, consider where I am at the moment: in a pleasant, middle-class neighborhood consisting mainly of four- or five-story apartment buildings, with easy access to public transit and plenty of local shopping.It’s the kind of neighborhood in which people don’t have to drive a lot, but it’s also a kind of neighborhood that barely exists in America, even in big metropolitan areas. Greater Atlanta has roughly the same population as Greater Berlin — but Berlin is a city of trains, buses and bikes, while Atlanta is a city of cars, cars and cars.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
"This election is huge," said Laurie Bright, president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations. If voters reject Measure KK and approve LL, she said, the combined effect could "destroy Berkeley as we know it."This is a perfect example of the idea that things should always stay as they have been. People are really afraid of change and expect others to take the brunt of what is coming anyway (growth). This was highlighted by opposition at a recent meeting that claimed they should build dedicated lanes in places that "needed it" like Walnut Creek. It's always exporting things to somewhere else rather than taking initiative and controlling it yourself. It's also a direct contradiction of Wendell Cox and others who believe that Smart Growth policies are the bain of housings costs. It actually seems as if its general NIMBYness.
The Metro transit agency adds an average of 10 buses a year just to maintain the same rush-hour service. Fairfax County public schools adds 20 to 30 buses a year - even when enrollment is flat - because of increased travel times. Officials say routes that used to take 30 minutes now take 50 minutes.
The additional vehicles on the road only make congestion and pollution worse. They also cost businesses and taxpayers money. "This is the perfect illustration of the cost of congestion," said Ronald F. Kirby, transportation director for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. "And those costs are passed on to customers and taxpayers."
Saturday, October 11, 2008
On the other hand. It was an epic epic Muni FAIL. In my first year here. I made the mistake of driving the 3 miles North to watch the football game during fleet week. Bad idea. No parking (when is there ever?) and traffic you wouldn't believe. The last few years, I've decided to take Muni which I try to do as much as possible. This morning I would take my usual J to 22 connection. But it started out badly. When I left my house, the NextMUNI webpage said 3 and 15 minutes for the J at 24th and Church. I got to the stop and the 3 min J was just leaving. I felt that was ok. 10 minutes wasn't bad and I would be a little late to the game but no problem right?
Not right. I waited 25 minutes for the J and the driver was chatting away with what seemed like a supervisor with a yellow MUNI vest. I was already annoyed that they were 15 minutes late and the talking really wasn't doing much harm, but because they were late more people had gathered meaning more people had to pay as they entered which always slows the whole process down. And why they have so many stop signs on Church I'll never know.
So i get to Duboce and Church where I would hop on the 22 and the next one comes in 12 minutes. It's already 9am and the game starts at 9am. I wait 12 minutes and off we go. The 22 gets there and I'm responding to texts from my friends telling them I'll be a little late but not too bad. Then some crazy stuff happens. The driver decides that at stop lights he'll read the SF Chronicle. And at one point he hops out of the bus at a stop and walks into a store to pick up a sandwich. What?!
Obviously I was annoyed. I was already late because of Muni. But this was ridiculous. So what would have taken me about 15 minutes in a subway or a car took me an hour on Muni. I know this is the reason people drive. It annoys the heck out of me that we can't get it right. Between the late train and the crazy bus driver...it was enough to make me almost declare war on Muni.
The way home pretty much sucked as well. So much traffic on Van Ness (I walked that way to see the ships from Fort Mason) I decided to go back to the 22. Well I got passed by three full buses and ended up just walking the 2 miles to the J. It was ok though. I got to take some pictures on Union Street. But for the once in a while rider, that day would probably kill your riding for about a year. Cabs it is!
In any event. This needs to be improved. And the TEP would really do almost nothing to change that trip. BRT on Van Ness could possibly help that trip but honestly there needs to be an east west and north south subway. I should be able to get anywhere in a 7 mile by 7 mile city in 30 minutes. That should be the goal. That would be quite impressive mobility for here and guess what, more people would take transit!!!
Here are some pictures and movies. The first one shows the final seconds of the game at the Blue Light bar. Pretty exciting.
The following pictures are of the Fleet Week traffic...
North Point Street
People Traffic and Ships!
Marina Street - They would be dumb not to put the future F Line extension to the presidio in its own lane when you see this:
Union Street Life
Friday, October 10, 2008
Funny how no one brings things like this up when talking about transit. Transit never has the expected usage and is a waste. Toll roads without expected usage are planning for the future.
Somewhere in the article they discuss that it will take a year, but I'm not sure if that is believable. I often wonder with studies like this what the real time frame is. Such a quick time frame doesn't seem reasonable while a long time frame seems so far off it might just seem like regular increase. They also say that there is a price premium on living near highways.
It will rise again soon, suggested a real estate report yesterday. Older properties near King, Main and James streets will gain the most in value if Hamilton gets light rapid transit, as city staff hope. So says the Vancouver-based Real Estate Investment Network, which looked at the housing value added by big transportation projects in Hamilton and Kitchener.
Study co-author Don Campbell says the value of homes within 800 metres of new rapid transit or GO stations will rise 15 to 20 per cent more than homes in non-transit areas. He's excited by the prospect.
Though I wonder how much that will change with gas prices. In a PBS special that is going to air soon, they interview a family who are spending over $1,000 a month on gas because they live so far away. Those housing prices have to reflect that truth. As my colleague Scott Bernstein says, we need to build cities that isolate citizens from these peaks and valleys of cost. I believe the biggest way to do that is to invest in sustainable transportation.
But he said property near the Red Hill Valley Parkway will see real estate increases in the years ahead. Being one to three kilometres from easy highway access can give you a 10 to 12 per cent premium on your home's value, he said. Transportation-related premiums -- which insulate homeowners from market downturns -- appear a year after a project is done, he added.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
2008 ridership on the Seattle Streetcar reached 347,000 riders on October 1, surpassing first-year ridership three months ahead of schedule.H/T Brian at STB
- Ma Peters
- Bill Graves, president of the American Trucking Associations
- Pete K. Rahn, Missouri Department of Transportation director
- Governor Edward G. Rendell (D-PA), chair of National Govenors Association
- Jane F. Garvey, executive vice president, APCO Worldwide
- Steve Heminger, executive director of the San Francisco Bay area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Ma Peters. We know all about her. Someone from the American Trucking Association? Serious? Or hows about Pete Rahn, the president of the Highway Lobby! This is stark. YGBFKM!
On the Blue team, it looks much better. Governor Rendell is big on transit in Philadelphia and understands transportation is multi-modal. I'm not so sure how good Jane Garvey would be as she was a former FAA administrator and Deputy Administrator at the Federal Highway Administration (booo!!).
I'm not so sure what I think of Steve Heminger either. His MTC has already been reprimanded by Jerry Brown for keeping roads we know the region doesn't need (Read Eric's post) and he got into trouble by taking a paragraph out of the recent National Transportation Commission Study Report about electric transit that Conservative Paul Weyrich had inserted. He's recently been a HOT lane enthusiast as well.
On the other hand, he understands multi-modal transportation systems, though the Bay Area's hodge podge of 26 agencies makes it a little hard to coordinate. They also have very aggressive performance measures for TOD that only spend money on new projects if the area is willing to accept a certain amount of density. I will say he and Gov. Rendell would be light years better than any of these other highway clowns. The McCain picks are telling, and if you were thinking he would address global warming and go against the auto-oil industrial complex, you might have just gotten smacked in the face.
Ah. That's the way patriot. Let the OPECs keep their gasoline. We'll just tap into a far more efficient energy source. Man....power. If we all learn to pull our weight. Nobody, nobody will be able to siphon away, our high life.
HT Twin Cities Streets for People for the Reminder.
"In 1935, city limits were clearly identifiable," wrote the Science Foundation. This is no longer the case, and many urban areas snake into valleys and along transit routes.I also imagine a 20 year moratorium on growth would not go over so well here. Though I think here it's called a growth boundary.
Researchers are proposing benchmarks to limit urban sprawl. In August 2008, a coalition of environmental organisations submitted more than 110,000 signatures to the government in support of a 20-year moratorium on new growth.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Yet the bottom line remains: without smart growth’s land rationing policies, the severe escalation in home prices would never have reached such absurd levels. But the disaster in the highly regulated markets will be with us for years. The smart growth spike in housing prices turned what might have been a normal cyclical downturn into the most disastrous financial collapse since 1929.Wow. Speechless.
Ryan and Matt respond.
Beltline officials are ready to sell $120 million in bonds to kick-start their effort to build a 22-mile loop of transit, trails and parks. But the financial turmoil has weakened the bond market in recent weeks, making it more expensive to borrow money.Other regions are feeling as well. The Frontrunner Commuter Rail Line in Utah will be delayed and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is having problems as well.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Back in 2005 he came and stayed at my place in Austin in order to go to SXSW and talk to some folks in his book that covers some of the best Post Hardcore (Usually called Emocore or Emo) bands that existed back when I was in school. It even includes the precursor to my all time favorite Hey Mercedes, Braid. So if you want to learn more about Jimmy Eat World, At the Drive In, Promise Ring, Sunny Day Real Estate and others...I encourage you to check it out.
Monday, October 6, 2008
A statement from the McCain campaign, however, targeted the Metro funding as well as Amtrak. "Senator McCain strongly objects to earmarks in the bill such as a $1.5 billion earmark for the Washington . . . Metro system and questions if this money is warranted above the needs that may exist among other mass transit systems in our country," the statement says. "With the serious financial situation facing our nation, this [multibillion-dollar] commitment of taxpayers' dollars can [be] dedicated to addressing far more important national priorities."I'm not sure what other national priorities he's talking about. But it seems to me transit is pretty important, but maybe that's just me.
Greens transport spokesman, Greg Barber, says freeways and road tunnels are inefficient transport options. "They're hugely expensive and actually not very efficient at carrying people," he said. "Clifton Hill railway station actually shifts more people than the Eastern Freeway next door. Just goes to show how inefficient freeways are at moving people."
There's also a really cool blog folks should check out called Transport Textbook. They are covering the investment line by line.
San Francisco officials want to change the formula, basing impacts on the number of new automobile trips generated — something routinely calculated by developers. The result, proponents say, could encourage building in transit-heavy, walkable areas.
City officials began looking into changing the formula several years ago after determining that time spent at stoplights didn’t take into account carbon emissions, pedestrian safety and noise, said Rachel Hiatt, transportation authority senior planner.
As they say in the article, I believe it will change the way development happens in the city but I wonder if it will increase the resistance to transit projects because they might bring more developers.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
U.S. consumers have direct or indirect control over 65% of the country's greenhouse-gas emissions, according to new statistics tallied by consultant McKinsey & Co. The figure for consumers in the rest of the world is just 43%. Americans, largely because of how they drive and how they build and use their homes and offices, lead some of the most energy-intensive lives in the world.It's not just how they drive and build, it's where. The placement is the greatest determinant. Driving cars a long distance to work and the store versus walking can make a difference.
Passenger cars account for 17% of U.S. emissions -- something consumers could affect by driving more-efficient cars or by driving less. Residential buildings and appliances contribute another 17% of emissions, underscoring the impact consumers could have if they lived in smaller buildings, or added more insulation, or bought a more energy-efficient model next time they replaced their washing machine.
Some civic leaders will no doubt object to this. It would certainly alter life along parts of Edmondson Avenue that would have to share the road with light rail trains. And despite putting most of the 14-mile line on the surface, it still might be too expensive to qualify for federal funds. That's because the FTA formula weighs construction and operating costs against the impact on congestion (too often giving short shrift to such factors as the effect on urban redevelopment or vehicle emissions).
But the proposal is probably on the right track - if further tweaks are made. The state doesn't have to choose a preferred option until next year, but this ought to be the centerpiece of conversation between now and then.
Meanwhile, the next president and Congress would be wise to invest far more resources in transit. With higher energy costs and the threat posed by climate change, the need for spending more on sensible public transportation has never been greater. But that, too, would no doubt require some compromise.
Indianapolis spends far less than these other cities on government -- and consequently spends far less on such things as parks, public transportation, the arts and libraries, amenities that some people view as optional but that experts see as critical to making a city vibrant and competitive.
Indianapolis' spending choices underscore two core community values: thrift and an affinity for small government.
It sure explains a lot and offers a vision of what a more libertarian type future would be like. The point seems to be that they don't value the commonwealth ideals as much as regions like Portland and Seattle who value parks and libraries.
"The unwillingness to gut it up for big expenditures made it hard to keep pace with other cities," Hudnut said. "It's very tough to fund some of these necessary improvements if you campaign on a no-tax mantra."
The no-tax mantra is alive and well as we know from the famous Grover Norquist wish to shrink government so much that it could be drowned in a bathtub. But this no-tax policy also seems to be killing needed services and common goals. Unfortunately, people don't quite understand the value of networks when thinking about the beginning of transit or parks for that matter. It's all about what benefits me now and not the Universe of benefits but rather the MEniverse.
Melyssa Donaghy, an anti-tax activist with Hoosiers for Fair Taxation, acknowledges as much. "I don't use the parks except the Monon Trail," she said. "I don't think it's affecting my quality of life. What's affecting my quality of life is the ability to pay my bills."
Sure it might not be affecting your quality of life, but what about others? What about things that do affect your quality of life that others don't want to pay for. This comes up with transit as well. Why should I pay for that if I don't use it. Well, the people who will take transit often pay for your roads, why should they do that? If I take BART to work every day, why should I pay for the new Bay Bridge span? It doesn't benefit me directly. Therein lies the problem.
I think this answers why older rust belt cities are doomed to die a slow painful death. Places like Cincinnati and Indianapolis will never be havens for the creative class unless they start investing money in their cities instead of being misers. Being cheap in the MEniverse is easy. Investing in all aspects of community, well that takes civic pride and a willingness to provide common wealth for the common good.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Ah Tommy Boy.
Friday, October 3, 2008
As envisioned in one set of bill drafts, for which state Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, is the lead sponsor, the street railway company could build, own and operate the system. The company could acquire property, including through gift, purchase or condemnation, and could borrow money and issue bonds.It's a fascinating idea and the point is to have it replicated all over the state, from Grand Rapids, to Ann Arbor, to Detroit.
Allen also said a goal is “to come up with a replicable plan, which means that we can work it in Detroit, or Grand Rapids. We’re open to input from anyone. If this tool can work in a variety of communities in the state, that is one of our objectives.”