Thursday, April 30, 2009
...here's the latest. BART estimated it would cost nearly $250 million to begin construction this summer on the Fremont-to-Warm Springs extension. The low bid came in at $137 million, or 45 percent below the projected cost. The Bay Area Rapid Transit District still has to evaluate this bid before awarding a contract, so it's not a done deal. But the five next lowest bids are within $7 million of the low offer.For more commentary on cost overruns, check out Orphan Road.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Growing up instead of sprawling out in Melbourne.
The report says just 10 per cent of the existing urban area could be used to accommodate projected growth in Melbourne's population from about 4 million to 5 million by 2030. About 34,000 sites on major corridors could be suitable for multi-level development, it says. These include more than 12,400 sites along tram lines and 22,000 along priority bus routes such as Johnston Street. The sites could accommodate about 500,000 new dwellings in total.
There's also two big elevated freeways on that side of town.
If you had doubts that air pollution from nearby industries exacerbated asthma in children, this map may quell them.~~~
I've been harsh on LaHood. Maybe I should give him some slack since he's a runner! Just like me a long time ago.
I think they need both Smart and Streetcars. Though I still think that ignoring downtown Novato is a dumb move.
I guess Blago wasn't the only one who likes to block transit in Chicago.
In Washington, the trend toward transit goes back ten years. Metrorail ridership started to go up in 1998 after a decade of little change. Since then it has grown at breakneck speed. Average weekday ridership rose from 528,000 in May 1998 to 752,000 in May 2008 – an increase of 42% in just 10 years. That far exceeds population growth. Despite the worsening economy and falling gas prices, ridership in recent months has continued to be significantly higher than a year earlier.It's become cooler to save money, walk more to your destinations and take transit. But this was also because Washington gave the option. You see, it isn't so cut and dry as the sprawlagists would like you to believe. Give people the choice to drive or take transit, some will choose transit and some will choose to drive. Give them one choice and well they will drive. It's pretty simple actually. Invest in transit service and it will give people a reason to use it. Especially if you have a good subway system like Metro tied to frequent buses, commuter rail, and Amtrak.
We can better understand what is happening by looking at these data in more detail. The biggest growth in transit use is not for traditional commuting trips, but for non-work travel. A fundamental shift in lifestyle is occurring as people no longer organize their lives around the automobile. Between 1999 and 2007, Metrorail boardings during the morning rush hour – a good measure of commuting travel – increased 33.5%. But ridership increased 47% on Saturdays and 57% on Sundays.
Case response when asked about the so-called "American Dream of Homeownership"?
"It's largely bulls---." He went on to say, "Rental is better for a lot of people (unless they bought during a boom)."
John King, urban design writer for the San Francisco Chronicle: What about all the starter-home suburbs? Case: I don't know. They're going to stagnate.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The argument goes something like this: Charlotte approved a 1/2¢ sales tax for transit back in 1998, and the business community helped work successfully against a repeal vote in 2007. Now, though, whatever the needs of the transit system, roads need to be better funded, because the region’s highways are not keeping up with demand. The development community - focused mostly on building single-family houses and office parks entirely designed for the auto-dependent - is adamant in its push for more roads.
Monday, April 27, 2009
If you look at the gender breakdown in the details, you'll see that the transportation issue is mostly a male one in the mayoral race but more women would vote for more commuter rail. But its also more of an important issue for the youngest age set. The good news it seems is that the two leading candidates have the votes of people who care the more about transportation.
Now here is the kicker I'm sure M1ek and AC will post on. The part of the city that wants commuter rail the most is central. My hunch is that people in central Austin weren't thinking about more commuter rail lines when they said yes to this question which is why the questioning of urban rail or streetcar or light rail would have been much better. Will the candidates get this out of the polling? Probably not. Perhaps they have done thier own polling on the issue but I imagine not. I could be wrong.
With cars, you can go where you want to go when you want to go. But they also have the most environmental impacts, the most social impacts and the greatest cost to our system - to park it, to enforce it, to run it, to import the oil.
With luck, when Edmontonians look back on April 25, 2009, they will mark it as the day public transit reached a sort-of critical mass, after which further expansion and improvement was driven by growth in ridership and by clamour in unserved communities, rather than by the fond hopes of politicians and advocates of different, denser kinds of cities.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
It's the new green me.
It's not like I'm going to be surrendering my car now than I'm a city guy, but being without it is increasingly enjoyable. Check out this 28-hour experience that began Thursday morning:
Walk 10 minutes to the Back Bay train station to catch a train to New York. Take the train to New York. Take a cab to visit buddy Jack Bowers in the hospital after surgery. Take a cab to SI in midtown Manhattan for an afternoon of meetings.
Take the subway to Queens for Mets-Padres. Take the subway to Manhattan after the game. Walk to Penn Station. Take the train back to Boston. Walk the 10 minutes home. Not an unpleasant trip on any of the legs. You people in cities have been hiding how great it is to get along without a car.
H/T Nick C
Thursday, April 23, 2009
It looks like some electrification will make the difference between Zurich and Munich. About an hours difference. That's a lot of time.
Some twists to the NAACP vs the Streetcar story in Cincinnati.
Certainly the repeal folks in Charlotte would have given up by now. They got shellacked 70% to 30% in the last repeal try but gosh why not come back for more pain. Anyone want to explain why these folks get a voice at all after such a drubbing? Especially when the highway overruns were far worse than the LRT line that is performing beyond expectations.
But I did find out why it will cost so much:
The Lynx extension's 50 percent cost escalation from the 2006 estimate is largely because it's become more complicated. The original plan called for 10 bridges to separate the train line from roads. The plan now calls for 16 grade separations, including burying 36th Street under rail lines in NoDa. Despite the higher costs, the success of the Lynx Blue Line (between uptown and south Charlotte, along South Boulevard) still makes the project viable, CATS said.In other words, the improved ridership from the South Corridor allowed the line to enjoy a "rail bias" in the ridership model that was demonstrated by the first line. Also, 16 grade separations is really going to bust any budget, though I still don't think $100 million per mile is low enough.
Sign of the times: Edinburgh won't move forward with a tram spur due to the economy.
"If you're late for work, and you might get fired if you're late one more time, it might be worth the (toll)," said Scott Haggerty, an Alameda County supervisor and commission chairman.How about creating a transportation system that can get everyone to work at the same time every day?? I bet that would help more than paying a single toll because you're perpetually late.
No one will ever build light rail if it continues to cost this much. It's ridiculous that people aren't asking harder questions to the engineers, such as do we really need that overpass there? Can we single track it here with room for double if needed later? Can we hop on another agencies train order? etc etc etc. Cut out the gold plating!
Parking in "da Noe" is easier than many other parts of the city and really if you live here, its not like you even need to drive. I don't think I have ever seen a time when there isn't a meter available or a spot in that lot across from Martha Bros. Mr. Shoup would be proud.
In a 77-40 vote Tuesday, the House gave preliminary approval to a local-option sales tax for bus and rail transit service, after turning back a move to let some of the money be spent for roads.Turning back the tide is hard, but things like this begin to send a message.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of Transportation of the City of New York, is in Toronto tomorrow to celebrate Earth Day and to see a Toronto icon that she wants to bring back to the Big Apple: the streetcar. “I’m very jazzed about my visit,” Ms. Sadik-Khan said today from her New York office. “The streetcar program is something that I’m looking at here. We threw away our streetcars, and you kept them. I think it’s a great economic development tool.”I don't think that New York should adopt the streetcar model of Toronto exactly. For one thing the single cars are more like buses instead of the sleeker more comfortable european trams that can be of greater size due to modular designs. You would lose out on some of the benefits of greater capacity and energy usage. Toronto is currently looking to replace the existing vehicles so we'll probably see them make the switch soon as well. Also it's likely that a dedicated lane for streetcars will be necessary to make the lines even more efficient, something Toronto is starting to do.
Perhaps we'll see some sort of study soon. And perhaps New York can look to some of Scott Bernstein's ideas on using funding from electric companies to bring them to scale. Not everywhere, but on a few key routes that could use the capacity.
Wall Street Journal - Spain has a rockin HSR system. I had heard before that the Basque separatists (ETA) aren't happy about a possible extension to their neck of the woods. Very interesting article.
I guess history doesn't matter as much as making money. Give them some time to get some samples out of the ground. I don't see why the dig can't be a part of the development plan. Themes!
Trees vs. Sidewalks!
What Pedestrianist said... and Mayor Tom Bates is beating the Emerald Aristocracy at the green game. Now if we could only get his wife to find this thing called the Capital Corridor.
MTC pushing back hard because well, they like bad plans.
Suburban demographics are changing. Any surprise there is a market for not suburbia?
Relating transit to your road network.
Within two to three decades, 90 percent of Wasatch Front homes should be within a mile of a major rail or express bus stop, said Mike Allegra, UTA's assistant general manager.
He describes the end result the same way one would Utah's network of roads and highways. The streetcars will act like neighborhood collector roads that move traffic to TRAX or rapid buses, which run in their own lanes, whisking people the way a major highway does. From there, passengers can transfer to FrontRunner, the rail system's limited-access freeway. "Each mode feeds the other," Allegra said.
Opponents of a proposed commuter rail line from southwest Fort Worth to Grapevine say they will file a petition today in Colleyville saying increased train traffic would clog intersections and lower property values.I've said this before and I'll say it again. Don't move near a rail line if you don't want to hear trains. Is that really so hard to get? This is pretty comical though. I hardly think a train every 15 minutes is going to jam up intersections. Perhaps they are thinking freight trains? Who knows.
Monday, April 20, 2009
A Greater Melbourne Authority could take control of the city's public transport and help push through multi-storey buildings along tram and train corridors, in a bid to stop the suburbs sprawling further.I wonder if the only thing that can really stop the suburbs is people getting fed up with paying too much for transportation. Anyone know how Toronto and Melbourne compare to American cities the same size? Seems like we can get at least a little glimpse of what we messed up when we ripped our trams out of the ground.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
DC: "Some residents of the District cling to a suburban mentality."
National: "Americans travel by car twice as much per year as Germans and use transit only a sixth as much."
Texas: "This isn’t a transportation funding crisis," said Keener, whose Austin group promotes low taxes and small government. "It’s a funding priority crisis."
Las Vegas: "The zoning provides incentives, such as bonus density, for developers who build projects that combine residential, professional and commercial space and encourage residents to use the mass transit line."
Thursday, April 16, 2009
However other areas such as parts of West Oakland have been deemed off limits to developers even when the proximity to downtown is just enough that a streetcar or light rail line would explode the potential in the area. This is because the industrial land is still viable as such and city council saw value in keeping the jobs and land available in the area. I can't say that I disagree with this assessment but what is the point where industrial properties anywhere are too valuable to tax base?
For the most part, many of the easy pickings in downtowns around America have been taken back in the form of downtown adjacent former brick industrial buildings that have formed a base for a loft district fairly close to downtowns. But there are still spots waiting for a rail line that have good bones and would be great spots for the new streetcar suburbs. Is there an area in your cities that have dwindling industrial uses and is within a two mile radius of downtown?
Second, Congress could increase the share of funds dedicated to transit. The transit lobby is powerful and the highway lobby is weak, but the latter probably still has enough power to stop that idea.Bwahahaha. I wonder if Randall was out teabagging today.
On March 12, 2004, Siemens admitted to problems concerning the stability of the car bodies and, as a precautionary measure, instructed all public transportation services to take all Combinos with a service distance of more than 120,000 kilometres (74,565 mi) out of service. Torsion forces generated in S-curves were much higher than anticipated, leading to cracks around the articulations between the car modules. Subsequently, hairline cracks were found in the joints of the aluminium bodies, which could cause the roof to collapse in the case of an accident.The Caterpillars of Budapest had issues and were delayed due to door issues in 06. While not as bad as the issues the European versions had, Melbourne is going to make fixes due to the fractures that have occurred on their trainsets. I've heard that subsequent redesigns have fixed the problem on the current model.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Now they have put together a DVD on sprawl that features some famous names talking about how it all went wrong. Check out the lineup and watch some previews at Planetizen.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
But Eklund and other council members were concerned about the lack of parking for those who would take the train and the relatively small job centers. Councilwoman Jeanne MacLeamy said she expected as many as 1,500 new jobs to come to the Atherton area in the coming years on top of the 1,500 already there. There are about 500 jobs near the proposed downtown station.Why not have a policy to push more jobs onto the urban grid that exists downtown. It's also the most connected to the residential neighborhoods meaning it will be easier for people to get to the station without cars. Stop designing for cars!!!
The top is a close up of the two stations under consideration. The downtown station was ruled out which with the experience of Caltrain seems a bit silly. The yellow box shows the jobs they are talking about which have a huge parking lot outside of the building. Why not develop the downtown more and create a reason for people to live in downtown Novato and take the train to other cities?
It's high time Congress allowed the District of Columbia to operate clean, green, efficient, electric surface mass transit on any of its streets.
Streetcars and light rail are making a strong comeback in cities all across the USA. Obviously, that form of mass transit is being recognized more and more as a worthwhile public investment to move lots of people. And there is a new transportation infrastructure recognition by the Obama Administration.
Until more reliable forms of power become available, the best system for more than 100 years to power streetcars is from a simple almost invisible overhead wire. This is how more than 400 other electric surface transit systems operate around the world and within other US cities. However, Congress banned overhead wires in parts of D.C. more than 100 years ago stifling electric surface transit progress and ultimately killing it almost 50 years ago.
It's time for Congress to take a leadership role and change that law to allow streetcars to use single simple, non-polluting almost invisible wire above their tracks and return to all of D.C. When the law was passed more than 100 years ago it was well intended to remove masses of utility wire from city streets. Utilities can bury their wires but transit cannot. The old underground conduit system used by the now abandoned D.C. streetcar network is too expensive and difficult to maintain or reinstall and not at all desirable.
I am not recommending a sky full of wires. A small single simple nearly invisible overhead wire supported by decorative lampposts or nearby buildings can be extremely architecturally effective and easy to maintain without destroying the visual landscape of D.C. There are thousands of examples worldwide in cities just as beautiful or more so than D.C. They are not harmed or defaced by them and their beauty is enhanced by modern healthful environmentally friendly electric surface transit.
Discussions abound about clean energy, CO2 reductions and global warming, but Congress has turned a blind eye in their own backyard by continuing to impose the antiquarian overhead wire ban for surface transit. Everyday Al Gore and other officials call for change and reform in terms of energy and environment but Congress does nothing to encourage D.C. to modernize its surface transport making it green and more inviting to use. The beauty of D.C. will not be marred by this minute change and will enable it to eliminate many noxious and polluting buses from its streets. It's time to CHANGE how D.C. does surface transit.
Congress has to get this message and take reasonable action by eliminating the overhead wire ban for surface transit within all of D.C and let D.C. decide where and how to institute its transit needs.
By comparison to other recent problems this may seem trivial. Basically it is, except that a change in the law requires an act of Congress. I doubt that many Congressmen and staffs today are even aware that giving D.C. this benefit lies within their jurisdiction. Many of them now have modern light rail in their own districts. It's one of those niche items buried in ancient D.C. history but is quite important to the District of Columbia and all who use or want to benefit from good surface transit therein. Allowing D.C. to resurrect electric streetcar service in all parts of D.C. by means of a simple almost invisible overhead wire will showcase an example to the nation and the world that Congress gets it. All that is required is a single simple nearly invisible overhead wire.
Best of all, no funds are required for this enabling act.
It is time for new outside the box thinking regarding green electric surface transit within all of D.C. and remove the ancient wire noose from around the District's neck. If an overhead wire is OK for the new Anacostia streetcar line than it should be OK in all parts of D.C. The residents will applaud such new vital action.
Conduit at Union Station
With Overhead Wires
Houston METRO Light Rail from NC3D.com on Vimeo.
H/T George B.
Flickr Photo by SFCityscape
Photo from Mellow Monk.
Some of my favorites from Tram photog Neitech in Nordbrand Germany.
Monday, April 13, 2009
It would seem to me that this views of these places also translates to modes of transportation that are seen as "european" or basically foreign as well such as light rail. Which to me makes it all the more amazing that Charlotte has been able to move itself towards transit expansion that is seen as the cutting edge in cities around the south, even those that have existing systems such as Atlanta. The amazing thing there is the changing political will towards a more transit centered, urbanism. I would argue that Charlotte in particular is a function of outsiders from the Northeast. The Urbanophile has laid out why outsiders have a way of making changes to a community because they can see something different.
Outsiders are willing to imagine things being different in the first place since they already experienced and indeed grew up in an environment that is different. It's sort of like visiting a foreign country for the first time. We notice how all sorts of little things are different, prompting four reactions. The first is, "Hey, things are different here." That can be a revelation itself. When we grow up and experience only one way of doing things, we tend to think everybody must do it that way or that there is only one way to do it.A possible function of the Southern feeling towards San Francisco or Europe is that they haven't been there before and their impressions are based on what they are told rather than what they experience. How many people do you know have changed their view of their own places after seeing a foreign country? I also have to wonder how much of the south is bigger cities as well and how much the lack of cities might lead to a similar feeling.
I remember visiting my parents from college when they lived in Rotterdam for a year and being amazed at the different transportation types, streets for people instead of just cars, and the fact that my dad could just walk to work. I was amazed and I believe it was one part of how my views changed towards the ones that I have now. Before that, I just hadn't been exposed to anything like it and didn't know it existed.
It's not that they aren't open to the experience, they just haven't had it. Not sure how that could be fixed, but it might explain some of the reasons for the San Francisco and New York bashing from the South. We're generally afraid of what we don't know. What do you all think?
The project tracked the change of air quality in 51 American cities since the 1980s. During that time general life expectancy increased by more than two and half years, much due to improved lifestyles, diet and healthcare. But the researchers calculated more than 15% of that extra time was due to cleaner air.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Egan said that Governor Deval Patrick and Aloisi remain committed to bringing rail to the region because "we will not get the same economic bang for the buck" with bus service.This is in response to the South Coast commuter rail alternatives analysis in which they were examining express buses as an alternative. I never understood this need to study the alternatives to a commuter rail line like express bus when for the most part the reason to build the line would be to take advantage of the rail ROW. It's either cost effective and useful or its not.
Now on the issue of bus and rail and the quote above. It seems like a bit of a double standard. Why would you say something like that to the suburbs about rail when you are doing exactly the opposite in the core with the Silver Line BRT tunnel. Can't have it both ways guys.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
"Eliminate Public Transportation. The industry is ready to commit to this relationship, but not until fickle Americans stop catting around with Amtrak and light rail"
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|You're Welcome - Auto Industry|
H/T Hub and Spokes
In Denver, the Daily Camera posed a question about the possible Fastrax expansion tax hike to fill the funding gap for all the lines. There were a few interesting nuggets in some ranting. Most of all though, they aren't really seeing the one possible solution to this mess, shifting money from roads to transit. Here's one from an anti growth guy who doesn't quite get that growth happens whether you like it or not, but he makes an interesting point about paying for your impact.
The fundamental reason we need more transit and more roads is growth. And the fundamental reason that taxes keep going up and service levels keep going down is the failure of the majority of the Legislature to impose impact fees on new development to pay for growth-related infrastructure. Why don't they impose such fees? It's simple - these fees cut into the profits of developers and land speculators, and they are big contributors. In this pro-development political environment, transit doesn't solve problems; it just encourages more development but in different places.The commenters also leave much to be desired. This is one reason why we need to stand up to the likes of O'Toole, because his crap gets distributed through article comments like this.
Could inadequate transit cost Tampa?
California State cuts to transit are killing local agencies. It makes them look for more funding and look like the bad guys in all of this. Adequate blame should be announced in some way or another.
No more stepping into the street for a streetcar in Toronto.
Trains jammed for Arizona Diamondback games. Also, it seems to me that because sports fans are going to be perpetually confused about transit TVMs, why not just allow tickets to be POP.
Metro estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 fans used the trains for their trip to and from Chase Field on Monday. The process repeated itself, but in smaller numbers, Tuesday and Wednesday.~~~
A two station solution for the transbay terminal CAHSR issue?
More cuts, Boston.
Hippocrite, thy name is Tim Pawlenty. Remember when he vetoed funding for expanding Twin Cities transit? Now it's all cool when Joe Biden sez.
Chicago’s consolidated and compact venue plan places 21 sports, the Olympic Village and the IBC/MPC along Lake Shore Drive, a magnificent thoroughfare on the shores of Lake Michigan. An additional 4 sports will take place within the Olympic Ring. Venues have been proposed near existing public-transit lines and high capacity roadways, maximizing the use of existing infrastructure and eliminating the need for any new lines or roads. Thorough pedestrian and vehicle flow modeling will ensure the safe, efficient movement of all constituent groups.In addition, the plan is to have a two tiered dedicated road lane system for moving people around and increase headways of existing transit.
Olympic Lanes will connect venues and provide freeflowing, safe transport for Olympic Family vehicles and spectator shuttles on a network of more than 590 km of dedicated roadways.Now that's not to that using funds to upgrade existing systems in need of serious funding is bad. That is an extreme need Chicago and other legacy systems have needed for a while. The book states that over $1.5 billion would be budgeted for track, signal and terminal facility upgrades of CTA Heavy rail lines, $2.8 billion for Metra Commuter rail upgrades. This is half of what is planned for O'Hare at $8.2 billion dollars. (Update: Payton says that these are already budgeted in regular formula funding, meaning there would be no new expenditures for the Olympics) I would like to see this coincide with a plan and start of high speed rail lines into Chicago from other regions. It would be amazing if a plan was set in place to upgrade infrastructure like this so that it could be in place for the Olympics. Talk about stimulus.
To meet the heightened demand for rail transport, Chicago will increase the frequency of train cars during the Games period.
But the plan lacks imagination for my taste. Especially considering what could happen if they spent $10 billion dollars on dedicated rapid streetcar lanes. That would be 333 miles of new fixed rail infrastructure that would serve the city long after the Olympics. Think about the reduced energy usage, the reduced operations costs per passenger and the increase in value that would be generated by such an ambitious expansion plan. Alas nothing like this is planned and no new transit infrastructure would be built.
So if Chicago is really getting nothing new out of this in terms of transit but the idea of pedestrian ways is something I'm willing to think about. Is there specific bike infrastructure for the city in these ped ways? Will there be consideration to keeping these ped ways after the Olympics are over? The big question is though, is an Olympic bid worth it?
I'm still fuming at Gavin for screwing this up for San Francisco. It would be amazing to have the games here and it surely would have pushed for serious upgrades to infrastructure and a speeding up of long term projects that need to be sped up. That said, its expensive and you have to weight the pros and cons. But being able to live in the city and go see the track events would have been amazing for this former aspiring olympian. I'll get to the Olympics eventually. Hopefully here in San Francisco.
H/T Payton C via FB Status
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
As with many other issues, the world will expect America's "talk"--say, urging China and India not to become auto-centric--to be accompanied by "walk," at home. That, unfortunately, despite early glimmers of hope, is not happening. The stimulus bill has allocated about 8 billion dollars to transit, compared with 30 billion to highways. This is roughly in keeping with the traditional 80/20 split of federal transportation funds that have been enshrined since the Eisenhower days.I agree. We can't just lecture other countries about what they should do when we continue to fund the same levels we always have. How are we supposed to solve the problems in the world if we can't lead by example.
The president's stimulus package has put dollar commitments behind promises about promoting green-jobs and increasing renewable energy generation capacity of the U.S. Yet, despite the concern and awareness within the administration, American lifestyles are inextricably linked to very high automobile usage. Until that bull is taken by the horns, climate change cannot be properly confronted.This is why I keep harping on the folks at SF city hall in the Emerald Aristocracy. Fake green and gizmo green is not leading by example, its just delaying the inevitable. Check out the Forbes article, it's a good read.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Muni’s $129 million deficit means the MTA Board is exploring painful choices that would cripple service, but $80 million of the problem is “work orders” from other City Departments. Newsom directed every agency to trim its budget, and some unloaded it on Muni by charging for services done for free.Some of these include millions for 311, which apparently charges $1.96 every time you call and ask them to look up next muni for you. That is almost 50 cents more than a muni fare meaning that when those people who called step on the bus, they are actually adding $2 to the trip. Another issue that annoys me is that I have never seen a police officer on the bus, yet SFPD is looking for $12 million out of the budget.
What are we going to find tomorrow from the emerald aristocracy and thier gizmo green? You know, the ones that think electric cars are the answer in a city that couldn't park them anyways.
H/T Transbay & NJC
Peter M. Rogoff, a leading expert on transportation funding issues, will be nominated to serve as administrator of DOT's Federal Transit Administration. He's a 22-year veteran of the Senate Appropriations Committee and has served as Democratic staff director to the transportation subcommittee for the last 14 years. Rogoff was the lead Senate staffer on the .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) law and the youth drunk driving “zero tolerance” law, widely credited with saving tens of thousands of lives. He also advised lawmakers on the initiation and financing of Amtrak's high-speed Acela service and on the financing of new light rail and bus rapid transit systems.He's a financing man that's apparently been around since Istea.
The expert on infrastructure budgeting and finance issues has served on the Senate Appropriations Committee for 22 years, the last 14 as staff director of the Transportation-HUD Subcommittee. He is a veteran of the last three surface transportation bills dating back to 1991.He was a guest of the "road gang" which I find a funny name for a transpo frat. I didn't find much else in a quick google search, so we'll have to ask some questions over the next few days.
On March 4, the Metro Board voted on a contract with the Parsons Group to design, build and operate four new Light Rail lines. The cost for the North Line would be $387 million, and the cost for the Southeast Line would be $441 million.Now it would be interesting to know why lines would cost ~$170 million per mile for surface light rail. Honestly, that is ridiculous. Obviously the nutcases that have always been against light rail are going to have a field day, but I have one guess as to why it will cost so much. The deal that Metro cut with the City of Houston to build the lines includes complete reconstruction of the street from curb to curb. So not only would this be the construction of the rail lines, but construction of the street, sewer systems and sidewalks that border the line.
According to letters dated on March 23 from Metro to the Federal Transit Administration, Metro indicated that the current net project cost estimate would be $896 million for the North Line and $911 million for the Southeast Line.
METRO is also giving something to the city: $300 million of utility upgrades. For example, if a sewer line needs to be larger or needs to be replaced due to age, METRO will install a new one.In fact the recent North Corridor planning document had this to say:
The typical life of a water transmission main is 40-50 years. For the North Corridor, research indicates that the lines, including the Churchill Street Line and extending all the way to the intersection of Crosstimbers Street/ Fulton Street, have reached the end of their life span.I'm not completely for sure that this is the deal but it's my best guess as to why the lines could possibly cost so much. The need to replace that infrastructure would be there anyways, but why not try and get the FTA to foot some of the bill if possible? That is what comes to the minds of a lot of transit agencies who are trying to build new lines, if we can get more money, why not try.
The life of a sewer line is typically 30 to 40 years, unless the lines are rehabilitated. From the City’s GIMS database, it appears that there are several sewer lines that are older than 40 years. It is not clear if these lines have been rehabilitated. These include distinct segments along most
of the length of the Corridor. The construction dates for some segments are unknown.
Current City regulations require storm water detention for all new development. Hence, any new developments that are proposed will be required to design for storm water detention.
The Transit Street itself is characterized with a combination of industrial, residential and commercial uses, which would normally have the capacities needed for redevelopment.
However,the condition of water mains and sewer lines appears to be quite old along this Corridor and replacement of these services should be contemplated as transit is being constructed.
I personally think that its a really messed up accounting exercise that allows light rail and even BRT projects around the country to get attacked for thier high price tags because of necessary replacements credited to thier accounts. I want more information before I go off the handle on insane light rail costs, but if it's that much for just the light rail, Houston got bad engineering estimates and needs to start over again. That much per mile should not be tolerated for surface light rail. Even if the utilities are included, I'm inclined to say the prices are too high. I have a feeling though, that we're missing something...
Monday, April 6, 2009
For-profit developers proposed more than 1,500 condos and apartments within a 10-minute walk of a station. Now, with the trains to carry their first paying passengers in three months, most of those deals are on hold. Project after project has been delayed or derailed, victimized by tight credit and related economic woes.In the Bay Area on the Freemont line the plans are getting hit the same way:
All along the East Bay’s Interstate 880 corridor, from Oakland to Fremont, cities are putting plans for hundreds of units of market-rate housing on ice. The projects can’t go forward until the credit crisis thaws, allowing developers to obtain loans that they typically used to build.I wonder how much more could be built though if they didn't have to worry so much about parking, the bane of every TOD's existence.
In Fremont, for example, where the city wants to build 300 condominiums near its BART station, plans originally called for the housing to sit atop a subterranean parking garage. To avoid the added cost of building an underground parking lot, the developers turned to a new scheme that calls for the multi-story housing to wrap around an elevated parking structure.The Dallas donut (an apartment building wrapped around an internal parking structure) is usually what the market will bear after (edit: was until) transit, if only it were easier.
Machismo Burrito Bar owner Bill Caton worries it will drive him out of business. Like many businesses in densely developed Freemason, his relies on street parking for his customers.But then we find out just how many spaces will be lost. A whopping 40. Someone at the city of Norfolk should have taken pedestrian counts before, during, and after the light rail construction. Then I checked the Pilot's website and what were the ads around the article? All for autos. Sure its not a direct correlation, but we know who pays for a lot of advertising budget for the news. Parking story? Big News!!!
Passengers travelled for free on the 4th of April on the Brussels Metro, on the occasion of opening the last segment of the circle line, connecting Delacroix and Gare de l’Ouest stations. The whole metro network has been reorganized as well: The 2 line leaves and arrives in at Simonis, where every second train continues to Roi Bauduin as line 6; and the remaining 3 branches of the former 1A/B line are served by lines 1 and 5.
Rail transit drives walkable urban places. I've never seen one dollar of real estate investment invested because of a bus stop. But if you have [rail] transit, it's a different story altogether.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
But I wouldn't say that we shouldn't build the museum. I think the Museum should be attached to or at least part of the Subway station. In this way, new subway lines would be strings of culture funded in part by the philanthropic minded of the city while also providing a public good in transportation.
While we are always saying that we need to keep land use and transportation in one mindset, it seems that we could be thinking of better ideas of how to keep the large amount of donations that come from philanthropic interests moving towards not only the public good of increasing culture, but the public good of reducing emissions and improving movement and air quality for all citizens of the city. I would donate money to these causes and I believe others would as well for the double benefit that comes from it. I know I'm crazy but sometimes you just gotta throw ideas out there.
-86% believe that investing in alternative energy will create jobs
-84% support investment in fuel efficient railways
-Solid majorities support policies that transfer wealth to individuals and businesses who invest in clean technology (84% like tax rebates for individuals who reduce energy use, 79% support the same for businesses, 73% support tax rebates on hybrid vehicles, 72% support policies that both reward business that reduce CO2 emissions and penalize those that don’t.)
-68% support investments in energy independence, even if it raises energy costs.
While this should come as no surprise, it’s worth noting that in spite of the overwhelming support for good policy, no one really wants to pay for it. From congestion pricing to gas taxes, overwhelming majorities are opposed to those options that—as framed in the survey—suggest that specific economic pain may be imposed on the specific survey responder.
Why not start building high-speed rail? One thing that, as an American who is proud as anybody of my country – I am always jealous about European trains. And I said to myself, why can’t we have — (applause) — why can’t we have high-speed rail? And — and so we’re investing in that, as well.
"I get that times are tough," Shelley Keith, 19, said as she waited for either a 14-Mission or a 26-Valencia for her trip home to Bernal Heights on Friday afternoon. "What I don't get is why cut public transportation. This is supposed to be a green city."Transit riders get it. It's San Francisco's leadership that can't get their heads around that idea. Wake up you emerald aristocracy. It's times like these we need transit most. Congestion pricing for carbon cars anyone?
Once again, UTA has demonstrated that it doesn't have a clear idea of its mission. Should UTA provide sensible, economical public transportation to the Wasatch Front, or should it just build things? Should it try to serve the population that cannot use automobiles, or should it spend public funds in an impossible quest to lure wealthy commuters to mass transit?In fact yes, public transit should provide quality transportation for those who can not use automobiles. But we shouldn't say you're poor so you can't have quality service. Perhaps we should start saying, you're rich, so why should we subsidize that suburban freeway. You can pay for it. There are many reasons to provide great transit service instead of just adequate including the idea that better transit for those who need it most is better transit that can be used by all. Complaining about it just makes it look like the forces of better transit are winning. Cheers to that.
Friday, April 3, 2009
The first thing that came to mind was oh man, we are not going to get along, the second was, how much different is the transit riding experience to females than it is to someone such as me who is somewhat tall, somewhat driven to take transit, and can be a bit scary myself when I haven't shaved in a bit? Would ridership go up if the situation were improved such that females felt safer and more comfortable on transit? I know many girls that are pretty hardcore about transit and aren't worried at all. But then there are those that I know that don't like to take it, especially alone. I think improving it for those types would improve it for everyone. Is that a standard to meet?
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
In applying for preliminary engineering, TriMet sent the transit administration a six-foot stack of documents on the project.What a waste of paper. I'm sure everyone has a copy.
In Texas, they are deciding on a bill to allow regions to tax themselves, and in recent years it's been state legislators who have cut it down for what I can see because they just are against taxes. It's not about letting people decide for themselves that they need more local funding. In fact, this need to raise taxes is a direct function of funding not being allocated correctly in the first place.
If transportation funds were instead allocated on the basis of data, need and transportation impact, metro Atlanta would fare much better. This is where the need is greatest; this is where the impact would be most noticeable. But that’s not how things work.
State leaders are now trying to muscle through a “reform” of the system. But rather than make our transportation planning more professional and data-driven, the goal is to make it even it more political. For example, it is supposedly “reform” to give the Legislature the power to spend up to 20 percent of transportation money on projects it gets to approve. Now, how many professional transportation planners sit in the General Assembly? Do you think that money will be allocated to where it would do the most good for Georgia, or to where it would do the most good for powerful legislators?
I do have to disagree with Jay on one thing, traffic isn't the issue. They've had more than enough money to build roads that are rediculously huge and part of the reason why traffic is so bad is because of Metro Atlanta's land use problem. They have let developers go nuts wherever they want and subsequently people are living in one place and driving everywhere to get there. I highly suggest A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe for some real estate fiction based on Atlanta.
Ridership for the Valley's new light-rail system appears to be stabilizing at a level well above expectations, Metro's chief executive officer said Wednesday. Although passenger counts for March were incomplete, Rick Simonetta cautioned, data collected through three and a half weeks show the average number of boardings during weekdays was more than 34,300.
I'm also thinking about leaving San Francisco and it's hatred of cars. Because of its lack of zoning, I can become a developer in Houston and make tons of money building anything anywhere I want, unless there is a deed restriction of course. I'll be sure and build lots of parking and hopefully I can meet up with my friend Robert Bruegmann who has converted me to the ways of doing things right.
And can we give up on this lefty fantasy for high speed rail already? I'm tired of having to fight off people that know so much more about HSR than the experts. Especially folks in Palo Alto. They really know thier stuff. Why can't we just let them have their way and be done with it. Besides, rail is a 19th century technology.
Finally, stop making me pay for other people's transit. We subsidize the hell out of public transit and in a free market world (the United States is the best place in the world because it has a completely unfettered market) it should pay for itself. This article says everything I want to say and more but just felt like I couldn't being a good liberal and all.
But maybe the taxpayers grew tired of subsidizing a failed government-run transit system. According to the March 29 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis Metro system is bleeding money. It faces an operating deficit of $45 million in 2009 – expected to reach $50 million in 2010.All transit is a failure. I'm just realizing this now but wish I would have just given in years ago. I want to be on the winning side for once. Let's stop building rail lines and start building more roads. And get those bikes and pedestrians off my street. It was designed for cars and should stay that way.
Anyways, if you believe that I would ever say any of the stuff above Happy April Fools. Hopefully you didn't get suckered again.