Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
But the first real surge in activity would come only after voter approval and could be restrained even then because of the transportation project's long timeline, he said. "I'm not necessarily in a position today to buy land I'm going to sit on for seven to 10 years while some massive public works project validates my assumption."
It just costs too much to buy land and hold it for a decade, until light rail comes along, Shapiro said. "Most people have to see that it's really happening. When the construction starts, then everyone takes it more seriously."
Once a light-rail route and station sites are finalized, Johnson said, property values would "really take off."
Transportation leads to access which leads to development. So the argument that its just for developers is really a non-starter because opponents development of choice is just not the development that is environmentally sustainable. And right now with the awareness of climate change, they are losing the war. Haven't you noticed the noise machine turning its volume up to 11? They are getting scared and like a caged animal are attacking with their backs against the wall. Thats when they are most dangerous. Thats also when they get ridiculous and start proposing toll tunnels under cities and super freeway expansions.
So when we are talking about light rail or streetcars and development, don't let anyone get away with the argument that its just a ploy for developers. There are always going to be good developers and bad ones on both sides of the coin. And yes they make a good amount of money, and they take a sizable amount of risk to make it. But if it is between sprawl and compact transit oriented development, I'm in favor of the access transit provides to build the compact stuff. Just don't forget to lower the parking requirements.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
And if you haven't been paying attention to KC since the vote passed last fall, go check out KCLightRail.com.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Outlining the measures, Sarkozy said he was in favor of a moratorium on all new highways and airports as well as shifting trucks off highways and onto railroads. Road transport accounts for a quarter of French emissions.
Earlier, Jean-Louis Borloo also announced a freeze on the building of new roads and airports while consumers will be steered away from gas-guzzling cars through bonuses and penalties. Sarkozy also wants to extend France's tram and high-speed TGV train network.
Friday, October 26, 2007
It's interesting to note that some folks around the country might have been paying attention. Mayor Funkhouser in Kansas City believes that its a regional plan or nothing for his area. Some have thought it was a bit heavy handed of him to declare Clay Chastain's plan dead, but if he's thinking about really getting federal funding for a new transit system, he needs to lead the region towards a solution that will eventually get funding. Through the current rules, it looks like a high ridership starter line that can pass the current administration's cost effectiveness test (which Chastain's plan might not have) is how it should start. The other reason is that you'll need this first line to fund an extended network later.
But because the current rules are geared towards low end BRT projects, (The Orange Line and Euclid BRT projects would have not passed the required Medium cost-effectiveness rating rule the administration wants) Houston's recent deal might breathe new life into the application process for new expansion lines in cities that want to drastically expand their systems. Currently cities like Minneapolis are building a line every 10 years, meaning a simple 6 line network could take 40 more years. A problem might arise however with cities that don't have a starter line so that the rail bias can be attained for ridership measures.
It's been pretty easy to get extensions funded by the FTA in the past and they are generally the best modeled in terms of ridership. But the FTA has been making projects cut down their costs to make the rating. The Central Corridor has had a cap on how much it can cost meaning the locals don't have complete control over some of the decisions including a tunnel under the university because of that cost. This is a project that should have been built about 30 years ago but people are just starting to get it. But Minneapolis has plans for two more lines, the Southwest Corridor and the Northwest Corridor. So if cities are going to get serious about building expansive transit networks, Houston has shown the way to go for the time being. With a new administration who knows what could happen, but if you have to dance with who brung ya, it seems like Houston has opened the door to the ball.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
According to a newspaper article dug up by TwoBells (Joe Lacey) on the SFMuni history list and confirmed by other list members, Cable Cars apparently caused one San Francisco woman to become a nymphomaniac. A few weeks after coming to San Francisco in 1964, she was involved in a terrible Cable Car crash which she claims made her go against her Lutheran morals. This in turn made the cable cars more popular (3rd Article). For the whole story you have to read the articles from the San Francisco Chronicle in their entirety below. It's quite hilarious and shows that you never know what could happen on transit or in the court of law.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Beijing's urban planning authorities have approved planning permission for six new subway lines on which work is scheduled to begin by the end of the year.
The six new lines - the No. 6, 8 and 9 lines, the second phase of the No. 10 line, and the Yizhuang and Daxing lines, have a total length of 152 kilometers, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning. They will be completed in 2012.
Beijing currently has five subway lines in operation, with a total length of 142 kilometers.
"The city aims to raise the proportion of citizens choosing public transport from the current 30 percent to 45 percent by 2015,and the subway passenger volume will increase to eight million a day from the current 2.2 million," said the commission's Zhou Nansen.
8 million a day is huge. New York City gets about 6.2 million a day. But what is interesting is that they set a goal to reach in terms of percentage of total and figure out what they need to do to reach it. It certainly would be exciting if a major city in the United States was building 6 new lines and LA comes to mind as a city that might want to do that.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The Crenshaw Corridor
Gold Line Foothill Extension
Expo Line Phase 2
Subway to the Sea
It's getting busy down there in LA, now if only they could speed it up and build them all at once like Denver, Houston, and Salt Lake City.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Project A, the no-brainer, will carry an additional 110,000 people daily over its 30 miles by the year 2030, according to its planners.
Project B, the wasteful one, will carry an additional 180,000 people per day over its 50 miles by the year 2030.
So ... the boondoggle will transport more people? For the same construction cost?
So it goes in the upside-down world of our transportation debate, circa 2007.
Project A is the widening of the Eastside's Interstate 405. The plan is to spend $10.9 billion (in 2002 dollars) laying four new freeway lanes and a bus rapid-transit route.
When done, the road will be 67 percent wider and carry 110,000 more trips than now. In some parts it will flow more freely. In others — such as the evening rush hour between Bellevue and Renton — it will be as jammed as it is today. (All this is from the state's studies.)
Project B is Sound Transit's light-rail plan. For $10.2 billion (in 2006 dollars), it would extend rail north to Lynnwood, east to Bellevue and south to Tacoma. The whole system, including the line being built now, is projected to carry 300,000 riders daily by 2030.
So the Times does some stuff right with Mr. Westneat, but allows Mr. Niles to parrot one of the anti-transit factions favorite comparisons without proper analysis of his claim. Regional trips to a specific corridor. As has been said before, the Big Dig only takes less than 2% of regional passenger miles. And before the cost escalations the road warriors loved that project. Some still love it and hope to repeat it in Atlanta among other places. But, as we know from the previous comparison: 180,000 > 110,000. But is it just 180,000?
What I would like to see is these 311,000 transit trips plus the calculation of walking trips generated from smarter development, specifically the trips that won't be taken by car. This is what the folks in Portland are referring to as the trip not taken.
In a 1994 travel survey, it was shown that areas with good transit and mixed use development got 9.8 VMT per capita. In outlying areas of the city, that number went up to 21.7 per capita. So if we look at the 7,200 housing units that were built in the vicinity of the streetcar, this means an annual reduction of 31 million VMT! This suggests that people don't have to drive as far (good for carbon reduction) and take trips using other means such as bikes and walking (even better).
This was made possible by the other surprise of the day — the Southeast Line on Scott, along with all the other 2012 lines, will be light rail, thanks to new FTA funding rules. Thus, the Southeast Line and University Line will be able to share track on Scott. And that amended idea carried.Perhaps they have been behind the scenes like Salt Lake City working out a deal with the feds to pay for their lines in bulk since they have a master plan. I think that might be the wave of the future so other cities might want to look close at how to plan a system then get funding for it rather than going line by line. We'll probably hear about it more in the coming days. From the Chronicle:
"We now feel we can pass federal muster (to obtain 50 percent funding) by going to light rail on all five lines at once," board chairman David Wolff said. "We can't help but believe that people will be thrilled by it."
In 2005, residents and elected officials along the planned North, East End, Southeast and Uptown lines were dismayed to learn that Metro analysis showed cost and ridership on them would be too low to justify federal funding for rail.
Check out the link to Christof for a new system map.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Speaking of the future ...It is coming, regardless of how you vote for this proposition. You could vote no and leave us in the transportation "Groundhog's Day" situation we're in. Or you could vote yes -- and we implore you to -- and free this region from its gridlocked thinking.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
What is the history of this tram ring that allows the circulation of this signature street? Initially the ring was the city fortifications. However Franz Joseph, the King of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire decided that it wasn’t needed anymore and wanted to create a signature street. And create a meaningful place he did. The street is very wide and accommodates automobiles, streetcars, as well as a wide tree lined pedestrian and bike space.
The most interesting piece related to transit is not really the loop itself, although its an important part of both Vienna and Budapest transport, but rather the multimodal connections that are made at certain nodes along the Ringstrasse. At one node, there are four tram stops on the surface, a tram turnaround just beneath the surface and a connection to the M2 Metro which follows its own ring around half of the downtown. In the photos below you can kind of see how this works.
In another node, there are loops for trams, buses and the Metro connected by tunnels which allow citizens to not cross the Ringstrasse on the surface. Underneath the surface its like a mini-mall with eateries and the infamous Tabak shops where you can buy cigarettes and your metro pass.
So why do these systems work? Well first off they are the circulators for all modal connections with in the central city. Their operation is dependent on the interface of faster Metro lines and slower tram and bus connections (the photo below is a tram and bus stop). In Vienna specifically the buses sometimes are even using the tram right of way and stops of the trams. They also all connect to the intercity trains on the edges of town allowing anyone living in town to get around effortlessly without a car.
This means that its incredible affordable to live in the old parts of Vienna. I was told that inside the ring is expensive, but just outside of the ring you can get a nice flat for $600 per month. I will warn folks that there are lots of good restaurants there so food could get expensive.
And if you're worried about the environment, there are people there to remind you.
I was however annoyed with the waste of space for the electric substation, basically taking up a prime parcel of property close to the tracks for one use that could have been integrated into a larger development. They might be able to salvage it, but it seems unlikely that they will try. The substation is the brick box in the center of the property below(cut off a bit by blogger). Notice how the other development builds to the line.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
There is some news that i'd like to share even if I can't cover it as adequately as i'd like. Obama let loose on his plan to take on climate change. Hill Heat covers it pretty well but here is my favorite part...
- Reform federal transportation funding to take into account smart growth considerations
- Require states to plan for energy conservation for the expenditure of federal transportation funds
- Reform the tax code to make benefits for driving and public transit or ridesharing equal
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Budapest and the Caterpillars
In Budapest, the ring routes do some heavy crosstown lifting, specifically, the 4 and 6 routes which run on one minute headways and carry 10,000 riders per hour per direction during rush hours (I think there might be more). It seemed at times that the Combino Supras had many more people riding them than the subways with multi-car consists.
You'll notice in the map below that the subway system operates in the traditional spoke system but if you look closer at the Pest side of the city (That's East since Buda and Pest were initially different cities) there are yellow tram rings that connect the subway stations. The 1,4,6 and 47,49 routes make crosstown connections easy. We stayed on the 4,6 lines and took them to connect with the Metro on many occasions and were always completely packed into the cars, especially in the evenings and even at 9pm at night when students and young folks were out at night.
The benefit of these rings is that with their one minute headways combined with the subway's 3 minute headways, you can get anywhere in the city faster than in a car.
The benefits of these ring routes are many. They are fast ways to get between metro stations as well as distribute people to the places in between. You'll also notice that they connect to the suburban railways as well (in green). There are also two routes that go north and south on the river connecting the top and bottom of the ring. This is where I saw the most tourists.
The trams were also designed not for commutes but urban transportation. The interiors were chair sparse and able to fit many more people for short trips.
Next i'll talk about Vienna's Ringstrasse and the above and underground tram transfers in the Strassenbahn.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Vienna Modern Tram
Budapest Metro M1
Budapest Combino Supra
Budapest Funicular - Second Oldest in Europe
Friday, October 5, 2007
I would however like to share something I wrote up on the plane ride over to Vienna...
I’m sitting here on a KLM flight to Amsterdam then to Vienna Austria for vacation with my family in Eastern Europe. The seat to my left is empty and the movie Oceans 13 just finished but I noticed something so true. Earlier there was a man sitting next to me from Visalia. It’s a small town in Central California where agriculture is the lifeblood of the community. Earlier I overheard him talking to the man on his left from Stockton, which is quickly becoming a bedroom community for the Bay Area. He asked what he did for a living and the man replied “I’m a developer”.
Now I’m not usually one to listen in but of course being an urban planner I had to hear what was coming next. The man from Visalia was uncomfortable in his seat being about 6’4” or so. Of course these planes are more like cattle cars than luxurious transportation but his knees were sitting in the cracks of the seats in front of us and his elbow was in my ribs. But he continued cheerily talking asking the developer, if there was any more room to build in Stockton because of the disappearance of farmland. The man from Visalia asked, “Why don’t you build up instead of out?” The developer replied, “There is plenty of land left to build on.” Under my breath I said “Yeah right” realizing what kind of developer he was.
The man from Visalia kept going on about resources and conservation and even ended up discussing taking vegetable oil from fast food restaurants for reuse. He then moved on to me asking what I did. I said “I’m an urban planner.” He seemed surprised. “That guy next to me is a developer.” I nodded and said “Yes I heard.” He asked what I did specifically and I told him. He then went on to discuss his former job as a parole officer and the travesty of the red car. “The Mayor was a crook” he said. “Ripping out all those streetcars.” People I talk to always seem launch into the benefits of transit without provocation. I never prodded him or even told him about my thoughts on the subject but he told me about it anyways. He was around for the red car and seemed specifically upset about their demise. “You’d never be able to build it back today” he said. I told him they were trying.
Throughout the flight he kept getting hit in the knees by the lady in front of us who tried to lean her seat back. He had to protest each time which led him to ask to move seats. The flight attendant was more than happy to help him out so he was out of there leaving me and the developer an empty seat between us. As we both put our stuff on the tray table where the man from Visalia was sitting I noticed the book he put down juxtaposed with the one that I put down. His was a hardcover deep crimson red book titled “Empire”. Mine was a softcover book by Jared Diamond called Collapse about the collapse of several civilizations throughout history by climate change among a number of other factors including war and societal suicide (ie: Easter Island). It really stuck in my head the difference between the two sets of warring factions in the sprawl fight. The ones who think there are endless spoils to be had and a never ending supply of resources, and those who are looking to avoid a collapse. I’ve never seen the fight in such black/white or good/evil terms and probably will never again because of course it is never so simple. I’m not a hardcore environmentalist or anything but for a moment there I realized why I do what I do.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Here are some photos from my trip to Eastern Europe. I'll describe more when I have time. I've taken about 200 photos so far so i'll get them up eventually.
Entrance to the oldest subway in mainland Europe.
The interior of the Combino Supra streetcar. Always packed.
The Vienna Metro. Comes every 5 minutes no matter what time of day. Even on Saturday and Sundays!!!
A newer Vienna Tram. Very Cool.
Still going to be slow on the posting. I'll try.