Sunday, November 30, 2008
This is one reason I liked running track than playing other sports. The stopwatch doesn't lie.
And to keep this a little transit related, you'll be able to take Light Rail to the Texas - OU game next year in Dallas.
Not that this article from Raleigh Durham is a particularly bad one, but the headline "Raleigh Plan Picks Areas to Pack Growth" leads people to believe you're trying to force them to do something rather than giving alternatives to the single choice we currently have. We also know that focusing growth should be the true conservative point, due to the fact that actually saves money for cities and the people who live in them. Though it has been said that "density creates democrats". My hope is that when we make investments in our infrastructure including transit, that we make the decisions that save money for everyone and that includes smarter, denser growth. Growth that doesn't "pack us in".
Saturday, November 29, 2008
"Each stop has a different personality and we need to acknowledge and celebrate it," said Simplot. He said is pleased to see light rail give the Melrose District the recognition it deserves.
"When people go through here, they will know they are in Melrose," he said.
Transit plays a prominent role in the Alliance's 10-year, $500 billion plan to create 5 million new jobs. Among their proposals: bringing government investment in mass transit at least up to par with investments in highways, increasing the government's share of funding for transit and infrastructure projects and prioritizing repair and maintenance of infrastructure over new highways.
I don't know Phoenix at all so don't have any opinion whether the light rail system there makes any sense (I mean, over and above my general feeling that they should be built everywhere), but I loved this from a hater:Oh the horror!!!
You might have to walk blocks!
- I can't wait for all the complaints we'll hear once the temperature is 110 degrees . . . and the riders find no shade (has anyone looked at those useless wings provided for shade?) while waiting and, worst of all, will have to walk blocks to get where they want to go.
H/T SF Bike Blog
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Essentially the law, which will take years to implement, uses incentives and requirements to encourage local governments and builders to concentrate growth in urban areas or close to public transportation hubs, in an effort to reduce Californians' use of cars and lower their greenhouse gas emissions.~~~
I find it hard to believe that the light rail line on the Central Corridor will cause as much noise as these folks are claiming. It's not like they didn't have tons of cars and buses going by before.
Eugene has acquired federal funding for the next part of its BRT line.
The federal government on Wednesday formally announced its $32.5 million contribution to the project, which adds a second leg to the Lane Transit District’s EmX system. The U.S. Department of Transportation previously had agreed to provide the money, but it’s still reassuring to get the formal award, said Andy Vobora, spokesman for LTD, which is developing and will operate the new transit line.~~~
There weren't a lot of interesting articles today, but hopefully everyone will have a Happy Holiday. Posting will be light the next few days.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Secondly, you can't discuss the environmental impact of getting around without considering the infrastructure that makes travel possible. We have a tendency to focus on the environmental impact of the things that move—the cars, trains, and planes we see getting from point A to point B. But Chester and Horvath found that in some cases, construction is the biggest polluter. Roads were responsible for more particulate matter than tailpipes, for example. For rail travel, operating the trains actually accounts for less than half of a system's greenhouse-gas emissions. The implication: Making concrete and asphalt in a more environmentally friendly way can be just as important as getting vehicles to run more efficiently. In other words, it's not just the road you take, but what it's made out of, too.H/T Public Transit in Ottawa
BART to San Jose
NJ Access to the Regions Core
LIRR East Side Access Project
San Francisco Central Subway
Montreal Train de l'est
LA Gold Line to Montclair
Toronto Spadina Extension
NY Subway 7 Line Extension
Metro to Dulles (Silver Line)
MBTA BRT Silver Line Phase 3
US 36 Denver BRT
Miami Metrorail North
So those are the list. Usual week for voting applies. Vote for Other if there is a project not listed.
So the new poll will be up soon.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Drivers interviewed said that better transit service will be necessary if the plan is to work. Tom Radulovich, a BART director from San Francisco, told the board that trains are already crowded and urged investments in BART and Muni Metro as part of the plan.
"We've already reached our design capacity," he said, "and are going to need to make investments in expanding rail capacity."
But then there is the other article from the Denver Post. It states that the cost projections are all messed up by the global economic slowdown. Sure sales taxes have taken a hit, but so have commodity prices.
Instead, Calongne says, the debate centers less on transportation and more on lost opportunities for development near rail stations. "If there's no train, then a train won't go through downtown Louisville or the south part of Westminster," she said. "That's what this is about." Officials agree that's a big part of the push for rail. "
FasTracks allows all of us to develop our urban centers," said Louisville Mayor Chuck Sisk. "Transit-oriented development keeps our population densities in the core areas," he said. "We made choices not to expand and grow our population outward, and this transit piece is the important part of growing and developing our cities."
Pointing to the volatility of some commodity prices, Heimowitz presented a chart showing the price of steel (using an index cost of 100 for January 2001 as the base) bouncing from 252 last year to a high of 507 in June before tumbling to 384 in September, 257 in October and 144 on Nov. 14. "People were completely apoplectic about the price of steel four months ago," Heimowitz said, "and here we are, it's a whole other world."If it continues this way, it could be a real boost to the program and lower construction costs, especially since fuel costs are down. And a stimulus boost would probably help even more, getting these projects moving faster. So what will happen? It would be nice to say that things will continue to go down, but we know that is bad for the overall economy. Perhaps some simple balance of the two would be best. But for now, we'll have to wait and see the true effect.
Much has been written about this and I'll refer you to this article by Light Rail Now! on the FRA's past and current issues with passenger rail. All first impressions lead me to believe that Boardman will be good, but we'll know when we get there. Perhaps the Kerry bill will push folks forward as well.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Savannah first began talking about a streetcar on River Street when the waterfront was rebuilt in 1975. They actually acquired the former Norfolk Southern freight branch trackage in 2001. About that same time they bought Melbourne W-5 car 756 from Gale Creek Enterprises. The car was delivered back to Savannah on Wednesday afternoon Novemeber 19th. It unloaded itself under power off of the trailer onto tracks at the Roundhouse Museum.Here's a video of the Melbourne vehicle:
Training of motormen will take place next week, with operations on River Street to start around December 10th.
This is to our knowledge the only self powered hybrid streetcar in existence. It is 21st century technology packed in a 62 year old body. It can accelerate as fast as a PCC car and has been set up with a top speed of 28 mph. This is because on River Street it will not be save to travel even that fast. Tests so far have seen it use less than 1.5 gallons per hour.
It is fully ADA compatible with two wheelchair lifts installed in the stairwells.
Meanwhile, AC Transit officials have released a proposed timeline that has completion of the Environmental Impact Report process by the 3rd quarter of 2010, final design for BRT by the 1st quarter of 2011, beginning of construction by the 2nd quarter of 2012, with completion of the project tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2015. But the project still has to complete a complicated approval process involving winning federal funding grants, approval by city councils in Berkeley, San Leandro, and Oakland as and final project approval by the AC Transit board.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Detroit wants to build a big rail transit system. This is a variation on "silver bullet" thinking where Detroit will build light rail on Woodward and suddely life will be pumped into the city. It's possible I guess. But while that strategy might be appropriate for higher growth locations like Columbus, I don't think it is where declining cities like Detroit need to be spending their money. Detroit has much higher priority needs than this.Perhaps this was made for greater discussion today by an article about Buffalo's light rail line, which is one of the new light rail lines that was built after the 1981 light rail return spark in San Diego. Buffalo was one of the cities that was low growth building new transit versus many of the high growth regions. Expansion also was stalled by politics and a lack of priority. Extensions have been on the books for a while and as of now, they total over $1 billion.
After San Diego, the class of the late 80's light rail included Portland, Sacramento, San Jose, and Buffalo. All of these lines have been successes in some ways and failures in others. San Jose for instance runs straight up the corridor it should, but the land use decisions along the line and its slow speed perception have doomed it so far too low ridership compared to peer lines. But we've learned a lot since then about focusing development, ridership induction, and urban design.
One thing those lines did that we know better about today is that they were designed to bring people from the suburbs to the Center City acting as extended parking lot. The lines that have succeeded the best today are those which connect multiple places and destinations. An example of this is Denver which just opened its southeast corridor just a few years ago which connects the Tech Center, Multiple Universities and downtown Denver. It has similar ridership to the Houston light rail line which connects downtown with the biggest medical center complex in the world. They both attract similar ridership with similar counts of jobs even though the lines have different distances (numbers on this are forthcoming).
The lesson from this is that if Detroit or Buffalo as shrinking/low growth cities are looking to bring people from the suburbs to downtown and hope that the line works without combining every other planning and infrastructure tool, it will be doomed to fail. A key to making expanding transit work on major corridors is the connection of destinations as well as a focusing program on bolstering those destinations.
One of the major mistakes that Buffalo made in its planning and subsequent allocation of funding was that it didn't take the line out to the University which was just a few miles further away. Cleveland, which is a city that is in a similar situation as a low growth city has made the Euclid Corridor their priority and have recently redone the whole street with BRT. They have also invested heavily with new public infrastructure and civic buildings. Obviously you know where I stand on the technology but the investment infusion and focus is something Cleveland did right. This is in stark contrast to the waterfront line which they built and just waiting for things to happen. They did not. Another simple improvement Cleveland could also do is move the Shaker Heights line further out a mile or two into a major suburban job center connecting that center with downtown with rapid transit.
So if you are a place like Detroit, Buffalo, or Cleveland which have a negative or low growth outlook, if there is a high capacity corridor that is ripe for investment, just holding back on the transit is not going to solve anything. In fact, you're taking away an organizing tool from the toolchest and increasing your longer term city and transit operating costs which all too often in these cities means service cuts, especially with a high cost energy future.
Weak market cities need those destination connections and a reason to organize or else there is likely to be a vacuum and development will happen in the business as usual sprawl fashion instead of focusing it making things even worse. Just because a city is low or slow growth doesn't mean development doesn't happen. The important thing is to be more fiscally conservative in your investments that promote new development. The long term viability of the city depends on creating value and not spending money on frivolous infrastructure such as road or water extensions that will make life even worse further down the road.
Of course these need to be long term strategies instead of short term fixes. Just building a light rail line and stepping back only works in Sim City. But if we're serious about helping these cities out, giving them the investment tools and pushing them to make the right investment decisions will go a long way towards a better livable environment, reductions in energy consumption, and long term fiscal strength.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
When San Mateo County dropped out of BART expected revenue was too low to support BART to Marin. So the Marin line was dropped too but the 5'6" gauge was designed to be stable while crossing the bridge in high winds.Does anyone know if there is any truth to this high winds theory? I had always heard it was just to make people comfortable by allowing wider cars by crazed futura engineers. I often wondered how they would deal with winds on the bridge.
The opinion is that the $10 Billion raised for the High Speed Rail line should be spent on local transit instead of intracity transit in part because money was not raised this election cycle for local transit. He mentions that HSR was the only progressive smart growth measure on the ballot in California. What?! I must have made up all of those measures in the California section of my election night post. Dana Goldstein at the Prospect calls it light rail which of course immediately turns me off to anything any article says if it isn't light rail. Apparently everything counts as light rail today to reporters, including people movers, commuter rail, HSR, and now laughably bus rapid transit(ie: light rail like!). But Dana's commentary is based on the same idea that no money was raised for local transit in the election.
What this does to me is shows that they don't get transit at all and aren't really paying attention. That's ok, I understand, it's not everyone's cup of tea. But what annoys me about it is that the lack of research to formulate an opinion that a lot of people read and trust. This makes me less trustful of the blogosphere in general. If people can't get thier facts right or understand a little bit of history (ie: they should be upset that $3 Billion has been funneled away from transit by the state but don't seem to bring up that fact) when they write opinions on something I'm deep into, what is to say that they aren't doing this when its a subject I don't quite understand?
I know that there are places I can trust. I love Grist, and I know they know about the environment and will put a lot of effort into facts. I trust them to get it right. I know Ryan and AC will get economics stuff right. There are also a ton of transit and livable communities blogs out there that I don't know what I would do without too. Here on this site I try as much as possible to back up my opinion with numbers and opinion from other smart people but it really bothers me when two organizations and bloggers write something that a lot of people read with background that is completely wrong and using tactics I come to expect from the Reason Foundation. But I also appreciate when commenters call me out for something dumb I said. We're not all immune to stupidity sometimes.
In addition, a poster gave Robert a hard time on Dana's post since they felt he was getting snotty because someone had a separate opinion than he did. He was rather pointing out what I was saying above about facts. I would usually say ok if they were defending quality work, but getting your facts wrong is not grounds for defending diversity of opinion. Having an opinion is fine with me, but let's get the background straight first.
I'll leave with a good comment from frequent commenter Bruce McFadden about the false spending dichotomy that has been set up in this country and in the initial post by Adler.
It is not unreasonable to ask the question of spending priority, but it is always unreasonable to ask the questions in terms of setting priorities between different transport modes that happen to use the same technology.
That is, the following system makes no sense at all:
1. $X set aside for rail. Allocate between light rail, mass transit, regional passenger rail, and freight rail.
2. $Y set aside for roads. Allocate between city streets, industrial parks, state highways, federal highways, freeways.
And in perpetuating that process of proposing to establish a priority rankings within pools based on technology instead of based on transport task, that is precisely what Ben Adler is supporting.
When divided up by transport task, the money required for the HSR line is substantially less than the money required for the available alternatives ... road and air.
In addition, the opposition needs to stop whining about the bus bringing higher densities to the corridor and reducing parking spaces. Parking is not free and the pavement has a better use than storing your car. You live in the East Bay on the best corridors to reduce VMT and oil dependence, and I imagine you talk about being green all the time. Yet you oppose density and better transit that will help that goal.
The transit district should not be responsible for replacing parking. The city should not be responsible for paying for parking for specific merchants or anyone for that matter. Parking is not free. Losing a number of parking spaces is a small price to pay for better transit.
Cunradi agreed parking space losses are a serious issue. To offset the impact, the transit district will consider developing parking lots or garages, or installing parking meters on commercial side streets so the spaces turn over faster, he said.
Greg Harper, an AC Transit board member from Emeryville, said the fear of denser development is an underlying fear that has fueled opposition to bus rapid transit.
Also a bit of warning to those who think that BRT is "rail-like". BRT will never be replaced by light rail. There is no example of BRT ever being taken out and replaced by rail. Once its there, that's it. Buses. That is not to say that it doesn't have its place in the network, but if a corridor needs rail, and buses are used, an upgrade is a long time coming, if ever.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Dan at HugeAssCity hopes for better urban design for the Viaduct replacement. I hope for a rapid streetcar instead of just the waterfront trolley.
I don't see why they can't charge for parking at Metro Stations during inauguration. Perhaps that would pay for the extra rush hour service that's going all day.
Good thing the opposition in Salt Lake didn't get UTA rolled into UDOT. From Transit in Utah:
UDOT puts $3.9B in projects on hold. While I have mentioned this over and over again, I must hammer this home. If a certain group of puppets from a certain so called riders union would have gotten their way and transferred~~~ over to UDOT, transit funding would now moved over to highways and that is the goal of the people who run that organization.
There are seven Tram companies in Poland. Seven. Some of the models look pretty sweet.
As many as seven companies are active in the tram building market in Poland, suggesting that competition may develop in the coming years. In many ways the market is quite open, as conditions are similar in the various cities.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Flotrack and Letsrun.
He recently redeemed himself when he helped to lift the ban, but let's hope there aren't any more of these types of issues. To be fair, I don't see any of these problems arising and I see a new generation shift. We're looking at the environment, energy and transportation different than before. And the vote today shows that shift happening.
Sources inside the Democratic House Caucus say the vote against outgoing Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell turned partly along generational lines - with young turks lining up against the old - and partly because of Dingell's record on environmental issues.They would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those pesky kids.
I will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. I’ve worked to improve transportation access to jobs for people with lower incomes since my time in the Illinois State Senate, and I will continue this work as President. And I will further promote transit by creating incentives for transit usage that are equal to the current incentives for driving.
As you know, all of these measures will have significant environmental and metropolitan planning advantages and help diversify our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Everyone benefits if we can leave our cars, walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. I agree that we can stop wasteful spending and save Americans money, and as president, I will re- evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.
I will build upon my efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks. And as president, I will work to provide states and local governments with the resources they need to address sprawl and create more livable communities.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm worried about making TOD the answer to all of our problems. It's a PART of the solution but there are a lot of things that need to be done. As well, we need more transit if we're going to get more TOD. The more transit you have, the more ability more of the market has to get access to it which is always a good thing. Making high quality transit an exclusive good is never a smart bet.
Poll is below the pantograph picture again.
Here are the choices:
Atlanta - They have a concept 3 idea, but no money to fund it as of yet.
Austin - Planning for years, commuter rail and light rail ideas on the table
Norfolk - They are constructing their first LRT line and the new Mayor of Virginia Beach is getting excited about extensions
Raleigh Durham - They have a plan but no huge cash to play with
Sacramento - Having discussions, problems too.
St. Louis - Just missed the half cent this last time, next time better?
Tampa - Mayor Pam is on a roll lately
Cincinnati - Building a Streetcar soon, but will they be tough enough for more?
Columbus - Will they beat thier neighbor Cinci for faster expansion?
Detroit - Planning for light rail on Woodward is underway, will there be a funding source larger than TIFs?
Madison - They have a plan too, but is an RTA forthcoming?
Milwaukee - They just passed a transit operations fund, Capital coming?
Dallas - They are already expanding fast, but will they get a regional commuter rail plan together?
So there you have it, if there is another city that should be in the mix, you'll have to vote other, and leave a comment about which one I missed.
It’s hard to exaggerate how scattershot the current system is. Government agencies usually don’t even have to do a rigorous analysis of a project or how it would affect traffic and the environment, relative to its cost and to the alternatives — before deciding whether to proceed. In one recent survey of local officials, almost 80 percent said they had based their decisions largely on politics, while fewer than 20 percent cited a project’s potential benefits.This means most of those toll roads that she wants. It also means the sprawl roads that really have no environmental or fiscal benefits, such as the one we discussed yesterday. Yet Mary Peters still wants a cost benefit analysis done on projects. If it's the one that she's performing on the Central Corridor or the Dulles extension no thanks. We need better measures, and ones that put livability before driving fast or moving more cars.
But we also see articles like this, where the utilities are thinking about ordering electric cars. What the heck are you thinking? String up some wires on major corridors and order some buses that can be made fast. If they were so worried about making the shift to electric vehicles, they should start with modest changes now and public transport.
One interesting point the Journal piece gets into is that utilities want to play a much bigger role in managing the shift to electrified transport, to ensure that it doesn't put strain on the grid the way that the sudden burst in popularity of air conditioners did after World War II, taking the power industry by surprise.On trunk lines this would be cheaper for the transit agency and the electric company, not diesel makers, would be pulling in more money. I'm ashamed we have such tunnel vision.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The state also compromised with groups fearing the freeway's placement near several schools endangered children's lungs. UDOT will spend $3.1 million to filter air inside the schools and $1 million to monitor the air outside. It also will pay to relocate Hillside Elementary if school officials request that.They are putting bus rapid transit in a separate parallel corridor which was a concession to environmentalists but instead of building a freeway up the corridor, why not just build a boulevard that could be used for better development and transit integration in the future. This is extremely short sighted and not very innovative. Another blown chance for a smarter way to grow.
I pledged up $25. I think this is one of the things that the transport blogosphere could become really good at, raising money for local causes to drown out the opposition. This just happens to be a local project and a very inventive way to provide a local match. If so inclined, help out.
Let's Go KC is working with Kansas City, Missouri to fund a bicycle/pedestrian trail on the Paseo Bridge. We need to collect $100,000 in pledges by November 24, 2008 to get a trail by 2011, otherwise the trail will not be built for many years! MoDOT will build it if the local community provides the money, and it will be cheaper and easier to do it now.
To meet our goal we need 5000 people to pledge only $20! There is no cash needed now. The money will be collected only if needed to build the ramps to the bicycle/pedestrian trail on the bridge.
Distress in the housing market is benefiting the apartment market, which the report lists as the number-one "buy." Moderate-income apartments in core urban markets near mass transit offer the best buy, a trend that carried over from the previous year.
Monday, November 17, 2008
If the money is already raised, why not build a rapid streetcar line between the Colosseum and the Airport terminal with limited stops. Currently the bus line comes every 10 minutes or so and actually makes money. One of the reasons is because its so packed all the time. There have been a few times when I have had to wait for 2 buses to pass in order to get to the airport. Even if the separated the streetcar from traffic, it would not cost $122 million per mile.
With the route I've drawn out below, it would promote office development and for more than just airport riders to take the line and provide a direct link to the airport. It would however be a little bit longer at 3.9 miles, but would get its own lanes and have a consistent travel time. I'm also pushing it through the stadiums because at some point, this land will be much too valuable to just leave as a parking lot and should develop more like urban ballparks and stadiums around the country with proximity to transit. This line could also use value capture strategies to fund improvements or the line itself.
At 3.9 miles, you could certainly build the rapid streetcar for the $250 million already raised. I bet they could have some money left over for other projects.
"Our goal is to encourage more bicycling and walking in San Francisco, and we will continue to work on every front - from education to engineering - to make those activities as safe as possible," said Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the Municipal Transportation Agency.But we need to make sure that when we talk to the press, the framing isn't an us versus them. It's about creating livable communities. It's about encouraging all levels of cyclists and pedestrians to participate in the streets renaissance (H/T Mike L) and creating situations where people can ditch their car keys if they so choose. I have a car and live in San Francisco. I can use it when I really need it, but for the most part, I have options, and this means that filling up is once a month if that and I get some good hill workouts in. Sure it's not for everyone, but there is a huge demand out there that is not being filled.
It will likely connect in to a national rail network that already exists and will allow dense Baghdad to move a little easier. But the biggest discussion is on security. I understand the fear of bombings, but I don' t see why that should lead to not building something beneficial. This will be a huge construction project that will get people to work, I don't know why we didn't start building it earlier with all that money we sent over for reconstruction. Seems to me that by putting people to work, that's less people to get angry over conditions.
"This is one of Baghdad's most important projects and we hope that investors will join it," he said. "We have called for tenders from them and we have some money to contribute from the government. We are planning to start work as early as next year.
"This has been postponed so many times because of war and chaos but this time we are sure it will happen."
Sunday, November 16, 2008
A Globe analysis of state highway data documents what many motorists have come to realize since the new Central Artery tunnels were completed: While the Big Dig achieved its goal of freeing up highway traffic downtown, the bottlenecks were only pushed outward, as more drivers jockey for the limited space on the major commuting routes.Let's keep building more freeways in urban centers. They seem to work so well.
Some of this is from $4 gas I'm sure, but the growth in ridership shows the pull that the light rail line has. Here's my favorite photo from the trip last week. Thursday around mid-day.
No.24 Nations Ford, which connects to the Arrowood and Woodlawn road stations: 16,111 then, 23,794 last month.
No. 42 Carowinds, from the South Point Business Park near Carowinds to the I-485/South Boulevard stop: 412 then, 3,589 last month.
No. 43 Ballantyne, which travels to the Sharon Road West station: 3,710 then, 8,259 last month.
No. 44 Fort Mill, from Wells Fargo in Fort Mill to the Arrowood stop: 1,471 to 3,615.
No. 58 Pineville, which runs from the I-485 station to Carolina Place Mall: 12,294 to 16,318.
The governor proposes cutting state assistance to local mass transit programs by $230 million. The Legislative Analyst's Office suggests grabbing revenue not being used by the Department of Motor Vehicles ($55 million) and redirecting some funds paid by Indian casinos for transportation purposes to the state's general fund ($62.9 million).
Local transit officials point out that the budget already diverts $1.7 billion from the state's Public Transportation Account to pay for other programs.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Momentum B-cycle is targeted to launch on June 1. Le's goal is to eventually have bike racks across O'ahu and within a five-mile radius of rail transit stops. The intent is to make it easier for residents and tourists to connect to mass transit and key locations," Le said. "It's good for the community."
Another should be looking into the possibility of building bus, light rail, and passenger train cars(including HSR). Now this might or might not be such a good idea seeing as the last time Boeing tried this the vehicles they created were lemons. But its worth exploring. If we want to think seriously about expanding transit capacity, we need to do something to speed up production. I have a feeling that siemens and other makers aren't going to be able to keep up with the demand that is coming.
But Mr. Udall recognized that the country could not afford the economic consequences of losing all of the automobile industry’s jobs and profits. He proposed that the auto companies branch out into “exciting new variants of ground transportation” to produce minibuses, “people movers,” urban mass transit and high-speed intercity trains. Instead of expanding the Interstate highway system, he suggested that the road construction industry take on “huge new programs to construct mass transit systems.” And he called for building “more compact, sensitively planned communities” rather than continuing urban sprawl.Glad he's thinking not just about the transport system but the land use that feeds it.
In a speech to the New York Public Transit Association, Clinton urged "bigger and bolder" transportation programs, including high-speed rail, and said modernizing the nation's transportation infrastructure and expanding transit will be a key issue for the next Congress and President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration.
"It takes too long and it costs too much to deliver transit projects," despite high and growing demand for more public transportation across the country, she said.
Noting that when President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation authorizing the federal interstate highway system in 1956, the act launched the largest American public works program in history, Clinton said developing transit is a similar opportunity to leave a tangible legacy.
"Just as we built a 19th century transportation system with canals and railroads and we built a 20th century transportation system with highways, we now can build a 21st century transportation system with mass transit," she said.
"Our transportation network has been the envy of the world, but we're starting to fall behind," warned Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar during the William O. Lipinski Symposium on Transportation Policy at Northwestern University in Evanston. The gloomy financial forecast is "all the more reason to invest in transportation infrastructure," said Oberstar, a Democrat who chairs the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "Every billion invested in infrastructure means 34,000 jobs."
Rep. Jerry Costello, a downstate Democrat who heads up the House Subcommittee on Aviation, said the House will likely take up an economic stimulus package after Thanksgiving and added, "I've been assured that a large part of that will be for infrastructure."
Friday, November 14, 2008
And then you’ve got the rail transit lobby. The transit lobby is about 4 or 5 times bigger than the highway lobby. People always think there’s this huge highway lobby, but the highway lobby is very small compared to the transit lobby. And there’s enormous profit to be made. The average urban freeway in America costs about 5 to 10 million dollars per lane mile, and the average light rail line is cost up to 80 million dollars a route mile. So obviously there’s a lot more profit to be made building rail than there is building highway and so naturally the companies like Parsons-Brinkerhoff and so forth – Bechtel –that build transit are going to be lobbying for it.Of course this is all bs, but if we (I'd be all about being a part of big rail if it existed) had as much power over the road folks as Randal says, I think we'd see a different landscape in congress and in our communities. Perhaps big rail is bigger than we think or perhaps it has a different name, the livable communities movement.
Looks like the FTA finally got around to saying they would fund the University Link.
Stimulus for California HSR?
The Capricious Commuter is back. It's not Erik, but its good to have another newspaper blogging local transportation.
It looks as if Washington Metro is off the hook... for now.
David Goldberg argues that the old economy of autocentricty could be over. According to a recent study in Australia written in part by the super awesome Peter Newman, $85 million dollars in up front infrastructure costs are being wasted per every 1000 housing units built on the fringe. With the $250 million in transport costs that could be saved as well, thats a lot of money thrown away.
But not all government spending is created equal. Obama needs to pump serious cash into the economy in a way that promotes his long-term priorities. That means billions for energy-efficient and climate-friendly infrastructure like wind turbines, solar panels and mass transit, but nothing for new sprawl roads that ravage nature and promote gas-guzzling.He's right, water and other basic infrastructure is complicit in the growth as well as roads. Doing things that can focus future growth in sustainable ways should be on the top of the list. Arnold and others would do well to pay attention to this.
Michael Replogle, transportation director for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the group that with revenue from gasoline taxes in constant flux, leaders need to start thinking about adding tolls to existing roads and opening rapid bus transit lines.
The transportation expert also suggested that technology will lead to GPS-based pay-by-the-mile taxes, or an all-toll-road system that changes fees based on real-time traffic volume.
"We're at the cusp of a new era," Replogle said, adding that President-elect Barack Obama's administration will likely embrace such changes.
Do we have any evidence that Obama or his administration would be behind these types of measures? I feel like this is something he hasn't signed on to, at least not that I have seen. But as people had said before the election season even started, folks see him as a blank canvas to project their hopes and dreams. I heard he's going to give everyone a star wars lego set. Can I expect to see that soon?
As an aside, can we stop calling freeway buses in HOV lanes bus rapid transit? We need to define what BRT really is so people understand what others mean when they say BRT.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Now, according to sources in the state legislature, the Schwarzenegger administration is proposing to waive all greenhouse gas and pollution restrictions for large transportation and flood projects as part of the "economic stimulus" package proposed for the legislature's special session, convened last week.
Under the administration's proposal, any transportation project funded "in whole or in part" with bond funds would be exempt from comprehensive environmental reviews. That would include most new roads and freeway expansions, which will facilitate millions of new car and truck trips, adding tens of thousands of tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the atmosphere.
But the numbers always tell you all you need to know right? So says our favorite Libertarian scholar. Mr. Setty does the fun work of comparing apples to apples. He tosses in a talk on self selection fallacies to boot.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
What if we got rid of all those laws that pushed apart electric companies and transit companies? Some comments have been made about just getting people on transit instead of changing the vehicles. But honestly, I feel like San Francisco is a better urban place because bus exhaust is not flowing in my face when I'm walking down the street. One thing I noticed this weekend in Charlotte was that the bus terminal is going to lead someone to cancer. The downtown bus center has buses idling under a canopy at all hours creating a smell that means particulate concentration can't be very good.
In any event, with the electric grid needing a serious upgrade, how much more would it really cost to bring overhead wires to the most traveled routes and tie them into the new grid? Some of these could be light rail, some could be trolley buses, and other could be streetcars. But all could be easily adapted to alternative energy if they were using electricity to start with. But also, how could this be a mutually beneficial relationship?
Some thoughts I came up with:
- Use power rates as sort of a business carbon fee. Businesses paying the tax would directly benefit because infrastructure is used to get to work and retail spaces. Bikes, transit, even roadways would benefit from such funding mechanism.
- Transit could get a lower power rate as part of the power company. This means operations could be less expensive meaning more service and if enough transit vehicles are running, perhaps cheaper energy because of power equalization during greater off peak power consumption.
- If we improve the grid and transit is a part of it, charging your plug in hybrid or scooter would pay into the transportation fund as well generating funding for the transport agency as well.
- If we have a business power fee, could it allow us to get away from the sales tax?
- This type of fee would reward more efficient building practices.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Lagos is one of the world's densest cities. They plan to float a bond to pay for two new rail lines. I'm not sure where this relates to the BRT lines they have been planning, but part of this project concerns value capture schemes for the land around the transit stations. I wonder if they'll have to change their Euclidian zoning. Sure.
“The Lagos State Government intends to finance the infrastructure for both rail lines through the capital market by floating an estimated N275bn worth of rail infrastructure bonds.”
He also gave the details of the capital cost of project as Okokomaiko-Iddo ($582m), Iddo-Marina ($215m), and Agbado-Iddo ($402m). He stressed that the project would assist in traffic decongestion and landmark public/private partnership and opportunities for real estate development near the rail stations.
Mecca plans on building a light rail line as well. Seems silly in a place where oil is king no?
And we've seen the numbers before, but here is an article in another format on China. Business Week:
China is now undertaking the world's biggest railway expansion since the U.S. laid its transcontinental line in the 1860s. Beijing plans to spend $248 billion through 2020 on 75,000 miles of new track, for both freight and high-speed passenger lines. At that point, China's high-speed passenger network will likely be the biggest on earth.
H/T Orphan Road
Ansaldo Breda Italy: MUNI, MBTA, LACMTA, Sirio Series
Kinky Sharyo Japan: Seattle, Phoenix, Hudson Bergen
Siemens Germany: San Diego, Charlotte, Houston, Combino Series
CAF Spain: Pittsburgh, Sacramento
Bombardier Canada: Minneapolis, Flexity Series
Skoda Czech Republic: T14, T10, Portland, Seattle
Alstom France: Paris, Bordeaux, Citadis Series
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Dilworth Streetcar Suburb. Look familiar?
Because there was no comprehensive plan for the South End, everything is Zoned TOD.
It's going to be a sad that they will have to cut down some of these trees.
New development in the south end.
New Streetcar Tracks on Elizabeth Ave.
Mid-Day Thursday ridership
But that is not stopping European companies like Siemens of Germany, AnsaldoBreda of Italy, CAF of Spain and Skoda of the Czech Republic from jockeying for position at the head of the line, eager to supply sleek new streetcars, now tagged light rail vehicles, for one of the few fast-growing markets for trams. Competition from elsewhere comes primarily from Bombardier of Canada and Kinki Sharyo of Japan.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I often wonder if we're over engineering our light rail and streetcar lines as to render them so expensive that the BRT folks swoop in and say cheaper is better. The first lines we built in this country were on shoestring budgets with off the shelf vehicles and know how from folks that operated streetcars that were discontinued. As we get further away from that knowledge base, we continue to gold plate systems using super heavy catenary that is aesthetically displeasing and have been perhaps over lawyer-ed. But the technology remains basically the same, just as the automobile and we've lost a lot of that knowledge.
What Andres talks about in losing knowledge of how to build roads is seen in our cities where cars go too fast and road diets are often the new buzz word. What the engineer knows comes from the engineering manuals. Yet there is years of knowledge out there and best examples in our cities and existing rail lines that we can learn from. The clip is about 4 minutes. I cut out the part I thought was interesting from the 30 minute talk. So enjoy. I hope to do more of these audio things now that I have a recorder.
If you take Max to your hotel.
"Our hotel has recently undergone renovation, which means we're able to offer top-of-the-line accommodations with the 10% discount that we offer to guests who use the Light Rail," said director of sales Melissa DelBalzo. "During these tough economic times, we wanted to help our guests get the best deals possible while still feeling like they're getting pampered on the road. The savings of staying at an Embassy Suites really add up when you consider the cost of a cooked-to-order breakfast, light snacks, and free drinks of your choice - all of which we provide as a standard amenity to our guests."
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Initial Blog (Sorry About the Wind)
Part 2: The Surveyer
So a few things I missed. Because they were already reconstructing the street, this stretch only cost about $5 million dollars more. They also expect to be to the hospital at the high end by next month. I'll try to do this more when I see interesting things. Hopefully next time I'll write something up but on the spot seems genuine as well. Let me know what you think.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Strip malls offer an opportunity to change our development paradigm. The Oregonian:
Strip malls offer a particularly keen opportunity. Look past the big box stores, Nelson said, and you have large, flat, well-drained, developable space linked to existing infrastructure. Broad rights-of-way allow easy access. There is space enough to bring in tracks for light-rail trains or streetcars. They are perfect for much denser, mixed-use developments in which people can live, work, shop and eat, he said.~~~~~~~
Ask Barack Obama to focus on smart transportation investments. T4America.
No light rail? Empty commercial space. Denver Post:
New office buildings opening in southeast Denver are leasing well as long as they're next to a light-rail stop. Developer John Madden's Palazzo Verdi, which has direct access to the light-rail line, is 100 percent leased to Ciber and Newmont Mining. The building opens next week.
But Shea Properties' Maroon V, which does not have direct access to light rail, is sitting vacant. The building opened before Shea's Village Center Station, which is under construction along the rail line and is fully leased. Wireless-service provider Cricket and Shea will occupy the building.
Follow the Yellow Brick Railroad for Fort Knox.
The question should be: Do you really want to speed up traffic?
"I truly believe we have the best team in the Administration."
If by best team you mean best obstructionists and lawyers with no transportation experience then yes, you had the best team.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
There is nothing about how the Mayor will encourage people onto public transport, but plenty about giving back road space and speeding up traffic lights in favour of the 'oppressed' motorist," said Labour's transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross
This is a highway-heavy road budget, as anti-green as it gets. And when I say anti-green, I'm not necessarily talking about the tree-hugging kind. This budget is bad for our economy. The emphasis on cul-de-sacs, cars and sprawl sets us up for broken budgets forever.
Already, Madison spends millions of dollars a year maintaining the overbuilt roads of yesteryear. If implemented, the mayor's budget would hardwire us to spiraling transportation costs for years to come.
The capital budget defines the urban landscape. Will ours be welcoming to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and cars? Or just cars?
Atlanta has missed the boat on public transportation compared with some other cities, said the president of a national mass transit organization. Now that more people are driving less, the consequences could be grave. “You’ll get left in the dust,” said William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association....
...Millar pointed to cities like Charlotte, Denver and Salt Lake City that are building or expanding their mass-transit systems. He said they will be able to draw more employers with good jobs and offer a better quality of life.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The Federal Transit Administration has given its approval for Honolulu to start the preliminary engineering phase of its planned $4.3 billion commuter rail project, the city said yesterday. Beginning the preliminary engineering phase of the transit project is a major step toward securing federal funding.