Once a year Santa Transit comes and brings us the New Starts report (Warning 12mb) which lets us know which cities have been naughty or nice (err qualified for federal help building transit). The 2010 version came out this Friday and there were two places that caught my eye, Austin and Denver.
It looks like Austin has screwed itself yet again, this time by applying for federal funding to build rapid bus along the best corridor for light rail in the city. So if you live there don't expect anything that goes where lots of people go outside of downtown or riverside for perhaps another generation. I'm disappointed in it myself and it's getting harder to find a reason for me to ever move back. As bad as it is here in San Francisco (and it's pretty bad by international standards), it's way better than Austin, which for all its progressive action can't seem to shake the state off its back or get rid of the leaders at Cap Metro who are just begging for the transit agency to be dissolved. The bad PR is adding up. Just like the Oakland Airport Connector study by Transform, they call this street running bus BRT. Please stop. Either that or name it what it is, bus repackaged transit.
These lines look familiar?
Looks sorta like a certain transit plan we had in New Starts in 2001.
For a region who's been under the gun for spiking Fastracks costs they aren't doing themselves any favors asking for 39% and 28% for the Airport and Gold Line corridors. With Congressman Oberstar looking for modal parity, making highways and transit always pay the same share, it seems like only asking for this much match is silly. Now this might have something to do with the fact that you can only have one project at a time and currently they are funding the West corridor. Yet Houston has two corridors in currently which could get funding. Places like Utah have even made deals to get multiple lines funded. They shouldn't have to go at it mostly alone, just like the federal highways system, these lines are of utmost importance to regional productivity. It seems like they should get thier due as well.
It's also funny how the new starts report never seems up to date even when it comes out. With Sunrail "not quite dead yet" and the Silver Line III tunnel dead things seem to be decided pretty fast. In any event, I'm sure I'll have more things to talk about with this report but just wanted to share my initial reactions.