Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Movement Depression and the Way Forward

It's been a bit rough lately. With the economy in the tank and people not wanting to spend any money, I've had great hope that some places were continuing to move forward with their urban rail plans. But the opponents fight harder than ever because they see the threat or people don't plan things enough to go forward with any confidence. Just today, the list of articles that show how hard we have to keep working was a bit much for me to handle.

Houston - The Mayor questions whether there is money to pay for two lines of the new five line light rail expansion in the city.

Austin - The Mayor decides its not time to have a bond election to pay for a future urban rail line.

Scotland - The company building Edinburgh's tram wants to delay 30 months after the rough ride they have already had.

Tampa - Ballot issue for rail dead for now due to lack of decision in how much of the funding would go to the rail project.

Bellevue: The city council is a bunch of morons there and don't want to run the line through a dense employment center.

There is a ray of hope out there. The Mayor of Los Angeles made me feel a bit better recently when he decided that he was going to ask to get things done faster. Ask for a loan so you can save billions in construction costs and have something built for your money faster. I would like to think that is how we work in the United States. But sometimes reading all the news I do just gets so depressing. At least someone has suggested a way forward. Whether we follow it or not is up to us.


Matt Fisher said...

Don't forget. I've become more pessimistic about LRT back home in Ottawa, even going as far to say that Ottawa "doesn't have the money" for LRT, which is the unfortunate reality. Besides, OC Transpo runs an efficient transit system without rail in Ottawa.

fpteditors said...

The problem is you are fighting against economics. The auto must be undone the way it was done. First, watch "taken for a ride" again. They replaced streetcars with buses. We have to bring back the buses first to transition to to rail. Join the fare-free movement. When urban buses are fare-free, the economics will change dramatically. Courage.

Jonlin said...

While it is true that the Bellevue City Council is a bunch of morons and a number of them want the light rail line to skirt their dense downtown, that news that just came out that you linked to is not about the segment in Downtown Bellevue. It is about the segment in South Bellevue, where the City Council just decided that they want it to go along a highway, while many transit advocates want it to stop at a major transit center. I don't believe Bellevue has made a decision on the Downtown segment yet.

Matt Fisher said...

Okay, a bit of change of heart. The initial comment was a gut reaction. While I believe that Ottawa has worked to make OC Transpo a local institution, with 200,000 people (20% of the population) riding the bus every day (including yours truly), and it is very easy to use (and good without rail too), and the Transitway is a success, and there will always be a place for BRT in Ottawa, the fact of the matter is, NO BUS CAN EVER BE AS GOOD AS RAIL.

I'm blasting the city council for failing to plan to convert the Southeast Transitway from Hurdman Station (a major Transitway station where this busway and the East Transitway split) to South Keys Station to light rail! This should be done as such. I don't know why the f*** they want to say, "Let's stay the course". There is a place for BRT in a post-Transitway Ottawa, and the bus will always be Ottawa's main transit mode, no matter what, but this must be taken into account, at the same time Curitiba wants to build a subway and ultimately take down all its busways that people around the world use in conjunction with the Transitway to say, "See? BRT is just as good as light rail".

Anyway, this is just "Mr. Matt's Wild Ride", er, "Rant".

Anonymous said...

This is off-topic, sorry.

I happened to see a link to a news story on Helsinki-St.Petersburg high-speed connection from over a year ago on your blog. The first train has now been delivered to Finland and has begun tests. It will be tested on the Russian leg of the route next month.

Video of the first EMU (an Alstom Pendolino very similar to the ones used on Finnish railways) at the Helsinki railway station:

(The video is in dire need of editing, the train just sits there for 5 min, then takes off.)

Photo of the thin at a depot in Helsinki on the pages of the Finnish operator VR:

The trains have wheels designed to run both on the Finnish wide track gauge of 1524 mm and the slightly narrower Russian 1520 mm.