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'ADMINISTRATION NOW SUPPORTS TRANSIT PROJECTS'

 
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Mr. Linsky
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Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 5071
Location: BRENTWOOD, CA. - WOODMERE, N.Y.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:48 pm    Post subject: 'ADMINISTRATION NOW SUPPORTS TRANSIT PROJECTS' Reply with quote

Administration Loosens Purse Strings for Transit Projects



By MICHAEL COOPER
Published: January 13, 2010 The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will make it easier for cities and states to spend federal money on public transit projects, and particularly on the light-rail systems that have become popular in recent years, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday.

Administration officials said they were reversing guidelines put in place by the Bush administration that called for evaluating new transit projects largely by how much they cost and how much travel time they would save.

Transit advocates have long complained that such cost-effectiveness tests have kept many projects from being built — especially light-rail projects, since streetcars are not fast — and made it much harder for transit projects to win federal financing than highway projects.

Mr. LaHood said the administration would establish new guidelines that take what he called “livability” into account — evaluating projects not only by how much they shorten commutes but also by their environmental, community and economic benefits.

“We’ll finally be able to make the case for investing in popular streetcar projects and other transit systems that people want — and that our old ways of doing business didn’t value enough,” Mr. LaHood said to thousands of engineers, academics and transportation officials attending the annual convention of the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Research Council.

Proponents of streetcars credit them with reviving cities as new housing, stores and businesses are built near the lines. They see streetcars as a step toward reversing suburban sprawl and reducing dependence on foreign oil. But opponents say that light-rail systems are simply too expensive to build and operate, given that comparatively few people ride them, and that the vast majority of Americans continue to commute by car — often between homes and jobs that are in the suburbs.

Mr. LaHood spoke as Congress considers a second stimulus bill to try to create jobs and give more aid to states and the unemployed. In his remarks, the secretary said he hoped the Senate would soon take up a version of a stimulus bill that contained “a robust investment” in all aspects of transportation.

Mr. Linsky - Green Bus Lines, Inc., Jamaica, NY


Vintage San Francisco street car photo for NY Times by Jim Wilson
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HwyHaulier




Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Posts: 932
Location: Harford County, MD

PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr "L" -

This item also covered on other forums, where I first noted...

It appears to have its own shortfalls. Not the least of it, the newly announced ways of doing things can work to foster corruption of the process and
system. It can work to further politicize all related issues (as if enough of that hasn't already happened over the now decades of public funding).

Appearances of misplaced priorities. Many reports are in and on record about declining state of present, in place transport systems. There is too much
need, simply to keep the present highway system in good repair, to maintain safe and efficient cargo and passenger transport. Highway users are
cheated even more...

In this instance, too much emphasis on options which are largely obsolete, and not commercially viable. Street cars, or whatever the fashion to call
them, had their place in the sun. By now, it should be widely understood they can perform satisfactorily, only if numerous favorable conditions exist.
In most recent applications, the realities ignored. So, we have States with ongoing and endless demands for unaffordable support payments to keep
the lines running.

................Vern................
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RailBus63
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Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 1063

PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't see this as a step in the right direction. Basing the selection of future transit projects on nebulous economic development guidelines will only result in many dollars being spent on pie-in-the-sky projects instead of focusing on improving transit in areas where real people are actually riding buses and trains.

The poster child for this, in my opinion, is the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in California. This article detailed how the VTA is in dire financial straits, and a look at the National Transit Database paints an even bleaker picture of an agency that in 2007 spent $5.44 to transport each light-rail passenger and $6.26 per bus passenger. They are cutting service to close their budget gap, yet the authority is still pushing a planned $2 billion BART extension from Fremont to the outskirts of San Jose even though Caltrain is already operating the very successful commuter rail service down the peninsula to Palo Alto and San Francisco. Is there really that much demand for a rapid transit line that will likely take the better part of an hour to reach Oakland and maybe 90 minutes to downtown San Francisco? The extension will not really address the local commuting situation, either – it will end far shy of downtown San Jose (a planned $4 billion subway extension to downtown would have largely duplicated the currently underutilized light-rail system). Amtrak currently offers direct rail service from the San Jose depot to Oakland – why not upgrade that line to host improved commuter service, and use some of the remaining money to fund a true rapid bus system to better connect outlying points in the county without going through downtown? A more comprehensive approach like this would benefit far more people than the BART extension will.
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timecruncher



Age: 67
Joined: 23 Dec 2008
Posts: 456
Location: Louisville, Kentucky

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every other city in the country, from Boise to (so help me) Lancaster, PA is talking about building a streetcar line. Aside from the massive costs, over and above what bus service costs to start, no provision is made for operating costs after the tracks are laid and equipment is purchased.

I would love to see "light rail light" built here in Louisville. It would attract some of the snobs who wouldn't set foot on public transit otherwise, sure enough. But it would milk the rest of the system dry due to the higher costs of operating rail compared to operating buses.

The La Hood/White House proposal is nothing more than a "spend money we don't have" scheme to make construction unions (big campaign contributors) and transit unions (ditto) happy. It won't address the very real and serious problem of a lack of sufficient transit funding that has grown more and more acute since Congress passed the Americans With Disabilities Act that requires us all to operate paratransit service out of the same operating funds that were designed strictly for fixed-route service.

And, I suspect, that like High-Speed Rail funding measures touted by the current administration in Washington, this is no more than some ink-wasting posturing on the part of the White House. No real money will come of it other than possibly a few miles of track being put down in Anacostia to connect a barren industrial wasteland with a more broken-down residential area south of Capitol Hill. After all, the anti-transit lobby, including the big three auto makers and other highway interests, do not want to see surface transit alternatives get too plentiful. Gotta sell cars!

timecruncher
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HwyHaulier




Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Posts: 932
Location: Harford County, MD

PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Timecruncher - --- Submitted subject IMHO Proviso ---

timecruncher wrote:
...I would love to see "light rail light" built here in Louisville. It would attract some of the snobs who wouldn't set foot on public transit otherwise, sure enough. But it would milk the rest of the system dry due to the higher costs of operating rail compared to operating buses...

IMHO, that's no viable market at all. Such riders are way too fickle to hang in there. You are correct, of course. Costs will go right thru the roof!
Most proponents think their own pet projects will benefit from the (anecdotal) "Portland Effect". Ain't going to happen...

Quote:
...After all, the anti-transit lobby, including the big three auto makers and other highway interests, do not want to see surface transit alternatives get too plentiful. Gotta sell cars!...

May I suggest: No, don't make that leap of faith. I prefer to view it as a struggle between "do it yourself" freedom of travel, compared to "outsourcing"
the freedom to a carrier. Besides, consider it may not be so much "anti transit"? Rather rational decisions that a structured transit option is not the right tool
for the tasks needing to get done?

Here, locally, a proposal (based on a number of fibs in projected riders) that would run huge articulated street cars, but not all night. And, limited
to its in the street, fixed route plants.

So, I ask: Whatever to do at 0215 HR when a child is restless and ill? Mommy or Daddy need to run to an all night Rite Aid for some medicines?
What of the nocturnal types who want to run out for some Pizza or Chinese? Structured, common carrier transport doesn't do well on these market
demands...

Else, I have gone somewhat gloomy about prospect of "New and Improved" rules for new build. I need to talk with some actuaries about my personal
odds. I expect a day in my lifetime, will come when these many and ill considered projects will receive protective layers of asphalt top coat, so as to
"bank" the assets. There's a point where the local jurisdictions will be flat broke, and can't afford to write the support checks...

...............Vern.............
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