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Poll: Which would you vote for? (82 member(s) have cast votes)

Which would you vote for?

  1. Expand the current bus system (7 votes [8.54%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.54%

  2. Initiate a new light rail system (75 votes [91.46%])

    Percentage of vote: 91.46%

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#101 AndyN

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 04:53 PM

QUOTE(Sam Stone @ Apr 17 2007, 02:42 PM) View Post

This is ridiculous. Lewisville is getting light rail and we're not?

You know, privately owned public transportation worked and if not for the GM streetcar conspiracy and federal policies that stacked the deck so heavily in favor of cars, it would still be with us. Maybe FW needs to give that a try. Bid it out, see what happens. Waive the franchise fees and set some basic parameters (we need stops here here and here and you can't charge more than this) and let a private company own and operate it. If it's profitable, then someone will be interested and the naysayers will be quieted. We won't have to raise taxes or have an election.


Not light rail, commuter rail - which we already have and are preparing for an extension to.

Speaking as a person with two Northern Texas Traction streetcars on my property and doing research for a book on the history of the streetcar systems in Fort Worth, I find no plausibility in the suggestion that GM had anything remotely to do with the closure of the streetcar system in Fort Worth,

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#102 Bernd

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 07:23 PM

Andy- maybe you could start another thread on the death of the streetcars in FW?

I'd be interested to hear their history, and the impetus behind their demise...
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#103 Sam Stone

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 10:40 AM

I didn't mean to imply that the streetcar company in FW was a victim of the GM conspiracy. I can definitely see how I gave that impression. I meant that streetcar companies were affected by two forces: policies that strongly favored cars in general and in quite a few particular cases, the GM conspiracy. I am, BTW, not a conspiracy theorist. I hate even using the word. From what I have read, though, it is well established that the GM headed consortium did engage in those practices and the debate is more over the extent. I'm certainly interested in learning more about it and in hearing different POVs. I'd be especially interested in learning more about the history and fate of NT Traction.

But what I was really getting at was that transportation is one of those things that is not a pure public or private good. I think it's time for local officials to start thinking about it in more creative ways. Allowing a private company to operate a system might be a solution to some of the current stumbling blocks to getting light rail.

#104 FW_Drew

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 09:00 AM

http://www.fwbusines...lay.php?id=6419

Rail plan gets on track
Robert Francis - August 27, 2007
A planned $390 million commuter rail line from southwest Fort Worth to northeast Tarrant County could be up and running as soon as 2012, spurring economic development around the stations on the route, according to local transportation officials.

“Because we’re making good progress and we already have the track, the plan is to build it and have it open by 2012,” said Dick Ruddell, president of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, one of several agencies involved in the plan.

Business and residential development around rail stations can help increase revenue to pay for the project, said Shelley Poticha, president of Reconnecting America, a nonprofit group that promotes transit-oriented development. The group is based in Oakland, Calif.

Addressing a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce program on Aug. 16, Poticha said real estate development linked to rail stations and commuter rail lines can bring in more revenue to cities through the increase in taxable property values, increased sales taxes and other revenue sources.

“Transit can certainly help create development and redevelopment in areas and also increase real estate values,” she said.

Poticha said that some of the key development considerations include locating stations in areas where residents can walk, bike and park nearby, and providing a mix of housing, jobs, shopping and recreational choices near the stations.

In the Washington, D.C., area, Poticha said, the Rosslyn-Ballston station in Arlington, Va., has seen land values around the station increase by 81 percent in 10 years.

“You have a mix of single-family, multifamily, businesses and shopping areas, yet traffic in the area has remained about the same as it was 10 years earlier,” Poticha told the Business Press.

However, such development does require careful planning and execution.

“It has to be done right,” she said. “I think what we call the first generation of commuter rail sometimes lacked planning and sometimes it didn’t work so well.”

Many of those first generation mass transit plans were also more expensive, said Ruddell.

“We’re using existing rail lines and we’ll be sharing the track with freight rail,” he said. “The lines are in good shape and we’ll be able to coordinate with the freight rail.”

The commuter rail trains are likely to be powered by low-emission diesel engines, a technology called diesel multiple units (DMUs), said Ruddell.

“It’s a proven technology,” he said.

As currently proposed, the rail line would follow the existing Cotton Belt rail line from Fort Worth’s Granbury Road/South Hulen area, to near TCU, through downtown Fort Worth, northeast to downtown Grapevine and then into the north entrance of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. A total of 12 stations are planned for the route. The line could eventually connect with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), according to officials.

Despite an aggressive timetable, there are still plenty of bridges to cross before the approximately 40-mile commuter rail line carries its first passenger. The environmental study and basic engineering for the project is scheduled for completion in the spring of next year, with additional engineering work planned into 2009.

One of the biggest impediments to the plan is funding for the project. The federal government is expected to kick in about half the funding, but other financial commitments are lacking.

While Fort Worth and Grapevine have made financial commitments to secure stations along the line, other cities – Haltom City, Hurst, North Richland Hills and Colleyville – are currently at their sales tax cap and cannot increase their sales tax to pay for commuter rail.

In the legislative session that ended May 30, state lawmakers failed to approve a bill that would have permitted cities to levy as much as 1 cent in additional sales tax for rail transit with the approval of voters. Several area officials are planning to lobby the legislature in 2009 to allow cities to hold local option elections.

Public meetings on the rail plan are scheduled for the fall.

Contact Francis at rfrancis@bizpress.net



#105 Redshirt

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 12:16 PM

I'm glad that FW is moving forward with the commuter rail, but I hate FW to get left behind in the "light rail" area. It's beyond me why after seeing the success of DART that Fort Worth would blow this off and presume that people don't want this. I know that studies have been done but I firmly believe if they started it that it would explode.

#106 mosteijn

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 01:50 PM

I agree. I think the city is foolish if it thinks that a transit system comprised of a few commuter rail lines and an ineffectual bus system (maybe throw a streetcar in) will serve Fort Worth well in the future. Commuter rail and streetcars are a great way to start, but I think if we want anyone to take us seriously we have to have a comprehensive mass transit system that serves most, if not all, of the city AND has a decent shot at spurring good TOD.

I made a fantasy transit map a while ago, but recently I updated it. The purple-ish lines are regional commuter rail, and the other lines are light rail. Since this is a wide view, I didn't do downtown in detail (I'm working on a separate map for dt) but there would be streetcar downtown as well. All of these lines would have good bus connections, and hopefully bike connections (at least in the inner city). What do you guys think?

IPB Image


Oh, and I forgot to add it, but there would be a connection in Roanoke to whatever DCTA plans to connect the Alliance corridor to Denton (be it commuter rail, light rail, BRT, or whatever.) smile.gif

#107 ICD

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 04:28 PM

The problem with mass transit in FW is very simple. Mass transit is viewed by the powers that be and a good portion of the population as something that the poor need. So consequently, we deal with a very bad system. I live on the near west side, ride the bus dowtown from time to time, and it is not something that makes much sense. Given the walk to the stop, and the infrequncy of buses, what would take me ten minutes or less to drive takes me 45 minutes.

The problem here is that the citizens of FW do want a better transit system, and recent survyes indicate this. But people in FW don't know what they want because they haven't had anything good in 50 years or more. The T's only reason for doing the SW to NE commuter rail line is because they are trying to get Grapevine and the other mid-cities more on board. I am not opposed to it, but it will be very expensive, take about ten years or more to finish, and will not have the ridership. There are just not that many people who live in Grapevine and work in downtown FW.

The problem is that FW is restricting the mass transit toolbox. If you ride the TRE to Dallas, you then have access to a system that gets you around. If you take the TRE from Dallas to FW, you have little access to get around further once you get here.

The solution is very simple. We are now getting the density necessary to make light rail work with the TRV project to the north, the developments in the cultural districts and along W. 7th, and south in the Hospital District. Given that these projects will take a decade if we start now, the density will more than be there to support light rail or streetcars. How to pay for it? In Portland, the regional mass transit authority didn't have the funding for urban "ultra light rail" so the city floated bonds, built it themselves, then turned it over to the regional authority to run. The bonds were retired with the huge amounts of taxes gained from the TOD along the lines. And the key thing is about leveraging funds. The Portland project was about one-third each coming from local, federal and state monies.

With the Barnett Shale money coming into city coffers, the solution seems even more simple. Turn $100 million of gas drilling money into a $300 million light rail project within the city. The populace will get behind this once they have the experience of using it, and will be favorbale to more projects. This is very possible and workable right now, but the mayor and council haven't a clue.

Instead, they want to put a big chunk of the B-S money (more than half) into a trust fund account. They contend this is an investment in the future. That's one way of looking at it. I would contend that leveraging that money into funding that gets this city a viable mass transit program might be a better investment.



#108 AndyN

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 04:58 PM

The desire is full, but the wallet is light.

Don't ask whether we want rail transit. Ask, what do we need to do to fund it?
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#109 Keller Pirate

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 06:52 PM

I am sorry to see they are planning on using DMU's for the line to Grapevine. I thought something along the lines of the TRE heavy rail was going to operate on this line.

Due to their lesser crashworthiness I don't think DMU's can operate on tracks with conventional rail service. I'm sure that can be overcome if the freight only operates in the middle of the night on this line, but what about the Tarantula? I could be wrong but I don't think it and a DMU would be allowed to operate at the same time on the same tracks. Also this line crosses the UP at grade and I could see a problem there as well. To make it all the way to the TCU area they would also have to cross the BNSF.

I thought the comments about increasing tax revenues was pandering to money hungry officials. “Addressing a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce program on Aug. 16, Poticha said real estate development linked to rail stations and commuter rail lines can bring in more revenue to cities through the increase in taxable property values, increased sales taxes and other revenue sources.”


#110 AndyN

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 07:35 PM

I didn't think a mode had been selected, I assumed that they would use the same type equipment as the TRE. I wonder if Dick specifically means DMU or if he was lumping the bilevel push-pulls in with that term.

The Colorado Railcar DMU is FRA structurally compliant for use on regular railroad tracks, although their website is down today so I hope they are still in business. It must just be their server since I see they have been in the news recently. I think Denton was planning to use the same stuff.

New railcar structural standards
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#111 FoUTASportscaster

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 10:30 PM

QUOTE(Redshirt @ Aug 27 2007, 01:16 PM) View Post

I'm glad that FW is moving forward with the commuter rail, but I hate FW to get left behind in the "light rail" area. It's beyond me why after seeing the success of DART that Fort Worth would blow this off and presume that people don't want this. I know that studies have been done but I firmly believe if they started it that it would explode.


The issue isn't whether FW wants LRT, the issue is how to pay for it. Here's a brief summary of how the T came to be

First, the city (or rather the private transit company offering the service) scrapped the streetcar system in favor of motorized buses in the mid '30's.

In the 60's, the privates could no longer do buisness in the face of the government's increasing subsidization of the automobile. The city took on the service of providing public transportation.

In 1980, voters in Tarrant Co voted down a nine county regional transit agency by 83%. Fort Worth said no by a 4-1 margin. The LSTA would have levied a 1 cent sales tax.

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority was established in 1983. The service is for the city only and levies a a half-cent sales tax. (Meanwhile, DART is established in 15 Dallas County suburbs. DART asked 21 cities to vote for a 1 cent sales tax to pay for the system.)

The first suburb joins the T at the turn of the next decade. When the 90's are over, Richland Hills, Blue Mound and Lake Worth are T members.

The T, in cooperation with DART launch TRE service to parts of Tarrant County in 2000. In 2001, Downtown Fort Worth sees the first regional rail service since the '30's. However, Amtrak has served downtown Fort Worth since its inception in the '70's.

On election day last year, Grapevine voted to approve a 3/8 cent sales tax to help pay for the upcoming Cotton Belt rail line.

Now that said, there are a couple of reasons for the CRT choice over LRT. First is cost. The Cotton Belt CRT line should be less than 500 million. If the same legnth were LRT, it would be rough;y 3 times that. All CRT has to do to initiate service is rehab the rails, find a rail yard and get the rolling stock. The wat DART does LRT is it rips up the current rail (when that warrants) excavate the rail bed, construct an elaborate drainage system, a rail bed, lays the continous weld rails on a concrete frame, run the electric wires and then acquire the rolling stock.

The second problem is how the T is currently structured. It is essentially a city service. On top of that, it is paid for by a half cent sales tax. Now DART is paid for by double what the T is. Add the fact that DART has 13 cities in its system. DART has 2.4 million people in its service area. The T has about 700,000. What the T needs ultimately is more members. The big one of course is the suburb to the east. If Arlington were to join, it would instantly increase membership by a little more than 50%. It has a decent tax base and nice contiguous border with the existing transit service area. It currently is 1/4 cent under the state sales tax cap. It would need to find another 1/4 cent.

After that, the NE suburbs of Colleyville, Haltom City, Hurst, NRH and Southlake would provide a nice area, with a decent population and sales tax area. All cities are at the cap.

#112 vjackson

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 08:04 AM

QUOTE(ICD @ Aug 27 2007, 05:28 PM) View Post

The problem with mass transit in FW is very simple. Mass transit is viewed by the powers that be and a good portion of the population as something that the poor need.

Then I would advise the FW "powers that be" to go to any city that has a good light rail system. You'll see citizens for every walk of life on the train..including many riders from the burbs.

I've always thought FW has been slow about light rail because although traffic is a problem along the Northern 1-35 corridor, for a city of its population, it's still relatively easy to drive around FW. I think many people in FW see I-35 as a problem, but as long as the city streets and most of the freeways are easy to drive on, widening I-35 is seen as more of a priority than light rail service.

#113 PLS

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:11 PM

i could be wrong, and i'm too busy to do the research right now, but as best i remember, the last time arlington took a vote on public transportation, gas was still about $.89 a gallon. i remember the vote being overwhelmingly opposed to the idea at the time; however, given the change in circumstances, i'd be interested to see the response now.

#114 AndyN

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 04:44 PM

That's a good point. Unfortunately, they're also toting the note on Jerryworld at this point. sad.gif
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#115 gdvanc

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 08:40 PM

Apologies for the length and rambling nature of the following. I just needed a chance to write something non-technical. Plus I'm hoping to get up to 100 posts by the end of the year. Feel free to point out errors in fact. Or to ignore it as usual. Or to send me nasty e-mails. Or flowers - I never get flowers. Everyone doing alright these days? To-... do... 'sta... bien... chévere...

QUOTE(Sam Stone @ Apr 18 2007, 11:40 AM) View Post
I didn't mean to imply that the streetcar company in FW was a victim of the GM conspiracy. I can definitely see how I gave that impression. I meant that streetcar companies were affected by two forces: policies that strongly favored cars in general and in quite a few particular cases, the GM conspiracy. I am, BTW, not a conspiracy theorist. I hate even using the word. From what I have read, though, it is well established that the GM headed consortium did engage in those practices and the debate is more over the extent. I'm certainly interested in learning more about it and in hearing different POVs. I'd be especially interested in learning more about the history and fate of NT Traction.


Certainly changes in public policy were a critical factor in the victory of the automobile over public transportation, but those changes were pushed and supported by the public. General Motors did spend a fortune to influence public opinion and that alone would ultimately influence political decisions. [I must once again link to 1946's GM-sponsored film "Give Yourself The Green Light"; totally germaine.] I'm not enough a Pollyanna to doubt that there might have been more direct political influence as well, if you know what I mean (wink). Actually, over the past couple of decades I've become enough of a cynic to expect it.

Still, I think there is more to it than that. There were a number of social, economic, and technological changes in the milieu of that post-war world that contributed to the success of the automobile: [real] gas prices had a steady decline from their war-time highs; real income and standard of living increased fairly steadily; and so on. And, ultimately, the success of the car fed the continued success of the car.

Obviously public transportation and private transportation compete on a number of points: convenience, timeliness, cost, safety, etc. When private transportation was - for most people - foot, hoof, or bicycle, public transportation had a clear advantage on many of these points. As autos became more affordable at post-war income levels relative to post-war car prices, more people had access to a form of private transportation that had an advantage over public transportation on most of those points except cost. This started before GM and Ike started pushing for substantially increased investment in roads at the expense of investment in rail and such. Now people could start and end their drive on their own schedule rather than on a transit company's schedule; they could make the entire journey in one conveyance rather than having to travel to a train station or bus stop, ride public transit (perhaps switching trains or buses along the way), and then travel from the train station or bus stop to their final destination; no doubt some felt safer wrapped in thousands of pounds of steel with locking doors than trapped in a metal box with a customer base diverse in color, ethnicity, and religion.

For public transportation to be sustainably successful, it would be very helpful if it could better compete on some of those points. It can't really win the convenience and timeliness categories as things are now for the majority of personal auto trips (work, errands, and all that). It has to carve out places where it has an advantage - or at least less of a disadvantage. There is a predilection in our society for the self-directed. We tend to be individualists. We want control. Cars satisfy these needs much better than public transportation. Public transportation has to look for areas to overcome that as well.

How ready is the leadership of Fort Worth to commit to a change in the civic approach to answering mobility needs? Hint: Southwaste Porkway.




QUOTE(Keller Pirate @ Aug 27 2007, 07:52 PM) View Post
I thought the comments about increasing tax revenues was pandering to money hungry officials. "Addressing a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce program on Aug. 16, Poticha said real estate development linked to rail stations and commuter rail lines can bring in more revenue to cities through the increase in taxable property values, increased sales taxes and other revenue sources."



It was at least pandering-like if not entirely pandering. It did smell of pandering. There is potential political risk, I suppose, in supporting such a project so you would want to give them something to sell to the voting public. However, there are a lot of things that "can bring in more revenue to cities through the increase in taxable property values, increased sales taxes and other revenue sources": sports stadia; publically-owned hotels; publically-funded markets... Not all are necessarily good investments of public funds. Particularly public funds that were previously private funds.

Over-selling the "increase in tax revenues" angle might come across as an admission of weakness in the direct benefits of the project. These are sufficiently difficult to predict to work as a handy and elastic filler of a gaping cost-benefit shortfall. On the other hand, we fall for this sort of thing all the time so you can't really blame them for taking advantage of that.

It would be a mistake to count on a significant amount of new tax revenue to make this a successful project; it will have to be a decent success to begin with for it to spur the kind of development that would drive up property values in any significant way. And, of course, if these developments simply pull business and activity from other parts of town, well...




QUOTE(PLS @ Aug 28 2007, 02:11 PM) View Post
i could be wrong, and i'm too busy to do the research right now, but as best i remember, the last time arlington took a vote on public transportation, gas was still about $.89 a gallon. i remember the vote being overwhelmingly opposed to the idea at the time; however, given the change in circumstances, i'd be interested to see the response now.


Eighty-nine cents a gallon? I think there has been a vote in the 21st Century.

As a [somewhat reluctant] resident of Arlington, I don't think enough has changed to result in a different outcome.



QUOTE(AndyN @ Aug 28 2007, 05:44 PM) View Post
That's a good point. Unfortunately, they're also toting the note on Jerryworld at this point.


Oh, thanks a ton, Andy. I was finally not thinking about that every day. Now my headache is back.

#116 ICD

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 09:22 PM

I've read some of the replies after I wrote about getting LR in FW and I find it kind of funny. You guys point out about funding problems, then argue about what is Colorado rail lines versus something else, and then more crap that is not really about the real issue. Specically, how to get better mass tranist in the worst mass transit big city in the country. Ignore that. Then you go about history, but not present. You go on and on in this academic landscape, not realizing about what is really happening out there.

Question, for all of you. Last time you took a T bus. Your probably never have (or at least maybe not more than five times a year).

I did it yesterday. I do it about three times a week.

Think about how you use the current system. It's probably not every day. Ever try to get to East Rosedale from the west side while you car was in the shop? Borrow a car? Rent one? Cancel your meeting? Or get on the bus and tranfer to where you have to go. Most people in big cities do this all the time. We don't even consider it.

Again, here is the problem. The only place this issue is being disussed is here, by people who would never even get on a bus. And be honest folks. If you have ever got on a bus, it is full of races and crazy people you are afraid of, and people of your race with bad teeth and a garbage bag next to them. You are not comfortable.

In other cities, people who work as lawyers and accoutants and department store clerks and pierced youg folks all ride the same mass transit together. I've lived in Chicago and Washington and Cleveland and Atlanta. All had basic service where you could walk out your door and get some place woithout amy problems and without getting your car out of the garage. Here it is all about moving around the folks that you are so removed from. You guys keep talking about funding. Well, gee, funding for a system that is all about these people we don't want to seen or be with is easy to keep at basic levels. Let's fund a system that keeps them further from us. But we can change things now. We have that money now with B-S money, if that's what the city wants to do. Instead of doing what people who have never taken mass transit in their lives want to do: put the mail mox money in the bank. So Stupid

The funding with B-S money is now there to turn this poverty run system into one that the middle-class and more can use. So please don't tell me the wallet is empty. No city has ever had the funding options FW has now, so don't tell me the cuboard is bare. It will take a dedication of city council and the mayor to realize this is now a big city. Big cities do decent mass transit. Here we don't even get close.

And also, for all you folks of the forum who like to have your high-end comments. tell us the last time you used The-T. I'm expecting a zero

#117 Fort Worthology

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 10:06 PM

I...don't even know where to start with that.

- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly

Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner


#118 AndyN

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 11:09 PM

Geeez, you sound like one of the pompous palaverers on the Dallas forum who makes assumptions about people he doesn't know. We might as well build more toll roads and encourage those who can afford it to buy a car - everyone else can walk. Why waste our efforts supporting additional transit services when we get slapped around by this person who joined up in July? Lord knows I'm anti-transit.
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#119 safly

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 01:35 AM

I use the "T" about 8 times a year. And I've never seen one FULL. sleep.gif

It's all about ridership folks. Or some chicken and egg crap.
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#120 PLS

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 08:37 AM

QUOTE(Atomic Glee @ Aug 28 2007, 11:06 PM) View Post

I...don't even know where to start with that.


second...

welcome to the board ICD

#121 FoUTASportscaster

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 12:34 PM

QUOTE(gdvanc @ Aug 28 2007, 09:40 PM) View Post
Certainly changes in public policy were a critical factor in the victory of the automobile over public transportation, but those changes were pushed and supported by the public. General Motors did spend a fortune to influence public opinion and that alone would ultimately influence political decisions. [I must once again link to 1946's GM-sponsored film "Give Yourself The Green Light"; totally germaine.] I'm not enough a Pollyanna to doubt that there might have been more direct political influence as well, if you know what I mean (wink). Actually, over the past couple of decades I've become enough of a cynic to expect it.

Still, I think there is more to it than that. There were a number of social, economic, and technological changes in the milieu of that post-war world that contributed to the success of the automobile: [real] gas prices had a steady decline from their war-time highs; real income and standard of living increased fairly steadily; and so on. And, ultimately, the success of the car fed the continued success of the car.

Obviously public transportation and private transportation compete on a number of points: convenience, timeliness, cost, safety, etc. When private transportation was - for most people - foot, hoof, or bicycle, public transportation had a clear advantage on many of these points. As autos became more affordable at post-war income levels relative to post-war car prices, more people had access to a form of private transportation that had an advantage over public transportation on most of those points except cost. This started before GM and Ike started pushing for substantially increased investment in roads at the expense of investment in rail and such. Now people could start and end their drive on their own schedule rather than on a transit company's schedule; they could make the entire journey in one conveyance rather than having to travel to a train station or bus stop, ride public transit (perhaps switching trains or buses along the way), and then travel from the train station or bus stop to their final destination; no doubt some felt safer wrapped in thousands of pounds of steel with locking doors than trapped in a metal box with a customer base diverse in color, ethnicity, and religion.

For public transportation to be sustainably successful, it would be very helpful if it could better compete on some of those points. It can't really win the convenience and timeliness categories as things are now for the majority of personal auto trips (work, errands, and all that). It has to carve out places where it has an advantage - or at least less of a disadvantage. There is a predilection in our society for the self-directed. We tend to be individualists. We want control. Cars satisfy these needs much better than public transportation. Public transportation has to look for areas to overcome that as well.

How ready is the leadership of Fort Worth to commit to a change in the civic approach to answering mobility needs? Hint: Southwaste Porkway.


If we aretalking history, the rise of the auto came a long time before WWII. Even during the depression, car use rose. Here's a telling stat. 1916 was the peak year of rail ridership in this country. More people rode rail that year than before or after. The reason that is significant is that is also the year that the federal government started altering the market place and subsidizing the auto by constructing roads. The freeway's were constructed in the '30's. Robert Moses freeway plan for New York started in the late '30's. The first reference to the Induced Traffic Principle came in 1916. It took over 50 years for us to go from rail to road.

As for transit v car, the only reason auto is more efficient for most people is because their built environment isn't built for it to be efficient. I can't speak for Fort Worth, but here in Dallas, the urban, walkable parts of the city total less than 10 square miles. The city itself is 385 square miles. Now if you live in the other 375 square miles, the auto is a more efficient choice. Add the suburbs and the urban ratio falls more.

The great thing about transit is it has the ability to reshapethe built environment near it. Plano Richardson and Dallas all have new TOD's around some of their stations. Unfortuneately, in the case of Dallas, it was by accident, as unlike Plano or Richardson, Dallas has no TOD zoning guidelines. As the built environment changes, it becomes easier for more and more people to do without a car, if they so choose. I know a lawyer who lived at Mockingbird Station and worked downtown. He made almost 7 figures and took the rail daily. The larger the system grows, not just in one city but everywhere, the more people will be able to make that choice, instead of having the auto lifestyle forced on us.

QUOTE(ICD @ Aug 28 2007, 10:22 PM) View Post
Question, for all of you. Last time you took a T bus. Your probably never have (or at least maybe not more than five times a year).


I live in Dallas and have taken the #7 to the zoo. I take the TRE all the time to downtown Fort Worth.

QUOTE
Again, here is the problem. The only place this issue is being disussed is here, by people who would never even get on a bus. And be honest folks. If you have ever got on a bus, it is full of races and crazy people you are afraid of, and people of your race with bad teeth and a garbage bag next to them. You are not comfortable.


People have always been afraid of different. Part of the problem is here in America, we have destroyed the public realm for the sake of the private realm. When that happens, society becomes isolated and people are afraid of different.

QUOTE
And also, for all you folks of the forum who like to have your high-end comments. tell us the last time you used The-T. I'm expecting a zero


If the TRE used in Tarrant County counts as T, last Monday.

#122 Keller Pirate

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 01:15 PM

I found this on the San Francisco Examiner;

SAN FRANCISCO (Map, News) - ‘Transit-oriented development” is the buzz word for policies that promote high-density, mixed-use growth clustered around mass transit lines instead of more traditional settlements along suburban highways. TOD is much favored among urban planners who assume that people who live and work near rail lines won’t use cars to get around. That’s the theory, but it doesn’t always work in practice, as folks in Portland, Ore., have discovered.

Portland has been a TOD leader since 1973, and won numerous awards for strictly limiting growth in outlying sections of the city — the so-called growth boundary — aggressive rezoning of existing neighborhoods and significant investment in light rail. But, as former Portland resident Randal O’Toole points out, after spending billions of dollars on TOD, there is little evidence that Portland residents have significantly changed their travel habits.

In fact, by 2005 less than half (38 percent) of Portland residents who commuted downtown were taking mass transit to work.

“More than 97 percent of all motorized passenger travel in the Portland area is by automobile,” writes O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, in “Debunking Portland: The City That Doesn’t Work.” TOD has had the net effect of taking “less than 1 percent of cars off the road.”

Portland was also one of the first cities in the nation to take advantage of a federal law that allowed it to spend highway funds on mass transit, including a no-bid contract with San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. But little was done to ease the traffic congestion caused by tens of thousands of former city residents who moved to Vancouver, Wash., and other areas outside the growth boundary in their quest for affordable housing. “Rather than preventing sprawl, Portland’s planning has to some degree accelerated it,” O’Toole maintains.

Despite huge subsidies — including 10 years of property tax waivers — Portland still has trouble filling all the vacant street-level shops along its light-rail line. And after diverting billions of tax dollars from schools and other essential services to subsidize TOD projects, it turns out that they “only work when they include plenty of parking.” For cars, that is.

All of this is a cautionary tale for our region’s urban planners, who fortunately have a much more extensive multi-agency mass transit network to work with. Comparisons of problems shared by two metropolitan areas don’t always suggest the same solutions, but let’s hope that the future of commuting in an already congested Bay Area doesn’t mirror Portland’s unexpectedly excessive car-dependent reality.



I was kind of glad to find it because about a month ago I read a story about a TOD in Pasadena California. They said a 300+ unit apartment building had been constructed on top of a metro light rail station. Researchers only found 1 person in the building that used the light rail to commute to work. The reason given was too many pairs and the transit system just didn't cover enough of them. However, the light rail was used quite a bit for optional trips by residents. It just wasn't good enough to get them to work when they needed to be. The car is the preferred choice when you absolutely, positively have to be there by 800 am. smile.gif




#123 FoUTASportscaster

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 08:23 PM

QUOTE
Randal O’Toole


That's all I needed to completely discredit the entire thing. He is so completely pro-road and his group is primarily financed by the auto, oil and highway lobbies. He cherrypicks stats and does what he can to discredit everything rail related.

QUOTE
I was kind of glad to find it because about a month ago I read a story about a TOD in Pasadena California. They said a 300+ unit apartment building had been constructed on top of a metro light rail station. Researchers only found 1 person in the building that used the light rail to commute to work. The reason given was too many pairs and the transit system just didn't cover enough of them. However, the light rail was used quite a bit for optional trips by residents. It just wasn't good enough to get them to work when they needed to be. The car is the preferred choice when you absolutely, positively have to be there by 800 am. smile.gif


The car is not the preferred choice. I am going to use Dallas as an example. The city limits of Dallas (385 square miles) has 148 miles of freeway alone. The service area of DART and the T have 1000 square miles and has 89 miles of rail. I wonder why the car will be faster.

Now if those numbers were reversed, you would have said that the train is the preferred choice. I have met layers who make near 7 figures who live at Mockingbird Station and take the train to downtown Dallas. I don't own a car, primarily due to the LRT system. Downtown Fort Worth is largely a better urban environment than DTD, but I stay here because of the LRT system. I would have to own a car if I lived in DTFW.

And living car free will be extremely easier when the LRT expansion begins to open in 2009.

And in direct reference to the quote, I know that article and it was written shortly after the development opened. It takes time for TOD to reach equilibrium. It is rediculous to expect TOD to be completed one day and the next everyone is abandoning decades old habits of auto-centric thinking.

#124 Redshirt

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 04:00 AM

I think this forum topic might be a proper response to the following S-T article. "Build it and they have no choice." biggrin.gif

Article link

Planned federal ozone standard could affect millions here
By SCOTT STREATER
sstreater@star-telegram.com

Early next year the federal government is expected to set a groundbreaking ozone standard that could dramatically affect millions of North Texas residents every day.

But if you want to tell the federal government how you feel about the proposal, which could force regional leaders to take drastic steps to slash pollution, you're going to have to hop on a plane or spend most of the day in the car.

That's because the only public hearing in Texas is scheduled for Wednesday in Houston.

Environmental groups are urging Dallas-Fort Worth residents to do the next best thing -- write and tell the Environmental Protection Agency that it needs to strengthen the ozone standard to better protect public health. Ozone is a lung irritant that at high enough concentrations can trigger asthma attacks and aggravate the conditions of those suffering from other respiratory ailments.

"The current standard is just way outside what any scientist would recommend for a standard that protects public health," said Matthew Tejada, an advocate with Texas Public Interest Research Group in Austin. "The EPA really needs to hear from people who say that ozone is affecting the quality of my life, my health and the health of my children and my community."

A number of regional leaders are also expected to write to the EPA. But they'll be asking federal regulators not to significantly strengthen the ozone standard. They argue that a stricter standard would force the Dallas-Fort Worth region to enact drastic restrictions on drivers, workers and industries.

They point to an EPA report last month that concluded that 20 Texas counties, including Tarrant and Dallas, could not meet a dramatically tougher standard because the technology does not exist to slash pollution enough to meet it.

"It's terrible to be held in a situation where you are in violation, yet you really don't have the tools to accomplish what needs to be done," said Mike Eastland, executive director of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, a regional planning group. "To me, that would be a tad bit unfair."

PROPOSED OZONE CHANGES

The issue

The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced plans in June to strengthen ozone regulations significantly. The agency says the existing standard fails to protect the public from the damaging effects of the lung-scarring pollutant.

Current standard: Last year, the EPA's science advisory committee recommended reducing the ozone standard to 70 parts per billion from 85. The EPA proposes lowering the threshold to between 70 and 75 parts per billion.

Who would be affected: Nationwide, 104 counties have ozone monitors that do not meet the existing standard, including nine in North Texas. Lowering the safe ozone threshold to 70 parts per billion would increase that number to 533 counties, according to the federal government.

Local impact

Regional leaders have said they don't believe that they can meet the standard without dramatic changes.

What has been discussed: banning drive-through windows during ozone season, limiting hours for motorists to fill their gasoline tanks, restricting the use of off-road construction equipment, even banning afternoon Texas Rangers baseball games. Further steps would be needed to lower pollution that blows into the region from industrial sources, such as power plants in East and Central Texas.

Federal sanctions: It's easy to see why regional leaders are concerned. If any one of the Dallas-Fort Worth area's ozone monitors exceeds the federal standard four times in a calendar year, the entire region is considered to be in violation. Areas that fail to meet the standard can be subjected to severe sanctions, including emission limits that can cripple economic development.

Ozone levels now: Last year, air monitors in Dallas-Fort Worth measured ozone concentrations of at least 70 parts per billion 642 times over 73 days, according to state data.

What's next?

The EPA is expected to complete the revisions to the ozone standard by March. They would not go into effect until at least 2010. If you go

-- What: a public hearing to discuss proposed revisions that would significantly strengthen federal ozone standards. The meeting is sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency.

-- When: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday.

-- Where: Marriott West Loop, 1750 W. Loop S., Houston

If you can't go

You can submit written comments to the EPA via e-mail, letter or fax through Oct. 9, said Tricia Crabtree, an environmental protection specialist with the agency.

The addresses:

-- Mail: Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0172, Environmental Protection Agency, code 6102T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20460

-- E-mail: a-and-r-docket@epa.gov

-- Web site: www.regulations.gov

-- Fax: 202-566-1741

Source: Environmental Protection Agency
Scott Streater, 817-390-7657

#125 Keller Pirate

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 09:28 AM

I found this posted today on a railfan website.

Got a chance to check out the much heralded Portland streetcar out this past week. Here's what I observed. They were best patronized in the downtown "free" zones (hey, who doesn't like free?). There is a very hippie-dippy quality to fare collection. No one ever asked to see my pass. I wonder about what percentage of fares that system actually collects. The streetcars were utilized mainly by tourists, young people, retired people, counter-cultural types and those without other means of transportation (dare I say it, poorer people?) The Portland middle and upper classes for the most part were MIA. I'll grant that they are quiet, clean and smooth running.

There is a fairly major flaw that limits their effectiveness. They have to operate on the same jammed streets that cars do. We often waited through several traffic light cycles before our street car could find a place to land on the other side of the intersection. Although streetcars have a limited number of stops, there are enough of them to make a simple journey take much longer than if you just drove your car, even in heavy traffic. So we found ourselves jumping into our car more and more as the week progressed.
My liberal friend who gushed about Portland street car for years, admitted that he went back to using his auto because it just took to long to get back and forth to work.

Although I didn't make a scientific study, my casual observation was that on any given route the street car probably reduced auto traffic by a very small amount. Some argue that any reduction in car traffic is good, others argue that so called "mass" transit's contribution to traffic reduction is so insignificant that it's not worth its huge cost. I did notice that in the early morning and late evening cars were often nearly or completely empty as they made their rounds. We never had trouble finding a seat. Despite all the hoopla, it would appear that the vast majority of Portland residents are still very much wedded to the automobile.


and this response;

There is another possibility why we don't ride the trolleys, is that they don't go any where we need to go!

Andre
Living in Portland


one positive response;

Somebody must be going somewhere on them. When I head into work at fiveish they are all full


#126 Fort Worthology

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 09:58 AM

Other positive reports on the Portland system -

From the July/August 2007 issue of CNU's New Urban News:

"In the six years since the Portland (Oregon) Streetcar began operating, the city’s Pearl District has experienced a remarkable development boom — one that is causing other cities to consider starting streetcar systems of their own.

From 2001 to 2005, approximately 100 development projects, with a total value of $2.3 billion, were built in the Pearl District, a former warehouse and light industrial area just north of downtown. The streetcar has helped generate a high-quality urban environment in the district and reportedly has a ridership 700 percent higher than buses on the same routes."

And:

"The Institute describes the Portland Streetcar as the first modern streetcar system installed in an American city. The system connects the Pearl District to downtown and to the redeveloping South Waterfront. In the Pearl District, 7,248 housing units have been constructed, 25 percent of them affordable, enabling Portland to achieve its 20-year housing goal in just seven years.

In the South Waterfront, where four residential towers have broken ground, redevelopment is expected to generate 3,000 housing units and 5,000 jobs. Development there is encouraged not only by the streetcar but also by an aerial tram linking the South Waterfront to the hilltop Oregon Health & Science University."

- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly

Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner


#127 AndyN

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 11:45 AM

QUOTE(Keller Pirate @ Sep 4 2007, 09:28 AM) View Post

I found this posted today on a railfan website.


That's the second time I have seen that post quoted. Was it on this forum or another?

I am a little uncertain why you are so concerned about a streetcar circulator in Fort Worth, KP? Would it help if we promised never to extend the system to Keller?

Is there no place for a rail circulator in the future transit plans for Fort Worth? Are the ozone alert days imaginery? Is high ozone no cause for concern? I'll go right there with you in my skepticism of global warming, but come on, did you not live in California? Was the smog there a figment of imagination?

The thought that a light rail circulator would be able to serve every person is specious. But to suggest that it would not be used or beneficial is laughable also. Based on my experience with various projects across the United States, the ROI is excellent and more provable than the Trinity Upyours Project.

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#128 Keller Pirate

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 01:21 PM

Actually I got in on this when the T came out and said they were going to use DMU's on the Northeast line to Grapevine. The defenders have come out on the other site, here is a response from a respected poster.

dhart Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Got a chance to check out the much heralded
> Portland streetcar out this past week. Here's what
> I observed. They were best patronized in the
> downtown "free" zones (hey, who doesn't like
> free?).

First, I can't tell if you are talking about the Portland Streetcar only or including the MAX lines. A very large part of the Streetcar is in the "Fareless Zone."

> There is a very hippie-dippy quality to
> fare collection. No one ever asked to see my pass.
> I wonder about what percentage of fares that
> system actually collects.

Outside the "Fareless" area there are fare inspectors. I think that a very small percentage of the riders in Portland ride ONLY the Streetcar or MAX. They also use the bus that connects and you have to have a ticket when you board the bus. (Or buy one on the bus. The bus ticket is good on the Streetcar and MAX)

> The streetcars were
> utilized mainly by tourists, young people, retired
> people, counter-cultural types and those without
> other means of transportation (dare I say it,
> poorer people?) The Portland middle and upper
> classes for the most part were MIA.

Did you ride it at 8:00AM and 5:00PM when the middle and upper classes were going to/from work?

> There is a fairly major flaw that limits their
> effectiveness. They have to operate on the same
> jammed streets that cars do. We often waited
> through several traffic light cycles before our
> street car could find a place to land on the other
> side of the intersection. Although streetcars have
> a limited number of stops, there are enough of
> them to make a simple journey take much longer
> than if you just drove your car, even in heavy
> traffic. So we found ourselves jumping into our
> car more and more as the week progressed.

I don't see how you could go from the AAA office to Powells Book Store to the Paradise Bakery in Pioneer Place faster or cheaper in your car.

I live in Salem and it is easier to take a Cascades (with a good driver up front <G> ) to Portland and use the Bus, Streetcar, and MAX to get around than it is to go into downtown Salem.

Oregon sells a monthly pass for the Cascades and there are a number of people that commute daily Salem/Portland/Salem and use the Fareless transportation system in Portland. Monthly parking for their car is less than the monthly pass on the Cascades. (no money spent on gas or wear and tear + they can get two hours extra of PC time or sleep)

The new MAX lines on 5th and 6th will NOT be an improvement over the busses that started two Superliner car lengths from track one at Union Station. You NEVER had to wait more than a couple minutes for one of the many routes that started there and went through downtown.

> Despite all the hoopla, it
> would appear that the vast majority of Portland
> residents are still very much wedded to the
> automobile.

You should add all native Oregonians to that. The only people that use ANY kind of public transportation in Oregon are people that have moved here from some location that had a public transportation system.

jb


Since I spent 32 years in the rail business I am always partial to rail systems but, I do think there is ROI issues involving the capacity of people moved on light rail vs. highway for the price. I go to Portland a couple of times a year and have used their system but I am thankful I didn't have to pay for it. The only real advantage I can say highway lanes have over transit is that the highway never goes on strike.



#129 AndyN

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 05:48 PM

So the other issues I asked about, you don't have an answer for or you do not wish to answer?
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#130 Keller Pirate

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 09:28 PM

QUOTE(AndyN @ Sep 4 2007, 06:48 PM) View Post

So the other issues I asked about, you don't have an answer for or you do not wish to answer?


I'm not sure which other issues you mean but yes, when I was a kid in Southern California the smog was thick enough sometimes you couldn't see across the street. North Texas could not even imagine how bad it was. Even now the greatly improved air quality in Southern California is worse than here but they still have drive through windows at fast food restaurants. On the other hand they don’t have any coal fired power plants

The steps the state and people of California took themselves made the difference in the air quality, they led the way not the EPA. The Fed's are using a carrot and stick approach that will only improve air quality by accident, if at all. Even the locals aren't interested in air quality; they just want to get by the EPA standards. If the EPA raises the standards by lowering the PPM for ozone they most likely will just fine us by cutting back on federal money for something we might need, like commuter rail or highway funding. Wait, we are buying out of the Interstate system so we can turn everything into a tollway. They can’t hurt us.

Just today I had my state inspection on my vehicle. In 30 years of inspections, since they started in California, I have never had a car fail an inspection. I don't know what the failure rates are but I would bet it is infinitesimal for vehicles under 10 years old. If inspections weren't about making money they would only require older cars to be inspected and focus on solutions to reduce emissions from those old cars. Even now they could take the money they get from testing cars that never fail and use it to make repairs on the clunkers that economically challenged folks own and drive.

I hope this is what you meant my “Daytime Dragon” friend.


#131 AndyN

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 10:49 PM

I'd prefer to be known as a "when-I-can Panther", if I correctly read your reference. smile.gif
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#132 AndyN

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 11:09 AM

You know, a bunch of people in Dallas decided that they wanted a streetcar line through their neighborhood and about 20 years ago they pulled together and put one in. There has been several hundred million in redevelopment along the route since that line started. Now there is another group of citizens who want to do the same thing in Oak Cliff. This is in addition to the DART Light Rail line. I can't help but think if this is something so desirable that a bunch of people in Fort Worth might put their shoulders to the grindstone and pull something together if the city is so long in dragging their feet.
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#133 drstevens

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 07:40 AM

How about the option, build a Monorail?

Perhaps I'm naive or just don't understand the issues, but I cannot understand why a city, starting from scratch, would opt for groundbased light rail instead of a monorail. As an engineer it seems to me that a Monorail may actually be cost competitive to construct (considering all aspects of construction, maintenence and right of way aquisition), require less intrusive right-of-way which often runs over existing roadways without inerrupting them, creates no potentially deadly train crossings and is immune to traffic snarls (and will not cause them). I would also think that it is less likely to be bothered by weather interruptions.

Dallas had this option, but it was never taken seriously because it was the propasal of Max Goldblatt, who was considered the comic relief of the City Council. One could make the case that that every person killed at a Dart train crossing, woudl still be alive had Dallas built a Monorail system. The purpose of mass transit is to ease traffic and increase convenience and I think a Monorail would do both of these more effectively than a light rail system.



#134 Fort Worthology

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 08:30 AM

QUOTE(drstevens @ Oct 26 2007, 08:40 AM) View Post

How about the option, build a Monorail?

Perhaps I'm naive or just don't understand the issues, but I cannot understand why a city, starting from scratch, would opt for groundbased light rail instead of a monorail. As an engineer it seems to me that a Monorail may actually be cost competitive to construct (considering all aspects of construction, maintenence and right of way aquisition), require less intrusive right-of-way which often runs over existing roadways without inerrupting them, creates no potentially deadly train crossings and is immune to traffic snarls (and will not cause them). I would also think that it is less likely to be bothered by weather interruptions.

Dallas had this option, but it was never taken seriously because it was the propasal of Max Goldblatt, who was considered the comic relief of the City Council. One could make the case that that every person killed at a Dart train crossing, woudl still be alive had Dallas built a Monorail system. The purpose of mass transit is to ease traffic and increase convenience and I think a Monorail would do both of these more effectively than a light rail system.


Monorails have their advantages, but I really don't feel one would be appropriate in lieu of the proposed modern streetcar system. The streetcar seems much more flexible and able to serve the proposed routes more effectively. They can stop more frequently, can get into compact urban neighborhoods more easily, don't have to have elevated tracks running above people's heads, don't have the ingress/egress difficulties of monorails, and seems to me that they add more to the streetscape vs. an elevated system.

- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly

Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner


#135 Dismuke

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 04:32 PM

QUOTE(AndyN @ Sep 5 2007, 01:09 PM) View Post

You know, a bunch of people in Dallas decided that they wanted a streetcar line through their neighborhood and about 20 years ago they pulled together and put one in. There has been several hundred million in redevelopment along the route since that line started. Now there is another group of citizens who want to do the same thing in Oak Cliff. This is in addition to the DART Light Rail line. I can't help but think if this is something so desirable that a bunch of people in Fort Worth might put their shoulders to the grindstone and pull something together if the city is so long in dragging their feet.



Here is a question I have wondered about for a very long time. How was Tandy Corporation able to afford to run what was effectively a streetcar system (except that it ran through a privately owned tunnel rather than on streets)? Tandy did not charge anyone to ride the thing and it ran very regularly from early in the morning to fairly late in the evening. They obviously paid the electric bill to run the cars and for the staff to operate them as well as for people to maintain the cars, the track and the electric wires.

Sure, part of the purpose of the Tandy subway was to provide parking for their employees which saved them money on the cost of building parking closer to downtown or the additional wages they would have to pay in order to not discourage good employees from working there due to having to fork over money on a daily basis for parking lot fees. And, once the trains are running, it doesn't cost much more to let the general public on for the ride as well.

My major point here is this: a single company was able to afford the costs of running such a system.

If that is possible, then why can't a bunch of companies join together and effectively do the same thing?

My guess is that there are quite a number of companies downtown whose employees are faced with difficulties and hassles finding a place to park - and my guess is a great many of them benefited from the old Tandy park and ride system. Why can't another lot be found somewhere on the outskirts of downtown where land is cheaper to replace the old one?

It also strikes me that all of the new residential and commercial developments going up on the near West Side down 7th Street and such would benefit mightily from having such a system pass by their doors. My guess is quite a number of people in those developments work downtown - and such a system would certainly make such developments much more attractive places for downtown workers to consider.

A similar dynamic might very well exist on the Southside as well and might someday work for the Stockyards too.

Why can't such a system be run by entirely private and voluntary funds? The City would need to help out, of course, by making the streets and right of way along the route available - and perhaps the city's existing road crews could be used to do some of the necessary street improvements. Basically, the city would own the tracks and allow the private consortium of businesses to use them so long as they keep the system in operation.

The way I could see it would be something along the lines where the system would be owned and operated by a large number of businesses, developers and retailers who would benefit from its existence. Employees of downtown businesses who belong to the organization would receive free access to the system and to the park and ride parking lots on the outskirts of downtown. Residents of the various member residential developments along the route would also receive completely free access. Individuals who do not live in or work in a place that is a member could join as individual members and receive similar privileges. Tourists and others who only use the system infrequently would be charged an admission fee good for that day only. However, if they make a purchase over a certain amount from a member retailer or restaurant along the route and present their day pass, the would receive tokens which they could place in a machine and receive a refund for part or all of their day pass purchase depending on how much they spent at member establishments. Doing it this way would provide incentives for businesses that benefit from the system to join and not simply sit back and enjoy the results of the efforts and money spent by other businesses.

Why can't something like this work for Fort Worth? I think street cars are really cool - though I work far away enough that I cannot see myself using them. I can think of LOTS of things that would be really cool for Fort Worth. My problem with such schemes is when they force people to pay for things that they do not use and do not care about. That is theft, pure and simple - and the fact that the loot is used to finance cool and neat and allegedly virtuous things does not change that fact. The ends do not justify the means.

What I propose would create such a system on an entirely voluntary basis - and those who do not think it will benefit them or have no interest in it are not required to contribute one red cent towards its operations and upkeep. Furthermore, with all money being handled by a private organization that does not have the authority and power to loot some more whenever it wants to or faces a budget shortfall is going to be a lot more reality-oriented and less utopian when it comes to making the crucial decisions on what gets funded and what does not. Bring taxpayer money into the equation and you are much more likely to have instances of other people's hard-earned money being squandered down dark, empty holes such as Rail Markets that nobody cares to patronize.
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#136 Sam Stone

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 07:37 AM

Dismuke asks some very good questions and I think I have partial answers. Part of the reason all the companies downtown don't build their own light rail system is the collective action problem. It doesn't make economic sense for any single one of them to do it, but they lack the trust and information for all of them to get together to do it. But that's one of the reasons we have government. Where a single company is tasked with addressing the demand preferences of its customers with supply, and those customers may be far flung, a local government should be able meet the demand for public transportation from the employees of many companies by supplying public transportation.

The thing is, though, most of the time they never had to do that. Back in the early 20th century when over 800 American cities had streetcars, public transportation was actually privately provided. Private streetcar companies operated in the public right of way and paid local governments franchise fees to do so. It sounds like a fantastic system and maybe we could find a way to make it work again, but it had at least a couple major flaws. First because they were privately owned, it enabled many of them to be bought out by the now infamous consortium of companies led by GM. Because you essentially needed a critical mass for them to work, the other ones folded as well. The other flaw was that the lines served the real estate developers with the best business and political connections rather than the potential riders who needed them the most.

Privatization can in many cases save a lot of money and help some services be managed better, but in my own experience, the public transit systems that are privately managed seem to have the most problems. Personally, I suspect that McDonald Transit must have some deal with bus manufacturers because wherever they operate, they discourage transit authorities from getting into light rail.

#137 Keller Pirate

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 04:39 PM

I saw this and decided to post it, since it wasn't by Randal O'Toole. It is worth thinking about, especially the costs mentioned for M&O.

http://www.latimes.c...omment-opinions

and this

http://www.heritage....owth/wm1607.cfm

#138 RD Milhollin

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 08:19 AM

Looks as though commuters are voting for mass transit with their feet. IMO this trend should be jumped on quickly to expand and update transit options in the region. More funding is needed for rail (commuter as well as LR/Streetcar) improved bus routing, and vanpooling. I really had no idea vanpooling was as popular as it appears to be, dedicated traffic lanes for ride-share and commuter buses might be needed on major traffic arteries to assure encourage this trend remains healthy. Commuter bus routes into northwest Tarrant County/Wise Co. (future growth area), North Tarrant/ Denton Co. (major growth area) and to Aledo/Weatherford should be looked at, and plans drawn for rail service to follow in a few years, after the SW2NE project is completed.

http://www.star-tele...ory/897225.html

Posted on Wed, Sep. 10, 2008

More North Texas commuters are turning to mass transit

By GORDON DICKSONgdickson@star-telegram.com

Commuters are climbing aboard buses, trains and other forms of public transportation, seeking relief from high gas prices, and transit agencies are scrambling to make more room for them.

Transit ridership increased 5.2 percent nationwide in the second quarter of 2008, compared with the same three months last year, the Washington-based American Public Transportation Association reported Tuesday.

In North Texas, the increase is even more dramatic — double-digit ridership increases, in some cases — as Dallas and Fort Worth try to meet the mobility needs of a booming population.

"It is a personal choice you have to make because it does restrict your free time," said Diana Burnett, a financial analyst who rides a T bus daily from a Burleson park-and-ride to downtown Fort Worth. "But with affordable parking at a premium, the price of gas, and frankly, the stress of driving, I wouldn’t trade the option for anything."

APTA is calling for Congress to increase federal aid so transit agencies can keep up with rising demand. Nationwide, 85 percent of transit systems have capacity problems, APTA President William Millar said.

"No one wants to raise fares or cut service, but the high cost of fuel is severely impacting public transportation system budgets, and the shortfalls need to be closed," Millar said in a statement. "Just as high gas prices impact a family’s budget, so too do high fuel prices severely impact a public transportation system’s budget."

Here’s how the numbers break down, by mode of transportation:

Bus

Tarrant County buses carried 3 percent more passengers in April, May and June than the same period a year ago, Fort Worth Transportation Authority figures show. More than 1.6 million riders boarded the T’s buses during that three-month period.

The T operates fixed-route service in Fort Worth and Richland Hills, and last week it began express service from two Arlington park-and-ride lots to downtown Fort Worth.

The T also operates four express buses to and from Burleson.

"We have a good number of folks that drive up from points south of Burleson, such as Alvarado, Grandview, Covington, Itasca, Cleburne and even further," Burnett said. "We’re family. We know each other’s names and we get concerned if someone has missed several days in a row."

In Dallas, bus ridership increased 3 percent during the quarter, Dallas Area Rapid Transit spokesman Morgan Lyons said.

Rail

The Trinity Railway Express carried more than 705,000 people in April-June, a 15 percent increase, DART records show. The commuter rail line operates Monday through Saturday from downtown Fort Worth to Dallas.

In Dallas, TRE passengers can hop aboard electric light-rail trains, which are 10 percent fuller than a year ago.

Vanpool

The hottest mode of transit in the western Metroplex is vanpooling, a form of carpooling using 9-, 12- or 15-passenger vans.

The T now sponsors 174 vanpools and hopes to add at least 10 more during the next fiscal year in the Alliance Airport area, T spokeswoman Joan Hunter said.

On Thursday, the Regional Transportation Council is expected to approve the T’s request for federal grant funding for 40 more vans in the Alliance area over the next three years.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The survey

Read the survey Rising Fuel Costs: Impacts on Transit Ridership and Agency Operations at www.apta.com.



GORDON DICKSON, 817-685-3816

#139 Keller Pirate

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 09:41 AM

About a week ago I saw a shiny DART vanpool van in Southlake. I thought that was less likely than a T van but there must be enough folks commuting to Dallas to get a DART van. Or, they could have just been playing hooky when they were supposed to be working. rolleyes.gif

#140 AndyN

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 10:20 PM

This is slightly off-topic but the title matches, so.... I just returned from the Association of Railway Museums annual convention in Colorado Springs. Great trip, I learned a lot and I enjoyed a few Mass Transit Ales during the social hours. I don't understand the VW Bus connection, but the beer was nice.




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