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#51 Electricron

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 12:40 AM

One should question the FWTA about its vision. Without vision, FWTA did not proactively coordinate with the city so that the land that it needed would be set aside for a future rail corridor. Instead, FWTA said little or nothing while potential sites where developed for other purposes. Now compare their in actions with the approach and the vision taken by NTTA who clearly coordinated with the city to set aside the land it required for its Chisholm Trail Parkway with seemingly and flawless efficiency. Perhaps FWTA was negligently shortsighted or perhaps prior city councils were more anti-transit than we could have imagined and tied the hands of the FWTA; and likely both are true.

The FWTA insists upon vast surface parking for its rail stations. Compare what TRE ,under the vision of DART, did at its own medical center station. There is no surface parking; instead, passengers embark and disembark at a drop-off and pick-up platform. The station has a minimalist footprint. Such a similar solution would probably be a popular one if it was implemented at the Fort Worth Medical District station.

It appears that the current council is vastly more pro-transit than prior councils; and as such, is becoming more dissatisfied with FWTA being at best a mediocre transit authority. The FWTA's repeated blunders does little to enhance its image or gin up confidence. Both Price and Burns are demanding higher standards and performance coming out of FWTA; and if it cannot do better quickly, it is not unthinkable that the FWTA will have an infusion of new blood at its top levels.

Keep Fort Worth folksy

Comparing NTTA with FWTA vision isn't fair. NTTA needs a brand new corridor set aside, while FWTA is using an existing freight rail corridor. NTTA doesn't need land for stations, FWTA does. FWTA has been studying this project for over 10 years, so it's not something new the City isn't aware of.
From what I'd read earlier, FWTA tried to convince the developers at the Rosedale site to design and build with rail in mind. It's the developers who decided not to. I doubt the city even tried to influence the developers. It's not FWTA fault.

Who's at fault communicating, FWTA or the City? The correct answer is both, because it takes two to communicate. If one isn't listening, don't blame the other talking.

#52 Russ Graham

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 04:51 AM



Strikes me as a bit of political theater on Mr. Burns part, taking advantage of the situation to garner sympathy from his constituents.

Or maybe I've grown too cynical.


I'm trying to picture this - Joel Burns as Mr. Burns from the Simpsons - tapping his fingers together, explaining to Smithers, "at last, something rotten has been forced upon the residents of my district. I'll take advantage by complaining about it." Then he cackles in anticipation at all the votes this is going to get him in the next election... "Now I know I can secure re-election and retain my vast powers!"

Or maybe you're right and you're too cynical.


Making Council Joel Burns into a caricature is just flat out wrong. Mr. Burns has demonstrated an ability to lead and to be undaunted when voicing the concerns of not only his constituents but those of all our citizens when required; and it is for this, that in my estimation, Mr. Burns has among the highest approval ratings of all the current council members, if not the highest. Mayor Price was the first to express a growing frustration with the FWTA; and now Council Burns is doing the same.


Renamerusk - I agree with your assessment of councilman Burns - he was not the target of my clumsy satire there. I was trying to demonstrate the silliness of the statement that "this was political theater by Mr. Burns". The internet can be a dangerous place to joke around, and this is a touchy subject - so I apologize for giving the impression I was attacking anybody.

#53 renamerusk

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:33 PM

Renamerusk - I agree with your assessment of councilman Burns - he was not the target of my clumsy satire there. I was trying to demonstrate the silliness of the statement that "this was political theater by Mr. Burns". The internet can be a dangerous place to joke around, and this is a touchy subject - so I apologize for giving the impression I was attacking anybody.


Russ, no apology is required.

All opinions ought to be welcomed because they give us the opportunity to reflect upon our self held ideas and beliefs. I can say that I have benefited from reading the views of others to gain a different perspective than my own.

Thanks for your clarification to me and to others; and do continue posting your interesting blogs.

Keep Fort Worth folksy

#54 Russ Graham

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:15 AM

Alright then.

Seems like there are three big problems with this TEX rail project: Funding, Representation, and Usefulness.

First, Funding. If you read the business plan for the project on the NTCOG site, they have absolutely no idea how they are going to pay to install the tracks or how the operational costs will be picked up. There is something called iFi, for "innovative funding initiative" or something like that. Anytime somebody feels obliged to use alternate capitalization schemes on their acronyms, it makes me take them less seriously. What is this, a dot-com company looking for venture funding? They are counting on very high fares, which they call "very high choice riders". This tells me that they are targeting the riders with a Lexus and a BMW in the garage. I can picture the rest of us watching the train going by and singing the Orange Blossom Special. Also, the idea of Grapevine tax money being used to buy land in Fort Worth just makes me cringe. Does this give Grapevine voters the right to put a railroad through our city? If this thing gets built, it will be backed up by the city's credit. So we (Fort Worth) will be left holding the bag.

Second, Representation. Compare the T to that other sales tax program that gets a quarter cent, CCPD. That program is now directly controlled by the city council. And it's administered by city staff. From what I understand, the city makes an effort to solicit resident input in how that money gets spent. I don't see any such opportunity for citizen input in the FWTA. Not that I've really looked into it that deeply. Maybe somebody here could explain where I could go to have my input heard by public servants whom I can hold accountable. Also, it appears that money from different cities is being mixed together and used for somebody's pet project. Maybe this is not reality, but the lack of transparency makes it appear so. There really needs to be some kind of a municipal election so that we can say "yes, please build this railroad and spend $330 million dollars on it", or "no, please don't spend that money." Apparently they are buying up spots left and right, without any real plan on how they are going to complete the project.

Third, Usefulness. Why are we building a railroad from Cleburne to Grapevine? When I think of the great unmet transportation needs of Ft Worth, I think of linking West 7th, Camp Bowie, Downtown, Near Southside, Stockyards, East Lancaster, and the other various existing urban areas, with useful, everyday transportation. Second priority, better connections to Alliance, Alcon, Lockheed, NAS JRB, and the other big employers in town. Give me transportation people can use every day, not just when they for some reason want to go to Cleburne or Grapevine, or the airport. Yes, this would be nice, but honestly how many plane trips does the average person take in a year, 2 or 3? How many times are you going to go to Grapevine? Now, what if the fare is like $20 each way? Are you still going to use it? We need fares in the $1.00 range.

And how many buses could we buy and operate for the same amount of money? How many cars would that take off the road? I really think a solid streetcar-and-buses system is the best bang for the buck. That gets all us poor people out of our cars, and let the Lexus-and-BMW crowd use the highways to get to the airports.

#55 renamerusk

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 05:28 PM

Alright then.

Seems like there are three big problems with this TEX rail project: Funding, Representation, and Usefulness.


Russ, you have enumerated some excellent points that, IMO, have much about them to find agreement with.


If FWTA can eventually demonstrate to DOT and local officials a higher degree of competency and a lower degree of confusion, the federal funds and even an increase in a local transit tax will very likely be there for the taking less there arise some unforeseeable circumstances. I do believe that we are in the beginning of a renaissance for mass transit and alternative forms of transportation.


Unfortunately, there is an increasing impression being given by the FWTA that it has an inflexible bunker mentality; namely, that it makes up its mind regardless of the facts otherwise or that it takes lightly dissenting viewpoints. As a rule of thumb, FWTA would be wise to always consider steps that shall reduce its footprint where ever it goes. I would like to cite again how DART and TRE have accomplished this at Medical Center Dallas. One hardly notices the presence there of a commuter train station. I believe that a similar solution can be accomplished even now and with relative ease at the FW Medical District if FWTA would give up insisting that it must have a large surface parking lot.

Usefulness of an airport station should be up for further review. Unless the current model of commuter rail service becomes a 16-hrs/7days service plan, then an airport connection is rather pointless considering that the airport operates 24/7. My guess is that a majority of airline passengers will still prefer curbside checking instead of hauling and necessitating multiple handling of their luggage in a "commuter train/airport rail/check-in" scenario. It would be a good idea for FWTA to focus entirely on the duel tasks of M-F commuter services and 7-day connectivity services between the multiple commercial/work/recreational centers in Fort Worth.

#56 Electricron

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 06:03 PM

Alright then.

Seems like there are three big problems with this TEX rail project: Funding, Representation, and Usefulness.

First, Funding. If you read the business plan for the project on the NTCOG site, they have absolutely no idea how they are going to pay to install the tracks or how the operational costs will be picked up. There is something called iFi, for "innovative funding initiative" or something like that. Anytime somebody feels obliged to use alternate capitalization schemes on their acronyms, it makes me take them less seriously. What is this, a dot-com company looking for venture funding? They are counting on very high fares, which they call "very high choice riders". This tells me that they are targeting the riders with a Lexus and a BMW in the garage. I can picture the rest of us watching the train going by and singing the Orange Blossom Special. Also, the idea of Grapevine tax money being used to buy land in Fort Worth just makes me cringe. Does this give Grapevine voters the right to put a railroad through our city? If this thing gets built, it will be backed up by the city's credit. So we (Fort Worth) will be left holding the bag.

Second, Representation. Compare the T to that other sales tax program that gets a quarter cent, CCPD. That program is now directly controlled by the city council. And it's administered by city staff. From what I understand, the city makes an effort to solicit resident input in how that money gets spent. I don't see any such opportunity for citizen input in the FWTA. Not that I've really looked into it that deeply. Maybe somebody here could explain where I could go to have my input heard by public servants whom I can hold accountable. Also, it appears that money from different cities is being mixed together and used for somebody's pet project. Maybe this is not reality, but the lack of transparency makes it appear so. There really needs to be some kind of a municipal election so that we can say "yes, please build this railroad and spend $330 million dollars on it", or "no, please don't spend that money." Apparently they are buying up spots left and right, without any real plan on how they are going to complete the project.

Third, Usefulness. Why are we building a railroad from Cleburne to Grapevine? When I think of the great unmet transportation needs of Ft Worth, I think of linking West 7th, Camp Bowie, Downtown, Near Southside, Stockyards, East Lancaster, and the other various existing urban areas, with useful, everyday transportation. Second priority, better connections to Alliance, Alcon, Lockheed, NAS JRB, and the other big employers in town. Give me transportation people can use every day, not just when they for some reason want to go to Cleburne or Grapevine, or the airport. Yes, this would be nice, but honestly how many plane trips does the average person take in a year, 2 or 3? How many times are you going to go to Grapevine? Now, what if the fare is like $20 each way? Are you still going to use it? We need fares in the $1.00 range.

And how many buses could we buy and operate for the same amount of money? How many cars would that take off the road? I really think a solid streetcar-and-buses system is the best bang for the buck. That gets all us poor people out of our cars, and let the Lexus-and-BMW crowd use the highways to get to the airports.


Funding: If FWTA TexRail gets it's FTA match of "New Starts" funding, no "innovate" financing is needed for the Fort Worth sections. Only the Dallas sections need "innovate" financing, mainly because DART won't have any capital funds for their side until 2040 or so. FWTA can bond sufficient funds for its side.

Representation: FWTA already exists, TexRail will fall under it's existing political supervision just like its buses do today. I'll admit I don't know exactly how a "combined", "unified" Cotton Belt line political relationships will work, but we do have the TRE example to fall back on.

Usefulness: The present TexRail corridor being proposed will be more useful to Fort Worth than the existing TRE corridor. If TexRail won't be useful enough to build, neither is maintaining the existing TRE.

#57 RD Milhollin

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:54 AM

Usefulness of an airport station should be up for further review. Unless the current model of commuter rail service becomes a 16-hrs/7days service plan, then an airport connection is rather pointless considering that the airport operates 24/7. My guess is that a majority of airline passengers will still prefer curbside checking instead of hauling and necessitating multiple handling of their luggage in a "commuter train/airport rail/check-in" scenario. It would be a good idea for FWTA to focus entirely on the duel tasks of M-F commuter services and 7-day connectivity services between the multiple commercial/work/recreational centers in Fort Worth.


Great point. Agree.

#58 elpingüino

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 11:50 AM

Third, Usefulness. Why are we building a railroad from Cleburne to Grapevine? When I think of the great unmet transportation needs of Ft Worth, I think of linking West 7th, Camp Bowie, Downtown, Near Southside, Stockyards, East Lancaster, and the other various existing urban areas, with useful, everyday transportation. Second priority, better connections to Alliance, Alcon, Lockheed, NAS JRB, and the other big employers in town. Give me transportation people can use every day, not just when they for some reason want to go to Cleburne or Grapevine, or the airport. Yes, this would be nice, but honestly how many plane trips does the average person take in a year, 2 or 3? How many times are you going to go to Grapevine? Now, what if the fare is like $20 each way? Are you still going to use it? We need fares in the $1.00 range.


To clear up a misconception: While the Chisholm Trail Parkway will go all the way to Cleburne, the TEX Rail will not. The southern terminus of the TEX Rail will be a station in southwest Fort Worth near where Summer Creek Drive, Sycamore School Road, Granbury Road and Columbus Trail all come together. (TEX Rail station planning update) I haven't seen anything indicating that the T has any long-term plans to expand TEX Rail farther south than that.

#59 Electricron

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 11:08 PM

To clear up a misconception: While the Chisholm Trail Parkway will go all the way to Cleburne, the TEX Rail will not. The southern terminus of the TEX Rail will be a station in southwest Fort Worth near where Summer Creek Drive, Sycamore School Road, Granbury Road and Columbus Trail all come together. (TEX Rail station planning update) I haven't seen anything indicating that the T has any long-term plans to expand TEX Rail farther south than that.

Why is this surprising?

Fort Worth's city limits are very near the location you mentioned. FWTA is subsidized by a 1/2 cent sales tax mainly from Fort Worth, so extending the rail line further to the southwest than its city limits isn't likely. Cleburne provides FWTA zero funds. The reason it's planning to go through non member cities in the opposite direction to reach DFW Airport is that's it's 1/2 owned by Fort Worth. Fort Worth doesn't own anything south or west of this proposed end of line station.

Additionally, the FWWR rail line being used heads towards Cresson and pass Granbury and not towards Cleburne, although there is a wye in Cresson where a train on this line can turn to a line towards Cleburne. But that's the long way to Cleburne from Fort Worth, the short way uses the BNSF line through Joshua.

So, there's two reasons why the proposed end of line station locale was set:
(1) Railroad line being used doesn't go to Cleburne, and
(2) Finances based upon city sales tax revenues.

#60 Russ Graham

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 08:55 PM

Sorry, I left town for a couple of weeks there - looks like I've been missing out on a good conversation! Allow me to go back to Electricon's response from earlier:

Funding: If FWTA TexRail gets it's FTA match of "New Starts" funding, no "innovate" financing is needed for the Fort Worth sections. Only the Dallas sections need "innovate" financing, mainly because DART won't have any capital funds for their side until 2040 or so. FWTA can bond sufficient funds for its side.


I don't understand where the $330 million is coming from. You can issue bonds, but how will we pay for the bonds? You can't keep borrowing money forever. We've all seen statistics on how transportation projects never "pay for themselves" - fares tend to be somewhere around a quarter of operating costs (if I remember rightly from the attack propaganda that was leveled at our beloved streetcar proposal, R.I.P.). As it goes for streetcars, so it goes even moreso for light rail. Is there an expectation that property values will be increased by proximity to the light rail, hence driving up property tax revenue? Judging by the reactions in Mistletoe Heights, there is a good proportion of people who don't want to live next to commuter rail. Sales Tax? We all know where that conversation goes. What's left? Federal money? anybody read the tea leaves on Capitol Hill lately?


Representation: FWTA already exists, TexRail will fall under it's existing political supervision just like its buses do today. I'll admit I don't know exactly how a "combined", "unified" Cotton Belt line political relationships will work, but we do have the TRE example to fall back on.


Yes, it exists - but my argument is that like many other organs of local government, it is operating completely outside the realm of public consent. There needs to be a forum where disaffected residents like myself can vote for or against a given proposal. We desperately need more accountable government. Unfortunately we keep sending every incumbent back into office by wide margins in low turnouts. In my opinion, this means we have the government we deserve as a city. This does not make me any happier about it.

Usefulness: The present TexRail corridor being proposed will be more useful to Fort Worth than the existing TRE corridor. If TexRail won't be useful enough to build, neither is maintaining the existing TRE.


This is not quite the chinning bar I had in mind. I wanted to compare its usefulness to the equivalent amount (in capital costs and operating costs) being spent on a combination of streetcars and busses to provide a decent level of public transportation to the central city - to the point where most residents within 10 miles of the county courthouse could make a legitimate choice not to own a car.

To address your comparison, though: TRE is a heavy-rail train, running on an existing right of way. The proposed TEX would be a light-rail design, with mostly new tracks, new-design cars, and new-design engines. TRE services several large employment centers from downtown - including Bell, American Airlines, and Centreport. It also connects to AA center, so I could go to a basketball game and back on the train if I watched basketball. I've gone to a couple of hockey games on the TRE. My wife and I used it to get over to Dallas to go to a movie one Saturday a few months back. TEX will do none of these things. There are no major employment centers along the route save the Medical District. There are no major entertainment or cultural destinations along the SW2NE corridor. I just don't see what it is good for. It seems to be the pet project of one of our most talented, energetic, and influential city council members.

#61 Russ Graham

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 08:58 PM

FWTA is subsidized by a 1/2 cent sales tax mainly from Fort Worth


Isn't it DART that gets a 1/2 cent, whereas FWTA gets only 1/4 cent (the other quarter cent going to CCPD)?

#62 Electricron

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 07:34 PM


FWTA is subsidized by a 1/2 cent sales tax mainly from Fort Worth


Isn't it DART that gets a 1/2 cent, whereas FWTA gets only 1/4 cent (the other quarter cent going to CCPD)?

DART gets a full penny sales tax, FWTA gets a half penny sales tax.
Sources of information:
http://www.dart.org/about/history.asp Look under the January 1984 entry
http://fortworthtexas.gov/finance/
Current City of Fort Worth Tax Rates:
Sales Tax: 8.25%
1% to city
0.5% to The T
0.5% to the Crime District
6.25% to the State of Texas
Property Tax Rate: 0.8550 per $100 of valuation.

#63 Electricron

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:16 PM

Issue point #1:
I don't understand where the $330 million is coming from. You can issue bonds, but how will we pay for the bonds? You can't keep borrowing money forever. We've all seen statistics on how transportation projects never "pay for themselves" - fares tend to be somewhere around a quarter of operating costs (if I remember rightly from the attack propaganda that was leveled at our beloved streetcar proposal, R.I.P.). As it goes for streetcars, so it goes even moreso for light rail. Is there an expectation that property values will be increased by proximity to the light rail, hence driving up property tax revenue? Judging by the reactions in Mistletoe Heights, there is a good proportion of people who don't want to live next to commuter rail. Sales Tax? We all know where that conversation goes. What's left? Federal money? anybody read the tea leaves on Capitol Hill lately?
Issue point #2:
This is not quite the chinning bar I had in mind. I wanted to compare its usefulness to the equivalent amount (in capital costs and operating costs) being spent on a combination of streetcars and busses to provide a decent level of public transportation to the central city - to the point where most residents within 10 miles of the county courthouse could make a legitimate choice not to own a car.
To address your comparison, though: TRE is a heavy-rail train, running on an existing right of way. The proposed TEX would be a light-rail design, with mostly new tracks, new-design cars, and new-design engines. TRE services several large employment centers from downtown - including Bell, American Airlines, and Centreport. It also connects to AA center, so I could go to a basketball game and back on the train if I watched basketball. I've gone to a couple of hockey games on the TRE. My wife and I used it to get over to Dallas to go to a movie one Saturday a few months back. TEX will do none of these things. There are no major employment centers along the route save the Medical District. There are no major entertainment or cultural destinations along the SW2NE corridor. I just don't see what it is good for. It seems to be the pet project of one of our most talented, energetic, and influential city council members.

#1:
FWTA revenues as last posted on the internet.
http://www.the-t.com...finalweb v4.pdf
FY2011 budget:
Total Revenues = $88,516,000 (including the following)
Operating Revenues (Fares) = $6,459,000
Sales Tax = $45,552,000
Grants = $26,388,000
Grapevine Contributions = $7,200,000
Total Operating Expenses = $60,026,000 (including the following)
Revenue Vehicle Operations (Buses) = $14,121,000
TRE Operations = $9,032,000
Vehicle Maintenance = $8,629,000
MITS Vehicle Operations = $6,015,000
Facilities Maintenance = $2,973,000
Administration = $2,244,000
All other entries less than $2 Million each

Net Available for Capital Expenditures and Reserves
FY2011 (Budgeted) = $28,365,000
FY2010 (Budgeted) = $29,646,000
FY2009 (Actual) = $38,452,000
In just the last 3 FYs, FWTA has amassed $96,463,000 in cash. Presently, FWTA has issued no bonds. At that rate, FWTA could raise a total of $300 million in less than 10 years. I'm almost positive they would have no problems finding investors willing to buy $300 Million in bonds with a record like that. And if the TexRail operating expenses were twice their TRE operating expenses, not sharing 50% of the operating expenses on the TRE with DART, FWTA would still have over $10 Million per year available for bond payments.
Yes, FWTA can afford to build and operate TexRail if it received a 50% FTA "New Starts" match.

#2:
DCTA train operations are regulated by the FRA, just like the TRE. DART's light rail train operations are regulated by the FTA. The TexRail trains will be regulated by the FRA because it will share tracks with freight operations. Therefore, without knowing which trains the FWTA will eventually buy, it will be more akin to Heavy rail than Light rail. The FRA will most certainly demand that.

As for which transit lines would be better for FWTA to build and operate, I suggest looking at what FWTA can afford to do with around $30 Million per year. Dallas will be spending a total of $60 Million over 20 years to build and operate two streetcars on a line less than 2 miles in length. Keeping it simple, that's around $3 Million per year per streetcar per mile in Dallas. Therefore, FWTA could afford to build and operate 10 streetcars over 10 miles track with $30 Million per year, and that is with averaging the costs over 20 years. FWTA would have spent a total of $600 Million over those 20 years. That's 10 miles of single track, or 5 miles of double track.

Which would you rather have, 5 miles of double track streetcars for $600 Million, or more than 20 miles of commuter rail for $300 Million of FWTA money and $300 Million of Federal money? I'll admit, if FWTA could convince the FTA to fund streetcars with "New Starts" funding at 50% participation, it could be 5 miles of double track streetcars for $300 Million local funding and $300 Million Federal funding. But the FTA hasn't been quick to fund streetcars with "New Starts" funds, even Dallas streetcar received just "Stimulus" funding.

#64 Russ Graham

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:50 PM

#1:
FWTA revenues as last posted on the internet.
http://www.the-t.com...finalweb v4.pdf
...
Net Available for Capital Expenditures and Reserves
FY2011 (Budgeted) = $28,365,000
FY2010 (Budgeted) = $29,646,000
FY2009 (Actual) = $38,452,000
In just the last 3 FYs, FWTA has amassed $96,463,000 in cash. Presently, FWTA has issued no bonds. At that rate, FWTA could raise a total of $300 million in less than 10 years. I'm almost positive they would have no problems finding investors willing to buy $300 Million in bonds with a record like that. And if the TexRail operating expenses were twice their TRE operating expenses, not sharing 50% of the operating expenses on the TRE with DART, FWTA would still have over $10 Million per year available for bond payments.
Yes, FWTA can afford to build and operate TexRail if it received a 50% FTA "New Starts" match.


Thanks for posting those numbers, the unspent balance is quite eye-opening.

I just learned from the FWTA Business plan that their plan is to avoid issuing bonds, thereby eliminating the need for a public referendum on their expenditures. This seems fundamentally wrong. Failing to spend the money we allocated for transportation is as bad as misspending it. Their charter is to provide transportation to the region, not to hoard funds. $28 million in unspent balance could be used to triple existing bus service.

You might say I'm foolish to complain about unspent money - actually it's kind of nice to know there's unspent money out there that can be used for transportation. I guess I'm complaining that this organization seems to be patterning itself after the TCC - hoarding money to spend on a boondoggle.


#2:

I suggest looking at what FWTA can afford to do with around $30 Million per year. Dallas will be spending a total of $60 Million over 20 years to build and operate two streetcars on a line less than 2 miles in length. Keeping it simple, that's around $3 Million per year per streetcar per mile in Dallas. Therefore, FWTA could afford to build and operate 10 streetcars over 10 miles track with $30 Million per year, and that is with averaging the costs over 20 years. FWTA would have spent a total of $600 Million over those 20 years. That's 10 miles of single track, or 5 miles of double track.


I admit I'm not that familiar with the Dallas system, but it's usually the Portland system people point to when trying to show what could be possible for Ft Worth. Here's the info for Portland's system: http://www.portlands...car.org/node/29

They spent an average of $17 million per track mile for their system (double tracked). And their operating costs are $5.5 million per year for 7 cars operating on just over 7 miles of track. So that's about $112,000 "per car per mile of track" - so as you can see this particular metric comes down quite a bit when you start adding more cars.

Which would you rather have, 5 miles of double track streetcars for $600 Million, or more than 20 miles of commuter rail for $300 Million of FWTA money and $300 Million of Federal money?

I'll admit, if FWTA could convince the FTA to fund streetcars with "New Starts" funding at 50% participation, it could be 5 miles of double track streetcars for $300 Million local funding and $300 Million Federal funding. But the FTA hasn't been quick to fund streetcars with "New Starts" funds, even Dallas streetcar received just "Stimulus" funding.


If we managed the same deal Portland's got - that would be 10 miles of double track for $170 million, and another $225 million for 10 cars on 10 miles for 20 years - for a total of about $395 million over 20 years. If we get the feds to pony up 50% of the startup costs, we could knock a cool $85 million off that, to get down to $310 million local investment, which would be about $15 million a year if you average it out over the next 20 years. (which as you state, we can afford)

Portland gets about 3.5 million riders per year on their 7-car system - with any luck we'll get the same numbers eventually on a 10 car system once the central city builds up. The TRE (which has better access to jobs, entertainment, and cultural attractions than the TEX will) only manages 2.5 million riders annually.

And I'm willing to bet that if we find some really smart people and ask them to evaluate the effects on property values within the city limits, the streetcar system would have a much more positive impact on the central city.

I still think we need to also look at lower-end options like buses, much more seriously in all these conversations.

#65 Electricron

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 11:33 PM

Thanks for posting those numbers, the unspent balance is quite eye-opening.
I just learned from the FWTA Business plan that their plan is to avoid issuing bonds, thereby eliminating the need for a public referendum on their expenditures. This seems fundamentally wrong. Failing to spend the money we allocated for transportation is as bad as misspending it. Their charter is to provide transportation to the region, not to hoard funds. $28 million in unspent balance could be used to triple existing bus service.
You might say I'm foolish to complain about unspent money - actually it's kind of nice to know there's unspent money out there that can be used for transportation. I guess I'm complaining that this organization seems to be patterning itself after the TCC - hoarding money to spend on a boondoggle.

I admit I'm not that familiar with the Dallas system, but it's usually the Portland system people point to when trying to show what could be possible for Ft Worth. Here's the info for Portland's system: http://www.portlands...car.org/node/29
They spent an average of $17 million per track mile for their system (double tracked). And their operating costs are $5.5 million per year for 7 cars operating on just over 7 miles of track. So that's about $112,000 "per car per mile of track" - so as you can see this particular metric comes down quite a bit when you start adding more cars.

If we managed the same deal Portland's got - that would be 10 miles of double track for $170 million, and another $225 million for 10 cars on 10 miles for 20 years - for a total of about $395 million over 20 years. If we get the feds to pony up 50% of the startup costs, we could knock a cool $85 million off that, to get down to $310 million local investment, which would be about $15 million a year if you average it out over the next 20 years. (which as you state, we can afford)
Portland gets about 3.5 million riders per year on their 7-car system - with any luck we'll get the same numbers eventually on a 10 car system once the central city builds up. The TRE (which has better access to jobs, entertainment, and cultural attractions than the TEX will) only manages 2.5 million riders annually.
And I'm willing to bet that if we find some really smart people and ask them to evaluate the effects on property values within the city limits, the streetcar system would have a much more positive impact on the central city.
I still think we need to also look at lower-end options like buses, much more seriously in all these conversations.

I would like to point out that Portland's streetcar system has light rail trains feeding it. I doubt it could achieve its high ridership numbers without the light rail component feeding transit users into the downtown core of Portland. Additionally, Portland's streetcars had no fares in the past, riders could board them for nothing. I'm not so sure FWTA could get away with free fares for a fairly large streetcar system.
The initial streetcar proposals for Fort Worth, building lines to Will Rogers Complex, to Southside, to Northside, all through downtown Fort Worth requires 8 miles of double track. And politically, a 4 mile streetcar line to the Eastside and an additional 3 miles to TCU will also be needed, especially if you don't build the TexRail system. So Fort Worth would need a minimum of 15 miles of double track streetcar lines. And without commuter rail, maybe more.
Additionally, streetcar lines will not be much faster than buses on any of these potential corridors whether they are in shared or dedicated lanes because these are very busy streets, and without showing an increase in speed it'll be very hard to find Federal FTA "New Starts" funding. That's why FWTA suggests building the TexRail project first, the greater likelihood of receiving Federal matching funds because the trains will be running on dedicated corridors and not in city streets.

#66 downtowndweller

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 11:54 PM

FWTA has a $28 million budget surplus yet they can't/don't run TRE trains past midnight or on Sundays? That's interesting...

#67 Russ Graham

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 10:13 AM

I would like to point out that Portland's streetcar system has light rail trains feeding it. I doubt it could achieve its high ridership numbers without the light rail component feeding transit users into the downtown core of Portland.


I agree that having regional connectivity is an important part of any transportation system. I just don't think it's our first priority, or even a good starting point. Until we have a good "last mile or so" transit system that serves the central business district, most major employers, and cultural and entertainment centers, there's no point in bringing in passengers from "where Summer Creek Drive, Sycamore School Road, Granbury Road and Columbus Trail all come together", or from the large tracks of undeveloped land in Haltom City. We already have large concentrations of population in the North Side and West Side that we don't have to import via commuter rail.


Additionally, Portland's streetcars had no fares in the past, riders could board them for nothing. I'm not so sure FWTA could get away with free fares for a fairly large streetcar system.


I guess I'd expect to be charged a dollar a ride or less... not sure how this supports your argument for the need for a SW2NE commuter rail? What will the fares be on that? I'm guessing at least the $5 or so charged by TRE?

The initial streetcar proposals for Fort Worth, building lines to Will Rogers Complex, to Southside, to Northside, all through downtown Fort Worth requires 8 miles of double track. And politically, a 4 mile streetcar line to the Eastside and an additional 3 miles to TCU will also be needed, especially if you don't build the TexRail system. So Fort Worth would need a minimum of 15 miles of double track streetcar lines. And without commuter rail, maybe more.


It would be difficult to serve all our transportation needs as a city with only streetcars. We really need to look at improved bus service to connect the rest of the city together, including the more remote areas such as TCU and the other urban villages. I agree 10 miles of streetcar track would not be entirely sufficient to meet the city's needs. However it would be a lot more useful than the 20 miles of commuter rail you're asking us to support. And it does so at much lower cost.

Additionally, streetcar lines will not be much faster than buses on any of these potential corridors whether they are in shared or dedicated lanes because these are very busy streets, and without showing an increase in speed it'll be very hard to find Federal FTA "New Starts" funding.


Agreed, streetcars will move at the speed of the traffic around them. When you are moving around in the central business district of any city, 20-35 mph will get you where you are going very quickly, because things are closer together. That is why encouraging people and businesses to move closer to the central city is a smart long-term strategy. That is why we're getting all this development in MU-1 and MU-2 zoned areas, which the city has passed off as zones for "Transit Oriented Development". The city has allowed very dense apartments along 7th street, without providing any new transit. I think the same thing is happening along Berry. What do the feds care about any of this? Nothing - they are just looking for some positive sounding numbers so they can show they didn't just give the money to the first people to ask for it. From their point of view, speed is probably as good as any other number to ask for. But I don't think we should allow this to design our city for us. I think we should design the best system for the city, then go looking for federal grants. And I don't think this SW2NE rail is the best system for our city.

That's why FWTA suggests building the TexRail project first, the greater likelihood of receiving Federal matching funds because the trains will be running on dedicated corridors and not in city streets.


The problem with this is that every single building in Fort Worth that I want to go to is located on a city street. Only a handful of places worth going to are located near a railroad track. Using existing city streets for your rail ROW gives you immediate access to places people already live and work, and it allows seamless connection with the bus network.

#68 Electricron

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 11:01 PM

Agreed, streetcars will move at the speed of the traffic around them. When you are moving around in the central business district of any city, 20-35 mph will get you where you are going very quickly, because things are closer together. That is why encouraging people and businesses to move closer to the central city is a smart long-term strategy. That is why we're getting all this development in MU-1 and MU-2 zoned areas, which the city has passed off as zones for "Transit Oriented Development". The city has allowed very dense apartments along 7th street, without providing any new transit. I think the same thing is happening along Berry. What do the feds care about any of this? Nothing - they are just looking for some positive sounding numbers so they can show they didn't just give the money to the first people to ask for it. From their point of view, speed is probably as good as any other number to ask for. But I don't think we should allow this to design our city for us. I think we should design the best system for the city, then go looking for federal grants. And I don't think this SW2NE rail is the best system for our city.

The problem with this is that every single building in Fort Worth that I want to go to is located on a city street. Only a handful of places worth going to are located near a railroad track. Using existing city streets for your rail ROW gives you immediate access to places people already live and work, and it allows seamless connection with the bus network.


If you overlook the money the Feds are willing to contribute to projects, whatever you will build will be much smaller, about half as small. I'll agree streetcars within the urban core of Fort Worth will be nice, but most of its citizens don't live within that urban core, and those that don't will put extreme political influence to expand the streetcar system outside the urban core. That's why the commuter rail project is FWTA #1 project, and the City's as well. It actually goes to neighborhoods people live in.

#69 renamerusk

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 12:16 PM

If you overlook the money the Feds are willing to contribute to projects, whatever you will build will be much smaller, about half as small. I'll agree streetcars within the urban core of Fort Worth will be nice, but most of its citizens don't live within that urban core, and those that don't will put extreme political influence to expand the streetcar system outside the urban core. That's why the commuter rail project is FWTA #1 project, and the City's as well. It actually goes to neighborhoods people live in.


My comments may be somewhat off topic and should likely be posted in the "streetcar" blog, but here is my take on "the new vs the old" -

A "real estate friendly" Council share the blame equally with Developers and have put the central core or "Original Fort Worth" in competition with these outer regions of the city for scare resources. When these outer region developments were being planned, the promises being made to the city by developers of new tax revenues overshadowed the potential for political divide between the old and the new; and in any case, both the developers and the council ignored the idea of a feud materializing. Now, tens of thousands of new residents to the city are scattered at great distances from the central core regions and probably feel rightfully that they are not as much a part of Fort Worth but a part of a greater region, often euphemistically called "Dallas".

The goal of Original Fort Worth regions ought to be to build a livable, vibrant and transit oriented central city to compliment its already extensive automobile oriented landscape. One ought to have options available for ones mobility. Original Fort Worth has a right to focus on its central core without having to appease residents who chose to live at great distances from their place of work and are feeling the effect of higher gasoline prices. It may be quite idealistic to think so, but with the right vision and some incentives, there is ample land for redevelopment within Original Fort Worth.

Actually, a streetcar actually will go to neighborhoods where people have always lived and still live today. It would provide an option other than the automobile to the people who live in or who are visiting the central city; and who want to get to the city's many attractions.

It did seem odd to me at the time how indifferent the FWTA was to the streetcar project. It was their indifference that caused me to question their priorities.

The #1 project of FWTA is Fort Worth; and if it is not, then it should rebrand itself as CTA: Commuter Transportation Authority.

#70 downtowndweller

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 01:22 PM

^ Nailed it.

#71 Russ Graham

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 09:46 PM


If you overlook the money the Feds are willing to contribute to projects, whatever you will build will be much smaller, about half as small. I'll agree streetcars within the urban core of Fort Worth will be nice, but most of its citizens don't live within that urban core, and those that don't will put extreme political influence to expand the streetcar system outside the urban core. That's why the commuter rail project is FWTA #1 project, and the City's as well. It actually goes to neighborhoods people live in.

People choose where to live for different reasons. People who want to use public transportation tend to locate themselves closer to the central city, while those who would rather drive are going to live farther out. Why build public transit for people that obviously don't want it?

At any rate - if it comes down to what you think the relative popularity of the two systems would be - why not have a vote of the citizens of Fort Worth? I would be completely satisfied, and stop arguing about the whole thing, if it was put to a special election and it was passed.

#72 Electricron

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 03:58 PM

Actually, a streetcar actually will go to neighborhoods where people have always lived and still live today. It would provide an option other than the automobile to the people who live in or who are visiting the central city; and who want to get to the city's many attractions.

It did seem odd to me at the time how indifferent the FWTA was to the streetcar project. It was their indifference that caused me to question their priorities.

The #1 project of FWTA is Fort Worth; and if it is not, then it should rebrand itself as CTA: Commuter Transportation Authority.


Really? The reason why the streetcar project failed was because Council members from parts of the city that weren't going to be served by it balked at financing it. A downtown streetcar line just circulating downtown hardly served anyone. There are over 291,000 residences (homes-condos-apartments) in Fort Worth, around 2,500 are located in neighborhoods surrounding downtown. That's less than 1 in 100 residences that could use the streetcar daily, and more like 1 in 1000 residences within a few blocks of the circulator streetcar tracks.

So, why are you so surprised when the other 90 to 99 percent of Fort Worth citizens told their council members to kill the streetcar?

#73 downtowndweller

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 04:50 PM

It is pretty well known that downtown interests killed the street car project, not far flung Fort Worth residents.

#74 Electricron

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 05:36 PM

It is pretty well known that downtown interests killed the street car project, not far flung Fort Worth residents.

True, but it's only a half truth. The initial streetcar plans were for a streetcar circulator around downtown. That's what the downtown bigwigs wanted. Then all the surrounding neighborhoods wanted a connecting line, with some neighborhood districts proposing to help finance it. That's not what the downtown bigwigs wanted. The push to expand the streetcar line, to actually make it functional connecting neighborhoods, killed it because it was no longer exclusive to downtown.
There just wasn't enough political and economic support to fund every branch line desired.

Additionally, the Federal match Oak Cliff received was about the same amount Fort Worth was to receive, enough to build a single track streetcar line less than two miles (with catenary wires less than one mile), and two modern streecars. Dallas had to tie up $50 Million in local funds over 20 years to receive that $25 Million Federal match, a two to one ratio. How long was Fort Worth's proposed streetcar circulator? A mile or two of single track? No where close to the 10 to 20 miles of double track Fort Worth should build to connect all the core neighborhoods (if it weren't building commuter rail).

#75 renamerusk

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 12:44 AM

So, why are you so surprised when the other 90 to 99 percent of Fort Worth citizens told their council members to kill the streetcar?


Can you prove the validity of the comments that you are making?

Taking just one of those statements and examining it closely, one could argue fairly easily against it and then conclude that it begs credulity.

….90 to 99 percent of Fort Worth citizens told their council members to kill the streetcar….

On the other hand, the following comments are indisputable. Fort Worth was one of six cities that was successful in winning a Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) grant among a total of sixty-five cities that applied and competed for transit project funding. This was a rigorous application and approval process. Included in the application was the requirement to conduct opinion surveys and polls that would establish support or non-support for the streetcar project. Also, prior councils, chambers and private organizations were on the record in favor of the streetcar project. It is inconceivable that Fort Worth could have been one of only six successful applicants were the 90-99% disapproval rating opposing the street car project or the support from so many interest groups non exisiting.

An additional argument against the comment of a high disapproval among the citizens is the recorded 5-3 council vote with one absent. The vote clearly dispels anything like a nearly unanimous 90-99 percent vote against the street car project.

I spent the better part of today trying to find the actual survey report but have been unsuccessful so far. When and if the results of the survey can be found, it will completely refute your statement. Here is the Fort Worth Weekly's article about the streetcar and its demise and may enlighten you about the particulars. It must suffice for now.

http://www.fwweekly....12/22/derailed/

#76 Russ Graham

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 06:18 AM

A downtown streetcar line just circulating downtown hardly served anyone. There are over 291,000 residences (homes-condos-apartments) in Fort Worth, around 2,500 are located in neighborhoods surrounding downtown. That's less than 1 in 10 residences that could use the streetcar daily, and more like 1 in 100 residences within a few blocks of the circulator streetcar tracks.


Lots of good discussion here on streetcars - thanks to RR & DD above for the rebuttals - but bringing this back to the TEX rail project for a minute.

I found the "transit corridor fact sheet" on TEX from the NTCOG. Only 7 of the proposed stations are in Ft Worth - the other 7 are in Haltom City, NRH, Colleyville, and Grapevine. So Fort Worth is supposed to provide by far the lion's share of funding, and get half the stations?


They claim 187,000 total residents within 1 mile of the corridor. I'm guessing maybe 1/2 of these are within the Ft Worth limits? So that's about 90,000 residents. There will be 7 stations in Ft Worth, spaced about 3 miles apart. So maybe half of the residents within a mile of the corridor will be within a mile of a station - that's about 45,000 - which is about what, 1 in 15 of the residents in Ft Worth within a mile of a station?

The "major employers" listed in the fact sheet include AA headquarters. I don't understand how they are serving AA, which is south of the airport, when the proposed route loops around to the North of the airport. Other than TCU, the Medical District, and Downtown, no other major employers are served by this Commuter Rail.

So again, who in Fort Worth is going to use this to commute? It will be very useful, perhaps, to people in the Top Right & Bottom Left of the map of Fort Worth, who work in one of the three job centers listed. In order to get the rest of us to go along with this, please describe how it will contribute to some "greater good" for the city. On the contrary, it seems to me that this would encourage even more Ft Worth residents to relocate to NRH, Haltom City, Colleyville, and Grapevine, so they can use public transit to get to work in downtown. You claim "most of [Fort Worth] citizens don't live within that urban core" - so why give people yet another reason to move out of the urban core? Do we really want a doughnut shaped city?

#77 cberen1

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 07:53 AM

I live around TCU and spend a lot of time downtown for work. I for one would love to have train access to the airport. I don't think I'm alone in that. I also think it would be great for convention traffic. I almost always like infrastructure projects, so I'm excited to see more dirt flying.

I think the problem we face in this discussion is that, very much like all economic analysis, when you try to isolate one component of a complex economy or society for analysis you lose a lot. The whole ceteris paribus assumption, which is inescapable, is also incredibly damaging. It's very difficult to have a holistic view and incoporate all the micro-economic factors at the same time.

Would Fort Worth benefit over the long-term by having a commuter rail line connecting the city center with the airport?

Yes.

Would Fort Worth benefit over the long-term by having a commuter rail line connecting a meaningful portion of the workforce with the city center?

Yes.

OK. My analysis is complete. Let's do this thing.

#78 Electricron

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 09:56 AM

The whole ceteris paribus assumption, which is inescapable, is also incredibly damaging. It's very difficult to have a holistic view and incoporate all the micro-economic factors at the same time.

Would Fort Worth benefit over the long-term by having a commuter rail line connecting the city center with the airport?

Yes.

Would Fort Worth benefit over the long-term by having a commuter rail line connecting a meaningful portion of the workforce with the city center?

Yes.

OK. My analysis is complete. Let's do this thing.


Interesting questions and answers. Just wanted to play the devil's advocate here. The TRE already provides both, although I readily admit the TRE connection to DFW Airport isn't the grandest. But the TRE most definitely provides a meaningful rail link to the city center for many commuters.

The question to be asked is will TexRail provide additional value, with a better connection to DFW and additional links to the city center from two more directions?

Take in consideration that much of the supporting infrastructure needed for Tex Rail, the downtown stations and the maintenance shops, already exist. With a light rail or streetcar system, FWTA will have to build a new maintenance shop at least, cost depending upon the eventual size of that transit system.

#79 RD Milhollin

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 11:09 AM

Q and A with Jungas Jorden, chair of the Fort Worth Rail Transportation Committee:

http://www.star-tele...adlines-default

Topics: TEX Rail project acceleration, right of way and double tracking, power source, local manufacturing of rail vehicles.

#80 renamerusk

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 06:09 PM

Q and A with Jungas Jorden, chair of the Fort Worth Rail Transportation Committee:


Jordan has broader goals for the rail group.

He wants to create a regional rail master plan that includes the planned TEX Rail connection to Dallas' Cotton Belt, and lines north into the Alliance Corridor and Denton and west to Fort Worth's Walsh Ranch. Passenger transfers between lines should be "seamless," Jordan said. And he wants to encourage discussions on a regionwide "inter-operational" passenger rail system that would use a uniform vehicle. - Fort Worth Star Telegram

If this is Mr. Jordan's goal, then I can hardly wait for a referendum for the opportunity to vote No! Jordon seems to be acting as a tool for developers who see Fort Worth as having a boundless frontier with little regards for the central core. This committee does not have the best interest in mind for Fort Worth. As long as riders can travel from Lewisville to Aledo "seamlessly", then who cares about Fort Worth residents having seemless travel from Hulen to the Stockyards or to the Cultural District.





#81 downtowndweller

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 06:56 PM

Wasn't Jordan the one who said that the streetcars were a handout for developers? And he specifically mentions the new Walsh Ranch (basically Aledo) as an area in need of transit. What a joke.

#82 renamerusk

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 08:42 PM

Wasn't Jordan the one who said that the streetcars were a handout for developers? And he specifically mentions the new Walsh Ranch (basically Aledo) as an area in need of transit. What a joke.


Yep! He's the one.

#83 RD Milhollin

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 09:57 AM

S-T editorial on the recent Council push to get commuter rail going

"It's good to see the council rolling up its sleeves to join the work"

http://www.star-tele...ter-trains.html

#84 Russ Graham

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 10:07 AM

Q & A with Jungus Jordan

(I had to google the Denton A- trains, here's a link to a good article on the topic from Dallas News. )

I think Mr. Jordan is underestimating the time it will take to design & build a locomotive from scratch. Hiring a local firm (ahem, GE Transportation) design, build, test, and certify, a new vehicle, will be much costlier (and more profitable to the firm that gets the work) than buying an existing one. Unless there are actually other customers for this vehicle, we could be stuck paying for the entire development and testing on our own. Having an operational vehicle by 2016 seems far-fetched, considering we haven't even selected competitors for the competitive bid yet. (Notwithstanding what Mr. Jordan calls "cushions in the milestones"). It seems far-fetched to me that either the city of Fort Worth, the FWTA, or anybody associated with the NCTCOG, would be capable of managing such a design-build contract.

[EDIT: According to the link RD just posted, it looks like they're backing off developing "sleek new cars". Quickest argument I've ever won! :roflol: ]

#85 RD Milhollin

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 10:55 AM

I don't see anything in the above statements by any of the players involved that rules out the possibility of attracting a foreign manufacturer to set up a production shop in Fort Worth. There would surely be some shipping economies involved, and as long components are available in the US and they could keep QC at acceptable levels this could be a win-win for the manufacturer and for the city. This assumes that everyone involved sees sufficient demand for the product in the US; is commuter rail here to stay or just passing fad?

The auto industry has several foreign manufacturers making vehicles in the US for US consumption, same in helicopter manufacturing. Having the Swiss firm here might provide the GE subsidiary currently relocating to Alliance to consider entering the passenger rail market as well; Fort Worth then would be a major player in the market for this technology in North America. FWIW I would prefer to see the local chambers, governments, etc. work to attract companies to the area that are involved in industries that are likely to thrive in an economy dominated by rising fossil energy costs, which seems to be inevitable. Passenger rail would seem to fall within that category of industry.

#86 AndyN

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 11:59 AM

For what it's worth, Kinkyshario has an assembly shop in Dallas to help meet local content rules for the DART light rail vehicles. The companies bidding on vehicle contracts account for it in their price and I believe it artifically increases costs. All the big (foreign) companies do it and as for transit vehicles, I am unaware of a successful domestically manufactured product. Hopefully United Streetcar will change that before too long but I have not yet heard that their car has tested successfully yet. But even their product is based on European licensed equipment.
Www.fortwortharchitecture.com

#87 Russ Graham

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 07:19 AM

Good article in the Sunday S-T about the continuing saga of The City, The T, and TEX rail...

http://www.star-tele...sportation.html

#88 ron4Life

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 11:24 PM

Well ladies and gents this indeed sound like good news ST Rail News. About time! well for the most part :)

#89 RD Milhollin

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:18 AM

http://www.star-tele...-growing.html#

Not much new here, sort of a recap of recent events for the most part.

#90 johnfwd

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 11:44 AM

Embedded in the 9/30/12 ST article is an interesting statement: "...but also bring in a major employer -- a rail car and streetcar manufacturer -- that could add hundreds of jobs to the region." What major employer? Anybody have an idea?

#91 ron4Life

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:28 PM

Embedded in the 9/30/12 ST article is an interesting statement: "...but also bring in a major employer -- a rail car and streetcar manufacturer -- that could add hundreds of jobs to the region." What major employer? Anybody have an idea?

They might be referring to GE Locomotive maybe

#92 JBB

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:44 PM

No, I don't think it's GE. If I understand correctly, one of the goals of TEX Rail is to have the vehicles manufactured locally to lower costs and ease issues with FRA regulations. And once TEX Rail is up and running, the same manufacturer can build equipment for other operators.

#93 Joshw

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:49 PM

No, I don't think it's GE. If I understand correctly, one of the goals of TEX Rail is to have the vehicles manufactured locally to lower costs and ease issues with FRA regulations. And once TEX Rail is up and running, the same manufacturer can build equipment for other operators.


GE Locomotive is building a huge plant up by Alliance Airport......

#94 JBB

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 01:16 PM

Yeah, I know. But they're not the major employer that's mentioned in the quote in johnfwd's post. GE is manufacturing industrial locomotives, not rail cars and streetcars. I suppose they could eventually get into that business in Fort Worth, but that's not the purpose of their Alliance facility as it stands right now.

#95 Keller Pirate

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 02:10 PM

Usually, to get the money from the Fed's one of their requirements is that the equipment be manufactured in the USA. Since there aren't many manufacturers in the USA they often set up local assembly plants and import the parts to build the cars and it seems to satisfy the requirements. In many cases the assembly plant closes after the car orders are filled and the jobs go away. If the private partner mentioned in the article was to turn out to be a railcar manufacturer, there is a better chance the plant in the Metroplex could last longer than others have. The manufacturer could form more public/private partnerships with other agencies across the country. The big question would be if the next partner cities down the line would be OK not getting the assembly jobs we would have.

Did anyone notice that the explanation of PTC was a little tortured? Why would the development costs of a PTC system all fall on the TEX/Cotton Belt route? The requirement will apply to the TRE as well and if they are developing their own system from scratch they should be well along by now. The freight railroads are spending billions on this mandate, you would think RTC would just adapt whatever the freight companies come up with. The Regional Transportation Council probably does have a reasonable plan and it was just explained poorly to/by the reporter.

#96 Electricron

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 12:12 AM

Embedded in the 9/30/12 ST article is an interesting statement: "...but also bring in a major employer -- a rail car and streetcar manufacturer -- that could add hundreds of jobs to the region." What major employer? Anybody have an idea?


I believe they're hoping to get Stadler Rail to open an assembly plant in DFW to build GTWs (which can be DMUs or EMUs) and streetcars (Variobahn, Tango, or Metro models). Stadler Rail American sells have been to projects not receiving Federal dollars. With an assembly plant in America, they could sell trains to projects receiving Federal funds. Additionally, if TexRail gets Federal funds, the GTWs DART wants FWTA to buy will have to be assembled in America somewhere, might as well be in the DFW Metroplex.

#97 Russ Graham

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 05:25 AM

Usually, to get the money from the Fed's one of their requirements is that the equipment be manufactured in the USA. Since there aren't many manufacturers in the USA they often set up local assembly plants and import the parts to build the cars and it seems to satisfy the requirements. In many cases the assembly plant closes after the car orders are filled and the jobs go away. If the private partner mentioned in the article was to turn out to be a railcar manufacturer, there is a better chance the plant in the Metroplex could last longer than others have. The manufacturer could form more public/private partnerships with other agencies across the country. The big question would be if the next partner cities down the line would be OK not getting the assembly jobs we would have.


Interesting - what are some specific cities where this has been done? I'd bet the local politicians in those places had visions of continuing to sell "made in the U.S.A" trains long after their local order was finished. Why do you say "the plant in the Metroplex could last longer than others have"? What makes this not just another "Cabelas" deal?

Did anyone notice that the explanation of PTC was a little tortured? Why would the development costs of a PTC system all fall on the TEX/Cotton Belt route? The requirement will apply to the TRE as well and if they are developing their own system from scratch they should be well along by now. The freight railroads are spending billions on this mandate, you would think RTC would just adapt whatever the freight companies come up with. The Regional Transportation Council probably does have a reasonable plan and it was just explained poorly to/by the reporter.


I didn't notice until you pointed it out... good question on why we'd chip in for that.

#98 Russ Graham

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 05:38 AM

I believe they're hoping to get Stadler Rail to open an assembly plant in DFW to build GTWs (which can be DMUs or EMUs) and streetcars (Variobahn, Tango, or Metro models). Stadler Rail American sells have been to projects not receiving Federal dollars. With an assembly plant in America, they could sell trains to projects receiving Federal funds. Additionally, if TexRail gets Federal funds, the GTWs DART wants FWTA to buy will have to be assembled in America somewhere, might as well be in the DFW Metroplex.


Can you explain more about what makes you think that? I'm asking because I'm not quite getting why GE wouldn't be it - I see JBB's response above but I'm not getting it. How many different train companies are we going to pay to move to DFW? Also - what is Dallas going to say about paying extra for trains built "out west"?

#99 Russ Graham

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 05:57 AM

Embedded in the 9/30/12 ST article is an interesting statement: "...but also bring in a major employer -- a rail car and streetcar manufacturer -- that could add hundreds of jobs to the region." What major employer? Anybody have an idea?


This is odd, since there was this story on 8/1 http://www.star-tele...ter-trains.html that said FWTA had an agreement with DART to use the same kind of trains as are used on TRE. Somehow I read that as meaning they had ruled out building a new factory.

#100 Electricron

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:09 AM


Embedded in the 9/30/12 ST article is an interesting statement: "...but also bring in a major employer -- a rail car and streetcar manufacturer -- that could add hundreds of jobs to the region." What major employer? Anybody have an idea?


This is odd, since there was this story on 8/1 http://www.star-tele...ter-trains.html that said FWTA had an agreement with DART to use the same kind of trains as are used on TRE. Somehow I read that as meaning they had ruled out building a new factory.


Here's the exact quote from the article,
"The T also has an agreement with Dallas Area Rapid Transit to use push-pull locomotives on the TEX Rail line similar to those used today on the Trinity Railway Express between the downtown areas of Fort Worth and Dallas. DART owns the Cotton Belt tracks between Fort Worth and Grapevine and on to Plano. Previously, DART had insisted on sleek, modern -- and more expensive -- self-propelled cars. The Regional Transportation Council has agreed to buy those modern cars for regional commuter rail lines in the future. RTC can use federal transportation dollars for that purpose, but only if the cars are made in the United States. Currently, they are made in Europe."

RTC supporting developing a new assembly plant for self propelled cars, not for locomotives. GE already has an assembly plant for locomotives in the area. No need for the RTC to support it. And I'll admit I didn't know DART had recently agreed to push-pull operations for TexRail. That last two sentences of the quote agrees to what I wrote about Federal funding.

If you view the following video of a recent RTC meeting, see Item 5, you'll discover FWTA wants to buy locomotives for TexRail's push-pull operations because it cheaper. The cheaper TexRail becomes on paper increases its chances of getting Federal funds. But what they eventually do buy for trains isn't limited to what they planned. They could lease the new rail cars instead.
http://nctcog.swagit...ay/09132012-582

The most encouraging news in the video is learning that TXDOT wants to do more encouraging passenger rail in Texas. NCTCOG wants to steer TXDOT into helping build the new rail car assembly plant. It'll be interesting to see what TXDOT does do to help rail projects in the future.

For example, DCTA spent around $100 Million on tracks, $100 Million for stations and facilities, and $100 Million on vehicles (DMUs). I know these numbers aren't even close in this example, but vehicles costs are significant. IF TXDOT is willing to help fund purchasing or purchases the vehicles outright for leasing, they relieve the local transit agencies of a significant burden at the start of these rail projects. That would allow TXDOT to be a great help not only for light rail projects, but for intercity, streetcars, and commuter rail projects as well.




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