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Old 01-23-2013, 09:33 PM
 
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There’s a persistent misconception in American culture that transit is a big drain on public coffers while roads conveniently and totally pay for themselves through the magic of gas taxes. And that used to be true — at least for interstate highways, a fraction of the total road network.
Drivers Cover Just 51 Percent of U.S. Road Spending | Streetsblog Capitol Hill
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:45 PM
 
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Yes, see the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as the reason why -- the Feds were handing out free money from the general fund to anyone who would take it in 2010. Note that "Meanwhile, transit fares cover 21 percent of costs nationwide".
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:51 PM
 
Location: The City
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Originally Posted by nybbler View Post
Yes, see the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as the reason why -- the Feds were handing out free money from the general fund to anyone who would take it in 2010. Note that "Meanwhile, transit fares cover 21 percent of costs nationwide".
Does anyone have a breakdown by system. I would imagine they differ significantly
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:58 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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Most of the transit networks serving highly urban areas do better than 51%, although farebox recovery doesn't include transit capital costs.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:35 AM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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http://www.apta.com/members/memberpr...20Database.pdf

Flip to page 22 for a good chart (it's a few years old) on farebox recovery rates and fare. They vary greatly from agency to agency.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:57 AM
 
Location: Beavercreek, OH
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Hi all--

I would have no problem with raising the Federal gas tax to bring it in line with road maintenance and capital improvements.

Problem is, what assurance do I have that gasoline taxes will be spent on roads and only roads?

My support for raising the gas tax immediately changes to virulent opposition if I know it's going to be funneled into mass transit.
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hensleya1 View Post

My support for raising the gas tax immediately changes to virulent opposition if I know it's going to be funneled into mass transit.
Why? Suppose a road is over capacity. And, to fix that problem a city can condemn a bunch of land, tear down swaths of existing neighborhoods, expand the roadway a couple of lanes in each direction for. Say 100M dollars. Or the city can conver an existing adjusted freight line for half of that to a commuter rail line which could provide twice as much capacity as the lanes for say half of that 100M.

For your perspective, a committed driver, either project solves your problem. One uses fewer tax dollars and has capability of future increase in capacity, the other costs twice as much and will run into the same issue a decade or so down the road..

Why would you welcome the first but be vehemently opposed to the second?
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:12 AM
 
Location: Beavercreek, OH
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Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Why? Suppose a road is over capacity. And, to fix that problem a city can condemn a bunch of land, tear down swaths of existing neighborhoods, expand the roadway a couple of lanes in each direction for. Say 100M dollars. Or the city can conver an existing adjusted freight line for half of that to a commuter rail line which could provide twice as much capacity as the lanes for say half of that 100M.

For your perspective, a committed driver, either project solves your problem. One uses fewer tax dollars and has capability of future increase in capacity, the other costs twice as much and will run into the same issue a decade or so down the road..

Why would you welcome the first but be vehemently opposed to the second?
Hi Komeht--

It would depend on whether or not the commuter rail could actually get an appreciable number of cars off the road - basically, whether the density of the neighborhoods would support a commuter rail. In my experience, the answer is overwhelmingly "no", as no number of commuter rails or mass transit could ever make economic sense in the more spread-out suburbs.

I sing the praises of Amtrak's Acela corridor from Boston to DC because it's profitable and carries lots of passengers, serving a combined metro area of 50+ million people.

To use a local example, I was a relentless critic of Ohio's proposed high speed rail running between Cincinnati and Cleveland, because we're only talking about 7-8 million people - and with the possible exception of Cleveland neither Cincinnati nor Columbus has a sufficient mass transit solution to adequately serve someone out of town - basically, you'd be stranded at the train station once you got to your destination. It would likely be cheaper (and faster; as the proposed HSR was limited to 79 MPH) to just drive there. Luckily, one of incoming governor Kasich's first plans was to scupper that.

Another example I relentlessly criticize is Cincinnati's attempt to build a streetcar line that's already been served by buses (and in any case is in an area with little ridership). But that doesn't mean I don't think streetcars or other public transit don't work elsewhere - if density justifies it.

Of course, that devolves us into the chicken or egg debate - does density justify mass transit, or does mass transit bring density?
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:23 AM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,715,982 times
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Originally Posted by hensleya1 View Post
Hi Komeht--

It would depend on whether or not the commuter rail could actually get an appreciable number of cars off the road - basically, whether the density of the neighborhoods would support a commuter rail. In my experience, the answer is overwhelmingly "no", as no number of commuter rails or mass transit could ever make economic sense in the more spread-out suburbs.

I sing the praises of Amtrak's Acela corridor from Boston to DC because it's profitable and carries lots of passengers, serving a combined metro area of 50+ million people.

To use a local example, I was a relentless critic of Ohio's proposed high speed rail running between Cincinnati and Cleveland, because we're only talking about 7-8 million people - and with the possible exception of Cleveland neither Cincinnati nor Columbus has a sufficient mass transit solution to adequately serve someone out of town - basically, you'd be stranded at the train station once you got to your destination. It would likely be cheaper (and faster; as the proposed HSR was limited to 79 MPH) to just drive there. Luckily, one of incoming governor Kasich's first plans was to scupper that.

Another example I relentlessly criticize is Cincinnati's attempt to build a streetcar line that's already been served by buses (and in any case is in an area with little ridership). But that doesn't mean I don't think streetcars or other public transit don't work elsewhere - if density justifies it.

Of course, that devolves us into the chicken or egg debate - does density justify mass transit, or does mass transit bring density?
OK, well if I read this correctly then you favor a cost/benefit approach...if a particular proposed transit project makes more sense (carries more commuters at lower cost) than a new or expanded road you would favor using gas tax dollars in those instances. Is that a fair statement?
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Beavercreek, OH
2,194 posts, read 3,153,392 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
OK, well if I read this correctly then you favor a cost/benefit approach...if a particular proposed transit project makes more sense (carries more commuters at lower cost) than a new or expanded road you would favor using gas tax dollars in those instances. Is that a fair statement?
Hi Komeht--

That sounds fairer, although if road users wind up overwhelmingly subsidizing transit users I'll have a problem with that too - obviously I'd have transit fares come as close as possible to actually paying for the construction and maintenance of those lines.

I keep hearing here and on other forums that expanding the road is ineffective at alleviating traffic congestion. I say that while that's technically correct, it's due to the sheer amount of time and planning it takes to ramrod through any road construction these days - not because adding lanes is a bad idea.

I'll give you a hypothetical: an Interstate that's three lanes in each direction, designed to carry 80,000 cars a day, is carrying 120,000. The city proper is at one end (let's say in the south) and the growing suburbs are at the other, in the north. The apparent solution is to add a fourth or even fifth lane to handle traffic flow, since I doubt any new mass transit solution could get 40,000 cars off the road (it may take a few thousand at best).

But consider the environmental studies, the impact statements, the design phase, securing funding, invariable litigation over securing the right of way, eminent domain issues especially if the land is already built up, litigation by the city because they don't want to lose jobs to the suburbs, this could take years. Then there's the actual construction - numerous reroutes of traffic as you need to rebuild overpasses, union and labor disputes that send workers off the job for weeks at a time, weather delays, accidents, etc.

It could be decades before the upgrade is finished. But the northern suburbs won't stop growing, they'll continue to add population - and by 2030 or so when the road is upgraded, the 120,000 capacity road is now carrying 160,000 cars.

And then the anti-road advocates declare victory, saying upgrading the road didn't help - when they're likely the ones the spent years delaying and litigating the road in the first place. Of course it didn't help - they made sure it wouldn't help.
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