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Old 04-01-2014, 07:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Those Who Squirm View Post
Rail opponents want you to read it as "rich white people", but it isn't very accurate for urban transit. For more suburban oriented systems, e.g. most of BART, or Metrolink in greater L.A. it might ring a littler more true. To make the argument work you have to conflate urban and suburban transit systems. Commonly accepted "wisdom" about rail projects often takes a long time to fade away even if untrue; the L.A. Times and the BRU insisted for years that nobody was riding the trains, even as ridership began to soar; now at least the LAT has finally stopped dishing that out. I guess they finally sent a reporter down the block to take a train ride...
I'd say LA was pretty judicious in how they built their system . . . and whenever I've been there I've used it and it boggles my mind how few people know it. I mean they know it exists, somewhere, but they have no idea where it goes, how it works or what it connects with.
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
The thing is, not that rail isn't useful, in the rush to get rail riders (read this as wealthy white people) the people who need the system most lose service.

This is an interesting article about the Transbay center construction in SF. There was talk the project should be cancelled since the connecting rail projects are iffy.

The leader commented, it is like it isn't important for buses to have nice infrastructure. FYI the original terminal, after the streetcars died, serves lots of regional bus lines.

http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancis...nt?oid=2747715
The first rail line in Denver serviced Five Points, the traditional black part of the city.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:01 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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It is just a little too common for transit agencies to build net new service in areas with projected growth over making day to day improvements on buses. This is also a criticism of. Minnesota too. I pin every metro area, it is easy to fund a case where this happens.

I have in idea why SF ignores the Geary corridor, I know very little about the history there, but based in density and bus usage it should be logically prioritized but for whatever reason it isn't. We have a bus stigma, and we don't like to fund buses.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Originally Posted by nei View Post

The Richmond District is wealthier than Chinatown, it just gets less attention.
Even though Chinatown residents tend to be poor there is a lot of political power tied up in the business community there so they have outsized power. Chinatown business owners are a huge lobby in SF. Especially compared to their Chinese peers on the other side of the city. The western neighborhoods have no power.
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:53 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I have in idea why SF ignores the Geary corridor, I know very little about the history there, but based in density and bus usage it should be logically prioritized but for whatever reason it isn't. We have a bus stigma, and we don't like to fund buses.
That makes little sense. It's perhaps the best corridor in the Bay Area for rail by ridership. If buses were so stigmitazed, why wouldn't they just built a rail line? A few reasons:

1) Many potential riders of a Geary line already ride transit. If you judge a transit line by new riders, it does badly. In the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the 2nd Avenue line under construction is an even more extreme situation: the forecast is almost no new transit riders. But the projected volume is very high.

2) MUNI lines have no dedicated funding source. BART has a tax, but all counties pay. So the incentive is to build in outer suburban areas since those areas want their money's worth. The DC Metro was built in a similar era, in somewhat similarly scaled region but without those tax incentives. The DC Metro is much better at serving denser areas, DC gets a whole lot more stops. In DC, rich Georgetown has no stop, while poor Anacostia does. Of course the line wasn't built just serve Anacostia but suburbs to the east as well. A Geary BART line would be a dead end, except if service is extended to Marin County, which won't be and it doesn't make sense there either.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:33 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
That makes little sense. It's perhaps the best corridor in the Bay Area for rail by ridership. If buses were so stigmitazed, why wouldn't they just built a rail line? A few reasons:

1) Many potential riders of a Geary line already ride transit. If you judge a transit line by new riders, it does badly. In the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the 2nd Avenue line under construction is an even more extreme situation: the forecast is almost no new transit riders. But the projected volume is very high.
Well it is one of those things that would probably get a few new riders, but would improve the experience for many many riders. The 38 buses are pretty packed all day and slow. It takes an hour to take the Geary buses to downtown from the end of the line. For reference, it takes me 30 minutes to downtown SF including a bus transfer. That corridor is the busiest bus corridor in the region and has 50k transit trips per day.
Quote:
2) MUNI lines have no dedicated funding source. BART has a tax, but all counties pay. So the incentive is to build in outer suburban areas since those areas want their money's worth. The DC Metro was built in a similar era, in somewhat similarly scaled region but without those tax incentives. The DC Metro is much better at serving denser areas, DC gets a whole lot more stops. In DC, rich Georgetown has no stop, while poor Anacostia does. Of course the line wasn't built just serve Anacostia but suburbs to the east as well. A Geary BART line would be a dead end, except if service is extended to Marin County, which won't be and it doesn't make sense there either.
MUNI operates as a city department in SF, so it's money comes from the city budget. SF does a poor job of "walking the walk" if you will. Official policy is "transit first" but they many times lack the will or something to get it done. You should see the debate on Sunday parking meters. Not only did the city get new revenue, drivers reported that it took them less time to get a parking space, business owners had more traffic on Sundays, but they want to repeal it because it is "nickel and dining the public."
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Well it is one of those things that would probably get a few new riders, but would improve the experience for many many riders. The 38 buses are pretty packed all day and slow. It takes an hour to take the Geary buses to downtown from the end of the line. For reference, it takes me 30 minutes to downtown SF including a bus transfer. That corridor is the busiest bus corridor in the region and has 50k transit trips per day.
50k riders is a light rail/subway ready line no question and, as you point out, buses are not up to the task of handling that kind of volume with anything resembling efficiency - but the problem is, as nei pointed out, that as far as the FTA is concerned you're poaching riders from existing infrastructure.

Still, Geary BRT should be ready in 5 years and the Muni mess had to be fixed first. It's a lot like the regional connector issue in LA . . . you can't keep adding riders to the rail system until you increase capacity at your central choke point. It's expensive but it has to be done and you can neither improve the efficiency of the system nor improve the experience for your passengers simply by adding more buses to the system. They're the wrong mode for a longer distance, line-haul type of service.

Another important, if slightly unrelated point, is that while poor people need good transit as much as anyone and are probably more dependent on it than anyone . . . they're also less likely to use it often. Transit trips are associated with going to work, shopping, doctor visits, going somewhere to socialize, etc. Things that poor people do less often than people who aren't.

It may seem counterintuitive but poor neighborhoods don't produce the best numbers when it comes to travel demand. For me the issue isn't how you serve those neighborhoods but rather how you produce a route that serves a diversity of neighborhoods so you can average out the travel demand in that corridor and still serve everyone.
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
Another important, if slightly unrelated point, is that while poor people need good transit as much as anyone and are probably more dependent on it than anyone . . . they're also less likely to use it often. Transit trips are associated with going to work, shopping, doctor visits, going somewhere to socialize, etc. Things that poor people do less often than people who aren't.

It may seem counterintuitive but poor neighborhoods don't produce the best numbers when it comes to travel demand. For me the issue isn't how you serve those neighborhoods but rather how you produce a route that serves a diversity of neighborhoods so you can average out the travel demand in that corridor and still serve everyone.
I don't know. Most poor people have jobs, people need to go to the grocery store and the drugstore. The thing is, more affluent people are much less likely to choose transit trips outside of the work commute.

Interesting facts from a huge survey of transit users (300k responses) by the American Public Transit Association.

70% of transit users earn less than $50k, 35% are under $50k, 70% of transit users are employed. 30% ride transit 6 or 7 days a week.

http://www.apta.com/resources/statis..._5_29_2007.pdf

The poor people have places to go, people with under $15k income makeup 20% of the riders.

For example, the bus route I take most often, at least in my section, travels from downtown and the rest of the route gradually gets more and more affluent as it reaches the end. Above downtown, household income is about 50K, where I live it is $80k, at route's end it is $120k+. The stops above mine rarely have any people on them. And on the weekend or an evening, the bus is basically empty till after my stop. The "rich people" aren't getting on the bus. (There is a similar pattern at the other end of the route as well. It also ends in a $100k neighborhood. Ridership is heaviest in the middle portions, which happen to be less affluent than the end points. During the commute time it is pretty busy, as it is the easiest way to get downtown or the train station from "up the hill."

Transit agencies can increase revenue by operating higher fare routes that get more "choice riders." But those people don't ride often. (For my agency, the profitable routes are the transbay ones that only run during the commute, with a fare 2x the local fare, and few people transfer. The average income on those routes is much higher than regular routes, due to the types of jobs in downtown SF, and the rider profile, and a more even distribution at all ends of the route.)
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
It depends. Even in urban areas, the favored quarters (aka the more affluent places) tend to get rail first. And expansion first. And better service first. In NYC, Manhattan gets the most rail, the other boroughs are kinda dissed. In Chicago, the south side is dissed for tail, while the north side has better coverage.....

In San Francisco, the subway to Geary is blocked, as is BRT, even though it is a heavily used corridor, while the mini CentralmSubway gets built. Or let's talk about the T-line in SF, going to Hunters Point. As soon as it opened, they cut frequency on the corridor. It is also the only rail serving predominately black hunters point and took decades to get approved.
It seems that there almost always bound to be some displacement or other negative impact in the course of building any mega-project, but eventually you just have to bite the bullet and do it. It must be a major pain to lose the T line for the duration, as Wiki informs me it is, as yet, the first Muni line which runs largely in its own right of way. Down in L.A., when construction of the Regional Connector gets underway, I'm sure it will be disruptive to street traffic (one existing street-level station is to be moved underground), and probably also to existing rail service, but it's badly needed regardless.

As for poor districts being served last, the areas served by L.A.'s first LRT routes skewed heavily working-class, especially the Blue Line between DTLA and Long Beach, as did the initial four-mile section of the Red Line subway, as it was called then.

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Old 04-01-2014, 09:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
Quote:
Rail opponents want you to read it as "rich white people",
I'd say LA was pretty judicious in how they built their system . . . and whenever I've been there I've used it and it boggles my mind how few people know it. I mean they know it exists, somewhere, but they have no idea where it goes, how it works or what it connects with.
Metrorail still leaves out most of L.A. by dint of the geographic extent involved and the time it has taken/will take to build out the system. So if you don't have a particular reason to go to DTLA or to other places where the trains go, it's understandable if it doesn't really cross your mind to use them. This should change as some additional extensions and other improvements come into service.

In my case, I live just outside Culver City and I do occasionally need to head to DTLA, so the Expo line is a good option for me. Usually, in the course of these visits I will also use the Red Line at one time or another, and it's surprising to me how crowded the trains can get; this is in the course of several weekday trips and one Sunday afternoon visit. As a matter of fact it was just this past Sunday that I last did this, and although the train was nearly empty when it left Culver City, it filled up quite quickly. As for stations, it's the major urban transfer points like 103rd Street (Green and Blue lines) and 7th Street (Red, Purple, Expo, Blue) that tend to get the most traffic, at times resembling what you might expect to see in an Eastern city where many more people do use mass transit. By contrast, Union Station's subway stop always seems to be nearly deserted, except in the morning rush, when the arriving Metrolink passengers use the subway to complete their morning commute, or vice versa in the afternoon.

You might think that the existence of a couple of Red Line stations in the heart of Hollywood would raise awareness of the subway in the general population, but most Angelenos don't go to Hollywood anyway.
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