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Old 04-01-2014, 09:47 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,165 posts, read 29,650,120 times
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I think we, as Americans, have an obsession with the shiny new items. And since buses are rarely given an opportunity to get shiny new and radical design or process upgrades, people forget about them and move on to the next.

Additional, the typical planner or city leader doesn't actually use transit, so they are more likely to create something that might possibly entice them out of their car other than building something for the existing masses and their peers.
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,165 posts, read 29,650,120 times
Reputation: 26646
Interesting story about Miami streetcars.
Miami has a mini network of free trolleys traveling all over the city in different neighborhoods. But it skips West Grove (a black area). The problem is, the free trolley program is federally funded.

How Miami's Cute New Trolleys Led To A Civil-Rights Investigation | WLRN

Quote:
In recent years, snazzy trolleys painted like old-timey street cars have been rolling on Miami-Dade streets. They're free to ride and hit hotspots from Miamiís Midtown to Coral Gables.

But what's gotten the county, and some of its cities, in trouble with the federal government is where the trolleys donít go: the West Grove, a predominately black neighborhood in the city of Miami.

.....

The city of Miami has a separate issue because they have 19 trolleys that they use federal money to pay for. Their issue is the routes that the trolleys take. [West Grove resident] Clarice Cooper, who filed the complaint, says that they have trolleys running all over the city in many different neighborhoods, but they donít have them running through the West Grove. And thatís her complaint: the buses that they have available they have to pay for, the free trolleys donít come into their neighborhood.
*Emphasis added is mine.
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:39 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,165 posts, read 29,650,120 times
Reputation: 26646
I'll share a local story for me. We are wrapping up the "Oakland Airport Connector."

This is a terrible project for a multitude of reasons, but I'll hone in on the most pressing issue with the project. When it went on the ballot (I voted for it), the cost was $100M and i would have intermediate stops along the way to the airport to serve the local community. The connector will connect BART to the Airport, it was served by a circulator bus. There are a few commercial areas in the path between, a huge strip mall with Walmart and industrial office parks. You might be able to walk to these, but it definitely isn't pleasant, as it is a mess of freeway onramps and local road overpasses and other unpleasant stuff for people not in a car. The price of the ride was supposed to be comparable to the bus it was replacing.

Well when it came time to get started on the project, the cost increased to $500M, for a little 3 mile tram like train. And the proposed fare is $6. (The bus was $3). And they removed the intermediate stops. Not only that, the user experience is pretty clunky, you need to get of BART, take the stairs or escalator down, walk across to a new platform, go up another elevator/escaltor. And then it drops you off at the far of the parking lot at Terminal 1 (there is a terminal 2, and terminal 3 is supposed to open in the next few years). With no plans to offer service to the other terminals. So not the project is really expensive, and it doesn't keep up with the initial promises.

Well BART lost federal money for the project and was sited for Civil Rights violations. (The airport is in one of the poorest parts of Oakland)
Oakland Airport connector ignored civil rights laws - SFGate

Quote:
As the project evolved, the anticipated round-trip fare rose to $12 (plus BART fare), and intermediate stops that could have given workers access to hotel and retail jobs en route to the airport were eliminated. But BART didn't study whether those features excluded low-income and minority riders from the project's benefits, and East Oakland communities never had a chance to have their say when the airport tram project was revised.

Our groups expressed our concerns to both BART and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency that oversees the regional distribution of federal transportation dollars. But we were ignored, so we took our complaint to Washington. And the Federal Transit Administration backed us up.

Since then, BART has continued to insist it did nothing wrong. But it has also vowed to make its civil rights practices the "gold standard." Now is the time to turn these words into action.
Now here is the deal. With the Airport connector, for me to take transit (and I won't count my trip to the train station), it is going to cost me $20 round trip to take transit to the airport. Daily parking at the airport is about $12 and it is a 10-15 minute drive for me. Guess what, I will never take the airport connector. It is actually the same price to just split a cab fare with someone else headed to the airport.

This boondoggle is supposed to open up late this year or early next year. I'll be saving my $6.
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Old 04-02-2014, 06:53 PM
 
Location: Chandler, AZ
5,802 posts, read 5,460,455 times
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As a former longtime bus and light rail rider here in LA, the assertions by the Bus Riders Union that the Blue Line and our other rail lines (excluding Metrolink) favor the wealthy at the expense of the working poor doesn't hold water.

Folks who wish to go from DTLA to downtown Long Beach would certainly prefer taking the Blue Line, which takes some 55 minutes from downtown to downtown, as opposed to spending closer to twice that amount of time on a bus which might break down, run late, have no AC in the summer or not heat in wintertime, or whatever, on top of the fact that the bus which compliments that route runs around the clock.

They're not bright enough to realize that bus service in many cities including LA, SF or any other major city you can think of will suffer service reductions and/or fare increases in order to subsidize rail service, on top of the fact that the Blue Line has a very high ridership rate compared to the other rail lines.

At least the folks in SF responsible for building the BART system had the 'vision thing' that tons of politicians tend to spout off about from time to time to install carpeting in their cars, so that those cars would be quite comfortable in the winter as the heat from the undercarraige of the rail cars permeates the carpeting, and that warmth eventually gets released into the air within each rail car, as opposed to the rail cars here in LA which have no carpeting, yet where the A/C runs continuously which is downright absurd regardless of the weather.

Urban planners tend to be delusional about their outsized projections for public transit ridership and their addiction to 'transit-oriented' ridership; when I visited SF for the first time n several years in 2008, I wasn't surprised by the thoroughness of the BART system, as well as the transfer point @ 5th & Powell (feel free to correct me), which was exceptionally well designed, complete with an automated announcement system (I think) of arrivals and departures.

LA's major transfer point at 7th & Figueroa has worked very well at least since the Blue Line was launched in 1990, but certainly nearly as elaborate as its SF counterpart, let alone

DTLA's population is up to around 52,000 or thereabouts, but very few people work in DTLA compared to SF let alone Manhattan, and the percentage of folks who ride public transit of any kind into DTLA is in the mid single digits as opposed to folks who work in NYC, Boston, Chicago, DC or SF.

IMHO that certainly makes light rail less cost-effective in LA than anywhere else, and makes the proposed 1.9 billion dollar Downtown Regional Connector even more of a dubious project than its planners and backers will admit, for the very simple reason that the overwhelming majority of urban transit riders in LA make under $20K/year as Metro's own research has pointed out, a figure which has barely moved for many years and remains well below the average income for many other major US cities.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,165 posts, read 29,650,120 times
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FYI the carpet in BART has been removed because it was hard to clean and grimy. Cloth covered seats are on the way out.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:47 PM
 
Location: Chandler, AZ
5,802 posts, read 5,460,455 times
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I didn't know that---thanks for the update.
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Old 04-03-2014, 05:39 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,952,939 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Interesting story about Miami streetcars.
Miami has a mini network of free trolleys traveling all over the city in different neighborhoods. But it skips West Grove (a black area). The problem is, the free trolley program is federally funded.

How Miami's Cute New Trolleys Led To A Civil-Rights Investigation | WLRN



*Emphasis added is mine.
At first I thought this was an April Fool's joke.

First - the trolleys don't go "all around the city" - they're a circulator service with a downtown focus. They link major trip generators within 5 miles of downtown.

Second - West Grove, along with a lot of other neighborhoods in Miami, are outside of that radius

Third - West Grove isn't exactly the cultural heart of Black Miami - by most accounts that distinction goes to Overtown which is within 5 miles of downtown and has its own trolley route.

Fact is, the areas served by the trolleys are already quite diverse demographically. But this issue didn't really start over where the trolleys do and don't go. It was because people in West Grove were pissed about where the city chose to put the maintenance garage for the trolleys . . . without a public hearing.

I can absolutely understand why people are up in arms over the garage and people in Philly file lawsuits over much less . . . but the argument about the routes being racist is a joke.
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Old 04-03-2014, 06:13 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,952,939 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marv101 View Post
As a former longtime bus and light rail rider here in LA, the assertions by the Bus Riders Union that the Blue Line and our other rail lines (excluding Metrolink) favor the wealthy at the expense of the working poor doesn't hold water.

Folks who wish to go from DTLA to downtown Long Beach would certainly prefer taking the Blue Line, which takes some 55 minutes from downtown to downtown, as opposed to spending closer to twice that amount of time on a bus which might break down, run late, have no AC in the summer or not heat in wintertime, or whatever, on top of the fact that the bus which compliments that route runs around the clock.

They're not bright enough to realize that bus service in many cities including LA, SF or any other major city you can think of will suffer service reductions and/or fare increases in order to subsidize rail service, on top of the fact that the Blue Line has a very high ridership rate compared to the other rail lines.
Anyone who thinks that a city the size of LA can survive on bus service alone either can't do math or just doesn't want people to use transit. An express bus from your neighborhood to any neighborhood in the city is called a taxi. They're expensive for a reason. You can't run a bus system like that and expect to have a base fare under $6.

The only way to move large amounts of people around quickly with any sort of efficiency is to have a trunk and feeder system. People may not like losing taxi-style bus service if they were lucky enough to have it but you either pay a lot more or you might have to transfer . . . to a train.

Quote:
Urban planners tend to be delusional about their outsized projections for public transit ridership and their addiction to 'transit-oriented' ridership;
"planners" don't usually make ridership projections. It's done by modelers who typically have backgrounds in engineering. In any case, the projections are usually, deliberately under-estimated and the feds insist on it. If you can show me one case of a rail line that underperformed its 10 year projections and can show you 9 that exceeded them.


Quote:
when I visited SF for the first time n several years in 2008, I wasn't surprised by the thoroughness of the BART system, as well as the transfer point @ 5th & Powell (feel free to correct me), which was exceptionally well designed, complete with an automated announcement system (I think) of arrivals and departures.
BART is certainly nice to ride in the way that the DC Metro, MARTA or Miami Metrorail are as they were all designed in the same era but in terms of money spent I can't think of bigger wastes than Metro and BART. Rather than concentrate the reach of BART in SF, Oakland, Berkeley and immediately adjacent areas exorbitant amounts of money are spent (on what is already an expensive mode to build) on spreading the system thinner and thinner into successively less dense areas that would be far better served by more Caltrain-like service.

Quote:
DTLA's population is up to around 52,000 or thereabouts, but very few people work in DTLA compared to SF let alone Manhattan, and the percentage of folks who ride public transit of any kind into DTLA is in the mid single digits as opposed to folks who work in NYC, Boston, Chicago, DC or SF.
People don't rain transit in LA because the system is barely 20 years old and it's only been in the last 10 that's it really been useful. Rail ridership has tripled since 2000. People can't ride a system you don't have.

Quote:
LA's major transfer point at 7th & Figueroa has worked very well at least since the Blue Line was launched in 1990, but certainly nearly as elaborate as its SF counterpart . . .

IMHO that certainly makes light rail less cost-effective in LA than anywhere else, and makes the proposed 1.9 billion dollar Downtown Regional Connector even more of a dubious project than its planners and backers will admit, for the very simple reason that the overwhelming majority of urban transit riders in LA make under $20K/year as Metro's own research has pointed out, a figure which has barely moved for many years and remains well below the average income for many other major US cities.
As ridership picks up on the Expo Line (especially when the Crenshaw Line starts feeding into it) the current setup won't work for much longer. Not having a direct connection between the gold, blue and expo lines is also constraining ridership. You can't grow ridership or the convenience of a system if you don't invest in it. It didn't need to be so expensive but places like LA have some 80 years of transit disinvestment to make up for.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Chandler, AZ
5,802 posts, read 5,460,455 times
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Our late mayor Tom Bradley made numerous trips to Toronto in the late 60s and early 70s to check out their state-of-the-art transit system, including their fabulous rail system; it certainly blew me away when I visited that scintillating city for the first time in 1975, and Montreal's superb subway was also very impressive.

I certainly remember street cars going up and down numerous thoroughfares here in LA in cluding Jefferson Blvd. in the 50s and 60s when i was a kid, and we could certainly use them now.

The Crenshaw line is for some incomprehensible reason not going to have a stop in Leimert Park, the center of African-American culture in LA, but given the long history of assorted missteps by those in charge, I can't say that I'm surprised by this.

Trying to calculate the staggering tons of $$$ blown on the Metro in light of the enormous difference between what it could have been and what it is today is indeed appalling, thanks to a lack of common sense in some regards, with the route of the Green Line being among them.
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:27 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,952,939 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Those Who Squirm View Post
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.
Agreed that it's small for the size of LA (and light rail was probably the wrong mode to get to Long Beach) but I've still used it to go from Koreatown to Pasadena . . . but I think the Crenshaw Line will be a complete game changer there. You'll be able to go from Santa Monica to Norwalk without ever coming near DTLA. It will be a system that sort of parallels how Angelenos are already used to getting around their city.
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