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Old 11-04-2015, 10:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nybbler View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
Let's start at the end. PT isn't always expensive. A high-frequency express bus route can be very cheap to implement, for example, but be very popular. Once you account for subsidies, both direct and indirect, PT may not be expensive relative to highways. Both freeways and PT can have poor RoI if implemented inefficiently. For instance, urban freeway expansions may have a poor RoI. By the same token, rail projects can have lower RoI if they are absolutely expensive, regardless of ridership, or produce low ridership, regardless of cost.
That bus requires every bit as much highway as a car does. More, in fact; bus routes need to be suited for heavy, wide vehicles. The bus does more damage to the road than an equivalent number of cars does. Then the bus requires the transit agency pay for the vehicles themselves, plus maintenance, fuel, driver, etc. Farebox recovery typically covers only a fraction of the operating costs of the buses (none of the capital cost, none of the shared infrastructure cost), so yes, the bus will be very expensive compared to highways.
First of all things, I'm not attacking the car, only our over-reliance on it. I love the car, but I don't pretend it is perfect, the best or, at the very least, superior to every other means of transport. Each mode has a best use case.

Yes, the bus uses more space, but a full-size bus also has a much higher capacity. So, while the bus may be more costly to operate at low-use, perhaps operating with no passengers onboard, cars with one occupant, sometimes two, are much less efficient during peak. It's simply a matter of comparing user density per square foot of roadway and, during rush, buses come out ahead of cars.

Anyway, my points in that paragraph you quoted were: high RoI PT isn't always as expensive as, say, a subway; highways don't always offer high or, even, good RoI, and sometimes have a very low RoI. Your response didn't really speak to those points.
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Old 11-04-2015, 11:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nybbler View Post
Within a mile? ROTFL. About half of Short Hills, NJ is within a mile of US 24 (a 4-lane limited access highway), as is much of Chatham, NJ and Madison, NJ. These are some of the most desirable places to live in northern NJ. Much of Gladwyne, PA (rich as hell) is within a mile of Interstate 76.

We get it, you hate cars. Don't just make stuff up.
You do realize that these are all rail-oriented cities, right? Short Hills, Chatham and Madison are expensive specifically because they have direct rail to Manhattan. These are all cities that are both affluent and which have lots of public transit riders.

If you removed US 24 from the map, it would probably make no difference, or would raise property values somewhere like Short Hills. But if you removed rail service to Manhattan, you would devastate the local economy.

The most desirable NJ suburbs are those with direct transit connections to Manhattan. The cheapest and least desirable areas are those with the worst access to jobs, which most of the time means convenient access to the high paying jobs in the region's core. That's why Short Hills is twice as expensive as Livingston even though the homes are the same, and they're in relative proximity.
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Old 11-04-2015, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,061 posts, read 16,078,369 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
First of all things, I'm not attacking the car, only our over-reliance on it. I love the car, but I don't pretend it is perfect, the best or, at the very least, superior to every other means of transport. Each mode has a best use case.

Yes, the bus uses more space, but a full-size bus also has a much higher capacity. So, while the bus may be more costly to operate at low-use, perhaps operating with no passengers onboard, cars with one occupant, sometimes two, are much less efficient during peak. It's simply a matter of comparing user density per square foot of roadway and, during rush, buses come out ahead of cars.

Anyway, my points in that paragraph you quoted were: high RoI PT isn't always as expensive as, say, a subway; highways don't always offer high or, even, good RoI, and sometimes have a very low RoI. Your response didn't really speak to those points.
Sure, but the average car is more efficient than the average bus. Buses get used extensively in this country places where they're just not efficient for a variety of reasons, mostly because of accessibility rather than because they're actually effective at providing transportation. All that tells you is about averages. It would be completely crazy to pull the buses off of Geary in San Francisco just because the average bus in the United States as a whole isn't efficient nor effective. Geary really should be rail but there's no money for it. Even lines that are rail like N-Judah they have to run buses during peak hours in addition to the rail to handle the passenger loads. N-Judah or something running in that direction, perhaps Geary, really should be a subway. There's no money to do it though. San Francisco locally can't pay for it and the money it's getting from the federal level, which is far more than what is going to build freeways out in Pleasanton, went towards T-Third and now the Central Subway.

Really, it should be San Francisco or the Bay Area MTP paying for both projects entirely. They don't benefit interstate travel and as such under the formulas used for freeways they wouldn't be getting any money from the federal government. That's more of an ideological debate. The reality is we pay up to the top and it trickles back down from the federal level, which I strongly disagree with but it just how everything works. Regardless of my disagreement on principal that's the reality we're in.

That said, within that reality everyone knows local governments can't afford it and we have policies at the federal level that are much more generous to heavily urbanized areas with programs like New Start and its predecessors that give much more preferential treatment to higher density areas and increasing density in already pretty developed urban areas than they do for lower density urban areas or creating new urban areas. Just look at the transportation projects getting federal funding. 580 widening or Highway 4 are not getting much federal funding, except for BART extension along Highway 4 which does get some. BART to Warm Springs, Central Subway, T-Third, and Geary BRT are getting lots of federal funding. Central Subway just as an example, around 60% of the cost is funded federally. Caltrain electrification is getting federal and state funding under CA HSR, VTA light rail got lots of federal funding.

Last edited by Malloric; 11-04-2015 at 11:45 AM..
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Old 11-04-2015, 05:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
That said, within that reality everyone knows local governments can't afford it and we have policies at the federal level that are much more generous to heavily urbanized areas with programs like New Start and its predecessors that give much more preferential treatment to higher density areas and increasing density in already pretty developed urban areas than they do for lower density urban areas or creating new urban areas. Just look at the transportation projects getting federal funding. 580 widening or Highway 4 are not getting much federal funding, except for BART extension along Highway 4 which does get some. BART to Warm Springs, Central Subway, T-Third, and Geary BRT are getting lots of federal funding. Central Subway just as an example, around 60% of the cost is funded federally. Caltrain electrification is getting federal and state funding under CA HSR, VTA light rail got lots of federal funding.
But in such a discussion about the affordability of infrastructure projects, specifically transportation infrastructure in this thread, we have to be aware of context; California is a very expensive place to do anything in a country in which infrastructure projects tend to be more expensive vs. other advanced countries, artificially inflating the cost of projects, and California is also a state which has severely restricted the flow of property taxes to local governments. I'd say, then, also taking in to account geography and the built-out nature of SF, of course so many projects there need state and federal dollars to pencil out. But that's not a ding to PT, as freeway projects in SF would offer drastically worse ROIs.

Context matters significantly. Comparing PT projects in hilly, densely populated, and earthquake-prone SF to SR4 projects isn't apples-to-apples.
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Old 11-08-2015, 08:16 PM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
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Ah yes....the affordability of infrastructure projects. It would be one thing if they honestly couldn't afford projects that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Not necessarily the case, though.

Our DOT is currently soliciting contracts for a 1.4 mile expressway bridge in downtown Miami costing $600M. The "bridge" isn't even over water, it's basically replacing an overhead expressway with a higher structure. The existing structure is not structurally deficient or anything, and it only backs up during downtown events like Heat games. It's not like the project will improve commute times or anything (FDOT isn't even claiming it will), just that they want it to be a "landmark" structure to encourage growth in the neighborhood. Oh--but gets better, as we already have three landmarks within a block--two new museums and the Performing Arts Center. And right now the "neighborhood" they're talking about is mostly surface parking (some of it dirt lots!) for events which people have to use because no mass transit.

Meanwhile, $600M is the estimated cost to extend the mass transit system 5 miles to South Beach (you know, where, like, everyone who comes to Miami wants to go). Well, that's really closer to $400M since Miami Beach is building their component without even depending on the State, and also it's expected the County would contribute. But no, the transit project is deemed as "too expensive" and is put off indefinitely. I don't know, but in my mind, it seems like FDOT's "Signature Bridge" project is what is really unaffordable here.
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Old 11-09-2015, 05:52 AM
 
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There are 27 metro systems that have started service in Latin America starting with Mexico City in 1969. Buenos Aires has had a subway since 1913. An impressive 14 of those lines opened since the year 2000.

The 140.7 mile Mexico City Metro with 1.6 million annual riders to 195 stations on 12 lines is by far the largest.
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Old 11-10-2015, 05:02 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Originally Posted by TyBrGr View Post
The last complete subway system to be built was DC's which started back in 1969 and finished in the early 2000s I believe. So why don't other cities build? Obviously they are expensive, but haven't the few cities that have subways proven that they are worth their price? What city will be next to build complete system?
You really have to have a built up area already, with enough people and businesses on the line to provide enough customers.


Modern cities are more spread out, you aren't going to find enough people nearby to make the expense worthwhile. Further, most of the people in a spread out city have their own cars and won't be riding.


In established cities that are sufficiently dense to benefit from it, the costs are a lot higher. Digging up active, crowded streets is a real pain and very expensive. I remember when Pittsburgh's streets were dug up for out subway.
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by I_Like_Spam View Post


In established cities that are sufficiently dense to benefit from it, the costs are a lot higher. Digging up active, crowded streets is a real pain and very expensive. I remember when Pittsburgh's streets were dug up for out subway.
Yeap this can be an problem and it is why the last three extensions of Chicago's EL have mostly not been subways.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:44 PM
 
2,553 posts, read 2,004,793 times
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Originally Posted by I_Like_Spam View Post
You really have to have a built up area already, with enough people and businesses on the line to provide enough customers.


Modern cities are more spread out, you aren't going to find enough people nearby to make the expense worthwhile. Further, most of the people in a spread out city have their own cars and won't be riding.


In established cities that are sufficiently dense to benefit from it, the costs are a lot higher. Digging up active, crowded streets is a real pain and very expensive. I remember when Pittsburgh's streets were dug up for out subway.
There's a bit of a fudge here: we say suburbs and exurbs aren't worth it because there aren't enough people or jobs per square mile for sufficient ridership, but this accepts as "natural" that the suburbs and exurbs be built at low density.

While this makes a certain kind of "sense", it needs to be stated that logic only works if we assume there won't be high quality transit and that we'll need our cars. Basically, we (residents, developers, government officials) assume there won't be proper transit, so people will drive, so we build accordingly, and, thus, there isn't transit.

But if we built with transit and pedestrians in mind first, making it easy to get to work, school, entertainment, etc., without a car, then we could build at densities that, while low by global standards, were just enough to justify major transit.

And, it must be stated, moderate densities do not preclude detached SFHs, but it does preclude McMansions (and ultra-wide streets neighborhood streets, large house setbacks, etc.).
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Old 11-12-2015, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
7,542 posts, read 8,421,952 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
There's a bit of a fudge here: we say suburbs and exurbs aren't worth it because there aren't enough people or jobs per square mile for sufficient ridership, but this accepts as "natural" that the suburbs and exurbs be built at low density.

While this makes a certain kind of "sense", it needs to be stated that logic only works if we assume there won't be high quality transit and that we'll need our cars. Basically, we (residents, developers, government officials) assume there won't be proper transit, so people will drive, so we build accordingly, and, thus, there isn't transit.

But if we built with transit and pedestrians in mind first, making it easy to get to work, school, entertainment, etc., without a car, then we could build at densities that, while low by global standards, were just enough to justify major transit.

And, it must be stated, moderate densities do not preclude detached SFHs, but it does preclude McMansions (and ultra-wide streets neighborhood streets, large house setbacks, etc.).


This makes some sense for future housing, but there are already millions of existing homes that are very spread out.

Further, even if you compress the size of housing subdivisions, employment locations, shopping, schools, etc. are still spread out. Devising a transit plan that would meet the needs of a people that have activities all over is problematic to say the least, particularly to create enough patronage for the trains or even for buses.


My brother's family lives outside McDonald Pa- he works in Bellevue, his wife works in Washington, PA, the boy attends school in Imperial and works in Crafton. Other people in the neighborhood work all over, its a different world now than it was decades ago when many thousands worked at the Homestead Works or River Rouge. Not just homes are spread out, but also businesses.
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