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Old 05-22-2008, 05:00 PM
 
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If you really want to think big, take a look at this regional high speed rail plan.

California High-Speed Rail
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Old 05-22-2008, 05:13 PM
 
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usroute10 -- one of the sticking points is the number of people who would ride this light rail system daily. It may be 11,000 or it may be half a million. I'm more inclined to believe that it's 11,000 because I can't make the numbers work out if a round trip is counted by transit car instead of by passenger.

If there's $1.50 collected per fare, then 11,000 passengers each day yields $16,500 each day in revenue, or roughly $6 million a year to offset the $140 million annual subsidy. If there's half a million riders each day, then there's $750,000 daily revenue, or roughly $274 million in annual revenue. If that's the case, the Detroit Department of Transportation shouldn't be getting federal grants, it should be floating bonds or selling stock for what appears to be a highly profitable business venture.

Each fare that the DDOT sells for each bus ride it provides costs it about $5($183,000,000 in total expenditures, 37,000,000 in total passengers, numbers drawn from the City of Detroit 2008-2009 Executive Summary, Departmental Budget Information, Department of Transportation). This light rail mass transit proposal would cost the DDOT about $35 per fare.

What makes a good mass transit proposal? One that provides clean, safe, and affordable transportation for those who don't or can't or choose not to drive. One that gets people to their desired destinations in a reasonable amount of time. One that isn't seven times more expensive to operate than currently existing mass transit systems. Heck, I'd be satisfied with a proposal that was only twice more expensive to operate because, as you say, a light rail system might actually be the start of something big.

Does it have to extend to the suburbs? No, it doesn't. Would consolidating the two systems possibly eliminate duplicate transit routes and cut administrative overhead? Possibly, but that's another discussion.

If you had $84 million up front from the federal government, and could come up with another $140 million annually for mass transit, would you build a light rail line that covers 8 miles or would you nearly double the amount of money available to the DDOT annually to improve its current bus service?

Last edited by djmilf; 05-22-2008 at 05:17 PM.. Reason: fixed typos
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:34 PM
 
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I currently live in Portland Oregon and moving to Lansing and out here we have light rail and streetcars and it is worth its weight in gold. Its a great way to get wherever you need to go and its fantastic for the businesses to bring people that wouldnt otherwise be able to get there. Cuts down on the driving of cars and thus cheaper than buying a tank of gas. You should be very greatful that one is even being proposed and avocate the expansition of it to Lansing and Grand Rapids and not stare a gifted horse in the mouth.
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Old 02-04-2009, 08:38 PM
 
5,114 posts, read 4,813,838 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mykelcox View Post
I currently live in Portland Oregon and moving to Lansing and out here we have light rail and streetcars and it is worth its weight in gold. Its a great way to get wherever you need to go and its fantastic for the businesses to bring people that wouldnt otherwise be able to get there. Cuts down on the driving of cars and thus cheaper than buying a tank of gas. You should be very greatful that one is even being proposed and avocate the expansition of it to Lansing and Grand Rapids and not stare a gifted horse in the mouth.
Yup! Seeing at there's been a total investment of around 3 billion dollars in Portland's light rail system, it probably does seem like it's made out of gold.

Any idea when the system might actually pay back even half of it's total investment?
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:32 PM
 
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All I know is that building, maintaining and manning a system like this will create jobs, and it will also make us less dependent on foreign oil at the same time it makes it easier for all the area's commuters to get to work alive.
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:48 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,742,937 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmilf View Post
Yup! Seeing at there's been a total investment of around 3 billion dollars in Portland's light rail system, it probably does seem like it's made out of gold.

Any idea when the system might actually pay back even half of it's total investment?
About the same time I-75 pays for itself. Amazing that someone from Detroit would put down Portland and its light rail, one of the most cosmopolitan and fastest growing cities in the country.

I just noticed your posts above djmilf and your numbers are all wrong. Where did you get that operating costs per year (or subsidy as you call it) would be $140 Million? That's nowhere near what an 8 mile light rail line would cost per year to operate. More like $5 - $10 Million per year.

Also, the light rail line won't have 12,000 employees. Economic studies have been done on multiple light rail lines and the estimates are based on spinoff jobs that have been created in developments that are built around light rail lines and stations.

I believe they hope to pay for the non-federal portion of the Detroit light rail line through a number of financing sources, including TIF Zones along the line. What Michigan needs to do is pass a law that allows local counties to propose local sales taxes to pay for mass transit, much like they do in every other city/state in the country. Counties that don't want mass transit, don't have to pony up (and can continue to become less relevant).
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by magellan View Post
I just noticed your posts above djmilf and your numbers are all wrong. Where did you get that operating costs per year (or subsidy as you call it) would be $140 Million? That's nowhere near what an 8 mile light rail line would cost per year to operate. More like $5 - $10 Million per year.
I got the $140 million from Channel 4's own Guy Gordon. The original poster linked a video -- at the two minute mark Mr. Gordon does say "$140 million subsidy".

I found an article on-line from Crain's that reports on the two current plans for Detroit Light Rail (Dueling transit plans differ on station placement - Detroit Business News and Information - Crain's Detroit Business ).

The Detroit Department of Transportation's proposal is a 9.3 mile loop along Woodward. It includes 12 to 15 stations and is estimated to carry 22,000 passengers daily. It will cost $371 in construction costs and $7.4 million in annual subsidies. The source for funding is federal, state, and local goverment support.

The plan put forward by Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans), and others is a 3.4 mile loop from Hart Plaza to Grand Boulevard, with 23 stations and an estimated 1.8 million riders annually (about 5000 each day). The costs cited are $103 million construction costs and a $4.2 million to $5.6 million annual subsidy. Private funds will pay for the initial construction, but public funds will provide the annual subsidy.

Please note in both plans: annual subsidy, not operating costs.

Last time I believe Guy Gordon!
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,742,937 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmilf View Post
I got the $140 million from Channel 4's own Guy Gordon. The original poster linked a video -- at the two minute mark Mr. Gordon does say "$140 million subsidy".

I found an article on-line from Crain's that reports on the two current plans for Detroit Light Rail (Dueling transit plans differ on station placement - Detroit Business News and Information - Crain's Detroit Business ).

The Detroit Department of Transportation's proposal is a 9.3 mile loop along Woodward. It includes 12 to 15 stations and is estimated to carry 22,000 passengers daily. It will cost $371 in construction costs and $7.4 million in annual subsidies. The source for funding is federal, state, and local goverment support.

The plan put forward by Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans), and others is a 3.4 mile loop from Hart Plaza to Grand Boulevard, with 23 stations and an estimated 1.8 million riders annually (about 5000 each day). The costs cited are $103 million construction costs and a $4.2 million to $5.6 million annual subsidy. Private funds will pay for the initial construction, but public funds will provide the annual subsidy.

Please note in both plans: annual subsidy, not operating costs.

Last time I believe Guy Gordon!
Well we're probably splitting hairs then. Most modes of transportation are paid for through a number of means. As you probably know, they all contain Capital Costs and Operating Costs. Money to build and money to maintain. As far as I know, the Federal government does not provide any money to operate mass transit, only to build them (capital). You have to show the FTA that you have a plan in place to run the light rail line you want the FTA to help pay for, under very strict (daunting) guidelines set out by New Starts and Small Starts FTA funding.

Back to subsidies: toll roads use "user fees" and annual subsidies from Federal, State and Local (depending on ownership) to keep them maintained. We have no toll roads, so Michigan's highway system uses no user fees (except the Mackinaw Bridge and other international bridges and tunnels). They are 100% subsidized by Federal, State and Local taxes (gas tax, FTA funding, etc.). In other words, you pay for me to travel on I-196, even if you've never even seen it and will never use it.

So yes, a light rail line would have user fees (one time and monthly passes), and would also be subsidized through taxation, much like the current bus system. Very few people would ride light rail if the users were asked to pay the entire operating cost. Same with a highway. If, at each time entering I-75, you were asked to pay $20 - $30, you would find other ways to get around. Gas taxes and other taxes help defray the cost over a larger population.

I think where Guy dropped the ball, and this happens a lot with uneducated local news reporters who skipped their BIS101 classes, is that the $140 Million is probably local money needed for CAPITAL costs, money to get the thing built. And yes, the Federal government gives out money yearly to build light rail and commuter rail systems throughout the U.S. (there's like a 10 year waiting list right now), but requires local and state govs to pony up for a portion. Same with highway funding. Feds give us so much, and Michigan has to supply the rest.

If you knew a lot of this already djmilf, I apologize. I run into very few people who understand how roads and transit are paid for.

Last edited by magellan; 02-07-2009 at 09:13 AM..
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:33 AM
 
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Magellan, when you compare light rail subsidies to highway "subsidies", you are making an incorrect comparison.

Highways in Michigan are "subsidised" by fuel taxes and vehicle fees at the state and federal level. The motorists who use the highways pay for the highway system. The riders who use light rail pay for only a fraction of the light rail system.

You can quibble about occasional shortfalls in the state highway funding and in the United States Federal Highway Trust Fund, but even then the highways are still nearly completely paid for by those who use them. This cannot be said of the consumers of most mass transit systems.

I don't pay $20 or $30 every time I enter I-75. No one would. You didn't present a realistic number. By way of comparison, I did pay to use the New York State Thruway a while back. Went from Buffalo to Albany and then to Massachutsetts, a total distance of about 400 miles. Cost me only $20 in tolls to travel the entire length of New York State.

I do pay for I-75 every time I buy plates for my vehicles, every time I pump gasoline into my vehicles. I also pay to use I-75 every time I purchase something in the store; the transportation costs (including fuel taxes and vehicle fees) of the items I purchase are included in the purchase price.

Even though I may never drive on I-96 you do...and you pay vehicle fees and fuel taxes, same as me...you don't get a free ride. Yes, there's a slight imbalance between the collection of the fees and taxes versus the dispersement of those same fees and taxes. The people of Oakland County get back slightly less in state highway funding than they pay in fuel fees and vehicle taxes. I chalk that up to being the richest county (per capita) in the state -- I'm not going to sweat it.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:31 AM
 
5,114 posts, read 4,813,838 times
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A better comparison for the proposed Woodward light rail system would be the current mass transit system already in place...the city bus.

I would use mass transit (especially when gas is at $4.00 per gallon), but it's extremely impracticle for where I work and where I live. I also completely understand that people who can't drive or choose not to drive or can't afford cars still need a means to get to work. The bus systems fill that need, albeit imperfectly. I'd like the current mass transit systems to do a better job of filling that need.

I've already crunched the numbers for the Detroit Department of Transportation on Post #92 of this thread -- for every fare that it sells for $1.50 (or less) it costs the DDOT $5.00. Back when I believed Guy Gordon I couldn't support the DDOT selling $1.50 train rides that would cost it $35. Now that we know that Mr. Gordon was incorrect, what will be the actual per fare subsidy for Woodward light rail? I've already stated in post #92 that even a $10.00 cost per ride might be acceptable...because it might lead to the start of something big.

So, compare the proposed DDOT Woodward light rail system to the current bus system. What is the estimated operating cost per fare for each of the estimated 22,000 daily passengers? And to be fair, that cost should include the $347 million for building the system amoritized over 40 years, same as the bonds floated for major public works projects, like the Mackinac Bridge (30 years) or the New York Thruway (40 years).

$347,000,000 construction costs over 40 years is $8,675,000 per year or roughly $23,750 per day or about $1.08 per fare. $7,500,000 annual subsidy is roughly $20,500 per day or about $0.94 per fare. That's about $2.06 subsidy per fare. By comparison, the DDOT bus fare subsidy would be about $3.50 to no more than $5.00 ($5.00 cost per fare less the $1.50 fee or lesser fee no less than zero).

Rough guesstimates at best. A proper accountant would probably cringe at my blatant disregard for inflation, depreciation, bond interest, and other factors. And I might have made a math error. Or gotten bad information.

From my quick figuring, it appears that the Woodward light rail system meets my criteria; in fact it seems to be competitive with the current bus system on costs.
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