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  #621  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2014, 3:34 PM
mhays mhays is offline
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The German blogger makes a great point (I didn't read the whole thing) -- grade-level systems in the US make huge amounts of unnecessary noise! Ding-ding-dinging street gates in some cases, horns, announcments at stations...it would drive me nuts living near one of these lines. Some use strobe lights (!) at night. Except for the announcements, these are all due to US liability law...every agency has to cover its ass. The US sucks in this regard.
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  #622  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2014, 4:47 PM
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A couple of things to keep in mind about the Green Line. Having a grade separated line down University Ave was never in the cards politically, it wouldn't have gotten through the federal government's cost benefit analysis and it wouldn't have gotten the support of suburban and rural representatives in the state legislature. The areas around the line currently don't have enough density for a tunnel or an elevated line. People from outside of the area seem to get hung up on the travel times from downtown to downtown because they as visitors want to use it for that, they don't understand that is not the point of the line. Nobody goes to downtown St Paul. Downtown St Paul is dead, it is a shell of a downtown and has been for a century. They use it in St Paul to go grocery shopping, go to Target, to get to service jobs along University and to go to the University.

I found some numbers for boardings by station as a percentage of overall ridership. They are from the end of June so they don't reflect trips to the U of M. I broke it down into the four broad segments of the line:

Downtown Minneapolis: 29.58%
University of Minnesota: 17.29%
St Paul University Ave: 35.21%
Downtown St Paul: 13.06%

http://blogs.mprnews.org/cities/2014...n-second-week/

If the intention of this line was to get people from one downtown to the other you would see a lot more boardings in Downtown St Paul. The main event on this line in St Paul is University Avenue, not downtown. University is an unglamorous commercial corridor for its entire length between the U and downtown St Paul, the type that poor and working class people use for their every day shopping, and frequently work on. If you pull the line away from University fewer people will ride it. I know mike has a study that says otherwise, but that study is from the early '90s which makes it a product of another era, with another era's paradigms, and is not relevant to today.

Once we have had a few decades of infill there will be enough density to go back and put the thing in a tunnel. Without building the line first, as is, that infill wouldn't be happening.

Bear in mind that Metro Transit had 260,000 daily boardings for its entire bus and rail system in the second quarter. In that context 200,000 for a single line is an absurdly unrealistic expectation. You could build a heavy rail subway line and it wouldn't get close to it. The fabric to support it doesn't exist yet.
What I'm gathering from this is that the region needed a local transit line, not a rapid transit commuter line, and it works better as a slower streetcar type service as that was its intent?

If so, that's fine. There's not a problem with local transit, I think its a great concept. But there will still be some people who need a rapid transit link to get cross-town, so a supplemental express bus may not be a bad idea for those few thousand people seeking to travel regularly between the two cities. This will provide more options for everyone.
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  #623  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2014, 5:11 PM
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The express bus already exists, it's the 94. When the Green Line was first pitched to the federal government the main justification was that its capacity made it more cost effective to operate per passenger than expanding the existing 16/50 line bus service, which makes it a bit different than most LRT lines. I think that eventually it will be grade separated but not for at least a few decades.
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  #624  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2014, 9:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr Nevergold View Post
I'm not touching the issue of mode of transit since that's a lightning rod we've already discussed before, but it clearly isn't taking 28 minutes for a train to get from Minneapolis to St Paul. I rode the entire system not one time, but two consecutive days to see if I was actually just riding an anomaly and it took every bit of 45 minutes to go from Government Plaza in Minneapolis to the first stop in downtown St Paul. All 4 trips took about the same time, one was more.
Yes, according to Metro Transit's online schedules which I linked to earlier, a noon-time trip on all 11 miles of the Green Line, from one terminus to the other, takes 47 minutes. Meanwhile, 47 minutes just happens to be how long a noon-time, end-to-end trip would take on the parallel 16 bus line's 7.3 mile route. Transit service along University Avenue has obviously sped up with the introduction of the Green Line.

And it bears repeating: the number of passengers who are regularly riding from one CBD to another CBD is likely to be much, much lower than the number who ride between the residential areas toward the middle of the route and one of the CBDs on either end.

As for stoplights and such, I'd love to see grade separation, well, just about everywhere. But that's not practicable in the near future on University Avenue. In the meantime, there's no question the Green Line is traveling that crosstown route significantly faster than the bus line it replaced, which is no doubt a significant improvement for regular commuters on that corridor.
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  #625  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2014, 6:22 PM
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How the Twin Cities got transit right

Read More: http://money.cnn.com/interactive/tec...ail/index.html

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When the Minneapolis metro region went to build a light rail line connecting downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the initial reaction was not good. Several community groups from lower-income neighborhoods along the proposed route opposed the project. They'd been scarred from a previous highway project that cut right through the neighborhood, dividing homes from the retail district and resulting in hundreds of evictions.

- Yet many of the train's supporters wanted to run the line through the neighborhood. They saw it as not only a tool to move people but also one to drive economic development. The 11-mile, billion dollar Green Line opened in June. Not everyone loves it - the chief complaint is that it's too slow. But many are hailing it as a model urban project. Supporters successfully addressed many of the concerns of people along the route, and there are many benefits.

- Minneapolis has clustered a series of innovative energy projects near the new light rail line. They include a green roof at the Hennepin County courthouse, a geothermal heating and cooling system at Carty Heights senior housing, and a 600-kw solar panel array atop the Minneapolis convention center. There are also electric vehicle charging stations and bike and car share stations throughout the corridor.

- The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood has long been home to the cities' immigrant population - from the Germans and Poles at the turn of the last century to the Vietnamese and Somalis today. Ringed by two major highways and positioned along the river, the neighborhood has seen its ups and downs over the years. Today it appears to be on the up, thanks in part to the neighborhood's location as the meeting point for the new Green Line and older Blue Line.

- Minneapolis craft beer maker Surly recently broke ground on an eight-acre, $30 million "destination" brewery and beer garden in an old industrial neighborhood still loomed over by giant grain silos. Owner Omar Ansari, the son of a Pakistani immigrant who also started a business in Minneapolis, says the location's proximity to the city's new light rail line and bike trail were key reasons behind the move to this post-industrial part of town.

- Surly may be one of the first businesses in the neighborhood, but others have even bigger ideas. A group of neighbors and developers has a plan to turn the whole area into a kind of "future city." The idea, still in the conceptual stage, calls for arts and industrial incubators and retail and residential space that's totally sustainable, with on-site power generation from renewable sources and a waste disposal system that uses pneumatic tubes to suck garbage from people's homes. The compost would be used for either power generation or as fertilizer for the local greenhouse.

- Development is taking place all along the Green Line. Since the engineering began five years ago, over $2.5 billion in investment has been announced within a half mile of the tracks, according to the Metropolitan Council, which runs the line.

- Public transit is known to attract development, and that development is known to bring gentrification. To make sure longtime residents don't get displaced, several affordable housing developments are being built along the line with the help of tax breaks, grants and other financial support from city and state governments.

- The loans, which don't need to be repaid if the business stays open for five years, provided up to $20,000 for over 210 small businesses along the construction route. Around $3.5 million was ultimately distributed, and only 10 of the businesses closed during the two-year construction period.

- Nearly 1,000 trees were planted along the St. Paul section of the Green Line. Rain water from nearby streets is diverted into the tree beds, preventing the polluted runoff from reaching the river. Projects like this have helped improve the health of the fish in the Mississippi River, said Glenn Skuta, a manager at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. "Those trenches will do a great job filtering the water."

- Three additional stations (Western Ave, Hamline and Victoria) were added to the Green Line to ensure the train did not just whisk people between the two downtowns. These were added over initial objections by the federal government, which footed half the $1 billion construction tab. The stations added a total of $15 million to the construction costs and slowed the travel time between the two cities by a few minutes.

.....



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  #626  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2014, 4:08 AM
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So, let me be that travelling salesman and obnoxious troll for the still great made in France industry for a second. I found out Alstom released a version of their worldwide dominating Citadis specially designed for North America last year. They call it Spirit.

Video Link


Guess what, as far as I know, not a single American city purchased it so far. Yet it would be manufactured in the US to comply with their protectionist and weird "buy America" policy. I'll tell you what, we still don't behave that offensive in France. Our public bodies just as our private corporations are still totally free to buy America, Germany, China or whatever even when it's manufactured in America, Germany, China or wherever, and they're still granted our taxpayer money when they do so. I guess that in fact, we've been actual but naive free marketers over here, huh. But it might change sometime...

Only Ottawa, the Canadian capital is a customer of Alstom in entire North America when it comes to light rail systems, while the market has been booming everywhere. So we just keep noting that it's pretty hard to make a business over there in America when you basically and faithfully serve France's interests. And don't even try to deny if you're American. We know being bashed in the US is our very privilege, and I know the US myself, like you don't know France. Yep. Bashing the French like no one else is nothing racist in the US, it's only justice, right? It's funny, and again part of our honor, quite frankly. But then, don't be surprised when some are "rude" when you visit Paris.

Our trams serve even Jerusalem to connect the Jews to the Muslims and vice versa. It's really tougher over there, and none other has been chosen to try to make it.
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  #627  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2014, 6:57 AM
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I see nothing wrong with cities wanting to buy locally to support jobs in their own country and region.

Also remember that NA already has a huge supplier, Bombardier of Montreal.
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  #628  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2014, 9:00 AM
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Cool story, bro.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mousquet View Post
So, let me be that travelling salesman and obnoxious troll for the still great made in France industry for a second. I found out Alstom released a version of their worldwide dominating Citadis specially designed for North America last year. They call it Spirit.

Video Link


Guess what, as far as I know, not a single American city purchased it so far. Yet it would be manufactured in the US to comply with their protectionist and weird "buy America" policy. I'll tell you what, we still don't behave that offensive in France. Our public bodies just as our private corporations are still totally free to buy America, Germany, China or whatever even when it's manufactured in America, Germany, China or wherever, and they're still granted our taxpayer money when they do so. I guess that in fact, we've been actual but naive free marketers over here, huh. But it might change sometime...

Only Ottawa, the Canadian capital is a customer of Alstom in entire North America when it comes to light rail systems, while the market has been booming everywhere. So we just keep noting that it's pretty hard to make a business over there in America when you basically and faithfully serve France's interests. And don't even try to deny if you're American. We know being bashed in the US is our very privilege, and I know the US myself, like you don't know France. Yep. Bashing the French like no one else is nothing racist in the US, it's only justice, right? It's funny, and again part of our honor, quite frankly. But then, don't be surprised when some are "rude" when you visit Paris.

Our trams serve even Jerusalem to connect the Jews to the Muslims and vice versa. It's really tougher over there, and none other has been chosen to try to make it.
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  #629  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2014, 7:39 PM
Ragnar Ragnar is offline
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Originally Posted by mousquet View Post
So, let me be that travelling salesman and obnoxious troll for the still great made in France industry for a second. I found out Alstom released a version of their worldwide dominating Citadis specially designed for North America last year. They call it Spirit.

Video Link


Guess what, as far as I know, not a single American city purchased it so far. Yet it would be manufactured in the US to comply with their protectionist and weird "buy America" policy. I'll tell you what, we still don't behave that offensive in France. Our public bodies just as our private corporations are still totally free to buy America, Germany, China or whatever even when it's manufactured in America, Germany, China or wherever, and they're still granted our taxpayer money when they do so. I guess that in fact, we've been actual but naive free marketers over here, huh. But it might change sometime...

Only Ottawa, the Canadian capital is a customer of Alstom in entire North America when it comes to light rail systems, while the market has been booming everywhere. So we just keep noting that it's pretty hard to make a business over there in America when you basically and faithfully serve France's interests. And don't even try to deny if you're American. We know being bashed in the US is our very privilege, and I know the US myself, like you don't know France. Yep. Bashing the French like no one else is nothing racist in the US, it's only justice, right? It's funny, and again part of our honor, quite frankly. But then, don't be surprised when some are "rude" when you visit Paris.

Our trams serve even Jerusalem to connect the Jews to the Muslims and vice versa. It's really tougher over there, and none other has been chosen to try to make it.
Are you drunk?

Most US light rail cars are made by Siemens (German company), Bombardier (Canadian company), and Kinkisharyo (Japanese company). Yes, they are manufactured in the US, but the companies are not based in the US, so you're "buy American" rant is a little weird (ok, a lot weird).

And newsflash: BMW, Mercedes, VW, and soon Airbus also manufacture in the US. Should we not be buying those products either?
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  #630  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2014, 8:08 PM
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^ Lol no. I was on annoying insomnia, which got me tongue-in-cheek, but I was smiling at the same time anyway. You know, the sad thing is we'll end up acting the same in Europe, eh. Then you won't see any more Boeing aircrafts dressed in the Lufthansa or Air France liveries until they finally relocate some of their production over here. That's what the hardline French right wing constantly advocates. The more liberal say keeping our public contracts open to anybody should help us export, but if it actually doesn't, people over here will get tired and harsher.

Bon, at the same time and as far as I'm concerned, I'm glad the US is getting some opportunities to develop that industry on their soil, it's a good thing. But not everyone is as pro-American as I am.
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  #631  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2014, 9:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mousquet View Post
^ Lol no. I was on annoying insomnia, which got me tongue-in-cheek, but I was smiling at the same time anyway. You know, the sad thing is we'll end up acting the same in Europe, eh. Then you won't see any more Boeing aircrafts dressed in the Lufthansa or Air France liveries until they finally relocate some of their production over here. That's what the hardline French right wing constantly advocates. The more liberal say keeping our public contracts open to anybody should help us export, but if it actually doesn't, people over here will get tired and harsher.

Bon, at the same time and as far as I'm concerned, I'm glad the US is getting some opportunities to develop that industry on their soil, it's a good thing. But not everyone is as pro-American as I am.
I find that in the real world, average everyday people in both the United States and France are more friendly toward one another than some of the ignorant people who like to claim there are issues and make random complaints for the fun of it. I would pay no attention to what some people say, they're usually few in number.
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  #632  
Old Posted May 14, 2015, 3:16 PM
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Do Light Rail and Gentrification Go Hand in Hand?

Read More: http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/95...trification-go

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Later this week, Mayor Ed Murray will present to the city council his proposed $930 million transportation levy, which would fund everything from street paving to pedestrian safety projects. Included in the plan is $10 million for a new light-rail stop at Graham Street in Hillman City, money meant to entice Sound Transit into building the stop between Othello and Columbia City that has been indefinitely shelved by the transit authority.

- The stop has been the subject of a Change.org petition—it has 1,088 signatures—and is framed by some as a tangible way to help Seattle’s poor and immigrant communities (the neighborhood around Graham Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way is home to strong Filipino and East Asian populations). Just last week, a report out of Harvard showed that access to reliable transportation is a major indicator of poverty. So, give poor people easier access to light rail in Seattle, and help those people lift themselves out of poverty, right? Wrong.

- Rebecca Saldaña, executive director of Puget Sound Sage, took to the podium in Beacon Hill to say that while racial equity groups like hers favor the new station, the city would have to take steps that were “crucial to preventing displacement that so often occurs with economic growth resulting from new transit investments.” --- Which raises the question: With the city simultaneously pushing for a new light rail station in a poor neighborhood and acknowledging that such stations could displace the poor, what tools does it have to make sure that doesn’t happen?

- “I don’t think we have the tools today,” said councilman Mike O’Brien, who also sits on the Sound Transit board. “If you’re asking, ‘What are you specifically going to do in the Graham Street area to prevent displacement?’ I’m not prepared to answer that question in any meaningful way.” --- O’Brien and other policy makers have plenty of time to fix that—the new station is still years away from being built, if it is built at all—but it goes to show how little concern gentrification was given when the Link light rail was first put in.

- O’Brien says that mindset—just get it built—still exists at Sound Transit. But it’s not a lost cause. At the urging of O’Brien, Sound Transit has incorporated “equitable transit-oriented development” into its long-term plan, a term that essentially means that Sound Transit will consider the current communities when it builds new transit. Saldaña says efforts to hire neighborhood locals to work on the station and planning low-income housing units near the station could also help.

- he fact that there are so-called “cultural anchors”--including a Buddhist Temple and the Seattle Filipino Community Center—around Graham Street could also help those communities keep a toe-hold in the neighborhood once the station is built. Still, O’Brien says no hard-and-fast approach exists to prevent gentrification around transit hubs. --- “If you want to find examples where (transportation) investments displace people, we have lots of those. Finding examples where that doesn’t happen is kind of few and far between,” he says.

- Interestingly, perhaps ironically, O’Brien says Seattle’s relative lack of planning around the initial Link line—such as zoning for high-density development around the stations—was pretty effective in preventing large-scale gentrification. --- “While displacement is happening in Southeast Seattle, it could have been worse,” he says. “That missed opportunity may have bought us more time. I don’t want to pretend it’s not already happening. But what is happening in Capitol Hill and Ballard is not happening down there.”

.....



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  #633  
Old Posted May 26, 2015, 4:17 PM
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Metro rail lines open across Houston

Read More: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news...on-6283385.php

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Two new light rail lines might have been the ones debuting Saturday, but for many riders it was the East End, Third Ward and MacGregor Park neighborhoods themselves that were on display. After years of construction and months of testing, riders began boarding Green Line trains headed from downtown east along Harrisburg and Purple Line trains toward the University of Houston and Palm Center Transit Center on Saturday morning.

- The lines are the final two in what became years of light rail development in Houston, which endured controversies over procurement of Spanish-made trains, construction delays that nearby business owners blamed for slowing sales and skepticism that the $1.4 billion cost would reap rewards by redeveloping neighborhoods. --- Local officials hope the area, which hasn't enjoyed the redevelopment of some areas of Houston during the recent boom times, is helped by the addition of the Purple Line. Already there are some signs of investment in apartments and townhomes, notably around the University of Houston and Third Ward.

- Metro officials have said the measure of success with the lines will be their ability to both connect residents with other areas of the city, and to other transit options. The new lines, for the first time, give Houston a light rail system and not just a single light rail line. The Red, Green and Purple lines converge at Main at Capitol and Rusk. --- Along each of the new lines - including the downtown area where the Green and Purple lines share tracks - community celebrations were held, culminating with a concert at BBVA Compass Stadium. Metro spokesman Jerome Gray said the combined events, dubbed RailFest, cost $400,000. Parsons, which did engineering for the rail lines, contributed $100,000. HRT, the construction joint venture that built the lines, contributed $300,000, Gray said.

- The free rides to celebrate the lines helped lure folks to the Red Line as well. Cary Reese took her daughter Paige, 3, and son Simon, 6, for a train ride along the Green Line, before hopping on the Red Line for a zoo outing. --- "They like it," Reese said. "For them, it's an adventure." --- In downtown, the new lines run with traffic, westbound on Capitol and eastbound on Rusk. There are theater district, Main and Convention Center stops on each street. With so many people moving into the Houston area, and so much of that growth leading to more density within Loop 610, Stan Leong said light rail is a natural solution. "It's a start to get some of the cars off the street," he said.

.....



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  #634  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2015, 4:46 AM
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It is good to see so many cities constructing rail infrastructure in the US again, something that once felt lost with the expansion of our highway system.
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  #635  
Old Posted Jun 8, 2015, 6:30 PM
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  #636  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2015, 2:39 AM
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Calgary's Green Line LRT received its Federal contribution today of $1.5b toward the $4.5b 50km (30mile) project.

This substantially builds out the LRT system to a track length of 109km and 72 stations!!

Ridership is currently 333,800 weekday trips. Upon completion of this line ridership will be approaching close to 500,000 daily trips (in a metro currently about 1.4 million)




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  #637  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2015, 2:56 AM
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Well done Calgary! Lots of transit announcements in Canada recently but I'm sure the fact that there is a federal election in just 3 months has nothing to do with it. Oh well, who cares as long as the money comes thru then great news for the city.

Calgary is proof that even newer and very wealthy cities can have high transit ridership. Despite Vancouverites always claiming their city is so Green and Calgary is a sprawling mess, Calgary now has higher per-capita ridership even though it only has one-half of Metro Vancouver's population.
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  #638  
Old Posted Aug 17, 2015, 3:48 PM
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Expanding the rail commute in Western New York

Read More: http://www.buffalonews.com/city-regi...-york-20150813

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An expanded rail or bus system stretching from the University at Buffalo’s South Campus on Main Street in Buffalo to its North Campus in Amherst may be as many as seven years in the future, but the concept appears more timely – and popular – than ever.

- A rail-based expansion would double Metro Rail use to about 50,000 commuters each day. “Based on our preliminary evaluation, the ridership values are there,” said NFTA Executive Director Kimberley A. Minkel. What’s more, the “tone we hear out there is that this is overdue,” said Thomas George, director of public transit. By the end of this year, NFTA planners will recommend either a rail or bus mode, including specific routes. More studies will be requested to determine costs and environmental ramifications.

- By the end of this year, NFTA planners will recommend either a rail or bus mode, including specific routes. More studies will be requested to determine costs and environmental ramifications. The agency then expects to present a strong case to the federal government for money to build a system linking the city and suburbs, citing increased traffic and development in Amherst and a continuing need for transit links to new development downtown.

Options from the $1.5 million federally funded study recently completed include:

• A rail route stretching under Bailey Avenue from University Station on UB’s South Campus for 1.5 miles before surfacing in the Bailey/Eggert vicinity near Northtown Plaza. A surface line would then serve Niagara Falls Boulevard and turn east on Maple Road before veering into UB’s North Campus via Sweet Home and Rensch roads.

• An alternative rail route would burrow under Millersport Highway for about 1.5 miles before surfacing near Buckeye Road, south of Sheridan Drive, and continuing on to UB.

• “Bus rapid transit” also is under discussion. It would feature dedicated lanes, synchronized signals and enhanced stations served by long, “articulated” buses able to bend around curves.

• A lesser, “preferred bus” option using synchronized signaling with enhanced stations and amenities – similar to what is planned for Niagara Street in Buffalo later this year – represents another option.

• Doing nothing also will be considered, though that recommendation is not expected to be made.

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Old Posted Sep 16, 2015, 3:27 PM
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Dallas council chooses Jackson route for new DART line downtown

Read More: http://transportationblog.dallasnews...own-line.html/

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The Dallas City Council this morning overwhelmingly chose what’s called the Jackson or Modified B4 alignment for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s second downtown light-rail route. Council member Philip Kingtson, who prefers an underground route through downtown, cast the sole dissenting vote.

- Running all four light-rail lines on a single set of tracks downtown limits how many trains the agency can operate throughout the entire system. It also limits how frequently each line can run a train. When problems (from car wrecks and mechanical DART malfunctions to fires in nearby skyscrapers) arise on or near the existing downtown track, the entire light-rail network is affected. A second downtown line is seen as a way to minimize affected lines and/or reroute some lines when problems occur.

- DART has about $400 million of its own money budgeted for the project. It hopes the FTA will match what it has. That would give the agency about $800 million. The Young route (B4) is expected to cost about $511 million. The Jackson route (Modified B4) is estimated to cost between $525 and $550 million. So what about the leftover funds? No matter where the eastern leg of the second line runs, DART wants to use additional money for a second phase on the western leg. The agency would like to continue the underground portion of the tracks beneath Lamar Street with a spur that runs to a station under the city’s convention center.

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Old Posted Sep 17, 2015, 2:50 PM
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Other Sun Belt cities are laying track even faster than Houston

Read More: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/loca...ls-6496939.php

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What explains all this construction, especially in the traditionally auto-oriented South and West? The short answer: Light rail is a lot faster than a bus, but doesn't cost nearly as much to build as a subway.

- In many cities, the building of light rail lines represents only one aspect of broader efforts to solve the public transportation puzzle. Cities are increasingly connecting light rail lines with major nodes of activity and other transportation modes such as expanded express bus services or bike lanes. Phoenix's light rail connects downtown with Arizona State University in Tempe and Sky Harbor Airport. Charlotte has a light rail system and is now adding a streetcar.

- Atlanta and Miami have traditional heavy rail transit systems but are investing in other technologies such as streetcars and bus rapid transit. Las Vegas has a monorail along the Strip but is talking about a rail line to the airport. These trends are even causing some cities to rethink huge parts of their urban environment. Dallas built a cap over a depressed section of a freeway and used the space to build the popular Klyde Warren Park. Houston is talking about tearing down a stretch of freeway on the edge of its downtown.

- Most people who live in Sun Belt suburbs still have no choice but to travel by car — and all the major Sun Belt cities are planning major freeway construction or expansion. But something else is happening simultaneously. Major urban areas in the Sunbelt are experiencing new and growing demand for housing and activities in their cores. This influx of downtown residents has forced leaders in most cities to change the way they think about their city's streets and transit system.

- While buses are more flexible, a bus rapid transit line on a separate right-of-way costs almost as much as a light rail line, and the ride isn't nearly as comfortable. Moreover, all transportation investments fuel real estate investment; that's why there's a gas station and a 7-11 at every freeway exit. Light rail lines have the ability to concentrate investment in efficient urban locations. And light rail lines can expand transportation capacity in a crowded urban location at a much lower cost than new roads because their smaller footprint requires less disruptive construction.

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