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  #4401  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 5:53 AM
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nixcity nixcity is offline
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For the most part that is true Skypie but I do think many people voted against it just due to the price tag and the fact it was tied to road improvements. I wonder if anyone knows whether we could vote on 2 separate plans for rail, say one that is roughly like CACDC's "cheap" 7 mile plan and one that also includes a bridge over the river and or tunneling in certain parts to give voters an option.

So, one and a half mile, not miles, got it. But yes, I agree that part of the plan would need to be modified. And that would not be hard to do, if there is one thing atx has in abundance it is surface parking and that area on north Lamar has a ton. Or we could build the parking underground, something we also have done quote a bit. Their plan would need to be vetted out and make some changes. And yes, maybe their numbers for one of the many areas studied is a stretch, unfortunately the same thing happened in the 2014 election as well, and they knew their projections were way high. Unfortunately, we are unable to reproduce the 2000 plan due to the stupidity of cap metros red line and Austin's already desperate citizenry in 2004. That said, we have to do something, and the 2014 plan did not meet the smell test, traveling on any successful rail line would make it more than obvious that even at full build out along that line it would have fallen short of the required density. And their ideas for the next phases were abysmal at best, relying on the green line (even dumber than the red line), and lone star rail. A strong starter line (comparable to that of those found in Denver, Portland, Houston and Minneapolis, among others) makes it easy to see expansions. And the only viable place for that now in Austin is the G/L corridor.

Our city is in a crux right now. We continue to add huge parking structures downtown. We love to drool over tall buildings here but with these ugly parking structure podiums we are shooting ourselves in the foot. What will it look like when the next phase of office buildings are done?? How will those people get to work? Will they be priced out of parking and be forced to ride mass transit? I think we all know the answer to those questions. What TXDOT is going to do to I35 and 183 should have been completed 10 years ago. This issue, along with that of preserving what makes Austin unique (read, music) are the 2 issues that will most effect our prosperity moving forward. Affordability, of course, is the other one only because our city continues to cater to the car culture. If we added true density, not these half ass attempts at VMU with, you guessed it, large amounts of parking, than we would see prices start to drop.
My prediction is that either in 2016, 17', or 18' we will see a massive decline in the percentage increase or even leveling out of our population. We need to get the planning right now so that it can again prosper after a few years of stagnation. In other words, it's already too late.

*and btw, the only thing that wasn't amateur about the folk's work behind the 2014 debacle was the marketing, and didn't they get taken to court for that??
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  #4402  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 1:05 PM
Novacek Novacek is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkyPie View Post
I don't agree with this statement.
.
I know it was the case. Based on specific social media comments and individuals.

Was that the reason everyone voted against it, no, of course not. But merely by participating in this thread you're more clued in on the process and subject matter than 95-99% of voters.

Do you think the average voter in the street in South Austin knows about potential ridership numbers of G/L vs. Red River? Or cares about the congestion level of a street they never use?

When they look at a plan, what they ask is :

Can I ride it

OR

Can everyone in front of me on the road ride it, and get out of my way.

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Originally Posted by SkyPie View Post
In my opinion and in speaking to others at the time, the plan failed because it was a bad plan.
It wasn't a bad plan. It was a good plan. Though some people with money in the game managed to convince people otherwise.

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Originally Posted by SkyPie View Post
Where's the group of business leaders that spoke up after the vote saying we need to bite the bullet and start thinking big, subway big? I hope they are still out there and working on a strategy. We are not a small city any longer and our leaders (and many citizens) need to stop pretending we are. Give Austin voters a good plan, one that can excite and energize us, and show us a real buildout plan, and I believe we can get it done.
And this is why Austin is doomed.

Sure, everyone says : Give us the big, huge, transformative plan.

Then when the voters see the pricetag, it goes down in flames. You want to ask Austin voters to triple(or more) their taxes?

All those business leaders, when their taxes triple, they're going to stay in Austin and pay them? No, they're going to pull a Dell and jump over to some sweatheart deal in Round Rock or Pflugerville.
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  #4403  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 1:24 PM
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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post

So, one and a half mile, not miles, got it.
You even have to torture English.

1.5 miles if you want to walk to Anderson Square (and go north)

Longer to walk to the transit center. Longer to walk to Fairfield to go south.

Not even counting walking back (so double it).
Not even counting traversing (and waiting for) a half dozen roads you have to cross.

Not even counting _finding_ a parking spot. How long do you think it'll take to troll along a multi-mile linear parking lot looking for a space (at 5-10 mph). It'll take 10-15 extra minutes just to park.



Quote:
Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
But yes, I agree that part of the plan would need to be modified.
As I said, I don't disagree in principle with sending rail up G/L (while recognizing the huge number of costs/tradeoffs that have to be made). But the parking lot thing is just one of the issues that shows the rank amateurism of the CACD "Corporation".


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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
And yes, maybe their numbers for one of the many areas studied is a stretch, unfortunately the same thing happened in the 2014 election as well, and they knew their projections were way high.
No, they weren't. That's just one of those lies you bought.

1. Comparing against existing bus service in that corridor, it showed a reasonable increase from the mode/quality improvements.

2. Comparing against peer systems in peer cities, it showed a similar per-mile ballpark.


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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
Unfortunately, we are unable to reproduce the 2000 plan due to the stupidity of cap metros red line and Austin's already desperate citizenry in 2004.
The Red Line was a good thing. And the 2014 vote shows it. If not for that foresight, we'd have _nothing_ now.

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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
And their ideas for the next phases were abysmal at best, relying on the green line (even dumber than the red line), and lone star rail.
I'm confused. I thought you liked the idea of rail on G/L. Since one of the possible next phases was

Rail on Guadalupe and Lamar. Though possibly avoiding the constricted drag.


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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
*and btw, the only thing that wasn't amateur about the folk's work behind the 2014 debacle was the marketing,
Other than an actually designed line, with actual pricing estimates, actual ridership estimates, corridor profiles, park and ride sites, etc.

You know, all the things that are totally lacking with the alternative "plan" you keep pointing to.

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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
and didn't they get taken to court for that??
Shows how that turned out, doesn't it. A completely frivolous lawsuit is hardly evidence of a bad plan.
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  #4404  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 2:39 PM
Novacek Novacek is online now
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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
My prediction is that either in 2016, 17', or 18' we will see a massive decline in the percentage increase or even leveling out of our population.
Anything could happen, of course. But as long as Austin is still

1. Cheaper

2. Better traffic

than where people are coming from (e.g. California, East Coast), then I think people will still come here.
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  #4405  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 3:35 PM
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nixcity nixcity is offline
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Novacek, and others willing enough to read, sorry for the one language error, I have been on very little sleep and was on rant mode, I'm working on my third language now btw.
I'll start by saying that as far as I know they are not claiming this is a set "plan" at all. But again, they are the only ones doing anything, and obviously could use some help and guidance from those with more transit planning experience, which IMO should include some others from other cities with actual rail functioning at a low per rider subsidy. They do however, have a pretty well set line with stations strategically planned where they can actually be put.
I am unable to copy and paste but to your problem about using 183 as the main park and ride that is an easy fix. The placement works quite well and by simply cutting the size and placing most of the parking underground then that problem is solved. And they used the large area for their pop numbers because it's the one where people would use their cars to get to the park and ride.
To their projections being high, they made their own numbers for one, and used 2030 as the year for their estimates. Here's one of quite a few links still out there to this point, and others. https://keepaustinwonky.wordpress.co...25/rail-risks/
If you have riden rail in peer cities you will know the level of density required to capture choice riders, and again, G/L and dt are the only places now or for the foreseeable future that meet that.
The red line a good thing, by what measure???? Not only is it costing us around a million a year in subsidies, and the 90+ to build (that 100 million+ would have gone a long way as a down payment for good rail or a hell of a lot more bus service), and it killed the chance for a near replica of the 2000 plan to be put to the voters who surely would have voted yes by 2014.
Their painting G/L as a future line was vague at best with no actual leg work done or answes to any of the questions about that. They threw that in at the last minute as a pathetic hope to sway people like me.
Again, this group has put out a type of storyboard as a "plan" it still needs a lot of work. But this is all we have in the works right now. You are obviously a smart guy and I have respected many of your thoughts here and on a few other sites. So please, work to build collaboration, we need people like us and many others to push the city to allow this group, with the help of others (even some of those on project connect that secretly preferred a G/L alignment) to build a consensus and make the best plan in the right place as highlighted by poll after poll of it's citizenry when actually asked. Then they could finalize all those things that you pointed out that they need to do. We have to wake this council up!!!
And again, does anyone know if we could allow for 2 options on a rail referendum? A cheaper north only one and then a more expensive one that crosses the river.
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  #4406  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 3:49 PM
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And in respect to us losing our pop increase soon I think we will remain cheaper than Cali/NY (maybe not though when considering our low salaries) but we already have the fourth worst traffic in the country with no signs of it getting better. We are in an epidemic, we have already seen the same number of traffic fatalities this year as in all of last year, not too mention the high numbers of pedestrians hit. We need to act now or we will pay the price.
Now to the street, where I will easily hop on the metro,
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  #4407  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 3:53 PM
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I think it's more interesting to focus on what Cap Metro is actually planning to do post-rail. They will be conducting their service plan update this year and next, and it is supposedly going to be a bigger overhaul than previous updates.

I know for a fact they are very interested in the work that Houston did recently to redesign their entire system. In fact, Jarrett Walker, who is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost transit experts (if not highest paid), is on one of the teams that is being interviewed for the job. Will be interesting to see how that plays out. I think there is a great opportunity to create a high-frequency BRT network (with dedicated lanes) that can be just as, if not more effective, than rail for this city.
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  #4408  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 3:59 PM
Novacek Novacek is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
To their projections being high, they made their own numbers for one, and used 2030 as the year for their estimates. Here's one of quite a few links still out there to this point, and others. https://keepaustinwonky.wordpress.co...25/rail-risks/
Using 2030 as an estimate is perfectly reasonable. What matters is ridership after a few years of build up. It's the long term ridership that matters, not that in the first year.


As for that link, it's a massive snow-job by an anti-rail advocate. I called Julio out on it, but he doesn't allow for comments on his blog so it wasn't public. Though I can do so now.

He uses as one of his ridership numbers the current bus ridership on the route.

For this year.

1. Not ridership after another 15 years of Austin growth and density.
2. Not even another 7 years of Austin growth and density, for the day one.

He's basically asking people to believe that a vastly improved rail experience, and vastly improved frequency, will lead to NO additional riders.


The other HUGE issue with that post is his assertion that there's an opportunity cost to what would have been spent on the rail. That somewhere in the existing bus system, there's a huge number of potential riders.

That can be captured at the rate (cost) of some of the best performing routes in the system.


He simply fails to understand the concept of diminishing returns, and that simply running additional buses certainly won't produce riders at the same rate as the existing system.

Where is this magical new route, that would perform that great? There's lots of lesser performing routes in the system already. We've hit the point of diminishing returns.

Look at the overall numbers.

He's claiming up to 45,000 additional daily riders. CapMetro only has ~100k daily bus riders. And it costs them >100M /year to capture that ridership.

He's basically claiming that with 15% more money, he can capture 50% more riders. Way better than the existing rate, rather than at a rate of diminishing returns.

It's simply not possible.
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  #4409  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 4:35 PM
Novacek Novacek is online now
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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
The red line a good thing, by what measure???? Not only is it costing us around a million a year in subsidies, and the 90+ to build (that 100 million+ would have gone a long way as a down payment for good rail or a hell of a lot more bus service),
The Red Line has been massively subsidizing the budget (and the buses), and basically paid for itself before it even started running.

The Red Line saved the quarter cent "rail tax", and the successfully passing of the red line measure stopped the quarter cent give backs.

That's up to $50M /year, way more than it costs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
and it killed the chance for a near replica of the 2000 plan to be put to the voters who surely would have voted yes by 2014.
Even absent the Red Line, the 2000 rail plan is basically impossible in the current social, media, legislative and political climate.

1. As stated, I believe a starter line that doesn't even cross the river is a political non-starter.

2. The 2000 rail plan only got as close as it did because the political process wasn't as open as it is now. How many people who voted for it in 2000 knew they were voting for removing 3/4 of the lanes in the drag, and half the lanes elsewhere on G/L? How many people knew the unsupportable financial assumptions the 2000 rail plan made? which brings me to:

3. The 2000 rail plan couldn't actually be paid for. It made several unsupportable financial assumptions. A) that sales tax revenues would continue to increase at a Tech Bubble rate of 5% /year indefinitely. B) That unspecified "efficiency improvements" would slash the cost of running the rest of the bus fleet. Have you actually read the 2000 rail plan? Their financial planning is built on an assumption they can double their fare recovery ratio.

4. The 2000 rail plan had light rail vehicles running on the freight rail route. With no temporal separation. Even odds, this wouldn't have actually been allowed in 2007 by the time they actually would have tried to be running, but it's certainly not allowed now.

5. As noted, by 2004 give backs had decimated the CapMetro budget. They no longer had the capital fund available that they expected.
Again, look at the numbers. They expected to have $370M available for capital spending by 2007. They spent ~100M on the Red Line and were basically bankrupt by 2008/2009.
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  #4410  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 4:42 PM
Novacek Novacek is online now
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Originally Posted by aqibtalib View Post
I think it's more interesting to focus on what Cap Metro is actually planning to do post-rail. They will be conducting their service plan update this year and next, and it is supposedly going to be a bigger overhaul than previous updates.
To a certain extent I agree, though I wouldn't limit the discussion to just CapMetro (the participation of the city and the lone star rail project are both important).

As I said, I think any large debt-financed capital project is now doomed in Austin. It's impossible to design a starter system that both serves a sufficiently large segment of voters and is cheap enough to avoid sticker shock. It may have bee possible decades ago, but there's just too much information now available, and too many voices, and the trade-offs that are an inevitable (and necessary) part of any project are just too visible.

My hopes are pinned on
1) the aforementioned Lone Star

2) incremental improvements. As you said, some BRT, some separation, some just frequency improvements.
It'll be a lot easier to pass a ~$40M "transportation bond" every few years that includes $5M or so to put in a queue jumper lane for a bus, and keep doing incremental improvements that way.
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  #4411  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 5:31 PM
Novacek Novacek is online now
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Again, this group has put out a type of storyboard as a "plan" it still needs a lot of work. But this is all we have in the works right now.
That's just it, it's no more "in the works" than the subway "plan".

It's one guy working out of his home, with a plan that hasn't been updated for two years.

Look, I'll get behind any viable plan. Mueller. Lamar. I won't be commuting on either one. I'm about as close to an impartial third party as you can get, I only want what's best for Austin.

But I really do think we missed our chance for another 10 years (or more), due in part to transit and rail "advocates" who got in bed with anti-rail concerns (the vast majority of anti-prop 1 funding).



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Originally Posted by nixcity View Post
And again, does anyone know if we could allow for 2 options on a rail referendum? A cheaper north only one and then a more expensive one that crosses the river.
Seems like a good way to split your support, and guarantee both lose.
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  #4412  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2015, 5:37 PM
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Here's a permit just filed this afternoon for a topographic survey that is part of the Commuter Rail Project Connect Gateway. This is for the area around the downtown "station" by the convention center. Maybe this is for the new station?

https://www.austintexas.gov/devrevie...erRSN=11394636
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  #4413  
Old Posted Yesterday, 6:21 AM
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How big is Austin economically?
Houston's Metro collects around $615 million yearly.
Dallas's Dart collects around $486 million yearly.
CapMetro collects around $198 million yearly.
Note: All three collect sales taxes at 1%.

How much is spent running bus services?
Metro around $390 million FY2011
Dart around $199 million FY2013
CapMetro around $102 million FY2012.
Note: Give or take, all spend about half their sales tax income operating and maintaining buses.

Then there's administration, insurance, interests, and capital projects before including expenses running trains.
Most of the capital costs are financed through grants, mostly federal, and via selling bonds.

Well, the whole point of my post is to remind everyone Austin isn't as big as Dallas and Houston. Much of the Austin economy arises from governing the State, and most state agencies don't pay sales taxes when purchasing items. The state also doesn't pay property taxes on any of its property. What Austin's local governments collect in taxes arising from state government comes from its employees; sales taxes as they spend their income and property taxes from living in their homes. This is a major disadvantage for Austin to finance very expensive capital projects by its own revenues. It's going to need financial assistance from the state.

Has the recent flooding in downtown this year already been forgotten? I don't think a subway will be cost effective. If there isn't enough room to lay rails in city streets, I prefer building over rather than tunneling under them.
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  #4414  
Old Posted Today, 4:20 AM
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Ben Wear has a nice column summing up Austin's upcoming major road projects:

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news...atesmanpremium
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  #4415  
Old Posted Today, 5:08 AM
ski-man ski-man is offline
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TheATX, can you give a summary or post the article. You have to be a premium subscriber to view the article. Would love to read about these new projects. Thanks.
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  #4416  
Old Posted Today, 5:18 AM
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TheATX, can you give a summary or post the article. You have to be a premium subscriber to view the article. Would love to read about these new projects. Thanks.
The links I post to the other side of the pay wall seem to work most of the time. Why they don't work all of the time I have no idea. There's too much info in the article to summarize effectively in the amount of time I'm willing to put into it. It's only $8.99 a month for the digital pass though.

EDIT: Try this link. If it works I think I know what is going on. If it doesn't too bad :

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news...3948020.735813
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  #4417  
Old Posted Today, 9:39 AM
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Worked for me. $8.99/month is more than I'm willing to pay...

I'm interested in what's going to happen with 360 and 620. Those two are simply a mess. I used to work over there...30 minutes to go a couple miles in a normal rush-hour.
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