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-   -   CHICAGO: Transit Developments (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=101657)

VivaLFuego Feb 2, 2012 11:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5574677)
Personally, I'd prefer that all transportation spending were devolved to the state level, where the Feds would simply return the gas tax revenue to the states, in the same proportion that each state contributes.

Why involve the federal government at all then? The only rationale for federal involvement in the tax would be specifically so that you would redistribute transportation funding via some other formula such as state population and Eisenhower-Interstate-Miles, rather than gas tax receipts.

Otherwise, I agree that such a devolution would generally improve the efficiency/effectiveness of transportation spending but would also basically spell the end of our already meager interstate transportation project planning.

ardecila Feb 3, 2012 2:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 5574729)
In practice, though, I’m much less optimistic. Although I have my quibbles with the way the FTA operates, in practice it’s much better than state DOTs, which tend to often be 100% highway-oriented, are often hostile to basic pedestrian amenities, and usually don’t know much about transit. From what I understand, federal funding allows metropolitan areas to mostly bypass their states to get federal funding (provided there’s a local match)—if that’s eliminated, cities might end up at the whim of potentially-hostile state governments. Plus, state government suffers from the same problem as the feds in terms of disproportionate representation—cities would, in all likelihood, still get screwed over for funding. Finally, although I’m sure it varies widely from state to state, I don’t get the impression that state DOTs are all that big on cost effectiveness metrics for determining which projects should go forward or not—they strike me as being much more clout-oriented. So, absent a major step up from state DOTs, I’d prefer for metros to continue dealing with the Feds.

State DOTs don't have involvement with transit and bike/ped because they haven't had to. Urban/suburban communities have dealt directly with the feds while the state DOT focuses on rural areas and the road needs of urban areas.

There might be some hiccups transitioning, but the demand for transit and bike/ped projects by communities is still there. Those communities will simply need to use their clout in the state capital rather than in Washington.

Ultimately, I'm uncomfortable with the Federal government shouldering all the weight and enabling bad/counterproductive policy at the state and local levels. It's a co-dependent relationship, and it needs to end if we're ever gonna solve the problem and get people to think clearly about the transportation system.

ardecila Feb 3, 2012 2:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 5575093)
Why involve the federal government at all then? The only rationale for federal involvement in the tax would be specifically so that you would redistribute transportation funding via some other formula such as state population and Eisenhower-Interstate-Miles, rather than gas tax receipts.

Otherwise, I agree that such a devolution would generally improve the efficiency/effectiveness of transportation spending but would also basically spell the end of our already meager interstate transportation project planning.

There's no need to involve the Feds. They could eliminate the Federal gas tax. I guess I proposed a block-grant scenario because some states might not create their own funding source, preferring to let their roads disintegrate - including the national network of interstate highways, which really need to be in reasonably good shape to protect our national economy. Interstate commerce needs to pass through ass-backward states sometimes.

Interstate planning would occur on the metro level through planning agencies (Port Authority) and on the regional level through inter-state cooperation. But as Beta-Magellan already noted, there's no need or demand for much interstate planning. The Interstate Highway System is complete and has been for 20 years. Unless there is a national consensus about high-speed rail and the political will to implement it, I see no pressing interstate transportation issues besides the adequate maintenance of the existing highways. HSR is being dealt with regionally in those regions that are interested in building it (Midwest, Southeast, Northeast, Pacific Northwest).

Mr Downtown Feb 3, 2012 3:18 PM

^Because some states collect a lot of fuel taxes and other states have a lot of miles of highways that are essential to the national economy. The fuel taxes collected in Montana wouldn't pay for pothole repair on all the miles of I-90 in that state. Do we want to rely on the generosity of New Jersey or California to mail Montana DOT a check each year?

Nowhereman1280 Feb 3, 2012 3:27 PM

^^^ No, but I'm pretty sure that there shouldn't be freeways in Montana if there aren't enough people driving on them and buying enough gas to fund them. It makes no economic sense to keep open a road that is not used enough to pay for itself.

Interstate shipping isn't an excuse either because the railroads have already proven that their intermodal model of distribution is far superior to the big rig model. The railways would gladly shoulder any additional freight that would no longer be able to pass through I-90.

Besides, its not like freeways in Montana save any time. You can go 75+ on any two lane state highway there.

StormFire Feb 3, 2012 4:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 5572947)
I had always tried to figure this out as well. Why was I arriving at my destination locations on the far Northside earlier by bicycle than by taking the EL? after all the stops at stations aren't THAT lengthy, and even taking the lakefront trail, you are eventually confronted by stoplights and heavy traffic once back on surface streets.

The answer is simple. Bicycling is done doorstep to doorstep where transit is station to station plus the time it takes you to get to and from the stations and wait on a platform.

I am glad it is not just me too. I am only one block from both my originating and terminating stations, but I get from where I live to downtown, door to door, at least 10 minutes quicker by bike. Brown Fransicso stop to Washington/Wells vs California, Elston, Milwaukee, etc. bike route. Of course then I have to clean up and change, but still quicker. I would guess this is only good for CTA trains and not Metra.....

Vlajos Feb 3, 2012 5:15 PM

Anyone have any clue why CTA ridership exploded year over year in December?

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...ts/2011-12.pdf

emathias Feb 3, 2012 7:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vlajos (Post 5576026)
Anyone have any clue why CTA ridership exploded year over year in December?

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...ts/2011-12.pdf

Good question. The calendar adjustment explains a little bit of it, but as much as I wish it were sign that the masses have all of a sudden realized what a great transit system we actually do have, my guess is that the weather in December, 2010 was just a lot colder than this year.

Vlajos Feb 3, 2012 7:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 5576228)
Good question. The calendar adjustment explains a little bit of it, but as much as I wish it were sign that the masses have all of a sudden realized what a great transit system we actually do have, my guess is that the weather in December, 2010 was just a lot colder than this year.

Maybe, but the average daily weekday ridership was up 12% from last year. That seems like a very large increase.

I just looked at 12/09 and average daily ridership was 1,499,745 so, ridership is up 7% from that year as well.

lawfin Feb 3, 2012 9:19 PM

The improving economy and gas price pressure are my two guesses

emathias Feb 4, 2012 4:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lawfin (Post 5576401)
The improving economy and gas price pressure are my two guesses

The year as a whole was good, too. The first time in four years that the bus ridership rose, which is important (and all the better considering the hammering bus service has had in recent years).

Total ridership for the year is higher than 2008 for the first time, and fourth year in a row where total ridership was over a half million riders. It could be a combination of a recovering economy and high gas prices. Whatever it is, I hope it keeps up.

Standpoor Feb 4, 2012 5:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5575884)
^^^ No, but I'm pretty sure that there shouldn't be freeways in Montana if there aren't enough people driving on them and buying enough gas to fund them. It makes no economic sense to keep open a road that is not used enough to pay for itself.

Interstate shipping isn't an excuse either because the railroads have already proven that their intermodal model of distribution is far superior to the big rig model. The railways would gladly shoulder any additional freight that would no longer be able to pass through I-90.

Besides, its not like freeways in Montana save any time. You can go 75+ on any two lane state highway there.

The argument about gas tax always seemed rather odd since gas taxes do not equate to highway usage and are therefore not user fees. For instance, when we got that six inches of snow or so a couple of weeks ago, I walked two blocks to the gas station and bought two gallons of gas for my snowblower. In total I paid 36 cents in federal gas tax and used the interstate system 0. Moreover, I drive from my house on the north side to the southwest side everyday, its about a 7 mile drive so 14 total for the day. That equates to about one gallon of gas a day since it is all city driving. That means that I pay 18 cents in federal gas taxes a day and only use local roads that receive no federal money. So that is about $3.78 per month in taxes with zero federal road usage. Once a month, I travel to my Aunt's house for Sunday dinner and use the highway. It is about 20 miles(40 total) on the interstate but because it is on the highway and there is very rarely traffic on Sunday, I get about 30 mpg in my car depending on how I drive. That equates to about 24 cents paid in gas taxes for that trip. So as you can see, in a typical month I pay around $4.02 for gas taxes and that has very little to do with how much I actually use the interstate system. In fact it has everything to do with how much gas I use.

The English language has a name for a tax that is based on how much you consume and it is called an excise tax. The gas tax is an excise tax, not a use tax. I imagine that states with large cities have greater gas tax collection per lane mile than less densely populated states because more people burn gas less efficiently and use more local roads. Even though states like Montana are critical to the interstate system, they do not have the large number of people consuming gas off the highway to subsidize the highway users. Furthermore, consumers gas purchase might not match up to where they use the highway. If I bought gas on the state line between North Dakota and Montana, I would only have to fill up once in Montana even though I used 700 miles of Interstate in Montana. If we want to switch over to a user funded system then that is fine but we would have to switch over to tolls. The gas tax is not a user funded system, it has only a small relationship with usage.

Rail is great for a lot of products but not all products ship well over rail. If we do not fund the interstates and airports, then those products will have to ship less efficiently over rail. Having a diversified transportation system paid for by the greatest number of people, therefore lowering the cost per person, is the best system because it allows for flexibility and efficiency. Relying on one system leads to bad planning, i.e. road planning for the last 50 years. We just need to elect or appoint better people to actually implement a better system.

Central planning, i.e. the feds, is needed because you know that Indiana will screw us over if they were allowed. Illinois would end up having to pay for highways in Indiana if we wanted a usable network. Indiana screwed us with rail, pollution, etc. I do not trust them. I rather have Washington make the decisions than Indianapolis.

Mr Downtown Feb 4, 2012 3:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Standpoor (Post 5576964)
I pay 18 cents in federal gas taxes a day and only use local roads that receive no federal money.

What makes you think they receive no federal money?

The fuel excise tax is not an absolutely perfect user tax, but it's a good compromise between easy-to-collect (especially in a pre-GPS world) and based-on-usage.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5575884)
the railroads have already proven that their intermodal model of distribution is far superior to the big rig model. The railways would gladly shoulder any additional freight that would no longer be able to pass through I-90.

You might want to talk with someone at BNSF or a logistics firm about that assumption. Railroads gave up the loose-car business decades ago to focus on bulk movement from one big yard to another, and operate very close to maximum capacity these days. The shippers are also unlikely to be too keen about a system (loading and unloading of container trains) that adds several days to their cross-country journey times.

Beta_Magellan Feb 4, 2012 6:11 PM

We should also remember that railroads, unlike highways, have to pay property taxes and are taxed by volume, so there’s actually a pretty strong disincentive to add capacity (or maintain any more infrastructure than is absolutely needed). I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing—I think in the end it probably forces more freight onto roads (and over our nice, underfunded bridges and overpasses) than necessary, but if you want to see an expansion of intermodal freight it’s necessary to understand why it isn’t expanding quicker now.

It would be a fascinating thought experiment to think about how something closer to European freight rail—which is faster and carries more high-valued goods—could be overlayed on our existing rail network, and what sort of effect it could have on the further development of cargo transport in this country. My first guess would be that it wouldn’t do much per dollar invested—rail freight’s even more of a niche operation in Europe than it is here—but I’d love to see someone work something like this out.

ardecila Feb 4, 2012 6:51 PM

As you mention, you'd have to change the tax structure for railroads. Maybe if we ever get serious about high-speed rail, we could pass the freight tax reforms in return for more leverage over rights-of-way and shared operations.

Obviously the freight railroads will always be resistant to mixing freight/passenger on the same track, but UP and CSX have flat-out resisted any attempt to add passenger tracks to their ROWs.

ardecila Feb 6, 2012 12:21 AM

Quote:

Infographic Of The Day: Could Twitter Help Us Create Smarter Transit Routes?
Fast Company, 1/24/2012
Eric Fischer used geotagged tweets to create maps of the most highly trafficked thoroughfares in major cities.

Traditional city maps visualize just one aspect of urban design--the city’s intended structure, full stop. But add in a layer that visualizes how people actually use the city, and then the map becomes much more interesting. Eric Fischer did exactly that when he used Twitter’s API to collect tens of thousands of geotagged tweets and map them onto the streets of New York, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay area. The maps amount to something close to a desire path on a macro scale: The maps show where our buses and subways should be, if they conformed to the way we actually move and live.

http://www.fastcodesign.com/multisit...n-flow-2_0.jpg
Otherwise known as "where wealthy people with smartphones travel". The $25000/year single mom living in Back of the Yards is probably not gonna be tweeting on her way to work.

Graphically, this is a pretty weird map, too. Chicago is a perfect grid but the lines are all zig-zag like an EKG line. I know the mapmaker was just connecting dots but it doesn't really make sense relative to Chicago's geography. Is there really a huge demand for travel down Fullerton from Clark to Pulaski and then diagonally to Oak Park? Even if there was, why should we care? The extreme cost of building a transit line that diverges substantially from the existing street grid/railroad network makes it pretty much futile. We're not gonna be cutting new diagonal routes across the city like Baron von Haussman. Even in the mad rush of expressway building, we didn't diverge from existing N/S/E/W or railroad lines.

What I'd really like to see is a map that showed CTA's bus routes, with the lineweight corresponding to the peak loading on the transit vehicle. That way you could see the busiest parts of each route, and maybe start to determine segments where BRT improvements would have the greatest impact. If the farebox was somehow linked to the Bus Tracker GPS, it could measure boardings per stop and thereby know exactly how many people are on the bus at each point along the route. Average that out over time, and you start to have some valuable information that doesn't have the socio-economic bias of a Twitter map.

Mr Downtown Feb 6, 2012 1:47 AM

I don't know that solo drivers do much tweeting. So it seems that what we're actually seeing are the cell towers used by young people riding the Blue and Red lines.

zolk Feb 6, 2012 5:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5578772)
If the farebox was somehow linked to the Bus Tracker GPS, it could measure boardings per stop and thereby know exactly how many people are on the bus at each point along the route.

I believe this is already possible. Every bus has infrared passenger counting devices that link up to the same computer system that powers Bus Tracker.

ardecila Feb 6, 2012 7:20 AM

Interesting. So CTA already has this data... I guess the trick would be to start recording it over a period of time and then format it for analysis.

It would be awesome to see capital investment for the bus system being data-driven instead of ego-driven, now that there's actually some political will to reformat the streets for better bus service. That's probably too much to ask. :shrug:

Beta_Magellan Feb 7, 2012 1:46 AM

Just returned from the open house in Evanston about the Red-Purple Modernization—the boards can found in pdf form here. Short version:

•Underground screened out due to risk issues and poor phasing options. Womp-womp.

•As compensation we get a Clark flyover. Hooray!

•3-track elevated screened out—didn’t see why, but I’m supposing it’s because the CTA’s too frequent for 3-track-type services to be done without being needlessly complicated. That leaves no build, basic rehab, and full rehab (4 track) from the original screening.

•A new option was added—full rebuild with all existing stations (plus new entrances-exits for some existing stations). This takes a big chunk out of the time savings from the new four-track elevated. People seemed pretty much split on speed-vs.-stations everywhere issues, though the all-stations types seemed more adamant.

•No new cost estimates as of yet, which is disappointing since it would be nice to see the difference between full rehab w/station consolidation and full rehab without.


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