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  #1841  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2010, 4:37 AM
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This article is from November 20th

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TRANSPORTATION

I-35/Ben White flyovers delayed by six months
2 flyovers at U.S. 290/MoPac Boulevard to go forward

By Ben Wear
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Friday, November 20, 2009

Construction of four flyover bridges at Interstate 35 and Ben White Boulevard, which was supposed to begin this fall, instead probably won't get going until spring, Texas Department of Transportation officials said Thursday .

The problem: The winning bid was too low, according to the company that submitted it. McCarthy Building Companies Inc. , shortly after winning the right to build the four flyovers with a $24.4 million bid, informed TxDOT on Oct. 28 that it had made a bidding error and wished to withdraw its proposal. The bid was $2.7 million lower than the next lowest bidder.

...
http://www.statesman.com/news/conten...ads.html?imw=Y
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  #1842  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2010, 4:38 AM
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On tap for 2010: Flyovers, more 183-A, commuter rail (at long last)
Ben Wear: Getting There

Updated: 11:38 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010
Published: 11:32 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010

I really didn't expect Capital Metro's commuter rail project to make this annual construction update again. It was supposed to be done, you may recall, by March 30, 2009. I even received an invitation to the opening in mid-March, a card featuring an Art Deco-style rendering of a red,black and silver Capital Metro train streaming along under a starlit Austin sky.

"Look what just rolled in," it said. Well, not so much.

...
http://www.statesman.com/news/texas/...type=ynews_rss
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  #1843  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2010, 2:26 PM
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Cap Metro balks at paying debt to city
Cash-strapped transit agency suspends 2003 deal to reimburse Austin for certain transportation projects.

...

The city is due the money, say the two people caught in the middle: Austin City Council Members Chris Riley and Mike Martinez , who also serve on the Capital Metro board — Martinez as chairman.

"Capital Metro's obligations to the city are legally enforceable," Riley said at an board meeting last week. "That does not mean, 'whenever we feel like we're flushed with money.' That language (in the agreement) does not mean we can pay whenever we want.

"You can dismiss this as coming from a city guy. But I believe Cap Metro would be in a weak position if it came to litigation."
Full article here. Note this proves that CM was lying about their reserves, and their enablers who insisted they'd be paying the 1/4 cent money owe Ben Wear a big fat apology.
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  #1844  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2010, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Full article here. Note this proves that CM was lying about their reserves, and their enablers who insisted they'd be paying the 1/4 cent money owe Ben Wear a big fat apology.
Lying? Please explain. Are you referring to the $176 Million in this article, versus the $200 Million in the previous article, both by Ben Wear? Do you think it might be Ben Wear's reporting that should be in question? Rather than rely on third hand information, why not research the information yourself on Cap Metro's financial statements if you have questions.

This article actually clarified a couple things for me. I had forgot that it was the Cap Metro Board that created the 1/4 cent program, rather than the State. The rumor at the time was that the State was going to roll back Cap Metro's tax by 1/4 cent permanently, and might even go for 1/2 cent. Cap Metro wouldn't even have been able to operate existing bus routes if that happened, let alone make future improvements. The Cap Metro Board created the 1/4 cent program to fend off such moves by the State. What I didn't know was that the $91 Million of reserve money to be paid out through 2013 was in addition to the 1/4 cent. I thought that was the estimated value of the 1/4 cent until the next election in 2004 could be held, and the 2013 date the estimated time it would take to build all projects and reimburse the City.

As for paying the City, don't think it isn't going to happen, even if it has to go to court. The statement is a negotiating tactic. Cap Metro is talking tough to try and get the repayment schedule extended. The City's position is that they have already programmed the money and are in the process of spending it, so they should be paid back per the agreement. The reality is that the repayment schedule will probably have to be extended because Cap Metro does not have the funds just sitting around. The conversation is far from over.
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  #1845  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2010, 3:29 AM
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SAM's Transit Priorities

I've put together my list of priorities for transit projects that could be developed incrementally over the next 10 to 25 years to make up a comprehensive transit system in the Austin MSA.

Projects sponsored by different lead agencies and using different funding sources should be able to be developed concurrently even though some cost sharing among agencies is likely for many projects.

The regional projects will likely take longer to implement due to scope, complexity, and uncertain funding for some projects, but I have listed them by priority within that category.

Most projects have already been proposed, but I added a couple of my own ideas as well. Most costs are from published reports. I had to guesstimate a few based on published costs.




Last edited by SecretAgentMan; Feb 5, 2010 at 11:28 AM.
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  #1846  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2010, 2:20 PM
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Originally Posted by SecretAgentMan View Post
Lying? Please explain.
...

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As for paying the City, don't think it isn't going to happen, even if it has to go to court. The statement is a negotiating tactic. Cap Metro is talking tough to try and get the repayment schedule extended. The City's position is that they have already programmed the money and are in the process of spending it, so they should be paid back per the agreement. The reality is that the repayment schedule will probably have to be extended because Cap Metro does not have the funds just sitting around. The conversation is far from over.
CM and their enablers insisted that their financial position would not prevent them from paying back the city, and that such payments would proceed on schedule. This is obviously not true; was obviously not true back then; and once again, John-Michael, you and the other enablers owe Ben Wear (and me!) an apology.
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  #1847  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2010, 2:23 PM
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Originally Posted by SecretAgentMan View Post
I've put together my list of priorities for transit projects that could be developed incrementally over the next 10 to 25 years to make up a comprehensive transit system in the Austin MSA.
Relies on the questionable contention that there's enough room in the Red Line ROW between Lamar/Airport and Pickle for 2 lines of commuter rail + 1 line of urban rail (+ some segments of rails with trails).

IE, pure fantasy.

Also, every dollar spent on the Red or Green Line is a dollar that cannot be spent on urban rail - and in fact, those programs will be competing almost 100% for every dollar they receive; both locally and federally (any long extension of the city's urban rail start will be unlikely to be funded by the new smallish streetcar starter sub-program - would thus be competing in the general rail funding area with Red or Green Line at the Feds AND locally).
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  #1848  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2010, 4:18 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Relies on the questionable contention that there's enough room in the Red Line ROW between Lamar/Airport and Pickle for 2 lines of commuter rail + 1 line of urban rail (+ some segments of rails with trails). IE, pure fantasy.
I would think there would be room for three tracks in the corridor, except I would prefer 2 for light rail and 1 for commuter rail. You are always suggesting there isn't room to lay tracks in a certain sized right of way. How wrong can you be, just look at what DART is doing in Dallas in a railroad corridor just as wide as CapMetro's.

This first photo shows the southern approaches to the Trinity Mills Station in the background. The two light rail tracks are lowering to grade to join the standard track. DCTA's A Train terminates here using the standard rail track approaching from the north. Note how the standard track diverts around the train station.

This photo shows the Market Center Station light rail station, which will have side platforms with a pedestrian bridge to the Market Center. Note the standard tracks in the background, and how close it is to the light rail tracks and station platform.

This photo shows the Love Field light rail station, which will have side platforms. Note the standard track in the background.

This photo shows the Walnut Hill/Denton Road light rail station with light rail tracks being elevated and standard tracks at grade. Note how close the tracks are, and how narrow the corridor is. I find it very difficult to believe the Red Line corridor in Austin is much narrower, or that a similar solution couldn't be used......

This photo shows the Lawnview light rail station, which has a center platform. Note the standard rail track in the background.

This photo shows the Downtown Carrollton light rail station, where the light rail tracks are elevated over a standard rail junction that has three different freight lines, the junction is at the bottom left corner of the photo. Immediately in front of the wall under the light rail tracks is another standard track

This photo shows the Downtown Carrollton light rail station from a different angle. Note DART elevated stations have center platforms.

And this photo too looking in the opposite direction (in this case north)


My point is, if DART can engineer three and more tracks into an existing rail corridor, so can CapMetro. Don't dismiss what engineers can design beforehand.

These photos show the major advantages of using light rail well. The ability to change grades using 6% to 8% slopes is far better than 1% to 2% for freight trains. The ability for having multiple grades in a corridor allows much more to be squeezed into a narrow corridor. The ability to go over, under, or around an obstacle is very handy too.

That's not to say commuter rail can't do the same things. They just needs more room (vertically and horizontally) to do so. Commuter rail can also be powered from electricity, you don't have to use diesel engines if you don't wish too. The Stadler GTW comes in both EMU and DMU models. You can have just as many automatic doors on a GTW as any light rail vehicle to increase passengers boardings at stations.

Here's a photo of a CapMetro 2/6 GTW with 2 doors per side:


Here's a photo of an EMU powered 2/8 GTW with 6 doors per side:


I think it is easily apparent that a 2/6 GTW can have 4 doors per side. So, the GTW is a very flexible train, although not as maneuverable in tight places as light rail trains.

Last edited by electricron; Jan 29, 2010 at 6:48 PM.
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  #1849  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2010, 7:14 PM
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We know there isn't enough room for 2 commuter rail tracks + 1 urban rail track (much less the 2 urban rail tracks that would seem to be required) because CM has already told us there isn't even enough room for 2 commuter rail tracks + rails-with-trails in some parts of this corridor which despite your claim is nowhere near as wide as DART's in the part of the corridor where SAM was proposing running urban rail vehicles. Talking about how you can fit N tracks in some corridors is spectacularly unhelpful here. Obviously that's true; there's rail corridors in parts of the country with dozens of tracks in them.

Perhaps in the future you should argue specifics rather then generalities in this topic?
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  #1850  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2010, 4:30 AM
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We know there isn't enough room for 2 commuter rail tracks + 1 urban rail track (much less the 2 urban rail tracks that would seem to be required) because CM has already told us there isn't even enough room for 2 commuter rail tracks + rails-with-trails in some parts of this corridor which despite your claim is nowhere near as wide as DART's in the part of the corridor where SAM was proposing running urban rail vehicles.
Specifics?
How wide is the CapMetro corridor at its narrowest section?
The best I can estimate, using Google Earth, is 60 feet wide.
The rail corridor is ~90 feet wide at Lamar.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at Anderson.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at Ohlen.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at US 183.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at Rutland.
The rail corridor is ~70 feet wide at Kramer.


How wide is the DART Green line at its narrowest section?
The best I can estimate, using Google Earth, is 50 feet wide.
The rail corridor is ~55 feet wide at Storey Lane.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at Lombardy Lane.
The rail corridor is ~70 feet wide at Forest Lane.
The rail corridor is ~50 feet wide just south of Crosby Road.
The rail corridor is ~50 feet wide just north of Crosby Road.

If DART can do it, so can CapMetro. But that does mean moving the existing tracks away from the center of the corridor to make room for light rail tracks or track support columns. It can be done......

As for the excuse there isn't room for two tracks and bike/hike trail in the corridor, look at the seperation specifications between tracks and trail again, you'll discover it's at least twice as far as between rails. Light rail tracks can also be ran over commuter/freight tracks too.
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  #1851  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2010, 6:54 AM
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I can't believe how long this argument has gone on lol
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  #1852  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2010, 2:23 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Specifics?
How wide is the CapMetro corridor at its narrowest section?
The best I can estimate, using Google Earth, is 60 feet wide.
The rail corridor is ~90 feet wide at Lamar.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at Anderson.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at Ohlen.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at US 183.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at Rutland.
The rail corridor is ~70 feet wide at Kramer.


How wide is the DART Green line at its narrowest section?
The best I can estimate, using Google Earth, is 50 feet wide.
The rail corridor is ~55 feet wide at Storey Lane.
The rail corridor is ~60 feet wide at Lombardy Lane.
The rail corridor is ~70 feet wide at Forest Lane.
The rail corridor is ~50 feet wide just south of Crosby Road.
The rail corridor is ~50 feet wide just north of Crosby Road.

If DART can do it, so can CapMetro. But that does mean moving the existing tracks away from the center of the corridor to make room for light rail tracks or track support columns. It can be done......

As for the excuse there isn't room for two tracks and bike/hike trail in the corridor, look at the seperation specifications between tracks and trail again, you'll discover it's at least twice as far as between rails. Light rail tracks can also be ran over commuter/freight tracks too.
We have been over this before. The narrowest section of Cap Metro ROW is between Morrow and Ohlen. There is residential on both sides, so an elevated solution is not appropriate. However, the narrowest width is 50 feet. That is wide enough for three tracks. Please refer to Section L on Page 13 of Appendix C of Cap Metro's Rail With Trails Study. http://allsystemsgo.capmetro.org/dow...ndix%20B-E.pdf

You will note it shows 3 tracks in 50 feet. The reason Cap Metro is not building trail within this section, is that they plan on adding tracks, and if they build a trail next to the existing single track, it will preclude adding tracks in the future.

I have also offered the possibility of routing on Anderson and Burnet, although I did not show that option on my map or chart for simplicity. Anderson Lane has a ROW of 85 feet, which is 5 feet wider than any Downtown street except for Congress. Burnet Road north of Anderson has a ROW of 130 feet at the narrowest point, 10 feet wider than Congress.

An in-street solution would be somewhat slower than in the rail ROW, but the rest of the Urban Rail system is also in-street, so it makes little difference. Even the 2000 LRT plan would have been in-street south of Airport and Lamar.
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  #1853  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2010, 5:01 AM
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Originally Posted by SecretAgentMan View Post
We have been over this before. The narrowest section of Cap Metro ROW is between Morrow and Ohlen. There is residential on both sides, so an elevated solution is not appropriate. However, the narrowest width is 50 feet. That is wide enough for three tracks. Please refer to Section L on Page 13 of Appendix C of Cap Metro's Rail With Trails Study. http://allsystemsgo.capmetro.org/dow...ndix%20B-E.pdf

You will note it shows 3 tracks in 50 feet. The reason Cap Metro is not building trail within this section, is that they plan on adding tracks, and if they build a trail next to the existing single track, it will preclude adding tracks in the future.

I have also offered the possibility of routing on Anderson and Burnet, although I did not show that option on my map or chart for simplicity. Anderson Lane has a ROW of 85 feet, which is 5 feet wider than any Downtown street except for Congress. Burnet Road north of Anderson has a ROW of 130 feet at the narrowest point, 10 feet wider than Congress.

An in-street solution would be somewhat slower than in the rail ROW, but the rest of the Urban Rail system is also in-street, so it makes little difference. Even the 2000 LRT plan would have been in-street south of Airport and Lamar.
Thanks for posting the link to Section C. The only problem I have with it is that the drawings show every track, including light rail tracks, will remain at grade. I think I have proven with the DART Green Line photos earlier that light rail tracks don't have to remain at grade, that light rail tracks can be built above commuter rail tracks. I strongly suggest it is physically possible to place 6 tracks in a 50 feet corridor, 3 tracks at grade and 3 tracks above or below grade. I'll admit building tracks above or below grade isn't cheap, but it isn't impossible either. I'll also admit having 6 tracks in that corridor isn't needed.

Looking at the drawings carefully, CapMetro expects 15 feet separation between track centerlines, and 10 feet separation for other obstacles from track centerlines. Trails have a minimum of 25 feet clearance from track centerlines in 50 feet wide corridor, and 35 feet clearances from track centerline in 100 feet corridor. In 50 feet wide corridor, no bike/hike trails are built in the existing right-of-way, they're all built in bordering easements or along parallel streets.
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  #1854  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2010, 6:13 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
We know there isn't enough room for 2 commuter rail tracks + 1 urban rail track (much less the 2 urban rail tracks that would seem to be required)
The most likely scenario for the three tracks (that do fit) would be for one to be dedicated to freight, and the other two to be shared by commuter rail and urban rail.

The FRA currently requires all freight trains and non-FRA compliant rail vehicles to be positively separated either spatially or temporally. Cap Metro's vehicles are not FRA compliant, so they had to get a waiver form the FRA to separate them temporally. The time separation rules include a buffer period (I think 6 hours) between the time FRA compliant and non-FRA compliant vehicles can be on the single track. That is why Cap Metro cannot offer late night service without bumping the window to operate freight. Triple tracking allows freight to have it's own dedicated track, and the other two tracks allow more frequent, bi-directional, extended hour service for commuter rail, and potentially urban rail.

There is some discussion that FRA rules could be relaxed somewhat to allow positive train control to be used in lieu of time separation as is the case in Europe, but that is far from certain.

I am not aware of any regulation that prohibits operation of different sized non-FRA compliant vehicles on the same track. I believe Charlotte operates a heritage trolley on their light rail tracks and is examining the possibility of an expanded 'trolley' system using modern streetcar vehicles.

Modern streetcars, standard LRVs and Cap Metro's commuter rail vehicles are physically very similar. They differ slightly in width, height, and floor height, but so do different models of standard LRVs. The biggest difference between the three vehicles is the length of individual vehicles. Cap Metro's GTWs are about 1 1/2 times as long as a standard LRV, which are in turn about 1 1/2 times as long as a modern streetcar. In other words, two coupled GTWs = 3 LRVs. Modern streetcars are not typically coupled in North America, but they are often in Europe. Two modern streetcars = 1 GTW, 3 = 2 LRVs. The physical differences of operating different vehicle sizes is little different than operating consists of different numbers of LRVs, which is commonly done on all systems.

There are slight differences is performance (acceleration and braking) that would complicate the train control operations, but it should not be insurmountable. the GTWs are also capable of being converted to operate electrically or bi-modal, so if there is a OCS system in place in part of a corridor, they could take advantage of it to save fuel and improve performance.
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  #1855  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2010, 1:12 AM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Thanks for posting the link to Section C. The only problem I have with it is that the drawings show every track, including light rail tracks, will remain at grade. I think I have proven with the DART Green Line photos earlier that light rail tracks don't have to remain at grade, that light rail tracks can be built above commuter rail tracks. I strongly suggest it is physically possible to place 6 tracks in a 50 feet corridor, 3 tracks at grade and 3 tracks above or below grade. I'll admit building tracks above or below grade isn't cheap, but it isn't impossible either. I'll also admit having 6 tracks in that corridor isn't needed.
As mentioned above, for the narrow section between Morrow and Ohlen, it is not appropriate to have the elevated railway because the track is surrounded by residential homes on either side. The opposition would be too great.

I should also mention that the neighborhoods through this section (Crestview and Wooten) are also going crazy about the possibility that Trails with Rails might not hit our area. There was a recent petition drive on the Crestview NA listserv to demand Trails with Rails in the face of the Cap Metro budget crunch. Yours truly posted that she'd rather cut Trails with Rails than face service cuts. This was not a popular response.
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  #1856  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2010, 8:47 PM
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Looking at the drawings carefully, CapMetro expects 15 feet separation between track centerlines, and 10 feet separation for other obstacles from track centerlines. Trails have a minimum of 25 feet clearance from track centerlines in 50 feet wide corridor, and 35 feet clearances from track centerline in 100 feet corridor. In 50 feet wide corridor, no bike/hike trails are built in the existing right-of-way, they're all built in bordering easements or along parallel streets.
Which should tell you that there's no room for 3 tracks, one of which might be freight, in that corridor.

Again, people, in the modern world, you don't try to and won't get approval to operate 3 tracks in the middle of a residential area with 2 of them carrying passengers and one carrying freight.

Likewise with SAM's comments - yes, it's theoretically possible to run the vehicles on the same track. In the real world, in this day and age, you don't and won't. The stations alone present a nearly insurmountable obstacle. The ONLY way you'd get service on the Red Line ROW with urban rail vehicles, in my opinion (which you should listen to, since unlike these guys, I don't make pie-in-the-sky predictions that turn out to be wrong; but actually real-world judgements that have proven to be right), is to eliminate the existing commuter rail platforms and vehicles from the equation - which would basically mean going back to the 2000 LRT plan, except with the city's vehicles.

And even that is damn unlikely.
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  #1857  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2010, 9:45 PM
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Originally Posted by breathesgelatin View Post
As mentioned above, for the narrow section between Morrow and Ohlen, it is not appropriate to have the elevated railway because the track is surrounded by residential homes on either side. The opposition would be too great.
I'm sure it's terribly expensive, but could they build commuter/light rail tracks underground for that narrow section? It wouldn't be too long of a segment. Doesn't DART have some tunnels like that?
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  #1858  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 4:38 AM
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Looks like CapMetro will be getting two BRT lines very soon.

http://capmetroblog.com/2010/02/02/o...nd-metrorapid/

Yesterday, President Obama (yes, THE President of the United States himself, Mr. Barack Obama) proposed his FY 2011 budget and it included $24 million in *additional* federal funds for Capital Metro’s MetroRapid project. In FY 2010, we were awarded $13.4 million in federal funds. Combine that with the newly recommended $24 million and the federal total becomes $37.4 million—or 80 percent of our total estimated capital cost of $47 million. This new funding recommendation is a great indication that we are on our way to securing a full-funding grant agreement with the feds. (Since an eighty percent funding level is the maximum amount of federal funding provided for capital grants under the Very Small Starts program, the feds call this “full” funding.)
MetroRapid map:
http://www.capmetro.org/images/rapid_map.jpg
Sorry, the map is way too huge to post the image.
For a financially challenged agency, getting $24 Million from the Feds is very handy.
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  #1859  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 2:07 PM
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M1EK on the radio again (re: Rapid Bus)

electicron's not the only one with little knowledge of the specifics of our area calling them BRT lines.

the KUT story here. They left out the supporting arguments, as per usual:

1. Travel time savings quoted are versus the local (#1), not the existing express (#101). They're still only 20%; pretty lame.

2. The signal-holding doodad won't be much help in the most congested part of the corridor - anybody who spends any time between, say, south of 15th and 30th going northbound on an afternoon knows that the backup you're in is from the next 10 lights, not just the one in front of you that the bus could modify.

Things commonly considered part of BRT which are missing completely from this plan: reserved lanes, queue-jumping lanes, off-board payment. Were it not for the signal-holding doodad (which won't work anyways in most of this corridor), this would just be like normal bus service with new vehicles (they have articulated buses running normal and express routes in cities all over the country; the difference is that we apparently fooled the Feds into buying us new rolling stock on the justification this would be a BRT route instead of just a really marginal case of 'better bus').



And back to the radio story: this is the difference between a pseudonym (M1EK) and anonymity. That's me on the radio there, with my real name; bear that in mind the next time one of the other guys tries to assert more credibility.
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  #1860  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 4:48 PM
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I realize you would prefer a different transit mode for either corridor. Yet, this is a transit improvement, $24 Million of additional federal cash going into CapMetro's bank accounts, which you should be rejoicing over.
The rapid bus services will run on both sides of the Colorado River on streets with the most density in the city. Funny how one of my earlier suggestions for a streetcar route was dismissed offhand because there wasn't sufficient density, yet both CapMetro and the FTA thinks there is for Metrorapid services.

I thought you would agree with most that with CapMetro's low financial resources cheaper transit modes should be built first, not the most expensive mode CapMetro can no longer afford. Any improvement is better than none.

I guess I was wrong......
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