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  #1881  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2010, 2:49 AM
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As an outsider looking at Austin transportation initiatives over the last few years, the powers in charge must reach a decision over who is running transit in Austin.....

CapMetro has the tax funding mechanisms by state law. CapMetro, no matter how poorly it runs transit, should be the ones in charge. The City of Austin should get out of the transit business.

CapMetro should never had promised the city any funds from its tax revenues. CapMetro should have limited which city projects it would help finance, comtrolled the city projects scheduling, and required each city project to pass the CapMetro's board. It did make the promise, but did not limit city projects in any way, and has a contractual obligation to honor. The reality that has hit home is for each dollar the City takes makes CapMetro poorer.

I not so sure the citizens of Austin will be better off with CapMetro funding a City planned urban rail system that results in CapMetro stopping most of the bus services throughout the city.
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  #1882  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2010, 5:51 PM
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Originally Posted by SecretAgentMan View Post
I hope you're not talking about me. You don't know where I work (or even if I do). If you're going to impugn someone's integrity (even if they wish to remain anonymous) you should just come out and make direct accusations rather than hinting at it.
Yes, I absolutely am talking about you. We have no way of knowing where you work; JMVC, for instance, has a strong incentive to make it look like investments in commuter rail expansion and Rapid Bus won't prevent the city's urban rail project from going forward, even though he knows full well they will not. There are others whose bread is buttered very thoroughly on Capital Metro's side who would have similar incentives to mislead, anonymously.

You've been impugning MY credibility this whole time, even though I do NOT post anonymously. And when I said, directly, that there's not enough rail dollars to go around (and that Rapid Bus investments will preclude urban rail on Guadalupe), you got curiously silent.

This isn't a personal attack; this is an effort to expose somebody who may not be contributing on the level. If you don't like it, contribute without impugning; contribute without trying to assert insider status; or let us know some details that can relieve our suspicion. There's really not a lot of valid reasons you shouldn't be able to identify yourself unless you DO have one of these conflicts of interest I mention above.
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  #1883  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2010, 5:57 PM
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Originally Posted by SecretAgentMan View Post
I have experienced long delays on the Drag, particularly on the bus. I think that is partly due to the fact buses stop on almost every block, and effectively contribute to the congestion.
The last time I was on one of the commutes from hell and had to drive through this portion, I, likewise, sped right through - something else was going on downstream to limit the number of vehicles in this corridor (accident elsewhere). Probably the same day you did, actually.

On previous, very LONG, stretches on the Drag on the bus, the bus I was on stopped a few times - but each and every time it stopped, didn't actually lose its place in line, because the corridor wasn't really moving more than a couple dozen feet every few minutes. Likewise, on days when I'm driving the Drag and traffic's really bad (on days when Mopac was backed up past my onramp at Bee Cave so I was desperate), I do better than the buses because I can go around the ones that stop, but it's obvious that the buses wouldn't be doing all *that* much better if none of the other buses stopped. Maybe shave a minute off that extra 15 minutes.
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  #1884  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2010, 5:59 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
As an outsider looking at Austin transportation initiatives over the last few years, the powers in charge must reach a decision over who is running transit in Austin.....

CapMetro has the tax funding mechanisms by state law. CapMetro, no matter how poorly it runs transit, should be the ones in charge. The City of Austin should get out of the transit business.

CapMetro should never had promised the city any funds from its tax revenues. CapMetro should have limited which city projects it would help finance, comtrolled the city projects scheduling, and required each city project to pass the CapMetro's board. It did make the promise, but did not limit city projects in any way, and has a contractual obligation to honor. The reality that has hit home is for each dollar the City takes makes CapMetro poorer.

I not so sure the citizens of Austin will be better off with CapMetro funding a City planned urban rail system that results in CapMetro stopping most of the bus services throughout the city.
As an outsider, you weren't here after the election in 2000 and thus have no idea why the 1/4 cent money was promised in the first place. Hint: It was a voluntary giveback to ensure that more money (1/2 cent was talked about) wasn't taken back by the freeway interests like Jim Skaggs at ROAD. The city has spent its money on transit-supportive projects, not freeways; and, frankly, has been a far better steward of those dollars over the last 8 years than has Capital Metro.
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  #1885  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2010, 2:02 AM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
As an outsider, you weren't here after the election in 2000 and thus have no idea why the 1/4 cent money was promised in the first place. Hint: It was a voluntary giveback to ensure that more money (1/2 cent was talked about) wasn't taken back by the freeway interests like Jim Skaggs at ROAD. The city has spent its money on transit-supportive projects, not freeways; and, frankly, has been a far better steward of those dollars over the last 8 years than has Capital Metro.
I'm sorry, but it isn't voluntary if the City forces every penny out of CapMetro.

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  #1886  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2010, 2:29 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Yes, I absolutely am talking about you. We have no way of knowing where you work; JMVC, for instance, has a strong incentive to make it look like investments in commuter rail expansion and Rapid Bus won't prevent the city's urban rail project from going forward, even though he knows full well they will not. There are others whose bread is buttered very thoroughly on Capital Metro's side who would have similar incentives to mislead, anonymously.

You've been impugning MY credibility this whole time, even though I do NOT post anonymously. And when I said, directly, that there's not enough rail dollars to go around (and that Rapid Bus investments will preclude urban rail on Guadalupe), you got curiously silent.

This isn't a personal attack; this is an effort to expose somebody who may not be contributing on the level. If you don't like it, contribute without impugning; contribute without trying to assert insider status; or let us know some details that can relieve our suspicion. There's really not a lot of valid reasons you shouldn't be able to identify yourself unless you DO have one of these conflicts of interest I mention above.
Does JMVC = John Michael Cortez? What does the V stand for?

Sorry, dude, I already told you that you were way off base. There really isn't any point to your guessing - you aren't ever going to guess my identity.

I don't have any ulterior motives other than as a transit advocate. As imperfect as Cap Metro is, I tend to stand up or them because they are OUR transit agency, and nobody else ever seems willing to do so. Cap Metro was birthed and exists in an extremely hostile anti-transit climate. The old boy road warrior network, and their hacks like Ben Wear, have had a heyday with Cap Metro from day one. It really irks me to see supposed transit advocates piling on at every opportunity.

So, yesterday I got through the Drag in under 5 minutes. If it weren't for catching a red light at Dean Keeton, I wouldn't have had to stop at all.

I really do think it would be ideal (from a transit perspective) to have dedicated lanes on the Drag - I'm just having a very difficult time imagining it. I mean, look at the hysteria over the Nueces Bike Bouevard! Can you imagine the uproar if Guadalupe was reduced to a single travel lane in each direction? It is already one of the most congested segments of roadway in the city.

Even with a comprehensive urban rail network, there will probably always be a need for local buses on the Drag. The total number of buses might be reduced somewhat, but there will still be a need to serve stops between the limited stops on the corridor, and some routes like the 5 will probably never be converted to rail.

If an exclusive center median trackway was introduced, cars and buses would have to share a single lane, and cars would get stuck behind bus stops. That doesn't seem very viable. South of 24th, the roadway section could be widened by eliminating bike lanes, parking and narrowing the already too narrow sidewalks. Not a very multi-modal approach. North of 24th, road widening would require demolition of historic, semi-historic and recently constructed buildings.

The most viable short term solution would be to have urban rail and buses share a lane. That would have to be the right lane, since buses only have doors on the right side. It would, in effect, be a shared lane, because cars would have to be allowed to enter the lane to make right turns. Fortunately, there are relatively few right turns into campus. Unless the local bus stops were reduced in number, the urban rail would get stuck behind every stopped bus, limiting speed. It seems like fairly limited transit benefit for a lot of automobile pain. I'd get behind it, but how many typical car driving citizens would?

That's why I think the only viable long term solution is a tunnel section under the Drag. Many older streetcar cities, like Boston, Toronto, and San Francisco, have tunnel segments for their streetcar systems. San Francisco is particularly interesting if you haven't experienced it. The MUNI LRVs are somewhat shorter than standard LRVs, and somewhat longer than typical streetcars. They operate mostly in two car consists, and in outer residential areas operate mostly in streetcar mode (and very slowly I might add). Once they enter the Market Street Tunnel (above the BART subway) they fly through Downtown at remarkable speed. On the surface of Market, there are more streetcars, buses, bike lanes, taxi stands and connections to historic cable cars for more local travel. It is a triple decker, multi-modal, transit extravaganza!

I'd like to think that Austin might one day have the multi-modal system it deserves. After all, Austin is on the verge of surpassing San Francisco in population (within City limits, not MSA). That will require citizens to stop fighting Cap Metro at every turn, and get behind whatever modest transit improvements can be made, instead of fighting tooth and nail for their own private visions of the perfect transit system.
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  #1887  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2010, 8:02 PM
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...



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.
No - I don't owe you or Wear anything - get over yourself. And I find it hilarious that you think this other commenter is me. I hate to break it to you, MIEK, but there are many other people besides me who realize that you really don't know what you are talking about. - jmvc
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  #1888  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2010, 8:24 PM
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[QUOTE=M1EK;4696259]Yes, I absolutely am talking about you. We have no way of knowing where you work; JMVC, for instance, has a strong incentive to make it look like investments in commuter rail expansion and Rapid Bus won't prevent the city's urban rail project from going forward, even though he knows full well they will not. There are others whose bread is buttered very thoroughly on Capital Metro's side who would have similar incentives to mislead, anonymously.

Careful there, MIEK. Sounds a lot like you are calling me a liar. You do not know anything about me or my interests, nor what I know and do not know. My interest is the same as yours - a better transit system. Although I am indeed a Cap Metro employee, they do not pay me to mislead people. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I am misleading anyone. I imagine the real difference between our positions on things is that you read about things that are happening in Wear's column and on a few blogs, jump to conclusions and then go rant about it....and I am actually involved in many of the things you read about and privy to the discussions and context that Wear does not write about, I ask questions of the people involved to ensure I understand why decisions are made and their implications, AND THEN I go talk about it...that is my job.
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  #1889  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2010, 10:12 PM
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All I know is it has taken way too long for Capital Metro to get this commuter rail running. More than a year over schedule and way over budget. I would love to see light rail throughout the central core but I don't think Capital Metro is a good canidate for that.
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  #1890  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2010, 11:24 PM
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Reading recent comments that there isn't room for rapid buses lanes on N. Guadeloupe and N. Lamar south of Airport Blvd., I wonder where the proposed 2000 light rail tracks would have fitted?

You just can't have room at grade for one and not the other.
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  #1891  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 3:37 PM
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Ref SAM and JMVC; Ben Wear was dead right about the finances - and now Capital Metro is trying to avoid paying the city for projects the city has effectively already begun. JMVC, you've been wrong on this issue over and over again - and it's clear it's your bias as an employee that's been to blame here.

Ref room on Guadalupe, yes, the 2000 LRT plan would have had reserved lanes on Guadalupe - there are a couple of chokepoints that present problems; but for most of the route there was enough room to maintain two travel lanes in each direction (no center turn lane; no parking). The second narrowest section, 24th to 27th, would likely require reducing the road to only one car/bus lane in each direction - which would, yes, be shared by cars and buses - but the idea in the corridor is that the LRT vehicles would carry so many more people than the cars/buses it replaces that the overall capacity would, in fact, go up.

The worst chokepoint (27th to 29th), as SAM and I have discussed in the past, would have only had enough room for one travel lane in one direction (assuming bike lanes); probably could have squeezed one travel lane each direction if the bike lanes were eliminated (they don't exist today, after all). Plans on the wall of our meeting room showed an attempt to resolve this by utilizing other streets in the area (also complicated because a station was in this stretch) - such as Nueces and Fruth.

You also could, theoretically, run buses in the rail lanes on this congested stretch - the headways of the LRT vehicles left plenty of room for some bus operations, but this would have presented some difficulties with enforcement (imagine how often cars would try to follow the buses into the reserved guideway).

Finally, again, if SAM won't say who he is, but continues to vigorously assault the credibility of the non-anonymous poster who disagrees with him, it is, in fact, perfectly valid to wonder why. Are you being paid by somebody with interests at Capital Metro? (APT?)

And this is just ludicrous:

Quote:
It really irks me to see supposed transit advocates piling on at every opportunity.
There is precisely ONE transit advocate in this town who has been willing to do anything BUT simply line up behind Capital Metro, at least in public. Yours truly. Everybody else seems content to follow them off the commuter rail cliff even years after the supposed quid-pro-quo of rail for central Austin failed to materialize. Ask yourself - what good has it done to remain friends with Capital Metro after all this time? How are we finally, now, talking about urban rail? Is it Capital Metro doing it, because we played along and supported the disastrous commuter rail line? Or is it the City of Austin, after finally getting fed up with the agency, taking matters into our own hands?

(That suffices to rebut JMVC's contentions as well; if you followed his advice we'd still not even be talking about urban rail, because all our eggs would still be in his employer's basket - the employer whose grand idea for fixing commuter rail's problems for central Austin was, remember in All Systems Go Future Connections, initially nothing but More Shuttle Buses until forced by the community to grudgingly consider streetcar, at which point they crapped out a useless plan with no funding for streetcars running in shared lanes on the very same shuttle-bus routes).
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  #1892  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 6:00 PM
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Careful there, MIEK. Sounds a lot like you are calling me a liar. You do not know anything about me or my interests, nor what I know and do not know. My interest is the same as yours - a better transit system. Although I am indeed a Cap Metro employee, they do not pay me to mislead people. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I am misleading anyone. I imagine the real difference between our positions on things is that you read about things that are happening in Wear's column and on a few blogs, jump to conclusions and then go rant about it....and I am actually involved in many of the things you read about and privy to the discussions and context that Wear does not write about, I ask questions of the people involved to ensure I understand why decisions are made and their implications, AND THEN I go talk about it...that is my job.
JMVC's job, for those who don't know here, is basically PR for Capital Metro. Thus, obviously, his incentive is quite often going to be to take their pronouncements somewhat less critically and more optimistically than the average observer might consider warranted. It's his job. My job is to write software; the only reason I write so much about transit is that there's nobody else out there who knows anything about it who is willing to do it who isn't a completely anti-transit Neanderthal like Skaggs and company (a crackplog on this subject forthcoming) or completely in CM's pocket. Back to this issue, though:

For instance, in this specific case being discussed, we have a Rapid Bus plan that the Feds just funded that will make urban rail virtually impossible on Guadalupe while doing almost nothing to improve bus operations, and we have more spending on commuter rail being planned which will make funding urban rail anywhere else virtually impossible (very limited local rail dollars; somewhat limited federal rail dollars; funding NOT from completely separate places).

Because of JMVC's job, he can't say this, whether or not he believes it. He has to, in fact, say that CM's efforts don't affect the city's urban rail plans at all, and don't create any non-trivial obstacles to getting rail where we all know it needs to go (Guadalupe, as even he has said in the past).

Now, is he lying? No. He's a PR guy. He can rest on the small difference between "virtually impossible" and "completely impossible". That's his job. He can reply to the proverbial "one in a million" with, as a wise man once said, "so you're telling me there's a chance".
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  #1893  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 6:06 PM
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So, yesterday I got through the Drag in under 5 minutes. If it weren't for catching a red light at Dean Keeton, I wouldn't have had to stop at all.
School was out yesterday. As it was on Friday. I drove the Drag both days too, and, yep, it was pretty nice.

Here's what it's like riding a bus north from downtown after 5:00 on a typical day.
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  #1894  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 6:24 PM
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As for running city urban rail vehicles in the right lane with buses and right-turning vehicles, this would be an enforcement nightmare that would quickly collapse - and even in a perfect world where ONLY cars that were planning on a quick right turn ever went in there, you STILL have the problem of backups from right-turning cars at intersections like Dean Keeton.

There's no reason to keep finding ways around the simple truth: the city had a way to solve this problem back in 2002-2003. It would be painful for cars in one part of the corridor; it would require some minor condemnation; but it would have worked.
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  #1895  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2010, 7:16 AM
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There's no reason to keep finding ways around the simple truth: the city had a way to solve this problem back in 2002-2003. It would be painful for cars in one part of the corridor; it would require some minor condemnation; but it would have worked.
If the city had a solution in 2002-2003, why hasn't the city implemented it yet?
There's no such thing as minor condemnation. If you are the property owners, any condemnation is major..
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  #1896  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2010, 2:17 PM
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electicron, the city didn't implement it because Mike Krusee required that an election be passed before any work on rail could commence - and he convinced (in the sense that the Mafia is convincing) Capital Metro to go with the useless Red Line instead of something that could actually serve Austin residents.
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  #1897  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2010, 7:30 PM
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We need to stop calling MetroRapid Bus Rapid Transit. Close examination of this system can only lead someone to realize it is really just big Express buses. If anything, calling it BRT might hurt the perception of actual BRT in the minds of Austin voters if and when it is actually proposed.

If you guys want to see an amazing video of what BRT actually is and what is possible when a community is actually willing to invest in it's future, check out this video:
http://blog.newtransportation.org/20...sit-video.html

And before anyone says this wouldn't work here or that there isn't enough room...Bogata is a much much denser city. I am not saying we need this system. But, considering what our opinion of ourselves is in this country and in this city, it is almost tragic that we can't get anything close to this accomplished here.


Oh and SAM, I have't bought any of the stuff M1EK has said against you. However, if you want to insinuate that the Drag has light traffic (by claiming you can get through it in just 5 minutes), then maybe I should take what he is saying more seriously. I can get through in five minutes too, if I decide to go through at 2AM. Now during rush hour, we all know its a parking lot and to claim otherwise is ridiculous. I do have one question though: What if you routed the buses through West Campus, say Rio Grande? You could adjust the 40 Acres route so that there would be a bus there waiting to take people to campus from the Rio Grande. There are already buses that run through West Campus, so I feel that this might be an option. I know there are probably things I am not thinking about, and there is bound to be some opposition, but this might be able to solve a definite Achilles's Heel in this express bus route.
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  #1898  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2010, 8:22 PM
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Routing Rapid Bus through West Campus would make it less likely to get delayed by UT traffic, but a significant amount of traffic (maybe even the majority) on the #101 today is destined for UT, so you'd be cutting off your nose to spite your face.
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  #1899  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2010, 9:43 PM
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We need to stop calling MetroRapid Bus Rapid Transit. Close examination of this system can only lead someone to realize it is really just big Express buses. If anything, calling it BRT might hurt the perception of actual BRT in the minds of Austin voters if and when it is actually proposed.

If you guys want to see an amazing video of what BRT actually is and what is possible when a community is actually willing to invest in it's future, check out this video:
http://blog.newtransportation.org/20...sit-video.html

And before anyone says this wouldn't work here or that there isn't enough room...Bogata is a much much denser city. I am not saying we need this system. But, considering what our opinion of ourselves is in this country and in this city, it is almost tragic that we can't get anything close to this accomplished here.


Oh and SAM, I have't bought any of the stuff M1EK has said against you. However, if you want to insinuate that the Drag has light traffic (by claiming you can get through it in just 5 minutes), then maybe I should take what he is saying more seriously. I can get through in five minutes too, if I decide to go through at 2AM. Now during rush hour, we all know its a parking lot and to claim otherwise is ridiculous. I do have one question though: What if you routed the buses through West Campus, say Rio Grande? You could adjust the 40 Acres route so that there would be a bus there waiting to take people to campus from the Rio Grande. There are already buses that run through West Campus, so I feel that this might be an option. I know there are probably things I am not thinking about, and there is bound to be some opposition, but this might be able to solve a definite Achilles's Heel in this express bus route.
Very cool video. I never thought of Bogata as an innovator in urban transportation. Thanks for posting that link!
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  #1900  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2010, 9:50 PM
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Successes of BRT in other countries has zero applicability here. They have powers of condemnation we can only dream of; and their middle class is comparatively poor - in other words, would likely be riding the bus either way.

Show me BRT working in a country where driving is cheap and where the middle class typically drives, and I'll change my mind.

(light rail, of course, can and does attract Americans out of their cars - as seen all over the place; but BRT implemented here, whether lame as in most cases or even the few good implementations, has not delivered more than a trivial number of choice commuters).
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