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  #261  
Old Posted Feb 22, 2012, 11:22 AM
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Well a glimmer of hope after my last rant. Seems DDOT is getting a new head, one that actually has years of experience in managing substantial transit systems. I fear that he won't be allowed to do much given the state of the system, but perhaps better decisions will be made when it comes to restructing service:

Quote:
Troubled Detroit bus system getting new CEO, vehicles

By Matt Helms | Detroit Free Press

February 22, 2012

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will announce a new CEO for the city's troubled bus system today and show off new buses that will replace vehicles in the city's aging fleet.

Bing planned to announce this morning the appointment of Ronald Freeland, a senior executive and chairman of bus systems, ports and rail lines in Maryland and Virginia who also has worked in New York and California.

His recent positions have included being executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority and a senior associate at the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm in Baltimore. Freeland also was administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration in 1997-2001, according to that state's transportation department.

Word of the appointment comes days before the city holds public hearings on another round of major cuts at the Detroit Department of Transportation, including ending service 1-4 a.m. citywide as of March 3, reducing some routes and lengthening times between buses on dozens of lines.

Detroit has been struggling to maintain its annual subsidy for bus service -- last pegged at about $53 million a year, down from more than $80 million in recent years -- as it battles a budget crisis that could lead to a state-appointed emergency manager.

...
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  #262  
Old Posted Feb 22, 2012, 4:35 PM
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^ I know I'm usually negative about Detroit, but it still seems like the wrong choice to me. This guy seems he has mostly done work for well funded coastal cities (Baltimore is most like Detroit). His experience with transit systems is not with peer cities of Detroit such as Cleveland, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and other rust belt cities. The new CEO will be in for a rude awakening when he learns just how hostile the region is as a whole to public transportation and how entrenched workers are to keeping decades-old outdated work rules.

Detroit's best hope for a functioning mass transit system is as you noted, a new public agency that merges DDOT and SMART. Unfortunately, former Governor Engler shat on the rare spot of regional cooperation as he was leaving office.
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  #263  
Old Posted Mar 11, 2012, 2:27 PM
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Commuters Suffer As Detroit Cuts Bus Service


March 8, 2012

By Quinn Klinefelter

Read More: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/08/148225...ts-bus-service

Quote:
The city of Detroit is running out of cash. Next month, it might not make payroll, and the state of Michigan is considering taking control of the city's finances. In his State of the City address on Wednesday, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said financial catastrophe can be avoided by making sharp cuts, particularly in public transit. "There will be a short-term pain for a long-term gain, and there's no way around it," Bing said. But bus riders and drivers in Detroit say they don't know if the beleaguered system can stand any more pain.

- There have been fewer travel options of late, after the city cut overnight bus service and eliminated several routes. Unlike many major metropolitan areas, Detroit has a second, separate bus line that serves roughly 40,000 suburbanites and drops them off in the city during the morning and evening rush hours. But just like in Detroit, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation — or SMART bus system — has cut back routes and limited schedules in the face of mounting financial difficulty. About four miles from Detroit's city limits, Carlette Nicole Ingram settles into a SMART bus seat and prepares for a trip that used to take two hours and now takes four.

- Detroit state and federal officials have been talking about creating a regional transit system, but so far it remains just talk. "They don't care about low-income people or people that do catch the bus, as far as going to school or going back and forth to work," Ingram says. A few weeks ago, the city turned management of the system over to a private company and appointed Ronald Freeland CEO of the Transportation Department. His first ideas about limiting cost might surprise riders. "The system has not been adjusted or modified to accommodate what is really a declining population," Freeland says. "So therefore we believe we have, quite frankly, too many buses. I'm sure some people would argue with that. That creates a number of problems. That is, you have more buses to maintain, you need more storage space, you need more fuel."

.....



Gladys Ferguson, of Detroit, looks on as SuVon Treece of the Detroit Department of Transportation explains the new service schedule. A public hearing discussed future Detroit Department of Transportation bus service at the Northwest Activity Center on Feb. 24.

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  #264  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2012, 11:51 AM
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An update on Wally (Washtenaw & Livingston Line) commuter rail line. Like all of the other projects, this is years in the making, and seems like it will be years more.

Quote:
AATA Gets WALLY Update

By Ann Arbor Chronicle Staff

April 19, 2012

At its April 19, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board received a written report in its board packet with a eight-page update on the status of WALLY (Washtenaw and Livingston Railway), which is envisioned to provide north-south commuter rail service between Howell and Ann Arbor.

The conclusion of the report is a staff recommendation to expend funds ($50,000) already included in the FY 2012 budget that are designated for the WALLY project. The report includes a draft resolution that the board could use to authorize the funds.

Ordinarily, the expenditure of funds from the budget would not necessarily need an explicit board authorization. However, in the case of the WALLY project, the board stipulated in a Sept. 15, 2011 resolution that the $50,000 designated for WALLY in the FY 2012 budget would not be expended without the explicit consent of the board.

One of the challenges for WALLY is the cooperation of the Ann Arbor Railroad in the use of the tracks south of roughly Barton and Plymouth Roads on the north side of Ann Arbor. Ideally, the commuter service would extend farther south into Ann Arbor. The report contains a description of an Oct. 12, 2011 meeting between Ann Arbor Railroad president Jim Erickson and AATA CEO Michael Ford, when Ann Arbor Railroad’s expressed continued general opposition to passenger service on its property. However, the meeting offered some possibility that Ann Arbor Railroad would at least work with AATA on the issue of railcar storage immediately south of a WALLY station. And the report describes Ann Arbor Railroad as willing to entertain a “business proposition.”

...
Apparently, the freight provider is holding this up.

BTW, latest update (April '12) on SEMCOG Commuter Rail (Ann Arbor-Detroit) is that the FTA is requesting a comprehensive capacity analysis be done before SEMCOG and MDOT starts the environmental assessment. I believe this delay occurred because they are now trying to coordinate both the Amtramk service and the commuter service on this line, as well as any future high-speed service.

In light rail news, LaHood announced he's extending the deadline for M-1 Rail until next month:

Quote:
LaHood delays decision on M-1 light rail project until May

By David Shepardson | The Detroit News

April 18, 2012

Washington— Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is postponing a decision on the proposed M-1 light rail project up Woodward Avenue for at least another month.

In January, LaHood gave backers of the project 90 days to show that the light-rail is feasible. The advocates were to meet with federal officials, but Lahood is postponing that meeting for at least a month.

The 90-day-period ran out on Monday, but LaHood said he spoke on Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to give the project's supporters more time.

"I'm still optimistic based on what I've heard from the M-1 people," LaHood said.

LaHood said he wanted to give Bing — who has recently been hospitalized — more time to work on the project. LaHood has also spoken recently with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, about the delay.

LaHood said he plans to travel in Detroit in mid- to late-May to discuss the project's future.

...

LaHood expects M-1 advocates will submit their proposal shortly — and by May the department will be in a better position to know whether the project will qualify for a $25 million federal grant.

He said the delay also will give the Michigan state Legislature more time to act to approve a regional transit system. "All of these things seems to be moving in the right direction," LaHood said.

...
BTW, looks like M-1 Rail has their website back up.
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Last edited by LMich; Apr 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM.
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  #265  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2012, 1:37 PM
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Hate to be a naysayer, but truly wonder what kind of impact WALLY will really have. AATA projects 1200 rider per weekday, and I bet you could easily slash that number in half and you'd still be above the actual ridership when it rolls out. There just aren't that many people north of town in the nearby suburbs that would be willing to ride this thing. So many commuters come from the Lansing and Flint areas, and I don't see those people dropping off their cars in Howell or Brighton to hop on a train. Connect the train to Lansing and I we might have another story altogether.

Additionally, the train would need to be cheaper than gas+parking and the travel time would have to be comparable. They're estimating the travel time to be 37 minutes from Howell, which is comparable. But then you'd need to hop a bus to get to your destination if it's not in walking distance. It's 27 miles between the two cities, which is about what your average car gets in mpg on the highway, which would cost $8/day to commute x 20 work days = $160 a month. How much will the monthly fair be? Will there be free connections to the bus system?
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  #266  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2012, 12:24 AM
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I don't know much about the WALLY, but what I do know is that they are either going to do the train or they are going to add another lane to US-23. Given that, I'd take the former.
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  #267  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2012, 3:54 AM
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I think both the Woodward LRT and the commuter rail are a waste of money and look more like political ribbon cutting ceremonies than sound public transit policy.
When the system can't even run the old buses they have now, it has no money for rail.
A far more affordable and flexible alternative idea for Woodward would be a Cleveland style Healthline BRT. It provides LRT service at a fraction of the cost and it has done wonders for Euclid Ave. It has created huge amounts of TOD development and transit usuage along the corridor has doubled on what was already the city's busiest bus route.
The Healthline is proof positive thet TOD and LRT ridership levels are a reality with BRT despite what the LRT lobby says.
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  #268  
Old Posted Apr 23, 2012, 7:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssiguy View Post
I think both the Woodward LRT and the commuter rail are a waste of money and look more like political ribbon cutting ceremonies than sound public transit policy.
When the system can't even run the old buses they have now, it has no money for rail.
A far more affordable and flexible alternative idea for Woodward would be a Cleveland style Healthline BRT. It provides LRT service at a fraction of the cost and it has done wonders for Euclid Ave. It has created huge amounts of TOD development and transit usuage along the corridor has doubled on what was already the city's busiest bus route.
The Healthline is proof positive thet TOD and LRT ridership levels are a reality with BRT despite what the LRT lobby says.
I believe this is posted on the front page, but here is the SEMCOG's Regional Transit Coordinating Council's (RTCC) plan for the transit in the region adopted in December 2008:

Comprehensive Regional Transit Service Plan

As you can see, what you decribed is almost nearly exactly the plan for the region. In fact, Woodward LRT was the only LRT line they have planned, and the SEMCOG commuter line is the only commuter rail they have planned (WALLY is something seperate and not a part of SEMCOG's plan). Everything else is either BRT or ART (souped up buses). And, reading through this thread, I'm sure you know that the powers that be blatantly dropped Woodward LRT. The only LRT being proposed for Woodward, at the moment, is a privately developed and funded 3 mile streetcar. It is now the official position of the goveror and Detroit's mayor to scrap what even little LRT was proposed for BRT.

I disagree with them unilaterally throwing the RTCC's years-long work out the window, and you'll never be able to convince me a metropolitan area of 4.2 million -- and an urbanized area with greater population density than many sprawled urban areas with multiple light, rapid, and commuter transit lines -- couldn't feasibly support a couple of LRT lines at least, but perhaps you should have read back through this thread, first.
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  #269  
Old Posted Apr 23, 2012, 8:09 PM
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Quote:
Woodward light-rail group boosts cost estimate to $137 million
APRIL 23, 2012
BY DAVID SHEPARDSON DETROIT NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

Washington— Advocates of the M-1 light-rail project that will run up Woodward Avenue submitted a 1,200-page report to the U.S. Transportation Department aimed at assuring the government the project is feasible.

The report, released Friday, offers new details about the 3.31-mile line. It boosts the estimated cost from $100 million to $137 million, citing possible contingencies, inflation and financing costs. It also says annual operation and maintenance costs will be $5.1 million — a number it reached in talks with the Federal Transit Administration.

[...]

The group said it has $84 million in private sector and philanthropic pledges and $16 million in tax credits. That leaves the project about $12 million short — assuming it receives $25 million in federal grants that will be awarded late next month.

The group "is already in active discussions for new commitments totaling approximately half of the additional amount," the letter said.

The letter also reveals some other issues.

"There are inherent risks and unknowns as to the capital cost," M-1 supporters wrote. "Until the final engineering work is completed to physically confirm subsurface conditions, one cannot know for sure exactly what lies beneath Woodward Avenue."

The project is to be built in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Transportation's planned 2013 reconstruction of Woodward Avenue, which could reduce costs. "We will not dig until we are certain that we can deliver," the M-1 group told LaHood.

M-1 donors will buy naming rights or make other donations to create a $10 million endowment to operate and maintain the system for up to 10 years. In 2025, M-1 plans to donate the rail system to a public agency such as the proposed Regional Transit Authority that awaits approval by the state Legislature.

[...]

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...#ixzz1steDjQhB
..........
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  #270  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 1:07 AM
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Yes! The Freep has a better angle on this:

Quote:


Woodward light rail line group says it will pay for first 10 years of operations

By Matt Helms | Detroit Free Press

April 23, 2012

The private-sector group that wants to build a 3-mile light rail line on Woodward Avenue from downtown Detroit to the New Center said today it has raised all of the money it will need to build the line – and is pledging to fund the operations of the system privately for the first 10 years after it’s built.

The M-1 Rail Group outlined the details in a report it has sent to the federal government. The group of private investors and philanthropic groups behind the effort said they would commit to paying the estimated $5.1 million annual cost of operating the Woodward rail line through 2025.

That’s a significant step for the project. How to pay for operating the system has been a key point of contention in a city that’s now under a consent deal with the state to oversee its finances and plans to slash millions from its annual appropriations for the city’s bus system.

The group would then donate the project’s assets to the appropriate agency, such as a regional transit authority that Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature are working to create for southeast Michigan to oversee a big new network of rapid-transit buses on Woodward, Michigan Avenue, Gratiot and Hall Roads connecting Detroit to key suburbs, Metro Airport and Ann Arbor.

The project would still require nearly $40 million in federal funding that M-1 Rail said the feds have already committed for construction of the rail line.



...
By sheer force of will, the community is going to make this work in spite of short-sighted, elected leadership. I can't believe I'm still rooting for M-1; I hated the proposal, but it's almost as if this needs to be done just to show that it can be done.
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  #271  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 1:36 AM
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Trying so hard not to get my hopes up.
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  #272  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 1:39 AM
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Trying so hard not to get my hopes up.
I know, right? The Woodward LRT nearly had shovels in the ground before it was cancelled, making fools of a lot of us.

BTW, it looks like the group wants to coordinate construction with MDOT's reconstruction of the avenue, next year.
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  #273  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 2:33 AM
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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
Yes! The Freep has a better angle on this:



By sheer force of will, the community is going to make this work in spite of short-sighted, elected leadership. I can't believe I'm still rooting for M-1; I hated the proposal, but it's almost as if this needs to be done just to show that it can be done.
Here's a PDF of the actual M1-Rail Business Plan: http://www.freep.com/assets/freep/pdf/C4188330423.PDF
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  #274  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 5:45 AM
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M1 is insisting on curb running, right? I guess if they're paying, they get to decide... but the alignment choice will mean slower travel times end to end. This will pose a problem if the line is ever to be extended to the city line at 8 Mile or beyond.
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  #275  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 8:16 AM
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M1 is insisting on curb running, right? I guess if they're paying, they get to decide... but the alignment choice will mean slower travel times end to end. This will pose a problem if the line is ever to be extended to the city line at 8 Mile or beyond.
It wouldn't really be that big a problem. When M-1 was wrangingly with DDOT's Woodward LRT, the very first iteration of the project had the line being a side-running streetcar from downtown to New Center, and then switching alignments to center-running up the rest of the way. The city then got M-1 to compromise to just having it side-running in the actual CBD (south of I-75/Fisher). So, the part through the central touristy areas (Downtown and/or Midtown and/or New Center) was always going to at least partially be a slow running streetcar and more a commuter kind of alignment north of the "old city." The three-mile portion through the inner/old city is really kind of a circulator, if seems, a kind of people mover expansion without actually expanding that actual system.

BTW, something often missed in the discussion of the rail (commuter and light) is that New Center will be the hub of the system. It's where they are looking to demolish the current Amtrak station and built an intermodal station that'll serve the future high-speed, commuter, and Amtrak services, bus services, and whatever ends up running (LRT or BRT) up and down Woodward to get people to and from the airport via the heavy rail.

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  #276  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 2:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMich View Post
When M-1 was wrangingly with DDOT's Woodward LRT, the very first iteration of the project had the line being a side-running streetcar from downtown to New Center, and then switching alignments to center-running up the rest of the way. The city then got M-1 to compromise to just having it side-running in the actual CBD (south of I-75/Fisher). So, the part through the central touristy areas (Downtown and/or Midtown and/or New Center) was always going to at least partially be a slow running streetcar and more a commuter kind of alignment north of the "old city." The three-mile portion through the inner/old city is really kind of a circulator, if seems, a kind of people mover expansion without actually expanding that actual system.
The M-1 group has aways proposed building a streetcar, they still are. It's the city that wanted to change it into a light rail line and extend it, then dropped out of the project. Side running has always made sense for a streetcar line, center running has always made sense for a light rail line. I have no idea where the city's BRT will locate the bus lanes, and at this point in time, I really don't care.
But I would like to point out, even as a streetcar project, the M-1 group eventually places the streetcar tracks in the middle of the street to facilitate reversing the direction of the streetcar. As a happy result, if the city ever wanted to extend the tracks as a light rail line, the tracks are already in the middle of the street.
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  #277  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 3:23 PM
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I would like to point out, even as a streetcar project, the M-1 group eventually places the streetcar tracks in the middle of the street to facilitate reversing the direction of the streetcar. As a happy result, if the city ever wanted to extend the tracks as a light rail line, the tracks are already in the middle of the street.
This. It really wouldn't be difficult to expand the line north with a median-running alignment. If that becomes a reality, it also wouldn't be difficult to put up a barrier and fully separate the M1 right-of-way from traffic. You'd lose a lane of on-street parking, but that could be converted into a dedicated bike lane. The parallel streets are perfectly capable of absorbing excess traffic. John R and Cass are never terribly busy, even at rush hour, and when 2nd and 3rd are finally adapted for two-way traffic that will further lessen the burden of congestion caused by reducing Woodward to four lanes with a center turn lane.
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  #278  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 5:54 PM
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Nice to hear of this again, wondering how long it would take yet for the state to set their RTA. Maybe the M1 investors should wait to ensure the network efficiency and expandability... just asking.
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  #279  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 6:15 PM
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Quick question.

As a light rail line how would stations work if it was put in the middle of the street?
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  #280  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 11:22 PM
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Quick question.

As a light rail line how would stations work if it was put in the middle of the street?
The platform goes in the median. Trains pull up on either side of it.
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