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  #2841  
Old Posted Feb 11, 2013, 11:49 PM
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A 'Dillo Bus in downtown today? I was checking the JW Marriott construction cam and noticed one on East 3rd, north of the construction site.

Check the construction cam at 5:33 pm. It was parked there for an hour and a half.

http://oxblue.com/open/tournee/jwmarriottaustin
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  #2842  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 1:38 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas View Post
A 'Dillo Bus in downtown today? I was checking the JW Marriott construction cam and noticed one on East 3rd, north of the construction site.

Check the construction cam at 5:33 pm. It was parked there for an hour and a half.

http://oxblue.com/open/tournee/jwmarriottaustin
Somebody bought a bunch of them and are using them for tours.
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  #2843  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 9:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Novacek View Post
Maybe you could limit yourself to facts instead of immature name-calling.



And since 2000, the city of Austin has become _more_ suburban (density has decreased). Source: http://www.austincontrarian.com/aust...2000-2010.html

The overall electorate has become _more_ like the portions of the electorate that rejected the 2000 plan.
Nope. It passed in the city limits. The proportion of (voters in the Cap Metro election) from (Austin) is now higher than it was in 2000, given that the only other jurisdiction still in the area of non-trivial note is Leander.

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By this I assume you mean the neighborhoods immediately adjacent? But they aren't the only users of those lanes, and every voter in Austin who uses those lanes, and believes (rightly or wrongly) that their removal will adversely affect their travels, is a potential vote against the project.
The neighborhoods closest voted overwhelmingly in favor. But the entire city still voted in favor. (Obviously a few precincts out in the edges voted against for this to happen).

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It isn't likely, given changes in the electorate.
Not the only factor. The plan wouldn't be forced to the polls half-baked; and it wouldn't be running alongside the local Republican favorite Presidential candidate.

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You said they should put the "best possible" plan up for a vote, even if it was failure with the voters. That's counterproductive. A good plan that is actually implemented is better than a pie in the sky plan that is immediately dead with the electorate (which a simple repeat of the 2000 plan probably would have been, due to the increasingly hostile electorate).
The characterization of this small line as "pie in the sky" is odious, and it betrays your contempt for the intelligence of the audience here.

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Sure, 50% federal match (not guaranteed, but pretty good odds). But the total cost of the project was way more than double what they spent on the red line (not including the inevitable cost overruns). And the red line basically bankrupted Cap Metro. They wouldn't have been able to spend 5 times as much (after federal matching).
Cap Metro almost went bankrupt because they didn't bond; because they lost 1/4 of their funds; and because they lied about seeking Federal funding. Nice try.

Quote:
The per-person subsidy is meaningless in this context, it's the total operating expenses that matter. The red line is small enough and infrequent enough that the money spent on it doesn't endanger Cap Metro's financial viability. The total operating expenses for a larger and more-frequent rail line, like the 2000 plan, would have been more than what CapMetro is spending on the red line.
Not necessarily. The per-person subsidy on good light rail lines is now competitive with buses. If we got a per-person subsidy in the ballpark of the #1, which is far from outlandish, we'd actually save money in the long-run.


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I think you're confused. If it's a CapMetro rail plan, then all the CapMetro suburbs get to vote on it (because it's their money). If it's a city of Austin-only plan, then only Austin gets to vote on it.
The Cap Metro service area is basically Austin and Leander, with a few small other pockets. Were you not aware of this? Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville don't get to vote.

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So by an informal raising of hands, in one car, at one station, on one morning, you have drawn a scientific conclusion? And you ignore Howard station on down, which from your _own_ figures are 40% of the boardings (of your one data point).
You read very poorly, or you seek to mislead. Howard station is another one like Lakeline where it just doesn't make sense for many passengers to come from Austin, because it's right on the edge of the city limits - Austin residents would be backtracking to get on the train. Much less likely than people driving in from Round Rock or Pflugerville.
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  #2844  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 9:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Novacek View Post
>75% of the rapid bus lines are outside of the corridor in question. And by the time any rail system could be implemented, it would have been running for almost a decade. And a significant percentage of the federal money went towards rolling stock that could be shifted as necessary to eliminate any possible redundancy with urban rail. The Fed would rightly see that they got their money's worth. It's a non-issue.
This isn't true. The city admitted it in a TWG meeting. They do not believe they could get Federal funds for at least a few decades after Rapid Bus went in on Lamar/Guadalupe.

And there's only 2 rapid bus lines - one of the two operates on this corridor.
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  #2845  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 9:57 PM
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The city is "frosty" because of NIMBYs as usual. Let the freeway engineering experts build the road as they see fit.
If the city wants to eliminate all freeway traffic from using the 5th Street ramp, putting up barricades on 5th Street should do the trick. I don't think their idea of allowing drivers using the free lanes can use 5th, but the drivers using the toll lanes can't, makes any sense. What's good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Additionally, if they really wanted to eliminate "through" traffic into and out-of downtown Austin through that neighborhood, they would eliminate the coupling of 5th and 6th streets, and turn both of them into two-way streets. If they did that, they wouldn't need to erect barricades or worry about more drivers using them. Another option they could do to discourage "through" traffic is install speed bumps. There's many options the city can do - but they haven't.

I really think the city is talking with forked tongues, they're talking the talk, but they ain't walking the walk.

Last edited by electricron; Feb 12, 2013 at 10:08 PM.
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  #2846  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
This isn't true. The city admitted it in a TWG meeting. They do not believe they could get Federal funds for at least a few decades after Rapid Bus went in on Lamar/Guadalupe.

And there's only 2 rapid bus lines - one of the two operates on this corridor.
There's only two rapid transit bus lines in planning now. Who knows how successful they might be? If very successful, who knows how many more rapid bus lines CapMetro may build in the future?

Additionally, I'm not so sure it's appropriate to call these two projects rapid bus lines? The lanes are not dedicated for transit, except in the downtown Guadalupe/Lavaca couplet. Never-the-less, that's what many American transit agencies are calling similar projects. Yes, many other American transit agencies are building rapid bus corridors today, so CapMetro isn't alone.

I still don't think the 2000 light rail plan was acceptable as it was conceived. Too many lanes were lost to both traffic and parking for too long a distance.

Last edited by electricron; Feb 12, 2013 at 10:43 PM.
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  #2847  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
The proportion of (voters in the Cap Metro election) from (Austin) is now higher than it was in 2000,
False. Completely wrong.
From 2000-2010, Austin grew by 20%.
Leander grew by 250%
Manor grew by 318%
The other small outlying suburbs are similar.

The proportion of voters in a CapMetro election in Austin city limits is smaller today than it was in 2000. _AND_ even for those within the Austin city limits, more have moved into the more suburban portions of the city (see previous link).

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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
given that the only other jurisdiction still in the area of non-trivial note is Leander.
The jurisdiction of CapMetro hasn't changed since the 2000 election. Pflugerville and Cedar Park were already gone by then. The ones remaining have continued to grow (Manor is almost as big as Leander was in 2000), so I wouldn't call them all trivial.

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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
The neighborhoods closest voted overwhelmingly in favor. But the entire city still voted in favor. (Obviously a few precincts out in the edges voted against for this to happen).
yes, but would they again? Especially since more people have moved to "out in the edges" of Austin than have moved into the close central city.


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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
and it wouldn't be running alongside the local Republican favorite Presidential candidate.
Nice conspiracy theory, but like most such, it's completely wrong. Texas wasn't a swing state in 2000. And voter turnout in the 2000 election was actually _lower_ than either '96 or '04
http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections...al/70-92.shtml

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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
The characterization of this small line as "pie in the sky" is odious, and it betrays your contempt for the intelligence of the audience here.
One of us backs up claims with facts. The other resorts to namecalling. Which shows more contempt for the intelligence of other readers?

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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Cap Metro almost went bankrupt because they didn't bond; because they lost 1/4 of their funds; and because they lied about seeking Federal funding. Nice try.
Bonding isn't free money. It needs to be paid back. Let me try to put this in other terms. Cap Metro was taking in $X per month. They also were paying out ~$X per month. Doing so brought them to the brink of bankruptcy.

With a big bond, they would have been paying out $X per month, plus $Y per month in bond payments. Plus $Z per month in additional operating expenses (because the total operating expenses for a rail line that runs a lot is more than the operating expenses of the commuter rail line that doesn't run very often).


Quote:
Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
The Cap Metro service area is basically Austin and Leander, with a few small other pockets. Were you not aware of this? Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville don't get to vote.
Austin, Jonestown, Lago Vista, Leander, Manor, Point Venture, San Leanna, Volente
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital...Servicearea-15

All of them get to vote in a Cap Metro election. And while individually small, cumulatively they represent a fair number of votes. A proportion that has only increased since the 2000 election (see above).

Quote:
Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
You read very poorly, or you seek to mislead. Howard station is another one like Lakeline where it just doesn't make sense for many passengers to come from Austin, because it's right on the edge of the city limits - Austin residents would be backtracking to get on the train. Much less likely than people driving in from Round Rock or Pflugerville.
Or maybe I just don't by your wild claims without evidence.

The Howard lane station is ~3 miles from Round Rock city limits. Over 5 miles from Cedar Park. ~3 miles from Pflugerville. The majority of residents in close proximity are in Austin.

And who cares about backtracking. If riding the train is going to save me commuting time and money, I'm going to take it. I'm not going to spite my nose for my face just because the station is 1 mile north of me instead of 1 mile south. If anything, being the contra-flow direction makes it even more likely for it to be Austin riders, as they're not fighting the rush hour direction.
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  #2848  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
The city admitted it in a TWG meeting. They do not believe they could get Federal funds for at least a few decades after Rapid Bus went in on Lamar/Guadalupe.
Source? Proof?

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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
And there's only 2 rapid bus lines - one of the two operates on this corridor.
There's the Burnet/South Lamar Line and the North Lamar/South Congress Line. Lamar north of Airport is outside of the corridor in question. South Congress is outside of the corridor in question. Burnet and South Lamar are outside of the corridor in question. 75% of those two lines (or possibly more, that was my rough guess) are outside of the shortish corridor segment from downtown to Airport.
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  #2849  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2013, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Novacek View Post
Source? Proof?
I have to back M1EK up here on this one. I've talked to current UTC people who have said the same thing. The Feds aren't going to give us money to put rail on a corridor they just gave us money to put "Rapid Bus" on....
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  #2850  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by tildahat View Post
I have to back M1EK up here on this one. I've talked to current UTC people who have said the same thing. The Feds aren't going to give us money to put rail on a corridor they just gave us money to put "Rapid Bus" on....
Again, I'm going to need something to back that up besides an anecdote. A link to actual federal policy, an example of where something like that happened, etc. Because:

1. I don't see any restrictions like that (previous federal funds used along the same streets by a different entity) listed in the objective criteria used by the FTA.
http://www.fta.dot.gov/12347_5221.html
If it isn't in the formulated criteria used to judge and rank applications, it wouldn't have any affect on the application. It would be illegal to deny an application based on factors other than those listed. That process is an attempt to remove any subjectivity from the grants.

2. As I stated, by the time rail was operating, the feds wouldn't have "just" given us money, it will have been almost a decade.

3. Most of the money went to outside the corridor in question.

4. The rapid bus system _increases the viability of rail in the corridor in question, by feeding in more riders.

5. It's a different "us" (CapMetro vs. CoA).
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  #2851  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Novacek View Post
Again, I'm going to need something to back that up besides an anecdote. A link to actual federal policy, an example of where something like that happened, etc. Because:

1. I don't see any restrictions like that (previous federal funds used along the same streets by a different entity) listed in the objective criteria used by the FTA.
http://www.fta.dot.gov/12347_5221.html
If it isn't in the formulated criteria used to judge and rank applications, it wouldn't have any affect on the application. It would be illegal to deny an application based on factors other than those listed. That process is an attempt to remove any subjectivity from the grants.

2. As I stated, by the time rail was operating, the feds wouldn't have "just" given us money, it will have been almost a decade.

3. Most of the money went to outside the corridor in question.

4. The rapid bus system _increases the viability of rail in the corridor in question, by feeding in more riders.

5. It's a different "us" (CapMetro vs. CoA).
6. My understanding was that the whole bloody point of Small Starts/Very Small Starts was to create small systems with the understanding that they would grow/improve/expand.
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  #2852  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 6:30 PM
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MetroRapid bus has arrived in Austin!

https://twitter.com/CouncilManMike/s...57543196266499

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  #2853  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2013, 1:42 PM
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Someone on the city-data forum just posted that they called CapMetro and were told that Rapid Bus was going to be true BRT with dedicated lanes. Either plans have changed, CapMetro was inexplicably lying to the poster, or the poster just made that up. WTF?
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  #2854  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2013, 2:16 PM
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Originally Posted by tildahat View Post
Someone on the city-data forum just posted that they called CapMetro and were told that Rapid Bus was going to be true BRT with dedicated lanes. Either plans have changed, CapMetro was inexplicably lying to the poster, or the poster just made that up. WTF?
Probably a bit of confusion on somebodies part, either the poster or a lower-level person answering phones at Capmetro. Last I heard (and all that was listed in CapMetro's budget) was "dedicated" lanes for about 10 or so blocks downtown. "Dedicated" due to right-turning traffic also allowed in some intersections. We'll see how much that adversely affects it, Mike claims that it will, to the point of being useless, while I'm more optimistic.

For all the reasons mentioned with rail previously in this thread, there's not currently room for dedicated lanes outside of downtown.
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  #2855  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 4:55 AM
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http://www.statesman.com/news/news/g...-say-th/nWPwN/
Quote:
Updated: 9:18 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 | Posted: 9:18 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013
Gondolas in Round Rock? City Council members say they love the idea

By Benjamin Wermund
American-Statesman Staff

ROUND ROCK — Will airborne gondolas one day ply the skies of Round Rock, shuttling passengers on a transit-system-of-the-future?

That was the pitch made Thursday to the Round Rock City Council, whose members said they loved the idea, even if for now it is just that.


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  #2856  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 8:47 AM
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I always loved the Gondola idea more than anything else ever since it was first thrown out there last year. Not only is it inventive and cheap, but it'd be iconic and unique. No other American city yet has a system like this.

There was a quote from the article Kevin just posted that I was appalled to hear come out of an Austin official's mouth:

"Frog Design’s Austin office came up with the idea last year and has unsuccessfully sought an audience with Austin city officials. 'Who wants to be the test case for some completely new technology?' Rob Spillar, Austin’s transportation director, said in December."

Someone in Austin should not be saying things like that. However, if they want a test case, Round Rock might just be it. If it's successful there, it'd be impossible for it not to succeed in Austin. Also, Round Rock's effort could be connected into a greater regional transit system eventually, as opposed to the two coexisting separately. Could be the perfect test drive
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  #2857  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Novacek View Post
6. My understanding was that the whole bloody point of Small Starts/Very Small Starts was to create small systems with the understanding that they would grow/improve/expand.
I think both M1EK and Novacek are right on some points. I do think that rapid bus precludes urban rail in the Guadalupe / North Lamar corridor, at least in the short term.

If the urban rail starter alignment was shifted from the Mueller corridor under consideration since 2004 through All Systems Go! and Future Connections studies, it would doom almost certainly eliminate the opportunity for federal funding. That is because rapid bus and urban rail have essentially the same service characteristics. There would be no compelling Purpose and Need for urban rail duplicating that service for a short section of the rapid bus corridor.

And NO, it is not reasonable to suggest that Cap Metro cancel the rapid bus project and give the money back. They would still be liable for the costs of vehicle procurement and station development to date, with nothing to show for it.

If urban rail was intended to be more like streetcar service, with frequent stops, it could replace local bus service in that portion of Guadalupe / North Lamar corridor. The local buses would then stop short at each end of urban rail, forcing a transfer to urban rail or rapid bus, rather than interlining all the way across town. Forcing a transfer from one rapid service to another would make less sense in this context.

The first phase of urban rail will take 5 to 8 years to be operational. The second phase will likely extend the Mueller to Downtown corridor across Lady Bird Lake, down Riverside towards ABIA. Even if the second phase was developed concurrently with the first phase, it likely would not be operational for at least a decade from now. Arguably, the third phase would extend through the Seaholm District to meet the Lonestar Rail.

Even if the third phase included an extension up the Guadalupe / North Lamar corridor, it would not likely be operational for more than 10 years from now. By then, most of the buses purchased under the rapid bus grant would be in need of replacement, so it would make more sense to rethink the rapid bus service at that point.

With a more extensive urban rail network in place, it would make more sense to transfer from rapid bus to urban rail. There are several possible options. One might be to realign the routes into two separate lines feeding urban rail: South Lamar / CBD / South Congress and North Lamar / UT (or somewhere slightly further north) / North Burnet. Another option would be to operate in the same configuration, but switch to express service (no, or very few stops) in the central part of the corridor. A third option would be to operate the express service on managed lanes on MOPAC and/or IH-35.
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  #2858  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by StatenIslander237 View Post
I always loved the Gondola idea more than anything else ever since it was first thrown out there last year. Not only is it inventive and cheap, but it'd be iconic and unique. No other American city yet has a system like this.

There was a quote from the article Kevin just posted that I was appalled to hear come out of an Austin official's mouth:

"Frog Design’s Austin office came up with the idea last year and has unsuccessfully sought an audience with Austin city officials. 'Who wants to be the test case for some completely new technology?' Rob Spillar, Austin’s transportation director, said in December."

Someone in Austin should not be saying things like that. However, if they want a test case, Round Rock might just be it. If it's successful there, it'd be impossible for it not to succeed in Austin. Also, Round Rock's effort could be connected into a greater regional transit system eventually, as opposed to the two coexisting separately. Could be the perfect test drive
Note that the cost estimates have gone from $2 - $5 million per mile to $12 - $24 million per mile. Frog Design are not transportation experts, they are a marketing and industrial design (consumer products) firm. They are simply not credible on this issue.

Gondolas have proven useful for short connections from one point to another, especially over difficult terrain. They have not been proven to be useful chained into a regional system. There are so many logistical issues with this concept, it is not worth further consideration.
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  #2859  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 3:33 PM
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Originally Posted by SecretAgentMan View Post
Note that the cost estimates have gone from $2 - $5 million per mile to $12 - $24 million per mile. Frog Design are not transportation experts, they are a marketing and industrial design (consumer products) firm. They are simply not credible on this issue.

Gondolas have proven useful for short connections from one point to another, especially over difficult terrain. They have not been proven to be useful chained into a regional system. There are so many logistical issues with this concept, it is not worth further consideration.
But Austin is a completely uniquely unique city, unlike any that has ever existed in the history of mankind. Anything that has worked anywhere else will not work here, and make us just like Houston and Dallas, the only other two cities that exist. We must have a uniquely-Austin unique solution.

(Sorry, feeling a little cynical this morning...)
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  #2860  
Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 3:45 PM
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That is because rapid bus and urban rail have essentially the same service characteristics. There would be no compelling Purpose and Need for urban rail duplicating that service for a short section of the rapid bus corridor.
Sure, if the estimated ridership and economic development studies for rail in that corridor (as per the objective criteria I linked above) showed no improvement or insufficient improvement, of course we wouldn't get a grant. There would be no point to building in that case.

But that's not what M1EK is claiming.
He has been _very_ vocal in his claim that the MetroRapid is _no_ improvement over the express bus service which is already operating in that corridor. But he can't have his cake and eat it too. If Metrorapid is no better than the existing express bus, then it doesn't prevent federal grants for rail in that corridor any more than the existence of the express bus line does.

He's claiming that rail would still be a substantial improvement over metrorapid, that there would still be compelling purpose and need, but the mere fact that some federal money was spent on the busses would prevent rail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretAgentMan View Post
If urban rail was intended to be more like streetcar service, with frequent stops, it could replace local bus service in that portion of Guadalupe / North Lamar corridor. The local buses would then stop short at each end of urban rail, forcing a transfer to urban rail or rapid bus, rather than interlining all the way across town. Forcing a transfer from one rapid service to another would make less sense in this context.
Why change operating modes or stop short? If you continue interlining:
1. If you're incoming on the rapid bus bound for the CBD, then a transfer to the rail still make sense, as you then don't get caught in traffic (in this hypothetical where we have sufficient money and space for non-shared rail lines in that corridor).
2. If you're passing through on the rapid bus, and bound for a destination that is on the same outgoing route as the one you're incoming on, you probably stay on your same bus. Transferring twice (over to rail, and then back to bus) might save you some time (due to the rail not getting caught in traffic), but probably isn't worth the trouble.
3. If you're passing through on the rapid bus, but bound for an outgoing destination on the _other_ route, then "today" that takes a transfer. You would still have that option (but have to deal with congestion in the center) or for 1 additional transfer could ride rail in the middle and skip it.

That's all assuming timed transfers between the rapid bus and the rail.
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