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  #841  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 4:09 PM
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Originally Posted by alexjon View Post
Then I'll say you have no practical experience, then. I find it surprising that you would compare the transit reality of austin with your transit fantasy of portland. I also find it hilarious that a suburbanite is telling urbanites how local transit should work. I think it would be like me going around telling New Yorkers how they should augment their subways.

Thinking more and more about it, I realize that no, a streetcar would NOT work in Austin: it's full of people like you, who think that car drivers are inherently stupid, traffic engineers can't get it right and rail transit should magically whoosh people to and from their inherently unwalkable "walkable" neighborhoods.

This is also why I think LRT wouldn't work in Austin-- considering a full or majority build-out can only muster about the same ridership as a severely diminished build-out in other cities. But keep taking your fairy dust, M1EK. You will have magical LRT and all that sprawl in Austin you pretend doesn't exist will magically turn into walkable dense neighborhoods!
You're completely insane - the day one predictions for Austin's LRT line were higher than actual results seen in all recent LRT starts.

All I'm doing is being objective about streetcar rather than buying into hype. When streetcar vehicles run in reserved guideway, they're great - when they run in shared traffic, they have all the disadvantages of buses AND trains, at least for the riders (repeat that last part many times since you clearly don't understand: AT LEAST FOR THE RIDERS). This is simple logic - and the fact that you keep jumping off into this kind of nonsense ought to tell people you don't have any real answers here.

Nobody has EVER been able to show a direct comparison between streetcar and bus on the same route in current conditions (trying to attract existing car drivers) - because the streetcar they're comparing to is inevitably running on a different route with some reserved guideway (and hence looks better). And, no, I don't believe that buses running in reserved guideway can win the same ridership - because once you have a good runningway, the rest of the advantages of rail transit become much larger in comparison. (In other words, I believe that reliability and speed are far more important than everything else when trying to attract people who aren't taking transit today. The fact that you think this is an illogical contention shows that you have no clue, whatsoever, about what it takes to attract choice commuters to transit.

I live 3/4 of a mile north of UT in a 1923 house in a very walkable neighborhood, BTW. Had my idiot company not opened their office in the 2% of Austin I can't easily reach by bus from there, I'd be busing it every day.
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  #842  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 4:34 PM
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As are you.

Capital Metro proposed shared-lane streetcar and it went nowhere. The CAMPO TWG, which might actually get somewhere, has proposed either streetcar vehicles or LRT vehicles running in reserved guideway.

Capital Metro is NOT INVOLVED in the current discussions. The city has, to a degree, adopted a more sensible position that if Capital Metro refuses to provide rail service to the Austinites who pay essentially all of their bills, we'll do it ourselves, and establish more control over the money we send them in the process.
As I understand recent developments, it's the city proposing streetcars from Mueller to downtown via University of Texas, which is 4.5 miles and about as far as a streetcar should go, but also continue the streetcar east from downtown to the airport another 8 miles, which is much too far for a streetcar to go. 12 miles from Mueller to the airport, with station stops 4 times a mile, assuming 45 mph max speed, averages 15 mph. It'll take 45 minutes to travel that distance.

From Mueller to the airport using Airways is only 9 miles. A car averaging 30 mph can reach the airport from Mueller in less than 20 minutes, a car averaging 45 mph can reach the airport from Mueller in 15 minutes. You'll find it difficult for any train to compete when the time differences is twice as long than driving, but virtually no one will ride it when the time differences from diving is triple.

If my suggested "useless" regional rail DMU railroad bridge was built across the Colorado in east Austin, the distance from Mueller (MLK Station) to the airport would be 8 miles, assuming the DMU averages 30 mph, just the same as on the Leander line, you could reach the airport in 16 minutes.

Streetcar 45 minutes, Regional 16 minutes. Which would you rather ride?

Streetcar $40 million per mile, siting 50 passengers per car, over 12 miles, will cost $480 million to build. DMU at $15 million per mile, sitting 100 passengers per car,over 8 miles, but only 6 miles being new tract that's exclusive from the Leander Line, will cost $90 million to build.

Streetcar $480 million, Regional $90 million. Which would you rather pay for?

DMU regional rail would also be less expesnive, as CapMetro would only have to build two new stations along my route. With a streetcar system, besides benches every few blocks, CapMetro wouold have to build enhanced stations at Mueller, University of Houston, State Office buildings, downtown Austin, and one at the airport, if not more south of the Colorado River. That's at least 5 enhanced stops. The stations CapMetro is building on the Leander Line cost close to $1 million, so two such stations would cost $2 million.
With at least 5 enhanced stops for the streetcar, each would have to cost $400,000 to match the $2 million for stations for the DMU regional rail. Note: A new traffic signal costs almost that much, so there wouldn't be much spent on passenger amenities, like shelters and ticket vending machines, at the enhanced stops.
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  #843  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 5:07 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
You're completely insane - the day one predictions for Austin's LRT line were higher than actual results seen in all recent LRT starts.
Yes, but that is proposed versus what eventually got built. If we compared proposed to what was actually built, I'd say the untruncated starter line for Link (now broken into Central Link, Airport Link, Univeristy Link and North Link) would have changed your tune. I believe ridership for a combined line seems to point at well over 46,000. Of course, it's not Austin, land of transit fantasy, so perhaps it would have fallen far far far short of ridership projections.

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All I'm doing is being objective about streetcar rather than buying into hype.
Nice to see you pretty much quoting Randall O'Toole in absolute agreement.

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When streetcar vehicles run in reserved guideway, they're great - when they run in shared traffic, they have all the disadvantages of buses AND trains, at least for the riders (repeat that last part many times since you clearly don't understand: AT LEAST FOR THE RIDERS). This is simple logic - and the fact that you keep jumping off into this kind of nonsense ought to tell people you don't have any real answers here.
You don't even and haven't ever lived in a city that uses the most common modern implementation of a Streetcar. I think simple logic would say that your theories and curmudgeonly naysaying hold far less water than my actual experience.

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Nobody has EVER been able to show a direct comparison between streetcar and bus on the same route in current conditions (trying to attract existing car drivers) - because the streetcar they're comparing to is inevitably running on a different route with some reserved guideway (and hence looks better).
Buses tend to go much further. Even the 70-series bus goes to the U-District and therefore has a larger rider base. The ride, however, is painfully bumpy.

Quote:
And, no, I don't believe that buses running in reserved guideway can win the same ridership - because once you have a good runningway, the rest of the advantages of rail transit become much larger in comparison. (In other words, I believe that reliability and speed are far more important than everything else when trying to attract people who aren't taking transit today. The fact that you think this is an illogical contention shows that you have no clue, whatsoever, about what it takes to attract choice commuters to transit.
In my experience, M1EK, I find that the Streetcar in Portland and the SLU Streetcar have both done an excellent job at nabbing those choice commuters. Primarily those who live and work on the line and visitors used to rail transit. Of course, that was the intention. I understand what your hazy perception of the system in both these cities is, but it's wrong, buddy.

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I live 3/4 of a mile north of UT in a 1923 house in a very walkable neighborhood, BTW. Had my idiot company not opened their office in the 2% of Austin I can't easily reach by bus from there, I'd be busing it every day.
What's your walk score?
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  #844  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 5:47 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
As I understand recent developments, it's the city proposing streetcars from Mueller to downtown via University of Texas, which is 4.5 miles and about as far as a streetcar should go, but also continue the streetcar east from downtown to the airport another 8 miles, which is much too far for a streetcar to go. 12 miles from Mueller to the airport, with station stops 4 times a mile, assuming 45 mph max speed, averages 15 mph. It'll take 45 minutes to travel that distance.
You're assuming the streetcar will stop 4 times a mile on the entire route, which is not true.

Also, in comparing your fantasy DMU from the airport to streetcar, you also have to factor in the required transfer back to streetcar (more likely bus), since DMU can't penetrate downtown, much less go to UT or the Capitol. And, of course, the fact that the ridership from the airport and ESPECIALLY along Riverside provides most of the bang for the buck for this streetcar line - it would not be built in reserved guideway downtown with the ridership figures it would obtain from simply distributing commuter rail passengers.
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  #845  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 5:49 PM
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Yes, but that is proposed versus what eventually got built.
Again, starter line to starter line - a direct comparison.

What, precisely, is your agenda here anyways? I'm making objective claims about streetcar which ought to be easy to answer or accept, and you go straight into personal attacks. O'Toole hates all rail; I simply don't want to waste precious rail dollars on stuff that isn't good enough compared to buses - I'd rather spend it on more LRT. And he certainly wouldn't have said that streetcar is better for the operator than are buses, which I have said on numerous occasions.

Comparing streetcar to bus: we would be replacing some circulator buses here with circulator streetcars running on the same exact streets in the same exact traffic lanes. So, once again, you DON'T have the evidence you think you do that shared-lane streetcars are better (for riders) than buses on the same route. In your case, you didn't have comparable bus service beforehand - so, of course, 'new' transit service is better than the stuff that was there before. That is most definitely not the case for us (and for other recent streetcar proposals which also are just thinking they can plop a streetcar where a bus used to run).

As for walkscore, it's a joke - it counts a convenience store near me as a grocery store. My score's actually a bit too high in this neighborhood (and too low in the old one where we still own a condo).

BTW, I have a crackplog in the pipe about my Perfect Shared-lane Streetcar Starter Project: the friggin' airport parking shuttles. The shuttle-buses run essentially 18/7 on the same exact routes every single day (flexibility irrelevant); the passengers are already forced to ride; and unlike on city streets, you don't have much to worry about in the way of congestion or accidents. Operating cost savings would be a huge win here.
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  #846  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 6:54 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Again, starter line to starter line - a direct comparison.
Do you know what the original starter line for Link as dictated by Sound Move? Do you know what the truncated starter is?

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What, precisely, is your agenda here anyways? I'm making objective claims about streetcar which ought to be easy to answer or accept, and you go straight into personal attacks.
"If streetcar is that successful in Portland compared to buses on the same routes, Portlanders are dumber than I thought."

Quote:
O'Toole hates all rail; I simply don't want to waste precious rail dollars on stuff that isn't good enough compared to buses - I'd rather spend it on more LRT. And he certainly wouldn't have said that streetcar is better for the operator than are buses, which I have said on numerous occasions.
I think my agenda is made clear by pointing out this part of your post. You make a rhetorical leap into something that hasn't worked in practice (i.e. streetcars not being "good enough compared to buses") by skewing theory in several directions. You're applying regional transportation to local transportation for the sake of getting subsidized transit.

Quote:
Comparing streetcar to bus: we would be replacing some circulator buses here with circulator streetcars running on the same exact streets in the same exact traffic lanes. So, once again, you DON'T have the evidence you think you do that shared-lane streetcars are better (for riders) than buses on the same route. In your case, you didn't have comparable bus service beforehand - so, of course, 'new' transit service is better than the stuff that was there before. That is most definitely not the case for us (and for other recent streetcar proposals which also are just thinking they can plop a streetcar where a bus used to run).
Did you miss the part where I pointed out that the Seattle Streetcar is capturing most riders from the 70-series buses that mostly parallel their alignment?

Quote:
As for walkscore, it's a joke - it counts a convenience store near me as a grocery store. My score's actually a bit too high in this neighborhood (and too low in the old one where we still own a condo).
I think it's appropriate-- it shows all the grocery stores in my neighborhood (4 of them within a 5-10 minute walk). It should at the very least be a very excellent comparison between cities. In other words, please don't preach to me how to create density when I already live in it and have seen it magically manifest, as if by fairy dust. I wouldn't dare compare the density of Seattle to that of San Francisco outside of jest or as a gentle reminder to errant locals, and I certainly wouldn't leap to compare SF with New York City.

Quote:
BTW, I have a crackplog in the pipe about my Perfect Shared-lane Streetcar Starter Project: the friggin' airport parking shuttles. The shuttle-buses run essentially 18/7 on the same exact routes every single day (flexibility irrelevant); the passengers are already forced to ride; and unlike on city streets, you don't have much to worry about in the way of congestion or accidents. Operating cost savings would be a huge win here.
In this, people should start to see your failure to grasp the concept.

Distance dictates scale in this instance. A LRT line will create nodes around stations, sure, but it definitely misses the broad scope of capture you get from having a smaller-scale system. By bumping up the mode to something upwardly scalable (in this case, streetcars), you give incentive toward growth in CENTRAL URBAN AREAS.

Does Austin have the ROW to handle taking away car lanes? Would the city approve elevated? Is it feasible to have a subway tunnel? Will there be immediate rail access for most central area residents and workers? How would you fill in the gaps between LRT stations and lines? These are all questions that basically say that simply hurling LRT into the central part of Austin will not work. It will need further additions to address circulation in the central city, and the best method to do this is a Streetcar.

Of course, if you're fine with just a bus, you can have that too.

I'll gladly enjoy my Streetcar, my jaunts to the Pearl District, gliding up to Ka-Pow! in South Lake Union, that magical trip to see the fireworks over Gas Works and everything that comes from it. You can have your bus.
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  #847  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 7:48 PM
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(This is for both of you guys):

If you're willing to walk that far to take rail transit, you could just walk a much shorter distance and take an express bus (one-seat ride) that goes the same place today (Guadalupe/Lavaca stops for the 98x series express buses which go to the same suburban park-and-rides plus hit a few better spots like the Arboretum). Here's a hint: if you don't, you're (in aggregate) not going to take the "walk 1.5 miles to rail stop" option either, because the 1.5 mile walk takes long enough that it's basically the same trip length as the bus would have been, if not longer (same goes for the shuttlebus, which would entail a wait and then a slow, stuck-in-traffic, bus ride to the Convention Center).

Wishful thinking can't override transit research from all over the friggin' country.
I'd would bike that 1.5 miles to the train station. It'll probably take less than 5 minutes. I'd be willing to walk up to a mile, as I did that all through my school years, it'll take around 20 minutes.

But after biking or walking that far, I would expect faster than 15 mph average speeds.

There's a study that took place in California. 90% of transit passengers are willing to walk a quarter mile, 50% up to a half mile, 25% up to a mile.

Another interesting fact, back in the 1960-70s, 90% of school chidren walked to school in urban areas. Today, that number is just 10%. There's actually two rush hours today every morning and afternoon. One rush hour for those going to work, and another rush hour for driving school children to school.

Half the daily auto traffic would dissappear if children were to walk to school today.
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  #848  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 9:46 PM
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Do you know what the original starter line for Link as dictated by Sound Move? Do you know what the truncated starter is?
Yes. I've been following Seattle's efforts with much interest since I've visited a number of times; my wife used to live there; and I have friends in Seattle, Redmond, and Duvall.

Like most of your assumptions, this one is wrong.

Austin had a great LRT plan - there was plenty of space downtown to take traffic lanes; the trouble spot was actually a couple of blocks just northwest of the university (26th to 29th); but it was being worked quite well until the asshat state rep from Round Rock pushed the election early to coincide with W's first run (pulling in enough of the Neanderthals from the 'burbs to barely defeat it). It matched most successful LRT starts in design and would have exceeded them in ridership, based on conservative projections by Cap Metro and vetted by the Feds.

We had our own "truncated starter line" which would have been roughly Howard to downtown instead of the originally proposed starter which went all the way to Leander and down to Ben White.

You, in other words, know a lot less about Austin's rail plans than I do about Seattle's.

This still doesn't change the fact that you haven't come up with one remotely logical reason why a streetcar running in shared traffic isn't just as bad as a bus (performance and reliability) running on the same exact route. No more weasel words about "parallelling" or "runs on some of the same route"; because that's not the claim I made. Show me why a streetcar vehicle running on rails in the right lane is better than a bus running the same exact route on the same exact headways - for the RIDERS, DIRECTLY, not for the developers or the operators (all of which might help the riders someday indirectly, but also might not).

Hint: Things that apply as "help the developers, not the riders" are: anything including the words "urban fabric"; "operating costs"; etc.

And once again, you don't understand Austin at all if you think we need a streetcar around downtown to boost urban development there. It's actually happening a bit too fast, if anything; it's going to be hard to build enough transportation infrastructure to catch up with what the market's already doing without any rail there at all.
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  #849  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2008, 10:33 PM
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*blip!*

M1EK, let's just knock it off. I'll sit here in my corner and play with my toy trolleys and you sit in your corner and play with your buses. It'll make things go a lot smoother since our arguing doesn't change the reality of transit development in Texas.
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  #850  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 3:46 PM
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You're assuming the streetcar will stop 4 times a mile on the entire route, which is not true.

Also, in comparing your fantasy DMU from the airport to streetcar, you also have to factor in the required transfer back to streetcar (more likely bus), since DMU can't penetrate downtown, much less go to UT or the Capitol. And, of course, the fact that the ridership from the airport and ESPECIALLY along Riverside provides most of the bang for the buck for this streetcar line - it would not be built in reserved guideway downtown with the ridership figures it would obtain from simply distributing commuter rail passengers.
At most, the transfer will waste a minimal amount of time, as the streetcar should arrive at the downtown station (Convention Center) prior to the DMU train arrival. That's accomplished easily by setting and sticking to a train schedule.

I used four stops a mile because that's what most streetcar trains average. True, over part of the streetcar line, there may only be two stops a mile, on other parts there will be six stops a mile. Over 12 to 15 miles, the streetcar will average four stops a mile.

Let's take a closer look at the shorter proposed streetcar line from Mueller to downtown Austin. Where will the most likely transit stops be?

1) End of Line > Bartholemew Park
2) 1/2 mile > Center of Mueller developement
3) 1/2 mile > Manor at Pershing
4) 1/5 mile > Manor at Palo Pinto
5) 1/4 mile > Manor at Faith Baptist Church
6) 1/3 mile > Manor at Alexander (CapMetro's MLK station)
7) 1/4 mile > Manor at Walnut
8) 1/5 mile > Manor at Maple
9) 1/4 mile > Manor at Poquito

I thinks that far enough to make my point. Without getting in downtown Austin where the stops will be spaced closer together. Business, restaurants, etc along the streetcar line are going to expect a stop within one or two blocks of their business.

And the streetcar will average a stop evey 1/4 mile or so.
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  #851  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 4:35 PM
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Rail line might not open until March
http://www.statesman.com/news/conten...8capmetro.html
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  #852  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 4:36 PM
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Rail line might not open until March
http://www.statesman.com/news/conten...8capmetro.html
Well that was certainly un-unexpected.

I like the news about getting slightly larger buses, though. It's a good step forward.
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  #853  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 5:28 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas View Post
Rail line might not open until March
http://www.statesman.com/news/conten...8capmetro.html
The problems actually sound quite serious. Kramer lane station hasn't even begun construction? Will they risk opening the line without all the stations, when they might be embarrassed by the initial ridership? The article also says that some track still needs to be moved for the unfinished station. I can't see them opening the line, then having to close it for awhile to move the track, just when people are starting to get used to it... FRA approval of the train cars still not obtained? Wasn't that problem identified 6 months ago: http://www.kvue.com/news/koski/stori....1c7c00a5.html ? Even March seems like a rosy prediction, when you've got that kind of a federal bureaucratic problem still unresolved.

I'd say by March, all we'll have is some serious public outcry about the failure to open the rail line. I hope I'm wrong, though.
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  #854  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 6:26 PM
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At most, the transfer will waste a minimal amount of time, as the streetcar should arrive at the downtown station (Convention Center) prior to the DMU train arrival. That's accomplished easily by setting and sticking to a train schedule.
I was talking about the initial service - which is using buses for circulators. Best-case scenario would have streetcars running in reserved guideway 5 or 6 years from now; until then, the reality is going to be buses, sometimes late.

[/quote]Let's take a closer look at the shorter proposed streetcar line from Mueller to downtown Austin. Where will the most likely transit stops be?

1) End of Line > Bartholemew Park
2) 1/2 mile > Center of Mueller developement
3) 1/2 mile > Manor at Pershing
4) 1/5 mile > Manor at Palo Pinto
5) 1/4 mile > Manor at Faith Baptist Church
6) 1/3 mile > Manor at Alexander (CapMetro's MLK station)
7) 1/4 mile > Manor at Walnut
8) 1/5 mile > Manor at Maple
9) 1/4 mile > Manor at Poquito

I thinks that far enough to make my point.[/QUOTE]

You're crazy - most of those locations will NOT get a streetcar stop. When I sat in on meetings with a citizen group advising McCracken on the city's plan, the general idea was maybe a couple on Manor.

You basically STARTED with your assumption that streetcar always has stops every 1/4 mile and then went from there. I'm telling you that's not likely to be the case with this plan, although I wouldn't have put it past Capital Metro to do something this stupid with _their_ awful shared-lane design.
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  #855  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 6:27 PM
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Originally Posted by alexjon View Post
*blip!*

M1EK, let's just knock it off. I'll sit here in my corner and play with my toy trolleys and you sit in your corner and play with your buses. It'll make things go a lot smoother since our arguing doesn't change the reality of transit development in Texas.
You want to have it knocked off, you'll respect what I actually say - and I've said eight billion times I'm no fan of buses; I want our rail dollars to go to rail running in reserved guideway, not useless stuck-in-traffic streetcars which are even worse than buses.

If I were such a fan of buses, I doubt "even worse than" would be used by me in that way. How about you try a bit of honesty here?
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  #856  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 6:29 PM
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Well that was certainly un-unexpected.

I like the news about getting slightly larger buses, though. It's a good step forward.
The 'larger' buses aren't an upgrade over existing service on those lines; it's that they don't have any extra of the suburban express buses to bring into service. These are the touring-style buses that ride high over a luggage compartment (on these vehicles, bikes get stowed underneath). They are longer than the normal city buses.

Presumably we still have an extra couple of normal city buses, but putting them into service on these longer routes is a bit embarassing given the branding of these rides as higher-quality and more comfortable.
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  #857  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 6:32 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
You want to have it knocked off, you'll respect what I actually say - and I've said eight billion times I'm no fan of buses; I want our rail dollars to go to rail running in reserved guideway, not useless stuck-in-traffic streetcars which are even worse than buses.

If I were such a fan of buses, I doubt "even worse than" would be used by me in that way. How about you try a bit of honesty here?
Nope, sorry! I'm not stuck in a land of what-ifs-- light rail is already here in the pacific northwest and I've actually lived with it as a commuter.

Gonna sit here and enjoy my light rail, commuter rail and streetcars thanks!
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  #858  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 6:36 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
The 'larger' buses aren't an upgrade over existing service on those lines; it's that they don't have any extra of the suburban express buses to bring into service. These are the touring-style buses that ride high over a luggage compartment (on these vehicles, bikes get stowed underneath). They are longer than the normal city buses.

Presumably we still have an extra couple of normal city buses, but putting them into service on these longer routes is a bit embarassing given the branding of these rides as higher-quality and more comfortable.
http://www.soundtransit.org/x4642.xml <-- these? They're comfortable and worth a ride.
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  #859  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 7:42 PM
paulsjv paulsjv is offline
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So the Dillos have changed their routes and are making each stop every 5 minutes. I was wondering what you all's thoughts were on this. I keep seeing 2 to 3 dillos over by the Whole Foods stop with a few people on them. Seems to me that they have too many of them on the road right now. Maybe they still need to work out the kinks?
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  #860  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 9:23 PM
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TXAlex TXAlex is offline
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One word: Monorail. yeah right.
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