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  #1301  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2010, 12:52 AM
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Traditional commuter rail runs less frequent than light rail. The East Corridor EMU line is more of a heavy rail line (subway type line) running at-grade, It is being designed to run as frequently as one train every 7.5 minutes. The current plan is to run East Corridor trains once every 15 minutes on both peak and off peak. This will basically be express heavy rail service between downtown and the airport, running at-grade (instead of above/below-grade) to save on cost.
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  #1302  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2010, 6:19 AM
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Can someone help me settle a heated political discussion that I just had with a buddy of mine. He is strictly anti-rail and says all the money that we're pouring into FastTracks is a waste of tax payer's money. He says RTD is losing money big time and we'll never recoup our investments on the lines to Golden and to DIA. It's all a waste of money (and then somehow blames Obama... fwiw.) Anyway, I think he's been slurping the Glenn Beck juice too much and want to counter his argument with facts.

Can someone tell me the pros and cons of FastTracks and whether it's a "sound" investment?

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  #1303  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2010, 8:30 AM
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If he thinks Obama passed fastraks somehow then I think you can say cancer will be cured if we build it.
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  #1304  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2010, 2:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fritzdude View Post
Can someone help me settle a heated political discussion that I just had with a buddy of mine. He is strictly anti-rail and says all the money that we're pouring into FastTracks is a waste of tax payer's money. He says RTD is losing money big time and we'll never recoup our investments on the lines to Golden and to DIA. It's all a waste of money (and then somehow blames Obama... fwiw.) Anyway, I think he's been slurping the Glenn Beck juice too much and want to counter his argument with facts.

Can someone tell me the pros and cons of FastTracks and whether it's a "sound" investment?

Your friend is obviously delusional, Fritzdude. Don't even bother trying to argue with him, especially if he blames Obama for FasTracks!

Aaron (Glowrock)
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  #1305  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2010, 4:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fritzdude View Post
Can someone help me settle a heated political discussion that I just had with a buddy of mine. He is strictly anti-rail and says all the money that we're pouring into FastTracks is a waste of tax payer's money. He says RTD is losing money big time and we'll never recoup our investments on the lines to Golden and to DIA. It's all a waste of money (and then somehow blames Obama... fwiw.) Anyway, I think he's been slurping the Glenn Beck juice too much and want to counter his argument with facts.

Can someone tell me the pros and cons of FastTracks and whether it's a "sound" investment?

Ask him just how much money the interstates make, then question how he supports such obvious taxpayer subsidies which is then proceeded by questioning his patriotism and whether he is a real American.
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  #1306  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2010, 4:17 PM
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He's got a point from the cost side of things, that Rail for the most part is always subsidized at least from the way RTD has it structured. If you try and argue just the direct cost side of the argument, then yeah the money RTD brings in from ridership does not add up to how much they spend on operations and maintenance.

The real benefits of rail are reduced congestion and pollution, ease of parking situation downtown especially during games, spurred growth around light rail stations leading to higher property values, and the thing still goes on snowy days, even when cars can't get through.
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  #1307  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2010, 4:33 PM
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Originally Posted by EngiNerd View Post
He's got a point from the cost side of things, that Rail for the most part is always subsidized at least from the way RTD has it structured. If you try and argue just the direct cost side of the argument, then yeah the money RTD brings in from ridership does not add up to how much they spend on operations and maintenance.

The real benefits of rail are reduced congestion and pollution, ease of parking situation downtown especially during games, spurred growth around light rail stations leading to higher property values, and the thing still goes on snowy days, even when cars can't get through.
Huh? Rail for the most part is subsidized... because ALL public infrastructure is "subsidized." What percentage of road, sidewalk, rail line and bus stop construction costs are public contributions? About 100%.

I would say that, in fact, there are far more private contributions to features in a transit stop than there are to a highway (such as public art, etc), plus there is a fee to ride, so you could say that transit is much less subsidized than roads.

Fritzdude, tell your friend that government pays for transportation no matter what kind it is. And THIS is the real option we have:

To put money into roads, which benefits middle and upper class people who own cars disproportionately, so people who do not drive (disabled, poor, senior citizens, etc) pay taxes on services they are literally unable to receive.

To put money into transit, which absolutely anyone can use, which is a more fair and representational use of tax dollars.

You could also say that transit:

1) allows poor people to get to work, decreasing the amount we pay on food stamps, public housing and other welfare programs, because they are now eligible for jobs they can actually get to
2) allows disabled people senior citizens who can no longer drive to have some mobility, decreasing the need for welfare programs that would otherwise be providing them with grocery delivery and transportation services
3) decreases the amount of consumer spending that goes to consumables like gas and auto repairs, meaning consumers can put more of their money into long-term goods (like investing or buying a bigger home) which represent long-term growth in the economy - it's always a better investment to acquire something lasting than something consumed
4) decreases the number of accidents and pollution, which saves on health care costs and emergency services
5) increases the amount that people walk to the bus stop and get exercise, which saves on health care costs and emergency services
6) gives people a CHOICE between driving and taking transit, which is arguably an increase in individualism
7) turns blighted urban areas into vitalized urban areas, which saves costs on emergency services and reduces crime
8) increases travel ease for tourists, so they are more likely to visit, and also allows them to spend less on transportation so they'll spend more on restaurants and other local small businesses which have a more positive effect on the local economy
9) decreases the footprint of transportation; the government has to confiscate less property through eminent domain to build a rail line than it does when adding lanes to highways
10) builds our cities in a way that is more aesthetically attractive than one dominated by cars
11) allows people to meet face-to-face with more strangers, and more diverse groups of people, than they encounter when they are traveling alone in a car
12) allows people to do other things like read, study or talk on the phone while they're commuting to work so they are more productive throughout the day and are in better moods than they would have been after being stuck in traffic.

So yeah, as a taxpayer, I'd say transit is a better investment.

Last edited by Pizzuti; Aug 1, 2010 at 4:50 PM.
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  #1308  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2010, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pizzuti View Post
Fritzdude, tell your friend that government pays for transportation no matter what kind it is. And THIS is the real option we have:

To put money into roads, which benefits middle and upper class people who own cars disproportionately, so people who do not drive (disabled, poor, senior citizens, etc) pay taxes on services they are literally unable to receive.
Pizzuti thanks for writing such a long and comprehensive post on this. I'm frankly exhausted from arguing with people who are opposed to these types of projects and who bring nonsensical arguments such as "fastracks is Obama's fault" which means they are already disconnected from reality in the first place.

While I agree 100% with the above that I've quoted this sort of argument just doesn't work on conservatives. If you could somehow prove that it doesn't disproportionately help people (and for some if you could prove that it punitively punishes them somehow) who have chosen to be poor through laziness and not bothering to learn employable skills it would be more attractive to them (in general).

If you want to convince a conservative that rail mass transit is better it needs to be the sort of arguments you used dealing with productivity. You can read, use your laptop, not pay attention to traffic, save money on car payments, insurance, gas etc. Things like this work more. If you argue with a conservative about how something helps others it's just not in the equation for them. You MUST show how it helps them when it's there (by reducing rush hour traffic when they do choose to keep driving, etc).

This isn't to say conservatives are less generous or caring. I just have observed that in general they will donate money and services through church, charity, time etc and are generally more suspicious of any govt program that is meant to help those that they perceive as "others"; the best way seems to be to convince them that "THEY" are part of the "OTHERS" these benefit. I'm still not sure you actually can do this though - it's probably rare (just as rare as one would be able to convince me that we should NOT invest in these things).


Also... I really like #6. As a society we really don't realize how we are slaves to our automobiles (and the myriad and seemingly inexhaustible costs associated with them) when they're the only choice we have. Indeed if someone is REALLY anti-tax, one of the best ways to reduce your tax bill may be to stop buying gas altogether in favor of transit. The annual Fastracks cost for a Denver resident would be FAR lower than the gas tax burden. There are also registration fees, title fees, license, etc. If you are REALLY anti-tax, gov't etc you could do a LOT more to keep the state government from getting your money by giving up your car and taking the bus/train everywhere, and renting a car (or car sharing if it ever happens easily in Denver) for longer trips out of the city.

Last edited by Brainpathology; Aug 2, 2010 at 9:40 PM.
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  #1309  
Old Posted Aug 2, 2010, 4:24 PM
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Well I would agree that there are people who are worth talking to, and people who are just not.

Just like any political strategist knows: you reach out to the people who are reachable, and after you get 55 or 60 percent of the vote, you work on keeping them happy and screw the other 40% who wants to remake the world in the opposite direction. If you start trying to deal with the remaining support you don't have, you end up galvanizing them, because you are coming from such different ideological perspectives that everything you say turns them off - AND you start losing your own base of support.

I wouldn't bother with someone who thought helping disabled people get around was a bad thing. But I'd use those talking points on other people - many of whom I personally know so can grip the archetype for - who are reluctant but persuadable.
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  #1310  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2010, 4:53 PM
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network too weak

I think one of the biggest issues in getting greater public support is the fact that most people do not see a direct benefit yet they're asked to pay the tax. The argument that because of public transportation the highways are less congested may be very valid but is rather weak. A lot of people live and work in areas far from a light rail stop and not served or underserved by public bus. Crafting a commute route may result in a two-hour commute (or worse). Furthermore, stepping down to a bus from light rail opens up the deficiencies of that part of the network. Long intervals, unreliable schedules, exposed stops and very slow going at times (stuck in traffic, loading and unloading of disabled passengers can take a long time because of bus design, too many stops). So, for greater acceptance and support you need to dramatically expand and improve the network. Of course, the trouble is how can you get there without getting the necessary funding secured? The new rail lines coming into service over the next few years should help, but there will still be vast stretches of the metro area left out (like the southwest) and getting from point A to point B will still require a trip downtown in many scenarios.
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  #1311  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2010, 12:47 AM
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o_O
I really don't agree with anything you just wrote.
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  #1312  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2010, 3:03 AM
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And those of us who live in urban areas also pay for things like infrastructure upkeep, etc, in the less dense areas.

Conservatives, in my mind, are incredibly selfish and greedy.
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  #1313  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2010, 4:24 AM
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^Right. And also, like I said, if you don't have a bus service you're going to have to put a lot of that spending in other things when suddenly huge groups of people can't get around. Disabled people can't get to work, poor people can't get to work, people who've had DUI's and lost their licenses can't get to work, kids can't get to school, drunk people can't get home from the bars, etc.

You end up paying for it anyway.
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  #1314  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2010, 10:04 PM
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light rail - transit

Pizzuti's comments are very well-stated.

Just a bit more food for thought, if I may -

According to the Federal Transit Administration - nearly 1/3rd of the U.S. population does not drive a car. (One could imagine that the figure would likely be similar for Colorado - and the Greater Denver area.)

This includes seniors who no longer have licenses, people with disabilities who depend on transit or other transportation services, children under the driving age, people who simply do not want to drive, as well as people who cannot afford a car.

For a metro region with 2.4 million residents - that would translate into something along the lines of approximately 800,000 people who do not drive cars.

And demographic trends show that we will experience an increase in elderly residents (as baby boomers age). The number of children under the age of 16 will also continue to grow.

Investing in transit - be it light rail, bus rapid transit, or whatever technology - clearly improves the overall mobility and accessibility of the entire region's population - getting people to jobs, services, retail, etc., etc., etc.
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  #1315  
Old Posted Aug 5, 2010, 4:08 AM
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I always like to remind folks that one of our biggest expenses is k-12 education, something I (as an adult with no children) receive no direct benefit for. I fail to see how transit is any different.
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  #1316  
Old Posted Aug 5, 2010, 2:36 PM
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I always like to remind folks that one of our biggest expenses is k-12 education, something I (as an adult with no children) receive no direct benefit for. I fail to see how transit is any different.
Ok, I agree with you about transit, no doubt. But did you go to public school?
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  #1317  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2010, 3:08 PM
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Quote:
RTD, CDOT seek federal grant for I-225, light-rail expansion
By Jeffrey Leib
The Denver Post
Faced with a scarcity of local and state funds, RTD and the Colorado Department of Transportation are hoping the federal government will come through with about $123 million to help extend light rail in the Interstate 225 corridor and widen a portion of the highway at the same time.

If the agencies are successful in getting the federal money, it would revive the Regional Transportation District/CDOT collaboration that constructed the $1.7 billion T-REX project in southeast metro Denver.

T-REX, the Transportation Expansion Project, included 19 miles of light rail in the Interstate 25 and I-225 corridors and nearly as many miles of parallel highway expansion.

Now, the agencies want to extend light rail 1.5 miles along I-225 from its current end at South Parker Road to East Iliff Avenue. The money would pay to widen 3 miles of I-225 from Parker to East Mississippi Avenue.

"I'm referring to it as a mini-T-REX," said Reza Akhavan, CDOT's transportation chief in the metro area.

The project's total cost is estimated at $157 million. RTD and CDOT will contribute about $33.7 million in matching funds if they are successful in getting the requested $123.3 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The agencies have sent a bid to the U.S. TIGER II program, a total of $600 million for transportation projects around the country. The grant winners are to be revealed in September.

CDOT won $10 million in the first phase of TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) for improvements to U.S. 36. The state agency and local governments in that corridor are trying to parlay that grant into a federal loan of about $50 million to help extend HOV/HOT lanes along the Boulder Turnpike.

Akhavan said CDOT's partnership with RTD on T-REX should bolster the effort to seek TIGER II money.

"We want to take advantage of the momentum we've built on I-225 and send a message to D.C. that we've done it before," he said.

RTD's FasTracks plan calls for construction of a 10.5-mile, $670 million light-rail line in the I-225 corridor from the existing Nine Mile station at Parker Road through Aurora's City Center and the Anschutz Medical Campus to Peoria Street and Smith Road.

Yet the I-225 line is unfunded, as are several other FasTracks projects, including the $977 million North Metro commuter-rail line to Thornton/Northglenn.

RTD's board of directors is weighing whether to ask metro Denver voters for a sales tax increase to fully pay for the unfunded lines, but in the meantime, the transit agency is looking for all sources of money that could get construction of unfunded lines underway on a piecemeal basis.
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_15714047

Couple of comments, does this seem expensive to anyone else for just a couple miles? And I assume this is going to be done outside of Fastracks, so it should make it easier to fund the remainder of the LRT extension later on.
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  #1318  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2010, 3:17 PM
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^Depends, just how much is going to widen I-225? I know that this is the most constrained section of the road and the one that was going to be the costliest to expand, hence why it's the last part. Don't the have to replace the Yale bridge? Just doing that is probably $30-40 million. If so, I'm betting that it probably comes down to a 50-50 split of the total project cost of $157 million.
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  #1319  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2010, 6:14 PM
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TRex was 19 miles and 1.7 billion, this is 1.5 miles and 157 million. That seems pretty reasonable to me. Hoping for 123 million out of 600 million total though.. that does NOT seem very reasonable, though I would certainly apply for it.
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  #1320  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2010, 7:19 PM
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Yeah, but most of TREX was in an extremely tight corridor, with lots of retaining walls and bridges needed. Though I guess this stretch of 225 to be expanded is pretty tight as well.

Regardless, this has been needed for a long while, that road is congested at all hours of the day, 7 days a week.
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