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  #41  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2008, 8:41 PM
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That's a major reason as well as other things.
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  #42  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2008, 8:42 PM
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I can definitely see lack of support from the population right here, but I don't see any major obstacles to getting this built.
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  #43  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2008, 8:55 PM
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alexjon - you are an east-side guy right? i just got to thinking...what does the east-side stand to gain from any of this - the commuter rail, light rail, or any of the recent bonds that passed.

if memory serves me, the commuter rail terminal in SA was on the west side of DT, the light rail would take people to ATT Center but probably not do much else for the east, and all of the bonds for river north/south ,soccer fields, performing arts...

i guess the freeman coliseum is getting a makeover, but what will that help mr and ms g or ma harper?
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  #44  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2008, 8:57 PM
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the east side stands to gain the least because it's the smallest.
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  #45  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2008, 8:57 PM
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One of the youth sports fields passed by the bonds will be on the east side.
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  #46  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2008, 8:59 PM
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Originally Posted by sakyle04 View Post
alexjon - you are an east-side guy right? i just got to thinking...what does the east-side stand to gain from any of this - the commuter rail, light rail, or any of the recent bonds that passed.

if memory serves me, the commuter rail terminal in SA was on the west side of DT, the light rail would take people to ATT Center but probably not do much else for the east, and all of the bonds for river north/south ,soccer fields, performing arts...

i guess the freeman coliseum is getting a makeover, but what will that help mr and ms g or ma harper?
I'm from the immediate east side, the very north part (if Fort Sam is the barrier between "East" and "Northeast") and it'll get the bulk of benefits of light rail (Broadway line), Streetcar, etc. With intended density boosts to Government Hill, I'm absolutely certain that the streetcar will be extended down Carson or Grayson to the old Fort Sam main gate

The East Side may be the most served part of the area at this rate.
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  #47  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2008, 1:39 AM
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Looks like the planning and everything is in order. Is it because there's no funding at this point?
Isn't it mostly just a matter of negotiating with UP or whoever to let ASA use the rail line?
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  #48  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2008, 6:45 AM
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Commuter rail won't happen until both SA and Austin have their own light rail.
This is exactly how false information gets put out there. Rick Reader comes on here, reads that, and next thing ya know a bunch of people think that its some law that we have to have light rail before we can explore commuter rail. I realize you were just posting your opinion- wrong that it is- but its confusing to those who dont know whats going on.

Since I have clients in Austin, and am up there 3-4 times a month, I've been jonesing for this to happen for some time. So I've been following it pretty closely. Here's where it stands.

1. The planned route would be from the Port of SA (to be used as a maintenance base) and run through DT on existing UP tracks up through New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin, Round Rock and ending in Georgetown. I believe its 149 miles or so.

2. The Austin San Antonio Intermunicipal Rail Corridor has been formed as the agency to manage the project. All municipalities along the way have joined as members. They have completed their feasibility study and have put in requests for funding at the federal level.

3. The original plans called for using the existing UP trackage, and having UP build a new track parallel outside the cities in rural areas. The stalemate has been that it's gonna cost UP something between $500 million to $2 billion to do so. UP is down for it if the state, feds or cities will pay for it. No one is rushing to the front of that line.

4. The track relocation has been necessary to the project due to the amount of freight traffic on the existing trackage. The rail plan (as envisioned when the feasability study was completed noted commuter surveys that indicated people would only use it if the trip by rail was as fast or shorter than the same ride by car- but its important to note that this is when gas was $1.65 a gallon, not the nearly $4.00 it is now). UP obviously wants its freight to get to it's destination as quick as possible, and cant be forced to share its tracks, and delay its trains to allow a scheduled commuter service go through. So track relocation seemed the best option (except for the huge cash outlay that no one wanted to front). So the ASA sat by and looked for funding to get relocation going. Meanwhile, earlier this year, no one expected....

5. Amtrak sent the ASA a letter of interest in possibly operating the system. This was huge. If Amtrak operated the system for ASA, UP is responsible for the maintenance issues on the track; and most importantly, scheduled Amtrak service has priority over freight traffic, even on UP's own trackage as a part of the 1970 federal Rail Passenger Service Act.

So there we are. Amtrak is reviewing the feasibility study. If they are on-board (pun intended) then it could be a matter of 12-18 months before it gets off the ground, and would be significantly cheaper to the local governments to participate in. Personally, I couldn't imagine the interest not being there with gas what it is now. I drive a F-150 and it now costs me about 65 bucks to make the round trip from my apartment to north Round Rock. I'd gladly cut that by two-thirds and take the train.
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  #49  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2008, 7:18 AM
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Amtrak getting on board was what got BNSF to go ahead with setting up its tracks for usage by the Sounder.

This is why I keep saying this thing is in ink. Funding is going to show up and it'll be a-okay! Have a little faith, y'all
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  #50  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2008, 3:51 PM
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Why I think commuter rail isn't feasible until SA gets light rail is because once you get from Austin to San Antonio, how do you get around? I'm not saying the logistics and details aren't possible, because they are.
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  #51  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2008, 6:36 PM
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Originally Posted by KeepSanAntonioLame View Post
Why I think commuter rail isn't feasible until SA gets light rail is because once you get from Austin to San Antonio, how do you get around? I'm not saying the logistics and details aren't possible, because they are.
Bus.

How do people in Seattle get around? There's been a commuter rail system for almost 8 years-- it will be almost 9 since it opened when the light rail system opens.

And if you say the bus system in Seattle is better, I will box your ears.
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  #52  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2008, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by alexjon View Post
Bus.

How do people in Seattle get around? There's been a commuter rail system for almost 8 years-- it will be almost 9 since it opened when the light rail system opens.

And if you say the bus system in Seattle is better, I will box your ears.
don't box my ears, but i rode the bus in seattle - and had no complaints. then again, i don't ride the bus in SA too often (my wife rides to work) so i can't compare.
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  #53  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2008, 11:26 PM
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The bus system in Seattle proper is terrible compared to the one in SA. In SA, I've never had been on the bus when the cops are called. On the driver. The standard for Metro is that a bus is "on time" if it shows up within 5 minutes of its scheduled time.

It's really an awful system, but it does get people around and it does assist the commuter rail system well enough that it doesn't fall apart.
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  #54  
Old Posted Jun 8, 2008, 7:05 AM
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Originally Posted by KeepSanAntonioLame View Post
Why I think commuter rail isn't feasible until SA gets light rail is because once you get from Austin to San Antonio, how do you get around? I'm not saying the logistics and details aren't possible, because they are.
My friend Beth in NYC would get up at 5 AM, walk 10 blocks (in all weather) to the train from her apartment in Staten Island. Wait 5 minutes for the train, get on and ride it 25 minutes to the terminus at the Staten Island ferry. She'd wait another 10-15 minutes for the ferry, board and ride the half-hour trip to battery park. From there, she'd walk 15 minutes to the World Trade Center metro station, get on a train there and ride uptown to Penn Station terminal, change trains, and ride uptown further to around central park east, get out and walk 12 blocks or so to the office she worked at near the CitiGroup building. In all it took about two and a half hours to commute a route that is approximately 18 miles as the crow flies; each way. Every day. For years. Why? Cause a commute by vehicle would have cost her about $2000 a month between tolls, gas and parking. So if the economic incentive is there, people would make it work. But to hell with hypothetical, use my example- I can read CapMetro's schedule and map a route- and if in a time pinch, even take a cab the short distance to my client. With gas at $4.00 a gallon, I aint above a transfer.

At the end of the day, transit doesn't have to be easy; it just has to be cheaper, cause we're all motivated by the wallet.

(sidenote, I was at a boring-a$$ baby shower this afternoon. One of my collegiate fraternity brothers was there and told me he and his wife ride VIA daily to their jobs as attorneys in the DA's office. If white collar peeps are regulars on the VIA, and it's no longer 'poor people's' transportation, things are changin. I dont think people will be holding their nose up at the lack of light rail if the commuter rail project is completed.
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  #55  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2008, 3:11 PM
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Originally Posted by TXlifeguard View Post
I dont think people will be holding their nose up at the lack of light rail if the commuter rail project is completed.
But more rail is more better.
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  #56  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2008, 6:33 PM
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Light Rail in San Antonio

About light rail.

Watch out what you wish for. I live in Portland, Oregon and light rail is not as good as everyone here thinks it is for the following reasons.

1. It must be subsidized. It can not make any kind of a profit on its own and it is very expensive to construct. It is bleeding red badly here. Here in Portland a Tri-County tax on employers is paying most of the costs besides the actual fare. Yes, this is supposedly a real progressive town by taxing you more.

2. It is not flexible. Once it is in, it will stay in that location for a long time. This may become a problem if the commuting patterns change. So true if you look at this from a 25 to 50 year perspective. This is especially true if major corporations are located in suburban areas and the area is developing rapidly.

3. The cars and the stations will be a crime problem. Here in Portland we are having a crime problem on the cars, stations, and parking garages. Crimes such as assaults and car vandalism exist. At late hours you do not want to be alone in certain areas of the light rail line. This conduct has spread along the light rail line to places it was never reported at before. As of lately the increase in this crime has made it necessary for transit police to ride in the cars to try to stem this. More cost again. If you spread the light rail lines in different directions then it really becomes a problem to control.

4. Putting the ride in perspective. If your destination is not within walking distance of the light rail line by the time you catch another transit connector to where you are going then it is very hard to beat the car time to get there. This is within a context where the Portland freeway system is in total chaos.
Unfortunately Portland is more concerned about light rail and bicycles then cars so they have built-up these two at the expense of the basic freeway system. You know how extremely costly and disruptive it is to build additional freeways through established neighborhoods. Wow, icing before the cake!

5. Crashes. Since light rail start here there has always been some kind of an accident here and there involving cars or pedestrians. They just can not get this bug out of the light rail system. When it happens the whole light rail line schedule is a mess. This also occurs when there is a mechanical error. And yes they also occur.

6. Freezing rain. This can shut-down the rail lines as the overhead wiring becomes coated in ice. Occasional problem here.

My advice for San Antonio, after traveling all over the world and the US is:

1. Build a heavy rail line from Roundrock (and just north) to San Antonio downtown ( and just south).

2. Have trains run at 15 minute intervals (or less) at peak times and every 30 minutes thereafter.

3. Elevate it over all crossings so the trains, cars, and pedestrians do not mix.

4. Provide a luxury experience. No one wants to ride bad rail! Even if it is rail.

5. Provide fast rail time, (real, real fast). Innovation will be required here.

Then,

Have VIA give it a try with the rapid bus transit, but make it a real good one. It also should be a luxury experience with dedicated and landscaped right-of-way transit lanes and express service. Some observers here (Portland) are thinking twice about light rail within the above context. Light rail is a nostalgic application from the past to our current situation. Although popular, trendy, status like, and nostalgic it perhaps is not the real solution to the problem. A solution should come from future technology and anticipation of the current context but not the past.

Rapid rail in San Antonio
Rapid rail can work between these points (Roundrock to San Antonio) because the stations will be fixed, the population is there to support it, the schedules can be controlled (few stops), crime can be controlled (few stops), it can become a luxury pleasant experience for the commuter and the family, can be fast and efficient, can move larger quantities of passengers and become eventually economical. Each station can be supported by connections to other transit, shops and restaurants, and eventually high density housing. It can be made into a total experience not just transit and or looking over your back at late hours so that you don't become a crime victim.

Light rail is a European application to our cities. This is not an American solution to our cities. We are not Europeans. We are Americans. So many US cities have fallen in love with the European model, which is a shame because it is not the American model which we have not even addressed yet.

Good luck. I love San Antonio and go there every year when I get a chance.


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  #57  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2008, 5:23 AM
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Interesting-- having lived in Portland, I haven't noticed any of the above.

Crashes are exceedingly rare, crime is a problem caused by poor policing in the municipalities rather than on the rail line, getting to and from locations is easy (20 miles in 45 minutes as opposed to 3 miles in 40 in Seattle), running cars overnight prevents ice from sticking to the lines, parking in Portland is a hot commodity so driving isn't always a good idea (rarely), and the permanence of the line is actually a benefit.

Running heavy rail as you so expertly prescribe is completely infeasible, even with double-tracking. Bus Rapid Transit, with its low rider-to-driver capacity is a silly notion in the Fred Road corridor, especially considering planned growth and the fact that every 5 years you have to repave and every few weeks you need to re-tire. So much for savings.

And what percentage of transit systems make a profit and don't require subsidy in the US? I think the only one to truly turn an appreciable profit was the waterfront streetcar in Seattle
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  #58  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2008, 6:27 PM
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Light Rail in San Antonio

Running cars overnight for ice removal was tried and does not work all the time, crime moves along the transit line (you have to pay for a police presence regardless where it occurs), light rail only works if you are on the light rail line and have access to transit (the majority of the population does not), changing employment patterns can leave the light rail line transit area, two to three pedestrian/car crashes per year, you can beat light rail (if you have to walk to your destination several blocks) into downtown and park most of the time, benefits of light rail permanence are quite debatable.

I have never seen any repaving on major bus routes every five years. The Portland Transit mall is now partly asphalt. Wow, that would be expensive. The freeway was repaved once as I remember in many many years, bus tires are cheap compared to maintaining and constructing light rail, light rail is not economically feasible anywhere in the US (does this tell you something?).

It is silly to build something and pay for it, forever, that can not pay for itself.

Heavy rail as I noted is feasible with bus rapid transit if done right. Be innovative don't just follow the cattle heard.


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  #59  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2008, 7:23 PM
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Running cars overnight for ice removal was tried and does not work all the time, crime moves along the transit line (you have to pay for a police presence regardless where it occurs), light rail only works if you are on the light rail line and have access to transit (the majority of the population does not), changing employment patterns can leave the light rail line transit area, two to three pedestrian/car crashes per year, you can beat light rail (if you have to walk to your destination several blocks) into downtown and park most of the time, benefits of light rail permanence are quite debatable.

I have never seen any repaving on major bus routes every five years. The Portland Transit mall is now partly asphalt. Wow, that would be expensive. The freeway was repaved once as I remember in many many years, bus tires are cheap compared to maintaining and constructing light rail, light rail is not economically feasible anywhere in the US (does this tell you something?).

It is silly to build something and pay for it, forever, that can not pay for itself.

Heavy rail as I noted is feasible with bus rapid transit if done right. Be innovative don't just follow the cattle heard.


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i know these arguments.

i use them to try to gain support for the idea that we should raze the alamodome for a residential high-rise village (or some other lofty urbane purpose)...

i say that the dome is a money-loser year after year and the fact is that it does operate in the red. however, as a city-owned building, the money it generates in taxes more than makes up for its operating loss, although those dollars don't get credited to their bottom line.

basically, you are using facts to build a disingenuous case. i know. i do it. the reality is that cities with light rail have a greater density and a greater livability. these things turn the tide of exurban sprawl and allow greater efficiency in city services. fewer cars on the road means that the pollution levels drop, resulting in easier business regulations for the city which results in greater economic investment which results in a greater pool of wealth for all. that in turn makes all of us into greater consumers who then pay sales taxes that in turn fund things like city improvements and infrastructure, not to mention police who keep us safe on those dastardly trains.

your argument is flawed PTSA, at least on this forum. we are here because we believe in density and urbanity. we believe that they reduce crime, increase property value, improve livability, raise standards, and generally help society at large. more succinctly, a rising tide lifts all boats.

i believe in our ability to reinvent ourselves. i believe in a more efficient, more beautiful, and more integrated city. i believe in change.
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  #60  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2008, 9:00 PM
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Light Rail in San Antonio

SAKYLE04

You got me wrong. I like density and urban growth (lived in NYC for ten years). I just do not believe that light rail will get you there. What I am proposing, heavy rail, is closer to that density you are thinking about.

San Antonio caught my eye several years ago for its unique position in the growth scale. Basically it is at the crossroads between becoming another Denver, Seattle, Phenix, etc.. or a city of true world class proportions unique to itself therefore I responded here with this post.

I am trying to go beyond the current image of what the city should be like. Let me make it clear for you the sprawl is bad and the very high density is bad also. There has to be something other then those two options. Just because our cities grew the way they did from the 1900's does not say that they are correct now.

The European model is not the answer to this question. In the European model the individuals vitality and the pizazz of life of innovation and growth beyond the rudimentary needs of food, sleep, and vacations is gone for many.

There is something very special in the essence of the cattle drive, launching of the space shuttle, releasing a new iphone, climbing Mt. McKinley, working on a Windows deadline in Redmond, and outfitting the Boeing Jet at Kelly that represents us as Americans and that should be reflected by who we are and what we represent. It should reflect our cities and capture that spirit of life in how we live and become part of our lifestyle. We need to stop borrowing ideas from the past and Europe and concentrate on ourselves. It has to come from all of us and represent all of us. It is very hard and not currently clear but we have to take baby steps in that direction, I believe. Perhaps rapid bus transit is not the way to go but it will give us time to figure out what is right to us without creating expensive problems to correct.

Once a unique representative direction is determined then San Antonio can really become a true world class city expressing it's own unique style. It is to late for my area, as they have their set beliefs, right or wrong, that they embarked on and will not depart from them. I just believe they are very wrong in the end because they do not represent who we are as a society. Trying to squeeze people into something that one thinks is right for them in the end will not work because they are not a part of it. Our county is young, as judged by other established countries, and therefore I believe has not had the time to become what it can be. For a long time we represented the traits of our ancestors, but now it is time to leave the nest and fly on our own.

This got a little too much philosophical but without it you can not understand the direction I am proposing. Hope this puts some perspective on this post.
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