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  #61  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 1:27 AM
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Denver looking at Portland as model

I don't normally post in Denver threads, but today, while riding the street car in Portland, a huge group of people from Denver rode the street car to see what Portland is doing. There were architects, transportation people, etc. all from Denver looking at Portland as a model for transportation. just thought I'ld let you know.

btw, I live in Portland, but post in Salt Lake(my hometown), and just in case you're wondering, my forum name is Orlando, b/c that's where I lived when I joined. cya.
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  #62  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 2:21 AM
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We truly have a lot to learn from Portland. They do in-city transit very well. We have a burgeoning regional transit system, but infrastructure to move us within the city (IE: streetcars) is simply non-existent. Hopefully that trip did something, as it seems like those within the power structure of Denver are at times openly hostile to the idea of it.
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  #63  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 4:49 AM
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When Denver originally got Light Rail, the Supervisors/Controllers went to Portland to get their first certifications. They, in turn trained the first crop of Train Operators. Its good to see an ongoing relationship with Portland.
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  #64  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 4:49 AM
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What's the advantage of streetcars over buses?
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  #65  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 8:05 AM
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The obvious advantage would be the absence of on street emissions of toxic air pollution. This might help to stimulate a more pedestrian friendly environment and streetscape. Streetcars also tend to be more inviting to residents and tourists alike -- than buses.

The major disadvantages are the fact that they only operate on a guided railway, so routes can't be quickly shifted if needed (but buses can still be used to compliment streetcars in this way). The other disadvantage is the overhead cables -- the canopies CAN look rather bad, unless they spend some extra money in a fancy design.
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  #66  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by SnyderBock View Post
The obvious advantage would be the absence of on street emissions of toxic air pollution. This might help to stimulate a more pedestrian friendly environment and streetscape. Streetcars also tend to be more inviting to residents and tourists alike -- than buses.

The major disadvantages are the fact that they only operate on a guided railway, so routes can't be quickly shifted if needed (but buses can still be used to compliment streetcars in this way). The other disadvantage is the overhead cables -- the canopies CAN look rather bad, unless they spend some extra money in a fancy design.
I'm not really sold on the pollution thing. That seems like a marginal thing that people not on this board would notice. They look cooler, but maybe its how buses are marketed. In Boston, the silverline is marketed as a full fledged "colored line" like the subway lines with frequent frequency and gets lots of use.
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  #67  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 12:56 PM
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Not to mention, the new buses RTD is purchasing are the ultra-low emission diesel varieties... The pollution they emit is relatively small, especially when compared to the number of cars they help take off the streets.

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  #68  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 3:17 PM
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What's the advantage of streetcars over buses?

If you mean Light Rail cars, the advantage is you can put 150 people (w/standees) on one Light Rail car and couple 3 (eventually to be 4) cars together and only have to pay one Train Operator to run the consist/train. Light Rail serves Bronco Games and Rockies games and you don't have to park buses and let them sit empty while the game is played.

If you are talking streetcars, the new ones in Portland can carry the same load as a articulated bus easily, and run on electrical power. They would be perfect to serve the Welton leg into Five Points.

As far as buses go the Mall buses use small CNG engines to power the electric generator and the buses have two large trays of batteries (a drawback has been the batteries get exceedingly hot and catch on fire occasionally, but not so much anymore). Pure CNG engines have proven less reliable and more expensive than the newer Detroit Deisel engines which run pretty clean. RTD and The School Of Mines are working together in trying to determine best fuel experiments. New hybrid engines are said to be much better than earlier attempts and RTD will be replacing mall Shuttles and other buses with the newer technology as it becomes available.
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Last edited by Top Of The Park; May 7, 2008 at 3:30 PM.
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  #69  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 3:34 PM
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I was invited as part of that Denver delegation to Portland but, unfortunately, couldn't go. But since I was there several times last fall on business, I vividly recall what it was like to wander around their Downtown and central area. Very cool place.
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  #70  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 3:49 PM
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I was invited as part of that Denver delegation to Portland but, unfortunately, couldn't go. But since I was there several times last fall on business, I vividly recall what it was like to wander around their Downtown and central area. Very cool place.

Ken....Is Portland doing what Denver is doing as far as TOD's?....and are the surrounding neighborhoods around downtown there, florishing like they are in Denver?
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  #71  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 4:32 PM
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Not to mention, the new buses RTD is purchasing are the ultra-low emission diesel varieties... The pollution they emit is relatively small, especially when compared to the number of cars they help take off the streets.

Aaron (Glowrock)
They are still obnoxiously loud, jerky, and generally a horrible experience relative to a streetcar. Call it brain pollution, then. Buses are not sexy. The difference is whether you can lure "riders of choice"... for example, to be completely honest, I would never ever choose to ride the 15L. But i would jump on a streetcar without hesitation. Maybe not a rational difference, but a real one.
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  #72  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 4:48 PM
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They are still obnoxiously loud, jerky, and generally a horrible experience relative to a streetcar. Call it brain pollution, then. Buses are not sexy. The difference is whether you can lure "riders of choice"... for example, to be completely honest, I would never ever choose to ride the 15L. But i would jump on a streetcar without hesitation. Maybe not a rational difference, but a real one.

Buses have to pull into the curb, then pull back out into traffic. This motion in itself jerks the passengers around. Then compound this jerky motion by stopping every couple of blocks. The ride seems to take forever. Then add the factor of obnoxious passengers yelling or talking loud on cell phones or drinking a can of beer out of a paper bag and spilling it on the seat....and I can tell you why I don't personally ride buses.

Light Rail is smooth, quick and even scenic. One stop every second mile, or so, is no bother.
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  #73  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 5:30 PM
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if this happens - let's just hope they put the routes where people actually LIVE and work...

one thing that has suprised me is the disparity between the amount of TOD along i-25 vs. along Santa Fe...both have challenges, but the SE line seems to spur much more development than the SW line.
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  #74  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 6:29 PM
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If its millions more, I think you need some sort of rational explanation before you invest in it. Think of how that money could be used elsewhere (union station anyone? Lower taxes?). I get the advantage of light rail when there's a dedicated right of way, but i'm talking about lighter than light rail buses. Not sure what Portland's situation is, I've never been there.

I agree about buses not being as sexy as streetcars, but i really think a lot of it is how they're marketed. I had no issue getting on buses in London. Look at the Boston system map. The silverline (the 2 spurs are to be connected) is a bus, but it has equal status with the light rail and subway lines on the map. It makes a big difference.

http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/subway/
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  #75  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 7:05 PM
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The difference doesn't pan out in ridership or investment, though... if you want an economic explanation, an easy one is the indeced development around transit stations. In most instances, developers are willing to invest around a streetcar - it's a fixed system, it's attractive, and it's a serious investment. I know of no case in the U.S. where equivalent TOD has been a big factor and has really taken off around a bus route.

edit: Besides, by the time you make the investment in a BRT corridor and all of the station and streetscape imrovements that go with it, you really are not saving much over a simple streetcar system. We're not talking light rail costs here, it's much cheaper.

What would you invest in union station over a colfax streetcar? I think that would be a terrible trade-off for the city. A colfax streetcar would have higher ridership numbers than any rail line in the entire fastracks system except for maybe the southeast line.

And lower taxes?... there's no source of revenue for a streetcar now - if we do it, it's going to be because we vote specifically for it, in which that argument goes out the window.
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  #76  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 7:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bunt_q View Post
They are still obnoxiously loud, jerky, and generally a horrible experience relative to a streetcar. Call it brain pollution, then. Buses are not sexy. The difference is whether you can lure "riders of choice"... for example, to be completely honest, I would never ever choose to ride the 15L. But i would jump on a streetcar without hesitation. Maybe not a rational difference, but a real one.
Note that I never once said buses were better than streetcars, Brent. I simply said that buses aren't the polluting beasts that they used to be, at least not the new ones...

For the record, I've been on the 15L. I'm not saying it's great (it's not), but I'm not sure the "quality" of the transit riders would be any better on a streetcar following the same route. Let's face it, Colfax is Colfax, and not much can really change the "quality" of mass-transit riders along the corridor...

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  #77  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 7:30 PM
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if this happens - let's just hope they put the routes where people actually LIVE and work...

one thing that has suprised me is the disparity between the amount of TOD along i-25 vs. along Santa Fe...both have challenges, but the SE line seems to spur much more development than the SW line.
I wonder if there has ever been a study done on mass transit as a tool for social engineering vs. mass transit as a need for people's daily lives.

It appears to me that transit that people need as a matter of survival tends to be buses in a city like Denver. Projects conceived for social purposes like reducing traffic, being green, and expanding mass transit for the sake of expanding mass transit is more likely to be rail. Each has a distinctly different type of rider. It would be a pretty big leap to say people would be better behaved on 15L if it was a streetcar and nothing else changed.
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  #78  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 8:23 PM
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edit: Besides, by the time you make the investment in a BRT corridor and all of the station and streetscape imrovements that go with it, you really are not saving much over a simple streetcar system. We're not talking light rail costs here, it's much cheaper.
Ok, so u make the station and street improvements (which i'm assuming you'd make under streetcar too). Those cost some money. What does making it a street car give you?

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What would you invest in union station over a colfax streetcar? I think that would be a terrible trade-off for the city. A colfax streetcar would have higher ridership numbers than any rail line in the entire fastracks system except for maybe the southeast line.

And lower taxes?... there's no source of revenue for a streetcar now - if we do it, it's going to be because we vote specifically for it, in which that argument goes out the window.
I don't have any specific proposals in mind. My point with those is only to show that there's an opportunity cost to spending money on streetcar. And I'm not convinced that the benefits are there.

If we voted for it, it would require a tax increase. My point is that there might be a better way to spend the revenue that would be generated by that increase (either lower tax rates or a different project). I don't see how the fact that there's no money earmarked for it negates the fact that if there were, there would be an opportunity cost.

You might have a point about developers being willing to invest more around a fixed facility. I'd be interested to see some data. But you said earlier that you'd be making street and station improvements under bus. If that's what matters, bus still achieves the same objective at a lower cost.

As an aside, My guess is the amount of private investment has more to do with ridership numbers. Maybe streetcar could get more riders, maybe not. Its an empirical question you could only answer by comparing more concrete proposals.

Final point, do you think downtown connector and 16th street mall would be better as street cars? Those are buses that get a lot of ridership. If you switched them to streetcar, i'm not sure what the added benefit would be.
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  #79  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 8:26 PM
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It would be a pretty big leap to say people would be better behaved on 15L if it was a streetcar and nothing else changed.
Oh, I didn't say people would be better behaved. But you'd have more people. The number of hoodlums as a percentage of total riders would drop.

And yes, there are *plenty* of studies out there on all of this. You can do a couple PhDs on the subject.

Developers' interest in investment around transit has nothing at all to do with ridership, and everything to do with perception (and public dollars). Retail can't be supported by transit alone, and that's be the only use that would theoretically care about ridership. Again, tons of data out there.

On the "other project" issue... of course there's an opportunity cost. But that's what the election is for - to decide whether or not it's worth it.

But I'd still be curious to know what else you'd spend it on, and how you would benchmark value and success? If you assume that we're only comparing trnasportation/planning/land use projects (it's too much to compare public safety vs. mobility, and besides, it's 99% political at that point)... what else could the *city of denver* do that would get more bang for the buck? I'm not saying there isn't anything, but this has to be high on the list. I doubt there's anything fastracks-related that would match it - fastracks is a joke. Great for downtown development, but apart from that, it'll provide almost no benefit to the center city. As far as TOD on the southeast corridor... with the right combination of land use regs and public money, the development we're seeing down there could have happened anyways, without the light rail, if the city had wanted it. That's exactly why the SW corridor hasn't seen the same development. The SE corridor was already the most attractive corridor in the metro area; the light rail did create the demand. The light rail just gave the policymakers the excuse they needed to give densification the green light (a valid purpose - but only a matter of "perception" being leveraged intelligently)
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  #80  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 8:39 PM
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Oh, I didn't say people would be better behaved. But you'd have more people. The number of hoodlums as a percentage of total riders would drop.

And yes, there are *plenty* of studies out there on all of this. You can do a couple PhDs on the subject.

Developers' interest in investment around transit has nothing at all to do with ridership, and everything to do with perception (and public dollars). Retail can't be supported by transit alone, and that's be the only use that would theoretically care about ridership. Again, tons of data out there.

On the "other project" issue... of course there's an opportunity cost. But that's what the election is for - to decide whether or not it's worth it.

But I'd still be curious to know what else you'd spend it on, and how you would benchmark value and success? If you assume that we're only comparing trnasportation/planning/land use projects (it's too much to compare public safety vs. mobility, and besides, it's 99% political at that point)... what else could the *city of denver* do that would get more bang for the buck? I'm not saying there isn't anything, but this has to be high on the list. I doubt there's anything fastracks-related that would match it - fastracks is a joke. Great for downtown development, but apart from that, it'll provide almost no benefit to the center city. As far as TOD on the southeast corridor... with the right combination of land use regs and public money, the development we're seeing down there could have happened anyways, without the light rail, if the city had wanted it. That's exactly why the SW corridor hasn't seen the same development. The SE corridor was already the most attractive corridor in the metro area; the light rail did create the demand. The light rail just gave the policymakers the excuse they needed to give densification the green light (a valid purpose - but only a matter of "perception" being leveraged intelligently)
bunt you have some good points there.

Remember though Fastracks is for the whole metro area. Its not just Denver paying for it, so its logical that Denver wouldn't get all the benefits.

I agree that the SE corridor was the most attractive. I'd say T-REX was pretty successful. Its purpose was to relieve congestion along I-25. It did so on time and underbudget.
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