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Topic: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...

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bayareabadger

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #182 on: March 16, 2021, 11:00:30 PM »
Phoenix is a good example of where it won't work... But it doesn't stop them from trying.

Full disclosure: the author of the blog I'm about to link is pretty strongly libertarian, so obviously he comes at this from a certain point of bias. However I strongly recommend reading some of his posts with the Phoenix Light Rail tag. It's some really good insight.

https://coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/tag/phoenix-light-rail

Specifically, though, this is a really good one: https://coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2014/10/phoenix-light-rail-update-we-spent-1-4billion-to-reduce-transit-ridership.html

If you look at Phoenix, they were showing consistent increases in transit ridership for a decade. As soon as they built light rail, transit ridership--in a city that's been growing like gangbusters--immediately stagnated. Bus ridership went down and light rail went up, at almost a 1:1 number. Was that worth it?

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The issue is a lot of places like to think they're high density enough for light rail, but... They're not. Every medium-sized city has people who fetishize light rail. But rarely does it actually work out.

You get these enlightened city planners who think they can "revitalize downtown" by connecting the suburbs to the city center via light rail. Of course, in a lot of cases those suburban workers work in... The suburbs. Light rail, rather than being a real commuting option, tends to be what drunks use to get downtown to party so they don't have to drive. That's not a bad thing (I've done it), but hardly worth the billions that cities throw at it.

The poor largely don't need medium-distance travel. Usually a big part of being poor is working relatively low-skill jobs, which doesn't require commuting "downtown" every day.

Light rail is a great thing for middle-class folks who have nice houses and shiny vehicles they leave at their park & ride to feel good about themselves for taking "transit" to work and being green. But it's a really expensive solution for that "problem", and the cost of that solution then tends to crowd out meaningful transit options for those who need it most.

Yup, I was completely mixing up nomenclatures, so that is my bad. Some of the concerns (park and rides) struck me as more rapid transit system situations. 

I tend to be accepting of grade separated transit in some cases, depending on where you are and the scale you can get it to. I thought the Phoenix stuff was interesting, but it makes sense why it's not doing much. Phoenix is not particularly dense. Phoenix does not have any particularly crowded urban center. It's also a relatively low-functioning line. Outside running through downtown and I guess Tempe, it seems to have relatively low reach geographically (I get that it's more expensive, but having a slightly expansive system kinda matters). But I will concede, in a place without density or foot traffic, it's a crap idea. (I do kinda chuckle at Phoenix's idea of putting stations next to mall parking lots)

But there are other cities, ones that feature actual density in the urban core. Ones that concentrate jobs. Ones where parking can't keep up. They seem to make sense there. The argument about being green, I'm sorry, it's just not the case. Those middle class folks do it because spending several grand a year to store a car at your job is unpleasant, as is waiting it out in traffic. That transit offers a chance to be somewhat on schedule, not battle 45 minutes of traffic, and that matters to some folks. I dunno if it is worth the money. But I know if I dropped at least 100,000 more cars in downtown Chicago all day, it would not be great.

Now I will agree, some of where it’s being done is not good. And there’s another sort of moving target factor. So much of any investment like that is long-term. Paradoxically, by the time you really, really need that level of transit, you’re likely too late. By the time your traffic arteries are pushed to the point of causing so much lost time, by the time you’re building endless parking structures to keep up. the cost to build over all the stuff is titanic. I look at a place like Nashville, that is growing fast with little planning. At some point, robust public transit will be valuable, but at the moment, it’s not valuable enough (I think they scuttled high-speed bus stuff as well). But of course it’s hard to predict. New York built a lot of public transit and in retrospect probably should’ve built more.

(It leads to an interesting question about vestigial infrastructure and long-and-short term questions. I think you’ve worked on railroads. You mentioned they’re efficent for freight, but no one would ever build them. No one would build the interstate either)

TLDR I think separated rail makes sense in some places. Light rail, less so if it is still operating mostly on city streets. 

OrangeAfroMan

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #183 on: March 16, 2021, 11:08:04 PM »
The Phx light rail is basically the median, wherever it runs.  The only thing separating it and traffic is the curb.  You're free to walk all over it (but you're not supposed to).  Hell, at every intersection, you could drive onto it with your car.  

My least favorite part about Phx people-movers is that bus stops are almost universally set like 30' past intersections (outgoing), so that whenever a bus stops, traffic inevitably backs up into the intersection.  Someone smarter than I am needs to explain what in the hell kind of idea THAT is.
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Cincydawg

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #184 on: March 17, 2021, 09:09:44 AM »
I prefer heavy rail, or buses.  I wonder the cost of building grade separated bus lanes versus light rail.


bayareabadger

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #185 on: March 17, 2021, 02:51:17 PM »
I prefer heavy rail, or buses.  I wonder the cost of building grade separated bus lanes versus light rail.


Question, do we consider mildly separate lanes as “grade separated?” I drove in a city recently that had turned a four-lane road into two lanes with bus/turn lanes. 

Cincydawg

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #186 on: March 17, 2021, 03:02:39 PM »
Grade separated, to me, means bridges over intersections, no stop lights.  The bus would only stop at bus stations, or stops.  

Bridges in  an urban area would be too expensive, but this could be fairly cheap in  suburban areas.  Bus lanes don't work that well because of traffic lights.

Imagine a suburb say 12 miles away from downtown.  You build specific bus bridges etc. from there to downtown with say 8 stops along the way.  When it hits the built up urban part it just runs on regular streets, maybe on bus lanes.  But further out the bus can go station to station at 50 mph.  Each stop is maybe two minutes apart.


847badgerfan

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #187 on: March 17, 2021, 03:26:52 PM »
When possible, there should always be a separate turnout area for busses and other pick up vehicles. 
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OrangeAfroMan

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #188 on: March 17, 2021, 03:48:10 PM »
Wouldn't that be nice.
“The Swamp is where Gators live.  We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous." - Steve Spurrier

OrangeAfroMan

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #189 on: March 17, 2021, 03:50:21 PM »
If dealing with never-ending traffic issues interests you, then you have to play City Skylines.  It's like SimCity, but better and you can honestly just call it a traffic simulator if you want.  It can warrant 100% of your attention for hours at a time.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucvEiSFnU0k
“The Swamp is where Gators live.  We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous." - Steve Spurrier

betarhoalphadelta

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #190 on: March 17, 2021, 04:06:36 PM »
Don't grade-separated or dedicated bus lines have many of the same downsides as light rail? If you're building bridges over intersections and devoting a ton of money to the construction and maintenance of a lane that ONLY buses can drive on, it sounds like a hell of a lot of money that could be better spent expanding routes to serve more people with buses. 

It just seems silly to dedicate an entire lane, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars (or more if you're bridging over every intersection), to buses that will come by once every 5 minutes, when you could just spend that money on a lane that could handle 500+ cars over those same 5 minutes. 

If the goal is to punish unenlightened car drivers who refuse to use transit, you've done your job. If the goal is to actually improve congestion, you've spent a crap-ton of money to do very little.

MaximumSam

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #191 on: March 17, 2021, 04:35:27 PM »
Don't grade-separated or dedicated bus lines have many of the same downsides as light rail? If you're building bridges over intersections and devoting a ton of money to the construction and maintenance of a lane that ONLY buses can drive on, it sounds like a hell of a lot of money that could be better spent expanding routes to serve more people with buses.

It just seems silly to dedicate an entire lane, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars (or more if you're bridging over every intersection), to buses that will come by once every 5 minutes, when you could just spend that money on a lane that could handle 500+ cars over those same 5 minutes.

If the goal is to punish unenlightened car drivers who refuse to use transit, you've done your job. If the goal is to actually improve congestion, you've spent a crap-ton of money to do very little.
It's an interesting thought because reducing use of single car traffic is one of those things that has huge benefits, but is a giant pain in the ass until those benefits are realized. The goal to reduce congestion also causes cities to be much less livable and become literal and figurative parking lots.

GopherRock

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #192 on: March 17, 2021, 04:44:04 PM »
As an aspiring city planner, Cities: Skylines is great. Then again, I also enjoy sim and tycoon games.

Grade separation of mass transit greatly enhances the reliability. The biggest issue with grade-separated transit is that it has to go somewhere. The LRT lines in Denver that run down the freeway median haven't lived up to ridership projections, but the Vancouver SkyTrain is kicking ass.

Geography also plays a factor. One big reason why I think North Link in Seattle will be a huge hit is that anything going north and south through the city is choked down to 6 bridges over the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Not only has the LRT opened another crossing, it isn't subject to random closures (raising and lowering of bridges)

betarhoalphadelta

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #193 on: March 17, 2021, 05:54:01 PM »
It's an interesting thought because reducing use of single car traffic is one of those things that has huge benefits, but is a giant pain in the ass until those benefits are realized. The goal to reduce congestion also causes cities to be much less livable and become literal and figurative parking lots.
It all stinks a little too much of social engineering to me. A lot of people continue to CHOOSE to drive their cars because they like it. It's their personal space, it gives them freedom, it avoids having to deal with others' schedules, etc.

It seems like a lot of transit policy is designed to make it artificially painful to drive a car, rather than making transit itself desirable. 

Brutus Buckeye

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #194 on: March 17, 2021, 06:10:44 PM »
Traffic? What's that? 
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Cincydawg

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Re: Major changes in our lives over the next decade ...
« Reply #195 on: March 17, 2021, 06:22:19 PM »
Traffic here has really picked up of late, after a year of being way down.

 

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