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Operating cost of Light Rail cheaper than Buses?


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According to the National Transit Database, METRO's operating cost for light rail is $0.60 per passenger mile for light rail, and $0.70 per passenger mile for bus. In addition, operating expenses for buses are $4.60 per unlinked passenger trip, compared to only $1.40 per passenger trip for light rail. Could operating expenses (per passenger) for light rail really be less than buses?

You can view data for METRO, and other transit agencies here. From this page, under 2009, open "Data Tables - Complete Set" and unzip the link to the folder of your choice. After it is unzipped, click on the document called "T27_Service_Ratio" and there will you find a massive table of each transit company with their operating expenses. As you can see, for most (if not all) transit agencies, the operating cost of rail is CHEAPER than buses.

You have no idea how hard this was to find. It's no wonder everyone thinks that operating costs for rail is higher, and that buses are cheaper. How could they know? This data is not easy to find.

So what do you guys think about this? For those of you against rail expansion in Houston, does seeing this change your mind? Or do you still think buses are cheaper?

EDIT: 9:18PM to include more data.

Edited by mfastx
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According to the National Transit Database, METRO's operating cost for light rail is $0.60 per passenger mile for light rail, and $0.70 per passenger mile for bus. Could operating expenses for light rail really be less than buses?

You can view data for METRO, and other transit agencies here. From this page, under 2009, open "Data Tables - Complete Set" and unzip the link to the folder of your choice. After it is unzipped, click on the document called "T27_Service_Ratio" and there will you find a massive table of each transit company with their operating expenses.

You have no idea how hard this was to find. It's no wonder everyone thinks that operating costs for rail is higher, and that buses are cheaper. How could they know? This data is not easy to find.

So what do you guys think about this? For those of you against rail expansion in Houston, does seeing this change your mind? Or do you still think buses are cheaper?

So you're just going to ignore capital and financing expenses? And you're going to ignore the time value of money, the delayed gratification inherent to light rail planning and construction, as well as the political bungling inherent to forseeable and entirely predictable regime changes? And you're no doubt going to ignore issues of long-term physical and functional obsolecensce; as part of this, you'll ignore the inflexibility of the system and you will idealize growth patterns a la Sim City.

And when challenged on any of these subjects, you'll repeat yourself over and over. From time to time, you'll produce inherently flawed data supporting your claim such as that a traffic count on a single section of freeway is a measure of the entire freeway's use. And I'd like to think that you'll throw red herrings out there and erect numerous straw men intentionally, although it probably is not intentional.

.

So, yeah. My beef isn't with operating expenses.

EDIT: And btw, I am not so intractable as that I would say that light rail never makes sense. It's only that it makes sense under an extremely limited set of circumstances, where the issue is of sheer capacity being needed to meet a demand that is already present (not needing to be reconfigured into existence).

Edited by TheNiche
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So you're just going to ignore capital and financing expenses? And you're going to ignore the time value of money, the delayed gratification inherent to light rail planning and construction, as well as the political bungling inherent to forseeable and entirely predictable regime changes? And you're no doubt going to ignore issues of long-term physical and functional obsolecensce; as part of this, you'll ignore the inflexibility of the system and you will idealize growth patterns a la Sim City.

And when challenged on any of these subjects, you'll repeat yourself over and over. From time to time, you'll produce inherently flawed data supporting your claim such as that a traffic count on a single section of freeway is a measure of the entire freeway's use. And I'd like to think that you'll throw red herrings out there and erect numerous straw men intentionally, although it probably is not intentional.

.

So, yeah. My beef isn't with operating expenses.

EDIT: And btw, I am not so intractable as that I would say that light rail never makes sense. It's only that it makes sense under an extremely limited set of circumstances, where the issue is of sheer capacity being needed to meet a demand that is already present (not needing to be reconfigured into existence).

Long term physical and functional obsolensce? Really? You really think that buses last longer than rail cars? Or that roads stay in good condition longer than rails? Or that rail ridership, efficiency, and effectiveness depreciates in the long term? What cities has this happened in? Usually its exactly the opposite. I don't get it. :huh:

Yes, rail has a high capital cost. But over the long run, rail is a cheaper way to move people. If the goal of expanding transit is to get more people to ride the system, rail will do that more effectively than buses. So you're just going to ignore the taxpayer cost of the roads and freeways that the buses use? The billions of dollars we will spend expanding every section of freeway in Houston? So you're just going to always have a shortsighted view of transit and infrastructure?

The only reason there's political "bungling" is because people are uninformed. They do not know that more people will ride rail than buses. They do not know that rail costs less in the long run. They only see capital cost. The do not know that we spend many times what is proposed for rail on freeways. The reason for polital bungling is because of people like you. You need to stop being so shortsighted.

Edited by mfastx
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Long term physical and functional obsolensce? Really? You really think that buses last longer than rail cars? Or that roads stay in good condition longer than rails? Or that rail ridership, efficiency, and effectiveness depreciates in the long term? What cities has this happened in? Usually its exactly the opposite. I don't get it. :huh:

Yes, rail has a high capital cost. But over the long run, rail is a cheaper way to move people. If the goal of expanding transit is to get more people to ride the system, rail will do that more effectively than buses. So you're just going to ignore the taxpayer cost of the roads and freeways that the buses use? The billions of dollars we will spend expanding every section of freeway in Houston? So you're just going to always have a shortsighted view of transit and infrastructure?

The only reason there's political "bungling" is because people are uninformed. They do not know that more people will ride rail than buses. They do not know that rail costs less in the long run. They only see capital cost. The do not know that we spend many times what is proposed for rail on freeways. The reason for polital bungling is because of people like you. You need to stop being so shortsighted.

Whereas a bus fleet can phase in newer models efficiently, smoothly, with minimal disruption, and on a fairly predictable time-table, and the only constraints are that they must fit on the roadway and not be so tall as to hit stoplights or powerlines...light rail has lots and lots and lots of constraints and is much more of an all-or-nothing proposition. And after all, you're advocating a system with a life span measured in decades and that can only fulfill one dedicated purpose along one particular route. (Streets, otherwise known as flat surfaces, are far more flexible in terms of how they can be utilized.) Unless you believe yourself able to predict the far-flung future, inflexibility is a risk and not any sort of advantage.

Beyond your first paragraph, you're just resorting to the same kinds of drivel/filler that you usually do. This was expected and thoroughly expounded upon earlier, so I won't address it again.

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In addition to the fixed cost issue, you're comparing the operating expense per passenger on one of the most successful light rail lines in the country - a short line in a high-density area with many popular destinations along its length as well as acting as a parking shuttle for the med center (i.e. perfectly optimized to minimize the cost per passenger mile - many passengers, few miles) - vs. a bus network that covers most of Harris County, including many, many thin routes that carry few passengers but we offer it as a public service to the poor. Unfortunately, the planned future LRT lines will add many more miles but nowhere near as many passengers as the Main St. line (by Metro's own estimates), which will kill the illusionary statistical advantage.

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Unless you believe yourself able to predict the far-flung future, inflexibility is a risk and not any sort of advantage.

I don't think it takes much predictive ability to understand that certain corridors in Houston, like the Main St. corridor, make sense for grade-separated, long-term, fixed investments such as rail and commuter rail.

Inflexibility can be a risk, but permanence can also be an advantage.

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Whereas a bus fleet can phase in newer models efficiently, smoothly, with minimal disruption, and on a fairly predictable time-table, and the only constraints are that they must fit on the roadway and not be so tall as to hit stoplights or powerlines...light rail has lots and lots and lots of constraints and is much more of an all-or-nothing proposition. And after all, you're advocating a system with a life span measured in decades and that can only fulfill one dedicated purpose along one particular route. (Streets, otherwise known as flat surfaces, are far more flexible in terms of how they can be utilized.) Unless you believe yourself able to predict the far-flung future, inflexibility is a risk and not any sort of advantage.

The life span of light rail is only decades? So I guess you forgot about Boston's light rail line which has been open for more than ten decades.

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In addition to the fixed cost issue, you're comparing the operating expense per passenger on one of the most successful light rail lines in the country - a short line in a high-density area with many popular destinations along its length as well as acting as a parking shuttle for the med center (i.e. perfectly optimized to minimize the cost per passenger mile - many passengers, few miles) - vs. a bus network that covers most of Harris County, including many, many thin routes that carry few passengers but we offer it as a public service to the poor. Unfortunately, the planned future LRT lines will add many more miles but nowhere near as many passengers as the Main St. line (by Metro's own estimates), which will kill the illusionary statistical advantage.

Why don't you look at the document yourself? I'll upload it tonight if you don't feel like looking for it, but if you care to actually look at it, you'll find that in almost ALL transit systems around the country, rail is more efficient. Why don't you actually look at the document before you assume that rail is only more efficient in Houston? This is the case all over the country, it is not just Houston.

Also, you never addressed the price per passenger trip. How do you explain the fact that it cost about four times as much for a rider to take a trip on a bus as opposed to rail?

Edited by mfastx
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According to the National Transit Database, METRO's operating cost for light rail is $0.60 per passenger mile for light rail, and $0.70 per passenger mile for bus. In addition, operating expenses for buses are $4.60 per unlinked passenger trip, compared to only $1.40 per passenger trip for light rail. Could operating expenses (per passenger) for light rail really be less than buses?

You can view data for METRO, and other transit agencies here. From this page, under 2009, open "Data Tables - Complete Set" and unzip the link to the folder of your choice. After it is unzipped, click on the document called "T27_Service_Ratio" and there will you find a massive table of each transit company with their operating expenses. As you can see, for most (if not all) transit agencies, the operating cost of rail is CHEAPER than buses.

You have no idea how hard this was to find. It's no wonder everyone thinks that operating costs for rail is higher, and that buses are cheaper. How could they know? This data is not easy to find.

So what do you guys think about this? For those of you against rail expansion in Houston, does seeing this change your mind? Or do you still think buses are cheaper?

EDIT: 9:18PM to include more data.

I looked at the link, but couldn't find this, are these strictly operational costs, or are the maintenance costs built in?

Niche brings up some good points, but fails to see that light rail can also be upgraded with technology, new more efficient motors could be developed, the energy source that powers the line could be upgraded, transmissions lines, lots of things to increase the efficiency of the system, comparable to buses, only that they usually go through the process of upgrading parts on the current rolling stock, and not having to buy all new trains, where it's cheaper to just replace the whole bus than to upgrade pieces at a time (this really depends on the upgrade).

I can't find solid numbers here, but what I did find, but can't provide a credible reference, is that the operational life of a bus is about 15 years, and a light rail vehicle is about 30 years. As I mentioned above, it is cost effective to upgrade some systems (motors, etc) on light rail vehicles, and this may extend the life beyond that, but I can't really find references for that either.

Then there's the initial expense for light rail can be specifically quantified because you have the line, and it is specifically for use with the light rail only, where buses share space on the road with cars. of course, if you don't consider the fact that you aren't running buses down roads (and thus increasing the operational life of the road) you have to consider that money saved, plus if you have more people riding the rail, and leaving the car at home, you don't have to fund a road expansion project. It then becomes fuzzy for the true expense of light rail too, cause you can factor the cost saved against that.

There's a lot of reasons light rail doesn't win against buses, but I think cost is not one of those areas.

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I looked at the link, but couldn't find this, are these strictly operational costs, or are the maintenance costs built in?

Niche brings up some good points, but fails to see that light rail can also be upgraded with technology, new more efficient motors could be developed, the energy source that powers the line could be upgraded, transmissions lines, lots of things to increase the efficiency of the system, comparable to buses, only that they usually go through the process of upgrading parts on the current rolling stock, and not having to buy all new trains, where it's cheaper to just replace the whole bus than to upgrade pieces at a time (this really depends on the upgrade).

I can't find solid numbers here, but what I did find, but can't provide a credible reference, is that the operational life of a bus is about 15 years, and a light rail vehicle is about 30 years. As I mentioned above, it is cost effective to upgrade some systems (motors, etc) on light rail vehicles, and this may extend the life beyond that, but I can't really find references for that either.

Then there's the initial expense for light rail can be specifically quantified because you have the line, and it is specifically for use with the light rail only, where buses share space on the road with cars. of course, if you don't consider the fact that you aren't running buses down roads (and thus increasing the operational life of the road) you have to consider that money saved, plus if you have more people riding the rail, and leaving the car at home, you don't have to fund a road expansion project. It then becomes fuzzy for the true expense of light rail too, cause you can factor the cost saved against that.

There's a lot of reasons light rail doesn't win against buses, but I think cost is not one of those areas.

There was a news release by metro recently (1 or two years ago) that they are in the process of getting the youngest bus fleet in the nation. I have forgotten the numbers that they were delivering , but this thread has me curious as to how much the initial cost of the bus, the yearly average maintenance, and finally the typical age a bus will be replaced. Then of course, you multiply that by the size of a bus fleet.

Maybe that would give a realistic cost/benefit comparison between the bus and rail.

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I looked at the link, but couldn't find this, are these strictly operational costs, or are the maintenance costs built in?

Hmmm, not sure about that good question.

There's a lot of reasons light rail doesn't win against buses, but I think cost is not one of those areas.

Oh? Interesting, what reasons would those be?

I don't get the argument that light rail doesn't provide flexibility. Is central Houston just going to move all of the sudden? Is the Galleria going to move? Why would central city light rail lines ever have the need to move? What city has this already happened in?

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Also, you never addressed the price per passenger trip. How do you explain the fact that it cost about four times as much for a rider to take a trip on a bus as opposed to rail?

For the same reasons: lots of passengers making short trips on our 7-mile LRT line make the cost per trip cheap, while few passengers on long, thin bus routes make the cost per trip expensive. The LRT looks especially good because thousands of med center employees park remotely and ride the LRT a couple of stops up to the med center every day.

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Hmmm, not sure about that good question.

Oh? Interesting, what reasons would those be?

I don't get the argument that light rail doesn't provide flexibility. Is central Houston just going to move all of the sudden? Is the Galleria going to move? Why would central city light rail lines ever have the need to move? What city has this already happened in?

Short term it is exceedingly cheaper than rail. In a perfect world it is exceedingly flexible. In a city that is built around cars, buses are an easy sell as they don't take lanes away from cars. They don't introduce stopping and waiting for them to cross when you wouldn't have to normally stop. They also don't shut down streets from crossing.

Edited by samagon
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The point of all this is moot, because anyone who follows long-term macro trends knows that in a generation, roughly 25% of the population won't work at all unless they create their own employment. The good news is that Texas' future uneducated masses will still be able to get loans, thanks to the banking lobby. With little government spending of any kind, and no revenue source to pay for it anyway, transit will have no choice to go not only private but micro, in the form of jitneys and private cab service.

I don't know about you, but I'm already thinking of a brand and paint job for my bus. I can probably pick up a school bus converted to pollo estilio Monterrey bus, convert it back to passenger seating, plus put in a diesel-cooking oil conversion kit for under 10 grand, and be ready to roll before Metro even thinks about actually laying track down Harrisburg. Gotta think 2 steps ahead, y'all.

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For the same reasons: lots of passengers making short trips on our 7-mile LRT line make the cost per trip cheap, while few passengers on long, thin bus routes make the cost per trip expensive. The LRT looks especially good because thousands of med center employees park remotely and ride the LRT a couple of stops up to the med center every day.

So how do you explain the fact that nearly every rail system around the country is more efficient than their bus counterparts? What makes you think that building more inner city rail lines will be any less efficient? We aren't building "long and thin" rail lines. We are building inner-city lines. If you yourself say that they will be efficient because they are inner-city lines, why are you opposed to light rail expansion in Houston?

What would your plan be to improve inner-city tranist? A less efficient bus system?

Edited by mfastx
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Short term it is exceedingly cheaper than rail. In a perfect world it is exceedingly flexible. In a city that is built around cars, buses are an easy sell as they don't take lanes away from cars. They don't introduce stopping and waiting for them to cross when you wouldn't have to normally stop. They also don't shut down streets from crossing.

I've had buses block me and slow me down many times while driving. They are as much of a nuisance to me as any light rail train could be. Cars have to stop at red lights anyway, why does it make a difference if they're stopping for a train rather than for other cars?

Edited by mfastx
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I looked at the link, but couldn't find this, are these strictly operational costs, or are the maintenance costs built in?

Niche brings up some good points, but fails to see that light rail can also be upgraded with technology, new more efficient motors could be developed, the energy source that powers the line could be upgraded, transmissions lines, lots of things to increase the efficiency of the system, comparable to buses, only that they usually go through the process of upgrading parts on the current rolling stock, and not having to buy all new trains, where it's cheaper to just replace the whole bus than to upgrade pieces at a time (this really depends on the upgrade).

Some upgrades are feasible, others are not. The problems are that new or upgraded LRT vehicles are limited to what the infrastructure can support and that we cannot forsee the needs of the future. Fewer constraints are better than more constraints.

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I don't get the argument that light rail doesn't provide flexibility. Is central Houston just going to move all of the sudden? Is the Galleria going to move? Why would central city light rail lines ever have the need to move? What city has this already happened in?

Take the Harrisburg line as an example. Lots of people would've preferred it to be on Navigation because the cost would've been much lower, it wouldn't have required as many eminent domain takings (particularly in old downtown Magnolia Park, where ROW acquisition and a quarter-mile bridge kill the pre-existing pedestrian friendliness), and because Navigation has a huge number of large tracts suitable for large-scale urban redevelopment, densification, and/or new recreational areas. I still think that Navigation has more potential than the areas within walking distance of Harrisburg. As that potential is realized (more slowly than it might have been), it will be a lost opportunity for light rail.

As for naming other cities where this has happened, the only other cities where this could happen have land use controls (or in places that have no growth, and hence no changes such as cannot be anticipated). They can force development patterns with a sense of urgency. The best Houston can do is to nudge developers in that direction by giving them money.

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So how do you explain the fact that nearly every rail system around the country is more efficient than their bus counterparts? What makes you think that building more inner city rail lines will be any less efficient? We aren't building "long and thin" rail lines. We are building inner-city lines. If you yourself say that they will be efficient because they are inner-city lines, why are you opposed to light rail expansion in Houston?

What would your plan be to improve inner-city tranist? A less efficient bus system?

I'm opposed because of the multi-billion dollar capital expense that will hobble Metro financially for decades (while providing service for relatively few riders that aren't already on buses), when it should be investing in a vastly expanded HOV/HOT lane network and express commuter bus service from all neighborhoods to all job centers. The new lines may be "inner city", but they won't connect anywhere near the density of important locations as the Main St. line. Inner-city transit should be improved with more signature bus lines. The one new LRT line that might make sense would be the University line, giving us an east-west backbone to go with the north-south Main St. line.

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With little government spending of any kind, and no revenue source to pay for it anyway, transit will have no choice to go not only private but micro, in the form of jitneys and private cab service.

If this happens, I'm going over to the Philippines and buying a fleet of Jeepneys to import and operate over here.

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At-grade? Yes. It's going to be subject to at least as much wear-and-tear as public streets, after all.

How quickly and often do potholes form on roads after they have been constructed and buses use them regularly?

How often are streets completely redone that buses operate on?

How quickly and often are track repairs needed after they have been constructed and light rail use them regularly?

How often are light rail lines completely redone?

It costs more to lay the line in the ground than it does to build a road, but my understanding is that the track that is laid for the light rail will last for quite a while before it needs to be replaced.

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I'm opposed because of the multi-billion dollar capital expense that will hobble Metro financially for decades (while providing service for relatively few riders that aren't already on buses), when it should be investing in a vastly expanded HOV/HOT lane network and express commuter bus service from all neighborhoods to all job centers. The new lines may be "inner city", but they won't connect anywhere near the density of important locations as the Main St. line. Inner-city transit should be improved with more signature bus lines. The one new LRT line that might make sense would be the University line, giving us an east-west backbone to go with the north-south Main St. line.

What is the price tag on the "vastly expanded HOV/HOT lane network?"

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At-grade? Yes. It's going to be subject to at least as much wear-and-tear as public streets, after all.

Are you saying that the actual rails will have wear and tear? Maybe the brick and pavement surrounding the rails, but I doubt that the rails will have wear and tear. So just re-do the pavement around the rails at the same time they re-do the street. Not really a problem.

Take the Harrisburg line as an example. Lots of people would've preferred it to be on Navigation because the cost would've been much lower, it wouldn't have required as many eminent domain takings (particularly in old downtown Magnolia Park, where ROW acquisition and a quarter-mile bridge kill the pre-existing pedestrian friendliness), and because Navigation has a huge number of large tracts suitable for large-scale urban redevelopment, densification, and/or new recreational areas. I still think that Navigation has more potential than the areas within walking distance of Harrisburg. As that potential is realized (more slowly than it might have been), it will be a lost opportunity for light rail.

As for naming other cities where this has happened, the only other cities where this could happen have land use controls (or in places that have no growth, and hence no changes such as cannot be anticipated). They can force development patterns with a sense of urgency. The best Houston can do is to nudge developers in that direction by giving them money.

This is all just speculation. I doubt major development will occur on a corridor adjacent to a major transit line, and if there is in fact development on Navigation, I would assume there would also be development on the main transit line as well.

I'm opposed because of the multi-billion dollar capital expense that will hobble Metro financially for decades (while providing service for relatively few riders that aren't already on buses), when it should be investing in a vastly expanded HOV/HOT lane network and express commuter bus service from all neighborhoods to all job centers. The new lines may be "inner city", but they won't connect anywhere near the density of important locations as the Main St. line. Inner-city transit should be improved with more signature bus lines. The one new LRT line that might make sense would be the University line, giving us an east-west backbone to go with the north-south Main St. line.

If METRO pays for it using federal funds, how will it hobble METRO for decades? Who would pay for this "vastly expanded HOV/HOT lane network?" TxDOT? They are as financially hobbled as anyone. If the project is being payed for by federal funds (which all large scale transit projects are) how would it financially hobble METRO? Perhaps building nothing but less efficient buses will also financially hobble METRO in the long term?

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Are you saying that the actual rails will have wear and tear? Maybe the brick and pavement surrounding the rails, but I doubt that the rails will have wear and tear. So just re-do the pavement around the rails at the same time they re-do the street. Not really a problem.

Every single component of the LRT system is subject to entropy and has a non-infinite life expectancy that will vary from component to component based on that component's engineering, use patterns, and less predictable factors (i.e. flooding, stray electrical current, damage to the overhead electrical system, or the intallation of new intersecting infrastructure). You cannot simply cite the life expectancy of the most durable component, cite cost and performance indicators from during the initial period of peak operating efficiency, and proclaim the system to be forever awesome.

This is all just speculation. I doubt major development will occur on a corridor adjacent to a major transit line, and if there is in fact development on Navigation, I would assume there would also be development on the main transit line as well.

The reason Navigation will densify more rapidly is that it has numerous large inexpensive parcels of vacant land or land that is occupied by physically, functionally, and economically obsolete structures. These are the kinds of circumstances that keep a developer's per-unit costs under control, and initial low costs are going to drive both supply and demand in densifying the East End. It also helps that the Navigation corridor is something more of a cultural blank slate and that it is already gaining numerous recreational amenities, including museums, bars, parks, and bike trails. Harrisburg has a couple of similar sites, but they're spoken for by an uninspired strip center developer and by METRO itself for its rail maintenance facility...and then there's a highly active and very noisy couple of freight rail lines just block over, impeding pedestrian access from the south. The urbanistas are just going to adore that. :wacko:

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Every single component of the LRT system is subject to entropy and has a non-infinite life expectancy that will vary from component to component based on that component's engineering, use patterns, and less predictable factors (i.e. flooding, stray electrical current, damage to the overhead electrical system, or the intallation of new intersecting infrastructure). You cannot simply cite the life expectancy of the most durable component, cite cost and performance indicators from during the initial period of peak operating efficiency, and proclaim the system to be forever awesome.

This is absolutely true of any infrastructure, rail not withstanding. How many times are intersections without rail going through them re-engineered?

I (and possibly the reason others did as well) have focused on the actual rail itself is that I assume this is the most cost intensive component of the system itself. Repairing a damaged overhead electrical wire is going to be significantly cheaper than digging in the ground to repair the track.

I'd also venture a guess that it is no more cost intensive to repair/replace portions of the rail infrastructure that are not the actual rail itself than doing the same for standard support infrastructure of vehicular travel. light poles, intersection signals, blinky lights for school zones. That's probably cost comparable to repairing electrical system damage to the light rail.

The reason Navigation will densify more rapidly is that it has numerous large inexpensive parcels of vacant land or land that is occupied by physically, functionally, and economically obsolete structures. These are the kinds of circumstances that keep a developer's per-unit costs under control, and initial low costs are going to drive both supply and demand in densifying the East End. It also helps that the Navigation corridor is something more of a cultural blank slate and that it is already gaining numerous recreational amenities, including museums, bars, parks, and bike trails. Harrisburg has a couple of similar sites, but they're spoken for by an uninspired strip center developer and by METRO itself for its rail maintenance facility...and then there's a highly active and very noisy couple of freight rail lines just block over, impeding pedestrian access from the south. The urbanistas are just going to adore that. :wacko:

As I'm just an amateur at this, I certainly can't give a solid reason why, other than it's nice that it appears able to service more people between 45 and the bayou, than if it were on Navigation.

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If METRO pays for it using federal funds, how will it hobble METRO for decades? Who would pay for this "vastly expanded HOV/HOT lane network?" TxDOT? They are as financially hobbled as anyone. If the project is being payed for by federal funds (which all large scale transit projects are) how would it financially hobble METRO? Perhaps building nothing but less efficient buses will also financially hobble METRO in the long term?

The Feds will pay less than half the capital cost, and none of the operating costs. Metro will float a huge bond issue as well as tying up revenues for a dozen+ years to pay for the rail construction - all to provide service for a handful of miles in the core already well served by bus.

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This is absolutely true of any infrastructure, rail not withstanding. How many times are intersections without rail going through them re-engineered?

The great thing about a flat concrete surface is that detours can be effected with plastic orange barrels. And to the extent that congestion results, individuals can take alternate routes. Detours are far more tedious with fixed guideways.

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Very cheap if they diamond existing left lanes, more expensive if they want to separate them or elevate them. Mostly we need them on the 610 loop, esp the western half.

There are only 4 lanes on the exesting west loop. Diamond the left lanes, and that only leaves three lanes for regular traffic? Not the best idea, considering there are already backups all day, every day. I suppose we can expand it for a few billion dollars, though.

The Feds will pay less than half the capital cost, and none of the operating costs. Metro will float a huge bond issue as well as tying up revenues for a dozen+ years to pay for the rail construction - all to provide service for a handful of miles in the core already well served by bus.

Less than half? I thought that they were paying for three of the five lines, how does that equate to less than half? Well served by bus? Do you realize we have one of the lowest transit riderships out of any large city in the nation? I don't think ANY of the Houston area is "well served" by transit, maybe save for park and rides and our lone light rail corridor.

I don't understand why you would want to keep a less efficient, lower capacity, less reliable system rather than upgrade our transit system.

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There are only 4 lanes on the exesting west loop. Diamond the left lanes, and that only leaves three lanes for regular traffic? Not the best idea, considering there are already backups all day, every day. I suppose we can expand it for a few billion dollars, though.

The West Loop was built with re-striping in mind. It's just that we can't do so with federal approval until we meet EPA attainment goals. (Which is bizarre since free-flowing traffic actually reduces air pollution.)

Do you realize we have one of the lowest transit riderships out of any large city in the nation?

Questions. What's your source? Why is transit ridership a goal? That's being myopic. Shouldn't the goal be minimizing commute cost (also factoring in time as an opportunity cost)? And even if cost minimization is the goal of transportation agencies, isn't their larger purpose to enable people to enjoy their lives according to their highest preferences?

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There are only 4 lanes on the exesting west loop. Diamond the left lanes, and that only leaves three lanes for regular traffic? Not the best idea, considering there are already backups all day, every day. I suppose we can expand it for a few billion dollars, though.

Less than half? I thought that they were paying for three of the five lines, how does that equate to less than half? Well served by bus? Do you realize we have one of the lowest transit riderships out of any large city in the nation? I don't think ANY of the Houston area is "well served" by transit, maybe save for park and rides and our lone light rail corridor.

I don't understand why you would want to keep a less efficient, lower capacity, less reliable system rather than upgrade our transit system.

HOT the left diamond lane and it will carry a maximum load of cars + buses at full flow speeds, so no loss of capacity. In fact, it's a net gain with the speed.

Feds are paying about half for 3 of the 5 lines (assuming the come through). The other two lines are all ours.

Upgrade our transit system: I do, I just want to do it differently (i.e. spend the money differently), focused on express commuter bus service from all neighborhoods to all job centers + increased signature bus in the core (instead of LRT lines). I do somewhat support the University LRT line.

I just presented at TEDxHouston on this. Check out slides 17 to 24 in this pdf: http://sayabit.com/tgattis/XRf0CF

(the link can also be found on my HoustonStrategies.com blog on the top-right column under Links)

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The great thing about a flat concrete surface is that detours can be effected with plastic orange barrels. And to the extent that congestion results, individuals can take alternate routes. Detours are far more tedious with fixed guideways.

Yep, and most of our city is still served by bus, and it wouldn't be too hard to put a bus on the rail route when needed, in fact, I've seen them do this already while repairs are made.

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The West Loop was built with re-striping in mind. It's just that we can't do so with federal approval until we meet EPA attainment goals. (Which is bizarre since free-flowing traffic actually reduces air pollution.)

I still don't understand the concept of reducing main lane traffic to three lanes. Isn't that basically what the Katy Freeway was before it expanded? That didn't seem to work out so well.

Questions. What's your source? Why is transit ridership a goal? That's being myopic. Shouldn't the goal be minimizing commute cost (also factoring in time as an opportunity cost)? And even if cost minimization is the goal of transportation agencies, isn't their larger purpose to enable people to enjoy their lives according to their highest preferences?

My source is the APTA quarterly ridership report. Transit ridership is a goal because the more people that use transit, the less people there are using cars and creating traffic. For example, if we had a higher transit ridership, we wouldn't need to keep spending billions expanding our freeways. Minimizing commute cost for whom? The commuter? Many people, even though it takes longer, will take transit (if reliable service is available, which generally in Houston, it is not) due to convenience, safety, and the ability to focus on other things (not driving) while on the way to work.

HOT the left diamond lane and it will carry a maximum load of cars + buses at full flow speeds, so no loss of capacity. In fact, it's a net gain with the speed.

Well, conisdering that it is already consistently backed up already, I can' t imagine that HOT the left diamond lane will all of the sudden speed things up. I don't think that the majority of people will be willing to pay a toll on such a used highway, especially since much of the traffic uses the West Loop for short trips, for example just coming off of the 59 interchange and exiting Westheimer or San Filepe. I don't think that traffic will be able to utilize a left lane HOT.

Feds are paying about half for 3 of the 5 lines (assuming the come through). The other two lines are all ours.

Half? It was my understanding that the feds would be paying for the North, Southeast, and University lines. Can you link me to a source that says that they will only be paying for half of these lines?

Upgrade our transit system: I do, I just want to do it differently (i.e. spend the money differently), focused on express commuter bus service from all neighborhoods to all job centers + increased signature bus in the core (instead of LRT lines). I do somewhat support the University LRT line.

Well I guess this is where our fundamental disagreement is. IMO, "upgrading" to signature bus service doesn't have nearly as many benefits as upgrading to light rail corridors. I think that there would be more ridership, better service, and more efficiency in major inner city light rail lines than inner city signature bus service lines. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this. But the fact remains that METRO is (trying their hardest) to go foward with these LRT lines, so there really isn't any sense in arguing over something that is already being built.

I just presented at TEDxHouston on this. Check out slides 17 to 24 in this pdf: http://sayabit.com/tgattis/XRf0CF

(the link can also be found on my HoustonStrategies.com blog on the top-right column under Links)

Interesting, however those slides deal with the argument of commuter rail vs. park and ride buses, not inner city light rail vs. buses. Interesting arguments, however I think that some of the slides have generalized and exaggerated information on them. For example "non-stop 65 mph service." Isn't there more than one park and ride transit center that most buses stop at? How would that be any different than commuter rail stops? And IIRC the proposed commuter rail for Houston would run at 90 mph, not "30-40 mph."

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Well, conisdering that it is already consistently backed up already, I can' t imagine that HOT the left diamond lane will all of the sudden speed things up. I don't think that the majority of people will be willing to pay a toll on such a used highway, especially since much of the traffic uses the West Loop for short trips, for example just coming off of the 59 interchange and exiting Westheimer or San Filepe. I don't think that traffic will be able to utilize a left lane HOT.

Half? It was my understanding that the feds would be paying for the North, Southeast, and University lines. Can you link me to a source that says that they will only be paying for half of these lines?

Interesting, however those slides deal with the argument of commuter rail vs. park and ride buses, not inner city light rail vs. buses. Interesting arguments, however I think that some of the slides have generalized and exaggerated information on them. For example "non-stop 65 mph service." Isn't there more than one park and ride transit center that most buses stop at? How would that be any different than commuter rail stops? And IIRC the proposed commuter rail for Houston would run at 90 mph, not "30-40 mph."

Toll is set to maximize throughput.

Chronicle articles say half (roughly).

I believe most park-and-ride buses leave from a single location and go nonstop to their job center.

90mph is the top speed between stops. Once you factor in stops every couple of miles, it is much, much slower on a net basis.

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I believe most park-and-ride buses leave from a single location and go nonstop to their job center.

90mph is the top speed between stops. Once you factor in stops every couple of miles, it is much, much slower on a net basis.

I think the 65mph for a bus is also going to be max speed, not average. considering they have to slow down for portions of the trip, both before they enter, and then after they get out of the HOV, and then for random slow downs in the HOV itself.

Anyone here travel P&R want to give us an average time it takes from when the doors close on the bus to when the doors open again, along with the specific distance traveled? We can easily figure out the average speed knowing that.

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Toll is set to maximize throughput.

Chronicle articles say half (roughly).

I believe most park-and-ride buses leave from a single location and go nonstop to their job center.

90mph is the top speed between stops. Once you factor in stops every couple of miles, it is much, much slower on a net basis.

If you look at routes, many P & R have stops, just as a commuter rail system would. A commuter rail system would have a similar number of stops to a P & R system. Likewise, factor in the stops, it is not "nonstop 65 mph service." It works both ways. Try looking up average speed of a P & R bus, it is defiantly not 65 mph.

Are you sure they don't say roughly half of the TOTAL cost? That's what I read.

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Do you mind me asking what Mr. King's source on this is? Every other article I have read mentions the $900 million from the FTA paying for the North and Southwest lines, not half of them. After reading that article (which I remember reading it when it first was published) I have to say that Mr. King is very unimformed. I could sit here and write this long write-up about how each of his points are flawed, but I won't bore you.

Maybe you should let METRO's board make the decision on whether or not they can afford the light rail expansion. Have you talked to any of their board members about this?

BTW, about the west loop HOT lanes: it would take a lot more than a simple "re-striping" to configure the west loop to carry METRO buses in the HOT lanes. First of all, what routes currently utilize the West Loop for a long distance?

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My source is the APTA quarterly ridership report.

Your source contradicts you. Dallas is just as large yet METRO has about 38% more ridership per the APTA report you cited. Worse still, my preferred source is the Census because it counts people who use transit rather than merely the number of times someone boards a transit vehicle. (Again, it is about the human, not the utilization of the machine!)

According to the Census, 2.7% of Houstonians rode public transit compared to 1.6% in Dallas; that's 69% better than Dallas. What that tells me is that not only is bus-dominated Houston better in terms of sheer ridership, but our routes are far more efficient, meaning that people transfer less frequently.

Yet, Dallas' average commute time is 26.5 minutes compared to Houston's 28.2 minutes.

Transit ridership is a goal because the more people that use transit, the less people there are using cars and creating traffic. For example, if we had a higher transit ridership, we wouldn't need to keep spending billions expanding our freeways. Minimizing commute cost for whom? The commuter? Many people, even though it takes longer, will take transit (if reliable service is available, which generally in Houston, it is not) due to convenience, safety, and the ability to focus on other things (not driving) while on the way to work.

Yet, Dallas' average commute time is 26.5 minutes compared to Houston's 28.2 minutes. Chicago is 30.9 minutes. New York City is 34.5 minutes. Clearly, transit is not the answer; it is a last resort. It is what should be built when physical constraints prevent further road construction.

But probably the worst possible scenario is Atlanta, a smaller city where transit use is high at 3.6% and transit spending is about double that of Houston per capita, yet commute time is 30.5 minutes, on par with Chicago. That's pathetic. For a whole host of reasons, we should not seek to emulate Atlanta's folly.

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Your source contradicts you. Dallas is just as large yet METRO has about 38% more ridership per the APTA report you cited. Worse still, my preferred source is the Census because it counts people who use transit rather than merely the number of times someone boards a transit vehicle. (Again, it is about the human, not the utilization of the machine!)

If you care to read my post, you'll notice that I said one of the lowest transit riderships out of any large city. Well I prefer to use official transit boardings, since Census numbers are flawed. Just because there are a certain number of people in a city's metro area, that does not mean that all of those people have access to transit.

According to the Census, 2.7% of Houstonians rode public transit compared to 1.6% in Dallas; that's 69% better than Dallas. What that tells me is that not only is bus-dominated Houston better in terms of sheer ridership, but our routes are far more efficient, meaning that people transfer less frequently.

Again, are those numbers from the whole metro area? Because DART doesn't cover Dallas's whole metro area, so those numbers are flawed.

Yet, Dallas' average commute time is 26.5 minutes compared to Houston's 28.2 minutes. Chicago is 30.9 minutes. New York City is 34.5 minutes. Clearly, transit is not the answer; it is a last resort. It is what should be built when physical constraints prevent further road construction.

Transit is NOT a last resort, it is an alternative. In fact, its kind of pitiful how Houston's commute times are only 6 minutes less than New York's, considering New York is about 4 times as large as Houston, and much denser.

But probably the worst possible scenario is Atlanta, a smaller city where transit use is high at 3.6% and transit spending is about double that of Houston per capita, yet commute time is 30.5 minutes, on par with Chicago. That's pathetic. For a whole host of reasons, we should not seek to emulate Atlanta's folly.

Well if Atlanta's commute times are so long due to transit, why are people still riding the transit sytem? Per capita of what? Per rider? Operating costs per rider in Atlanta are less than Houston, take a look at the document in the OP. The fact is that Atlanta has almost double transit ridership than we do, even though many of Atlanta's suburbs (a majority of the metro area population) choose not to be in MARTA's service area, I am assuming they don't want to pay the tax. It's pretty bold to say that Atlanta's transit system is a "folly" considering it carries much more riders than ours does.

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If you care to read my post, you'll notice that I said one of the lowest transit riderships out of any large city. Well I prefer to use official transit boardings, since Census numbers are flawed. Just because there are a certain number of people in a city's metro area, that does not mean that all of those people have access to transit.

Again, are those numbers from the whole metro area? Because DART doesn't cover Dallas's whole metro area, so those numbers are flawed.

Transit is NOT a last resort, it is an alternative. In fact, its kind of pitiful how Houston's commute times are only 6 minutes less than New York's, considering New York is about 4 times as large as Houston, and much denser.

Yes, let's all just ignore the closest city in terms of size, density, state-mandated financing mechanisms and regulations, geographic proximity, and climate. We'll also ignore that whether we use the ATPA's number for boardings of transit vehicles as a proxy for ridership or we use the Census' counts of actual numbers of people...whether expressed in percentage terms or actual numbers.

Let's all presume that metropolitan areas are dissimilar in that only a portion of them are served by transit. It's easier than looking at system maps and realizing that even huge swaths of land area within a most transit authorities' jurisdictions are not served very well at all by transit. Let's presume that nobody has access to transit unless it is within walking distance. And let's presume that Houston's case is unusual in such a way as would favor your argument. Because your argument is the default. The burden of proof is mine...because you want RAIL.

The fact is, numbers don't matter. You want a train. You want it bad. The technology is what matters. Not people. ____ people! They must board the train. Trip that sensor. Feed data to the ATPA. Justify the machine.

And don't forget, the transit is there as an option. It's for the sake of variety. For the sake of the machine.

Well if Atlanta's commute times are so long due to transit, why are people still riding the transit sytem? Per capita of what? Per rider? Operating costs per rider in Atlanta are less than Houston, take a look at the document in the OP. The fact is that Atlanta has almost double transit ridership than we do, even though many of Atlanta's suburbs (a majority of the metro area population) choose not to be in MARTA's service area, I am assuming they don't want to pay the tax. It's pretty bold to say that Atlanta's transit system is a "folly" considering it carries much more riders than ours does.

People ride transit in Atlanta because the roads are sucky and bottlenecked.

I've gone through the cost and usage data for you on Atlanta before. It is a horrible place to be a commuter. Do your own research and report back, or go look up my data to refresh your memory. (You should have to justify your opinion critically, not rely on me to invalidate it.) And don't just cite operating expenses as though infrastructure costs nothing. Cite total expenses, which indicate loan payment on the infrastructure.

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Yet, Dallas' average commute time is 26.5 minutes compared to Houston's 28.2 minutes. Chicago is 30.9 minutes. New York City is 34.5 minutes. Clearly, transit is not the answer; it is a last resort. It is what should be built when physical constraints prevent further road construction.

But probably the worst possible scenario is Atlanta, a smaller city where transit use is high at 3.6% and transit spending is about double that of Houston per capita, yet commute time is 30.5 minutes, on par with Chicago. That's pathetic. For a whole host of reasons, we should not seek to emulate Atlanta's folly.

What good is knowing the average commute time without knowing the average commute distance?

I used to have an average commute time of 1 hour. about 2.5 years ago that average commute time dropped to 20 minutes. How precisely did I gain that efficiency? As a matter of fact, I am less efficient (43 mph average speed compared to 46mph), but because I travel about 13 miles rather than 46 my average commute distance has been cut by 2/3. I may at some point switch to bicycle to commute, which will be vastly less efficient, but it will be cheaper than driving my car (so from that angle it will be more efficient).

So I guess if you want to talk about efficient, examine as well the average car commuter spends vs the average a public transit user spends getting to work each day. Right now, I just fill my tank, I have to use premium and I get 21.2 mpg (as per the trip computer on my dash), no parking expense. Right this very second I spend $4.50 each day to get to and from work (26 miles total, 21.2 mpg = 1.22 gallons of gasoline used * 3.75/gallon of premium). That is just on gasoline, it doesn't account for regular maintenance accrued because of commuting, it doesn't factor changing gas prices, and as I don't pay to park as many do, my costs are significantly low. I could get a power bar for the morning and afternoon ride, and spend $3 to fuel me for my bike. Metro is even cheaper ie more efficient.

Anyway, last time I was in Dallas, Chicago, NY, Atlanta (well, I haven't actually been to NY, but I watched Ghostbusters 1 and 2 so I feel as though I am an authority on the place) they all use buses in addition to their fixed guide-way solutions.

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Yes, let's all just ignore the closest city in terms of size, density, state-mandated financing mechanisms and regulations, geographic proximity, and climate. We'll also ignore that whether we use the ATPA's number for boardings of transit vehicles as a proxy for ridership or we use the Census' counts of actual numbers of people...whether expressed in percentage terms or actual numbers.

I'm not ignoring Dallas. But the fact is that the rail system we are building isn't the same type of system as Dallas's rail system. But I suppose you are ignoring that too.

Let's all presume that metropolitan areas are dissimilar in that only a portion of them are served by transit. It's easier than looking at system maps and realizing that even huge swaths of land area within a most transit authorities' jurisdictions are not served very well at all by transit. Let's presume that nobody has access to transit unless it is within walking distance. And let's presume that Houston's case is unusual in such a way as would favor your argument. Because your argument is the default. The burden of proof is mine...because you want RAIL.

I am not presuming. If you actually do some research about MARTA, you'll find out that large parts of Atlanta are not within MARTA's service area. You cannot take a whole metropolitan area's population in terms of measuring how many people ride transit. Houston's numbers are also flawed. For example, how are people going to ride METRO in Galveston? They can't, so the population of Galveston shouldn't be included in your analysis.

The fact is, numbers don't matter. You want a train. You want it bad. The technology is what matters. Not people. ____ people! They must board the train. Trip that sensor. Feed data to the ATPA. Justify the machine.

Numbers do matter. Ridership, capacity, reliability, and efficiency all matter to me. I want what I think would make the city of Houston a better place to live. And rail has proven to have an advantage over buses in all of the categories I just mentioned. Building a rail system isn't going to force people to do anything. It will just give them a better option over buses, which would probably result in more people riding the system. (BTW, its APTA, American Public Transit Association, not ATPA, lol)

And don't forget, the transit is there as an option. It's for the sake of variety. For the sake of the machine.

What are you saying? That a rail system is more machine-like? I do not understand this point you are trying to make.

People ride transit in Atlanta because the roads are sucky and bottlenecked.

What exactly do you mean by "sucky?" <_<

I've gone through the cost and usage data for you on Atlanta before. It is a horrible place to be a commuter. Do your own research and report back, or go look up my data to refresh your memory. (You should have to justify your opinion critically, not rely on me to invalidate it.) And don't just cite operating expenses as though infrastructure costs nothing. Cite total expenses, which indicate loan payment on the infrastructure.

Well maybe you should go tell everyone in Atlanta that they should move somewhere else, then. Yes, infrastructure is expensive. I could go on a rant about how the government pours massive subsidies into building highways and airports. How total expenses for highways trump our rail system that we are building. Highways and airports need those subsidies, as does rail. Infrastructure is expensive, regardless the mode. We could build a cheap(er) bus system, but it wouldn't be as effective, or efficient. Do you want to save money now, by building a bus system (I though we already had a bus system?) or do you want to save money for the future, by building a rail system?

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Some other interesting statistics: MARTA pays about 900,000 yearly in operating costs per rail car, and about 400,000 per year for each bus. But there are almost 3 times as many buses in Atlanta as their are rail cars. Also interesting to see that for MARTA's buses, it costs $2.80 per ride, but only $2.00 per ride for their heavy rail. Likewise, MARTA pays only $0.30 per passenger mile for rail, and $0.70 per passenger mile for buses.

On the other hand, METRO pays about 900,000 per rail car in yearly operating expense, but only about 300,000 in yearly operating expense per bus. But METRO has about 50 times as many buses as rail cars.

So there's another interesting twist on the bus vs. rail argument. Rail costs more to operate per car, but you need more buses to have the same coverage as a rail line. It appears that rail is more efficient due to the fact that more people are on those rail cars.

Now let's take a look at DART's numbers, since they are compared to METRO so much around here. For DART, the numbers between bus and light rail are more similar. Per passenger trip, DART pays $9.00 each for commuter rail, $5.50 each for light rail, and $5.40 each for buses. However, when you look at how much DART pays per passenger mile, rail is still more efficient. Per passenger mile, DART pays only $0.80 for commuter rail, $0.80 for light rail, and $1.30 for buses. This is probably because the average rail trip is longer than the average bus trip.

Just thought I would post this, in case you don't feel like looking through the whole document. I have to say I find this really interesting. :)

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What good is knowing the average commute time without knowing the average commute distance?

I found that data on another thread where mfastx kept parroting his inane objections (over and over), and Houston did quite well in terms of average velocity as well. That's kind of intuitive if you consider our high rate of carpooling and that our infrastructure rewards such behaviors.

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I'm not ignoring Dallas. But the fact is that the rail system we are building isn't the same type of system as Dallas's rail system. But I suppose you are ignoring that too.

I am actual comparing data from actual transit systems, not your ambitions for what might be.

I am not presuming. If you actually do some research about MARTA, you'll find out that large parts of Atlanta are not within MARTA's service area. You cannot take a whole metropolitan area's population in terms of measuring how many people ride transit. Houston's numbers are also flawed. For example, how are people going to ride METRO in Galveston? They can't, so the population of Galveston shouldn't be included in your analysis.

That was my point. Transit thins out with population density. This is consistent between metro areas. Some metro areas have multiple transit agencies, however, and I included the Trinity Express in my figures for Dallas because they were material to the analysis. I ignored Denton, Lewisville, and Galveston (and ignored that your inherently flawed source didn't provide numbers for East Harris County Transit) because they are so small as to be immaterial, and a wash.)

Numbers do matter. Ridership, capacity, reliability, and efficiency all matter to me. I want what I think would make the city of Houston a better place to live. And rail has proven to have an advantage over buses in all of the categories I just mentioned. Building a rail system isn't going to force people to do anything. It will just give them a better option over buses, which would probably result in more people riding the system. (BTW, its APTA, American Public Transit Association, not ATPA, lol)

Saying it does not make it so.

What are you saying? That a rail system is more machine-like? I do not understand this point you are trying to make.

My point is that you care more about having a particular kind of infrastructure than you care about the people that use it.

What exactly do you mean by "sucky?" <_<

It sucks.

Well maybe you should go tell everyone in Atlanta that they should move somewhere else, then. Yes, infrastructure is expensive. I could go on a rant about how the government pours massive subsidies into building highways and airports. How total expenses for highways trump our rail system that we are building. Highways and airports need those subsidies, as does rail. Infrastructure is expensive, regardless the mode. We could build a cheap(er) bus system, but it wouldn't be as effective, or efficient. Do you want to save money now, by building a bus system (I though we already had a bus system?) or do you want to save money for the future, by building a rail system?

You should rant, then. Just be sure that you're comparing apples to apples by taking into account all costs for all modes. Also express your findings in terms of present value, utilizing a defensible discount rate.

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Sometimes you can't compare transit systems based on only data. Like you said, its about the human, right? Well use some common sense and think about how METRO and DART are NOT identical transit systems in terms of infrastructure.

Of course transit thins out with population density. However, METRO has park and rides in the suburbs, while MARTA does not. MARTA has tried to expand their rail, but the majority of the suburbs do not want to pay for it. Even though Atlanta's and Houston's metro areas are roughly the same size, METRO has almost double the service area of MARTA.

Of course saying it doesn't make it so, I am just telling you my opinion which should explain why I would rather have a light rail system in addition to our bus system. That's why I said they all matter to me.

If I didn't care about the people (like myself) who use it, why would I want to improve METRO's infrastructure? That doesn't make sense. One of the reasons I am pro rail is that I ride the buses and I wish we had a better, more reliable service. The main reason that I am in favor if this project is because I am one of those people that use it.

I am not going to rant, that would be off topic. Do your own research about it.

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sigh... mfastx... no use in arguing. Some people like to bet that Houston will never densify to the point where bus will no longer be an intelligent option and I guess we Houstonians can only happily await our rapid bus transit system that will serve us...

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Sometimes you can't compare transit systems based on only data. Like you said, its about the human, right? Well use some common sense and think about how METRO and DART are NOT identical transit systems in terms of infrastructure.

Um, yeah. That's key to my point.

Of course transit thins out with population density. However, METRO has park and rides in the suburbs, while MARTA does not. MARTA has tried to expand their rail, but the majority of the suburbs do not want to pay for it. Even though Atlanta's and Houston's metro areas are roughly the same size, METRO has almost double the service area of MARTA.

Atlanta has multiple large transit agencies. The suburbs want transit; they don't want MARTA.

Of course saying it doesn't make it so, I am just telling you my opinion which should explain why I would rather have a light rail system in addition to our bus system. That's why I said they all matter to me.

If I didn't care about the people (like myself) who use it, why would I want to improve METRO's infrastructure? That doesn't make sense. One of the reasons I am pro rail is that I ride the buses and I wish we had a better, more reliable service. The main reason that I am in favor if this project is because I am one of those people that use it.

What you propose will only improve the fixed-in-place infrastructure. They have a limited budget, and my argument is based on the opportunity cost of using funds for one thing rather than another.

I am not going to rant, that would be off topic. Do your own research about it.

I have. I've been posting it in both original form and as rebuttal; you have been ignoring it.

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