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shasta

Tell DC we want Rail

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Right, I understand the processes behind it, and I agree that it happens too frequently.

Very frustrating to say the least, hopefully some semblance of the line eventually gets built. IMO an east-west line is really the only line worth spending money on at this point.

I tend to favor BRT over rail, but agree that an east-west route will likely generate more ridership than the other proposed line.

Culberson's amendment is extremely specific to preventing rail along a specific segment of Richmond. It still allows an east-west connector, just not on that corridor. Cue usual comments about how it won't get any ridership if it's not on Richmond.

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I tend to favor BRT over rail, but agree that an east-west route will likely generate more ridership than the other proposed line.

Culberson's amendment is extremely specific to preventing rail along a specific segment of Richmond. It still allows an east-west connector, just not on that corridor. Cue usual comments about how it won't get any ridership if it's not on Richmond.

 

I'm sure you've heard me say this before, but Richmond would probably generate the 2nd highest ridership of any East-West corridor, #1 being Westheimer.  Westheimer would likely require grade seperation however (which I'd prefer obviously, but grade separation is still a mind-blowing concept at METRO). 

 

Westpark ridership would be dismal.  Ironically, Culberson's supposed "preferred alignment" is to take it next to 59 and down Westpark.  It would cost more money and attract less riders.  It's ironic that Culberson is proposing something that would be a less efficient use of taxpayer dollars. 

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I tend to favor BRT over rail, but agree that an east-west route will likely generate more ridership than the other proposed line.

Culberson's amendment is extremely specific to preventing rail along a specific segment of Richmond. It still allows an east-west connector, just not on that corridor. Cue usual comments about how it won't get any ridership if it's not on Richmond.

There have been studies done for the Richmond corridor. Starting from scratch is a ridiculous idea.

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With the exception of that little strip between US-59 and the homes (east of Hazard, west of downtown), the railroad ROW seems like it WOULD be the cheaper option, and wouldn't require cutting up streets, limiting turns, or whatever. Unless the railroad ROW was super-expensive to acquire. Even then, it would balance out after all the work you to do to Richmond.

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I'm sure you've heard me say this before, but Richmond would probably generate the 2nd highest ridership of any East-West corridor, #1 being Westheimer. Westheimer would likely require grade seperation however (which I'd prefer obviously, but grade separation is still a mind-blowing concept at METRO).

Westpark ridership would be dismal. Ironically, Culberson's supposed "preferred alignment" is to take it next to 59 and down Westpark. It would cost more money and attract less riders. It's ironic that Culberson is proposing something that would be a less efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

So get it on a ballot as a bond measure and locally fund it. Culberson has no say if that happens.

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See, here's what I don't get. One hand, we have this:

I have seen multiple graphics in METRO presentations showing the amount of tax revenue they would have had if the recession didn't hit.  It would have been enough to build the University Line entirely with local funds.

But on the other hand, we also have the "a Westpark corridor will have abysmal ridership" study.

If Metro is telling the truth on the first one, then the second one is probably truth as well, and then building the University Line isn't more than a few years away--the Richmond part of the rail could be built with local funds and everything else takes the rest of federal funding (well, at least some of it). Culberson's efforts will be thwarted and everything still plays out legally.

But if METRO is wrong about their "potential" funds, then "potential" ridership is probably also faulty numbers and the Westpark/Richmond corridor ridership numbers are much closer together than one thinks they are.

Does anyone else see the problem here?

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But on the other hand, we also have the "a Westpark corridor will have abysmal ridership" study.

If Metro is telling the truth on the first one, then the second one is probably truth as well, and then building the University Line isn't more than a few years away--the Richmond part of the rail could be built with local funds and everything else takes the rest of federal funding (well, at least some of it). Culberson's efforts will be thwarted and everything still plays out legally.

But if METRO is wrong about their "potential" funds, then "potential" ridership is probably also faulty numbers and the Westpark/Richmond corridor ridership numbers are much closer together than one thinks they are.

Does anyone else see the problem here?

 

I'm not sure I understand you entirely.  A figure I saw for Westpark alignment ridership was 20-something thousand, and the figure I saw for Richmond ridership was around 40,000.  I concede that I cannot cite any sources but I do recall numerous presentations about tax revenue and ridership projections.  Believe it if you want. 

 

And that idea sounds good but I'm not sure if getting federal funds for the Westpark section only would be possible, since it is still technically a continuation of a project on Richmond Ave.  

 

There are ways for METRO to build the line even with this roadblock that Culberson has graciously offered.  A sound agency would explore and exhaust all possibilities. 

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My point is, I'm not pro-Culberson but am a bit suspicious of METRO's studies and what it says as truth. A lot of studies commissioned by organizations with a result they want is often geared to tell them what they want to hear (this isn't just METRO, it's many others too), and I'm not even sure of how they get ridership numbers, but I'm sure thee's a lot of guesswork and assumptions. A theory that I offered earlier is that ridership is a numbers game. Lowball it and you won't get funding, go too high and if it fails to make that mark, you'll have a hard time getting funding again, so the trick is to go high but low enough so that if it exceeds that, the line will be a "huge success" and chances of funds are easier next time around.

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I'm not sure I understand you entirely.  A figure I saw for Westpark alignment ridership was 20-something thousand, and the figure I saw for Richmond ridership was around 40,000.  I concede that I cannot cite any sources but I do recall numerous presentations about tax revenue and ridership projections.  Believe it if you want. 

 

And that idea sounds good but I'm not sure if getting federal funds for the Westpark section only would be possible, since it is still technically a continuation of a project on Richmond Ave.  

 

There are ways for METRO to build the line even with this roadblock that Culberson has graciously offered.  A sound agency would explore and exhaust all possibilities. 

 

Agree completely and that's one of the key issues that I have with METRO.  Without question, they've hit a roadblock by having to deal with an obstinate Congressman, but it's not like this situation is unique.  Congress is filled with idiots and efficient agencies find a way to get things done anyway.  METRO, on the other hand, seems to be completely stymied by this situation and doesn't appear to be capable of coming up with solutions.

 

To be fair though, it's not just a METRO problem, it's a government bureaucracy problem at many levels.  Government is certainly capable of doing great things, it's just that it rarely seems to actually get them done.

 

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My point is, I'm not pro-Culberson but am a bit suspicious of METRO's studies and what it says as truth. A lot of studies commissioned by organizations with a result they want is often geared to tell them what they want to hear (this isn't just METRO, it's many others too), and I'm not even sure of how they get ridership numbers, but I'm sure thee's a lot of guesswork and assumptions. A theory that I offered earlier is that ridership is a numbers game. Lowball it and you won't get funding, go too high and if it fails to make that mark, you'll have a hard time getting funding again, so the trick is to go high but low enough so that if it exceeds that, the line will be a "huge success" and chances of funds are easier next time around.

So you're insinuating bribery for numbers?

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See, here's what I don't get. One hand, we have this:

But on the other hand, we also have the "a Westpark corridor will have abysmal ridership" study.

If Metro is telling the truth on the first one, then the second one is probably truth as well, and then building the University Line isn't more than a few years away--the Richmond part of the rail could be built with local funds and everything else takes the rest of federal funding (well, at least some of it). Culberson's efforts will be thwarted and everything still plays out legally.

But if METRO is wrong about their "potential" funds, then "potential" ridership is probably also faulty numbers and the Westpark/Richmond corridor ridership numbers are much closer together than one thinks they are.

Does anyone else see the problem here?

I don't think you can federally fund pieces like that.

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So you're insinuating bribery for numbers?

It's not bribery, it's based on population and density but with some guesswork thrown in to essentially gamble for funds. What is the margin of error for these numbers, anyway?

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My point is, I'm not pro-Culberson but am a bit suspicious of METRO's studies and what it says as truth. A lot of studies commissioned by organizations with a result they want is often geared to tell them what they want to hear (this isn't just METRO, it's many others too), and I'm not even sure of how they get ridership numbers, but I'm sure thee's a lot of guesswork and assumptions. A theory that I offered earlier is that ridership is a numbers game. Lowball it and you won't get funding, go too high and if it fails to make that mark, you'll have a hard time getting funding again, so the trick is to go high but low enough so that if it exceeds that, the line will be a "huge success" and chances of funds are easier next time around.

 

As far as tax revenue projections, I acknowledge that of course they are trying to make things look good, but until I see other figures I can't assume that the projected revenues would have been inaccurate.  It was based off the economy increasing at the rate it was in the mid 2000s. 

 

As far as ridership goes, I remember METRO lowballed ridership projections on the original Red Line and it beat those expectations very quickly.  Guess we have to wait and see for the next few lines, especially since they need to rework the bus system.  Until that, ridership will most likely be less than impressive (light rail ridership increased by about 13% in the first three months of the extension's opening).  

 

I generally agree with you though. 

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Agree completely and that's one of the key issues that I have with METRO.  Without question, they've hit a roadblock by having to deal with an obstinate Congressman, but it's not like this situation is unique.  Congress is filled with idiots and efficient agencies find a way to get things done anyway.  METRO, on the other hand, seems to be completely stymied by this situation and doesn't appear to be capable of coming up with solutions.

 

To be fair though, it's not just a METRO problem, it's a government bureaucracy problem at many levels.  Government is certainly capable of doing great things, it's just that it rarely seems to actually get them done.

 

 

At this point even METRO acknowledges that it couldn't afford to build the line even with federal funds, so I guess we will have to wait and see what their next move is.  I'd like to see an experienced head honcho brought in to oversee the next steps METRO takes, whatever they are.  Although I do think the people Parker appointed are an improvement. 

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At this point even METRO acknowledges that it couldn't afford to build the line even with federal funds, so I guess we will have to wait and see what their next move is.  I'd like to see an experienced head honcho brought in to oversee the next steps METRO takes, whatever they are.  Although I do think the people Parker appointed are an improvement.

And that's the other problem...despite the "anti-rail" people, METRO isn't too good itself, and the general incompetency of the agency gives fuel for those not wanting to put more money into it.

There it runs up the same problem of school funding...put too little into it and everyone suffers (METRO without money will be completely worthless), put too much in and it gets eaten up by bureaucrats.

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At this point even METRO acknowledges that it couldn't afford to build the line even with federal funds, so I guess we will have to wait and see what their next move is. I'd like to see an experienced head honcho brought in to oversee the next steps METRO takes, whatever they are. Although I do think the people Parker appointed are an improvement.

Agreed. I'm not sure that they would get sufficient support for a bond measure either, which might be why they haven't attempted it. There's definitely a level of public trust that they need to rebuild.

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A pretty significant measure passed in 2003, but culberson and others found ways to bypass parts of it. Bob Lanier sidestepped a measure and gave money to cops instead. Until the track is laid all odds at against rail in houston.

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A pretty significant measure passed in 2003, but culberson and others found ways to bypass parts of it. Bob Lanier sidestepped a measure and gave money to cops instead. Until the track is laid all odds at against rail in houston.

So, honest question here because I'm assuming that one or more of the below is true and I'm curious to know which it is.

- You have not read the text of the 2003 referendum (which is not easy to find)

- You don't understand how bond measures work

- You're intentionally distorting facts about the 2003 referendum to try to prove a point

That referendum was a bond measure that authorized a defined amount of money to be spent towards an objective. The money, either through METRO miscalculation or mismanagement ran out well before the overall objective was met. METRO had no authority under the terms of the referendum to obtain additional funds without voter approval.

Bond measures are always about revenue, not objectives.

Edited by livincinco
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So, honest question here because I'm assuming that one or more of the below is true and I'm curious to know which it is.

- You have not read the text of the 2003 referendum (which is not easy to find)

- You don't understand how bond measures work

- You're intentionally distorting facts about the 2003 referendum to try to prove a point

That referendum was a bond measure that authorized a defined amount of money to be spent towards an objective. The money, either through METRO miscalculation or mismanagement ran out well before the overall objective was met. METRO had no authority under the terms of the referendum to obtain additional funds without voter approval.

Bond measures are always about revenue, not objectives.

The strategy of culberson and afton oaks was to stall as long as possible, in the hopes the university line never got built, and it proved fruitful in the end. Had there been zero resistance it would have been done or near complete by now.

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The strategy of culberson and afton oaks was to stall as long as possible, in the hopes the university line never got built, and it proved fruitful in the end. Had there been zero resistance it would have been done or near complete by now.

Well, apart from avoiding the question posed to you, "zero resistance" isn't always a good thing. We would have a freeway running straight through Harrisburg if there was "zero resistance". Of course, that's for a freeway, and we all know how freeways are always bad and light rail is always good.  <_<  

 

As for the 2003 referendum, do you honestly not know (it's okay if you don't) or are you trying to distort information? Or both?

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Well, apart from avoiding the question posed to you, "zero resistance" isn't always a good thing. We would have a freeway running straight through Harrisburg if there was "zero resistance". Of course, that's for a freeway, and we all know how freeways are always bad and light rail is always good. <_<

As for the 2003 referendum, do you honestly not know (it's okay if you don't) or are you trying to distort information? Or both?

I've read the referendum. Have you?

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The 2003 referendum was extensive but ambitious.

It did promise the new lines plus $640 million in bonds to finance them, but also a range of other goals like vastly expanded bus service. But while that is all fine and good, METRO way undershot construction costs (a reason why I doubt METRO's numbers). $467 million of that bond was spent on the North Line extension, the remainder for the Southeast Line to U of H.

So where does Culberson come in? He says that METRO spent $1 billion from 2003 to 2012 with little to show for it. "Yeah, because of Afton Oaks!" you say, but also that East End overpass and even a spat with U of H. But even with that, that's a large number. So is he right? Well, most of us would say no, but he does have a point...and he certainly doesn't actually break the 2003 referendum. So, what do we do? You either wait it out (years) or gut METRO like a fish and replace it with new people.

Edited by IronTiger

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Just to clarify. The bond measure authorized $640 million to build the four lines. The $640 million was not sufficient to build them, thus they ran out of funds and could not complete.

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Just to clarify. The bond measure authorized $640 million to build the four lines. The $640 million was not sufficient to build them, thus they ran out of funds and could not complete.

That's a good "tl;dr" version. That's basically it.

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Side note:  MayorBob may have done a bunch to impede building rail, but he was long out of office by 2003.

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