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Nobody talks about Austin rail like this...

Well, except for me, that is.

From Christof's excellent site in Houston,
this is the kind of discussion we needed to have here in 2000 and again in 2004. Of course, I believe we were about to have this kind of planning in late 2000 for a May or November 2001 election, until Mike Krusee forced Capital Metro to hold the election in November of 2000, before they were remotely prepared to do so. In 2004, nobody bothered to look at the line's routing and figure out whether it served the needs of choice commuters (people who aren't willing to ride the bus today). Again, except for me. So here's a recap, with a new exciing picture at the end.

Note the references to 1/4 mile being the typical capture area for a rail stop (despite what you hear from people who think the typical commuter will walk the 1/2 mile or more from the Convention Center stop to their downtown office building).

Here's a similar image I'm working on for Austin. I'm no photoshop wiz, obviously, but this might be the best I can make this look, so here you go. The original image comes from "Mopacs", a poster to the Skyscraper Forum. I've drawn in the 2004 commuter rail route in yellow (just barely penetrates the picture on the lower right); the 2000 light rail route in green; and the maybe-never streetcar route in red. Note that the streetcar doesn't have reserved-guideway, as I've noted before, so it's really not going to help much in getting choice commuters to ride.

Click for full image if you don't see the yellow route!

The big building you see just north of the yellow line is the Hilton Hotel (not a major destination for choice commuters; anectdotal evidence suggests that a large percentage of workers there actually take the bus to work today).

Note that the walking distance from the yellow stop to the corner of 7th/Congress (rough center of the office buildings on Congress) is a half-mile, give or take which, as I've pointed out before to the derision of people who don't study transportation, is about twice what the average person will walk to a train station if they have to do it every day. Capital Metro knows this, of course, which is why their shuttles are planned for not only UT and the Capitol, but also for downtown; their only error is in repeating the Tri-Rail debacle by forgetting that choice commuters don't like riding the bus.

Also note in the upper reaches of the image, the other two critical employment centers downtown - the Capitol Complex and UT. Notice how the green line (2000 light rail) goes right next to them as well. What you don't see is further up to the north, the green line continues up the only high-density residential corridor in our city - that being Guadalupe Blvd., so in addition to being able to walk to their office _from_ the train station, a lot of prospective riders would have been able to walk to the train station from their homes.

That's what Mike Krusee took away from Austin, folks. And it ain't coming back once commuter rail opens; there's no way to operate anything like the 2000 light rail proposal cooperatively with this worthless commuter rail crock.

Update: Here's the other aerial photos from "Mopacs". Worth a look.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Don't Hurt Us Mr. Krusee, We'll Do Whatever You Want , I Told You So , Republicans Hate Poor People , Republicans Hate Public Transportation , Republicans Hate The Environment , Texas Republicans Hate Cities , Transit in Austin , Transportation , Urban Design , Walking in Austin (Pedestrian Issues) , metablog


Good map.

It's my understanding that Houston has its own version of Mike Krusee. Apparently, a congressman lives in the Richmond/west loop neighborhood, and has threatened to obstruct funding if the line is routed all the way down Richmond past the loop(apparently, this is the most logical alternative).

A survey of one isn't worth anything, I suppose, but this downtown office worker wouldn't walk more than 4 blocks or so to get to mass transit.

Given the staggering cost of having Cap Metro put commuter rail on existing tracks, the mind boggles at what it would cost to lay down new light rail.

That cost includes of course Cap Metro's drunken sailor cost control style and the costs of destroying many business unfortunate enough to be located on the streets that would be closed for months or years during construction of light rail.

Light rail can't justify its cost.

Yes, they do have their own Krusee; but DeLay himself was the worst offender - behind most of the push to get the voter-approved LRT system implemented as BRT instead. The guy you're thinking of is bad, but not Krusee/DeLay bad.

I highly recommend browsing Kristof's blog. Very enlightening reading.


That's absurd; the cost of running light rail was about twice what commuter rail would be when all is said and done -- and we could easily afford it. A couple of interchanges like Ben White / I-35 eat up most of that budget.

And unlike commuter rail, people will actually ride light rail in very high numbers - especially people who won't touch the buses today. That's been the experience in Minneapolis, Denver, Houston, Dallas, Portland, Salt Lake, etc.

Basically, with commuter rail, you might get 2500 riders or so a day the first year if you're lucky; and essentially all of them will be people who are today riding the 183-corridor express buses. With light rail, you can get 20,000 a day on the first day; and 30 or 40K in a year or two, judging on recent starts in cities similar to ours. And most of _those_ people will be people who are driving to work today.

That's easily worth two or three times the capital investment.

What a great graphic. First off, Jim you are seriously delusional if you think that the Commuter Rail is expensive. For 32 miles Austin is getting the same as one mile of Gold Line in LA or the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis. Now before Mike Jumps all over me, i will say that the benefits of that money are not the same. Light Rail down Guadalupe would have been a much better investment and been a huge national winner. Instead Houston has the best light rail line in the country right now. 40,000 riders a day for 7.5 miles. Something is wrong when Houston is beating the supposed most progressive city in Texas. Not only did they build that line, they just gave out a billion dollar contract to build 4 more! I've ranked cities on my blog in what i'm calling the transit space race. Cities are fighting each other tooth and nail to say they are the best. Right now Austin is on the hopeless list. They can't look forward enough because as Mike says, they are too worried about Krusee. So while they worry about Krusee (who I've met and is a jerk in person), the rest of the United States moves ahead including Houston and Dallas.

Wood, I looked at your site. You make no mention of Atlanta, Baltimre, Cleveland, and Miami. Are you also considering them as too big/established for your "race" or should they fit in there somewhere?


They're too established. Baltimore's light rail is arguably too old; Atlanta/Miami have heavy rail systems that aren't going anywhere. Don't know about Cleveland.

Many people consider Baltimore part of the very beginning of this generation of rail cities (with Portland); so I'd probably put them in just to be complete, but definitely not ATL/MIA.

Cleveland's system was pretty new, I think, when I visisted the city in early 1998.

M1EK is correct that those systems are older legacy systems (Legacy is used loosely) Cleveland recently retooled its overbrook line so thats why it might look new even though it has been there since the black transit death of the 40s and 50s. Baltimore recently double tracked it's main line but has nothing overly exciting planned. Atlanta might get there but their good ole boy highway department is keeping them down. Miami is planning a streetcar and a single metro-rail expansion and a streetcar but again nothing exciting or big. If anyone has any suggestions let me know. I think its a good exercise and making cities compete against each other can only bring good things, get them out of their bubbles.


RG4N Blog
Bloggers Start Your Laptops
So, we're having this big community meeting thing Wednesday night. We are going to have a lot of big news and we really want to get the word out to everybody. Plus, we're getting a lot of email from folks who may be traveling or have other commitments but want to know what's going on.

Sure, we'll have a lot of information to post after the event. But what we'd really like is to let people know what you thought about it. What excited you? What angered you? What do you think of the whole situation?

So, if you are a blogger, we're going to ask you to consider coming to the meeting and then posting your thoughts about what went down. We're interested in your view, even if it's just a few words about some thing that caught your attention.

Then, email us at webmaster@rg4n.org with a link to your blog article.

Later this coming weekend we'll aggregate the links that are sent to us and post a round-up of entries.

Tue, 30 Jan 2007, 11:28am

RG4N Blog

No way I can make it - family obligations Wednesday night. Don't know if you're a pro or anti; but frankly, I don't put a lot of faith in people who think they can convince you if they can only get you in person. Good plans are good whether they get a sell-job or not.

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