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That didn't take long

Capital Metro has now gone to moderation on comments at their blog, after posting this followup to yesterday's trial balloon on the "it's light rail because we say so" front. (Update: Erica says in comments here that they went to moderation because of a nasty personal attack - I have no reason to believe otherwise; they have posted everything I've written, so far).

Here's what I commented to that post:

LRT was actually projected to have ridership in the mid 30s with the minimal operable segment (in 2007); and that was before some major developments have come online (like the Triangle).

Adam, 2000 per day is pathetic. So is the RiverLine's 9000 per day. And the RiverLine was only able to operate that 'well' with those DMUs because they condemned a bunch of corners in downtown Camden in order to run directly to their CBD rather than to one far edge, then relying on shuttle buses for the "last mile".

We don't have the 'luxury' of a downtown so blighted that it's no big deal to take corners of blocks here and there to run a porky DMU instead of a true light rail vehicle - which is why our commuter rail line is such a dead end - it can never and will never go to UT, the Capitol, and most of downtown.

Update: They're really getting desperate over there. Follow the link, and here's my comment for posterity:

Essentially nobody else other than the agencies in question would consider New Jersey's service to be "light rail" either. So that's not really going to convince anybody. They called it "light rail" for the same reason Lyndon Henry's been doing it - to try to capitalize on the favorable brand image of LRT with people who have had good experiences on true light rail in other cities.

If you were going to bold something, how about this paragraph:

In the meantime, the best strategy for any transit agency interested in developing a shared-use project is to follow FRA’s policy advice and meet with FRA as soon as possible. Ideally, this should be done during the project definition phase and no later than the beginning of preliminary engineering. Transit agencies should recognize the FRA’s broad regulatory authority over shared-use rail transit projects and focus more on obtaining a jurisdictional determination that is compatible with their project mission. The critical shared-use issue for transit agencies to be concerned with is not the FRA’s regulatory authority over shared-use operations. It is the FRA’s jurisdictional determination process and how it relates to defining your project as light rail or commuter rail.

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 , PS: I am not a crackpot , Transit in Austin , Transportation


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It was actually 37,000+


I consider 37,000 to be the upper part of "mid 30s".

It would be really helpful if people who understand the issue would chime in. As it stands, it's becoming far too easy for the forces of Bad to conflate commuter rail with light rail and, in the process, destroy the good image of light rail.

The decision to turn on comment moderation was wholly unrelated to the commuter rail vs. light rail debate. You know it's always the actions of a few that determine the rules for all... and in this case a single nasty comment containing personal attacks did it. I am hopeful we can open it back up again..

Regarding light rail and commuter rail, I think it's important to note that really good transit systems in big cities have a network that includes all of the modes of transportation: LRT, commuter rail, BRT, regular bus, etc. I don't think commuter rail and light rail are mutually exclusive. .. there are benefits to each one, and our community could benefit from both.

Thanks for the clarification.

It's obviously true that commuter rail has its place - but there is not one city in this country that has ever succeeded building commuter rail to a location where it must rely exclusively on transfers for passenger distribution, rather than building up a large population of dedicated transit customers through urban rail first, and then supplementing with commuter rail.

You cannot 'win' "choice commuters" who previously drove with a service that requires transfers. Period. Those who point to cities like Chicago, SF, or NY just aren't getting it - we don't have rail yet; and almost everybody has free parking. The requirement to disembark from the train and get on the stupid shuttle bus (or the marginally less stupid rail circulator) will be the kiss of death for those who are currently driving.

And, no, you can't fix it later with a better circulator. Any circulator at all requires a transfer - and any transfer at all, in a city where driving isn't pure torture, is going to drive away most of your audience.

This is of course complicated by the mislabelling of this line as "light" rail. When people ride this, and see how awful it is (with the shuttle bus transfers), they are likely to walk away hating "light rail", given experience in South Florida (the only other place dumb enough to do what we've done, so far).

Which is where I come in. Unfortunately, it's uphill work when you folks at CM are willing to misrepresent the line as something more like Portland than Tri-Rail.

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