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You forgot the air quotes

Some folks are getting excited about the "downtown" station being nearly complete on our asstastic commuter rail line. Maybe the pictures below will be of some help. Click on the pictures for explanations.

1. "Why is that bus labelled "DOWNTOWN" if this is the "downtown" station?

2. "What is that yellow line and why is it so far from all the big buildings?"

3. "Well, are there any office buildings within a short walk of the 'downtown' station"?

On my next business trip, probably next week, I'll try to take some time to get a better image of dots overlaid on a better map for "major downtown office buildings" built from actual data rather than from my own recollection. Expect it to look even less promising than that last image from 2004, though.

Bonus Update in case it's lost: a comment I just made in response to the typical CM talking point (in comments to their own article about the 'downtown' station) that this is just a 'start' for a multi-modal transportation system that will make choice commuters somehow enjoy changing vehicles three times on the way to work:

Unfortunately, that's a load of nonsense, Misty; there is no way this line can possibly serve as a first step anywhere worth going, because the vehicles (and technology) you chose is incompatible with truly urban rail - can't navigate corners sharply enough to ever go anywhere closer to where the actual commuting demand is.

To the readers, the best hope for urban rail in Texas is to get the CAMPO TWG plan passed before people realize how awful this commuter rail start is, because while it connects to commuter rail and has a suboptimal route itself, it at least serves a few good sources and destinations directly without requiring transfers.

It'll be decades, if ever, before we reach traffic levels which actually make transit trips with transfers anything but a poison pill for choice commuters. Any plan, like this commuter rail debacle, which relies on transfers for most of its ridership is thus doomed to failure.

Updated update

Nice photo from priller at the skyscraperpage forum. The pointy building in the distance is the closest offices of any signficance, and they're right past the edge of the normal quarter-mile rule for how long the average person would be willing to walk to work to take transit on a regular basis.

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 , Transit in Austin , Transportation


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Hi, Mike. One of our transit planners made you an accurate map, to scale, that correctly displays both a quarter-mile and a half-mile radius from the downtown station. As you'll see, the quarter-mile mark does extend to Congress. The yellow graphic you posted above doesn't have the right location of the station, for one thing, but I also don't think it's to scale?

Here's the map:

Thanks, Erica, the map I used was from the city's OnTrack newsletter from 2004, with major office buildings laid on top in green and residential buildings in yellow by me. I am aware of the 1/4 mile radius vs. diameter discrepancy, but had not yet made another map (and wanted to do a better job with office buildings anyways).

The point still stands: nearly zero major office buildings (Frost being the only exception) are within 1/4 mile walk of the station, which is the metric used by transit planners nationwide to assess choice commuters' willingness to take transit.

The 1/2 mile circle you drew in is meaningless as if Austin differs from the national average, it would be for a SHORTER walk, given our hot climate.

I will update with a new post accordingly, with these points.

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