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Cleaning up yesterday's entry

Let's start fresh with an updated conclusion:

It is very unlikely that any Crestview Station residents who work at UT can get any utility out of the Red Line. Residents of the complex itself form the best case scenario for people getting on at this stop, since everybody else would be transferring by bus (nearby residential density is fairly low and paths to the site are unpleasant; and there is no parking lot at this station). Following from that, we can conclude that the Crestview stop isn't going to help anybody living in Austin who works at UT. (I had intended to pick some heavily publicized sources and destinations and use those as examples, but in the future I'll try to mention both major destinations in future posts so that the immediate counter-argument doesn't break out like it did yesterday. Bear in mind that the Capitol Complex is basically the same as UT as far as the endpoint is concerned - the shuttle rides are similar length).

Although I meant to only cover UT with that post, my conclusion was overly broad (mentioning zero benefit without specifying destination). "The Error Term" and I then hashed out that if you live at Crestview and work precisely at the Frost Bank Tower (the only downtown office building within the typically acceptable 1/4-mile walk from the Red Line terminus), you may see up to a 3-minute improvement on your commute over the express bus. You may also be a bit slower than the express bus option, depending on how fast you walk. (Google says 6 minutes, by the way; I am remembering 10 minutes from personal experience - I would have made 5 before the arthritis but I don't know that your average middle-aged person in nice clothes is going to want to walk that fast).

This morning, while returning from the car dealer (maintenance), and avoiding a much-worse-than-usual parking lot on I-35, I went through East Austin and drove most of the shuttle route which applied yesterday. At 8:38, I turned from Airport on to MLK and immediately noticed that the entrance/exit to the Red Line station has nothing but a flashing light. How long is that 'quick' shuttle going to have to wait to pull out and turn left on to MLK?. I then ended up passing JMVC, I think, waiting for the #18; proceeded to hit almost every green light (including straight across I-35 without waiting); and got to the Trinity/MLK intersection at 8:44.

Conclusion: Best-case scenaro (late arrival, no major bus wait to leave the complex) hits just under 10 minutes (a minute or less to get on to MLK; 2-3 more minutes to get to the circle at 23rd - 4-way stops, other traffic in the way there). Unfortunately, I don't know I'll have the chance to try an earlier crossing of the interstate with more traffic, maybe hitting the 8:00 arrivals; and I know from painful experience that the outbound traffic in the evening is much worse.

I intend to hit many other prospective use cases (as I did before, when schedules were much less firm). Suggestions for ones I should do first are welcome.

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Comments

I'm still uncomfortable with the broadness of your UT claims, but at least your conclusion is a bit more prudent this time.

I'm also uneasy with the statement that the Frost Tower is so idiosyncratic (301 Congress and 100 Congress seem to also seem to edge out bus over rail). I'm not so sure it is, but this is based on a rather cursory look through a downtown office real estate site. I searched through the COA GIS files to try to find a shapefile that contains office space/zoning data. I would like to overlay varying commute times by transportation mode (yes, the 101 included, of course) which would provide a much more precise test of your(and my) claim(s). Anyone have any thoughts on where to get this, or am I just missing it?

I can barely afford the time this takes as it is; I don't have time to learn their GIS app.

On a business trip last year, though, I did use a webscraper tool to grab the list of the 20 or so tallest buildings in town and then draw them on the map here:

http://mdahmus.monkeysystems.com/blog/archives/000548.html

Am I the only person who expects that by the time the trains get to Crestview between 7:30 and 9:00, they will be completely full? Maybe I'm being optimistic about ridership, but the people who stand to save the most time by taking the train are those who live in Leander/Cedar Park. I predict that the demand in those areas will fill up the peak hour trains to capacity, leaving these conversations moot.

There are certainly those who feel that way - but they have to explain why the express buses aren't full, then. (the #98x series buses do a lot better on travel time than the #101; this commute will be covered soon enough).

"I can barely afford the time this takes as it is; I don't have time to learn their GIS app."

I actually just need the raw GIS data so I can input commute times and create the image with my own software.

Apropos Spencer's question: I think this could be resolved, if it becomes an issue, with greater price discrimination. I really do wonder how discouraged Central Austin users will be due to the price. It seems scandalous to me that those commuting from the 'burbs are paying the same as someone commuting from Crestview--for a month pass, of course. Its even more infuriating given who is footing the bill...

I think the biggest potential is in new development of commercial space in the East side. Lots of undeveloped lots and warehouses that can easily be converted.

I don't see this as being particularly relevant to the way the city is setup today. I really think make or break is going to be whether businesses are interested in relocating around the line. And adding more sidings so they can run more frequently (and at night).

Sounds like somebody needs to re-read Christof's piece on "density begets density" - nobody's ever succeeded with a rail line running from nowhere to nowhere, no matter how much TOD they try to zone for.

http://www.ctchouston.org/intermodality/2007/08/01/down-the-future-line/

"As we saw on Main, density tends to follow more density."

You aren't, in other words, going to get new employment along Red Line stops just because the train is there - there have to be a LOT of people already using the train to make that remotely a plus to business owners.

bonus:

http://www.ctchouston.org/intermodality/2007/03/28/where-are-more-people-going/

M1EK, Error Term, this debate ought to be settled once the Red Line has been up and running for a while.

What level of ridership should be considered a success? What level a failure?

If anyone wants to dig into it, here is a link to the City's parcel-level land use survey. It breaks out parcels by commercial, office, etc.

http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/landuse/gis.htm

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