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Tri-Rail is dying; corpse still admired by idiots

Two posts I made today to the "busridersAustin" yahoo list in response to continuing misinformation from our old friend Lyndon Henry that I wanted to save for posterity. Reproduced as-is except that I've made the links live.

--- In BusRidersAustin@yahoogroups.com, Nawdry wrote:
> Well, I see Mike has basically morphed into the rant-recycling stage

Well, I see Lyndon has basically morphed back into his lying-sack-of-crap stage.

Just ONE among many of your lies:

Tri-Rail serves mostly Broward and Palm Beach Counties - extending a bit into
Dade County, but that's not the focus of the service. MetroRail is a Dade County
phenomenon (more specifically Miami) - most Tri-Rail ridership never goes that
far south. MetroRail (Dade County / Miami) is largely an artifact of the 1970s.

The area that saw transit stall out for 20 years was Broward and Palm Beach
Counties (Ft. Lauderdale is still trying to establish some momentum for a
streetcar/light-rail system against the headwinds of 20 years of Tri-Rail
failure).

Tri-Rail was planned and built during the mid-to-late 1980s; AFTER MetroRail.
The fact is that after Tri-Rail turned out to be such a disaster, nobody could
get any traction on any additional rail in the region for a couple of decades.
And now, the local governments are so enamored by Tri-Rail's 'success' that
they're writing 'doomsday budgets':

Recent Miami Herald article

Recent Palm Beach Post article

Tri-Rail ridership has, in fact, declined since the 2008 fuel spike has eased,
despite what these articles imply (note that they do not state what current
ridership actually is; if anybody cares to doubt THAT, I'll spend some time
finding the media that I read a few months back on the subject).

One can certainly conclude, with accuracy missing from anything Lyndon Henry has
ever written here, that the public in South Florida has not supported Tri-Rail
like they have, let's say, DART in Dallas or Houston's Metro system (both of
which passed expansion referendi with overwhelming support).

Some other (older) links, with links back to media (some of which has expired)
and with excerpts:

Old crackplog post

"Take the Delray Beach Tri-Rail station, for instance. It's located way west of
downtown, languishing between Linton Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue. Now, where
can one walk from that location? The whole point of public transit is to create
an alternative to driving. Yet, the thriving popular downtown area of Delray
Beach is far removed from the poorly planned station location. Thus, you still
have a downtown clogged with cars, because the Tri-Rail station is beyond
walking distance. "

[...]

"I have ridden on Metrorail, on the other hand, and it is a joy compared to the
mess that Tri-Rail is. Metrorail actually goes places, near neighborhoods, and
other places people actually go, and it doesn't share its tracks with 8,000
mile-long freight trains. That's why it works."

and:

Old crackplog post

"The greatest hindrance to Mica's rail, however, could come from the failure of
a predecessor, South Florida's Tri-Rail, which runs from Palm Beach County south
to Miami. Tri-Rail has proven costly; it has drained $433 million so far, and
reports say it needs another $327 million to stay alive. Despite the investment,
Tri-Rail averages only 60 percent of its projected ridership, and governments
subsidize more than 70 percent of the operating costs.

The problem? Essentially, Tri-Rail doesn't go anywhere. For most of its 11-year
life, Tri-Rail delved only into northern Dade County. "That's like taking a
train from Volusia and dropping people off at the Seminole County line," Mica
says. Connections to major workplaces and airports rely on unreliable bus
systems. Moreover, Tri-Rail only runs once an hour, and is frequently late at
that."

and:

Old crackplog post

"Luksha is among the many South Floridians who derisively note that not a single
Tri-Rail train goes through a single �downtown�, and only indirect services
via, bus, taxi or Metrorail will get you to the region�s airports after
getting off Tri-Rail. "

As should be obvious by the lead to this post, I will not stand by and let you
drag me down without responding in kind.

- MD

and

--- In BusRidersAustin@yahoogroups.com, Nawdry wrote:
> At 2009/05/25 15:41, Mike Dahmus wrote:
> >Just ONE among many of your lies:

> >

> >Tri-Rail serves mostly Broward and Palm Beach Counties - extending a

> >bit into Dade County, but that's not the focus of the service.

> >MetroRail is a Dade County phenomenon (more specifically Miami) -

> >most Tri-Rail ridership never goes that far south.


>
> Mike is just disseminating rubbish. By far the heaviest Tri-Rail
> ridership occurs at the 5 Miami-area stations, particularly the
> MetroRail Transfer station, where interface with the MetroRail rapid
> transit occurs. Tri-Rail also serves the Miami Airport.
>
> When I stayed in Deerfield Park

Heh.

Credibility, huh?

It's "Deerfield Beach", you ignoramus.

And, yes, Tri-Rail ENTERS Dade County. Of its 70 mile length, by far, the overwhelming majority of the line is in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. The fact that those stations see a bit more than typical traffic shows how stupid the plan was to rely on shuttlebuses for passenger distribution everywhere else; the only marginally successful stops are the ones that feed into the existing urban rail network in Dade County at the extreme end of a 70 mile system.

Urban rail systems never took off in Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach or Boca Raton or any of the other large towns and cities along the line. Commuter rail spurred precisely nothing; no public support for more rail that might actually work - were it not for the existing MetroRail system that actually goes where people want to go, and, this is important, the 1200 magnet students riding every day, the system would have collapsed 15 years ago.

I lived there for most of my life, genius. I was around when Tri-Rail was getting started. I worked at IBM three summers and then three full years within a short shuttle ride of both the Delray Beach and Boca Raton Tri-Rail stops.

I had many coworkers that gave it a try (I lived too close for it to be of any use to me). None stuck. The shuttlebuses were the problem for every single one of them.

I've seen more than a dozen proposals for TOD come and go along the line. None stuck. The lack of choice commuters was the problem for every single one of _them_.

I was around when the original discussions about CSX vs. FEC were taking place. You're right in one small respect - the FEC wasn't available right at that instant; but there were people EVEN BACK THEN who said we'd be better served by waiting a couple of years and trying to negotiate with FEC instead of CSX. (Parallel to Austin here: Some people said, me among them, that rather than barreling ahead with a stupid dead-end Red Line commuter "ender" line, we'd be better served by waiting a few years to develop momentum for a re-run at the 2000 LRT line).

This was 20 years ago, mind you. Tri-Rail still, now, 20 years after the fact, has not approached initial ridership projections, unlike light rail starter lines all over the country which have mostly knocked them out of the park. After 20 years of disastrous failure on Tri-Rail, the number of people willing to say we should have waited for FEC has grown dramatically - including most of the political leadership in the counties paying the bills.

Those counties, by the way, are the ones that are cutting their subsidy to Tri-Rail because it was such a 'success' that they've gotten tired of the bleeding for so little benefit (again, compare and contrast to what happened in Houston and Dallas after GOOD LIGHT RAIL STARTER LINES showed people what could happen - 2/3 of the electorate voted in favor of huge expansions in both cases).

It's you whose credibility ought to be completely lacking here. You visited South Florida once and rode Tri-Rail a couple of times.

Big whoop.

I lived there for 20 years.

You're absolutely wrong, as usual.

This entry was posted in the following categories: High Grade Bile , I Get Hate Mail , I Told You So , PS: I am not a crackpot , Tri-Rail

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Comments

Sigh. You're usually right, but I don't think anyone is going to be convinced when you're so antagonistic. They stop focusing on your points and focus on the vitriol instead. It's hard to see how even an impartial reader who is learning about these types of things for the first time would side with the guy who's insulting everyone. I don't know the backstory about the guy you're responding to in these emails, but if he's one of the people who is never going to change his mind, I assume the real audience is all of the other people on the mailing list. If your goal is to change their minds, is this actually effective?

It's true that people often make dishonest arguments, but humans are stubborn creatures who don't like changing their opinions, so when the facts contradict those opinions, sometimes they react by saying things that don't make sense. They're not necessarily being malicious, and even they're even less likely to change their minds when they're being pissed off. Some of the people you insult are even trying to have honest discussions about the issues, and the way you respond to them boggles my mind.

Being right isn't going to get things changed. Making other people right will. You've done plenty of things that have advanced the cause of sane urban development, but you would be far more effective if you would just suffer fools gladly. Is it that hard?

Perhaps some context would help. Here's one of the EIGHT, count them, EIGHT responses that Lyndon Henry made last night:

"I'm sure Road Warriors in Austin - and perhaps
elsewhere - are pleased by Mike Dahmus's vigorous
attacks on regional passenger rail ("commuter
rail") - including the South Florida Trai-Rail,
which is certainly one of the more successful of
the new RPR operations. I'm finding Mike's
arguments basically indistinguishable from the
kinds of diatribes launched by the likes of
Wendell Cox, Randal O'Toole, Tom Rubin, and
similar prominent anti-rail jihadists. And this
is coming from a purported "rail supporter"!

There's gotta be a descriptive term for the likes
of Mike Dahmus, who fights rail transit
implementation as hard as any Road Warrior while
cloaking himself in a kind of fantasy support for
Austin's 2000 LRT plan, which he now insinuates
can never be achieved - and he's doing his
darnedest to make sure it never will. Chutzpah
doesn't quite capture it... Insanity maybe?"

The dude's been doing stuff like that since 2004. He's long since lost any right to be suffered gladly; but every single time I engage him I start out with nothing but calm - but I do, as noted, fight fire with fire.

Oh, and, I reposted the last thing here because some folks have indicated they appreciate the "bile" part of the site more than others, including yourself, obviously do.

I definitely enjoy the bile. It's entertaining. I just don't think it's the most helpful thing in the world, not that it's your responsibility to be the Gandhi of sensible development.

I don't understand why this guy seems to be so fond of logical fallacies and so averse to actually disproving things... I'm going to have to restrain myself from subscribing to that list because I suffer from severe "Someone is wrong on the internet" disease.

http://xkcd.com/386/

I too enjoy the bile, very much so. However, I agree with natrius that in some forums it may scare people away from your extremely valid points... They cruise in for a second and you come off looking like "the mean guy."

So you suspect that this guy on the yahoo group might be one and the same as electricron from skyscraperpage?

Those were posts 50 and 51 of a long series where we both started cold and heated up accordingly (each time I've dealt with Lyndon, I warned him that I'd not tolerate personal attacks and would respond vigorously to them when they show up).

If he was anybody on SSP, it'd be SecretAgentMan. Somewhat of a style mismatch, but the knowledge is about the same - electricron doesn't appear to know much about Austin.

Ah yeah - you're right about electricron. Anyway. So much for me being an internets sleuth!

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