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Bad service is hard to kill

While trying to find a new link (succeeded, finally) for this old entry since the old one aged off, I was reminded to post a different excerpt which is probably even more relevant now that Lyndon Henry is out there once again claiming we can turn the Red Line into light rail, somehow:

"Was this the best investment?" asks Steve Polzin, director of public transit research at the University of South Florida in Tampa. "You wonder what could have been accomplished if they had not rushed into it. If, for example, they'd waited a few years and bought the FEC."

[...]

The Tri-Rail system was never supposed to be this expensive. Because of its innocuous start as a temporary traffic-mitigation measure and because the project has been expanded in small increments, the kind of planning that generally precedes a billion-dollar public-works project never occurred. In the end, the stop-gap became part of the transportation landscape. "Once you start service, it's extremely hard to stop," Polzin says. "You've made the commitment and invested the capital."

Lyndon has made noises that we could still switch the Red Line over to electrified LRT and then run trains back on the 2000 route. He's either insane or lying; and the quotes above show you why: you can't get service like this stopped once you've spent 8 years telling people how great commuter rail is compared to LRT. Plus, of course, Capital Metro's public plans are all about improving the Red Line and adding the Green Line - with more and more diesel-smokin' trains that only take you to a shuttle-bus pickup; NOT about light rail. It's only McCracken and Wynn talking about urban rail (light rail), and although the plan pays lip service to Capital Metro, it's really going to be trying to build light rail despite Capital Metro.

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 , Tri-Rail

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Comments

That is a pretty stunning article. I have the feeling that we are heading down the same path. Between Austin's desire for rail transit, CapMetro's bad management, and the lack of any political incentive to kill the commuter line if it is a dud, I have a feeling we are stuck with it.

But can't we run the light rail along the 2000 route and just cut off the commuter rail at Lamar and Airport? If we had a good light rail to serve as the backbone of the transit system, I could see the Leander and Manor-Elgin lines working with it decently well.

The number of people from the park-and-rides who will be willing to ride commuter rail to Lamar/Airport and then transfer to light rail is a lot smaller than the number of people who would have been willing to ride all the way down in one seat.

I believe the number to be small enough that it would be essentially impossible to justify taking a lane on Guadalupe, which means rail service there becomes pointless.

In other words, as I've said before, the only way you can justify taking a lane on Guadalupe is to be carrying both urban and suburban passengers.

What I was thinking was that the commuter rail would meet the light rail at Lamar and Airport, but the light rail would continue north on Lamar.

That's been discussed too, both here and elsewhere.

1. LRT further north on Lamar is unappealing - no choice commuters; no chance for redevelopment (scarier environs than E Riverside).

2. (assuming commuter rail doesn't just stop at Crestivew Station and continues southeasterly as today): Would effectively shut down the intersection of Lamar/Airport way too much of the time.

Could you not extend the line up to the Park & Ride Lot at 183 and Lamar? It seems you could even extend it further at some point, cross I-35 around Parmer or Yager, and end up at the Tech Ridge Park & Ride. Also, it seems that one or both of the rail lines could be elevated at the Lamar and Airport intersection to prevent too much traffic disturbance. But while we're dreaming, let's just bury the rail lines. SUBWAY!!!

Could you not extend the line up to the Park & Ride Lot at 183 and Lamar? It seems you could even extend it further at some point, cross I-35 around Parmer or Yager, and end up at the Tech Ridge Park & Ride. Also, it seems that one or both of the rail lines could be elevated at the Lamar and Airport intersection to prevent too much traffic disturbance. But while we're dreaming, let's just bury the rail lines. SUBWAY!!!

Could you not extend the line up to the Park & Ride Lot at 183 and Lamar? It seems you could even extend it further at some point, cross I-35 around Parmer or Yager, and end up at the Tech Ridge Park & Ride. Also, it seems that one or both of the rail lines could be elevated at the Lamar and Airport intersection to prevent too much traffic disturbance. But while we're dreaming, let's just bury the rail lines. SUBWAY!!!

Could you not extend the line up to the Park & Ride Lot at 183 and Lamar? It seems you could even extend it further at some point, cross I-35 around Parmer or Yager, and end up at the Tech Ridge Park & Ride. Also, it seems that one or both of the rail lines could be elevated at the Lamar and Airport intersection to prevent too much traffic disturbance. But while we're dreaming, let's just bury the rail lines. SUBWAY!!!

Could you not extend the line up to the Park & Ride Lot at 183 and Lamar? It seems you could even extend it further at some point, cross I-35 around Parmer or Yager, and end up at the Tech Ridge Park & Ride. Also, it seems that one or both of the rail lines could be elevated at the Lamar and Airport intersection to prevent too much traffic disturbance. But while we're dreaming, let's just bury the rail lines. SUBWAY!!!

Oops...

I was thinking along the same lines as Nicolas - extend at least to the 183/Lamar park and ride, preferably up to Rundberg or so. Also, why not just stop the commuter rail at Airport/Lamar to avoid a traffic nightmare? It would require a transfer, but would still be a better option than the shuttle bus transfer for the commuter rail riders.

1. Rail without reserved guideway is worse than bus.

2. Reserved guideway on Guadalupe was only justifiable based on the 30-46,000 riders projected by the 2000 LRT line. It is NOT justifiable based on, say, the number of people who would be willing to transfer from the Red Line running only during rush hours every 30 minutes plus the urban pickups further south (maybe 15,000 people, best-case).

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