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Red Line Myth #1: The 'downtown' station is within a short walk of your office

Was going to do a nice outline before I jumped in, but then I saw this really well-done brochure by Capital Metro on 'how to ride the train' which encourages this myth.

Red Line Myth #1: This 'urban rail' line will deliver you to within a quick, short, walk of your office building, like most other successful (light) rail lines have done.

Look at this picture, from page 5:

Looks like the train goes right in the middle of downtown, doesn't it? Looks like it's right on Congress Avenue south of the Capitol, where all those big office buildings are! Firmly rebutting everything I've been telling you about how you'll use commuter rail, if you do?

Well, not exactly. Move on to page 7 and look at this image:

and read this text:

Location: The Downtown Station is conveniently located outside the Austin Convention Center on 4th St. between Neches & Trinity. Dedicated Rail Connector buses will greet passengers at this station to move them quickly to major downtown employers and destinations.

Get it? I'll highlight for emphasis: Even Capital Metro admits that passengers will need to take 'connector buses' to get to major downtown employers and destinations from the 'conveniently located' station at the Convention Center - in the part of downtown where there aren't any office buildings or any attractions. Folks, the only way to take a fairly quick trip from NW Austin and points farther out to your office which isn't going to require a transfer will continue to be the express buses, unless and until Capital Metro cuts them off to inflate Red Line ridership numbers.

And for those of you who think you're going to walk every day because you're not lazy, good for you. Transit research shows that the 1/4 mile rule is a good planning tool because, frankly, most people have a limited time budget, even if they're not lazy, to spend on their commute. A train trip which is 5 minutes faster than their car but that requires 20 minutes of walking to get to their office isn't going to get anybody to ride who wasn't already willing to take the express bus, that's for sure.

Even better images of the downtown 1/4 and 1/2 mile walking zones from the downtown station courtesy of me, google maps, MSPaint, and DSK:

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 , Red Line Myths , Transit in Austin , Transportation

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Comments

A lot of downtown offices are admittedly out of walking distance, but I would count everything along Congress south of 6th as fairly walkable. By my count, that inclues 6 of the biggest office buildings downtown (including Frost Bank; 100, 101 and 301 Congress; and my office).

I'm not claiming this train is going to be the answer to every Austinites commuting needs, but I think there are going to be enough people that it works for to keep the cars full and make it a "success."

DSK's picture is the most illustrative:

http://www.dahmus.org/blogimg/downtownAusTrainStationRange.png

Note that the 1/4 mile walk zone catches one building on the east side of Congress, as far as I can tell, and that's pretty much it.

You might push it further assuming Austinites are willing to walk further than the national average, but then again, if they're so much more virtuous than typical, why aren't more riding the express buses today?

By the way, I took the preview ride. Leander = far away.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shilli/3733409100/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shilli/3732608815/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shilli/3732608941/

I'm still much more hopeful about the streetcar (not more hopeful that it will happen, but more hopeful that if it did happen, it would have a more substantial impact or urban development in Austin). It makes a lot more sense to me to have trains connecting the already reasonably dense parts of Austin, as opposed to trains connecting downtown with empty fields.

I should mention to be fair that most planners use the radius, i.e. the inner black circle; but it was DSK's suggestion that since they're measuring a "ten minute walk" at an average (non-New-York) pace, and claiming that's how long it takes one to go 1/4 mile at such a pace, that the actual walking path needs to be 1/4 mile or less - hence the diamond shapes inside the circles.

Almost nobody will be willing to walk more than 1 or 2 blocks in 90 + degrees heat (+ humidity) on their way to the office. If you think a lot of people will use this train, your brain still suffers the effects of all the drugs you've used.

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