November 24, 2010

Chutzpah of the Year

In today's Chronicle, Lee Nichols writes an article about the lack of TOD on the Red Line in which Todd Hemingson, Capital Metro exec, says with a straight face:

The real problem with the Red Line, says Hemingson, is that Cap Metro's first attempt at rail currently stands alone. Austin needs to build a full and fully multimodal system, he says. The Red Line "can't work by itself," says Hemingson. "That's why we think urban rail is a critical factor." City Council considered putting an urban rail system on the recent bond measure that passed earlier this month but decided too many unresolved questions remained and punted it for at least another year. "When the Red Line was envisioned in 2004, it was known that within the Downtown and central city you needed some kind of collection/distribution function," Hemingson says. "Long term, it's gotta be a network of systems working together, not just one line."

Looks like I have to get back into History UnReWriting Mode. Here's the brief summary; links to back story to be filled in if I get any time throughout my day.

  1. Capital Metro switched away from a plan best described as urban rail in 2004 - at the behest of Mike Krusee to be sure, but they willingly played along.
  2. During the run-up to the 2004 election, Capital Metro continued to claim that the commuter rail plan (now the Red Line) would serve Central Austin, despite refutations to the contrary by yours truly.
  3. During that same run-up, they insisted that people would ride the line in droves even though they had to ride shuttle buses at the other end of the trip - going so far as to undermine yours truly as some kind of ranting lunatic for suggesting otherwise.
  4. At the same time, under duress, they shat out an awful circulator plan to replace their idea for circulators: the shuttle buses we have now. Their improved plan, to be funded by other people of course, was streetcars in shared lanes on the same exact routes the stupid shuttles run right now.
  5. Capital Metro's mismanagement of and overpromising of the Red Line has, in the meantime, prevented the city from going forward with anything resembling urban rail.
  6. Today, they still insist that people would ride (or are riding, depending on which flack you talk to) the line in droves even though they had to ride shuttle buses at the other end of the trip - going so far as to undermine yours truly as some kind of ranting lunatic for suggesting otherwise.
  7. At this point, the city's down to a fairly crappy urban rail plan (I was going to post on this this morning until this nugget came up) which relies on way too much shared runningway to be of any real use long-term.

In other words, Todd Hemingson is blaming Austin for not developing an urban rail line that Capital Metro actively prevented from happening on more than one occasion.

That's chutzpah, folks.

(And by the way, folks I've been spending a lot of time talking to on twitter? This is why you can't just push these people in private. Get it?)

November 10, 2010

Red Line continues to smother urban rail in its bed; enfeeble existing bus service

(cut/pasted from the facebook)

Those of you who think the Red Line isn't hurting us now (via cuts to bus service and raises to bus fares) and in the future (via spending down money that is now absolutely essential to having any shot at delivering urban rail if it by some miracle can pass the election in 2012) should read these:

The base fare of $1 for a single bus ride and the $2 bus day pass (for non-express routes) would not change, according to the agency website. But almost everything else would.

Seniors and people with disabilities would pay 50 cents for a single bus ride. People with disabilities who qualify for MetroAccess, the agency's door-to-door service, would also pay more. A 10-ride pass would go from $12 to $15, and a monthly MetroAccess pass would increase from $35 to $40.

The cost of riding an express bus would increase from $2.50 to $2.75, and an express bus day pass from $5 to $5.50.

Children under 6, public safety workers and military members in uniform, Capital Metro employees and their families, and workers with Capital Metro's bus and rail contractors would still ride buses and MetroRail for free.

The cost of a two-zone MetroRail ride, meanwhile, will decrease from $3 to $2.75, with a concurrent decrease in the cost of a day pass for rail. And the cost for a shorter, one-zone rail ride will be cut in half, from $2 to $1.

The rail fare decrease would come as Capital Metro looks to increase MetroRail ridership, now between 800 and 900 boardings a day. The agency is adding 13 midday train runs — to date there has been only morning and evening service — and is in the midst of a rail marketing program expected to cost more than $200,000.

That added service will increase costs about $350,000 a year between now and 2015, according to agency documents discussed at a board committee meeting Monday.

The $6.8 million includes a $4 million increase in the contract's contingency, as well as $1 million in anticipated crossing signal work that the Texas Department of Transportation would reimburse to Capital Metro.

The original $4.1 million contingency in the contract approved in December has been depleted to almost nothing, officials said

Certain Capital Metro flacks will tell you this is just the media picking on them. Bear in mind that most of what Wear has written has turned out to be true despite CM's protests.

Those same flacks will try to tell you that Red Line operating cost overruns have nothing to do with raising fares and cutting service for bus passengers. Draw your own conclusions.