December 10, 2009

"Sounds like... another great town (Madison is really a great place from my experience) is about to be screwed up..."

"... just like Portland has."

40 comments:

Dudley Do-right said...

The whole country's being screwed up by arrogant politicians and bureaucrats run amok. Why should Madison be any different?

Maguro said...

For some reason, liberals just love passenger rail transport. Brings back warm memories of a happier, more communal time, I suppose.

Scott M said...

Having never been to Portland, my first question would be, "how is Portland screwed up by it's choice of mass transit?

For my own two cents worth, here in STL, the light rail continues to expand. There has always been a firewall, though, in the northwest county area where Saint Louis county ends and St Charles county begins. For the longest time, St Charles county has fought to keep light rail out of it's domain (successfully) arguing that light rail brings lower property values, higher crimes, etc. One of the great concerns has been that the same light rail system extends into East Saint Louis. Yes, East Saint Louis is as bad as you've probably heard. Better than 10 years ago, but then they could only get better. They had no other direction to go.

This was always viewed by the very liberal River Front Times as overtly racist and hostile to minority neighborhoods.

Within the last couple of years, the light rail has extended down the corridor that includes the posh, swanky neighborhoods that the River Front Times is located in. NOW they start opining that maybe there is something to the claims of lower property values and higher crime, etc.

...things that make you go hmmmm.

Sam U. said...

Spoken like someone who has never been to Portland, where folks are actually quite happy with public transit. Leave it to a global-warming denier to make up stuff like this.

miller said...

Light rail here in Seattle does not want nearby parking, even though for the vast majority of potential users the distance to the stations is too far too walk.

Rationale? To force people to move out of single-family homes and into high-density urban dwellings clustered tightly near the stations.

For the children.

This, of course, was not explained to the voters when the rail was approved, but unfortunately no one thought to ask about parking. And now it's fait accompli. We have this beautiful, expensive train for a population that currently can't use it.

This is why normal people despise bureaucrats and politicians. They are snakes with credit cards.

miller said...

Who is the "global warming denier" you are so wont to rail against?

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

In general I favor mass transit, but in my observation rail systems in small cities are put in as a sop to liberal interests rather than because it makes sense in a given location. Austin recently tried to build a commuter rail system which, in my opinion, is the single stupidest project ever created by the human species. One line, nine stations, several of them in no-person's land hard to reach on foot and not located near densely residential areas. For a city bigger than Seattle. Exposed stops scorching with summer heat. And very soon after the line's official opening in March 2009, it was closed indefinitely because of technical and safety issues -- and that remains the case.

http://www.houstontomorrow.org/livability/story/austin-commuter-rail-delayed-indefinitely/

Cities where mass transit works best tend to be cities where the transit grew up with the town and enabled its growth, not where it's grafted onto an already-grown city. NY, Chicago, Boston, SF, Phil., London, Paris. Exception: D.C.'s system was built in 1976 and works well.

Pogo said...

Socialists love rail because they like to make the trains run on time.

And when failure inevitably comes, they are a nifty way to transport undesirables to the necessary enclosures.

chuck b. said...

I don't have very evolved thoughts on buses vs. trains, but I often wonder why buses always have to be so big. Why not vans on some routes? Or short buses. Ha ha. No really, shorter buses would be great.

I have never been to Madison, but Portland is fabulous, lovely, welcoming, friendly, and fun. Also clean, intelligent, interesting, and photogenic. The food is good. There are many, many, many good bars.

ricpic said...

Lefties have the hots for the nineteenth century. What good is the Marxist vision without proles?

MadisonMan said...

I think a high-speed rail corridor CHI-MKE-MSN-LSE-MSP makes sense.

Light rail in Madison? It would make more sense if the buses were packed. But they're not. Where is the light rail ridership going to come from?

miller said...

I think the reason for not having vans is that it costs the same for the bus driver no matter the bus size, so having the same size bus everywhere is probably more cost-efficient.

Now if the powers that be in Seattle could just figure out a way to have the same size bus on both legs of the trip (inbound and outbound) I'd be happy - the bus into Seattle is one of the small ones, but the return bus out is one of the double articulated busses. Jam-packed in the morning, and not at night.

Taking the bus is always a longer and less comfortable trip that going by car, but Seattle does its best to make owning a car a crime, so it's the bus for me.

Scott M said...

Years ago I saw a piece on a light-rail (extremely light) system that was completely automated. The main selling point, though, was that you didn't ride with an entire train.

The whole system was built using small 6-seater trams that would be dispatched to you specifically. Trams were aggregated at different "pools" around the city and were dispatched by the central control like taxis.

I think they were going to set these up in test markets, but I never heard anything more about them. The beauty of this system is that it uses passenger-appropriate cars. It's also attractive from a personal security standpoint. Further, it makes freeloading very difficult to do.

Bissage said...

All this controversy will become moot once I’ve perfected my transporter beam. So far it can only convert a hamster into a grilled cheese sandwich but some stimulus money ought to take care of that.

Alex said...

Socialists sure love their choo-choo trains. They need to grow up.

TosaGuy said...

Do you know what would be fun to watch? Propose putting the choo-choo on a bike path (most were originally train tracks) and watch the bikers and the light railers go at it.

Ron said...

How could Madison be screwed up when it contains this delightful snow elf whose photo graces the "above the fold" section of this blog?

knox said...

Ron, cute.

Paddy O. said...

Light rail?

What Madison needs is a monorail!

If they don't build one, then Shelbyville will!

Roger J. said...

I recall reading a wonderful article on light (and heavy rail) entitled "A desire named streetcar." IIRC it was published in the mid 1990s and pointed out that NO light or heavy rail system up to that time had (1) ever achieved the predicted ridership and (2) always exceeded cost projections by 2 or 3 times.

(Did my doctoral work at Portland State at the time when their light rail system went in--was a great system for bringing wealthy commuters from Beaverton suburbs to down town Portland--for the hoi poll, less so. Although that might have changed by now.)

Ricardo said...

I was living in D.C. in the 1970s when the Metro system was being constructed, and there was a similar backlash/dissatisfaction with the proposed plans. Nobody will use it, the cost is too high, it will ruin the landscape, all these and more were prevailing sentiments. But then it opened, and people found park-and-ride lots where they could dump their cars and get on the trains, and satisfaction levels started to grow until the majority approved of the new system. The key, I think, is to have some pretty smart planners involved, who understand the local needs and transportation patterns, and who are devoted to improving them.

Shanna said...

They are going through something in Edinburgh right now. They had a whole road closed down for a while because they are putting in a tram system. Problem is, it isn't going to run as far as the original plans. It reminded me a little bit of how Little Rock has this obnoxious, random trolly that they think is picturesque, but doesn't really serve commuters and the tracks are annoying to drive on. Maybe it brings in tourists, I don't know, but it doesn't seem terribly functional.

The DC Metro on the other hand, is awesome. But then, it is mostly underground and doesn't get in the way of traffic. And it goes more than a mile.

Adele Mundy said...

I thought Madison really went downhill when Meade moved in.

T J Sawyer said...

"Leave it to a global-warming denier to make up stuff like this."

Warren Meyer, author of Coyoteblog is not a global-warming denier. He simply presents overwhelming evidence that the warming is much less than some folks try to demonstrate. He also has presented great evidence that the "models" relating to carbon-dioxide causes and consequences are pure nonsense. And he has been doing it for several years.

Read his climate-skeptic blog (accessible at the top of Coyoteblog) and you will find that climategate presents nothing new that Warren hasn't been telling us for a long time.

Scott M said...

A point of order...there's no person really named Adele.

lol

St Louis has a good deal of its light rail buried, which is great. I've noticed, though, that while commuters do use it somewhat, they always have trains moving at capacity for sporting events. Literally packed cars full of people all wearing Cardinals, Blues, or (shudder) Rams gear.

Adele Mundy said...

Don't be mean Scott.

It is just that a lot of people are complaining that he keeps trying to rent their dogs.

John Burgess said...

Some cities do use different sized buses for various routes. London, archetypically, has the big double-decker buses on heavily traveled routes. For the less demanding, there are smaller, 'hoppa' buses, that hold perhaps 30 passengers.

DC, too, uses a variety of buses, from tandem buses on heavily used, rush hour routes, to the standard bus, to something similar to the hoppas.

I can't think of a city, though, where some people aren't complaining about public transportation for various reasons... not enough subsidy, too much subsidy; bus doesn't come near enough to me; bus doesn't come often enough; etc.

rhhardin said...

Inter-urban trolleys are the wave of the future.

rhhardin said...

Mike Munger podcast on why second-class transportation systems evolve and persist.

Ralph L said...

The DC Metro doesn't have enough parking lots and doesn't help the Shirley highway mess. They also cut back on bus service, so Alexandria started its own line, which was rarely used when I lived there.

If they hadn't built the Metro, growth would almost certainly have pushed the poor and black out of the eastern half of the District.

It would be nice if the buses were quieter and less stinky.

Adele Mundy said...

Does Madison have enough homeless people to meet the mandated federal standards for having a subway?

That is one per every 2.5 cars.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

RAC is correct; it is the population density that allows a rail system to succeed. IIRC you need a density of around 4800 per square mile to makae it work.

All of the cites where rail works have had that density for years, if not centuries.

DC is the exception, proably because of the tourism. I'll bet a breakdown of DC ridership would be 70% tourist.

WV fiseb- what happens to support for light rail when voters see the cost

Kirk Parker said...

MM,

"I think a high-speed rail corridor CHI-MKE-MSN-LSE-MSP makes sense."

Oh, great. How much of your very own money are you willing to hand each passenger who boards on of those trains? Because that's what you will end up doing!


Roger J,

Here's your missing link: A Streetcar Named Desire.

Even if the article weren't wonderful, you'd have to love it just for the Best Pun Ever title.

Ralph L said...

I'll bet a breakdown of DC ridership would be 70% tourist.
You haven't tried it during rush hour, which is most of the morning and most of the afternoon. Unfortunately, it hardly dents the car traffic.

Alan said...

Richard,

Well, the result we have is what we get for trying to do it "on the cheap" here in Austin. The line uses mostly existing Austin & Northwestern track, which is a small "switching" freight railway in the area. Now, why wouldn't the stops on that line exist in highly desirable areas--in other words, are you telling me that the property along an old freight railway might be somewhat less densely populated and less desirable? :-)

Even with that, we can't get competent train drivers trained to deal with grade crossings. Capitol Metro can't even run a decent bus service; I'm not sure why we entrusted them with a rail system. Thus, it sits. And while it sits, they're now looking at a new line between downtown and the Airport. Even in this "liberal" city, the taxpayers won't go for that if the first trains aren't running...

John Stodder said...

I love Portland. I'm going there again next week. I love that I can get on a light rail line at the airport and end up a block from my hotel.

Portland might be "screwed up" but I wish a lot of other cities were similarly screwed up. For visitors, having a logical downtown trolley system is a benefit, and cities make a lot of money from visitors. Visitors generally are not comfortable taking buses -- too much potential for confusion.

There are a lot of single-family homes near Portland. If that was the liberal planners' dream, they're going to need the cooperation of the fire department to carry it out.

The main reason to oppose new fixed-rail systems is their ridiculous expense. The political impetus to build them comes somewhat from besotted liberals, but mostly from lobbyists with big clients among the engineering, construction and rail-car manufacturing companies. But for a loop-type system to serve an existing high-density downtown area, I think there's more of a case to be made.

The big picture is, the most efficient form of mass transportation is the automobile because it takes people where they want to go better than any other option. The transit-focused development idea as an environmental strategy is based on the idea that we can't clean up auto transportation, but clearly, we can and if you look at emission performance for newer cars, we have, with more progress to come.

traditionalguy said...

This is a shell game for all of the players involved: The politicos paint a picture of train riders and a train system that is self supporting, but that is a lie. The construction Companies with the inside tract and Bond Attornies ( which are the last legal form of bribery done in public) are major conspirators with the politicos. The answer is trolleys, but none of the above Players get rich quick that way. The strip zoning planned along the light rail tract is just as bad as the strip zoning along major arterial streets. But now the planners praise it instead of condemn it. We are awash in lies these days.

d-day said...

Hell, Phoenix is a shitty town and the rail even managed to screw it up.

PatCA said...

Look at the site that was the subject of Kelo when you consider letting the state plan your life.

Elliott A said...

The trick to light rail is that the federal government puts up 90% of the money. Low risk.
When they do the ridership projections, the daily figures count each round trip as two trips, thus doubling the projected ridership. If you do the math, the cost is generally in the vicinity of 50,000 per rider to construct the system, then about 2,000 per year per person in operating losses; everywhere these light rail lines are built.
They are building a light rail line in Norfolk, Virginia the next town over from me. Goes from nowhere to almost nowhere. The streets along the path have been a disaster for two years. Many businesses have had to close because their access, parking and visibility were cut off. It really looks cheesy. Imagine in a northern clime like Madison where you cannot do construction 12 months a year! The town will be torn up forever. As stated earlier, unless you have high density at each node, you cannot have any riders. Why would someone get in their car, drive halfway to work, then get off to take a train that leaves them three blocks from work?