July 15, 2011

There's a $55 million budget shortfall in Milwaukee, so let's build that $64.4 million streetcar.

2 absurdly discordant stories on the front page of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

1. "Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said Friday the county faces a 2012 shortfall of about $55 million and renewed blunt warnings about the inevitability of service cuts."
"There is no way we can avoid major cuts to balance the budget - and balance the budget is what we are going to do," Abele said during a public briefing on county departmental budget requests for 2012.
2. "Milwaukee streetcar plan on track for passage."
Milwaukee Common Council leaders Thursday endorsed building a $64.6 million modern streetcar line downtown, a move that brings the city closer than ever before to resolving a public transit debate that has raged for nearly 20 years.

With Thursday's vote, a majority of aldermen have now declared their support for building the 2.1-mile line pushed by Mayor Tom Barrett...

The council's Steering & Rules Committee acted despite warnings by city Comptroller W. Martin "Wally" Morics, who urged aldermen to slow down the process, and despite two utilities' fears that the planned route would add tens of millions of dollars in costs and delay the project....
Mayor Tom Barrett is the Democrat who ran for Governor last year and lost to Scott Walker. One of his big issues was the high-speed rail line. That was the issue that made me vote for Scott Walker. Chris Abele, as the Milwaukee County Executive, occupies the position Walker vacated when he became Governor.

From the streetcar article: "Modern streetcars resemble light rail vehicles. But, like old-fashioned streetcars, they typically run on rails laid in streets, draw power from overhead wires and operate in traffic." So... don't just worry about the money. Worry about the accidents.

92 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

Democrats sure love trains.

I think it stems from daddy issues.

traditionalguy said...

That is 1880 technology.

The ONLY good thing building it will accomplish is the massive profits and kickbacks for Construction Contracts , Architect Fees and Bond issuance Fees that can be distributed among the friends and families of the local
politicos.

It is Hard Times in graft land.

MikeR said...

Our light rail in Baltimore killed someone about a month ago.
But the truth is I kind of like using it. The trains in Baltimore are pretty nice, only they don't hardly go anywhere; you have to get lucky.

Shouting Thomas said...

2.1 miles of rail for $64.4 milion!

Lord have mercy!

Don't they have cowboy poetry in Milwaukee?

Allocate $20 million to the cowboy poets as a make work project. Save the rest.

chickenlittle said...

I'm actually surprised that Madison never rebuilt trolleys to run around the square and up and down State Street. They used to be there, the tracks at least. They're gone now though or buried under layers of redevelopment.

Peter said...

]The] "planned route would add tens of millions of dollars in costs" due to the need to reloacte utilities?

What I'd like to know before proceeding is,

1. If relocating utilities does add these tens of millions of dollars in costs, who is going to pay them- the state, the county, the city?

2. Who's going to pay for the operating costs- state, county, or city?

3. The ridership estimate- "588,880 by 2015," according to the Journal Sentinel- looks like it was made up (would you buy a used car if the odometer "just happened to" read 58.888 miles?). Why should we believe it?

4 What are the costs and benefits of substitutiong buses on this route?

4a. If this is primarily for tourists, what if the buses were made to look like old-time trolleys (such as Chicago runs between Union Station and Navy Pier)?

4b. How do costs vs. benefits look if the buese are upgraded to bus rapid transit?

AllenS said...

Mayor Tom Barrett will try and get the money from obama. You know, from obama's stash.

bagoh20 said...

"I want now this vintage bag!"

Lava said...

Of course, the dissonance in these two articles is partially explained by one is an operating budget and one a capital budget. I believe that the funds for the streetcar come from Federal Transportation funds that have been held for ages (why they weren't used for some serious street repair is beyond me). Holding the two stories up against each other looks like a no-brainer, but in fact, isn't. The substitution principle doesn't hold in this instance.

Killing the streetcar will NOT balance MKE County's budget. How it will affect the City's long-term operating budget is a very good question though.

That said, what I'm most concerned about is what the streetcar will lead to. I kind of liked Michael Cudahay's suggestion of moving it a block or two closer where destinations ARE so it can be used by visitors. The line isn't long enough to be of much use to downtown residents or offices...something that has continuously irked me in the streetcar debates all across the country.

Phil 3:14 said...

2.1-mile line!

you know, you can walk that in a little over a half hour, and

-better for the environment
-better for your health

Phil 3:14 said...

Should I assume the feds are paying for is?

Or is this just another manifestation of that overwhelming urge that all elected officials get

MUST....SPEND...MONEY

Phil 3:14 said...

Based on previously stated Democratic financial principles:

Building this streetcar will allow us to raise taxes.

TosaGuy said...

Yesterday it was reported that it will cost the utility companies and ATT around $60 million to move their utility lines for the tracks. Mayor Barrett's response is essentially, too bad so sad.

Shouting Thomas said...

OK, Althouse, I know you haven't entirely avoided the subject, but...

How about a report on the huge Diversity slush fund racket at UW?

How many millions are being flushed down the toilet at UW in the Diversity racket? How many worthless administrative jobs? How many sham programs?

I'd bet the Diversity racket at UW equals the rail system in Milwaukee.

TosaGuy said...

The north end of the line runs to the condo towers along Lake Michigan, through downtown to the train station. An extension will take it to the Bradley Center--the NBA arena.

Getting rich condo owners to basketball games is indeed a pressing issue in Milwaukee. They are no longer going and Buck's owner Herb Kohl is losing money.

Revenant said...

I'm amused by the wording: "a move that brings the city closer than ever before to resolving a public transit debate".

That's like saying the invasion of Iraq "brought the nation closer than ever to resolving a debate over the invasion of Iraq".

On the one hand it renders the debate obsolete; on the other, it does nothing to answer the question "was this a good idea".

TosaGuy said...

They don't even know yet who will operate this system. The city is trying to get the Milwaukee County Transit System to do it, which belongs to the county that is $55 million in the hole.

ignatzk said...

Maybe they should build a new library or buy an abandoned strip mall instead. That's what we do in Madison with our deficit money.

Paul said...

And politicians wonder WHY people don't trust them.

Government should only be concerned with protecting our borders and keeping order in society. That's the 'Life and liberty' part of the equation..

It's up to US to find our own our 'happiness'.

Titus said...

Milwaukee is gross and way past it's prime.

You can put lipstick on a pig but...

AllenS said...

garage,

Would you please take the time and tell everyone why this is a good idea.

Titus said...

The T in Boston is great. So is Amtrak.

The Boston New York train is great. Fabulous stops where they pick up many a hotties.

There is a huge population base in a very confined area though, also hot.

Many hot hogs on both.

Milwaukee, Madison, sparse, and not hot. No train for not hots.

Titus said...

I was Kathryn Jean Lopez on the train from Boston to New York once.

She was eating, natch.

Original Mike said...

Would this be a high-speed streetcar? That's where the future is.

Sofa King said...

What makes this a tragic story is that if a private company wanted to build a for-profit tram on exactly the same route, these same people would find every possible reason to stop them.

They don't really care about transportation issues at all, really. What they care about is satisfying their weird pathalogical craving to control things.

edutcher said...

Ann, Ann, Ann,

you know that just because there's no money is no reason government can't buy things.

As to safety, Philadelphia's had streetcars forever and I don't remember too many accidents.

Of course, people know to keep an eye out, too.

Titus said...

"I saw" not "I was".

Yikes, could you imagine being Kathryn Jean Lopez? Surrounded by all those republican men all the time and not one date. That must be heart wrenching.

Curious George said...

TosaGuy said...
They don't even know yet who will operate this system. The city is trying to get the Milwaukee County Transit System to do it, which belongs to the county that is $55 million in the hole.

Barrett wants suburban cash. I'm in Tosa too.

MadisonMan said...

I'm actually surprised that Madison never rebuilt trolleys to run around the square and up and down State Street.

That would be preferable to all those buses, IMO. Buses should go down Johnson/Gorham, or East/West Wash. Get them off State Street.

MadisonMan said...

you know, you can walk that in a little over a half hour, and

-better for the environment
-better for your health

That's true for 6 months of the year. I wouldn't want to do it next week, however, or any time from November to April.

paminwi said...

Phil says:2.1-mile line!

you know, you can walk that in a little over a half hour, and

-better for the environment
-better for your health

I concur. If this is being paid for by Federal Funds I want Michele Obama to whack "The One" soundly upside the head and say " "honey, I am trying to run an anti-obesity campaign here trying to get people to be more active and you are wasting money on sh** like this? STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!

kcom said...

"Would this be a high-speed streetcar? That's where the future is. "

I'd like to see a 200 mph street car. That might be worth $64 million. And the kids would love it.

Titus said...

Madison has like two blocks of pretty and 500 blocks of track housing and strip malls.

East Wash and West Wash are God awful ugly.

The West Side looks like The Truman Show and The East Side looks like Good Times.

Firehand said...

Ever get the feeling that they like trains so much because it gives them some control over how/where/when people can travel?

So, along with utilities having to spend a buttload of money to relocate stuff(which the public will pay for), they'll have to run lines above the street to power the damn cars? Bleep.

Titus said...

No trains for Madison or Milwaukee.

Get hot and maybe we can talk about it.

Chuck66 said...

I would support this if it was meant to move large numbers of people efficiently. Conservatives and libertarians do not like public spending on these things, but there are a few successful ones.

Hiawatha line in Minneapolis carries 32,000 people a day. I used it while in grad school at the UofM.

PaulV said...

How about those street cars with rubber wheels that do not need tracks and are powered by clean diesel engines. They are wave of the future.

Chuck66 said...

Madison? Perhaps something would work there since the town is fairly linear and crowded. Park-n-ride lots on each side, and trains hustling people to their gov't jobs and education.

For the price of a new resort...I mean student union, they could build much of this.

Rumpletweezer said...

Two things about light rail are unfailingly true: It will never reach the projected ridership, and the response to that lack of ridership will lead to expansion and ever-increasing expense.

Fred4Pres said...

The cowboy poets could drive stage coaches up and down that 2.1 mile stretch!

Let's Sing!

Hagar said...

Rumpletweezer has got it.

And it is also true for other city "community" projects, such as the Albuquerque Convention Center, f. ex.; it has never made money, and the reason has always been that it is too small and needs to be remodeled and added to. it's agift that keeps on giving - for someone.

Triangle Man said...

Madison? Perhaps something would work there since the town is fairly linear and crowded. Park-n-ride lots on each side, and trains hustling people to their gov't jobs and education.

It takes no more than 20 minutes to drive from the edge of Madison to the center. What could beat that?

shake-and-bake said...

Why would you worry about accidents? We have lots of light rail running around San francisco. Far less dangerous than the autos and buses.

shake-and-bake said...

Now here's a dangerous form of transportation: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/baycitynews/archive/2011/07/15/bicyclist15.DTL&tsp=1

ic said...

How do streetcars run when the tracks are buried in deep snow?

Democrats love labor unions that run the trains. They can shut down the system in a hissy fits when things don't go their way. The unions extort their payoffs from taxpayers and payoff Democratic politicians with their campaign contributions and muscled supports. Democrats do not love trains per se, they love to be in power on taxpayers' dough for life so they don't have to work for a living.

Fred4Pres said...

People:
O-ho the Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle is a-comin' down the street,
Oh please let it be for me!
O-ho the Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle is a-comin' down the street,
I wish, I wish I knew what it could be!

First Voice:
I got a sweet heart contract on my birthday.

Second Voice:
In March I got a big change order.

Third Voice:
And once I got some kickbacks from the material suppliers.

Fourth Voice:
And the unions get the biggest cut of all.

People:
O-ho the Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle is a-comin' now
An unfunded mandate just for me.

Fifth Voice:
It could be a prevailing wage agreement!

Sixth Voice:
With lots slack!

Seventh Voice:
Or cost plus!

Eighth Voice:
Or it could be

People:
Yes, it could be
Yes, you're right it surely could be

Eighth Voice:
Somethin' special

People:
Somethin' very, very special now

Eighth Voice:
Just for me!

People:
O-ho the Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle is a-comin' down the street.
Oh, don't let him pass my door!
O-ho the Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle is a-comin' down the street
I wish I knew what he was comin' for.

Ninth Voice:
I got to speculate on real estate.

Tenth Voice:
And I expect to retire next year.

Eleventh Voice:
The city counsel will get their kickbacks.

Quartet:
And Prosser will hang on the courthouse square.

Titus:
O-ho the Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle ith a-comin' now,
I don't know how I can ever wait to thee.
It could be thumpin' for thumone who is
No relation but it could be thump'n thpethyul
Just for me!

People:
O-ho, you Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle keep a-comin'
O-ho, you Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle , keep a-comin'.
O-ho you Milwalkee streetcar boondoogle , Don't you dare Mae a stop
Until you stop for me!

Robin said...

One of my favorite stories is about the light rail in Denver. It seems that one day, a fire department paramedic truck was rushing to a call red lights and siren, and went through a signal against the light into the path of an oncoming light rail train that was crossing the intersection.

The light rail train made the expected hash out of the paramedic truck. The responding Denver police officer then attempted to write the RTD light rail train operator a ticket for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.

Oddly enough, it turned out that someone had actually foreseen the issue and the traffic code for Colorado actually had excepted the light rail train from the requirement to yield ( of course physics had more practically excepted the light rail long before ... ). The RTD and Denver PD went several rounds before they finally the city attorney dismissed the ticket and wrote a letter admonitioning PD for their stupidity.

Fred4Pres said...

The Brooklyn Dodgers got their name because of all the street cars you had to dodge in Brooklyn.

Sofa King said...

That would be preferable to all those buses, IMO. Buses should go down Johnson/Gorham, or East/West Wash. Get them off State Street.



I actually agree with you here - diesel busses are too loud and big for a pedestrian mall. I think a State Street / Capitol loop automated tram would be much better, and from what we hear about what bus drivers there are paid, far less expensive to operate.

Chuck66 said...

Mpls trains run (on average) 10 minute headways and snow isn't a problem. Tracks stay clear.

TMink said...

Most Democrats did not grow up with their daddy. So I would say you are correct Fred.

Trey

TMink said...

I love the posts that are basically saying "It is Other People's Money, so it is a great idea!"

Is $1 the going rate to buy a clue?

Trey

AJ Lynch said...

In Philly they are called trolleys. I rode one in high school- they are a big traffic bottleneck and make little sense except for nostalgia lovers.

shake-and-bake said...

Nobody "has" to dodge to avoid a streetcar. They obey traffic laws far more reliably than the drivers of autos do, and their paths, unlike said drivers, is utterly predictable.

Exanter said...

Um, I'm against government spending money as much as the next guy, etc, and think that most public transportation is a bondoggle. However:

can someone please tell me how MKE city not building a 64.4 million streetcar line will in any way balance the 55 million dollar shortfall in MKE county? I mean, one article is referencing shortfalls in the county budget, the streetcar is being referenced via the city. 'm not quite seeing how you get there from here. Or did I miss something important?

AJ Lynch said...

Shake & Bake:
Yeah but their tracks are laid on the the inside lane of the street so they discharge passengers in the middle of the street and cars can't pass it on the right since they have to stop and wait for the passengers to walk to the sidewalk. So they are incredibly inefficient and frustrating to mororists who getstuck behind them.

Phil 3:14 said...

Wait a minutes guys.

Once you see what they're planning, I think you'll agree, this baby will pay for itself

(sorry kcom, it goes fast, but not 200 mph)

txrxqa said...

If this thing gets built 'at grade' where it will compete with existing surtran (surface transportation, like pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks and buses) that will be the stupidest decision since chosing to vote for Obama (did I step on any toes?)

Better an "L" or a elevated monorail (Disney world/land anyone?)

http://www.google.com/search?q=monorail&hl=en&client=opera&hs=QIU&rls=en&channel=suggest&prmd=ivns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=P5QgTv3-IqWLsgLhgqybAw&ved=0CE4QsAQ

But a 2.1 mile TRAIN with at grade (on the same level as ALL OTHER modes of travel) TRACKS!!!??

What? Is this like 1865 all over again?

The construction period of this will be a killer to start with, and no one has yet considered the eminent domain required to get the ROW (Right-of-way from property owners along the route) needed.


.

Calypso Facto said...

"Maybe they should build a new library or buy an abandoned strip mall instead. That's what we do in Madison with our deficit money."

Or bikes. Don't forget the bikes.

"...funding for the Madison B-Cycle is provided exclusively through Trek Bicycles and the city of Madison, which has pledged $100,000 for the next three years to offset some of the operational costs."

shake-and-bake said...

I use the streets of downtown San Francisco daily as a pedestrian, driver, and public transportation passenger. I concede that a streetcar may be fleetingly frustrating for a motorist who would rather not yield to discharging passeengers, but they are not generally "inefficient." They move many thousands of passengers around S.F. safely every day with far less congestion and pollutants than we would see if they did not exist.

AJ Lynch said...

Shake:
Can you accruately quantify the pollution savings between a gas powered bus vs. an electricity powered trolley where the electricity is produced by coal?

MadisonMan said...

Can you accruately quantify the pollution savings between a gas powered bus vs. an electricity powered trolley where the electricity is produced by coal?

Depending on the siting, coal-produced electricity can be less polluting than cars, even if they all produce the same amount of pollution. If your cars are in a basin where pollutants can be trapped -- LA, for example -- and your pollution is produced somewhere where it's vented more easily...

That said, I've no idea where most of the electricity used in SF is produced, or even how. I suspect some portion is nuclear or hydro.

MikeinAppalachia said...

txpxqa-
The ROW is along existing City street easements. That's why the utilities will be required to relocate without any reimbursement from the City.
Sofa-
With the estimated cost of the relocation of the utilities alone, no private entity could compete.

Hagar said...

Pixies at the North Pole.

shake-and-bake said...

That's a whole different issue, AJ, that I'm no expert in. (PG&E's electricity comes from a variety of sources, including nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar. I think coal-powered plants are a relatively small part of the mix, so a direct comparison isn't relevant.) I'm talking about what you breathe when you walk down the street.

Meade said...

"So... don't just worry about the money. Worry about the accidents."

Like Chad Jones's accident.

shake-and-bake said...

On the general question of whether electric power is more "green" than petroleum-produced energy, I'm agnostic. I'm no tree-hugger.

garage mahal said...

Once you see what they're planning, I think you'll agree, this baby will pay for itself

Here you go Phil. Let me know what you think.

But what would planners know what you don't.

Hagar said...

Depends on how the easements are written.
Albuquerque went to that some time ago with the predictable result that the utility companies insist on their new easements being on private property and not in the streets.
Not good for the citizens and not really good for the City either in the long run, since the utilities, with secure easements on private property, do not have to be cooperative when the City wants to widen a street or do other changes. And the way the City has treated them over the years, they do not feel much like it either.

shake-and-bake said...

Meade, I hope you're not seriously suggesting that the article you linked supports the argument that streetcars cause accidents. That would just be silly. People drive safely and comfortably on the streetcar grooves all day, every day, all over the world. I'm watching it right now out my office window. It was the driver's sudden swerve that caused that accident, not the inanimate streetcar track that had been there for decades.

SGT Ted said...

Why are Democrats so obsessed with 1960s train technology?

AJ Lynch said...

Sure Garage- if they build a 2.1 mile streetcar line, many will soon follow billions of new investment. That PDF said zip about the line's annual ridership nor its net income or loss. All it says is "watch all this great shit happen right after we build this thing".

AJ Lynch said...

The trolley tracks do conribute to more auto accidents when cars lose control in the rail lines. I suspect that is what happened to Jones.

shake-and-bake said...

AJ, can you "accurately quantify" this supposed contribution to "more accidents"? And do your data distingusih between the contribution of the track and the contribution of bad driving?

garage mahal said...

Sure Garage- if they build a 2.1 mile streetcar line, many will soon follow billions of new investment.

"Fifty-five percent of all Portland’s central
business district development has occurred
within one block of the route in comparison to
19 percent prior to 1997."

"• New development is occurring – 10,212 new housing
units and 5.4 million square feet of office, institutional,
retail and hotel construction have been constructed within
two blocks of the route, representing over $3.5 billion in
new investment since 1997."

Alex said...

garage - you don't spend money you don't have.

Alex said...

So Milwaukee is really left wing and they're gonna go through with it huh? Well fuck 'em.

AllenS said...

A Streetcar Named No Desire.

Calypso Facto said...

$64.4 million for 35 permanent jobs. Such a deal!

"Fifty-five percent of all Portland’s central business district development has occurred within one block of the route in comparison to 19 percent prior to 1997."

If you had gravy train running down your street, wouldn't you build there too? What that quote doesn't say is that OVERALL investment amounts or rates changed. So what if a business moved their development plan by a block? Sounds like a good chance for a politician's real estate buddies to get rich by tipping the development scale at taxpayer expense. Hope I'm wrong. We gonna put a bet on those projections, garage? 5 year time horizon?

AJ Lynch said...

Shake & Bake:
Touche - no it is purely anecdotal on my part.

Garage:

Milwukee is the next Portland? or so I have heard.

garage mahal said...

Calypso
I'll bet the ROI will be decent.

Beer o clock! Stop over.

Peter Hoh said...

And fresh off their success at keeping spending down in Minnesota, I expect the Republicans to join with a few Democrats to build the Vikings a new football stadium, because, you know, government has to live within its means.

Or something.

David R. Graham said...

Seattle shut is prized Waterfront Street Car some years ago because of unavoidable accidents. It was at grade its entire route, through a hot tourist area. Other reasons were given but that was the real one. Motormen and conductors (they were expensive units to operate) were volunteers from the ranks of county transit operators (bus drivers), who received special training and quite a bit of it to operate the street cars.

The motormen (street car operators) were finally given exemptions from the usual accident/termination rules because (1) accidents were just too inevitable (not by the motormen, by pedestrians and drivers thinking railed vehicles can be stopped on a dime and/or outrun; they cannot be), (2) Operators did not want to ruin their safety record, even with the leniency given Motormen, so they refused to volunteer for the Motorman position and (3) because of the accident inevitability, senior Operators refused to volunteer for Motorman and junior operators who did, or were forced to it by low seniority, were not even broken in yet on buses (that takes about 10 years, 5 just to get an idea that it isn't a car). Motorman staffing became problematic because the position was volunteer or forced picked work, based on seniority, so junior, marginally competent Operators, were forced or bamboozled (hey, this is cool, you can be a street car operator with the romance of early America and admiration of tourists) to the street car because the seniors were not fool enough to pick it.

Now a new entity is running at-grade light rail through the area of town where children and adults typically play in the streets from sundown to sunup. All so news people can get to the airport from downtown without traffic (literally true, local news got it going for themselves), and of course they don't use it because the hoi poloi do. Using county Operators, volunteers picking work only if they want to.

But these are light trains now, multiple cars, not single street cars. You won't see it in the news but imagine .... Training? Accidents? Some of the latter do reach the news. Rail cannot stop quickly. Throw full brake and the wheels lock, throwing sparks, wearing wheels flat and deforming rail (now need [taxpayer-paid] replacement), while the train flies down the track. On heavy rail, a fully loaded mile long train traveling 60 takes miles to stop after full brake application. Even a standard 40' bus at 20 travels far on dynamited brakes (I forget the exact feet but recall it as astonishing) before it stops. (This fact gives rise to the 2 second following distance rule, which is crucial to safe vehicle operation: 2 seconds of travel for every 10 feet of vehicle one is driving.) Stopping distance increases exponentially with speed even with full brake application.

Very few people know how to drive. Very few care to know. Public transit operators learn that they have to drive for everyone around them as well as for themselves and their passengers. If they don't learn that, they are out one way or another.

Fred4Pres said...

David R. Graham, well said. Well said.


How about A Streetcar Named Boondoggle!

Methadras said...

Reminds me of the San Diego Trolley and what a gut wrenching debacle that is.

ampersand said...

They obey traffic laws far more reliably than the drivers of autos do, and their paths, unlike said drivers, is utterly predictable.

Really?

It would be cheaper to build a time machine and send the rail fans back to the time of the railroads than all these light hail and HSR boondogles.


For all you trolley fans,The Illinois Railway Museum in Union,IL.(only 94 miles from Madison) takes out some of their streetcars several times a year
I suggest you get your trolley jollies there.

MikeinAppalachia said...

Coyote Blog looks at Portland's Light Rail:

The 2007 American Community Survey found that, since the 2000 census, the number of Portland-area residents who say they usually bicycle to work grew from about 6,800 to 15,900. But the number who say they take transit to work declined from 58,600 to 57,900. The number who go to work by car (not counting taxis) grew from 664,300 to 730,500. This means that Portland roads have about 60,000 more cars during rush hour, but the region has put most of its transportation dollars into light rail and streetcars that carry no more people.

A lot of blame for this can go to the city’s focus on light rail, whose enormous costs have cannibalized bus service and thus reduced total transit service. In particular, those who support transit as a god-send for the working poor should note that this substitution of large, inexpensive bus networks for more yuppie-friendly trains on narrow routes shifts transit away from the poor to white collar users.

…coerciveness is a fundamental part of the livability campaign, as shown by Portland, Oregon, whose official objective (see table 1.2) is to allow rush-hour traffic to grow to near-gridlock levels (”level of service F”) on many major freeways and arterials. Besides diverting federal highway money into light rail instead of things that will actually relieve congestion, much of the money that Portland does spend on roads goes into “traffic calming,” a euphemism for “congestion building” which consists of putting barriers in roads, speed humps, narrowing streets, and turning auto lanes into exclusive bike lanes.

Beyond the moral and constitutional question of whether government should have the right to intrude into people’s lives is the more practical question of whether the benefits of such intrusions justify their costs. In the case of Portland, the costs include a nearly twelve-fold increase in the costs of congestion between 1982 and 2005, the more than $2 billion spent on light rail, and nearly $2 billion spent on subsidies to transit-oriented developments. Meanwhile, the benefits include a lot of New York Times articles making Portlanders feeling smug about themselves, but not much else except for the lucky (or politically connected) few getting the subsidies.

shake-and-bake said...

Ampersand - Are you an idiot? We aren't talkinng about nostalgia and 18th century artifacts. We're talking about modern light-rail transportation of the sort that runs in cities all over the world. I said operators of these vehicles obey the law more than car drivers. You said a catastropic storm more than 60 years ago disrupted rail service. ?!? Get a clue or STFU.

ampersand said...

We aren't talkinng about nostalgia and 18th century artifacts.

That's exactly what you're talking about,you fucking toad.
Almost every city in this country was served by streetcars, They're gone!
Low ridership, high maintenance costs,limited routing options.
The only cities that have running streetcars have them because they didn't tear up their
infrastructure.

Even trolley busses couldn't compete against busses.

You want trolleys? Go get the Walther's catalog, buy a nice one in HO.
You'll have something to occupy your time down in your basement.

shake-and-bake said...

Does this look like a bit of quaint nostalgia?

http://sanfrancisco.about.com/od/munibart/ss/muniandmaps.htm

Over 150,000 passengers ride streetcars like this every day in San Francisco. I have no idea whether streetcars make sense for Milwaukee, but to suggest it isn't a viable modern technology is just asinine.

shake-and-bake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shake-and-bake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.