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Everything posted by ajfunder

  1. Party Train Looks like the party train if successful will become a fixture in the neighborhood. Explains why they built a whole track. The train nerd in me loves this.
  2. They just announced this on their social media. Probably related.
  3. Yes, I meant 10 minute headways per line, even 8 minute should be feasible. Transit signals typically have faster reset times then gated crossings. Something to consider if interlining. The pictures I posted are all classified as light rail systems by US standards. They are classified exactly the same as what CATS operates in terms of the Blue Line, many included with the exact same vehicles. None of the photos I shared are considered streetcars. They all have dedicated right-of-ways (separated by bollards/curbs/pavement styles) as well as signal priority at intersections. While they run with traffic they are separated from it and have priority. They don’t use traditional railroad crossing gates but transit signals and red lights to control traffic and take priority at intersections. CATS has built their light rail system more like a heavy rail system with traditional railroad crossing gates and large flyovers and bridges. Light rail after all in the US context vs a streetcar is a multiple-unit tram (typically, some one car systems) with priority and dedicated right-of-way vs. mixed in traffic. Also, you bring up a good point. I wish the US would take the more progressive European Tram approach and allow systems to be a bit more blended where necessary. We restrict ourselves on what is possible by defining one or the other.
  4. A few random doodles cause its Friday and the office is slow right now lol. These should be perfectly feasible based on other LRT systems I have seen in urban cores. The hard rights could be addressed with some engineering creativity/wide turns/lane shifts. All it takes is Charlotte having the will to give up two lanes on what I personally believe are overbuilt streets. 3rd/4th 5th/6th. Would require diamond/level crossings of the Blue Line 4th/5th. Level Diamond Crossing at 5th with BLE Basic Inspiration Dump. It's light rail, there is no need to build expensive bridges or tunnels with a little ingenuity. Blend with the existing urban landscape. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GfakRCT7IJQ/UAA7VnbjraI/AAAAAAAAAKw/Ji30dSPi7vk/s1600/16th_California-06x.JPG
  5. Portland is another city that has two lines and 3 lines each on two alignments on surface streets through downtown and it functions just fine. I truly wonder why CATS hasn’t further considered 3rd/4th or 5th/6th directional pair through Uptown or heck a 4th and 5th pair with the streetcar on Trade making more local/intermediate stops down the middle. That way you can serve CGS, Trade/Tryon, CTC, and 1st/2nd Ward and avoid a bridge and a tunnel through Uptown.
  6. Respectfully, plenty of systems run at much higher frequencies at grade through downtown cores. RTD in Denver runs 4 light rail lines at grade in its downtown loop and the city functions just fine. The Blue Line is even more separated then the RTD loop as the RTD one runs in dedicated lane along traffic lanes. RTD also run 4 car trains. Sub 5 minute headways spread across 2 lines should be easily doable through Uptown, especially considering half of the intersections, and busiest (3rd/4th, Stonewall, Moorehead) are grade separated). 5th and 6th are the big question marks but a second light rail line shouldn’t be that big of a deal unless the city is prioritizing automobile velocity through downtown instead of traffic calming (which knowing Charlotte DOT tendencies wouldn’t be shocking).
  7. Isn't that the original 2030 plan rendering from like CGS 1.0? Would be kinda neat if things came full circle.
  8. If you ask most average people about transit in this city who know little about transit planning, that is the answer you always get. "Why does it not go to the airport? Why was that not the first line?" I have heard that said so many times. While I get the reasoning why it is a lower priority line, I'm of the opinion that this better happen sooner rather than later. Give the people what they want. Unfortunately the people mover plan will be a hard sell, spoiler alert, people prefer a one seat ride. CATS could probably sell this whole transit plan to the voters by simply focusing on the airport line in its campaigning tbh. The airport connection is a political winner, especially in more skeptical voting demographics. CATS should be leveraging this as much as possible.
  9. Your last photo demonstrates how easy it would be to put an underpass under Randolph. Biking through the medical complex is pretty easy as is right now, and there is a sidewalk all the way through until a proper trail is built. Can't wait for the extension to Central under CSX. This section had so much backlash when first proposed and now it is embraced. Go figure.
  10. Is there any info or draft plans on how the Silver Line will move through the CGS site. I assume this is being taken into account in the master-plan.
  11. Correct. We operate Sounder on behalf of Sound Transit with our crews. We are actually pretty good at operating passenger trains when we are paid to do so, but that shouldn't be too surprising considering we are afterall a railroad. Chicago's busiest Metra Line and the Northstar in Minneapolis are also operated by us. NS and CSX just don't seem to have the same appetite for this unfortunately, they just view passenger trains as a low margin, nuisance. I'll find a copy of our commuter standards somewhere... It essentially says all improvements required are paid for by the interested party and the service must be operated at no-loss to the company (aka subsidize any gap in fare-box recovery).
  12. Would be a dream come true to work on a hometown rail project, but I feel I need a few more years with my Class 1 before anyone takes me seriously as a consultant haha. Got to earn the stripes. In the meantime, I get to explore our 28 state system (Western US) so I'm not complaining haha.
  13. Agreed that is NS's perspective. I work for a Class 1 Railroad and it is very true we do have our interest in mind for obvious reasons. That being said, NS is far more obstructionist than the Class 1 I work for. We have a set, publicly available list of requirements for participating in commuter and intercity projects. If you meet those guidelines, we almost always are willing to come to the table because we see it as a business opportunity. NS from what I can see does not. We also operate commuter rail on two of our busiest rail lines in Chicago (~90 commuter trips) and Seattle (~26 commuter trips) and we are able to coexist and dispatch trains effectively. These lines are far busier than the NCRR and the O-Line for that matter from a freight perspective. We also have an A rating for Amtrak dispatching. Pretty sure NS has an F. It is all about internal attitudes. NS and CSX for that matter are the two most anti-passenger rail companies out there. Just look at the Gulf Passenger rail debacle. What sucks for Charlotte is that these are the two companies we are forced to deal with. Passenger rail and freight can coexist and even thrive if both parties are willing. The O-line is half Out-of-Service and the rest sees one train a few days a week. There is absolutely no need for double track on the O-Line, and to be honest, what Charlotte has proposed (a complete rebuild, CTC, PTC, and passing sidings) is more than reasonable. Agreed, the state holds the ultimate trump card by owning the NCRR, and truly will be critical to making the Red Line ever happen.
  14. I see no reason why we couldn't have peak commuter rail on the NCRR to Salisbury. A pipe dream of mine would have it terminate on the NC Transportation Museum property with a final stop in Spencer. Lots of state owned land and existing rail infrastructure for equipment layover and storage. I get the need for NS to maintain the NCRR corridor from a cost perspective, but I do wish the state would flex its muscles a bit. Taking over dispatching from NS which is notoriously poor at dispatching passenger rail would be a huge improvement on the NCRR. This would not improve O Line negotiations though. CATS must be careful with the North Line. They cannot promise the Red Line without an agreement in place prior to the vote, otherwise this will very likely blow-up in their face.
  15. Red Line would be big. Silver Line would be bigger as by nature it will run far more often. That being said, I do believe CATS has prioritized the Red Line above the Silver Line in their build out proposal, assuming a deal can be struck with NS.
  16. First off, what RTD has done with FastTracks is incredible, plain and simple. That being said, RTD has many issues, many of which stem from growing so quickly. The three largest at the moment are: 1. Labor shortage. RTD can't hire and staff enough people to deliver the services it has committed to resulting in cuts across the system. They had this issue prior to pandemic times and it has only gotten worse. There were times as a rider that a bus or train simply wouldn't show up. The overlapping lines on the two southern light rail lines don't exist at the moment due to staffing shortages. Only one of the D/C and E/F pairs respectively are presently running. 2. Debt. RTD built so much that they can't take on anymore construction debt for a few decades. Four lines promised to the voters including the L extension to the A Line, D/C southwest line extension, N line extension, and the B line to Boulder and Longmont are decades off at this point. The B line is projected to be finished after 2050 right now, just under 50 YEARS after voters approved it. The project was scuttled when BNSF Railway put a higher price tag on access to their right-of-way then anticipated. Now the corridor is served by fairly decent toll-lane BRT in the interim, but it leaves lots to be desired as well. Sound familiar to CATS approach to I-77 and the Red Line? 3. Fares. RTD has some of the highest fares nationwide with regional passes being $7.00 and the airport line is $10.50. It is quite expensive to use RTD, especially if you can't afford monthly passes. These are good lessons for Charlotte to learn from, and DUS is one of the crown jewels of transit achievement this century in this country. If CGS is anything like DUS, we are in for a treat.
  17. There is so much wrong with how CATS is utilizing this system thus far. I don't think the towel can be thrown in until CATS starts treating this new multi-million dollar transportation tool seriously. Headways should be every 10 minutes, minimum. CATS should have bought more vehicles if it can't do this with what they bought, but they should be able to close the gap with the below: There are at least a dozen intersections which should always be green for the streetcar. The streetcar has no business ever stopping at red lights at: E 5th, Myers, Alexander, Brevard, CTC, Tryon, Poplar, Pine, Cedar, Irwin and a few others. Personally I would like to see priority over all intersections, but stopping at a red light at say Myers or Alexander is just a absolute joke. Also, I would like to see a pull chord/stop request system implemented for the majority of the stops. I have ridden systems with this and it saves a ton of time being able to bypass lesser used stops (Hawthorne & 5th, McDowell, Davidson, etc.) Lastly, the line needs to be extended to say Morningside on Central ASAP. Pretty sure you could even do it offwire which saves a ton of cost. You have to make transit easy in this city for it to be utilized and Sunnyside is just a bit too far from the heart of Plaza Midwood in my opinion. It is also a bit "out of sight, out of mind" for most visitors to the Plaza neighborhood. Rant over lol.
  18. Well that is a bit of a pessimistic outlook. It has challenges but that project is far from dead.
  19. As I posted in another thread: In addition to electric vehicles, I doubt this new bus station will be similar to the interior of a concrete parking garage. Think something more like the below.
  20. Seattle is probably the city you are thinking of. They had an electrified downtown bus tunnel (on wire) but buses were removed from the tunnels and replaced by light rail a few years ago. I hope the bus concourse is like Denver Union Station where the entire concourse is encased in glass with doors opening to the bus platforms. I'm sure the tunnel will have a ventilation system as well.
  21. Essentially these cities which have far more developed systems have decided using contracted security may not provide the best public oversight, accountability, or be the best use of public funds in achieving results. There were a lot of issues in these cities with the integrity and the reliability of using hired, private security to enforce transit laws. There were also issues with hired security using excessive force and using straight-up intimidation tactics. The traditional enforcement is definitely regressive and tends to punish serial fare evaders (typically found to be the minority) equally with those who actually struggle to afford to ride. So far my experience with the Ambasador program has been far more enjoyable as a rider than the old enforcement strategies where it just felt they were out to punish everyone. A guy in a sweater vest and name tag is shockingly a lot more disarming and effective then a guy with a sidearm and nightstick. The idea is to tackle the root cause of fare evasion cases rather than just assume everyone is intentionally fare evading because they can. These transit agencies still track repeat offenders but many of the cases seem to stem from affordability and lack of education, particularly with irregular riders, rather than nefarious fare evasion. (Observations of a former CATS, RTD and now regular Sound Transit Rider)
  22. Anybody think it is odd CATS is ramping up traditional fare enforcement after lagging for so many years when many of our peer cities (Denver, Seattle, etc.) are ramping down police like enforcement. Those cities have started to transition to fare ambassadors which don't hand out fines and focus more on outreach and education. Just an observation.
  23. This is very true. You ride streetcars in cities with more established system and the operators run their vehicles with purpose. The CATS operators are quite conservative compared to their peers in KC, Portland, and Seattle. The CATS operators also seem to stop at the hint of yellow (crosswalk signal is sub 5 seconds). Other systems I have been on, the operator punches it at the hint of yellow and acts like they are the king of the road. Don't even get me going on the stuff operators pull on systems I have been on in Rome, Milan, and Helsinki. It doesn't do a ton connection wise but one of the best streetcar experiences in the US is the Tacoma Link in my opinion. It operates with signal priority which helps it move smoothly and consistently through town and also has some dedicated raised median sections which work quite well. Even the mixed traffic sections flow well with the signal preemption.
  24. My understanding from a few contacts is that Novant has final say on most of the vacant parcels and is being very conservative if not downright against any development on these parcels. They are worried about needing them in the future for hospital expansion. The gist I got is that Novant is holding this strip hostage.
  25. They definitely are different. Different chimes and tuning. There are many in the railfan community who collect different types and can tell you what model just based on sound. I have many useless skills but this is one I have yet to master haha.
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