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rookzie last won the day on May 19 2016

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About rookzie

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  1. Regrettably, the recent plea for a consortium on Middle- Tennessee regional planning won't help urban Metro Nashville and Davidson County, in terms of garnering some kind of consensus on sustainable funding to address local transport alternatives. At best that "might" effectuate some commitment among jurisdictions, with shared commuting paths. But then that is not unique to Nashville, and it also becomes exacerbated by Metro GSD and USD coverage and the perceived vs. actually proportion of accountability among the population's sentiment. As far as Atlanta is concerned, I'm thinking that a lot of the polarity among the exurbs also was a result of lingering distrust from mismanagement and scandals during past administrations. That has made it even more difficult, particularly when the state itself has not contributed measurably to dedicated capital funding of the agency. It was conceded from the start that the Nashville-to-Lebanon start-up of the Music City Star (MCS) was more opportunistic than needed, one reason that ridership never surged as what would have been expected with more densely traversed corridors. For that same reason, the long proposed second commuter-rail initiative ─ the Northwest Corridor ─ would be in part "exploitive", since much of the proposed preferred alternative would have the alignment follow much of an existing right-of-way, owned by the same non-CSX-owned entity hosting the current MCS operation (R.J. Corman Group). But that pales in comparison to the regional corridors which would need it the most. I resolve to side with grilled_cheese, with his strong retort, and I have said all along from failure after failure, that it might have to end up as a blessing in disguise for congestion to turn into a total quagmire, before anything is done materially to offer transport options in the city or in the region.
  2. I concede that this is how I feel as well. You can only put so many shades of eyeliner and lipstick on a pig. I've gotten so frustrated that I now just SMDH and walk away. And yes, KJHburg is correct. In this day and age, that's the only way that Kansas City (MO) finally got off to a start, after previous more ambitious efforts were thwarted ─ even though it currently only is in the form of a modern streetcar. The KC Streetcar has gained popularity and has prepared for an extension, the Main Street extension to UMKC. The planning for this extension has not been without bumps, and one application for an FTA grant failed to meet a 2019 deadline. But political will and teamwork among committed partners has forged a momentous movement towards meeting the requirements of a resubmitted application by the annual deadline for the competitive federal program. The projected total cost of the project has increased by 10% in less than 12 months, but the local funding was increased by 8%, approved recently by the recently created Main Street Rail Transportation Development District (TDD) of 2018, in the form of a 1-cent sales tax. KC already had created the Downtown Transportation Development District in 2012, to fund the development of the initial 2-mile streetcar start-up. Overall it has taken STARTING LITTLE, along with legal wrangling to counter opposition and to finally get it off the ground in KC. Charlotte seems to have performed better in this respect, but it also had a few elements of advantage, unlike what KC had. Nashville simply has Zilch in place to even begin to kindle for small.
  3. Back in July 2004, I did get to ride the original vintage streetcar, restored in mid-late 1990s, prior to the construction of the LYNX Blue Line light rail line. It ran on a former branch of RoW acquired from the Norfolk Southern RR. Nº 85 had been the last trolley to run when Charlotte was a streetcar city in the 1930s. This RR spur later became part of what is the current Blue Line. Unlike with the later Gomaco-built reproduction cars which are air-conditioned, car Nº 85 had a trolley pole, instead of the more modern application utilizing a pantograph overhead electric pickup. While not "original"-looking as trolley poles, pantographs eliminate "de-wirements" common with poles. Nº 85 had been discovered on a condemned piece of property before special interest took over and the car had been brought back to life. I believe the car actually had served as a makeshift apartment in the rear of that property on which it was discovered. The Gomaco A-C replica cars, later used on the CATS Lynx Gold Line have served well, but they don't actually represent light rail by definition. In fact, the Gold Line actually is a streetcar line rather than actually light rail, so their transit purpose is different from that of a light rail line, as with the BLue Line. They actually were built to be streetcar circulators, just as with the ones in Tampa (TECO) and the streetcars of Little Rock's Rock Region Metro, and the non-airconditioned Gomaco's in Memphis (MATA). Replacing the Charlotte replica streetcars with modern ones will increase the capacity, just as with those of Atlanta. Nº 85 was the streetcar "Seed" which helped garner support for Charlotte's first light-rail line, the current Blue Line Car Nº 85 being trucked along Interstate 85 and hoisted onto temporary track at the NC Transportation Museum, at Spencer
  4. Having a rail rapid from downtown to the airport highly likely would affect the volume of vehicular traffic ─ measurably. Nearly every U.S. city has experienced increased patronage on rapid transit connecting to airports ─ surprisingly even to an extent for the "remote" SBN (South Bend International), as an alternative to ORD and MDW. Denver's RTD A Line railroad-type electric multiple unit trains to the airport (DEN) also have seen an increase, despite overall drop in ridership system-wide (mainly due to reliability of on-time performance). The RTD A Line is similar in technology to that of Philadelphia's SEPTA Regional to PHL. And Cleveland's Red-Line "Rapid", which had became one of the nation's first direct airport (CLE) connection to the CBD (one-seat ride), also has performed reasonably well, given the budget constraints of the agency (GCRTA). That was completed around 1968. It has been stated by several sources that having the Red-Line rapid in place (Hopkins Airport to Windermere), likely had been instrumental in helping Cleveland endure its hard-knocks from the '70s through much of the '90s. Finally, Buffalo Metro Rail (NFTA) has been having serious discussions to extend its Light Rail to BUF, also operated by the NFTA. It may seem to be mostly tourists who utilize BNA, but those consistently full economy parking lots suggest that it's far more than just they utilizing BNA. And that discounts the multitudes who Kiss-n-Ride with drop-offs and pick-ups. Since air travel has been the assumed "norm" for most interstate (domestic travel), in addition to the elimination of other attractive commercial options for regional intercity travel, many old timers such as I, resident of Middle Tennessee (and to an extent Ky, and Al.), took to the air long ago for most long-distance trips, before many on this forum were even born (or "thought" about being hatched). In short, an airport rapid would be in order ─ not necessarily as a permanent standalone, but perhaps as a branch from another radial line. A light rail line corridor from downtown to Antioch could be a game changer to the southeast county, a route separate from a possible FRA railroad commuter line, in conjunction with Amtrak service along a limited stop railroad corridor to Murfreesboro, Tullahoma, and beyond. That actually would fulfill a separate transport need, as must of us might assume.
  5. CSX always has owned the tracks. (see below) Amtrak service is never necessarily DOA, if political will can be mustered. Volsfanwill said it. I really can't confirm the clause about no new routes being created, but that definitely was and would have been a moot point in any event back in those days when non-Amtrak-joining railroads had to run all their existing passenger trains for 5 years. Several Amtrak trains nationwide were discontinued during the period 1971-1979, and additional trains eventually were cancelled during the '80s and even into the late 1990s. Intercity passenger service in the U.S. had been on a steady decline following the end of WW-II. Actually the peak of such travel occurred during the 1920s (prior to the Great Depression), and many routes and scheduled runs existing before the Depression were never restored. The establishment of the Federal Highway network during the late 1920s helped to diminish that service, as roads became paved and connected throughout the states. That's how highways such as US-70, -31, -41, and the famous US-66 were formed. World War II created a great demand and therefore a resurgence in passenger travel. That too began to decline following WW-II and the Korean War, although many routes were still popular and profitable during most of the 1950s. Toward the end of that decade, passenger train travel had declined at a more accelerated rate, as airline travel and the Interstate highway system construction had taken a stronghold following the Federal Highway Act of 1956. Automobile manufacturers, particular General Motors, had successfully orchestrated a master business model, and, in conjunction with related industries and the Federal Govt., private ownership and driving of and automobile had become much easier than ever. All passenger train equipment and service was privately owned and operated by the railroads themselves. From the 1950s and even into the late 1960s, some railroads even had city ticket agencies in some cities, along with advertisements for their then-luxury trains. Most of that practice had been left over from the days when passengers had choices among more than one rail carrier to a destination (e.g. from Washington DC to Cincinnati, via the Baltimore & Ohio or the Chesapeake and Ohio; or from Chicago to St.L. via the Illinois Central or the Gulf Mobile and Ohio or the Wabash). Back when I was a child and teenager, many choices still existed. By the early-mid-1960s, domestic passenger train travel was still mainstream, but it had taken a dramatic plunge, as the expressways access continued to forge on, and airlines began to offer special discounts previously unheard of ─ rates which overnight made ground travel a less attractive option even for single travelers, who otherwise would have taken a train or a bus for distances of 200 miles or greater. Before the U.S. escalated its efforts in the Vietnam conflict in 1964, railroads had regularly petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to allow discontinuance of a passenger train, since the ICC regulated all train cancellations at that time. Most of the U.S. mail had been transported by rail throughout first half of the 20th century. The Post Office Department (reorganized to become the U.S. Postal Service in 1971) had contracts nationwide making mail handling and transport on special head-end cars of passenger trains rather lucrative for the railroads, all private carriers in the U.S. The handling of mail was so lucrative for the railroads that it often offset the operating-cost losses that had become the norm among scheduled train runs, as passenger losses continued to mount. Passenger train operation took a precipitous turn for the worse, as the Post Office Dept. almost abruptly cancelled contracts with the railroads during late summer 1967. At that point, most mail handling cars (except for certain types of containerized mail) had been removed from existing trains. Operating costs soared, and train-off petitions also skyrocketed. Railroads, which by then had long begun to expand technology and to establish high profit margins with enhanced freight service, contributed to the vicious circle of poor reliability and on-time performance of passenger trains. Many mainline routes which previously had been double-track, were reduced to single-track with passing sidings, as railroads instituted Centralized Traffic Control to more efficiently remotely manage the operation of trains and reduce the perceived need for double track. In turn, passenger trains often were downgraded in priority deferred to freight trains. Service amenities were eliminated, such as dining cars and sleeping cars, and schedules were reduced to the point of rendering passenger trains no longer desirable by patrons as a means of transport, almost overnight. Equipment had become shabby and often in disrepair. The private railroads simply could not afford to or justify maintaining the existing remaining passenger trains. By mid-1968 the ICC recognized this and began to give in almost generously, up to a point where service had diminished to a skeletal remnant of what it had been even the previous year. I can tell you some stories of some rides from back in those days ─ accounts which would discourage anyone from ever considering a train. Thing was, for all domestic rail carriers which still had passenger trains held in place on the timetables during the formulation of the National Rail Passenger Act in 1970, the ICC basically withheld granting any additional passenger train cancellations, in anticipation the creation of the National Rail Passenger Corp., in May 1971. All the U.S. railroads which did still had passenger trains on the timetables were given the choice of enjoining or not enjoining this agreement. By agreeing, a specific carrier would turn over all its passenger operations to the NRPC (rebranded as AmTrak), and contribute some amount of existing passenger train equipment. Those rail carriers who opted to not join would be required to maintain operation of all their then-existing passenger service for a period of 5 years from the date of official inception of Amtrak (May 01, 1971), a period after which they could discontinue those trains or join Amtrak. All but 3 carriers elected to join Amtrak. The only rail carrier with passenger trains then operating in middle Tenn. at the time was the L&N (Louisville and Nashville RR). It joined Amtrak, which in turn decided to drop 4 of the 5 then-remaining passenger trains systemwide on the L&N (only three passed through Nashville ─ Cincinnati - New Orleans; Chicago- Florida [via Indianapolis, Louisville, Montgomery and Dothan, but NOT via Atlanta]; and St. Louis - Atlanta [via Belleville IL, Evansville, Hopkinsville, Murfreesboro, Tullahoma, and Chattanooga]). The only train that was retained throughout Nashville's service by Amtrak was the Chicago - Florida route. No service ever was retained or had been restored between Nashville and Atlanta. The ICC was terminated in 1995 and replaced with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB). ____________________________________________________________________ With that background on U.S. passenger train travel and its timeline from the 1920s, I'll be more brief on the Amtrak service through Nashville. Almost from the start, the "South Wind", later renamed the "Floridian", was doomed. For one, the train had to traverse the rails of up to 4 separate companies; it had to travel an unreasonably circuitous route between Chicago and Jacksonville, where the train was split into two sections to run to Miami and to St. Petersburg, respectively. Second, poor conditions of trackage existed indefinitely on the portion of the run between Louisville and Chicago; the train underwent at least four periods of separate and indefinitely detours, in most cases losing some of its valuable ridership market (Indianapolis). A number of very costly derailments also occurred during the train's 8-1/2 year troubled existence. The "Floridian" became one of Amtrak's biggest money-losers, operating at a yearly deficit of $11 million, on-schedule roughly 6 days in 10. The Floridian was one of the trains which had been targeted For cancellation at least three times since 1971, therefore Nashville Amtrak service ended in October 1979 in part because President Jimmy Carter had been unmerciful with typically money-losing long distance passenger service. As mergers transpired, the L&N became a part of the Seaboard System, which merged with the Chessie System to become CSXT. The tracks through Nashville and extending to Chattanooga and to Atlanta, as well as to Memphis, Birmingham, Evansville, Chicago (via Evansville, Vincennes, Terre Haute), and Cincinnati (via Bowling Green and Louisville), always have been owned by CSX Transportation or by its predecessors, all private enterprise. Amtrak never had a route from Nashville to Atlanta, and the route which had been served by L&N trains No. 3 and 4 (The "Georgian"), was cancelled immediately before the official start of Amtrak. The trains, discontinued on April 30, 1971 were allowed to reach their destinations in St. Louis and Atlanta on the morning of May 01. Also, Amtrak initial agreements do not include the mandate of "grandfathering". Theoretically any route can be proposed and implemented, if the stakeholders can agree on terms (the hosting state, the hosting carrier railroad, and Amtrak). One separate and notable case was the cancellation of service in Las Vegas just prior to the start of Amtrak and allowed to run to destinations on May 02. Against the grain of concurrent discontinuances, a new run was started in 1979 named as the Desert Wind, Amtrak trains No. 35 and 36. between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. That service ended in 1997. Much more recent brand new service from Norfolk to DC was started in Dec. 2012 and from Roanoke to DC in Oct. 2017 respectively, but neither of these passenger train routes had existed during previous Amtrak years (although Roanoke had been served by two separate previous but short-lived routes between 1975 and 1979). The current Norfolk and Roanoke service routes have become highly popular and seem to represent the current trend in regional passenger rail. Last train to Nashville (before the Amtrak takeover), L&N Nº4 the "Georgian", prepares to depart Chattanooga for the final time, 8:45pm, April 30, 1971, after having departed Atlanta Union Station in the early evening. The train consisted of a single locomotive unit, a baggage car, and a snack-bar coach. At 11:45pm the train would depart Nashville for Hopkinsville, Evansville, for a mid-morning arrival at St. Louis Union Station. The station and platforms shown in the photo were razed shortly thereafter, becoming the site of the current main public library.
  6. I caught that as well. During the last couple of years or so, city officials in Memphis had suggested that a second train be instated to provide additional service between Memphis and Chicago, to offset the inconvenient schedules at Memphis of both current once-daily north- and southbound runs (Nº58 Nº59 respectively) of the Chicago-NOLA "City of New Orleans" trains. I have ridden that train several times ─ both originating or terminating at Memphis and passing through Memphis. A second train pair would run only between Chicago and Memphis. Memphis has had Amtrak service since Amtrak's inception in May 1971. It never lost service as did Nashville in 1979, although the Newbern stop replaced the one formerly at Dyersburg. The "City" always was swarmed with passengers at the Memphis station, every time I rode it, and with a good deal of parking space at Central Station, along with a police precinct occupying a portion of that building at platform level, I always have felt secure there. CSX can be bought, as long as it can gain from the deal to handle its own congestion. This was done by the legislature in Florida just over a decade ago, for use primarily with the SunRail commuter rail system. A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that the State of Virginia and CSX had agreed to a $$$$ deal to acquire several key assets of the CSX. The deal will add an entirely new 2B$ bridge over the Potomac River to carry Amtrak and VRE (Virginia Railway Express commuter rail) from DC to Virginia. This new bridge will transfer passenger trains from the old CSX-owned bridge, which CSX will renovate for its own freight traffic. The state also will purchase 225 miles of north-south track and 350 miles of north-south railroad right of way from CSX for $525 million, including half the right of way between Washington and Richmond. Virginia also will acquire from CSX nearly 200 miles of east-west track, between Doswell and Clifton Forge. What this plan does is to vastly increase the capacity for passenger trains statewide, allows for a new connection passenger route lost during the 1970s, and assists CSX by creating increasing mainline capacity to allow freight alongside dedicated passenger track, in the Mid-Atlantic region already bursting at the seams for additional capacity. Virginia is a primary gateway for much freight and for all passenger service south of DC. The VRE Fredericksburg commuter line, which runs 8 round-trip trains each weekday, will add 5 new round-trip trains during the weekday rush hour and introduce 3 round trips on weekends. Amtrak already runs 5 trains to Richmond, and it anticipates 6 additional daily round trips to Richmond and two extended trains to the Hampton Roads area (1 added to each route ─ to Newport News and to Norfolk). This 10-year vision would not be feasible were it not for this deal, which really is "on the cheap", considering the vast potential it affords for the state. Back to Nashville, a Nashville - ATL twice-daily service also could connect at Chattanooga with Bristol-Roanoke, Charlottesville, DC, with a connection at Charlottesville to Richmond and Hampton Roads (via Virginia's purchase of the east-west branch). This Chattanooga connection would be provisional, based on a proposal also in long talks to extend Amtrak service west of Roanoke (DC-Roanoke), service to which began just over 2 years ago. That east-west service proposal actually would extend service from Roanoke to Memphis, connecting Memphis and Chattanooga directly to DC, since the cancellation of such passenger service in 1968.
  7. Thanks to all. Needless to say, I had all cohort fellow students beat in age, and some had grandchildren. I even had the Provost and the President beat, and they taught 2 of the 10 courses, so if I learned nothing else, then it's that I ain't no spring chikkin! I'll have to miss the next 1st-Saturday meet yet again, since I'll be traveling back from rural South Central PA that day, weather permitting.
  8. I'd like to give a try, ML, but I just don't have the connections, especially since I didn't crony the coat-tails of the election campaign. The time couldn't be more aligned, since I just graduated from Lipscomb last weekend.
  9. In mid-October I mentioned that the NYCMTA finally implemented a highly contested proposal to exclude all cars from a stretch of its Manhattan 14th Street crosstown route ─ the "M14". Perhaps most readers are aware that Manhattan’s massive roadway grid consists of primary numbered “Avenues” extending lengthwise (north – south [actually NNE to SSW]), with numbered cross streets, east to west (1st St. at the south end of Manhattan through 225th St. at the north end). The numbered avenues are designated 1st through 12th, from the Eastside to the Westside, with only portions of 12th Ave. remaining, and some of running concurrent with the West Side Hwy and the Henry Hudson Pkwy. Some of the high-numbered streets and 4th Ave. are skipped (don’t exist), and 225th St. actually is across the Harlem River from Manhattan Island itself, but officially is included with Manhattan, which includes Marble Hill north of that river. The M14 SBS (Select Bus Service), which commenced this past Oct 1, was born out of a controversial but necessary plan to compensate for the shutdown of the NYCMTA “L”-Train train route (as in route’s A, B, C, D, E, F, etc., not to be confused with the term “elevated” or “El”, or “L” for the physical type of rapid transit). The Canarsie Line Tunnel, a.k.a. the 14th St. Tunnel, is one of 9 storm-flood-damaged tunnels of the network’s 14 underwater tunnels, some of which were partially destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. All these tunnels have come of age, and this particular tunnel is nearly a century old with cabling equipment buried within the walls of the tunnel. The plan was revised to add a new cable support system (racking) on the exterior of the bench walls (extended lateral space above a continuous concrete shelf with in the tunnel, instead of within the wall, to facilitate foreseen maintenance. So far this plan is “temporary”. The planned L-Train shutdown meant anticipated demand for surface travel via a dedicated “Busway” along the core of 14th Street (9th to 3rd avenues eastbound and 3rd to 8th avenues westbound). Additionally, the plan adds offset bus lanes from 8th Ave. to 9th Ave. westbound and a combination of curbside and offset bus lanes 1st Ave. to 3rd Ave. in both directions. The street redesign includes temporary bus bulbs and expanded sidewalks to the corridor. Under the plan, access to the Busway is mostly limited to M14 local and SBS buses. In addition, Access-A-Ride para-transit vehicles, local deliveries, emergency vehicles, and private cars accessing parking garages also are permitted along that stretch of 14th St. For all-non-bus vehicles needing local access, motorists are able to make a turn on to 14th St. and then make the next available legal right turn off 14th Street. In this manner all vehicles have access to 14th St., but only buses and emergency vehicles are allowed to use 14th Street for through trips. These vehicles may turn onto 14th Street from the avenue closest to their destination and then exit 14th St. at the next legal turn. 14th St. bus-priority treatments are in effect from 5AM to 10PM daily and liberally installed cameras are used to enforce compliance. The city also has incorporated other measures to expand travel capacity with the L-Train service interruptions, some of which have been made permanent initially. NYC DOT completed safety improvements to the Brooklyn entrance of the bike path on the nearest river crossing, the Williamsburg Bridge, a surface path between Manhattan with Brooklyn. In a manner similar to Nashville’s I-440 rehab partial shutdown, the NYMTA rapid-transit L-Train has had to undergo planned and staged disruptions during the rehab of the tunnel beneath the East River. The L-train, a vital link of the NYMTA, connects Rockaway Pkwy in the Canarsie district of the Borough of Brooklyn, to 8th Ave. on the Manhattan Lower Westside. The L-Route locally is known as the “14th Street – Canarsie Local”. Last Sunday the NYCMTA began updating its fleet to serve the M14 route with new Battery-Electric articulated buses built on same body design as Nashville’s New Flyer Xcelsior hybrid series introduced during around 2013. The “Xcelsior Charge eBRT” is the first and only 60-foot (articulated) battery-electric bus to complete FTA (Federal Transit Administration) bus testing. Technology has become refined since back when the dinky Proterra “greens” were introduced to Nashville. Those now have been integrated into the urban core along standard routes, since the canceling of the Downtown Free Ride circulators and now are seen in Wego purple. NYMTA is the first agency in the U.S. to deploy a battery all-electric (as opposed to hybrid) articulated bus fleet on a single route. In the case of NYC’s M14 SBS, ridership predictably has been on the increase, when so many riders have depended on the L-Train subway for many years running below the surface of lower Manhattan, in addition to the fact that it connects with other subway routes at points. In only 2-1/2 months ridership, not only has surged from enforcement of the new busway for both Select and local service, but the agency actually has had to slow the speed of buses to prevent their travel from exceeding the significantly shortened headways during the bus priority periods. Again though, the full-dedicated busway is only temporary, until the subway tunnel gets rehabbed. I can see at least in part that such a busway set-up could be analyzed and tested in trials for short segments with Nashville, and trials would not necessarily be applied within the core. It would work best with signal priority (lessons from the relatively new streetcar lines of Cincinnati and Detroit). The main caveat with a busway in Nashville in its present state and layout is that Nashville has poor surface-road (local) connectivity and very little if any redundancy for parallel travel, even worse across its natural barriers and railways. Even the existing street grid in Nashville is rife with historically misaligned segments of a given street, particularly within the central older core. With very few parallel lengthy point-to-point thoroughfares (or “boulevards”, as designated by TDOT), and with most arterials being non-parallel and primarily radial in geographic layout, probably very little justification could be made for converting an entire street into a busway during any given time of day. Also most Nashville cross streets are secondary and likely could not accommodate both local and “Select Bus Service”. In fact, Manhattan’s 14th St. is as wide as most of Nashville’s widest arterials and is parallel to many other nearby streets. But the main question might be, what public transport need could be fulfilled with a dedicated busway encompassing an entire street, even for a relatively short distance as with NYC’s M14 route? Probably none without a lot of collateral disadvantage, and at the very best, only dedicated bus lanes could be afforded on of Nashville’s “width-eligible” rights-of-way, and in some cases only a single lane for uni-directional travel only. The NYCMTA 14th St. entirely dedicated busway was set up for performing remedial work on an existing but much faster alternative ─ point-to-point. It does not cover the entire transit route, but only a short segment of it. The M14 busway is a tailored solution for a specific highly complex need for correcting a critical safety and operational fault with other infrastructure. As such it can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution in any other locale, even if it works well for that corner of NYC. So far I just can’t perceive any benefit with the existing and highly constraining transportation infrastructure to set up such a busway in Nashville. A dedicated lane-only BRT set-up with state approval likely is the only palpable plan for the city, as far as using buses for rapid service is concerned. A start might be Main St. and Gallatin Pk. in East Nashville, south of Briley Pkwy, since US-31E has been redesignated to be concurrent with Ellington Pkwy along that stretch of Gallatin Pk. In the end though, any dedicated busway will need to be a part of Mayor Cooper’s Transportation Planning, with preliminary public sessions commencing Jan 9.
  10. One reason that this transit expansion plan, in the making for a number of years, has become so foremost of an accomplishment in its own right is that public trust became heavily eroded during relatively recent past mayoral terms in Atlanta, in particular the Campbell administration from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s. This alienated and polarized sentiment, not only with existing governance of the City of Atlanta and shared with Fulton and Dekalb counties, but it ramified regionally to all outlying counties within Greater Atlanta, and crippling the chances of expansion beyond the now relatively meager coverage. Five years ago, Clayton County finally passed a sales tax to join MARTA. Highly populated Gwinnett and Cobb counties so far had refused to join or fund MARTA MARTA is the largest public transport agency in the U.S. to never receive operational funding from the hosting state. With a few pivotal "Rough Rides" financially between the 2008 Great Recession and around 2015, MARTA had been on its own, with little if any hope of expansion of the existing heavy rail network, the most recent being the Red Line extension of the North Line to Dunwoody in 1996 and farther out to North Springs in 2000. This new plan gets nearly everybody onboard ─ a true "consortium, for a change ─ including Gwinnett County, the state, and the Fed. Cobb County corridor planning remains ongoing, and to date I don't believe Cobb County has actually joined. The plan is a projected 30-year (2021-2050) initiative. The existing Atlanta Streetcar opened in 2014, currently only in the form of a Downtown Loop and which has been dubbed the Streetcar named Nowhere, was taken control of during 2018. As a streetcar, it is to become integrated into the proposed larger MARTA Light Rail plan for the Beltline LRT and Clifton Corridor LRT. As such the current streetcar technology will have to be transformed into LRT design standards which incorporates higher speed and safety requirement, as well as scalable length of trains. MARTA HRT (heavy rail transport) definitely and finally is to be extended.
  11. Many would argue that public transit should not be subsidized to the point of making it free for all, while many other do. Mayor Barry had informally considered that possibility at least in a limited fashion for riders in areas like Edgehill. I understand the benefits and drawbacks of both sides of the issue. The mindset typically has been to pay to buy up property and pave more real estate for more lanes of traffic than to subsidize a new bus route or rail line, while others would favor the bus or rail. Then too that’s the reasons we have elections to decide whether to fund transit and/or highway projects, even though the democratic process often becomes tainted with misinformation or a lack of clarity. Starting sometime in 2020, the nation of Luxembourg is set to become the first country in the world to make all its public transport free. Luxembourg City has incurred some of the worst traffic congestion in the world. Of course, Luxembourg cannot be justly compared to the U.S. in size, political emphasis, and many other factors, but it does serve as a proving ground for good or bad. The fare policy will apply to both local service and to cross-border commuters. This simply is not palpable across the board in North America. Some agencies might actually find providing free service to be more efficient than all the hassles of collecting fares from their riders, and I am aware of agencies that have done that. That had been one of the arguments during the Dean administration for instituting the Downtown Free Ride circulators, Routes Nº 60 and 61. Often times the transit agencies don’t advertise that when they look to increase funding. It also greatly depends on the area being served. Fare-box revenue is already a small portion of the money that funds most transit system anyway, and for healthy agencies such as KCATA, going 100% subsidized isn't that big of a shift. One factor holding many cities back from offering free transit is their reliance on fare-box recovery, which can make up a sizable chunk of some transit agencies’ operating budgets, such as that of Wego Transit (Nashville MTA), which given the state of affairs during the last few decades has been strapped for cash, desperately needed for operations and maintenance. It's an intriguing idea, but just as with any intention it would have side effects, since people tend to value things they pay for more. The biggest detriment to “free” rides is setting up limitations where free rides end. In many cases, agencies with even limited no-fare service have had to find deterrents to the homeless camping out all day and even setting up housekeeping on transit buses and trains, particularly in cold or inclement weather. The collection of fares to board and timed transfers to continue limited riding tends to discourage that. A primary benefit addresses equity concerns by making transit free for seniors, students, people with disabilities, and other groups that are transit-dependent (captive riders), although most major transit systems offer programs that subsidize fares for low-income riders. An additional benefit of free-for-all is that it would (hopefully) tend to “induce” ridership from choice riders as well as the income-poor. Those purporting the need for “civil liberties” say they are dead against more taxes to subsidize transit, so as the population increases, the need for more highways follows suit, let alone for conveying all those who cannot afford to live “reasonably” close to the workplace. Free rides system-wide aren’t for every agency, but they can work for some. While not realized by most patrons or even the public at large in Nashville, the loss of free rides along the Jefferson Street corridor in 2018, combined with route Nº60 (downtown circulator) and which had been the 8th more ridden route system-wide at the time, represented a significant set-back for those who needed the free service the most ─ the center-most core of North Nashville. This is why we see no more of those "Loud Green" buses floating around. But free-for-all is not substitute for poor service, and opponents would argue that fare-collections help offset the cost of improving service frequency and coverage. Just saying. https://www.archdaily.com/908252/luxembourg-becomes-first-country-to-make-all-public-transit-free?fbclid=IwAR1QOYvy2c8ZHmpzN99xJWPA5nqMjtmi8Wijgo0WVgFS9zGicCSk2mqWpD4
  12. I noticed that some two weeks ago, when I took Division from Musica to Ash St. on my way to dump off some donations to the Tennessee Central Ry. Museum. The visibility of the roadway lines contrast well and definitely confer a better sense of "guidance" along the path. I only drove it eastbound, but I can say that it does take away some of the frustration of being behind left-turners, particularly at 12th. Now the real issue hasn't "surfaced" yet ─ maintaining those lines from weathering and tire-wear, so that I don't have to guess-drive during rainy nights.
  13. That Copenhagen station shows the uses of Platform Edge Doors (PEDs), intended to protect passengers on platforms from falling into the paths of trains. They are rare in North America, typically found mostly with airport people movers, and perform like fixed horizontal-elevator doors. While Nashville is not by any measure alone as an automobile-centric quagmire, the dramatized comparison just brought back to the forefront by AronG and Neigeville2 with the photos posted above are a silent but stark reality check for me. Now tangible prospects of any fixed-guideway (specifically rail-based) transit alternative for the city and the region, appear almost completely dashed in any real foreseeable future. Not unlike other Southern cities, Nashville grew from the post-World War II surge in suburban growth, which shifted to higher dimension with the consolidation of the city-county. Yet despite a boom that has been evident with a skyline of cranes and closed-off lanes, Nashville’s government is facing a $41.5 million budget shortfall and dwindling reserves. A question about public trust emerged in 2018 with charges against then-Mayor Barry, particularly when the events heightened with public suspicions with the revelation of problems in the city’s balance sheet coincided with Barry’s early departure, not to say that issues of questionable practices had not been extant prior to Barry’s election. I myself have not taken the effort to examine trends from the history of publicly available CAFR’s (Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports), for the city of Nashville. These, along with audits, often can be used to identify points of inflection in economic and fiscal trends of an entity, be it an enterprise, a city, or a semi-autonomous school district. Debt payments have consumed a growing proportion of the city’s budget. To prevent Deficit Operation the administration plans to take only the necessary actions to accomplish the Primary Objectives for the current fiscal year (ending 6-30-2020). Sadly, as has been revealed, partial impoundment is being undertaken of the Barnes Fund for affordable housing. It has been stated by the current Metro Director of Finance that economic trends for the area nonetheless appear to be positive and sustainable for the foreseeable future ─ a timeline pattern initiated and bolstered by successive administrations since the early 1990s. The state is demanding accountability from Metro, since it receives a bunch of money from the State. Notwithstanding the shortfall, the Metro Nashville Airport Authority appears to be forging with momentum of its expansion plans and growing passenger traffic. A plan to modernize water rates and to identify funding sources for teacher’s pay have become focal points toward transforming the bleed of red ink into indelible fiscal viability. That Nashville’s needs have become urgent don’t need to be mentioned beyond current awareness. Violent crime rates remain stubbornly high, and those committed by youth and reported effectively have spiraled seemingly beyond the elastic limits of available resources, while occurring not just daily but almost hourly. This mounting issue is not just a North Nashville or a South Nashville thing ─ not anymore. Metro might need to start installing those flashing blue-light pole-mounted aerial cameras ─ some with LPR capability (license-plate reading), along alley entryways as well as the streets themselves ─ not just downtown and in “designated” high-crime zones. Neighbors inevitably would complain of the flashing blue lights, claiming the devices would detract from the value of their properties, that they would keep the residents awake, and that it would compromise pivacy. I'd opt for the MNPD remote surveillance ANYtime, as it would afford me at least a perceived sense of security. Efficacy of addressing this starts with top-down leadership, as watch groups can't do it alone. Again though, the common denominator is funding to keep up with demand. As far as sidewalks are concerned, the magnitude of the issue almost would seem unresolvable, given the way Metro manages it with developers and contractors. Smeags already has turned over the rocks to uncover the worms on that subject, highlighting the “in lieu” payment provision that often goes nowhere. Thing is, in many cases sidewalks have to be incorporated and integrated with projects to install storm sewers to channel all that water run-off trapped on roadway pavement at curbside, as well as from all the massive development and infill undertaken to date, let alone any new to follow. The city will have to build a fully piped storm water system, along with some treatment facilities to clean it before use or dumping into a waterway. A piped system would mean tearing up streets and the fronts of lots and alleys, not to mention seizing of houses and property for some of the infrastructure. In turn this will mean possible and probable relocation of sewer piping, electrical-, gas-, and communication utilities, any of which become disruptions with new storm piping. Much of the original urban core had underground storm-water infrastructure installed, but as a whole, with consolidation, Metro Nashville went cheap and put in surface drainage. Drainage improvements have to be made before sidewalks are installed, and again Metro has no funds to do that for the projected thousands of miles of new sidewalks, without mention of those in need of replacement or which are substandard. In addition, as I have said at least once before, unless and until the city can pass a referendum on sales and other taxes allowed by legislation, hopefully it will re-evaluate the potential of a property-tax increase, along with restricted generosity in the assessment appeals, if it ever expects to realize any real increases in revenue beyond the fulfillment of nominal obligations. Otherwise, any envisioned major capital improvements of infrastructure remain pipe-dreams at best. So-o-o-o…, while the sky might not be falling with dire straits for Metro Nashville, so far it has not reached a point of financial “exigency”, as what occurred with the 2013 bankruptcy of Detroit ─ not even close. But other foremost issues make an advanced high-capacity transit network appear even further down the road, beyond the horizon during this point in time. Transit remains an unmet challenge, exacerbated significantly this past summer and fall with a dramatic reduction in services ─ a lamentable back-step adversely affecting not only the marginalized but also impacting all with a reduction in mobility barely sufficient if at all, in many cases. Maybe it’s just “darkest before dawn” ─ I don’t know.
  14. It broke many hearts and evoked much anger and disgust, @rolly ─ not only at the developer, but also at Metro in general for never having any provision to put some teeth into historic preservation. One really can't blame solely the developer, because he has the autonomy to build as he pleases, according to the purpose and conformity of a redev. initiative. Once it was announced in winter-2014 that Lifeway Christian had planned to sell its campus to Southwest Value Partners, I had an impulse that the tower would not be saved, even though Robbie Jones, a board member of Historic Nashville Inc., said "They [Southwest Value] will make good decisions that value the character and authenticity of Nashville" and that "they have an appreciation for Nashville's heritage and want to be good corporate citizens." I just knew better, even that far in advance, almost 4-1/2 years prior to actual demolition. The "satellite" city of Belle Meade has started to create a conservation overlay to protect its historic character, and that would mean all requests for demolitions and new construction within the designated historic zone would be subject to review by a newly-appointed Historic Zoning Commission. The Metro area as a whole never has had such a leverage on historic preservation. IMO the Sullivan Tower was a rare example of "post-war Art Deco", since by that point in US commercial construction the true Art-Deco period basically ended in the US with the advent of WW-II. The Sullivan had that transitional post-modern "simplified", functional look, with limestone cladding blended with a striking classical theme of contrasting, embedded carved thick red granite portal surrounding the main entry, as well as red granite "water-table" projection at the foundation around the entire structure. As far as Nashville was concerned, the Sullivan was a rare example of an Art-Deco high-rise (11 stories). We lost two previous (and probably the only other) examples of Art-Deco high-rises in the city ─ the Sudekum Building and the National Life and Accident Insurance Bldg, razed in the early '90s and the late '70s, respectively. I don't count the L&C Tower as being Art Deco, since its construction spanned the mid-to-late 1950s. You can tell that I was really passionate about the loss of the Sullivan, and with its recent loss, I'm sort of adopting a "don't give a damn" attitude on preservation within the city, after having witnessed the leveling of many other commercial or institutional structures built during or prior to the post-Korean War period. With that said, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see another favorite, the post-modern Beaux-Arts Revival NES building, eventually come down in its entirety. Do I care? I try not to (only can try not). Both the NES and the Sullivan were opened during my early childhood around 1952 or '53.
  15. Basically the Route 24 bus is none other than the pre-existing Nº 24X, which as with the 38X (Antioch) has been an express route since inception for some 10 years or more. These are two of the very few actual MTA city bus routes that have operated as "Limiteds" between downtown and specific outlying areas within Metro Nashville / Davidson Cnty. A former boss of mine and several co-workers rode Nº 24X for many years, and it usually was covered with a New Flyer Xcelsior articulated bus (60-footer). Routes 24X and 38X are more appropriately termed "Rapid Bus", which isn't the same as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). It effectively and truly is "rapid", "limited" or "quick" service ─ one or two steps above the standard service but far from being BRT. As far as "regional" transport is concerned, the RTA (as opposed to the once separate MTA) operates and has been operating numbered "X"-series coaches as express bus service inbound from and outbound to outlying points outside Davidson Cnty and terminate in downtown Nashville ─ e.g. 86X (Smyrna/Lavergne); 96X (Murfreesboro), and 84X serving the more limited MTSU area. Over the last 11 years additional "high-numbered X-series" coach commuter service has been incrementally expanded to serve express to other areas outside the county ─ Dickson, Springfield, Clarksville, Franklin, Gallatin, Spring Hill, and Hendersonville. The RTA routes are all "X" routes in the WeGo list of numbered routes, although they no longer seem to be listed officially with the suffix "X". All RTA routes are funded jointly by the jurisdictions in which they are hosted. The problem with the RTA coach service is that none of the routes provides reverse commuting during service periods, and each is operated only as a narrow span of schedule times during the morning inbound and the late afternoon outbound runs. The local (MTA-only) routes with the "X" designation always have been bi-directional in service concurrent for both inbound and outbound during the morning and afternoon service periods. The RTA long-distance type coaches (MCI- or Prevost-built) are being rebranded under the WeGo moniker to unify the regional- with the local system, all managed under the MTA for some 10 years or so (following the recession of 2008). So nothing really new there that hasn't already been in effect. Plus, all these routes only have served those specific areas of riders who primarily work in the CBD. Possibly additional capacity demand as well as expanded scheduling will need to be considered with the existing "X" routes. Also you spoke of the major players for downtown, which is a good thing, but WeGo does very little to serve the work centers for much if not most of the working- and service-classes, a high percentage of whom work or would work in employment areas well away from downtown. That's what places like Phoenix and Houston are working on right now. Houston's METRONext Moving Forward Plan is supported by a recent referendum for route enhancements, bus-service plus accessibility and usability improvements for the disabled and seniors, additional rapid bus service, and improved or additional Park-and-Ride transit centers, much like what WeGo Transit's "X" service depends on. Again though, even modest measures will need some kind of sustained funding source, as they cannot just be implemented and be self-supporting by fares alone.
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