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The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

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On 2/18/2019 at 8:24 AM, nashvylle said:

No. The $9BN was inclusive of long-term operating costs and the unnecessary underground tunnel. 

Operating costs will be much, much cheaper than this sexy bus, no underground tunnel, etc. 

I bet we could do several legs to start out for under $100mm. 

Don't forget we tried to get the ball rolling with a BRT system (The Amp) which the State preempted.

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2 minutes ago, Rockatansky said:

Don't forget we tried to get the ball rolling with a BRT system (The Amp) which the State preempted.

true, but that was mainly because it had buses on dedicated lanes. We could roll this system out without dedicated lanes (avoiding state legislators) and then try to add them later. 

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3 minutes ago, Rockatansky said:

A BRT system without dedicated lanes is just another bus line. The buses need to be free from the effects of traffic to provide maximum benefit and act as a proper substitute for LRT.

no argument from me on that, but baby steps when it comes to mass transit in TN. 

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I don't think baby steps get you anywhere. I mean it's a good start but to get any kind of big generational change it's going to require a concerted effort by the city/state/federal government to get it done. 

City for re-zoning and all of the local stuff. State to get the hell out of the way and let the city take care of business and to free up funds and Federal to give grants and other big money.

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29 minutes ago, PaulChinetti said:

I don't think baby steps get you anywhere. I mean it's a good start but to get any kind of big generational change it's going to require a concerted effort by the city/state/federal government to get it done. 

City for re-zoning and all of the local stuff. State to get the hell out of the way and let the city take care of business and to free up funds and Federal to give grants and other big money.

yes, but the situation is the state is not going to get the hell out of the city's way... 

My vote would be to have a modern bus that people would actually want to ride and doesn't look like an 1980 rectangle on wheels. Once it is successful, implement more and more and use momentum to do more. 

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19 minutes ago, nashvylle said:

yes, but the situation is the state is not going to get the hell out of the city's way...  

Oh I know but that is what is going to need to change for anything decent to happen. 

Perhaps start with a tram from the airport/downtown. That would be a hell of a route right away.  

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1 hour ago, Rockatansky said:

A BRT system without dedicated lanes is just another bus line. The buses need to be free from the effects of traffic to provide maximum benefit and act as a proper substitute for LRT.

Exactly... hence the whole "Rapid" part of Bus Rapid Transit ;)

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1 hour ago, PaulChinetti said:

Oh I know but that is what is going to need to change for anything decent to happen. 

Perhaps start with a tram from the airport/downtown. That would be a hell of a route right away.  

Hasn’t BNA announced their intention to fund a light rail from the airport into downtown? If I’m remembering correctly, they had stated that they would proceed with that line regardless of whether the transit plan passed, and then after it failed they reiterated that intent as part of their long-term vision.

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If I'm  remembering  correctly,  BNA will build the station at the airport for future transit into the city.

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53 minutes ago, Buildtall said:

I still think a dual monorail or elevated train would be the way to go. Start with BNA to downtown then add on from there.  They could be installed above and along side the interstates. Having them beside the interstate would make them more visible to everyone sitting in traffic making them wonder why they are sitting there and not riding the train that they see passing them every morning or afternoon.

 Buses are not attractive to most people and they end up stuck in traffic like everyone else.  I have no desire to get on a bus but I’ll ride a monorail or elevated train anytime I get the chance. 

Maybe Amazon will want to get into the transit business and start with Nashville since we are a blank slate. 

I know everyone has their thoughts and 2 cents and this is mine. 

Would love one of these here. 

 

This is the way I wish we would go.  Either needs to be above or below ground.  Transit on the ground is a really tough way to move around.

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I don't know.... I mean, if we can't get the city to agree to funding for transit that just runs along the street, then I don't see how we could get people to agree to funding for an elevated or subterranean system, as both of those options would cost WAAAAAAAAAY more money.  Beyond that, I'm not sure they'd even provide any real advantages over dedicated lane LRT or BRT for a city like Nashville.  We aren't Mexico City or Tokyo.  As cool as it would be, we just don't have a need for a city wide underground heavy rail system.  So I still think think conventional dedicated  lane LRT or BRT is the right choice for Nashville, and I honestly cannot understand peoples' reservations to them.  @titanhog perhaps you wouldn't mind helping me understand yours?  I genuinely am curious, because I don't have a great deal of experience with those types of systems myself but it seems to me that in terms of convenience, having a tram pull right up to the curb so you can just step on and pay your fare inside the vehicle would be, at least in terms of convenience, vastly preferable for a city with no experience with rapid transit to a system that involved walking up or down massive flights of stairs to get to the trains.

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2 hours ago, BnaBreaker said:

I don't know.... I mean, if we can't get the city to agree to funding for transit that just runs along the street, then I don't see how we could get people to agree to funding for an elevated or subterranean system, as both of those options would cost WAAAAAAAAAY more money.  Beyond that, I'm not sure they'd even provide any real advantages over dedicated lane LRT or BRT for a city like Nashville.  We aren't Mexico City or Tokyo.  As cool as it would be, we just don't have a need for a city wide underground heavy rail system.  So I still think think conventional dedicated  lane LRT or BRT is the right choice for Nashville, and I honestly cannot understand peoples' reservations to them.  @titanhog perhaps you wouldn't mind helping me understand yours?  I genuinely am curious, because I don't have a great deal of experience with those types of systems myself but it seems to me that in terms of convenience, having a tram pull right up to the curb so you can just step on and pay your fare inside the vehicle would be, at least in terms of convenience, vastly preferable for a city with no experience with rapid transit to a system that involved walking up or down massive flights of stairs to get to the trains.

My concerns are 100% about dedicated lines that do not disrupt flow.  I'm just saying that if you're going to spend money on mass transit, it definitely doesn't need to be something that will be effected by drive-time traffic flow.  In the end, I'm not sure any of the ideas are pure solutions for Nashville...including light rail.

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Uber has now introduced its scooters, known as JUMP, into the fray.  500 units. Also, 500 dockless electric bicycles.

More at The Tennessean here:

https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2019/02/19/nashville-uber-jump-electric-scooters-join-lyft-bird/2913800002/


On a related note, a measure to regulate electric scooters that would include fines for bad parking and operating them on sidewalks, gets deferred by Metro Council:

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/02/19/push-impose-fines-illegally-parking-electric-scooters-nashville-dies-metro-council-now/2910836002/

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7 hours ago, titanhog said:

My concerns are 100% about dedicated lines that do not disrupt flow.  I'm just saying that if you're going to spend money on mass transit, it definitely doesn't need to be something that will be effected by drive-time traffic flow.  In the end, I'm not sure any of the ideas are pure solutions for Nashville...including light rail.

Yeah, I think we are going to have to come up with a practical solution that costs about 1/10th of the last plan put forward. That takes monorail and most light rail off the table. Maybe a single line to the airport would work. At the same time, people are not going to ride in large numbers unless you drastically increase frequency of service, improve connectivity, and have transit that is not stuck in traffic. I think one option is to have dedicated lane BRT during certain traffic conditions (i.e. - bus only when there is bad traffic - I think we could do this with the current state law). I'm thinking there would be lights with the giant X when the lanes are closed to regular traffic. This would also involve a sorely needed overhaul and automation of our traffic management system, which would appease the car folks. And they would need some appeasement, because the other part of this that nobody wants to talk about is parking. If we want a viable transit system, we have to stop subsidizing parking. We need to eliminate most street parking (which will also improve traffic flow), and we need to eliminate parking requirements for new construction. 

But would this pass? I don't know. It certainly isn't sexy.

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Just because Nashville dodged a bullet with the strong voter rejection of the most recent Mass Transit boondoggle, do not believe BRT systems are immune to government ineptness and overreach...

https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-abq-art-albuquerque-electric-buses-20190213-story.html

 

Quote

Albuquerque’s $133-million electric bus system is going nowhere fast

 

Albuquerque’s $133-million electric bus system is going nowhere fast

Architecture students use a non-functioning bus stop on Albuquerque's Central Avenue to sketch a building. (Steven St. John / For The Times)

 

Shortly after being elected in 2017, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller stood on one of the passenger platforms for ART, the city’s ambitious new $133-million all-electric bus line that cuts through a 10-mile stretch of the city.

“Drivers waved and cheered, ‘Congrats to the new mayor!’ ‘I voted for you!’ ‘Go get ’em!’ ” said Keller. “And then in the next breath, they would lay on the horn and give the giant ART sign the middle finger out the car window.”

Civic leaders had initially pitched Albuquerque Rapid Transit as a way to revitalize the city’s former stretch of Route 66 and make the community a national leader in sustainable mass transit. Instead, the ART project resulted in parts of what’s now Central Avenue being ripped up to host dedicated lanes for the electric buses, which are currently out of commission and have so many problems that Keller freely calls them “a bit of a lemon.”

ART was supposed to supplement Albuquerque’s regular bus system by the fall of 2017 with a fleet of 20 buses. But Keller slammed the brakes on the project in January last year, barely a month after ART’s debut.

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Shiny stations along the line stand dormant. Vandals have smashed ticket dispensers. Flat-screen televisions meant to alert passengers about boarding times flash a request to get rebooted. Autos can’t use the bus lanes, which cyclists have claimed as their own.

“It’s a nightmare with nothing to show for it,” says Jonathan Hartshorn, a librarian at the University of New Mexico.

At the ART station near campus, students regularly set up easels to draw in the middle of the unused lanes. “You’d think anything is a good thing. But it isn’t. Any other bigger city, there would be accountability.”

Keller appears to be trying. Besides scrapping the buses, the city has sued their manufacturer, Chinese company BYD Ltd., which has received over $330 million in the last decade from public agencies including Los Angeles Metro to produce battery-powered buses and other vehicles. The suit alleges breach of contract and delivery of faulty vehicles. The city has ordered 20 clean-diesel replacements from another company, but they won’t be ready for 18 months.

So for at least this year, ART stands silent.

“I don’t know anyone who’s for it,” said a local restaurant owner, adding that business had plummeted by nearly 40% since Central Avenue was constricted to make way for ART stations and the dedicated bus lane. “Who would be for a dud?”

ART has roiled Albuquerque for years. Public meetings saw citizens shout downpublic officials in English and Spanish over a lack of definitive answers. Opponents filed two unsuccessful lawsuits in federal court to stop the project altogether. In 2016, more than 75% of Albuquerque voters said “yes” to a nonbinding resolution that asked if they’d like the “chance to vote in support of or opposition to” ART.

“It shows I wasn’t just this old man screaming in front of his store,” says Steve Schroeder, who spearheaded the ballot measure. “It was the full city.”

Schroeder has owned Nob Hill Music, named after a trendy neighborhood on Central Avenue, for a decade and has been among ART’s loudest opponents. Schroeder claims he’s lost 12 pounds since 2016. That’s when the federal government announced it would award Albuquerque a $75-million grant for ART — and Schroeder began walking up and down Central to persuade fellow merchants to place anti-ART signs on their store windows, fences and even marquees.

An Albuquerque motel gives anti-ART sentiment prominent display in 2017.

An Albuquerque motel gives anti-ART sentiment prominent display in 2017. (Gustavo Arellano / Los Angeles Times)

Once common, the signs remain on only one business on Central Avenue — El Charritos, a restaurant on the western edge of town. A sign on a fence warns, “No A.R.T. related vehicle parking” under the threat of a tow truck, even though the nearest ART station is nearly half a mile away.

The genial Schroeder says he takes no joy in seeing ART fail.

“I don’t have to rub it in,” he says with a wink.

ART was first proposed earlier this decade as the city saw a record number of bus passengers on its longstanding transit system. The Albuquerque City Council, with the support of then-Mayor Richard Berry, eventually applied for and received the federal grant that allowed the city to begin construction in the fall of 2016.

Berry found bipartisan support for the funding thanks to New Mexico’s congressional delegation. He hailed ART as a game changer, arguing it would spur development along Central Avenue, and was on hand when the first buses debuted in November 2017, just days before he left office.

Nob Hill Music in Albuquerque is run by a staunch critic of the city's controversial electric bus effort.

Nob Hill Music in Albuquerque is run by a staunch critic of the city's controversial electric bus effort. (Gustavo Arellano / Los Angeles Times)

Six weeks later, Keller criticized Berry at a news conference, citing the problems with ART. For one thing, the BYD company (an acronym for Build Your Dreams) had delivered just 15 of 20 promised buses. Those that did arrive had axles that leaked oil and bolts that fell off doors. More importantly, the batteries remained charged for less than the 275 miles promised by BYD. A 2018 Times investigation exposed similar electric-bus problems for LA Metro.

Through a representative, Berry declined to comment.

Keller thought of scrapping ART altogether, “but the reality is, the train had left the station already,” he said. “It is in the city’s best interest to find a way to get it running and make the best of it for all Burqueños.”

While waiting for replacement buses, Keller is considering using the dedicated bus lanes as a loading zone for Central Avenue businesses or making them available to street vendors or music festivals.

That doesn’t make Schroeder any happier. His website, SaveRt66.org, lists more than 50 businesses he claims have closed since construction on ART began less than three years ago. His record store has suffered, he says, with visitors complaining that GPS systems consistently tell them to bypass Central Avenue altogether because of congestion: Traffic is now reduced to one lane each way as a result of the changes wrought to design the non-running ART line.

“This is now,” he said while ringing up a customer, “the ugliest street in New Mexico.”

Gustavo Arellano

Gustavo Arellano is a features writer for the Los Angeles Times, covering Southern California everything and a bunch of the West and beyond. He previously worked at OC Weekly, where he was an investigative reporter for 15 years and editor for six, wrote a column called ¡Ask a Mexican! and is the author of “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.” He’s the child of two Mexican immigrants, one whom came to this country in the trunk of a Chevy.

 

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never been, never will be your 'brah';

 

46 minutes ago, grilled_cheese said:

Whatever fits your narrative, brah.

 

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@nashville_bound, if you were Nashville's mayor and could implement the mass transit system of your choice, what would it be and how would it be paid for?

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3 hours ago, 12Mouth said:

Yeah, I think we are going to have to come up with a practical solution that costs about 1/10th of the last plan put forward. That takes monorail and most light rail off the table. Maybe a single line to the airport would work. At the same time, people are not going to ride in large numbers unless you drastically increase frequency of service, improve connectivity, and have transit that is not stuck in traffic. I think one option is to have dedicated lane BRT during certain traffic conditions (i.e. - bus only when there is bad traffic - I think we could do this with the current state law). I'm thinking there would be lights with the giant X when the lanes are closed to regular traffic. This would also involve a sorely needed overhaul and automation of our traffic management system, which would appease the car folks. And they would need some appeasement, because the other part of this that nobody wants to talk about is parking. If we want a viable transit system, we have to stop subsidizing parking. We need to eliminate most street parking (which will also improve traffic flow), and we need to eliminate parking requirements for new construction. 

But would this pass? I don't know. It certainly isn't sexy.

People are not going to be in favor of anything that takes a lane of traffic especially when traffic is bad. Closing a lane of traffic during rush hours would only make everything worse. Elevate trains or monorail along the interstate right of way so we don’t have to purchase right of way else where. That would save millions I’m sure. They could even be installed in the center of the interstates. You build parking garages by interstate where the train or monorail stops so people can drive, park and ride into town.   Once they get to the hub  downtown they catch a free bus or shuttle  ride to their destination.  How much more would it really cost to elevate. 

Start with a line running from BNA to downtown then add on one segment at a time. Once a new stop reaches a certain amount of ridership you start the next segment. I’m sure routes to Murfreesboro, hendersonville, Brentwood, Mt Juliet, and Bellevue would all do well. Last make it cheaper for someone to ride than it would be for them to purchase fuel. 

One more thing needs to be done and that’s finish 840 and force trucks to go around town. I know it’ll cost a lot but it’ll cost even more the longer we wait. 

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