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The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

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I see many tout "options" as the main reason for mass-transit...and I agree that we need more options and that we are never going to truly alleviate traffic issues...just offer more options.  However...in my opinion, mass-transit is not the only option that should be considered.   We already know that the car is king (not only in the south, but in most cities in America).  So...we need not only options for inner-city travel (like mass transit)...but to also continue to provide options for those who will be driving.

To me...we need to come together with a comprehensive regional plan that includes the possibility of light rail...commuter rail to the burbs...new bus system...some roads widened (including I-840)...possible I-840 NW loop (from Lebanon to I-65)...new road between Smyrna and Cool Springs...double decker highways (if appropriate)...elevated railway...etc...etc...etc.  All of these elements have their pros and cons...but no single element is going to help solve anything.  It's got to be a combination...and because of cost, it will have to be incremental and long-term.

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2 hours ago, Flatrock said:

Informative, well-researched article from today's The New York Times on:  'How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country'

Most of the article is about NASHVILLE, and what went down. Tons of quotable pieces. Some new info, at least for me. On the up side, they use a different, updated photo of downtown Nashville....

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/climate/koch-brothers-public-transit.html

Lol as if right on time for NB.

 

Edit to add I agree with him that the Koch's didn't kill this bill however. 

Edited by samsonh

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Are you addressing my comment? 

I would never make an absolute statement such as you posted.   The market cannot resolve everyones problems...and neither can government.  The market is instructive if allowed to function unencumbered and imparts information which allowing for the most efficient use of resources.

17 hours ago, grilled_cheese said:

I thought the private sector was going to solve all our problems?

 

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4 hours ago, Flatrock said:

Informative, well-researched article from today's The New York Times on:  'How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country'

Most of the article is about NASHVILLE, and what went down. Tons of quotable pieces. Some new info, at least for me. On the up side, they use a different, updated photo of downtown Nashville....

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/climate/koch-brothers-public-transit.html

To be honest, reading about how well organized and effective their campaign was makes the complete bed-sh#%*ing that was the pro-transit campaign much more glaring. Like really the only interaction I had with pro-transit canvassers was bumping into a couple of them wandering around in Sevier Park talking to randoms. The data based canvassing is so much more effective. 

One useful comparison to make is to compare the energetic notax canvassers with the people in the picture attending the transit event at TSU. 

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I will have to attempt to respond to your rejoinder in sections as I will be in and out.

First - Yes, it is quite possible I am behind the intellectual curve regarding transit which is why I continue to offer my opinions and am grateful when others share theirs.

Second -  I am not sure how you could have followed the Mass Transit debate and not encountered many, official and non-official talking points from supporters making the claim of reduced traffic congestion as a reason to vote 'Yes' on the referendum. 

This from a cursory google search.

 

The case – Mass Transit will reduce Nashville traffic congestion was indeed offered during the Transit 'politicking' phase. I am not sure what you mean by "suburbanite's daily commute"? Who exactly is a suburbanite? Bellevue? Green Hills? Spring Hill? Hermitage? Franklin? Belle Meade? This matter of course because only Davidson County 'suburbanites' could vote.

https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/cover-story/article/20975206/at-the-halfway-point-of-her-term-mayor-megan-barry-discusses-transit-the-death-of-her-son-max-shortterm-rentals-and-a-possible-soccer-stadium

(Mayor Berry) – “Well, I think we have a window here of people right now who are sitting in traffic and feel the congestion in Nashville, and they want a solution.”

https://reason.org/commentary/beware-of-politicians-claiming-transit-projects-will-deliver-traffic-congestion-relief/

"
Politicians and officials frequently claim that mass transit reduces traffic congestion. 

Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, for example, claimed that a light rail expansion plan was the “number one way” to reduce the region’s traffic congestion."

http://letsmovenashville.com/site/web/themes/NashPlan/downloads/TM7TravelTimeSavingsMemo_2018-05April.pdf

https://www.wkrn.com/news/nashville-2018/who-will-mass-transit-benefit-if-passed-in-nashville/1119249517

“I-24 is crazy. But not just 24, All of the little through roads and everything, in this area, they are in the morning, rush hour, in the afternoons, they are like packed,” said Councilwoman Lee, who represents District 33, including Antioch.

Lee believes the proposed transit plan will help alleviate some of the gridlock and said Antioch stands to benefit if it passes. 

 “When that transit center comes out here in this area, that's going to be a good thing.” 

Professor Janey Camp, who studies transportation solutions at Vanderbilt University, said the hubs and increased bus routes mean more economic opportunity and improved quality of life.

“I think those living along routes are going to see opportunities and businesses pop up along those routes that weren't there before and I think it will be easier to get where you need to go,” said Professor Camp. 

Professor Camp has analyzed the plan and said apart from decreased travel time and increased economic opportunities, low-income people and senior citizens will benefit. 

https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/03/24/opinion-why-nashvilles-transit-plan-proposed-only-option/431952002/

“We are confident that the plan can reduce congestion and, what’s more, provide multiple convenient, affordable transportation options for everyone who needs them.”

 

17 hours ago, BnaBreaker said:

Just because your opinion on a subject within a particular group is the minority opinion, doesn't mean the majority are a bunch of unthinking drones just going along with the crowd.  It could just as easily mean that you simply haven't caught up with conventional wisdom.  ;)

 

Quote

I am not advocating that a double-decker interstate system is the answer to our traffic congestion in Nashville as I have seen no metrics (costs, time savings, etc...) to support such a position. Yet, neither have I seen data supporting mass-transit (as proposed by the recently defeated referendum) as a solution for Nashville. 

 

That is because, again, mass transit is not intended to be a traffic reduction tool.  It might have a marginal positive impact, but the whole point of mass transit is to provide people with options to get where they need to be, not to cut a few minutes off of a suburbanite's daily commute.  

 

Edited by Guest

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^^This is probably part of the problem when it comes to an attempt to get citizens of Davidson County on board.  They're not as clueless as some believe.  They hear "it will help reduce congestion"...but then they see a $5 Billion plan that is just a few light rail lines in the middle of the city and they add up 2 + 2 and realize that what they're being told isn't going to happen.  It comes across as disingenuous.

Citizens need to know that mass transit is just an alternative way to get from A to B...not something that will help with congestion.  Until they are made to understand what they're getting...and also made to see the big picture and actually convinced of where it can personally help them in the future, they'll continue to vote it all down (and it won't matter what the Koch brothers or all other conservatives think in this blue county).

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The "cars are a way of life"  mentality is one based on reality.  It's accurate.  Cars are a way of life, for the vast majority of people.  Those people essentially have no choice in the matter, however,  if they want any semblance of a life at all, and THAT is what myself and others object to.  Not the notion that some people prefer cars to trains, but the notion that the status quo is just the way it is and there is nothing that could or should be done about it, because America.  

(The above quote should be RED to be consistent)

I am not questioning the existence of an American nature of independence…it exists and historically it has included the revolution, democracy, liberty, the West, frontier, guns, mercantilism, capitalism, farming, and yes the automobile. I was questioning the derision used when transit boosters refer to the ‘cars are a way of life’ mentality. 

Is it not arrogant to believe the ‘vast majority of people’, currently ensconced in the afore mentioned ‘cars are a way of life’ mentality are somehow held captive in that primitive state? Is there no semblance of life in driving a car? Ha Seriously, these are the same people who voted 2:1 against mass transit in Nashville. ..or choose not to vote- which is choice against change. 
 

Quote

Not the notion that some people prefer cars to trains, but the notion that the status quo is just the way it is and there is nothing that could or should be done about it, because America.  I don't know how many times it needs to be repeated that nobody is trying to force people out of their cars. This is all about providing people with transportation and mobility options.  Nobody advocates for investments into mass transit because they are interested in infringing on anyone's freedom of movement or their 'way of life.' 



Not knowing you personally I hesitate to use the word disingenuous, yet I feel it fits when you say, “nobody is trying to force people out of their cars” for while you personally may not want less cars on the road, reducing cars is exactly the goal of many mass transit advocates. 

http://smartcity.deloitte.com/client_innovations/smart-cities-of-the-world-london/

“London’s congestion charging model, implemented in 2003 in Central London and then later expanded to Western parts of the city, is still more than a decade later the largest implementation of its kind in the world. The objective: reduce congestion by bringing about a modal shift away from single passenger vehicles in central London”


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/use-of-public-transit-isnt-surging/2014/03/20/0b44e522-b03b-11e3-95e8-39bef8e9a48b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.2eab3ef62312

Resting our hopes on a transit comeback distracts from our real transportation problem, which can be summarized in four words: Driving is too cheap. Drivers impose costs on society — in delay, in pollution, in carbon, in wear and tear on our roads — that they don’t pay for. As a result, many of us drive more than we otherwise would. Ending this underpriced driving — through higher fuel taxes, parking and congestion charges and insurance premiums based on miles driven — is a central challenge for local, state and federal transportation officials. 

Charging the right price for driving would give drivers a better-performing system, both by reducing congestion and raising revenue to help repair roads. It would help communities and the planet by reducing pollution. And, not least, it would help public transportation by leveling the playing field between transit and private vehicles. Increased subsidies for public transportation have neither reduced driving nor increased transit use. But ending subsidies to driving probably would do both.

Ending these subsidies will be hard work, politically. Yet we will have no incentive to do this work if Americans continue to believe that transit is making a comeback on its own. It isn’t. Transit, like the rest of our transportation system, is in trouble. We need to act quickly to save it.”

https://www.uvm.edu/~transctr/research/trc_reports/UVM-TRC-13-010.pdf

CONCLUSION 

While the social, economic, demographic and land-use obstacles to reducing SOV use are formidable, this research suggests that there are examples where government agencies and non-profits are reducing individual vehicle use. Reducing SOV use will take a combination of public policies (restricting parking, unlimited access programs) as well as organizational and individual behavior changes. Organizations can clearly play a role as we show here, but major changes will have to occur in both public policy and societal norms to address the institutional barriers that constrain change. “

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-san-diego-mass-transit-2016aug28-htmlstory.html

A number of major cities, including D.C., have started to embrace dense, walkable development paired with expanded mass-transit systems. Some elected officials have even promoted controversial policies that discourage driving, such as making public parking more expensive or eliminating most of it.”

“At this point, there’s not sufficient political leadership. Transportation experts nationwide said that to realize small but consistent gains over many years, cities need to significantly expand mass-transit infrastructure, get businesses to subsidize employees who take the bus or train to work, create protected bike paths and make it painful for people to commute by minimizing parking lots and street parking.”
 

Quote

People advocate for investments into mass transit because they are interested in EXPANDING freedom of movement and ensuring that  those who are uninterested in or unable to own an automobile, or those who just don't want to have to drive everywhere, are able to have a life like everyone else and aren't left behind, which can be difficult to do in a city as dominated by automobile culture and design as Nashville. 


When not speaking in a military and/or national defense context, my Spidey-Sense always triggers when  people proclaim ‘freedom’ as their objective and higher taxes as the mechanism. Regardless I support you right to continue pressing to free the oppressed masses from their automobile shackles…. Regardless of their wants or desires.

20 hours ago, BnaBreaker said:

I am not advocating that a double-decker interstate system is the answer to our traffic congestion in Nashville as I have seen no metrics (costs, time savings, etc...) to support such a position. Yet, neither have I seen data supporting mass-transit (as proposed by the recently defeated referendum) as a solution for Nashville. 

I love the NYT piece! It demonstrates how issues important to the grassroots voter can be effectively championed with minimal resources. 

Makes one wonder where all the money for the 'Yes' camp went?!?$!$ I mean they had a 3:1 advantage and the power and full force of Metro behind the plan....what did all those PR consultation fees buy?

7 hours ago, Flatrock said:

Informative, well-researched article from today's The New York Times on:  'How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country'

Most of the article is about NASHVILLE, and what went down. Tons of quotable pieces. Some new info, at least for me. On the up side, they use a different, updated photo of downtown Nashville....

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/climate/koch-brothers-public-transit.html

 

Edited by Guest

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My $.02 from a 21-year old. I think it's ironic when people cite the sales tax hike necessary for funding the transit plan as outrageous, yet they don't take issue with TN's flat tax rate that puts the sales tax through the roof? Haven't heard much fuss about our sales tax being the second highest in the nation.

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Yes, *just like you rarely hear about the fact that the tax burden here is incredibly low - for better and for worse.

Edited by e-dub
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3 minutes ago, e-dub said:

Yes, *just like you rarely hear about the fact that the tax burden here is incredibly low - for better and for worse.

It's bizarre reasoning to me. It's like nonchalantly going about your day when 18 inches of rain is forecast for the evening, but losing your marbles and boarding up everything when the forecast is changed to 19 inches of rain.  

I'm not arguing against Tennessee's tax bracket, but rather confused with middle-class residents in Davidson County who were successfully convinced that their sales tax rate would be astronomically higher than the existing rate if it were increased half a percent, and another half a percent during the next decade. If the sales tax was a major concern to them when they went to the polls, shouldn't they also be frustrated with the state government's rate? 

And just like you said, Tennessee's total tax burden is among the lowest in the nation already. I was browsing through the Facebook threads  back in April (I know, I know), and people were convinced- literally- Davidson County would be taxed like Los Angeles. 

I know there's also much more to the story than just the tax increase itself, though I stand by my claim that it was the biggest concern for Davidson County voters. As we can see by the turnout in Davidson's middle and lower class precincts, it appears these folks also felt they weren't getting something that would actually benefit them at all. I scratch my head and wonder why they were so staunchly anti-transit, but it is their county, and they got to the polls and said, "This isn't for us. Try again!"

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^^ The State of Tennessee voted to constitutionally prohibit all taxes on income by passing Amendment 3.

http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/28/tennessee-becomes-only-second-state-ever-to-eliminate-its-income-tax/

Income taxes levied on regular income was already unconstitutional, but prior to Amendment 3, TN levied income tax on investment income...this is now being phased out by reducing the rate 1% each year.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2016/05/20/gov-bill-haslam-signs-hall-income-tax-cut-repeal-into-law/84044810/

So Tennesseans have decided a consumption tax or sales tax (along with business taxes, used fees and other sources) are the best way to fund the state operations.

Finally, a major reason you do not hear much grousing over the State Sales Tax (and local option) is it would still be here even if we had a state income tax ...see almost every other state.

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2 hours ago, nativetenn said:

As we can see by the turnout in Davidson's middle and lower class precincts, it appears these folks also felt they weren't getting something that would actually benefit them at all. I scratch my head and wonder why they were so staunchly anti-transit, but it is their county, and they got to the polls and said, "This isn't for us. Try again!"

Many of them rent, so property value increases would only serve to drive their rents up and push them further out. That’s just my thought for those who live in lower-middle class areas where there were going to be big improvements in transit. For those  who live where there wouldn’t be big improvements, not much of a surprise that those least able to afford any tax increases would vote against it. 

I think part of the problem with this transit attempt was that there was the perception that the plan was primarily to benefit those in the wealthier gentrified areas. And this may be untrue, I’m not arguing the validity of it. But that’s what I heard a lot of from people who lived outside of east Nashville, Inglewood, WeHo, etc, or at least from those who aren’t development nerds like myself and the present company. For myself being a homeowner in a part of town (Madison) that would have seen some decent upgrades with some possible future route expansions, I was seeing dollar signs. But for the people around here and other places that are lower-lower middle, they probably just looked at it as a step being taken to drive them out. 

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On 6/18/2018 at 2:55 PM, GregH said:

I'm not in any way qualified to evaluate it but most of the transit folks I follow online seem to think Musk is all hype and no substance in this area. Example: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2017/12/15/elon-musks-ideas-about-transportation-are-boring/ 

Good article.  Frankly I have nothing but contempt for Musk and I'm sure he's selling fairy dust here, but it'll be interesting if he gets into a put-up-or-shut-up contract with Chicago.  He gets the most uncritical fawning reactions claiming as his own, various old ideas that he clearly hasn't thought through.  I'd rather people study why these cost reductions have already been achieved in full-size subways in Stockholm, Seoul and Madrid, as the article states.  I suspect it has more to do with politics and management than technology.

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11 hours ago, PaulChinetti said:

TDOT looked at the need to widen all rural interstates to six lanes a few years ago as part of their corridor studies.

The general conclusion of the studies was to undertake spot improvements, such as truck climbing lanes, as well as options for truck/rail diversion. But almost all of Tennessee's rural interstates are projected to operate at LOS D or worse within the next 25 years. Discounting developing technologies that would improve capacity, such as truck platooning, they will have to be widened if for no other reason than to maintain commerce.

As an aside, the "cost estimating tools" mentioned in the article are very conservative. It would still be expensive, though.

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I have no idea about the costs that's for sure. It was mostly posted because it was in a tweet as I was half following along with the republican debate. And Diane Black didn't like the transit plan because it costs too much but she's ok with more money being spent on roads. 

 

Side Note:

urbanplanet is loading incredibly slow for me, like minutes to load, it just start at the end of last week and I can't figure it out. It's the only site that's having the problem. I haven't changed anything browser wise, anybody else having problems??

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