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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red, Airport Lines

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@AirNostrumMAD, My only comment is that looting has no grey area but riots can be protests. Not like the police would call a peaceful protest a riot right???

On 6/12/2020 at 11:48 AM, dubone said:

Property taxes, especially in the form of Tax Increment Funding are potentially the better approach to infrastructure.    I believe it ought to be more comprehensive, such as adding X-amount of property tax for all infrastructure that feeds to that area.   People are uptight about property taxes, but infrastructure directly benefits property values.  

I agree as long as there are low income provisions. Many states have good programs to keep the poor and elderly in their homes. NC has one but if I remember right, as with most programs here, the income level is ridiculous. Might have been ok in the 60's!

Edited by elrodvt
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This is for general mobility, not specifically CATS, but many on UP will be interested in this meeting on Tuesday night: 

https://charlottenc.gov/newsroom/releases/Pages/Charlotte-Moves-Task-Force-meeting-in-June-to-include-virtual-public-participation.aspx

Charlotte Moves Task Force meeting in June to include virtual public participation

Britt Clampitt
6/16/2020
 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 16, 2020) – As the City of Charlotte continues to practice and promote social distancing, members of the Charlotte Moves Task Force invite the public to virtually participate in the task force's June 23 meeting. The meeting will be available to watch live on the city's YouTube page at 6 p.m.

The end of the meeting will be dedicated to residents' comments and questions on improving mobility in Charlotte. Residents are invited to discuss the task force's charges: guiding and realizing the vision for the city's Strategic Mobility Plan and helping to implement the plan by recommending transit and transportation projects and funding mechanisms that can transform mobility in Charlotte.

Sign up to speak at the meeting
Members of the public can sign up to speak at the task force meeting by emailing [email protected] or calling 980-293-1245. The deadline to sign up is Monday, June 22, at 5 p.m. Speakers are asked to provide an email address or phone number when they sign up. City staff will reach out to speakers on Tuesday with instructions on how to participate in the virtual meeting.

Speakers will have three minutes to give their comments.

Submit comments in writing or by phone
As an alternative to speaking during the meeting, members of the public can submit comments by emailing [email protected] or calling 980-293-1245.

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Filed under "kinda surprised it's not worse,"
May 2020 vs May 2019, local bus ridership down 57%, blue line down 74%. Total system down 64.9%

One interesting aberration: vanpool only down 31%. 

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16 hours ago, kermit said:

This is what CATS lists as the projects largest current risk: “Civil Contractor is ineffective in project specific trades like project management, rail installation and bridge construction resulting in poor budgeting, scheduling, construction, and/or quality

Yay, low-bid process gets us exactly what we pay for! What a deal!

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1 hour ago, dubone said:

They have other ways of counting riders.   I would prefer they make transit fare-free, and only charge for parking.

 

The scofflaws will eventually be caught.    Checking tickets should be a regular enough process that people get used to imagining they'll be checked.    But really, during the COVID crisis, it's just not a priority because the trains aren't full.  

The also could have used fare gates, but i guess that would have made things more expensive and complex. It does take care of the checking ticket problem. 

Edited by JeanClt

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2 hours ago, JeanClt said:

The also could have used ticket gates, but i guess that would have made things more expensive and complex. It does take care of the checking ticket problem. 

Much more expensive and much more complex. Gated systems are very tough to implement in open air and at-grade systems (how do you fence off the tracks at the end of at-grade stations?). Turnstiles and fences (not to mention their constant maintenance) would not come anywhere near to justifying their costs based on additional fare revenue collected.

Also keep in mind that most gated systems still have fare inspectors / enforcement needs, that cost does not completely go away. 

Edited by kermit
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1 hour ago, kermit said:

Much more expensive and much more complex. Gated systems are very tough to implement in open air and at-grade systems (how do you fence off the tracks at the end of at-grade stations?). Gates would not come anywhere near to justifying their costs based on additional fare revenue collected.

You'd probably have to build a tall fence around the station and then along the tracks probably 25-50 feet on each side of the station. It wouldn't look pretty, but it would probably mitigate fare jumpers. Would hiring more fare inspectors be worth the cost as well? Unfortunately there's not a lot of good options.

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You'd probably have to build a tall fence around the station and then along the tracks probably 25-50 feet on each side of the station. It wouldn't look pretty, but it would probably mitigate fare jumpers. Would hiring more fare inspectors be worth the cost as well? Unfortunately there's not a lot of good options.

Well I was thinking more of hybrid in busier stations where it is possible to put fare gates. Although I guess it would be weird having them in some stations, and not others. But just having them mitigates the actual work to enforce it considering there’s only one way to get in and at least one officer would be sufficient. Also I don’t think anybody would use the tracks to get on the platform especially if someone was there. This is all speculation of course and I don’t think it would be practical to build them. You’re also right about not having many good options.


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Here is an interesting article arguing against free transit in most instances, from someone who is very much a transit proponent:

https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019/07/18/free-public-transportation/

The basic premise is that the money it would take to eliminate fares entirely (even if a system's farebox recovery is low) would have a greater positive impact on ridership if it was spent on improving service instead.

I think a better solution would be to greatly simplify fare structures to make them more user friendly, which would lower the barriers for new users of a system. And ideally, there would be a single method of payment that would be valid across different modes and across systems in different cities. So instead of me having an NYC Metrocard, Chicago Ventra card, etc., there would be a single card/app that is almost universally valid (kind of like the E-Z Pass for toll roads).

Even just focusing on NC, imagine if there was a single app/card where you stored value which was valid for riding NCDOT intercity trains and the local transit systems in each city where the train stopped, and all you had to do to ride was scan or tap. I think a seamless, intuitive, integrated system like this would do a lot facilitate car-free mobility.

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1 minute ago, jthomas said:

Even just focusing on NC, imagine if there was a single app/card where you stored value which was valid for riding NCDOT intercity trains and the local transit systems in each city where the train stopped, and all you had to do to ride was scan or tap. I think a seamless, intuitive, integrated system like this would do a lot facilitate car-free mobility.

This exists in Switzerland (and you buy the pass annually with pre-tax money), and it works incredibly well. It does substantially reduce auto dependence.

I am kinda ambivalent about free transit. It gets abused in some places and makes transit less desirable for many users. Portland had free center city transit, this was interpreted as making transit part of the public space, which prevented the removal of some riders who were being anti-social on board. Then again, it was Portland... (I dunno)

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9 minutes ago, kermit said:

This exists in Switzerland (and you buy the pass annually with pre-tax money), and it works incredibly well. It does substantially reduce auto dependence.

This brings up another interesting argument in favor of fares on public transportation, especially fares of the monthly/annual variety.  Cars have very high fixed costs - a car payment, taxes, insurance, and maintenance can easily be $5-10k per year or more. However, the incremental cost of use is comparatively very low (artificially so, due to low gas taxes, abundant free parking, etc.), so this gives a vehicle owner a strong incentive to maximize use to get a greater return out of the investment of owning the vehicle.  Since our cities are constructed in a way that makes vehicle ownership de facto mandatory, most people only consider the incremental costs of driving, which makes it difficult for transit to compete on cost (why pay $5 for a trip that only costs $0.50 worth of gas?).

In an environment where transit is reasonably competitive with driving for many trips (which admittedly is a long way off for most US cities), an annual transit pass would actually be an incentive for more transit use. Like car ownership, once you have sunk the money into buying a pass, you would want to use it as much as possible to get the best value out of it. Even at something like $1,200/year, an unlimited pass would be way cheaper than car ownership. I think a good goal for most US transit systems would be not "what system do we need for people to live car-free," but rather "what system do we need so each household could have one fewer car than today?" Even this modest improvement would be transformative for most cities.

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18 hours ago, jthomas said:

This brings up another interesting argument in favor of fares on public transportation, especially fares of the monthly/annual variety.  Cars have very high fixed costs - a car payment, taxes, insurance, and maintenance can easily be $5-10k per year or more. However, the incremental cost of use is comparatively very low (artificially so, due to low gas taxes, abundant free parking, etc.), so this gives a vehicle owner a strong incentive to maximize use to get a greater return out of the investment of owning the vehicle.  Since our cities are constructed in a way that makes vehicle ownership de facto mandatory, most people only consider the incremental costs of driving, which makes it difficult for transit to compete on cost (why pay $5 for a trip that only costs $0.50 worth of gas?).

In an environment where transit is reasonably competitive with driving for many trips (which admittedly is a long way off for most US cities), an annual transit pass would actually be an incentive for more transit use. Like car ownership, once you have sunk the money into buying a pass, you would want to use it as much as possible to get the best value out of it. Even at something like $1,200/year, an unlimited pass would be way cheaper than car ownership. I think a good goal for most US transit systems would be not "what system do we need for people to live car-free," but rather "what system do we need so each household could have one fewer car than today?" Even this modest improvement would be transformative for most cities.

Exactly this! The fixed / variable cost aspects of car travel are the toughest part of convincing people that 'driving is super expensive.' We have just gone blind to the capital costs of driving (vehicle, insurance, parking and environmental costs) since everyone assumes they are just part of a 'living in America' tax. 

Deutsche Bhan sells a hybrid annual pass to help get around this issue without requiring people pay more than $1,000 for an annual pass. They sell annual discount cards (a Bhan Card), which allows you to purchase individual tickets much more cheaply than non card holders. The logic is exactly the same as what you outline above, pay something in advance to make individual trips cheaper. The Bhan card is cheaper than an annual pass, but it ties you to the mode in the same way that car ownership ties you to driving.

Charlotte could pretty easily implement this strategy by setting up a 'pass for clunkers' deal. If you gave up your locally registered car, then the city could send you an annual transit pass in return. (something like that)

Edited by kermit
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Seeing people who jump the fare gates on the DC Metro or enter a bus without tapping their fare card always give me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I fork over $72-100 a month (pre-Covid I buy I pass that costs $72 and gives me unlimited rail trips at $2 or less and unlimited bus trips. Any rail trip that costs more than $2 I have to cover the cost) and it isn't really fair to see other people not paying.

On the other hand, I don't know what is going on in terms of their life situation and I don't think fare evasion such be criminalized. It's a slippery slope.  Can they not afford their fare? Did they leave their wallet at home (which I have done before and will admit I hopped over the fare gate)? 

Fare gates/turnstiles are simply an added deterrent. If someone wants to fare evade, they are more than likely going to do it fare gate or not. I've said this before, but I do believe that as the system grows and expands fare evasion will become a bigger problem, and CATS will likely add fare gates to stations where it is physically possible to do so. I envision I485, Archdale, Tyvola, Stonewall, 3rd Street, CTC, 25th Street, 36th Street, and UNCC Main all having fare gates in the future. 

Other transit systems have successfully added fare gates to outdoor light rail stations. LA did so to several light rail stations on their E and L lines, some of which are at grade. At the Downtown Santa Monica Station they just capped the end of the platform with emergency exit gates and force everyone to enter/exit the station via a turnstile controlled ramp or stairs at the west end of the platform.

IIRC, Portland's MAX has also begun installing turnstiles to some of their stations where they are physically able to do so as well. 

On an unrelated note, its crazy to me that LA went so long without having turnstiles, even on their underground subway lines. IIRC, they just installed turnstiles within the past 5 years or so.  

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13 hours ago, LKN704 said:

Seeing people who jump the fare gates on the DC Metro or enter a bus without tapping their fare card always give me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I fork over $72-100 a month (pre-Covid I buy I pass that costs $72 and gives me unlimited rail trips at $2 or less and unlimited bus trips. Any rail trip that costs more than $2 I have to cover the cost) and it isn't really fair to see other people not paying.

On the other hand, I don't know what is going on in terms of their life situation and I don't think fare evasion such be criminalized. It's a slippery slope.  Can they not afford their fare? Did they leave their wallet at home (which I have done before and will admit I hopped over the fare gate)? 

Fare gates/turnstiles are simply an added deterrent. If someone wants to fare evade, they are more than likely going to do it fare gate or not. I've said this before, but I do believe that as the system grows and expands fare evasion will become a bigger problem, and CATS will likely add fare gates to stations where it is physically possible to do so. I envision I485, Archdale, Tyvola, Stonewall, 3rd Street, CTC, 25th Street, 36th Street, and UNCC Main all having fare gates in the future. 

Other transit systems have successfully added fare gates to outdoor light rail stations. LA did so to several light rail stations on their E and L lines, some of which are at grade. At the Downtown Santa Monica Station they just capped the end of the platform with emergency exit gates and force everyone to enter/exit the station via a turnstile controlled ramp or stairs at the west end of the platform.

IIRC, Portland's MAX has also begun installing turnstiles to some of their stations where they are physically able to do so as well. 

On an unrelated note, its crazy to me that LA went so long without having turnstiles, even on their underground subway lines. IIRC, they just installed turnstiles within the past 5 years or so.  

If transit just makes the fare gates tall enough, they wont be able to jump them lol. This is the fare gates at the Lindenwold transit station in New Jersey.  

SJM-L-BARTGATES-0927-1.jpg?fit=810,9999p

sidenote* combined with a moat around every station, should drastically reduce fare evasion if not eliminate it entirely.

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3 hours ago, kermit said:

^ Yes, better gates make better citizens!

I firmly believe we need to gate every on-street parking space in order to prevent anyone from using them without paying! The city looses tons of money from overparking.

(fare gates on the Blue Line are a ridiculous waste of money IMO)

I do agree that fare gates on the Blue Line at present would be a ridiculous waste of money. However, once the system is built out (30 years? 50 years? After our grandkids are gone?) with the Silver/Ballantyne extension/Any other hypothetical lines extensions I believe that it will likely make financial sense to spend the money to install fare gates at all elevated/high-use stations (such as the ones I mentioned above where it would be easy to install and likely have the highest ridership). I'm not proposing/advocating for their installation at the South End as it wouldn't make sense nor would it be feasible.3333

I'm not trying to pick an argument, I'm just trying to understand how installing a fare gate system at say CTC or Stonewall or Tyvola or 3rd Street would be bad for urbanism, seeing as the stations are essentially already separated from the urban environment. I haven't really seen studies that have demonstrated it as such. The Santa Monica example I used above has served as a catalyst for TOD apartments within the area. I was just there last weekend and I didn't think the fare gates gave the station a closed off feel. 

Edited by LKN704

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