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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red Lines

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3 hours ago, kermit said:

Forgive the digression to federal policy (but it is relevant to Charlotte). Mayor Pete continues to say all the right things as he moves into the Sec of DOT position:

He has also made some very supportive remarks about urban freeway removal (Belk river!)

Charlotte needs to have enough of its crap together (e.g. plans ready) to make some big asks of this administration. 

 

Decent news for federal policy. Also:

 

pete.JPG

Edited by SgtCampsalot

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If the November Transit Referendum passes it'll be just in time.  The two big things are the Referendum and what the NC General Assembly will allow.  They (NCGA) piss me off because they do force a lot/trend towards forcing NC Localities to submit to their will instead of following a Localities Lead on issues.  Hopefully the Referendum Passes resoundingly and then the NCGA get generous.  A lot of 'Ifs'....:tw_frown:

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Welp the race has been called in GA meaning the senate is under Biden administration and will allow him to carry out his promises with less resistance otherwise. I wonder what will become of the transportation referendum and the rest of Charlotte’s transportation system for that matter in the coming years.

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Rep. Becky Carney left little doubt Thursday about the skepticism from the state legislature likely to accompany an expected request for a sales tax increase to help pay for a 10-year transit expansion proposal.

Speaking to Mayor Vi Lyles and members of Charlotte City Council, Carney told them that, when it comes to transit and transportation funding, “We are greatly challenged. For anything that we move forward from Charlotte, we’re going to have to have our colleagues within this region to be onboard. We’re going to have to have the towns within the confines of Mecklenburg County.”

Quote

Council member Julie Eiselt, a member of the NC First Commission, a 14-member body charged with increasing state transportation funding, also warned of competing for a limited amount of money. NC First is expected to seek a state-wide half-cent tax increase at some point in the near future to boost North Carolina transportation funding by $2 billion annually.

https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2021/01/07/charlotte-looking-for-transit-allies-in-raleigh.html

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On 12/22/2020 at 2:28 PM, RANYC said:

I want to be clear here.  No material difference between per mile costs of light rail versus per mile costs of dedicated bus roadway?  Shocked to hear that.  Also, why would a dedicated bus road go to light rail one day, if the bus is already in a dedicated roadway?  Does light rail operate more effectively or have a longer useful life than a bus (or autonomous vehicle on wheels), or is it that light rail is less polluting?

There is a cost difference.  Assuming the same right of way the main driving differences are earthworks/bridges, ancillary structures, overhead electrification, and vehicle cost.  The first is earthworks and bridges.  generally there needs to be more earthworks due to a flatter grade needed for rail.  Light rail reduces this cost somewhat, but the grade still can't be as flexible as a road can be.  while this is a large cost it's doesn't actually end up being a huge percentage of the overall cost. Rail also needs ancillary structures near the line (rail yard, maintenance depot, etc...) these will be more expensive than the same structures for busses, partly due to having to build in the rail lines on top of the base structure for busses, but mainly because they have to be on more expensive land. There is also overhead electrification.  This one is huge, but the cost can bring quality of life and service to the corridor.  The last is vehicle cost.  A bus cost about $500,000 these days, a light rail vehicle like Charlotte uses cost about 5 million dollars.  Now that $5 million is a bit deceptive as it includes spare parts since spare parts for light rail trains aren't readily available, and it also includes some training costs.  These cost are generally not included in the purchase price of a bus.  a bus generally sits about 40 people with a capacity of 70.  Charlotte's light rail vehicles seat (I think) 72 with a capacity of 240.  So it take about 3.5 busses to meet the capacity of 1 train car.  busses also get replaced about 3 times as quickly as trains do (this is due to DOT/FTA regulations and subsidies).  So, basically 1 train car equates to about 10-11 busses over its useful life. 

Trains save on operating cost (as long as there is enough ridership).  They use less energy and a cheaper form of energy, and use less staff.  Trains aren't as adaptable to capacity changes, so overall it can end up using more energy.  It's the staffing cost that are the big savings.  For the same level of service (frequency at off peak, and capacity on peak) a train needs about 1/2 the total number of operators or less.  There is some extra cost as well for trains though as they need a bit more back office staff.  Trains also have the ability to be autonomous today (using similar technology), as the decision tree is basically reduced to two or three decision points:  Go/no go, open/close doors.  There are regulatory challenges to that approach, as current regulations for autonomous operations require a completely separated and highly controlled right of way.  

Where BRT can substantially save on ROW cost is it doesn't need dedicated ROW inside of uptown, or at the end of line in Matthews.  BRT also has more flexibility, as the amount of busses can be changed quite easily, stations can be skipped, busses can get on and off the route, etc...  

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rough seas for big bang funding plan already. The CBJ reports on pushback from N. Meck (stuff we have discussed here already):

Quote

On Monday, mayors from three neighboring towns in northern Mecklenburg County signed a joint letter to Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, “submitting our concerns” that make supporting the plan untenable for them.

Mayors Woody Washam of Cornelius, Rusty Knox of Davidson and John Anerella of Huntersville, in a letter sent Monday to Lyles and other Mecklenburg and Charlotte officials, expressed frustration over the paucity of projects in their part of town.

During Monday’s retreat discussion, Republican councilman Ed Driggs criticized the task force report as a fait accompli leaving others — the towns, the state legislature — with no options other than a yes-no decision.

“We don’t have a Plan B,” Driggs said. “It’s just this thing.”

This pushback is on top of a state plan to increase statewide “transportation” (read "road") funding via a new 1/2 cent sales tax combined with a REDUCED gas tax (the worst idea ever as it will reduce the direct costs of driving and push road subsidies onto those who use the roads less). This sales tax will almost certainly cause the legislature to deny our requested increase (and makes it less likely to succeed with voters as well).

This funding process is not likely to go well. While I realize all of this is a very complicated process with lots of inputs (the biggest being Silver Line engineering), if CATS had started on this funding strategy a year ago it would have avoided the problems we are currently facing with the state roads funding revisions.

This could be a huge mess. They could just switch over to property tax increases as the primary funding mechanism. Impact fees would be even better but developers have their thumbs so far into the legislature that they are now impossible to implement in NC.

https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2021/01/12/charlotte-transit-looking-at-long-range-trip.html

Edited by kermit
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3 hours ago, kermit said:

rough seas for big bang funding plan already. The CBJ reports on pushback from N. Meck (stuff we have discussed here already):

This pushback is on top of a state plan to increase statewide transportation (read "road") funding via a new 1/2 cent sales tax combined with a REDUCED gas tax (the worst idea ever as it will reduce the direct costs of driving and push road subsidies onto those who use the roads less). This sales tax will almost certainly cause the legislature to deny our requested increase (and makes it less likely to succeed with voters as well).

This funding process is not likely to go well. While I realize all of this is a very complicated process with lots of inputs (the biggest being Silver Line engineering), if CATS had started on this funding strategy a year ago it would have avoided the problems we are currently facing with the state roads funding revisions.

This could be a huge mess. They could just switch over to property tax increases as the primary funding mechanism. Impact fees would be even better but developers have their thumbs so far into the legislature that they are now impossible to implement in NC.

https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2021/01/12/charlotte-transit-looking-at-long-range-trip.html

Will be interesting to see if the city can be nimble on this and quickly pivot to property tax increase with perhaps only a half cent increase in sales tax (with the state taking the other half). 

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19 hours ago, jjwilli said:

Will be interesting to see if the city can be nimble on this and quickly pivot to property tax increase with perhaps only a half cent increase in sales tax (with the state taking the other half). 

Can the Half-Cent Sales Tax be implemented without having to go to the General Assembly?

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39 minutes ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

Can the Half-Cent Sales Tax be implemented without having to go to the General Assembly?

Short answer is no. I think the city is already at the sales tax cap. When the Republicans took over the state legislature in 2010, they passed a law that caps how much sales tax local municipalities can charge.

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6 hours ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

So what’s the difference (funding & planning) if any between Charlottes Big Bang Transit Plan and the DOLRT?  

DOLRT is completely dead, as far as I know. Duke health killed it. Go triangle is planning commuter rail and brt.

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6 hours ago, kermit said:

??? I guess there are some comparisons that can be made between the DOLRT and Silver Line...

  • DOLRT was nearly at 100% design when canceled (much further along in planning than Silver Line is now).
  • DOLRT had one of its major ‘funders’ pull out at the last minute (duke University said it was no longer willing to provide land on its campus or consent to the LRT on PUBLIC roads adjacent to campus (duke made clear they wanted big money for the mitigation of vibration and EM interference, but this was -years- after the route was selected). It was rumored duke’s change of heart was a politically motivated since DUMC just got a new president and they had just received a large donation from the very anti-transit Koch foundation ). Silver Line will not be in the same situation since ROW is not dependent of specific parcels and eminent domain will be easier here due to the absence of large land owners. Anti-transit political BS will also have a much harder time getting traction due to success of Blue Line.
  • Other than the duke permissions / blessing local funding for DOLRT was committed (transit tax votes had all passed overwhelmingly). GoTriangle was getting ready to submit their federal funding application when the project was canceled. 
  • We can’t compare costs yet, because Silver Line engineering is not complete. That said, DOLRT ran through some very low density areas, Silver will not (except west of the airport) riders per mile and cost per rider will be much better here.
  • DOLRT had three “big” trip generators, duke medical center (the largest), UNC memorial hospital and downtown Durham. Silver will only have two, Uptown and airport district, but CLT more than twice the employment of DUMC and Uptown nearly 10 times the employment — so we have much stronger trip generators here (plus better park and ride setups).

Fingers crossed then.

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Looks like CATS will be using GoPass (From DART) as their mobile payment system and route planning.

https://www.gopass.org/

Anyone have any experience with DART's implementation of it? I've bought some single use journey tickets from a kiosk but never anything more than that.

 

 

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1 hour ago, CLT> said:

Looks like CATS will be using GoPass (From DART) as their mobile payment system and route planning.

https://www.gopass.org/

Anyone have any experience with DART's implementation of it? I've bought some single use journey tickets from a kiosk but never anything more than that.

 

 

I have bought a day pass from DART before but heading to Dallas later in the year and I will try it out. 

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Looks like CATS will be using GoPass (From DART) as their mobile payment system and route planning.
https://www.gopass.org/
Anyone have any experience with DART's implementation of it? I've bought some single use journey tickets from a kiosk but never anything more than that.
 
 

I asked CATS on Twitter they did mention them working on a new App for Transit.
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That Wilkenson alignment is really bad. Freezing out the communities west of uptown and limiting upside along Wilkenson. Looks like they are concerned about Wilkenson needing to keep it's current car lanes.  

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26 minutes ago, CLT2014 said:

It's only going to be running 450 feet south of Wilkinson and avoids a ton of intersections / stop lights allowing the trains to move much faster between stops. 

I would assume you would run the train elevated mostly like on a lot of North Tryon to get around that. You are also going to have to extend Ashley/Clanton  to make that stop anywhere near useful (the experience with 25th tells me we can't just assume it will happen in time).

I don't think much land south of the line will be easy to develop and I think a lot of connectivity will need to be built  to make this work. Overall, not having it on Wilkenson dents my projections of dense redevelopment in the corridor. Same with the Freedom/Morehead area.

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6 minutes ago, Desert Power said:

I would assume you would run the train elevated mostly like on a lot of North Tryon to get around that. You are also going to have to extend Ashley/Clanton  to make that stop anywhere near useful (the experience with 25th tells me we can't just assume it will happen in time).

I don't think much land south of the line will be easy to develop and I think a lot of connectivity will need to be built  to make this work. Overall, not having it on Wilkinson dents my projections of dense redevelopment in the corridor. Same with the Freedom/Morehead area.

I don't understand why you think running it along the Roadway like up N. Tryon St. in University would promote more dense development than 450' to the South along the existing Freight Corridor.  If you look at the University City Stop there are apartments under development quite far (like .25 to .50 mile) from the Station itself.  

I think running this line along the Freight Corridor in this area gives the needed balance between adjacency to vacant\developable lots and speed of the Train itself.  Same for the Freedom/Morehead area - The coming Stadium\Entertainment District and nearby Suttle & Morehead Stations will promote dense growth in this area as well as the far out reaches of the Gold District.  I want development but the Light Rail itself needs to be swift to be a viable Transit Option.  

Damn - It seems like they actually decided to take\agree with all of my\our input.  I mean all four (4) of the above noted LPA Addendums is what so many of us (including me) asked for.  Wow - (voter) participation makes a difference.

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51 minutes ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

Dang how did I miss this meeting?  Where are they advertising these meetings at?

It was an update to a City Council Committee (starts about 33 minutes in), 

Public meetings will be held in February: 

 

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7 hours ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

I don't understand why you think running it along the Roadway like up N. Tryon St. in University would promote more dense development than 450' to the South along the existing Freight Corridor.  If you look at the University City Stop there are apartments under development quite far (like .25 to .50 mile) from the Station itself.  

I think running this line along the Freight Corridor in this area gives the needed balance between adjacency to vacant\developable lots and speed of the Train itself.  Same for the Freedom/Morehead area - The coming Stadium\Entertainment District and nearby Suttle & Morehead Stations will promote dense growth in this area as well as the far out reaches of the Gold District.  I want development but the Light Rail itself needs to be swift to be a viable Transit Option.  

Damn - It seems like they actually decided to take\agree with all of my\our input.  I mean all four (4) of the above noted LPA Addendums is what so many of us (including me) asked for.  Wow - (voter) participation makes a difference.

I left feedback too. You might get to the airport slightly quicker (CATS management will find a way to slow anything down), but I'd bet that extra-distance is going to matter to development in that part of west Charlotte as well as the existing communities north of Wilkinson. We'll find out eventually, if this passes

Edited by Desert Power

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