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Rizzo

Would you ride lightrail?

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Seems that there again is more discussion about this lightrail thingamajig. Lets talk about it, infact lets scream about it so that some folks who can control things see this. Just because studies or decisions have already been made dosen't mean we can't be silent. You are encourage to use Rudy's trademark CAPs lock.

I can't help, but still make the connection between representatives crossing party lines infavor of mass-transit and this riverfront project. Obviously someones pulling strings to get billions of dollars to invest in our future and if the intended impact of the Grand Rapids Development Corporatation is as we can expect we are going to see a lot of economic and population growth. Why are the Republicans here more transit aware then a majority of other Republicans in this country? Kind of looks like that can be a real community link for everyone. Almost all the people I know urban or suburban support this kind of transportation mode because it appears to be seemless, quick, envirnmentally friendly, and safe.

Discuss?

  • Where lightrail would make sense. (Between Grand Rapids and the lakeshore suburbs or interurban?)

  • How much are you willing to pay per ride?

  • Elevated or at grade?

  • Obtaining RoFs.

  • Park and Ride opertunities.

  • etc...

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I think light rail up and down the 131 corridor plus east and west out 196 would be a fantastic start. Park & Rides would be a must - as putting in light-rail at this point in time is going to require huge amounts of land aquisition for stations, terminals etc.

EDIT: Forgot pricing...

In my situation - I would pay $2 - $3 for a trip from 28th St & 131 into DT.

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I believe it has to be in both locations; interurban and to other communities such as Holland, Grand Haven, etc. A park and ride is good too for the more suburban areas. If you don't have stops/stations in the city, what is the point? It's like driving your car 5 miles to the gym so you can work out.

It has to be functional in terms of where people need and want to go. It can't be a novelty. You can't have a pole 2 feet from 28th street and call it a bus stop. What are you going to do? Lay in grass, next to the curb in front of Discount Tire and wait 45 minutes for the next bus to come? That's not public transit, you might as well hitch-hike.

My point is, if it is to be done...do it right! Make it so people WANT to use it. Hours of operation and location of these stops are very important in my opinion.

A public transportation culture has to be created, especially here in car happy Michigan. Demonstrate the advantages of taking public transportation.

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It would have to be faster or as fast as it takes to drive to gain significant ridership. If someone's drive is fifteen minutes, who's gonna spend 45 minutes commuting just for the fun of it?

Cost? It would have to be cheap...no more than $3 "round-trip"

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I know that lightrail seems to create its own market, I wonder if this could tie into your idea of creating a transportation culture.

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......My point is, if it is to be done...do it right! Make it so people WANT to use it. Hours of operation and location of these stops are very important in my opinion.

A public transportation culture has to be created, especially here in car happy Michigan. Demonstrate the advantages of taking public transportation.

I wrote this last week and submitted it to the East Hills Council of Neighbors newsletter:

Riding the Rapid

When my car battery died, I hesitated on fixing it. I

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It would have to be faster or as fast as it takes to drive to gain significant ridership. If someone's drive is fifteen minutes, who's gonna spend 45 minutes commuting just for the fun of it?

Cost? It would have to be cheap...no more than $3 "round-trip"

I don't know Andy, I spend about $7 - 8/day on gas now (I know, I know), so I would even pay that same amount if I worked downtown and didn't have to pay for parking. And the time issue, I took the train from O'hare into Chicago and back, and it probably was longer than driving (45 minutes one way). During rush hour, I'll bet it's faster. However, we probably saved at least $30 in cab fare and didn't have to deal with idiot drivers. Well worth it. We could also chat about work on the way without one of us having to concentrate on driving or watching for exit signs, etc..

BTW: If you're going to be flying into and staying in Chicago soon, PM me for a secret on how to check in at the airport with lightning speed. :thumbsup:

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GRGridGirl: That is a great little piece you wrote. See, our bus system needs more of this kind of publicity.

I am sure many people in Grand Rapids don't even know we have a bus system. If they do, they may not know how to use it or where to catch a bus. I KNOW some people that think public transportation is something for people who are poor, homeless or for hippies. I have talked to people here in GR that have said these things. It's crazy...

I think a good model for a west MI lightrail would be Washington DC's. It's perfect. It goes into Virginia, Marlyland, soon out to Dulles but also takes people into the heart of DC. There is even a station way out in Vienna-Fairfax, VA which is about a 20-30 minute ride into DC. I could read the newspaper, talk on the phone without getting in an accident and relax. If I wanted to have dinner in Alexandria, VA...just hop on the Blue line.

I was living in the DC area for a summer years ago and never needed a car, I actually never even thought of needing a car...priceless.

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Figure it costs about $6000/year to own a car.

More than $16/day.

So, if the stops and schedule were convenient, I'd be willing to regularly pay up to $5 for a round trip.

Edit: However, it would also be nice if it the rates were in line with the income of those who already can't afford a car and depend on mass transit for work. How do other cities do it?

I think there will be enough interurban traffic in the next decade or so to support lines to Holland and Muskegon, especially in summer months.

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Washington DC Metrorail:

Regular fare (In effect on weekdays from opening to 9:30 a.m., 3-7 p.m. and 2 a.m. to closing)

$1.35 minimum

$3.90 maximum

Reduced fare (All other times)

$1.35 minimum

$1.85 mid-range

$2.35 maximum

Hours

Opens: 5 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. weekends

Closes: midnight Sunday-Thursday, 3 a.m. Friday-Saturday nights

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I will be living at Union Square and although I can walk to downtown, it is an awkward walk so a light rail option would be great, especially in bad weather. Also, would like to be able to go to Holland, Grand Haven, and airport. I wish for a high speed train to Chicago someday too.

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I think it would be great to have The Rapid, or some other group, provide a "class" or something similar to familiarize people with mass transit. Many people are intimidated by it and are afraid to try it, or think it is just the poor and criminal.

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I think it would be great to have The Rapid, or some other group, provide a "class" or something similar to familiarize people with mass transit. Many people are intimidated by it and are afraid to try it, or think it is just the poor and criminal.

A well-directed television advertisement could accomplish a lot of this

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A well-directed television advertisement could accomplish a lot of this

I disagree Andy. 30 seconds is not long enough. I think you have to have people experience it in person, buy a pass, make a transfer, and let them feel how much more convenient it is. Then hopefully these people would take their friends and family and the word would spread.

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When I lived in downtown Portland, OR, taking the light rail was usually a good alternative to driving a car around town. It took having to park my 4 wheel hunk of German metal out of the equation. I would take it with friends to go someplace or to meet up with them. For some daily commutes, adding a bus leg or two was required, and that would make it a much less attractive alternative.

If light rail was available in Metro Grand Rapids, I would try to use it often... as long as it the routes were practical and I didn't have to wait for a bus at the end of the line to get me someplace on a second leg.

btw, I grew up using the Route 6 Downtown/Eastown/Woodland bus route daily. I could get to almost everyplace I needed to be in all of GR on one route without needing to transfer.

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I disagree Andy. 30 seconds is not long enough. I think you have to have people experience it in person, buy a pass, make a transfer, and let them feel how much more convenient it is. Then hopefully these people would take their friends and family and the word would spread.

Yah, but if people think the bus is full of drunks and hobos, why would they attend a special class about it? I think a short ad, creatively done, could spark a lot of interest. Maybe I'm too much of a cynic :P

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Define light rail. To me light rail is intra-city, as opposed to something like Amtrack. To me, both street cars and subways qualify as light rail, but they are totally different. Are we talking about a bus replacement or a rail system with stations and everything? I'd like both, really, but the latter seems like it might be too expensive. I don't think Grand Rapids has the density yet to support that model either, though I think street cars could do well.

It could start small, perhaps a line to the airport and maybe one to GVSU. I know the bus to Allendale was pretty packed when I went to GVSU but lived downtown and it would surely be a good candidate for a rail link. Perhaps if we do see any "medium" rail those could go between Holland, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids with longer distances between stops.

-nb

-nb

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For me, the most frustrating thing about the bus system is that it turns my 10 minute car commute to work into a 40 minute bus commute. That is not appropriate and not worth the hassle, so why ride the bus? If light rail was like this, it too would not be worth the hassle. It needs to be convenient to make it worthwhile.

When visiting DC and NYC, I have utilized the subway system exclusively. You can get anywhere you need to go, you can get there quickly and conveniently and you do not have to store your car when you are done with it. Every time I return to GR after these liberating experiences I feel as though I have no choice, because I really do not.

Two light rail systems that I have used recently are LA's and Minneapolis-St. Paul's. LA's is pretty decent because it connects many transit oriented developments along the line and the amount of new development that is occurring along these lines is compact. It is convenient and quick. You do not have to wait 45 minutes for the next train and it is usually quicker than driving. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience riding this system.

The Minneapolis system is well worth looking at. The original spur connected the airport to the Mall of America, but the recently completed line connects the airport to downtown Minneapolis. When meeting a consultant in Minneapolis, I simply got off the plane and jumped on the light rail. I was downtown in minutes, did not have to deal with a car and the ride was very very easy and enjoyable. Each station has its own unique design, which helps to give a rider orientation and provided for local architects to compete in a design competition to complete the stations.

The bottom line is that it needs to be convenient, more convenient than driving your car. If it is not, people will not choose it over driving autos.

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For me, the most frustrating thing about the bus system is that it turns my 10 minute car commute to work into a 40 minute bus commute. That is not appropriate and not worth the hassle, so why ride the bus? If light rail was like this, it too would not be worth the hassle. It needs to be convenient to make it worthwhile.

I agree, that is exactly how I feel about our current bus system!

There are some current routes that make sense, such as the one the Triple G spoke of.

But I don't think it's convenient for most people.

I mean, if you live out by the Burton/Breton area, have the whole day free and want to go to the GR Main Library downtown, it's great.

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I guess I can atleast put out a little lesson on lightrail and what it is for the folks who might not know what the terms are that are being thrown around.

Keep in mind that heavy rail is usually characterised by what rides on it, the big diesel engines with many box cars. Heavy rail is typically for long haul in North America. If it makes a clunk and clank, its heavy and very heavy things ride on it. Amtrak rides on heay rail as opposed to light rail. This is will not be our transportation method for intra-city. The elevated track in Chicago is this type of rail. The image below might give you a good idea of what heavy rail is.

railservice6dc.jpg

^Look at thoes bad boys :)

Light rail is light, but don't expect to pick it up and toss it, but it is much lighter then heavy rail. It rides quite and grades (changes elevation as you move on the track) very well compared to heavy rail.

rail38gt.jpg

den16thstout1bp.jpg

Maybe this can shed a little light on this.

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I would either run it almost parallel to the railways we have now in Grand Rapids. If there was a way to just use the rails we have now, and get rid of the freight completely we would be in good shape. Like this: (Railway is crudely traced in red of course)

Lightrail.jpg

Don't mind me, this is just a dreamer's version of a light rail system.

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For me it all would depend on route. If I have to drive extremely out of my way to get to the station than I might as well just keep driving. If I was in Chicago it might be a different story though.

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