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Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids


GRDadof3

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Holy crap I've been wanting to try that for a long time now, but have never been to Canada to try it!

If anyone else is interested in kibitzing at Graydon's, please send me an PM RSVP by tonight around 11:00, so I know how big of a table to get. I have one reserved now that will hold 8. Bring your own highlighters. :thumbsup:

Would've been nice if we had more warning about RSVPing. When getting home after 11pm it's kinda hard to do that on time. Anywho, I hope there's room for me, as I've already gotten the day requested off work.

Edited by tSlater
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I'll be there. I'll bring my 17 inch Mac laptop with wireless. Can we get a table near an electrical outlet?

I've also got a couple copies of the Chicago CTA bus & rail map I picked up last weekend (for reference if we want).

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I have a suggestion for topic at your meeting. Most cities that have pulled off a successful transportation projects have gotten the public involved and supportive of it by having some kind of event that engages the public directly. I would suggest that you plan for something such as this even if it isn't what might end up getting built there. The important thing is to get as much public support as possible early in the game. The last thing you want is to present an elaborate plan only to have everyone reject it because there is no support.

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I have a suggestion for topic at your meeting. Most cities that have pulled off a successful transportation projects have gotten the public involved and supportive of it by having some kind of event that engages the public directly. I would suggest that you plan for something such as this even if it isn't what might end up getting built there. The important thing is to get as much public support as possible early in the game. The last thing you want is to present an elaborate plan only to have everyone reject it because there is no support.

I considered having some kind of open forum "town hall" meeting atmosphere where we can discuss the idea in concept. Then hash out the possibilities at another meeting with public, representatives of the local railroad, transit agencies, philanthropists -- because undoubtedly they are the stake holders. This is the true baby step, the act of engaging the public.

From the get go I thought that an open forum or open mic night would be beneficial as it could get free publicity -- which is badly needed.

I think the philosophy of this is having the public assume ownership of the idea.

Edited by Rizzo
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I heard (from the source) that a certain group of very influential people (from Grand Rapids...ie. the ones with money) will be in Portland, Oregon the week after Thanksgiving to look at their "MAX Light Street Rail" system. They are the ones that want to bring back street cars back to Grand Rapids but in the form of fully functional, efficient ones. I understand Portland's MAX was 100% privately funded. It seems like our group is gathering information.

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With DeVos and his secret organization running downtown GR, this seems very logical for him. I would love to see a light-rail running from 5/3 ballpark, down to eastown, GVSU, VanAndel, ect....and this would increase the value of living downtown. I want to become involved with this some how and get the area looking into other cities. I know Detroit-Ann Arbor are trying to get somthing done, but what cant the West Michigan Strategic Alliance get going first. Holland-GH/Musk-GR is an area that could catch some national attention of they could get a plan for all three areas. I know that is a mighty goal but it sure would be nice to only have to drive a mile or two and get anywhere in west mich.

Anyone has any ideas how I could get involved in some lobbying of this (senior in GVSUs Pub. Admin) I am happy to start.

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I would applaud their efforts. Who ever these influential people are, I know there are plenty of them around.

Knowing the two families are by far the most vocal and noticeable of Metro GR philanthropy, but there is plenty more people in GR with money. If this had to deal with the Devos and Van Andel families I would be stunned. :huh:

What I would say is that a street rail service would look cool, it wouldn't serve more better then what our current bus system already does, but it would look cool.

Edited by Rizzo
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I think that it would be wonderful if they brought back streetcars. The big thing would be if they could market them will and change the perception of public transportation. But depending on their destination locations, hours of operation, design of the cars, and realistic usability, I think that the perception would become immensely popular. I also hope that they put bike racks on them as well so we could use them.

We would all have a learning process on how to share the road.

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What I would say is that a street rail service would look cool, it wouldn't serve more better then what our current bus system already does, but it would look cool.

This is why you don't want to spend valuable transit money on a street car system. They don't provide benefit over city buses and they are very expensive to build. There is a proposal in Charlotte to build a 10 mile street car line down a busy city street corridor. The estimated price tag is something like $265M and it will only add 3000 riders over the current bus lines down this road. As a result, this proposal is most likely dead and the city is turning its focus to light rail and enhancing its bus service.

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Agreed. Changing perceptions is nice, but probably not worth the money when that money could go to a rail system that is actually effective. Tearing up streets to put rails in will do little. It may even backfire in the future if a real rail system is proposed and people point to the huge expense and lack of results of the streetcar system.

Maybe there is a point where streetcars become more cost-effective than buses. For example, are they cheaper to maintain? But for now I think buses will serve Grand Rapids just fine.

While I am in favor of widening I-196 through downtown to 3 lanes in each direction, I wonder if it might make sense to put a limit on highway expansion. Say highways in Kent County can't exceed 3 lanes except where specific situations warrant it (e.g. on-ramps, off-ramps, merge areas, etc). Then as Grand Rapids grows we'll have no choice but to build rail.

-nb

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This is why you don't want to spend valuable transit money on a street car system. They don't provide benefit over city buses and they are very expensive to build. There is a proposal in Charlotte to build a 10 mile street car line down a busy city street corridor. The estimated price tag is something like $265M and it will only add 3000 riders over the current bus lines down this road. As a result, this proposal is most likely dead and the city is turning its focus to light rail and enhancing its bus service.

If the primary goal was to move people quick I wouldn't see any of the two corridors for "rapid" transit as viable. That's the part that sucks. Now, if the primary goal was to develop a transit line that would foster dense development and increase ridership then I would say both routes are equally viable, especially if they make it out to the southern suburbs. Rail transit via the street worked in GR before because it never had to negotiate with the kind of traffic we have today and that it was the primary people mover over distance.

It's hard to visualize any form of transit down Division Ave. as rapid. Traffic is only going to get busier and the "at grade" transit mode will have to negotiate the way through. Then there's the issue of widening Division north of 28th St. the area is already crunched as it is... How would you accommodate a fixed route in these circumstances? :blink: Streetcars (BRT to a certain degree) look cool, but I ask the question would they just be an expensive novelty (I'm mostly pointing at BRT) getting clogged in the mess of more traffic? I guess if you were coming from a development and planning perspective rail would be great as it is a fixed route. I don't know how The Rapid can keep its identity if it chooses to use the Traffic's ROW.

Either way, I say bring rail back to GR. I don't mind waiting 15 or 25 minutes for a train, but for a bus it's agonizing. I guess I have formulated an opinion by riding the Metra to work and home -- my bad.

Edited by Rizzo
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So what happened at the meeting?

We threw around a number of ideas (that came mainly from this discussion). FilmMaker was going to refine them and pass them along to the GVMC.

If anyone is interested, this is a rundown in 2005 of the TriMet system in Portland

http://trimet.org/pdfs/trimetfactsheet.pdf

It highlights how different segments were funded and ridership numbers. Quite an interesting system. Over $3.8 Billion in development, including over 8500 residential units, have been developed within a block of their system.

In a metro of about twice as many people as GR, they have a combined bus/LRT ridership of over 90,000,000/year (13x GR's ridership numbers). They are also looking at supplementing their system with a suburb to suburb commuter rail line.

The Airport MAX/Red Line was locally/privately financed, with Bechtel Enterprises contributing $25 Million in exchange for development rights on 120 acres near the airport station.

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The Report also mentions the operating funding sources:

Payroll Tax (6.32$ on every 1000$ earned gross income, or .6318%), Passenger Revenue, State/Fed, Interest, Cigarette Tax...

Interesting to note that the fare for a bus ticket is 2.43$ while a MAX ticket is 1.54$

Edited by Rizzo
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According to the Press, Holland is going to be asking Voters for an increase in funding for their transit system, The MAX. The increase is reported to help grow the system into a regional service comparable to The Rapid. Voters will be asked to approve a tax 0.4 mills that would raise just under a million a year. This move would also make the operation primarily run as a regional authority. It's expected that this raise would grow the system from the current three routes to seven. Also, the addition of one to two extra hours of service for the weekdays and weekend. More...

With MAX expanding and the Rapid growing by leaps and bounds, I wonder how MATs is doing. I hear very little about the Metro's other system. I would wonder if it would be beneficial for the entire metro to create a three county transit organization??? That way when the time comes and the area demands interconnectivity as it did when rail was running I wonder if this would provide a seamless transition.

Are any of you Hollanders expecting to vote on this millage?

Edited by Rizzo
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We threw around a number of ideas (that came mainly from this discussion). FilmMaker was going to refine them and pass them along to the GVMC.

I have an appointment on November 15 to share our thoughts with with some of the folks over at the Rapid. Their consultant is going to be in town and will be joining the mtg. We might have a representative of GVMC in the room too. Y'all will be the first to know what transpires.

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I have an appointment on November 15 to share our thoughts with with some of the folks over at the Rapid. Their consultant is going to be in town and will be joining the mtg. We might have a representative of GVMC in the room too. Y'all will be the first to know what transpires.

Great! Did they mention who their consultant was? I wonder if it is Robert Cervaro. If their consultant is going to be in town during that duration I wonder if that's when ITP will be announcing their decision for the new corridor. I can't help but place my bets on BRT in a SE corridor.

Edited by Rizzo
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I have an appointment on November 15 to share our thoughts with with some of the folks over at the Rapid. Their consultant is going to be in town and will be joining the mtg. We might have a representative of GVMC in the room too. Y'all will be the first to know what transpires.

Excellent! You can dovetail in the DDA's recent report on the impending parking crisis downtown, and the critical need for tranportation alternatives:

http://www.ci.grand-rapids.mi.us//download...2108d73375a.pdf

(to be covered at this week's meeting)

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