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Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids


GRDadof3

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I really hope it's something like this that finally brings in the contempt of congress charge. Something he probably thought was nothing but a flea on his radar screen. As a future student (hopefully) in the transport arts, this drives me crazy. The hurdles in the way of a successful transit system are hard enough without the government blatantly misleading the public. Worst. President. Ever.

Edited by tracer1138
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What is really interesting is that the report called for changing FTA criterion. This would help easily develop more electric rail projects. There was also a recommendation for having Small Starts go back to what it was used for originally -- funding streetcar projects. One criteria recommended would be population thresholds. This would make FTA support for rail projects automatic based on population. Cities within 100,000 would qualify for streetcar projects while 200,000+ would qualify for light rail. Some of the recommendations could greatly help Grand Rapids.

Edited by Rizzo
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Seriously, all I can say is that January 09 can not come fast enough.

I agree that I don't think this "editing" should be done in Federal reports, but I don't think our current Administration is the first to do this and sadly I doubt it will be the last one (IMO).

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I agree that I don't think this "editing" should be done in Federal reports, but I don't think our current Administration is the first to do this and sadly I doubt it will be the last one (IMO).

you can say what you want about Bush. history will tell if he did a good job or not based on if his goals were accomplished. it is far too early to tell. what you can say about him though with regards to this is that he is maintaining the status quo. If bush even had anything to do with this he would just be maintianing a long tradition of presidntial cover ups. I doubt the next guy will be any better only different.

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This has nothing to do with what history will show of the Bush Administration. Some more local transit news:

According to The Press, Holland's MAX bus system saw a 3.5 percent increase in ridership on fixed routes. MAX saw a large increase in ridership at: 23.4 percent in Holland Township and 14.1 percent in Zeeland.

Today ITP will be holding an annual meeting at Headquarters. Some items on the agenda are ridership & productivity reports for FY07 and fare box equipment upgrades. In the agenda document, there appears to be a vacancy on the ITP board. :ph34r:

Also, did anyone see this on the Rapid site? http://therapid.greenride.ene.com/savings.aspx

Edited by Rizzo
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Yowzers!

Feds designate $480,000 for streetcar study

For the federal government to get involved in a streetcar project might be the first in the country.

This puppy is heating up! :yahoo:

So would this be Ehlers' earmark then? Seems like our Senators are much more tied to the east side of the state.

Of course, most people aren't big fans of earmarks until they land a 1/2 million dollars on a project you're in favor of. :)

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I have heard that the Monroe-Market St. corridor has been selected as the final routing. I'm disappointed. I liked the Ottawa-Ionia corridor better.

I'm disappointed too, but maybe the study being conducted may change the alignment options. :dontknow:

And for those who are looking for additional runs for the Rapid:

Rapid may expand bus runs, hours

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Yesterday, the Public Transportation Tomorrow Taskforce voted to select the Monroe & Market Avenues as the perfered route to study. The study corridor is Monroe Ave. south of Newberry St. and North of Wealthy St. This is based on: vehicle constraints, potential development and construction costs.

Two potential routes in the south end were identified:

)down Market Ave. -- Ney Ave. -- Wealthy St. -- Bus Terminal

)down Market Ave. -- Bartlett St. -- Bus Terminal

It looks like what they want to do is keep the streetcar in one corridor rather than spreading it out a few blocks.

Edited by Rizzo
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By choosing this route, it seems that it's all about ferrying convention center traffic to lodging up N. Monroe or down the street a few blocks to drink beer or go to a game. This entire route is like a 20 min. walk! I hate to say it because I would love a viable streetcar line in GR but this is a waste of money. Expanding the BRT line to serve more of the metro area would be much better. This will end up being like the streetcar line in Kenosha, WI, the main function of that line being to add scenery. No one rides it because it doesn't serve anyone. It just goes from the beach to downtown, which is like 5 blocks. It will be gone in 10 years if it doesn't expand into neighborhoods where people live.

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You can't say this project will be a waste of money until the DMJM + Harris study comes out. If the spin off investment is greater than the cost of the project, how is that a waste of money? So you buy a streetcar line for $69 million (+$2million/year operating) and it leverages $250 million investment (low end) in the first three to five years. You're still looking at a significant plus for downtown. If you had that potential ROI wouldn't it be wasting money not to make the investment? Need I remind that it has been said this will be a private-public partnership.

A GR proposal against Kenosha is not a great comparison.

Edited by Rizzo
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You're right Rizzo, I'm a bit hasty with the waste of money declaration, but I'm really weary of transit projects where the purpose is to spur investment instead of providing a viable transportation option to city residents. We already have tax incentives to spur real estate investment downtown and I fear that projects like this actually give public transit opponents more ammunition when more expansive (and expensive) projects are proposed, because they always say "look at the money they threw at the project downtown, which no one rides" and they'll be right (regardless of tax revenue development might bring).

This is a quote from a recent Press article:

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Living in San Diego, I've seen first hand what a streetcar system can do to spur development. The trolleys here in San Diego have turned a run-down city core into a major downtown. As a native of Grand Rapids, and someone planning on moving back, I think everyone in Grand Rapids will be amazed at the development spurred on by the streetcars. Everytime I ride the trolley, I see new development at every trolley stop. I know the route is not ideal but it's a start. For a city in car happy Michigan, it's a wonderful start.

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You're right Rizzo, I'm a bit hasty with the waste of money declaration, but I'm really weary of transit projects where the purpose is to spur investment instead of providing a viable transportation option to city residents. We already have tax incentives to spur real estate investment downtown and I fear that projects like this actually give public transit opponents more ammunition when more expansive (and expensive) projects are proposed, because they always say "look at the money they threw at the project downtown, which no one rides" and they'll be right (regardless of tax revenue development might bring).

This is a quote from a recent Press article:

“It’s an extension of pedestrian activity,” Varga says. “It will also create a new nucleus of riders outside the core that will travel into the core. That’s a key component.”

Ok, it's an extension of pedestian activity, whatever that means, but people coming from outside the core? That would be a key component, but the small number of people who live north of the freeway who will be actually be served by this route would be better served by a bicycle.

Yeah, I keep racking my brain on this one. The streetcar really needs to start somewhere, and in the beginning it will probably earn the nickname "train to nowhere" even by transit advocates. There has to be a long-term plan in place to add on to the streetcar line to serve the near downtown neighborhoods, before I think they'll get widespread buy in. It has to be transportation tool FIRST, an economic development tool SECOND.

With that being said, the Pearl District streetcar in Portland was put in before that area was cool. As far as I have learned, it was a rundown mostly manufacturing and warehouse district before the streetcar went in. I'm sure there were many who thought it was a waste at the time.

I too think they should explore doing BRT out to Allendale. Or maybe just making at least minimal upgrades to make it more of an express bus. Traffic light priority and dedicated lanes in certain areas might help with that, even without adding station platforms.

There's an article in the Press today about Rizzo's announcement.

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You're right Rizzo, I'm a bit hasty with the waste of money declaration, but I'm really weary of transit projects where the purpose is to spur investment instead of providing a viable transportation option to city residents. We already have tax incentives to spur real estate investment downtown and I fear that projects like this actually give public transit opponents more ammunition when more expansive (and expensive) projects are proposed, because they always say "look at the money they threw at the project downtown, which no one rides" and they'll be right (regardless of tax revenue development might bring).

This is a quote from a recent Press article:

"It's an extension of pedestrian activity," Varga says. "It will also create a new nucleus of riders outside the core that will travel into the core. That's a key component."

Ok, it's an extension of pedestian activity, whatever that means, but people coming from outside the core? That would be a key component, but the small number of people who live north of the freeway who will be actually be served by this route would be better served by a bicycle.

You're right, the streetcar needs to provide a transit service and move people for it to be successful. Don't we have that potential now? There needs to be a balance in aligning the streetcar near enough potential ridership, yet also enough opportunities for private investment -- balance. Arguably, it is the private investment that will further make a streetcar line more viable (more potential riders and increase in tax revenue.) Currently, you have centers of people potential for a starter loop downtown. The Van Andel arena alone brings in more than a million people a year. Not to mention the quarter of a million expected for GRAM. Then on top of that the other people centers: Devos Place, Pantlind, Monroe Center, Vandenburg Plaza, etc. These are all directly on the proposed line. Now factor in areas for building anew which will add more people along the line, thus adding vitality to a streetcar.

This downtown loop is only the start in adding mobility. There are options under study to extend lines into nearside neighborhoods giving people diverse transit options in and out of Downtown. One specific line will go to Eastown, with other extensions to the west and north. With these future extensions there will be many more diverse people centers to add to the equation. (GVSU, residential, business & retail centers, etc.)

I see this project bringing optimism that will follow the current boom downtown. What kind of statement can this project make to a first time visitor? I'm willing to wager it will make equal the statement that tall buildings and cranes have. Imagine you are someone visiting Devos Place and seeing such a modern utility?

Anyhow, there is too much riding on this that could either help or hurt perception of any future rail transit. If the streetcar is pushed to be something it is not, then that will be public perception of any future transit on rail.

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Well I think Michigan Ave should have been build with it. Just several parking ramps on each end and just run the line to those ramps. That would save Michigan from having so many cars causing traffic issues for emergency vehicles. The other thing I like to see is a Division Ave line and a 28th Street Line. Those 3 lines I see are major coridors that can use a a streetcar system to get rid alot of the traffic. My problem is my work REQUIRES me to have a vehicle on the premises. It sucks but I live with it since I live close to my workplace. In anycase I see the this as a first start. But I really think the Michigan Ave corridor should be added. Its just stupid to place it as the back burner when that is the going to be the focus of economy in grand rapids.

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Well I think Michigan Ave should have been build with it. Just several parking ramps on each end and just run the line to those ramps. That would save Michigan from having so many cars causing traffic issues for emergency vehicles. The other thing I like to see is a Division Ave line and a 28th Street Line. Those 3 lines I see are major coridors that can use a a streetcar system to get rid alot of the traffic. My problem is my work REQUIRES me to have a vehicle on the premises. It sucks but I live with it since I live close to my workplace. In anycase I see the this as a first start. But I really think the Michigan Ave corridor should be added. Its just stupid to place it as the back burner when that is the going to be the focus of economy in grand rapids.

I thought the Michigan Street Hill is too steep of a grade to have a Street car and that was why it has been put on the "back burner" so to speak. :dontknow:

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History will tell us that it isn't practical in Grand Rapids. The Hill was serviced by cable car, but icy whether proved too difficult for the cable system to manage. Some lines that must negotiate steep climbs, typically called "funiculars" do this by cable and a rack and pinion system. Where a geared middle wheel interlocks with a middle rail. John Ball Zoo should be getting something similar to this pretty soon. A historical fun fact, the Grand Rapids cable car route was the longest of any city, measuring some 32,000 feet.

Edited by Rizzo
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