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Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids


GRDadof3

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Indiana has just passed some ground-breaking transit legislation:

http://www.theheraldbulletin.com/local/loc..._031195240.html

The legislation establishes transit development districts, a popular concept in other states but a first for Indiana. It would allow cities, counties or towns who are members of a regional transportation authority, or RTA, to designate selected areas or thoroughfares as

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I brought up an observation in the Rail Transit blog today. The post questions the use of the word "rail" or "train" in the discussion of BRT. I've noticed that some news reports and even The Rapid are using it to help describe what BRT is. In my opinion it could back fire.

Blog post, "Sell them enhanced bus"

What are your thoughts?

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I brought up an observation in the Rail Transit blog today. The post questions the use of the word "rail" or "train" in the discussion of BRT. I've noticed that some news reports and even The Rapid are using it to help describe what BRT is. In my opinion it could back fire.

Blog post, "Sell them enhanced bus"

What are your thoughts?

I agree Rizzo. Tell people it's an enhanced bus line, but don't make it out to be what it's not. Otherwise, people are going to be VERY disappointed. It's better to set realistic expectations and then beat those expectations, than the other way around.

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I agree Rizzo. Tell people it's an enhanced bus line, but don't make it out to be what it's not. Otherwise, people are going to be VERY disappointed. It's better to set realistic expectations and then beat those expectations, than the other way around.

Right

I don't think people need comparisons anyway. Even if its only a simple reference to rail on their website. Just referring to rail in this conversation gets people thinking about expectations. What comes to your mind when someone tells you that the route will be many ways like rail?

Set the public up for improved bus service that way it meets or exceeds their expectations of regular bus service. It seems like there's a slippery slope to this. Today it's saying that the BRT will be "many ways" like rail. Tomorrow, the BRT will spin off the same amount of development as rail transit. This likeness game seems a little risky, especially when something new and unproven is introduced in the metro area. Some of the hallmarks of rail transit are no where to be seen on this route.

Its really important to remember that The Rapid has to brand this service outside of its regular services. I believe its required by the Feds in the Very Small Starts program. (?) That's where I would look to see if The Rapid makes the claim again.

Edited by Rizzo
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Just got this in the email, The Transit Legislative Lunch is on Monday, March 10, Noon at LaGrave Christian Reformed Church. This event is a luncheon to discuss expanded transit in Grand Rapids with state legislatures. The event will be an opportunity to ask questions and requests of local representatives. Registration information and the form is at:http://www.dakc.us/KentCountyLegislativeLunch08.htm

Now for the "Request for Questions" (RFQ) :) We'll soon have a new transit information center full of resources and information for visitors and members. One feature to this thread will be a list of "frequently asked questions." So you guessed it, we need questions and inquiries. If you have any concerns in local transit that you would like featured in the information center have at it!

Edited by Rizzo
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There is an article on WZZM 13 this morning about the proposed Street Car for Downtown GR.

Grand Rapids considers streetcar plan

Personally I don't car for the "older" style street car used in the picture on their site. I wish they would have used the newer style. The story is also on Grand Rapid Business Journal this week.

Streetcar System Seen As Economic Booster

Some highlights from the article:

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There is an article on WZZM 13 this morning about the proposed Street Car for Downtown GR.

Grand Rapids considers streetcar plan

Personally I don't car for the "older" style street car used in the picture on their site. I wish they would have used the newer style. The story is also on Grand Rapid Business Journal this week.

That really irks the sh-- out of me. Why in the hell would WZZM-TV 13 slap up the antiquated image of a streetcar from San Fran when - with the tiniest bit of thinking and connecting the dots - they would have arrived at ITP's website and found a picture of the modern streetrail system that The Rapid intends to develop?! :angry: As "opine-first-get-facts-later" as most GR folk are, they have to know that such lazy and irresponsible presentation is not good for something as embryonic, fragile and needed as this first component of a real mass transit system is. Damn, do they remember that this is the region that - with tremendous struggle - was convinced to get behind a MODERN and intermodal mass transit system? It's as if they are trying to sway public opinion to believe that we are back to our old ways of planning antiquated, small-scale and absurd. I need a hair-pulling-out emoticon here!!

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That really irks the sh-- out of me. Why in the hell would WZZM-TV 13 slap up the antiquated image of a streetcar from San Fran when - with the tiniest bit of thinking and connecting the dots - they would have arrived at ITP's website and found a picture of the modern streetrail system that The Rapid intends to develop?! :angry: As "opine-first-get-facts-later" as most GR folk are, they have to know that such lazy and irresponsible presentation is not good for something as embryonic, fragile and needed as this first component of a real mass transit system is. Damn, do they remember that this is the region that - with tremendous struggle - was convinced to get behind a MODERN and intermodal mass transit system? It's as if they are trying to sway public opinion to believe that we are back to our old ways of planning antiquated, small-scale and absurd. I need a hair-pulling-out emoticon here!!

Well, I would also ask this of the Rapid:

) Was the Press provided with press packets with images of specific streetcars (make and model) that they have in mind? If you leave a vacuum, the MSM will fill it with whatever mush they can dig up to make Press time, or the 6:00 news hour. WZZM may have just done a google image search for "streetcar" and inserted whatever they found into their website.

Just a thought.

I don't think the Rapid understands the image war they are fighting here. In fact, in reading the article, I didn't even post it because they just restated what they have been saying all along, which is why they are being criticized in the editorial pages. They keep saying that x dollars of streetcars = y dollars of investment. But they don't talk at all about it being a transportation TOOL, and why it brings investment (because people want to live alongside the streetcar lines so they don't have to constantly utilize their automobiles every time they want to go somewhere or get to work).

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Well, I would also ask this of the Rapid:

) Was the Press provided with press packets with images of specific streetcars (make and model) that they have in mind? If you leave a vacuum, the MSM will fill it with whatever mush they can dig up to make Press time, or the 6:00 news hour. WZZM may have just done a google image search for "streetcar" and inserted whatever they found into their website.

Just a thought.

I don't think the Rapid understands the image war they are fighting here. In fact, in reading the article, I didn't even post it because they just restated what they have been saying all along, which is why they are being criticized in the editorial pages. They keep saying that x dollars of streetcars = y dollars of investment. But they don't talk at all about it being a transportation TOOL, and why it brings investment (because people want to live alongside the streetcar lines so they don't have to constantly utilize their automobiles every time they want to go somewhere or get to work).

Peter is open to hearing helpful insight like that - especially when it comes from people that are "outside of the process". I'm IN the process. Hearing that from you will cause a "gosh, I never thought of it from that perspective". Email him now.

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Peter is open to hearing helpful insight like that - especially when it comes from people that are "outside of the process". I'm IN the process. Hearing that from you will cause a "gosh, I never thought of it from that perspective". Email him now.

Thanks, I will. :thumbsup:

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Dad, when you say editorial, do you mean the Public Pulse sections? I don't remember the press editorializing the streetcar recently.

You are right about the image war. This is a new concept for the city and needs constant attention and care. The Rapid should make that fact known that this streetcar will solicit PRIVATE contributions. My belief is that a bulk of the criticism is coming from people who think their mileages are going to be raised. This issue of funding is going to get out of The Rapid's hands if they can't convey that message. Once the public sees more of this discussion being driven by a public agency they will quickly assume higher taxes and wasteful spending. I know that The Rapid folks look at this thread, so I'm positive they are dully noting some of our discussions.

There seems to be great talk in why tax payer money will buy a streetcar to move people down Monroe which is easily walkable.

Edited by Rizzo
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There seems to be great talk in why tax payer money will buy a streetcar to move people down Monroe which is easily walkable.

It's walkable, but it can be a bit of a hike. I frequently eat lunch with a friend of mine that works in the NoMo area, and he'll actually drive from his office down to Monroe Center. I think it's pretty ridiculous that he won't walk half a mile, but a streetcar might change his habit. :)

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It's walkable, but it can be a bit of a hike. I frequently eat lunch with a friend of mine that works in the NoMo area, and he'll actually drive from his office down to Monroe Center. I think it's pretty ridiculous that he won't walk half a mile, but a streetcar might change his habit. :)

That was my summation of some comments on WZZM's Internet forum.

I've been following A2's commuter rail project. Looks like even before the project can move forward a developer is already proposing a TOD at a proposed station.

A Green Oak Township developer is proposing a "transit oriented" commercial center on the old Woodbridge Corp. property on Eight Mile Road, just west of US-23.

Earl LaFave, co-owner of Beck Development Co., owns the 25-acre site at 435 W. Eight Mile Road formerly used by Woodbridge to manufacture foam products. LaFave also is the managing member of the limited liability company that was formed to develop the property.

The property, next to the Great Lakes Central Railroad tracks, is a proposed station stop for an Ann Arbor-Howell commuter rail service, which a coalition of private and government agencies is trying to start. The site sits in Northfield Township, at the Washtenaw-Livingston county line.

-- http://blog.mlive.com/lcn/2008/02/lafave_p...r_rail_dev.html

Edited by Rizzo
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I clicked on Rizzo's link above and found this message from a Jeff in Grand Rapids. I'm just wondering if a certain forum moderator has been hiding how he really feels about mass transit all of these years. How Sad.... :silly:

"Did I hear correctly on the news this morning:$60-80m for this thing? If this thing happens, I'm outta here. I'm sick and tired of watching the disgusting waste of taxpayer dollars. Rosa Parks Circle comes to mind. What an atrocity! Removing the beautiful amphitheater and replacing it w/ that clamshell would be laughable if I didn't live here. How many potholes can you repair for 70m? 1.6 miles is walkable - 15-20 minutes max. How about we spend a fraction of that amount w/ public service healthy lifestyle messages planted around **** This one's the last straw. Do we really have so much money laying around that we can actually even consider a "streetcar"??! "

Edited by lstmk
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I clicked on Rizzo's link above and found this message from a Jeff in Grand Rapids. I'm just wondering if a certain forum moderator has been hiding how he really feels about mass transit all of these years. How Sad.... :silly:

"Did I hear correctly on the news this morning:$60-80m for this thing? If this thing happens, I'm outta here. I'm sick and tired of watching the disgusting waste of taxpayer dollars. Rosa Parks Circle comes to mind. What an atrocity! Removing the beautiful amphitheater and replacing it w/ that clamshell would be laughable if I didn't live here. How many potholes can you repair for 70m? 1.6 miles is walkable - 15-20 minutes max. How about we spend a fraction of that amount w/ public service healthy lifestyle messages planted around **** This one's the last straw. Do we really have so much money laying around that we can actually even consider a "streetcar"??! "

Haha! You got me. :D J/K

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WZZM 13 called the governor's office Thursday to ask what's being done at the state level about the pothole problem.

Spokeswoman Liz Boyd acknowledged people are frustrated with the state of Michigan's roads. Boyd said "This is why the governor has appointed a task force to come up with a long term solution and more money for roads. We know that local road commissions are working to maximize the limited dollars they have."

The task force Boyd is referring to meets for the first time Friday morning in Lansing.

-- http://www.wzzm13.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=88753

Why a road news item in the transit thread? Think 'local sales tax,' for road and transit funding. Maybe its time for those two legislatures to renew efforts to allow county citizens to levy sales taxes to fix roads and expand transit. This makes perfect sense. Maybe it's time to make funding expanded transit and roadway maintenance the topic of discussion to pass this. Kind of like two sides confronting two issues with the same answer.

What do you folks thinks?

By the way, Peter Varga says the BRT is like rail. As much of a cheerleader that I am, this bus as rail talk has to stop.

The Rapid is also making plans for a rapid transit system in the next four years. The Rapid's CEO Peter Varga says, “I think you have to visualize it as using busses as rail, as a rail system. It operates just as fast as rail would in the corridor. It stops at a station. There would be announcements as to when the next bus is coming. Multiple doors open. People who have already paid at kiosks at the station, and they just board and the doors close and they go."

-- http://www.wzzm13.com/news/local/grmetro_a...x?storyid=88773

Edited by Rizzo
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Study: Traffic crashes cost American motorists $164B a year

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Traffic crashes cost American motorists more than $160 billion a year while inflicting a staggering per-person toll on small cities such as Little Rock, Ark., Columbia, S.C., and Pensacola, Fla., according to a AAA research report. The study, to be released Wednesday, found that traffic crashes have a much more damaging impact on society than the bumper-to-bumper congestion that riles commuters in many metropolitan areas.

Maryland-based Cambridge Systematics Inc., which conducted the research for the automobile association, found that crashes cost U.S. motorists $164.2 billion a year, or about $1,051 per person. That's more than double the $67.6 billion in annual costs from congestion, or about $430 per person.

(emphasis mine, obviously)

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/0...s_cost_ame.html

These are just more of the hidden costs of owning an automobile that people don't factor into their decision making processes, because they are built into the cost of their health insurance and the automobile insurance, making them that much more expensive.

Not to mention the human tolls addressed later:

Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA's president and chief executive, noted that nearly 43,000 people die each year on the nation's roadways but that "the annual tally of motor vehicle-related fatalities barely registers as a blip in most people's minds."

If there was a disease that killed 43,000 people a year and maimed and injured hundreds of thousands more, imagine the size of the non-profit that would have formed to raise funds to find a cure for that disease.

Of course, AAA doesn't list mass transit and other auto alternatives as an option for fighting these safety related issues, but I think they could play a major role. Cars aren't going anywhere, and they are certainly useful for many types of trips. But reducing those trips and creating that safer alternative is one of the great things that mass transit offers.

The article also has a link to a specific list of cities from the study and it shows that Grand Rapids automobile accidents cost greater Grand Rapids $751 MILLION or $974 per person.

Edited by fotoman311
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Kent county decided to not fund the $100,000 portion of the needs study for county-wide transit. Instead, they forwarded the issue onto the Metro Planning Organization (Grand Valley Metro Council) The county is a member on GVMC's board and will help push a vote for funding the study.

Sounds like they want to make it where the study can be funded through the MPO, which might get federal dollars. :dontknow:

Also, add 20 minutes to your commute if The Rapid didn't exist. Atleast that is what The Press is reporting today.

Edited by Rizzo
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  • 2 weeks later...

There's a big article about the new proposed BRT line on S. Division in the Business Journal today:

http://www.grbj.com/GRBJ/Nav/Login.htm?Art...A-25D265580D1D}

(Part 2 of a 3 part series)

It sounds like there may even be some early speculating going on by developers where potential BRT stations might be placed. St Mary's talks about their hope that a station gets placed by their proposed developments on the old Eerdman's Printing sites. The best quotes come regarding Spectrum Health:

Spectrum, (project manager Chris) Bailey said, is trying to find the best solution so that its staff can get to work without the hospital having to build more parking structures and adding to the congestion around its facility. The BRT might be the ticket for the 1200 staff members who live within a quarter mile of a bus stop.....

"The way we see it, the BRT will be good for our environment, good for our staff and good for our bottom line."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Slow transit day. I decided to conceptualize a transit project -- Area 4 & 5 got me thinking. What about a terminal under a mixed use tower with a vertical mall and that science center you've been on about Dad? Something similar to Cleveland's Tower City! I have a write up with some graphics on the Rail Transit Blog of the Terminal Square Project. 3d renderings will follow.

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Edited by Rizzo
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In your write-up you mention the commuter rail into the terminal would be raised on berms taking up more then half the park land. What if that last stretch was instead put underground. That would be more expensive, but it would not take away park land. I would think a lot of people would not be happy to see park land removed.

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