Jump to content

GRDadof3

Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids

Recommended Posts

What you all fail to realize here is that FTA and The Rapid have danced now for over five years on this (including myself). We have been painstakingly pulling together what will - in effect - be the DEMONSTRATION fixed-guideway mass transit project to open the door to future and more significant funding from FTA's New Starts budget for BOTH Metro Grand Rapids and Metro Detroit initially (and subsequently the rest of urban Michigan that is ready for fixed-guideway systems).

The Division Corridor will ABSOLUTELY not get a streetrail system for three glaring reasons: 1] the segment of the Division Corridor accepted by FTA for New Starts funding is 9 miles long and would cost just over $177 million to develop in streetrail format as opposed to BRT's $59 million; 2] streetrail's top speed is around 20 mph <not good for a high-speed dedicated transit lane on Division> as opposed to BRT's being 65 mph; 3] with BRT going in on Division just like the Euclid Corridor BRT in Cleveland (Cleveland OH Euclid Avenue Corridor BRT Website), The Rapid will have all of the stations already put in place for future more high-capacity/high-speed fixed-guideway formats.

The last point is significant because once the Division Corridor's density warrants, the BRT vehicles can be removed, an elevated light-rail system can supplant it and the footprints for the needed new elevated stations will already be controlled by The Rapid and ready for immediate reconfiguration.

Small bits and pieces on the journey to world-class transit for new transit towns like us, grasshoppers. Small bits and pieces . . . . ;)

That's all fine and good, but I'm not talking about the BRT. I'm talking about the current streetcar route. And I'm not talking about 9 miles of light rail. I'm talking about maybe a mile tops (and a mile that would already be covered on Monroe Avenue, just shifted over 4 streets), that would greatly increase the VALUE of the streetcar. Right now, it doesn't touch any of the major employment centers or campuses downtown. You're just handing this streetcar over to the anti-transit crowd on a silver platter (and for good reason). I've even heard pro-transit people question the proposed route. And apparently some of the ITP board feels the same.

And streetcars can go faster than 20 mph. They just usually don't because their stops are more frequent than light rail and BRT. It all to me seems like using flawed logic/rationalization to reach a goal that has already been set in stone (like you're backfilling your case that's already been decided by the judge, no matter how flawed it is).

Let me reiterate that I love the idea of streetcars downtown: full streetcars. Maybe not right away, but at least being used quite regularly in a reasonable period of time (ie not in a decade). People have short attention spans. If this streetcar isn't considered at least a partial success in 3 - 5 years, you guys are sunk. You won't get one dime more from people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


FWIW, I don't think going out of the way to hit that bit of Division is very worthwhile. Anything that serves Medical Mile needs to be a true east-west route. It needs to reach Spectrum's parking lots on Michigan past Fuller (and conveniently, my house :)). Eventually there could be another north-south line on Division, but Monroe is really where all the action is on a north-south alignment right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, I don't think going out of the way to hit that bit of Division is very worthwhile. Anything that serves Medical Mile needs to be a true east-west route. It needs to reach Spectrum's parking lots on Michigan past Fuller (and conveniently, my house :) ). Eventually there could be another north-south line on Division, but Monroe is really where all the action is on a north-south alignment right now.

Is it safe to assume that a choice needed to be made between the primary riders being downtown workers or the visitor/convention crowd? By linking hotels up and down Monroe to the convention center and entertainment areas like the Bob and the arena it would appear that the visitor/convention crowd won out (not that some downtown workers won't also benefit). This isn't a bad thing and from a PR standpoint it will look good to people who visit our fair city. Who knows, perhaps this could finally spur development of one of downtown's most egregious examples of neglect - The Rowe Hotel/Olds Manor. With a convenient streetcar link to parking up and down Monroe, that argument against rehabilitation can be mitigated.

:dontknow:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Use the feds and this will stay a vision .....

.... sales tax.

TIF, Tax Increment Financing. If this stuff generates all the new development they are claiming, it should pay for itself. Forget the Feds, let's git er done. Plus no Feds = no red tape, stupid regulations & rules, no Davis Bacon wage requirements etc. Use a local design firm, keep the dollars here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it safe to assume that a choice needed to be made between the primary riders being downtown workers or the visitor/convention crowd? By linking hotels up and down Monroe to the convention center and entertainment areas like the Bob and the arena it would appear that the visitor/convention crowd won out (not that some downtown workers won't also benefit). This isn't a bad thing and from a PR standpoint it will look good to people who visit our fair city. Who knows, perhaps this could finally spur development of one of downtown's most egregious examples of neglect - The Rowe Hotel/Olds Manor. With a convenient streetcar link to parking up and down Monroe, that argument against rehabilitation can be mitigated.

:dontknow:

Fair enough. If they're just trying to serve visitors to downtown to begin with, then this Monroe route does that in some ways. But it's betting a lot on future development to come, IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TIF, Tax Increment Financing. If this stuff generates all the new development they are claiming, it should pay for itself. Forget the Feds, let's git er done. Plus no Feds = no red tape, stupid regulations & rules, no Davis Bacon wage requirements etc. Use a local design firm, keep the dollars here.

Forget giving you a cookie, you get the whole box!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw a poll on this the other day at WOOD about willingness to use mass transit, and these were the results:

Are you willing to use mass transit and conserve more to lower your energy usage and cost?

Yes, I am: 21.3%

No, I'm not: 37.2%

I'm willing, just haven't done it: 21.3%

Not yet, anyway: 20.2%

So basically it boils down to

Yes: 42.6%

No: 57.4%

:unsure:

There's a lot of work to be done yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw a poll on this the other day at WOOD about willingness to use mass transit, and these were the results:

Are you willing to use mass transit and conserve more to lower your energy usage and cost?

Yes, I am: 21.3%

No, I'm not: 37.2%

I'm willing, just haven't done it: 21.3%

Not yet, anyway: 20.2%

So basically it boils down to

Yes: 42.6%

No: 57.4%

:unsure:

There's a lot of work to be done yet.

to be fair though if that sample is representative of the market as a whole then that means there are approximately 700,000 people who are willing to use mass transit (I'm assuming on a regular basis)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No good, too much reading into a bad poll.

If you really wanted to, you could say that 62.8% are favorable to transit based on a certain circumstance. The rest, 37.2%, will not use transit whatsoever to conserve.

FYI, most of this talk of regional transit in West Michigan is coming from citizens in urban and suburban Ottawa county. There is work to be done, but its at the top... not the bottom.

Edited by Rizzo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TIF, Tax Increment Financing. If this stuff generates all the new development they are claiming, it should pay for itself. Forget the Feds, let's git er done. Plus no Feds = no red tape, stupid regulations & rules, no Davis Bacon wage requirements etc. Use a local design firm, keep the dollars here.

That is EXACTLY why The Rapid/ITP is not going after FTA funding on the Market/Monroe streetrail project. Why would they when the Market/Monroe route stands to deliver conventioneers/tourists/circulating workers/bar-hopping students/residents (WITH MONEY THEY INTEND TO FREELY GIVE THOSE VENUES' STAKEHOLDERS) directly or nearly directly into 1] significant existing destinations (i.e. - Founder's Brewery, Hopson Flats, VanAndel Arena, The BOB, Plaza Towers, Rosa Parks Circle, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, DeVos Place, Calder Plaza and Icon on Bond) and 2] into new developments being formulated by Peter Secchia, Dan DeVos and Richard DeVos for the route's south-end and by the Joes Moch and the Monroe North Hotel folks on the route's north-end? This is a deal where these collective stakeholders will be asked to pay ONCE for a streetrail system that will provide perpetual economic benefit to them. Done that way, you arrive at the sentiment of 'Raildudes dad': "no Feds = no red tape, stupid regulations & rules, no Davis Bacon wage requirements etc.".

The reams of examples of transit-oriented development that followed streetrail in Portland, Denver, Tacoma and the other cities with new streetrail combined with our "perfect storm" of savvy philanthropic developers, their interest in transit as a development tool and an alignment that has a highly developed middle and highly developable end sections is just too sweet. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, (etc.) streetrail lines will easily follow from something as high-profile as the Market/Monroe corridor will be.

However and again . . . . " Small bits and pieces on the journey to world-class transit for new transit towns like us, grasshoppers. Small bits and pieces . . . ." ;)

Edited by metrogrkid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's all fine and good, but I'm not talking about the BRT. I'm talking about the current streetcar route. And I'm not talking about 9 miles of light rail. I'm talking about maybe a mile tops (and a mile that would already be covered on Monroe Avenue, just shifted over 4 streets), that would greatly increase the VALUE of the streetcar. Right now, it doesn't touch any of the major employment centers or campuses downtown. You're just handing this streetcar over to the anti-transit crowd on a silver platter (and for good reason). I've even heard pro-transit people question the proposed route. And apparently some of the ITP board feels the same.

I totally hear what you're saying, I'd much rather have a route that swung over in that directions...BUT:

After reading the whole study it is clear that they did consider several other options including Ottawa/Ionia. That option was no good due to the "lean" crossing michigan hill. As for division, they didn't mention it directly but they did mention that some of the 131 overpasses blocked potential east west routes (in other words - not enough clearance). Taking division under michigan would likely present the same issue. I don't have the actual clearance numbers but that is not the tallest underpass I've ever seen by a longshot...

Just a thought.

post-14166-1216238238_thumb.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's interesting that The Press editorialized support for a Democrat in suburban Ottawa County that has "good ideas" on transit such as expanding it to include light rail. This marks a pattern by The Press on light rail.

That is very interesting. I think the Press has always reflected the views of its readership, which is slowly beginning to come around on these issues. It's hard to be a dissenter when the Chamber of Commerce, local economic development agencies and many local business leaders are slowly beginning to see the benefits of providing the populace with multiple choices of transit (not just car or bus). Let's hope they offer a "balanced" approach when it comes time for the BRT and streetcar to ramp up. Even better if they came out in support of both (although that's a lot to wish for).

It's a lot better than the situation in Columbus, OH, where even a member of their own transit board (COTA) stated recently "We already have a fabulous rapid transit system - it's called the freeway!" (originally flagged on The Overhead Wire blog)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michigan needs some drastic changes to its transportation plan because this article in MLive highlights some disturbing numbers.

"Michigan needs to double its spending on roads and bridges or many will keep deteriorating and become unsafe, says a report to a task force studying how to pay for transportation projects without raising the state's gasoline tax."

"[The report] says the cost of fuel, trucks and asphalt is soaring while revenues are declining after staying stagnant for nearly a decade. Part of the problem is motorists are buying less gas, reducing the amount of money the state collects from the gas tax."

A. I hope this doesn't discourage politicians from investing in mass transit (GR and Detroit's transit projects).

B. This exemplifies why building more roads and highways is a bad policy direction. MDOT needs to be reorganized.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

High fuel costs affecting local mass transit budget...

http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=8712152

I bet The Rapid's Board won't disagree again with Mayor Heartwell the next time he suggests ordering additional HYBRID busses (at an ITP Board meeting earlier this year, Heartwell led a tiny minority that advocated for a significant amount of hybrid busses to replace the gas-only models that were coming due for replacement).

PLACE THE DISSENTING RAPID BOARD MEMBERS HERE FOR A PICTURE--> x :camera: Thank You.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bet The Rapid's Board won't disagree again with Mayor Heartwell the next time he suggests ordering additional HYBRID busses (at an ITP Board meeting earlier this year, Heartwell led a tiny minority that advocated for a significant amount of hybrid busses to replace the gas-only models that were coming due for replacement)

Hope you were only quoting the tv media story. I'd bet my paycheck there's not a "gas" burner in the fleets. Diesel burners, yes, gasoline fueled no.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope you were only quoting the tv media story. I'd bet my paycheck there's not a "gas" burner in the fleets. Diesel burners, yes, gasoline fueled no.

Yeah, Dad, I think the last gasoline burner left that fleet in the 1950s. Do you remember when the buses had manual transmissions? And were painted green and yellow?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, Dad, I think the last gasoline burner left that fleet in the 1950s. Do you remember when the buses had manual transmissions? And were painted green and yellow?

Yup, rode downtown with my mother 1955 - early 60's on both the old rattlie clunkers and occasionally if we were lucky, on the new GM coaches, AC'd if IIRC. Eastern / College Route - #9? IIRC, the old ones were green with yellow trim and the new ones were more cream with a green stripe. In high school, my dad drove 3 of us to Central Christian and I took the Franklin bus downtown and transferred to the Eastern / College bus to Emerald & Spencer. Did that until my buddy bought a 1954 Chevy to get us to school. Ah, you have me going down memory lane again :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Lee. I read the articles in the hard copy this morning (front page below the fold). They got in some good points about mass transit such as streetcars, including how development patterns along mass transit is similar to developments along M-6 (for instance), and that all transportation systems are "subsidized" by taxpayers. Much like the points we've made here in the same regard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Lee. I read the articles in the hard copy this morning (front page below the fold). They got in some good points about mass transit such as streetcars, including how development patterns along mass transit is similar to developments along M-6 (for instance), and that all transportation systems are "subsidized" by taxpayers. Much like the points we've made here in the same regard.

As I read the article this morning, I wondered why the route is a 3 MI north/south route versus a 3+ mile east/west route.

IANAUP (I am not an urban planner) - but would it not make sense to run this thing up Michigan out to the Beltline and west out Bridge?

I just think of walking up Michigan St hill (ugh!), being able to go from De Vos Place to 2 toursity places (Zoo and FMG), Spectrum folks can take this thing to their satellite lot at Plymouth/Michigan, it hits a couple of DASH lots and would skirt the north side of GVSU.

OTOH - When I looked at the current route, I thought immediately of another DASH route, versus spending 75 Million on a streetcar.

Thoughts?

Edited by trongrr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing about a Michigan Hill route from what I understand is that it will be very costly. The steep slope coupled with the bridge over Division would cost a lot of money.. more than what is worth experimenting with. If the streetcar is successful, I'm sure a Michigan Hill route could be in the future, but for now I don't think it is financially feasible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I read the article this morning, I wondered why the route is a 3 MI north/south route versus a 3+ mile east/west route.

IANAUP (I am not an urban planner) - but would it not make sense to run this thing up Michigan out to the Beltline and west out Bridge?

I just think of walking up Michigan St hill (ugh!), being able to go from De Vos Place to 2 toursity places (Zoo and FMG), Spectrum folks can take this thing to their satellite lot at Plymouth/Michigan, it hits a couple of DASH lots and would skirt the north side of GVSU.

OTOH - When I looked at the current route, I thought immediately of another DASH route, versus spending 75 Million on a streetcar.

Thoughts?

You have to realize that this North and South alignment on Monroe has been vetted. The Monroe Streetcar has the ability to satisfy many requirements to make this a success. You got empty properties, activity centers, parking ramps, transit center serving 8M+ riders, Amtrak, etc. However, there's more to this story then I can say.

On your other thought on Dash instead. Take a look at why we are even discussing a downtown streetcar: $388 million. That's how much downtown can expect to see in development. This is our "second wave" or a good part of it. I don't think any of the current hundreds if not billions of dollars in downtown development can be attributed to DASH alone.

Edited by Rizzo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.