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^I don't think so.

Just ran across this read, "8 Habits of Highly Successful Commuter Rail Lines." It's specific to Houston, but the 8 habits are applicable to any city. Briefly, they are:

1. The ideal commuter rail line improves on current transit options.

2. The ideal commuter rail line makes use of unused rail capacity in a corridor where highway capacity is scarce.

3. The ideal commuter rail line serves more than commuters.

4. The ideal commuter rail line has a city at each end.

5. The ideal commuter rail line offers good connections to multiple employment centers.

6. The ideal commuter rail line serves long trips.

7. The ideal commuter rail line connects to local transit.

8. The ideal commuter rail line has stations you can walk (or bike) to.

With all of this in mind, is it reasonable to think that Columbia's future commuter rail line would be that successful? At present, I think the major weaknesses here would be #5 (the suburban employment centers pale in comparison with the downtown market) and possibly #7 (this point, I think, would give support to the establishment of a downtown streetcar network).

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I think it would be a huge stretch to get light rail in any city in South Carolina. The politics just aren't there to support it. In order to fund a light rail system, you need a dedicated revenue sou

Exciting times for the state!!   South Carolina House Passes Transportation Funding Bill; Measure Moved to Senate Read more at: http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=

I Just got back from my Personal Conference with the SCDOT Mass transit guy. and he loved my ideas and funny thing is that he said my ideas ties into the city and states idea for future transit. Curre

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Given that, then I would say no. They have identified Camden as the first destination for a CR route. It would have a city on either end, it would be a long route, but IMO thats where the qualificaitons end. Traffic is bad out that way, but its not as bad as other cities. Most of I-20 is still two lanes towards Camden. Plenty of additional capacity can still be added.

And walkability? That is nonexistant on any of the potential stops except downtown Camden, and maybe downtown Columbia- but that depends on where the main station will be. Northeast Columbia and Kershaw have zero walkability right now. Also, Camden doesn't have transit that I am aware of. CMRTA is.... not adequate right now. It could be changed to work though. And employment centers? There aren't any major nodes out that way except maybe SCBC-BS. Columbia's CBD is the major emplyoment node in the midlands.

Does that mean CR can't work? No. I think that while those principles are generally true for a major American city, in a palce the size of Columbia it is different. There is that primary destination that many people are trying to reach, and alternate modes should be utilized to access it.

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  • 3 months later...

The Columbia and Lexington chambers of commerce are mulling a local sales tax increase in Richland and Lexington counties to speed up major road improvements in the metropolitan area. Randy Halfacre, Lexington mayor and Lexington chamber president, says that a local subsidy is becoming the only way to enable road improvements to keep pace with growth, especially since federal and state aid

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I completely agree with you Krazee. A local sales tax increase shouldn't go just towards improving roads. If that is the case, this tax increase should be applied to the sale of gas. The people who use the roads, commute 15 miles, and are part of the traffic problems should be the ones paying for this. Especially since most of the congestion is happing in the burbs and on commuter routes.

People who live in the city and walk, bike, or take transit to work should not be the ones having to pay for this, as they are already doing their part. A local sales tax increase should be used not only on roads, but to also add bike lanes, improve sidewalks and pedestrian facilities and improve transit. All of this goes hand in hand with relieving traffic.

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If the road improvements include increased connectivity, then this might not be so bad. If we're just talking about widening US-1 through Lexington or Hardscrabble Rd and other similar projects then this really isn't the best solution.

Transit should be addressed through a tax, but not a gas tax. With gas prices going up, fuel consumption might not be the best way to go about it.

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If the road improvements include increased connectivity, then this might not be so bad. If we're just talking about widening US-1 through Lexington or Hardscrabble Rd and other similar projects then this really isn't the best solution.

And we're probably just talking about widening here. I'd be surprised if increasing connectivity would be on the radar.

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Thats probably a safe bet. There was talk at one point of 'northern arc' type of road that would provide an additional crossing of the Broad River in the northwest suburbs. Does anyone know what happened to that?

The first section of that is actually Clemson Road from I-20 to Killian Road and I-77. I think the long-term plan is for that "northern arterial" to eventually cross the Broad River and hit either I-20 or I-26 in the Irmo/St. Andrews area.

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  • 4 months later...

Its great in concept, but you must have an insane volume of people to make it viable (much like you'd have in Heathrow, one of the world's busiest airports). I don't see this as viable in Columbia. Sorry to be a downer :)

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It's not about giving up the car, It's about parking it for the day if you are commuting from outside the city, or leaving it in the garage if you live downtown. You really don't think we'll have the density in 5-10 years to warrant anything else than busses? Then you are pessimistic about this place's growth potential. We HAVE to plan ahead for some kind of mass transit, and this system has so much going for it compared to light rail, trolley's, subways etc. I think actually it is to Columbia's advantage to NOT have invested quite yet in mass transit till new systems like this one have been tested. This way we can leapfrog cities that have invested in potentially outdated systems like lightrail. Not that I think we should wait TOO much longer either.

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You really don't think we'll have the density in 5-10 years to warrant anything else than busses? Then you are pessimistic about this place's growth potential. We HAVE to plan ahead for some kind of mass transit, and this system has so much going for it compared to light rail, trolley's, subways etc.

"If you build it, they will come." Maybe, Columbia should adopt that philosophy towards transit. However, I'd recommend that all stations be air-conditioned because alot of people won't survive the wait in a Sandhills Summer for the train to arrive.

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There is no reason not to go ahead and start planning for future light rail and BRT connections in Columbia. The density of the metro isn't so much the issue as it is the critical mass of population. There have to be so many people trying to get into downtown Columbia that its no longer practical to drive. The density outside of downtown won't change much except from (rural to subdivision) if at all until the transportation infrastructure is added. Thats a fact. Columbia absolutely cannot make the mistake of planning for density in order to justify transit. That will not work.

I'd say about the time the Columbia metro tops 1 million we'll start seeing a stronger use of, and push for transit. Then when Rich/Lex has a combined population of 900k or so, we'll see a stronger push for fixed route transit- probably light rail. Given the increased interest in transit, and increasing gas prices, I think commuter rail will probably work well, but thats intercity transit, not intracity transit. BRT may even be worth pursuing in the near term. BRT is not as viable to me though, becuase it has not been shown to increase density like LRT.

Trolleys could conceivably be done sooner- between the Vista, Main St, and USC/Five Points would be a great loop. I think there is enough massing of jobs/housing/university/etc to see if something like that is feasible.

Transit is clearly something that Columbia will be looking at more seriously if its not already. Its just a matter of time.

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So, tell me, what does lightrail or BRT have as advantages over the above system? (if we are EVER going to have any form of mass transit in Columbia..)

A few things I like about it:

- it's on demand, so you are not waiting or being a slave of irregular schedules

- it's more flexible with destinations, easy to expand the system, more direct once the grid expands

- it has a small footprint (doesn't require full size separate bus lanes or putting down as expensive tracks as a lightrail)

I think of it in comparison to a train with many tiny 4-person coaches, and each can bring you to your destination. Or like an elevator, where you push a button for your destination.

BTW, forcing people to take mass transit by inconveniencing them is not the best way, IMO. I'd like to take mass transit because it is more desirable than taking my own car.

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I think Columbia would do much better to establish intracity transit, preferably a fixed streetcar/trolley route, before commuter rail. What good will it do to ride the train into downtown from the northeast and have no viable way to get to your actual destination?

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So, tell me, what does lightrail or BRT have as advantages over the above system? (if we are EVER going to have any form of mass transit in Columbia..)

A few things I like about it:

- it's on demand, so you are not waiting or being a slave of irregular schedules

- it's more flexible with destinations, easy to expand the system, more direct once the grid expands

- it has a small footprint (doesn't require full size separate bus lanes or putting down as expensive tracks as a lightrail)

I think of it in comparison to a train with many tiny 4-person coaches, and each can bring you to your destination. Or like an elevator, where you push a button for your destination.

BTW, forcing people to take mass transit by inconveniencing them is not the best way, IMO. I'd like to take mass transit because it is more desirable than taking my own car.

What makes mass transit more appealing than when taking a car is UNappealing? This is true for ANY city in the world. In fact, I defy you to find a city where driving is still relatively convenient but people take transit anyway. Driving in most North American cities (particularly those in the USA) is entirely too convenient, and highly subsidized. Until driving is made to be inconvenient, we will not see widespread transit systems except in the largest American cities.

This Ultra thing has several flaws which make it less appealing that LRT or BRT:

  1. Capacity - this is going to be significantly less than BRT. While the Ultra has a high frequency, it won't be able to match the volume of BRT or LRT
  2. Speed/Coverage - the speed of this system maxes at about 25mph. This is not high enough to serve suburban areas in a reasonable amount of time.
  3. ROW - You'll sitll have to buy ROW. The imprint even in their video was still relatively large.

The other thing I noticed in that video is that they are selling it to be able to connect to transit. This means that it might be a good circulator- perhaps as an alternative to a fixed-rail trolley when Columbia's urban core is built out. Like I said before, I think this is better suited to environments that are highly urbanized- much more than downtown Columbia, and places where there is a constant flow of people (theme parks come to mind).

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  • 1 month later...

Here's an excerpt from the transit recommendations Richland County Transportation Study:

Camden to Columbia Commuter Rail Corridor

A long-term recommendation involves continued planning for commuter rail service between Columbia and Camden based on Federal and State procedures. The CMCOG completed a commuter rail feasibility study for the Central Midlands Region of South Carolina in 2006. The study concluded that the Camden to Columbia corridor has the most potential for commuter rail service. An interim step to beginning commuter rail service involves implementing increased frequency and hours of bus service, adding station amenities and passenger information systems, and testing strategies to provide transit vehicles a time advantage to attract persons who have transportation options. Implementation of commuter rail service in the Camden corridor will eventually require planning and design of the service in accordance with FTA rules and procedures to obtain Federal funding for design and construction. It will also require planning and financial participation by local governments, SCDOT, and the FTA, and cooperation with the railroad company that owns the track.

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I think its important to note that the plans to upgrade transit as part of the overall transportation sales tax are included in the RCTS document.

In other news:

Explore the Planning, Design, Financing, and Construction of a New Intermodal Transportation Center in Downtown Columbia

The City of Columbia has developed a concept for an intermodal transportation center to be located along the

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^I'm trying to think of where this "railroad cut" is in the vicinity of Taylor and Blossom. Ideally, I think this should be more centrally located to downtown, preferably along Assembly. The problem there might be one of space/feasibility though. Also, in order to make commuter rail successful, commuters must be able to get to their final destinations efficiently once they get downtown--which means improved bus service and hopefully a streetcar/trolley system.

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^I'm trying to think of where this "railroad cut" is in the vicinity of Taylor and Blossom. Ideally, I think this should be more centrally located to downtown, preferably along Assembly. The problem there might be one of space/feasibility though. Also, in order to make commuter rail successful, commuters must be able to get to their final destinations efficiently once they get downtown--which means improved bus service and hopefully a streetcar/trolley system.

Exactly; there at least needs to be some LRT in the downtown area for the commuter rail to be feasible. I'd actually love to see a monorail

Since Taylor and Blossom run parallel to each other, someone was in error with that location reference.

Edited by waccamatt
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^Yeah, I was like "Taylor and Blossom don't intersect," so the stated location threw me off a little.

If commuter rail actually gets off the ground, I think it would be years before any type of LRT gets built, and I can't see them both getting built at the same time. A streetcar/trolley network, however, could get established pretty quickly and would make commuter rail more viable early on for those commuting to downtown. If it were fixed, that would be even better.

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I took it to mean the rail trench that runs between those two streets, or that they meant Taylor and Hampton. While that location is not central to the CBD, it is still central to downtown. The fact that there is a rail bed beneath creates the opportunity to have trains arrive or depart underneath the station, which could be at street level. I don't think you'll find a better suited location that can handle rail. All that needs to be done is to create a downtown circulatory that works, and people will be able to use that to get to the train station. Or they could just walk (gasp!)

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The Columbia Metro already has the rail lines to implement commuter rail from the major suburbs. If all these lines could be coordinated with some other form of transit like trolleys, we could have a great system sooner than later.

I see the Camden - Columbia line as a great start, with stops in Lugoff or Elgin and VAS. But, I feel that a Newberry-Columbia line would carry a larger volume of commuters; I-26 is much more congested than I-20. I know commuter rail shouldn't have many stops, but there are several towns along the Newberry track that could have stations: Prosperity, Little Mountain, Chapin, White Rock, Ballantine, and Irmo.

And these tracks come pretty close to the CBD, running through the Vista, the southern part of the USC campus, 5-points, eastern downtown near Benedict, the Bull Street Campus, and Richland Memorial.

A third line from Batesburg-Leesville, through Gilbert, and Lexington is also a possibility. Again, it's already in place.

Edited by BrasilnSC
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The rail lines in place are owned by CSX and Norfolk Southern, IIRC. I have serious doubts they'd share their lines with public transit. It is more likely that new right of ways would have to be obtained.

Could this issue not be forced by the rights of imminent domain? It really wouldn't cause these railroads substantial harm to allow these tracks to also be used for public transit.

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