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Charlotte's Light Rail: Lynx Blue Line


dubone

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CATS plan is to do engineering work on the project until it is ready to move forward for FFGA with the federal government for federal funding. McCrory has been on the record that if the application failed he would not vote to continue with it.

The new news here, and the fascinating part is that he says now that he will ask for the MTC to shut down the project when CATS is 30% done with the design. This is a proactive step that could occur before this year is out. It's certainly different from CATS stated plans and different from what the Mayor has stated in the past. I think they are slowly working to the premise that brought forth in the other topic in that the present 2030 plan is dead. It's not just fascinating, it's mind blowing. .

If they want to build more rail transit in this county, there is going to have to be a complete rethinking of what they have done so far and an honest assessment of the results vs money spent. This won't happen until the shutdown the NE LRT project.

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The new news here, and the fascinating part is that he says now that he will ask for the MTC to shut down the project when CATS is 30% done with the design. This is a proactive step that could occur before this year is out. It's certainly different from CATS stated plans and different from what the Mayor has stated in the past. I think they are slowly working to the premise that brought forth in the other topic in that the present 2030 plan is dead. It's not just fascinating, it's mind blowing. .

LOL. That isnt New....go back and look at City Council meetings and the MTC meetings when they originally approved the engineering contract for the BLE. It was designed up front to be done in phases...and at each step the MTC will approve going to the next phase. The first phase was to bring the project to 15% Design... which just happened and the MTC just voted to move the project forward to 30% Design at which point CATS will come back and ask the MTC again to proceed forward in about a year.

CATS is not going to reach 30% Design on the BLE by the end of 2009. It will be sometime in 2010 before they get to that point.

Also McCrory doesn't have the power to "shut the project down". It would take a majority vote of the MTC to shut the project down.

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I think they are slowly working to the premise that brought forth in the other topic in that the present 2030 plan is dead. It's not just fascinating, it's mind blowing. .

If they want to build more rail transit in this county, there is going to have to be a complete rethinking of what they have done so far and an honest assessment of the results vs money spent. This won't happen until the shutdown the NE LRT project.

The 2035 Plan is just around the corner...next year....so the 2030 Plan will be "dead" just like the 2025 Plan is "dead'.

CATS is requiered to update the long range plan every 5 years because they know that things will change with time and it is smart and prudent to do an honest assesment of how far you have come and to update your plans for the future to match how much money they expect to have.

I realize the fact that things almost always don't go to plan is "mind blowing" for you....but I have been around long enough to realize it would be "mind blowing" if things actually went according to plan.

Edited by uptownliving
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.....

Also McCrory doesn't have the power to "shut the project down". It would take a majority vote of the MTC to shut the project down.

Where was this stated? You mis quoted me yet again. I posted actual quotes from the politicians on this matter that appeared in the newspaper this week and offered up my opinion of it. You are more than welcome to disagree with my opinion. But if you are going to do that then at least try to get what I posted correct and use actual facts. You already demonstrate above several times that you don't do this.

In regards to McCrory and his control of this project. If McCrory wanted the MTC to shutdown the NE LRT project, I am willing to bet good money that if he brought it up for a vote in any MTC meeting, he would immediately get a 2nd and a majority to vote with him on the measure. Anyone with an understanding of the politics of this matter should know this.

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I don't live in Huntersville and I don't read the Huntersville Herald, but is it possible that the local newspaper might slant toward the North Line? And is it also possible that the residents of Huntersville will then take the slanted news and repeat it with further slant? Will anyone deny that the Observer does this in regards to Charlotte? It's all rhetoric.

And the phased approach seems to be the most pragmatic approach for everyone involved - it allows the proper financial oversight that has been screamed about by everyone ever since the South Line began. The fact that McCrory and the MTC are updating everyone on their thought process is not news, it's how it SHOULD be done.

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The cost of the BLE will eventually have to come back down below a billion. Right now, you have a light-rail project building everyone's wish-list in the corridor, from added grade-separations to wider sidewalks. For example, a grade-separation at 36th Street is really needed due to freight traffic and SEHSR, not the light rail crossing this lower volume street. For comparison, similar grade-separation at Sugar Creek Road is to be built by NCRR and NCDOT, helping lower project construction costs for CATS.

Meanwhile, the Purple Line will only increase in cost, due to inflation. By CATS own on-line presentation, building both phases of commuter rail upfront would cost $368 million (lower inflation) if implemented by 2011, but $455 million (higher inflation, which is likely post-recovery) if implemented by 2015.*

*See slide 17:

http://www.rideonnews.com/RapidTransit09/MTC42209.pdf

Again, it's an easy bet that the BLE will decrease in cost (at least in constant dollars) due to value-engineering in latter stages of design and pressure from FTA for cost-effectiveness. However, it's also a safe bet that the Purple Line (North CR) could be built for at least 10% (maybe 30%) less than its estimates in this economy, due to cheaper labor and materials at the moment. In other words, build North fairly soon, especially if Mooresville will contribute. If nothing else, wait no longer than after learning the line won't receive competitive stimulus funding to appropriate County sales taxes to the project.

Besides, it is at least five years away from implementation anyway, the BLE could easily still be built within ten years in a rebounding economy (recovered local taxes) and possibly in a new federal era of an 80-20 split (less local match) for transit projects similar to highways.

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I don't live in Huntersville and I don't read the Huntersville Herald, but is it possible that the local newspaper might slant toward the North Line? And is it also possible that the residents of Huntersville will then take the slanted news and repeat it with further slant? Will anyone deny that the Observer does this in regards to Charlotte? It's all rhetoric.

And the phased approach seems to be the most pragmatic approach for everyone involved - it allows the proper financial oversight that has been screamed about by everyone ever since the South Line began. The fact that McCrory and the MTC are updating everyone on their thought process is not news, it's how it SHOULD be done.

I'm inclined to agree with you on this. It is very possible that a local newspaper would be slanted towards projects that benefit their readers directly. Imagine the outcry if they went against the grain and were more for the NE line. I can't help but wonder if doing such over and over would hurt their readership, particularly at a time when that industry is hurting badly.

Of course this is simply a what-if scenario as you stated. I would imagine that most newspapers operate in this manner whether we like or admit it but none of us have much if any proof that it goes on.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For March the Avg Weekday Ridership oof LYNX was 14,807, Saturday was 13,061 and Sunday was 5,271.

For the total CATS system Avg Weekday Ridership was 80,102, Saturday was 43,929 and Sunday was 23,420.

You can get more details on page 25 of this PDF

I would like to see the other numbers for April, but average weekday ridership for LYNX was 15,121. IMO that's great considering the economic situation and the fact that Uptown is a deserted wasteland now that the banks have all but shut down. :)

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It's a fascinating document. I suggest a look at the page titled "PROPOSED 5 YR. CAPITAL SUMMARY (2009-2013)". Approximately page 20 of the document. What is immediately noticeable is that over the next 5 years, CATS does not intend to spend any money on any project except for the Blue Line extension. Nothing for the North line, nothing for the Streetcar, nothing for anything else.

I've said all along they intended to do this, i.e. kill everything else in lieu of the NE LRT, and here it is in black and white. If you use their funding plan for the LRT also note the new total price tag for it is now $1.8B. Interesting how that slipped in when nobody was looking. I also said this line was going to hit $2B and looks as if that prediction was correct too.

Of course, it is unlikely they can accomplish this plan. The line was barely met cost effective requirements for federal funding when it still cost $750M and they kinda mention this earlier in the document. It's a broken plan, a dead plan, but hey, they voted to raise everyone's tax by another 1/2 cent.

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It's a fascinating document. I suggest a look at the page titled "PROPOSED 5 YR. CAPITAL SUMMARY (2009-2013)". Approximately page 20 of the document. What is immediately noticeable is that over the next 5 years, CATS does not intend to spend any money on any project except for the Blue Line extension. Nothing for the North line, nothing for the Streetcar, nothing for anything else.

I've said all along they intended to do this, i.e. kill everything else in lieu of the NE LRT, and here it is in black and white. If you use their funding plan for the LRT also note the new total price tag for it is now $1.8B. Interesting how that slipped in when nobody was looking. I also said this line was going to hit $2B and looks as if that prediction was correct too.

Please notice the agenda you are referring to is a year old. It doesn't suggest that CATS "slipped it in when nobody was looking". It is pretty disengenious to say that when this is a public document from a public meeting that has been on the web for over a year. All this shows is that you have not been paying attention. Fortunately the people that represent the North Meck towns do pay attention and have been aware that the North Line is not in the 5 year Capital budget for over a year now.

Also your number of $1.8B for the Blue Line Extention is completely bogus. Go back and look at the document again and you will see that the 5 year total is $460M. Keep in mind CATS has to to put the full cost (not the 25% share) of the project in their budget as the State and Federal dollars get funneled to them.

Also regarding the Cost Effective number for the Blue Line Extention at the $1.12B estimate is about $22 per hour...which is well below the FTA Medium theshold of $24.49 per hour.

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...nor do you understand how the cost effectiveness numbers are calculated.

Read the meeting minutes from the April 2009 meeting of the MTC where they discuss the FTA Cost Effectiveness numbers for the Blue Line Extention.

Page 12 First Full Paragraph

http://www.charmeck.org/NR/rdonlyres/ect36...May27agenda.pdf

I will quote it for you here:

Mayor Woods asked about the range for cost

effectiveness. Mr. Rogers gave the ceiling for the FTA

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  • 1 month later...

Gas in June 2009 cost about 35% less than June 2008. Despite that drop and a service reduction in March, LYNX ridership fell only 1.9% from last year. Not too shabby.

WD {sodEmoji.|} SAT {sodEmoji.|} SUN :: 14,891 {sodEmoji.|} 13,380 {sodEmoji.|} 8,041

In the coming months we'll get to see what effect all the new apartments in South End have, although the system will also be facing its toughest ridership comps in the late summer, when ridership was north of 16,000 during 2008.

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Read the meeting minutes from the April 2009 meeting of the MTC where they discuss the FTA Cost Effectiveness numbers for the Blue Line Extention.

......

I will quote it for you here:

LOL, CATS arbitraryly raised their projection for ridership, as compared to when the line cost $750M on this line to get the model to predict a better cost effectiveness. There are two problems with this approach. First is ridership doesn't rise when CATS' costs rise. Second, this was explained further below, along with questions concerning CATS methodology, but I am assuming you didn't read that part. They rationalized this, in part,because of the first year ridership numbers which they blew past. It should be noted, as posted above, that ridership has been falling since the first year and has yet to normalize.
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Gas in June 2009 cost about 35% less than June 2008. Despite that drop and a service reduction in March, LYNX ridership fell only 1.9% from last year. Not too shabby.

WD {sodEmoji.|} SAT {sodEmoji.|} SUN :: 14,891 {sodEmoji.|} 13,380 {sodEmoji.|} 8,041

In the coming months we'll get to see what effect all the new apartments in South End have, although the system will also be facing its toughest ridership comps in the late summer, when ridership was north of 16,000 during 2008.

I'm just curious, how exactly do they get the ridership numbers? Do they do a head count, or is it just from ticket sales? Do all the people like me who have a monthly pass not get counted when we ride?

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In the coming months we'll get to see what effect all the new apartments in South End have
Good Point!!! I think we sometimes forget that LYNX has tons of TODs that have not come on line yet. When people start moving into these apartments, row houses, and condos in South End; it is going to be CRAZY!!! :yahoo:
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CATS cannot arbitrarily adjust ridership models. Any significant model change requires FTA's blessing.

It was a key FTA decision point for CATS to move into Preliminary Engineering. CATS will have to go through similar approvals to move into Final Design and ultimately before obtaining a Full Funding Grant Agreement. At each key decision point, CATS must meet Cost Effectiveness with FTA approval of the ridership models used.

Edited by southslider
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I'm just curious, how exactly do they get the ridership numbers? Do they do a head count, or is it just from ticket sales? Do all the people like me who have a monthly pass not get counted when we ride?

I think they have automated counters on all the doors.

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As I was reading this thread, I am wondering will the Light Rail come to UNC Charlotte? If it does I have no doubt they will have no problem with their ridership calculations. As a student, I can tell you the students will definitely ride it to go to the clubs and drunk and wasted. I feel sorry for the resident advisors. LOL!

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