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  #361  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2008, 11:42 PM
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KVUE did a story about Amtrack possibly joining in on the possible passenger train line between Austin and San Antonio.
http://www.kvue.com/news/top/stories....1c29a76d.html
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  #362  
Old Posted Apr 1, 2008, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Jdawgboy View Post
KVUE did a story about Amtrack possibly joining in on the possible passenger train line between Austin and San Antonio.
http://www.kvue.com/news/top/stories....1c29a76d.html
Cool. Thanks for the link JD.
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  #363  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2008, 6:23 PM
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http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A610933

Where's the Streetcar?
BY KATHERINE GREGOR





Portland, Ore.'s streetcar line is popular with riders.
Photo by Maggie GardnerIs a November voter referendum for a Central Austin streetcar still a realistic goal?

That's what citizens closely watching the Transit Working Group are now wondering. Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organiza­tion Chair Kirk Watson has been facilitating recent weekly sessions to craft a better CAMPO "decision tree" process – toward Watson's oft-stated goals of greater rationality, public accountability, and transparency. But it's slow, deliberate going. This Monday, TWG members and a sizable audience endured overlong citizen presentations unconnected to the critical-path work at hand – a nod to public "inclusiveness" knocked out during a meeting that Watson had to miss.

Meanwhile, five months have rolled by since Mayor Will Wynn called for a fast-track decision-making process leading to a November 2008 voter referendum on an ultralight-rail circulator (streetcar) serving Downtown. (Aligning the required public transit authorization vote with the presidential election is optimal for voter turnout.)

Once a CAMPO process is perfected, the TWG will use it to consider individual transit proposals. Many assume that the Austin streetcar will be job No. 1. But several other regional rail proposals also are under discussion – including a commuter line to Elgin – which could muddy matters and critically delay a decision on a streetcar line. At present, it appears uncertain whether a sufficiently sound and comprehensive streetcar proposal will be ready to present to the TWG once it's finalized a decision tree – which could take until May.

The Transit Working Group's recommendation still must go to the CAMPO board, for another round of decision-making and a vote. Should a streetcar proposal actually make it through and get the green light by July or August, scant time will remain to launch and conduct an effective public awareness and education campaign. Before voting Nov. 11 on a transit proposal likely to cost upward of $100 million, voters deserve complete information on the need, proposed route, technology, operating and oversight agencies, timeline, and – critical – costs and financing structure.

Both Wynn and fellow streetcar booster Brewster McCracken have indicated that the city is busily working on a detailed route and financing proposal. Let's hope they pull that rabbit out of the hat soon – like at the Mon­day, April 14, TWG meeting. McCracken said new City Manager Marc Ott has provided informed energy and leadership for assembling the team of city staff and consultants the project will require.

"Yes, I think it is still very realistic that we could have a voter referendum on an urban and suburban passenger-rail plan in Novem­ber," said Wynn on Tuesday. "Not everyone will agree with me. I think the decision tree will be finished in two weeks. Just in time for ROMA to make their findings and presentation public." The urban designers are working on recommendations to the city for streetcar planning, as an extension of their work on the Downtown Austin Plan. For transit junkies, the next several TWG sessions should make 9am Monday morning at City Hall an exciting start to the week
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  #364  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2008, 7:24 PM
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Also in same issue, the CNU guys pointed out that the commuter rail line is useless without this circulator - but they're still delusional about how much more useful a shared-lane-streetcar service is than a shuttle bus (answer: not quite as useful, actually).
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  #365  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2008, 8:33 PM
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"But several other regional rail proposals also are under discussion – including a commuter line to Elgin – which could muddy matters and critically delay a decision on a streetcar line."

Is there truth to that? Elgin in specific?
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  #366  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2008, 8:36 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Also in same issue, the CNU guys pointed out that the commuter rail line is useless without this circulator - but they're still delusional about how much more useful a shared-lane-streetcar service is than a shuttle bus (answer: not quite as useful, actually).
IMO the street car is there to serve more than just the commuter rail. People living downtown, or working downtown just want to hop on the street car to go somewhere for lunch or head over to the other side of downtown for some reason w/o having to jump in their car. And for those living and working downtown, they can use it to commute to work.
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  #367  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2008, 9:10 PM
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Yes, Elgin is being pursued - probably because the CAMPO TWG is so heavily tilted towards suburban interests, they had to throw them yet another chunk of meat (even though the commuter rail line to Cedar Park ought to have been more than enough, considering how badly it screws urban Austin).

As for "hopping on the streetcar" - keep in mind that a streetcar in a shared lane, which is what Capital Metro originally proposed, is actually slower and less reliable than a bus. If people won't ride the bus today, they won't ride such a streetcar. (Streetcar in its own lane is, of course, a completely different story).

Most of the "rail bias" stories you hear get this completely wrong - having compared GOOD rail service (with non-trivial segments of reserved guideway) with bad bus service. Seattle's Lake Union streetcar, on the other hand, is "bad rail"; as most recently seen here; and we'd be well-advised to avoid their idiotic example.

So far McCracken seems well-inclined to avoid the stupid shared-lane plan that Capital Metro started with. We'll see. His idea of adding the airport->downtown segment was to get a chunk where reserved guideway would be somewhat easy to do, and pull in a bunch more potential daily commuters (to both downtown and UT), since commuter rail passenger distribution isn't going to provide nearly enough people on this thing for it to be viewed as a success worth more expansion. (you get 2000 passengers/day max to distribute; streetcar needs 10,000 a day to be viewed as a success in my estimation).
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  #368  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Yes, Elgin is being pursued - probably because the CAMPO TWG is so heavily tilted towards suburban interests
My actual question is will Elgin actually have priority over downtown Austin? (doesn't seem right, Austin and its urban core have been around a lot longer than the folks who have recently built up the suburbs near Elgin, and a circulator would serve more people)


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streetcar needs 10,000 a day to be viewed as a success in my estimation).
Hmmmm, that seems unobtainable, or at least for the first few years. If memory serves me, there are 80,000 downtown workers? That would mean over 10% of the workforce use it daily??

Last edited by JAM; Apr 11, 2008 at 12:36 AM.
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  #369  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 6:44 PM
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Elgin will get service quicker because it's easier to run trains on existing tracks. And screwing urban Austin is nothing new - again, you guys who voted for commuter rail in 2004 essentially voted to screw yourselves.

As for 10,000 per day - that includes UT students/staff and capitol workers. Remember again - LRT in 2000 projected 46,000 per day.
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  #370  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 7:12 PM
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^^ Just over 90K employees in the downtown area. Add 50K students on top of that. Add 10-15K residents in as well... and soon to be 25K - many will commute out of downtown. That is a nice chunk to work with.
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  #371  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 7:15 PM
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^^^ Also makes for horrible traffic in and out of downtown. ugh.
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  #372  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 8:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ATXboom View Post
^^ Just over 90K employees in the downtown area. Add 50K students on top of that. Add 10-15K residents in as well... and soon to be 25K - many will commute out of downtown. That is a nice chunk to work with.
UT also employees 16,000 people at their campus. Amazing. Inside of a 6 square mile area there could be as many as 181,000+ people there. That's about equal to the population of the City of Amarillo. This isn't even including West Campus which is supposed to have around 10,000 people living there.
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  #373  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 8:15 PM
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http://austin.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2008/04/07/daily41.html?jst=b_ln_hl

Friday, April 11, 2008 - 2:58 PM CDT
Austin rail stops get new zoning
Austin Business Journal

The Austin City Council on April 10 approved new zoning plans for future stops on the commuter rail, due to begin service this fall.

The plans are for half-mile radius areas around future rail stations at Lamar Boulevard and Justin Lane (also known as Crestview Station), Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and at Plaza Saltillo in East Austin.

The station area plans were approved for transit-oriented development zoning creating denser, pedestrian-friendly zoning in those areas, many of them are currently zoned for commercial or industrial uses.

Several developers are signed up for TOD districts. Trammell Crow Co. and Stratus Properties Inc. (NASDAQ: STRS) are partnering on a mixed-use development that will bring 1,000 homes and apartments to a 73-acre tract near the Crestview Station at North Lamar and Airport boulevards.

Former Dell Inc. executive Tom Meredith has signed on to develop a mixed-use project on 30 acres referred to as the Featherlite tract, between MLK Boulevard and 12th Street near the MLK rail station at Clifford Ave.

Other developers have expressed interest but held off commitments pending approval of the final TOD plans, says Sonya Lopez, a city senior planner.
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  #374  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 8:29 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas View Post
UT also employees 16,000 people at their campus. Amazing. Inside of a 6 square mile area there could be as many as 181,000+ people there. That's about equal to the population of the City of Amarillo. This isn't even including West Campus which is supposed to have around 10,000 people living there.
Which again brings up how incredibly stupid it was to build a commuter rail line which precludes ever, ever, EVER serving these people with a one-stop transit ride from the suburbs.

Did I say ever enough times? EVER!
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  #375  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 8:31 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Which again brings up how incredibly stupid it was to build a commuter rail line which precludes ever, ever, EVER serving these people with a one-stop transit ride from the suburbs.

Did I say ever enough times? EVER!
what? i didn't hear you.
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  #376  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Which again brings up how incredibly stupid it was to build a commuter rail line which precludes ever, ever, EVER serving these people with a one-stop transit ride from the suburbs.

Did I say ever enough times? EVER!
Yeah, can you tell us again? From reading your posts, I'm not quite sure where you stand on the issue.
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  #377  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2008, 12:33 AM
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It just hit me...M1EK does not like commuter rail.
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  #378  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2008, 5:54 AM
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He doesn't like it where Light Rail would be the best (or as he would probably argue, the ONLY) option.

But he better not hate on my Sounder trains. Our north corridor is a low-ridership boondoggle, but our south corridor is HOT HOT HOT
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  #379  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2008, 6:16 PM
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Look...I voted for light rail in 2000 and unfortunatly with just a 2000 vote difference I was upset that it failed. I also voted yes in 2004 because I was excited about the fact that we could get rail within 4 years of the vote. I don't think alot of people knew what we were really going to end up with. And if we had voted no in 2004 I doubt we would be seeing rail of any type in Austin well past 2010 if not longer. So hey I went ahead and voted yes for it so we are stuck with what we got and might as well make the most of it.
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  #380  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2008, 6:58 PM
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Well said, Jdawgboy. I concur.
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