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Old Posted Sep 4, 2009, 7:35 AM
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Streetcars, light rail prominent in VIA's plan



http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/tra...he_future.html

Quote:
The future of transportation in San Antonio could include a mix of light rail, streetcar and bus rapid transit, according to a draft plan unveiled Thursday by VIA Metropolitan Transit.

The agency is developing a long-range comprehensive plan that reaches to 2035.

VIA finished the first phase of the plan — assessing the transit needs of San Antonio — with a public meeting to present its preliminary vision of how residents and visitors could traverse the city in years to come.

The weeklong planning process began Monday with a public meeting to gather input on what types of transit should be used, where corridors should be located and how the system might be funded.

“I'm elated because I think we're very close to coming up with something actionable,” said Henry Muñoz, VIA's board chairman.

Alongside the long-term planning, VIA has continued working on a streetcar feasibility study, which is expected to be completed in November.

The draft plan includes the potential for both streetcars and light rail in a number of corridors across the city.

But it's likely that a starter streetcar system would be in the central city, with northern bounds around Mahncke Park and southern bounds in the Lavaca or King William neighborhoods. An east-west line would connect the AT&T Center to Our Lady of the Lake University.


The potential routes would need to connect neighborhoods, employment centers and cultural assets, said Tenna Florian of Lake-Flato Architects.

The line would be more than a way to move tourists through the city, she said.

“This can't just be a short line that citizens don't see any reason why they want to hop onto it,” she said. “The first line has got to be successful, where we'll have public support.”


It's clear that planners believe a successful starter line would garner public support for other projects.

Unlike light rail, streetcar lines can be built quickly. In Portland, Ore., which city transit officials often use as an example, streetcar lines were laid at about a block a week.

Also, streetcars don't require dedicated right of way, and they run with traffic.

Muñoz said Thursday that he hopes to announce a streetcar project by the end of the year.

On a list of 20 corridors, 16 are viable for streetcars, including potential lines along Commerce, Broadway, San Pedro, Fredericksburg, Austin Highway, Roosevelt and Zarzamora.


VIA President Keith Parker said the list was representative of potential corridors, included different types of transit, and would evolve as VIA gathers more public input during the next several months.

A finalized plan is expected to be completed by May. That document will add detail to the broad vision defined Thursday.

Consultants will include ridership projections and potential funding sources, said consultant Mike McAnelly, the project manager for the long-range plan. The final plan will prioritize potential projects, he said.

The draft vision presented Thursday was broad and less defined, and officials said it still could grow. As Parker takes the presentation “on the road” to neighborhood and civic groups, churches and clubs, more ideas from the public could be added, he said.

The least detailed portion of the vision — and the billion-dollar question — is how such expansion in infrastructure and technology might be funded.

The working group that dealt with finance and implementation this week was at a disadvantage because it didn't know exactly what transit technologies and corridors might come forward.

The group worked up a funding “toolbox” that includes myriad federal, state and local sources. The draft plan suggests those sources along with other possibilities such as special taxing districts, public-private partnerships and “innovative financing,” such as sponsorships, naming rights and advertising.

Even as officials discussed the potential for rail in San Antonio, Parker promised that VIA would not lose focus on its basic bus service.

“We need to make sure that as we move forward on some innovative technologies, that we don't forget about the people who got us here.”
Also posted at Movementfor.

Last edited by sirkingwilliam; Sep 4, 2009 at 8:42 PM.
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Old Posted Sep 4, 2009, 1:44 PM
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I have growing confidence that the DT to medical center route on FRED RD will be LRT.

For totally selfish reasons (property values and accessability to DT and a future employment center), this is VERY exciting.
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Old Posted Sep 4, 2009, 3:35 PM
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Obviously this is very exciting, but since we pretty much knew most of this already, wouldn't it have been better to put it in the transportation section rather than create a whole new thread?

EDIT: Ok, you did put it in the trans section, which makes it even stranger that you gave it its own thread...
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Old Posted Sep 4, 2009, 8:42 PM
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Originally Posted by oldmanshirt View Post
EDIT: Ok, you did put it in the trans section, which makes it even stranger that you gave it its own thread...
Because it'll get minimum looks if I only post it there.
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Old Posted Sep 4, 2009, 10:11 PM
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The corridors:

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Old Posted Sep 7, 2009, 3:49 AM
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I wish I could have gone to see this for myself. I was in DC this week taking a look at their current expansions of their Metro system and tons of development going on around existing stations. The whole time I was envisioning what Fred Rd would/could look like, and also some of the corridors they have listed.
I think I've said this before, but the city also needs to revisit some of the zoning they have in place for the areas inside of 410, maybe even 1604. I think Mayor Castro has said that SA'ians need to get used to living in more dense environments if we want smart growth here in SA.
He's right. And zoning has to allow for higher density projects to help out/sustain these transit corridors.
I agree with you kyle. I do think that it will be LRT on Fred. I also think that it will do wonders for the deco district, and a complete redo of the area north of Hildebrand; theres tons of land, if developed properly.

Just happened to find this on mysa.com, talked of Mayor Castro holding the "key" to our transit future.

quote from this piece written by Scott Stroud:
Quote:
Done right, it stitches the community together, slows the need for highways and helps revive the city center.

In his brief remarks Thursday, Castro acknowledged that Bexar County voters rejected a tax for light rail nine years ago.

“And in these nine years, folks have often wondered when will we take the steps to invest in mass transit commensurate with being America's seventh largest city, and one of the fastest growing,” he said. “I don't think we're going to have to wonder much longer. That time is now.”

And the man with the best shot at making it happen was standing right there at the podium.
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Last edited by miaht82; Sep 7, 2009 at 4:22 AM.
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Old Posted Sep 7, 2009, 9:02 AM
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Think about what could be with the Crossroads Mall property once a LRT line is put on Fred.

I envision a dense mixed-use development with a station. Similar to the Mockingbird Station in Dallas.
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Old Posted Sep 16, 2009, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post
The corridors:

I've always heard of a HCT station between North Pine and North New Braunfels in my childhood neighborhood, and this kinda confirms it for me. WORD.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 12:24 AM
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Castro says S.A. needs to invest in rail

Castro says S.A. needs to invest in rail
By Josh Baugh - Express-News
Quote:
Mayor Julián Castro said Wednesday that San Antonio is that last major U.S. city that hasn't invested in a passenger rail system, but that's about to change.

Helping VIA Metropolitan Transit board Chairman Henry Muñoz and others to announce the creation of the Commission on Intra-City Rail & Streetcar, Castro said the recasting of the Alamo City's transit future is under way.

“It's time for San Antonio to make a significant investment in mass transit,” he said. “The details of that need public input and planning, but there's a resolve not just to plan but to act.”

Though details on funding sources are scant, the mayor signaled that the city needs to position itself to receive whatever federal funds might become available.

“I think that's particularly true now that you have the Obama administration now focused on infusing cities with stimulus dollars for transit, particularly transit that is linked to development,” he said. “San Antonio right now is a non-starter on that issue, and we could remake the urban core of the city by investing in mass transit.”

Castro's remarks on Wednesday were his strongest and most pointed yet, that rail must connect the city center to its outer areas — and spur economic development along the way.

Muñoz said the mayor realizes the importance of transit in San Antonio's future.The two are slated for a trip to Seattle, Wash., next week to study that city's rail system. Marty Wender, the Westover Hills developer tapped to chair the commission, said he plans on visiting the Seattle and other cities, too. Wender emphasized that he would pay his own way on all his travels.

Before rail becomes reality in San Antonio, VIA has to determine whether it's a feasible technology for the city, and that's a determination the new commission will help make.

Slated to meet several times during the next few months, the group is expected to make a recommendation to the VIA board of trustees later this year. Muñoz has said he hopes to announce a rail project by year's end, though he tempered his eagerness Wednesday during a press conference when he said the commission's mission first is to determine whether a streetcar or light rail “is even feasible.”

The commission also will study other cities' rail systems, work with VIA's engineering consultants on finalizing a feasibility study and determine how a rail project in San Antonio would impact quality of life, economic development and revitalization of the urban core.

They're really pushing for this. I feel like there is something on the News or in the E-N about this everyday.
Finally.
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Last edited by miaht82; Sep 17, 2009 at 12:47 AM.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 2:51 AM
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That next-to-last paragraph is pretty darn important. The voters here in Kansas City approved a rail plan around the same time SA voters rejected the last one, but it was overturned by the city council because it was found to be "unworkable" (i.e., unsuitable). Almost 10 years later, KC still has no rail plan in sight.

It would seem this is still a major hurdle that needs to be cleared before we can really start talking about rail as more than a nice idea in SA.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 3:07 AM
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Lightbulb

Quote:
The two are slated for a trip to Seattle, Wash., next week to study that city's rail system.
Why go all the way to Seattle to learn how to build light rail when a very successful, awarding winning DART in Dallas is nearby? Golly, a personal trip to the State Fair will teach the mayor much about rail transit.

DART manages to get its rail built on time and on budget once construction actually starts, the same can't be said for Seattle. The only thing to learn in Seattle is how to build the most expensive per mile light rail system in the last 40 years.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 3:39 AM
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San Antonio needs to start thinking big. We need a subway system now. Lets not build something that will be useless in a few years
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 4:52 AM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Why go all the way to Seattle to learn how to build light rail when a very successful, awarding winning DART in Dallas is nearby? Golly, a personal trip to the State Fair will teach the mayor much about rail transit.

DART manages to get its rail built on time and on budget once construction actually starts, the same can't be said for Seattle. The only thing to learn in Seattle is how to build the most expensive per mile light rail system in the last 40 years.
I doubt Seattle will be their only trip. Just their first one. Also, Wender plans to visit a lot of cities himself.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 4:53 AM
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San Antonio needs to start thinking big. We need a subway system now. Lets not build something that will be useless in a few years
What/where would the subway like be/go?
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 5:08 AM
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We need a subway system now. Lets not build something that will be useless in a few years
Okay, you just can't blurt out something like that without explaining yourself.
I'm not sure if you're joking or not.

Quote:
The only thing to learn in Seattle is how to build the most expensive per mile light rail system in the last 40 years.
I thought the same about the Seattle visit. Why Seattle?

And as far as what would be a successful first line goes? That's a tough call. There doesn't seem to be much logic as to how the city is zoned. It's a free for all.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 1:43 PM
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I agree, even going to Phoenix would be a better education in doing LRT than Seattle.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 2:50 PM
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Originally Posted by kornbread View Post
Okay, you just can't blurt out something like that without explaining yourself.
I'm not sure if you're joking or not.


I thought the same about the Seattle visit. Why Seattle?

And as far as what would be a successful first line goes? That's a tough call. There doesn't seem to be much logic as to how the city is zoned. It's a free for all.
I too thought the same thing, but then I remembered when a few city leaders visited LA and made stops at Medtronic and Toyota.
Maybe there's more to the visit than just riding around.

First line? Fred Rd. Has the highest ridership now and has a permanent point A(DT) to point B(Med Cen.)

But I agree, policy has to be placed to encourage higher-density, mixed-use, ped-friendly, transit-oriented development. If not, developers will dictate what goes where and we end up with a bank taking up an acre, or a CVS.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 7:27 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Why go all the way to Seattle to learn how to build light rail when a very successful, awarding winning DART in Dallas is nearby? Golly, a personal trip to the State Fair will teach the mayor much about rail transit.

DART manages to get its rail built on time and on budget once construction actually starts, the same can't be said for Seattle. The only thing to learn in Seattle is how to build the most expensive per mile light rail system in the last 40 years.
Electricron, I already explained to you why it cost so much, but since facts are inconvenient to you, you switch to sly little lies. There's lots of tunnels, elevated portions, they redid an entire boulevard, etcetera. They wanted to do it right, unlike in Dallas.

And really, I think San Antonio should avoid Dallas at all costs: http://thetransitpass.wordpress.com/...ty-for-growth/

Seattle is good for having a comprehensive transit system, considering the current options for transit are Ferry, Bus, Electric Trolleybus, Modern Streetcar, Commuter Rail, Light Rail, Express Bus and passenger rail. It's good in that it's an example on funding and planning expansions, approving a $17.9billion transit tax to expand the system rapidly-- that sounds like the citizens aren't bothered by the price tag. And like San Antonio, it had its initial plans dismantled and devoured by a rabid state government. Of course, Seattle was able to rise above that and they're currently digging a light metro line to the University considerably under-budget and working on further funded expansions.

Seattle also has neighborhood planning down. My neighborhood has gone from 23,000 to nearly 30,000 residents per square mile in the past 3 years, and with the opening of a new high rise and several apartment developments, that only stands to rise. Capitol Hill, where the light rail/metro line will be headed, has a local density around the station area of about 40,000 residents/sq. mi. with 20,000/sq. mi. in the overall area. The city as a whole is adding 150 people per square mile every year, and that pace is increasing.

There's also new streetcars being planned (one funded and ready to get started within months), one mayoral candidate wants to advance rail in one corridor to open 30 years before anticipated, and there's talks of a second transit tunnel downtown.

Currently setting at over half a million daily rides (excluding ferry ridership) in the regional transit system , it's one of a good handful of places to get an idea on how to do transit right.

With 217,000 rides per day, Dallas is... well, the point is obvious. And Phoenix? No late night service, infrequent service, and... well. And both these regions are twice the size of Seattle.

Seattle is a good place to visit, and so is Portland and Houston and the new Norfolk LRT system.

Phew, so yeah, Seattle is a good choice. Take this from someone from San Antonio who has lived in Seattle and Portland and Phoenix.
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Last edited by alexjon; Sep 17, 2009 at 9:24 PM.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 9:57 PM
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Alex, what is your opinion on how VIA and the CoSA are going about this?

Personally, I like it, a lot.
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Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post
Alex, what is your opinion on how VIA and the CoSA are going about this?

Personally, I like it, a lot.
The most important part is that they said "we're doing this and nobody is going to say 'no'", and the second most important part is that they're focusing heavily on the central city instead of treating it like an afterthought.

Now that the Mayor holds a lot more power, his office is using it. And since he's got mandate with the voters, Castro is definitely going to smash through LULAC-type boundaries and get this taken care of. Sucks that I'm dragging race into this, but now that you have Castro and Parker running things, it's nearly impossible for Wendell Cox to use LULAC against the city.

In terms of alignments, they've got HCT running down all the dream alignments people talk about, even the spur going across the northside (wurzbach parkway to ingram?).

Also, commuter rail. And they're focusing on options. If this all bears out, it's likely that by 2025, San Antonio will have River Taxis, Modern Streetcars, Buses, BRT, Light Rail and Commuter Rail. That's truly multimodal and I love it.
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