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Cirrus Jan 23, 2012 4:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TakeFive (Post 5560098)
Denver's getting a brand new (toy), rail transit to its airport.

What would Cirrus think about a rail transit line that didn't end up at the airport?
http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...h-the-airport/

I'm the "Local commenter" he refers to in the third paragraph:

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheTransportPolitic
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea was perceived as heresy, both by local commenters and board members.

Also, see Sunday's Washington Post:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7157/6...22056b9d_o.png

bunt_q Jan 23, 2012 5:57 PM

Whoa, Dan, you've made the big time! Congrats!

On the other hand, I found their time savings argument for the people mover to be fairly compelling. Since when is transit supposed to go exactly where we want it to? Forced transfers, long walks, slow connections...that's what rail transit is all about! Oh wait, that's right, I'm thinking... provincially... ;)

Cirrus Jan 23, 2012 6:39 PM

I have a deal with the Post for a sort of irregular column in the Sunday paper. I'm in it about once every two months, give or take.

Anyway, here are the key things to understand about the Dulles line:
  • It's happening in 2 distinct phases. The first phase is already under construction and will open in about a year. The second phase hasn't started yet.
  • The first phase goes to Tysons Corner, which is a gigantic edge city sort of like a bigger Denver Tech Center. The idea is to use to Metro to redevelop it into a real city.
  • The second phase is composed totally of suburban park and ride stations located in the median of a highway, except for the airport station.
  • The case for building first phase (to Tysons Corner) is extremely strong, but the case for building the second phase has always been much weaker. It doesn't go anywhere important except for the airport.
So the real basis of opposition to this hairbrained idea is that without the airport connection the entire second phase is basically useless, and therefore a huge waste of money. If we don't get the airport connection then we shouldn't build the second phase at all. Basically, this idea is dumb because it's a half measure. If you want to cancel the entire second phase and then build a people mover shuttle from the terminal station of phase 1, that would actually save a ton of money and might make sense. But building phase 2 and then not sending it to the only major destination along its route is stupid.

Incidentally, if I were the transit god of Northern Virginia, I'd build phase 1 to get to Tysons Corner, cancel phase 2, and then build a really top-notch express BRT from the airport to downtown DC, with one or two transfers to the Metro along the way. The airport would actually be better served by BRT, I think, because even with phase 2 going directly to the airport, it's going to be a long Metro ride with a lot of intermediate stops.

bunt_q Jan 23, 2012 7:12 PM

How long is the projected ride from Dulles to, say, Federal Triangle, any idea off-hand? (I'm comparing it in my mind to the seriously long regular Tube ride from Heathrow into central London.)

glowrock Jan 23, 2012 7:24 PM

Congrats for a well-reasoned blog that gets published in one of the more prestigious newspapers in this country, Dan! :tup:

Aaron (Glowrock)

Cirrus Jan 23, 2012 8:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bunt_q (Post 5560859)
How long is the projected ride from Dulles to, say, Federal Triangle

52-minute single-seat-ride from Dulles to Metro Center.

TakeFive Jan 23, 2012 9:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by glowrock (Post 5560885)
Congrats for a well-reasoned blog that gets published in one of the more prestigious newspapers in this country, Dan! :tup:

Aaron (Glowrock)

I should say!

Cirrus,

OK, I'm impressed (hehe).

Didn't click the "local commenters" and at the time I wouldn't have known anyway. Also didn't read far enough down (first time through as I juggle football coverage etc) to read your exchange with Alex.

Not knowing Dulles, I laughed at the supposed cost savings, that much was easy. Steve K's comment caught my attention b/c I could relate it to what they're doing down here.

The access traffic in/out of Sky Harbor is essentially east/west. The APM will go north to a spot away from any airport traffic. It provides a convenient park and ride or drop-off thereby lessening airport congestion.
It interfaces with the METRO LRT for those advantages.

In fact for you number crunchers I've been wondering... The Metro has been a surprising success. It travels (like Houston apparently) mostly along city streets. Anyhow, the ridership is near 40,000 a day during the week.
( http://www.valleymetro.org/metro_pub...rship_reports/ ) How does this compare to Denver, let alone DC?

And yes it's fun to learn about all of your notoriety.
(Now I know what a MOT is)

Cirrus Jan 23, 2012 9:57 PM

OK: For the record, I do no want to hijack a Denver thread with DC discussion. But I also don't want to stifle anything that is potentially interesting/educational. So I'll answer direct DC-related questions, but will try not to digress from them specifically.


Quote:

Originally Posted by TakeFive (Post 5561087)
In fact for you number crunchers I've been wondering... The Metro has been a surprising success. It travels (like Houston apparently) mostly along city streets. Anyhow, the ridership is near 40,000 a day during the week.

How does this compare to Denver, let alone DC?

You can get all the transit ridership stats your heart could desire using the American Public Transportation Association's statistics. To answer your specific question:

Code:

CITY          RAIL RIDERS/DAY  MODES
Phoenix                    41,000  Light rail
Denver                    67,000  Light rail
Wash, DC        1,054,000  Subway and commuter rail


TakeFive Jan 23, 2012 11:10 PM

Well not all hijackers offer the same hijinks. Take me for example... never mind.

For me at least the value of a site like Transport Politic is that you get a great idea of what's going on in other places, the issues, comparisons etc.

Thanks for the numbers/link.

It appears that the Phx. numbers are indeed good at least compared to Denver (one 20 mile line). Though I tried to find ridership numbers for the SE line which would be very comparable, RTD has that sheet buried,
I'm sure they must have them. Phx doesn't enjoy near the density of Denver.

Editorial comment: I've found a number of points where the transparency is much better down here (sometimes b/c the AZ Republic digs the numbers out) which isn't at all what I would have guessed.

bunt_q Jan 23, 2012 11:12 PM

I wonder why APTA doesn't list Pueblo or Fort Collins. Or Summit County or the Roaring Fork transit authority. Of course RTD and Colorado Springs are included. But Grand Junction and its 4,100 riders per day seems an unlikely third choice.

TakeFive those are system numbers, so RTD's 60-something thousand includes both the southwest and southeast lines. RTD's data, which isn't much, is here (little tab at the bottom of the page) http://www.rtd-denver.com/ServiceDevelopment.shtml

wong21fr Jan 23, 2012 11:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TakeFive (Post 5561301)
It appears that the Phx. numbers are indeed good at least compared to Denver (one 20 mile line). Though I tried to find ridership numbers for the SE line which would be very comparable, RTD has that sheet buried,
I'm sure they must have them. Phx doesn't enjoy near the density of Denver.

Not that hard to find, at least for the 2009 ridership numbers:

http://www.rtd-denver.com/PDF_Files/...idor_Facts.pdf

It was approximately 37,000 for the SE corridor in 2009

Cirrus Jan 23, 2012 11:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bunt_q (Post 5561307)
I wonder why APTA doesn't list Pueblo or Fort Collins. Or Summit County or the Roaring Fork transit authority. Of course RTD and Colorado Springs are included. But Grand Junction and its 4,100 riders per day seems an unlikely third choice.

I'm guessing those agencies just don't report the data to APTA. If you go back to past years you can find some other cities.

4th quarter from 2000 gives you the following bus riders / day for Colorado:
Boulder: 14,300
Colorado Springs: 12,700
Denver: 129,800
Fort Collins: 6,200
Longmont: 1,000

I think they break up the three RTD cities by urbanized area, although theoretically that means we should be seeing a separate number for Louisville too.

bunt_q Jan 23, 2012 11:32 PM

The southeast is doing okay, but it's not bursting like a lot of folks thought it might. The year 2000 projected ridership was 33,000, and five years or so after opening, we're ~15% higher. Respectable, but not the 50k a lot of folks expected.

Cirrus Jan 23, 2012 11:46 PM

I'd like to see station-by-station for the SE line. My guess is that most of its ridership is coming from north of DTC and going downtown.

They should have built it elevated through the heart of DTC.

bunt_q Jan 24, 2012 12:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cirrus (Post 5561359)
I'd like to see station-by-station for the SE line. My guess is that most of its ridership is coming from north of DTC and going downtown.

They should have built it elevated through the heart of DTC.

RTD's winter 2011 numbers from their 2010-2011 spreadsheet (red is Southeast):

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d9...Winter2011.png

I'll re-order them by geography too. RTD has them ranked by busiest station.

EDIT: Pulled out south-to-north. Moral of the story, I think ridership has everything to do with easy proximity to easily accessible large park-n-rides. I do think most of it is going downtown - almost nobody gets off northbound in the tech center, and there are almost no southbound boardings. Could be reverse commuters, but without timed data, it's impossible to tell. But we all know that's probably not a major component. Basically, it's a downtown commuter system. Boardings in the closer-in stations aren't higher, especially not at the stations without parking.

The southbound boardings at Broadway and Alameda are interesting, I wonder where those people are going. DU maybe?

Southmoor is also an anomaly. Roughly half the boardings there are southbound. Hmm. Going to have to look at timed data,because that indicates there may be more reverse commuters/Tech Center-bound riders.

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d9...Untitled-4.png

TakeFive Jan 24, 2012 12:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wong21fr (Post 5561319)
Not that hard to find, at least for the 2009 ridership numbers:

http://www.rtd-denver.com/PDF_Files/...idor_Facts.pdf

It was approximately 37,000 for the SE corridor in 2009

Thanks... I did see that (as well as bunt_q's link) but compare it to the simplicity of up to date info: http://www.valleymetro.org/metro_pub...rship_reports/

But 37,000 is close enough to project/compare and bunt_q commented the SE line wasn't as sparkling as some had hoped.

Anyway, it's on to the West line.

TakeFive Jan 24, 2012 12:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cirrus (Post 5561359)
They should have built it elevated through the heart of DTC.

You might just be taking that East Coast stuff a wee bit too far.

Cirrus Jan 24, 2012 3:04 AM

Boardings at the northern stations are definitely higher on average, even more so if you subtract the end-line stops (which obviously have unusual characteristics).

The 5 stations between the SW split and I-225:
Median: 4045
Mean: 3537

The 8 southern stations:
Median: 1645
Mean: 2512

Southern stations not including terminals:
Median: 1509
Mean: 1629

The line seems to be working well enough at capturing downtown commuters, but utterly failing to attract DTC workers. Predictable, given the location of the stops (as well as other factors, such as the cost of parking in DTC).

bunt_q Jan 24, 2012 3:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cirrus (Post 5561649)
Boardings at the northern stations are definitely higher on average, even more so if you subtract the end-line stops (which obviously have unusual characteristics).

If you're using their totals in the table (I think you are), that counts all boardings and alightings. If you only look at boardings, the numbers are closer. I think that's attributable to the northern stations capturing people going both directions - downtown and DTC. Which is real, that's good station activity, just makes it harder to compare destinations.

I think what you're saying is correct - it serves the DTC incredibly poorly. But it's actually getting more DTC commuters than I would have thought from the city. 3,000 of those boardings in the five northern stations are southbound (versus 6,000 northbound).

In the southern stations, it's 7,200 northbound, versus 800 southbound. Which makes perfect sense - people who would board down south are already close enough, and the stations are so poorly sited, it makes no sense to park and ride.

Which still puts overall ridership on the line (back of the napkin here) 80%+ downtown-focused, 20% DTC. Excluding "local" trips, transfers, etc, which I imagine are fairly negligible. 80/20 split is probably close to what we would have expected in the first place, with that routing, wouldn't you say?

EDIT: Just occurred to me. That big southbound boarding number at Southmoor is probably (at least partially) transfers from the Nine Mile leg. That's another 4,000 northbound (and zero southbound, since I would've picked those up with the transfer). So it's probably more like 85% downtown-focused. Still fits what we would've expected to see.

TakeFive Jan 24, 2012 4:59 AM

Wouldn't have known what to expect but your analysis is interesting and not surprising. Free n' easy parking plus just the established lifestyle of those suburbanites.

But I'm also a Futurist (I've got a certificate here... somewhere). Look at the price of gas, expected to hit near $4. a gallon by Memorial Day. That's in a wobbly economy. What happens when the economy picks ups... $5. a gallon and up?

Way back I did a RE deal with a guy, Jay Roulier, who built one of the office towers on the east side in the Real DTC just south of Belleview a stretch. He showed me master plans where back then they anticipated LRT to be on the East side. Wonder if the original DTC won't densify at some point?

Over the next decade or two commuter habits and patterns could change a whole lot.


(Unanimous decision in United States v. Antoine Jones, somewhat interesting)


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