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  #12541  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2020, 8:43 PM
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Peak versus off-peak trends

Bay Area traffic is terrible, so why are fewer people taking transit?
January 24, 2020 By NICO SAVIDGE - Bay Area News Group

Some of this is merely a recap of what we already know that in recent years transit ridership has been falling.
Note: 2019 data tends to show a more stable or improving picture.

Quote:
The steepest ridership drops came during “off-peak” hours — on nights and weekends, when most people are not using the services to get to and from their jobs. While the number of public transit trips during peak commute hours fell by 2.4 percent between 2016 and 2018 in the Bay Area, it dropped by 10.2 percent during noncommute hours.

“It’s trips that are not made for work,” Wasserman said in an interview, for which riders are passing on transit and may be driving instead. “If you are outside of a dense central area, transit just isn’t competitive,” Wasserman said.
I have picked up on this trend in other places also; the one exception seems to be Houston where their re-done bus routes better serve more urban corridors that Houstonians will use on weekends.

Most of this is common sense, I'd think. But if you want to more efficiently deploy your assets then it's instructive.

Houston merely suggests that certain 'high priority' corridors like Colfax or Federal deserve better service. Both these streets aren't strictly commuter corridors and get a more generalized ridership beyond commuting.
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  #12542  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2020, 7:52 PM
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Read it and weep

This New Bill Wants To Make RTD Healthier And More Accountable. Will It Work?
January 28, 2020 By Nathaniel Minor - CPR
Quote:
The bill would also integrate parts of the federal Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disability Act into state law, which would allow civil lawsuits against RTD for discriminatory practices to be filed in state court. Victorious plaintiffs would also be eligible for more monetary damages than are possible under current law.
From the sublime to the ridiculous.
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  #12543  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2020, 8:07 PM
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Will it pass? No.
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  #12544  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2020, 8:43 PM
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Originally Posted by The Dirt View Post
Will it pass? No.
As is? Probably not, but something will pass that deals with RTD's issues. The legislature has to appear to care about mass transit and what better to show said concern than giving the disabled even more leverage?

Pretty soon RTD will consist of some shitty train lines and 1,000 Access-A-Ride vans.
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Last edited by wong21fr; Jan 29, 2020 at 8:59 PM.
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  #12545  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2020, 3:14 AM
CastleScott CastleScott is offline
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Hi all Denver forumers as a lurker who always checks out posts on here and I've noticed that the situation of RTD's plight has been a big topic on here. Well one of my best friends is putting his hat in the ring for one of the appointed positions that may come about, he's a former RTD board member who was first appointed back in 1977 by then Gov Richard Lamm-stayed on until the elected board took office in 1981. He was then Elected from his home Northglenn in 1986-reelected in 1990 and stayed till 1994. His name is Kevin Robert Sampson and he's an avid transit supporter and started many bus routes in the northern metro and he supported the start of the light rail service (the MAC line as what it was called back in the early 90s). My friend lives in SW Denver (Bear Valley) now and he does take the C/D line a lot and rides buses as well. Just something I want to share.

Thanks guys and gals
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  #12546  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2020, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by wong21fr View Post
Nice Joe Everyman piece. Too bad it doesn't actually say whether 15th Street is choked in traffic and the poor drivers are forced to use the bus lane out of desperation or drivers simply lack the cognitive ability to understand what a bus only lane is for and just drive down it.


I'm going with the latter.
I know this is old. But I drive down 15th a few times a week at night, when there is 0 traffic, and for some reason there seems to be more cars on the bus lane...when with two other lanes near empty. It's like they think it's a free express lane.
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  #12547  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2020, 8:02 PM
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Back to Square One

OPINION | Time to reassess the premise of public transit?
Feb 3, 2020 By Miller Hudson - Colorado Politics

An easy-to-read look at transit with a few interesting points.
Quote:
"This trend has been cropping up at transit properties across the country. We may be looking at RTD’s problems through the wrong end of the telescope. Are there changes in our economy and employment patterns pulling passengers out of their seats?” she suggested.
Miller mentions the gig economy and "all those Millennials" working out of shared spaces.

At least he highlights the biggest and most obvious obstacle with transit. It's also worthwhile to analyze this in the context of today's Millennials (et al) since they set the trend - or help to define the problem.
Quote:
Public transit has always faced a “first mile/last mile” challenge. Getting to the train and then walking to the office from the train can be an issue — even more so in bad weather.
The conservative take is provided by Joshua Sharf with the Independence Institute.
The one thing worth noting:
Quote:
A recent study commissioned by the board showed Denver being subsidized by the ring counties, with the largest subsidies coming from Jefferson, Douglas, and Adams Counties.
I had assumed this. I just wasn't aware it had been studied.
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  #12548  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2020, 8:46 PM
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Conservative versus Liberal - or maybe not?

If you're unfamiliar with the transit rap of conservative think tanks, they hate on rail transit but love bus transit. Their motivation is simply to avoid the high capital costs for rail so that those infrastructure costs are available for 'other things'.

Interestingly, many among the Streetsblog crowd would agree. This would go to the tension between serving the suburbs versus better serving the city center. Of course in Denver that horse left the barn long ago.

Disadvantages with RTD light & commuter rail

Conservatives would point out the higher costs (or subsidies) needed to operate rail transit as apposed to bus transit. In Denver, this is amplified by the disappointing ridership on certain lines. Given that FasTracks was 'visionary' and that the G Line only recently opened and the N Line is yet to open (but soon), it will be much more indicative how things look a decade from now. Generally, commuter rail has a much higher farebox recovery rate than buses. Many choice riders will happily take light rail but have no interest in riding buses.
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  #12549  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 2:55 PM
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I'm not sure how much you all have looked into the Rocky Mountain Rail proposal for finishing the B Line. In addition to allegedly pulling it off for $1.1 billion by 2025, they plan on adding ten stations beyond RTD's proposal with infrastructure for express lines. How difficult is it to build a rail system with express lines? If the southeast corridor and the W line had express lines, I imagine the ridership would have been much improved.
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  #12550  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 4:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
If you're unfamiliar with the transit rap of conservative think tanks, they hate on rail transit but love bus transit. Their motivation is simply to avoid the high capital costs for rail so that those infrastructure costs are available for 'other things'.

Interestingly, many among the Streetsblog crowd would agree.
Conservative think tanks hate both buses and trains. They say they love buses when trains are proposed, but when buses are proposed, they say they hate buses. No matter what transit is proposed, their position is always to not do it.

The Streetsblog crowd is the exact opposite. They love all transit including both buses and trains, but are often put in the position of advocating for buses and against trains because of specific bad train proposals that don't work as well as bus alternatives. But this isn't because of hatred for trains; in most cases, if you put a train on the bus alternative, they would like it better. For them, going to the right place and having features like dedicated lanes is more important than mode. (The Boulder train/bus line in FasTracks is a perfect example of this.)

The surface message may be the same, and I agree this is a notable oddity, worth following. But don't mistake that for being the same position.
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  #12551  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 5:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
Conservative think tanks hate both buses and trains. They say they love buses when trains are proposed, but when buses are proposed, they say they hate buses. No matter what transit is proposed, their position is always to not do it.

The Streetsblog crowd is the exact opposite. They love all transit including both buses and trains, but are often put in the position of advocating for buses and against trains because of specific bad train proposals that don't work as well as bus alternatives. But this isn't because of hatred for trains; in most cases, if you put a train on the bus alternative, they would like it better. For them, going to the right place and having features like dedicated lanes is more important than mode. (The Boulder train/bus line in FasTracks is a perfect example of this.)

The surface message may be the same, and I agree this is a notable oddity, worth following. But don't mistake that for being the same position.
Fair enough; adding clarification is fine.

Yes, favoring buses is their rap which isn't the same as actually liking them. The catch is that they don't prefer government funding for transit. Still saving the high cost of rail infrastructure is why they argue for bus transit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SirLucasTheGreat View Post
I'm not sure how much you all have looked into the Rocky Mountain Rail proposal for finishing the B Line. In addition to allegedly pulling it off for $1.1 billion by 2025, they plan on adding ten stations beyond RTD's proposal with infrastructure for express lines. How difficult is it to build a rail system with express lines? If the southeast corridor and the W line had express lines, I imagine the ridership would have been much improved.
Color me very skeptical.

I will say that sometimes the private sector can accomplish things that the public center is not so good at. First and foremost I'll be curious to see how they solve ROW issues.

I have considered the SE Corridor. It's really long with lots of stations. If they had the physical ability to say have the E and F Lines stop at every other station that could make a huge time difference. The obvious catch is that they have different destination so depending on where you got on one may need to make a transfer. If there were only one line in that corridor then alternating stopping at stations would be much easier.
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  #12552  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 5:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
The catch is that they don't prefer government funding for transit.
Yes they do. They absolutely do prefer governing funding for transit.

But given the choice between building 10 corridors serving 200,000 bus trips versus building 1 corridor serving 10,000 rail trips for the same amount of government funding, they will pick the former.

They are also acutely aware that the US spends more to get less than other first world countries. Their position is that if Spain can build subways for what it costs the US to build BRT, failing to get US costs under control prevents more transit from being built.
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  #12553  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 5:47 PM
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Yes they do. They absolutely do prefer governing funding for transit.

But given the choice between building 10 corridors serving 200,000 bus trips versus building 1 corridor serving 10,000 rail trips for the same amount of government funding, they will pick the former.
We can agree to disagree. Conservatives always, always want less over more taxes. That they acknowledge some funding for transit will happen then they argue for the least expensive needing the lowest tax support.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
They are also acutely aware that the US spends more to get less than other first world countries. Their position is that if Spain can build subways for what it costs the US to build BRT, failing to get US costs under control prevents more transit from being built.
That's a whole other kettle of fish. That goes to your friends piling on layer after layer of red tape or analysis paralysis and added years of time and money. Not saying the regs are 'all bad' but they do run up the costs dramatically. Certainly conservatives would prefer less to more regulation; they recognize what is driving up the costs.
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  #12554  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 6:08 PM
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lol you are making assumptions again.

First of all, I agree the red tape surrounding transit projects needs to change. The NEPA process is important but it's been corrupted to the point of uselessness, and needs a top-down remake. Most planners agree with this, actually, because it's even more obvious once you know all the ways to game the process.

Secondly, while regs do drive up costs a meaningful percentage, as do unions, there are just as many "conservative" reasons for high transit costs (and long timelines) as "liberal" ones. These include frequent budgetary delaying tactics, insistence on consultants (and associated subconsultants) for work governments could do themselves if allowed, and private partnerships that sell off long term assets for immediate infusions of cash. I can't say with any authority which side sums to a bigger problem, but they both contribute big parts to what is basically a perfect storm, and saying the conservative side "recognizes what's driving up costs" is just hilariously ignorant of the many ways they are actively driving up costs.
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  #12555  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 6:29 PM
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lol you are making assumptions again.

First of all, I agree the red tape surrounding transit projects needs to change. The NEPA process is important but it's been corrupted to the point of uselessness, and needs a top-down remake. Most planners agree with this, actually, because it's even more obvious once you know all the ways to game the process.

Secondly, while regs do drive up costs a meaningful percentage, as do unions, there are just as many "conservative" reasons for high transit costs (and long timelines) as "liberal" ones. These include frequent budgetary delaying tactics, insistence on consultants (and associated subconsultants) for work governments could do themselves if allowed, and private partnerships that sell off long term assets for immediate infusions of cash. I can't say with any authority which side sums to a bigger problem, but they both contribute big parts to what is basically a perfect storm, and saying the conservative side "recognizes what's driving up costs" is just hilariously ignorant of the many ways they are actively driving up costs.
I try hard to make observations as apposed to assumptions but you add valid observations as well.

Did you notice how well my guy Mayor Pete is doing in Iowa? Not sure he can go the distance buy I'm gratified.
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  #12556  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 6:58 PM
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Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
The conservative take is provided by Joshua Sharf with the Independence Institute.
The one thing worth noting:

I had assumed this. I just wasn't aware it had been studied.
It would have been nice if the II sourced the study as I don't remember reading this one and would really like to take a look at it. But that requires actual scholarly work which is not something that the II is known for anymore, their libertarian credentials as a think than are pretty tenuous at this point and it''s more about separating saps from their money.
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  #12557  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 7:20 PM
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Originally Posted by wong21fr View Post
It would have been nice if the II sourced the study as I don't remember reading this one and would really like to take a look at it. But that requires actual scholarly work which is not something that the II is known for anymore, their libertarian credentials as a think than are pretty tenuous at this point and it''s more about separating saps from their money.
The study was commissioned by the (RTD) board or at least that's what I assumed.
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  #12558  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 7:26 PM
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The study was commissioned by the (RTD) board or at least that's what I assumed.
That's obvious, but as they linked to sources for the other claims in the editorial it would be nice if they also linked to this one. But that's something that a reputable scholar would do.

Not that I'm suggesting that the author is stretching the findings of the study....
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  #12559  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 7:30 PM
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That's obvious, but as they linked to sources for the other claims in the editorial it would be nice if they also linked to this one. But that's something that a reputable scholar would do.

Not that I'm suggesting that the author is stretching the findings of the study....
Gotcha

One thing that crossed my mind (later) is that they didn't mention Arapahoe Co. If not an oversight it might be that they get their fair share of transit?
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  #12560  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2020, 6:12 PM
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Interesting RTD guidelines and stuff

SERVICE CHANGES – FIGURING OUT THE PUZZLE THAT KEEPS THE SYSTEM ROLLING SMOOTHLY
02.05.2020 - RTD Service Changes
Quote:
They’re not just throwing darts.

So how do they start? Let’s take a look, in a discussion with RTD’s Jeff Becker, a civil engineer with a 25-year career in transportation planning.

A crucial fact to start with in all RTD planning is that every single rider, on every single trip, on every form of RTD transportation, is subsidized by taxpayers. No route or line pays its own way with fares. It’s a shock for many people to learn: Some routes come closer to breaking even than others, but subsidies range up to $15 per rider and beyond.
How 'bout some nitty gritty?
Quote:
...the amount of subsidy per line or per rider is only one of many factors planners consider. Others include:
  • Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires that agencies relying on federal funding avoid discriminating against people based on race, gender, disability and, more recently, income status. In practice, that means RTD must make sure that altering a service won’t disproportionately affect lower-income residents in the metro area.
  • Duplication or isolation. If a line’s frequency has to be reduced, or the route eliminated altogether, is there another RTD service nearby that residents can use?
  • Relative effectiveness of service. Twenty boardings per vehicle hour on a downtown bus is relatively poor performance, while 20 boardings on a suburb-to-suburb bus is not bad. Then again, while 30 boardings per hour on a bus route is good, 100 boardings per hour on a train line is too low given the high expense and capacity of rail cars.
  • Scheduling. Once a route and its frequency are established, that work is put out to bid among operators three times a year, following rules set in the collective bargaining agreement for all of the agency’s union-represented employees. One bus route might operate for 20 hours a day, meaning three or four operator shifts cover just that route. Runs that are crucial to the public may not be popular for bidding among operators with the most seniority.
A few rambling impressions.

Whenever the feds are involved things get complicated fast. That said, you can't pass on those nice grants.

Union rules are always fascinating. So long-timers have 1st choice on all the plum routes. Actually this sounds reasonable to me. But perhaps the 'shit' routes could carry a per hour premium for drivers?

I see where RTD does account for differences in operating costs between buses and light/commuter rail. Makes sense.

Lastly, given the recent increases in wages/benefits in an effort to attract more drivers, there now is less money for operating all of the routes. Since this was necessary, it is what it is.
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