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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Portland Perspective- On LRT

The Hamiltonian reached out to our friends at Tri-Met, the agency that runs Portland's LRT lines to seek their insights and observations with respect to implementing LRT. As they have a vast amount of experience in implementing LRT, and as their system has been operational for a long time and continues to mature, we thought we'd check in with them. Enjoy our chat with David Unsworch, Director of Project Development and Permitting and Mary Fetsch, Chief Media Relations Officer.
(please note- the text is a transcript of a phone interview. Thus, please allow for truncated sentences. The transcript is verbatim and is not intended to be grammatically correct throughout, but reflects conversational tone.) 

We've always heard that Portland is far ahead with LRT, in terms of understanding the technology and implementing it, and so what we really want to get at, is, what are the experiences you've had in terms of making it work, and has LRT met your expectations. More specifically, if you folks had any targets that you set, in terms of ridership, or profit, or whatever the indicators you might have set at the onset to determine has been successful; we're interested in understanding whether you met those targets and how did you measure the implementation's outcomes. 

We have over 60 miles or light rail. We have a region that is growing and has grown around light rail,
and when we look at success for that, we look from a ridership standpoint. More than 100,000 people- 100,000 trips per day  are being taken on light rail. And it's required us not to build as many freeways. Really about a third of the people coming into the downtown, from a workers standpoint, both on the east and west sides of downtown, are coming via our light rail system- our MAX system. So, it's the cost of not expanding those roadways. 

We had a highway revolt that happened here in the 1970's where great swaths of land, schools, grocery stores , single family homes and businesses were being taken for building roadways, and this community said- stop- there's got to be a different way of getting people from A to B than just building freeways. So, let's fix some bottlenecks but let's invest in transit. By that, we also mean busses and commuter rail and certainly light rail. 

We see our transit system, our light rail,  and we have frequent service routes which are 15 minute or better all day long. Bus routes that carry most of our ridership between, that and light rail, they carry most of our ridership. And so when we look at our keys to success, we look at a vibrant downtown. So, the city of Portland, almost a 24 hour city, is a place where people pay to park on a Sunday. Which is kind of unheard of. 

When we look at the investment that has been made by private industry around communities, you see about 13.2 billion dollars of real estate that has been invested adjacent to our stations since we decided to start building light rail. And that return on investment is going to keep giving and giving and giving. As we are a growing region, we are finding that it is getting more difficult to get people from A to B, in reliable travel times which, when you have a separate right of way, with something that you run on it, you have that reliability, that it's going to take you 30 minutes to get from A to B all the time, as opposed to some of our freeways where it may take you 15 minutes on one day but if you really need to plan to be there, you probably need to plan for 45 to 50 to 60 minutes to be able to get there if you have an appointment because the highways have become less reliant to change. They've been so congested, that a small fender bender will back things up for hours. 

So, it's a key tool for getting people around the region. And what the region has done is it's made a plan of saying, here are key regional and town centres, and we're going to try to connect those with our best and highest quality transit we have. So, when we look at our indicators we look at are we doing the right thing with land use. And check, we are- the 13.2 billion dollars. And you can go and look at our stations and think, wow, some of them have done really well. And you can look at our ridership. For a city our size, we are punching way above our weight class. We're probably the 26th largest city in the United States, but our ridership per capita is probably around 9 or 10. So, we've done very well because we've done a good job of connecting the dots, making the stations convenient, safe and thinking about the investment from an urban design standpoint. 

So we spent a lot of time thinking about how a station fits in with the fabric, the sidewalks and making sure that we connect the dots. By that I mean that we're connecting to where our baseball team plays, where our soccer team plays, where our football team plays, where there are civic institutions that we have lots of. And also, park n rides, and our stations are usually where we connect busses into it. So if you can't get that last mile, or the first mile..and so, in addition, we're making sure that- the last project we just opened up this last year, we spent 65 million dollars on bicycle and pedestrian improvements to make sure people can walk safely to the stations.

You've already answered this, but just to be clear. One of the question marks out here is whether the installation of light rail transit actually results in uplift in the communities. From your answer, it sounds like it has in your implementation. One of the questions out here is whether that's going to hold true, or whether there is an exaggeration about the effect that light rail has on surrounding communities and stations.  It sounds as though you have been fairly successful out there.

I think we're seeing that around the United States. People want walkable communities. They want to get out of their cars. They want vital places. And you start making that by urban design and making great places. And you connect those with transit, so, absolutely.

We have a thing called tax increment financing, which basically is value capture. And so our economic partner, has put money into these projects because they see the value. The private industry sees the value of high capacity transit. We're going to bring people to their door. It's going to be there for a long time. And so that return on investment is not only being seen by the transit agency, but more importantly is being seen as a city building, a place building thing, that there's return on investment for the private side. So, we have a street car in town, and the Chair of the streetcar committee has said, to many people that have come hear, the day that we decided to put a streetcar hear, my property values went up three times. He will say that loudly and proudly and say, fine we're paying more taxes on it, it brings more customers here, it brings more value and I'm able to capture that in the future. So, it it's done right, if you pay attention to details, like urban design, how you're connecting the dots, I think it clearly pays off and we're seeing that across the United States where people are investing in better transit. It's not just the highway. People are now focussed on building their cities. And we're seeing a return to cities, in America. Which is really strange; it's been happening here in Portland for a long time. But part of that is based on, can you get around without your car? And part of that is reliable and understandable transit service. 

When you folks first started implementing; one of things that we're obviously going to go through if we proceed, is that there are a lot of vendors on the routes that we are implementing on. Of course, there is concern around the disruption to business and that sort of thing. How did you folks handle this, as we would imagine that the vendors and businesses out there would have probably had similar concerns as you started out. How did you manage that? 

We have probably what I would say is one of the best community involvement groups around. And what they pay attention to, and our contracting methods require a conduct of construction. So we do a CNGC type of contracting which really brings the general contractor in very early on and they understand what our agency is looking for when we are doing construction on the neighbourhood. So, we're not blocking driveways, we are doing things that...we put advertisements out - in some cases on interstate avenue, we actually had lunch busses that we brought people from other places into town and drop people off at those businesses, during the heavy construction periods. And we have our staff on the streets with a cell phone/pager 24 hours a day if there's a problem with the consruction in blocking or impacting their property- they're the go to person. They develop a personal relationship with the property owner or the business person, so they are  the face of the project and they know who to go to the construction side and our side, to make sure that if there's a problem, that we find ways to alleviate that. 

Back in the day, when we first started, we were in downtown Portland and we did not go curb to curb in the street, we went building front to building front. And we also did construction from one end of the heart of downtown to the other end, where the project was. So, we learned that was too hard on businesses. It made sense from a construction perspective, but not from a business and community support. So, as we've done these various expansion,s and we just finished our sixth segment that we've built over these 30 years, we've gotten smarter and better. Now, a bunch of them are curb to curb. We'll only do 3 to 4 block segments. So, we're in and out. And we talk with the vendor and say hey, what's your busy time? If you're a florist and we block your access on Valentine's day, that's not going to work. So, there's a sense of- we understand your business, we understand your high point times and wedding season, don't block the florist. So, we really get to know them. Know their business cycle and then work around, with the construction schedule. And with a CMGC kind of contract, you get that flexibility to say, you know what, we have to move this work to another section because we need to support the business in this environment at this time. So we have that flexibility. So it really is a commitment. We're here to be a good neighbour. So that's a real value. We've learned over the years how to do that. So we do it in small segments, we let people know that we are there to answer and respond if there are any issues. 

Really it's a partnership with the contractor that's building it. We don't let them loose on the community. Our relationship is too important. We have to ask for our partner agencies to give us money. So the project that we just got done building, which is a 1.5 billion dollar project, Tri-Met put 4 cents on the dollar, into the capital cost of that, so we had our partners from the state, our partners from the region, our partners from the county and local jurisdictions. We actually even had private industry donating property to the project because they saw the value of it.

Was there a lot of expropriation that was needed?

The project that we just got done with, we had 245 million dollars worth of right of way acquisitions. We did that with what we call eminent domaine here. We're able to pay people for their property and require them to do that. We have that in our back pocket, but we really try to negotiate for a fair, what they see as more than a fair market value. So, we have had lots of disruption and we're very careful about how we do that. There are several rules. It's called the uniform relocation act, we have to follow as we go through that. It really protects the person's property, and if we have to take their property, we're doing it in a way that minimizes disruption to that person. That doesn't say it's not disruptive. It doesn't say it's not hard,but, in comparison, we're about 32 feet of width for our trackway, and you compare that to a roadway, one lane with a breakdown lane on each side, you're already at 24 feet, so we're minor in comparison to what happens to a roadway and we can move a lot of people in a rush hour in comparison to that same freeway lane. 

We imagine you have many stations; some of which did very well, some of which did as expected and some of which may not have done as well as you had hoped. For the ones that did not do as well as you had hoped, is there anything about them  that you can identify as being a flag or something that you would want to watch out for?

The first thing is, these are projects that are successful over generations. This isn't just a project for today or for the net five years. And there are areas in town that are more ready for development, verses others. So, take that into account and our original alignment, there are three stations adjacent to a freeway, and they are not at grade; they're at lower grade. So, when you think about it, if we had our druthers today and had the money, we would want it more connecting to the neighbourhood. So, there are things you learn as you do this over 30 years. Every line we do, we've learned more. As a principle, crime prevention through environmental design is really important. We have some park n rides that are absolutely cram full, and some that aren't very full. Now they may change over time. There are some stations where we are now seeing redevelopment 20 years, 30 years after we put in the line. Probably the biggest lesson I've learned, is as we build extensions to the line, be careful of how many stations you put in. The number of stations and the travel times...so, it's a combination of how often do you stop and how important the stations are. We basically have a very long line and to get from one end to the other takes you a long time. So, be careful about the number of stations you put in. I think you need to find a balance between what's there today, what can you imagine can be there in the future, what are great bus connections, ...but everybody wants a station and you need to be frugal  with those as you look at that extension. Make sure you're smart about when you're putting those in. Because it's really about high capacity transit. It's not a bus. There's a tool for every kind of transit. This is one where you wouldn't want a light rail train stop two blocks away from the other. How do you use the tool for where you are today, but also for future land use development.

Special thanks to David and Mary for their time and expertise! To learn more about Portland's transit system, click here

72 comments:

  1. A very interesting read. Good to hear opinions outside of our city/country.

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  2. I agree. Articles like this are more likely to change my mind, than listening to people who have no experience with building lRT. It sounds like Portland has done all the right things. Are we connecting to where our teams play (Ivor Wynn is a ways away), do we have park n rides? hmmm. Are we goimng to destinations that are worth going to? Hmmm...
    Sorce

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    1. "Destinations that are worth going to" strikes me as a qualitative and unduly subjective way of framing things (it has a whiff of classism, which I'm sure was not your intent). How about a more quantitative and objective measure, such as "destinations that people are going to, with 1,000+ boardings, five to seven days a week."

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    2. A Traffic Circle destination is a highly sought after destination.

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    3. I don't know where you get "classisim" but I won't dignify that with a reply.

      I don't know anyone who wants to go to the traffic circle. Maybe we can convince the Cats to play in the parking lot there?

      In many ways, what portland has to say in terms of what made their LRT a success, goes to prove Clr. Whitehead's points as to why ours is poised to fail.
      Sorce

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    4. "A Traffic Circle destination is a highly sought after destination." such a deeply, deeply flawed "understanding" of how mass transit works. currently, millions of hsr riders annually travel from the east end to the west end AND ALL POINTS IN BETWEEN. so those millions of existing riders, and those hundreds of thousands of future riders, and the tens of thousands of people that will take an efficient lrt system but wont use the existing inefficient bus system, will use the lrt. to go from the east end of the city to the west end of the city AND ALL POINTS IN BETWEEN. so your talk of "destinations" is pretty weak tea.

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    5. A descriptor like "worth going to" is pretty obviously subjective. It suggests that the options currently on the table have no merit — the popular Palin tribute "train to nowhere" meme trundled out by LRT critics. For all of its faults, the HSR network largely adheres to destinations rationalized by ridership demand. Of cours the QTC is a waystation — it's the end of phase 1. Would it make more sense to cut it off at Gage Park or Ottawa Street North? Perhaps. Would that make as much sense as running the line all the way to eastgate? Not in the least. Is it reasonable for the City of Hamilton or its citizens to expect a full and complete higher order transit solution in the absence of any municipal contribution other than callow election cycle thinking? Not at all. Does it make sense to predicate transit planning around a pro sports franchise that plays at the stadium 10 days a year? That depends on whether you hold season tickets, I guess. But the HSR already offers free bus rides to the games; how many public subsidies does a private business run by a billionaire really need? Again, how about evaluating a 50-year transit strategy on big-picture thinking?

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    6. FWIW, Portland's LRT lines didn't extend to the stadium until 10 years after TriMet's original trunk line had been completed.

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    7. "A Traffic Circle destination is a highly sought after destination." if only there were a major financial, economic or educational facility on the lrt route. we should plan it so it services our financial, employment and cultural hub, the downtown. it should go past incubators like inovation park. it should service the mcmaster educational system along its route. if only "destinations" like this were included in the lrt, not just the traffic circle. but wait. the lrt DOES service all the important economic and educational development areas? well then. problem solved. the traffic circle is just ONE point of service along a extensive route servicing the existing engines of hamilton. problem solved. what was the problem again? right. there never was any "problem". just misdirection and stalling disguised as concern.

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    8. It services nothing in the east end and the end point is a barrier to its use both from those needing to travel to the east end and those traveling from the east end. To try to sell the LRT route as a system that encourages transit use when it does the opposite for those it should be targeting is disengenious

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    9. There are plenty of straws but this is the proverbial one. I take the bus to Eastgate now and with the implementation of LRT I will no longer be able to without a major inconvenience of time and comfort with the transfer at the Traffic Circle

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    10. I wish I lived in a city where politicians were capable of making the case for funding that extension. But that ward's councillor and the provicial/federal riding reps are anti-LRT. And so the province has opted for the "phased" approach that the City and Metrolinx had both put on the table.

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    11. "It services nothing in the east end...." currently, millions of riders per year START their hsr trip in the east end. they travel from the east, to the west, with untold hundreds of thousands of stops in between. why are they "nothing" to allan taylor? who knows. these millions of existing hsr riders get better more efficient transit out of lrt. this is not "nothing". it is clearly something. no more pass bys, no more overcrowding, safe secure weather proof boarding stations, faster travel time. but to allan taylor, this is "nothing". its amazing how allan taylor disregards the needs of untold numbers of his neighbours cause he has issues with lrt.

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    12. exactly. allan should be whingeing to mp bratina and councllor collins. they drew a line in the sand. the line is now the end of the lrt line.

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    13. The line doesn't service the east end, it splits it into 2 routes in place of one. LRT stops short of where most in the east end need to get to. In short it's a major reduction in service for the east end

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    14. The east end doesn't suffer from the same overcrowding and passbys the west end experiences

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    15. Actually I blame Merulla Green Farr and Johnson for insisting on LRT that cost more rather than BRT and shortened the route due to budget

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    16. "The east end doesn't suffer from the same overcrowding and passbys the west end experiences" sooo not true. if you really took the king bus you would see every morning westbound bus's bypassing countless people. some westbound king bus's are full at kenora and bypass EVERONE between kenora and downtown. people routinely have two bus's go by. people at cope. people at kenilworth. people at gage. people all tha way down town. in snow. in rain. with sick children. they really are "nowhere people" to you arent they? you dont even see them. and look what your saying again "The east end doesn't suffer from the same overcrowding and passbys the west end experiences" you admit there A problem the lrt is a solution to, you just arent worried about it cause its not YOUR problem.

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    17. "Actually I blame Merulla Green Farr and Johnson for insisting on LRT that cost more rather than BRT and shortened the route due to budget" you just like to blame people you dont like and excuse people you do, as per your post. lets do the rough math: councillors collins jackson whitehead johnson pearson furguson and pasuta have voted YES for lrt over and over and over and over. collectively they must have voted yes for lrt over a 100 times. green johnson were elected last election. you blame THEM for lrt? sure sure. farr has been around a bit longer, but not by much. so try placing "blame" where its due. cause when lrt is a success, we will not be giving sudden convert councillor whiethead any kudos.

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    18. "LRT stops short of where most in the east end need to get to" not true. but true for many. it does stop short and should be going to eastgate. "In short it's a major reduction in service for the east end" not true. it is a reduction in service if you board or deboard past queenston, but its a major improvement for most everyone else.

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    19. I do take the bus. The problems in East end are not severe and more buses easily cures it. I have always said full BRT on Main. Mine is if you want to blame at least get the right people, I prefer to just stay away from it but will respond to it. LRT is a major reduction of service in East Hamilton, no denial changes that.

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    20. "The problems in East end are not severe..." this is false. it is borne out by ridership data and direct line of sight research by hsr. you travel east in the morning? the number of trips east in morning rush is tiny compared to the rush going west. either you dont know this cause you dont see it or youre denying hsr data. "and more buses easily cures it" not true either. the dollar amount investment in a fleet of new buses to solve the exisitng problems doesnt work. the math has been done. lrt is better. youre idea of "more bus's please" would result in a fleet of bus's and drivers starting from eastgate parking lot in a giant convoy end to end in a kilometer long daisy chain of vehicles. or you can have an lrt. which we will.

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    21. No this is true. I cannot make you change your mind when you deny the truth

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    22. Your giant convoy end to end Daisy chain is hyperbole beyond words. With a bus leaving every six minutes HSR would need to triple the number of buses before approaching that

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    23. millions and millions of hsr riders? who knew? Certainly not the cash box.

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  3. This is a very responsible interview and extremely helpful. Thanks for your continued even hand Teresa et al

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  4. "Are we connecting to where our teams play (Ivor Wynn is a ways away)" the "ways away" you reference is literally a few hundred metres from lrt to ivor wynne. of course, the ti cats play a total of what, ten home games per year? so how much extra should we be investing to get the people a few hundred metres closer to ivor wynne than the lrt will?

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  5. "Are we goimng to destinations that are worth going to?" show some destinations you have in mind. then show how that will provide any roi or generate any tax income or developement income for hamilton.

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    1. you are right, there is no suitable destination, scrap this foolishness

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  6. "I don't know anyone who wants to go to the traffic circle." explain this. the power centre in ancaster is very popular. lots of visitors. almost everyone of them by car apparently. since the bus to the power centre is almost always near empty. so if your "supply and demand" economics on hsr is true, why are the buses to ancaster such money losers. and all the other empty buses to the "glamorous" west mountain. homeowners pay through the nose to live there, the bus service is a money loser for the hsr, yet homeowners lobby the city to move or cancel bus routes stops and shelters. why arent the buses full heading to the area of hamilton with some of the best homes and best retail? your premise is clearly flawed from the jump.

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    1. I get on and off the bus at Eastgate regularly, it's busy

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    2. so what? im referencing ancaster and west mountain. your alleged trips to eastgate arent relevant to this comment.

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    3. interesting. generally, if someone lives west of twenty they pay the same % transit levy as someone in ward one or two. if not twenty close by. when they board and debus the hsr at eastgate they have already contributed on their tax's. the further east from twenty (or wherever the demarc line is) you live the lower the % you pay on you transit levy. sections of stoney creek and much of the surrounding areas pay little or no transit levy at all. when they get on and off the hsr at eastgate, all they pay is their fare. i feel bad for the people in the east that are paying their fair share and are getting shafted. cause the lrt should run to eastgate. clearly what needs to happen is people like allan taylor affected by the lrt stopping short should start lobbying council for commitments on when lrt is coming to s stop near them. mp bratina is getting his go station, councillor collins has got all the free pr he needs for his election run. they should be ready to deal. know allan and the other victims need to get busy, join a pro lrt group or start one, and they will be all aboard in not time.

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    4. I don't want it at all

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    5. Full BRT Dundas to Eastgate and full BRT from Go to airport. I'm with Whitehead

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    6. "Full BRT Dundas" dundas bus's dont do very well. not much ridership. why spend money going places people arent going? "Go to airport" why? hardly anyone is going there now. the number of flights and people leaving hamilton airport has been dropping and dropping steadily for years with nothing to do with public transit. you dont want to improve and expand the biggest and most used route in hamilton the king but you want to build a network to the airport? sure. sure.

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    7. Grow the system so people will use it. You want people to use transit it has to be there

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    8. "Grow the system so people will use it" the anti lrt crowd has recently latched on to the idea the airport should be serviced first. the most asinine position yet. why isnt hamilton airport used more? because in many many cases its much much cheaper to fly out of buffolo. or hamilton doesnt have the destinations people want so they travel to pearson.. so your plan is to build a billion dollar mass rapid transit system to hamilton airport cause all of a sudden people will fly out of hamilton and the system will get use? people are going to pay $950 for a flight from hamilton they can get at buffallo for $400 cause they get to ride the airport lrt? or someone who previously would have traveled to pearson for their flight to belfast will now suddenly instead go to tampa from hamilton cause they were able to ride the airport lrt? wow.

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  7. And we have no park n ride plans right? Got it...

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    1. no, you dont understand. we dont have the shift rotations for housekeeping staff that will clean the washrooms at the lrt stations. also, we dont know if the pop machines will be stocking coke or pepsi products. too many unanswered questions. clearly doomed.

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  8. mpton rejected the thier lrt money. heres what the person in brampton has emailed council. from Chris Duyvestyn, Director of Transportation Special Projects in the Planning and Infrastructure Services Department at the City of Brampton, "Brampton Council recently approved the preparation of a Terms of Reference to undertake an environmental assessment (EA) study to assess two alternative LRT routes (Kennedy Rd and McLaughlin Rd). This is expected to take approximately three years to complete once a consultant is retained." got it? the transit boss in brampton says three years before the ea for the alternate routes is done. done AFTER brampton chooses a consultant. sound good so far? gets better.

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    1. Better to get it right than worry about 3 years of waiting for something we won't need for 20 years

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    2. at least five years before we are ready for an alternate plan. have we then promised our proposal will be accepted? no, of course not. any promise of funding? no, of course not. so it could take us ten or fifteen years to get mass rapid transit funding. or twenty years. or never. right?

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    3. only those who fear scrutiny, knowing it will continue to erode support and undermine confidence, are in a hurry here. Responsible? Of course not.

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    4. the lrt process was over ten years in the making. the planning and process documents are public record. scrutiny? lrt critics cry out for untested unexamined unproven unreliable and UNCOSTED alt tech like brt or autonomous vehicles or hoverboards. at the first sign of scrutiny or examination of these "alternatives" the anti lrt crowd balks, sputters and mews "these details can be worked out later" the "whitehead report" has dozens of negative points abput areas of lrt build and design that arent 100% known TODAY, years ahead of schedule. yet the same report lists more than a few "solutions" or alternatives to lrt with no info on cost implementation or scheduling. heres the anti lrt position made easy "say no to 1 billion in approved funding for a 100% approved and shovel ready project known as lrt. we can wait for some funding from somewhere that will come sometime for a option that we have no data on but we KNOW will be better and cheaper than lrt" scrutiny. jim grahams makes us laugh. since he or the other anti rapid transit types havent put forth one concrete alternative proposal, what good ideas can they have? i guess we can keep an open mind, and believe that between kim and socre and allan and the folks at gilberts, they will come up with something. sometime. someway. somehow. someday.

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  9. still from Chris Duyvestyn "Upon completion and approval of the EA study, and subject to future funding from the Provincial and/or Federal governments, the City will be in a position to proceed with the design and construction of a preferred route endorsed by Council" got it? AFTER the city hires a consultant, AFTER the three years minimum an ea takes, "and subject to future funding from the Provincial and/or Federal governments" got it? clear? FUTURE funding. future. not the money we offered and brampton turned away. not today money. not even tomorrow money. its "maybe. in the future. sometime. maybe. we will see" money.

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  10. nd who is paying for the new ea? why brampton of course. millions and millions. plus millions in other consultant fees. what does Chris Duyvestyn say about this? any wiggle room on the ea? no. "Upon completion and approval of the EA study, and subject to future funding from the Provincial and/or Federal governments, the City will be in a position to proceed with the design and construction of a preferred route endorsed by Council" so if you dont have every i dotted and every t crossed and submitted on time or no money. and if the new ea was approved what the provinces promise on when the money is coming? "..and subject to future funding from the Provincial and/or Federal governments, the City will be in a position to proceed.." if everything goes according to plan, five years from now when the five million dollar new ea is done when does the province promise the money is coming? the "future".

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    1. time is something we have in abundance, let us do this right, not in some manner which only ensures funding.

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    2. we are out of time and past due for improving and upgrading our transit. immense sections of the king corridor hasnt had any business or residential development in fifty years. population growth, increased cost of auto ownership, attitude changes about driving vs walking. all of these have happened. we dont have another twenty years to waste on the status quo.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. "...the empirical analysis provides evidence that Light Rail alone has not been sufficient to have an appreciative impact on development patterns, residential density, auto ownership and transit modal behaviour"
    Ken Dueker, Transport Research Board, Centre for Urban Studies, Portland State University

    "...the point is there is simply no material connection between light rail and reducing traffic congestion in Portland or elsewhere"
    Wendell Cox, LA County Transport Commission,the Oregonian 9/17/14

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    1. By the same token, there is no material connection between smooth, fresh pavement, more highways and additional lane capacity and reducing traffic congestion. Induced demand.

      And this is pure speculation, but if you removed all of a city's public transit infrastructure and forced all of those riders to drive/carpool, take cabs, cycle or walk, it seems reasonable to expect that you would significantly impact traffic dynamics, and probably undergo an uptick in congestion.

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    2. speculative and nonsensical

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    3. "Wendell Cox is an American urban planner and academic, known as leading proponent of the use of the private car over rail projects… Cox generally opposes planning policies aimed at increasing rail service and density, while favoring planning policies that reinforce and serve the existing transportation and building infrastructure… Cox has also emerged as an opponent of smart growth, especially urban growth boundaries, impact fees, and large lot zoning, claiming they have a tendency to raise housing prices artificially and suppress economic growth.
      He has authored studies for… industry groups such as the American Highway Users Alliance, a lobbying and advocacy group for automobile-based industries."

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendell_Cox

      Delete
    4. "By the same token, there is no material connection between smooth, fresh pavement, more highways and additional lane capacity and reducing traffic congestion" great point. by jims reasoning we dont need to do any road repairs or maintenance. if you have to drive to work you have to drive to work. if you need to shop you need to shop. potholes arent going to stop anyone from going to work. potholes arent going to stop anyone from shopping. we could %100 eliminate the ENTIRE roads budget, save millions, and the local economy wouldnt be affected at all.

      Delete
    5. Study after study has confirmed the induced demand problem. Just how strong can induced demand be? Some studies find an almost one-to-one relationship.

      “Our study . . . found that adding lane-miles does induce substantial new
      traffic. . . . A 1.0 percent increase in lane miles induces a 0.9 percent increase in VMT [Vehicle Miles Traveled] within five years. With so much induced traffic, adding new road capacity does little to reduce congestion.”

      Another study notes that “Transportation economist Kenneth Small provides a good review of previous studies and concludes that 50-80% of increased highway capacity is soon filled with generated traffic.”8

      A different review offers this summary:

      Among other recent studies, many addressed elasticity of travel demand
      [induced demand] with respect to lane-miles of roadway (usually limited to just freeways and arterials). Hansen and Huang (1997) found elasticities of 0.9 in California metropolitan areas for a 4 to 5 year time period. Similarly,
      Johnston and Ceerla (1996) found elasticities of 0.6 to 0.9 over a three-year period in the same state. Noland (forthcoming) found short-term elasticities of 0.2 to 0.5 using data from 50 states, w ith corresponding long-term elasticities of 0.7 to 1.0. 9

      Finally, a study based on data from the Texas Transportation Institute found that:

      Some of the more controversial recent publications have found very high
      (approaching 1) elasticities for roadway demand relative to roadway supply.
      Analysis of the Texas Transportation Institute’s Urban Congestion Study Data Set for 70 U.S. urban areas collaborates these studies. Calculated elasticities are 0.85 for highways and 0.76 for principal arterials.10

      Attempting to solve the problem of traffic congestion by building more roads or adding lanes to existing freeways not only doesn’t work, it also costs a fortune.

      http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/how_transit_benefits.pdf

      Delete
    6. Does rail transit actually relieve traffic congestion? Yes, it does. In some cities, it actually reduces congestion; in others, it reduces the rate at which traffic congestion grows. In both cases, people who drive rather than riding transit benefit.

      Of course, the usual claque of transit critics denies these facts – facts we will demonstrate are indeed facts. The inimitable Wendell Cox, the anti-transit crowd's Don Quixote, said:

      But more important than the source of light rail ridership is that it carries such modest volumes in relation to traffic on adjacent roadways. In no case has light rail attracted enough drivers out of their cars to materially reduce traffic congestion . . .14

      The facts show that, as usual, the anti-transit myth-makers are wrong. A good place to start finding the facts is in an interesting study by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University. The TTI looked
      at the increase in traffic congestion in large urban areas between 1992 and 1997. It found a substantial difference between cities that had rail transit
      and those that did not.

      For the 1992-97 period examined, traffic congestion . . . increased 55.9% in
      urban areas without rail transit, but only 32.4% in urban areas with rail transit in major travel corridors. In other words, traffic congestion grew at a rate 73% higher in non-rail cities, than in cities with rail in one or more major travel corridors.

      http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/how_transit_benefits.pdf

      Delete
    7. so the author of the quote jim graham used to discredit lrt is a pro sprawl, highway and auto industry lobbyist. wow. thank you.

      Delete
    8. Cox is a noted scholar, academic, an urban planner with over 30 years experience in studying the impact of light rail, with particular emphasis on Portland, the system referenced in this article. An expert.
      Orangemike is a "warrior" who has spent the past decade planning a system which remains in the planning stage. A pest.
      You be the judge.

      Delete
    9. and more candor from Mr.Dueker "...the risk that neotraditional planners take in emphasizing the costly LRT component of transit oriented design is that they ignore real pressing needs"
      "...inner corridors saw a shift to more two vehicle households and a loss of zero and one vehicle households. Both shifts are detrimental to transit ridership and LRT is not reversing the powerful trend of increased auto availability"
      "...the effect of LRT on transit share has been minimal"
      From an informed, intelligent pro LRT advocate living in Portland, who claims to use public transit "almost every day"

      Delete
  12. Here is Terry Whitehead's list of concerns, as reported in The Hamiltonian:

    need of destination to destination spine,
    need for park and ride provisions
    LRT as a response to a congestion problem- (which the councillor submits that Hamilton does not have)
    need to incorporate burst lines as feeders
    need to increase ridership during peak hours to 2000, rather than the 1100 which the councilor submits begs riders off of lines that will continue to exist, thus seemingly making the 1100 number seem inflated or otherwise unreliable. Moreover, the councilor submits that even if we were to accept the 1100 number, it will still not be enough to make LRT self sustaining.
    need to land assemble around the stations- which Hamilton is not doing.
    need for growing population and job centres around the stations

    I am softening a bit on the LRT thing, but I still believe Whitehead has some valid points. And if not addressed, I can't support this.

    I know the LRT lobby has made him the enemy, but I just chalk that up to immaturity. Read what he is saying and read what Portland has said about how to make LRT a success. They are aligned.
    Sorce

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "need to increase ridership during peak hours to 2000, rather than the 1100 which the councilor submits begs riders off of lines that will continue to exist, thus seemingly making the 1100 number seem inflated or otherwise unreliable. Moreover, the councilor submits that even if we were to accept the 1100 number, it will still not be enough to make LRT self sustaining."

      This is sadly typical of the councillor's triangulations. "The numbers aren't as high as they claim, and even if they were they'd be too low, and even if they were as increased to the point that I claim they need to be they will still be too low."

      He never met a solution he couldn't undermine.

      Delete
    2. sorce and councillor whitehead both claim they like brt cause its flexible and can be deployed and redeployed to areas and routes as needed. yet they cries foul at just that very thing happening. "which the councilor submits begs riders off of lines that will continue to exist" heres the scenario that scares sorce and councillor whitehead. the lrt is built, its seen as a better transit option to riders than the deleware or cannon or barton or whatever route, hsr bus riders move their business to the lrt. why does this scare them> its flexible. it conforms to the needs and desires of the marketplace. and we can still keep deleware cannon barton and such as existing routes. we wont canel the routes. we can lower frequency, routes, the types and size of vehicles. people like councillor whitehead and sorce keep framing people CHOOSING lrt as their transit option over traditional bus tech as the end of the world. why? that what they say brt would accomplish.

      Delete
    3. never seen Sorce or Whitehead claim LRT as the end of the world or anything of the sort, yet we continually see you claiming the end is nigh if we do not proceed immediately without any further discussion on the topic. Oranges and cumquats

      Delete
    4. "never seen Sorce or Whitehead claim LRT as the end of the world or anything of the sort" then you havent looked hard enough. "yet we continually see you claiming the end is nigh if we do not proceed immediately without any further discussion on the topic" no you dont.

      Delete
    5. how hard could it be? yes we do, we all do, continually, without interuption ad nauseum

      Delete
    6. “If you’re contemplating a new way of travelling in the city and you keep spending the same way you have in the past on auto infrastructure, it’s not really going to support that shift,” Blais advised. “It jumps out that if you’re contemplating an LRT downtown you probably wouldn’t want to be building a parking structure downtown.”

      http://hamiltoncatch.org/view_article.php?id=1390

      Delete
  13. Hamiltonian AdminAugust 26, 2016

    Dear readers. It is becoming exhausting trying to prevent comments that are inflammatory and contribute little, if anything to the discussion. Please refrain from attempting to post such comments. They will not be published.

    Thank-you

    ReplyDelete
  14. For BRT to actually be BRT and be very effective asw ell, you need physically segregated bus lanes not just painted lanes on a road. Those painted lines maybe flexible but they don't provide anywhere near the capacity you are going to get with physically segregated BRT or LRT rights of way for that matter. Your city council got rid of your only existing set of bus lanes because they interfered with traffic and businesses downtown. Any good BRT system needs even more disruptive segregated rights of way to be successful. This report of Councilor Whitehead shows him to be just anti transit, not just anti LRT. He seemed to find just as many excuses to get rid of your painted bus lanes, which are the barest minimum right of way upgrades you need for BRT! His planned moratorium on doing anything downtown while your LRT is being planned or built shows just how out of touch he is. Many of the projects the city of Ottawa got federal cash for yesterday are other supportive projects that will be built before the phase 1 LRT project opens in September 2018 and in the same area of downtown. We currently have several projects building directly beside or very close to our LRT project, its busy and frustrating sometimes but the city has not shut down. Sorry your Councilor Whitehead is just a standard garden variety anti pedestrian, anti cycling, anti transit, pro car commuting politician, very sad!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This whole conversation is sad. The truth of the matter is that LRT, as planned for in Hamilton, will be done half assed. Whitehead has been right all along.

    And for the person who insists on quoting me and referring to me- I'll let you know when I'm doing an autograph signing session.
    Sorce

    ReplyDelete
  16. "The future is not now."

    – Terry Whitehead, January 2015

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Now is Tomorrow"

      -Definition of Sound, May 1991

      Delete

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