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Thread: Light Rail Overdue

  1. #1
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
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    Light Rail Overdue

    Which American and Canadian cities do you think are ready to build and operate light rail? Disregard those that have them already in works (Victoria, Cinncinati, Minneapolis, etc).

    FIY: My stand on sound public transit is this: it's not the technology utilized that matters but the quality of service provided and how comprehensive its coverage is.. In other words, I don't mind bus-only mass transit as long as its of notch quality (and, unfortunately, it almost never is..).

    Anyway, so where is light rail overdue?
    I'll start the list with my picks:

    Albany, NY - the NY state capital area - regional rail past overdue (geez, even Raleigh area will have one soon, and that's in North Carolina)...

    Halifax, NS = regional rail overdue

    Winnipeg - light rail needed, look south to Minneapolis for clues..

    Richmond, Syracuse, Kansas City, light rail needed, density to support it is there in many parts of these cities..

    any thoughts/ideas?

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Austin, TX - not all parts are suitable, but a smaller scale light rail could work in the downtown and surrounding areas. You've got a HUGE university and a fairly dense downtown by southern standards. Developers are coming in and beginning to create a housing presence in and around downtown. If Houston and Dallas can have light rail, why not Austin?

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3

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    DETROIT For Heaven's Sake (but don't let GM know you're building it!)!!! Probably the longest overdue of anywhere.

    Send a line to Monroe, Ann Arbor and one to Pontiac at least, if not Flint. Spurs could run to Rochester, Plymouth, Northville/Brighton, and other strong villages that aren't right along the lines. Perhaps one to Mt. Clemens or thereabouts would be in order as well?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Originally posted by MaineMan
    DETROIT For Heaven's Sake (but don't let GM know you're building it!)!!! Probably the longest overdue of anywhere.

    What the people mover does not count?

    As for Halifax, there has been a discussion of doing it, but the use and the location of the existing rail lines and opportunities for terminals has limited it. Any new locations would be greatly hampered by the topography of the downtown. This was discussed briefly on one of the mobile workshops at the CIP conference last year.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Santiago....
    The subway, while it still has some plans for expansion; doesn't fulfill the necesary public transport needs. The bus system is chaotic and if I had to give it a LOS grade it'll be around the D to F.
    Light rail is being proposed to conect the northern municipalities with the rest of Santiago, although I'd also put a line tha goes to the airport, since a taxi is quite expensive.

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by MaineMan
    Send a line to Monroe, Ann Arbor and one to Pontiac at least, if not Flint. Spurs could run to Rochester, Plymouth, Northville/Brighton, and other strong villages that aren't right along the lines. Perhaps one to Mt. Clemens or thereabouts would be in order as well?
    I don't know about urban light rail in Detroit, but maybe a hybrid light rail interpretation of BART in San Francisco, or something like the commuter rail systems in Sydney and Melbourne that have some metro-like characteristics. The city'd population density took so much of a hit in the 1970s and 1980s, I don't think it could support light rail now.

    Kansas City is way overdue for light rail. Milwaukee and Rochester are cities that one had light rail systems with rapid transit-like characteristics, but abandoned them in the 1950s. Austin would be easily doable, because the city is so linear.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #7

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    Yes, I agree, something more like a commuter system - things tend to be very pocketed in Detroit (metro), but in the city proper especially. Really, there would only be a handful of stops within the city (Ren Cen, Wayne State, New Center, Comerica Park, etc.) that would make any sense at this point.

  8. #8
    Member simulcra's avatar
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    Austin definitely needs Light Rail. I'd be willing to give BRT the benefit of the doubt there, since Austin does have lower corporate density in its CBD (contrasted to Dallas) and not-as-high downtown density as other cities with successful light rail.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Re: Light Rail Overdue

    Originally posted by bocian
    Albany, NY - the NY state capital area - regional rail past overdue (geez, even Raleigh area will have one soon, and that's in North Carolina)...
    -I don't think Albany could support a light rail system or get the federal funding for it due to other cities with greater populations trying to get a piece of the pie. I've been to Albany many times and I just don't think it could work there. Raleigh also has a larger population than Albany (over 540,000 compared to 98,000), granted Raleigh is also less dense.

    -As for Detriot's people mover, what a joke. People I've talked to there say they can walk faster to the place they are going than the "people mover" can get them there. Detriot should have a light-rail system, but being in the home of the auto-mobile, I don't think it would happen, not until at least the oil reserves dried up.

    -I've heard Niagara Falls, Ontario might build a rail-system pretty soon and in Buffalo there is talk (and in the 2025 LRP) a connection out to the American side of the falls from Buffalo (I'll believe it when I see it) which would connect in the falls to high speed train service out to Toronto, although the priority now is to extend out to the airport which should have been done back in the late 1970's.

    -Wasn't there a plan for high speed train service connecting SF, LA, Sacramento, etc. in California?
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


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  10. #10
    Member steveanne's avatar
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    There's a pretty good documentary on the Rochester Subway that operated from the late 20's to the mid 50's. Here's a link to where you could buy it if you wanted to (for those that don't, there is a two minute preview). It's the same one that was on the History Channel if you haven't seen it.

    http://www.animatusstudio.com/videop...on/subway.html

    The interesting thing is a few groups want to use the abondoned rails from the old Rochester Subway for a light rail or trolley project that would run from the Fast Ferry terminal at the beach to downtown Rochester and possibly the Amtrak station, making stops at the High Falls entertainment district, Frontier Field, Blue Cross Arena, Eastman School of Music, Kodak and Bausch and Lomb headquarters, Xerox, the proposed downtown transit center and Performing Arts Center, and other highly residential areas. Here's a link to one of those groups.

    http://www.rochestertrolleyrail.org/

  11. #11
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Seattle-Tacoma I-5 corridor. (edit: maybe this one is considered "already in the hopper", but from one skeptic to another, I'll believe it when I see it..)

    Now, about all this Detroit talk...the People Mover should be viewed purely as a novelty item, like the train that goes around the zoo.

    A light rail line that runs up Woodward from the Joe to Royal Oak would be a good starter for Detroit.

  12. #12

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    Not a real creative response, but how about Norfolk, Virginia Beach, VA? It was proposed but shot down for reasons I don't understand. Maybe because it was part of a package for more highways.

    -ben

  13. #13

    austin

    Austin has a better case for LRT than even Dallas did, according to what I heard about the FTA's ratings. (UT counteracts the slightly less dense CBD; although both Dallas' and Austin's CBDs well exceed what's necessary for LRT).

    BRT sucks. Big-time. Unfortunately, thanks to the interference of some state legislators, I think that's what we're going to get.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    As a liberal community, Madison has discussed the idea of light rail practically to death. It is appealing because it is glitzy and new. It is to mass transit in the 2000's what monorails were in the 1970's. The concept to emerge is one doomed to failure. A train is planned that will run on existing tracks from the west end of town to the community just east of Madison. There are not enough people on the route to make it worthwhile. Most will have to commute by car to a parking lot (not provided) where they then have to get on the train for at most a five-mile ride downtown. Stick to buses. The most sensible rail plan would go out 15-20 miles beyond the city to intercept the people commuting in from the rural hinterland, not relying on "light rail," but on simple, self-powered rail cars. This would also serve the many people working in huge east and west side business parks.
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  15. #15

    "stick to buses"

    "stick to buses" never works for choice commuters unless you're in one of the 0.1% of jobs in your urban area that doesn't provide free parking. BRT would address the speed and reliability deficits of city buses IF they were ever implemented as originally proposed (like in Curitaba), but, of course, the dedicated runningway is always the first thing to go when the implementation phase begins. And of course buses in HOV lanes (sometimes lumped in with BRT) only help the people who live outside the point at which your bus enters the freeway/HOV facility (since if they live closer in they won't be able to get _on_ the bus unless a weird Seattle-like facility is built).

  16. #16
    @doinky:
    Is there still a contingent who are against overhead lines down that street (apologies, Congress? or other?) that has a constant view of the TxStCap building? I thought I remembered some news about that from the Austin A.S. paper a few years ago.

    (Tangent: What about the A-SA corridor commuter rail? Still mentioned?)

  17. #17
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    Austin, TX - not all parts are suitable, but a smaller scale light rail could work in the downtown and surrounding areas. You've got a HUGE university and a fairly dense downtown by southern standards. Developers are coming in and beginning to create a housing presence in and around downtown. If Houston and Dallas can have light rail, why not Austin?
    If CapMetro got a hold of it though, you'd have 5 rails running side by side between Leander and Round Rock.

    While I wish with all my heart that we could do light rail in this town, I strongly fear that it would never take hold. There are really two types of people when it comes to this issue in Austin: Those that want it badly and would ride it everyday, and those who would never get on it and won't agree to spend one penny on the project. As it is, sadly, I think that second group is more numerous.

    Troy, there are contingents (and laws, even) that are against anything in the air...especially if they block the view of the Cap Building. I think that lines, however, would be agree-able to those people that would otherwise be against them since they are probably the ones that support light rail in the first place.

    And to continue on your tangent...There is a group that wants to put a commuter rail between Georgetown, Round Rock, and Austin....as well as Governer Perry who wants to put in a high speed (think EuroRail-200mph) train that links Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio with a hub in Bryan, I think.

    Anyway, I better get to class...

    Adam

  18. #18
    Thanks Ramen.

    It was a vague memory in my head re: if it were a law or just people who were opposed to overhead lines obstructing the Cap bldg.

    Regarding Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor vision. Being relatively close to the 'action' et al, has there been any serious progress that you are aware of since the middle of last year? I know a lot of Dallasites very interested in this. I'm sure the same can be said for most major Tx cities involved.

    Anyhow, back to LRT possibilites in Austin. When might a revised plan go back on a ballot for vote there, if it does?

  19. #19

    Austin

    Quote Originally posted by Troy-by-the-Sea
    @doinky:
    Is there still a contingent who are against overhead lines down that street (apologies, Congress? or other?) that has a constant view of the TxStCap building? I thought I remembered some news about that from the Austin A.S. paper a few years ago.
    That was a minor blip. In fact, the voters in the city of Austin passed the plan by a fair margin (55-45 or thereabouts); it was the areas outside the city but still inside the service area which killed it.

    Well, that, and the fact that the pantload state rep Mike Krusee forced Cap Metro to have the election in '00, when they weren't quite ready, playing into the hands of the people who wanted to tear down the plan for not being baked enough...

  20. #20
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by benk928
    Not a real creative response, but how about Norfolk, Virginia Beach, VA? It was proposed but shot down for reasons I don't understand. Maybe because it was part of a package for more highways.

    -ben
    They will "look" into LR option there along with what it seems to be the preferred alternative in more conservative / oil dependent southern states, BTW.

    See the article right here:

    http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories...4929&ran=98878

  21. #21
    Actually Raleigh is putting in a Commuter Rail system, not LRT. It will connnect the 3 municipalities that make up that metro, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

  22. #22
    Member simulcra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by FueledByRamen
    as well as Governer Perry who wants to put in a high speed (think EuroRail-200mph) train that links Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio with a hub in Bryan, I think.
    However cool a concept linking the cities with high-speed rail sounds, what would be the real point? I mean, honestly, the rail would carry people who wouldn't be driving in cars. once they arrive in a given city, they would have to walk or rely on transit (small in Dallas still, although there's promise, miniscule in Houston, almost nonexistent in San Antonio?) to get to their jobs if not in the immediate vicinity of (i'm assuming the stop would be) the CBD station. That's not a terribly large amount of commuters, especially since most of the population would be living in suburbs outside of highspeed rail stops and would require a commute just to get to (and you might as well just find a job within your own city if you're doing that).

    Of course, what I just said are based on vast assumptions and I could be wrong and Texas is set to be the European model of transit. (Oustide of Austin I tend to be very pessimistic about Texas cities. Even in Austin i maintain a level of cynicism and pessimism.)

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Big Easy King's avatar
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    Definitely Overdue in N.O.

    An LRT system, which is currently being proposed and evaluated for New Orleans, is definitely needed and certainly would be a very vital aspect of the City's future development and growth. However, the project is very likely to fail because local politicians seem to be only interested in establishing a short-term solution (commuter rail transit system) rather than planning for long-term benefits and economic vitality (LRT system).

    That type of nonprogressive development mentality is what primarily prevents New Orleans from competing economically with other cities like Chicago, D.C., etc. It's difficult for the City to attract major companies/corporations when politics is a hinderance to so many needed projects that would assist with effective development and growth.
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Solipsa
    However cool a concept linking the cities with high-speed rail sounds, what would be the real point? I mean, honestly, the rail would carry people who wouldn't be driving in cars. once they arrive in a given city, they would have to walk or rely on transit (small in Dallas still, although there's promise, miniscule in Houston, almost nonexistent in San Antonio?) to get to their jobs if not in the immediate vicinity of (i'm assuming the stop would be) the CBD station.
    Well, I think the only hope for a system such as this is that it would be high speed and could cut the typical auto travel times by ~70%. Dallas to Austin by car is about three and a half hours. If Texas somehow forked over the billion need for a Maglev train, this would be cut to about an hour or less...depending on if there was a stop in Waco which is about halfway. If you can get there that quickly, I think most people wouldn't mind hopping on a bus or the Dart.

    That's not a terribly large amount of commuters, especially since most of the population would be living in suburbs outside of highspeed rail stops and would require a commute just to get to (and you might as well just find a job within your own city if you're doing that).
    Well, the commuter rail that is in the planning stages for CenTex would be seperate from any HSR system. I dont think that HSR would be used that much for commuting short distances such as this.

    Of course, what I just said are based on vast assumptions and I could be wrong and Texas is set to be the European model of transit. (Oustide of Austin I tend to be very pessimistic about Texas cities. Even in Austin i maintain a level of cynicism and pessimism.)
    Its not. Our tranist sucks. And I hate that. Dallas is the leading city with its DART system and San Antonio has one of the better bus systems in the south, but it still isnt great. Public transit in Texas, with the exception of DART is mainly used by working class and minorities.

    My dream would be to have Dallas, Ft Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and I guess Houston (even though I hate that place) all linked by HSR and all having a LRT system in place. I think we could find a better and quicker alternative to car travel this way. Would people buy into it?

    ....hey, I said it was my dream, didnt I?

  25. #25
    Suspended Bad Email Address teshadoh's avatar
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    I would like Charleston, Sc to develop a light rail. The urban area already has the density on the peninsula, limited parking, high tourism base, geographic constrainments, & rail ROW. One or two lines could go from the northern suburbs through North Charleston through the business area & into the college, hospital, government sector in Charleston then transferring into a street line. In addition a line could cross the Ashley & Cooper rivers connecting Mount Pleasant with Johns Island.

    With limited automobile crossings - even with the new freeway - Charleston could easily handle a decent ridership volume. In addition to plentiful rail ROW land between North Charleston & Charleston.

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