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Thread: Austin light rail

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Austin light rail

    I know this is just a rendering but I always smile when I see this image:



    I can't wait!

  2. #2
    Sweet, we'll be able to eat at Magnolia Cafe for brunch, and McCormick & Schmick's for dinner, without getting in a car!

  3. #3

    Uh, guys...

    You aren't getting light rail, remember? You're getting commuter rail, which doesn't run downtown (goes down the Airport Boulevard corridor requiring shuttle bus transfers to get to UT, the Capitol, or most of downtown).

    The picture you posted was for the 2000 light rail plan, which would have left the existing rail ROW at Lamar/Airport, then run down Lamar, Guadalupe (by UT), and Congress Avenue (past Capitol and through the heart of downtown).

    Did I write all that stuff last year for nothing?

    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/arch..._you_want.html

    The end of the line at the Convention Center might look like this: (notice buses with signs saying "UT", "Capitol", and "Downtown")



    and here's what the corridor looks like today, and will look like in the future:



    Prentiss' photoessay

    mmm, that's attractive!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Boru's avatar
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    having read what doinky said, and looked at the various essays involved, may i pose a query?

    How in gods name is a HEAVY rail line going to work in areas of extremely low density? These rail ines should have a walking band of approximately 500-1000m from the railway stations, with increased densities allowed within these areas. Thats standard thinking anyway. Does the Texan planning system work in such a way to take account of yet bypass (if you know what i mean) the concerns of all of the inhabitants of the existing low-density areas?

    All I seem to read from this is park and ride, park and ride. Yet although park and ride allows for the removal of a certain amount of cars from Austin City Centre, it is not a great promoter of a sustainable lifestyle. I know I'm preaching to the converted here, but if the densities arent kicked up significantly around the stations, then all you have is a commuter system, used for 1-2 hours each way, 5 days a week. No railway line deserves that.

    That said, at least you are restoring your old railway lines/inserting new line. Thats a lot braver than many other places.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    The DC Metro is "heavy" rail and it serves many areas of low density... with parking structures. The same is true of BART. "Drive to the train station" is pretty much the mode for most suburban transit.

    But this appears to be commuter rail, not subway/metro/heavy rail/whatever they're calling it now. Commuter rail is passenger trains operating on mainline railroads, like the Metra trains in Chicago:



    Metra does the same as the above: build lots of parking at suburban stations.

    Now, if this is actually a beneficial urban development model... that's another question. But we have a saying in Chicago: "where Metra goes, sprawl follows."

  6. #6
    Yea, Chicago has been suburban since Riverside and Pullman, but at least it's served by rail. Texas development is also guided by transportation corridors, but until recently, that is solely the responsibility of TXDOT, steered by 3 (three) commission members.

    Although central Texas probably fits a loose definition of "low-density", at least its development form is essentially linear. We may not be surrounded by water, like Manhattan and Long Island, but the Austin-San Antonio corridor is placed along a geological (and idealogical) fault line. Steep slopes and shallow soils to the west, and bad groundwater to the east help align our development along the I-35 corridor. I think the commuter rail (yes, not light-rail) will work, and hope it goes into service before I move (from lack of affordable housing in Austin, ironically).

  7. #7

    Couldn't disagree more

    Quote Originally posted by BikePlanIt
    Although central Texas probably fits a loose definition of "low-density", at least its development form is essentially linear. We may not be surrounded by water, like Manhattan and Long Island, but the Austin-San Antonio corridor is placed along a geological (and idealogical) fault line. Steep slopes and shallow soils to the west, and bad groundwater to the east help align our development along the I-35 corridor. I think the commuter rail (yes, not light-rail) will work, and hope it goes into service before I move (from lack of affordable housing in Austin, ironically).
    Actually, from what we heard from the Feds in 2000, Austin's development pattern was nearly ideal for a successful light rail line - the one which would have gone straight down Guadalupe past UT and the Capitol, I mean. Huge suburban catchment area served well by big park-and-rides followed by transition through inner-city residential neighborhoods with thousands of residents within walking distance followed by three mega-employment-centers (UT, capitol, downtown) all with parking issues which encourage transit as long as transit is reasonably competitive.

    The reason commuter rail won't work is that it doesn't run through those inner-city neighborhoods (you know, the ones where people actually LIKE mass transit) _AND_ it requires a shuttle-bus transfer for UT and Capitol and most downtown employees. You can't come up with a better way to shoot yourself in the foot than to first lose your best customers (inner-city people) and then tell your remaining customer base of skeptical suburbanites that the last mile or two of their trip is going to be on a shuttle-bus stuck in traffic with everybody else's car.

    Like I said, I wrote on this extensively in '04 and beyond. Please familiarize yourself with it - I was the only real pro-transit guy fighting this plan.

  8. #8
    The Spring, 2005 issue of the Journal of the APA has a pretty fancy article called "How (In)accurate Are Demand Forecasts in Public Works Projects? The Case of Transportation." They did some interesting stats claiming passenger forecasts for rail projects have been overestimated by 106% ON AVERAGE! (210 projects studies in 14 nations) Yikes, that brings new meaning to "Houston, we have a problem." It seems to show that often planners (actually, often enginners in this case) become advocates of certain projects, and mis-represent the facts. In light of your comments I feel a little guilty of advocacy myself. Oh well, at least I've already been following most of their recommendations dealing with park projects.

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