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Old July 16th, 2010, 11:23 PM   #1801
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The city of Denver and outlaying areas are currently building FASTracks, the largest transportation project currently being built in the USA. It includes extensions of the current light rail system as well as commuter rail:


And a HUGE renovation of Denver's Union Station to make it the hub of the entire project. From this:


To this:



A great informational site here

All told, it will cost about $6.5 billion, paid for by some unique public/private financing. Here is the wiki page.

The head architect for the planned airport station/hotel is Santiago Calatrava! Various parts of the project are either under construction/late planning stages with some delays due to budget shortfalls. It is expected to be complete in 2016. If built as planned, this project has the potential to become a model for other spread out cities all over the world!
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Old July 17th, 2010, 07:00 AM   #1802
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Always liked the look of Denver's station.
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Old July 17th, 2010, 11:18 AM   #1803
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Would there be any reason to start shipping freight to and from Panama? It's not a destination point in and of itself and the Panama Canal means you can easily bypass it to get to markets elsewhere.
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Old July 17th, 2010, 02:22 PM   #1804
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Denver Metro, IMO, has a reasonable approach to building transportation infrastructure. The FAST plans don't assume people will "dump" their cars, rely heavily on Park-n-Ride, and don't divert money from highway expansion. Instead, they assume growth will follow highways and build rails more-or-less aligned with them.

I just wish they didn't build the ill-conceived Stapleton development in the former airport grounds, it is a mistake, an artificial push of European-like development that will flop. They should have build regular subdivisions and a major business park, but that is another story.

Good thing the rail connection with Denver Airport, though the road connection there is not bad at all.
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Old July 17th, 2010, 02:24 PM   #1805
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Would there be any reason to start shipping freight to and from Panama? It's not a destination point in and of itself and the Panama Canal means you can easily bypass it to get to markets elsewhere.
Distances are long enough to justify use of sea vessels from start point.
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Old July 17th, 2010, 10:58 PM   #1806
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Denver Metro, IMO, has a reasonable approach to building transportation infrastructure. The FAST plans don't assume people will "dump" their cars, rely heavily on Park-n-Ride, and don't divert money from highway expansion. Instead, they assume growth will follow highways and build rails more-or-less aligned with them.
More money should be diverted from highway expansion. A 10-15 lane mega freeway is a massive physical and social barrier that brings noise, pollution, and carcinogenic sprawl.

People will never dump their cars if billions in taxpayer dollars ( a lot of it not coming from the gas tax) continues to be poured into building new freeways in the suburbs while existing roads crumble and the population suffers from obesity and dirty air.
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Old July 18th, 2010, 12:12 AM   #1807
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More money should be diverted from highway expansion. A 10-15 lane mega freeway is a massive physical and social barrier that brings noise, pollution, and carcinogenic sprawl.

People will never dump their cars if billions in taxpayer dollars ( a lot of it not coming from the gas tax) continues to be poured into building new freeways in the suburbs while existing roads crumble and the population suffers from obesity and dirty air.
Every rail topic from times to time get this kind of argument. I will not repeat what I wrote some pages ago in full, but just quickly summarize my counterargument to this discourse (which is common here on SSC):

- the emergence of suburbs and the car culture were result of inherent advantages of both models and their appeal for an ever-growing individualistic Western society (of which I'm a proud member), and - more mundanely - the inherent advantages of cars (self-manned, distributed, individualized, extremely adaptable to interferences on their flow, standardized, weather proof, easily maneuverable, unconstrained to schedules and timetables), none of which are actually related to 4-wheels and piston engines.

- most countries collect more monies from the "car complex" then they invest in highways and roads (construction and maintenance) and pay for car accidents.

- anyone who has every lived near a rail yard or train station will tell about noise

- pollution at user point (=driving car) is a problem, but electric cars will sove that (and most of the noise) issue.

- almost every public transit project cannot sustain itself without heavy subsidization at levels that would broke every city/metro area if majority of population actually used it. Most of passenger non-high-speed traffic suffer the same problem. Want to make an European city broke? Have 50% of its populations no using cars from where money is taken to PT.

- sprawl is a good thing on the balance of most housing used (e.g., the households). Urban planners should just get over it: most people, having the option, choose suburban, not high-rise estates. Until planners stop fighting sprawl, they will keep pushing fancy-but-ineffective projects to cities worldwide. Stop whining about sprawl like a cancer: it is a blessing, indeed. It promotes individualism, personal space for one's family, reduce unintended personal interactions and give families more control over their private lives. And with technical enhancements, we don't need all that land for farming anyway.

- It is just wrong to promote social engineer schemes in the name of some academic theory that folks on the street just don't embrace ("density is good and sprawl is bad), particularly when nobody else is being wronged (e.g., a murder, a theft, a restriction on free speech or on free enterprise) by a given behavior (insisting in preferring sprawl given the opportunity to do so).

As a side note, I think that most highway-haters have such bad feelings just because they like skyscrapers but people usually don't build as many of them as a high-rise fan would like. It's their right.

===========================

This being said, I think the US is coming with some interesting projects like, as I said before, in Denver. Projects that use mass transportation integrated with the car-centered and car-centric culture as secondary axis of transportation around what more "densificated" (sic) development can take place.

I'm no road-nut who preaches against rail. I think rail is quite effective for hauling bulk freight in medium and long distances, passengers at high-speed in medium distance and part (just part, not even the majority) of passenger traffic around big urban centers and metropolis.

However, while most highway projects are barely enough to cope with already existing congestions and road crowding, a huge chunk of rail projects are built on over-realistic assumptions of modal shifting and ridership.

Denver, Salt Lake City and some other American metro areas are example of decent schemes build over reality and I praise their management for that. As I said, the only thing I whine over Denver is Stapleton, a social experiment made with extensive use of public funds, albeit indirectly.
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Old July 18th, 2010, 05:08 PM   #1808
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Every rail topic from times to time get this kind of argument. I will not repeat what I wrote some pages ago in full, but just quickly summarize my counterargument to this discourse (which is common here on SSC):

- the emergence of suburbs and the car culture were result of inherent advantages of both models and their appeal for an ever-growing individualistic Western society (of which I'm a proud member), and - more mundanely - the inherent advantages of cars (self-manned, distributed, individualized, extremely adaptable to interferences on their flow, standardized, weather proof, easily maneuverable, unconstrained to schedules and timetables), none of which are actually related to 4-wheels and piston engines.

- most countries collect more monies from the "car complex" then they invest in highways and roads (construction and maintenance) and pay for car accidents.

- anyone who has every lived near a rail yard or train station will tell about noise

- pollution at user point (=driving car) is a problem, but electric cars will sove that (and most of the noise) issue.

- almost every public transit project cannot sustain itself without heavy subsidization at levels that would broke every city/metro area if majority of population actually used it. Most of passenger non-high-speed traffic suffer the same problem. Want to make an European city broke? Have 50% of its populations no using cars from where money is taken to PT.

- sprawl is a good thing on the balance of most housing used (e.g., the households). Urban planners should just get over it: most people, having the option, choose suburban, not high-rise estates. Until planners stop fighting sprawl, they will keep pushing fancy-but-ineffective projects to cities worldwide. Stop whining about sprawl like a cancer: it is a blessing, indeed. It promotes individualism, personal space for one's family, reduce unintended personal interactions and give families more control over their private lives. And with technical enhancements, we don't need all that land for farming anyway.

- It is just wrong to promote social engineer schemes in the name of some academic theory that folks on the street just don't embrace ("density is good and sprawl is bad), particularly when nobody else is being wronged (e.g., a murder, a theft, a restriction on free speech or on free enterprise) by a given behavior (insisting in preferring sprawl given the opportunity to do so).

As a side note, I think that most highway-haters have such bad feelings just because they like skyscrapers but people usually don't build as many of them as a high-rise fan would like. It's their right.

===========================

This being said, I think the US is coming with some interesting projects like, as I said before, in Denver. Projects that use mass transportation integrated with the car-centered and car-centric culture as secondary axis of transportation around what more "densificated" (sic) development can take place.

I'm no road-nut who preaches against rail. I think rail is quite effective for hauling bulk freight in medium and long distances, passengers at high-speed in medium distance and part (just part, not even the majority) of passenger traffic around big urban centers and metropolis.

However, while most highway projects are barely enough to cope with already existing congestions and road crowding, a huge chunk of rail projects are built on over-realistic assumptions of modal shifting and ridership.

Denver, Salt Lake City and some other American metro areas are example of decent schemes build over reality and I praise their management for that. As I said, the only thing I whine over Denver is Stapleton, a social experiment made with extensive use of public funds, albeit indirectly.
The Car Culture is dying , slowly across the US. The Cities are cleaning up themselves & attracting ppl. You seem to want us to expand our Highways , you attack every US Rail topic. You logic is old and ppl all across the US are realizing it.
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Old July 18th, 2010, 05:30 PM   #1809
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Quote:
The Car Culture is dying , slowly across the US.
Take a look at the parking lot of any high school these days and you may change your tune. More teens have autos now and they will want them later.
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Old July 18th, 2010, 05:33 PM   #1810
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Take a look at the parking lot of any high school these days and you may change your tune. More teens have autos now and they will want them later.
Depends on what Region you live in here in the Northeast its dying.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 08:54 AM   #1811
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I would say that in California, the car culture isn't necessarily dying so much as the transit/rail culture is growing. Still a good thing.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 10:37 AM   #1812
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- almost every public transit project cannot sustain itself without heavy subsidization at levels that would broke every city/metro area if majority of population actually used it. Most of passenger non-high-speed traffic suffer the same problem. Want to make an European city broke? Have 50% of its populations no using cars from where money is taken to PT.
Last time I looked Zürich wasn't broke. Far from it even, Switzerland is one of the more fiscally healthy states at the moment. And a state with high transit useage, and less urban sprawl...
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Old July 19th, 2010, 11:20 AM   #1813
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- almost every public transit project cannot sustain itself without heavy subsidization at levels that would broke every city/metro area if majority of population actually used it.
You seem to have little knowledge about how the costs and benefits are calculated on different public projects.
Yes, if you only include direct benefits then PT doesn't pay off...But you have various indirect benefits. For example, giving people more freedom of movement, decreasing traffic density on roads(which increases safety and possibly delays the need to build new highways), decreases pollution and energy usage, frees up space by decreasing the need for parking lots etc.

Let me give you a quick example: in Estonia a lot of pupils in the countryside depend on schoolbuses to go to school. School buses are free of charge but cost quite a bit for the local municipality. Let's say that over-rational and individualistic people like you force the municipality to stop the funding for the schoolbus. 90% of pupils find another way to go to highschool, for example, 10% quit. Seems OK but how much, do you think, will the municipality and state loose when that 10% quits school?

I've always wondered: is it really so in the US(like in the movies) that before children turn 16 and get their own car they are totally dependent on their parents for transportation? Like going to the cinema or shopping or the friends house or the gym?
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Old July 19th, 2010, 11:52 AM   #1814
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You seem to have little knowledge about how the costs and benefits are calculated on different public projects.
Yes, if you only include direct benefits then PT doesn't pay off...But you have various indirect benefits. For example, giving people more freedom of movement, decreasing traffic density on roads(which increases safety and possibly delays the need to build new highways), decreases pollution and energy usage, frees up space by decreasing the need for parking lots etc.
The argument for more freedom of movement is relative, as almost all PT projects at the local/metro level are focused in one thing and one thing only: getting people from house to work and back. Work commute accounts for majority of traffic in any major city and most cities, save for those with unusual concentrated peak tourism industry.

Quote:
Let me give you a quick example: in Estonia a lot of pupils in the countryside depend on schoolbuses to go to school. School buses are free of charge but cost quite a bit for the local municipality. Let's say that over-rational and individualistic people like you force the municipality to stop the funding for the schoolbus. 90% of pupils find another way to go to highschool, for example, 10% quit. Seems OK but how much, do you think, will the municipality and state loose when that 10% quits school?
It doesn't have to be that way. This is an specific need (school bus), and could be funded as so. Same for disabled-adapted vans, for instance. They are aimed at people that absolutely can't drive (most disabled people can do fairly well in adapted cars anyway, or course vision impairment, paraplegia and other disabilities impedes someone to drive). It is a completely different issue of saying "well, let's not build that state-of-the-art 10 lanes highway but a light rail instead - wait, never mind we will have to FORCE people to live in smaller houses".

Quote:
I've always wondered: is it really so in the US(like in the movies) that before children turn 16 and get their own car they are totally dependent on their parents for transportation? Like going to the cinema or shopping or the friends house or the gym?
It depends on the region, state etc. I've lived in Wyoming, the least populated US state. You are allowed to drive at 16, but if you live far from your school in the countryside, you can apply for an exception that will allow you to drive at 15 with certain restrictions (50 miles radius from home/school, only with daylight, forbidden to carry other people below 21 in the car etc).

Not every teenager gets a car for him/herself, particularly because insurance is expensive, but most (depending on region) use one of their parents cars to go to high school in junior and senior years. The average number of cars per non-single person households is 1.8. So you get the figure...

Now, if a family is on high-middle-class income, chances are the children will get a (cheap) car once they can drive, some families will condition that to children work to pay for its costs, some will giveaway as gifts and pay until kids finish college. It depends.

Of course few teenagers living in New York have cars - but, IMO, New York is not an archetype of (almost) anything about practical issues of urban life in US (transportation, real estate market, housing arrangements, planning laws, spatial economic organization etc).
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Old July 19th, 2010, 12:21 PM   #1815
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The argument for more freedom of movement is relative, as almost all PT projects at the local/metro level are focused in one thing and one thing only: getting people from house to work and back. Work commute accounts for majority of traffic in any major city and most cities, save for those with unusual concentrated peak tourism industry.
In Switzerland leisure and shopping account for 65% off all passenger km, commuting only counts for 24%. So only a quarter of all transportation is commuting. I wouldn't be surprised if the data were similar in other industrialised western nations.
That's for all modes. Looking at PT stats for Zürich only we see that there commuting has a larger share ( at 40%)), but leisure (39%) and shopping (8%) is still quite significant.
That PT is only to bring people from their homes to their jobs is not true for well developed systems. In fact, a system would need to capture a significant part of leisure traffic if it were to have a significant impact on solving the traffic problems of the modern city.
(Sources are www.litra.ch and www.zvv.ch)
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Old July 19th, 2010, 12:23 PM   #1816
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It depends on the region, state etc. I've lived in Wyoming, the least populated US state. You are allowed to drive at 16, but if you live far from your school in the countryside, you can apply for an exception that will allow you to drive at 15 with certain restrictions (50 miles radius from home/school, only with daylight, forbidden to carry other people below 21 in the car etc).
So basically until you're 16 you do depend on "taxi mama" for most of your transportation?
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Old July 19th, 2010, 01:30 PM   #1817
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It doesn't have to be that way. This is an specific need (school bus), and could be funded as so. Same for disabled-adapted vans, for instance. They are aimed at people that absolutely can't drive (most disabled people can do fairly well in adapted cars anyway, or course vision impairment, paraplegia and other disabilities impedes someone to drive). It is a completely different issue of saying "well, let's not build that state-of-the-art 10 lanes highway but a light rail instead - wait, never mind we will have to FORCE people to live in smaller houses".
You totally misunderstood me. I wasn't talking about special transport. I was saying that there are certain groups of people that don't drive: too young, too old, can't afford to drive, don't want to drive. These people combined make a group large enough to require funding from the government for PT. In Tallinn that percentage is around 50(who for some "weird" reason use PT instead of a car). Let's say that the government would take away the € 20 million funding for PT it pays every year. Do you think the government would therefore be € 20 million richer? I doubt that because there are several consequences.
First, ticket prices would go up which means people would have less money to feed the economy(think about stimulus packages).

Second, some people would start to drive a car to work/school every day. Let's say that 20% of previous PT users do that. That's a 20% traffic increase which is xxx% increase in traffic jams. That means a lot more time is lost sitting in traffic jams rather than working and earning money.

Third, increasing traffic jams increase pollution which worsens people's health(that accounts for larger spendings in healthcare). In Tallinn the lifespan of an average person is 10 months shorter than normal because of air pollution.

Fourth, increased traffic is very likely to cause more accidents resulting in human and economic loss(which to the government is the same).

Fifth, after sitting for sime time in traffic jams, the government decides to build large interchanges to resolve the traffic jams. That alone costs several hundred million Euros.

And this list could go on forever....

To conclude: it's cheaper for governments to fund public transport than to pay for the costs of not funding public transport.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 02:01 PM   #1818
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Oh, now I get you.

Look, I'm not against capital investments in PT, as long as they are kept as a fraction of road spending. I don't have expectations that every infrastructure will turn a profit itself.

What I FIERCELY oppose is the use of annual budgets to finance systems that have operational fare box recovery below 100%. Ticket collection should pay for the vehicles (not for the tracks) and all personnel involved. Exactly like the roads: govt's build roads, sometimes even charge tolls, but I've never heard of public-car programs in which the government subsidizes the direct operation of cars in industrialized countries (I know some countries do subsidize gas, but that is usually the case of extremely poor countries). Of course, drivers are driving by themselves, so there is no "staff cost" in operating car traffic, save for road police, traffic agents etc.

Same goes for air traffic: governments usually build airports (runway, terminals, customs etc), but there is a healthy trend in governments staying clear of operating airlines themselves.

This is what I think should happen to transit projects. Let government build high-speed tracks, with open access (maybe for a reasonable fee) to any operator who wants to run trains. I don't mind governments keeping those tracks in good condition, as long as it doesn't make train drivers public employees and never dare to try to organize and impose something like a "national schedule" or "regional schedule" or so. I know K. will come here to talk about Switzerland, but I keep disagreeing with how Swiss railways operate in basis of lack of true competition and competitive tools it presents (like the (lack of) ability to wage price wars or to systematically undercut the market leader in key routes).

What makes me feel spoiled is when a municipality, regional or national government look at drivers as cash cows to finance not only the construction of transit projects, but its continuous upkeep. If fares will not pay the buses, the trams, the trains, then shut them down!
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Old July 19th, 2010, 04:27 PM   #1819
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebasepoiss View Post
You seem to have little knowledge about how the costs and benefits are calculated on different public projects.
Yes, if you only include direct benefits then PT doesn't pay off...But you have various indirect benefits. For example, giving people more freedom of movement, decreasing traffic density on roads(which increases safety and possibly delays the need to build new highways), decreases pollution and energy usage, frees up space by decreasing the need for parking lots etc.

Let me give you a quick example: in Estonia a lot of pupils in the countryside depend on schoolbuses to go to school. School buses are free of charge but cost quite a bit for the local municipality. Let's say that over-rational and individualistic people like you force the municipality to stop the funding for the schoolbus. 90% of pupils find another way to go to highschool, for example, 10% quit. Seems OK but how much, do you think, will the municipality and state loose when that 10% quits school?

I've always wondered: is it really so in the US(like in the movies) that before children turn 16 and get their own car they are totally dependent on their parents for transportation? Like going to the cinema or shopping or the friends house or the gym?
We walk , use bikes , or older friends , aside form our parents. In the cities we use the Subways and buses.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 05:45 PM   #1820
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I think in any country Children are dependant on their parents for transportation. My mum used to drive me to my friends houses and after school clubs etc.

Now I'm 20, don't drive yet (oops) But I just use the train etc
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