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Old October 19th, 2007, 06:46 PM   #1341
UrbanBen
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Originally Posted by uwhuskies View Post
Just an FYI, the Seattle area also has Heavy gauge Sounder Trains in addition to the light rail under construction.
Just one more nail in this coffin - I just thought to point out that our "heavy" Sounder has a capacity of 2000pphpd (really some 2100, but I'm rounding, and that's people per hour per direction) with the half-hour separations we have. We probably won't be increasing service past 9 daily round trips for some time. Those trains can eventually get one or two more cars, and perhaps we'll reduce headways to 25 or 20 minutes, but these differences will only *maybe* double that capacity. We're running on freight track, and there's not much way around that.

Our "light" Link system will have, in 2010, a peak capacity through downtown of 8000pphpd (six minute headways, four car trains) which will increase some with University Link (reduced headways at peak), and then to 12000pphpd (I'm assuming four minute headways) with Sound Transit 2 - and with the Sound Transit long range plan's expansions to Issaquah and Everett (likely to be in a Sound Transit 3 package if ST2 passes), that capacity will increase to nearly 20,000pphpd all the way from Everett to Seattle. That's 6,000 more than I-5's peak direction capacity (yes, including the express lanes) over the ship canal bridge. Try adding THAT with more highways.

Link, in the high use corridors, is really effectively "heavy rail".

Last edited by UrbanBen; October 19th, 2007 at 06:52 PM.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 07:27 PM   #1342
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Regarding the issue of terminology:

Commuter Rail - Meets strength requirements to share lines with freight trains.


Heavy Rail - Also known as Metro, Subway, or Elevated.


Light Rail.


Streetcar - Also known as Trolley or Tram. Many consider streetcars to be a subset of light rail.


All of the above generally use the same track gauge of 4’ 8-½”. BART uses 5’ 6”. The New Orleans streetcars use 5’ 2-½”. The Market-Frankford line and the streetcar lines in Philadelphia use 5‘ 2-1/4“.

The above images are from http://world.nycsubway.org/ , which is an excellent reference for rail transit.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 07:34 PM   #1343
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanBen View Post
Just one more nail in this coffin - I just thought to point out that our "heavy" Sounder has a capacity of 2000pphpd (really some 2100, but I'm rounding, and that's people per hour per direction) with the half-hour separations we have. We probably won't be increasing service past 9 daily round trips for some time. Those trains can eventually get one or two more cars, and perhaps we'll reduce headways to 25 or 20 minutes, but these differences will only *maybe* double that capacity. We're running on freight track, and there's not much way around that.

Our "light" Link system will have, in 2010, a peak capacity through downtown of 8000pphpd (six minute headways, four car trains) which will increase some with University Link (reduced headways at peak), and then to 12000pphpd (I'm assuming four minute headways) with Sound Transit 2 - and with the Sound Transit long range plan's expansions to Issaquah and Everett (likely to be in a Sound Transit 3 package if ST2 passes), that capacity will increase to nearly 20,000pphpd all the way from Everett to Seattle. That's 6,000 more than I-5's peak direction capacity (yes, including the express lanes) over the ship canal bridge. Try adding THAT with more highways.

Link, in the high use corridors, is really effectively "heavy rail".
A capacity of 20,000 pphpd is sometimes considered the bottom end of heavy rail. This brings the discussion full circle. If the capacity of heavy rail is considered necessary, why isn't heavy rail being built? This is not Sound Transit's fault as Sound Transit didn't yet exist when the key decisions were made. I suspect that the decisions were made by politicians who liked the light rail system in Portland and decided to force fit light rail to meet the need in Seattle.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 07:50 PM   #1344
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http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/transp...5_worth19.html

Prop. 1 no cure for commute
Plan would ease, not unclog traffic
By GREGORY ROBERTS
P-I REPORTER

It's 2030. Picture yourself -- or, maybe more realistically, your son or daughter -- living in one of the new Bellevue condominium towers that have clustered thickly along the light rail line that voters approved back in 2007.

You rise for work, eat breakfast and stroll to the rail station to board a train that whisks you to your job in downtown Seattle in 20 smooth-riding minutes.

Now change the frame: It's still a weekday morning in 2030, but you own a split-level in a Bellevue subdivision and you want to pick out some new bathroom tile in South Seattle after you finish work downtown. You're driving your car to your job on a commute that takes much longer than it did in 2007, despite the billions of dollars in road and transit improvements authorized that year.

Because of dramatic growth in population, highways in the Puget Sound region are expected to get far more crowded in the coming decades, no matter what voters say about the $47 billion roads and transit proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Supporters of Proposition 1 argue that without the plan, traffic jams will be fiercer still. Proposition 1, they say, will make things less worse -- and the 50 miles of new light rail in the package will offer many travelers an escape from gridlock.

Opponents say it's ridiculous to spend that kind of money on a transportation plan that fails to make significant headway on the region's most critical transportation problem. "It costs too much and does too little," said John Niles, a Seattle consultant on transportation policy.

Niles and others maintain that there are cheaper alternatives that make more sense.

The region's drivers collectively lose about 260,000 hours per workday to traffic delays, compared with travel at the speed limit, according to a recent state transportation audit. If the Nov. 6 ballot proposal fails, that is expected to increase to more than 600,000 hours per day over 20 years. But even if Proposition 1 passes, the total is still expected to nearly double, to more than 500,000 hours.

The roads and transit proposal joins two separate elements in a political shotgun marriage designed to attract support both from those who want to build more highway lanes and from those who favor mass transit. Voters in the urbanized areas of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties will decide on the measure, which would subject them to a sales tax increase of 6 cents per $10 purchase and a yearly vehicle tax of $8 per $1,000 of value.

The roads portion includes projects stretching from south of Tacoma to north of Everett, among them new lanes for Interstate 405, improvements to traffic choke points in Seattle and help paying for a new Evergreen Point Bridge across Lake Washington. It would cost $16 billion, which covers all expenses including interest on construction loans.

The transit portion consists mainly of 50 miles of light rail reaching east, north and south from Seattle, extending the 20-mile system planned from Sea-Tac Airport to the University of Washington that Sound Transit already is working on. The transit projects, which also include spending on conventional commuter rail and express buses, would cost $31 billion, an amount that covers all construction and financing and also pays for operating the light rail lines through 2027.

Debate over the roads program is pretty straightforward. Supporters of the spending says it's obvious that adding highway lanes will ease congestion. Opponents say those new lanes will soon fill up with drivers taking advantage of them, leaving the roads just as bad off as before but with more cars stuck in traffic belching pollution-- while doing nothing to check sprawl or change society's misguided dependence on automobiles.

It's more complicated on the transit side. There's predictable opposition from fans of highway-building, some of whom suspect transit advocates of intrusive social engineering. But there's also criticism from people like Niles, who aren't necessarily part of the pour-more-concrete crowd but who raise questions about how much bang light rail delivers for the buck.

Sound Transit doesn't claim light rail will take so many people out of their cars that the highways flow more freely than they do now.

"The key role of transit is providing an alternative to sitting in traffic jams that have worsened because the region's population has gone up by 40 percent," agency spokesman Geoff Patrick said.

Niles readily acknowledges that light rail will attract riders. He just doesn't think the system will make enough of a difference overall in how people get around the region.

One way that planners measure transportation patterns is by "trips," with a journey from origin to destination by one person equal to one trip. So a commute from home to work is one trip, even if the commuter transfers from a bus to a train en route. Driving to the grocery store, on to the coffee shop and back home is three trips.

Residents of the region now take about 9.6 million trips of all kinds each day, according to data provided by Sound Transit. Of those, 3.4 percent are via bus or commuter train. By 2030, the total of all trips will rise to 13.2 million. If voters approve the Nov. 6 ballot measure, the transit share will grow, but just to 4.2 percent.

Transit does better on commutes. Of the 2.2 million daily trips to work or school today, transit accounts for 7.7 percent. When the total rises to 2.9 million in 2030, the transit share will amount to 10.1 percent if the Nov. 6 package is approved.

The transit share rises even higher if the focus narrows to commutes to urban centers. Transit now accounts for 40 percent of those trips to downtown Seattle, with a projected rise to 50 percent by 2030 if Proposition 1 passes. For downtown Bellevue, the equivalent numbers are 8 percent and 12 percent.

It's projected that the 70-mile light rail system envisioned by Sound Transit would account for about 300,000 trips among the transit total of 556,000 in 2030. But even without voter approval of the Nov. 6 proposal, the number of transit trips is expected to reach 482,000 by 2030. The light rail system is expected to draw only about 70,000 daily trips to transit from cars; the other 230,000 light rail trips, or more than two-thirds of the total, will migrate from other forms of public transit.

"Buses get stuck in traffic -- that's reality," Patrick said. Light rail, with its own tracks running on dedicated rights-of-way, does not.

"It's a quality-of-life issue for the transit riders," Patrick said.

Light rail's biggest payoff will come at rush hour, Patrick said. Sound Transit projects that in 2030, its light rail trains will carry 8,800 people per hour across the Ship Canal during peak commuting times, compared to the 14,000 now crossing the canal on Interstate 5. It would be nearly impossible, Patrick said, to match light rail's added capacity in that corridor by other means.

Patrick also cites a Sound Transit-commissioned analysis that shows that even with its high price tag, light rail will deliver more in economic benefits to the region than it will cost.

Light rail skeptics who aren't in the highway lobby inevitably bump up against the $64 question -- or maybe it's the $47 billion question: What would you do instead?

They lay out a vision of a variable and wide-reaching transportation network that maximizes existing highways and deploys multiple tools to move people and freight as efficiently as possible.

A key element would be express buses running in lanes either reserved for their use or regulated to keep traffic moving by such techniques as congestion pricing or high-occupancy-vehicle lane tolling -- buses that would be air-conditioned, maybe rigged for wireless Internet service and equipped with DVD players, and running on hybrid fuels. Another technique would be van pooling for long-distance commutes, modeled on the King County program -- the largest in the country -- that recovers all the costs of buying, fueling, maintaining and insuring the vans through fares.

Such a system, proponents say, would be flexible and adaptable, poised to take advantage of new technology and to respond to changing patterns of development and behavior. And it almost certainly would be a lot cheaper than light rail.

"We really need some real innovation to recognize the depth of the problem," Niles said. "We've got to think about what optimizes for the region -- and not optimize for the folks who live within walking distance of Husky Stadium."



PROPOSITION 1 -- IS IT WORTH IT?

260,000 -- Current hours per workday lost to region's road travelers because of traffic delays.

500,000 -- Hours per workday lost if Proposition 1 passes.

600,000 -- Hours per workday lost if Proposition 1 fails.

Source: State transportation audit.

P-I reporter Gregory Roberts can be reached at 206-448-8022 or [email protected].
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Old October 19th, 2007, 08:38 PM   #1345
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
A capacity of 20,000 pphpd is sometimes considered the bottom end of heavy rail. This brings the discussion full circle. If the capacity of heavy rail is considered necessary, why isn't heavy rail being built? This is not Sound Transit's fault as Sound Transit didn't yet exist when the key decisions were made. I suspect that the decisions were made by politicians who liked the light rail system in Portland and decided to force fit light rail to meet the need in Seattle.
No, it was made by the voters, who rejected heavy rail on the ballot several times.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 10:22 PM   #1346
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So, this is actually wrong - the 2030 "bus" travel times you see here are the LRT travel times.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 11:42 PM   #1347
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Quote:
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No, it was made by the voters, who rejected heavy rail on the ballot several times.
In 1995, the voters rejected a package that was essentially a more extensive version of the ballot measure passed in 1996 that created Sound Transit. I wouldn't necessarily take this to mean that the voters rejected light rail or heavy rail as I have heard complaints that the pro side's campaign literature was confusing regarding the type of rail system to be built. I have seen examples in which the words "light rail" were used but photos of heavy rail were shown.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 11:44 PM   #1348
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Quote:
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So, this is actually wrong - the 2030 "bus" travel times you see here are the LRT travel times.
Yes, it would make sense that the 2030 travel time by bus with Prop 1 would actually be for light rail.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 12:16 AM   #1349
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Yes, it would make sense that the 2030 travel time by bus with Prop 1 would actually be for light rail.
No, it's a misprint.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 12:20 AM   #1350
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
In 1995, the voters rejected a package that was essentially a more extensive version of the ballot measure passed in 1996 that created Sound Transit. I wouldn't necessarily take this to mean that the voters rejected light rail or heavy rail as I have heard complaints that the pro side's campaign literature was confusing regarding the type of rail system to be built. I have seen examples in which the words "light rail" were used but photos of heavy rail were shown.
In 1962 we rejected "mass transit," and in 1968 and 1970 we rejected heavy rail in basically the same corridors as the current light rail.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 12:31 AM   #1351
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
In 1995, the voters rejected a package that was essentially a more extensive version of the ballot measure passed in 1996 that created Sound Transit. I wouldn't necessarily take this to mean that the voters rejected light rail or heavy rail as I have heard complaints that the pro side's campaign literature was confusing regarding the type of rail system to be built. I have seen examples in which the words "light rail" were used but photos of heavy rail were shown.
I find that basically every time you comment, your goal seems to be reframing the discussion to make arguments against this package easier. It's practically always semantic, lately this entire bogus judgment of "heavy" versus "light" rail. Look, it's not one scale. There are a lot of aspects of rail that can make someone with a particular viewpoint latch on and grind a subissue to death.

The fact is, this system will have a higher capacity than most other light rail systems - possibly all other light rail systems in the US (I'm sure you're just waiting with an asinine counterexample, there's your cue). This system has the highest average speed in the US, even with the Rainier Valley segment, and that average speed measured systemwide will increase with ST2 extensions. For this region, with the densities we have now and those we'll have in the near future, this is great for a first line.

Can you just lay off the giant picture posts to try to somehow prove a dubious point?
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Old October 20th, 2007, 12:50 AM   #1352
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I come back to this point again and again because it frustrates me to see Seattleites being asked to pay a heavy rail price for a light rail system. A much better system could have been for little to no additional cost.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 01:29 AM   #1353
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Quote:
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I come back to this point again and again because it frustrates me to see Seattleites being asked to pay a heavy rail price for a light rail system. A much better system could have been for little to no additional cost.
I think this is whats getting at Urbanben, and where you two are getting confused with each other. We aren't really getting "light rail", we are getting "Heavy Rail Light" or "Heavy Light Rail." Either way, the title is pretty meaningless. But what I think greg is trying to say is not some argument for Heavy rail over light rail, but that for what we paid for a system that can run 4 cars at 55 mph, we could have had a system that can do 8 cars at 75 mph like DC or the Bay Area. I think the argument is pretty moot since we're already 80% done on the starter line, and what we have will work just fine for the proposed expansions. Work with what you got...
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Old October 20th, 2007, 02:00 AM   #1354
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I think this is whats getting at Urbanben, and where you two are getting confused with each other. We aren't really getting "light rail", we are getting "Heavy Rail Light" or "Heavy Light Rail." Either way, the title is pretty meaningless. But what I think greg is trying to say is not some argument for Heavy rail over light rail, but that for what we paid for a system that can run 4 cars at 55 mph, we could have had a system that can do 8 cars at 75 mph like DC or the Bay Area. I think the argument is pretty moot since we're already 80% done on the starter line, and what we have will work just fine for the proposed expansions. Work with what you got...
Light Rail currently has a maximum capacity of 4 cars at 55 mph...okay any chance/possibility that we will be able to convert this to a system that's more like a D.C. system? I know we have a "Semi-heavy light-railed rail" in our hands and it's what we're going to have, but I don't think that's going to prevent us from doing major upgrades in the future will it?

My point is: when we absolutely need that extra speed and that extra capacity, we'll get it, just like how we are getting the Light Rail now at the time when we absolutely need it.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 02:55 AM   #1355
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Light Rail currently has a maximum capacity of 4 cars at 55 mph...okay any chance/possibility that we will be able to convert this to a system that's more like a D.C. system? I know we have a "Semi-heavy light-railed rail" in our hands and it's what we're going to have, but I don't think that's going to prevent us from doing major upgrades in the future will it?

My point is: when we absolutely need that extra speed and that extra capacity, we'll get it, just like how we are getting the Light Rail now at the time when we absolutely need it.
Exactly - we can rebuild our stations later if we need to, it's the real estate that matters most. Japan's rebuilt practically every station in the Tokyo area multiple times. And it's not as if this is going to be our only line.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 02:57 AM   #1356
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I come back to this point again and again because it frustrates me to see Seattleites being asked to pay a heavy rail price for a light rail system. A much better system could have been for little to no additional cost.
And I should apologize for being cranky with you. It's getting really close to the vote, we don't have another option (what are we going to do, build another faster bigger line underneath downtown?), and we're still arguing about things that were decided years ago.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 03:08 AM   #1357
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Exactly - we can rebuild our stations later if we need to, it's the real estate that matters most. Japan's rebuilt practically every station in the Tokyo area multiple times. And it's not as if this is going to be our only line.
One point I would like to point out.
What you call trams or street cars were mostly phased out in favor of buses during the 60's here in Tokyo and major development of undergrounds started then.
All private commuter trains systems had dedicated tracks from the start.
I am not really familiar on how the Seattle lines are configured but if they share lines and/or space with other traffic it is going to become a major headache to up-grade the system since it will interfer with others.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 03:15 AM   #1358
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One point I would like to point out.
What you call trams or street cars were mostly phased out in favor of buses during the 60's here in Tokyo and major development of undergrounds started then.
All private commuter trains systems had dedicated tracks from the start.
I am not really familiar on how the Seattle lines are configured but if they share lines and/or space with other traffic it is going to become a major headache to up-grade the system since it will interfer with others.
There are a few at-grade crossings, but they do not share lanes or right-of-way with other traffic other than those.

We will eventually have to run a South Seattle bypass of the Rainier Valley track, but during the capital investment project necessary to extend stations, that won't be too hard anyway.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 06:30 AM   #1359
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In case anyone is interested:

Sound Transit receives upgrade in credit rating

October 18, 2007

Sound Transit's stellar credit rating got stronger today as one of the nation’s two major independent municipal bond rating agencies upgraded its bond rating.

The improved rating, from Moody's Investors Service, is good news for the Puget Sound region’s taxpayers and signals Sound Transit's strong financial health. Specifically, it will lower Sound Transit’s cost of borrowing money, enabling the public’s investment in regional transit projects and services to stretch further.

Moody's upgraded Sound Transit's senior lien bond rating from Aa3 to Aa2, their third highest credit rating.

"Our continued hard work to manage projects effectively and stay on schedule and on budget is really paying off," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "This latest upgrade offers more proof that Sound Transit is continuing down a strong financial path. This sends another signal that the taxpayers can be confident in Sound Transit's ability to maintain high standards of financial management as we deliver projects and services that help people move around the region."

The Moody's report states that the upgrade is based on "historically strong financial operations, fast-growing ridership on all transit modes, and the authority's importance to the strong service area that includes the state's most populous counties." The report was in connection with an upcoming bond issue for the current Sound Move program.

Moody's conducts ratings on over 170,000 corporate, government, and structured finance securities from around the world.

Standard & Poor's, the nation’s other major rating firm, has already granted Sound Transit’s senior lien bonds their AAA rating, the highest possible.

The firms look closely at Sound Transit’s financial management policies, revenues and reserves. The top ratings mean that Sound Transit bonds are a very reliable choice when investors buy the bonds that help finance most public infrastructure projects.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 08:50 AM   #1360
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Quote:
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Exactly - we can rebuild our stations later if we need to, it's the real estate that matters most. Japan's rebuilt practically every station in the Tokyo area multiple times. And it's not as if this is going to be our only line.
I think what we may be facing in the future is more similar to what London's doing with the Tube. Complete renovation, remodeling, and modernization one step at a time. Seattle's going to have to take little steps, we can't get everything at once. We're not China. Can't do a "cultural transportation revolution" from Chairwoman Gregoire and send teenagers into melting their cooking pans to build rail segments.

I am still fond of Japanese public transportation But they have so much more people and such a high density that I think it makes it easier for them to implement and fund public transportation. And the people there KNOW they NEED it. They also RELY on it.
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