Thursday, June 22, 2017

The future of transportation, including METRO's new long-range regional transit plan

Before getting to this week's items, a quick debrief on METRO's new long-range regional transit planning process.  They held a lunch meeting for bloggers to brief us on their plans, which included this slide presentation with some really interesting material (longer original version).  There's some good info in the slides, and they show that METRO has performed better than most other transit agencies in the country (including DART and Portland - see below). My impression was that they're being very open-minded as they go through this process, including consideration of innovative new technologies like autonomous vehicles and high-speed platooning in MaX Lanes. This is also clearly not a case of "here's our plan but we need to go through the formality of public input" - they are genuinely looking for good ideas.  If you'd like to give them your thoughts, the first open house is Tuesday, June 27 from 2-4pm at METRO, 1900 Main Street in downtown Houston, to be followed by additional public events listed here.

They are certainly doing better than DART in Dallas: Cotton Belt Debt Issuance Fails to Pass DART Board - As Dallas support shifts away from sprawling light rail system, the future of the $1 billion project is in doubt. Hat tip to Mark.  Key excerpts:
"...most spoke of a desire to refocus DART’s efforts on bus service and overall system ridership and reliability, rather than continuing to build expensive light rail extensions that have not been able to reverse a downtrend in ridership
... a crippled public transit system in which residents have to endure the burden of impossibly long commutes and little access to employment or opportunity — sounded very much like DART as it exists today. In its 30-year blitz to build out the nation’s longest light rail network, DART has created a public transit system that is inefficient and unreliable, a system that has contributed to Dallas’ enduring struggles with upward mobility, high rate of neighborhood income inequality, and a burdensome cost of living when transportation costs are taken into consideration."
Portland is also a basket case:
"The region has already spent between $4 billion and $5 billion on light rail. Before commencing construction on the city’s first light-rail line, 9.9 percent of commuters took transit to work. Since it is now down to 7.9 percent, rail clearly has not boosted transit ridership. According to a report released last October, one-third of the region’s capital spending on transportation is going for transit, yet transit carries just 2.5 percent of the region’s motorized passenger miles (and virtually no freight). 
Cascade Policy Institute director John Charles points out that TriMet’s inflation adjusted budget has increased by 72 percent since 1998, not counting the $3.6 billion spent on new rail lines, yet transit’s share of commuting declined. “Just 5% of all commuters in Southwest Portland took transit to work in 2016,” says Charles, yet TriMet wants to spend $2.4 billion on a light-rail line through that part of the city. “Cannibalizing current bus service with costly new trains” is hardly a sound transportation policy, he advises, yet Portland remains wedded to that policy."
These and all other transit agencies need to read this piece on ten ways to know if your transportation project is a boondoggle.

What's the real future of transportation if it isn't light rail?
"The study predicts that everyday Americans will ditch their cars in favor of a system of distributed electric vehicles, and reap the financial rewards. On a per-mile basis, using TaaS will be four to 10 times cheaper per mile than buying a new car by 2021, and widespread adoption of electric vehicles will lower maintenance costs. In their most rosy scenario, each family could save up to $5,600 per year."
Read that number again. It is a massive boost to incomes.
"As we see it, the Private Autonomy model is likely to catch on first in developed suburban cities with high per capita GDP, openness to new technologies, and a successful record of implementing public projects. Such places include Houston, the Ruhr area of Germany, and Sydney."

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At 1:24 PM, June 23, 2017, Blogger George Rogers said...

No Batteries Electric Vehicles are not the future of mobility, Methanol Fuel Cell Vehicles are .

At 8:46 AM, June 27, 2017, Blogger George Rogers said...

Busses to Astros games make a lot of sense, especially with two way max lanes.

At 8:56 AM, June 27, 2017, Blogger George Rogers said...

Here are the riderships for one of the busses to Wrigley.


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