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Archive for the ‘transit’ Category

ARTIC Platform Fail

$188 million was just spent building a new train station for Anaheim — including new platforms.

Those new platforms will allow for level-platform boarding right?

No, of course not. But the planners did publish a helpful Powerpoint presentation explaining why the new station doesn’t have level-platform boarding. It reads like a confession from the planners, describing all the reasons why they suck.

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wordThey keep calling it “Transit-Oriented Development” — but I don’t think they know what it means:

Could the purchase of a 2.2-acre strip transform the city’s downtown into a more commuter- and shopper-friendly place? Mayor Benjamin Blake thinks so, which is why he’s excited about the expected approval soon by the State Bond Commission of nearly $5 million to pay for the first phase of a parking plan that would allow the city to buy the the former A&P Supermarket site, plus two other parcels along the north side of the Metro-North Railroad station.

Although still in its formative stages, the purchase would lead to the creation of about 350 parking spaces, much of which would be in two-level parking structures. City officials said that there are about 750 people on the waiting list for a parking spot near the Metro-North station, with some having been on the list for more than two years. “Fifty spaces will be added immediately, while we wait for funding sources for Phase II,” Blake said.

“Over the last four years, we have worked with municipal partners to advance transit-oriented development projects in order to lay the foundation for long-term sustainable economic growth in towns across the state and ensure these are livable, walkable communities for employees and employers alike,” said Malloy in his news release

They are going to spend $5 million to purchase the land, plus interest costs (because it is a bond), plus the cost of a 2-level parking garage — all for the benefit of a few hundred train commuters!

If they really wanted to “transform” downtown, the city could have put in downtown housing, providing customers for the defunct supermarket. Instead, they will hollow out downtown for a parking lot.

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Leaderless

There are now 5 transportation agencies within the Federal government that are being run by acting administrators:

  • The FTA: Therese McMillan’s is acting administrator while her nomination is pending in the Senate.
  • NHTSA, where David Friedman has been acting administrator since the resignation of David Strickland (over the GM ignition switch scandal).
  • The FRA, which is losing Joe Szabo (thank God!).
  • NTSB: Deborah Hersman resigned as Chair earlier this year. Christopher Hart has been Acting Chair.
  • FHWA: Gregory Nadeau is acting Administrator.

Other than McMillan, the Obama Administration has yet to make a nomination for these agencies. It is one of those rare opportunities where the Obama Administration could dramatically support transit, bikes, and livability goals. Well, that is if the Administration were really interested in doing that.

Just imagine: an NTSB that focuses on road safety, instead of hot-air balloons and rocketships. An NHTSA that implements regulations for truck sideguards. An FRA that doesn’t regulate passenger trains out of existence. An FHWA that isn’t blindly promoting highway expansion.

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Did Planet Mongo cost James Fang the election?

flash_gordon

rocket_ship

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Alameda County voters will soon go to the polls to decide the fate of a proposed BART extension to Livermore. The project has been controversial not just among transit activists, but also Livermore residents. In 2012, a transportation sales tax measure that would have funded the project was narrowly defeated, largely because of lackluster support in Livermore. A majority of Livermore voters were opposed.

And now the debate over the project has gotten a lot uglier, with ex-Director Robert Allen making inflammatory comments about the kinds of people he thinks will use BART:

Robert Allen comments

 

So there you have it. Billions of dollars should be spent extending BART out to Livermore, just to have it surrounded by a moat of parking. To protect Livermore from thugs that ride transit.

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Assembly District 15 Election

One of the more closely watched races in California is Assembly District 15. The seat had been held by Nancy Skinner, who is being termed out after 6 six years. The California Democratic Party has nominated Elizabeth Echols, even though she has never held elected office. Her challenger is Tony Thurmond, who served on both the Richmond City Council and the W. Contra Costa School Board.

Echols previously ran for an position on the AC Transit Board of Directors. Reading her candidate statement for that position is rather eye-opening. One of her main interests was having AC Transit increase its investment in hydrogen fuel buses. Keep in mind this was in 2009, during the depths of the Great Recession, when AC Transit was in terrible financial condition. It is baffling that she would propose using expensive technology (that does nothing for riders) at a time when routes were being slashed.

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As part of the “blended” plan, Caltrain and CHSR will be sharing the same tracks and stations. It would be a no-brainer for trains to have compatible platforms, right? Indeed, staff from both agencies announced (just days ago) that they would be doing precisely that.

And yet someone at the CHSRA didn’t get that memo. In a spec published just yesterday, the HSR trains are to have a floor height of 1295 mm (51 inches). This spec will serve as the basis for a train procurement process that has now begun.

1295mm is incompatible with Caltrain requirements. It really makes no sense — other than being compatible with the NEC. Why are they trying to maintain backwards compatibility with a rail line thousands of miles away?

Besides the platform height, there are other problems with the HSR train spec. These “off-the-shelf” trains are supposed to comply with both Buy-America and Buy-California rules — even though there are no high-speed manufacturers in California or the rest of the country.

The spec also has a requirement for 220mph operating speeds. As noted by the Peer Review Group, 220mph is not needed until the entire SF-LA line is in service:

It may not be optimized to have all trains running at 350 Km/h, particularly those trains with several intermediate stops. Very high speed is only needed on a long distance range and/or when high-speed rail is competing with air.

The 2014 Business Plan optimistically predicts LA-SF route will not be in service until at least 2028. Realistically, it will be decades before LA-SF is in service. Until then, the CHSRA would be running a strictly regional service — and regional services do not require extremely expensive HSR trainsets.

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