Days of Reckoning, Part Three

Really sorry I don’t have more time to spend on this blog – day job; family; etc. But this comment needed to be saved somewhere other than CM’s blog so I could point to it. I’ve been meaning to write a long post on “staying friends versus getting something done”, public health anemia but this will have to suffice for now.
Commented to this post:

SR, capsule it’s really simple: Mike Krusee was willing to fight for his interests (kill light rail, visit this site allow commuter rail), and our city council members were not (nor was anybody else in Austin, except yours truly, as evidenced by this sad bit of history).
Talking, having charettes, staying connected, keeping in contact, maintaining relationships, giving input – none of this matters if the guy on the other side is willing to exercise his power to get what he wants and you aren’t. (This, by the way, is why I don’t bother showing up and giving ‘input’ at things like the 2020 service plan meetings – despite nice invitations and hurt feelings when not taken up on; I’m better off with speaking to hundreds of readers and having a 1% chance of slightly modifying the opinion of somebody with real power than I am giving my one input and having it roundly ignored).

In reality, the message really isn’t “don’t waste your time by giving input”, but rather, it’s make sure you’re giving your input to people who are willing to listen and are willing to exercise their power to help get what you want. An awful lot of people in the political ecosphere are very, very, very skilled at using the input-gathering process to defuse opposition to things they’ve already decided they’re going to do. Don’t allow yourself to be effectively neutered in this fashion – make sure you’re only spending your time with people who aren’t just listening politely to keep you from talking to somebody else about it.

Using the new schedules on Capital Metro’s spiffy new MetroRail site; this afternoon in the 5 minutes I could spend, viagra order we now know that, hepatitis according to schedules, viagra here if you’re leaving UT for Leander and want to take the first available trip after 5:00, the express bus that currently takes you 68 minutes is on tap to be replaced by a shuttle-bus plus Red Line option that will take you either 71 or 76 minutes, depending on if you feel like taking your chances on maybe not fitting on the second shuttle bus for the 5:40 trip heading up to Leander.

Trip Pickup at UT Arrive MLK station Leave MLK station Arrive Leander station Total travel time
#987 express bus 5:04 PM N/A N/A 6:12 PM 68 minutes
Red Line with #465 shuttlebus (first one) 5:16 PM 5:28 PM 5:40 PM 6:32 PM 76 minutes
Red Line with #465 shuttlebus (second one) 5:21 PM 5:33 PM 5:40 PM 6:32 PM 71 minutes

I wonder if there was anyone who predicted way back when that the Red Line would be slower, thanks to its reliance on shuttle-buses, than existing express bus service? Nah. Couldn’t be. Nobody could have predicted this debacle way back in, say, 2004.

July 15, 2004:

The current commuter rail plan, for reference, requires both of these constituencies to transfer to shuttle buses to reach their final destination. This, as I’ve pointed out before, means that anybody who has a car and can afford parking will never ride this route.The shuttle transfer kills the performance of the transit trip to the point where only people who don’t own cars or have difficult parking situations would consider it, as is the case with today’s express bus lines.

More references:

Today’s entry: Somebody who fell for the “TOD” hype and moved into Crestview Station so they could walk to the Red Line and take it to work at UT. Morning commute this time around; assume they want to get in comfortably before 9:00AM. Note that the Red Line shuttle drops off on San Jacinto; the two bus options here drop off on Guadalupe; the typical UT office is, epidemic if anything, click closer to Guadalupe than San Jacinto.
Spoiler: Even the local bus beats the Red Line, click because of the shuttle-bus trip. Yes, even though that local bus travels through half of the congestion on the Drag.

Trip Pickup at Crestview Station Arrive MLK station Leave MLK station Arrive UT Total travel time
#1L local bus 8:13 AM N/A N/A 8:32 AM 19 minutes
#101 express bus 8:18 AM N/A N/A 8:32 AM 14 minutes
Red Line with #465 shuttlebus (first one) 8:15 AM 8:25 AM 8:28 AM 8:38 AM 23 minutes
Red Line with #465 shuttlebus (second one) 8:15 AM 8:25 AM 8:30 AM 8:40 AM 25 minutes

I wonder if there was anyone who predicted way back when that the Red Line would be slower, thanks to its reliance on shuttle-buses, than existing express bus service? Nah. Couldn’t be. Nobody could have predicted this debacle way back in, say, 2004.

July 15, 2004:

The current commuter rail plan, for reference, requires both of these constituencies to transfer to shuttle buses to reach their final destination. This, as I’ve pointed out before, means that anybody who has a car and can afford parking will never ride this route.The shuttle transfer kills the performance of the transit trip to the point where only people who don’t own cars or have difficult parking situations would consider it, as is the case with today’s express bus lines.

Well, OK, but nobody could possibly have predicted that Crestview residents might be worse off taking the train than the bus, right?
April 4, 2007

Even if we run commuter rail trains more often, a trip which relies on a shuttle bus travelling through mixed traffic for the last two miles or so will never be reliable or comfortable. This is why our friends at Tri-Rail have egg on their faces year after year after year as the promised TOD around stations never materializes. Here in Austin, we’re likely to get at least medium-density development at Crestview Station, but the residents still aren’t going to be enjoying the true benefits of TOD, and neither is the city.

More references:

Today, order thanks to skepticism from those who think my position solidified over six years on this subject is because of predetermined bias rather than actual study, read more I’ll switch from my original plan of doing use cases by “estimated level of commute interest” and instead hit what I would guess are the two best possible cases for the Red Line.
Since shuttle-buses are obviously a problem, approved and since even in the commute to UT (you know, the obvious primary destination for people riding transit in our area, that unimportant little spot) from the furthest out station in Leander, the speed of the train can’t make up for the time lost to the shuttle-bus, let’s try to assemble one of the few commutes that might not require a shuttle-bus, although that’s relatively hard to do.
Frost Tower is just on the edge of the 1/4 mile circle that most transit planners view as the maximum distance people will walk to work from a transit stop. It’s also the ONLY major office building within what’s commonly considered acceptable walking distance from the ‘downtown station’. (Me, I might actually have to take the shuttle even on that trip some days due to my feet, so I’ll plan that out too). Let’s run there from both Leander (far out park-and-ride) and Crestview (supposed TOD which will supposedly provide the only real walk-up traffic for Austin).
This case also benefits the Red Line disproportionately because both the express bus route from Leander to downtown and the #101 limited first run past UT, and then past the Capitol, then through the rest of downtown; so we’re at the very end of the slowest part of that route here. IE, we’ve picked the destination that makes the bus look its absolute worst.

Trip Pickup at rail station Arrive downtown station Leave downtown station Arrive Frost Total travel time
#1L local bus from Crestview 8:02 AM N/A N/A 8:35 AM 33 minutes
#101 express bus from Crestview 8:18 AM N/A N/A 8:43 AM 25 minutes
Red Line with walk from station 8:15 AM 8:35 AM 8:35 AM 8:40 AM 25 minutes
Red Line with #460 shuttlebus (first one) 8:15 AM 8:35 AM 8:38 AM 8:40 AM 25 minutes
Red Line with #460 shuttlebus (second one) 8:15 AM 8:35 AM 8:40 AM 8:42 AM 27 minutes

Shuttlebus travel times my estimate; only timepoint is much further down the route. No time advantage to taking the shuttle for the closest major office building. Note that I only had the walk from the train station be to the middle of the block between Congress and Brazos since you could presumably enter the building from the back. The buses drop off right in front.
Summary: Even from Crestview Station to Frost, there is no time advantage to taking the Red Line for the commuter. A slight advantage in reliability will probably, however. Ironically, although I doubt Rapid Bus will do much, it only has to save one minute over the limited service it replaces to make the Red Line lose this contest.
Now, from Leander:

Trip Pickup at rail station Arrive downtown station Leave downtown station Arrive Frost Total travel time
#983 express bus from Leander Station 8:00 AM 9:26 AM(*) 9:26 AM 9:31 AM 91 minutes
Red Line with walk from station 7:54 AM 8:56 AM 8:56 AM 9:01 AM 67 minutes
Red Line with #460 shuttlebus (first one) 7:54 AM 8:56 AM 8:59 AM 9:01 AM 67 minutes
Red Line with #460 shuttlebus (second one) 7:54 AM 8:56 AM 9:01 AM 9:03 AM 69 minutes

(* – express bus drops off on Guadalupe; 5 minute walk per google). Had to switch the rail trip later than before because the one used above doesn’t start from Leander.
Guess what? This meets my expectations as shown in this old post. Despite Capital Metro’s ridiculous claims that this line serves Austin and even “central Austin”, the only real beneficiaries of this service are those who live far enough out to be able to use the distant park-and-rides; a lot of whom are residents of Cedar Park and Round Rock, who don’t even pay Capital Metro taxes. (I ran the Lakeline numbers quickly on a piece of paper and people boarding there can save about 20 minutes over the express bus, going to Frost; Round Rock residents driving to the Howard Lane P&R can hop the train now but no express bus service existed before; both of those two nominally ‘Austin’ park-and-rides are unlikely to serve many Austin residents as they are right on the edge of the city limits).
Out of time. Hope this mollifies the skeptics. Bet it won’t.

  • pel

    I live in Crestview and work downtown. My kids go to school downtown.
    I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of a reason to take the train over the bus. I’m not turning up much.
    With bikes, it takes us fifteen minutes to get to the Crestview station. Add five to arrive early.
    The 101 arrives to within one block of school in 22 minutes-ish. The train plus shuttle arrives to within one block of school in 25 minutes. Add in the 20 minutes, and both options are essentially the same amount of time. Respectively, they’re 42 and 45 minutes, total.
    The #5 picks up within one block of our house and thus requires no bikes. But, it’s a 42 minute ride, plus the 5 minutes to arrive early.
    A break down of the different options:
    #5 – 47 minutes
    + No bikes to get there (plausible in bad weather situations)
    + One trip, no connections
    + Higher trip frequency
    – Long trek on neighborhood roads makes for a rough ride
    #101 – 42 minutes
    + Higher trip frequency
    + Bus ride is smoother
    – Requires bike ride to get there (implausible in bad weather)
    Train – 45 minutes
    + Excellent ride experience (for those 18 minutes)
    + Wifi
    + Take bikes onto train (maybe, depending on how full)
    – Lower frequency
    – Requires bike ride to get there (implausible in bad weather)
    – Requires shuttle to get to final destination, or long walk, or bike ride
    – 2x more expensive
    The most depressing thing of all is that I can hop in my car at the door to my house and get to my kid’s school, right at their dropoff location, in 20 minutes.
    Why should I bother with mass transit that takes twice as long as my car, and is twice as annoying?

  • M1EK

    You shouldn’t bother – nobody should; the transportation agencies should make sure to provide mass transit options that not only exist (first step most never get past thinking about) but are competitive enough to be attractive.
    2000’s light rail line would have been more attractive for many more central people – maybe for you, maybe not; but in aggregate MUCH better. Now we can never do it.