Crestview Station and Commuter Rail

I am not surprised, therapy story although still disappointed, neurologist to see this kind of logic defending not only the decision to run a red light but fight it in court.

Was riding from the gym to work one fine November morning down Congress Ave. Got pulled over by a motorcycle cop and another cop in a patrol car. They gave me a ticket for running a red light. I tried explaining how it wasn’t dangerous since I stopped at the light, prescription looked for oncoming traffic and pedestrians, then proceeded. Nevertheless, I got a moving violation and a $275 ticket, just like if I was driving a Chevy Silverado at speed.
I sent in my ticket pleading not guilty and waving pre-trial hearing.
I got a court date.
I went to court.
The case was dismissed. Not sure if it was because the officer didn’t show up or what. My online case summary says “Dismissed Insufficient Evidence”
Overall, I’d say my in-court experience was very good. The whole procedure took less than 30 minutes. I would recommend anyone who received similar tickets to do the same. I was tempted to just pay the fine and move on with life, but glad that I didn’t. Traffic laws shouldn’t be black and white/ bikes are cars.

Grow up, kids. There is no moral justification for you running that red light that doesn’t apply to any of us when we drive, yet I’m sure that most of you, save one idiosyncratic former colleague of mine, don’t want cars doing it. And every time you shoot back with some moronic drivel about how “bikes aren’t cars”, you make it harder to protect the rights of bikes to be on the roadway. “They aren’t cars; you admitted it,” they’ll say, “so get the hell on the sidewalk”.
(by PabloBM on flickr)

I spent years fighting for bicycle facilities and accomodations and basic rights on the Urban Transportation Commission. Many times, we lost a battle we should have won, because idiots like you made it easy for neighborhoods to argue their reactionary case (i.e. Shoal Creek). Whether you’re a racer in bright plumage who doesn’t want to get out of your clipless pedals or a budding young anarchist who thinks the law doesn’t apply to you, it was often your fault when stuff like the Shoal Creek debacle happened. Neighborhood nitwits would make the case that we shouldn’t prioritize bicycle treatments over on-street parking, for instance, because ‘those cyclists don’t care about other road users’ anyways. And it worked, because they were right: you idiots don’t care about other road users.

Don’t feed me the crap about how you can’t hurt anybody with your bike. It’s not true; I almost wrecked a car ten years ago trying to avoid killing an idiot just like you who ran a light across 24th.
(Yes, in case you’re wondering, it was being ganged up on by the Juvenile Anarchist Brigade in a discussion just like this one that finally chased me off the austin-bikes list after years and years of contributing there – after not being allowed to fight fire with fire. Thanks, Mike Librik).

So you, unnamed wanker on the austin-bikes list, are the second recipient of my Worst Person in Austin award.

Congratulations. And comes in a close second for backing him up on this one.

Even though I’m 96 years old, info I found myself defending teenagers twice recently – as per the following comment on this post on Steve Crossland’s local real estate blog (which I’m also adding a long-overdue link to today). Steve was arguing that the quality of contractors he uses as a property manager is declining dramatically (as a landlord of one unit myself, I can definitely agree with his point), but then placed the blame mostly on today’s kids not wanting to work hard. My response:

I had this same conversation with my dad over Xmas, or at least one very much like it, and I ended up defending teenagers.
Why is it that when we talk about ourSELVES, and our work choices, we think we’re being rational economic actors when we decide to pursue work that offers us the greatest compensation for our effort (whether that be strictly financial or some other compensation), but we expect teenagers to work crappy jobs for low pay just because we had to do it?
Frankly, the importation of so much illegal labor has made it a suckers’ game for teenagers to do a lot of that hard work. My dad was complaining more about fast-food workers all being illegals because the kids didn’t ‘want’ to do that work (I had to point out to him that when I was in high school, the local McDonald’s briefly raised wages to $5.00/hour in the $3.35 minimum days and then had no problem whatsoever getting local kids to work there).
If economics is a good reason for you and I to pick certain jobs, it’s a good reason for them, too. So if you want better tradesmen, you’re going to have to get the contractors to give up on the illegals first, and then invest a bit more in wages to attract locals (no, there’s no such thing as a “job Americans won’t do”, but there damn well are jobs they won’t do for a specified wage – as is true with any occupation).
And like with my field, if you allow outside-of-the-market competition to take all the entry-level jobs (or, if you prefer, discourage Americans from pursuing those jobs), you’re going to see an eventual erosion of the more advanced jobs, too, because you don’t become an experienced senior guy at trade X without spending a number of years working as the junior guy. You touched on this briefly with regards to your favorite handyman, but misidentified the cause.
Insisting that teenagers give up more attractive or more lucrative options just to suffer so we can feel better, uh, ain’t gonna happen.

Austin Bike Blog author Elliott talks about a big meeting with a bunch of folks I usually like and then paraphrases in part 2 from his conversation with the guest of honor:

I also asked him what we could be doing to make Austin better for its citizens. He suggested dedicated bus lanes and bikeways on our busiest transit corridors would do a lot to get people out of their cars (We discuss the route of Capital Metro’s #1 bus which passes within walking distance of 40% of Austin’s employers.)

Gee, price I wonder if there was anybody making the point, say, in 2003-2004, that passing this idiotic commuter rail plan dooms us to basically never getting reserved-guideway transit service on the #1 route along which essentially all the dense employment centers are located? How many of the notables at this meeting (*) spoke up then?
None. M1EK had to do it all his lonesome, even giving up his position on the UTC to do it while everybody else who knew this was the wrong plan shamelessly kept their mouth shut to preserve their access to decision-makers.
Thanks, guys. Thanks a hell of a lot.
(* – like most of these meetings, I, of course, since I have a real job in a real office, couldn’t attend).
Our options going forward are extremely limited. We can’t politically or even pragmatically justify taking lanes on Lamar and Guadalupe now, since we can’t continue northwest with frequent-enough LRT service to get enough people on the trains to make up for the lost car/bus capacity. The CAMPO TWG plan is foundering, but may, twenty years from now, eventually lead to a conversation about rail on Guadalupe, where it belongs now, always has, and always will.
In the meantime, pay attention: those who advocate going along with suburban or other non-Austin interests in the hopes that they’ll take care of us later have a long record of failure to overcome. Everybody knows the #1 corridor is where most transit activity is now and will be in the future. What are we doing about it? Jack Squat.
Update: Elliott’s response was a flavor of the common “why are you such a downer?”, to which I just let fly this analogy-ridden response:

Using my favorite roadtrip analogy:
1. You don’t get the car to New York by insisting that, although we’re heading west on I-10 and approaching the outskirts of El Paso, that everything’s fine and we’re on target for New York – although we may need to go even farther west to get there.
2. You also don’t get the car to New York by letting the guy who read the map wrong the first time continue to think that he read it correctly and should therefore continue to navigate. You give the map to the guy who said you’re supposed to be going northeast rather than west.
3. You also don’t get that car to your destination by downplaying how far off course you went, or you might end up out of gas before you even get back to square one (Austin).
4. Finally, you don’t get your goal by telling the people you’re meeting in New York that you’re still on schedule, even though you’re now, at best, going to be two days late.
(1 = more investment in the Red Line, 2 = not identifying that commuter rail is the problem rather than the solution, 3 = not identifying that commuter rail prevents the 2000 LRT plan from being built, 4 = downplaying obstacles to getting rail on Guadalupe in the real world now that it can’t continue northwest along 2000 alignment).

PS: Crappy formatting care of the fact that I still haven’t bothered to learn CSS. You’re lucky I didn’t do all this with tables, so quit yer yappin’.

Courtesy of the Statesman: For Laura Morrison and Brian Rodgers, geriatrician backroom deals are fine. The irony? This is a backroom deal to define exactly how much openness we’ll require in the future.

Morrison said that, pharm broadly speaking, viagra approved she wanted to make the process more open and add opportunities for public input. But she declined last week in a phone interview to release the draft. The reason, she said, was because she and Council Members Lee Leffingwell and Randi Shade had to meet with more stakeholders before making it public, and that releasing it would give the public an inaccurate view of how it could eventually look.
Morrison had shared her draft with at least one member of the public, Brian Rodgers. That made the draft public, according to open-records attorney Joel White. He added that open-records laws require information requested to be disclosed as soon as possible, and that the 10-day response period is an “outer deadline.”
We’re still waiting, even though the city is required to release it as soon as possible and Morrison could do so by simply opening her inbox and hitting “send.”

Anybody who believed all that nonsense probably feels as foolish now as I may be feeling soon about the “Meeker = McCracken’s tool” stuff. The entire momentum behind Morrison’s campaign and behind Rodgers’ initiative was to make sure only the right people got input because, technically, we ALL got public input when we elected our city councilpeople. Of course, people with real jobs can’t be at city council during the day and people with family responsibilities can’t spent their days, nights, and evenings as ‘stakeholders’, but, again, that’s the way the ‘granola mafia’ likes it: government by those with the most time on their hands.

I don’t have time for anything but a quick hit, visit so here you go:
As the Statesman indicates, there some councilmembers, most notably Mike Martinez, are balking at the cost of the proposed gigantic solar photovoltaic plant out in the middle of nowhere.
This is a good objection. I commented to this effect at the austinist last week.
One of the primary benefits of solar PV is as a peak demand displacer/replacer. Why would you want that capacity at the other end of your distribution network from the actual customers, where you undergo all the normal distribution losses and don’t get any ancillary benefits for the customer, like shade (cooler roof)?
If you want to invest a bunch of money in PV, and don’t want it to be simply rebates for customer systems, then build an Austin Energy photovoltaic farm on top of a bunch of short, wide, buildings with air-conditioning needs. Like the Convention Center, or the millions of warehouses up off Metric, or Costco. AE still owns the energy, but it’s being delivered to the grid far more efficiently than from the Webberville location.
(Also, an eastern location is kind of stupid as well – there’s a non-trivial difference in hours of sunlight between west and east Austin).
In short, since unlike a coal or natural gas plant, you don’t have to put it in the middle of nowhere, why on earth would you want to, and suffer the same drop-off in power due to transmission that they do? Why not take advantage of the few things solar PV is unquestionably better at – nobody minds it if there’s solar panels on a roof nextdoor; and everybody loves some free shade.
If you wanted to build a solar plant in the middle of nowhere, given all the above, what should you do? Solar thermal – i.e. the mirrors that focus on a bunch of molten salt. Much more efficient than PV, and there are no ancillary benefits like shade that go to waste when you’re out in the middle of nowhere.

Newsweek has a decent story with which I only partly agree, order but the best parts are bits like this one:

Let’s say you’re a tenured professor of economics at Harvard. You have—and have earned—a great deal of stability and security. Your job is guaranteed, view at pretty much the same salary, until retirement. Your employer, which has been around for more than 350 years, isn’t going anywhere.


If you believe the typical American worker would respond to tax cuts the way a typical tenured Harvard economist would, then it makes all the sense in the world to focus on tax cuts to the exclusion of other types of stimulus. But if you believe the typical American worker might respond to tax cuts the way, say, a typical Cambridge-area worker would, you might be less sure.

I’ve always been skeptical of economists with tenure telling me how I should think about globalization, for instance. Of course, Dr. Mankiw turned off comments at his blog some time ago, so he’ll never get any feedback with which he’s uncomfortable – one more way in which he’s more like those he served at the Bush administration than he would like you to believe.

So a bit more detail has surfaced, ampoule and it turns out that Capital Metro, according to the short description in the latest stimulus proposal from our local governments, is now asking for federal dollars to, hold on your hats:
triple-track the Red Line.
The theory, I guess, is to keep freight service in the middle, and run the DMU trains on the outside tracks.
Here’s what I’m writing to City Council, as we speak:

Dear councilmembers:
Please exercise whatever authority you deem necessary to stop Capital Metro’s insane attempt to use federal stimulus dollars to, as the poorly detailed proposal goes, “triple-track the Red Line”. This is a disastrous attempt to throw good money after bad – the Red Line, even if it had ten tracks, will still never be able to deliver passengers directly to their final destinations, unlike good light rail starter lines in places like Dallas and Houston. This is, and will always be, a commuter rail line that requires people transfer to shuttlebuses, or in the distant future, another rail vehicle, to get to their offices or other destinations.
Investing money in this corridor and this technology is exactly the kind of foolish decision that Capital Metro should be stopped from making – just like how you stopped them from the initial attempt to run Rapid Bus down Guadalupe – another investment of many dollars with little prospective return.
Instead, I urge you to seek federal dollars for the CAMPO TWG urban rail plan – which, unlike Capital Metro’s awful commuter line, can and will serve residents of the city of Austin by directly connecting major activity centers without ridership-killing transfers. It, unlike commuter rail, can eventually be expanded to more and better destinations and dense residential areas. It, unlike commuter rail, can and will generate transit-oriented development which pays the city back and then some for our investment.
In 2004, Capital Metro ignored the needs of their consituents and bought into a technology and route which is a dead-end that can never really be a competitive option for the business of Austin commuters. Even for residents of Leander, the Red Line (with shuttle transfer) is only competitive if we ignore the express buses that already exist today.
Please stop them before they do it again. We don’t have enough rail dollars (local or federal) to build both this ghastly abomination and the urban rail core that can one day bring us what many other light-rail cities have succeeded with.
Mike Dahmus
City of Austin Urban Transportation Commission, 2000-2005

The first in a new series by M1EK, visit this inspired by various internet fun and maybe Dmitri Martin, more about except not so much funny as it is sad.

Cedar Park and Round Rock pay 0 to Capital Metro. “Other” includes some portions of unincorporated Travis County and a few small jurisdictions like Jonestown. 93% of CM’s budget supposedly comes from the city of Austin (you lately more typically hear “over 90%”).

The “Austin” stations lack parking except for the McNeil station, which actually is more likely to serve residents of Round Rock and unincorporated areas in that vicinity, and the Northwest P&R, which is more likely to serve residents of Cedar Park and unincorporated areas in that vicinity. The benefit, if any, of the Red Line increases the further out you go (as modest travel savings compared to the express bus begin to make a dent in the penalty you pay by having to transfer to a shuttle bus at the destination point).

So Capital Metro’s showing off stations. One of the ones they’re most proud of is at the supposed TOD at Lamar/Airport called “Crestview Station”. Let’s imagine we’re a new resident there and thinking about leaving the car at home to get to our job at the University of Texas.
Take a look at the following chart. Looks pretty good, bronchi don’t it?

Local bus route was the #1 which seemed to get to 24th/Guadalupe as close as possible to 8:30. “Express bus” is the #101; same location and roughly same time. Pickup times at Crestview estimated to be 2 minutes from NLTC. Commuter rail travel time straight from Capital Metro’s schedule to the “UT station” (MLK).
But wait. There’s more.

The local bus and express bus options above drop you off at UT’s front gate; 24th/Guadalupe. Where does the commuter rail drop you?

Well, more about that ain’t UT, clinic that’s for sure. How are we going to get to UT, then?

So what does that do to our travel time?

5 minutes to load the shuttle; 10 minutes to get to the stop near 24th/San Jacinto (remember, this is morning rush hour traffic; I’m probably being a bit generous with 10 minutes).
Yes, this means that the commuter rail ‘alternative’ will likely perform worse than even the local bus service from Crestview Station.
Just for giggles, let’s imagine we had built the 2000 light rail line. Assumption here is that the morning #101 spends 2 of its 13 minutes to congestion and 1 on extra red lights, and we end up with:

So, for those who read the first in this series, we can see that residents of Austin achieve precisely zero benefit from commuter rail at this station. Another interesting point here is that going a little bit slower but straight to your destination (2000 LRT would have taken a bit more time to get to 24th/Guadalupe than the Red Line does to get to MLK/Alexander) is in fact far preferable to going faster to the middle of nowhere. One would think this would be common sense, but, sadly, it’s not; instead of pursuing true urban rail, Capital Metro actually intends to instead waste more time and money on another commuter rail line to nowhere.
Update: Commenter “The Error Term” has argued strenuously that at least a few commuters from Crestview would benefit. While I find his arguments regarding the University utterly unconvincing; he does have a small point regarding a downtown commuter (which I didn’t mean to cover with this example, but I also shouldn’t have jumped to “residents of Austin achieve precisely zero benefit” without covering downtown first). I don’t have time now for any new charts, but here’s a simple paragraph explaining the point.
Google transit shows the express bus taking 28 minutes, of which 26 is the bus trip (we should use 26 rather than 28, since I’m not counting the walk to the train station on that end either; which is a small change from the comments). Capital Metro’s schedule to downtown shows 18 minutes. The walk from the train station to Frost is likely between 5 and 10 minutes. At 10 minutes, it loses by 2 to the express bus option; and at 5 minutes, it beats it by 3. The conclusion is that if you work at the Frost Bank Tower and live at Crestview Station, you could beat the express bus by up to 3 minutes by taking commuter rail if you’re a fast walker, and get a marginally more reliable trip as well (if you don’t mind the bordering-on-long walk by transit standards).
Most downtown office buildings would not fare as well, as most are just about right on the bus/express bus corridor(s), but farther away from the rail stop, as has been explained in numerous earlier postings here.
Next up, Howard P&R.

25 Replies to “Crestview Station and Commuter Rail”

  1. “Another interesting point here is that going a little bit slower but straight to your destination is in fact far preferable to going faster to the middle of nowhere. One would think this would be common sense, but, sadly, it’s not”
    Maybe CapMetro hired Wile E. Coyote as a consultant.

  2. I think your post is tendentious. It is patently misleading to use a single data point to impute the utility of the red line for every potential commuter.
    For instance, what if you work at the Frost Bank Tower? Using your parameters, my calculations show a bus ride of 28 minutes plus a short jaunt of ~=1 minute. The red line will get you to the downtown station in 18 minutes, although there will be a slightly longer stroll of ~=5 minutes. About six minutes shorter, and in a far more comfortable environment to boot.
    Or, lets explore the UT trip a bit more deeply–and selectively. What if you work in the eastern portion of the campus. I have friends who have an office overlooking the Bass Concert Hall (23rd and Trinity). By bus, they’re looking at 31-36 minutes. Using your commuter line numbers, they’re there in ~=24 minutes. My conclusion: The commuter rail has value for every single Austin resident using this station.

  3. Marshall, I thought I was being pretty generous by NOT pointing out that more people work towards Guadalupe than towards San Jacinto. This is supposed to be an average, though; you can come up with an anectdote if you want.
    As for the “every potential commuter” crack, I did mention “next up”, implying there will be more posts.
    As for the Frost comparison, again, I’ll be getting there. You need to compare with the #101; not just the #1. And Frost is pretty much the only downtown office building within a 5 minute walk; so I could just as easily accuse you of cherry-picking.

  4. My cherry-picking was intentional, of course, as was yours. It was just a device to create some balance. But, the same point still applies: using averages to make assumptions about everyone is a whopper of a logical fallacy.

  5. No, that’s a lie – I didn’t cherry-pick.
    If I’d have wanted to cherry-pick, I’d have said my imaginary UT worker worked exactly at 24th/Guadalupe. My implied example here actually picks an office location precisely halfway in between the 24th/Guadalupe (#1/#101) and the commuter rail stop, if you think about it.
    I’d be more than happy to expand with “cherry-picking in both directions”. Commuter rail will still lose for 99% of people in Austin. Your cherry-picked UT example, for instance, would still take only 18-23 minutes via the #101 (5-10 minute walk from 24th/Guadalupe).

  6. On the upside, this is probably the cheapest commuter rail line ever built. The downside of all that cheapness is that it doesn’t go where it would be most useful.
    I think some people will use it and like it – there are people that live close to one stop and work close to another. Anyway, this thing doesn’t have much capacity – if it were accessible to people that work at UT and the Capitol and most places downtown, it would be overrun. Even located where it is, it will probably be overcrowded after the next development boom.
    Bottom line is I think this (and the Elgin line and the SA line and every other potential commuter rail line) is going to be nice for some people and irrelevant for most. I’m not convinced that commuter rail sways support or siphons resources from a light rail/urban rail/streetcar system. I think the small percentage of people with minds open enough to be swayed are as likely to support urban rail based on “success” of the commuter rail system and synergy with that system as are likely to oppose it based on “failure” of the commuter rail system and money spent on that system.

  7. On the upside, this is probably the cheapest commuter rail line ever built. The downside of all that cheapness is that it doesn’t go where it would be most useful.
    I think some people will use it and like it – there are people that live close to one stop and work close to another. Anyway, this thing doesn’t have much capacity – if it were accessible to people that work at UT and the Capitol and most places downtown, it would be overrun. Even located where it is, it will probably be overcrowded after the next development boom.
    Bottom line is I think this (and the Elgin line and the SA line and every other potential commuter rail line running on old tracks) is going to be nice for some people and irrelevant for most. I’m not convinced that commuter rail sways support or siphons resources from a light rail/urban rail/streetcar system. I think the small percentage of people with minds open enough to be swayed are as likely to support urban rail based on “success” of the commuter rail system and synergy with that system as are likely to oppose it based on “failure” of the commuter rail system and money spent on that system.

  8. Shawn, the 2000 LRT plan can’t be built unless this commuter rail line is ‘torn up’. That’s a strong reason to be against it already (we will probably never get rail on Guadalupe unless it’s part of a much larger line that either goes to the NW suburbs, as 2000’s did, or somehow to the south suburbs; an all-in-street option like the CAMPO TWG plan will not be able to sustain high enough ridership to justify taking away a lane on Guadalupe, in other words).

  9. And the $120M spent on this line would have resulted in $240M worth of light rail (with the Bush-era 50% federal participation; note that we’re unlikely even with Obama to get any federal help for commuter rail as the cost-effectiveness is so very poor). Add in the extra $150M or so they’re thinking about spending on both this and the Elgin line, and we’re talking about shooting distance of the entire CAMPO TWG plan.

  10. BTW, other commuter lines have been done far more cheaply – investing less in new stations, for example; running purely on existing track as well (Seattle’s Sounder probably spent much less per mile, as did the New Mexico line).

  11. I should just give myself a 5-minute waiting period before hitting Post.
    On the capacity argument, CM’s trying to buy a bunch more trains right now. Either they’ll be empty (screwing Austin) or they’ll be full (still screwing Austin) because you’re going to see as this series progresses that what little marginal improvement commuter rail provides is skewed completely to the suburbs.

  12. No, not a lie. Just a characterization of how you appear only to select cases that reinforce your priors. Which is fine, of course, since its your blog.
    I’m also not clear about how your implied example contains a walk to halfway between the commuter rail stop and 24th and Guadalupe. If I wanted to arrive as close to 830AM as possible on 2/26/09, I’d take the 1L, which would drop me off at 25th/Guadalupe at 821, a swift 18 minute trip. I would then have to walk to this midpoint, which would take another ~=5 minutes (according to Google Transit). How was this included in the calculations presented above? It appears as the longest possible trip is 20 minutes. It doesn’t appear to be included in your express bus example, either. Although, to your credit, I think you also left this out of they commuter line calculations, too.

  13. I meant halfway between the Guadalupe drop-off and the San Jacinto drop-off from the commuter-rail shuttle. Both bars assume a zero-minute walk.
    A better characterization might be that for the #1/#101 case, I assumed an office right on Guadalupe; and for the commuter-rail case, an office right on the circle at 23rd/San Jacinto.
    That’s not cherry-picking. Again, a lie, not a selection of only confirming cases – I tried hard to be fair to both trips. Had I wanted to cherry-pick, I might have pointed out that most offices are closer to Guadalupe than San Jacinto, and then proceeded to add on a 5-10 minute walk for commuter rail but not for bus/express-bus/light-rail.

  14. If you’re not selecting cases that only reinforce your priors then, I have to ask: have you touted a single commuter example that would dispute your claim that commuter rail will provide zero benefits to the residents of Austin? I’ve come up with a couple in just a short, unproductive few hours–and I can come up with a few more using (Equally, I can come up with a few that support your priors, as well). I subscribe to your RSS feed and, I have to say, it is indeed bilious when it comes to the commuter rail, some of which is fair and well-reasoned, other which is hyperbolic.

  15. There is no “if”. Lets make that perfectly clear before I do any homework assignments for you.
    I assumed, implicitly, that the commuter rail passenger worked right next to the shuttle-bus stop and that the bus/express-bus passenger worked right next to the bus stop.
    That’s not cherry-picking. That’s not “reinforcing your priors”. My prior assumption would be that the typical UT office worker works closer to Guadalupe than San Jacinto.
    If anything, it’s YOU that has attempted to reinforce your priors here.
    And, by the way, you have most definitely not, yet, come up with an example that shows an improvement for an Austin commuter with commuter rail. Your UT example compared to local bus while ignoring express bus; your Frost example didn’t run the express bus numbers either.
    I came up with the claim that no benefit accrues to Austin residents from years of experience studying and analyzing this plan. Your assumption that I picked the examples to justify the claim is insulting at best given the fact that I’ve been writing on this subject since 2003.

  16. I apologize – it looks like you were using the express bus for the “28 minutes to Frost Bank” figure. I’d argue with your estimate of the walk; I’d go with 5-10; but still within the realm of a possible 0-5 minute advantage for commuter rail. So, there you go: one small victory; I’ll post an update.

  17. 26 is the right number for express bus, as I just noted in the update; since I counted 0 minutes for the walk to the train station at Crestview as well. Leaving the two basically competitive depending on whether you’re a fast (5 minutes) or slow (10 minutes) walker.

  18. Actually, my numbers were for the 101. The 1 is 8 minutes longer. I did, unintentionally, smuggle in a 2 minute walk in the calculation (actually, Google Transit did and I didn’t notice). Red line commuters still fare better, albeit less so than before.
    By priors I mean the outcome of your argument in a Bayesian sense. Your prior is that p(anyone will gain from the redline)=0, per your original–and other–posts. And, as I’ve made clear in other posts, my priors are far less certain. My prior beliefs are very close to Shilli’s: that is, they contain more than an inkling of uncertainty along with the recognition that there will be those who gain and those who don’t.

  19. I know precisely what you meant by ‘priors’. I did NOT enter this discussion in 2003 assuming no Austin residents would benefit. I came to the conclusion that (nearly no) Austin residents would benefit from this plan AFTER studying it in detail – and, to throw out bona-fides here, I got an earlier look at it than most – thanks to my position on the UTC.
    I see a lot of prior assumptions in yours, and Shilli just likes being unreasonably optimistic or something.

  20. Sorry. Didn’t mean to be pedantic, but it wasn’t clear from your previous objection that you did, nor did the air quotes indicate otherwise.
    That is quite possibly the most reluctant and qualified concession I have ever seen. But, at least you posted it!
    BTW, I took the walk estimate from Google Transit, as well. I’ve haven’t noticed that the estimates are unreasonable, but, who knows…

  21. Why should CapMetro run a train to optimize the benefits to UT?
    It’s not like UT contributed a penny to the construction of the Red Line.
    If CapMetro exists only to serve people within sight of the UT tower and/or the Capital, then it should have been sized that way, and the proles who live out of that area should not have been asked to pay to further subsidize the UT community. They do plenty of that already.
    The fact is that this rail line has existed for over a hundred years. It’s silly not use it for passenger rail.
    Using existing human rated track for commuter rail did not destroy any businesses, unlike the 2000 proposal which would have devastated whole commercial areas.
    Did CapMetro spend 5x what a well run organization would have spent to put passenger trains on existing tracks? Of course they did.
    For example, was the only alternative to get the rolling stock to go to Switzerland? Of course not. There are a number of well established rail road equipment manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada. And these companies make rail stock that is certified for use in North America.
    I suspect that the North American products didn’t look as much like the Disney monorail as the Swiss product. So the old hippies went for the Disney look, causing CapMetro to pay millions above budget to get the Swiss monorail lookalikes up to U.S. standards.
    But cost controls for the 2000 plan would have been equally poor. We have the CapMetro we have.
    The Red Line is sensible in concept and will be useful to the residents of the CapMetro service area.

  22. No the purpose isn’t just to serve UT. But UT, the Capital Complex and Downtown are huge employment centers. Employment centers are the main drivers of transit usage and as such serving employment centers drives higher ridership and makes for a better transit investment.
    Yes businesses crashing is not a good thing, but if we were to not make any improvements that are for the greater good of a community nothing would ever get done if it were based on a few businesses possibly going under.
    On the subject of railcars, the only American Company that produced FRA compliant DMU’s just crashed out of business an Tri Met in Portland has already had problems with wiring etc. It was actually a good call on the part of them to not go with Colorado Railcar. The only other companies that make DMU’s were international.
    As for the cost of the line setting aside whether it was good or bad idea, even if you say the cost was $120 million, $3.75 million per mile is extremely cheap for a passenger rail line. In fact, it’s probably the least expensive line in the United States. Denver’s line to the Airport that will be electrified is $35 million per mile at 24 miles.

  23. To JimNTexas. My understanding is that UT does indeed contribute a substantial amount of money to CapMetro. That’s why UT students ride the bus free, and will also ride the train free (not that many of them will have cause to ride it).
    I don’t get your argument about how everyone else subsidizes UT. UT is probably one of the main reasons Austin is a nice place to live, and improves everyone’s standard of living.

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