Days of Reckoning, Part Two

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:

  • happywaffle

    Mike, I respect your opinion and look forward to reading your work in the future, but you might cool down the tone of “Oh gee, look how fucking RIGHT I am about the commuter rail.” It surely doesn’t help you win the sympathy of Cap Metro and others whom you’d like to convince.
    I’m referring specifically to linking to your own posts from the past, as opposed to simply and succinctly restating your opinion–and to doing so *twice* in two posts, just in case we didn’t happen to notice it in the previous entry. The sarcasm (“Nah. Couldn’t be.”) makes it even more grating.
    Again, keep it up with the insightful and intelligent transit commentary… tone it down with the masturbatory self-congratulation. If nothing else, it’s simply repetitive.

  • M1EK

    Kevin, re: convincing Capital Metro, see this:
    http://mdahmus.monkeysystems.com/blog/archives/000631.html
    CM doesn’t want your input, or mine; or rather, they want it but only because they want elected officials to think they solicited input – there is no genuine desire to actually ACT on said input, and never was.
    re: linking to my own posts, the whole point of this blog was to have a record we could point back to when the service opened that it WASN’T the kind of failure that nobody could possibly have anticipated. See this:
    http://mdahmus.monkeysystems.com/blog/archives/000081.html
    Ref the general attitude, when you spend 6 years getting vilified for being the only pro-transit guy willing to stand up and defend Austin’s interests, let me know how you do, OK? As recently as ONE WEEK ago, a Capital Metro employee was telling people I had no idea what I was talking about in another forum. Linking to 6 years of history here is kind of the point, in that environment.

  • Scooter Pete

    Your post ignores the fact that not everyone who attends or works at UT does so along Guadalupe. The 1L/1M or 101 will get you to the western edge of campus more quickly, but the rail connector bus from the MLK Station has stops along MLK, San Jacinto and Dean Keeton.
    I’ve been a graduate student at UT for two years now and have never had a class west of San Jacinto… in fact have only ventured over near Guadalupe to visit the Flamm Center and pick up my ID. I’d rather use wifi on the train and read on the bus for a few extra minutes than have to walk from Guadalupe to East Campus.

  • M1EK

    Ed, actually, if you think about it, my post assumes that the typical person arriving at UT is going to a spot exactly halfway in between San Jac and Guadalupe (since I didn’t add walking time from the drop-off for either trip). Or, if you like, that the population of people at UT is evenly split between “close to San Jac” and “close to Guadalupe”, which I think eminently fair (if I was to inject my own bias, I’d go towards Guadalupe).
    So far, every person I’ve seen feedback from who I can identify has either been a Capital Metro employee defending San Jacinto, or a non-Capital-Metro-employee saying “yes, Guadalupe is better”.

  • M1EK

    For instance, from your agency’s blog at this post relating to the switch of the #5’s route from Guadalupe to San Jacinto:
    http://capmetroblog.com/2010/02/03/serviceplan2020-2/
    Robert wrote:
    “To improve access to the campus, increase ridership, and operate through a more pedestrian-friendly area, adjust Route 5 to operate via San Jacinto Boulevard instead of Guadalupe Street.” This would be a disaster. Quite a lot of the #5’s ridership–myself included–consists of UT students and staff who are destined for the engineering complex, the communications buildings, the west mall, or the six-pack–all very dense clusters on campus. The proposed changes would drop them off a good deal farther away from their destination, and at the bottom of a hill–not at all pedestrian-friendly. This seems, like the proposed switch from Congress to Guadalupe/Lavaca downtown–to be the general principle: move the bus routes away from the places people need to go, and into areas that are less congested. That is not a plan for increased ridership.
    and
    Lee Nichols wrote:
    As a frequent user of No.5, I too am mystified by the move from Guadalupe to San Jacinto. Although that would benefit me going to UT sports events, it seems like Guadalupe is a more natural destination for most riders.

  • M1EK

    Let’s also not forget that other express buses (the 98x series) have wifi – directly relevant to comparing in the Leander case; so the #101 could easily get it, too (but doesn’t now, unless I missed something).

  • Scooter Pete

    Er okay Mike well you’ve lost me here… I am not sure what you mean by “defending” San Jacinto. Defending it from what?
    I was simply trying to make the point that not everyone at UT is interested in bus (or rail, for that matter) service that runs up and down Guadalupe… it’s a big campus with lots and lots of people, many of whom need transit access the eastern side of campus. Your case study doesn’t consider that is all I was trying to say.

  • Scooter Pete

    sorry — meant transit access “TO” the eastern side of campus.

  • M1EK

    Ed, it is difficult to keep straight – ‘defending’ SJ in this context is more like “yes, we’re right to move the #5 to San Jacinto in the 2020 service plan”.
    Again, though, if you think about it, my use case simply presumes that the average UT person is halfway between Guadalupe and San Jacinto (or half of them are on Guadalupe and half as on SJ). I didn’t add “walk from bus stop to office” to either trip.
    But if you wanted to go down that path, google maps estimates about a 9 minute walk from Guadalupe down to San Jacinto(*) – so in this use case, the express bus is still markedly faster for people west of San Jacinto by even a little bit; and no worse than equal for everybody else – even those east of San Jacinto.
    (* – transit directions no good here; walking directions likewise; I’m estimating based on their 12 minutes for a route that goes up to 24th and then over).

  • Scooter Pete

    Oh I see. No, I wasn’t trying to defend any bus routings or re-routings… more than anything I was thinking of my own situation as part-time student at the LBJ School on Red River. (In addition to working at Capital Metro, yes, and being a daily bus rider.) If I lived at Crestview the 1L/1M/101 option would not be appealing to me. Not sure what the walking time is from Guadalupe to Red River but I just know that with my UT ID in hand I would be more likely to ride the train and connector route to get to school. Yes I know I am just one data point out of thousands — I just thought your post needed to acknowledge that Guadalupe is not “campus.” No larger motive intended.

  • M1EK

    My personal bias is that – yes, Guadalupe is the front door of ‘campus’ and San Jacinto is the back door; not the center as some people argue. If anything, the center is west of Speedway, as you can see from this aerial:
    http://www.dahmus.org/blogimg/ut-where-is-the-center.png
    Were I in your employment shoes, I’d ride the train/bus from Crestview too – and, to be honest, even if I wasn’t, since I can’t walk 1/2 mile on a daily basis. But the fact that the “UT” route stays so far away from the ‘front door’ is meaningful – it suggests to me that Capital Metro wants us to forget about Guadalupe altogether (gee, I wonder why?)

  • M1EK

    “center” in that sense means “center of density” not geographic center, obviously. short-term construction plans actually keep this going; despite UT claims to the contrary; almost nothing that would attract commuters is being built east of Speedway; and nothing east of San Jacinto.