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So uh..Austin Subway*, Light Rail Expansions and $3.2 - $10.2 Billion

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On 1/17/2020 at 6:53 AM, BradInATX said:

I'm not voting yes on any of this until they start showing some love to south Austin. Screw north and east Austin and their hundreds of thousands of transplants from Cali and Ohio. Suck on my wrinkly Texan balls.

The plan has light rail to Slaughter with the 1st phase going down to Stassney. 

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I watched the joint city council / Cap Metro meeting, you can too if interested..

Some takeaways:

They are talking about ridership in "capacity", not number of expected riders.  So the capacity of the LRT system is around 300,000 riders per day but who knows how many actual people will ride.  A bus system gets you to about 260,000 riders per day capacity but rail adds maybe another 40,000 per day in capacity.  The current Red Line was originally forecast to have 17,000 riders per day by 2025, but they are currently running around 1300-3200 daily boardings, depending on time of year.

There was a discussion about the length of a train and how a tunnel allows you to have a longer train, and thus more capacity.  That makes sense.  It was unclear if they were talking about running longer trains throughout the entire system or just the benefit of trains during the tunnel section.  It's hard to imagine cars mixing with a six-car LRT train on north Lamar.

CM Alter asked for a basic price tag for a typical Austin household, if we paid for this through taxes.  No one was able or willing to give her a ballpark number.  Either they are early in the process so they don't know or they do know are are unwilling to say.  It's hard to believe they have gotten this far without calculating how much additional tax they would need to ask for.

The plan has changed a bit from last year.  Last year had an "orange line" on Lamar, a "brown line" on S. Congress, and a "blue line" from the airport to highland mall.  The orange and brown lines have been combined into just an orange line, and the blue line seems to no longer go towards highland mall.  They talked about having two new bridges over the river (one near S. 1st and one between S. Congress and IH-35, roughly aligned with Trinity St).

It seems like the blue line is now going to come down Riverside, go to the convention center, go crosstown in the tunnel, and then go north following the same path as the orange line.  There was some discussion that the blue and orange lines would double up on the north part, meaning service would be twice as frequent.  Other maps showed the blue line going both crosstown through the tunnel and north, roughly up Trinity to campus.  I"m not sure how the blue line goes both ways.  The orange line would go north on S. Congress, cross the river by city hall, go into the tunnel and go north under Guadalupe, then to the surface somewhere maybe north of campus and then follow Lamar north.  There was also some talk of a gold line to highland mall, maybe this is also the blue line or maybe not.

The maps and station placement and tunnel location/entrances seemed still kinda vague but there was the core idea of a southern route on Congress, an eastern Riverside route to the airport, and a northern route up Guadalupe and Lamar.  With a tunnel in downtown.  I would be interested in seeing specific station locations and judging if development near the stations is likely, and if taxes on those developments could pay for this system.

This is being sold as a "system" meaning that people will be able to ride the bus to rail or park at a park and ride and get on the rail from there.  Personally, I don't see many people waiting for a bus, riding that to rail, getting on rail, riding that to their destination.  People will do a park and ride or buy a nice condo next to the rail station.

I was interested in how fast the LRT or BRT system would be, like how long would it take to get from the Triangle to the airport, for example, but I didn't see any discussion about speed.

They are putting a lot of pressure on the Guadalupe corridor, meaning the performance of busses and rail in this corridor is going to determine the capacity of a large part of the Cap Metro system.  Hence the desire for a tunnel.

 

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31 minutes ago, Pasken said:

The plan has light rail to Slaughter with the 1st phase going down to Stassney. 

As long as they’re at it,  run a line for express trains down to Hays County for rush hours.

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4 hours ago, Druggist said:

Do you drive 183?  I have used it for my commute for about 4 years now (Anderson Square to Ben White).  While driving south in the mornings and north in the evenings as you describe, I have seen clogged up traffic in the other direction during this whole time period.    I am sure traffic is heavier in the direction I am traveling, but to claim it doesn’t clog is not true.

I drive it to and from work everyday for the past 6 years.  Traffic is rarely ever on both sides.  The only place you might see some going the opposite way is where the road bottlenecks to 3 lanes for those 3 miles but again even that it rare.  Anyone arguing that we need 4 permanent toll lanes over more free lanes is being disingenuous at best.

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2 hours ago, Armybrat said:

As long as they’re at it,  run a line for express trains down to Hays County for rush hours.

Is this a joke?

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Might take some pressure off MoPac with the Buda to downtown commuters. Of course it’ll never happen. 

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1 minute ago, Armybrat said:

Might take some pressure off MoPac with the Buda to downtown commuters. Of course it’ll never happen. 

Fuck buda. They aren’t in the cap metro tax area. They shouldn’t get anything for free.

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8 hours ago, Texas Jeff said:

CM Alter asked for a basic price tag for a typical Austin household, if we paid for this through taxes.  No one was able or willing to give her a ballpark number.  Either they are early in the process so they don't know or they do know are are unwilling to say.  It's hard to believe they have gotten this far without calculating how much additional tax they would need to ask for.

I'm willing to bet they have an idea, but aren't ready to release it.  Or they'll release it on, say a Tuesday morning when the circus starts up with the Senate and Trump.

8 hours ago, Texas Jeff said:

The plan has changed a bit from last year.  Last year had an "orange line" on Lamar, a "brown line" on S. Congress, and a "blue line" from the airport to highland mall.  The orange and brown lines have been combined into just an orange line, and the blue line seems to no longer go towards highland mall.  They talked about having two new bridges over the river (one near S. 1st and one between S. Congress and IH-35, roughly aligned with Trinity St).

So if the orange line goes down Lamar, and if they toss in extra big bike lines, does that mean no more cars on Lamar?

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8 hours ago, Pasken said:

The plan has light rail to Slaughter with the 1st phase going down on South Austin's mom.

Shouldn't that be the other way around?

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I drive 183 daily and it is ripe for a directional changing HOV/Toll solution down the middle.  Add 2 new lanes down the middle that can change direction with rush hour and save the cost of the additional lanes. 

 Fixing the bottle neck between McNeil and Braker is a must do.

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53 minutes ago, TexasEd said:

I drive 183 daily and it is ripe for a directional changing HOV/Toll solution down the middle.  Add 2 new lanes down the middle that can change direction with rush hour and save the cost of the additional lanes. 

 Fixing the bottle neck between McNeil and Braker is a must do.

This. The directional change thing needs to happen. Also, I take the flyover from mopac to 183 north during rush hour everyday. It would be so much more functional if lanes didn’t abruptly end for no reason 5 times in a 2 mile stretch.

Edited by Larry T. Spider

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On 1/15/2020 at 12:09 PM, Pasken said:

Self driving cars won't solve shit.

What makes you say this?  You’re one of the better posters on this subject but surely you’ve seen the videos and read the studies which illustrate how fully autonomous vehicles increases traffic efficiency exponentially.  

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10 hours ago, Larry T. Spider said:

This. The directional change thing needs to happen. Also, I take the flyover from mopac to 183 north during rush hour everyday. It would be so much more functional if lanes didn’t abruptly end for no reason 5 times in a 2 mile stretch.

Quiet, or they make it 7.

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On 1/19/2020 at 8:00 AM, Chet Steadman said:

What makes you say this?  You’re one of the better posters on this subject but surely you’ve seen the videos and read the studies which illustrate how fully autonomous vehicles increases traffic efficiency exponentially.  

The only way to reduce congestion is to reduce the amount of single occupant cars. We need an alternative way to get around this city with a mass transit system that doesn't get stuck in the same traffic as everyone else.

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16 minutes ago, Pasken said:

The only way to reduce congestion is to reduce the amount of single occupant cars. We need an alternative way to get around this city with a mass transit system that doesn't get stuck in the same traffic as everyone else.

frog-design-gondola-cable-cars1.jpg

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On 1/18/2020 at 12:03 PM, Texas Jeff said:

I watched the joint city council / Cap Metro meeting, you can too if interested..

Some takeaways:

They are talking about ridership in "capacity", not number of expected riders.  So the capacity of the LRT system is around 300,000 riders per day but who knows how many actual people will ride.  A bus system gets you to about 260,000 riders per day capacity but rail adds maybe another 40,000 per day in capacity.  The current Red Line was originally forecast to have 17,000 riders per day by 2025, but they are currently running around 1300-3200 daily boardings, depending on time of year.

There was a discussion about the length of a train and how a tunnel allows you to have a longer train, and thus more capacity.  That makes sense.  It was unclear if they were talking about running longer trains throughout the entire system or just the benefit of trains during the tunnel section.  It's hard to imagine cars mixing with a six-car LRT train on north Lamar.

CM Alter asked for a basic price tag for a typical Austin household, if we paid for this through taxes.  No one was able or willing to give her a ballpark number.  Either they are early in the process so they don't know or they do know are are unwilling to say.  It's hard to believe they have gotten this far without calculating how much additional tax they would need to ask for.

The plan has changed a bit from last year.  Last year had an "orange line" on Lamar, a "brown line" on S. Congress, and a "blue line" from the airport to highland mall.  The orange and brown lines have been combined into just an orange line, and the blue line seems to no longer go towards highland mall.  They talked about having two new bridges over the river (one near S. 1st and one between S. Congress and IH-35, roughly aligned with Trinity St).

It seems like the blue line is now going to come down Riverside, go to the convention center, go crosstown in the tunnel, and then go north following the same path as the orange line.  There was some discussion that the blue and orange lines would double up on the north part, meaning service would be twice as frequent.  Other maps showed the blue line going both crosstown through the tunnel and north, roughly up Trinity to campus.  I"m not sure how the blue line goes both ways.  The orange line would go north on S. Congress, cross the river by city hall, go into the tunnel and go north under Guadalupe, then to the surface somewhere maybe north of campus and then follow Lamar north.  There was also some talk of a gold line to highland mall, maybe this is also the blue line or maybe not.

The maps and station placement and tunnel location/entrances seemed still kinda vague but there was the core idea of a southern route on Congress, an eastern Riverside route to the airport, and a northern route up Guadalupe and Lamar.  With a tunnel in downtown.  I would be interested in seeing specific station locations and judging if development near the stations is likely, and if taxes on those developments could pay for this system.

This is being sold as a "system" meaning that people will be able to ride the bus to rail or park at a park and ride and get on the rail from there.  Personally, I don't see many people waiting for a bus, riding that to rail, getting on rail, riding that to their destination.  People will do a park and ride or buy a nice condo next to the rail station.

I was interested in how fast the LRT or BRT system would be, like how long would it take to get from the Triangle to the airport, for example, but I didn't see any discussion about speed.

They are putting a lot of pressure on the Guadalupe corridor, meaning the performance of busses and rail in this corridor is going to determine the capacity of a large part of the Cap Metro system.  Hence the desire for a tunnel.

 

The tax rate issue is kind of complicated. It could be anything. Make it low and the system will take longer. Raise it and the system will get built faster. What we know is we can't build the entire system at once.

 

Here is the speed estimate for the Orange Line. You can find a TON of detailed info about each line including stations on the project connect website. 

Quote

Travel Time

The Orange Line operates in a dedicated transitway which provides reliable and frequent transit in a congestion-proof environment that provides potential travel time savings for riders. The expected one-way travel time for the Orange Line is around 42 to 43 minutes for the Elevated (Build A) scenario and around 52 to 53 minutes in the Street Level (Build B) scenario. In the No Build scenario, the MetroRapid 801 that operates in mixed traffic on the project corridor shows one-way travel times between 71 and 75 minutes. With the build scenarios there are potential transit travel time savings in the range of 19 to 32 minutes. For automobile users, estimated travel times during peak hours are in the range of 38 to 83 minutes for a one- way trip between Tech Ridge and Slaughter. This travel time range is estimated from the average of northbound and southbound travel time during AM and PM peak hours collected from Google Maps. The travel time by automobile can be 4 to15 minutes faster than the Orange Line, however, depending on traffic conditions the Orange Line has the potential to be up to 30 to 41 minutes faster for users.

 

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1 hour ago, Pasken said:

Here is the speed estimate for the Orange Line. You can find a TON of detailed info SPECULATION/Pipe Dreams about each line including stations on the project connect website. 

 

1 hour ago, Pasken said:

 

You mean detailed info like cost estimates and completion schedules that are literally ALWAYS off by years and tens of millions of dollars?

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1 minute ago, Orange&White said:

 

You mean detailed info like cost estimates and completion schedules that are literally ALWAYS off by years and tens of millions of dollars?

What do you want dude? What is your great plan?

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15 minutes ago, Pasken said:

What do you want dude? What is your great plan?

There is nothing proposed in that plan that could not be achieved with buses, which would be a fraction of the cost and infinitely more flexible to changes in ridership, geography and demographics.

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dedicate mass transit from the suburbs to city and build more affordable housing where land is abundant.  Austin has little room for expansion except for up.  Developers don't see enough profit to specialize in moderate income housing.

solves two problems (err addresses) at once

Edited by ChickenSandwich

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3 hours ago, Orange&White said:

There is nothing proposed in that plan that could not be achieved with buses, which would be a fraction of the cost and infinitely more flexible to changes in ridership, geography and demographics.

Are you talking about real BRT with dedicated ROW, platforms and traffic signal priority or regular buses that suck because they get stuck in regular traffic. I definitely am going to pay attention to how the new BRT in Uptown Houston on Post Oak goes. There is a lot of infrastructure work to get it up and running. Middle class professionals will use rail but not regular buses because of the stigma of poors just using. I am hoping that having what is essentially light rail on rubber tires will have the ridership that rail would have.

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17 minutes ago, Iconoclast Texan said:

Middle class professionals will use rail but not regular buses because of the stigma of poors just using. 

I hear this a lot and understand that it is likely true. But it is definitely not going to sway my vote in any direction.

idgaf about a stigma, and a lot of voters just like me probably don't either. As long as my tax dollars are subsidizing the shit, I am voting for the cheaper option. If the people that want mass transit want to be picky about which mass transit they are ok riding, they can certainly feel free to pay the full amount of of the costs rather than expecting every person in the city to pay for their commute.

$10B transit plans are difficult to get passed because the VAST majority of the citizens won't be able to use it in their lifetime. Voters in Cat Mountain, Jester, Circle C and Millwood and Travis Country, and all of the other places that the trains will never go, do not feel the need to put a tax on themselves where they will get no benefit.

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Iconoclast Texan said:

Are you talking about real BRT with dedicated ROW, platforms and traffic signal priority or regular buses that suck because they get stuck in regular traffic. I definitely am going to pay attention to how the new BRT in Uptown Houston on Post Oak goes. There is a lot of infrastructure work to get it up and running. Middle class professionals will use rail but not regular buses because of the stigma of poors just using. I am hoping that having what is essentially light rail on rubber tires will have the ridership that rail would have.

Yes we know you have a stigma about sitting near brown people. I’m a middle class professional. I ride bus and rail to and from work. It’s called keep to yourself and mind your fucking business 

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38 minutes ago, Js1 said:

Yes we know you have a stigma about sitting near brown people. I’m a middle class professional. I ride bus and rail to and from work. It’s called keep to yourself and mind your fucking business 

We are trying to have a discussion here fuckface and you come along adding nothing.  Nice to bring up CR shit and your idiotic bleating about racism when I am only against illegal immigration. I have no hatred for brown people. There are lot of them in my life.

Edited by Iconoclast Texan

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How much would it cost to build a subway from the domain to downtown? They can put it under Burnet and Guadalupe.   Yes it would suck for the 10 years of construction and billions price tag but it would be worth it. Stops at the campus, seton, Anderson, domain. A man can dream 

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46 minutes ago, Neonmoon said:

How much would it cost to build a subway from the domain to downtown? They can put it under Burnet and Guadalupe.   Yes it would suck for the 10 years of construction and billions price tag but it would be worth it. Stops at the campus, seton, Anderson, domain. A man can dream 

Worth it to whom?

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2 hours ago, Neonmoon said:

How much would it cost to build a subway from the domain to downtown? They can put it under Burnet and Guadalupe.   Yes it would suck for the 10 years of construction and billions price tag but it would be worth it. Stops at the campus, seton, Anderson, domain. A man can dream 

There are subways in the US that have been built for just under one billion per mile.  NY's 2nd Ave Subway costs $2.6 billion per mile.  The proposed Austin tunnel is, I think, around $2 billion for the 1.6 mile tunnel portion carrying either bus rapid transit or light rail.  Downtown to the domain is maybe 9 miles, so the cost might project to be in the $10 billion range based on other US systems.  

The Waller Creek tunnel project was originally projected to cost $25 million but actually cost $160 million, so you should add buffer to any cost estimate to get the real eventual cost.

An alternative to a downtown to domain subway would be to run really frequent buses in the Mopac express lanes (think 3-4 downtown stops and maybe 2-3 stops in the Domain, service every five minutes).  You don't get subway stops along Burnet but you do move people between those areas.  You could also relocate Mopac freight rail and run trains along that corridor, from the Domain to about where Trader Joe's is downtown.  That would cost billions but probably a lot less than $10 billion.

Also, you can ride the Red Line today from the Domain area to downtown today.  $3.50 for a 30 minute trip, $100/month for a pass.  The taxpayer is going to chip in another $25 each time you get on that train.

Edited by Texas Jeff
add the red line

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Domain to downtown?   Why?

for all those people who decided to live in the domain because they work at the domain who suddenly need to go downtown for no apparent reason?  Or is this for all those condo dwellers downtown who need to do to the domain once a month to shop?   I would guess maybe 5-10% at most of downtown residents work in the domain and vice-versa.  

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On 1/16/2020 at 11:09 AM, Lobo said:

Just think about this-The city of Austin at both the City Hall level and in the  Engineering  department, presided over several hundred feet of the Waller Creek tunnel as it was constructed without rebar. And nobody knew anything about it for almost a year.  In 2018 and 19, Your elected officials let myriad city departments sit back and watch an underground tunnel for water be constructed without rebar your elected officials let myriad city departments sit back and watch an underground tunnel for water be constructed without rebar  

That didn’t happen in Haiti or Swaziland, and it didn’t happen 100 years ago.  It happened in one of the smartest cities in the country last year on our watch. 
 

I want trains and mass transit in my cty but all of these fuckers need to go before we can have a discussion about it.  
 

Mayor Adler is complicit in more financial crimes than Martha Stewart.  He is going to appeal for his ability to run for a third term based on Petition signatures.  But he’s gonna have to do it from a fucking jail cell.  
 

NoCR, but some of you really need to get your fucking heads out of your asses.  This guy is shaking you down and you fucking buy it because you think he has compassion Because his voice sounds soft and he looks like he cares

You fucking children

I haven’t lived in Austin for 19 years, yet I couldn’t help but applaud your rant. 

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On 1/21/2020 at 12:07 PM, Orange&White said:

There is nothing proposed in that plan that could not be achieved with buses, which would be a fraction of the cost and infinitely more flexible to changes in ridership, geography and demographics.

white people don't ride buses.

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6 hours ago, ImissWallyPryor said:

I haven’t lived in Austin for 19 years, yet I couldn’t help but applaud your rant. 

He's not wrong

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Is he?  Because I've seen no evidence of any changes.
It's the simple blocking-and-tackling of running a mass transit system that CapMetro falls down on.  Look at 8th Street between Brazos and Congress.  It's down to one lane.  It has been for months (and will be for quite a long time) while the City does utility work.
A competent agency would reroute buses up to 10th.  Or at least eliminate the stop at 8th and Congress.  But not CapMetro--they keep the bus stop there, which makes that one-lane street completely impassable (even to their own buses that get caught in the backlog behind the stopped bus).
CapMetro could rationalize its bus routes tomorrow.  That's what Houston has done, and Houston has seen a huge increase in ridership.  But CapMetro wants shiny trains that cost billions, rather than thinking about effective solutions utilizing the resources it has in hand.
One wonders why that might be.

Herp derp.
022a541d3179f81b981496cf33f4f3c7.jpg

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18 hours ago, UTexasFight said:

CapMetro could rationalize its bus routes tomorrow.  That's what Houston has done, and Houston has seen a huge increase in ridership.

it took houston 80 years to do it.  seriously, a lot of the local bus routes just went where the light rail street cars had previously.  that's one reason why i don't buy into one of the benefits of buses over rails: the ability to change a route is illusory if it basically never happens.  and it's harder than it looks when you do decide to do it. 

metro has rerouted for road construction, though.

Edited by elfenix

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On 1/22/2020 at 1:59 PM, elfenix said:

white people don't ride buses.

I rode the pollo bus from Monterey to Nuevo Laredo.

Edited by Armybrat

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On 1/21/2020 at 4:31 PM, Orange&White said:

I hear this a lot and understand that it is likely true. But it is definitely not going to sway my vote in any direction.

idgaf about a stigma, and a lot of voters just like me probably don't either. As long as my tax dollars are subsidizing the shit, I am voting for the cheaper option. If the people that want mass transit want to be picky about which mass transit they are ok riding, they can certainly feel free to pay the full amount of of the costs rather than expecting every person in the city to pay for their commute.

$10B transit plans are difficult to get passed because the VAST majority of the citizens won't be able to use it in their lifetime. Voters in Cat Mountain, Jester, Circle C and Millwood and Travis Country, and all of the other places that the trains will never go, do not feel the need to put a tax on themselves where they will get no benefit.

 

 

 

You don't have to personally use mass transit to benefit from it.

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58 minutes ago, Armybrat said:

I rode the pollo bus from Monterey to Nuevo Laredo.

Bullshit; you rode a bus from Portland Maine to fort Hancock, Texas when you were still a relative young man in the 1960s

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9 hours ago, elfenix said:

it took houston 80 years to do it.  seriously, a lot of the local bus routes just went where the light rail street cars had previously.  that's one reason why i don't buy into one of the benefits of buses over rails: the ability to change a route is illusory if it basically never happens.  and it's harder than it looks when you do decide to do it. 

metro has rerouted for road construction, though.

So the incompetence of those running the system is baked into your calculation?  

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On 1/21/2020 at 10:15 AM, Pasken said:

The only way to reduce congestion is to reduce the amount of single occupant cars. We need an alternative way to get around this city with a mass transit system that doesn't get stuck in the same traffic as everyone else.

Can you name a single large city in the US that has significantly reduced road congestion by building more mass transit?  Most studies I've read on the subject indicate that mass transit has almost no effect on road congestion, due likely to small ridership and induced demand (the same factor that precludes highway expansion from reducing highway congestion).  

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1 minute ago, bschoolprof said:

Can you name a single large city in the US that has significantly reduced road congestion by building more mass transit?  Most studies I've read on the subject indicate that mass transit has almost no effect on road congestion, due likely to small ridership and induced demand (the same factor that precludes highway expansion from reducing highway congestion).  

I didn’t say it would. Again, the only way to reduce congestion is to reduce the amount of single occupant cars.

 

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The bus ain't going to pull into the Whataburger drive-thru for my morning honey butter chicken biscuit. 

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1 hour ago, bschoolprof said:

Can you name a single large city in the US that has significantly reduced road congestion by building more mass transit?  Most studies I've read on the subject indicate that mass transit has almost no effect on road congestion, due likely to small ridership and induced demand (the same factor that precludes highway expansion from reducing highway congestion).  

Washington DC Metro Area.  Don't laugh.  They have some of the worst traffic in the nation but...

They have significant commuter traffic on metro rail (subway) and buses.  In addition the HOV strategy that in some areas consists of dedicated direction changing lanes that are not tolled also created an informal ride sharing program at certain parking lots to fill cars to the 3 person requirement to use HOV.  People or SLUGs (Self Loading Uninvited Guests) line up at parking lot and get into the next car that lines up only asking which dropoff they are going to (Pentagon, Crystal City, etc.) and in the evening they pick people up from bus lines going the other way.

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2 hours ago, Poolflood said:

So the incompetence of those running the system is baked into your calculation?  

rerouting bus lines gets political in a hurry.

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On 1/28/2020 at 9:14 PM, TexasEd said:

 In addition the HOV strategy that in some areas consists of dedicated direction changing lanes that are not tolled also created an informal ride sharing program at certain parking lots to fill cars to the 3 person requirement to use HOV.  People or SLUGs (Self Loading Uninvited Guests) line up at parking lot and get into the next car that lines up only asking which dropoff they are going to (Pentagon, Crystal City, etc.) and in the evening they pick people up from bus lines going the other way.

This is a great idea.  Think about our current single car commuter situation like this -- we are probably using 25% of the available seats to move people up and down Mopac.  The other 75% of the seats are mostly empty.

If there was an economic incentive to fill those seats, we could dramatically reduce traffic tomorrow without spending a dime.  

 

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