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February 10, 2007 : 

February 10, 2007 Transportation and Transit For Scottsdale Thomas A. Rubin, CPA, CMA, CMC, CIA, CGFM, CFM

What to do About Scottsdale Road?: 

What to do About Scottsdale Road? “First, do no harm.” Hippocrates, Epidemics

Scottsdale Road is a Unique Transportation Asset: 

Scottsdale Road is a Unique Transportation Asset Scottsdale is a very long and narrow city, with only a very few continuous N-S roads Scottsdale Road is by far the most important of these, with both the highest capacity and most key trip generators If ill-conceived transportation “improvements” reduce its carrying capacity, there are no fixes possible

Scottsdale Road is the Designated “High Capacity Transit Corridor”: 

Scottsdale Road is the Designated “High Capacity Transit Corridor” Mode Options: Light Rail Transit (LRT) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) “Modern” Streetcar

Maricopa County “Transit Modal Splits”: 

Maricopa County “Transit Modal Splits” Home-to-Work/Work-to-Home: Maricopa County 2.2% City of Phoenix 3.4% City of Scottsdale 1.3% Maricopa County w/o Phoenix 1.3% Even if transit share would triple, it would still be very minor – don’t mess what needs to be done on Scottsdale Road to carry people on the existing “rubber tire” modes.

Light Rail Transit: 

Light Rail Transit What is now being constructed in Phoenix Exclusive guideway for trains, either entire length or very close This may be exclusive lanes for trains or city streets or freeways, or separate right-of-way off street Stations generally approximately one mile apart

Light Rail Transit II: 

Light Rail Transit II Generally two-three car trains Operating speeds: When street-running, normally street speed limit Exclusive ROW, generally 55 mph National average: approximately 17 mph Top “normal” LRT, ~ 24 mph Exception – LA Green Line, over 30 mph

Light Rail Transit III: 

Light Rail Transit III Costs/Mile – Varies significantly, but from under $20 million to hundreds of millions per mile, with most in range of approximately $40-80 million Cost of Phoenix first line: $1,412.12 million for 19.6 miles  $72 million/mile Safety issue – Grade crossings, particularly at speeds over 35 mph

Bus Rapid Transit: 

Bus Rapid Transit Most physical and operating characteristics generally similar to LRT, but with “rubber tire,” vice steel-on-steel, wheels/tires Speeds and carrying capacities roughly comparable to LRT Capital cost of BRT generally <50% of LRT, operating cost comparison varies but BRT generally lower

Bus Rapid Transit II: 

Bus Rapid Transit II With BRT, unlike LRT, guideway buses can operate off the guideway, serving as their own feeder/distributors Safety concern – intersections, particularly with “ostridge” approach

Modern Streetcar: 

Modern Streetcar Unlike LRT, streetcar tracks are in rubber tire traffic lanes on street – streetcars, cars, and trucks all use the same lanes Generally, stops every block or two Speeds – generally, 5-9 mph; capable of higher speeds where traffic allows and stops are further apart Fairly short, generally no more than five miles

Modern Streetcar II: 

Modern Streetcar II Generally, less frequent service (~10-15 minutes) than LRT or BRT Far lower overall carrying capacity Generally used as downtown circulator, not really usable as “main line” transit Capital costs vary widely, from as low as a under $1 million/mile (Kensoha) to ~$25 million per (one-way) mile (Tacoma)

Impacts of Guideway Transit on Scottsdale Road: 

Impacts of Guideway Transit on Scottsdale Road LRT and BRT both require approximately 26 feet for two lanes of straight track Station platforms require an additional 20 feet, with 10 foot station requirement possible with some compromises in station “quality” Intersections with left turn lanes can become very complex, particularly two-laners Many minor thru streets become “T’s”

Impacts of Guideway Transit on Scottsdale Road II: 

Impacts of Guideway Transit on Scottsdale Road II LRT and BRT generally require traffic signal cycle changes for best transit results Streetcar generally operates on same lanes as rubber tire vehicles, but there are many impacts due to slow speeds, frequent stops, turn requirements, and inability to get around obstacles such as collisions and power outages

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road: 

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road Potential LRT/BRT Impacts: Conversion of traffic lanes for exclusive LRT or BRT use Reallocations of traffic signal cycle time to transit Elimination of left turn lanes at some intersections, conversion of two-laners back to one-laners at others

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road II: 

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road II Elimination of most/all of non-intersection left turn lanes, such as at shopping malls Elimination of street parking Conversion of most/all non-arterial street crossings into “T” intersections “No stopping” zones – no pick-ups, drop-offs LRT and Streetcar would have overhead “catenary” wires

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road III: 

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road III In certain locations along the ROW, potentially: Wiping out every structure and parking lot on the East side of the street, or Wiping out every structure and parking lot on the West side of the street, or Wiping out every structure and parking lot on both sides of the street

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road IV: 

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road IV Modern Streetcar impacts would be less drastic: Modern Streetcar would likely operate for only a relatively short distance along Scottsdale Road because it really isn’t much of a transportation system Although it might not require traffic lane takes, there would be negative impacts on road capacity

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road V: 

What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road V For the core traditional downtown area, LRT/BRT would require so much street width that rubber tire traffic would be extremely limited – or entire blocks of existing structures would have to be removed The consideration of any of guideway transit option for this section of Scottsdale Road could lead to consideration of entire elimination of rubber tire traffic

Modern Streetcar is NOT a “Main Line” Transportation System: 

Modern Streetcar is NOT a “Main Line” Transportation System I took or computed annual passenger-miles for six streetcar systems that are either fully “modern” or similar in how they operate: Kenosha, Little Rock, Memphis, Portland, Tacoma, Tampa A four-mile stretch of six-lane Scottsdale Road carries about the same amount of passenger-miles in a day And none of these streetcars carry freight

Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories: 

Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories Little Rock – $1.2 billion in real estate development generated from $20 million investment in streetcar system Portland Streetcar – $2.28 billion from $89 million Tacoma – $1 billion from $89 million Tampa -- $1 billion from $56 million

Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories II: 

Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories II Development City Development $ Daily Riders $/Rider Portland $2,280,000,000 8,500 $ 268,000 Tacoma 1,000,000,000 2,424 413,000 Tampa 1,000,000,000 1,548 646,000 Little Rock 1,200,000,000 423 2,800,000

Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories III: 

Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories III What Can we Learn From This? A rooster crowing at dawn may believe that it is causing the sun to come up, but you shouldn’t be taking real estate investment advice from a rooster. … or a light rail/streetcar booster.

Freeway “Level of Service” (LOS) Criteria: 

Freeway “Level of Service” (LOS) Criteria Level of Service Max Speed Max Service Flow A 75.0 750 B 75.0 1,200 C 71.0 1,704 D 65.0 2,080 E 53.0 2,400 F <53.0 >2,400 (Above is for Free-Flow Speed, which has nothing to do with the speed limit, of 75 mph.)

Reason Foundation Galvin Mobility Project: 

Reason Foundation Galvin Mobility Project A series of professional papers on mobility First ones have been published, available at: http://www.reason.org/transportation/ Many more now in works I’m doing one on the relationship between transit and traffic congestion

Interim Report: 

Interim Report I had my associate do the analysis for two Urbanized Areas (UZA’s) to test the data Figured, what-the-heck, do the regressions and see what we get Overall expectation? Not much connection – congestion is basically a supply-and-demand thing and transit is just a small percentage of total transportation in most UZA’s. So, here’s the results – for Portland, Oregon

(May I have a drum roll, please?): 

(May I have a drum roll, please?)

THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS: PROOF POSITIVE THAT TRANSIT CAUSES CONGESTION: 

THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS: PROOF POSITIVE THAT TRANSIT CAUSES CONGESTION

not: 

not

Well, Why Not?: 

Well, Why Not? Rule 1: “Correlation is not causation.” 20 data points for one UZA is just a bit thin for drawing this type of conclusion. Most important, what possible direct causation could there be between, all else equal, an increase in transit usage – presumably, taking vehicles off the streets – and congestion getting worse?

But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland: 

But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland First Portland Light Rail Line was largely funded with Federal “Interstate Transfer” funds – Portland (or, more properly, the Mayor of Portland, with assistance from other officials) decided to give up an urban Interstate that had already been approved and funded to build this line. An urban freeway has several times more “transportation work” capacity than any light rail line

But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland II: 

But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland II Building this light rail line required taking out a pre-existing freeway HOV lane that had higher transportation work values than the light rail line Building light rail on surface streets has reduced road capacity on these arterials and made crossing movements more difficult Area population/travel growth has far exceeded transit usage growth; transit has a relatively small modal split – 7.6% for three-county region

But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland III: 

But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland III Portland (Metro, Tri-Met, State, et al) have largely decided to not implement road capacity improvements – as demand increases Portland et al have adopted LOS “F” as the official target – while this is the result in many UZA’s, at least the others are officially trying to do better, not worse

So, can transit actually cause congestion to increase? No, not by itself. But, as a component of an officially adopted program of “interesting” transportation decisions, a case can be made.: 

So, can transit actually cause congestion to increase? No, not by itself. But, as a component of an officially adopted program of “interesting” transportation decisions, a case can be made.

Measurement Metrics: 

Measurement Metrics Number of Lanes or Tracks x Vehicles or Trains per Hour per Lane/Track x Vehicles per Train x Passengers per Vehicle = PASSENGERS PASS A POINT x Speed = TRANSPORTATION WORK (Passenger Miles Index)

How to “Tilt” a Modal Comparison: 

How to “Tilt” a Modal Comparison There are many different methodologies, and variations, for comparisons Almost all are valid, and useful – when properly utilized by people who know what they are doing It is very easy to misuse metrics to make them appear to show that your desired result, your modal selection, is the “right” one WATCH OUT FOR PEOPLE WHO PLAY GAMES WITH DATA AND METHODS

How to “Tilt” a Modal Comparison II: 

How to “Tilt” a Modal Comparison II To make your favored mode look better, show: ..............Road………..…. …………….…Rail………..…..… Location Entire Metro Area Length Peak Load Point Time Frame All Day Peak Hour Metric Transportation Work Passengers Past a Point Methodology Actual Theoretical f/Rail, Actual f/Road Freight Include Exclude

Examples of What to Watch Out For: 

Examples of What to Watch Out For Cynthia Sullivan, Chair, (Seattle) Central Link (light rail system) Oversight Committee, “When this system is up and running, Northgate to SeaTac, in 2020, it will carry as many people every day as I-5 does today.” Center for Transportation Excellence: “It would take a twelve lane freeway going in one direction to equate the same amount of capacity of one light rail line.”

Passenger Carrying Capacity Modal Comparisons: 

Passenger Carrying Capacity Modal Comparisons ..L.A. Blue Line.. ……..CFTE....…. Peak Peak El Monte/ NY Port Light …Real World…. Load Trip Busway Authority LOS “E” ..Rail.. LOS “E” LOS “F” .Point. ..Ave.. HOV Lane Bus Term Trains/Hour 20 12 12 Cars/Train 6 2.5 2.5 Cars/Hour 2,000 120 1,800 2,100 30 30 1,218 515-779 Occupancy 1.25 125 1.15 1.15 150 80 4.36 32-48 Passengers 23,187- Past a Point 2,500 15,000 2,070 2,415 4,500 2,400 5,310 34,685 Speed 55 25 15 24 56.9 Transportation Work Index 113,850 60,375 37,500 56,700 302,166 “E” Index 1.00 .53 .33 .50 2.65 “F” Index 1.89 1.00 .62 .94 5.00

Vehicle Carrying Capacity: 

Vehicle Carrying Capacity The number of persons in a vehicle is key to carrying capacity. The Kinkisharyo light rail vehicle selected for Phoenix light rail are described on the Valley Metro web site as, “have a capacity of 200.” The Skoda “modern streetcar” used in Portland and Tacoma is shown with a maximum load of 140.

Cost Metrics: 

Cost Metrics Federal Transit Administration Financial Capacity Analysis: 1. Is there funding to operate existing transit system? 2. Is there funding for capital renewal and replacement of existing transit system? 3. If answers to 1. and 2. are yes, then, and only then, advance to the third question: Is there funding to construct and operate the proposed system expansion?

FTA 49 USC 5309 “New Start” Tests: 

FTA 49 USC 5309 “New Start” Tests The “new” metric is “Incremental Cost Divided by Transportation System User Benefit.” “Incremental Cost” is calculated in accordance with detailed procedures. “Transportation System User Benefit” is expressed in “time equivalent units,” which is basically travel hours saved. The “old” metric, which is still reported, is “Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger,” aka “Cost per New Passenger.”

Annualized Project Cost: 

Annualized Project Cost Simplified, the “Cost” for old and new metrics is: Annualized Capital Cost + Annual Operating Cost + Other Cost Changes (such as savings in operating costs for pre-existing transit lines) = Annual Cost (usually, 20 years out) “Annualized Capital Cost” spreads original capital costs of assets over their specified useful lives.

Annualized Capital Cost: 

Annualized Capital Cost Asset Type Useful Lives Factor 40-foot Bus 12 years .126 Pavement 20 years .094 Rail Cars 25 years .086 Track, Electric, Structures 30 years .081 Land 100 years .070 “Factors” math is the same as for a 7% mortgage for the designated number of years of life.

Benefits: 

Benefits “User Benefits” and “New Passengers” are outputs of transportation planning models, which must be approved by FTA. “Cost per New Passenger” was implemented because Feds believed the same riders were being shifted to more expensive transit modes, for no real transportation benefit. Change was made to “new” metric because opponents of many “new starts” projects were using “cost per new passenger” values to show it would be cheaper to lease each new rider a car – often a luxury car.

Example of Cost/New Passenger Confusion: 

Example of Cost/New Passenger Confusion “Frankly, light rail is very expensive. With respect to virtually all new systems, it would have been less expensive to lease each new commuter a car in perpetuity – in some cases, a luxury car, such as a Jaguar XJ8 or a BMW 740i.” – Wendell Cox, 2000 “This one is a real howler. To put it into perspective, a new BMW 740i goes for $62,900. APTA estimates that approximately 13,000,000 people use transit on a typical weekday. 13,000,000 times $62,900 would be $817.7 billion – almost half of the annual federal budget.” Paul M. Wyerich and William S. Lind

This response is extremely disquieting – while the difference between “cost per passenger” and “cost per new passenger” may not be readily apparent to lay persons, for people who are set forward as experts by the primary public transit industry association in the U.S. to not understand the distinction is somewhat akin to listening to a sermon by a priest who has never heard of the Ten Commandments. And then for that industry association to actually publish this comment under its own name, …: 

This response is extremely disquieting – while the difference between “cost per passenger” and “cost per new passenger” may not be readily apparent to lay persons, for people who are set forward as experts by the primary public transit industry association in the U.S. to not understand the distinction is somewhat akin to listening to a sermon by a priest who has never heard of the Ten Commandments. And then for that industry association to actually publish this comment under its own name, …

The Role of Transportation Modeling: 

The Role of Transportation Modeling Transportation Modeling, as performed for purposes including “new starts” projects refinement and analysis, is a highly complex process that can be almost impossible for lay persons, or even transportation decision-makers, to understand. The “cost per user benefit” metric, and even the older “cost per new passenger” metric, are also often very difficult for even some people who should know better to comprehend.

The State of the Art in Transportation Modeling: 

The State of the Art in Transportation Modeling Not good. Following are from a presentation the 2004 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, by James Ryan, FTA Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning, who was, in essence, the FTA “chief modeling techie.”

Results from the 1990 Assessment of Ridership Forecasts: 

Results from the 1990 Assessment of Ridership Forecasts

Results from the Updated Assessment of Ridership Forecasts: 

Results from the Updated Assessment of Ridership Forecasts

Other Problems with Plans: 

Other Problems with Plans Case Study – Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus Rapid Transit “Orange Line” The entire “transportation” reason for a $325+ Million, 13-mile Guideway Bus Rapid Transit, instead of Rapid Bus – which does not have any exclusive/ semi exclusive guideway and would have cost <$500,000 per mile– was to save run time. Or was it?

Problems with Construction Cost Projections: 

Problems with Construction Cost Projections There have been many cases of very significant cost overruns on transit guideway projects. While, in recent years, the cost increases following the execution of a “Full Funding Grant Agreement” between the Federal government and the grantee, have been moderated greatly (but not completely), there have still been major problems with increases between the first and most important decision point – which is usually when the voters are asked to approve a tax for transit facility construction – and the ultimate construction cost. The following page shows one of the most massive such cost increases for a transit guideway.

What are the Costs – and Impacts – of Attempting to Increase Transit Ridership by Alternative Means?: 

What are the Costs – and Impacts – of Attempting to Increase Transit Ridership by Alternative Means? Over the past 25 years, Los Angeles has been a huge case study re the impact of radically different transit investment programs. From FY82-FY85, a program of rolling back the then 85¢ cash fare to 50¢ produced a 40+% ridership increase in three years, by far the most successful such demonstration in modern American transit history. Over the next 11 years, to FY96, the fare was increased back to 85¢, then to $1.10, and finally to $1.35, as over 60% of the MTA transit subsidies went for rail construction and operations – and ridership fell.

What are the Costs – and Impacts – of Attempting to Increase Transit Ridership by Alternative Means (concluded)?: 

What are the Costs – and Impacts – of Attempting to Increase Transit Ridership by Alternative Means (concluded)? At the end of December, 1996, MTA entered into a Consent Decree to settle a Federal Title VI (discrimination in the utilization of Federal Funds) lawsuit, requiring it to drop the price of monthly passes back to $42, add bus service to relieve the most overcrowded buses of any major U.S. city, and add new routes. Ridership rose quickly and substantially, despite MTA efforts to fight the implementation of what it had agreed to do all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – and losing in every one of the seven decisions along the way.

The “Efficient Frontier”: 

The “Efficient Frontier” Before beginning a search for new solutions, first see how you are doing now. The following graph shows subsidy per passenger and subsidy per passenger-mile for the 24 largest bus operators in the U.S. The next one shows the cost per new boarding (not rider) for the main MTA guideway transit lines and for bus.

If Light Rail and Other Expensive Guideway Transit Projects Produce Such Negative Results, Than Why Are So Many Areas So Interested In Them?: 

If Light Rail and Other Expensive Guideway Transit Projects Produce Such Negative Results, Than Why Are So Many Areas So Interested In Them? Answer: A failed syllogism.

The Failed Syllogism: 

The Failed Syllogism If we do nothing, things will get worse. Building rail is doing something. Therefore, we must build rail.

Really, Really, Really Bad Romantic Poetry: 

Really, Really, Really Bad Romantic Poetry If I had forever, my darling, I could convince you of my love. But, my darling, I must be off to battle in the morning, so we do not have forever. Since we may never have tomorrow, let us reap the glory of our love tonight.

Edited Version: 

Edited Version If I had enough time, I could convince you to do it.

Edited Version (continued): 

Edited Version (continued) If I had enough time, I could convince you to do it. I don’t have enough time.

Edited Version (concluded): 

Edited Version (concluded) If I had enough time, I could convince you to do it. I don’t have enough time. Therefore, let’s do it.

Cost and Related Considerations: 

Cost and Related Considerations Will it Work? Is it the Best Option? Can we Afford to Build it? Can we Afford to Operate it? Will it Negatively Impact Other Transportation System Components? Schedule – How Long to Get It Going? Risk – Financial, Schedule, Political, Technical, Management?

How Much Should Light Rail Cost?: 

How Much Should Light Rail Cost? “In most cases, Light Rail should not cost more than $20 million per mile.” Weyrich/Lind, page 42

How About Operating Costs?: 

How About Operating Costs? “The Critics also claim that buses cost less than rail. This is true of capital costs, but not of operating costs” Weyrich/Lind, page 18 If one examines national statistics, or those for bus and rail for most transit operators, one will generally find that the average bus cost and subsidy per passenger and per passenger-mile are slightly higher than those for rail. However, the main reason for this is that the capital costs for rail are so large that no one but a fool would ever build a new rail transit line anywhere but on a heavily utilized transit corridor.

How About Operating Costs (continued)?: 

How About Operating Costs (continued)? If one compares comparable types of transit service in comparable transit corridors – for example, if light rail is presented as a grade-separated guideway with one station per mile, consider the same type of bus service – one generally finds that bus is, at worst, extremely competitive and, very often, will have a huge operating cost/subsidy advantage. And this is only on the operating side – it is almost impossible to come up with any type of bus transit guideway that costs even half the cost of a rail line with comparable service characteristics. And there is the “mean is not the median” factoid.

How About Operating Costs (concluded)?: 

How About Operating Costs (concluded)? The following slide shows the cost per passenger for every bus line the Los Angeles MTA operated in that year. As might be expected, it costs more to carry passengers on some lines than others. Note that the mean, the overall system-wide bus system average, is $1.76 per passenger – but this is the 69th percentile cost, which means that over two-thirds of the rides cost less. The median – the ride in the middle – cost $1.62, far less. Move important, the 30th percentile ride cost $1.41, the 20th percentile ride cost $1.22, and the 10th percentile ride cost $1.10 – and this is not as low as bus can go. When you properly compare rail to highly productive bus lines, rail is rarely less expensive to operate, and light rail very rarely is.

How Bad Are Commutes – Really?: 

How Bad Are Commutes – Really? We all hear about how overcrowded our roads are getting and how trips are taking longer. The following slide shows the home-to-work trip lengths for greater LA, the poster child for traffic congestion, from 1967 to 2003 – over this 36 year period, the average increased 5.1 minutes – 21%, from 24.0 to 29.1 minutes. Human beings are outstanding at adjusting to changes. As their travel situation changes, they change – new routes, move closer to work, new job closer to home, employer moves to where there are more workers, etc. There is, most certainly, a road capacity problem in this nation – but overall home-to-work commute times are not increasing significantly.

How Bad Are Commutes – Really? II: 

How Bad Are Commutes – Really? II When you get into the detail, what you do tend to find is that the increase in the average for any area is due, in large part, to the “super-commuters” – those who are taking advantage of the addition of the third box to answer the “commute-to-work minutes” survey question. There are a variety of reasons for this, but, in many communities, a major cause is the lack of affordable housing – including affordable “upper middle class” housing – within reasonable commute distances from jobs.

How Bad Are Commutes – Really? III: 

How Bad Are Commutes – Really? III “Controllable” Causes of Higher Housing Costs Include: Restrictions on Development Extensive, Time-Consuming, Risky, and Expensive Application/Approval Processes “Green Belts” and “Agricultural Preserves” Affordable Housing Requirements Rent Control Development Fees Excessive Real Estate and Real Estate Transfer Taxes So-Called “Smart Growth” Policies Failure to Provide/Allow Required Infrastructure

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