"" bshawise: Legacy

Thursday, October 8, 2009


This is just about the most depressing thing ever.

Based on our history I fear this will never happen...


Anonymous said...

If they could make it happen in Phoenix, the least public transit friendly city in the US, they can do it in Cincy. It's been a huge boon here so far, especially in taking development dollars that would have gone to yet another leapfrog subdivision that bulldozes a citrus grove, and put it in the central core. But despite the success (they have blown away all expected ridership estimates by a huge margin), many still call it a failure because like all public transit, it doesn't completely pay for itself. And some people are still absolutely wedded to the idea that cars are the only way to get around (and they ignore that endless freeways do not pay for themselves either).

bshawise said...

"they ignore that endless freeways do not pay for themselves either."

that's a brilliant statement.

Anonymous said...

I was looking at some of the links you have about the proposed streetcar. Interesting that they bring up Portland and some other examples, but not Phoenix. I would propose that if it is working here, it really can work anywhere. The political battle over building the $1.4 billion light rail was huge. This is the land of Barry Goldwater, and people here are major NIMBYs who hate government paying for anything other than persecuting Mexicans. Now those people scramble for any excuse to try to argue against what the nearly one year old rail has shown--public transit will be ridden (even in a city that easily hits 110 degrees in the summer). It has spurred development along the line. Fortunately, ASU's president got in on this and opened a downtown ASU campus, which is linked to the main campus by rail. This all came together with a biotech campus downtown. The synergy is bringing some major economic development into Phoenix proper, as opposed to a far flung suburb. Rail isn't the only cause, but it's a major contributing factor.

Portland is kind of a bad comparison for most places because the thinking in that city is light years ahead of most cities. Portlanders started thinking about environmental, development, and transit issues about 2 or 3 decades ago. They don't have sprawl issues, but it's not as much due to transit as it is their foresight in imposing urban growth boundaries, which have forced the city to grow up rather than out. This was important in increasing density, which makes public transit even more attractive and successful. One thing not touched on in the discussions of Portland (at least in one of the videos I saw), is how many people hate what the streetcar did to downtown Portland. It runs right in the middle of the lane that cars go down, which makes traffic a nightmare in downtown if you are driving a car. The lesson to be learned from Portland is that you need a dedicated right of way for rail. Or if rail goes down the middle of a street, close that street to cars.

I don't know the discussion in Cincy, but so much of it here was centered on people opposing government subsidizing businesses to relocate along the rail line. This completely ignored that government already subsidizes businesses (particularly homebuilders) by building freeways out in the middle of nowhere, encouraging development to go out to the freeways. Meanwhile, there are acres and acres of vacant land in the middle of the 5th largest city in the US.

Rondell said...

Y'all need to be getting your a$$es up on over to my blog to enter into the competition I got going on!

tyler said...

Dear Anonymous.

What would it take for you to fly to Cincinnati with friends, laptops and PPT presentations in tow and show Cincinnati what's up? Having our mayor and his delegation put in THOUSANDS of hours of research and homework isn't really sinking in. People that have probably never read a single article are the real authority in SW Ohio... have been for years.

I wonder what kind of information has been presented to the public and HOW it's been presented. I'd like to see how Phoenix did it, and if it's similar to our approach. I think the general public sees too many numbers pulled out of context. The fight has begun against the 3C's train (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati) because of the price tag. A proposed $550MM. Yes, a lot of money, but a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend on roads, but no one sees that... or they don't want to see that. A recently approved project to redo the Brent Spence Bride (1-75/71) is into the billions of dollars. That's one project... granted, a big one, but one project nonetheless.

Dallas even has a light rail. Dallas! That's the same place that wants to make Chuck Norris their president when they secede.

Cincinnati has beaten back against the tide for too long. Time to introduce a sensible and thorough option to transportation. How people sit in traffic twice a day boggles the mind. And the street car is just a very small part of it. Light rail, efficient bus lines (SORTA sucks bad, like real bad) and zoning regulations should've been in place long ago.

Anonymous said...

When they passed the proposition to fund light rail in Phoenix (with a .4% sales tax increase), I was in school in Tucson so I'm not entirely sure what they did to convince voters to approve it. But I know that the proposition was not only to increase sales tax to fund light rail, but also for more freeways and increase bus service. So I guess part of how they did it was by wrapping light rail in with freeway improvements that car advocates wanted. The naysayers are still arguing why it's a waste, and actively trying to stop any future expansion to ensure that the light rail fails, but I think people are starting to realize it actually works. Initially, everyone said it was a novelty, and once that wore off, nobody but homeless people seeking some free a/c would ride. A year later and the thing is packed right now as I watch it cruise in front of my office building.

Phoenix has had notoriously poor civic stewardship for decades, but somehow they managed to get it right for once. I guess I shouldn't say just Phoenix because the whole thing was put forward by MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) which is a group of several municipalities in the County.

I'm not really familiar enough with Cincinnati to know how to convince people it would work. I assume that since it's an older city, it has an actual urban core from pre-auto days. That's a huge plus already because rail works best with density. The thing that worked well here was the construction of park and ride lots on the ends of the line. There are suburbs here that are 45-50 miles away from downtown. By having a park and ride lot so people could pick up the train in Mesa (about 15 miles from downtown), the thing was immediately seen as more useful to some people.

Another benefit, although viewed as less so by the average person, is the community building it brings. Instead of sitting in your car listening to the radio, you actually talk to strangers. There is some theater group that puts on plays in the train once a month. There's another group that books a band to play one trip on the train on Fridays. It's brought some culture and character into a place generally viewed as devoid of all culture. These aren't really going to sell my grandpa on public rail, but they are a great benefit that I believe shouldn't be ignored.

Seriously, I'd track down Skip Rimsza, who was Phoenix's mayor at the time who was instrumental in getting light rail passed here. Here's an article I found where he talks a little about it. You can scroll through some comments to discover that when Ohioans who have never read an article leave Ohio, they end up in AZ.