Bart Director & County Superv. on RAIL 

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I too  believe we have gone overboard for  Rail. As a matter of fact, I had a commentary published in one of your Marin County papers that opposed the Rail plan

Overall I strongly believe we are overly optimistic of what rail will accomplish and are spending too much on people's imaginary vision on benefits of rail.

... of Sierra Club's Statement on Transportation.   I am for updating it and it should be presented for overall review to the membership or at least to the various subcommittees that sponsored it originally.  I would like to include more words on cost effectiveness with transit alternatives that provide convenience, utilize less energy, improve our environment, and include social equity

We will have congestion because it is a product of growth and if we allow added development in keeping with population increase with additional development being auto oriented, it actually accelerates and compounds this problem.  So expanding our highways, if it needs to be done, should be based on a committed long term comprehensive regional plan.

Why did MTC lose their case of increasing transit use only 15% over a period of 10 years since 1992.  MTC allocated billions for transit but they spent it on very costly ineffective rail that does not provide convenient transit nor generate large numbers of riders.

Roy Nakadegawa PE
BART Director, District 3

 

Folks,
I'm encouraged that our local Government has a handle on transportation cost-effectiveness.
But I'm concerned that the voting public may not. (a history of wasted billions on rail). Just hope the knowing politicians and experts are motivated to get the message across. (With our help?)
to quote Roy Nakadegawa PE, BART DIRECTOR:-
"MTC should cater to land use development with gradual transit upgrades in stages from:-
1. Initially an arterial trunk line bus service to
2. BRT or express bus service and only subsequently to 
3. Busway (or rail)".
Thankyou Steve Kinsey, Marin County Supervisor
Alan

-----Original Message-----  With MY Highlights 
From: Steve Kinsey [mailto:skinsey@co.marin.ca.us] MARIN COUNTY SUPERVISOR
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2002 11:42 AM
To: 'Alanscotch'
Subject:

Dear Mr. Scotch,

Thank you for your observations on cost effective transportation. I, too, would like our County and our region to utilize performance measures when considering our major transportation investments.  MTC is currently doing just that to help prioritize which projects should be funded through a toll increase on State-owned bridges, and in the next update of the Regional Transportation Plan(RTP) greater use of performance measures to guide our planning is expected.

As for your concern that MTC funds projects which are not the most cost effective, please understand that sometimes there are forces at work which MTC has no control over regarding transportation investments. For example, in 1999-2000, MTC evaluated a wide range of transit alternatives, and issued a document we called our ďBlueprint for the 21st CenturyĒ. In it, express bus service on upgraded HOV lanes was identified as the most cost effective expansion in the 101 corridor through Marin and Sonoma. In the South-Bay, the Blueprint identified a combination of bus and light rail improvements as more economically advantageous than extending BART to San Jose.  Almost before the ink was dry on that report, the Governor produced his Traffic Congestion Relief Plan(TCRP) which funded SMART in the northbay and BART to San Jose in the south bay. Later that year, voters in Santa Clara passed a local bond measure which committed another $2 billion dollars to the BART extension. Given those actions, MTC could not tell the Governor and the voters to go away.

Interestingly, these kinds of political manipulations are not limited to high powered politicians and corporate lobbyists. BATLUC, a highly regarded citizen advocacy group with a strong track record of assisting east bay bus users and a spectrum of social justice organizations in being more effective, came out in support of SMART in the northbay, completely at variance with their own program supporting bus rapid transit everywhere else in the bay area.  I mention these examples to simply illustrate that common sense analysis is not always sufficient to prevail in final decisions.

Another mode with a similar tale is ferry expansion.  MTC cautioned that ferries are often not the most cost effective mode, and recommended very limited expansion.  A single interest group of ferry buffs was able to convince the State legislature to disregard MTCís advice and the Water Transit Authority  was created by statute and given $12million dollars to design a major system expansion. Happily, in the intervening two years, the WTA has paid attention to performance analyses similar to those that MTC originally utilized, and accordingly, they have greatly reduced their expansion wish list.

Having said all of this, I still appreciate your encouragement to strive for such discipline as we move our transportation system planning and investment forward. For your information, as Marinís representative to MTC, I will do my best to advocate for planning and investment that is cost effective and benefits from the experience of other regions. I did attend the UCLA conference on congestion, and I try to inform myself of other studies that become available. Furthermore, I serve on the Board of Directors of AMPO, providing me with additional opportunity to find out what other regions are doing.

In reading your email, I see that you are informing yourself on this complex topic. I encourage you to engage in Marinís transportation planning more directly if you have time. Through our Congestion Management Agency(CMA), many important decisions affecting our community get made. The CMA meets publicly at the Civic Center on the 4th Thursday of the month at 7:30PM. The Executive Committee meetings are also open, occurring at 10:30AM on the third Wednesday of the month. If meetings arenít your thing, there are other ways that you can contribute to shaping Marinís transportation policies, and Iíd be pleased to describe those further if you would like.

Thanks again for your interest in our community,

Steve Kinsey

   

-----Original Message-----
From: Alanscotch [mailto:alanscotch@attbi.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 07, 2002 5:14 AM
To: info@mtc.ca.gov
Subject: for MTC - Rail versus Bus, BRT & Busway

To
MTC Commissioners and Staff
Attn: Doug Kimsey, at 101 Eighth St., Oakland, CA 94607;
via e-mail to info@mtc.ca.gov.

Comments on MTC 2002 RTP Amendments

The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) which I assume
MTC is a member,  is recommending to Congress on the TEA 21 reauthorization to include:
1. Provisions for greater system performance criteria with funding to institute it; 
2. More focus on Metropolitan Transportation planning with more flexible funding; and 
3. Increasing the Capacity and Accountability of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO)s. 

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which MTC is a member,
 is recommending for TEA21 reauthorization similar policies and conditions as AMPO. 

In addition, they stress:

         improving the Planning Process with Public Involvement;

         Strengthening MPOs;

         Consolidate planning factors;

         Promote land use/transit linkages;

         Improve the New Start Criteria and Rankings;

         Coordinate human services with transportation policies; and

         extend benefits of transit commutes to ALL workers.
  
Of these AMPO and APTA recommendations to TEA 21 reauthorizations ,
most member agencies are trying or hoping to apply them in their planning and administration.

Projects that MTC has approved are not in keeping with what is being recommended by
AMPO and APTA. 
Many are ineffective, very expensive projects with
high estimated cost per trip per new rider  and  they take many years to
construct and put in service.  Some projects underestimated cost,
underestimated use and required greater operating subsidy resulting
in
cuts in bus service.

Viewing current and past MTC Blueprints there were many projects that had
much lower cost per trip that benefited a more diverse ridership but
MTC
ignored these projects and chose the more popular and costly ones.
  I am
glad to see, however, in the planned adjusted updated RTP, it includes
several of these low cost per trip projects.   I thought overall MTC had
and was following Performance and Cost Effectiveness Standards and
Criteria but evidently MTC is swayed by  mis-informed public opinion, too much.  (altered) 

There recently was a UCLA Public Policy Symposium held at Lake
Arrowhead that several MTC Staff and Commissioners also attended titled
"Tackling Traffic Congestion".  This Symposium covered comprehensively
the problems of congestion; its causes; the economic implications;
induced and latent demands; environmental impacts; pricing; use of ITS;
and management. 

Several speakers mentioned the need to examine and implement improvements on a cost and
performance basis,
for
many projects are outweighing the benefits in cost.
They are not the most cost-effective solutions. Especially true with rail projects.

I ask MTC to face the realty that there is no solution to congestion peaks. They can only be shortened in duration and only where roadway expansion is correlated to development . 


I ask MTC to know that
rail is the most inflexible transit mode. It has access problems for low density sprawl. Rail primarily requires auto access with extensive parking. 

MTC has shown a propensity towards Rail or BART projects by prematurely authorizing specific studies for the acquisition of rail Right-of-Way into low density suburbs.  If a study is to be made, MTC could have authorized a pre-emptive study to determine what is the most cost-effective transit mode that provides the best accessibility, improving our environment at the least cost and greatest quality of life. 

By authorizing a study for the purchase of a rail Right-of-Way, MTC is pre-judging
the transit mode and not considering many other potential and vital
developmental conditions we need to consider for our future.


The application of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) with its many elements is flexible, versatile and proven to be cost-effective. One can use local buses in low density areas and after the bus gathers riders in the neighborhood and enters an arterial that is heavily used, BRT can take over. 

Where congestion exists on an arterial, various BRT elements can be applied.

BRT has proven to greatly increase ridership at relatively little cost. 

LA's Light Rail (LRT) Blue line which is currently about the highest carrying LRT in the country took around 10 years to develop a ridership of around 85,000 per day and it cost over $800 MM. 

In comparison LA's Wilshire Metro Rapid Bus has managed to double ridership to over 90,000 per day within a short 6 month period and cost around $10MM. 1/80th the cost of rail.

The advanced form of BRT is the Busway which has also proven to be very
effective in increasing ridership and invariably its cost is a fraction
of most rail projects.  Pittsburgh, PA 's MLK Busway, cost $17 MM per
mile and during peak periods carries riders equaling 2 freeway lanes
or 5 arterial lanes. It has over 10 local bus routes picking up riders in
the neighborhood and when the buses get to the arterial they merely enter
the Busway saving riders from having to transfer.  They then transport
them to major destinations along the Busway.

The overall trip time is usually shorter than an overall BART trip.  A
comparable BART trip entails, catching a local bus or driving  to BART, then waiting
for the train, with longer stops.  Driving to BART pollutes the air and adds to local congestion.

(A car takes up 300 sqr.feet, that could be developed for better use)

Since most busway stations do not provide acres of parking like suburban
BART stations, it allows immediate Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
around stations. In the last 30 years, BART has not been successful in developing TOD around Stations, though they have tried. 


Ottawa, Canada has a grade separated Busway over most of its routes, with
many elaborate glass enclosed stations. It still cost 2/3 of a LRT.
It handles 200,000 trips per day to major destinations along the Busway
like Schools, University, Train Terminal, City Center and Government
Offices and operates similar to Pittsburgh.  From each direction into
central Ottawa the Busway each carries about 100,000 trips.  BART has 5
lines and not a single BART line carries 100,000 trips today.

Ottawa has exploited the nexus of land use and transit. Since most stations do not have parking, the areas around stations are readily developable, so Ottawa has attracted over 4 times the Busway's
construction cost with TODs around stations in a short period of 5 years.
Transit service is so convenient that 40% of Ottawans commute using public transit.  Prof. Cervero considers Ottawa's Busway the most cost effective transit project in North America.

At BART stations the land value of one parking space can be over $25,000 (property around some BART stations was purchased at over $85 per square foot). The public subsidy for one free parking space can range from $500 to over $2600 annually when including the capital,
maintenance and land value costs.  Alternatively low cost (or even free) feeder transit during peak commute periods produces development around the transit centers and can be car free
pedestrian areas that are so popular in many places in the US and around the world. 

MTC needs to re-evaluate the whole financial, human and environmental science of transit

Communities need to be informed not to make a giant step of little or no transit to a new Rail system which attracts relatively few riders thereby less cost-effective.  A "quantum jump in transit".

Experience shows that building a Rail or BART extension through areas that have little transit
does not generate much ridership while requiring considerable capital funds
plus considerable subsidies to operate for years. It took BART 25 years
to build a decent ridership at a level that most foreign Metro systems
would have within a couple of years.  The LRTs of San Jose have still to
show any decent ridership after 10 years of operation. 

The reason for the success of foreign metro and rail is that they have Corridor Density.
If communities desire a fixed route transit system like BART extensions
or LRT, they should already have corridor density to warrant rail. 

MTC should cater to land use development with gradual transit upgrades in stages:-

1. Initially an arterial trunk line bus service to

2. BRT or express bus service and only subsequently to

3. Busway (or rail).

Land use and development, as we all know, needs to be correlated to transportation. 

True, MTC has little regulatory powers over land use, however, I believe MTC can still have some degree of influence on how land use and development takes place by the way they administer and
coordinate funding for transportation projects. 

 

MTC can evaluate regional transportation applications similar to how the Federal Government
requires applicants to apply for funding.  If MTC develops more rigorous and relevant
standards and criteria to measure and evaluate requested transportation improvements it could save hundreds of millions of dollars (even billions) and still produce more public satisfaction. 

MTC should require data as to how Communities desiring transit or road improvement funds, meet MTC standards and criteria.  Data on;

         existing developed corridor or nodal density and its size,

         existing general plan and zoning, and

         past consistency and enforcement of the general plan along the corridor,

MTC can use this to evaluate how well communities are planning and developing
in keeping with the goals of their region and MTC.  Communities themselves
could also evaluate how well their desired type of transportation
improvements would fare for regional funding or what they would need to
do in land use or development in order for their improvement to qualify
for MTC's regional funds. 

Is MTC concerned with the viability of a transportation project AFTER its
constructed?  It is believed that there is a serious problem developing with VTA in
that they have extended so much of their transit funds to capital
projects that they have overlooked or ignored their operational funds and
are jeopardizing their day to day transit operation.


Similar funding problems have developed with about a dozen cities that
built rail transit across the country according to a report from the
Kennedy School on Government of Harvard on the impact of rail projects.
The study reported that excluding the capital cost, the overall operating
cost per transit trip after rail became operational is greater than
when they operated only buses. 

Since they spent so much to construct the rail system, these cities feel compelled to
keep it in operation.  To do this, they have cut back on their bus
service, but bus service invariably is the most widely used transit of
their system that serves most of the populace that needs transit
.

Alan

Extracted and amended from a letter written by

Roy Nakadegawa PE
BART Director, District 3
751 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA, 94707
Attachments;  SJX, OAC, and VTA

Thankyou Roy

(altered to the extent that Roy may not agree with some of it) 

 

   

Questions? info@MarinInfo.org