Ridership Analysis of SMART DEIR 

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                                An Express Bus System
  (financed by less than 
  1/2 of the Capital expenditure and
  1/2 Operating cost of SMART), 

  is a  more COST-EFFECTIVE solution to
  both Marin's Traffic Congestion AND Sonoma's.
  Unfortunately the DEIR does not explore this  alternative.  
  There is nothing in this document that
                            can come close to refuting this.


 
In the DEIR on 4. PROJECT ALTERNATIVES
http://www.sonoma-county.org/sctainfo/pdf/smart/deir_%20ch4_project_alternatives.pdf

page 4-20: there is  no attempt to include a common sense Express Bus Alternative. Include Express Bus service from Sonoma to the City and an equivalent EXPENDITURE on Express Bus as that on SMART. A glaring omission in the chart at the end of this section page(4-44) is the COST (capital and operating) of each alternative.

 
The following excerpts are from the Express Bus Alternative section:

"The Express Bus Alternative assumes the service pattern of Golden Gate Transit service from Sonoma and Marin Counties to San Francisco and the East Bay will generally remain consistent with that which was in place in 2001"

 
"the amount of service provided will reflect approximately a 15 percent increase as compared to 2001 levels."

 
"The 12 commuter routes would have two trips per peak period in the peak direction".

 
Any expenditure close to 1/4 of that which would be made on SMART, would provide dozens more buses,  expanded (and more) Park&Ride bus stops and would enable far more trips than 2 per route at peak. No mention is made of the cost of a REAL Express Bus Alternative relative to the cost of SMART.
SMART's feeble Express bus Alternative has ignored the most cost-effective solution to Marin's AND Sonoma's Traffic Congestion, is deliberately misleading and irrelevant.

An Ex BART Director's Comments on SMART:

Here below is what I wrote on SMART DEIR. What you people have written
is excellent in analyzing the DEIR but I feel there is a big void in the
DEIR in that it does not delve into current land use and development and
operation that will have important effects that the DEIR does not get
into.

I also add to the Bus Alternative in that it can provide for
decent future development of Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
 with minimum parking where it is important to again promote decent land use that is coordinated to transit.

Say hello to Joy Dahlgren for me. If you are attending TRB, I hope to
see you there. I am on TRBs Planning and public transportation committee.

Roy Nakadegawa Pe 
(Roy on TRB.org
 : 
http://trb.org/directory/organization_detail.asp?c=8645 )

My Comments on SMART as currently proposed:

Most of SMART DEIR deals with transportation like travel times and
ridership but little on land use and development. The importance of land
development and use is just as important as the various operating
aspects of the various details in the DEIR and the success of the project.

Since rail is a fixed route system and typically the route of an old
rail line served primarily freight, its alignment is usually through an
old industrial and warehouse areas that has few residences or is in the
“across the track” type low income housing. So for the lack of
residential density to gain access for the general populace to use rail
need to use other modes than walking, which is usually a major problem.

So how much redevelopment and rezoning already exists is a very important consideration and not necessarily how various cities are seriously
planning to redevelop around the proposed stations?

Since the rail frequency is to be 30 minutes only during peak periods
with 2 mid-day trips this project is essentially a commuter system.
Operating commuter transit is more expensive than a system that provides
good all day ridership in that the hours of operating the system will be
so long it requires two shifts if the pay is based on the conventional 8
hour/day. So to operate over the 8 hour period raises operating cost
considerably.

Another observation is that the more successful commuter rail systems
serves a destination of a relative large city that SMART does not
.
Therefore only a small number of riders would use the system, which
makes for more expensive operation.

The common thought (presented by media and SMART advocates) says SMART will relieve congestion but comparing 20 year projections of traffic
indicates SMART ridership is insignificant to affect this.

In my 32 years as a Transit Director and involved in traffic over 45 years in
Public Works with portion as a City Traffic Engineer and a Professional
Engineer, I have never experienced transit to ever relieve congestion.
On the contrary transit ridership increases as congestion increases.

(Marininfo's explanation of this is that congestion increases only if development is ALLOWED to increase. The fact that development has always preceded the transportation needed to sustain it, explains the anomalous correlation between freeway expansion and congestion increase. In addition Hwy101 is the ONLY alternative for Sonoma-Marin commuters. There can be no side-street traffic choosing to take the freeway instead.)

The success of any transit system and especially a commuter line is what
kind of development exists and one should not include future plans
for the plans may not ever materialize
. If the planned development never happens the community will be stuck with low ridership and high
operating costs that would be a difficult burden to continue providing.

But nonetheless the communities still should plan with denser multiuse
nodes if any transit is desired for better service, frequency, less
consumption of energy and improvement to our environment.

As mentioned there will be access problems to the stations and SMART
proposes local shuttle buses to serve the rail but obviously this will
require a transfer and a wait of up to 10 minutes. Universally transit
riders do not like to transfer.

Bus Alternative

There are some very successful Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) operations that do not require passengers to transfer at a Bus Station just prior to the bus using the; Busway, freeway with HOV, or with HOT lanes as in New Jersey, Ottawa, Canada, Pittsburgh, PA Miami, FL and Houston TX .

These buses serve local neighborhoods first  and when buses get to the station they merely enter the preferential bus lane since they can operate more flexibly than rail.

The buses speedily take the passengers onto their destination usually
speedier than rail because the buses will only make few stops at
intervening stations since most riders are already onboard buses when
they get to the various stations. .So buses operate express without
making any stops except at various major nodal activity stations before
getting to city center or unless the rider requests a stop.

NJ transports over 40,000 riders per hour, Ottawa 20,000, Pittsburgh
10,000. During mid-day, riders usually require transferring to the
express buses that are assigned to operate on the preferential route and
many operates every 20-30+ minutes and not just 2 trips mid-day.

Another advantage of using buses is that the service can be gradually
upgraded by implementing more bus priority facilities to gradually be an
exclusive bus only facility that can even eventually be converted into a
rail system.

About access and parking:

BART has a problem of developing good Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in that BART has so much parking (46,000 spaces) which is a burden
just to maintain, light and patrol.
The station parking is located next to where a dense mixed-use TOD should be so the parking makes it difficult to convert to a decent TOD without
moving the parking.

A TOD could be the stimulus for areawide denser development where ridership from the area could easily offset the parking but BART Directors are reluctant to do this fearing the loss of riders and are prone to old conventional thinking.

One could require the developer to fund feeder transit in lieu of replacing existing parking on a 1 for 1 basis as currently required or build expensive structured parking to make room for development. After all if one examines most rail transit stations in Europe and Japan parking for transit users is not provided and their ridership is far greater than US urban rail systems.

It would be a easier to develop decent size TODs using Buses initially that requires minimum parking. With good nodal density at stations, this would ensure a viable system with better all day transit usage. Also in the future as this gradual denser development at the stations takes
place, the system can be eventually converted into a rail system, if
desired.


MTC Plans for Express Bus from Santa Rosa to the city will negate any need for rail.  And look how cheap it is
(they call it Rapid Bus but its not. Rapid Bus would have a lane totally devoted to bus).

See also StopSMART.org

FIGURE 5.4-2 2025 MORNING PEAK PERIOD RIDERSHIP FOR WINDSOR TO SAN RAFAEL ALTERNATIVE
Page 43
Travel Demand Forecasting Report

So at morning peak (for 3 hours 6am-9am), in 2025:-

Commuters OUT of Marin to Sonoma are 78      (32+43+11+34-17-6-19)

Arrivals from Sonoma  are 149
(111 are Marin southbound)

This is the Sonoma Congestion we are removing from the freeway southbound in 2025 !   --  FORGET IT !

(The 191 from Mike, below, is the less likely Alternative Cloverdale to Larkspur)


The 149 is calculable from the  chart above.   The southbound OFF total for Marin is 118 + 96 + 11 + 35 = 260 (between North Novato and Civic Center).   But also some Marin folks, too, are traveling southbound. The Southbound Marinites are those in the ON column 46 + 40 + 25 = 111 (also between North Novato and Civic Center).  

The difference, 149, is Sonoma folks who are alighting at Marin stations (between 6am and 9am).
 

Mike Arnold,
Marin Citizens for Effective Transportation
:

Our
Preliminary Analysis of
the SMART Design Review,
which is incredible for what it doesn't tell the public and just as incredible for what it does tell the public. 
Appendix I is filled with little gems that
show what a crock the train is for Marin.  
This is  the DEIR numbers:

  1. 108 people will take 7 trains to Larkspur in the morning rush hours or 15 people per train.  
  2. Only 191 Sonoma residents will ride the train to Marin in the morning rush on 7 trains.  
  3. SMART predicts 3x as many riders will take the one midday train as the peak hour trains.  (Yep, they made it up.  Did they think I wouldn't look?)  
  4. 15% of the ridership are Marin Co. residents.  33% of the cost is paid by Marin Co.  
  5. The extension to Larkspur increases ridership by 1/3 over the MOS alternative, but if you look closely, it's the extension from Windsor to Cloverdale that generates the additional riders, not to Larkspur.  
  6. According to SMART figures ---AND IF YOU ASSUME NONE OF THESE ARE FORMER
    BUS RIDERS -- only about 200 cars will be taken out of the southbound morning commute on hwy 101 over a 3+ hour peak period.  Capacity of a freeway lane is about 2,000 cars/hr. Take 200/3 = 67.  With 3 lanes.  That's about 45 seconds of traffic.   Since some of these riders would be coming from buses, the actual effect on traffic is even less.  
  7. The DEIR cites capital costs of $340 million which is already over a year old and out of date by at least 5%.  (Net effect $17 million).  Operating expenses of 10-13 million don't include the higher costs of energy because they were calculated prior to the run-up  in energy prices.  The bus shuttles touted in the DEIR are not budgeted in the Expenditure Plan and based on conservative cost figures cost about twice as  much or $2Million/year, not $1M/year budgeted.   
  8. SMART likes to claim the "annual operating costs are $10-13Million".  Funny how this  number doesn't pencil out to the $32 million/year they intend to raise from sales taxes.  The difference is in debt expenses.  Yep, SMART plans to spend over 50% of every tax dollar raised on debt costs, not transportation improvements.  
  9. Read carefully how they specified the alternative express bus routes.  Notice that there are no additional routes for buses into SF.  When I asked a SMART representative why they did this, the answer was "it wouldn't be fair."  To whom?  

$4Million dollars and months of delay for a document that is so inadequate that the Board should be embarrassed to have issued it.    
Mike Arnold   Co-chair, MCET

The public has until Jan. 23 to comment on the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit draft environmental document. SMART document is online click on TRAVEL DEMAND FORECASTING REPORT

Comments may be submitted to SMART, attention Lillian Hames, 4040 Civic Center Drive, Suite 200, San Rafael, Ca. 94903 or by email at nwest@sonomamarintrain.org
Copies can be ordered on CD from SMART. Hard copies are available for
$60 to cover printing and shipping.

Two public hearings are scheduled to take public comment:
6 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 575 Administration Drive in Santa Rosa, and
9 a.m. on Jan. 21 at the Marin County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael.

For more information, call 415-492-2857.

Or the report can be viewed at the following locations:

  • Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District, 4040 Civic Center Drive, Suite 200, San Rafael,
  • Civic Center Library, 3501 Civic Center Drive, room 414, San Rafael,
  • Santa Rosa Central Library, 211 E Street, Santa Rosa,
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission Library, 101 8th St., Oakland.

MarinInfo's comments on SMART RAIL - click for more info  

Typical of the misinformation SMART has been propagating up till now and something that the Sonoma people need to know more than Marinites. It is necessary to have an analysis demonstrating how an EXPRESS BUS alternative more cost effectively reduces traffic congestion in Sonoma as well as Marin.

One of our main requests of SMART was to thoroughly compare all the different options and scenarios of an EXPRESS BUS alternative. It looks like they have totally avoided or suppressed this .

Folks, pass this on to all the Sonomans you know.

An EXPRESS BUS alternative reduces traffic congestion more than rail. Money spent on SMART will change congestion minimally as it is diverted away from an express-bus-on-freeway alternative that far more cost-effectively reduces congestion.
 

 MARIN 101 GAP CLOSURE PROJECT (That's Hwy 101 between San Pedro North and Larkspur )   PUERTO SUELLO HILL SEGMENT.

CONTACT INFORMATION
Jit Pandher, Project Manager/Caltrans (510)  286-6425
Dianne Steinhauser, Executive Director/Transportation Authority of  Marin
(415) 507-4176

WHAT'S BEING PLANNED
The California Department of Transportation  (Caltrans) and the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM)   From south of the Coleman Pedestrian overcrossing  to North San Pedro Road, will construct High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV = Carpool) lanes  -  requires widening the freeway in the west side and will result in the reconstruction of an existing sound wall.  
Construction is expected to begin in January 2007
.

In addition, there is a proposed north-south multi-use path from Mission Avenue to Merrydale Road .   

                     Marin's CONGESTION MANAGEMENT PLAN   

        MarinInfo's Congestion Relief PLAN
There is a possibility that INFILL development might be allowed on up to 373 acres of Marin land.

This includes submerged parcels next to the Quarry. Parkland in Marinwood .

 

 


Questions? info@MarinInfo.org