It's on SEMCOG's calendar.
It's on SEMCOG's calendar.
SEMCOG is, what, Griswold and Larned in the Buhl building I think. Short walk from any of the major downtown bus stops.
I did not know it was on Griswold. Honestly, I figured it was out in Livingston County somewhere ... :rolleyes:
This is my point about Detroit ALWAYS missing the boom. Every economic boom, Detroit somehow finds a way to miss the opportunity to get in on thr free money give away. We did alright during the end but why weren't our leaders trying to get Federal Transportation dollars when the government and banks were giving money away? To expect the government and banks to even get a dime these days is ridiculous. Government and private sector dollars are very scarce these days and now is not the time to try and get funding for anything. The country is cutting back. Even if the economy is gaining traction, people are still extremely leary about how they spend money.
I assume if our leaders were canvassing money back in 2006, there would be a good chance that some sort of a rail system would have been built by now. Whether it was partially finished before the economic bubble or just a light version of rail.Trust me, with regards to rail, nothing will happen for several years to come. Detroit has missed the bus AGAIN!
I think that you are misunderstanding our argument.
For the moment, let's put aside the discussion of a possible RTA, or the extremely unlikely concept of a regional rapid transit system, and focus on the viability of the fully-funded WWLR project.
The up-front capital was secured for the entire 9.3 mile stretch of Woodward, from downtown to 8 mile, not just the 3.4 mile stretch from downtown to New Center. This means that DDOT would completely eliminate the Woodward(53) bus line, and probably eliminate the portion of the Dexter(18) bus line that runs along Woodward and Cass (just one block west of Woodward), up to Grand Boulevard.
The approved DDOT budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 is just under $150 million, which pays for the operation and maintenance of the 48 bus routes operated within city limits by DDOT. This works out to an average annual cost of about $3.1 million per bus line. Of course, some bus lines will cost more to operate than others, but this gives us a ballpark figure to work with.
On April 11, 2011, Detroit City Council approved the sale of bonds to finance the WWLR project, which would be paid for with the previously discussed private and federal funding sources. The official document presented to city council spelled out the construction and operation costs of the WWLR line, along with the funding sources. The official estimated cost of operating the WWLR line was $12-$16 million annually, through the year 2030. The funding would consist of $2.8 million in estimated annual fare revenue, with the balance coming from federal, state, and city funds. It was estimated that the city would only have to contribute $2 million annually from the general fund.
According to the budget numbers from official city documents, it would cost the city about $2 million annually to operate the Woodward light rail line, but it would result (by my estimate) in a $3 million annual savings due to the elimination of the Woodward bus lines. This estimated decrease in annual operation cost is consistent with everything that I have ever read about the costs of light rail vs busses.
Even if these numbers are a little off, the annual cost of the WWLR line is extremely low, especially when put in context. Consider the fact that the city is giving the Detroit Zoo a $750,000 subsidy this year.
Bing and Snyder are claiming that we can't afford to operate a light rail line on Woodward, but all the numbers that I can find say that we can't afford to NOT operate a light rail line on Woodward.
The 2011-2012 budget that I took these numbers from doesn't break out revenue from bus fares. I found an independent breakdown of the DDOT budget from 2009 that showed DDOT fare revenue of $27,859,000.
Given the 48 bus lines operated by DDOT, that gives us an average annual receipt of about $580 thousand per line. I would expect that the Woodward line brings in an above-average amount of fares, so it would be reasonable to assume a fare revenue closer to a million bucks a year. Even assuming that, it brings the cost of running DDOT Woodward busses vs light rail to a wash.
Hell, even if there would be absolutely no savings garnered from the elimination of the Woodward bus lines (which certainly wouldn't be the case), and the city would have to come up with an extra $2 million a year to fund the Woodward light rail line, it is still a huge win. The total city budget for this year is a little over $3.1 BILLION dollars, and even with the current financial problems, this is a very small price to pay for a major mass transit upgrade.
There are several factual errors in some recent posts.
1. DDOT could not have eliminated the Woodward bus line for two reasons, at least. First of all the FTA will not fund a project if you are going to get operating funds by cannibalizing your existing service. Second of all the Woodward Light Rail would not serve the function of a local bus; it would have been a quicker trip from 8 Mile to any of the stops, but there were dozens or hundreds of stops it would not make, and you can't just eliminate local service.
2. The WWLR was never fully funded. The City would have had an opportunity to compete for New Starts funding, and in fact the FTA was bending over backwards to help us, but there was never one dollar in "guaranteed" federal money to build it. What killed it in the end was the City, cutting bus service repeatedly throughout the year, could not prove that it had the money to operate WWLR, because it did not.
I like light rail as much as anyone on the blog, but this project died a natural death; it wasn't killed. All the Mayor etc. did in December was to recognize that it was already dead.
What a mess this has become. I am hearing from students who cannot get to class, day, evening or weekend on time any more. And trying to get to work? Forget it.... clutch your steering wheel while the smart people in the room decide some form or transit I suppose.
Thank you for bringing some valid points to the discussion. This is exactly what I have been looking for from Bing, Snyder, and the local media. My concern is that these possible sticking points were never brought up and allowed to be addressed.
1. What is the FTA definition of "local service"? The WWLR proposal had 19 stops along a 9.3 mile route. That certainly sounds like local service to me. If the FTA defines "local service" as a stops placed no more than 1/2 mile apart, the WWLR proposal could have been easily modified to fit this definition. For example, we could have eliminated a few redundant downtown stops (such as the silly Adams stop, just two blocks from the Foxtown stop) and replaced them with stops half way between 6 - 7 mile and 7 - 8 mile in order to bring the project in compliance with FTA "local service" standards. If the FTA defines "local service" as a bus that stops every three blocks, then there is no way that the WWLR project would qualify. However, I doubt that this is the case. In my experience as a rider of our existing "local service" busses, I would say that 1/2 mile between scheduled stops is fairly normal outside of the greater downtown area.
Given all of this, it is clear that replacing the existing DDOT Woodward bus line with the proposed WWLR line would not be an elimination of local service, it would be an upgrade of local service. The FTA is correct to require that new long-haul "commuter" lines do not cannibalize funding from local bus service, but that is simply not the case here.
2. Detroit had not yet secured "guaranteed" federal New Starts grants for the WWLR project, but it is disingenuous to assert that Detroit simply "would have had the opportunity to compete for federal New Starts funding", as if it was just a long-shot possibility. In November, President Obama signed a funding bill that approved the local matching funds for the WWLR project. In addition to this, the President and the US Transportation Secretary have both publicly voiced their strong support for federal funding of the WWLR project. If Bing and Snyder had worked out the sticking points related to the annual operating costs, it is extremely likely that the federal New Starts grants would have been approved.
As far as the ability of the city to pay for operating costs of the WWLR project goes, it shouldn't be that large of an obstacle to overcome. The estimated operating costs only called for an annual contribution of $2 million from the city's general fund. If the FTA would allow the WWLR line to replace the existing bus line, the city would be able to fund WWLR with the savings from eliminating the current Woodward bus line. Even if the FTA would not allow the elimination of the current Woodward bus line to pay for the WWLR line, the funding gap would be very small. Even though we are on the brink of insolvency, the city still has a budget of $3.1 billion this year. It seems that there must be some way for Bing and Snyder to secure this very small amount of annual funding to support a huge improvement in our mass transit system.
Detroit has got to be the largest city in America without a mass transit system. A BRT isn't going to do anything to rebuild Detroit, Snyder has no clue on how to run a state and Bing has no clue on how to run a city. This is ridiculous that they want to rebuild Detroit and think that a BRT is actually going to work. A mass transit system is what Detroit needs, not BRT.
The only bus line I ever use in Chicago is the #20 which goes along Madison Street from the loop to Austin. The only reason I use this line is to get to the United Center, otherwise I use the train in Chicago. Last time I went to the United Center I walked all the way to the blue line in the median of the Eisenhower Expressway to the Illinois Medical District stop. Now if I'm not going to use a bus in Chicago why would I want to use one in Detroit? This BRT crap is pointless, it's not going to do anything to better serve Detroit or it's suburbs. Bring back the streetcars but just do it better this time. Anytime you can get cars off the streets that's a good thing, a city is suppose to be walkable, no city in America depends on cars as much as Detroit. Detroit is the 12th largest metro area in the country and can't even have a mass transit system. That's a joke and so is BRT.
We could do BRT very well. And we could do LRT badly. I'll take a great BRT over bad LRT.
But in the end -- who cares. Just get a good system done, with great equipment, design, and operation.
In summary, a "bad" implementation of light rail would surpass a "good" implementation of BRT with regard to operating costs, passenger capacity, and operating speed. In the past, I've explained ad nauseum why this is so.
If you want a "great" BRT (similar to what they run in South America), it would cost just as much to construct as light rail.
With that said, here's a nugget from the other side of Lake Erie. Rick Snyder would be wise to take heed:
HealthLine buses moving slower than expected on Euclid Avenue
Published: Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 4:05 AM Updated: Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 7:44 AM
By Karen Farkas, The Plain Dealer The Plain Dealer
$200 million and 25 years of planning and construction to save three minutes. Yeah, that's worth it.Quote:
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- RTA's HealthLine -- a bus/rapid transit touted as a faster, more efficient way to travel Euclid Avenue -- is moving at about the same slow pace as the bus it replaced.
A westbound bus ride during weekday mornings and evening rush hours along the 7.1-mile corridor averaged 44 minutes instead of the 33 minutes it is supposed to take, according to the latest data provided by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for the first three months of this year.
The 44 minutes was just three minutes faster than the No. 6 bus that the HealthLine replaced.
An eastbound trip during the same time period averaged 36 minutes.
In theory, BRT works like this:
Works like a train, rides like a bus.
It's becoming obvious that the powers that be are DETERMINED to shove this BRT crap down our throats whether we like it or not. Probably so they can say that it didn't work, and therefore all mass transit does not work, and delay effective mass transit for another 300 years while pouring money into their road-building contractor friends' pockets. Grrrr ...
The article is much more upbeat than your summary.
You found one article on one line on shared right-of-way that two years ago needed some work to get it running as designed, and that means BRT sucks?
Here're the statistics from the article:
Old bus: 47 minutes
New BRT as of 7/2010 (westbound): 44 minutes (6% decrease)
New BRT as of 7/2010 (eastbound): 36 minutes (23% decrease)
New BRT as expect when fully implemented: 33 minutes (30% decrease)
So the system two years ago was running between 6% and 23% faster than the old bus.
And it will eventually run 30% faster.
That sounds like great success to me for BRT.
"It is much nicer and ridership is up"
Brad Chase, Chairman, RTA Citizens Advisory Board
I'm gonna have to agree with Mouch here. Sure we could have LRT, and that is indeed the ideal goal, but we also have a budget and a need to solve this regional transit issue here and now. We have a choice, 100+ miles of BRT or 8 miles of LRT....not much of a choice. BRT is sleek and does not look like a regular bus. Would I prefer LRT? Of course, but the debate is not between 100+ miles of LRT and 100+ miles of BRT, it's 8 miles or 100+. So far BRT is the only solution to REGIONAL transit that has been presented. I would happily accept BRT in a minute if construction can start soon. I really dont give a damn if i'm riding a fancy bus or a fancy train, as long as a I dont have to use my car and it gets me from Pt. A to Pt. B quickly and efficiently. BRT is the only system that has been presented that could get me from not only Hart Plaza to Ferndale but also downtown to the Airport or downtown to Mt. Clemens or Midtown to mid-Oakland County. As pretty and successful as LRT is, we do not have the budget or regional support for it. We have regional support for BRT. Let's run with it and actually solve our regional transit crisis once and for all.