Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension)

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David Greene
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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » December 19th, 2012, 6:50 pm

mattaudio wrote:BRT has rarely been built in a way that actually resembles the service quality of LRT, and to do so would require nearly the expense of LRT anyways (dedicated ROW, etc). So not really sure why BRT should even be looked at here.
Very well said.
mattaudio wrote:Most "studies" are just ways of justifying the assumed outcome, so the alternatives are all framed and scored in a way that makes the assumed outcome look like the only obvious solution.
I hear this accusation a lot but where is the proof? These studies are reviewed by FTA, EPA, FRA, etc. Major business decisions get much less scrutiny than transit planning documents.

Staff is not beholden to elected officials. I can't think of any good reason staff would risk losing their jobs or imprisonment for fraud to get a *transit* study to come out a certain way. It just doesn't pass the logic test.

So where is the proof that the studies are intentionally skewed by politicians to reach a specific outcome?

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » December 19th, 2012, 6:54 pm

twincitizen wrote:Why is moving current express bus riders to rail seen as a benefit, while moving urban local bus riders to rail is not?
Who said that? As far as I am aware, both routes are viable. But believe it or not, North Minneapolis is not a homogenous community and opinion on the alignment is split 50/50. I'm not comfortable tearing down hundreds of houses unless the community has clearly stated it wants it. A Broadway streetcar could serve the urban population quite well. We don't have to have LRT everywhere.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » December 19th, 2012, 6:55 pm

redisciple wrote: No, as I said, BRT would cost literally half as much as LRT, even with quality stations and dedicated ROW. If you don't believe me, please review the AA document, which can be found at the project website.
The BRT option did not have a fully private right-of-way.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby MNdible » December 19th, 2012, 7:24 pm

Redisciple, as I said, that comment was bush league snark. Although I think you vastly underestimate the costs of tunneling, I think your instincts on this are pretty spot-on. I'm honestly more concerned about those who seem to think an LRT line could painlessly be rammed through North Minneapolis.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby mattaudio » December 19th, 2012, 7:55 pm

David, I don't think it is politicians who skew the results, rather engineers themselves. As Strong Towns would call it, the "cult of engineering" where there's a prescribed solution to meet certain standards. It's not just engineering, though. I see it all the time in business, or elsewhere whenever decisions are being made on factors other than cost/revenue. Actually, it seems like Bottineau is an anomaly here given the momentum was for BRT but then it was halted to revisit the mode choice.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » December 19th, 2012, 7:59 pm

UptownSport wrote:Infrastructural Racism

wow.

We know you now
To whom and/or what are you referring? Context please?

Institutional racism is real. Whether the reference to which you object is citing a real-world case, I don't know since I have no idea what you're talking about. :)

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » December 19th, 2012, 8:10 pm

mattaudio wrote:David, I don't think it is politicians who skew the results, rather engineers themselves. As Strong Towns would call it, the "cult of engineering" where there's a prescribed solution to meet certain standards.
Thanks for cclarifying. Certainly the politicians do set up the rules which absolutely influences the result. That's one of the (not necessarily most important) reasons we had a ridiculous Central Corridor plan that bypassed the most transit-dependent populations in St. Paul. And that's also one of the (not necessarily most important) reasons we were able to fix it.

However, I have a really hard time believing that engineers consciously rig the game. Do they have assumptions? Sure. You have to have assumptions to be in this game. Finding the flaws of those assumptions is why we have multiple levels of review including public vetting and technical review by outside agencies.

This is a big reason we should *not* base our decisions purely on cost and engineering numbers. There's a human aspect to this that has to be integrated. But that doesn't mean we ignore cost or what the engineering numbers are telling us. They are a significant guide.

Sometimes people don't like the conclusions. People point out flaws, real or not. That's why we have a public process. We gather all the information we can and make a decision. Of course politics is part of it. Humans are political creatures. But overall, I'd say we've done fairly well in MSP so far. I feel like each time we plan a new LRT, we do it better. Hiawatha was pretty seat-of-the-pants, Central was a bit better. Southwest even more. I've seen marked improvement with Bottineau and that makes me a lot more comfortable with the outcome.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby mulad » December 19th, 2012, 9:01 pm

David Greene wrote:
redisciple wrote: Rather I think that the inclusion of several batshit alternatives while simultaneously failing to include a tunnel alternative (despite the fact that the Twin Cities have experience with cost-effective urban transit tunneling)
We do? What, the Selby streetcar tunnel? Tunneling is a non-starter. If it couldn't be done for Central Corridor, there's no way it will be done for Bottineau.
He was referring to the twin Hiawatha tunnels under MSP airport. I believe those came in at a cost that was very good compared to other projects in the U.S., and wasn't too bad compared to the costs in other countries. However, those tunnels go down to about 70 feet below the surface, which would really not be practical for CCLRT or most other urban areas (unless maybe there was already something higher up). Closer to the surface, you're more likely to run into utility services of all types. But I'm just spitballing -- I'm not sure if that really contributed to the low cost or not.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » December 19th, 2012, 10:28 pm

mulad wrote:He was referring to the twin Hiawatha tunnels under MSP airport. I believe those came in at a cost that was very good compared to other projects in the U.S., and wasn't too bad compared to the costs in other countries. However, those tunnels go down to about 70 feet below the surface, which would really not be practical for CCLRT or most other urban areas (unless maybe there was already something higher up). Closer to the surface, you're more likely to run into utility services of all types. But I'm just spitballing -- I'm not sure if that really contributed to the low cost or not.
Yes, the airport tunnels are FAR different than tunneling under a city. I don't think we can really extrapolate from that experience. Washington Ave. is a closer fit and we couldn't do it there.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby helsinki » December 20th, 2012, 4:14 am

mattaudio wrote:The reason why the BRT effort was abandoned is because nobody wants BRT. Our metro is proving it again with the Red Line, which is discussed elsewhere... but I think Yonah or Jarrett or someone said, "BRT is nice in theory and sucks in reality." BRT has rarely been built in a way that actually resembles the service quality of LRT, and to do so would require nearly the expense of LRT anyways (dedicated ROW, etc).
Agreed.

BRT is an attempt to please everyone that ends up pleasing no one. You can't have the transportation quality of a metro/subway for the cost of a bus line. It is tantalizing - especially to politicians because they can claim great success while mouthing thrifty platitudes - but ultimately it disappoints.

Yes, maybe it is great for Curitiba and Bogota (the two most commonly cited success stories, I believe), but those cities suffer from serious budgetary constraints and much lower automobile use than MSP (or most North American cities, for that matter), making BRT that much more attractive.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DFPegg » December 20th, 2012, 5:10 am

As someone who lived in Bogota for many years I can attest that the BRT has many many problems there (i.e. limited capacity, poor quality of service, constantly potholed streets due to the weight of buses). It is an improvement only in that before the BRT there was no mass transit. It's only advantage was that it cost less to build than rail, which made it more feasible politically. It is only known as a success because the mayor knew how to market it internationally
Last edited by DFPegg on December 20th, 2012, 6:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby DFPegg » December 20th, 2012, 5:11 am

*scheme. I mean "success"

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby helsinki » December 20th, 2012, 6:04 am

DFPegg wrote:As someone who lived in Bogota for many years I can attest that the BRT has many many problems there (i.e. limited capacity, poor quality of service, constantly potholed streets due to the weight of buses). It is an improvement only in that before the BRT there was no mass transit. It's only advantage was that it cost less to build than rail, which made it more feasible politically. It is only known as a scheme because the mayor knew how to market it internationally
Interesting to hear. I have been on the Curitiba BRT, and while it is alright, it's a far far cry from LRT.

The only BRT line I've been on in the US is the "Silver Line" in Boston. Which works alright because of the Big Dig, but it's also weirdly confusing and slow. Given that it was part of a project costing tens of billions of dollars, I don't think cost-savings arguments really hold much water with regards to it either.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby woofner » December 20th, 2012, 1:18 pm

David Greene wrote:The BRT option did not have a fully private right-of-way.
Please take a look at some of the project documents before making such bold statements.
David Greene wrote:Transit (and transportation in general) is not just about getting from point A to point B. There's a community-building aspect you're completely dismissing.
What makes rail better for community-building than buses? How would a transit line that did a terrible job getting people from A to B be successful at building community? I'll add that because I actually use transit to get from A to B, I'm particularly focused on that goal, so I acknowledge that personal bias.
David Greene wrote: I can't think of any good reason staff would risk losing their jobs or imprisonment for fraud to get a *transit* study to come out a certain way.
This could probably get a thread of its own, but trust me, I read enough planning documents to know that fudging is a way of life. No one will ever be prosecuted for assuming that 70% of Kenwood residents will board at the 21st St station every day, but there it is in the DEIS. Most studies are done by consultants, not staff, so if they come up with a result that matches the worldview of the people who hired them, there is a better chance they'll get hired again. Very broadly speaking. In the case of Bottineau, if you ever actually get around to reading any project documents, you'll see that 90 pages of the AA report consists of quantitatively comparing different alternatives, and then the 1 or 2 page conclusion magically transforms those numbers into circles of varying shadings. If you can explain that magic trick to me, please do.
mulad wrote: However, those tunnels go down to about 70 feet below the surface, which would really not be practical for CCLRT or most other urban areas (unless maybe there was already something higher up).
I think that's a fairly typical depth for deep bore tunneling. If you ever take the metro in pretty much any eastern european country, you spend a lot of time on the elevator. Also true in Atlanta and DC. Again, though, I'll emphasize that I don't necessarily think it would be cost-effective to tunnel, I'm saying it would have been worthwhile to study thanks to the simple facts that (a) tunneling would have best accomplished the access and mobility objectives of the line, and (b) the Twin Cities have experience in cost-effective urban tunneling.
David Greene wrote: Washington Ave. is a closer fit and we couldn't do it there.
No it's not and yes we could have. The decision to nix the Washington tunnel was entirely political.
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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby UptownSport » December 20th, 2012, 9:32 pm

It's interesting that countries (regions) use many types of transport, just as all lines in Munich aren't underground, LRT, tram or even trolley bus, there must be sections where it'd make sense- like the U transitway or the Greenway, as buses could then disperse to other areas

I understand that technically bus/train CAN be really no different than one rides on tires and the other on steel wheels- if even that- It's even difficult to say what's actually a train or bus

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » December 20th, 2012, 10:34 pm

redisciple wrote:
David Greene wrote:The BRT option did not have a fully private right-of-way.
Please take a look at some of the project documents before making tsuch bold statements.
I did. Buses operate in mixed traffic downtown. Did you look at the projected travel times for the BRT options?
redisciple wrote:What makes rail better for community-building than buses?[/qupte]

I can't tell if you're trolling or not. Try almost any study that's been done of development around rail vs. bus corridors.
redisciple wrote:I'll add that because I actually use transit to get from A to B, I'm particularly focused on that goal, so I acknowledge that personal bias.
Now you're just being belligerent. You clearly haven't read my previous posts.

*killfiled*

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby UptownSport » December 20th, 2012, 11:05 pm

I've read your posts and have now stopped, so very likely disciple wised up long before me

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby woofner » December 21st, 2012, 11:37 am

David Greene wrote: Buses operate in mixed traffic downtown. Did you look at the projected travel times for the BRT options?
That's true for two blocks for westbound buses, and for the entirety of downtown for eastbound buses. Scheduled travel times for existing 4th St buses and LRT are comparable, and I've noticed that in practice the buses are often faster. This may have to do with the fact that LRT has significant exposure to vehicular traffic downtown and doesn't get signal priority. From what I can tell, the AA study just makes vague statements about travel times, which is one of the techniques they use to skew the results away from BRT (along with assuming an unimproved route downtown for BRT). Can you explain why a BRT line on the same alignment outside of downtown and with demonstrably similar travel times downtown would have significantly slower travel time than LRT?
David Greene wrote:I can't tell if you're trolling or not. Try almost any study that's been done of development around rail vs. bus corridors.
Really dude? It's that self-evident? I've actually read several studies about TOD, but none that compared results across modes. If you've recovered from your temper tantrum, I'd be interested in any that you were willing to cite.
David Greene wrote:
redisciple wrote:I'll add that because I actually use transit to get from A to B, I'm particularly focused on that goal, so I acknowledge that personal bias.
Now you're just being belligerent.
I'm being belligerent by stating my personal bias? Don't take things so seriously, it's good to disagree sometimes. Yes, economic development and community building are also important goals, but I disagree that they can be the main purpose of transit or even that transit is a very effective tool in accomplishing them.
UptownSport wrote:very likely disciple wised up long before me
Guess not.
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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby Andrew_F » December 23rd, 2012, 2:15 am

UptownSport wrote:It's interesting that countries (regions) use many types of transport, just as all lines in Munich aren't underground, LRT, tram or even trolley bus, there must be sections where it'd make sense- like the U transitway or the Greenway, as buses could then disperse to other areas

The integration between bus, streetcar, u-bahn, and s-bahn (and regional and ICE trains for that matter) in many German cities is stunning. The way they blend all of their modes together is so foreign to those of us coming from the US who are used to looking at different modes as separate systems. Even the way the modes are graphically integrated in maps is brilliant.

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Re: Bottineau Corridor (Blue Line Extension)

Postby UptownSport » December 23rd, 2012, 9:39 pm

It was pretty fun, could go from the post (some old SS camp in middle of nowhere) to Munich on Regional Bahn (slow choo-choo); that was half the adventure.


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