Friday, August 03, 2007

Naked City's back on track

At long last, I'm freed up from other duties to get back to Naked City topics. I've spent this past week researching topics such as impact fees and land transfer taxes. More on that in later posts.

First, to take the wind out of some conspiracy theorists' sails: I opted to start Potterblog about two weeks before the books came out because I thought it would offer fun online reading that no one else at Charlotte.com was going to do. I didn't plan it months in advance. I didn't do it to escape writing about that transit study. I did it because I thought it would be interesting (believe it or not, I have many interests) and give readers something they'd enjoy.

Second, although I do appreciate the devoted (if sometimes mean-spirited) commenters and readers of The Naked City, honesty compels me to reveal that Potterblog was far more popular, measured in page views. (Blog readership -- high or low -- doesn't affect my pay, by the way. And no, I don't measure the value of what I do by page views, otherwise I'd be opining about Brad Pitt and the NFL.)

But back to Naked City-land:

Yes, I goofed in making such a big deal of the UNCC transit study . Edd Hauser wasn't forthright in explaining its origins to me, and I took him at his word when I shouldn't have. However, a few mistakes in one apparently sloppily done rush-job research report do nothing to undermine the importance of having a good transit system here. It's just one study, for crying out loud.

Further, nothing in the somewhat obsessive reporting that's been devoted to the UNCC study indicates Hauser or anyone else cooked the results. Steve Harrison's analysis confirmed many of the study's findings. Of the mistakes, some made CATS look worse than it should have, others made CATS look better. To me that shows hasty and sloppy work, not intentional skewing.

The bottom line remains: Much statistical information you'll read about transit comes from people either stoutly for it or stoutly against it. They mine data charts for tidbits that support their views and ignore tidbits that don't support their views. I don't believe the UNCC study did that. Compared with much of what I see, especially from the anti-transit crowd, it was far more even-handed. (It's not sheer coincidence that the anti-light-rail John Locke and Reason Foundations hire anti-light-rail UNCC prof David Hartgen or other rail transit critics to do their transportation studies.)

Overall, finding dispassionate analysis is tough. Academic studies, as opposed to advocacy group studies, tend to be more even-handed. But academics often have views that affect what they study and how they approach it. That's true for many subjects, not just transportation.

Even people who aim for even-handed analysis face difficulties comparing one city's transportation experience with another's, because each city is unique. They differ in topography, financing, growth rates, growth patterns, land use rules and local culture.

Should Charlotte be compared with Atlanta, which until recent years didn't require transit-supportive development around MARTA stops? (Miami was the same.) Or with slow-growing Pittsburgh? Or Portland, which decided to support its transit system by capping the number of parking places downtown? Any comparison is, in its own, way, apples to oranges.

At bottom, the issue facing Mecklenburg County is whether the city needs a mass transit system funded with a half-cent sales tax, or not. Some people think it's a waste of money. I -- and many other people -- think it's fiscally irresponsible NOT to build one.

169 comments:

Jumper said...

I want moving sidewalks!

K. Rogers said...

Do the people in Minneapolis think it was fiscally irresponsible to provide all those funds to light rail to the detriment of road infrastructure?

Let's face it folks, whatever the origin of funds for our light rail system(federal, state, sales tax, etc), a dollar spent on light rail is a dollar that cannot be used elsewhere (police, fire, services, infrastructure, etc). It's called opportunity cost. You can tout that money is supposed to pay for this or that (...pick your favorite pet project), but the bottom line is that it's not a zero sum game. Those federal funds that might have been used for Minneapolis light rail could have been used to re-fab a bridge that was deemed structurally deficit at one time (...1995 I believe).

The service and infrastructure needs in our area are increasing tremendously. Is it really wise to invest $9.0 BB into a light rail system that provides services to a limited few in a limited area? Even CATS admits the North corridor won't have ridership to qualify for Fed funds.

Remember, we won't have that $9.0 BB to spend elsewhere and the time will come when we wish we still had it.

Anonymous said...

Mary, it's pretty obvious you have no clue what the phrase "fiscally irresponsible" means.

Mortgaging your future and shackling people with huge property tax increase for a system that will eliminate no congestion, that will eliminate no pollution, and that will be used by a tiny fraction of the population is what's fiscally irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

Hey, not bad for two weeks to prepare!

And you still don't have a clue.

K. Rogers said...

Anon 7:06...

I believe it's you that does not have a clue.

We have a light rail scheme that:

1. Has run 100% over budget on the 1st line and is in danger of being delayed..again. How can you really expect the other lines to be managed properly from a timing and fiscal standpoint?

2. Now must use property taxes to fund the North corridor. The voters in 1998 were sold a plan for only a 1/2 cent sales tax. Current and future property taxes must now be used. Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson will be giving up taxing sovereignty to MTC and CATS when those tax revenues will be badly needed.

3. That cannot be supported by the 1/2 cent sales tax...period. I have demonstrated several times in several other blog postings that a deficit will be run when the bus +3 lines are operating. Property taxes will increase for the short-fall. Property tax increases for light rail are a 100% certainty.

We are acting as if the tax base in Char-Meck is some kind of bottomless well of funds. We just had a county commission that declared poverty, raised property taxes and then "found" $8 MM to subsidize baseball. How could that be...??

The fleecing of the Char-Meck tax base is going to burn us all in the near future.

Anonymous said...

We could all get bogged down in allocations, appropriations, etc., but it's almost a conclusion that this is not about taxes, but about what kind of place we want Charlotte to be. I believe an expanded public transit system plus some uptown amenities are good for the city as a whole. They are catalysts for many free market projects that go around them. Obviously, some people would prefer we remain a quiet southern suburban community where everybody goes home at 5:00 every night and to a prim Protestant church on Sundays, but let be honest, that is not the reality here anymore. Our city leaders want more than the, our business leaders want more than that, and most of our citizens want more than that too. As for tax concerns, we are still one of the best managed cities in the country and our mill rate is still a heck of a lot less than most places. Some of you don't know how good we've got it. As for transit studies and repeal conspiracies, hey, who was the 'Lizard King' siding with? When I read that the 'Lizard King' was involved, I really thought I was on the Potterblog again.

Welcome back Mary, and welcome back the rest of you!

Danimal

Anonymous said...

Whatever, Donut Slinger. It's pretty obvious that you're jonesing for mass transit because it's how you get around town, and you figure anything that gets other people to pay for your ride is a good thing.

Right?

K. Rogers said...

Danimal...I admire your emotional platitudes. But it all boils down to dollars and cents in the end. Do we really have $9.0 BB to spend on the few when the many have so many other pressing needs?

Anonymous said...

Just like all the subsidies we all get when we ride on a highway which are a heck of a lot more than public transit. Don't even try to tell me that the gas tax pays for it all and that the road system makes a profit. Who's getting the free ride now?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rogers, I support the transit system just like I support other needs in this city. If you don't like how your tax dollars are being spent in Mecklenburg county, move to the suburbs. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Percentage of people who use roads, or benefit from the fact that they exist: Almost 100%.

Percentage of people who will use lighrt rail, or benefit from the fact that it exists: Roughly 2% - 3%.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Cato said...

"As for tax concerns, we are still one of the best managed cities in the country...

Danimal, what's the basis for this rather ambitious assertion? And, yes, welcome back to you as well.

Anonymous said...

K. Rogers: regarding your first post --- OPPORTUNITY COST --- you got that right. I couldn't agree more --- a dollar spent in one place can't be spent somewhere else. (Unless you happen to be in the Bush Administration, 'cause then you can just borrow our grandchildren's future into near-bankruptcy by turning a budget surplus into a jaw-dropping deficit with astounding speed. But I digress.)

Regarding your second post, and others I've read from you, I gotta hand it to you, you have an impressive ability to string a bunch of factual-sounding assumptions and opinions into what masquerades as sound reasoning. To start: please explain how mass transit will eliminate no congestion, and no pollution, compared to the amount of vehicles at the same future point in time in a single-vehicle-only Charlotte; it must be an entertaining answer. Second, so what IS your solution to those two problems? And third: please convince us how the contractors who build highways (like, umm, I don't know....say, I-485) will perform so much more perfectly, and be able to transend rising material costs, better than their light-rail counterparts.

Perhaps if we had a Chief Exexcutive at the helm, who wasn't probably the most damaging president this nation has ever known, understood OPPORTUNITY COST better, we'd have what's now nearly ONE-HALF-TRILLION DOLLARS to spend elsewhere than on on his Lone Ranger blunderbuss into Iraq to make the world safe for Halliburton & to avenge his daddy's feud with Saddam Hussein. Elsewhere like for BOTH safely maintained highways & bridges AND the mass transit options that this nation will need to survive & thrive in the generations ahead.

Anonymous said...

Godwin's Law, Halliburton Corollary: As soon as a liberal mentions Halliburton in a conversation that should have nothing to do with Halliburton, the conversation has ended its usefulness.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Mary!

When I was at the office this afternoon & saw we're back to the transit thing, I was gonna post a message when I got home before dinner. I wanted to let K. Rogers know how right he is that this LTR thing is a big fat waste of money. But then I got stuck in the daily 60-minute crawl up to Cornelius in my one-person steel cocoon, so I didn't get a chance to write till now.

Anonymous said...

Mary before Potterblog: "What are you [rail opponents] smoking? This is a nonpartisan study from a nonpartisan source that makes only nonpartisan conclusions."

Then the study is shown to be fraudulent. *crickets chirp*

Then Potterblog: "Ummm... let's talk about Harry Potter! Yeah! Study? What study? Look! Dumbledore! Over there!"

After Potterblog, weeks after the study was shown to be fraudulent: "Oops, my bad. It's just one study. Everyone's got studies and numbers that back up their position, and they all have viewpoints."

The timing of Potterblog *could* just be coincidence - but the lack of candor and insight shown certainly doesn't support that position.

K. Rogers said...

Anon 8:48....



In regards to your questions:

1. CATS, and others, admit congestion and pollution will not be reduced with light rail. Exactly what more are you looking for?

2. Solution to congestion: Rick, in previous posts, recommended an excellent plan for the transit program. I, personally, would support expanded express bus services since buses are very flexible, cost effective and can be focused on maximizing the efficiency of transit. I also support development of directional flow express lanes on I-77 and I-85, similar to those in Chicago and also used on Tyvola when the Colesium was in use. I would also encourage companies to employ more flexible working hours and encourage telecommuting where appropriate.

Anon 8:57...I'm sorry about your extend commute and I can relate to your frustrations. But I don't think $9.0 BB will solve the issues you had this evening.

Anonymous said...

so how much will it cost to reduce congestion on your commute? How long will that benefit last with Charlotte growing at its current rate? What is the opportunity cost to me? (I don't benefit AT ALL from widening 77 to Davidson -- why should I pay for it?)

Anonymous said...

Yeah Rogers,

It's not just me questioning you here. What do you have to say now?

Anonymous said...

It would be most satisfying to see grownups act adult but, as I have been teaching my 13 year old of late, the emotional reactions seen between adults is reflective of the same emotions seen in younger children. Witness the "if you don't like it leave" comments etc.
Ladies and gentlemen, I use the term loosely, can we not have a cordial conversation? Must we pretend to be enemies just because we disagree? Is the name calling necessary?

Make a point, be it emotionally based or fact based, they are both legitimate ways to make political decisions. I happen to lean towards facts, Danimal emotions. But let us show respect and civilized demeanor towards one another as we do so.

Lewis Guignard said...

I suggest, in deference to Mary, that those who prefer statistics go to the ATPA website www.atpa.com and seek facts. The best I can tell the site, unlike that used for facts by the UNCC study, is unbiased.

The argument is 3 fold it seems.

One is the argument for another method of transit. Currently we have buses and cars.

Two is the argument that light rail will provide a useful and efficient alternative to major highway arteries.

Three is the argument we need light rail to enhance and encourage economic growth.

I have lately come to the opinion 3 is the one most important to the Chamber. Their mantra is: Economic growth must be stimulated by some government activity. I must suppose the only way Charlotte has gotten as large as it is is because of a downtown arena, a football stadium, etc. There is truth there, if we add good roads, airport, Duke Power headquarters etc.

But without rail would growth stop? The chamber would argue some of the major companies downtown want rail to offer to the employees they solicit to come here and work for them. Without rail, Charlotte is 'less desirable'. The less obvious statement is: we must bring in migrant workers (migrant in this case being workers from any other place) because the locals aren't good enough.

The implied fear from downtown is that without this next stimulus, on top of so many others, Charlotte would stop growing. And to paraphrae, I believe it is Ken Lewis, "Wwould you rather deal with the problems of growth or decline?"

Decline, would such actually occur without the corporatist policies and politics currently in vogue? Every city and town from Richmond to Birmingham, the I-85 corridor is growing. Yet few of them have the long list of corporatist subsidies available and used in Charlotte. Why then do they grow?

The coast line is growing, the tourist attractive areas of the mountains are growing, only the hinterlands near I-95 in North and South Carolina are left behind.

Why then do we actually need light rail? It is a proven inefficient method of spending taxdollars for transit. Growth would occur anyway, if perhaps not at the level with LTR.

The reasons seem to be emotional, and corporatist.

My belief is the subsidies and transfer payments made to the developers and construction industry are the reason the chamber is so focused. The second reason is the white collar employers desire them as an additional way to attract the type of employees they want for their businesses.

In all, the cost and relative cost don't matter, taxes are a function of corporatism, which takes from the many to subsidize the few.

For those who oppose, the best action is voting YES to repeal the transit tax. It is one method to partially take back some control of government. If the tax is affirmed, those who advocate for such will be encouraged, and the idea of Charlotte Mecklenburg as a member of the For the People by the People political system will be ended.

K. Rogers said...

Anon 3:15...I am not quite sure of the point your trying to make in your posting.

Yes...I expect others to question me and my viewpoints. Danimal has questioned mine several times in many a spirited blog postings. On the flip side, I expect others to question your and everyone else's viewpoints too. It's called civil discourse and debate. Those principles are used every day in our private lives and our democratic form of government.

In the end it will serve to shed light, be it positive or negative, on the details of the light rail project, giving the citizen voters the necessary information to make a well informed vote in November.

Anonymous said...

The one point everyone seems to miss, repeatedly, is that light rail is not about congestion, it is not about corporate subsidies, it is not about money grabs, and it is not simply about growth vs decline. It is about CONTROLLING growth.

Light rail is a system used to engineer growth in density pockets along the line. The idea is that where there is rail, there will grow dense pockets of residential, commercial, and retail development. This will in turn create more people living in less space - the perfect answer to sprawl.

In Charlotte, growth was allowed to occur naturally according to market forces for years; what we got was a sprawling system of cul-de-sac developments, strip malls, shopping malls, expansive highways, and loss of virgin environment.

Light rail is not so much about moving people, as it is about creating more density within the urban core. This can help stunt sprawl (not stop it completely) and provide housing choice. It will also put retail and residential within close proximity, which helps create a more urban infrastructure.

Charlotte needs this. It needs it along the south, north, east, and west corrdidors. It needs busing between all four corridors to make a strong system of MASS transit. This will take generations to complete, but it is vital.

Charlotte needs it citizens to see beyond their own personal needs and pocketbooks, and to consider the legacy they will leave to future Charlotte residents.

I will pay for that.

Rick said...

Last anon,

Are you willing to pay the roughly $15 - $20 per ride it will actually cost? Or just the $1 - $2 dollars that will actually be charged?

Anonymous said...

"The second reason is the white collar employers desire them as an additional way to attract the type of employees they want for their businesses."

"The less obvious statement is: we must bring in migrant workers (migrant in this case being workers from any other place) because the locals aren't good enough."

As to the first assertion, please explain to me why this is bad. It's just good business practice. In fact, it's so profoundly Republican and conservative I'm amazed that anyone in Charlotte has an issue with this. I guess you just don't like all those outsiders.

As to the second assertion, you're absolutely right. Obviously if the right local talent were available, companies would not resort to the time-and-money consuming effort to bring employees to Charlotte from other cities and states. (Please of course note that some local talent is first-rate, since Bank of America's CFO is a UNCC grad.)

These two assertions, together with the slyly-inserted "migrant workers" again confirm for me that the transit kerfuffle is as much about Charlotte's dramatic growth and change as it is about a half-penny sales tax. Some want Charlotte to be the mom-n-pop kind of place it was 50 years ago and will vote overwhelmingly for the repeal of a half-penny. Others of us want Charlotte to be wealthy and powerful and recognize that wealth and power isn't found in the smallish business found in places like Birmingham and Greensboro (they'd sell their souls to have what Charlotte has.) We will vote for the half-penny and be thankful we're getting LRT on the cheap.

K. Rogers said...

LTR on cheap? If $9.0 BB is on the cheap, then I fear the next great crusade to hit our area.

Light rail is not soley funded with the 1/2 cent sales tax. Federal and State funds are being used for the capital expense. Where exactly do you think the Federal and State governments get their money? You and I. And based on my last tax returns, I would not call that "cheap".

When the voters approved the 1/2 cent sale tax, they approved a light rail plan that would be funded by the 1/2 cent sales tax. Now we are having to use property taxes, which is outside the mandate of the originally sold plan. If the North corridor moves forward, communities like Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson will forfeit to CATS 40-58% of the increased property tax revenues repay the TIF's. Do you really think those towns will do without that money? No. The property taxes in those communities will increase to make up the difference.

Lastly, I have shown numerous times that the 1/2 cent sales tax will NOT cover the operating expenses of a bus + 3 light rail system. So, property taxes, AGAIN, will have to used to fund this deficit.

On the cheap...hardly. We are just bellied up to the buffet right now and we're gonna be surprised when the final bill arrives.

Chris said...

Everyone seems to be focusing on the idea that repealing the 1/2 cent sales tax is going to stop the light rail.

However, it will also raise property taxes. Repealing the 1/2 cent ($0.005)sales tax will eliminate an annual average of $39 household tax and add a MINIMUM of and average of $42 in property taxes. That minimum reflects PAYING BACK the federal and state governments for the money they already spent, not running the line that has been constructed, and cutting bus service in half!

Any tax guru will tell you that if a tax is necessary, the most equitable way to do it is through a sales tax. Why does everyone want to unfairly tax property owners? At least with a sales tax, EVERYONE PAYS, not just property owners.

Whether you are for or against light rail, think about the fiscal ramifications of repealing a 1/2 cent sales tax on your property taxes.

I've mentioned before the affects of being an ozone nonattainment area and having all highway funding pulled, but no one ever seems to want to discuss that!

No light rail = no highway funding. According to the Clean Air Act and EPA guidelines, you can't have highways without implementing a transit plan.

Anonymous said...

Implementing a transit plan? Does that necessarily include rail.

Also, the EPA in their backwards requirements, will stop highway funding for pollution non-attainment, but stop and go traffic, due to lack of funding is one major contributor to pollution. If they would stop construction instead, we might get some relief, but the EPA, being misguided, address one symptom, and aggravate the problem.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter. No transit, no highway funding. I also have noticed no one ever talks about this. Later, there will be an outcry as drivers are clogged and funding for new roads goes elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

"Let's face it folks, whatever the origin of funds for our light rail system(federal, state, sales tax, etc), a dollar spent on light rail is a dollar that cannot be used elsewhere (police, fire, services, infrastructure, etc)."

This is a specious argument. Federal money allocated for transit is not accessible for anything else. It's not sitting in some big pot available for any purpose.

Anonymous said...

I will pay the true cost of my lrt ride as soon as drivers pay the true cost of air quality degredation ($20 tolls on orange ozen days anyone?)

Anonymous said...

Facts (not because I am on one side or the other)

1) Light rail will not reduce pollution. McCrory and Tober LIED to us.

2) Light rail will not reduce congestion. Once again, lies from GovCo.

3) Light rail will not cost $228 million. Again, more lies.

The only facts here seem to be that McCrory is a liar, Tober is a liar, Jay Morrison had it right, and the Observer pulled out all the stops to smear him.

The only answer is telecommuting.

There is no reason for most professional service sector employees to trek into town 5 days per week.

Light rail is a throwback to the 1950's. In 10 years virtual offices will prevail.

the whole scheme is to enrichen land developers, subsidize the uptown parking/bar/restaurant/office space cartel.

Anonymous said...

"the whole scheme is to enrichen land developers, subsidize the uptown parking/bar/restaurant/office space cartel."

WOW. What a bowlegged redneck republican conspiricy if I've ever heard one. Thank god more newcomers are coming here to dilute this backwood way of thinking around here. Raise the taxes a little, and the skimpy rednecks will run across the county line like roaches. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Rick said...

Anon,

I'll take that $20 toll on orange ozone days. If you pay the true cost of your train ride.

Please see the chart from the EPA in the upcoming post. There haven't been too many of those orange days recently and the trend is getting better over the past decade.

On those days, I'd just telecommute.

Rick said...

So, now we've moved on to a new scare tactic once the others seem to have failed.

You want to talk about nonattainment and consequences, then let's talk about it.

Here's the link to all of the nonattainment areas in the US. Notice that most of these places, particularly the ones in NC do not have trains.

www.epa.gov/oar/oaqps/greenbk/
ancl.html

Here’s a map of them:

www.epa.gov/air/oaqps/greenbk/
mapnpoll.html

Notice Mecklenbug County is Green which means there is only 1 pollutant where we don’t meet the standard. I believe that is the 8 hour ozone one.

If you look at the nonattainment or maintenance map, Mecklenburg is in maintenance for 1 additional pollutant.

Here is the EPAs website’s definition of nonattainment area:

A geographic area in which the level of a criteria air pollutant is higher than the level allowed by the federal standards. A single geographic area may have acceptable levels of one criteria air pollutant but unacceptable levels of one or more other criteria air pollutants; thus, an area can be both attainment and nonattainment at the same time. It has been estimated that 60% of Americans live in nonattainment areas. (Source: Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards: Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act: Glossary Term Detail)

Here’s a link to a report of Mecklenburg County’s statistics. (I’m not sure if this one will work. If not, you can run it yourself at

iaspub.epa.gov/airsdata/ADAQS.aqi?
geotype=co&geocode=37119&geoinfo=co
%7E37119%7EMecklenburg+Co%
2C+North+Carolina&pol=&year=2007
+2006+2005+2004+2003+2002+2001+
2000+1999+1998+1997&sumtype=co&fld=
gname&fld=gcode&fld=stabbr&fld=
regn&rpp=25&page=1&sort=a16&fmt=

Here are the possible consequences of nonattainment. From the EPA FAQs

What are the real consequences of nonattainment?

The real consequences of nonattainment fall into two categories: federal sanctions and public health impacts.
Federal Sanctions: The Clean Air Act establishes two kinds of sanctions -- new major source construction sanctions and funding sanctions for Federal programs and facilities.
Construction Prohibition:The construction prohibition applies only to major sources as defined in Section 302 of the Clean Air Act. Smaller sources are not affected. Furthermore, the construction prohibition applies only to a source that would be a major source or major modification for the specific pollutant for which the area was designated as a nonattainment area and for which the plan remains inadequate. For instance, a new plant which is a major source of particulate matter only and which proposes to construct in a designated sulfur dioxide nonattainment area is not affected by the construction prohibition.
Funding Sanctions: Air pollution control program grants, Federal highway funds, and wastewater treatment facility grants may be withheld in any nonattainment area where a SIP has not been approved or where the SIP does not account for attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In cases where a finding is made by the U.S. EPA, project approvals and grants authorized by Title 23 (Highways), United States Code, and the Clean Air Act must be withheld from air quality control regions where transportation control measures are needed to attain NAAQS. An exception to this Federal assistance limitation is that safety, mass transit, and transportation improvement projects related to air quality attainment or maintenance may be approved and funded. This can result in the loss of millions of dollars in highway funds and grants.
So what does this all mean for a place like Mecklenburg county?

Any new interstate lanes on 77 or 85, will likely be HOV, HOT, or busways. That would fall into the exception category under funding sanctions.

Mecklenburg used to be in nonattainment for two areas. Now we are in non-attainment for only the 8hr Ozone. Also, the number of “unhealthy” days has dropped significantly. Though admittedly, the number of good days has also dropped. We are trending towards more “moderate” days. However, the only way that is going to get better is when more older cars are replaced with newer cars. That will happen regardless of the train situation.

When people like Chris say “no trains = no federal dollars” he’s wanting you to believe that Charlotte will be singled out for punishment when 60% of the population lives in the same type of area. Many of those areas don't have trains.

Why should you believe that?

Anonymous said...

Well Rick,

Since you don't think mindless spending on wasteful projects which benefit the few is a good plan, and you don't offer inane platitudes to support your mindlessness, then you must be a backwood, skimpy, republican redneck. May I join?

Anon writes at

8/04/2007 02:41:00 PM:

This is a specious argument. Federal money allocated for transit is not accessible for anything else. It's not sitting in some big pot available for any purpose.

Actually not true, but close.
Federal money allocated for transit, or anything else, is not always required to be spent. Often, in being spent it is borrowed money, raising the national debt, which Democrats have recently taken to opposing. So in not being spent on wasteful projects, it helps keep the debt lower, which would allow the Feds to borrow more money for some other project, perhaps, but not likely, worthwhile. Which makes the argument valid after all.

GO RICK
GO KEN

The platitude laden big government wasters, having lost the UNCC 'study', are again reduced to name calling.

Anonymous said...

Just think what the one trillion dollars we are wasting on with this war in Iraq could be doing for all of us back home. We could build many transit systems, hire many police officers, build many more schools and bring taxes down at the same time. Oh yeah, I forgot, some of you redneck republicans like wasting money bullying around other countries so Cheney and Exxon can make a profit...my bad.

Anonymous said...

Amen to the last Anon poster. Why are we rebuilding Iraq's roads and bridges while ours are receving failing grades at home? Yeah that makes sense Mr. President.

K. Rogers said...

Chris...

Property taxes are going up, regardless of the repeal of light rail. It's a certainty since they have to fund the North corridor with TIF financing. Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson will forfeit 40-58% of the tax revenue increase to CATS. Also, operating costs for bus + 3 LTR will create deficits because system cost is 2X more than revenue generated by the 1/2 cent sales tax. Where will the funds to make up the difference come from (Hint: your property taxes)?

Keep 1/2 cent sales tax = increased property taxes

Repeal 1/2 cent sales tax = increased property taxes

What's really the difference? There is none. If we stop LTR now, we can minimize transit related property tax increases.

In terms of increased property taxes as a result of repeal, I would recommend everyone read Rick's Comprehensive Transit Plan posted in another blog posting. It's excellent. Have you notice all that wonderful advertising on CATS buses?? That would be a "no" since advertising is not allowed by Tober & Co. That is substantial revenue opportunity lost. Did you know that riders only pay 16% of the cost of their ride? Our favorite comparison city (Atlanta) has riders paying 20%. More lost revenue. Why do we let people in SC and outlying counties to use CATS express buses for the same price as Char-Meck citizens? More dollars vanishing. It's amazing how much potential operating revenue CATS & Co is letting slip by. Why should we give them a pass on these opportunities missed??

Anonymous said...

>>
WOW. What a bowlegged redneck republican conspiricy if I've ever heard one. Thank god more newcomers are coming here to dilute this backwood way of thinking around here. Raise the taxes a little, and the skimpy rednecks will run across the county line like roaches. Sounds like a good plan to me.
>>


I moved here 3 years ago from Chicago. You know, a REAL city.

I have just seen first hand all the big government failures that Charlotte is busy imitating.

Mass transit, subsidized this, subsidized that.

We are going to be Atlanta if we keep on the same track. Crime, dirt, run down infrastructure.

THe only back-a$$ed hicks here are the native locals with an inferiority complex who want to imitate New York by building choo choos and arenas and uptown baseball stadiums while crime goes through the roof and schools go to you-know-where in a handbasket.

BTW, you offered no defense for the 'light rail will not reduce pollution or cengestion' thing, you just resorted to name calling as usual.

Anonymous said...

Our states bridges are crumbling and we are blowing 1/2 billion dollars on a 9 mile, two car Disney ride that nobody will use.

The REAL cost of light rail is between $20 and $26 dollars round trip, depending on whose ridership estimates you believe.

It is cheaper to buy everyone who rides a car.

Ron Tober the transit chief, is paid more money that either the police chief or the fire chief.

And you uptown illiterati can't see a problem with that?

Anonymous said...

The real cost fo getting on an Interstate on ramp is about $500, but we don't hear the anti-rail people railing against that. The must be inconvenient for them to bring up. I guess they still thik the market economy pays for that.

K. Rogers said...

I'll pay to get on the interstate as soon as Raleigh and Washington DC stop robbing the highway trust funds and gasoline taxes for other spending programs.

Anonymous said...

cool Rogers, we'll start building the toll booths this afternoon.

K. Rogers said...

Anonn 11:53...

Unless you are some kind of Renaissance person who can provide all food, clothing and other items your family needs by growing them in your backyard, you have likely benefited from roadways beyond the $500 entrance fee to the highway (...a figure I would like to see real data on, by the way).

How is it that our free market economy provides good and services prices that other countries envy? Road ways. The serve as the economic backbone of our free market economy. Whether you shop in store or internet, the road way system provides the network to get goods from point a to point b in the most efficient way. I know you will ask about rail shipping. Yes, we do ship a fair amount by rail, but please give me the address of a Target, Harris Teeter or Wally World with a railway spur for receiving goods.

Please note that I am not advocating elimination of transit. I believe and support the need for bus transit. What I oppose is the LTR boondoggle when so many other things can be done with that money.

Don't buy the line that money is "earmarked" for certain things. Politicians have shown time and again that the rules can be easily changed. Just look how the highway funds and gasoline taxes get obsconded routinely for other program.

As citizens, we need to show the political will and fortitude to make our politicians understand we have real needs other than shiny trains that cannot meet the necessary ridership levels (ie: North Corridor). Repeal of the 1/2 cent sales tax is exactly the way to do this.

Rick said...

"Anonymous said...
The real cost fo getting on an Interstate on ramp is about $500, but we don't hear the anti-rail people railing against that. The must be inconvenient for them to bring up. I guess they still thik the market economy pays for that."

or is it Danimal? That's one of his famous thin air numbers with no documentation or backup.

We've debunked this number before. But here it is again.

Let's assume it IS $500 per use as the poster implies.

The population of the US has 300 million.

Let's say just 1/3 of us use the interstates each day. That's 100 million people. Most trips, let's say 75%, are 2 way. That's a total of 175 million trips a day.

175 million times $500 = 87,500,000,000 (87.5 billion dollars) for ONE DAY. That's 31,937,500,000,000 TRILLION dollars a year.

So obviously it's not per trip.

Now let's say it's $500 per person per year. That's the 87 billion number. If you use 20 gallons of gas per week as an NC resident, you pay about $470 per year in gas tax alone. Add to that car property tax, registration fees, tag fees, inspection etc. and you are more than paying your own way on an annual basis.

Anonymous said...

But we need roads so I can go to my Mcmansion in the southside and have tea and crumpets with my wife muffy and neighbor lizardking. To hell with the rest of the peasants and their public transit. My tax dollars are mine, mine, mine! WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

K. Rogers said...

Rick just provided a reasonable response to the challenge put forth by the previous anon...and that's the best response you can muster?

While entertaining, I hope for more lucid and erudite responses in the future. We are looking at spending billions on LTR system and it's serious issue for everyone (pro and anti).

Anonymous said...

Oh rogers, you're such a wuss. Lighten up.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't really matter how much gold paint you put on it, it's still a piece fof s!it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Rogers lighten up???????

Ken and Rick consistently produce real numbers and complaints. The responses are continuously inane.

If this is indicative of the best the pro rail lobby can offer, then certainly light rail should be eliminated.

Lewis Guignard

Rick said...

Back to the fraudulent, manipulated, government funded UNCC study meant to sway a public referendum...

When the "scandal" first broke I posted this on Mary's pre-sabbatical thread "The Chambers study?"

"Here's my prediction...

They find no actual wrong doing. (Shocking I know.) Then explain away the numerous factual errors in the report due to trying to get it out quickly. They'll say they were trying to get it out quickly because of the timely nature of the discussion, but certainly not to influence any voters. They'll explain the cherry picking and apples-oranges comparisons the same way. They didn't have time to do a complete 100% study of all projects so they just randomly picked some.

This is from last Tuesday's Observer:

"When asked about the 28-page study last week, Hauser, the study's lead author, said the report was meant to be done quickly. The issue was being debated publicly, he said, and his center had only a short time frame to finish it before starting other projects. The study took less than a month."

Here's what I want to know...

Why can the Observer staff do the actual research that the so called expert transit scholars should have done? And do it in less time?

What was Edd Hauser and his team doing for that entire month if some novices from the local daily can find the actual data and put together the complete set of findings that his team was trying to do?

Here's what they seem to have been doing...

Cherrypicking data, figuring out the propaganda plan, and trying to hide information.

Either that, or they were just being lazy. Neither is a good option.

Maybe the professors should be replaced by the Observer reporters.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/4, 11:25 a.m.:

"The one point everyone seems to miss, repeatedly, is that light rail is not about congestion, it is not about corporate subsidies, it is not about money grabs, and it is not simply about growth vs decline. It is about CONTROLLING growth.

Light rail is a system used to engineer growth in density pockets along the line. The idea is that where there is rail, there will grow dense pockets of residential, commercial, and retail development. This will in turn create more people living in less space - the perfect answer to sprawl.

In Charlotte, growth was allowed to occur naturally according to market forces for years; what we got was a sprawling system of cul-de-sac developments, strip malls, shopping malls, expansive highways, and loss of virgin environment.

Light rail is not so much about moving people, as it is about creating more density within the urban core. This can help stunt sprawl (not stop it completely) and provide housing choice. It will also put retail and residential within close proximity, which helps create a more urban infrastructure.

Charlotte needs this. It needs it along the south, north, east, and west corrdidors. It needs busing between all four corridors to make a strong system of MASS transit. This will take generations to complete, but it is vital.

Charlotte needs it citizens to see beyond their own personal needs and pocketbooks, and to consider the legacy they will leave to future Charlotte residents.

I will pay for that."

THANK YOU........this one post, for me, is the most insightful and accurate analysis of the whole light-rail issue. Others, like K. Rogers, can spend hours & hours compiling arguments and 'facts' as to why rail is wasteful and a bad investment, and that other traffic innovations make more sense. But it's like suggesting you paint your house a different color when it fact the house is being eaten by termites; foolish band-aid approaches when a more global, wholistic solution needs to be considered......specifically, guiding the region's future growth to be more, rather than less, environmentally sustainable. It AIN'T just about "choo-choos", folks. Do these anti-rail folks not GET it that Charlotte will have to develop a new paradigm to sustain its accelerating, explosive growth? And that Charlotte, like the rest of the planet, will have to play a part in solving the very real, unprecedented problem of rapid climate change? (I'm assuming that those participating on this forum opposed to the LTR project, who by & large speak articulately, at least finally acknowledge global warming as true........if not, I'll let you get back to Rush Limbaugh & your AM radio talkshows and not try to convince you any further.) Perhaps, as K. Rogers states, CATS has said the light rail will NOT reduce pollution or congestion (although I suspect that quote is being taken out of context for the opponents' benefit......Rogers, would you care to clarify?) --- but the development changes it encourages WILL.

Before I get a response stating that that quoted post is about 'social engineering' (as if the suburban sprawl model isn't), and that Big Brother wants to take away your home in the far-out subdivision, along with your guns, I hasten to add that's not the case..........offering widespread choice in such concepts as TOD [Transit Oriented Development] doesn't mean that'll be the only choice for everyone.

Anonymous said...

If rail transit is about a 'new paradigm' for growth, yet other growth is not limited, then growth will occur in both ways, or not at all.

Those who argue rail transit is needed to stimulate growth in certain areas are blind to the fact growth is occuring where no rail, stadium, or other abnormal government influence is built.

The argument against is about taxes, waste and special interest subsidies.

Neither do I subscribe to the idea government is needed to dictate where growth should occur.

Not so many years ago, government, in its continuing 'wisdom' made it illegal to have residences on top of commercial enterprises. They drove all the people to suburbia. Now they, in their continuing 'wisdom' decide that was a bad idea and want density in urban areas, and will 'allow' residences above stores.

The best example I am aware of is the designed area at Birkdale in Huntersville/Cornelius.

A change in law, and NO rail. A thriving semi urban area. Based on walking, (I see few bicycles) and cars. Cars get parked - then walk.

So far as rail making development sustainable. That is a stretch.
Development will be sustainable, not when density is higher, but when buildings are built to last for 500 years and are designed with respect to weather.

The constant rebuilding required of cheap construction techniques, causes more problems than anything light rail or any other government nostrum of the day.

Light rail as a cure, ha.
No, it is and will continue to be only another method of the rich and connected to fleece the many.

Then to use global warming as an excuse for rail, whoa. Another cliche as an excuse.

Let us first pretend we can knowledgeably influence the climate. Then why do scientists in a position to do so hesitate in their experiments?

Leave global warming out of this. It is ridiculous, beyond the usual excuses, to go there.


Lewis

Anonymous said...

From the Observer, about a proposed development off Harris.

"Part of our research will be to see what other folks (around the country) are doing with developments with these characteristics," Grochoske said. "We're getting some information from the South Corridor, but most of these are condos," he said, referring to multifamily developments going up near stations on the light-rail line from uptown to Pineville.

In contrast, Griffith Equities proposes building the city's first true high-density urban village at a transit stop, along with more traditional forms of housing.

The 395-acre tract would generate about 14,000 vehicle trips per day if it were developed according to its current zoning. A very rough estimate by the planning staff suggests that the Griffith plan could generate 50,000 trips per day. Griffith would be responsible for making road improvements to help deal with those additional trips."

What, built high density near a rail line, and it causes more car trips per day?
So what then is the answer I ask all you rail proponents.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'm just tired of having politicians who have never seen a social ill, either real or imaginary, believing that it cannot be solved by throwing other people's money at it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the last two posts:

Unbelievable! Two people, supposedly on the same side of the fence in their criticism of light-rail transit, and one says Birkdale is a resounding success.......the other says such high-density development is a complete failure at reducing car trips. If y'all are gonna fight this 1/2-cent thing to the death in November, y'all need to get together and come up with a consistent strategy that at least SOUNDS plausible to those forward-thinking folks of Charlotte who actually would like to see a more progressive city than the traffic-choked one we're building now.

"Neither do I subscribe to the idea government is needed to dictate where growth should occur." --- OK, Lewis, sounds good to me, how about we tell "govco" to just "mind your own business" if a muffler shop wants to open up in its metal bldg. next to your property, or a developer wants to tear down your neighbor's house next door to put up a twelve-story residential treatment center for recovering addicts?

Birkdale's cute & all that.....but I wonder just how many people who live, work, or shop there do so without relying on their privately-owned auto as much as the rest of us? And in regards to the Griffith proposed development, how about looking at the LENGTH of those car trips and the number of people who'd otherwise be spread out in farther-spread conventional housing?

BOTH projects are the right idea but fall short of their true potential, through regional planning decisions that go beyond the power of any individual developer. When we DO have a viable, attractive, comprehensive transit system in place to tie these nodes together (sorry, Rogers, that does need to include choo-choos), then such developments that have been put in place --- the ones which are in the RIGHT places, rather than plunked down on some greenfield open space next to the highway because the 'Main Street look' was cutesy --- will prove their worth. I'm SO tired of these rail opponents using whatever bits & pieces of data they want to support their agenda, without looking globally across the present & future Charlotte region. This kind of myopic thinking is the hallmark of conservatives, a belief system which is beautifully demonstrated by the utter failures of our current administration in Washington and its Neo-Con leadership.

And as for "Then to use global warming as an excuse for rail, whoa. Another cliche as an excuse.
Let us first pretend we can knowledgeably influence the climate. Then why do scientists in a position to do so hesitate in their experiments?
Leave global warming out of this. It is ridiculous, beyond the usual excuses, to go there."
......what the hell???

Anonymous said...

Myopic?
Oh my. And your vision is long range? Sort of like those other visions of Charlotte which have failed so often I lose count. City Fair for starters.

Global warming. As you do your left wing, socialist, kneejerk flips, I suggest a bit of study.
For one, read Plows, Plagues and Petroleum by William Ruddiman - retired climatolgist U of Va.

For another go surf the web for such subjects as 'iron oxide global warming'. Get an education.

Anonymous said...

Will do. After I do the research to see what they're saying; what their background is; whose pockets their hands are in (follow the money, as they say); and why their position differs radically from (if my assumption of the point you're making is correct) that of the mainstream left wing, socialist, kneejerk one on global climate change; I'll report back. Perhaps we've been wrong about the overwhelming scientific evidence all along on this.

As an aside, do you tend to promote conspiracy theories on all sorts of well-publicized topics, or just the ones discussed on this blog?

Anonymous said...

All the right wingers will kick and scream with their conspiracy theories as they get more and more pushed into irrelivancy in this town. Charlotte was once a southern, protestant, republican stronghold, and all of these newcomers with their new ideas have threatened their complacency. Charlotte is not their fiefdom anymore and they don't like it. Now they find they have to live like people in other cities where people ride public transit, live in non-traditinal housing, pay some taxes, and don't care what church somebody goes to. They can argue taxes and spending all they want, but it's their culture on the wane that they are really griping about on this board.

Anonymous said...

Recent brilliant Republican ideas:

- There is no global warming.
- Evolution and Biblical Creationism are on equal scientific footing.
- It's ok to invade another country without provocation, because we want to.
- The Vice-President is part of neither the Executive nor Legislative branch.
- Oil dependency = no problem.
- There is no need for increased mass transit options.

Keep 'em coming, boys! Hannity has kids to feed!

Anonymous said...

^ This is why conservatism has become a joke in this country. Conservatives are playing the same role today that liberals played in the '90s -- out of touch, too hung up on social issues, favoring special interests, and corrupt to the core.

No wonder they can't win an election anymore.

Anonymous said...

The best example I am aware of is the designed area at Birkdale in Huntersville/Cornelius.

A change in law, and NO rail. A thriving semi urban area. Based on walking, (I see few bicycles) and cars. Cars get parked - then walk.


Birkdale is hardly an example of great urban design. Yes, it's trendy. Yes, it's pretty. Yes, it might even feel a little urban in places, in the same way that Main Street in Disneyworld feels like a real city in places.

But here's the key factor: You MUST have a car to get to Birkdale. There are no other options. Can't walk there; can't bike there; can't take a train there; can't realistically take a bus there.

So Birkdale is not much better in practice than Ballantyne; the only difference is that the buildings are close enough together that you don't need to drive between separate parking lots. It's not at all a model for urbanism or efficiency, in that it fails to incorporate modes of transit other than the automobile... which is the entire purpose of rethinking development patters in the first place.

Anonymous said...

How many horses would a half billion dollars buy?

Anonymous said...

How many dollars would half a billion horses buy?

Anonymous said...

Buses and cars can take an alternate route if there is a problem. The train has to go to and fro on a track. No options to make a detour. Every time the choochoo runs over a drunken illegal or hits a car at a street level crossing because someone tries to "beat the train", service will come to a halt. Period. For a long time. Halt. The train cannot proceed until the mess is cleaned up. Riders will have to be put on a bus, which they should have been riding in the first place. And the tie-ups at the crossings will be huge.

Anonymous said...

^ Anybody who has ever lived in a large city understands that, and knows that such delays are usually shorter and less disruptive than the daily gridlock on any given local freeway.

Anonymous said...

Hey 4:18,

I was just in Atlanta where MARTA had a minor tie-up on a certain track. They had an auxillary plan in place promptly to keep train flow going (aternating trains in certaing directions on one track). Your argument doesn't hold there. You especially lost credibility with that 'drunken illegal' comment. I think that reflects your true views on the world. Shame.

Lewis Guignard said...

As an aside, do you tend to promote conspiracy theories on all sorts of well-publicized topics, or just the ones discussed on this blog?

8/06/2007 12:03:00 PM (Anon)

Global warming is not a conspiracy theory, so far as I can tell. It is a normal reaction to some news where people pretend to have knowledge because their acquaintances and others pretend to have knowledge. Actually, few, if any of them have done any research of the literature and base their 'knowledge' on what is commonly accepted to be true.

However, global warming, if used as a reason to make policy, may well have unintended consequences, far beyond those of wasting money on projects such as LTR or CMS schools.

While perhaps this is not the place to have this discussion, basic research and reading will lead one to understand that global warming and cooling is of geologic time in nature. To pretend we can control the weather, more exactly climate, is human vanity at its worst.

For instance, it is widely known we are in what is described as an interglacial period. According to the Malankovitch theory, which has many adherents, the earth is most likely going back into a glacial period. If then man's influence has been to warm the climate by abnormal emissions of CO2, which results in a forestalling of a glaciation, is that not a good thing instead of a bad thing?

So then the global warming kneejerks, would stop the CO2 emissions, slowing man's unnatural influence, allowing the earth to return to the recent 400,000 year cycles, which would put Ohio etc, under 8000 feet of ice, but hey, the coast line would expand.

But no, the liberals, knowing everything, pretend 100 to 200 years of record keeping, and recent (1000 years) mild climate, is something which has endured and will endure forever, except for man's influence.

How thoughtless.

Lewis

Anonymous said...

far beyond those of wasting money on projects such as LTR or CMS schools.

Lewis, I hope you stay on this blog a looong time. Your version of conservatism -- loaded with remarks such as the above, in which you call public education a "project" in which money is "wasted" -- provides our community with something that is desperately needed in this day and age:

A true-to-life illustration of Old South conservatism, alive and well in the modern era, festering in the gutters of our political system, stinking up our debates and putting a big fat pimple on the face of our society.

You let us know what we DON'T want to become, and for that I salute you!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Another Anon at his best, being anonymous.

I quote: "Lewis G., are you for real? Do you actually think the recent rapid change in the world's climate is either (a) made-up nonsense, or (b) in fact a good thing, to forestall the next ice age that is ready to descend upon us within a few human generations? Please specify, as your assertion leaves me confused.

The data that supports global warming theory is based on far more than "100 to 200 years of record-keeping".....fossil records of all varied sources have been studied by tens of thousands of scientific specialists, for one thing. I won't try to argue any deeper with you since I'm not a scientist, and it's clear YOU aren't. In fact, my friend, I'd say you're a nut job.

And you think you have any credibility to argue against the value of light-rail transit?"
---
my turn
---

First, I have as much or more credibility than anyone on this blog except Mary and Ken Rogers based on the simple fact I sign my name to my posts.

Next, the two statements about global warming you dismiss as contradictory are no such thing.

Whether or not man's actions have influenced the climate in no way indicate his ability to CONTROL the climate. Read that again and again until you understand.

I never wrote global warming is made up nonsense, you did. Read what I wrote.


After you understand, then pay attention to the idea that global warming may, MAY, be a good thing, if it forestalls an ice age.

Otherwise, to decide what policy should be enacted based on emotional reactions to people such as Al Gore, when the consequences are unknown, except that such changes in policy could be economically devastating, is a mistake.

Personally, examining the literature on global warming, I find no cause for reaction.

Have you examined the literature? Or are you only reacting to an opinion by someone? Rather it seems, having no knowledge of your own, having done no research, you believe you know the truth because it is in The Charlotte Observer, and on NPR.

Yet I am supposed to roll over, because the common knowledge is to be afraid. BE VERY AFRAID. Sorry, don't go there.

In the final analysis, comments such as yours make me smile. Public school serves a purpose, it makes the masses easier to lead. As they can't think for themselves, not having been taught how, they accept on faith that which they are told to believe.
All proven by the fact they can't even read.

Lewis (not anonymous or chicken)


Lewis

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Where did you go to school Lewis?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Lewis, you really should start your own blog. I sincerely believe that you would have a devoted following of at least a few dozen people who would log on every day just to see what zany antics are in store.

Tell us again about the black helicopters.

Anonymous said...

To all:
Are these the same scientists in the 80's that told us the ozone hole was getting bigger?

Are these the same scientists in the 80's that told us we were entering a mini ice age?

High temp yesterday didn't break the record (Record meaning last 100+yrs) set in the late 1800's.

I agree with Lewis, do a little research.

Thad

Mary Newsom said...

Mary here:
If you want to disagree with others' opinions, that's perfectly OK. If you want to insult other people here, stop it. That creates a mean-spirited forum that drives otherwise interested readers away. And your comments will be trash-canned. (See above)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Right now the conservative charge is led by:

Lewis, who thinks public education is a socialist plot to steal money and brainwash children to become Evil Liberals

and Thad, who believes that light rail is a waste of money, but having the government purchase self-driving Jetsons cars for everyone is fiscal responsibility.

Any minute now, Rick should be showing up to point out that the Observer is actually run by a coalition of UNCC professors, Chamber representatives and Voldemort.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey lewis, we stil want to know where you went to school. Where does your kid go now? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

to anon that asserted I said "who believes that light rail is a waste of money, but having the government purchase self-driving Jetsons cars for everyone is fiscal responsibility."

I think it should be the individual who buys there own Jetsons cars (becomming more of a reality each day-please research the latest DARPA race or are you too simple thinking?). For starters, instead of the HOV lanes, have a GPS lane.

Thad

Anonymous said...

Because that's a solution for people who don't own a car.

Anonymous said...

Jetson cars and BUSES.

Sorry for the confusion.

Thad

Anonymous said...

At least our sprawl would be more efficient.

Anonymous said...

Considering the anti-CATS contingent rails about how the bus system is a big waste of money, I doubt they are sincere in arguing that it should replace the rail system.

IMO, this is a case of bait-and-switch. Shoot down the trains, and the next target is the buses. A few repeals later and CATS ceases to exist, which is what the regressives really wanted in the first place.

What strikes me as bizarre is that they won't admit that this is an extreme position, well outside the interests of 99% of the population.

Anonymous said...

Haven't noticed the anti transit tax coalition is against buses. Most of them seem to support buses and detest the waste of rail as inefficient, and too costly per person mile or any other measure.

Spend the money on buses and I believe most of them would support the plan.

Bus lanes, hov lanes etc.

Anonymous said...

^ Exactly right. No one is talking about getting rid of buses, although some people are talking about raising fares so that the buses are paid for more by those who actually use them. Buses make use of the same road grid as cars, so they are a much more efficient use of money than trains for local transit.

Lewis said...

Some anon asks me where I and my children have gone or go to school. Does it (not knowing whether the writer is male or female) also wish to know where my grandchildren attend? Another suggests I start my own blog.

My response is simple.
I do not respond to requests from people who refuse to identify themselves.

Second, I write a column for the Herald, which is published about every 2 weeks. The Herald is distributed in Huntersville and Cornelius. If you actually wish to read more of my writing, look it up there. The editor, Tucker Mitchell, has a difficult time getting my email address right, but I am sure, if you ask him, you can respond to something I have written there.

Otherwise, Mary does a yeoman's job of handling this blog, and I, for one, appreciate her effort to run another line of thought simulataneously.

In the meantime, look up the Milankovitch theory on the net, and read a bit about ice ages and their cycles.

As always, I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

Haven't noticed the anti transit tax coalition is against buses. Most of them seem to support buses and detest the waste of rail as inefficient, and too costly per person mile or any other measure.

You must be kidding. I don't know how many times I've heard on WBT, read in the Rhinoceros Times, and seen on this blog the conservative voices in this city railing against all those empty buses (second to black helicopters in notoriety around here) that are just wasting our precious tax pennies. And a large part of the argument against CATS and Tober specifically is that the bus system is run badly. I can't count how many times I've seen comments on here suggesting that the uptown bus station is a detriment to the city.

The day Meck-Co conservatives come out in support of the bus system is the day WBT goes pinko.

Anonymous said...

I, a died in the wool fiscal conservative, not to be confused with the social conservatives, support buses completely.

In fact, and I have said so before, I think the rides should be LESS expensive, not more.

Rick said...

More scare tactics...

That conservatives are uniformly against buses is a lie intended to mislead and confuse the debate. It hopes to turn off some individuals' brains by using the "conservative" hot button to make you not think.

The plan I presented here a while back was intended to save the bus system by implementing a bus only transit tax. (No need to bring up that it is not workable because of needing legislative approval. That has already been proven factually incorrect.)

I've even taken to riding one of the express buses to Uptown once or twice a week - when it's convenient. The 53x to be exact.

The single greatest threat to the long term health of the bus system is building more trains. As this debate continues, more and more bus riders will realize that.

Anonymous said...
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Lewis said...

From Wednesday's FOR THE RECORD, for those who don't see it. by David Hartgen.

The key transportation issue is traffic congestion, not "choices." The county grew 36 percent in the 1990s and 19 percent from 2000 to 2006, and population will increase 300,000 by 2030. Most newcomers will drive. Congestion will double, to Chicago-like levels, even if the current plans are built. This threatens job access.

• Transit system costs are high and out of line with use. The 1998 vote was based on a $1.1 billion plan; now the estimate is $ 8.9 billion. Of the region's $12-13 billion transportation budget the transit system would consume two-thirds but serve just 2 percent of commuters. The other 98 percent will stew in congestion....

• ... Even if the transit forecasts are to be believed, transit's effect on congestion would not be noticeable. The transit share will be only 2-3 percent of work trips, and 1-2 percent of regional travel, too small to affect even corridor congestion. Far from providing "a choice," the system would do little for most commuters.

• Rising densities will increase congestion, not reduce it. Most growth will go to the edge of the region and to nearby counties, not to transit corridors. While a higher share of work trips will be by transit, the remainder will use the street system, adding to congestion. Cities with high transit shares (New York City, Chicago, Washington, etc.) have worse, not better, congestion.

• Areas our size exclusively operate bus service, not light rail. Austin, Columbus, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Orlando, Hartford. Syracuse and Rochester all have bus-only service. When the South Boulevard Line is completed, Charlotte will be the smallest city in the U.S. with a LRT line (excepting a two-car line in Little Rock).

• Many cities much larger than Charlotte also rely largely on buses. Kansas City, Detroit, New Orleans, Nashville, Memphis and Louisville have bus-only systems. Buffalo, San Diego, Sacramento, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis and Salt Lake City have just one LRT line each. Our present and future densities do not warrant transit.

• The recent UNCC study inappropriately compares Charlotte with larger cities that have light rail service. Since those cities have generally higher transit operating and construction costs, the comparison is not appropriate. The report should have compared Charlotte to other mid-sized bus-only systems.

What should be done now?

• Repeal the transit sales tax. Operate the South Boulevard light rail line but build no more. Instead, focus on express transit and improve bus service. Add point-to-point service with smaller vehicles. Implement a "fair fare" policy that riders pay no less than 25 percent of costs. Review route performance. Contract out services. Use higher fares, federal operating assistance funds, and local funds budgeted competitively; transit should not have a dedicated fund source.

• Make congestion relief the primary concern. Like Atlanta, set a goal for congestion reduction, and select projects accordingly.... Increase funding: about $4 billion more is needed to hold congestion at current levels.

• Redirect the region's focus to roads. Remove bottlenecks, improve signal timing and add arterial turns. Consider HOT lanes (high-occupancy-toll lanes on freeways) for use by both transit and other vehicles.

• Implement regional flex-time and ridesharing programs to lower traffic demand....

These actions will put our region back on the path to a high-quality road and transit system that we can be proud of.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For The Record offers commentaries from various sources. The views are the writer's, and not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board.

Anonymous said...

David Hartgen is not a source I would be quoting if I wanted to be taken seriously in a transit debate. Might as well quote Jim Black in an ethics debate.

Anonymous said...

to anon with a "black helicopter fetish",

I have yet to see any posts claiming black helicopters anywhere except in YOUR imagination.

So logically(I know your not used to this concept but here we go) your statement-
"I've heard on WBT, read in the Rhinoceros Times, and seen on this blog the conservative voices in this city railing against all those empty buses (second to black helicopters in notoriety around here)"
Says you rarely if ever have heard conservatives railing against all those empty buses (since nothing is written about black helicopters).

Is that your point or did you just make a poor statement?

Thad

Anonymous said...

Thad, Lewis,

We are documenting everything you say. our associates will be knocking on your door soon.

-The New World Order

Anonymous said...

^ Considering you used (awkward) sarcasm in your post, one would expect you'd be able to recognize it in another person's writing.

Anonymous said...

to anon:

They can't knock on my door unless I call the front gate and tell them to let therm in.

Thanks for your warning/concern,

Thad

Anonymous said...

^ forget the gates, that's where the black helicopter comes into play...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that's not the only black thing you won't let through the gates.

Anonymous said...

To anon 2:08pm,

Brilliant!! You have such good insight. Bet you can guess how many hairs on my head as accurately as you guess my character.

Thad

Lewis said...

If anyone was going to knock at my door, it would have happened in my younger years, when my testosterone level was higher.

Of those on the other end of the anon comments, I can't imagine any of you know anyone who would knock on a door, much less do it yourself.

Anonymous said...

If the black helicopters are self-piloting...

Anonymous said...

K. Rogers, you've given us some scientific theory to review......now how about you check out this ?

www-dot-11thhourfilm-dot-com

Please save your comments about the theatrics, I think we're all sophisticated enough to know how Hollywood grabs our attention......instead, concentrate on the content.

Anonymous said...

Mary,
Congratulations and good luck!

Could you please verify what you meant in your statement
"Second, although I do appreciate the devoted (if sometimes mean-spirited) commenters and readers of The Naked City, honesty compels me to reveal that Potterblog was far more popular, measured in page views. (Blog readership -- high or low -- doesn't affect my pay, by the way. And no, I don't measure the value of what I do by page views, otherwise I'd be opining about Brad Pitt and the NFL.)"

I don't understand Potterblog being more popular when the responses for Potter had a hard time reaching double digits except for a couple and in those the discussions were all NOT about Potter.

If it were just page views, you can scratch off a bunch because I checked each one daily (I can't remember how many responses from day to day-except the ones with ONE comment)to see if people added comments other than the Plotter stuff.

ALOHA

Thad

Anonymous said...

^ For that matter, probably 90% of the posts to this blog are made by the same 5 people (Thad, Lewis, Rick, Kenny, Danimal) going round and round. And I bet the "anons" are no more than half a dozen people total.

K. Rogers said...

Anon 8/09/2007 06:19:00 PM

I am not really sure what "scientific theory" you say I have posted. In this blog I have been posting facts and analysis on the LTR system.

I would gladly respond to something more understandable.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Mary. That last column (Today, Saturday) is a gem. I see you're back to defending the "study": that two week effort at PR. At least that makes a couple of things clear: you never did pop back in in the midst of that Potter nonsense to deal with your (untrue) ad hominem argument regarding the study being somehow connected to the chamber, because in fact you lack courage to actually engage in debate. And it makes clear as well why people in the recent Pew study find the news media biased and inaccurate. They might ad hopelessly arrogant and possessed of unbounded hubris.

Enjoy the year in Cambridge. If you run across any iuntellectual honesty while you're there, you might want to grab it: you're running low.

K. Rogers said...

Facts are the stumbling blocks that most pro-LTR people just can't dodge. All those emotional platitudes cannot make these go away:

1. South Line 100% over-budget and 1 1/2 years late.

2. Original system was $ 1.1 BB. Now it's $9.0 BB and the first of three lines is NOT complete.

3. Voters in 1998 voted for 1/2 cent sales tax for LTR. LTR capital funding now now includes property taxes. The plan has exceeded the original voter approved mandate.

4. 1/2 cent sales tax CANNOT support bus + 3 LTR, so additional property tax increases for LTR transit are a certainty. By the way, the data I used came from Syfert's doom and gloom scenario to city council (4-22% tax increase), the 2007 Char-Meck budget (available on web). Punch a few buttons on the calculator and it can be confirmed.

5. LTR will NOT improve traffic congestion or pollution. CATS and other pro-LTR folks have admitted this.

In terms of "controlling" growth, this is another red herring. Our local leaders could promote development policy that would provide population density without spending $9.0 BB. Unfortunately, our leaders have shown little fortitude in keeping to strategic plans and other growth controls they have tried over the years. A $9.0 BB LTR system is not panacea to correct for a leadership that does not have the political will to enforce their policies.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

It seems what has actually happened is the 1/2 percent sales tax was used for buses. Fine.
But, as you have noted indirectly, since the 1/2 % tax goes to buses, that relieved City Council of funding the bus system with property taxes, while eliminating the availability of the 1/2 % tax for future rail needs.

So using the transit tax to fund the bus system, which previously had been funded by property taxes, allowed a tacit property tax increase due to loss of cost, without lowering the tax rate.

Now, some years later, we are hit with another tax increase, and are looking at another to continue funding the rail line.

Lewis

Anonymous said...

^ So the best solution is to withdraw the tax and cripple the system. Brilliant!

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