Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Commuter rail: Finally?

A couple of rail-related news bits:

Item No. 1: Why hasn't much commuter rail been built in the country in recent years? The Bush administration's Federal Transit Administration had written some requirements for how to calculate such things as projected ridership when submitting requests for federal transit money. It's complicated, but the upshot was that the rules made it impossible for commuter rail -- which goes faster and has fewer stops than in-town light rail -- to compete for the limited federal transit dollars.

That's why the North Corridor transit line that the Charlotte Area Transit System wants to build had that "gap" in its funding plan -- it's the gap where federal funds might have gone, but weren't available. The Triangle Transit Authority in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill was stuck for the same reason.

Now comes word the FTA has rescinded those old parameters, CATS chief Keith Parker said late last week. He didn't know yet what the new parameters would be or whether new money would be available for commuter rail projects. But it's got to be good news for CATS and the many people who've been hoping to see a rail line from uptown Charlotte to Davidson and even beyond, if Iredell County would cough up some money (not to mention good news for the TTA and our fellow North Carolinians in the Triangle.)

Item No. 2: A new Elon University poll finds 77 percent of North Carolinians would like to see commuter rail developed in urban areas, and 69 percent support regional rail systems.

While 51 percent of North Carolinians oppose collecting tolls to fund
statewide transportation projects, 77 percent would like to see commuter
railways developed in urban areas and 69 percent of citizens support regional
rail systems. Sixty-seven percent of respondents support a state-wide bond
referendum to raise money for transportation projects, while 57 percent of
residents support giving local governments the option of using a half-cent sales
tax to finance local projects. Residents oppose a fee based on the number of
miles they drive annually (74%) and increasing the cost of the driver’s license
renewal fee (55%).

16 comments:

Derita Resident said...

Who do I need to shake to convince that Charlotte residents and others want to see this commuter rail in the very near future? It's a no-brainer, the Lynx Purple line, and should be started forthwith!

Anonymous said...

In Eastern NC, Mike Ciriello and Vivian Coleman created a plan for commuter rail from Wilson to Raleigh to Smithfield and Goldsboro. It was great plan, called Eastrans, that had a lot of local residents excited. The proposal brought together the private sector railroads to make private investment improvements, NCDOT, local government, and private organizations. The Triangle Transit Authority hated the idea because they thought it was competition. I think their proposal has been taken up by NC Railroad Corp.

Anonymous said...

As we transition to a post-oil world, only cities with transit in place will survive the next 20 to 30 years. By then it will be too late to build transit infrastructure. We need leader with vision to look to transitioning to the post-oil world - to look at where we'll be 2 or 3 decades from now - not to only look at where we'll be 2 or 3 years from now.

Anonymous said...

I guess it makes too much sense to run a commuter train between Charlotte and Mooresville which already has an excellent rail already in place running along a scenic route. Putting a train on this rail must be too difficult and more expensive. Taking auto traffic off U.S. 21, N.C. 115 and I-77 must also be a problem.

Anonymous said...

"In Eastern NC, Mike Ciriello and Vivian Coleman created a plan for commuter rail from Wilson to Raleigh to Smithfield and Goldsboro. It was great plan, called Eastrans, that had a lot of local residents excited. The proposal brought together the private sector railroads to make private investment improvements, NCDOT, local government, and private organizations. The Triangle Transit Authority hated the idea because they thought it was competition. I think their proposal has been taken up by NC Railroad Corp."

Yeah it was an excellent plan to suck more tax dollars into the money pit that is Eastern North Carolina. We don't need a Global TransPark of commuter rail. We need rail where there is the proper density and congestion so that the most North Carolinians would benefit.

barkomomma said...

"We need rail where there is the proper density and congestion so that the most North Carolinians would benefit."

Head north.

2whls3spds said...

@Anonyomous 5:48pm

Probably the line belongs to a freight railroad and they want big money to lease space on it. Sometimes I wonder if nationalizing the rail and letting passenger trains take priority might not be such a bad idea.

Aaron

Anonymous said...

A commuter line to Uptown. Will there be anyone working uptown in 2 to 3 years? Once the Wells and BofA layoffs take shape, uptown will be a ghost town. Traffic on I-77 will take care of itself.

Anonymous said...

The Lynx Purple line is still a bad idea simply because the prize isn't available: Mooresville. Unless Iredell comes on board on that line, a commuter line from Uptown to Davidson will not generate much.

Also converting to the old rules doesn't help CATS as you imply, if the funds are roughly the same or not expanded upon much, this could spell big trouble because more cities can join in. To give a perfect example of this, think of the NC Loop Fund... how long has it taken I-485 now? The stricture rules were not liked, but it worked to weed out the less qualified projects.

Rick said...

I've been complaining about the dishonesty of the local transit plan for a long time now - even though both of the next two corridors would benefit me financailly.

But you know what? I think I'll go ahead and say lets build the thing.

I'll get to ride it to my Uptown job, and it will probably be less crowded than the bus I currently ride. I won't be contributing to an increased use of transit, but who cares about that.

I'll get to benefit from increased property values and the accompanying gentrification. Gentrification is a good thing - right? I'm sure the people who are forced out won't have any problem finding another place just like they didn't when Uptown gentrified. We have plenty of affordable housing to go around.

I'll get to save more money on gas simply because I'm lucky enough to already live in a defined transit corridor. Lucky me.

I'll get all these benefits and someone else will pay for it if we get some BOBs (Barack Obama Bucks). Hooooo-raaaaay!!!

Irresponsibility...it's the New American Way. Allllll abooooooard!!!

Anonymous said...

Privatize all rail and public transportation.

Anonymous said...

Mary, you ask, "Why hasn't much commuter rail been built in the country in recent years?"

Answer: THE UNITED STATES IS $12 TRILLION IN DEBT.

Any more questions?

Anonymous said...

EVERY study and statement about CATS has stated it needs 100k uptown workers to be viable. With Wellschovia about to shed the top floors of its offices here and Ken Lewis headed for prison, there is NO WAY uptown is going to hit that figure.

Math, unlike NakedCity, doesn't lie.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that UNCC published a report about North Charlotte Real Estate and Never Mentioned the North Rail?

Anonymous said...

I used Lynx for most of my route to and from the main public library today. The cars were packed on the way back, and it was only 3 p.m.

Obviously it doesn't need 100,000 uptown white professionals to be successful. It just needs to provide a quick means of transit from hopefully more than one part of town, where people live, to other parts of town, where they work, and going through center city to expand the transit options.

Lynx - spread it around!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the reduction in traffic on 1-77 and South Blvd. Wow the billboards didn't lie about reducing congestion if we build the light rail.