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February 10, 2007 Transportation and Transit For Scottsdale Thomas A. Rubin, CPA, CMA, CMC, CIA, CGFM, CFM
What to do AboutScottsdale Road? “First, do no harm.” Hippocrates, Epidemics
Scottsdale Road is a Unique Transportation Asset • Scottsdale is a very long and narrow city, with only a very few continuous N-S roads • Scottsdale Road is by far the most important of these, with both the highest capacity and most key trip generators • If ill-conceived transportation “improvements” reduce its carrying capacity, there are no fixes possible
Scottsdale Road is the Designated “High Capacity Transit Corridor” Mode Options: • Light Rail Transit (LRT) • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) • “Modern” Streetcar
Maricopa County “Transit Modal Splits” Home-to-Work/Work-to-Home: • Maricopa County 2.2% • City of Phoenix 3.4% • City of Scottsdale 1.3% • Maricopa County w/o Phoenix 1.3% Even if transit share would triple, it would still be very minor – don’t mess what needs to be done on Scottsdale Road to carry people on the existing “rubber tire” modes.
Light Rail Transit • What is now being constructed in Phoenix • Exclusive guideway for trains, either entire length or very close • This may be exclusive lanes for trains or city streets or freeways, or separate right-of-way off street • Stations generally approximately one mile apart
Light Rail Transit II • Generally two-three car trains • Operating speeds: • When street-running, normally street speed limit • Exclusive ROW, generally 55 mph • National average: approximately 17 mph • Top “normal” LRT, ~ 24 mph • Exception – LA Green Line, over 30 mph
Light Rail Transit III • Costs/Mile – Varies significantly, but from under $20 million to hundreds of millions per mile, with most in range of approximately $40-80 million • Cost of Phoenix first line: $1,412.12 million for 19.6 miles $72 million/mile • Safety issue – Grade crossings, particularly at speeds over 35 mph
Bus Rapid Transit • Most physical and operating characteristics generally similar to LRT, but with “rubber tire,” vice steel-on-steel, wheels/tires • Speeds and carrying capacities roughly comparable to LRT • Capital cost of BRT generally <50% of LRT, operating cost comparison varies but BRT generally lower
Bus Rapid Transit II • With BRT, unlike LRT, guideway buses can operate off the guideway, serving as their own feeder/distributors • Safety concern – intersections, particularly with “ostridge” approach
Modern Streetcar • Unlike LRT, streetcar tracks are in rubber tire traffic lanes on street – streetcars, cars, and trucks use same lanes • Generally, stops every block or two • Speeds – generally, 5-9 mph; capable of higher speeds where traffic allows and stops are further apart • Fairly short, generally about five miles
Modern Streetcar II • Generally, less frequent service (~10-15 minutes) than LRT or BRT • Far lower overall carrying capacity • Generally used as downtown circulator, not really usable as “main line” transit • Capital costs vary widely, from as low as a under $1 million/mile (Kensoha) to ~$25 million per (one-way) mile (Tacoma)
Impacts of Guideway Transit on Scottsdale Road • LRT and BRT both require approximately 26 feet for two lanes of straight track • Station platforms require an additional 20 feet, with 10 foot station requirement possible with some compromises in station “quality” • Intersections with left turn lanes can become very complex, particularly two-laners • Many minor thru streets become “T’s”
Impacts of Guideway Transit on Scottsdale Road II • LRT and BRT generally require traffic signal cycle changes for best transit results • Streetcar generally operates on same lanes as rubber tire vehicles, but there are many impacts due to slow speeds, frequent stops, turn requirements, and inability to get around obstacles such as collisions and power outages
What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road Potential LRT/BRT Impacts: • Conversion of traffic lanes for exclusive light rail use • Reallocations of traffic signal cycle time to transit • Elimination of left turn lanes at some intersections, conversion of two-laners back to one-laners at others
What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road II • Elimination of most/all of non-intersection left turn lanes, such as at shopping malls • Elimination of street parking • Conversion of most/all non-arterial street crossings into “T” intersections • “No stopping” zones – no pick-ups, drop-offs • LRT and Streetcar would have overhead “catenary” wires
What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road III • In certain locations along the ROW, potentially: • Wiping out every structure and parking lot on the East side of the street • Wiping out every structure and parking lot on the West side of the street • Wiping out every structure and parking lot on both sides of the street
What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road IV Modern Streetcar impacts would be less drastic: • Modern Streetcar would likely operate for only a relatively short distance along Scottsdale Road because it really isn’t much of a transportation system • Although it would probably not require traffic lane takes, there would be negative impacts on road capacity
What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road V For the core traditional downtown area, LRT/BRT would require so much street width that rubber tire traffic would be extremely limited – or entire blocks of existing structures would have to be removed The consideration of any of guideway transit option for this section of Scottsdale Road could lead to consideration of entire elimination of rubber tire traffic
Modern Streetcar is NOT a “Main Line” Transportation System I took or computed annual passenger-miles for six streetcar systems that are either fully “modern” or similar in how they operate: Kenosha, Little Rock, Memphis, Portland, Tacoma, Tampa A four-mile stretch of six-lane Scottsdale Road carries about the same amount of passenger-miles in a day And none of these streetcars carry freight
Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories • Little Rock – $1.2 billion in real estate development generated from $20 million investment in streetcar system • Portland Streetcar – $2.28 billion from $89 million • Tacoma – $1 billion from $89 million • Tampa -- $1 billion from $56 million
Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories II City Development $ Daily Riders $/Rider Portland $2,280,000,000 8,500 $ 268,000 Tacoma 1,000,000,000 2,424 413,000 Tampa 1,000,000,000 1,548 646,000 Little Rock 1,200,000,000 423 2,800,000
Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories III What Can we Learn From This? A rooster crowing at dawn may believe that it is causing the sun to come up, but you shouldn’t be taking real estate investment advice from a rooster. … or a light rail/streetcar booster.
Freeway “Level of Service” (LOS) Criteria Level of ServiceMax SpeedMax Service Flow A 75.0 750 B 75.0 1,200 C 71.0 1,704 D 65.0 2,080 E 53.0 2,400 F <53.0 >2,400 (Above is for Free-Flow Speed, which has nothing to do with the speed limit, of 75 mph.)
Reason FoundationGalvin Mobility Project • A series of professional papers on mobility • First ones have been published, available at: http://www.reason.org/transportation/ • Many more now in works • I’m doing one on the relationship between transit and traffic congestion
Interim Report • I had my associate do the analysis for two UZA’s to test the data • Figured, what-the-heck, do the regressions and see what we get • Overall expectation? Not much connection – congestion is basically a supply-and-demand thing and transit is just a small percentage of total transportation in most UZA’s. • So, here’s the results – for Portland, Oregon
Well, Why Not? • Rule 1: “Correlation is not causation.” • 20 data points for one UZA is just a bit thin for drawing this type of conclusion. • Most important, what possible direct causation could there be between, all else equal, an increase in transit usage – presumably, taking vehicles off the streets – and congestion getting worse?
But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland • First Portland Light Rail Line was largely funded with Federal “Interstate Transfer” funds – Portland (or, more properly, the Mayor of Portland, with assistance from other officials) decided to give up an urban Interstate that had already been approved and funded to build this line. • An urban freeway has several times more “transportation work” capacity than any light rail line
But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland II • Building this light rail line required taking out a pre-existing HOV lane from a freeway that had higher transportation work values than the light rail line • Building light rail on surface streets has reduced road capacity on these arterials and made crossing movements more difficult
But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland III • Portland (Metro, Tri-Met, State, et al) have largely decided to not implement road capacity improvements – as demand increases • Portland et al have adopted LOS “F” as the official target – while this is the result in many UZA’s, at least the others are officially trying to do better, not worse
So, can transit actually cause congestion to increase?No, not by itself.But, as a component of an officially adopted program of “interesting” transportation decisions, a case can be made.
Measurement Metrics Number of Lanes or Tracks x Vehicles or Trains per Hour per Lane/Track x Vehicles per Train x Passengers per Vehicle = PASSENGERS PASS A POINT x Speed = TRANSPORTATION WORK (Passenger Miles Index)
How to “Tilt” a Modal Comparison • There are many different methodologies, and variations, for comparisons • Almost all are valid, and useful – when properly utilized by people who know what they are doing • It is very easy to misuse metrics to make them appear to show that your desired result, your modal selection, is the “right” one • WATCH OUT FOR PEOPLE WHO PLAY GAMES WITH DATA AND METHODS
How to “Tilt” a Modal Comparison II To make your favored mode look better, show: ..............Road………..….…………….…Rail………..…..… Location Entire Metro Area Length Peak Load Point Time Frame All Day Peak Hour Metric Transportation Work Passengers Past a Point Methodology Actual Theoretical f/Rail, Actual f/Road Freight Include Exclude
Examples of What to Watch Out For Cynthia Sullivan, Chair, (Seattle) Central Link (light rail system) Oversight Committee, “When this system is up and running, Northgate to SeaTac, in 2020, it will carry as many people every day as I-5 does today.” Center for Transportation Excellence: “It would take a twelve lane freeway going in one direction to equate the same amount of capacity of one light rail line.”
Passenger Carrying Capacity Modal Comparisons ..L.A. Blue Line.. ……..CFTE....…. Peak Peak El Monte/ NY Port Light …Real World…. Load Trip Busway Authority LOS “E”..Rail..LOS “E”LOS “F”.Point...Ave..HOV LaneBus Term Trains/Hour 20 12 12 Cars/Train 6 2.5 2.5 Cars/Hour 2,000 120 1,800 2,100 30 30 1,218 515-779 Occupancy 1.25 125 1.15 1.15 150 80 4.36 32-48 Passengers 23,187- Past a Point 2,50015,000 2,070 2,415 4,500 2,400 5,310 34,685 Speed 55 25 15 24 56.9 Transportation Work Index 113,85060,37537,50056,700302,166 “E” Index 1.00 .53 .33 .50 2.65 “F” Index 1.89 1.00 .62 .94 5.00
Vehicle Carrying Capacity • The number of persons in a vehicle is key to carrying capacity. • The Kinkisharyo light rail vehicle selected for Phoenix light rail are described on the Valley Metro web site as, “have a capacity of 200.” • The Skoda “modern streetcar” used in Portland and Tacoma is shown with a maximum load of 140.
Cost Metrics Federal Transit Administration Financial Capacity Analysis: 1. Is there funding to operate existing transit system? 2. Is there funding for capital renewal and replacement of existing transit system? 3. If answers to 1. and 2. are yes, then, and only then, is there funding to construct and operate the proposed system expansion?
FTA 49 USC 5309 “New Start” Tests The “new” metric is “Incremental Cost Divided by Transportation System User Benefit.” “Incremental Cost” is calculated in accordance with detailed procedures. “Transportation System User Benefit” is expressed in “time equivalent units,” which is basically travel hours saved. The “old” metric, which is still reported, is “Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger,” aka “Cost per New Passenger.”
Annualized Project Cost Simplified, the “Cost” for old and new metrics is: Annualized Capital Cost + Annual Operating Cost + Other Cost Changes (such as savings in operating costs for pre-existing transit lines) = Annual Cost (usually, 20 years out) “Annualized Capital Cost” spreads original capital costs of assets over their specified useful lives.
Annualized Capital Cost Asset Type Useful LivesFactor 40-foot Bus 12 years .126 Pavement 20 years .094 Rail Cars 25 years .086 Track, Electric, Structures 30 years .081 Land 100 years .070 “Factors” math is the same as for a 7% mortgage for the designated number of years of life.
Benefits “User Benefits” and “New Passengers” are outputs of transportation planning models, which must be approved by FTA. “Cost per New Passenger” was implemented because Feds believed the same riders were being shifted to more expensive transit modes, for no real transportation benefit. Change was made to “new” metric because opponents of many “new starts” projects were use “cost per new passenger” values to show it would be cheaper to least each new rider a car – often a luxury car.
Example of Cost/New Passenger Confusion “Frankly, light rail is very expensive. With respect to virtually all new systems, it would have been less expensive to lease each new commuter a car in perpetuity – in some cases, a luxury car, such as a Jaguar XJ8 or a BMW 740i.” – Wendell Cox, 2000 “This one is a real howler. To put it into perspective, a new BMW 740i goes for $62,900. APTA estimates that approximately 13,000,000 people use transit on a typical weekday. 13,000,000 times $62,900 would be $817.7 billion – almost half of the annual federal budget.” Paul M. Wyerich and William S. Lind
This response is extremely disquieting – while the difference between “cost per passenger” and “cost per new passenger” may not be readily apparent to lay persons, for people who are set forward as experts by the primary public transit industry association in the U.S. to not understand the distinction is somewhat akin to listening to a sermon by a priest who has never heard of the Ten Commandments.And then for that industry association to actually publish this comment under its own name, …