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Re: “Welcome to the INDY's Raleigh City Council Live Blog

How many millions of dollars has Steve Schuster's firm made from the City of Raleigh? I.e., taxpayers have enriched him immensely. His strong business ties with the city make his role on the planning commission an obvious conflict of interest. And, of course, the whole being a rubber stamp for developers over citizens as well.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Protect Falls on 07/05/2016 at 9:17 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

As I said in my opening Denver and Durham are not even on the same planet. I like Denver, go there on business 3-4 times a year. Was not meant as a criticism of Denver at all. The numbers are different by an order of magnitude.

Denver chose to make parking free to attract riders, but it has backfired. The point is the lengths politicians will go to promote their transit trophy.

I notice you are all about discrediting the source, but not the analysis. Regardless of the source the Cato criticisms are valid and relevant to DOLRT. hese real world experiences directly counter the assertions by MichiealB when he says DOLRT long term costs are less than BRT. I can see rail to the airport. I can see rail to RTP as it becomes more dense. I can see rail tying Raleigh, Cary, Durham, RDU, RTP and possibly Chapel Hill together.

I cannot see spending +1.8 Billion dollars on a 17 mile LRT between two campuses especially when there are so many more pressing transit needs in the area. I also think the introduction of the "at grade" crossings are seriously problematic (I am unsure if there are any in Denver downtown, but I don't think there are)

I am certain that connected car technology can be and is being applied to BRT, taking one of the main long term expenses out, while maintaining a superior cost and flexibility model.

5 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by where's the beef? on 07/05/2016 at 7:13 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

I'm open to rebuttal. I am. But I'm confused. Have patience; I am not that bright.

But first, you are citing a 3 year old op-ed piece from a Cato Institute guy? CI in its history is in favor of funding what programs? ACA? Social Security? Saving puppies from drowning? Anything?

Then, the next source you quote is from an article about Denver's parking models, particularly the choice to not charge for parking at some park -and-ride spots in order to encourage adoption of lite rail: "If RTD charged drivers just $1.50 per day, the agency would raise an extra $8.2 million a year, according to the Colorado Fiscal Institute."

So the first article says LR is a failure and the second one says it's a potential tax windfall?

As I said, I'm no genius, but those numbers translate to what: over half-a-million rides taken on the lite rail? Minimum. That doesn't count car poolers and uberers and people that walk to a station. This kinda signals half-a-million less commuter car rides taken, right? That sounds good. But maybe I'm missing your point.

Is your point that there are multiple revenue streams to be gained by pursuing the lite rail's working commuter first, and then adding routes to the less robust neighborhoods, but it comes at the expense of the traditionally poorer bus rider? Ok, there's a concern there.

Is your point that Colorado used forms of monetary encouragement to get people to use the lite rail, and that's what? Unfair? Because that sounds like how we lure every private business to NC.

Is your point that lite rail is racist/classist because it must follow the tax base first? (Can a lite rail be racist? Policy can, so why not? Ok. I don't know) That's an interesting take.

Do you just really love buses? It's a thing.

The lessons to be learned from the Denver model do include: it's expensive to install/maintain and adoption takes time/effort/carrots&sticks. You're right. And there's upkeep. Like w roads. But, just for giggles, go fly into Denver and see the new lite rail now that it pulls up to the airport. Go visit the newly refurbished Union Station and the vibrant restaurant/convention scene in and around the terminal! The upside to the city is tremendous. Go see how the professional hockey team's fans (ooh similarity), and the professional baseball, football, soccer, and basketball teams' fans pack the thing on every game day. Look at the people using it for plays and concerts and commuting. And think of what the Triangle can become. This is a no-brainer--the equivalent of investing for a vibrant future. And look, not long ago, Denver was considered a "cow town"--now it's one of the most desirable places to live in the US with amazing growth for 10 years running--just like Raleigh.

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by whatdoiknow on 07/05/2016 at 6:14 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

MichaelB, that retort does not make sense. First the DOLRT requires considerable land purchases as well, how is that different? Secondly how adding a BRT guideway to 15-501 would add “considerably less volume than an equivalent lane on a new [DOLRT] corridor”?

Once again:

The first problem with DOLRT is cost; BRT has been shown again and again to cost less/cover far more territory/serve more people.

The secondary problem is fairness; regressive taxation to build a rail for the well off is trickle down transit and just wrong. LRT has served to displace people with low incomes nationwide in favor of soaring real estate prices, rents, and developer profits.

The tertiary problem is safety; why are we spending Billions on DOLRT building new at grade crossings in dense areas when we are spending millions removing them elsewhere?

Fourth and finally there are seismic disruptions coming in transportation technologies, coupled with major social and demographic shifts. Why would we spend +1.8 Billion dollars on a inflexible 17 mile rail line when we could invest in a much more flexible and less costly transit solution?

There are other problems such as GoTriangles ridership justifications, maintenance facility location, parking allocations, "public" meetings held at hours only convenient for politicians, the fiscal burn rate on "studies", neglect of other solutions (parknride, downtown connector, etc.)....

9 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by where's the beef? on 07/05/2016 at 11:46 AM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

This might be my last comment on this -- others are carrying on the debate fine, but I do have to respond to a couple of specific questions from wheresthebeef and Alex Cabanes:

"OK. I must be missing something. If corridors are expensive why is DOLRT advocating a new one? It only makes commonsense that expanding the existing corridor(s) would be far more cost effective, Overcapacity is hyperbole along 15-501 since there is plenty of right of way. Yes additional rights of way would be needed, but that would be by far less expensive and impactful that the DOLRT right of way."

First of all, corridors are needed because transportation requires them. This is fairly axiomatic when one stops playing silly word games. Transportation is both incredibly expensive and incredibly necessary to our economy. That is why these things cost lots of money. This is a very simple point but one which seems to keep being missed. Road corridor lane miles or rail miles are both expensive. (More on that in a second.)

Further, there is not "plenty of right of way" around 15-501 -- it would require considerable land purchases, which unlike the rail corridor, no transportation agency holds the options for purchase. Additionally, every lane added to an existing corridor adds considerably less volume than an equivalent lane on a new corridor.

Now, regarding Mr. Cabanes:

Let's start with the mathematical. The total budget of DOLRT involves the construction, operating, and maintenance costs, and these costs include not only the corridor infrastructure, but the rolling stock purchase, operation, and maintenance. By contrast, the building of a highway does not include the purchase, operation, and maintenance cost of driving -- which can be approximated as the cost of owning and maintaining a car and the cost of the driver's time. The monetary cost of driving time versus riding the train are hard to calculate, but fortunately AAA (hardly an auto-unfriendly organization) does the good work of calculating the per-mile costs of car ownership and maintenance. (See here: http://exchange.aaa.com/automobiles-travel…) If Mr. Cabanes wants to do apples-to-apples comparison to costs of transit, he needs to take the average trip length of those car trips and multiply times the appropriate costs per mile. (Given the range of variables involved this can be hard, but 55 cents per mile is a reasonable conservative estimate based on AAA's calculations.)

This, of course, gets a bit higher if one wants to buy into Mr. Cabanes' technoutopianism. Mr. Cabanes has repeatedly said that train technology will be obsoleted by self-driving vehicles in 10 years. While I find this ridiculous on its face, the veracity can be set aside for the moment and his time frame used. Existing, road-tested self-driving vehicles require an approximately $100,000 mark-up to take a normal car to a self-driving one. Current estimates of fully automated, self-driving vehicles put its cost for the next 5-10 years as dropping to $30k. The most optimistic estimates, which I'm highly skeptical of, see that dropping to $5k within 25-30 years, but let's stay within Mr. Cabanes' 10 year framework for now. Just focusing on the (very ambitious) purchase cost estimates and ignoring any extra maintenance that SDVs would require over a 7 year ownership period (after all, all computers and cameras and smartphones last 7 years with no maintenance, right?) with 15,000 miles driven per year, SDV adds at LEAST 25 cents per mile to the conservative 55 cent estimate above.

Finally, onto Mr. Cabanes' aptly-named "personal note":

"On a personal note, I find it particularly ironic that the most vocal DOLRT advocates, do so from afar without bearing the brunt of their progressive advocacy. Or that virtually every elected official advocating for DOLRT, high-density, transit-oriented-developments, etc. does so from the comfort of their single-family, detached, suburban home --- far away from the proposed DOLRT alignment. Perhaps it is easier to be ‘progressive’, living without the consequences of your decisions and can comfortably bully from afar those who do, as merely NIMBY."

Dear sir;

The letters following "MichaelB" in my name are "acon." You may feel free to put those into a Lexis-Nexus search for the public record of my involvement in Durham politics, particularly in the years between 1998 when I returned to Durham from college and 2013 when I moved away to allow my wife to take a job elsewhere. Unlike you, I expect, I was born in Durham. Unlike you, I expect, I graduated from high school in Durham. Unlike you, I expect, I rode the bus system regularly for well over a decade in Durham. Unlike you, who likes to style yourself a bus-advocate, I was pinning down elected officials at events as early as the late 1990s emphasizing that bus service in Durham had to improve, regardless of whether or not a train-based system was built. Unlike you, my record of public activism in Durham expands well beyond transit. Unlike you, I advocated for the half-cent sales tax because of its immense benefits to bus riders, benefits that have already begun to manifest.

Like you, my parents live near the rail corridor in southwest Durham county. Like you, I still have many friends and family who live near the corridor.

Unlike you, however, regardless of whether the BRT or the LRT gets built, I intend to be a regular rider of the service for decades to come and will therefore actually live with the consequences of whether the system is well-designed or not.

It is, however, unsurprising that when your utopian nonsense is laid bare, you resort to the same sorts of "personal notes" you only days before were decrying in your opponents.

You may now return to your futuristic dreamland. I can't help but wish you would stay there.

11 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by MichaelB on 07/05/2016 at 10:50 AM

Re: “The Morning Roundup: Dear North Carolina, You Are So Precious to These Two Candidates

The News & Observer had an article on the KKK a few days ago -- http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-wo… -- and thankfully it seems Barker’s claim of having 3,800 Klansmen in NC alone is a gross exaggeration; the Anti-Defamation League puts total KKK membership nationwide at around 3,000.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jon Howell on 07/05/2016 at 10:13 AM

Re: “The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If the goal of the creators of the film was indeed to point out that society puts too much pressure on single people, they could have achieved this worthy goal in a less cryptic and violent way. Yes, the movie was original, but that should not be a goal outright. Any message one is supposed to glean from this film is muddled by the tortured plot.

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Posted by Marco_Polo on 07/05/2016 at 8:05 AM

Re: “Budget "Correction" Set To Take $500,000 From Emergency Relief Fund To Pay For HB 2 Litigation

That's real smart, with hurricane season coming up and the possible threat of zika looming. I'm sure we'll have no need for those funds.

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Posted by Laurie B. on 07/04/2016 at 11:12 PM

Re: “Will a New Townhouse Project Open the Floodgates for Raleigh Developers?

The townhome full-ownership model is very common in Belgium, where I just moved back from. It works very well and allows this type of home to exist outside of a "townhouse complex" model. Of course certain rules have to be followed as far as changes owners might make in the future.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by MikeHomeowner on 07/04/2016 at 8:20 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

I know people will say that Denver and this area are not similar and I'll agree, but some of the lessons learned still apply. Sadly, Denver’s RTD FasTrack is a anti-LRT poster child. FasTrack has been a case study for bad public transportation decisions. http://www.denverpost.com/2013/04/25/has-r…

“.................Moreover, RTD’s predictions of how many riders the West Rail Line will carry — and therefore how much congestion it will relieve — have greatly declined. In 2003, RTD predicted 29,100 west line riders per weekday in its first year of operation. Now, it predicts just 19,300. If the train carries 19,400 riders, RTD will likely claim it exceeded expectations when it actually fell one-third short.”

As with most LRT, the cost ends up cannibalizing the bus system to make ends meet for the shiny new system many have staked their reputations on:

“.................Even that level of ridership will be achieved because RTD is canceling six express bus routes, herding riders to the slower and more expensive train. Daily commute times for some riders will increase by 40 minutes or more, RTD board member Natalie Menten told us. “I am getting a ton of calls and e-mails complaining about elimination or reduction. One person alone sent me a scanned petition with about 50 rider signatures from just one route,” Menten said. Many riders “stated they’ll just drive instead of enduring the extra hours they face away from home or family.”

Denver made the same mistake as we are about to by not listening to the people offering BRT as an alternative:

“....................Back in 1997, RTD compared light rail with bus rapid transit (BRT) on high-occupancy vehicle lanes on U.S. Highway 6. It found the bus was 88 percent as effective at reducing congestion, and for half the cost. Notably, the only BRT line that RTD included in its 2004 FasTracks plan has had the smallest cost escalations of any FasTracks route. That means that, for about the same price as RTD thought the West Rail Line would cost, it could have added BRT on both U.S. 6 and Interstate 70, relieving almost twice as much congestion for twice as many people. BRT was much more cost-effective than rail, yet RTD chose the more expensive alternative.”

With regard to park n’ ride; the state has made some decisions that defy logic in an effort to make FasTrack seem like a good choice:
http://denver.streetsblog.org/2016/05/25/r…

5 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by where's the beef? on 07/04/2016 at 5:25 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

Just my 2 cents here: I moved here from the Denver area and used their light rail often. The opening premise of someone who wants to use light rail to go to work would also take a bus to get to a light rail station, I believe is largely erroneous. And I think the author knows this.

Most suburban commuters drive/uber/carpool to a station and use the standard "park&ride" model. The local bus, much like the record store, is an outdated model--inefficient and outmoded--due to the confines and time constraints inherent to pre designated bus routes. And further, it is those suburban drivers that can potentially be taken off the road that are the main traget of light rail. By getting the daily drivers out of their cars x% of the time, we get the corresponding benefits (less highways use/cost of maintenance, less traffic, business development).

One can't take advantage of using existing corridors if growth was routed away from them for decades, unless we take advantage of the available space for associated parking and services.

Initially, having a light-rail that feeds to RTP, the universities, and downtown centers I think is a sensible way to start building the infrastructure the region can grow with. Many won't be served by this model, but many more will. And with use, comes revenue, and as I saw in Denver, expansion of the system. Just my two cents, but there's a lot of gobbledygook in this article.

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Posted by whatdoiknow on 07/04/2016 at 12:18 PM

Re: “A Big Chain is Coming to Ninth Street in Durham and It Serves Waffles

Holy Crap... Nothing will ever take me away from my Monuts. Not even if it's chopped, covered, smothered and fried in grease

Posted by Gary Messenger on 07/03/2016 at 8:14 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

Chuckde424, You sound bitter, man. First you complain about “personal attacks” then proceed to say “….I am also sorry that the legislature has given your selfish view life. It’s shocking how unprincipled and arrogant they are. You are not that, but you are selflishly wrong. I am also shocked that the Indy got this one so wrong in the above piece.”. …………….Really Chuck? Who is actually the disrespectful one, and who is deserving of respect?

The INDY (finally) is asking the hard questions and living up to their name and reputation, I for one respect that.

DOLRT is a economic development plan masquerading as a transit plan. The idea that trickle down transit will serve transit dependent communities has been wrong all around the country for decades. LRT is not "ghettoized" because LRT and the development that grows up around it is geared to the relatively well-off choice transit hipster. As you observe; the shiny new transit trophy takes the lion’s share of the funding while the transit dependent take the increasingly neglected bus system lengthening already burdensome commute times.

I find it particularly humorous that you don’t dispute any of Mr. Cabanas’s numbers and ignore the fact the roads are largely funded by the road users, not regressive sales and registration taxes. Roads carry traffic that enables far more commerce than LRT. Roads are also leveraged for public transport. Try as you might to deny the disruptive technological advances in transportation, they are in use today, growing and will be widely deployed before DOLRT breaks ground. You might want to get your own eyes checked in the meantime.

Safety concerns are clearly secondary or even tertiary for our friends at GoTriangle. While the state is busy spending tens of millions of our tax dollars removing at grade crossings; here comes GoTriangle adding more in particularly dense areas near school bus stops and shopping. Politicians and developers want to spend transit tax dollars for economic development and are willing to send DOLRT on a tortured path to do so. Shame.

LRT has been around here since the late 80’s. Its time has passed. Meadowmont doesn’t want LRT and that fact should have killed it right there, but no. Time to stop throwing good money after bad.

13 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by where's the beef? on 07/03/2016 at 7:10 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

Bonnie, not sure why you make the disrespectful response "if you were current . . ." blah blah blah. Rest assured that I'm pretty current and Alston Avenue is not out. The original site was called Alston Avenue but was actually along Pettigrew just east of Alston Avenue but as planning went on that location was found to be too expensive and not really workable. The new site for the stop will likely continue to be called Alston Ave even though it also is along Pettigrew about the same distance from Alston as the original site, just on the west side of Alston.

The idea that transit dependent communities get no value from DOLRT is just wrong. Someone within a half mile of many of the stops are lower income communities like north east central Durham, Mcdougall Terrace, etc, etc. Other communities the are transit dependent will be able to access DOLRT via bus and hopefully the light rail line will become a spine for a newly designed and enhanced bus system -- clearly the bus system will need redesign once the light rail comes into existence.

If you were aware of the process that has gotten us to this point you would know that safety concerns are a big part of the process and are certainly being considered at every phase of the engineering of the project. Further, the environmental, fiscal and moral values of the project are clear and all very positive.

One of the great benefits of light rail is that it tends not to be the ghettoized situation presented by the bus environment. You have choice riders right there with transit dependent riders. As a result, the experience is improved for all.

8 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by chuckde424 on 07/03/2016 at 5:48 PM

Re: “Not Everyone Wants the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in Their Backyard

""Unfortunately, trails have become soft spots for crime," Silva told the OSAWA board. "They're considered 'blueberry patches' now—easy places to go to commit crime and get away with it." (The Wake County Sheriff's Office reports zero incidents in the trails surrounding Falls Lake since January 2015.)"

Two things. #1. WCSO needs to consult with Durham about all the problems they have on the American Tobacco Trail. #2. Carry a gun on the trail. What kind of idiot would go where there is no police services, little if any likelihood of witnesses to a crime, and not carry a gun? That's just stupid.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Sean D Sorrentino on 07/03/2016 at 3:59 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

Chuck - in other words " don't confuse me with the facts". If you were current on the GoTriangle reports, you'd know that route changes and other developments make the routes slower and less frequent and even less desirable. Alston Ave is out, and BRT is not just cheaper - its faster, more convenient and can be in place a lot sooner.

Transit dependent communities throughout Orange and Durham who get no benefit from DOLRT are beginning to rise up - finally. No one is talking about the safety issues introduced by trains at grade in durham and along 54.

I don't live anywhere near the corridor and am happy to pay higher taxes for public transportation. My concern is that while LRT may work in some places, for our communities, the DOLRT is environmentally, fiscally and morally regressive.

I for one am thrilled that the Indy finally got it right - and threw away GoTriangle's talking points in favor of investigative journalism on the real impacts of light rail. Maybe elected leaders will notice.

14 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Bonnie Hauser on 07/03/2016 at 2:33 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

Alex, I will take the time to respond to a couple of your points before I get busy enjoying my weekend. I hope you enjoy yours.

First, on the politics . . . the vote was not during a presidential where the transit tax would have won by an even wider margin but the internal polling of our community suggested that this election was fairly reflective of our community's sentiment on the matter. Of course, elections have consequences and just because it has a direct impact on you and your neighborhood, you don't get a do over. Not only did it win the popular vote but there was not a single elected officials at the time who opposed it. So you must accept and respect that this community and its leaders make this choice clearly and without equivocation. Maybe its because those leaders are interested in what's best for the community at large and not so focused upon a particular neighborhood.

One more point on the voting, your effort regarding what was voted upon is clearly one to mislead folks who might be reading this. You accurately quote what was on the ballot but, and you clearly know this, what you fail to mention is that there was a campaign sponsored by our chamber of commerce, not a left wing radical group, and supported by information from TTA, now known as GoTriangle now, which, in fact, forecasted the sort of light rail system and routing that is now the plan. This is a good example of you not trying to provide truth but to mislead when necessary to your goals.

Second, on your personal attack on me for being a supporter of DOLRT who's actual neighborhood won't be directly effected by it, save it. You don't know me or my personal situation. I've not made that an issue because for me its about the broader community and not just what happens in my neighborhood or, frankly, yours. But the broader community impact and the options for a person who lives in Durham will be impacted as long as you live in Durham. So we have the right, and really as you suggest about vote, the duty to participate in this discussion.

Third, on the I-540/DOLRT comparisons, I don't dispute anything you say there. However, your points are extremely myopic. You ignore the personal expense associated with using a major highway or the impact that major highways have on communities.

Fourth, as to uber fares, are you seriously suggesting that the public support the cost of personal vehicles that folks use as taxis's. I've never heard of that being done anywhere in the world. Somebody's car is not public infrastructure.

Fifth, as to your thought that any of these tech advances will be seen in the wild within the next 20-30 years, i sincerely doubt it. The average age of cars driven on highways today is close to 10 years. I think of mine as new, but its 8 years old. There are electric cars but it will be decades before they are sufficiently common to have traffic rules that allow any of those efficiencies to have a material effect on Highway utilization. Personal drones exist today, but i doubt that either of us or anyone reading this have the money to buy one. Those are pie in the sky solutions. This DOLRT has been in the planning for over a decade and millions have been spent to get us to this point. This pie in the sky technology savior that you haven't even actually identified but just generally suggested is beyond ridiculous.

Our community is growing and needs to actually have viable actionable plans for its future. This DOLRT is a big part of that and probably just the beginning of how rail, that ancient technology that caused this city to come in to being, will have on this community's future.

I am sorry that it will impact your community but it has been apart of the public record for a long time, probably long before you moved there. Meadowmont was actually intended to be a transit oriented community . I am sorry that they were even more powerful NIMBYist than you, but none of this sorry persuades me of any of your points on the merits of the broader community interest in DOLRT. I am also sorry that the legislature has given your selfish view life. Its shocking how unprincipled and arrogant they are. You are not that, but you are selflishly wrong. I am also shocked that the Indy got this one so wrong in the above piece.

10 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by chuckde424 on 07/03/2016 at 1:25 PM

Re: “A Raleigh Abortion Provider Worries about a Pro-Life Group’s Plans for the Building Next Door

abortion clinic hecklers are the scum of humanity

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Norf Cackalackie on 07/03/2016 at 12:19 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

I'm not interested in the back and forth here. I just want to say that I was disappointed by this piece and want to explain why. Generally, it lacked perspective, seemed to adopt the views of folks who have no concern for the broader interests of Durham, frankly failed to challenge really questionable statements from folks who have acknowledged that they are motivated by NIMBYism, and seemed to discount the perspectives of experts in the field and dedicated public servants who have focused on this issues for many years. Let me give just a few examples and maybe add a bit of perspective and information to the discussion:

a) Durham county and Wake county are different in so many ways. We share a region but we are vastly different communities. You never meet a person who lives in Durham but wishes that they lived in Raleigh and vis-a-versa, but some of the differences matter here (i) Wake has 12 municipalities that all have to get something out of any additional proposed transit option -- more bus might provide that better than rail; (ii) Durham sits between two man made lakes that provide drinking water to the rest of the region so it has a mandate to grow in a more compact and sustainable way ... Wake has no such mandate and appears to have no such desire -- I-540 -- a sprawl generator that is already over crowded at predictable times with folks driving from places that used to be farm land into the RTP and was a lot more expensive than light rail; (iii) for various reasons Wake county does not want to be a dense urban center -- it wants to be a sprawling less dense county -- I don't judge, I'm JS!

b) The piece suggests that the rail plan was constructed to avoid lower income folks -- this is the main point from the piece that I've heard repeated by others with whom I've discussed it --, but this is clearly not the case. Its seems like the piece would have, in all fairness, at least pointed out the actual documented reasons for the design -- (i) to take advantage of as much of the existing rail corridor as possible (reducing the intrusiveness on communities all over the city -- thus fewer NIMBY folks and reducing costs) and (ii) to serve the major employment centers in Durham and Orange county -- funny I didn't see this information in the article -- like Duke (the largest employer in Durham County & 4th largest in the state), UNC & UNC Hospital (the #1 & #2 employers in Orange county) & Downtown Durham (a significant and growing employment center that was created because of rail and is currently bifurcated by the railway) -- no significant mass transit system can serve everyone right off the bat but a good cost efficient and effective backbone could be leveraged by many many people -- the initial example in the piece suggested that todays "bus to the light rail" solution would not be a good option for that person, but no consideration was given to her driving, instead of all the way to Chapel Hill, to instead drive to a park and ride facility on, say, Pettygrew street -- maybe 5 minutes from her neighborhood -- and catching the light rail from there . . . One of the benefits of having light rail which might attract folks who have other options is that those folks would likely demand a better bus system -- so maybe by 2026 there might be a bus solution that would make the "bus to light rail" option work for her. Further, from what I've seen from our city council, mayor and county commission, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that our public officials have the commitment to make sure development around rail terminals includes significant affordable housing and that this public benefit is shared broadly in our community. So I am at a loss to understand what was meant by Mr. Fords statement that DOLRT would take folks from "one preposterous node . . . to another." This is flatly ridiculous but was not really even challenged at all by the author . . . that's not what I expect out of the Indy. Just what is preposterous about UNC Hospital, Duke, downtown Durham or Alston Avenue;

c) rail versus uber -- this off hand comment from someone in Charlotte is not data and is really not even relevant to the discussion -- transit is not about providing ubiquitous transportation for those who may have the wherewithal and inclination to go out and party downtown though it may gain ridership from such folks, its more about helping folks to get to work. Has anyone at the Indy taken uber to work . . . on the regular? My uber ride to work would be $50. Instead I drive and burn $5 in gas. As to the Charlotte notes in the piece, anyone who's been to Charlotte can see the difference in the area served by the light rail now over how it was before (it displaced not housing but strip joints, tattoo parlors, and drive in movie theaters -- it created a much more dense sustainable urban environment) -- further the ridership numbers from Charlotte's 8 mile route are probably not the touch stone for projecting ridership on what would be a 17 mile route between Alston Avenue and UNC Hospital. The idea that some unidentified new technology is going to get folks to work or eliminate congestion is like hoping for a solution to global warming without doing what we can now to reduce green house gases -- maybe we'll be flying drones by then . . . really . . . lets be serious -- if drones are taking some folks to work, it won't be folks that consider transit as an option.;

d) the accurately described NYMBI folks have gotten into the discussion years after Durham voted by more than 60% to pursue this course -- their critique brings up very little information that was not available to voters at that time -- their motivations are clear as are their tactics -- no one should view that site as an effort to find the truth, its goal is to persuade folks to change course or, if not successful with that, then disrupt, distract, and undermine the readers confidence, as it did the Indy, in a progressive policy agenda -- are pretty dispicable;

e) light rail is a progressive agenda -- conservatives don't like it generally -- certainly the rural conservatives who make up the majorities of the controlling caucuses in our legislature -- maybe because it involves significant expenditures of public money but they don't have the same attitude about, for example, I-540. Maybe its because transit provides a benefit to lower income folks for whom transportation to work is a big chunk of there budget but who are not a part of their constituency. Maybe its because transit tends to bring diverse groups into close proximity and that is some how distasteful to them. Maybe its because rural folks just don't want to see the urban areas of the state thrive . . . I'll admit, I don't know why but it is obvious that they don't like it, not for pragmatic reasons but viscerally;

f) one more I-540 point -- 26 miles & $2.6 billion or $100 million per mile -- light rail is about the same but the $100 million per mile spent on interstate type highway is extremely intrusive to communities (need I mention Hwy 147 . . . right?) and the environment and comes with no cars, creates no jobs after construction, and those cars need gas to use it -- both have operating costs (I-540 has already had to be resurfaced) but these big road projects push us apart and transit, done right, would bring us together as a community;g) the piece described the reasons that the first rail project did not get funded without pointing out the fact that the Bush USDOT changed the criteria for funding mid course and effectively sent the funding that would have come here to Charlotte; ironically, the piece also failed to discuss the fact that the state's legislatures decision to pull funding from the project goes against the Governor's NCDOT's decision to fund and the strong likelihood that the federal government would fund -- all indications are that the funding would come if the state simply did what the NCDOT recommended under both Democrat and Republican administrations. Because of this, and the piece did not mention this, 50% of the funding for this project's $1.6 billion dollars which would have come from federal gas tax collections nationwide will now most likely go to Seattle or Denver. Durham and Orange county's committed to pay $400 million; the NCDOT after a very exhaustive and professional analysis evaluated the project and scored it highly and was committed to the $400 million; the USDOT would have pitched in $800 million -- to be spent here.

So I am shocked at the superficial reporting at the Indy -- typically a thought leader for this community -- on this one. Its hard to understand how you were persuaded that the professionals at GoTriangle, at the NCDOT, at the USDOT, and the elected officials of the City of Durham, the County of Durham, the City of Chapel Hill and Orange County, and the voters of Durham and Orange county are all wrong. You were seemingly persuaded by the admittedly self interested folks from one fringe community of Durham and the disinterest of a legislature who's majority did not include one representative or senator from Durham or Orange county.

Sorry but all I can say is "Indy . . . please!!"

15 likes, 16 dislikes
Posted by chuckde424 on 07/02/2016 at 7:42 PM

Re: “The Durham-Orange County Light Rail Line Is on the Ropes Again. That Might Be a Good Thing.

I've lived in Durham and Chapel Hill for many years, and I'm very happy to call this place home. I would love a convenient light rail in our area, but there are just too many things I see as deficiencies:

- Doesn't go to airport or RTP
- Doesn't connect dense metro areas to appropriate working populations
- Takes longer than driving

These arguments have been made and debated several times, so I'd like to comment on something a little different: individualized mass transit.

I've been reading commentary that pushes the thought that we have to work with the technology we have today and we cannot predict what will be ten years from now. Okay... Autonomous driving vehicles are not the future - they are on the roads today, and will continue to proliferate and improve rapidly. Today, a luxury electric Tesla sedan with autonomous driving capabilities will cost you $75,000. That means that today (not 2025 which is the predicted start date of the D-O-LRT) you could buy 21,000 Teslas for the $1.5 billion cost of D-O-LRT. Isn't that more than the predicted ridership of the light rail? And its not like one car would only transport one person per day; it could carry dozens throughout the day, so maybe buy 5,000 Teslas, set aside the necessary funds for power, maintenance, and admin, and get this thing operational not in 8 years, but one year. And these cars would not just go to Duke or UNC, but anywhere the rider needed to go, door-to-door. And it's more scalable. And decentralized. And and and...

The D-O-LRT will be obsolete 5 years before it even opens. The future of public transportation is individualized mass transit. Make North Carolina a leader in public transportation, not a lemming.

16 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by NCDave on 07/02/2016 at 5:49 PM

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