Alex Cabanes | Indy Week

Alex Cabanes 
Member since Oct 14, 2015

Recent Comments

Re: “The Durham-Orange Light Rail Now Costs More Than $3 Billion, and Durham Will Have to Pay More of It

The renegotiation of the light rail inter-local agreement merely shifts DOLRT expenses to the less fortunate residents of Durham.I guess altruism only goes so far and stops at the county line. Orange County appears to have shifted 5% of the local costs or $50 million to Durham. And while some may tout this as a significant accomplishment, it is merely an illusion of progress; the rearranging of the proverbial deck chairs on the Titanic a futile distraction amidst an unfolding fiscal calamity.

During the March 7, 2017 Orange County BOCC meeting,a local taxpayer having just received his property tax reassessment, stated plainly his unbridled frustration with elected officials on the ever-increasing tax burden being placed on local residents. During the taxpayers tirade, local officials looked ashen, avoiding eye contact with the irate taxpayer. I suspectthere are many more frustrated taxpayers that just havent made it to the County Commissioners meeting due to the lack of public transit to the Hillsborough location. Watch http://bit.ly/2no9yGs @ 3 minutes

The March 22 edition of the Chapel Hill News featured an article about how Trumps budget could jeopardize light-rail project followed by Letters to the Editor pointing out the Financial Realities, while other letters espoused the virtues of light rail. And then pages 6-9, the (sad) punch line ... 4 pages in small print spanning 8 columns per page of Orange County Tax Liens.

If our elected officials opt to proceed with the fiscally flawed Durham Orange Light Rail, despite repeated public pleas for fiscal restraint, might I suggest an additional budget line item Ink and Paper. I think you are going to need a lot more of both for the increased issuance of future tax liens.

8 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Alex Cabanes on 04/08/2017 at 2:41 PM

Re: “Wake County’s Mass Transit System Is a Mess. Can a $2.3 Billion Referendum Save It?

Thanks Linda. Indeed, can certainly be complicated. Manufacturing of bus, car, etc and associated infrastructure have many costs (many hidden from discussion).

One thing that fascinates me is how new technologies and emerging business models are already starting to change the transit landscape.

For example, recent studies show that ride-sharing can have dramatic impact on traffic congestion ... in some cases 10:1 reduction.
* Here's How Many Cars This Car-Sharing Service Killed http://bit.ly/2dNNv66
* ASU team first to prove Uber eases traffic congestion http://goo.gl/alerts/3hiNF
* Arizona State University: Do Ride-Sharing Services Affect Traffic Congestion? An Empirical Study of Uber Entry http://ow.ly/tY7V304JNd6

* Uber beta testing $2 flat-fee rides in some metro areas http://ow.ly/9QAk303Ackl
* New Yorkers Can Now Get Unlimited Uber For $100 http://goo.gl/alerts/zCpWb
* Uber trying flat fares in city's inner loop http://goo.gl/alerts/DdPbS

* UBER and LYFT considered to replace public buses in two US cities http://bit.ly/2dHCXJn

I'll have to consider Brno for my travel bucket list. :-)

Looks like they have a huge / concentrated student population accounting for > 20% of the town's population with 13 institutes of higher learning and about 89,000 students. Wow!

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Alex Cabanes on 10/06/2016 at 11:43 AM

Re: “Wake County’s Mass Transit System Is a Mess. Can a $2.3 Billion Referendum Save It?

Linda, sorry about your accident. Couple of things come to mind about your statements:

1. Your lower transit cost. Many may not realize that the fare that you pay for the bus typically represents less than 20% of the actual cost of the bus or public transit. In 2014, Raleigh's farebox recovery was 12.6%, the rest was subsidized by tax payers. So your $1.25 fare actually costs ~ $10 per trip. The 'farebox recovery' is much higher outside of the US, in some cases reaching 170% in high population density cities like Tokyo, where they actually make a profit from public transit.

2. Your smaller carbon footprint. Many assume that using public transit is always more environmentally sound. That depends on the service effectiveness, or how many passengers, on average, are on the bus as it travels through the various routes. If the bus is full on the way into town during 'rush hour' but empty on the way back, that cuts the efficiency in half. Looking at the Raleigh 2014 federal filings in the NTD database, Raleigh (CAT) buses were running, on average, with 2.3 passengers on a bus with a capacity of 30+ seats (or less than 10% full). The average diesel bus has a fuel efficiency of ~ 5mpg ... so if you drive a car with 15 mpg + field efficiency, the car (ironically) produces a smaller carbon footprint than your ride on the Raleigh bus.

3. Your European experience. I agree, many European cities have awesome public transit. This is a common comparison, but is greatly influenced by the population density. In Raleigh, the population density is ~ 3000 people per square mile, as compared to European cities that have much higher densities (for example, Barcelona Spain has ~40,000 people per square mile). With increased population density, you have much more usage / need for public transit, and better environmental / economic dynamics.

0 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Alex Cabanes on 10/06/2016 at 9:30 AM

Re: “Wake County’s Mass Transit System Is a Mess. Can a $2.3 Billion Referendum Save It?

Thanks Paul. While you focused on the utility of the current (broken) bus system, I wish you would have done more investigation of actual utilization. Placing more capacity for a service that has low utilization is not going to fix anything, and may actually contribute more pollution and traffic congestion by increasing the number of empty buses on the road. If you look at the actual statistics filed with Federal government, specifically:

Passenger (UPT = Unlinked Passenger Trips) per bus travel mile (VRM = Vehicle Revenue Mile).

2.3 Raleigh
0.6 Cary
4.4 NCSU

So a bus with 30+ seat capacity, on average has less than 3 passengers per travel mile or less than 10% capacity utilization with the exception of NCSU (or in Cary ~2% utilization). So in Cary, for every crowded bus with 30 passengers, there are 50 empty buses driving around looking for passengers. Typical diesel bus fuel efficiency ~5 mpg, so with an average of 3 passengers, roughly 15 mpg effective fuel efficiency.

Low capacity utilization is not environmentally or economically sound.

SOURCE:
https://www.transit.dot.gov/ntd/transit-ag…
https://www.transit.dot.gov/ntd/transit-ag…
https://www.transit.dot.gov/ntd/transit-ag…

3 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Alex Cabanes on 10/05/2016 at 11:05 AM

Re: “GoTriangle Plots Additional Light-Rail Spur to N.C. Central

Marc M. I appreciate that many (want to) believe the 'DOLRT is green' myth ... however, if you do the math, it just doesn't add up.

For example, using the overly optimistic 23,000 daily boardings projection (in 2040) running 150 train trips per day across the end-to-end 17 mile line will result in an average ‘load factor’ of 9 passengers per vehicle mile traveled; or utilize less than 2% of the 500 passenger capacity heralded by GoTriangle. So for every one train that travels at the cited 500 passenger (full) capacity, there will be ~50 trains running empty. Low capacity utilization is not environmentally or economically sound.

From an energy intensity perspective, this low utilization has a devastating impact on DOLRT energy efficiency. With an average of 9 passengers per mile results in 7029 BTU per DOLRT passenger mile (63265 BTU per vehicle mile / 9 passengers per mile) compared to 3144 BTU for car travel or 4071 BTU for bus transit. So per passenger mile, DOLRT uses over twice the amount of energy of an average car!

The inconvenient truth is that not a single light rail in the US carries as many passengers as a single highway lane. The myriad of alternatives, like walking, bicycling, carpooling, van-pooling, congestion pricing, telecommuting, flexible working hours, parking reform, pricing strategies to improve bus utilization, etc — largely ignored while the money and attention is consumed by light rail.

Lastly, the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail train has NO renewable energy requirements and the electricity is sourced from Duke Energy which has been repeatedly cited for environmental transgressions. Duke Energy generates electricity primarily with nuclear, gas (sourced from ‘fracking’) and coal power plants. The Political Economy Research Institute ranks Duke Energy 13th among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the United States. The ranking is based on the quantity (80 million pounds in 2005) and toxicity of the emissions. When the high energy costs and carbon emissions during construction are counted, the light-rail line is far “browner” than autos and highways.

A few recent Duke Energy headlines:
Duke Energy Sweetheart Deal on Coal Ash Cleanup Heads to McCrory
NC toxicologist: Water near Duke’s dumps not safe to drink
Duke Energy backs out of massive N.C. solar project with SunEnergy

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Alex Cabanes on 10/03/2016 at 6:03 PM

Re: “Light Rail, Bull City Connector to Take Center Stage at Durham Council Work Session Thursday

Humm, let's see BCC ridership down after GoTriangle can't afford to go it alone and at Duke's direction drops Durham Station connection? Gee, I wonder why?

And while it is laudable that GoTriangle and the Durham City council have recently discovered the importance of NCCU, it is amazing that they have just now discovered that NCCU was missing from the original DOLRT plan (despite years of letters from public). The Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) was submitted to the federal government and now GoTriangle is projecting that NCCU may be the highest station ridership in Durham? What does that say about the efficacy of the DOLRT planning? Surely we as taxpayers deserve better!

Having submitted the FEIS to the Federal government and failed to secure the anticipated 25% state funding, GoTriangle is now recognizing NCCU as a viable destination while projecting the second highest station ridership? This after all of the extensive studies culminating in the FEIS, and they just ‘woke up’ to this realization now that they have failed to secure state funding?

With the NCGA reiterating the earlier 10% state funding cap (and requiring DOLRT project be re-evaluated in 2 years with other competing state requests in the NC state transportation budget), GoTriangle is desperately trying to perpetuate DOLRT fantasy by shifting objectives yet again. This despite the failure to secure Federal or state funding.

Meantime, GoTriangle bureaucracy continues, consuming our hard-earned tax monies, studying and restudying the same information, desperately hoping for a different answer (and inflated ridership) to perpetuate this ill-conceived albatross of a project called DOLRT without addressing local residents concerns. DOLRT will serve less than 2% of our current population!

And within 72 hours of GoTriangle’s press release, our elected Durham officials unanimously approve the expansion of a $1.6 BILLION project with only cursory public comment.

Stop this madness. Stop this runaway train. We need a viable transit plan. Where is Plan B?

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Alex Cabanes on 09/22/2016 at 9:56 PM

Re: “GoTriangle Plots Additional Light-Rail Spur to N.C. Central

While it is laudable that GoTriangle and the Durham City council have recently discovered the importance of NCCU, it is amazing that they have just now discovered that NCCU was missing from the original DOLRT plan (despite years of letters from public). The Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) was submitted to the federal government and now GoTriangle is projecting that NCCU may be the highest station ridership in Durham? What does that say about the efficacy of the DOLRT planning? Surely we as taxpayers deserve better!

Having submitted the FEIS to the Federal government and failed to secure the anticipated 25% state funding, GoTriangle is now recognizing NCCU as a viable destination while projecting the second highest station ridership? This after all of the extensive studies culminating in the FEIS, and they just ‘woke up’ to this realization now that they have failed to secure state funding?

With the NCGA reiterating the earlier 10% state funding cap (and requiring DOLRT project be re-evaluated in 2 years with other competing state requests in the NC state transportation budget), GoTriangle is desperately trying to perpetuate DOLRT fantasy by shifting objectives yet again. This despite the failure to secure Federal or state funding.

Meantime, GoTriangle bureaucracy continues, consuming our hard-earned tax monies, studying and restudying the same information, desperately hoping for a different answer (and inflated ridership) to perpetuate this ill-conceived albatross of a project called DOLRT without addressing local residents concerns. DOLRT will serve less than 2% of our current population!

And within 72 hours of GoTriangle’s press release, our elected Durham officials unanimously approve the expansion of a $1.6 BILLION project with only cursory public comment.

Stop this madness. Stop this runaway train. We need a viable transit plan. Where is Plan B?

11 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Alex Cabanes on 09/22/2016 at 9:52 PM

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