Author Topic: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations  (Read 3602 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« on: May 16, 2008, 04:00:00 AM »
Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations

After a two year hiatus, replica trolleys join Charlotte's new light-rail system along a rail centered corridor.  Despite a national slowdown in the real estate industry, new infill development is in full swing,.  JTA is beginning to listen as their commuter rail and streetcar studies continue to move forward.  With gas prices continuing to rise, is City Hall willing to hop on board?

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/795

jeh1980

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2008, 05:55:38 AM »
Question: Will the leadership of City Hall be willing to hop on board?

Answer: Of course, why not...if we can go to the city council and talk to them about it and tell them why light rail is so important, they will listen and understand. I think that the people @ MetroJacksonville.com ::)(you know who you are, we all due respect) should do the same. 

I think that we have had enough of wishful thinking...all talk but no action...on both sides. Let's do something if we want to see the future we all want to see...especially in downtown!

thelakelander

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2008, 08:23:04 AM »
I think you haven't been paying enough attention.  There's been a lot more action from many of the people here than you would ever imagine.  Just last night, I saw at least eight people I know post on this forum attending and participating in the commuter rail study.
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second_pancake

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2008, 08:31:17 AM »
seeing things like this and like the DART in Dallas are what gives me hope for mankind...that maybe we're all not so completely self-absorbed afterall to think that we need to live our lives in a rolling box completely shut out from our fellow citizens (re: cars).

What a beautiful project!
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vicupstate

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2008, 08:50:18 AM »
Might I ask how much YOU have done jeh1980?

Considering the massive amount of UNCOMPENSATED hours that Metrojax members have devoted to raising awareness through this site, AND through hands-on participation in JTA hearings and meetings, I think Metrojax is at the VANGUARD of this fight. 

Your remarks are completely out of line.   


BTW, the New York Times had an article on May 10 about transit in Charlotte which I will post.  For an up and coming city like Charlotte, such publicity can't be bought at any price. 
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vicupstate

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2008, 08:52:12 AM »
May 10, 2008
Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Correction Appended

DENVER — With the price of gas approaching $4 a gallon, more commuters are abandoning their cars and taking the train or bus instead.

Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. Parking lots at many bus and light rail stations are suddenly overflowing, with commuters in some towns risking a ticket or tow by parking on nearby grassy areas and in vacant lots.

“In almost every transit system I talk to, we’re seeing very high rates of growth the last few months,” said William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association.

“It’s very clear that a significant portion of the increase in transit use is directly caused by people who are looking for alternatives to paying $3.50 a gallon for gas.”

Some cities with long-established public transit systems, like New York and Boston, have seen increases in ridership of 5 percent or more so far this year. But the biggest surges — of 10 to 15 percent or more over last year — are occurring in many metropolitan areas in the South and West where the driving culture is strongest and bus and rail lines are more limited.

Here in Denver, for example, ridership was up 8 percent in the first three months of the year compared with last year, despite a fare increase in January and a slowing economy, which usually means fewer commuters. Several routes on the system have reached capacity, particularly at rush hour, for the first time.

“We are at a tipping point,” said Clarence W. Marsella, chief executive of the Denver Regional Transportation District, referring to gasoline prices.

Transit systems in metropolitan areas like Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco reported similar jumps. In cities like Houston, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte, N.C., commuters in growing numbers are taking advantage of new bus and train lines built or expanded in the last few years. The American Public Transportation Association reports that localities with fewer than 100,000 people have also experienced large increases in bus ridership.

In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reports that ridership was up the first three months of the year by more than 5 percent on the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad, while M.T.A. bus ridership was up 2.3 percent. New York City subway use was up 6.8 percent for January and February. Ridership on New Jersey Transit trains was up more than 5 percent for the first three months of the year.

The increase in transit use coincides with other signs that American motorists are beginning to change their driving habits, including buying smaller vehicles. The Energy Department recently predicted that Americans would consume slightly less gasoline this year than last — for the first yearly decline since 1991.

Oil prices broke yet another record on Friday, climbing $2.27, to $125.96 a barrel. The national average for regular unleaded gasoline reached $3.67 a gallon, up from $3.04 a year ago, according to AAA.

But meeting the greater demand for mass transit is proving difficult. The cost of fuel and power for public transportation is about three times that of four years ago, and the slowing economy means local sales tax receipts are down, so there is less money available for transit services. Higher steel prices are making planned expansions more expensive.

Typically, mass transit systems rely on fares to cover about a third of their costs, so they depend on sales taxes and other government funding. Few states use gas tax revenue for mass transit.

In Denver, transportation officials expected to pay $2.62 a gallon for diesel this year, but they are now paying $3.20. Every penny increase costs the Denver Regional Transportation District an extra $100,000 a year. And it is bracing for a $19 million shortfall in sales taxes this year from original projections.

“I’d like to put more buses on the street,” Mr. Marsella said. “I can’t expand service as much as I’d like to.”

Average annual growth from sales tax revenue for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, a rail service that connects San Francisco with Oakland, has been 4.5 percent over the last 15 years. It expects that to fall to 2 percent this year, and electricity costs are rising.

“This is a year of abundant caution and concern,” said Dorothy W. Dugger, BART’s general manager, even though ridership on the line was up nearly 5 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Nevertheless, Ms. Dugger is happy that mass transit is winning over converts. “The future of mass transit in this country has never been brighter,” she said.

Other factors may be driving people to mass transit, too. Wireless computers turn travel time into productive work time, and more companies are offering workers subsidies to take buses or trains. Traffic congestion is getting worse in many cities, and parking more expensive.

Michael Brewer, an accountant who had always driven the 36-mile trip to downtown Houston from the suburb of West Belford, said he had been thinking about switching to the bus for the last two years. The final straw came when he put $100 of gas into his Pontiac over four days a couple of weeks ago.

“Finally I was ready to trade my independence for the savings,” he said while waiting for a bus.

Brayden Portillo, a freshman at the University of Colorado Denver, drove from his home in the northern suburbs to the downtown campus in his Jeep Cherokee the entire first semester of the school year, enjoying the rap and disco music blasting from his CD player.

He switched to the bus this semester because he was spending $40 a week on gas — half his salary as a part-time store clerk. “Finally, I thought this is stupid,” he said, and he is using the savings to pay down a credit card debt.

The sudden jump in ridership comes after several years of steady, gradual growth. Americans took 10.3 billion trips on public transportation last year, up 2.1 percent from 2006. Transit managers are predicting growth of 5 percent or more this year, the largest increase in at least a decade.

“If we are in a recession or economic downturn, we should be seeing a stagnation or decrease in ridership, but we are not,” said Daniel Grabauskas, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which serves the Boston area. “Fuel prices are without question the single most important factor that is driving people to public transportation.”

Some cities are seeing spectacular gains. The Charlotte Area Transit System, which has a new light rail line, reported that it logged more than two million trips in February, up more than 34 percent from February 2007.
Caltrain, the commuter rail line that serves the San Francisco Peninsula and the Santa Clara Valley, set a record for average weekday ridership in February of 36,993, a 9.3 increase from 2007, according to its most recent public calculation.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which operates a commuter rail system from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, posted a rise of more than 20 percent in rider numbers this March and April as monthly ridership climbed to 350,000.

“Nobody believed that people would actually give up their cars to ride public transportation,” said Joseph J. Giulietti, executive director of the authority. “But in the last year, and last several months in particular, we have seen exactly that.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 13, 2008
Because of an editing error, an article on Saturday about the increase in commuters who are turning to mass transit because of high gasoline prices misstated the increase in ridership on Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses in the first three months of the year. Ridership on the M.T.A.’s three bus agencies was up about 2.3 percent, not 10.9 percent. (The 10.9 percent increase in bus ridership referred solely to the M.T.A. Bus Company, which operates local and express bus routes around New York City.)


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thelakelander

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2008, 09:07:21 AM »
Last night's meeting also included a presentation about the Orlando commuter rail project and how its approval would pave the way for rail here in Jacksonville and eventually a direct link between our two communities.  They mentioned that when they made the mistake of rejecting an already FTA approved light rail system in the late 1990's, that money went to this Charlotte project. 

I believe a mixture of the success of Charlotte's line and the economic development its stimulating, along with realizing the Charlotte project was built with money Orlando originally rejected has lead to that entire region (the suburbs too) agreeing to pay their fair share of the local costs for their proposed system, this time around.
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Doctor_K

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2008, 10:07:04 AM »
Of all the quality articles, posts, and presentations offered on this great site over the years, I believe that this one stands out above most of the others.  And that's not an easy feat! 

This shows the real, tangible, physical, insert-any-other-adjective-here results that can be borne out of rail investment.  When they say pictures are worth a thousand words, I say these pictures speak volumes.  Very well done.  I anxiously await the day that we see similar pictures to these, but actually in THIS city instead of somewhere else.

Considering the massive amount of UNCOMPENSATED hours that Metrojax members have devoted to raising awareness through this site, AND through hands-on participation in JTA hearings and meetings, I think Metrojax is at the VANGUARD of this fight.

Hear hear, Vic.  Googols of kudos to the MetJax staff and involved participants!  Thank you for all you've done and continue to do.
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pwhitford

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2008, 11:04:36 AM »
This is becomming redundant to the point of madness! Hasn't this become as obvious as stating that the earth is round or the sky is blue!  I am incensed by the paralasys and inertia of a buracracy more concerned with preserving what they have come to view as thier "entitlements" then with providieng the necessary and obvious releif to their constituents!  This city is poised on the brink - we can either be bold and decisive by taking advantage of the abundant potential of our location and our resources (not the least of which are the voices on this site), and thereby cement our good fortune and future prosperety, or we can wallow in obscurinty and second-tier status out of what, fear? Lack of resolve? Inability?  Conspiracy? Which is it to be?
Enlightenment--that magnificent escape from anguish and ignorance--never happens by accident. It results from the brave and sometimes lonely battle of one person against his own weaknesses.

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pwhitford

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2008, 11:06:22 AM »
Sorry for all the misspelling.  I was a little incensed.
Enlightenment--that magnificent escape from anguish and ignorance--never happens by accident. It results from the brave and sometimes lonely battle of one person against his own weaknesses.

-Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano, "Landscapes of Wonder"

vicupstate

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2008, 11:33:57 AM »
One little side note about the Lowe's that is pictured in this thread. 

About 80% of the parking is located on the ROOF.  How cool is that.  It is also 'wrapped' in condos on two sides.  This is the website for that project.

http://www.liveinsouthborough.com/plans.aspx

The Lowe's is attached to the townhouses inside the "L" shape they form. 

It is no exageration to say that the corridor that this rail line runs through has EXPLODED with development in the last few years.  What you see in the pictures here is but a small sample of what has ,and is, being built.  I have seen it in person over the last few years and it never ceases to amaze me on every trip.

I would love to know the taxable value of everything that has been built within .5 mile on either side of this line.  It would be multiple billions of dollars for certain. 

 
« Last Edit: May 16, 2008, 11:36:12 AM by vicupstate »
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scaleybark

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2008, 02:54:00 PM »
I used to drive on Southside Blvd, which runs parallel to the transit system.  Southside used to be somewhat run down and congested.  It was the part of town where you would not be surprised to see businesses surrounded with barbed wire fencing.  At the time, I believed that part of town was in permanent decline.  This was about 15 years ago, when there was no talk about a train that I remember.  To see these pictures is just mind-boggling.  I never would have dreamed a developer would have given this corridor a single glance.

"I would love to know the taxable value of everything that has been built within .5 mile on either side of this line.  It would be multiple billions of dollars for certain.  "

I think the connection between dense development and transit has been proven.  There is plenty of big-money in the world;  I wonder if any of them has ever thought about the idea of building a transit system as a loss leader, or catalyst, to the money making urban real estate development.  I wonder, if you did the numbers, if the development value would outweigh the transit cost to an extent that it would interest big-money investors.

jeh1980

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2008, 03:12:56 AM »
Might I ask how much YOU have done jeh1980?

Considering the massive amount of UNCOMPENSATED hours that Metrojax members have devoted to raising awareness through this site, AND through hands-on participation in JTA hearings and meetings, I think Metrojax is at the VANGUARD of this fight. 

Your remarks are completely out of line.   


BTW, the New York Times had an article on May 10 about transit in Charlotte which I will post.  For an up and coming city like Charlotte, such publicity can't be bought at any price. 
I would like to apologize if my remarks were offensive :-[. If the people of MetroJacksonville did participate in the commuter rail study, then it's my misunderstanding and I'm sorry. But to answer your question about how much I have done, please allow me to explain. Almost a month ago, I went to a city hall meeting and express my feelings about our downtown needed urban connectivity. And...yes I mentioned this website for reference (in a good way). After the meeting, I had a couple of ladies came up to me and commended me for my comments. They came from out of town (one in particular came by way of Las Vegas!) and they said that their was nothing to do downtown...not much excitement going on. I heard comments like that every now and then. Then a day later, I took it upon myself to e-mail ALL the members of the city council about my comments and suggestions on not only what we as citizens want to see in downtown, but for the visitors and tourists that come to downtown every single year. I, just like MetroJacksonville, felt that the leaders of downtown needed to give all of us (including the tourist) real reasons to come and enjoy downtown not just for the Jaguars, the Landing, and the ArtWalk, just to name a few. The next day, I received a e-mail from assistant for E. Denise Lee understand my concerns. About a week or so later, I received a call from a city councilman, Clay Yarborough and even he understood and asked me what do I suggest he and the city council should do to bring more retail, dining, etc. into downtown. I could drum up any kind of ideas I could. I even show him this website and some of their columns. When I asked him about help extenting the hours to help with the unban connectivity, he said that it is the downtown business people's responsibility and that THEY name the hours and days that they open. Most of their places usually open from 7am till 2pm except for the Landing which their restaurants open all day and night! Mr. Yarborough liked my ideas but was much concerned about how much it would cost to fix up downtown, about the ideas of getting new pedestian signages and putting up new bulbs for downtown streets (not just on Laura Street). He was more concerned about lowering the crime rate and have safer streets downtown. There are some of them in the council who don't have ideas about how to make downtown Jacksonville a 24/7 downtown other than a so-so 9 to 5 downtown. And that's why I thought that MetroJacksonville should come and to help out the council. That was the reason why I made those comments. I really didn't mean any harm. In fact, MetroJacksonville have even better ideas than I do! And I really do like to commend them on a job well done on their efforts. Again, I sorry and I asked for your forgiveness.

May God bless you and thanks for understanding
jeh1980
« Last Edit: May 17, 2008, 03:15:23 AM by jeh1980 »

JaxNole

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2008, 08:07:41 AM »
So it appears we have a City Council few allies.  Who has experience working with them and what has been the outcome?

thelakelander

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Re: Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2008, 08:24:08 AM »
Several of us have experience in working with various members.  The most visible outcome that I've seen is the elimination of BRT through the heart of downtown, the potential revision of the downtown parking ordinance and the inclusion of many issues into the JEDC's Downtown Action Plan.  This entire site was founded on the momentum we gained with the help of former Councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins, who gave us an opportunity to originally present at a City Hall meeting.
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