Michael Moore on GM

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Michael Moore on GM

Postby spantell » June 1st, 2009, 6:23 pm

If there are any other radical enviro-nerds out there, check it out. I say yes!

http://michiganmessenger.com/20064/michael-moore-let-gm-die-use-the-factories-to-produce-trains-and-buses
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Postby York99 » June 1st, 2009, 6:59 pm

From the Onion:
"Report: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others"

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/re ... _commuters
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Postby Miggy » June 1st, 2009, 9:49 pm

York99 wrote:From the Onion:
"Report: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others"

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/re ... _commuters


...which is why I was opposed to how Cap Metro did its last marketing campaign to get commuter rail passed...."support this....it'll make your drive easier!" Never was it pitched in an honest way, saying it would be better for you - yes you - to ride public transportation...and that's why you should support this bond election. Well...my objections aside...it worked unlike the previous campaign.

Now on that previous campaign... Rep. Mike Krusee (R-Round Rock) destroyed the one real chance we had by pulling in early a half baked plan for light rail and putting it on the same ballot as W. back in 2000. Suburban Republicans came out in droves for the presidential election of a Texas governor and simultaneously killed the best chance we had for real public transit in this town by a narrow narrow margin.

Chastened...Cap Metro put together a much less ambitious...much less expensive...and possibly permanently limiting proposal. That is what passed. That is what we're getting phase 1 of.
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Postby York99 » June 2nd, 2009, 12:15 am

Miggy wrote: That is what passed. That is what we're getting phase 1 of.


Mike, I totally defer to you on city issues. Are you saying that the light rail is a bad thing or are you saying that it's not as good as what we could have had and now will never have?
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Postby Miggy » June 2nd, 2009, 10:58 am

York99 wrote:
Miggy wrote: That is what passed. That is what we're getting phase 1 of.


Mike, I totally defer to you on city issues. Are you saying that the light rail is a bad thing or are you saying that it's not as good as what we could have had and now will never have?


It seems like a small semantic difference, but what is being implemented is commuter rail - suburbanites drive to the station, ride to downtown, and it will link into some sort of downtown circulator system of buses or trolleys. The proposal that was pulled into 2000 and ultimately failed wasn't yet ready for prime time but it was eventually going to be more independant of existing rail-lines - taking people from where they are to where they want to go - without the multiple transfers from car to train to trolley. Using the existing rail lines made it much less expensive to implement, but unfortunately binds it in most cases to those paths, some laid out over a century ago, when this city was very different in form and trains were very different in function.

The red line for example - the first phase of the metrorail system - is being built on rail that was purpose built to go out to the quarry for the granite for the capital (giant blocks of stone that fell off trains are still visible on the sides of the track). It has been little used since and was ripe for re-use. The only problem is that it wasn't intended for this purpose and the stops are not that walkable from the centers they are supposed to be serving...and then there's the question if Leander would get linked in at all if we had designed the system ourselves. Probably not I'm guessing. The future 'Sausage Link' - the Green Line to Manor/Elgin....same story. Semi-dense neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Travis Heights, West Campus, etc... or other swaths of the city where industrial use never necessitated rail lines, will never get rail service in part because those neighborhoods fall very much into the category the Onion article lampoons - they're all for public transit (or density) so long as it is not in their proverbial back yard.

The short of it is...I have mixed emotions about the rail. I want it to succeed...but this system is not the full potential that light rail could have had for this town. It's what we have, so let's make the most of it. :)

Here's a map of the future expansion plans: http://allsystemsgo.capmetro.org/all-systems-go.shtml
(note they use the term 'commuter rail' to denote the regional connections to San Antonio and Dallas that is planned)
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Postby EmilyBee » June 2nd, 2009, 12:02 pm

In other cities I've lived in/near (NY, SF) and visited (Chicago, Pittsburgh, and, well, all of Europe!), public transpo is a lot less irritating to use than cars are, and it's ubiquitous. The problem with public transpo here, and in many medium cities (I'm looking at you, San Jose and LA!) is that there isn't quite enough provided, to enough areas and on a regular/late enough schedule, to make it a viable replacement for the almighty automobile.

Folks are super dependent on their cars and crave their independence (even at the cost of sitting in traffic). But the more people flock to Austin, the worse the traffic gets. However, until the transportation system gets to be a no-brainer for ease of use and convenience, it's going to be an uphill battle to get people to use it with the enthusiasm they do in other urban centers.

Don't even get me started on the impossibility of biking from/to anywhere above 183/Mo-Pac and anywhere southeast of Ladybird Lake/Mo-Pac.
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Postby spantell » June 2nd, 2009, 2:05 pm

Thanks for all this info., Mike. I didn't know if anyone would even read this.

The Leander line is kind of a "demonstration project" because it's relatively cheap, so wasn't too hard to get approved by the voters.

Unlike any other place anywhere in the country, Austin is required to get voter approval for a rail line (not for a tax to pay for it, that requires separate approval, just to build one, assuming they have the money.) A provision was written into the state constitution that includes Austin and not other major city. B. McCracken told me that was going to change because of the census in 2010, but now I'm hearing that it won't. This is a major drag because it adds a whole layer of time and delay to try to get anything moved forward. So they went with something cheap and less controversial (Leander line.) It will be very nice for people living right along the line, and for other people, like the Onion says, it will take the other cars off the road.

Austin is also looking at a downtown rail system that would eventually go out to the airport and to Mueller, and to UT and the capitol. There's a really good map, not the one in Mike's link, and I'm frustrated I can't find it now but will post it later if I can. This would be a great system but will be a lot more controversial because people in Austin are like that.

They're also working on a Bus Rapid Transit system that will go N. Lamar to S. Congress and N. Burnett to S. Lamar, and that is on a fast track, already has Federal money allocated.

This is my work right now (why I have no $) If anyone's interested sometime, I can go on . . . .
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Postby Miggy » June 2nd, 2009, 3:28 pm

EmilyBee wrote:Don't even get me started on the impossibility of biking from/to anywhere above 183/Mo-Pac and anywhere southeast of Ladybird Lake/Mo-Pac.


then you want the tome that is the bike master plan:
http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/bicycle/update2008.htm
I have not had a chance to read it yet. If you do, let me know how it ends.

Spantell wrote:Austin is also looking at a downtown rail system that would eventually go out to the airport and to Mueller, and to UT and the capitol. There's a really good map, not the one in Mike's link, and I'm frustrated I can't find it now but will post it later if I can. This would be a great system but will be a lot more controversial because people in Austin are like that.


then you want the Downtown Austin Plan's transit corridor study. Map is here: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/downtown/downloads/proposed_urban_rail_project.pdf

This will be deeply controversial because it means cables going down congress ave (like they used to) or building a bridge over lady bird lake at Trinity (a huge sum of money to say nothing else). Oh and moving the downtown station two blocks west will cost $15M because all of the utilities that need to be relocated. It is also being (wrongly) panned as a way for 'rich downtowners to get to the airport'. I hope that route happens but it's really going to take some leadership and I don't know if Lee, who's serving the last term of his political life, is the right person to push that through or if it will have to wait. We shall see.
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Postby Belinda » June 3rd, 2009, 1:11 pm

York99 wrote:
Miggy wrote: That is what passed. That is what we're getting phase 1 of.


Mike, I totally defer to you on city issues. Are you saying that the light rail is a bad thing or are you saying that it's not as good as what we could have had and now will never have?


It's just not as good. I'm from Portland, Oregon originally where they have a hugely comprehensive light rail called MAX. It goes everywhere and it's actually feasible to live without a car, as I did until I was 24.

The plan that they tried to pass here, is to my understanding, very similar to the original Portland plan.

The one now is considerably less track than originally proposed and for sure is only planned to run during the day.

I believe we are going to have to make some major changes to the public transit system here to make it sustainable. The traffic is getting awful here.
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Postby spantell » June 3rd, 2009, 6:14 pm

Jon Stewart on new car fuel economy standards. yes! (don't know how to copy the video.)

http://www.grist.org/article/2009-the-daily-show-on-fuel-efficiency-standa/
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Postby apiaryist » June 5th, 2009, 4:52 pm

I get very excited and interested about public transportation in Austin. Then I quickly become disallusioned. I can't waste any more time thinking about it until I see actual results. I vote at every election, and continually have my hopes dashed. The best(?) that ever seems to come of this is something terrible, half-assed, and designed only to benefit the people that own the land that the tracks are on, or the companies that will build and maintain the system. I'm sick to my stomach right now thinking about it.

It would be so easy to make Austin another incredible example, just like Portland or Seattle. Instead, we have a line that heads nowhere and that didn't even make it out of the starting gate.

I can't even bring myself to read the plan for making Austin Bike Friendly. At least that way I'll only be annoyed, and won't have to deal with disappointment.

I love that people cry when they thing of cables on Congress avenue, but don't bat an eye when 5 condo buildings go up and hide the Capital.
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Postby spantell » June 5th, 2009, 5:02 pm

yay, Jericho's back
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Postby Miggy » June 6th, 2009, 2:04 pm

apiaryist wrote:I love that people cry when they thing of cables on Congress avenue, but don't bat an eye when 5 condo buildings go up and hide the Capital.


huh? these are the same people opposing both. there have not been 5 condo buildings or even 1 building 'hiding the capital'. The only building to get a state exemption to a capital view corridor was UT's football stadium. I would gladly agree with you, though, if you were to argue that that structure should be torn down and returned to uses consistent with a University.

I doubt that's what you meant though. personally I'm tired of this strawman argument. for once, I would like to not have to defend where I live on a daily basis. It's certainly asking too much to be thanked as being part of the solution rather than part of the problem and for subsidizing the city services and thus the taxes and utility rates that the rest of suburbia enjoys.

whatevs - I can dream.
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Postby apiaryist » June 8th, 2009, 9:17 am

I think I was being vague and talking out of my ass a little. I was referring to the 'View Corridors' and the fact that(totally anecdotal fact) it's harder and harder for me to get a good view of the Capital building.

As for Mike, man, you sound like the right guy doing the right thing in the part of government that actually matters and affects people. I don't personally know anyone else that has even come close to that in a government job.
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Postby Pdyx » June 8th, 2009, 10:42 am

Miggy wrote:I would gladly agree with you, though, if you were to argue that that structure should be torn down and returned to uses consistent with a University.


But it might get us some World Cup games in 2018!
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