Detroit Light Rail project (M-1, Q-Line)

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Detroit Light Rail project (M-1, Q-Line)

Postby Detroit » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:17 am

LaHood tonight rejected federal funding for Detroit's proposed 9.2-mile streetcar project from downtown Detroit north to the county line/city limits.

Some speculators who bought downtown real estate recently still want a smaller 3.4-mile line downtown. However, the current plan is to go with BRT for the three-county Detroit area.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby M&Eman » Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:38 am

BRT makes sense because those busses can be built in Michigan. Very politically convenient.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby Detroit » Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:47 am

Actually, not... GM has not been building buses since it got totally out of that business 24 years ago.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:33 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:N ... s_builders is about the most comprehensive list of producers on this continent, though it appears to be missing a few niche and hybrid manufacturers. Of those, I only see Champion Bus as having current facilities in Michigan, and they only make mid-size and paratransit buses. I suppose that for a few million extra on the bid, the winning company could set up shop in the GM Detroit plant that used to make transit buses (stopped making buses in 1979, light trucks in 2009.) Or... the state could be satisfied with buses made elsewhere.

Moderator's Note: With no disrespect to other moderators' styles on this site, I don't prefer to lock threads. But, let's keep this one short since it's plain that Detroit has opted against light rail for this route.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:48 pm

Also, source and fair-use quote:

http://www.freep.com/article/20111214/N ... |FRONTPAGE

Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press wrote:U.S.: High-speed bus plan for metro Detroit is cutting edge, more cost-effective

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told members of the Michigan congressional delegation today that local leaders including Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder are moving toward a regional bus system and away from a light rail line up the length of Woodward Avenue.

Following the meeting, LaHood declined to make a public statement about the switch, only saying he told Michigan's members of Congress the the agency would support local leaders' decisions.

This afternoon he released a statement, however, saying Bing and Snyder "have come together around a high tech vision that will provide state-of-the-art, reliable transit to far more people and in a far more cost-effective way."


The article goes on to say that LaHood believes a $25 million grant originally awarded for LRT could go towards the bus system, and that such a regional system could be had for $600 to $800 million. It also says that business leaders and Democratic representatives would still prefer to see LRT or streetcars as a component of such a system.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby Detroit » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:40 am

The president of the Detroit Common Council said yesterday in a lengthy interview on WJR radio station that the new members just hired to work on a regional light-rail commission were on the job less than one day before LaHood rejected federal funding for Detroit's 9.3-mile light-rail project--increasingly considered to being an unsustainable boondoggle for the city of Detroit, which itself is expected to become financially insolvent before April 2012, according to its Mayor Bing. Detroit would not be able to come up with an expected $270 million shortfall in its shared capital costs for the Woodward streetcar boondoggle and without any prospects of realistic suburban support for coming up with even any annual operating funding from outside the city of Detroit.

An article in today's Detroit Free Press said that 110 miles of BRT could be funded with only about 2/3 of the funding necessary for the recently rejected 9.3-mile streetcar route to the Detroit city limits.
http://www.freep.com/article/20111215/N ... -110-miles

Besides, BRT has advantages other than obvious cost savings... http://urbantoronto.ca/forum/showthread ... -The-Onion
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:57 pm

Detroit wrote:An article in today's Detroit Free Press said that 110 miles of BRT could be funded with only about 2/3 of the funding necessary for the recently rejected 9.3-mile streetcar route to the Detroit city limits.
http://www.freep.com/article/20111215/N ... -110-miles


Groan. That's always the BRT lobby's default pitch. Then the build costs for true grade separation price too close to LRT and the project inevitably gets watered down into an express city bus that's also way too expensive for what it does. Make no mistake...BRT works and is the best possible mode in some specific applications. But only when the planning is realistic. If the difference grows too small between "true" BRT and going the extra mile for LRT on a corridor, then the ROI isn't ever going to wash and they're better off doing LRT. Or coming to grips with the fact that if either mode--properly-executed--still looks like a rough fit for what it buys...there's flaws in the design that require more substantial rethinking to better match the corridor before committing to any mode. Likewise, if a reliable prediction is that the cocktail napkin drawing of the system full of bells and whistles is inevitably going to get busted down into an express bus...design an express bus instead of overspending to call some not-BRT waste "BRT" for butt-covering's sake.

I'd take it as a red flag that they're starting from the default BRT pitch. That's being coy about the compromises that'll eventually water it down. Most cities aren't as reckless about buying into that as they were 10 years ago.


Express bus is entirely appropriate for Detroit until its outer-neighborhood contraction efforts--which are working despite the long way to go--re-focus the city on downtown. Devastatingly painful process, but it'll de-sprawl the city enough in the long run to give it a leg to stand on for redeveloping density where it matters. Little too soon to be building the kind of transit system for downtown sustainability when outer contraction still has a ways to go. Interim solution that just streamlines how people move around the city is perfectly fine for time being. 2020's will be more ripe for them to re-mount the effort, which is all the more reason not to blow it on a BRT half-solution that eats a generation's worth of transit resources without doing what it originally intended.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby Detroit » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:38 pm

Another (the least expensive) alternative is doing neither LRT or BRT.

Especially when SMART and DDOT municipal buses already traverse almost all of those very same routes or locations. The city of Detroit will eventually go into default sometime (early?) next year unless very drastic financial structural changes are undertaken, preferably starting now. So, doing either BRT or LRT is foolish at this time, and most likely, in the future.

BTW, one such financial move made today was the Common Council cutting across the board wages and salaries of nonunion city employees by 10%. However, the city still has some $10 billion of debts yet to consider.

Also, the previous poster's claims that there is an attempt at controlling sprawl in metro Detroit (approximately 4 1/2 million residents) is just not happening. Also, there is no and hasn't ever been a New Urbanist movement inside Detroit, even though some speculators (notably, Gilbert) is buying up over-abundant vacant CBT real estate at fire-sale prices or getting tax credits from the government.

[The four major principals of the M1 Group still want to push for their own 3.4-mile LRT in the CBT to the New Center, although none of them has any transportation experience and such. The Feds will not contribute to that project because of the adverse effects upon current bus operations, though. In addition, those speculators have financial ties to the crooked Kilpatrick crime family (now awaiting trial next summer under numerous RICO charges)--whereby each principal secretly gave Kilpatrick $60,000 apiece after his incarceration--the knowledge of which was made public by the FBI a couple years ago. And yet another currently impaneled federal grand jury is copiously handing out further subpoenas, this time to Wayne County officials, i.e., county-executive Ficano's McNamara-era crooks and cronies.]

On the contrary, due to an increase in demand, the valuation of houses (albeit, very low) is gaining in price in the second-ring suburbs or exburbs, but not inside Detroit or the inner-ring suburbs.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:41 pm

A regional transportation authority would make the most sense. Of course, without intervention from the Feds (since the state is becoming progressively weaker itself), it isn't likely to happen for these reasons:
-cost allocation - the ones with the most money (still less than they used to have) have the least need for public transport, and vice versa
-political tension between Detroit and suburbs - who leads when Detroit is bankrupt and there's no strong, central suburban leader?
-differing transport needs - see point 1
-social tension between overwhelmingly poor city and overwhelmingly middle- and upper-class suburbs - "but they'll come into our towns and rob us!" - with a side of racial tension that no one really wants to admit still exists

As much as it pains me, I see why the Detroit region is opting for a bus system - roads are one of the few resources they have in abundance.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:39 am

Journal article (subscr. may be req'd): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... orsPicks_1

The uncertain future of mass transit is more than a passing concern in a city where one in three residents lives in poverty, and an estimated 62% don't own a car. At a time when hiring has perked up in the region, poor transit remains an obstacle to employment for many Detroiters.

"People are losing jobs because they can't reach them," said Mr. Bing, a Democrat.

Built by and for cars, Detroit is crisscrossed by freeways, but it has no subway system or commuter-rail line to connect its urban core to the suburbs. The few options for public transportation available to the city's 713,000 residents are disjointed, unreliable and going broke.

...

Meanwhile, the People Mover train, which runs largely empty in a 2.9-mile loop around downtown, will need to tap $9.6 million of a reserve maintenance fund to keep operating for two more years, officials announced this week.

...

Then, in a swift turnabout, Messrs. LaHood and Bing shifted their support to a 110-mile rapid-bus system connecting Detroit and three surrounding counties. In a briefing for Michigan's congressional delegation in Washington this week, Mr. LaHood described the estimated $500 million plan as a more cost-effective way to cover regional transit needs, people familiar with the matter said.

Ultimately, it was Detroit's crumbling finances that made the new rail line untenable. George Jackson, head of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., who recently reviewed the light-rail project for the city, said in an interview that the project had a $97 million construction-budget gap and no way to pay for the $10 million in annual operating costs. "The state of Michigan basically said, We're not paying for your operating deficits," he said.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby Detroit » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:38 pm

A few facts about the city of Detroit (population: roughly 675,000--down from its 1958 peak of 1.85 million--and decreasing on average by 2000 residents per month), which is a relatively minor part of Wayne County, and an even more insignificant fraction of metro Detroit (some three counties with around 4 1/2 million residents)...



For every resident of the city of Detroit, almost six others reside in its suburbs--although almost all of them refer to themselves as Detroiters. Most Detroiters at one time either resided within the city themselves or at least their ancestors did.

The Central Business District downtown has virtually zero vehicular traffic, much of which is buses. Detroit has to be about the safest US major city in which to jaywalk downtown. Everybody does it, or at least those few pedestrians who are down there.

5 Dec Detroit News article excerpt: The number of empty buildings with at least five floors or 10,000 square feet in the city's core stands at 49, one more than The Detroit News found in an August 2009 survey. http://detnews.com/article/20111205/BIZ ... t-downtown

Both of Detroit's major dailies state that the percentage of functional illiteracy among the adults in the city of Detroit is somewhere between 60% and 70%.

The Detroit Public School district lost about 70% of its enrollment during the past decade--mostly due to dropouts and to transfers to charter schools. Recently, the Gates Foundation's study of DPS determined that its "graduation" rate was only 21%. Yet, Michigan and metro Detroit's teacher salaries are very high--somewhere around third place nationally.

Most of the traffic in metro Detroit is from suburb to suburb--not to or from the city and the suburbs.

There is not and has never been any New Urbanism occurring within the city of Detroit. Numerous attempts at that over the past decade were colossal flops, which ruined numerous investors or speculators.

Some speculators, disappointed at the rejection of the Woodward streetcar boondoggle, are continuing to salvage their investments. "Woodward light rail investors say they'll press ahead." http://www.freep.com/article/20111216/N ... |FRONTPAGE

The federal (criminal) courts (Eastern Michigan district, mostly) will be kept very busy the next several years, being consumed with literally dozens of politicians and their crony enablers with incredible amounts and deep depth of city, Wayne county, and Michigan public corruption cases, including RICO. The first series of them will continue next summer--for mostly the(deposed Detroit mayor) Kilpatrick crime family--whose kingpin already served two stints in jail and Michigan and federal prisons before the current, more serious charges (and faces thirty additional years in prison). The next tier of criminal cases will be centered on the remnants of the McNamara crime gang, whose members are still all over the local region and elsewhere in the country--including the former governor Granholm.
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Detroit Mayor's Opinion on Transit Subsidies

Postby reddcapp » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:56 pm

http://m.freep.com/opinion/article?a=20 ... 413&f=1237

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
"No public transit project will be successful if it requires operational subsidies from local or state government. DDOT requires an annual subsidy of $80 million from our general fund and still does not provide the necessary services for Detroiters..."


My Opinion: All transit requires operating Subs...But money spent on rail is money that you don't have to spend on roads, Another thing about Detroit is that its bus system is NOT A SEPARATE AUTHORITY as in a "RTA" and is a City Department the last of its kind in the USA and Canada

Moderators Note: We require posting the link to material obtained from news media.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby Detroit » Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:56 pm

Might as well add some additional facts concerning mass transit in metro Detroit...


Metro Detroit has three transit systems: one light-rail system in downtown Detroit and two bus systems. SMART handles buses for the suburbs that have not opted out of it--many of them opted out... DDOT is the Detroit bus system. All three systems are not widely utilized and all are bleeding cash--in spades.

The Detroit People Mover this month raised its fare for the first time in eons from 50 cents to 75 cents. Unfortunately, the People Mover's fares at 50 cents only covered some 8% or 9% of its escalating operating costs.

Starting on 12 December, due to monetary concerns SMART only enters the city of Detroit during a few hours on weekdays during rush hours. Otherwise, it now only goes to the Detroit city limits. Numerous entire routes were also totally eliminated, in addition to many other routes cutting Saturday and Sunday service altogether. DDOT has been cutting back service for close to a decade already--both by deleting routes with very low ridership and virtually all of its service past 2 AM. Many DDOT buses are nearly empty except during rush hour or when hauling school kids (roughly the same times for both).

DDOT is unable to get much in the way of future funding from the financially broke city of Detroit for its operating costs--mostly because studies have shown that DDOT spends way too much money (compared to public bus systems elsewhere) on personnel, including waste, graft, and corruption. Over 200 of DDOT's 438 buses have been broken down for several weeks or months. Err... make that 432 buses because six brand-new buses were burnt to nothingless this month while parked in one of its garages, which somehow had no water for its sprinkling system and no close hydrant water for the firemen to use in putting out the total loss of that garage...

And DDOT mechanics complain that they do not have money for tools and parts (in addition to insufficient training and know-how anyway).
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds

Postby lpetrich » Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:35 pm

Bing, Snyder back new plan for 3-mile light-rail line on Woodward | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
So the project is back in action again?

If so, then it could be extended further if it is successful.

It would be about twice the length of the Tacoma Link system, which seems reasonably successful.
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Re: Detroit light-rail project rejected by Feds - Revived?

Postby Detroit » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:20 pm

Mayor Bing flip-flopped yet once more on the LRT project, giving the M1 Group ninety days in which to build a workable plan for a 3.4-mile streetcar route--with the clock already ticking... Over a year ago, the M1 Group pledged to come up $80 million in donations to build a shorter 3.4 mile downtown Jefferson Street to New Center route. Now, they say that the 3.4-mile segment can be built for $125 million.

This is a somewhat surprising cost estimate because $550 million was the low-balled capital-cost estimate for the scrubbed, longer 9.2-mile LRT plan, in which the excess length over the 3.4-mile segment was supposed to be cheaper per mile. Obviously, anybody with fourth-grade arithmetic skills should be able to realize that $125 million would indeed have to be a super low-balled cost estimate, especially when critics of the scrubbed plan predicted that the low-balled $550 million plan would likely cost over $700 million.

The M1 Group was miffed when Bing and Governor Snyder, along with Obama-czar LaHood, scrubbed the 9.2-mile LRT boondoggle without first notifying the M1 Group. So, this 90-day period is more likely just a bone being thrown to that group of speculators--keeping them in the loop for a while. BTW, the major principals of the M1 Group are the same four speculators who secretly gave the convicted Mayor Kilpatrick some $60,000 apiece after he got out of jail--the first time--before he was sentenced to 1.5 to 5 years a couple years ago, that time in prison, for multiple serious parole violations. [Kilpatrick currently faces nearly two dozen federal counts in his trial starting this June, including RICO charges that likely would bring some additional thirty years imprisonment.]

There is now much less public support for any LRT project than before the project was scrubbed, if Facebook comments in the two local newspapers is any gauge--as the comments against the boondoggle clearly outnumber those from proponents.

Even E.L. Elrick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the Detroit Free Press, issued this anti-Bing criticism on his Facebook site...
http://www.facebook.com/mlelrick

Can someone please help me figure out what's going on in Detroit's City Hall?
Bob Warfield is named communications director, then he's out, now he's back.
Kirk Lewis is second in command, then he's out, now he's back.
The mayor says he has a plan to shrink the city, then he says he doesn't have a plan, then he asks people for their ideas and now he has a plan (i think).
The mayor isn't going to li...ve in the Manoogian Mansion, then he moves in.
The mayor says the city council is going too far by cutting $50 million from the budget, then he says we need to cut hundreds of millions from the budget or we're going to run out of money by April.
The mayor says the city needs to cut back and unions need to make concessions, then he hires a spokesman for $128,000.
The mayor says the city may need an emergency financial manager and that he'd be open to taking the job, then he says the city doesn't need an emergency financial manager and he doesn't want the job.
Karen Dumas is out as communications director, then she's back as a regular unofficial adviser.
The mayor says he isn't going to take a salary, then he secretly starts taking a salary and only tells the public months later just as the media is about to report it.
The mayor says light rail is going to work, then he says he won't work, now he says it will work.
Am I the only one around here whose head is spinning?
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