Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown (Lone Star Rail District)

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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Re: Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown

Postby jb9152 » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:50 am

electricron wrote:
fauxcelt wrote:Since most people seem to prefer to drive on a free but congested and crowded highway such as I-35 instead of SH-130 (the toll road), why does someone think they might be willing to switch to riding a train?
Laurence

I don't think many will spend more to ride than they will to drive. The fares on the train should be significantly higher than the tolls on the turnpike.


Well, you'd be wrong to think that. Very few people travel on SH-130 if their origin and/or destination is Austin, San Antonio, or one of their suburbs. The toll road is much too far to the east to be of any utility for those trips. People have already voted with their automobile "feet".

The LSTAR service would provide stations and connections in every city and town in the north-south corridor between Williamson and Bexar Counties, with park and rides, etc. It will also likely charge the national average for commuter rail fares, which is about $0.25 per mile. Why would they be any higher than that?

Plus, if you're correct, then no commuter rail line paralleled by a toll road should be successful, or able to compete for passengers. That's clearly not the case, especially when you're comparing rail service directly to activity, employment, and population centers with a meandering toll road that is located far outside any of those centers, with terrible connections to those centers, and longer trip times.
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Re: Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown

Postby jb9152 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 1:41 pm

Project update:

http://lonestarrail.com/index.php/lstar/about-project-timeline/

EIS started, with a three-year schedule, FHWA as the lead federal agency, TxDOT as the lead state agency, and Lone Star Rail District as the sponsoring agency. Notice of Intent scheduled to be published in mid-September, and agency and public scoping meetings to begin at the end of October.

Interlocal funding agreements signed with Austin and San Marcos, and negotiations well along with Kyle. Also in discussions with Georgetown, New Braunfels, Schertz, and San Antonio, with anticipated interlocal funding agreements completed over the next two years. The local funding sources will pay for O&M costs (net of fares, miscellaneous revenues, and so forth). The agreements use tax increment financing districts - half-mile districts around proposed rail station sites within which half of the growth in tax revenues (property tax, and in some places also sales tax) will go to the Rail District. San Marcos will also provide in-kind services for two stations (security, cleaning, light maintenance).

Current plans are for diesel locomotive-hauled coaches to run on what is now the current UPRR line between Taylor, TX, and San Antonio, TX.

Stay tuned!
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Re: Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown

Postby electricron » Tue Sep 02, 2014 6:51 pm

jb9152 wrote:Project update:

http://lonestarrail.com/index.php/lstar/about-project-timeline/

EIS started, with a three-year schedule, FHWA as the lead federal agency, TxDOT as the lead state agency, and Lone Star Rail District as the sponsoring agency. Notice of Intent scheduled to be published in mid-September, and agency and public scoping meetings to begin at the end of October.

Current plans are for diesel locomotive-hauled coaches to run on what is now the current UPRR line between Taylor, TX, and San Antonio, TX.

Stay tuned!


Does this EIS include the new freight bypass alignment or not? UP has already stated they are not interested sharing the existing rail corridor for no amount of money unless funds for a new rail bypass is provided for them. That money has to come first, that EIS has to be finished first. LoneStarRail might be wasting money studying the existing corridor now if no one is doing an EIS on the new freight rail bypass corridor.

The area around where the train station in Austin is located is already being re-developed. There will not be as many funds arising from Austin's train station to support LoneStarRail's O&M. The same is also true in San Antonio. I don't believe the planned O&M funding sources will be large enough for these very reasons.
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Re: Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown

Postby jb9152 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:34 am

electricron wrote:Does this EIS include the new freight bypass alignment or not? UP has already stated they are not interested sharing the existing rail corridor for no amount of money unless funds for a new rail bypass is provided for them. That money has to come first, that EIS has to be finished first. LoneStarRail might be wasting money studying the existing corridor now if no one is doing an EIS on the new freight rail bypass corridor.


EIS includes the bypass. It's a single program now, due to the EIS funding sources (STP-MM).

electricron wrote:The area around where the train station in Austin is located is already being re-developed. There will not be as many funds arising from Austin's train station to support LoneStarRail's O&M. The same is also true in San Antonio. I don't believe the planned O&M funding sources will be large enough for these very reasons.


EIAs completed for all 7 locations in Austin show sufficient O&M. Do you have a source for your statement "There will not be as many funds arising from Austin..."? Link, maybe?

San Antonio sources will likely be on the very low side, very true, based on the EIAs completed for the proposed station locations. Different funding sources will likely be required for San Antonio. Austin, no problem.

Remember also that the local funding sources being sought include all of the cities and counties served, plus the community college districts.
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Re: Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown

Postby electricron » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:04 pm

jb9152 wrote:EIS includes the bypass. It's a single program now, due to the EIS funding sources (STP-MM).

EIAs completed for all 7 locations in Austin show sufficient O&M. Do you have a source for your statement "There will not be as many funds arising from Austin..."? Link, maybe?

San Antonio sources will likely be on the very low side, very true, based on the EIAs completed for the proposed station locations. Different funding sources will likely be required for San Antonio. Austin, no problem.

Remember also that the local funding sources being sought include all of the cities and counties served, plus the community college districts.


Good, that addresses my main worry.

Do I have to mention they're building the 5 acre, $130 Million Seaholm development even before this EIS ends? That's significant amount of tax revenues that will not be shared with Lone Star Rail, because the project will be built long before Lone Star Rail gets off the ground.
http://www.seaholm.info

Bad, San Antonio is already scrapping the bottom of the barrel funding its streetcar project, which by the way will visit the same station Lone Star Rail will.

Good for O&M expenses maybe, definitely bad for capital expenses. Where do they plan to find the money to build the new rail corridor, and rebuild the existing rail corridor? Uncles Sam at best will grant 50%.
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Re: Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown

Postby jb9152 » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:05 am

electricron wrote:Good, that addresses my main worry.

Do I have to mention they're building the 5 acre, $130 Million Seaholm development even before this EIS ends? That's significant amount of tax revenues that will not be shared with Lone Star Rail, because the project will be built long before Lone Star Rail gets off the ground.
http://www.seaholm.info


Already factored in to the EIA for that area. Actually, 50% of *any* any increases in value over the base year (2013) will accrue to the Rail District, so that will be captured. Maybe not as much value as would have been there had the TIZ been in place before 2013, but still a substantial amount of revenue.

electricron wrote:Bad, San Antonio is already scrapping the bottom of the barrel funding its streetcar project, which by the way will visit the same station Lone Star Rail will.


Yes, that was a shame to see that go, but one could almost predict it. A very jumbled message, and no clear vision of how it would fit into the regional transportation picture. The city, VIA, the county, the MPO, and Lone Star Rail District will be taking a step back to formulate, with public input, a more comprehensive vision for regional transportation in Bexar County/metro San Antone. The streetcar may come back as part of that.

electricron wrote:Good for O&M expenses maybe, definitely bad for capital expenses. Where do they plan to find the money to build the new rail corridor, and rebuild the existing rail corridor? Uncles Sam at best will grant 50%.


Yeah, Tax Increment Financing has not made a good showing of itself on Wall Street or in DC in terms of backing up construction bonds for rail projects. It all depends on the grade of study you do - you really need to do a full investment-grade study in order to ensure a better rating (and lower interest rate) for private or federal money.

Plans are for the CAPEX side to be funded with a combination of federal, state, and private monies. The strategic financing plan is just kicking off, and should be finished within the time frame of the EIS.
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Re: Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Feb 11, 2016 10:45 am

Nail in the coffin? My San Antonio

Brief, fair-use:

Union Pacific puts brakes on passenger rail line along I-35

The Lone Star Rail District’s plan to run passenger trains on one of Union Pacific’s freight lines has been derailed, at least for now.
UP terminated its agreement with the district to study the possibility of running passenger trains on a freight line that parallels Interstate 35. The idea was central to the district’s plans to build a passenger rail line, known as LSTAR, between San Antonio and Georgetown.
Next stop, Willoughby
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Re: Texas: San Antonio - Georgetown

Postby jb9152 » Wed May 11, 2016 4:40 pm

Just UP being UP. The EIS continues without them, for now. Door is open for return, but other options are being explored in the Alternatives Analysis process - adjacent to UP, adjacent to or in the ROW of I-35, adjacent to or in the ROW of SH-130 (for a portion of the route), the MoKan corridor, etc. Next round of public meetings to present reasonable alternatives is tentatively scheduled for fall/winter 2016.
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