Commuters vs. other potential riders in funding formulas etc

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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Commuters vs. other potential riders in funding formulas etc

Post by Arborwayfan »

A friend in Minneapolis sent me a link to an article about their new Green Line light rail, specifically three stations in relatively poor, minority neighborhoods that were added to the plans after substantial community lobbying. The article, and the friend, said that those stations were excluded initially because those neighborhoods did not have enough commuters to qualify for a station under some funding rule or other. The article was not clear about whather that was a federal rule, a state rule, a Mpls-StP rule, or what. The stations were eventually added to the plans because the neighborhoods have many people who are likely to use the light rail for things besides commuting (shopping, etc.). I gather there were other reasons some people opposed the stations, apparently having to do with people in other neighborhoods not really wanting a new connection to those neighborhoods, or not wanting their trains to stop there, but what I'm really interested in is this funding rule.

Does it exist? At what level of government? What's the logic? I'd have thought it would be _good_ to have some stations generating non-commuting passengers because that would increase off-peak ridership, which makes operations and finances easier.

All thoughts welcome.

Bob Roberts
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 4:26 pm

Re: Commuters vs. other potential riders in funding formulas

Post by Bob Roberts »

While I don't have specifics about MSP I can say that the process for obtaining Federal funding for transit (at the time the green line was approved) involves cost-benefit calculations which are based on travel demand models (tdm). The tdms essentially focus on 1) travel time to employment and 2) number of people living within x miles of a station area. Since each stop on a transit line adds travel time to the total journey, stations which have relatively few potential commuters make the cost-benefit model look worse (and thus the projet may not rank as highly for federal funding). (FWIW: I believe that tdms are deeply flawed for analyzing transit projects and they should be dramatically revised or at least recalibrated)

The stations may have been added back to the green line when the federal government chnaged their cost-benefit calculations to include factrs such as economic development and land use chnage.

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Re: Commuters vs. other potential riders in funding formulas

Post by kaitoku »

In general in the U.S. new commuter lines are built to serve middle-class suburban markets, which by nature have a peak hour (~9am and 5pm~) traffic pattern, with little (or no) off peak service (and often no weekend service at all). Inner suburban and urban neighborhoods typically have more diverse travel patterns (many there being working class people dependent on public transit exclusively), so off-peak as well as weekend services are needed. You can serve both markets with a mixture of express and all-stops services, ideally with timed overtakes/cross platform transfers, but that is typically beyond the financial means and technical expertise of N. American operators.

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