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February 10, 2007 Transportation and Transit For Scottsdale Thomas A. Rubin, CPA, CMA, CMC, CIA, CGFM, CFM.

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Presentation on theme: "February 10, 2007 Transportation and Transit For Scottsdale Thomas A. Rubin, CPA, CMA, CMC, CIA, CGFM, CFM."— Presentation transcript:


2 February 10, 2007 Transportation and Transit For Scottsdale Thomas A. Rubin, CPA, CMA, CMC, CIA, CGFM, CFM

3 What to do About Scottsdale Road? “First, do no harm.” Hippocrates, Epidemics

4 Scottsdale Road is a Unique Transportation Asset Scottsdale is a very long and narrow city, with only a very few continuous N-S roads Scottsdale Road is by far the most important of these, with both the highest capacity and most key trip generators If ill-conceived transportation “improvements” reduce its carrying capacity, there are no fixes possible

5 Scottsdale Road is the Designated “High Capacity Transit Corridor” Mode Options: Light Rail Transit (LRT) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) “Modern” Streetcar

6 Maricopa County “Transit Modal Splits” Home-to-Work/Work-to-Home: Maricopa County2.2% City of Phoenix3.4% City of Scottsdale1.3% Maricopa County w/o Phoenix1.3% Even if transit share would triple, it would still be very minor – don’t mess what needs to be done on Scottsdale Road to carry people on the existing “rubber tire” modes.

7 Light Rail Transit What is now being constructed in Phoenix Exclusive guideway for trains, either entire length or very close This may be exclusive lanes for trains or city streets or freeways, or separate right- of-way off street Stations generally approximately one mile apart

8 Light Rail Transit II Generally two-three car trains Operating speeds: –When street-running, normally street speed limit –Exclusive ROW, generally 55 mph –National average: approximately 17 mph –Top “normal” LRT, ~ 24 mph –Exception – LA Green Line, over 30 mph

9 Light Rail Transit III Costs/Mile – Varies significantly, but from under $20 million to hundreds of millions per mile, with most in range of approximately $40-80 million Cost of Phoenix first line: $1, million for 19.6 miles  $72 million/mile Safety issue – Grade crossings, particularly at speeds over 35 mph

10 Bus Rapid Transit Most physical and operating characteristics generally similar to LRT, but with “rubber tire,” vice steel-on-steel, wheels/tires Speeds and carrying capacities roughly comparable to LRT Capital cost of BRT generally <50% of LRT, operating cost comparison varies but BRT generally lower

11 Bus Rapid Transit II With BRT, unlike LRT, guideway buses can operate off the guideway, serving as their own feeder/distributors Safety concern – intersections, particularly with “ostridge” approach

12 Modern Streetcar Unlike LRT, streetcar tracks are in rubber tire traffic lanes on street – streetcars, cars, and trucks use same lanes Generally, stops every block or two Speeds – generally, 5-9 mph; capable of higher speeds where traffic allows and stops are further apart Fairly short, generally about five miles

13 Modern Streetcar II Generally, less frequent service (~10-15 minutes) than LRT or BRT Far lower overall carrying capacity Generally used as downtown circulator, not really usable as “main line” transit Capital costs vary widely, from as low as a under $1 million/mile (Kensoha) to ~$25 million per (one-way) mile (Tacoma)

14 Impacts of Guideway Transit on Scottsdale Road LRT and BRT both require approximately 26 feet for two lanes of straight track Station platforms require an additional 20 feet, with 10 foot station requirement possible with some compromises in station “quality” Intersections with left turn lanes can become very complex, particularly two-laners Many minor thru streets become “T’s”

15 Impacts of Guideway Transit on Scottsdale Road II LRT and BRT generally require traffic signal cycle changes for best transit results Streetcar generally operates on same lanes as rubber tire vehicles, but there are many impacts due to slow speeds, frequent stops, turn requirements, and inability to get around obstacles such as collisions and power outages

16 What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road Potential LRT/BRT Impacts: Conversion of traffic lanes for exclusive light rail use Reallocations of traffic signal cycle time to transit Elimination of left turn lanes at some intersections, conversion of two-laners back to one-laners at others

17 What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road II Elimination of most/all of non-intersection left turn lanes, such as at shopping malls Elimination of street parking Conversion of most/all non-arterial street crossings into “T” intersections “No stopping” zones – no pick-ups, drop- offs LRT and Streetcar would have overhead “catenary” wires

18 What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road III In certain locations along the ROW, potentially: –Wiping out every structure and parking lot on the East side of the street –Wiping out every structure and parking lot on the West side of the street –Wiping out every structure and parking lot on both sides of the street

19 What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road IV Modern Streetcar impacts would be less drastic: Modern Streetcar would likely operate for only a relatively short distance along Scottsdale Road because it really isn’t much of a transportation system Although it would probably not require traffic lane takes, there would be negative impacts on road capacity

20 What Would Guideway Transit Mean for Scottsdale Road V For the core traditional downtown area, LRT/BRT would require so much street width that rubber tire traffic would be extremely limited – or entire blocks of existing structures would have to be removed The consideration of any of guideway transit option for this section of Scottsdale Road could lead to consideration of entire elimination of rubber tire traffic

21 Modern Streetcar is NOT a “Main Line” Transportation System I took or computed annual passenger-miles for six streetcar systems that are either fully “modern” or similar in how they operate: Kenosha, Little Rock, Memphis, Portland, Tacoma, Tampa A four-mile stretch of six-lane Scottsdale Road carries about the same amount of passenger-miles in a day And none of these streetcars carry freight

22 Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories Little Rock – $1.2 billion in real estate development generated from $20 million investment in streetcar system Portland Streetcar – $2.28 billion from $89 million Tacoma – $1 billion from $89 million Tampa -- $1 billion from $56 million

23 Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories II CityDevelopment $Daily Riders $/Rider Portland$2,280,000,000 8,500 $ 268,000 Tacoma 1,000,000,000 2, ,000 Tampa 1,000,000,000 1, ,000 Little Rock 1,200,000, ,800,000

24 Modern Streetcar Real Estate Development Stories III What Can we Learn From This? A rooster crowing at dawn may believe that it is causing the sun to come up, but you shouldn’t be taking real estate investment advice from a rooster. … or a light rail/streetcar booster.

25 Freeway “Level of Service” (LOS) Criteria Level of ServiceMax SpeedMax Service Flow A B ,200 C ,704 D ,080 E ,400 F 2,400 (Above is for Free-Flow Speed, which has nothing to do with the speed limit, of 75 mph.)

26 Reason Foundation Galvin Mobility Project A series of professional papers on mobility First ones have been published, available at: Many more now in works I’m doing one on the relationship between transit and traffic congestion

27 Interim Report I had my associate do the analysis for two UZA’s to test the data Figured, what-the-heck, do the regressions and see what we get Overall expectation? Not much connection – congestion is basically a supply-and-demand thing and transit is just a small percentage of total transportation in most UZA’s. So, here’s the results – for Portland, Oregon

28 (May I have a drum roll, please?)



31 not

32 Well, Why Not? Rule 1: “Correlation is not causation.” 20 data points for one UZA is just a bit thin for drawing this type of conclusion. Most important, what possible direct causation could there be between, all else equal, an increase in transit usage – presumably, taking vehicles off the streets – and congestion getting worse?

33 But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland First Portland Light Rail Line was largely funded with Federal “Interstate Transfer” funds – Portland (or, more properly, the Mayor of Portland, with assistance from other officials) decided to give up an urban Interstate that had already been approved and funded to build this line. An urban freeway has several times more “transportation work” capacity than any light rail line

34 But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland II Building this light rail line required taking out a pre-existing HOV lane from a freeway that had higher transportation work values than the light rail line Building light rail on surface streets has reduced road capacity on these arterials and made crossing movements more difficult

35 But, All Else Isn’t Equal in Portland III Portland (Metro, Tri-Met, State, et al) have largely decided to not implement road capacity improvements – as demand increases Portland et al have adopted LOS “F” as the official target – while this is the result in many UZA’s, at least the others are officially trying to do better, not worse

36 So, can transit actually cause congestion to increase? No, not by itself. But, as a component of an officially adopted program of “interesting” transportation decisions, a case can be made.

37 Measurement Metrics Number of Lanes or Tracks x Vehicles or Trains per Hour per Lane/Track x Vehicles per Train x Passengers per Vehicle = PASSENGERS PASS A POINT x Speed = TRANSPORTATION WORK (Passenger Miles Index)

38 How to “Tilt” a Modal Comparison There are many different methodologies, and variations, for comparisons Almost all are valid, and useful – when properly utilized by people who know what they are doing It is very easy to misuse metrics to make them appear to show that your desired result, your modal selection, is the “right” one WATCH OUT FOR PEOPLE WHO PLAY GAMES WITH DATA AND METHODS

39 How to “Tilt” a Modal Comparison II To make your favored mode look better, show: Road………..….…………….…Rail………..…..… LocationEntire Metro Area LengthPeak Load Point Time FrameAll DayPeak Hour MetricTransportation WorkPassengers Past a Point MethodologyActualTheoretical f/Rail, Actual f/Road FreightIncludeExclude

40 Examples of What to Watch Out For Cynthia Sullivan, Chair, (Seattle) Central Link (light rail system) Oversight Committee, “When this system is up and running, Northgate to SeaTac, in 2020, it will carry as many people every day as I-5 does today.” Center for Transportation Excellence: “It would take a twelve lane freeway going in one direction to equate the same amount of capacity of one light rail line.”


42 Passenger Carrying Capacity Modal Comparisons..L.A. Blue Line.. ……..CFTE....…. Peak PeakEl Monte/ NY Port Light…Real World…. Load TripBusway Authority LOS “E”..Rail..LOS “E”LOS “F”.Point...Ave..HOV LaneBus Term Trains/Hour Cars/Train Cars/Hour 2, ,800 2, , Occupancy Passengers 23,187- Past a Point 2,50015,000 2,070 2,415 4,500 2,400 5,310 34,685 Speed Transportation Work Index113,85060,37537,50056, ,166 “E” Index “F” Index

43 Vehicle Carrying Capacity The number of persons in a vehicle is key to carrying capacity. The Kinkisharyo light rail vehicle selected for Phoenix light rail are described on the Valley Metro web site as, “have a capacity of 200.” The Skoda “modern streetcar” used in Portland and Tacoma is shown with a maximum load of 140.

44 Cost Metrics Federal Transit Administration Financial Capacity Analysis: 1.Is there funding to operate existing transit system? 2. Is there funding for capital renewal and replacement of existing transit system? 3. If answers to 1. and 2. are yes, then, and only then, is there funding to construct and operate the proposed system expansion?

45 FTA 49 USC 5309 “New Start” Tests The “new” metric is “Incremental Cost Divided by Transportation System User Benefit.” “Incremental Cost” is calculated in accordance with detailed procedures. “Transportation System User Benefit” is expressed in “time equivalent units,” which is basically travel hours saved. The “old” metric, which is still reported, is “Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger,” aka “Cost per New Passenger.”

46 Annualized Project Cost Simplified, the “Cost” for old and new metrics is: Annualized Capital Cost +Annual Operating Cost +Other Cost Changes (such as savings in operating costs for pre-existing transit lines) =Annual Cost (usually, 20 years out) “Annualized Capital Cost” spreads original capital costs of assets over their specified useful lives.

47 Annualized Capital Cost Asset Type Useful LivesFactor 40-foot Bus 12 years.126 Pavement 20 years.094 Rail Cars 25 years.086 Track, Electric, Structures 30 years.081 Land 100 years.070 “Factors” math is the same as for a 7% mortgage for the designated number of years of life.

48 Benefits “User Benefits” and “New Passengers” are outputs of transportation planning models, which must be approved by FTA. “Cost per New Passenger” was implemented because Feds believed the same riders were being shifted to more expensive transit modes, for no real transportation benefit. Change was made to “new” metric because opponents of many “new starts” projects were use “cost per new passenger” values to show it would be cheaper to least each new rider a car – often a luxury car.

49 Example of Cost/New Passenger Confusion “Frankly, light rail is very expensive. With respect to virtually all new systems, it would have been less expensive to lease each new commuter a car in perpetuity – in some cases, a luxury car, such as a Jaguar XJ8 or a BMW 740i.” – Wendell Cox, 2000 “This one is a real howler. To put it into perspective, a new BMW 740i goes for $62,900. APTA estimates that approximately 13,000,000 people use transit on a typical weekday. 13,000,000 times $62,900 would be $817.7 billion – almost half of the annual federal budget.” Paul M. Wyerich and William S. Lind

50 This response is extremely disquieting – while the difference between “cost per passenger” and “cost per new passenger” may not be readily apparent to lay persons, for people who are set forward as experts by the primary public transit industry association in the U.S. to not understand the distinction is somewhat akin to listening to a sermon by a priest who has never heard of the Ten Commandments. And then for that industry association to actually publish this comment under its own name, …

51 The Role of Transportation Modeling Transportation Modeling, as performed for purposes including “new starts” projects refinement and analysis, is a highly complex process that can be almost impossible for lay persons, or even decision-makers, to understand. The “cost per user benefit” metric, and even the older “cost per new passenger” metric, are also often very difficult for even some people who should know better to comprehend.

52 The State of the Art in Transportation Modeling Not good. Following are from a presentation the 2004 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, by James Ryan, FTA Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning, who was, in essence, the FTA “chief modeling techie.”

53 Results from the 1990 Assessment of Ridership Forecasts

54 Results from the Updated Assessment of Ridership Forecasts


56 Other Problems with Plans Case Study – Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus Rapid Transit “Orange Line” The entire “transportation” reason for a $325+ Million, 13-mile Guideway Bus Rapid Transit, instead of Rapid Bus – which does not have any exclusive/ semi exclusive guideway and would have cost <$500,000 per mile– was to save run time. Or was it?


58 Problems with Construction Cost Projections There have been many cases of very significant cost overruns on transit guideway projects. While, in recent years, the cost increases following the execution of a “Full Funding Grant Agreement” between the Federal government and the grantee, have been moderated greatly (but not completely), there have still been major problems with increases between the first and most important decision point – which is usually when the voters are asked to approve a tax for transit facility construction – and the ultimate construction cost. The following page shows one of the most massive such cost increases for a transit guideway.


60 What are the Costs – and Impacts – of Attempting to Increase Transit Ridership by Alternative Means? Over the past 25 years, Los Angeles has been a huge case study re the impact of radically different transit investment programs. From FY82-FY85, a program of rolling back the then 85¢ cash fare to 50¢ produced a 40+% ridership increase in three years, by far the most successful such demonstration in modern American transit history. Over the next 11 years, to FY96, the fare were increased back to 85¢, then to $1.10, and finally to $1.35, as over 60% of the MTA transit subsidies went for rail construction and operations – and ridership fell.

61 What are the Costs – and Impacts – of Attempting to Increase Transit Ridership by Alternative Means (concluded)? At the end of December, 1996, MTA entered into a Consent Decree to settle a Federal Title VI (discrimination in the utilization of Federal Funds) lawsuit, requiring it to drop the price of monthly passes back to $42, add bus service to relieve the most overcrowded buses of any major U.S. city, and add new routes. Ridership rose quickly and substantially, despite MTA efforts to fight the implementation of what it had agreed to do all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – and losing in every one of the seven decisions along the way.



64 The “Efficient Frontier” Before beginning a search for new solutions, first see how your are doing now. The following graph shows subsidy per passenger and subsidy per passenger- mile for the 24 largest bus operators in the U.S. The next one shows the cost per new boarding (not rider) for the main MTA guideway transit lines and for bus.



67 If Light Rail and Other Expensive Guideway Transit Projects Produce Such Negative Results, Than Why Are So Many Areas So Interested In Them? Answer: A failed syllogism.

68 The Failed Syllogism If we do nothing, things will get worse. Building rail is doing something. Therefore, we must build rail.

69 Really, Really, Really Bad Romantic Poetry If I had forever, my darling, I could convince you of my love. But, my darling, I must be off to battle in the morning, so we do not have forever. Since we may never have tomorrow, let us reap the glory of our love tonight.

70 Edited Version If I had enough time, I could convince you to do it.

71 Edited Version (continued) If I had enough time, I could convince you to do it. I don’t have enough time.

72 Edited Version (concluded) If I had enough time, I could convince you to do it. I don’t have enough time. Therefore, let’s do it.

73 Cost and Related Considerations Will it Work? Is it the Best Option? Can we Afford to Build it? Can we Afford to Operate it? Will it Negatively Impact Other Transportation System Components? Schedule – How Long to Get It Going? Risk – Financial, Political, Technical, Management?

74 How Much Should Light Rail Cost? “In most cases, Light Rail should not cost more than $20 million per mile.” Weyrich/Lind, page 42



77 How About Operating Costs? “The Critics also claim that buses cost less than rail. This is true of capital costs, but not of operating costs” Weyrich/Lind, page 18 If one examines national statistics, or those for bus and rail for most transit operators, one will generally find that the average bus cost and subsidy per passenger and per passenger-mile are slightly higher than those for rail. However, the main reason for this is that the capital costs for rail are so large that no one but a fool would ever build a new rail transit line anywhere but on a heavily utilized transit corridor.

78 How About Operating Costs (continued)? If one compares comparable types of transit service in comparable transit corridors – for example, if light rail is presented as a grade-separated guideway with one station per mile, consider the same type of bus service – one generally finds that bus is, at worst, extremely competitive and, very often, will have a huge operating cost/subsidy advantage. And this is only on the operating side – it is almost impossible to come up with any type of bus transit guideway that costs even half the cost of a rail line with comparable service characteristics. And there is the “mean is the median” factoid.

79 How About Operating Costs (concluded)? The following slide shows the cost per passenger for every bus line the Los Angeles MTA operated. As might be expected, it costs more to carry passengers on some lines than others. Note that the mean, the overall average, is $1.76 per passenger – but this is the 69 th percentile cost, which means that over two-thirds of the rides cost less. The median – the ride in the middle – cost $1.62, far less. Move important, the 30 th percentile ride cost $1.41, the 20 th percentile ride cost $1.22, and the 10 th percentile ride cost $1.10 – and this is not as low as bus can go. When you properly compare rail to highly productive bus lines, rail is rarely less expensive to operate.


81 How Bad Are Commutes – Really? We all hear about how overcrowded our roads are getting and how trips are taking longer. The following slide shows the home-to-work trip lengths for greater LA, the poster child for traffic congestion, from 1967 to 2003 – over this 36 year period, the average increased 5.1 minutes – 21%, from 24.0 to 29.1 minutes. Human beings are outstanding at adjusting to changes. As their travel situation changes, they change – new routes, move closer to work, new job closer to home, employer moves to where there are more workers, etc. There is, most certainly, a road capacity problem in this nation – but home-to-work commute times are not increasing significantly.


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