Star Ford

Essays on lots of things since 1989.

Albuquerque-Santa Fe corridor study, comments

on 2005 February 9

To: NM Dept of Transportation; ATTN Debbie Bauman

COMMENTS ON 2/8 PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT MEETING ON ALB-SF CORRIDOR

  • The process appears to be open and thoughtful, not stifled by a pre-existing concept of the outcome.
  • The double metro areas contain a million people who spend thousands each on transportation, so there may be something like five billion dollars spent annually on transportation. The study should look for how to tap into this big source of money. Of those billions of dollars and 36,000 daily trips (and growing), the study seems to be implicitly asking for a small amount of money to deal with a small number of trips. What if the goal was to handle 20,000 daily trips with growth potential to 60,000? It is unclear what fraction of the market you are expecting. Would a more aggressive goal lead to a better system, that would have a much higher value?
  • There didn’t appear to be any foundation for the reduction of the number of strategies to 1 or 2. Why not use ALL the strategies that would work together to provide end-to-end mobility?
  • TDM was listed but not discussed in the meeting. Perhaps TDM with expanded bus service on the existing lanes could make the existing capacity sufficient for the next 20 years. That would be an unbeatable deal.
  • More buses on the same lanes do reduce congestion if you assume no induced demand and reasonable loads.
  • Have you considered outsourcing the solution? The private sector is usually better at innovation than the public sector. Define an aggressive set of goals like moving up to 60,000 passengers per day, improving air quality and safety, etc. Then ask for bids (more like contest entries). Use modelling to compare the concepts presented, to learn how many passengers they would attract. A system that is faster and has more connection points would attract more riders. Then calculate the public subsidy per passenger served and the extent to which the concept meets the goals. The winner gets a cash prize.
  • It seems like you rejected new technologies based on the cost alone; however, the risk of trying something new could be worth it if the value is much greater than the alternatives. For example, if the travel time could be dropped to 30 minutes, people would pay more for it and it may not seem so expensive after all. Megarail (megarail.com) claims to go 125 mph and be the “lowest cost solution available”. I know they have some prototypes, but I don’t know to what degree they are ready to build. Cybertran (cybertran.com) has been through extensive testing and can go 150 mph. You should also get a ballpark price, speed, and capacity numbers from Magplane (magplane.com), which is being built in China, and from Austrans (austrans.com) which has a running prototype. Austrans and Cybertran systems could fan out at both ends and serve many more destinations without compromising speed.
  • The system chosen should be a gateway to a larger vision in which cars and fossil fuels play a more minor role than today.
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