Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles (and Streetcars!).

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iamjacobm
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby iamjacobm » Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:00 pm

OmahaOmaha wrote:The cost to build a street car and the cost to maintain one is huge. No matter what amount they tell us that it's going to cost to build, I'm sure it will end up costing millions and millions more. I imagine it would be cheaper to buy a car for everyone who doesn't have one. Why can't these people just take a taxi to get where they need to go? I work hard so I can own my own transportation. Maybe other people should do the same thing.


You can say that bolded part about every single mile of road we pave. That is fine that you prefer your car, but IMO the thought that roads are a god given right wile public transit is pork barrel spending is hypocritical. Both move people, both have high costs, both need maintenance, both spur development(different kinds of development).

Anyways. No one is going to change their mind on this issue. Its been hashed up time and time again and I have seen maybe one person in my life change their attitude on the issue.

I think if we keep sprawling ourself to Lincoln we are writing our own death sentence, but maybe I am wrong and low density development will be a sustainable future for Omaha. :shrug:

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby bigredmed » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:59 am

buildomaha wrote:
bigredmed wrote:No the correct plan of action is to do the following:

1. All bus routes east of 72nd are re structured so that they stop no closer than ever 200 yards. No more stopping every 100 feet. This means that most routes are now 50-60% faster.

2. Because these routes are more efficient, fewer buses are needed and these can be repurposed to other routes.

3. Two east-west commuter routes added to current routes. One on Pacific and one on Maple. These start in Elkhorn and end at Westroads.

4. Two more express buses that start at Westroads and end at 10th street. They stop at UNO, UNMC, MTC, 24th street, 16th street, and 10th only.

5. Small shuttle buses that loop through the city that link to these east west express buses. These will be cheaper to run than regular buses and allow for more neighborhood routes.

6. North south express routes on 144th, 120th,90th, 72nd, 48th, 30th, and 24th. From Dutch Hall road to Giles (or their equivalents).
The problem with this is that most people that live out west are not going to want to get on a bus to go to work. It's almost an ego type of thing. Also people don't need public transit if they can afford to drive and chose to live in the suburbs knowing they would have to do so.
In other words, just take the effort to make an effective square grid with loops that link to these express routes.


The bus system is not an ego thing. It is a practical reality thing. If you live by UNO and can walk a "block" or the equivalent of about 200 feet and catch a bus that will drop you 50-75 feet from your office, buses are great. Take the same person and have him live by Millard Central Middle School, he has to walk nearly a mile to Q street. If he lived in Candlewood, he would have to walk all the way to 118th and Miracle Hills to catch a shuttle that would take him to Westroads, where he would have to hope the express bus hadn't left. Assuming that the express bus would connect to a circulating bus and he didnt miss it, he could get to work, pitted out, in about 4 times as long as he could drive there for about twice the cost.

Not ego, that's your projection. It's simply not a viable option since we made mass transit unworkable west of UNO and impractical west of 90th.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Uffda » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:03 am

When it comes to riding a bus, I don't want to ride with the people with droopy pants that look like they're going to mug me. I don't want to sit next to the guy that smells like he crapped his pants or the guy that smells like an ashtray. I don't want to worry about getting lice or bed bugs from sitting on the same seats as some of the dirty people. Aren't these going to be the same people that will be riding the street car?


Wow. :shock:

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby GRANDPASMUCKER » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:44 am

Uffda wrote:
When it comes to riding a bus, I don't want to ride with the people with droopy pants that look like they're going to mug me. I don't want to sit next to the guy that smells like he crapped his pants or the guy that smells like an ashtray. I don't want to worry about getting lice or bed bugs from sitting on the same seats as some of the dirty people. Aren't these going to be the same people that will be riding the street car?


Wow. :shock:


Thats whats known as the Ugly Truth! I remember one time back in the 90's that I rode the bus. I always sit in the very back of course which is asking for trouble and a time or two I found it. I get on the bus one day and there is about 4 people on the bus and I go sit in the very back seat of the bus. On the other side of the back row there is a guy sitting there leafing through a magazine. I'm sitting there and all of a sudden the guy jumps up and leaps in front of my face and starts yelling that Hulk Hogan is going to kick the |expletive| out of Randy Macho Man Savage! This guy appears to have Terets Syndrome with a cross of retardation mixed in for good effect! Anyway hes about 2 inches from my face holding his WWF magazine yelling at the top of his lungs that Hogan is going to kill the Macho Man and I look him right in the eye and sternly say "You God darn right he is!" It seemed to work and he calmed down and went and sat back down.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby PotatoeEatsFish » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:29 pm

I think the smartest option would be a light rail from Omaha to Lincoln.
The list of stations should be:
-Riverfront/TD Ameritrade
-Downtown Omaha
-Midtown Crossing
-Aksarben
-Ralston
-Millard
-Gretna
-Ashland
-Greenwood
-Waverly
-UNL East Campus
-UNL/Memorial Field
-Haymarket/Pinnacle
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby OmahaOmaha » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:15 pm

PotatoeEatsFish wrote:I think the smartest option would be a light rail from Omaha to Lincoln.
The list of stations should be:
-Riverfront/TD Ameritrade
-Downtown Omaha
-Midtown Crossing
-Aksarben
-Ralston
-Millard
-Gretna
-Ashland
-Greenwood
-Waverly
-UNL East Campus
-UNL/Memorial Field
-Haymarket/Pinnacle


This would never work unless there was a huge park and ride lot at each station location. The cost to build and maintain light rail is too expensive, and it's not really a time saver if you have to spend time waiting for a train and then make all those stops along the way. People are just going to drive instead. Anyway, who wants to get off the train when it's hot, cold, or raining and then have to walk for miles to where you're going or sit on a bench waiting for a bus to take you to a stop closest to your destination and then still have to do more walking to get there. Are there really that many people traveling back and forth between Lincoln and Omaha on a daily basis to justify this?

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby buildomaha » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:39 pm

PotatoeEatsFish wrote:I think the smartest option would be a light rail from Omaha to Lincoln.
The list of stations should be:
-Riverfront/TD Ameritrade
-Downtown Omaha
-Midtown Crossing
-Aksarben
-Ralston
-Millard
-Gretna
-Ashland
-Greenwood
-Waverly
-UNL East Campus
-UNL/Memorial Field
-Haymarket/Pinnacle

I like the way you think!

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby OmahaOmaha » Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:30 pm

buildomaha wrote:
PotatoeEatsFish wrote:I think the smartest option would be a light rail from Omaha to Lincoln.
The list of stations should be:
-Riverfront/TD Ameritrade
-Downtown Omaha
-Midtown Crossing
-Aksarben
-Ralston
-Millard
-Gretna
-Ashland
-Greenwood
-Waverly
-UNL East Campus
-UNL/Memorial Field
-Haymarket/Pinnacle

I like the way you think!


A lot of you guys like to think big, but have you given any thought on how much these things costs? Who do you expect to pay for these things? Taxes are already high. Are you okay with your taxes skyrocketing to pay for these things? Is it worth the super high taxes to say you live in a city with a super cool street car or light rail system? Thinking big is great, but be realistic.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Taco » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:31 pm

PotatoeEatsFish wrote:I think the smartest option would be a light rail from Omaha to Lincoln.
The list of stations should be:
-Riverfront/TD Ameritrade
-Downtown Omaha
-Midtown Crossing
-Aksarben
-Ralston
-Millard
-Gretna
-Ashland
-Greenwood
-Waverly
-UNL East Campus
-UNL/Memorial Field
-Haymarket/Pinnacle


Why is this the smartest option?

Light rail is incredibly expensive per mile and really only makes financial sense when serving areas with pre-existing high density around the stations or areas where you want to encourage dense, walkable growth. The only feasible stations on your list would be a downtown station, a midtown station, an Aksarben station and ONE station between UNL and the Haymarket. Who would utilize the stations at Ashland and Greenwood? Did you just include those places because they're more or less in the middle?

Anyways, rail between Omaha and Lincoln doesn't make sense because it is still so easy to drive. And there really aren't that many people that commute between the two cities. Maybe if traffic between the cities doubled then it would have a chance.

I am all for brainstorming and coming up with ideas, but let's put a little practicality and research into our ideas.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Wrightfan » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:38 pm

OmahaOmaha wrote:it's not really a time saver if you have to spend time waiting for a train and then make all those stops along the way. People are just going to drive instead.


Thousands of people (including me) do this every day in cities that have light (or heavy) rail. You work it into your daily life. It's really not that much of a hassle.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby buildomaha » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:22 pm

Light rail is not a viability for Omaha yet, I understand. I do like to dream big but I also think about the future. If we keep the suburban sprawl toward Lincoln we're going to need something to keep up with transportation. We could keep putting in interstates or we could do light rail. Either is fine by me and both are expensive so it's whatever the guys in charge decide is more efficient when the time comes.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:22 pm

I think you'd want a commuter rail between Omaha and Lincoln, not a light rail. Commuter rail trains can utilize existing freight rail lines making infrastructure cheaper. They're also generally faster. There's one in New Mexico that goes between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, cities that are similar in size to Omaha and Lincoln. I'm pretty confident their taxes aren't out if control.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby buildomaha » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:32 pm

TitosBuritoBarn wrote:I think you'd want a commuter rail between Omaha and Lincoln, not a light rail. Commuter rail trains can utilize existing freight rail lines making infrastructure cheaper. They're also generally faster. There's one in New Mexico that goes between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, cities that are similar in size to Omaha and Lincoln. I'm pretty confident their taxes aren't out if control.

Commuter rail would be easier to implement but if existing lines are used, there would have to be an agreement to prioritize passenger rails over others. Otherwise the trains would never work because they would never arrive on time.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby bigredmed » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:45 pm

buildomaha wrote:
TitosBuritoBarn wrote:I think you'd want a commuter rail between Omaha and Lincoln, not a light rail. Commuter rail trains can utilize existing freight rail lines making infrastructure cheaper. They're also generally faster. There's one in New Mexico that goes between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, cities that are similar in size to Omaha and Lincoln. I'm pretty confident their taxes aren't out if control.

Commuter rail would be easier to implement but if existing lines are used, there would have to be an agreement to prioritize passenger rails over others. Otherwise the trains would never work because they would never arrive on time.


And BN is not going to do that cheap.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby buildomaha » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:44 pm

bigredmed wrote:
buildomaha wrote:
TitosBuritoBarn wrote:I think you'd want a commuter rail between Omaha and Lincoln, not a light rail. Commuter rail trains can utilize existing freight rail lines making infrastructure cheaper. They're also generally faster. There's one in New Mexico that goes between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, cities that are similar in size to Omaha and Lincoln. I'm pretty confident their taxes aren't out if control.

Commuter rail would be easier to implement but if existing lines are used, there would have to be an agreement to prioritize passenger rails over others. Otherwise the trains would never work because they would never arrive on time.


And BN is not going to do that cheap.

Exactly.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby daveoma » Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:00 pm

I feel like the streetcar/rail debate is an example of which comes first: the transportation our the population. Everyone says that the current population density isn't sufficient for a streetcar. On the other hand, development in Omaha is not exactly encouraged to build up. You need policies to create demand for high density development which will in turn make the streetcar/light rail viable.

1. Create a new tax incentive (apart from TIF and perhaps not in conjunction with it) for high density developments of 5 storeys or more. This will catalyze development asking the proposed streetcar route.

2. Instead of using federal transportation money for paving freeways over some of the best agricultural land in the world, use the money to start a streetcar/light rail line. Even if the line is short, it will be used by tourists and locals.

3. The new streetcar line will spur development using the tax incentives which will cause peripheral development which will legitimize streetcar line expansion--ESPECIALLY connecting the airport to downtown to the Med Center.

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Re: Blackstone Business Improvement District

Postby nebraska » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:06 am

If there were a streetcar from UNO to downtown, it would get used. The streetcars have to be on 15 minute intervals, except after 10pm where it goes to 30 minutes. The reason why the OMetro doesn't get used as much is partly because of the stigma of riding the bus. If the City of Omaha were to dump $1m into a advertising the bus as a whole-city transportation alternative ridership will improve. Instead, it feels more like the City only operates the bus as an obligation.

I would ride the streetcar all the time. Just last weekend, I walked between Blackstone and the Old Market. It was easier to just walk the 2.5 miles than wait an hour for the bus. (and it was nice out)

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Re: Blackstone Business Improvement District

Postby OmahaOmaha » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:25 am

nebraska wrote:If there were a streetcar from UNO to downtown, it would get used. The streetcars have to be on 15 minute intervals, except after 10pm where it goes to 30 minutes. The reason why the OMetro doesn't get used as much is partly because of the stigma of riding the bus. If the City of Omaha were to dump $1m into a advertising the bus as a whole-city transportation alternative ridership will improve. Instead, it feels more like the City only operates the bus as an obligation.

I would ride the streetcar all the time. Just last weekend, I walked between Blackstone and the Old Market. It was easier to just walk the 2.5 miles than wait an hour for the bus. (and it was nice out)


Part of the stigma of riding the bus is that you might have to wait an hour for a bus...and it's not always nice out. How is $1m in advertising going to change that?

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Re: Blackstone Business Improvement District

Postby nebraska » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:50 am

Increase ridership -> increase # of buses.

This equation works both ways: increase # of buses (i.e. stops per hour) -> increase ridership.

Also, dump some of that money into building an app for phones that tells you when buses are coming. For example, when I lived in NYC I used an app such as this (https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... vice&hl=en). It was accurate to within a minute. I could stay in my apartment longer before heading out to the bus stop.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:08 am

Replying to a post from the Blackstone thread:

nebraska wrote:If there were a streetcar from UNO to downtown, it would get used. The streetcars have to be on 15 minute intervals, except after 10pm where it goes to 30 minutes. The reason why the OMetro doesn't get used as much is partly because of the stigma of riding the bus. If the City of Omaha were to dump $1m into a advertising the bus as a whole-city transportation alternative ridership will improve. Instead, it feels more like the City only operates the bus as an obligation.

I would ride the streetcar all the time. Just last weekend, I walked between Blackstone and the Old Market. It was easier to just walk the 2.5 miles than wait an hour for the bus. (and it was nice out)

30 minutes after 10pm? I'm not going to use that.
Walked 2.5 miles? I'm not going to do that.
I can't even use the bus because the bus paths basically just exist to take people downtown. I just want to go from Oakview to Westroads or Village Pointe to Westroads. I don't want to go downtown.

I will continue to drive my car where parking is not an issue and avoid going downtown (except on Saturday nights).

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby nebraska » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:00 am

Omaha_corn_burner wrote:I can't even use the bus because the bus paths basically just exist to take people downtown.


Yeah, another big problem with Omaha is that most transport in this city is designed to serve downtown. The street north of me (Dodge) and south of me (Harney) are basically freeways during the morning rush hour.

We do need to start looking at whole-city concepts.

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Re: Blackstone Business Improvement District

Postby MTO » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:17 pm

Good old supply and demand. And i like the app idea but would prefer an API integration with google or apple's built in maps(transit) apps so it can be cued up with Siri etc.
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Re: Blackstone Business Improvement District

Postby omaha79 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:56 pm

I'm not a believer in a traditional streetcar in this area. Why not just have Ollie The Trolley style busses that run this route and just call them mid/downtown circulator busses? Make them free to ride. It ends up being the same general idea without the need for the costly infrastructure. This method seems to work well in some cities I've visited like Alexandria, VA. They have a trolley bus system that runs down the main road from one end of "old town" to the other. I don't see why we have to go for the costliest option.

If we were talking meaningful public transportation that ran from 10th ST that would connect the Clink/Ballpark and Old Market, up to mid-town and Blackstone, through the Med Center, then through UNO's campus to AkSarBen Village, I might be more inclined to buy into it.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:20 am

omaha79 wrote:Alexandria, VA. They have a trolley bus system that runs down the main road from one end of "old town" to the other. I don't see why we have to go for the costliest option.

Was the density already there, or did the Ollie-esque trollies encourage developers to develop along the trolley path? I imagine if somebody was going to spend 10's of millions of dollars on a new development, they would want some kind of assurance from the city that the trolley would be around for X amount of years.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby omaha79 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:54 pm

Omaha_corn_burner wrote:
omaha79 wrote:Alexandria, VA. They have a trolley bus system that runs down the main road from one end of "old town" to the other. I don't see why we have to go for the costliest option.

Was the density already there, or did the Ollie-esque trollies encourage developers to develop along the trolley path? I imagine if somebody was going to spend 10's of millions of dollars on a new development, they would want some kind of assurance from the city that the trolley would be around for X amount of years.


I can't answer that, but I don't think it's a great idea to spend millions on trolley cars as a hail mary trying to prop up a mid town development that can't seem to succeed on its own. If the developer wants that, they should do it themselves, IMO.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:01 pm

omaha79 wrote:
Omaha_corn_burner wrote:
omaha79 wrote:Alexandria, VA. They have a trolley bus system that runs down the main road from one end of "old town" to the other. I don't see why we have to go for the costliest option.

Was the density already there, or did the Ollie-esque trollies encourage developers to develop along the trolley path? I imagine if somebody was going to spend 10's of millions of dollars on a new development, they would want some kind of assurance from the city that the trolley would be around for X amount of years.


I can't answer that, but I don't think it's a great idea to spend millions on trolley cars as a hail mary trying to prop up a mid town development that can't seem to succeed on its own. If the developer wants that, they should do it themselves, IMO.


I think the answer to that is pretty important to your argument.


EDIT : Did some quick googling. I can't find anything that says the King Street Trolley generated any sort of new development along the path. It has been operating for about 9 years and seems like it was built to help ease traffic congestion.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby omaha79 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:29 pm

I guess that I'm skeptical that a trolley line will really create and sustain growth in Omaha. I could see it seen as somewhat of a novelty in the short term, but the kind of thing that's quickly forgotten about in a city such as this...or, at worst, seen as "unsafe".

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:29 pm

The streetcar is not supposed to be a novelty for tourists, although they are quite charming and that's part of their appeal. They're supposed to be a viable transportation option whose permanency brings confidence to developers to invest in the vicinity with developments that don't require acres of parking and are thus more efficient as well as more attractive.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:05 pm

Here's a homework assignment for you omaha79. Drive down to Kansas City. Drive down the entire "trolley" line. Look at all the new buildings being built. Look at all the new restaurants. Look at the people waiting to use the streetcar. Go to River Market. Drive a few blocks to the east. Look at the apartment rents. Ride the streetcar. Go during the day, go in the evening, go at night.
As was discussed somewhere on this website, they just need to incentivize developers to build higher than 5 stories to really get some density going.

If they didn't build the permanent street car, then most of those developments would not have been built.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:27 pm

Obviously this website is biased but they mention over a billion dollars in development.
http://kcstreetcar.org/route/economic-development-2/

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Busguy2010 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:39 pm

In Omaha streetcar comes first, density of development follows. I don't think it should be paid for purely through taxes. The private organizations that stand to benefit from it the most could and should easily donate their fair portion to getting the route built. I do think the streetcar will be the essential catalyst to developing the kind Midtown that will benefit the whole city in a huge way.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby buildomaha » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:54 pm

Busguy2010 wrote:In Omaha streetcar comes first, density of development follows. I don't think it should be paid for purely through taxes. The private organizations that stand to benefit from it the most could and should easily donate their fair portion to getting the route built. I do think the streetcar will be the essential catalyst to developing the kind Midtown that will benefit the whole city in a huge way.


Well it's a good thing that midtown 2050 sees everything the same exact way you do! I agree it will drive Omaha in growth and add some "hipness" to Omaha so that we can get young people to come live and work here. Eventually the streetcar will get added onto if it is successful and people start seeing that there are other efficient ways to travel than a car. It will open the door for a line that connects to the airport and even out to UNO/Alsarben. It is almost like a domino effect like with KC. Once they built theirs and people came to see in in droves, they came out almost immediately with plans for an addition. Hoping if Omaha gets a streetcar of its own it will be as successful!

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby iamjacobm » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:16 pm

It was said in the article that(like most major Omaha projects DT) will be a combination of private and public funds. It also said that the streetcar would cost about $70 million and the reconfigured streets in the area would be another $70 million. It isn't just a rail project it is a major infrastructure project that should help not only public transit, but bikers, walkers and auto drivers as well.

I am obviously way on board for this. We have been talking about it since '05, it has been a big success in a number of cities and before long it will be an amenity that many people will come to expect for a city. When we built the CLC I am sure plenty of people said we were too small, no pro team, just fix what we currently had yada yada yada. Sometimes a city needs to think big and take a risk to see a reward.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby NEDodger » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:46 pm

Honest question:

What realistically is the difference between having expanded bus service and a streetcar line here?

Regarding the argument that permanency is going to give developers more confidence - Farnam Street having bus service within walking distance is about as sure if a thing as a permanent track.

Regarding no longer requiring large parking lots so that buildings are built higher - buses bring people by these same developments every day. Is the ridership (which will doubtfully be free like KC's) really bring in enough additional people that we will start having midrises all along midtown?

I guess I just don't see KC as a like comparison. Their metro is substantially larger than ours and a lot of this development was kickstarted by Power and Light, the Sprint Center, etc

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Dundeemaha » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:28 am

NEDodger wrote:Honest question:

What realistically is the difference between having expanded bus service and a streetcar line here?

Buses are mass transit solutions while streetcars are effectively pedestrian enhancements. For people unfamiliar with buses they can be intimidating and/or carry a stigma. If someone gets on a bus they aren't familiar with they could end up anywhere. If you've driven past the streetcar route once you know exactly where it goes.

Since streetcars are extremely expensive per mile compared to buses they can only connect relativity close areas, add to that they are the same speed or slower than buses and they are more development incentive than transit.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby skinzfan23 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:29 am

Also I would add that streetcar lines are not easily moved. A bus route can be moved at any time with little to no cost therefore not giving a sense of stability to a recently opened business that is dependent on that foot traffic.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby omaha79 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:45 pm

NEDodger wrote:Honest question:

What realistically is the difference between having expanded bus service and a streetcar line here?

Regarding the argument that permanency is going to give developers more confidence - Farnam Street having bus service within walking distance is about as sure if a thing as a permanent track.

Regarding no longer requiring large parking lots so that buildings are built higher - buses bring people by these same developments every day. Is the ridership (which will doubtfully be free like KC's) really bring in enough additional people that we will start having midrises all along midtown?

I guess I just don't see KC as a like comparison. Their metro is substantially larger than ours and a lot of this development was kickstarted by Power and Light, the Sprint Center, etc


I tend to agree with this last sentence. I don't think the comparison between KC and Omaha really fits. There was a ton of organic growth going on in KC prior to the streetcar going in. Sprint Center P&L and a number of supporting businesses were already up and running successfully. Omaha is struggling to keep MidTown Crossing afloat at this point. So, while KC had the streetcar pop up as a logical organic extension of what was already happening, Omaha is trying to build this to pop up a somewhat failing development by connecting it with pockets of organic development (Blackstone) and hoping it will push further growth. It might work, it might not, but I don't think it's an apples to apples comparison.

And, for every KC that's pointed to as a success, a quick Google search seems to indicate there are plenty of municipalities with buyers remorse on these projects in places like Atlanta and DC, among others. Those may not be apples to apples comparisons either. I'd need to do more research, but I just can't believe that this is a magic bullet to cure Omaha, and specifically MidTown's, issues.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:11 pm

How about Tucson as an example then:

New York Times wrote:Downtown Tucson had until recently been a place searching in vain for a strong jolt of vitality — more commerce, street traffic and nightlife. But somehow the right catalyst was always lacking.

...

For Ralph Avella, the manager of the Hub, a restaurant and creamery on Congress Street, the streetcar line has been good for business. The Hub recently opened a separate ice cream shop across the street, hoping to attract more customers from the growing number of visitors.

Mr. Avella said the streetcar showed that downtown Tucson was finally getting its act together.

“It’s almost more symbolic of ‘Hey, we’re actually doing that,’ ” he said. “We’re actually turning into a real downtown city.”

State Senator Steve Farley, a Tucson Democrat who had pushed for the streetcar for more than a decade, said even skeptics would realize that the project would pay economic dividends.

“The streetcar isn’t just about being a transportation mode,” he said. “It’s also an economic development tool that’s incredibly powerful when you do it right, and I think we, in Tucson, really did it right.”

As of this January, the private sector had invested $380 million in the downtown area, according to the Downtown Tucson Partnership. That doesn’t include millions of dollars more in projects on the drawing board, like the Marriott.

...

But Arthur C. Nelson, a University of Arizona urban planning professor who researches transit systems’ impact on economic development, said Tucson’s streetcar was likely the best option for the city.

Sun Link, Mr. Nelson said, connects an unusual amount of “high-activity nodes in short distances,” from the medical center to the campus to downtown to the Fourth Avenue shopping district. As those spots are close together, a streetcar would probably be more effective than a bus rapid transit system, he said.


http://tucson15.nytimes-institute.com/2015/05/28/streetcars-help-to-drive-local-business-development/
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:26 pm

An interesting excerpt about the psychology of streetcars. It argues against some points I've made about the role streetcars play in a transit network, but still upholds that they provide significant benefits to the areas around them.

Aaron Weiner wrote:THE PSYCHOLOGY OF STREETCARS
To the extent that streetcars are a boon to a city’s transit network, it’s more a matter of perception than actual mobility. The H Street streetcar will largely run along the exact same route as the X2 bus, yet it’s expected to give a substantial boost to the corridor. That’s partly because streetcars tend to offer a smoother and quieter ride than buses, and partly because a streetcar’s tracks and fixed route make it easier for visitors to figure out. But mostly it’s a simple question of psychology.

“You see it in D.C. in terms of the general population that takes the Metro,” Blumenauer says. “People who wouldn’t get on a bus at gunpoint will take the Metro. And the streetcar’s even friendlier because it’s aboveground.”

“It’s a feeling thing,” Harscher says. “Once you ride the system, you really feel like you’re taking a step down when you ride a bus.”

That’s why the streetcar could be such a boon to H Street businesses, even though it will largely replicate the X2 bus. There’s no Metro stop near the street’s nightlife epicenter, and some would-be visitors are kept away by the X2’s reputation for dodgy service. Even if the streetcar won’t get people to H Street’s bars and restaurants any faster, they’re likely to feel more comfortable about making the trip.

“I think the perception will change,” DeMayo says, “even though it’s not going to be any easier or harder to get to H Street.”

The question is how long that change will last. The D.C. streetcar may initially seem shiny and clean compared to buses, but it could also quickly come to resemble another X2. At that point, will the people who formerly took taxis to H Street or kept their distance continue to come by streetcar? Portland, while a model for D.C. in other ways, doesn’t offer much in the way of precedent because of its different demographics.

But comparisons to bus and heavy rail may not be entirely appropriate, given that streetcars are principally aimed not at long commutes, but at short trips currently taken by foot, by car or not at all.

“We’re looking for those relatively short trips and to provide another option to do that,” says Ronaldo T. Nicholson, DDOT’s chief engineer. “That’s what streetcar is for.”


Part of the idea, particularly in cities with few options aside from driving, is to cut down on auto congestion during the day and on weekends, when people travel short distances between meetings or to the movies. Nicholson says the goal is to provide “another option for single-occupancy vehicles within the city, within the neighborhoods.”

But within downtowns, the streetcar’s main function might not be to replace cars, but to complement the pedestrian experience. Harscher refers to the streetcar’s role as “extended pedestrianism.” Douglas Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, the planning agency for the 10-county region around Atlanta, calls it “enhanced pedestrianization.” D.C.’s study says it “extends the walk.”

In this capacity, it serves the almost paradoxical double function of both replacing walking trips and encouraging them. Instead of walking three-quarters of a mile to run an errand, a person might hop on the streetcar instead. But rather than ordering a product online, a person might opt for a streetcar ride to a shop a few blocks away, and perhaps pick up a cup of coffee or a bottle of wine while strolling back to the office. It’s not a fundamental change to how people already operate, but rather an extension that promotes longer and more frequent trips — and the economic gains that accompany them.

“It’s pretty easy for people to hop on and off the streetcar,” Blumenauer says. “It extends the pedestrian experience quite significantly, particularly in a city like Portland where it rains all the time.”

Of course, there’s no reason a bus couldn’t serve the same function. But if people find the streetcar more reliable, more predictable, more comfortable and, at least in D.C.’s case, cheaper, they’re more likely to weave the streetcar into their pedestrian experience than chance the frustration they’ve experienced on the bus.


https://nextcity.org/features/view/why-streetcars-arent-about-transit
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby omaha79 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:49 pm

I wonder if when they talk about the frustration of taking a bus, they are equating it to traditional urban bus systems vs. having Ollie The Trolley style busses that some cities utilize. If it could be packaged in such a way that is pedestrian friendly, it could solve the same need at a fraction of a cost.


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