Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

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

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TitosBuritoBarn
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:41 pm

Professor Woland wrote:My prediction, and I may well end up being wrong, is that in a decade, when most of the millenials and the older part of the following generation are all busy with their kids and have moved out to the suburbs to escape OPS and provide the kids with a yard, the next cadre of young adults who moves into the area won't be nearly as enamored of the streetcar, seeing it more as a lumbering behemoth that doesn't suit their transit needs. The true believers will try desperately to preserve it, but the costs of the first track replacement will be too much to justify and the system will be scrapped. The developers will have waxed fat thanks, in part to the streetcar, the area along the track will have some nice buildings and good restaurants, and the overwhelming majority of the residents will prefer to get around by car. Maybe it will be "worth it", a couple hundred million might be an okay price to pay for a concentration of development as opposed to a similar amount of development dispersed throughout a more diffuse area, that is for each person to decide for themselves.


The thing about that reasoning is, should the next generation decide they like a different style of mass transportation - an autonomous pod or something - will Omaha still be the city that sits there and thinks "no, this will be a boondoggle. Autonomous pods will have a novelty of five years and the next generation will want teleportation devices. Let's wait until then." Meanwhile the new hip cities of the era will have found a way to integrate autonomous pods with street cars and some kind of future bus and all the cool kids will move to those places while Omaha digs itself into a hole of mediocrity and backhanded complement internet lists like Best Places to be a Cat Lady.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby bigredmed » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:30 am

TitosBuritoBarn wrote:
Professor Woland wrote:My prediction, and I may well end up being wrong, is that in a decade, when most of the millenials and the older part of the following generation are all busy with their kids and have moved out to the suburbs to escape OPS and provide the kids with a yard, the next cadre of young adults who moves into the area won't be nearly as enamored of the streetcar, seeing it more as a lumbering behemoth that doesn't suit their transit needs. The true believers will try desperately to preserve it, but the costs of the first track replacement will be too much to justify and the system will be scrapped. The developers will have waxed fat thanks, in part to the streetcar, the area along the track will have some nice buildings and good restaurants, and the overwhelming majority of the residents will prefer to get around by car. Maybe it will be "worth it", a couple hundred million might be an okay price to pay for a concentration of development as opposed to a similar amount of development dispersed throughout a more diffuse area, that is for each person to decide for themselves.


The thing about that reasoning is, should the next generation decide they like a different style of mass transportation - an autonomous pod or something - will Omaha still be the city that sits there and thinks "no, this will be a boondoggle. Autonomous pods will have a novelty of five years and the next generation will want teleportation devices. Let's wait until then." Meanwhile the new hip cities of the era will have found a way to integrate autonomous pods with street cars and some kind of future bus and all the cool kids will move to those places while Omaha digs itself into a hole of mediocrity and backhanded complement internet lists like Best Places to be a Cat Lady.


I think you are too dark in your pessimism here. Omaha is full of practical people. People who look at mass transit based on how they and their neighbors will be affected or will use it. My employer has been pushing its employees to bus or carpool due to parking. The big concerns and blow back were not people losing their minds over "boondoggles", but over the hassle of park and rides, where they drive to a mall that may or may not be secured, leave their car and then hope the bus gets there on time, and hopes that the bus gets them to work on time (Note, big employers love mass transit as it fixes their parking problem, but they don't love it enough to take the fangs out of their HR policies.)

The problem that you and the rest of the cheerleaders have is that you never pause for the moment that would tell you that people who don't do what you think is best are not doing it because of some moral or intellectual defect, but because their lives are not like yours and the solution that you have dreamed up for a problem they don't have is unwelcomed by them.

As Professor Wolland stated, OPS continues to circle, every steadily around the drain. It is run by people who took 127 votes to see who got to be chair of the school board. It is run by entrenched camps that don't give a rat's backside about anything but getting their wish list paid for. Any problem at all is an excuse for the teachers union to demand a raise. A light bulb burns out and the solution will involve a raise. Meanwhile, they look at the suburban schools growing and the kids graduating from them doing well. They look at big chunks of Omaha sliding back into the 1970s (where you put your kids in catholic schools, or they didn't get much of an education.) People will continue to flood the burbs. Look for Bennington to take off, and look for DC West to start growing in the next 10 years (especially if developers figure out a way to effectively develop the flood plain between the Elkhorn and Platte.) You will need to have a mass transit system that at least has some functionality there. Even if the urbanists get hives west of 72nd street, reality is reality.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby choke » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:03 am

TitosBuritoBarn wrote: Meanwhile the new hip cities of the era will have found a way to integrate autonomous pods with street cars and some kind of future bus and all the cool kids will move to those places while Omaha digs itself into a hole of mediocrity and backhanded complement internet lists like Best Places to be a Cat Lady.


Just because your neighbor is doing it doesn't mean you should be doing it. But when all of your neighbors are doing it then maybe you better take another look at it, otherwise, you are right, that is when mediocrity happens.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Garrett » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:06 pm

Professor Woland wrote:I keep seeing it said that the advantage of the Streetcar is that it conveys a sense of permanence, which entices developers to build nearby. I think this overstates things. It's certainly possible the developers are that unwise (after all Trump was a developer, and my two year old shows better reasoning ability than that clown), but if the whole thing turns out to be a costly fiasco, the city will just tear up the track; the history of nearly every major city in the United States demonstrates this. Furthermore, if an area sees high ridership, a bus route won't be discontinued. I think the draw is that for the first few years of novelty, they can sell or rent out units until the area reaches a sort of critical mass and when the streetcar ridership begins its steady decline, it no longer matters, the area is permanently established.

My prediction, and I may well end up being wrong, is that in a decade, when most of the millenials and the older part of the following generation are all busy with their kids and have moved out to the suburbs to escape OPS and provide the kids with a yard, the next cadre of young adults who moves into the area won't be nearly as enamored of the streetcar, seeing it more as a lumbering behemoth that doesn't suit their transit needs. The true believers will try desperately to preserve it, but the costs of the first track replacement will be too much to justify and the system will be scrapped. The developers will have waxed fat thanks, in part to the streetcar, the area along the track will have some nice buildings and good restaurants, and the overwhelming majority of the residents will prefer to get around by car. Maybe it will be "worth it", a couple hundred million might be an okay price to pay for a concentration of development as opposed to a similar amount of development dispersed throughout a more diffuse area, that is for each person to decide for themselves.

Tell that to Portland, Melbourne, San Francisco and countless other cities around the country that have both modern systems or never lost their systems at all. They continue to be used, and their ridership is only increasing. The only problematic systems around the country have been ones that were either unambitious in scope or designed poorly. As Tito noted, waiting around for the next big thing will not produce results. Make is effective and people will use it and continue using it. Time and again this has been proven. I bet people said similar things about the Old Market when the Mercer's began investing. The simple fact is, urban planning isn't about 5 years from now, it's about 50 years from now. This streetcar is the start of a system that could easily serve much of the city someday, but it has to start somewhere.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:08 pm

bigredmed, If busses are not an option for the UNMC area, then what is the answer? More/larger parking garages? I can't seem to figure out what your preferred solution is to your employer's problem.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby GetUrban » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:09 pm

I really hope they find a way to get the first phase of this done. If people act like all of Omaha's transportation issues must be solved first along with this first small step, nothing will ever happen. The best things in life are accomplished by taking small steps that accumulate into something really significant over time. The end result is not possible without taking each step along the way. In other words, don't worry about connecting Millard quite yet.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby choke » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:49 pm

GetUrban wrote:I really hope they find a way to get the first phase of this done. If people act like all of Omaha's transportation issues must be solved first along with this first small step, nothing will ever happen. The best things in life are accomplished by taking small steps that accumulate into something really significant over time. The end result is not possible without taking each step along the way. In other words, don't worry about connecting Millard quite yet.


The mayor agrees with you:

The Mayor believes the streetcar could be expanded to many parts of the city once the initial route is operating. There is also potential to extend it into Council Bluffs and Sarpy County. Teams from the city and MAPA have visited several cities, including Kansas City and Salt Lake City to evaluate their systems so there is a lot of study underway.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby bigredmed » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:56 pm

Omaha_corn_burner wrote:bigredmed, If busses are not an option for the UNMC area, then what is the answer? More/larger parking garages? I can't seem to figure out what your preferred solution is to your employer's problem.


Buses work if they are reasonably on time. The concern from the focus group members (especially the ones from large cities that have mass transit) is that the park and ride solution means they drive or carpool to the parking lot and hope the bus is on time, and their car doesn't get stolen, and then that the bus gets from the park and ride to the job on time. These are not really all that hard of a problem, but it takes money and will. You have to have security that works for the lots. You have to have buses that actually run on time. You have to have HR policies that don't nickel and dime your PTO account if the bus is a causal hour late. You have to have a system that runs at wierd hours. OR you have to have a system of priority parking, where people who are working in ORs or other promptness essential jobs get parking close to campuses and other people (like off call residents, administrators, janitors, office day faculty, etc) have to either carpool or bus to work, or park in the hinterlands. This encourages users to consider carpools and mass transit.

Fundamentally, listen to the refusers. The ones who refuse for reasons, are people you can do business with. They don't just lose their minds at the thought of a bus, they dont' want their car stolen. We have cops and security all over this campus. Does the assigned dead strip mall parking lot have any security? They don't want to burn days of vacation because MAT can't get its schedule working. Not unreasonable. They don't want patient satisfaction scores for their job dropping because they were late (due to the bus).

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha Cowboy » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:01 pm

Garrett wrote:
Professor Woland wrote:I keep seeing it said that the advantage of the Streetcar is that it conveys a sense of permanence, which entices developers to build nearby. I think this overstates things. It's certainly possible the developers are that unwise (after all Trump was a developer, and my two year old shows better reasoning ability than that clown), but if the whole thing turns out to be a costly fiasco, the city will just tear up the track; the history of nearly every major city in the United States demonstrates this. Furthermore, if an area sees high ridership, a bus route won't be discontinued. I think the draw is that for the first few years of novelty, they can sell or rent out units until the area reaches a sort of critical mass and when the streetcar ridership begins its steady decline, it no longer matters, the area is permanently established.

My prediction, and I may well end up being wrong, is that in a decade, when most of the millenials and the older part of the following generation are all busy with their kids and have moved out to the suburbs to escape OPS and provide the kids with a yard, the next cadre of young adults who moves into the area won't be nearly as enamored of the streetcar, seeing it more as a lumbering behemoth that doesn't suit their transit needs. The true believers will try desperately to preserve it, but the costs of the first track replacement will be too much to justify and the system will be scrapped. The developers will have waxed fat thanks, in part to the streetcar, the area along the track will have some nice buildings and good restaurants, and the overwhelming majority of the residents will prefer to get around by car. Maybe it will be "worth it", a couple hundred million might be an okay price to pay for a concentration of development as opposed to a similar amount of development dispersed throughout a more diffuse area, that is for each person to decide for themselves.

Tell that to Portland, Melbourne, San Francisco and countless other cities around the country that have both modern systems or never lost their systems at all. They continue to be used, and their ridership is only increasing. The only problematic systems around the country have been ones that were either unambitious in scope or designed poorly. As Tito noted, waiting around for the next big thing will not produce results. Make is effective and people will use it and continue using it. I bet people said similar things about the Old Market when the Mercer's began investing. The simple fact is, urban planning isn't about 5 years from now, it's about 50 years from now. This streetcar is the start of a system that could easily serve much of the city someday, but it has to start somewhere.


I couldn't agree more Garrett. It's tough if you're a visionary.. If Mercer was alive today, I'd bet he'd say the same thing too. Let the naysayers say all they want. It's their right to disagree. But regardless your position, for or against, provide some thoughtful reasoning to support the opinion. I think, for the most part, we've had that with our recent discussions.. I've went to several streetcar meetings that were open to the public. The first I attended was 12 years ago in 2005. Little Rock Arkansas light rail system was used as an example for that gathering..

I fully support a streetcar system. Indeed, you must start somewhere.. Make it design friendly and with a sound purpose for moving people from point A to point B.. This could then spark something bigger and more tangible.. which someday, could support the entire metropolitan area...

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Midwestern » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:00 pm

The streetcar line has to start somewhere, and the densest areas of the city and also the areas of the city with the highest concentration of employers are the obvious places to start a line.

For each person that rides the streetcar to their job downtown/at UNMC/wherever it may be, that is one less parking spot that is taken up. For each patient that rides the streetcar there, that is one less parking spot taken up. Etc. That's a benefit to people who only use their car. Less congestion on the roads as well as at the parking lots/garages of all of these places. The streetcar can spur development along its route, and those people then ride the streetcar to these places. To me it's obvious why a developer would be enticed to build apartments along a fixed/permanent route as opposed to a bus route. And the reality is that streetcars are simply nicer than buses and people would be more willing to ride them than a bus.

A streetcar is the only viable way to get a comprehensive mass transit system going that will actually fulfill all those objectives of getting less cars on the roads and taking up spaces in parking lots. The bus system is not working, and I'd like to see some examples of mid-sized or larger American cities that have some holy grail bus system that actually accomplishes all of this, because I can't think of any.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Dundeemaha » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:29 pm

Midwestern wrote:A streetcar is the only viable way to get a comprehensive mass transit system going that will actually fulfill all those objectives of getting less cars on the roads and taking up spaces in parking lots. The bus system is not working, and I'd like to see some examples of mid-sized or larger American cities that have some holy grail bus system that actually accomplishes all of this, because I can't think of any.


The last 5 years have shown significant improvement in METRO's service. The streamlining of routes, improved frequency and later hours have made buses viable to a larger percentage of people.

From the 2013 document where METRO outlines the multi-phased route changes the first phase (which is completed) has $22.8 million in annual operating costs running 122 buses.

This 1 little streetcar route (6-8 trams) is supposed to have a $7.5 million annual operating cost per the OWH. We could add 40 buses, have routes operate later in to the night, more frequent pick ups, add new routes. And the real danger here is if that $7.5 million turns out to be an underestimate and the city forces METRO to cut back buses for what effectively is just a development incentive.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Midwestern » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:45 pm

The advantages of buses (being able to change routes as you please because you can run buses on most roads) also have a downside: they don't have the permanent/fixed route that a streetcar would have. So yes, a streetcar is going to spur developments that a bus simply is not going to.

The KC Streetcar is actually a very good example of this already, and it's actually quite similar in scope to what the Omaha starter line would be.

We have to make it possible for more and more people to be able to live without needing a car. This will help fix the need to have an extreme amount of parking spaces everywhere, and will decrease the amount of cars along some of our major road arteries. That will never be possible if we just keep doing the status quo.

BTW, I'm not against more money for METRO, but I still want the Streetcar to happen.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:50 pm

Dundeemaha wrote:
Midwestern wrote:A streetcar is the only viable way to get a comprehensive mass transit system going that will actually fulfill all those objectives of getting less cars on the roads and taking up spaces in parking lots. The bus system is not working, and I'd like to see some examples of mid-sized or larger American cities that have some holy grail bus system that actually accomplishes all of this, because I can't think of any.


The last 5 years have shown significant improvement in METRO's service. The streamlining of routes, improved frequency and later hours have made buses viable to a larger percentage of people.

From the 2013 document where METRO outlines the multi-phased route changes the first phase (which is completed) has $22.8 million in annual operating costs running 122 buses.

This 1 little streetcar route (6-8 trams) is supposed to have a $7.5 million annual operating cost per the OWH. We could add 40 buses, have routes operate later in to the night, more frequent pick ups, add new routes. And the real danger here is if that $7.5 million turns out to be an underestimate and the city forces METRO to cut back buses for what effectively is just a development incentive.


Unfortunately buses tend to have a stigma about them. Even here in transit friendly Chicago, I remember being at a transit conference and hearing the CEO of the Chicago Transit Authority say it's not enough to just offer more service to increase ridership (although that's certainly a large part of it), - transit will usually be slower and less controllable than a car in most places - you want to offer something of an experience that a car can't. Maybe that's free Wi-Fi, an on-train coffee shop, simply making more neighborhoods focused around people than cars, or something no one else has thought of or tried yet.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Midwestern » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:07 pm

TitosBuritoBarn wrote:
Dundeemaha wrote:
Midwestern wrote:A streetcar is the only viable way to get a comprehensive mass transit system going that will actually fulfill all those objectives of getting less cars on the roads and taking up spaces in parking lots. The bus system is not working, and I'd like to see some examples of mid-sized or larger American cities that have some holy grail bus system that actually accomplishes all of this, because I can't think of any.


The last 5 years have shown significant improvement in METRO's service. The streamlining of routes, improved frequency and later hours have made buses viable to a larger percentage of people.

From the 2013 document where METRO outlines the multi-phased route changes the first phase (which is completed) has $22.8 million in annual operating costs running 122 buses.

This 1 little streetcar route (6-8 trams) is supposed to have a $7.5 million annual operating cost per the OWH. We could add 40 buses, have routes operate later in to the night, more frequent pick ups, add new routes. And the real danger here is if that $7.5 million turns out to be an underestimate and the city forces METRO to cut back buses for what effectively is just a development incentive.


Unfortunately buses tend to have a stigma about them. Even here in transit friendly Chicago, I remember being at a transit conference and hearing the CEO of the Chicago Transit Authority say it's not enough to just offer more service to increase ridership (although that's certainly a large part of it), - transit will usually be slower and less controllable than a car in most places - you want to offer something of an experience that a car can't. Maybe that's free Wi-Fi, an on-train coffee shop, simply making more neighborhoods focused around people than cars, or something no one else has thought of or tried yet.


Agreed 100%. Buses alone simply can't be the answer, but they must be an inter-connected and valuable part of a comprehensive city-wide system.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby buildomaha » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:30 pm

Midwestern wrote:The streetcar line has to start somewhere, and the densest areas of the city and also the areas of the city with the highest concentration of employers are the obvious places to start a line.

For each person that rides the streetcar to their job downtown/at UNMC/wherever it may be, that is one less parking spot that is taken up. For each patient that rides the streetcar there, that is one less parking spot taken up. Etc. That's a benefit to people who only use their car. Less congestion on the roads as well as at the parking lots/garages of all of these places. The streetcar can spur development along its route, and those people then ride the streetcar to these places. To me it's obvious why a developer would be enticed to build apartments along a fixed/permanent route as opposed to a bus route. And the reality is that streetcars are simply nicer than buses and people would be more willing to ride them than a bus.

A streetcar is the only viable way to get a comprehensive mass transit system going that will actually fulfill all those objectives of getting less cars on the roads and taking up spaces in parking lots. The bus system is not working, and I'd like to see some examples of mid-sized or larger American cities that have some holy grail bus system that actually accomplishes all of this, because I can't think of any.


This^^^

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:34 am

bigredmed wrote:
TitosBuritoBarn wrote:
Professor Woland wrote:My prediction, and I may well end up being wrong, is that in a decade, when most of the millenials and the older part of the following generation are all busy with their kids and have moved out to the suburbs to escape OPS and provide the kids with a yard, the next cadre of young adults who moves into the area won't be nearly as enamored of the streetcar, seeing it more as a lumbering behemoth that doesn't suit their transit needs. The true believers will try desperately to preserve it, but the costs of the first track replacement will be too much to justify and the system will be scrapped. The developers will have waxed fat thanks, in part to the streetcar, the area along the track will have some nice buildings and good restaurants, and the overwhelming majority of the residents will prefer to get around by car. Maybe it will be "worth it", a couple hundred million might be an okay price to pay for a concentration of development as opposed to a similar amount of development dispersed throughout a more diffuse area, that is for each person to decide for themselves.


The thing about that reasoning is, should the next generation decide they like a different style of mass transportation - an autonomous pod or something - will Omaha still be the city that sits there and thinks "no, this will be a boondoggle. Autonomous pods will have a novelty of five years and the next generation will want teleportation devices. Let's wait until then." Meanwhile the new hip cities of the era will have found a way to integrate autonomous pods with street cars and some kind of future bus and all the cool kids will move to those places while Omaha digs itself into a hole of mediocrity and backhanded complement internet lists like Best Places to be a Cat Lady.


I think you are too dark in your pessimism here. Omaha is full of practical people. People who look at mass transit based on how they and their neighbors will be affected or will use it. My employer has been pushing its employees to bus or carpool due to parking. The big concerns and blow back were not people losing their minds over "boondoggles", but over the hassle of park and rides, where they drive to a mall that may or may not be secured, leave their car and then hope the bus gets there on time, and hopes that the bus gets them to work on time (Note, big employers love mass transit as it fixes their parking problem, but they don't love it enough to take the fangs out of their HR policies.)

The problem that you and the rest of the cheerleaders have is that you never pause for the moment that would tell you that people who don't do what you think is best are not doing it because of some moral or intellectual defect, but because their lives are not like yours and the solution that you have dreamed up for a problem they don't have is unwelcomed by them.

As Professor Wolland stated, OPS continues to circle, every steadily around the drain. It is run by people who took 127 votes to see who got to be chair of the school board. It is run by entrenched camps that don't give a rat's backside about anything but getting their wish list paid for. Any problem at all is an excuse for the teachers union to demand a raise. A light bulb burns out and the solution will involve a raise. Meanwhile, they look at the suburban schools growing and the kids graduating from them doing well. They look at big chunks of Omaha sliding back into the 1970s (where you put your kids in catholic schools, or they didn't get much of an education.) People will continue to flood the burbs. Look for Bennington to take off, and look for DC West to start growing in the next 10 years (especially if developers figure out a way to effectively develop the flood plain between the Elkhorn and Platte.) You will need to have a mass transit system that at least has some functionality there. Even if the urbanists get hives west of 72nd street, reality is reality.


I definitely agree with most of your points here. It's certainly the goal to achieve a transit system that can serve all corners of a metropolitan area reliably and I am optimistic that that's achievable in most places. The challenge in trying to build a fully metropolitan transit system in the US is that it has to serve a number of different lifestyles while not being a massive drain on the city budget. That's no easy task, particularly because our metropolitan areas aren't built in a way (anymore) that's conducive to simply laying down some track or bus lines every couple blocks anywhere in the metro and achieving success. You need to be pretty clever.

Personally, despite being a big proponent of transit, I drive 40 miles round trip to work each day to a suburb known for its gigantic mall and office parks. I could sell my car and take two trains and a cab/bike to work, but I'm not going to. It's inconvenient for a number of reasons. As a part of my job, I've worked on a number of projects to promote and enhance comprehensive transportation systems (and compatible land uses) here in the Chicago area. Through this experience, I've learned that there are a lot of moving parts that need to come together for great successes to occur in adding value to the current transit system and you often have to think far outside the box.

Some parts of most metros are built conducive to alternative modes of transportation. These places are typically inhabited by people whose lifestyles are also most conducive to alternative modes of transportation and who are most open to using it. They are the low hanging fruit. If you can win them over to increased reliance on transit - hit some grand slams in creating infrastructure where it's easiest - you can set a good precedent for expanding the system to ever more challenging areas of the metro, like exurban areas. A standard bus system like what most metros have doesn't often cut it due to the stigma they've developed. Transit needs to bring some heat if it's going to hit that grand slam. In my opinion that heat could be streetcar, BRT, bikeways, it all depends. Then expanding to the more challenging areas is where being clever comes in. Transit is not a one size fits all deal. You need to implement systems that are both compatible with the existing system but also meet different needs. For example, in the Chicago area, we recently implemented a program where several express bus lines running from the far flung suburbs to downtown are allowed to use the freeway shoulder to bypass traffic. Ridership increased over 200% on each line compared to before they were allowed to do that. It's unusual, but it works.

In summation, in my experience, a good transit system starts where it's easiest, does well where it's easiest, and incrementally expands outward adding new pieces with a level of innovation that meets the needs of the people in that area while being reasonably compatible with the rest of the system.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Dundeemaha » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:49 pm

We are spending the same amount of money to widen 168th St between Center and Pacific as Metro's entire annual operating budget.

The reason we don't have effective transit is we heavily subsidize car travel and spend next to nothing on buses.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:31 am

Dundeemaha wrote:We are spending the same amount of money to widen 168th St between Center and Pacific as Metro's entire annual operating budget.

The reason we don't have effective transit is we heavily subsidize car travel and spend next to nothing on buses.


11.5 million dollars for the road widening
http://mapacog.org/reports/fy2017-trans ... ogram-tip/

In 2012, Metro had a budget of 27.5 million
http://www.omaha.com/news/omaha-s-metro ... be155.html


So your statement seems incorrect.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Dundeemaha » Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:46 am

Omaha_corn_burner wrote:
Dundeemaha wrote:We are spending the same amount of money to widen 168th St between Center and Pacific as Metro's entire annual operating budget.

The reason we don't have effective transit is we heavily subsidize car travel and spend next to nothing on buses.


11.5 million dollars for the road widening
http://mapacog.org/reports/fy2017-trans ... ogram-tip/

In 2012, Metro had a budget of 27.5 million
http://www.omaha.com/news/omaha-s-metro ... be155.html


So your statement seems incorrect.


My fault. I mistakenly remembered the Pacific - Center + Pacific to Q St number of 24 million as being to Center St

My number for Metro was based on http://www.ometro.com/wp-content/upload ... n_2013.pdf stating annual operating expenses for Phase I of $22,837,800.

I think to correct my statement I should have said:

We are spending roughly the same amount of money to widen 168th St between Q St and Pacific as Metro's entire annual operating budget.

The reason we don't have effective transit is we heavily subsidize car travel and spend next to nothing on buses.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:00 am

ok, much better. But remember, widening 168th includes going through a lake and building a bridge over water.

Does Metro buy a lot of new buses each year? I would imagine some years they do not buy any.
Also, Metro uses those same roads that cars use.


EDIT : Just realized this is the streetcar thread. Why are we talking about street widening on 168th street? The street car probably would never extend to 168th street in our lifetimes.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Dundeemaha » Thu Mar 09, 2017 4:14 pm

Omaha_corn_burner wrote:ok, much better. But remember, widening 168th includes going through a lake and building a bridge over water.

Does Metro buy a lot of new buses each year? I would imagine some years they do not buy any.
Also, Metro uses those same roads that cars use.


EDIT : Just realized this is the streetcar thread. Why are we talking about street widening on 168th street? The street car probably would never extend to 168th street in our lifetimes.


I brought up 168th St widening to argue that the reason we can't have effective public transit is we spend far more of our transit budget on widening roads than on public transit. Also to show that the suburbs get significant transit spending even if it's not in the form of bus routes.

Finally I'm talking buses in a streetcar thread because I am worried the streetcar is going to eat away at the already small budget for buses that I view as far more important/useful.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby buildomaha » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:05 pm

Dundeemaha wrote:
Omaha_corn_burner wrote:ok, much better. But remember, widening 168th includes going through a lake and building a bridge over water.

Does Metro buy a lot of new buses each year? I would imagine some years they do not buy any.
Also, Metro uses those same roads that cars use.


EDIT : Just realized this is the streetcar thread. Why are we talking about street widening on 168th street? The street car probably would never extend to 168th street in our lifetimes.


I brought up 168th St widening to argue that the reason we can't have effective public transit is we spend far more of our transit budget on widening roads than on public transit. Also to show that the suburbs get significant transit spending even if it's not in the form of bus routes.

Finally I'm talking buses in a streetcar thread because I am worried the streetcar is going to eat away at the already small budget for buses that I view as far more important/useful.

The streetcar has nothing to do with 168 street, if they neglected to widen it, it would be a disaster. If I'm not wrong I remember seeing somewhere that the stretch of 168 from dodge to blondo has one of the highest accident rates in the city. I could be completely wrong though.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby HR Paperstacks » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:03 pm

buildomaha wrote:If I'm not wrong I remember seeing somewhere that the stretch of 168 from dodge to blondo has one of the highest accident rates in the city. I could be completely wrong though.

I think since they converted the middle lane from a TWLTL to a northbound lane, the accident rate went way up. But they needed to do that because of traffic backing up onto Dodge.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Vueconservative » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:41 pm

I would like to know what issue or problem this large expenditure solves. Only running a few blocks in midtown for $156 million plus $7 million per year upkeep tells me that I will never move from Sarpy county to Douglas county because there WILL be a huge tax increase coming to pay for this in a few years.

Why not spend the money and begin create an elevated rail system that reaches out to the 'burbs to ease traffic congestion on I-80, Hwy 75, and other major arteries into the city. By having it elevated, you wouldn't have to close many lanes of traffic as it could move on the side of it or in the medians and having it elevated means you don't have to worry about the snow. In addition, if you used magnetic technology that are used in many high speed roller coasters then you never have to worry about rising gas prices and it's a green technology that will appeal to millennials.

Spending this kind of money for a very small segment of downtown is just an ignorant idea that wold appeal to only those that live in the immediate area. Even if EVERY one of them rode it religiously, how many years of ridership would you need to recoup the yearly maintenance cost, let alone the astronomical initial cost?

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:29 pm

That'd certainly be nice, but if you're worried about astronomical taxes, I'm not sure an elevated maglev train is going to be a good idea.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:11 pm

Vueconservative wrote:if you used magnetic technology that are used in many high speed roller coasters

Japan, China, Seoul....and Omaha. That would be impressive.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby bigredmed » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:08 pm

Vueconservative wrote:I would like to know what issue or problem this large expenditure solves. Only running a few blocks in midtown for $156 million plus $7 million per year upkeep tells me that I will never move from Sarpy county to Douglas county because there WILL be a huge tax increase coming to pay for this in a few years.

Why not spend the money and begin create an elevated rail system that reaches out to the 'burbs to ease traffic congestion on I-80, Hwy 75, and other major arteries into the city. By having it elevated, you wouldn't have to close many lanes of traffic as it could move on the side of it or in the medians and having it elevated means you don't have to worry about the snow. In addition, if you used magnetic technology that are used in many high speed roller coasters then you never have to worry about rising gas prices and it's a green technology that will appeal to millennials.

Spending this kind of money for a very small segment of downtown is just an ignorant idea that wold appeal to only those that live in the immediate area. Even if EVERY one of them rode it religiously, how many years of ridership would you need to recoup the yearly maintenance cost, let alone the astronomical initial cost?


Especially since it wont go anywhere. Think about a young guy who gets a job at Mutual, and decides to live downtown, but can only afford an apartment that is 6 blocks from the street car. He can walk 6 blocks to the streetcar, or maybe get a bus to it, but then he could get a bus to Mutual already. Think about his GF, who gets a job at the TAC building. She will not be on the streetcar line. So sad. She will get to walk a mile to the TAC building or catch a bus to it, but then she could catch a bus to start with. They get married and move to Dundee. Now they are way far away from the streetcar. How do these people benefit again?

As you put it, we could do as much with much less. Look at the results Orlando got by building a permanent "Ollie the Trolley" circuit with some of their old buses that were redecorated. They go from the convention center and the mega hotels that surround it to the shopping area that is near, but too far to walk. It stops at predesignated locales that were chosen to be close to night spots, restaurants, and the shopping areas. They are free for convention attendees and locals. At the shopping end, and the convention center end, they stop right next to a bus stop that connects to the rest of the city.

These amount to the cost of redoing the buses, and erecting small, but cool looking signs at the stops. With the arts community in Omaha, you could easily come up with bus art and could easily get your graphic arts community to come up with a special bus stop sign for the loop. The system could run for maybe a 10th of the cost of a streetcar and be artsy and contemporary.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Busguy2010 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:10 am

I don't remember if I personally have argued that the streetcar would be a viable transportation solution. I might have because I didn't know better, but I now fully realize that it is a development tool and purely that. However, it eventually will benefit our transit system as time goes on. Streetcars, if done right (which I think this plan is mostly done right) will increase people density around them. That will in turn increase the demand of better transportation to and from these places. It's the same old story believe it or not.

Streetcars are not our solution, they are a start.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby bigredmed » Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:50 am

Sorry busguy, but this will prove to be a very expensive false start that will ultimately put us further away from our goal of a functional mass transit solution.

We could serve the downtown entertainment district and airport much less expensively and get the same buzz from it.

Streetcars suck. You are probably too young to have driven Leavenworth when the streetcar tracks were there. Constantly banging into them when you made a turn or changed lanes.

This costs 150 million plus the usual 15% cost overrun, then $7million a year to run it. When we find that the $150M was really $200M, and the $7M is really $9M, our city leaders will park the streetcars or will use them as an excuse for another decade of "studies" before any expansion of a bus service can happen.

Meanwhile, a bunch of roads get to be a pain in the suspension, people quit driving there, the businesses that counted on them plus the streetcars won't stay in business. Just like Leavenworth in the 70's. A bunch of actual businesses turned into wino bars in the 80's. Now, what was a business district is being chewed up by UNMC (thankfully).

This is a question we are just going to disagree on.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby GetUrban » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:47 am

Omaha is fortunate that we have a fairly close neighbor (KC) that has recently installed a very similar streetcar system as to what is being proposed in Omaha. We simply need to watch that one for the next few years and see how it works out for them functionally and financially. KC has a larger population base in their metro to draw from, but our downtowns are somewhat similar, although they seem to have saved more of their old building stock.

I drove on and over the tracks running along Main Street down to River Market and they were hardly noticeable. They are much less noticeable than the old type tracks Omaha used to have. I didn't actually ride the streetcar though. I'll have to try that next time.

Too bad Omaha didn't put in a subway system long ago.
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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Busguy2010 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:28 pm

bigredmed wrote:This is a question we are just going to disagree on.


It's okay. It seems like we're going to find out either way. Especially if a good chunk of it is privately funded.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby daveoma » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:34 pm

Vueconservative wrote:I would like to know what issue or problem this large expenditure solves. Only running a few blocks in midtown for $156 million plus $7 million per year upkeep tells me that I will never move from Sarpy county to Douglas county because there WILL be a huge tax increase coming to pay for this in a few years.

Why not spend the money and begin create an elevated rail system that reaches out to the 'burbs to ease traffic congestion on I-80, Hwy 75, and other major arteries into the city. By having it elevated, you wouldn't have to close many lanes of traffic as it could move on the side of it or in the medians and having it elevated means you don't have to worry about the snow. In addition, if you used magnetic technology that are used in many high speed roller coasters then you never have to worry about rising gas prices and it's a green technology that will appeal to millennials.

Spending this kind of money for a very small segment of downtown is just an ignorant idea that wold appeal to only those that live in the immediate area. Even if EVERY one of them rode it religiously, how many years of ridership would you need to recoup the yearly maintenance cost, let alone the astronomical initial cost?

I like your thinking. Building an elevated rail or monorail could be done on streets which are already owned by the city, so there would be no need to use imminent domain. I've read that it's more expensive than a streetcar, but it's cheaper than a subway, and it wouldn't interfere with traffic flow.

Suburban destinations would be tricky. I thinking a line from the med center asking saddle creek to Benson, then into the huge number of apartment complexes on 108th & Maple.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha Cowboy » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:14 pm

daveoma wrote:
Vueconservative wrote:I would like to know what issue or problem this large expenditure solves. Only running a few blocks in midtown for $156 million plus $7 million per year upkeep tells me that I will never move from Sarpy county to Douglas county because there WILL be a huge tax increase coming to pay for this in a few years.

Why not spend the money and begin create an elevated rail system that reaches out to the 'burbs to ease traffic congestion on I-80, Hwy 75, and other major arteries into the city. By having it elevated, you wouldn't have to close many lanes of traffic as it could move on the side of it or in the medians and having it elevated means you don't have to worry about the snow. In addition, if you used magnetic technology that are used in many high speed roller coasters then you never have to worry about rising gas prices and it's a green technology that will appeal to millennials.

Spending this kind of money for a very small segment of downtown is just an ignorant idea that wold appeal to only those that live in the immediate area. Even if EVERY one of them rode it religiously, how many years of ridership would you need to recoup the yearly maintenance cost, let alone the astronomical initial cost?

I like your thinking. Building an elevated rail or monorail could be done on streets which are already owned by the city, so there would be no need to use imminent domain. I've read that it's more expensive than a streetcar, but it's cheaper than a subway, and it wouldn't interfere with traffic flow.

Suburban destinations would be tricky. I thinking a line from the med center asking saddle creek to Benson, then into the huge number of apartment complexes on 108th & Maple.


I like the idea..and if Omaha had a metro population approaching 3 million, this could work out beautifully.. But at the current 1 million population number, there just isn't enough of a population base to make a metro wide elevated rail system feasible.. Again though, I like the thought process of dreaming/thinking big..

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So You Wanna Build a Streetcar ...

Postby Omababe » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:37 am


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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Omaha_corn_burner » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:20 am

bigredmed wrote:This is a question we are just going to disagree on.

Agreed!

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Stargazer » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:59 pm

Spending this kind of money for a very small segment of downtown is just an ignorant idea that wold appeal to only those that live in the immediate area. Even if EVERY one of them rode it religiously, how many years of ridership would you need to recoup the yearly maintenance cost, let alone the astronomical initial cost?


Tell that to Kansas City.
http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/kc ... 06362.html

http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/kc ... 51322.html

http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/kc ... 87366.html

A city which is actually less dense than Omaha, by the way.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby choke » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:03 pm

Stargazer wrote:
Spending this kind of money for a very small segment of downtown is just an ignorant idea that wold appeal to only those that live in the immediate area. Even if EVERY one of them rode it religiously, how many years of ridership would you need to recoup the yearly maintenance cost, let alone the astronomical initial cost?


Tell that to Kansas City.
http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/kc ... 06362.html

http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/kc ... 51322.html

http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/kc ... 87366.html

A city which is actually less dense than Omaha, by the way.


My wife has family in KC. She was down there this past weekend and rode the streetcar. For free!

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Dundeemaha » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:30 am

The idea isn't to recoup the money in ridership fees, just like we don't recoup the money for city streets in tolls. The idea is to recoup it in taxes from the economic development that it encourages.

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby OmahaCowgirl » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:02 pm

The numbers for the Rail dont make any sense to anyone who can do math, so look realistically at what this is - corporate welfare for Mutual of Omaha, the company that designs the Rail (HDR), the company that builds the Rail (Kiewit), and the company that manages the Rail (some relative of a city official). That is how Omaha works.

Mutual of Omaha spent an enormous amount of money on Midtown Crossing, and although it might look nice, it has been a huge loss of money. Isn't that right Ken Cook? Who is going to spend $500,000 on a 2500 sq foot condo that is NOT in the Old Market? Wasn't a good idea to begin with, but if they do a lot more construction to the East of Turner Park, convince the city to build a light rail, eventually connect Midtown Crossing to the Old Market, making a corridor of restaurants and bars and retail and apartments, then maybe in 2025 or 2030, people will pay $500,000 for a 2500 sq ft condo in Midtown Crossing

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Re: Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby TitosBuritoBarn » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:49 pm

OmahaCowgirl wrote:The numbers for the Rail dont make any sense to anyone who can do math, so look realistically at what this is - corporate welfare for Mutual of Omaha, the company that designs the Rail (HDR), the company that builds the Rail (Kiewit), and the company that manages the Rail (some relative of a city official). That is how Omaha works.


:roll: Really every utility in the city is corporate welfare. With every new office building in the suburbs, the city or county builds roads to it, someone designs and builds sewer pipes to it, someone designs and builds water pipes to it, someone designs and builds electrical wires to it.

Mutual of Omaha spent an enormous amount of money on Midtown Crossing, and although it might look nice, it has been a huge loss of money. Isn't that right Ken Cook? Who is going to spend $500,000 on a 2500 sq foot condo that is NOT in the Old Market? Wasn't a good idea to begin with, but if they do a lot more construction to the East of Turner Park, convince the city to build a light rail, eventually connect Midtown Crossing to the Old Market, making a corridor of restaurants and bars and retail and apartments, then maybe in 2025 or 2030, people will pay $500,000 for a 2500 sq ft condo in Midtown Crossing


$200 per square foot? That's a pretty good deal. Especially for a landmark development. People in my neck of the woods pay about $250-$260 per square foot for condos in new, less recognized developments.

You'll have to cite your source on it being a money loser.
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