Once you leave the Eastern Seaboard public transportation in the United States is a local affair. The type of service you find in a city depends on the interplay among several factors including total population, population density, geography of roads and terrain, demographic patterns, development patterns, local and state politics and values, and local agency funding structure. In this post, I use a tool published by the US Census Bureau called Distance Profiles to analyze potential peer cities. The Distance profile provides a cross section of Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) populations that allows us to visually identify cities with very similar population distributions, geographic size, and density distributions. Using this tool we can make an informed comparison of Louisville’s transit system and those of true peer cities.
Once we identify our peer cities we have to be careful. All of our peer cities’ transit systems are somewhat different and it doesn’t necessarily mean one city’s public transit system is more or less effective. Measurements of “effectiveness” must be based on the public transit values that each local community chooses for itself. Cities always make tradeoffs between coverage and ridership within a fixed budget. A city that values coverage will design a network that tries to deliver public transit opportunities to every corner of the service area. A city that values ridership will concentrate their resources on the high volume corridors to try and deliver maximize ridership. The former provides lots of access to service but with very low frequency. The latter leaves many areas unserved but provides much more frequent service along selected corridors. All cities try to balance these goals based on additional values including social service concerns, the desire to influence development patterns, mitigation of pollution, and congestion reduction, and fall somewhere along a continuum from maximum coverage to maximum ridership. We can also look at a peer city’s budget and facilities which will tell us more about the community’s public transit values and perhaps operational efficiency.
We will address these ideas in a later post, but before we can do that, we need to identify our peer cities based on their Distance Profiles. Then we can evaluate their transit systems and infer the community values illustrated by their transit system choices and decide what if any elements of that system we can emulate.
The Distance Profile includes two metrics: population by distance from city hall and population weighted density by distance from city hall. The results for each MSA are plotted on line graphs where each point represents a circular band of land one mile wide with each successive band radiating outward from the city center. The geometry of this metric results in each successive band having a greater area. The resulting graph has a peak at the band with the greatest population or density then falls off as the bands contain more and more rural areas. Take a look at Louisville’s graphs. Continue reading
In an unfortunate example of the right hand not talking to the left, in the dark of night on June 9th, two six foot sections of double rail streetcar
tracks were destroyed to make room for faux cobblestone crosswalks. You would think that city construction crews would have been briefed about what NOT to do when archaeological artifacts are encountered. It is not clear what the rules are about dealing with the tracks but indications are that city officials do care about these assets.
In an email exchange between John Owen, candidate for the 5th district Metro Council seat and public works official Dirk Gowan, Gowan said:
“I apologize for the confusion on the tracks, it was my responsibility to assure the tracks were destroyed, and assure you that the extension of the project will not destroy other sections of the track.”
A typo? I think he meant …”to assure the tracks were NOT destroyed.” Anyway, we hope so.
It is not beyond imagining that someday Metro Louisville will want to add streetcars to the urban landscape for all the right reasons. Dallas and other cities have been able to save millions in capital expense by reusing legacy tracks.
Therefore preservation of these valuable assets should be the rule. And the rule should be codified through the Landmarks Commission. In any case a professional development workshop for public works construction crews on proper treatment of archaeological assets is certainly in order.
Big Box Retailer Wants Suburban Big Box in Traditional Workplace Form District
After months of speculation, intrigue, rumors and political controversy, Walmart is now preparing to build a super store in West
Louisville. The Walmart property located at the corner of 18th (Dixie Highway) and Broadway falls within a Traditional Workplace Form District, a designation defined by Louisville’s Land Development Code. According to the LOJIC Online Map, this Traditional Workplace is adjacent to the Broadway Traditional Marketplace Corridor and in close proximity to the Town Center Form District centered at 28th and Broadway and Traditional Neighborhood Form Districts both north and south of the Traditional Workplace. The Traditional Workplace Form District is described as follows:
“The Traditional Workplace Form District applies to older established industrial and employment areas that contain primarily small-to-medium scale industrial and employment uses. These uses are often historically integrated with or adjacent to residential neighborhoods, especially traditional neighborhoods. District standards are designed to encourage adaptive reuse and investment in these areas while ensuring compatibility with adjacent uses and form districts, to ensure adequate access and transit service, and to retain distinctive land uses and patterns such as connected street grids.” (LDC 5.2.5)
The Move Louisville project began as the outcome of massive public input to Mayor Greg Fischer’s Vision Louisville project. A top community priority based on the number of public comments received by the city was for a better metro area transportation system. The mayor’s office of Economic Development and Innovation is the lead department and Metro Government is investing $775,000 ($600,000 federal grant, $125,000 city matching funds, $25,000 from TARC) to develop a comprehensive transportation infrastructure plan including roads, public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure. At this time there are over six hundred discrete projects on the candidate project map. The implementation timeline on the Vision Louisville website says <5 years to completion but considering the number and scope of potential projects, implementation is likely to stretch out to 20 years with projects ranging from bicycle lanes to freeway relocations and mass transit. It’s not that any single project would take 20 years but there are so many and with a comprehensive city-wide scope, the requisite public battles over individual plans, and the competition for limited local, state and federal money progress won’t be quick. We will be guided by the Move Louisville plan for a long time. On the other hand, if the city’s intention is to only select projects that can be built in five years then most of the ambitious projects will not make the cut. We will know soon.
The following is a guest post from Clarence Hixson, CART’s Legal Counsel. Oral arguments appealing the 6th District’s dismissal of CART’s law suit will take place before the US 6th District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on June 25th. We asked Mr. Hixson for a status report and asked him a couple of key questions. Below are his responses.
Why did the Appeals Court agree to hear oral arguments?
The final decisions of Federal District Court, ( in this case Judge Heyburn’s Final Order earlier this year dismissing all 20 of CART’s claims made in the Complaint) can be appealed to the Court of Appeals as a matter of right. The appeal has to be taken in compliance with federal civil Rule 4 and other rules providing a time limit for filing. CART’s appeal is not frivolous and states the jurisdiction and cause of action under the Administrative Procedures Act, NEPA and Title VI. Generally, the Appeal alleges that Judge Heyburn committed error in dismissing all the NEPA Claims and in denying the Motion for a Trial on the issue of intentional discrimination on the basis of race
by the decisions the states made and the subsequent project approval by FHWA.
All through Judge Heyburn’s Opinion he referred to the LSIORBP as an exceptionally significant project: The Court had serious questions as to CART’s standing through member Mattie Jones to make discrimination claims, but, “Again, due to the public nature of this suit and the import of CART’s Title VI claims, the Court will nevertheless address their substance.” Continue reading
CART Presents Author, Passenger Rail Advocate and New Urbanist Ben Ross
Ben Ross Will Be in Louisville Jun 1, 2014 at Carmichael’s Bookstore to discuss his new book:
DEAD END, Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism
The Houston bus transit system is being redesigned to take advantage of inefficiencies in the system. The project is supposed to result in a system that reaches more people, increases headway on more routes and can be accomplished at no additional cost. Can the same be accomplished in Louisville? Is our bus system redundant and are their glaring inefficiencies? Read this article and let us know what you think.
…And after redesign