Monday, June 18, 2007

Bike Path To Nowhere?

Andrew Roth is too quick to criticize money spent on a new non-automobile right-of-way on a bridge project in Virginia. It's easy to dub it a bridge to nowhere type project based on current ridership. But it fails to ask some key questions. How much traffic is there now DESPITE the design of things. As someone who frequently bikes to work, the library, Super Target and other places I avoid routes that require me to ride on busy streets during rush hour. How does Roth know that the reason for such low ridership is not that there are a lack of users but that people avoid it because it's not safe to use. Roth also fails to asses the overall costs of the bridge. How much money is being spent for how many cars? I'm not saying this because as a rider I want special privileges. It's just that when you've been out there dealing with drivers that try running you off the road, pass you from behind only to take a right turn in front of you and you crash into them and other incidents, you become weary of putting your butt on the line if you don't have to. And you become aware that 1/2 the battle of getting people out walking, jogging and riding is providing them with safe routes.

Private Operators Reduce Costs By Over 10%

If having private companies do this saves this much money, why don't we do it more often?

FasTracks is now priced at nearly $6.2 billion, largely because of the rising cost of construction materials and additions to the project. RTD anticipates collecting $5.5 billion from the FasTracks sales tax, grants, loans and other sources. Managers say the best way to reduce the $670 million gap is to seek out private firms to take over some or all of the work on at least four of the rail corridors.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fastraks = Pollution Reduction

With 3/4th of Fastracks riders being existing transit riders (that is, moving them from buses onto trains), how is this sort of pollution reduction claim possible?

FasTracks will make it easy for people to come into Denver for work and fun while decreasing pollution. It is estimated that FasTracks would reduce carbon dioxide pollution every year by 1.5 million pounds. We have proven in Denver that if light rail is built, it will be used. Of the three completed rail projects, all have ridership far greater than initial projections.

And to boot, what were those initial projections? My experience in Minneapolis with the Hiawatha line was that in the late 1990s when there was the initial hard push to get that LRT line built, they were using higher projection numbers than they were using in as the funding was finalized. And later when they met those first "initial" projections, they claimed it was doing better than projected when in reality they were at the level that they had first said they would be.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Wild Oats and Whole Foods Thwarted

This is why baseball needs it's anti-trust status. Things get so narrowly defined that it's insane. I wonder if Wal-Mart's behind some of the political pressure to nit pick this deal to deal. Or maybe it's the citizens of Boulder wanting to keep their mega-posh-food store "local"?

The Federal Trade Commission wants to block the merger of Wild Oats Markets with Whole Foods, predicting that it would lead to "higher prices, reduced quality and fewer choices for consumers." Never mind that three-quarters of natural and organic products are sold by conventional supermarkets and other mass-market outlets. For purposes of assessing the merger, the FTC has decided to ignore all those competitors, focusing just on stores that not only sell natural and organic foods but do so in an environment similar to what shoppers experience at Wild Oats and Whole Foods:

"Premium natural and organic supermarkets seek a different customer than do traditional grocery stores," the F.T.C. said. "Whole Foods' and Wild Oats' customers are buying something more than just the food product—they are seeking a shopping 'experience,' where environment can matter as much as price."

Market definitions this narrow, designed to exclude just about every company except those involved in the deal, make it possible to reject any merger as anticompetitive.