Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Democrat county commissioner candidates push for WALLY Train to Nowhere

Here we go again. Democrats want to bring this to the county:

From Judy Daubenmier at "Living Blue"
And they urged the county commisison to at least study the proposed WALLY commuter rail line between Howell and Ann Arbor -- a project supported by chambers of commerce in Brighton and Howell, as well as by the city of Howell and Hamburg Township.

Good ole WALLY trains. It's like Eminem or the band Green Day and that awful voice. When you think it goes away, it comes back and gets worse.

We had studies on WALLY. The county commission, rightly so, said no tax money goes to WALLY. There's been several estimates on WALLY costs. The latest from AA Chronicle is 9 million for trains, 4.3 million for station fundings, 7.1 million annual funding. They expect 1300 passengers a day. 1300 passengers a day? That covers jacksquat.

In 2009, they asked for 32 million in startup. Their 07 budget said the budget was 5 million a year.

According to the startup budget given in 2007, which was increased, I said you needed 1814 commuters a day, including weekends to break even.

"4.9 million will cover what? You have salaries, security, normal wear and tear, energy costs, and runs. 2.9 for startup? Between the trains, parking lot construction, training, etc? I'm skeptical. Even using that number, will you get a profit on that. 15,000 people (estimated number of commuters from Livingston to Ann Arbor at $225 a month (rumored price) will get you 3.37 Million a month - that's if EVERY commuter in the county uses it and pays that amount. I'm guessing most of the commuters to Ann Arbor are in Brighton, Hartland, and Hamburg. Hamburg has 20,000 people. I'll guess that 4000 of them commute to Ann Arbor, with 1000 in Howell (city has 10000 people) commuting. That'll give 5000 of the areas covered from the train. 5000 * 225 - 1.125 million a month - if all commute on the train. Anyone familiar with Hamburg knows how spread out it is. Part of it is "Brighton", most of it is "Pinckney", part of it is "Lakeland", and part of it is "Whitmore Lake". I'll be shocked if most of the commuters are going to drive a few miles to wait for the train. This area is spread out. Howell is denser, but has much less population - and it too is spread out a bit in its eastern and northern most areas near 59 - and forget about getting much help from Genoa (even with the Chilson stop - that area is flat out country), Marion, Howell Twp, and Oceola.

In order to cover the estimated operation costs from regular commuters - you need 408,334 a month - 1814 commuters a day (including weekends, so weekend warriors are very important). That leaves 2.9 million in debt from startup costs which can be paid for over a few years with good profit.

Can you get 15-20% of county's Ann Arbor commuters to use the train EVERY DAY - despite cutting out Brighton and Hartland from the route? If you can, then I'll cook up some fried crow.""

This train does not cover Brighton, Hartland, Fenton/Tyrone, South Lyon, or Pinckney. The railroad tracks in Brighton are from the C&O railroad, not the Ann Arbor Railroad. The only area covered with ANY density is Howell. The rest is all spread out. They spin by calling Chilson Rd "Brighton", which is a stretch to say the least. That area is flat out country. Whitmore Lake is spread out outside of a small part. Hamburg is very spread out. All these people who consider the train have to drive to the station.

From where I live in Green Oak, I can get to Ann Arbor in 20 minutes, in rush hour, avoiding US-23. I don't commute there anymore, but that's the route I took for years if 23 was a problem.

If you want to enact more mass transit in Livingston County, busses are more efficient and cheaper. That's too low brow for the leftist yuppies though. This is what they think constitutes "Smart leadership and Smart Growth." The democrats criticize the county airport (and may have a case there), but push for higher costing WALLY?

County Parks. Dane Morris talks about that, but we have plenty of parks here. Brighton Rec area. Island Lake. Kensington. Pinckney Rec area. Do we need more county spending on that? Money that we don't have right now.

Smart Growth. Kelly Raskausas (My old district) and Barry McBride (my current district) keep mentioning those and other similar buzzwords without detailing them in their speeches (at Living blue). For those who don't know, "Smart Growth" is a new urbanist theory that comes from the coasts, especially the left coast (Portland). It pushes for central city development, compact neighborhoods, mixed use housing (apartments, not detached homes), car unfriendliness, and lots of restrictions on what we can do with our land.

Be aware of what the buzzwords really mean.


Communications guru said...

First, its Democratic county commissioner candidates. Second, Ann Arbor, Howell and Brighton are not “no where.” Third, mass transit spurs development; just ask Republican contributor and developer Earl LaFave. Automobiles are heavily subsidized, why shouldn’t mass transit?

Correct, county parks that sit fallow and empty. There is good reason this county has no services or amenities, as well as a debt that could bankrupt the county. It’s called the All-Republican Board of Commissioners.

Not-A-RINO said...

There is a item called a "bus" - an item that has no huge start-up costs, can easily adjust its schedule to meet the needs of its riders, is able to carry many passengers and requires no huge subsidies from the taxpayer. If indeed there was a demand for commuter service between Howell and Ann Arbor, this could take right off with little or no delay. Private enterprise has a way of meeting demand when profit is involved - our country has proven this innummerable times. It's just like a DEM to think of new and different ways of thowing away money our state doesn't have.

Communications guru said...

Yes, I know what a bus is, but unless it can fly, it will also get bogged down in traffic on U.S. 23. No, it’s just like a Democrat to think of new and different ways of saving money and saving the planet. However, high speed rail is hardly a new concept.

Not-A-RINO said...

Bogged down? Aren't Michigan's taxpayers bogged down with footing the bills of projects like this?

If the concept of mass transit is all that great because it reduces congestion on our freeways, then what's the problem with a bunch of buses taking hoards of Howell communters to Ann Arbor? I can only think of one reason: It's because some pol can't put her/his name on it as a legacy to their progressive idealism.

The free market still works and if there were literally thousands of Howell residents committed to Wally, then let them pay for it. Otherwise, Wally will just be known as a "train to nowhere" or "People Mover West" and another high cost boondoggle. Why is there no commuter bus service to Ann Arbor now? It's because there simply isn't the demand for such services or the demand is so low no company can make a go of it. If Wally is constructed, I really would like to see the throng materialize queuing up to purchase their tickets, but I'll place my bet that just isn't going to happen.

Communications guru said...

No, “Michigan's taxpayers aren’t bogged down with footing the bills of projects like this.”

Seriously? Because trains are faster, cleaner and don’t have to worry about traffic backups or an accident on U.S. 23 that backs up traffic for hours. They will pay for WALLY, but they are also paying for roads. Again, I don’t consider Brighton, Howell or Ann Arbor no where.

Are you serious? “Why is there no commuter bus service to Ann Arbor now?” There are lots of them, and one good reason is because of people like you and the shortsighted person who runs this blog putting out misinformation.

Dan said...

And again, this train doesn't go to Brighton. Chilson Rd in Genoa Township isn't Brighton. Even Vic and Bob's next door to where the supposed stop will be, has a Howell address.

Communications guru said...

Simply not true, again. The existing railroad tracks go from Howell through downtown Brighton and through Green Oak Township. It will stop in Brighton, Whitmore Lake and two stops in downtown Ann Arbor. The Brighton stop is four miles from downtown.

What exactly is your point? It’s good to know that WALLY has bipartisan support, like from Republican Earl LaFave.

Dan said...

Earl LaFave supports it because he has property at 8 mile in Whitmore Lake he can't sell. I don't fault him for supporting his own interests, but I shouldn't be funding them.

The point is that the WALLY train doesn't go through where most of the Ann Arbor commuters live, nor will it reduce traffic on US23.

WALLY does not go to Brighton. The downtown Brighton tracks are the CSX (was C&O) railroad which runs from Detroit, through Downtown Brighton, to Lansing westward. The Ann Arbor Railroad goes from Ann Arbor through Howell. The Chilson stop, spun as the "Brighton" stop, has a Howell address several miles from downtown Brighton in Western Genoa Twp, which you have to go past Brighton High School traffic.

It will take as long or longer for someone from Brighton to get to the train, take it to Plymouth and Barton Drive area in Ann Arbor away from everything, and then get to where one needs to go. I'm in Green Oak and can get to Ann Arbor in 20 minutes in Rush Hour using back roads, and 15 minutes on non rush hour using US-23.

This is yuppie jurassic pork for the "cool city" types out there with no practicality whatsoever.

Communications guru said...

Earl LaFave supports it because he knows a good investment when he sees it. He demonstrated that with all the roadblocks the Green Oak Township Board threw in front of Hidden Lake.

The WALLY train does go through where most of the commuters work, and that’s what’s important; meaning it will reduce traffic on U.S. 23.

WALLY does go to Brighton, and there is no reason the tracks through downtown cannot be leased, if needed. I’m not even sure why that matters, considering how bad parking is there. It’s better where it’s at. Try sitting in a park and ride lot some morning and you will see my point.

It’s far from “yuppie Jurassic pork.” It’s the future that will help reduce the carbon footprint, and the fact is mass transit spurs development. Just ask Earl