Catching Up

Isthmus of Madison, WI

Isthmus of Madison, WI

Lots of items worth commenting on over the last week.

High Speed Rail Notes: Several good posts, including the transport politic shooting down some of Ed Glaeser’s numbers on HSR, as well as potential high speed connections between New York and Montreal.  Improving connections to Montreal, Toronto, and Canada’s main mega-region is a no-brainer.

The Overhead Wire also notes some assorted quotes on HSR, including a link to a Madison paper on weighing the different station options – either out at Madison’s airport, or closer in towards downtown (though not fully downtown by any means).  Having spent many years in Madison for college, I can’t quite see the major advantages of the proposed Yahara station versus the airport one.

The problem stems from the fact that Madison is on an isthmus.  The only way to get rail service downtown is to have a stub end terminal there, which complicates things from an operational perspective, given that both the line to Milwaukee and any potential lines northwards to the Twin Cities would approach Madison from the East side.  Current rights of way have a near U-turn at the proposed Yahara station area, taking some park land (a park I used to play Ultimate in, by the way), but the platform would still be awfully short for long term developments, not to mention hugging a sharp bend in the track.

Ideally, Madison would have solid rail transit service operating along some of those rights of way in order to get quick service from the airport (or the Yahara station) to downtown.  The tracks are there, they could theoretically start operating commuter rail tomorrow with a few DMUs.

Too Much Parking: Chris Bradford has a series of posts on the perils of too much parking – one and two.  Post one puts the reasons too much parking is bad in a handy-dandy bullet format, while post two takes note of a nice chart from San Francisco based Liveable City:

Old New
Parking is a social good. Parking is not an entitlement.
More parking is always better. Too much parking can create problems.
Parking demand is fixed, regardless of price or transportation alternatives. Parking demand is elastic, and depends on price and the availability of transportation alternatives.
Governments should establish minimum parking requirements. Governments shouldn’t mandate parking, and should instead establish maximum parking allowances where they make sense.
Parking costs should be bundled into the cost of housing, goods, and services Parking costs should be unbundled from the cost of housing, goods, and services.
Parking is a burden to government, and subsidies to parking will compete with other priorities for available funding. Parking can be a source of revenue for government, and if priced correctly can fund other city priorities.
Parking should be priced to encourage full utilization. Parking should be priced so as to create some available spaces at most times.
Cities should use time limits to increase parking availability and turnover. Cities should use price to increase parking availability and turnover.

That’s a solid summary of the old thinking about parking, compared to the new school of thought.  Chris also notes that you can easily replace “parking” with “roads” and the list is still valid (though it may require some grammatical adjustments).

Miscellany:

  • ZipCar will get some competition in the hourly car rental market.
  • Summer Parks‘ are not the same as Summer Streets.
  • Miami’s zoning overhaul, entitled Miami 21, fails to advance.  This is a serious bummer for anyone who’s ever dealt with an arcane zoning code.
  • A token of my appreciation (har har) to Jarrett Walker for looking to abolish the $1 bill.  They’re a real pain in the ass for transit operations.   David Alpert mentioned equalizing Metrobus and Circulator fares, noting that the $1 Circulator fare seems to prioritize tourists over residents – but the whole idea of the Circulator is to be easy, and an even $1 fare is about as easy as it gets.  It would be even easier if we had Loonies (and, you know, it was culturally acceptable to use them).
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