Ken Larsen's web site - BOCC meeting on DOLRTJanuary 24, 2017

At the January 24, 2017 Orange County Commissioners meeting:

Danny Rogers of GoTriangle spoke from 59:36 until 1:33:57 (34 minutes) about the financial plan to pay for DOLRT.  The most disturbing thing said was that the new financial plan would have Orange County paying off the TIFIA loan until the year 2062.  That's 45 years from now!  Another disturbing thing he said was that the frequency of trains may increase from one every 10 minutes to one every 7.5 minutes ... to make up for their size being reduced from 3 to 2 lengths.  That would increase congestion at the more than 40 at-grade street crossings.  [details]

Brian Litchfield, Director of Chapel Hill Transit, spoke about Chapel Hill's North-South Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.  His speech had 16 slides and begins at 1:34:44.  It ends almost 32 minutes later at 2:06:23.

Three members of the public spoke about DOLRT (Durham-Orange County Light Rail):

1 Tom Farmer Supports DOLRT enthusiastically.

All forms of public transit from super highways to sidewalks are subsidized ... many of them actually through TIFIA loans, by the way.  Some of them are just plain better investments.

Light rail is a better investment than other forms of transportation like BRT.

DOLRT will provide efficient environmentally friendly transit, and it's a magnificent economic development tool.

In line with other LR projects in the U.S., DOLRT is projected to extend the GDP of Durham and Orange counties by $ 5B and increase tax revenue by $ 300M.

Wake County rejected light rail in favor of BRT.  Let's look at what determines the success of a light rail line. 

#1 is what it connects.  DOLRT's route runs over 100,000 jobs.  It connects three major medical centers ... which are suffering from congestion ... which can only be relieved by the high capacity of light rail [1] ... not BRT and certainly not with driverless cars and Uber.

#2 Preexistent transit use:  Currently 10,000 people every day ride buses in the Durham-Orange County corridor.  This bodes quite well for light rail ridership.  Wake County does not have these kind of ridership numbers.

Wake County did not reject light rail.  The truth is that Wake County is not quite ready for it. [2]

BRT reinforces highway patterns and urban designs.  That tends to make our streets less friendly for walking shoes and bikes.  It makes our cities less livable.  Further, "BRT creep" is a well recognized phrase.  It's an issue where even the best of BRT projects are compromised by the politics of motorists unwilling to give up asphalt.  This could make BRT little more than new signage on an otherwise ordinary bus route.  BRT can suffer from capacity issues.  Ottawa, the North American city with the most BRT experience, is now turning to light rail because of capacity issues that BRT just cannot handle. [3]

BRT certainly has a role to play in an integrated transit plan; however, as the anchor of a regional transit network, BRT tends to diappoint.

DOLRT's economic development and sustainable growth doesn't choke our roadways, doesn't pollute our air, and doesn't consume our open spaces.  It's high capacity access to jobs in our urban cores.

In December and again tonight, Commissioner McKee has asked "When will DOLRT cost $ 3B?"  It will reach that number if we delay ... only to realize later that our economic future and access to jobs require efficient high capacity transit.  The time is now for DOLRT.  We voted for it. [4] We cannot afford not to build it.

[1] DOLRT will have over 40 at-grade crossings.  These will snarl traffic ... particularly when more development is built along the route.  [details]
[2] Tom's explanation for why Wake County rejected light rail is false.  Wake County rejected light rail, because "light rail is so expensive more than $1 billion in capital costs to develop the initial segment between Downtown Cary and Millbrook Road and more than $10 million in annual operating subsidies to carry a projected 16,000 riders by 2035 that by concentrating so many resources in a single corridor, it crowds out funding that could be used to increase the reach, frequency and reliability of travel options as well as to create complementary corridor investments in more areas particularly in a large county such as Wake which is experiencing county-wide growth." -RTA 2013
[3] Tom cites Ottawa's Light Rail line as a model to follow.  It cannot be compared to DOLRT, because Ottawa's light rail line is completely grade separated. [details]  DOLRT will have over 40 at-grade crossings. [details]
[4] Tom's "We voted for it" comment is false.  In 2012 a referendum was placed on the ballot which said "One half percent (1/2%) local sales and use taxes, in addition to the current local sales and use taxes, to be used only for public transportation systems".  It did not stipulate light rail only.
2 Bonnie Hauser Against DOLRT.  Wants BRT instead of DOLRT

To us, BRT is an exciting new project.  It will serve thousands of Orange County residents.  It is easy to imagine extending BRT throughout the county which would truly turn Orange County into a transit oriented community.

BRT's projected cost has risen, but even with the increase, BRT would cost approximately 1/10th of DOLRT.  That means that for every mile of light rail, you could have 10 miles of BRT.  Operating costs of BRT are also substantially lower than light rail.

Based on GoTriangle's reports, BRT would be faster than light rail along the Durham-Orange corridor.

BR could be done in just a few years vs. 12 years for DOLRT.

Abandoning DOLRT would free up funds for transit across all of Orange County.
3 Alex Cabanes Against DOLRT.  Wants BRT instead of DOLRT.

Mr. Litchfield (of Chapel Hill Transit) pointed out that BRT would cost $ 125M whereas DOLRT would cost $ 2.5B.  Operating cost of BRT would be $ 3.5M vs. $ 30M for DOLRT.

If we accept GoTriangle's creative financing, it'll take a half century to pay off the loans for DOLRT.  That's a long time during which we won't be able to do any other mass transit projects.

I don't see how GoTriangle hiring an external agency is independent.  An independent review should be under your (BOCC) auspices.

The 166 miles that could be built with BRT for $ 2.5B would be mass transit.  [DOLRT will only give us 17.7 miles.]

One thing that is disturbing is the continued "alternative facts" that are getting propagated.  Charlotte Lynx, after getting started in 2007, needed to take all 16 trains and ship them to California to get them repaired in 2012.  That repair cost $ 400K per train.  That's roughly the cost of a bus.

I urge you to consider BRT.  It's a much more cost effective solution that DOLRT.












































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