Does Brasilia work?

Tyler Cowan on Brasilia … Does Brasilia work? : “”

There are a few quick lessons:
1. Sorry Jane Jacobs fans, planned cities do sometimes work. Take a look at postwar Germany too.
2. “Planned” cities are often less formally planned in their entirety than you think, and that is true for the greater Brasilia area. Brasilia is a mix of planned and unplanned elements, and it’s the mix which (mostly) works. We should not demonize either the “planned” or “unplanned” aspects of that blend per se.
3. Even when matters are quite screwed up from the policy or optimality side, mobility enforces an equality of average rates of return. This is one of the most neglected insights of economics.

Metro Transit press release

The Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press reprint the same Metro Transit press release publish similar stories about Metro Transit.

Strib Metro Transit gets more customers

Pioneer Press : Gas prices are rising again, and so is ridership on Metro Transit
The Strib’s version:

For the year’s first three months, the total of 19.5 million rides represents a 2 percent increase over the same period last year, the transit operator said.

Northstar Commuter Rail’s rush-hour service between Minneapolis and Big Lake showed the highest year-over-year gain at 6 percent. Northstar customers chose the rail service more than 146,000 times in the first quarter of 2011.

For all of 2010, Northstar’s 710,400 rides fell 21 percent below expectations. Transit officials attributed that to high unemployment and a resulting reduction in trips downtown.

“We’re off to a very encouraging start in 2011,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. “Rising gas prices have certainly played a role in encouraging new customers to give transit a try.”

Comparing the first quarter of 2010 with the same period this year:

Express bus ridership was up 3.5 percent, urban local service rose 2.3 percent and suburban local service increased 1.5 percent.

Ridership on the Hiawatha light-rail line was down 1.8 percent from the first quarter of last year but trended upward in February and March.

Comment: Northstar may have shown the highest percentage gain, but in sheer magnitude, its gain is dwarfed by the loss in riders on Hiawatha. 146,000/90 is 1622 rides per day, or assuming all rides are round trip, 811 persons per day. If that is up 6 percent, that means it is up by a whopping 50 persons per day. On the other hand, Hiawatha was down from 2.2 to 2.1 million rides, or 100,000 rides, or 1111 rides per day (or 555 persons per day, assuming round trip). In other words the loss of riders on Hiawatha was 10 times the gain on Northstar. The fare is not ten times higher on Northstar, so net revenue from rail operations should have dropped.

It is good to see bus patronage up, though not surprising given the large increase in the price of fuel.

Road Diet for University Avenue along Central Corridor


The Bikists are recycling a good idea: SPBC » Projects » university

“The Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition requests that the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) and the Metropolitan Council reexamine the current street programming plan for University Avenue post-light rail transit construction. The current plan calls for two vehicle travel lanes in each direction (four total travel lanes). A review would examine the benefits of having a single vehicle travel lane in each direction, a parking lane with bus pull-outs and right turn lanes, and a bike lane. The Avenue’s planned minimum width of 25’would permit an 11′ travel lane, 8′ parking lane and 6′ bike or buffer lane, creating a “Complete Street” to accommodate all modes of transportation. We request that the FTA and MET Council restudy and commit to at least try this programming configuration when the LRT project is completed. We are not suggesting any physical street design changes but only changes in how the avenue is striped and programmed.”

Comment: If The Twin Cities were serious about making the Central Corridor work as a transit-oriented area, it would do this. The extra capacity is only needed at intersections (where it would be available), but not on the linehauls. University Avenue vehicle traffic is approximately the same as it was 60 years ago (pre-interstate) ! See the traffic flow maps from City of Minneapolis, In 1954, University Ave had an AADT of 21,306 at the city line with St. Paul, vs. 21,200 at 27th Avenue in 2005. That is 2 way traffic. If the peak hour is 10% of daily, this is 2120 peak hour flow, which is 1060 in each direction (probably more in the peak direction. In any case, well below the per lane capacity on an arterial aside from the intersections. If the intersections flare out as proposed, the capacity should be sufficient with 1 lane in both directions in most places.

(Via Twin Cities Streets for People.)