Friday, May 16, 2008

Ogden City Council Work Session on Transit Planning 5/15/08

Godfrey reverses course; opts for a full combo of streetcar alternatives analysis and EIR studies

By Dan Schroeder

The work session was held in the city council chambers (not the conference room), due to the large number of spectators. Those in attendance included the usual city council and administration staff, representatives from UTA and Wasatch Front Regional Council, reporters from the Standard-Examiner and Tribune, and over a dozen other interested citizens.

Council Executive Director Bill Cook began the session with a historical summary of how the council got to this point. Cook touched on the 2005 feasibility study (which recommended a streetcar between downtown, WSU, and McKay-Dee Hospital), the $200,000 allocation for further studies in the current fiscal year's budget (which the mayor has said he wants reallocated to other projects), the transit discussions held at earlier work sessions, and the mayor's recent "revelation" to the Standard-Examiner that he is now willing to support a further study of the streetcar.

Cook clarified the difference between a "feasibility study", which has already been performed for the transit corridor between downtown, WSU, and McKay-Dee, and an "alternatives analysis", which would be a more detailed study with considerable public involvement. An alternatives analysis is a necessary step toward getting federal funding for a transit project. The cost of the alternatives analysis would be at least $200,000, but UTA would probably pay half of this and WSU and McKay-Dee are both willing to contribute as well.

Near the end of Cook's presentation, both he and Mick Crandall of UTA emphasized that the longer Ogden waits to get started on an alternatives analysis, the harder it will be to obtain funding both for the study and for the project itself.

Next, Greg Montgomery summarized the Planning Commission's recent discussion of transit corridors. For historical perspective he showed a map of Ogden's old trolley lines, and told how the rise of automobiles and suburbs led to the decline of mass transit in the U.S. Even so, transit is still heavily used in many other parts of the world. He listed three reasons why many people want to increase use of mass transit: to relieve congestion on roads, to improve air quality, and to serve people who do not drive, such as the poor and the handicapped. [Montgomery did not mention several other good reasons, such as promoting economic development of urban neighborhoods.]

Finally, Montgomery described the Planning Commission's recommended transit corridors, in order of priority: (1) downtown to WSU, continuing south on Harrison to the junction with US 89; (2) a loop around downtown; and (3) a north-south route from North Ogden to South Ogden, ending at Ogden Regional Hospital. Council member Gochnour then asked Greg Scott of Wasatch Front Regional Council whether extending the WSU line south to US 89 would weaken its overall feasibility and eligibility for federal funding. Scott replied that yes, the southern extension of this line would attract fewer riders and therefore it would lessen the overall benefit/cost ratio.

Cook then passed out the results of what must have been an informal poll of council members, asking them to rank 13 possible transit routes (including several different routes between downtown and WSU, as well as corridors connecting downtown to other destinations). The highest-ranked route was the same as recommended by the 2005 feasibility study: downtown to McKay-Dee Hospital via 23rd, Washington, 26th, and Harrison.

Mayor Godfrey then began to speak, and the rest of the transit discussion centered on his proposal. In short, he stated that he now favors moving forward with an alternatives analysis of the corridor from downtown to McKay-Dee Hospital. Furthermore, he would like to combine this process with the full environmental impact study, to speed up the eventual application for federal matching funds--if the cost ends up being affordable. [This statement on Godfrey's part was a striking departure from the position he has held for the last 3 years, until as recently as the WACOG meeting only 10 days ago.] Near the end of the discussion, Council Chair Wicks remarked that she could now go home and die of shock. She was undoubtedly speaking for many others in the room as well.

Godfrey did add a few of his own twists to what he proposes to study. First, he would like to add a downtown loop route to the proposal. [There was very little discussion of this route and it isn't clear how such a route could be part of the same transit corridor. However, these details can presumably be worked out later.] Second, Godfrey stated that he strongly favors an alignment that would go south on Washington to 30th or 36th Street before heading east up to Harrison. He repeated his earlier position that the portion of Harrison between 26th and 30th (or even 36th) is not wide enough for a dedicated streetcar right-of-way, and added that an alignment on Washington would encourage more commercial development in places where it is wanted. However, he was clearly willing to include the 26th Street option in the study, to see how it fares compared to the more southerly alignments. Third, Godfrey vaguely alluded to newer streetcar technologies (probably battery-operated) that might, in his opinion, save money.

Godfrey remains strongly opposed to the bus-rapid-transit (BRT) option; he went so far as to say that if BRT becomes the preferred mode then the citizens would "come at us with pitchforks". However, he didn't explicitly object to keeping a BRT option in the study.

In the course of his presentation, Godfrey made a number of minor claims that were inconsistent with this writer's understanding of the facts. Among these claims were: that a streetcar has a maximum speed of only 25 mph; that there are no plans for higher-density development along Harrison; that the 2005 feasibility study took only a "cursory" look at alternative alignments such as the ones he is now proposing; and that officials at UDOT and WFRC have corroborated a number of his statements about feasibility.

Godfrey clearly stated that he is unsure whether projected cost of the streetcar will be less than the maximum that we can afford, which he put at $80-100 million. He said that if the cost turns out to be too high, then we will have to "face the reality and talk about the other transit options," putting "everything on the table." But he seems content to postpone any discussion of these "other transit options" for the time being.

There was no specific discussion of what source of funds Ogden would use to cover its share of the cost of the alternatives analysis and environmental impact statement. Crandall of UTA estimated the cost of the full study at approximately $500,000, and made it clear that UTA will cover approximately half of the cost, but said that not all the money would necessarily become available in the current fiscal year.

Once Godfrey had explained his current position on moving forward with the alternatives analysis and EIS, and answered a few questions from the council members, the council took a recess before moving on to other agenda items. At that point most of the audience (including this writer) departed.

Editor's addendum: The Salt Lake Tribune's Kristen Moulton provides her own write-up here. The Standard-Examiner's Scott Schwebke version is available here.

50 comments:

Monotreme said...

Dan,

This is truly good news.

Tec Jonson said...

Thanks, Dan, for your report. I was unable to make it while repairing irrigation most of the day.

I'm not too thrilled with the 30th or 36th proposals. They are missing the point. They seem to be thinking in terms of point-to-point connections and the ease of running a corridor up those streets. First of all I think that running the corridor up either of those streets will cause far more disruption to traffic and require accommodating for automobile as well as the street car. That alignment will also leave the central residential area bypassed and unserved. It's s stupid idea. Why do people not see the greater transit picture. Those corridors are key to moving auto traffic to I-15 via 31st onramp and Riverdale. The streetcar does not belong on those alignments. The streetcar is for people who either do not drive or who want to develop a car free lifestyle. the central area is home to those and makes the best area to benefit from TOD. I could not see 30th or 36th become a pedestrian friendly area even with a streetcar. 26th is the best street for that. We have the library and local shopping on 26th already as well as more residential density. Please hope that these fools do not muck up the possibilities.

althepal said...

Kumbaya

gEORGE k said...

On the surface it appears to be good news, however, we all know Godfrey and his propensity for changing his mind (lying in other words). I hope the Council does not take Godfrey's statements at face value, but insists on some written agreement outlining EXACTLY what will be done.

As far as which $200,000. will be used, the only one mentioned last night is the $200,000. that the Council put in the FY2008 budget. The Council would be wise to insist that that is the $200,000. used so that they maintain a say in how it is spent. They will have no say if the $200,000. used is that money the federal government sent to UTA to be used by Ogden for transportation. If that $200,000. is used Godfrey could still foul up Ogden's mass transit project. COUNCIL INSIST ON USING YOUR $200,000.! The Mayor could use the UTA $200K toward his "Downtown Loop." No matter what, there will still be opportunity to use the money held by the UTA and Godfrey's "Yes Man," Inglish.

John said...

Tec,

The TAA (transportation alternative analysis) will determine which route is best suited for mass transit. Public input on the route and mode that they will support will be sought by an independent firm. Hopefully Godfrey won't be able to persuade them to his point as he did that weak-spined Inglish of UTA. I agree with George K above that the Council MUST use their $200,000. for the analysis.

I'm OK with the Council allowing the Mayor to "save face" with his "secret plan." At least the City is moving ahead on transit! Kumbaya!

slim said...

I, too, am bothered by the 30th and 36th Street options. If you can run a streetcar along 36th Street w/out taking properties (as the Mayor indicates), it seems like it can certainly be done w/ the 26th Street option as well. The Mayor denounces this option too readily. I also think the Planning Commission needed to step up to the plate and offer more specifics on their recommendations (26th Street, 30th Street, 36th Street?). Plus, a downtown loop? Come on Planning Commission, where is your vision and guidance? I don't think we're at Kumbaya, the Mayor did make a baby step in the right direction, but we all know how quickly that can change.

dan s. said...

I would encourage everyone who has posted above, and everyone else who has an opinion over which transit route would be best, to participate in the first phase of the alternatives analysis. At an early stage they should have a "scoping" meeting to accept public comments, and that's exactly the time to bring up any and all concerns of this type.

To some extent the choice of alignment will be dictated by costs and right-of-way impacts. We'll have to wait for the professionals to analyze and quantify these factors. But urban planning also comes into play. I would expand on Tec's point and add that if we're ever going to have rail service to the east-central neighborhood, it will probably have to be as part of the WSU line. For the long term, a second transit line is planned to run north-south along Washington Blvd. While it would be cheaper for that second line to share a mile or two of track with the WSU line, the end result would be to serve less of the city.

Monotreme said...

Reward the good behavior, ignore the bad.

It's Nice said...

It ain't the "G-train", but it's nice to see the mayor on board.

Finally.

dan s. said...

Interesting comparison between Moulton's writeup and Schwebke's. Moulton's very first sentence tells us what happened and how it's a shift from the past; the rest of the article gets the main facts across very efficiently. Schwebke, on the other hand, seems preoccupied with devoting as much space as possible to Godfrey and his detailed recommendations, as if launching the first volley in an upcoming fight over which alignment is best.

Moroni McConkie said...

Methinks Curmudgeon is on vacation. His views on this transit study would be most welcome.

Thanks, Dan, for a well-done report.

I join Council Chair Wicks in shock over Godfrey's apparent willingness to talk sense for the first time in years ... not that I agree with any corridor other than 26th. Let us hope the study can now go forward with all due haste.

Tec Jonson said...

Righto, Dan.

A 36th St. alignment will make the streetcar useless to core East Bench residents both for going to the hospital/WSU or heading downtown to work or frontrunner commute.

Sheez, Godfrey lives at 26th and Tyler. He obviously has no intention of using public transit. He is a moron. Someone he knows owns property on 30th and 36th. If he wants property values ot rise in the area of the city that needs it most 26th is the alignment.

Tec Jonson said...

This is also about adding character to the core of the city. Since when is 30th or 36th the core of the city. The wealth and core of the city grew from downtown eastward with 24th-26th as the centerline. This is the cultural core also. I see no cultural core on either 30th or 36th. 26th could be closed to all but local traffic to allow the streetcar room. Parking along the street could be sacrificed but most homes have ample yards, driveways and garages. There is little street parking going on there today. 26th and Monroe has plenty of commercial potential with an eye to redevelopment. We also have the eyesore at 24th and Monroe (not Sue Wilkerson's office). Where is Sue BTW on this transit issue. She is heavily invested in the central city. Is her hero now looking out for her interests. Godfrey can't help himself to keep a shred of hope for a gondola line up 23rd.

slim said...

Tec-
You mention that the wealth and core of the city grew from downtown eastward with 24th and 26th Street as the center line. You are indeed correct. I thought it would be good to add that this core development eastward was largely spurred by the substantial streetcar system in place at Ogden at the time. Ogden had lines running all throughout East Central Ogden at 21st Street, 23rd Street, 25th Street, and 27th Street that made the growth possible. Development and reinvestment in this old core is at our grips if we make wise choices now (which our Mayor doesn't understand or care). This is a golden opportunity for our planning department and commission to help provide a fantastic vision and move forward. Step up to the plate.

Tec Jonson said...

A note on the transit experience at UTA. Try taking the train and bus to the airport. The train arrives 4 minutes AFTER the bus just left to the airport. Coming the other direction, I checked for my son who arrives tonight, The bus arrives at the SLC central hub from the airport with only 9 minutes to transfer to frontrunner north. I haven't made this transfer but 9 minutes leaves little margin of error. Next train will have one waiting another hour with evening schedules. Coming from an airport, passengers could do without any additional frustration and watch checking. Can't UTA schedule a 15 minute minimum transfer layover for comfort. 10 minutes could be plenty if I had the confidence in the system and the ticket acquisition process.

dan s. said...

Tec,

Actually, Godfrey mentioned during last night's discussion that the 26th Street alignment would be more convenient for him personally. But he continued to argue for putting more of the streetcar on Washington and less of it on Harrison. I'm not too concerned over this remaining dispute because the Alternatives Analysis process should sort it out.

Transferring between bus and train at the Salt Lake Central hub takes only a couple of minutes. The problem, of course, is that the bus from the airport could run late. I don't know how likely that is but I suspect that in the evening, when there's traffic to contend with, the bus should run on time.

Tec Jonson said...

He has so little foresight, Dan. Putting more of the streecar on Washington is exactly what his downtown circulator route would do as well as a north south route. This backbone we are hopefully building now should go up 26th. He seems to be stuck on redundancy instead of wide coverage. He is a moron.

Tec Jonson said...

Several bus routes cover 30th and 36th quite nicely and most of those routes are not going to be displaced by streetcar even if it went up those streets. We need a backbone up 26th. Hopefully, as you say, the TAA will sort it out.

Monotreme said...

Like Dan, I agree that the major shift is that the Mayor has finally agreed to embark on the alternatives analysis, and, by extension, to work on getting Federal funding for a real mass transit system instead of an amusement park ride.

All the rest will come out in the process.

I'm just happy that he's on the S-train or the T-train instead of a train that starts with some other letter of the alphabet.

I agree that Moulton's writeup was a much better piece. It was almost like they had attended two different meetings.

Journalism students might use this as a case study in how news is "slanted", not by some deliberate vast right-wing (or left-wing) conspiracy, but by the limitations and beliefs of the writer.

As long as journalism is a human enterprise, this viewpoint "bias" will be a factor.

We should be raising citizens who recognize and embrace various viewpoints, not those who shut their minds to all MSM because it's all biased. Yes, it is. So is the alternative. Deal with it.

Tec Jonson said...

Monotreme,

Glad to see you are a fan of media critique. If you haven't already, see Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com. Rudi has the site linked. No one takes on the MSM bias and spineless interest in access over content, like Glenn.

Tec Jonson said...

"If transit is supposed to encourage high-density development, it would be better to have the main north-south stretch of the line on Washington Boulevard, not Harrison, he said. "

Washington already is a major artery and has no problems attracting high density development. 30th and 36th
St. are also not hurting for traffic or investment.

It is the central city residential core that needs investment. The whole area of Monroe from 24th - 26th needs attention. This area will supply more riders. Godfrey is quite unable to view things in balance. Transit encourages higher density development but also carries passengers. There are far more people living within a couple of blocks of the 26th st. route than 30th and 36th. Wherever it goes it will encourage development. The key is that it should serve the most residents. Godfrey really has a problem with identifying with his own city. Does mayor quimby have overtinted windows when his driver delivers him downtown each morning.

OgdenLover said...

Riding in the other direction, a streetcar line on 26th street could bring WSU/East Bench residents to Historic 25th street for dinner (with a glass of wine) and/or a movie at the Egyptian.

No more need to forego vino because one is driving.

Laughing Larry said...

Godfrey: "Man of the people."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Karl said...

I am excited about Godfeys apparent conversion to a realistic transit option.

Personally I think I will send him an e-mail to show how excited I am about this proposal and how much I would love to have the street car travel in front of my home on 26th st.

Who knows, maybe enough e-mails will help push this idea of being viewd as a "Man of the People" will help move this project on a little faster. I mean it couldn't hurt to show our appreciation.

Monotreme said...

Tec,

Thanks for the tip. Greenwald is, indeed, just the kind of columnist I enjoy reading.

Today's column was the first one of his I've read, and I was so impressed I bought his book. The National Review comment (click on "Update III"), which he predicted spot-on, was a masterpiece of its kind.

I used to make my living as a journalist. I am continually amazed at the people who expect the press to be without bias, because one of the first things my first college journalism professor pointed out in Journalism 101 was that it wasn't going to ever happen. That was in 1976, well before the current fashion of using the words "liberal media" as though they were Siamese twins.

Tec Jonson said...

Mono,

Your right about bias. The sharp reader knows how to cut through it to find some objectivity. Greenwald's only bias is his commitment to force and hold a higher standard. If you have the patience, go back a couple of weeks and follow the pentagon media experts story. Greenwald tears the MSM a new blowhole daily and they just sit unresponsive because they know they are as responsible as anyone for not exposing the warpath. Instead they lapped it up for a few free rides on an aircraft carrier or a hummer on patrol. They make me sick.

debbie dew said...

You haven't heard how prejudiced and slanted the Sub-standard is. One very disgusted council member told me that the article that appeared in the paper yesteday about the corridor ranking that the Council did under Scott Schwebke's name really was a press release from the council. Then the Sub-Standard stuck the Mayor's mug shot on it! Talk about misleading! But I guess the Sub-standard and the Mayor are desparate to improve the mayor's image. There's something rotten in Ogden!

dan s. said...

debbie,

Yes, I received the council's press release the night before and then thought it was extremely odd that the S-E put the mayor's mug shot on the article. So many things to complain about, so little time...

Anonymous said...

Mono and Debbie:

Mono: you wrote I agree that Moulton's writeup was a much better piece. It was almost like they had attended two different meetings.

Journalism students might use this as a case study in how news is "slanted", not by some deliberate vast right-wing (or left-wing) conspiracy, but by the limitations and beliefs of the writer.


I agree that Ms. Moulton's piece was better reporting, but not that Mr. Schwebke's piece was the lessor one because it was "biased." The difference was, I think, that Ms. Moulton has a better grasp of the history of the politics of transit in Ogden than did, in this piece, Mr. Schwebke. And so Ms. Moulton picked up on the change, the potentially significant change, in Hizzonah's position on the alternatives analysis. Mr. Schwebke's report was accurate enough with respect to what the Mayor and Council agreed to, but, lacking a good grasp of the history of the conflict [or not sufficiently consulting his clip file on the issue], he missed I think reporting the significance of what happened. Or, put another way, Ms. Moulton did a better job of providing readers with the context they needed to understand the likely meaning of what happened. I see a better story on one hand, and a weaker one on the other, but not necessarily bias.

Which brings me to Debbie's post. She wrote: One very disgusted council member told me that the article that appeared in the paper yesterday about the corridor ranking that the Council did under Scott Schwebke's name really was a press release from the council.

Well, if Mr. Schewebe's piece was in fact a slightly re-written Council press release, then it can hardly be denounced as pro-Godfrey bias, because the Council released it, not Godfrey. If it was blatant pro=-Godfrey bias, then it cannot have been essentially a Council press release.

On this story, Ms. Moulton did a better job, I agree. But that does not necessarily mean Mr. Schwebke's story [which seems largely to have been informed by a Council press release] was necessarily biased.

Curmudgeon said...

Previous post was by Curmudgeon. I don't know why it flashed up as Anon. Sorry.

dan s. said...

curm:

Yesterday's article by Schwebke was basically a council press release rewritten to put the spotlight on Godfrey.

Today's article by Schwebke also puts the spotlight on Godfrey, but focuses not on the enormous change in his position over the last 10 days, but rather on the remaining minor disagreement between him and the council.

The excuse you provide for Schwebke--that he has too poor a grasp of the history--is hard to substantiate because he and Moulton have both been reporting on this issue for the last couple of years, and both were present at the May 5 WACOG meeting where Godfrey most recently expressed his disdain for the streetcar proposal. Of course, Schwebke may still fail to fully appreciate the significance of what has happened.

Let me suggest another possible excuse: Schwebke already reported on Monday that Godfrey would make a proposal that was a significant departure from what we had heard in the past. The radical nature of the shift was therefore less newsworthy for readers of the Standard-Examiner than for those of the Trib.

Despite this excuse, I still think Schwebke, like the Standard-Examiner generally, is biased in favor of Godfrey more often than not.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

You wrote: The excuse you provide for Schwebke--that he has too poor a grasp of the history--is hard to substantiate because he and Moulton have both been reporting on this issue for the last couple of years, and both were present at the May 5 WACOG meeting where Godfrey most recently expressed his disdain for the streetcar proposal. Of course, Schwebke may still fail to fully appreciate the significance of what has happened.

One of the reasons for having beat reporters as opposed to genral assignment reporters on stories like this is precisely so that, over time, they will become familiar with the background, the context, the history, and the players. No argument. Nevertheless, it sometimes happens that in the immediacy of the moment, reporters who should be fully familiar with background and context [or at least have it available in a subject clip file, since reporters, like Mr. Schwebke and Ms. Moulton, often are working on a variety of stories at once], do not bring that knowledge to bear on a story as they should, or do not take the time to research, in their own clip files, the history of a topic as they should. That makes the reporting less than it should be. But not necessarily biased.

As for this: Let me suggest another possible excuse: Schwebke already reported on Monday that Godfrey would make a proposal that was a significant departure from what we had heard in the past. The radical nature of the shift was therefore less newsworthy for readers of the Standard-Examiner than for those of the Trib.

Sorry, but I don't think you can get him... or his editors... off the hook this way. Two things come to mind. First, the first story, saying in very vague terms, that Hizzonah was going to make a "significant departure" in his proposals probably should not have run, or at least not contained the hint of Big Things To Come. It was way too vague. [Significant how? In what ways? With what import? There are no specifics. Way too vague.] It ends up as a kind of "I know something you don't know" [but I can't tell you what it is] story. Weak. Better to have waited and then run a really significant story describing and explaining the change in Mayoral policy, as the SL Trib did. [Compare the SLTrib headline to the SE to see the difference the two ways of handling the story made.]

But having run the first anticipatory and weak story with no details, Mr. Schwebke, and his editors, should have explained the significance of the change in Administrative policy in the second story. The weak anticipatory story in no way accomplished that. So, kind of you to offer this as an alternative explanation, but I don't think we can get the news editors off the hook this way on this one.

debbie dew said...

Curmudgen,

I don't know what you were trying to prove when you wrote: "Well, if Mr. Schewebe's piece was in fact a slightly re-written Council press release, then it can hardly be denounced as pro-Godfrey bias, because the Council released it, not Godfrey. If it was blatant pro-Godfrey bias, then it cannot have been essentially a Council press release." Are you calling me a liar? IF it was a council press release?! Who in the hell do you think you are? God-frey? You have no right to question what I said when you don't even know what you're talking about! You totally missed the point that I was making: The article WAS a council press release, but the Sub-Standard put Godfrey's picture on it! Which, in my opinion, is totally inappropriate and DOES demonstrate the Sub-Standards bias for Godfrey! What are you trying to prove?! That you're fair? Open-minded? Excuse me! Not when you question the truthfulness of someone that you don't know and you have no justification for questioning their statements!

Curmudgeon said...

Debbie:
Calling you a liar? No, not at all. Perhaps I wasn't clear, in which case, my bad and please accept my apologies. I was merely trying to point out that several people had complained that Schwebke's piece was little more than Godfrey-biased flackery. You then noted that his piece was in fact little more than a light edit of a Council press release. It seemed to me it could not reasonably be both Godfrey flackery and a bare-rewritten Council press release at the same time. One or the other, but not both. Your post alerted me to the council members' complaint and identified the article as drawn nearly exclusively from the press release, and so led to my comment, which is why I opened with a quote from your post. That's all.

As for the picture of Hizzonah that accompanied the story... well, the story did involve the Mayor. Running a picture of the entire Council was not a reasonable option. Nor was running a picture of the council's PR guy, Mr. Phares who I imagine composed the press release. And we need to consider too that the SE has an interest in selling papers, and in getting people to read its stories. I don't know about you, but when I see a cut of Hizzonah's woeful countenance on an SE page, I'm drawn to the story instantly and will read it. I imagine a lot of WCF readers/posters are the same. I can't really criticize including the picture, nor do I take it as evidence of content bias. So on that, we do disagree.

Rudi has created WCF as a place where people can [and clearly do] disagree about public matters --- as you and I disagree about the picture and what [if anything] it signified. But at no point did I question your honesty in any way. With WCF being as active a forum as it is, and with so much being posted, I've found it useful [to avoid confusion] to quote the part of a previous post I'm replying to. As I did with yours. That's all.

Finally, you wrote: You have no right to question what I said. Sorry, Debbie, but on that we do disagree I'm afraid. Though I wasn't questioning what you wrote this time, I'm free to question here anything you or anyone else posts, as you and anyone else is free to question anything I post. Have at it. That's a good part of what WCF is for, I think.

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had every right said...

Debbie-

Where do people like you come from?

Curmudgeon is right, and he has every right to question the validity of your comments.

He didn't question your honesty, but even if he did, he had every right to.

Tec Jonson said...

Someone is busy building lightrail

Curmudgeon said...

Tec:

The damn fools. Don't they know gondolas are the coming thing in flat land urban transit?

debbie dew said...

Curmudgeon,

You mentioned the affect that Gdfrey's picture had on you, well, after seeing his picture in the SE everyday this week (if it wasn't everyday, it seemed like it), literally made me sick to my stomach, expecially when I know what a snake he is, and that he will go to any lengths to get his way.

I, also, apologize for flipping out. I didn't take time to think over what you had written.

Curmudgeon said...

Debbie:

I think we're in pretty close agreement on Hizzonah. But I look at his picture in the paper much, I suspect, as a farmer looks at a fox in the hen house: pretty much has to check it out to see what he's up to.

Tec Jonson said...

wi-fi works on the frontrunner, posting from wood's cross on way back from Living Traditions festival in SLC. Awesome riding the train to events in the city...and surfing the net while cruising

fly said...

Tec, Tell me is the front runner an escape to get out of Ogden, or is it an attraction to get people to come to Ogden?
You've ridden a few times from your posts.

Curmudgeon said...

Fly:
It seems to be both. I've ridden it three times now, and two of those times, people were getting off in Ogden and asking for directions to 25th Street, NO signs having been put up to help them, by the city or UTA, despite knowing the train was coming for nearly three years now. They asked about restaurants too.

And all three times, people were riding the train from Ogden south as well, bound for a sports event [Blaze or Jazz], the Utah Dem convention, the planetarium [with a passel of kids in tow], or The Gateway.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I hope Ogden is promoting the Frontrunner as a tourist ride for SL City tourists. Take the train to Ogden. Give the kids a real train ride. Visit Historic 25th Street [shops, museums, and one of a kind, not chains you can find in your own home town], have lunch, then a cool and comfortable one hour train ride back. A nice half-day excursion.

I hope.... But given that exactly zero planning seems to have been done by Ogden or the 25th Street merchants association to provide signs and information at the station to help out visitors who don't know Ogden, I'm not optimistic.

There is, seems to me, real potential for making Frontrunner a tourist and visitor gateway to Ogden. But it will take some promotion and some planning on the part of Ogden City and business owners downtown.

How, with three years notice, Ogden and the 25th Street Merchants association couldn't manage to organize even one sign at the station saying "Historic 25th Street ---->" escapes me. But then, again, with Mr. Hardman leading the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce over the cliff on gondola promotion and selling off Ogden's largest park for real estate development to pay for it for much of those three years, they probably couldn't find the time to think about practical ways to assist and encourage actual visitors coming in by a train they all knew was in the works. Go figure....

debbie dew said...

Curmudgeon,

I know it’s been suggested that the City or Union Station move one of the UP train cars to near the FrontRunner’s platform and man it with volunteers to disburse pamphlets and information. But as so often happens in the process, that suggestion got mired down with good intentions by well-meaning people. The train car didn’t look good enough to serve as an information booth – it has to be painted first. As for signage, if it was for something that Godfrey was for, it would have been done yesterday, but because the FrontRunnder doesn’t have anything to do with skiing or outdoor sports that he endorses, so he doesn’t care. For a visionary (as he thinks he is), he is very short-sighted and can’t see what an opportunity for Ogden’s tourism the FrontRunner is. Godfrey doesn’t recognize that tourists and visitors come in different sizes and shapes, they’re not all sports enthusiasts. Since he has fallen down on his administrative responsibilities, we need to give this to the Council to see that we get some signage. Maybe they could direct him to get some signage up. I’d love it since he is always trying to take their authority away from them!

Curmudgeon said...

Debbie:

Nicely put.

The caboose information booth was a nice idea, but it had several drawbacks. Expensive. Has to be manned, and there are times it wouldn't be. Gotta run power lines in. And so on.

All that would be really necessary could be put together fast, relatively inexpensively, and not cost much of anything to maintain: a three sided kiosk/sign board. It should have a UTA map of Ogden area bus routes on one side [UTA has done this at other stations], a street map of downtown Ogden on another side, and a map of History 25th Street on the third side, listing businesses and locations from Union Station and its museums, shops and restaurant at one end to the Ben Lomand at the other, and describing how to get there. All the maps should have a big arrow saying "You are here." That would do it, I think.

Maybe if the street map had a little dot on it saying "Proposed Location of The Godfrey Gondola View Hotel," the Mayor could be convinced to get off the dime and get some signage up.

Or maybe not.

Tec Jonson said...

when you arrive in SLc you have a fully functioning intermodal hub all within a contiguous patio walk to either greyhound, uta bus, or light rail. Signs, maps, and schedules are evident. Ogden sems to have suffered from a disinterested leadership. No signs, no maps, no schedules that I could see. Plenty parking on Saturday evening but no UTA transfer buses in sight in coordination to frontrunner arrival. Since our leadership? has been dragging their feet for several years on local transit, I wonder how much more it will cost to integrate a streetcar platform into the current frontrunner station. Noticed that in Clearfield their is massive groundwork for development going on surrounding their frontrunner platform. They have big plans.


Since SLC has events most any evening and I am an Ogden resident, the frontrunner represents an opportunity for me to enjoy the city and the lack of much happening here. It is indeed an escape. There are a few hardy SLC souls who venture up here but i doubt it will hold their interest. Downtown SLC is hopping. Unfortunately the frontrunner does not run on Sunday, otherwise I would hop it today for more fun at the Living Traditions fest at the SL county bldg. I guess UTA is following Godfrey's and Neilsens lead in closing the Salomon on Sundays. Who does anything on Sunday in Ogden anyway. When will Godfrey wake up to the real world and demand our one new tourist attraction be opened on Sundays when tourists have a nasty habit of showing up to play.

A hint...show up to buy your ticket early as the ticket machine is painfully communist-state-like
single minded. It is built to serve a single function(dispense one ticket ONLY at a time) and to last through the next ice age. You cannot buy a group of tickets for yourself and friends in one transaction. So each and every passenger must go through an excruciatingly logical set of selections to purchase a ticket. Have exact change, otherwise you will receive your change in those dollar coins that only post offices and government gatekeepers like so much.

The frontrunner is the best thing to happen to Ogden residents and especially downtown SLC businesses.

Another observation...the train lumbers along slower than any commuter train I have ridden. It acclerates to about 50 at the river before beginning it's deceleration for Roy station. All the other trains I have ridden accelerate quickly to full speed and decelerate within a 1/4 mile of the arrival platform. Why is ours so pokey. It spends half the trip in deceleration mode. It seems to creep forever approaching Wood's cross when it could sail right up and hit the brakes. Maybe they are saving on brake shoes. Maybe they are being careful on the locals who are new to this train riding stuff. The Metrolink from Burbank to Ventura line hits 80mph in seconds after each and every stop and brakes rapidly without scaring anyone. They coulod shave 5-10 minutes off the OGD-SLC run by getting a little more sporty.

Curmudgeon said...

Tec:

I think you're wrong about some elements of the ticketing machines. You can print multiple tickets at one time. [Up to ten I think.] They do not all have to be for you. However, the machines are balky, have been reluctant to take credit cards, flat rejecting some no matter how many times inserted. UTA is having problems with them at many locations. Train guys told me that opening week, they were simply waving people in line trying to get the machines to work on board as departure time approached. Doing it here and in SLC too.

There are two ticketing machines at Ogden Station. One up near where the train stops, and the other about seventy yards away all the way down at the other end of the station. I've seen ten people lined up at the one machine and nobody at the other, because they don't know it's there.

Train guys told me that the ticketing machines were delivered only the week before the line opened. No time to field test the software, etc. They went straight into service, and the bugs are being worked out on the passengers.

As for the slowdowns: they are the inevitable result of most of the line being one-track. Trains can pass only at stations and at one siding between I think Woods Cross and Farmington. So speed has to be adjusted to make sure trains arrive at the stations and sidings at the same time as trains going in the other direction, so they can pass. The alternative is to stop dead... which sometimes happens... to get the timing right.

I imagine running two tracks all the way as most commuter lines do would have increased costs beyond what was politically acceptable at the time. I expect if Frontrunner takes off, that will be corrected over time. But for the moment, the speeds will be controlled so trains arrive at the passing points at the same time. No help for it in the short run, I'm afraid.

Again, talking to train guys, the speed maxima are set electronically, not by the train driver. At any given point, the train gets instructions via electronics as to what its maximum speed over that section of track should be. If it exceeds that speed by a certain percentage, the engine shuts down and the train stops. [I learned this when one train I took came to a dead stop going south just past the Weber River. Started again, went a few yards, and stopped. Then again. Train driver kept running back through the car to some equipment in the back, returning to engine. It seems the signal the train was getting was that its acceptable speed over that section of trace was zero MPH. So every time the engineer started forward, the engine shut down. Took eight minutes to fix. Yet we arrived in SLC dead on time, so he made some of it up down the line.

That may be an advantage of the slower running speeds. There is built in squeeze to allow delays to be made up, which is very important because... again, a train guy told me... once a train get seriously off schedule, since it's a one track system, it throws a monkey wrench into the schedule of every other train up and down the line. Takes hours to get everything running back on schedule.

Tec, I think the Frontrunner is still in shakedown period. It's run on time two of the three times I rode it going south, and all three times going north. The late trip was only seven minutes late. They'll work the glitches out and things will run more smoothly as they gain experience operating the system, I think.

And I think you may be short changing Ogden as a day destination for SLC folks. I've lived in very big cities, and the desire, now and then to "get out of town" for a day or an afternoon is a powerful one for lots of people. And there are a lot of people in SLC that an effortless day out of town might appeal to now and then, not to mention tourists. The key is, I think, Ogden needs to offer things that are unique... shops, restaurants, etc.... things that cannot be found in every enclosed and strip mall from coast to coast. Creative marketing could pay off for Ogden city via Frontrunner.

Give FR a little time to work the kinks out.

Tec Jonson said...

Curm,
My train was on time. It was a great ride anyway. I don't mind the hour ride, really 50 minutes. I thought I saw a multiple ticket selection when peering over the shoulder of the person in front of me but we were all harried as were the several people in line behind as the train made a getaway without us. We caught the next one. This ticket machine is typical of the ones in NYC and CA but each has their unique quirks. There was a guy giving citations to non-ticketed passengers last night on the return. I wonder if those folks simply failed to allow enough time to do the tickets and hopped on just to get home without waiting til 11:30. Each ticket takes about a minute to purchase, maybe less but still stupidly slow. If twenty or 50 people arrive for a train and all need to buy tickets you'll have quite a scene.

Hopefully the demand, which seems strong already, will determine a need for 2 rail lines. I forgot they had the shared track issue. We are quite lucky to be the first with FR. Provo/Orem have a wait.

Curmudgeon said...

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