Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ogden Public Transit Redux: More Info Re Monday's WACOG Meeting

The public transit predicament approaches information overload

On the heels of Tuesday's Weber County Forum discussion, we've received additional information about Monday's WACOG meeting, during which Weber State University students asked the Weber Area Council of Governments to fund a study to determine whether a streetcar or bus rapid transit (BRT) should be the transit system linking downtown Ogden to WSU and McKay Dee Hospital. Boss Godfrey of course told the WACOG panel that he opposes the $200,000 city expenditure for a mass transit alternatives analysis because development of a streetcar system between downtown and Weber State University is "too expensive."

Mainly for the sake of continuity, we link yesterday's Scott Schwbke story on this same topic. Although this story adds little to the fact scenario already provided in Kristen Moulton's Tuesday article, there is one tantalizing nugget of new information, appearing midway through Ace Reporter Schwebke's writeup:

"There are some advanced streetcar-like technologies that could possibly be used between downtown and Weber State and McKay-Dee, Godfrey said."

Whereas Kristen's story had left us with the impression that Godfrey had been intentionally vague in his reference to "other [transit] methods," (leaving us to conclude he was still holding out for gondolas), Schebke's story adds an element we hadn't heard before: "advanced streetcar-like technologies."

Is it possible that he's referring to something like this?

Has Boss Godfrey suddenly beaten his obsession with gondolas, and opened his mind to rational and proven public transit alternatives? Only time will tell. We suppose we'll have to wait until the council work session on May 15, when all will be revealed -- we hope.

We're also pleased to provide two other useful reader resources this morning:

First, Gentle Reader Dan S. has graciously provided us an mp3 audio recording of Monday's WACOG session, in which our readers can hear the dulcet voice of Boss Godfrey, hemming and hawing at his very best.

Second, Dan has also forwarded a copy of a letter he sent to the Weber County Commission, containing an annotated transcript (with commentary) of Godfrey's portion the Monday WACOG proceeding.

Comments, anyone?

34 comments:

dan s. said...

The "advanced streetcar-like technology" is probably a battery-powered streetcar. I know that Godfrey has been looking into this technology, but up until now he has mentioned it only in the context of other transit routes (circulating around downtown, or connecting Ogden to Riverdale). From the linked article it looks like the range of the existing version may be pretty limited, though I don't see why it couldn't be extended.

While Godfrey has implied that these systems might cost less than a trolley streetcar (with overhead electrical lines), I'm not convinced. The vehicles are undoubtedly more expensive, which would probably cancel the savings on the electrical infrastructure. But I still like the idea because it's aesthetically nicer and uses a bit less right of way.

In any case, it's still a streetcar and I highly doubt that Godfrey has actually endorsed it for the line to WSU and McKay-Dee.

citizen said...

I sounds like Chris Bentley was at the meeting too . . .

He very politely pointed out that the mayor has his opinion and many others who've studied the issue have another.

The mayor's opinion is clear. He's studied the issue on the Internet, and has decided, and so the issue is decided, and closed. All that is now needed is for the city council and everyone else to get up to speed with him and his "other options" that he did not describe.

Der Fuhrer has spoken. Dulcet tones my butt.

danny said...

There's an assumption that the mayor is still trying to do the gondola, and that is why he is not forthright on what the other options he discusses actually are. He's like a kid with Playboys under the mattress. He wants to keep them, but doesn't want anybody to know. The problem for the mayor is no show, no get funding.

One wonders whether the county commissioners and everyone else feels a sense of anger that the mayor is so condescending that he can't be bothered to talk about these "other options" that he claims to be studying.

But for those who feel a streetcar will make Harrison worse than it already is, the mayor's approach has the benefit of making sure nothing happens. Perhaps that is a good outcome when dealing with government.

dan s. said...

danny,

If the stalemate continues, the outcome will not be "nothing". WACOG has hundreds of millions of dollars to spend. They're going to spend it somewhere. If Ogden doesn't get its act together, all of this money will be spent on highways (especially Legacy Highway) in west Weber County.

dan s. said...

By the way, if you listen to the audio recording you'll notice something that neither newspaper reported on: Jim Harris of the WSU administration and Chris Dallin of McKay-Dee Hospital both spoke in support of moving forward with a more detailed study of the proposed transit system between downtown and their respective campuses.

Moroni McConkie said...

The mayor ought to show support for the FrontRunner by riding it with his family and summoning the press photographers to catch him boarding it. (The photo would without question be an improvement over his cheesy grin from Lorin Farr Park when he announced free horse stabling.)

This is being "blogged" from aboard the FrontRunner to Ogden. Don't know if they've worked out all the kinks in their wi-fi difficulties, but it's working on this train.

danny said...

Dan S.,

You make good points.

How about a compromise?

Let's run the transit corridor all the way down Washington (for Godfrey), then up 36th Street (which was supposed to be widened anyway and it was all in work before Robert Hunter had it killed with Mayor Mecham), then to WSU?

For the room, buy the houses on the south side of 36th to corn hole Hunter the way he should have been in the first place and run the bus line or train there. The meetings I went to, the people on 36th were willing to sell out, except Hunter, who was city manager. Guess who won?

But nothing is going to happen because Godfrey is still playing bridesmaid to Chris Peterson and always will be. So we might as well plan on the money going somewhere else unless the city council can take the bull by the horns like they did on the water infrastructure.

dan s. said...

Danny,

That's a bold proposal, buying all the houses on the south side of 36th from Adams to Harrison. Just making a rough estimate in my head, I'm guessing that would add about $10 million to the project cost: painful but perhaps possible.

The obvious disadvantage of this proposal is that the alignment would miss the east-central neighborhood, with its high population density and historic districts and other facilities such as the library and Ogden High School. The advantage is that the line would serve many businesses along Washington. It wouldn't really serve the Newgate Mall, though, which is three blocks farther west.

Perhaps the alternatives analysis (the next study) should take a closer look at this option. I'm still inclined to favor the alignment along 26th and Harrison.

student sue said...

While studying his Gondola Idea, the mayor has failed to recognize a a major group of comuters who are likely to use this much needed mode of transportation...

The Claustrophobic & Acrophobic travelers (like myself) who like both large and close to the ground transportation! I will NOT ride a gondola!

Ok maybe thats not a major factor. But its a legitimate concern....

Bob Geiger said...

Dan S-

I think that the street car proposal will ultimately break loose and begin moving forward.

I think that it is a good idea so long as it is financially feasible.

I look forward to forthcoming studies and analysis that helps us better understand the financial feasiblity of the streetcar.

One thing we all agree about is that the most important corridor to service is the downtown to WSU corridor, so I think it shouldn't be a problem to get this project going if it proves financially feasible.

My discussions with the Mayor have been very optimistic about pursuing further analysis of the streetcar, and the Mayor's responses have been encouraging.

Jason W. said...
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Jason W. said...
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Jason W. said...
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Jason W. said...
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Jason W. said...
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Jason W. said...
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Jason W. said...

They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.

-Jodi Mitchell

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

Jason W. said...

*joni

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

Jason W. said...

Ahhhh, Rudi:

As you well know, that Geiger Csmoker's violated the human for his whole life; what's five posts?

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

disgusted said...

jason w

i have been enlightened by your insight on issues in the past and appreciate your prespective on various topics.

i know that the geigers are not your friends and frankly they are not mine either but come on. go after their positions in a logical and objective way not with a subjective out burst.

youll be much more successful in proving your point and your message will get to a much larger audience.

dont reduce yourself to their level.

Come on Disgusted said...

Disgusted-

Just because I disagreed with the Geigers about the golf course doesn't mean that I will stand by while they are unfairly demeaned.

"Don't reduce yourself to their level."

What kind of a comment is that. I have never heard the Geigers every act like Jason W.

Come on. The guy posts a comment that shows compromise on the issue of the gondola and you blast him and demean his family.

RudiZink said...

Geebus, people!

This board is supposed to be for grownups.

I step out for a few hours for a nice dinner; and look what happens in my absence.

[sigh]

dan s. said...

bob,

Have you listened to the audio recording of the WACOG meeting? Please explain your optimism in light of what the mayor has said in public.

Someone know the facts said...

Danny,

You said that “there is an assumption that the mayor is still trying to do the gondola, and that is why he is not forthright on what the other options he discusses actually are." Let me tell you that it is more than an “assumption.” IT IS A FACT! In a work meeting a month or so ago where the administration and council were working to define joint goals for the city, the mayor declared that the GONDOLA was the administration’s #1 goal. He stubbornly held to that goal for about four hours even though the council would not support it. I’m afraid, Danny, that as long as Godfrey is mayor, all Ogdenites need to accept the fact that they cannot let their guard down for one second, or they will have the gondola as their mode of mass transportation, even though less than a third of the residents will use it. That’s Godfrey’s idea of mass transit! He doesn’t give a damn about Ogden or it’s residents as long as he gets his way! I have heard many of the older generation say that they would never ride the gondola. Young mothers are not going to struggle getting a couple of toddlers along with a baby in a stroller on it at the risk of one of the toddlers being injured. Young women have told me that they would never ride it for fear that they would be trapped in it alone with a rapist. Others have said that they wouldn’t ride in it for fear of being a target for some thoughtless thrill seeker with a gun or a new gang member meeting an initiation challenge. The gondola will be a huge financial drain for whomever is stuck with maintaining it. Looking at Godfrey’s past history, we know who will be stuck with paying for it and maintaining it!

People have got to let him know that the gondola is NOT mass transportation!

Big Jim said...

Godfrey knows that the gondola is not Mass Transit, although he has made that claim before. Last I heard he's considering it Economic Development, which is just as preposterous. The Mayor has no real vision for this community, which is ultimately his biggest flaw. Ogden's a great place with potential, too bad it has been hijacked by delusional and egotistical schmucks.

Tec Jonson said...

Danny,

36th does not provide the useful alternative. Like Dan S. said, it would then bypass the central area where the most ridership could be generated. This streetcar line has more function than simply linking downtown and Frontrunner to WSU and the hospital. It is key to inner cty redevelopment and encouraging even more density there that will in turn generate more ridership. Remember that TOD is the icing on the cake and we should have that occur where it is needed most and enlivens that area of the city.

Did I say Godfrey is a moron for sidestepping, backpadaling, shuffling, diverting, and ultimately adding to the cost of this key infrastructure.

I just spent 5 days in NYC and did not touch an automobile once while exploring this amazing city. It's sad that their transit infrastructure is in such disrepair but still highly functional. They would be crippled without it. I suggest Godfrey spend a few days there with the common folk riding transit. It's wonderful.

Curmudgeon said...

Tec:

You wrote: This streetcar line has more function than simply linking downtown and Frontrunner to WSU and the hospital.

Good point, and one I think probably needs to be made more often. For a while now, I've been watching the traffic on the 603 I ride S. to WSU and McKay Dee and Smiths, and NW to downtown. Most days, most of the people who board do not ride all the way to WSU or McKay Dee. Most get off [or on] somewhere else along the route: Library, senior center, Hispanic market, the residential streets up to Harrison, Ogden High, the plasma center, the discount foodmart at 32nd Street, and so on. It would be a big mistake to think of a transit route only in terms of carrying passengers from end point to end point.

Which of course is precisely what the silly gondola will do. It will have only one station [way to get off] between downtown and WSU, making it completely worthless to most people who now board the 603 or leave it between WSU and downtown. Which seems to be most of the passengers.

Tec Jonson said...

By no means should people think of this streetcar line as the end-all of our transportation issues. It is rather the kick-start to a new lifestyle in our community. The other important destinations will be served later after this key backbone is implemented. Later can come spur lines up and down Washington and circulator in downtown. As people get a feel for it and businesses locate along these routes ridership will be solid and the demand for more infrastructure will be obvious.

Tec Jonson said...

Gas Prices Prompt Mass Transit Surge

Curmudgeon said...

Tec:

Caught the 7:07 AM Frontrunner this AM [Sat] heading down to the Utah Democratic Convention. By the time we detrained in SLC, the train was nearly full. I made it 150 or so leaving the train in SL. Coming back, caught the 3:25 train. It arrived in SL and again, over a hundred detrained, folks lined up to board. Lots got off before Ogden, but at Ogden, close to 100 detrained.
And walking down the platform, heard again people asking "where is 25th Street?" And "what's there?"
If Ogden doesn't promote Frontrunner as a tourist ride, a fun half day trip, we'll be missing a bet, I think. And they're not coming, so far as I could tell, to ride the surf, to the wind tunnel, or to bowl, or to eat in the chain restaurants now in The Junction. They're asking about 25th Street.
Not surprising, since that's unique to Ogden.
This is the third time I've taken the train round trip, and the second time I've heard people asking directions to 25th Street.
Talking to RR guys, they tell me Saturday traffic is much heavier than they expected. Today, people were traveling to SL to go to the SL Library, to the Gateway to shop, or to the Planetarium with kids, to the Blaze game tonight, to the Dem Convention and to the 5K run they ran down there today. [How do I know? Train host was asking folks where they were going, and lots detraining in SL this afternoon as we boarded to return were wearing Blaze jerseys.] And, going down and coming back, we picked up and dropped passengers at every station along the way except, I think, Roy.
On a Saturday.

Moroni McConkie said...

Curm: Nice report. Let's hope the Sat. traffic encourages them to inaugurate Sunday service ASAP.

wendy said...

What about a transit corridor cutting through 30th Street (instead of 26th or 36th)? The ROW is already huge.

Tec Jonson said...

wendy, 30th st is best left as a ROW for quick access to I-15. The ROW up 25th or 26th is equal or wider from WASH. to HARR. As stated earlier, it is far more desirable to run a transit line through the densest residential in order to generate committed ridership. A streetcar running along 30th would compound traffic issues instead of offer an alternative.

dan s. said...

wendy and tec,

Whatever street is used for the transit corridor between Washington and Harrison, it will not require a dedicated right of way. That's because these streets aren't congested at any time of day--and that's because the traditional urban grid pattern naturally disperses auto traffic so everyone isn't crammed onto the same road. Harrison south of 30th is another story, since it's the only road that goes straight through without jogs and detours.

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