Monday, September 22, 2014

Rail~Volution 2014 and Eminent Domain

Rail~Volution 2014 is a convention at the Hyatt Downtown Minneapolis from September 21-24.

The Rail~Volution mission statement is:  “people from all perspectives who believe strongly in the role of land use and transit as equal partners in the quest for greater livability and greater communities.

It's about land use -- taking and using other people's land -- the American way. Abuse of power.

Eminent Domain is the Latin term meaning Supreme Lordship, representing the high and mighty who decide the winners and losers in urban planning. Eminent domain takes land. It doesn't have to make sense.

Seattle seized a parking lot to turn it into a parking lot. They also tried to seize a little Latvian church for light rail tracks. After they heard opposition, they figured a way to not destroy the church, which had been previously moved for a highway. Sound Transit is also moving 12 business from the 9500 block of First Avenue NE for light rail. In 2005, Seattle tried to use eminent domain to seize John Fujii's parking garage for the Seattle Monorail, which only needed a third of the property temporarily. The Monorail hoped to sell the property for a profit once it was done with it, but the project fell through.

Utah state law says public transit may not acquire property by eminent domain, but they are trying to seize a furniture business for a new transit garage.

Richfield, Minnesota sounds like the sort of place that has money and doesn't have to take property. But it wanted Best Buy, a business that sounds like it makes money, to build its headquarters in Richfield. So they threatened to apply eminent domain on homeowners and businesses, condemning properties by saying they didn't have enough insulation to meet new laws. Everyone agreed to sell instead of receiving nothing, except a car dealership. Richfield claimed the Walser car dealership made too much noise. Not the nearby airport, the car dealership. After a legal battle, the parties settled. Best Buy got its 1.4 million square foot headquarters with room for 7,500 employees. In July 2012, they had 4,760 employees left and have since went through two sets of layoffs. They have plenty of space to lease (leasing brochure). And Richfield has a 24 year tax incremental financing plan.
TL;DR - Richfield bet on Best Buy over residents and small businesses.

Dakota County, Minnesota tried to seize a 10-acre family home allegedly for a bike path, rejecting the property owner's offers of an easement. The case went to court and was settled in 2014. In early 2008, Eagan rushed to seize properties without a plan or a developer, land banking, because a new law prohibiting taking private land for private developments was about to go into effect.

Atlantic City, New Jersey was a pawn in an eminent domain battle over 127 South Columbia Place. Their Casino Reinvestment Development Authority had seized hundreds of properties to build the Atlantic City casinos, but homeowner Vera Coking did not want to sell her home. The property was desired by Donald Trump as a limousine parking lot for Trump Plaza. Vera Coking said Trump was a maggot. Coking and the Institute for Justice fought off CRDA in court in 1998. Trump Plaza closed September 23, 2014 (the 4th Atlantic City casino to close this year), and the Coking home sold in July 2014 for $530,000.

And the CRDA is still trying to seize more properties for casinos, as if Atlantic City is some giant game of Monopoly®. CRDA wants Charles Birnbaum's Oriental Avenue property. They don't know why. “There’s no plan. There’s no particular thing for which this property is being taken,” said attorney Robert McNamara, representing Birnbaum.

NJ Transit had been seizing land for a proposed ARC tunnel under the Hudson River, even though NJ Gov. Chris Christie cancelled the project in October 2010. Four years later NJ Transit is still taking land for the project, appealing a 2012 verdict valuing the land at $8.15 million. NJ Transit also missed a legal opportunity for $2 million of clean-up costs for the land.

North Kansas City wanted to have it their way by seizing a Burger King. They didn't have a plan. Their developer was bankrupt. The District Court of Appeals found the city (pop. 4,208) did not have the authority to condemn Burger King for the “public purpose of eliminating blight.”

Chicago used eminent domain to seize a cemetery. The fight lasted three years. The area is now being paved over for O'Hare Airport runway 10 Center

Maryland's new $2.43 billion purple line light rail train has a list of 500 properties to be seized, including 170 temporary condemnations that would be returned to the property owners after construction is over.

New London, Connecticut is the most famous case of eminent domain, Kelo v. City of New London. The city and state fought small homeowners to clear land for developments related to Pfizer. Then Pfizer left town.

Canada takes advantage. A rancher in Roseburg, Oregon will have a natural gas pipeline running through his property according to Veresen, a Calgary company. Also, the company owning the Missoula, Montana water supply is selling the rights to Algonquin Power's Liberty Utilities of Canada to prevent Missoula from seizing the water supply through eminent domain.

Civil Rights
Fifty-eight percent of those targeted by local municipalities' exercises of their eminent domain power were minorities, compared to only 45% of people in surrounding neighborhoods that were not similarly targeted, according to a study of 184 eminent domain instances across the country [Victimizing the Vulnerable].

In Richmond Virginia, Longwood University regrets using eminent domain during the civil rights era  to cause “real and lasting offense and pain to our community.”  Longwood University says they “acted with particular insensitivity with regard to the relocation of a house of worship” through the seizure of the Race Street Baptist Church in the mid-1960s through eminent domain, a process that displaced both white and black families in Farmville.

“Forty years ago, eminent domain was used to tear the heart out of many communities.  It displaced residents, tore apart familes, friends and lives.  Some lives and some people never recovered.  The 1960s were a heyday of eminent domain.  We used the tool to acquire land for highways in urban areas.  At times, there was no doubt a tendency to place highways through poor, minority neighborhoods that would have the least ability politically to fight back.  In places like Chicago, highways were just as often used to create a barrier between the ruling Irish and African-American neighborhoods.  The 1960s were the heyday of urban renewal as well. Whole neighborhoods were razed in many cities in an effort to redevelop them.  In St. Paul, this kind of tool was used to clear out the West Side Flats, the Upper Levee, Rondo (through I-94), the Central Park and parts of the Capitol-Cathedral Hill neighborhood. What unites these neighborhoods again - largely not an accident - is that they are largely poor, minority, and immigrant neighborhoods.” - e-Democracy, St. Paul

St. Paul's population peaked in 1960 at 313,411.  Swede Hollow was one of the first neighborhoods of St. Paul and one of the first to be levelled. St. Paul evicted the residents of Swede Hollow on December 11, 1956 and set the homes on fire. Twenty years later in 1976, the city declared Swede Hollow a nature center. In 2014, officials toured Swede Hollow Park to see what they would be destroying for new Rush line train tracks.

Compare that to what was recently done to businesses on University Avenue.

Is this the “greater livability and greater communities” that Rail~Volution wants?


Monday, February 3, 2014

Gateway Corridor summary


Gateway Corridor Fiasco
The Gateway Corridor is a needless east-metro transit plan to replace the existing express buses that already run successfully on I-94 (MetroTransit express 294, limited stop 350, express 351, express 353, express 355, express 375), using the shoulder to move around traffic instead of building a dedicated lane.

October 2014 - Another $100,000 study money was thrown at Gateway Corridor from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to explain how the Gateway bus might help the health of the east metro.

September 25, 2014 - Infrastructure Opportunists and the Kellogg Bridge” by Matt Steele at streets.mn offers a better plan for the Third Street (Kellogg) bridge. The annual average daily traffic (AADT) numbers are:
   •    9,900 for Third Street (Kellogg) 4 lane bridge
   •  13,900 for Smith Avenue 2 lane bridge (High Bridge)
   •  21,200 for Seventh Street bridge over Swede Hollow
   •  31,500 for the Snelling & University avenue intersection
   •  95,000 for Interstate 94 at White Bear Avenue

September 24, 2014 - St. Paul is seeking Federal and state money for the rarely used Third Street (Kellogg) bridge connecting St. Paul's Lowertown and Dayton's Bluff. They say the bridge built in 1982 is not up to Federal code. The code violation was not discovered during the intensive bridge inspections following the I-35W bridge collapse. Bridge repairs would cost up to $8 million. A $40 million replacement bridge could have:
   •  pedestrian walkways
Third Street Bridge (Kellogg) in St. Paul, Minnesota
   •  bike lanes
   •  an ice-melting system
   •  Saints ballpark scenic overlook
   •  bus rapid transit lanes for Gateway Corridor
   •  connections for a potential Rush line train (through the former Bruce Vento Sanctuary and Swede Hollow Park).
Construction businesses parked in Lowertown, having just worked on the green line light rail, Union Depot, the Saints ballpark, and the Lafayette Bridge are looking for the next big government contract in the area.

August 31, 2014 (Sunday) - The ten week old Green Line light rail train hit and killed a woman at the intersection of University Avenue and Emerald Street SE in the Prospect Park neighborhood at 10:15am. The train operator applied some form of brakes but was not able to stop the train in time.

August 28, 2014 (Friday) - Minneapolis City Council voted on Southwest Corridor at 9:30am in room 317 of Minneapolis City Hall, 350 S 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55415, 612-673-3000. The vote was 10-3 for spending $1.65 billion on a commuter light rail train.

July 2014 - Fresh from their vacation in Los Angeles, the Gateway Corridor Commission decided to pick bus rapid transit (BRT). The BRT route they picked runs on the disjointed, residential Hudson Road in St. Paul. The BRT route messes with the one-way traffic in front of the 3M headquarters in Maplewood and takes over 4th Street North in Oakdale and Hudson Blvd in Lake Elmo. After avoiding most of Woodbury, the route jogs inexplicably south to tag the northeast corner of Woodbury and ends before Manning Av (map).

June 2014 - The Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway
Administration requested that Gateway Corridor proposal be resubmitted
with the option of a managed lane on I-94. Meanwhile thirty members of the Gateway Corridor Commission left town and took a fact-finding vacation in Los Angeles (Los Angeles?!? How does LA have anything to do with Woodbury?  Visiting the BRT red line in Apple Valley would have more appropriate.).

Despite years of taxpayer-funded studies and meetings, the Gateway Corridor Commission can't understand that the existing bus transit is the safest, most flexible, most efficient, and most economical transit for the East Metro.


Are they really wanting to put it on Hudson Road?

► Do they realize Hudson Road is residential in Saint Paul?

► Do they realize Hudson Road is a disconnected street? It stops and starts.

► Has the Gateway Corridor contacted each of the residents and received their willingness to move?



What is the Gateway Corridor -- bus or train?

The Gateway Corridor Commission couldn't decide what type of vehicle they wanted (bus, train, or gondola) or where they should put it, until 30 members took a taxpayer funded vacation to Los Angeles in June 2014.

►   Metro Council and Minnesota Department of Transportation have said that bus rapid transit in managed lanes should be considered for the Gateway Corridor, which might run eastward from Union Depot in St. Paul toward Wisconsin along Interstate 94. Buses would travel on existing pavement and leave the interstate to stop at transit stations. - Pioneer Press 

►   East metro citizens do not want light rail, according to signed petitions, open house meetings, and surveys taken by state representatives. "In a recent survey of her constituents, Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Republican from Woodbury, [said] most don’t want light rail in the area. Rep. Kathy Lohmer said her survey had similar findings.” - Woodbury Patch

"Residents and business owners voiced their concerns about plans for transit along the Gateway Corridor... All seven audience members who spoke opposed the corridor plan... Tom Giannetti, who owns St. Paul Harley-Davidson, which sits along I-94 near Century Avenue, said the proposed route could cut into his property and poses 'the single biggest threat to my business.'” - Pioneer Press
Light rail would wipe out the 75 space parking lot. - Lilli News 

►   The Gateway Corridor settled on bus rapid transit in fall of 2012. The Minnesota Legislature voted in 2013 to allow Woodbury to create bus rapid transit. - Star Tribune

►  Minneapolis-Saint Paul has the fastest U.S. metropolitan highways according to Texas A&M and Streets.MN. Here is a picture of weekday morning traffic on I-94 on the east side of Saint Paul. The east metro lacks the ridership, congestion, urban density, or population increase to justify bus rapid transit, let alone light capacity rail.

►   Carrying capacity differs between buses, light rail trains (light capacity), and heavy rail trains (heavy capacity). “The willingness of many rail advocates to support high-cost, low-capacity rail lines calls into question the entire rail agenda. Supporters of low-capacity lines are not truly interested in transportation.” - Cato Institute & UTA TRAX response (operating at only 21.8% of capacity)


Is light rail safe? Is light rail good for business?

►  Here is a list of light rail crashes and the causes (with news links)

►  Here is a list of businesses impacted by the Central Corridor (with news links)

►  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a list of needed rail safety improvements in January 2014, including:
•  Promote Operational & Developmental Safety in Rail Mass Transit - promote organizational safety culture, training safety, maintenance safety, address and reduce fatigue and human error, adopt close-call reporting systems, and promote operational safety through Federal Transit Administration (FTA) oversight, which should start at development. [html, pdf]
•  Implement Positive Train Control Systems - monitor the location and movement of trains, then slow or stop a train that is not being operated in accordance with signal systems or operating rules. This safety redundancy prevents train-to-train collisions and overspeed derailments, as well as the associated injuries and fatalities to passengers, railway workers, and others. PTC systems are not a dream; they are in use on the Northeast Corridor in the Northeast United States and on the Michigan Line between Chicago, Illinois and Detroit, Michigan. [html, pdf]

►   Minnesota has one rail safety inspector for the entire state. - Star Tribune, Minnesota law


Does the Gateway Corridor contribute to urban sprawl and the Wisconsin Reciprocity Tax Deficit?

►  Younger families are moving to the Minneapolis urban core instead of Woodbury. - Star Tribune (chart)

►  Wisconsin owes millions of tax dollars to Minnesota for its commuter residents. Gateway Corridor wants to increase Wisconsin's debt by providing transit for Wisconsin residents who work in Minnesota. Governor Walker agrees $60 million is owed to Minnesota but will only pay the bill if Wisconsin's employment situation improves. - WXOW-19 LaCrosse, Star Tribune (update

► The Gateway Corridor will not cross the St. Croix River into Wisconsin. - Finance & Commerce

► The Twin Cities Metropolitan Area - Transit System Map 2014 shows some of the bus and train coverage of the Minneapolis - Saint Paul area.
Twin Cities Metropolitan Area Transit System Map 2014
Twin Cities 2014 Transit System Map



Has any money already been spent? Can't more money be flushed away?

CH2M Hill (Englewood, CO)  =  $1.5 million (2011)
Kimley Horn (Raleigh, NC)     <  $3 million (2013)
Jeff Dehler Public Relations (Crystal, MN) = $100,000 (2013)
Jeff Dehler Public Relations (Crystal, MN) = $110,000 (2014)
► Bus rapid transit on Hudson Road would cost over $400 million. Bus rapid transit on a managed lane on I-94 would cost $520 million. Light rail transit on Hudson Road would cost over $1 billion.
► Gateway Corridor received more money from the 2014 legislature and took 30 people on a fact-finding vacation tour of Los Angeles in June 2014.


Should 3M name all the stations on the Gateway Corridor (bus, train, plane)?

►  Scotch® Magic Tape transit station
►  Nexcare™ Steri-Strip™ Skin Closures for injured pedestrians
►  Non-post consumer Post-It® temporary transit station
►  3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes station
►  Imation™ Floppy Disk terminal (as modern as train technology)
- Star Tribune

Probably not. 3M closed its Saint Paul campus a few years ago. Is 3M planning to close its Maplewood headquarters too? Is Gateway Corridor transit just a tool to help sell the 3M property in Maplewood? 3M held its first annual meeting outside of Minnesota this year. The meeting was in Austin, Texas on May 13, 2014.


►   Gateway Corridor Steering Committee?!? You can't steer light rail. Joke? - Lillie News


The East Metro of Minneapolis-Saint Paul is a good place to live. Saint Paul's east side is a great place to live. It is not a gated community. It's diverse. It has no high profile destinations, no flashy museums or malls or casinos. It has the native Mounds Park, which is great and historic. It has the picturesque Lake Phalen. It has great bus and express bus service. It does not need or want a $1.2 billion light rail line to nowhere.


Make a difference. Make your voice heard. Tell your story.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton
mark.dayton@state.mn.us   651-296-3391
Office of the Governor, 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Frank Hornstein, Transportation Finance Committee Chair
rep.frank.hornstein@house.mn   651-296-9281
471 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Ron Erhardt, Transportation Policy Committee Chair
rep.ron.erhardt@house.mn   651-296-4363
543 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Tony Albright (55B)
rep.tony.albright@house.mn   651-296-5185
387 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Tim Mahoney (67A)
rep.tim.mahoney@house.mn   651-296-4277
591 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Representative Sheldon Johnson (67B)
rep.sheldon.johnson@house.mn   651-296-4201
549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Senator Richard Cohen, Senate Finance Committee Chair
web mail   651-296-5931
121 Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Senator D. Scott Dibble, Transportation and Public Safety Committee chair
sen.scott.dibble@senate.mn   651-296-4191
111 Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155-1606

Minnesota Senator Foung Hawj (District 67)
web mail   651-296-5285
Capitol, Room G-24, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155-1606

Find your Minnesota Representative and Minnesota Senator by zip codes

Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh
susan.haigh@metc.state.mn.us   651-602-1390
  ► Chair, Corridors of Opportunity (aka Partnership of Regional Opportunity

Metropolitan Council District 13 (St. Paul) Richard Kramer
richard.kramer@metc.state.mn.us   651-774-4971

Metropolitan Council District 14 (St. Paul) Jon Commers
jon.commers@metc.state.mn.us   651-645-4644

Metro Transit
sip@metrotransit.org   651-602-1500, 612-373-3333
560 Sixth Av N, Minneapolis, MN 55411

Ramsey County District 6 Commissioner Jim McDonough
jim.mcdonough@co.ramsey.mn.us   651-266-8350
Ramsey County Board Office, Room 220 Court House, 15 W Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55102
  ► Chair, Ramsey County Board
  ► Chair, East Metro Transit Alliance
  ► Member, Minnesota Transportation Alliance (aka Move MN)
  ► Member, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)
  ► Member, Corridors of Opportunity (aka Partnership of Regional Opportunity)
  ► Member, Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority (RCRRA)

Ramsey County District 5 Commissioner Rafael Ortega
rafael.e.ortega@co.ramsey.mn.us   651-266-8361
  ► Chair, Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority (RCRRA)
  ► Vice-chair, Gateway Corridor Commission
  ► Member, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)

Washington County Commissioner Lisa Weik
lisa.weik@co.washington.mn.us   651-430-6215
  ► Chair, Gateway Corridor Commission
  ► Member, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)
  ► Member, Corridors of Opportunity (aka Partnership of Regional Opportunity)

Gateway Corridor Commission
gatewaycorridor@co.washington.mn.us   651-430-4300
Washington County Regional Railroad, 11660 Myeron Road N, Stillwater, MN 55082

Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County 4th District Commissioner
commissioner.mclaughlin@hennepin.us   612-348-7884
A-2400 Government Center, 300 South 6th St., Minneapolis, MN 55487
  ► Chair, Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB)
  ► Chair, Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA)
  ►  Member, Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB)
  ►  Member, Corridors of Opportunity (aka Partnership of Regional Opportunity)
  ►  Member, Central Corridor Management Committee (CCMC)
  ►  Member, Southwest LRT Community Works Steering Committee (SWLRTCWSC)
  ►  Member, Metro Transit’s Policy Advisory Committee (PAC)
  ►  Member, MnDOT Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC)

Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) Marisol Simon
marisol.simon@fta.dot.gov   312-353-2789
200 W Adams St, Suite 2410, Chicago, IL 60606

Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) Elizabeth Zelasko Patel
elizabeth.patel@dot.gov  202-366-0244
1200 New Jersey Av SE, E45-340, Washington, DC 20590
FTA Office of Planning and Environment - projects permitting contact

United States Representative Betty McCollum
web mail   651-224-9191, 202-225-6631
165 Western Avenue North, Suite 17, St. Paul, MN 55102

United States Representative Keith Ellison
web mail   612-522-1212
2100 Plymouth Av N, Minneapolis, MN 55411

United States Senator Amy Klobuchar
web mail (amy.klobuchar@senate.gov)  612-727-5220, 202-224-3244
1200 Washington Av S. Suite 250, Minneapolis, MN 55415

United States Senator Al Franken
web mail (al.franken@senate.gov)  651-221-1016,  202-224-5641
60 E. Plato Blvd. Suite 220, St. Paul, MN 55107

United States President Barack Obama 
web mail   202-456-1111
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500
We The People - the White House petition

Rail~Volution 2014 at the Hyatt Downtown Minneapolis - September 21-24, 2014
danb@railvolution.org  612-486-5611





East Side Transit Spotlight

The East Side Transit Spotlight was a Gateway Corridor opposition meeting that took place on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 from 6-8 pm at the Dayton's Bluff Recreation Center, 790 Conway Street in St. Paul. The meeting included a short movie, Is the Gateway Corridor Hudson Road Alignment a Pure Illusion?

The movie shows several congestion-free views of Interstate-94 in the east metro, with highway-level and aerial views, but the narration does not call attention to the lack of congestion. The narration lists many businesses east of Ruth Street that would be impacted by the proposed plan but fails to list the businesses west of Ruth that would be impacted. The video jumps between several disconnected parts of Hudson Road without addressing the problems of making connections. It turns the camera away from showing all the houses that would be impacted by rapid transit on their doorsteps. It fails to mention the bus-or-train indecision, the huge costs, replacing the existing-effective express buses, increasing urban sprawl, and Minnesota funding transit for Wisconsin. The movie was created by Steve Ellenwood & Bob Tatreau.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Saint Paul Streetcar Scam

July 10, 2014 - The Saint Paul City Council voted 6-0 to continue to study a
7th Street streetcar. Dan Bostrom walked out before the vote after saying that for $250 million, the city could mill and overlay all 873 miles of paved streets within Saint Paul's borders, excluding interstate highways, with $48 million left over. His comments drew widespread applause, the Pioneer Press reported.

Saint Paul city council members Amy Brendmoen, Kathy Lantry, Russ Stark, Dai Thao, Dave Thune, & Chris Tolbert were in favor of the streetcar fiasco

Joe Landsberger, West Seventh Business Association president, said that while he generally supports public transit, "not one business owner of the total of about 120 attendees (at the February 6th streetcar presentation) spoke in favor of streetcars." 

“Who is in favor of streetcars along West 7th?” No one came forward.
“Who leans toward streetcars along West 7th?” Again no response.
“Who is neutral?” Again no response.
“Who is against?” Nearly all raised their hands.


Tim Herman, East Side Area Business Association director, said that his
members want transit. Who are his members?  They are Saint Paul council member Amy Brendmoen, Saint Paul council president Kathy Lantry, Ramsey County commissioner Jim McDonough, Saint Paul Port Authority, and Visit Saint Paul.    - May 30, 2014 members list

One of the few members of Tim Herman's association actually on the potential streetcar tracks has signed a petition against a train on East 7th. Tim Herman doesn't speak for East 7th Street businesses.


Saint Paul city council wants a streetcar. They want a traffic-blocking, empty-tourist train (streetcar) running on 7th Street from Arcade Street to Randolph Avenue. They are being serious (sort of).*

There are some good authentic Mexican restaurants at 7th East and Arcade. Randolph and 7th West has a uh Subway™ sandwich shop and a pizza place. The streetcar plan was presented by San Francisco trolley people (Nelson Nygaard Consulting). Maybe someone in San Francisco thought there was an actual subway at Randolph and 7th.

But it's only half the route Saint Paul wants. They want a pair of train tracks running down 7th Street from White Bear Avenue to the airport (because whenever anyone is going to the airport, they want the slowest, least baggage-friendly mode of transportation).

The problem is the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants program, commonly known as “New Starts.” It has rules. In order to get $75 million from the FTA, the transit has to:
► cost less than $250 million (tracks from White Bear Av to the airport would more than double that cost)
► benefit at least 3,000 existing daily transit riders (the 74 bus route has hundreds, not thousands of riders)
► have mobility improvements measured by travel time benefits per passenger mile (streetcars on 7th are not faster or more direct than buses on 7th)
► serve low-income households (usually not going to the airport, not flocking to White Bear Av either)
► has to have employment near stations (the field that was the 3M headquarters & Subway™-eat fresh)
► measured by change in regional pollutant emissions, change in regional energy consumption, and EPA air quality designation (nothing pollutes like the cement industry & street-tracks use tons of cement)
► have operating efficiencies measured by system operating cost per passenger mile (A streetcar has no chance at being more efficient. The only way to be more efficient than the 74 bus route would be to run half-sized buses when ridership doesn't need a full-sized bus.)
► address future patterns (People are moving to the urban core and do not need sprawl-based transit. Saint Paul is a Toledo-sized city that may never regain its 1960 peak population.)

The Saint Paul city council claims the streetcar will cost less than $250 million to get the federal money. That means the project will be only partially built to come in under the dollar cap. Like the Hiawatha light rail, the streetcar project would have to say it's finished and then make additional capital improvements until it's actually complete.

The Saint Paul city council also claims the streetcar will have 3,100 riders, needing to claim at least 3,000 riders for the federal money. Who are they kidding?!? An independent audit of 74 bus weekday riders should prove the 3,100 figure to be an inflated number. Plus, the FTA money must benefit 3,000 riders. Replacing buses with trains does not benefit riders; it's the opposite. Trains cost more, have fewer seats, and do not have the braking and steering abilities of buses. Less safe and more expensive does not benefit riders. Putting trains on roads removes parking, adds overhead wiring, and eliminates truck access to businesses.

Page 6 of the Saint Paul Streetcar Feasibility Study (November 13, 2013) says the streetcars "fills gaps in existing bus services." Here is the 74 bus schedule. What gaps?

The real purpose of the trains has nothing to do with transit. It is to create more condominiums downtown Saint Paul. Everywhere. The old post office? Condos. The old Macy's? Condos.

The other reason the Saint Paul city council wants streetcars is the Minneapolis city council wants streetcars. But according to the Pioneer Press, the Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh sent a letter July 12, 2013 to then Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak saying, "A project pursued primarily for development outcomes should be funded locally and should not compete with other priorities for federal and state transportation funds." The letter was copied to Saint Paul Mayor Coleman. The Pioneer Press took the Met Council letter as meaning there isn't enough money, but that isn't what the letter said.

Ramsey County commissioner Rafael Ortega, vice-chairman of the Gateway Corridor commission, calls trains "investment transit."

Investment transit?!?  Trains for brokers?

Okay. That's it. It's time to get out the Transit planner to English dictionary.


Saint Paul Streetcar sellers & other train track sellers

What They Say: What They Mean:
investment transit real estate turnaround
economic development potential flip low income housing1
balanced funding what Minneapolis gets, St. Paul gets2
construction industry real estate speculators
too late in the process key properties bought or have contracts
fills gaps in existing bus services replaces buses with trains
streetcar, light rail,
tram, trolly, Muni, MAX, TRAX, ...
trains on roads
1  Turnaround cheap property or 3M wants to unload its old headquarters.
2  DNA tests confirm Saint Paul is not a twin of Minneapolis. The cities aren't even related.


The streetcar scam is to bilk federal transit money to sell real estate by putting another train (part of a train) on a street before the reality of the Central Corridor hits. Or to quote the Streetcar study (p.23), spend $246 million in capital costs and $8 million in annual operations to have a potential of $134 million in development.

If you think that's good, give me $246. I may give you $134 back but expect to give me another $8 each year from now onward.



  Putting a pair of train tracks on Seventh Street:

    * removes parking
    * increases dangers (trains don't have the steering or braking abilities of buses)
    * removes seats (trains have more standing room than buses)
    * increases traffic congestion (a train can't move over or get out of the way like buses)
    * adds construction burdens to area businesses and residents
    * adds noise (chimes, the squeal of metal wheels on metal rail, clang-clang-clang...)



Other Voices
Streetcars are overall a less effective means of transportation than buses. That is, centrally-powered steel wheels on steel tracks in the middle of traffic are less efficient across most dimensions than self-powered rubber tires on streets in the middle of traffic.” - David Levinson, University of Minnesota professor of civil engineering  [read more]

The original sin of every bad streetcar program is this: it doesn't have a dedicated lane. Without a dedicated lane, a streetcar can't really run much faster than a bus under ideal conditions. And since, unlike a bus, a streetcar can't shift out of its lane to avoid an obstacle, in real-world circumstances it's likely to move slower than a bus. ...adding a slower-than-a-bus new vehicle to the curb lane of a street... slows the buses down.” - Matthew Yglesias, DC Streetcars - The Worst Transit Project in America

If the streetcars did attract 3,100 riders a day, does that mean that bus ridership would decline by that number?” - columnist Joe Soucheray, Pioneer Press

You can walk faster than the Portland Streetcar to your destination.Joseph Rose, Oregonian

If [streetcars] run in dedicated lanes and with high frequencies as part of a wider network, they can perform quite well. It's the way too many new streetcars are being deployed — as economic engines first and mobility tools second (if at all), even after being constructed with painfully limited transportation funding — that's inspiring much of the criticism.” - Eric JaffeU.S. Streetcars Just Aren't Meeting the Standards of Good Transit, Atlantic CityLab

D.C. officials radically scale back streetcar plans” - Washington Post

The last of Portland's red trolleys will be shipped off to St. Louis after over 20 years of service.” - KGW 8, Portland

Detroit's trolleys are for sale: “Despite no longer being needed many of these pieces of... equipment can serve private contractors or other municipalities well for years to come.” - Detroit Metro Times

“As this throwback technology enjoys its unlikely renaissance, it’s raising the question of whether streetcars -- neither the cheapest nor the fastest way of moving people around cities -- are simply a gimmicky fad or actually the transit mode of both past and future.” - Next City: Why Streetcars Aren't About Transit

“Grant funding was not determined by rigorous application of DOT’s own evaluation: DOT funded almost as many Recommended projects (25) as Highly Recommended projects (26). Meanwhile, only 23% of the 110 projects ranked Highly Recommended were funded. The Review Team offered no official written explanation of its selections. ...projects selected were no better than the projects not selected... 

“A disproportionately large number of projects were funded in Democratic districts. In TIGER I, TIGER II Capital, TIGER II Planning and TIGER III, Democratic districts were awarded a higher percentage of grants than their overall proportional representation. In TIGER III, districts represented by Democrats received 69% of the funding despite Democrats holding only 47% of the total congressional seats.” - Reason.org: Evaluating TIGER Grants

It’s an amusement park ride for yuppies,” former state representative Tom Brinkman said about Cincinnati's streetcar. Other Cincinnati streetcar critics include Bill Sloat and Michael Patton.

The Tampa Port Authority voted Tuesday to delay paying a six-figure subsidy to the city's struggling trolley until its nonprofit operator, Tampa Historic Streetcar Inc., shows the board a new business plan to turn around the streetcar system.

Tampa, Florida has a population of 346,037. Saint Paul, with a population of 294,873, is smaller than Tampa. Tampa's tourist streetcar has 296,700 passengers per year and its annual insurance cost is $400,000. - TECO Line Streetcar System, Wikipedia

On September 3, 1902 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, an electric streetcar crushed the presidential carriage, injuring President Theodore Roosevelt and killing William Craig, the first Secret Service agent killed in the line of duty. Streetcar motorman Euclid Madden plead guilty to manslaughter.
“President Roosevelt was the central figure in a trolley car accident here, in which William Craig, a Secret Service detective, gave up his life in his effort to save the nation’s chief. David J. Pratt, driver of the carriage containing the president, which was smashed by the car, was severely injured. The President was thrown to the ground and cut and bruised about the face and body. George B. Cortelyou, Secretary to the President, was severely bruised. Winthrop Murray Crane, Governor of Massachusetts, and George P. Lawrence, Representative in Congress from the First Massachusetts district, escaped with only a few bruises. All these were in the carriage with Mr. Roosevelt.” - Washington DC Suburban Citizen, September 1902

* Saint Paul City Council Member Dan Bostrom recently called the streetcar plan "obscene."



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Minneapolis & Saint Paul Mayoral Candidates 2013

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 is election day. Saint Paul has four mayoral candidates. Minneapolis has 35 mayoral candidates.


Candidates for Saint Paul Mayor
Two Saint Paul mayoral candidates -- Tim Holden and Kurt Dornfeld -- are opposed to light rail.

Tim Holden's website explains why he's running: "My business is on University Avenue — right where they are building the Central Corridor. It’s pretty hard to ignore city politics when it threatens your livelihood, so I got involved.You may not know this, but many business people along University Avenue opposed building the central corridor light rail line in front of their businesses. Not because we hate transit but because lost parking equals lost revenue, which equals business closure (70+ to date!).  The University Avenue bus line is one of the most successful transit lines in the Twin Cities, and actually makes money unlike most bus lines. The Central Corridor project has been a direct threat to all businesses. Years of construction has driven customers away, and the city has taken away over 1000 parking spaces with no plan to replace them..." [more]

Kurt Dornfeld says Saint Paul should spend money repairing streets not on useless light rail. [more]


Saint Paul Mayoral Results (1st choices):
Chris Coleman received 23,875 votes. Tim Holden received 4,978 votes. Chris Coleman told MPR, "Gateway Corridor [will go] to Stillwater and beyond." He sounds like Buzz Lightyear. And he wants investors to build more condos in downtown Saint Paul.


Candidates for Minneapolis Mayor
John Hartwig is against light rail and streetcars. [more]

Dan Cohen says transit improvements should focus on supporting the MTC bus system with smaller 15 passenger buses. The best (& safest) route for the Southwest Corridor is the Midtown Greenway. And streetcars are “an expensive toy and totally unnecessary to fill any transportation needs.” [more & more]

Cam Winston says the Southwest Corridor should be in the Midtown Greenway. And streetcars are a "wasteful boondoggle." [more & more & more]


Gateway Corridor Film 
"Is the Gateway Corridor-Hudson Road Alignment a Pure Illusion?"
by Steven Ellenwood
Tuesday, November 29, 2013 at 6pm
R. H. Stafford Library, 8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury, MN 55125 
free

[more information]








Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bus Rapid Transit

The Gateway Corridor Commission still can't decide if they want bus rapid transit (BRT) or light rail transit (LRT) on Hudson Road in St. Paul. They have a lunchtime talk for Monday, June 24, 2013 (11am-1pm) at the Oak Marsh Golf Course, 526 Inwood Av N, Oakdale. There is no cost to attend and a light lunch will be provided. Registration is required (St. Paul Chamber or Woodbury Chamber). Joseph Calabrese, the Cleveland RTA $243,386/year manager, will explain Cleveland's HealthLine bus, formerly known as the Silver Line, formerly known as the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
Bus Rapid Transit is a bus. Sometimes it has stations with platforms, sometimes dedicated lanes, sometimes it uses honor-based fareboxes, and sometimes it's really just a bus route with an expensive name. As a bus, it has braking and steering advantages over light rail trains and its capital infrastructure costs are less than light rail. Buses have transparency and accountability advantages over light rail. On a bus, you can see the driver and what the driver is doing. As the bus goes by you can see how many people are on the bus. On light rail the windows are obscured with film preventing the operator from being seen and preventing the lack of riders from being seen from outside.

HealthLine - Cleveland's BRT Example
HealthLine is a $197 million, 6.8 mile($29 million per mile) RTA Euclid Avenue bus rapid transit system in Cleveland, Ohio. Construction began in 2006, was completed in 2008, and inconvenienced Euclid Avenue consumers and businesses, causing many businesses to close.

HealthLine bus passenger lists the problems:
     most bus riders must stand (BRT has half the seats of a traditional bus)
     half of the bus seats are on raised platforms (difficult for seniors & disabled)
     narrow aisles & 18" seats
   ♦  station platforms not marked as eastbound or westbound
   ♦  riders don't know where to stand on the platform or which doors to go in
   ♦  two foot leaping gap between bus & station platform
   ♦  fareboxes that don't work
   ♦  bus shelters with 2 or 3 cold metal seats

HealthLine buses are slower than expected, 25 mph in pedestrian zones. The rules were changed to allow buses a 35 mph limit. Either way it's not rapid transit (10.6mph average speed), has problems with traffic signals and crashes. Euclid Avenue had 411 reported collisions from October 2008 to July 2011, plus:
2013 March 12 - HealthLine bus hit a car at Euclid & East 4th at 10:30am sending 8 people to hospitals, including both drivers.
2011 November 1 - HealthLine bus hit a car at Euclid & East 89th at 2pm. Both vehicles were westbound. The car wanted to make a right turn.
2011 October 24 - HealthLine bus hit a car at Euclid & East 9th at 12:30pm.
 
HealthLine uses New Flyer articulated buses made in Winnipeg, Canada; Crookston, MN; and St. Cloud, MN. (Light rail uses Siemens and Bombardier trains from Germany.)

Here's another Cleveland opinion of HealthLine.


Gateway Corridor Bus Rapid Transit
The problem with the Gateway Corridor is that it can't beat I-94.

The best place for a bus rapid transit is where it can be rapid -- on the highway. Buses can't travel fast on residential streets, like the St. Paul portion of Hudson Road. Many express buses already run successfully on I-94 (MetroTransit express 294, limited stop 350, express 351, express 353, express 355, express 375), using the shoulder to move around traffic instead of a dedicated lane. And the Gateway Corridor ridership can't justify the opportunity cost of dedicating an I-94 lane each way for either a bus or a train.



Bus rapid transit on Hudson Road in St. Paul would be painfully slow for Woodbury travelers and would not be beneficial to Hudson Road residents and businesses. Snow plows would hack at the dividing curbs. But buses have the breaking and steering advantage over trains (improved safety) and reduced infrastructure (lower capital costs and maintenance).

The Gateway Corridor Solution
If the list of eastside buses above aren't enough, add another bus to I-94, with seating like existing MetroTransit buses and without removing a lane from traffic.










Saturday, May 18, 2013

Light Rail Brakes

The most dangerous part of light rail is the lack of braking ... aside from the ludicrous Gateway light-rail-on-residential-roads fiasco.

Light rail can't brake. Yet it has hundreds of names for 2 ½ types of brakes.

  ½ Deceleration
Pulling back on the throttle on a light rail train -- deceleration or down shifting in a car -- has all sorts of needlessly complicated names: dynamic brake, progressive brake, regenerative brake, service brake... Really none of it is braking, just using the motor to slow down.

Sick of seeing horrific traffic accidents, a police officer angrily pulled over yet another motorist failing to stop at a stop sign. They argue. The belligerent motorist says, “Hey, I slowed down. What more do you want?” The cop starts beating the driver with a nightstick and says, “Now, do you want me to stop? Or just slow down?!?

  1 ½ Standard Brakes
Pulling back on the throttle decelerates the train down to 3mph. The standard brakes kick in at 5mph and below. Light rail train operators don't have a separate control for the standard brakes... no foot pedal... nothing. They might not even be aware they are applying brakes below 5mph. The non-standardized world of light rail has at least four names for standard brakes: air brake, disc brake, electro-pneumatic brake, and friction brake.

A train operator once said, “Any idiot can start a train; it takes skill and practice to stop it where you want it to stop.

Spot the emergency brake button & point it out to the operator
  2 ½ Emergency Brakes

Passengers on Minneapolis light rail trains can't see into the cab because one-way mirror film is on the windows. If they could see in, they would see a red button, a mushroom-shaped button, for the emergency brakes. Once again, there are many names for it -- magnetic brake, rail brake, track brake -- which doesn't matter so much as getting train operators to use the emergency brake in emergencies.

Looking over recent light rail crashes and deaths, it seems like some cities have a transit culture that permits emergency braking and some do not.

Emergency brakes activated on powered bogie

Does Minneapolis have a culture that prevents train operators from using the emergency brakes?

Transit documentation says yes and no.

A light rail train operator was reprimanded for using the emergency brakes to stop at a red light. The operator should have used the throttle to decelerate and stop but used the emergency brake instead and was reprimanded. The operator and the union took the reprimand to an arbitrator. Metro Transit rolled on about the dangers of using the emergency brake:

“[Metro Transit] indicated that it is possible to damage the wheels of the train by such a stop [using emergency brakes] as the wheels slide across the tracks. This can create a flat spot on the wheel which causes vibrations and may even necessitate the replacement of the wheel... and passengers could have been jostled” - arbitration of train operator reprimand for using emergency brakes - MCTO-ATU, BMS Case 13-PA-0462, March 21, 2013.

Yes. Using any mechanical device runs the risk of wearing it out.

The Metro Transit Rail Operations Rule Book claims:
Safety is of the first importance in the discharge of your duties... In the case of doubt or uncertainty, the safest course of action must be taken.” - Metro Transit Light Rail 2008 - Rail Operations Rule Book 5th Edition (pages 7-8)

The most recent emergency situation on the Minneapolis Hiawatha Line (Blue Line) was on March 23, 2013.

A northbound Hiawatha light rail train hit a westbound car on East 26th Street at 6:30pm. The train pushed and crushed the driver's side of the white four-door sedan for one block before coming to halt. A fire burned in and around the car. The car's driver, 49 year old Francisco Antonio Sanchez-Andrade, died at the scene, in front of the Metro Transit rail technical support center. One passenger described the impact as, “We didn’t even feel it, that’s how soft it was,” almost as if brakes were not applied.

Sanchez-Andrade died a bloodied, fiery death, but at least the passengers weren't jostled.

How do these train operators sleep? Do they justify the deaths over potential reprimands?

If train operators are willing to stop the trains, can they stop the trains?
          Siemens S70 LRV #201 emergency braking                2.25 m/s² (if used) to stop 25 tons per car
          Bombardier Flexity Swift LF-70 emergency braking    2.73 m/s² (if used) to stop 26 tons per car



If light rail train operators can't or won't use the emergency brakes, what can anyone do?


Victims of the inability of light rail trains to stop need to know the variety of information that can aid a lawsuit. (Most should start by getting a good lawyer.) Lawyers will seek information in a Request for Production.

Things to Request: accident & incident reports (police & transit), black box event recorder data, brake-rate test reports (annual, post-accident, recent), emails, police interviews (was the emergency brake touching the rail?), post-accident medical report, Rail Control Center (RCC) communication transcription, Rail Operations Rule Book (current edition), supervisory memos, train operator certification, transit & state inspection reports, video camera recordings (inside & outside the train), visual reports (track brake on the rail), witness reports (was the emergency brake touching the rail?)


Rail Volution 2014 in Minneapolis should address the light rail culture against braking.

They won't.






A Minneapolis mechanic denied being addicted to brake fluid.
He said he could stop anytime.



Monday, May 6, 2013

American Institute of Certified Planners’ (AICP) examination answers

Here are sample questions and answers for the American Institute of Certified Planners’ (AICP) examination.

The Gateway Corridor has entrusted their plans to west bank University students. Are they engineers? No, they study public affairs -- technically they study how to get a good score on the AICP exam. One of the main rules for both the Gateway Corridor and the AICP exam is that guessing is expected -- there is no penalty for wrong answers. Ethics and professional conduct only count for 5%.

  •  $495 first-timers (63% pass), $425 try-try-again
  •  70 multiple-choice questions
  •  150 scored; 20 are pretest items (pool of 600 questions)
  •  3.5 hours
  •  15 minute orientation before you begin
  •  Plan to arrive early
  •  No penalty for wrong answers
  •  Guess, don’t leave anything untouched

The test will say "wards." Most of the country should read wards as county or district. The term wards is used because the AICP test was written by the American Planning Association (APA) of Chicago, Illinois. Chicago has wards. (Chicago had Montgomery Wards.) Why Chicago? Pay attention planners, this will be on the AICP test. Chicago was leveled in the fire of 1871, causing the city to rebuild with brick and stone to become a very modern city when it hosted the Columbian Exposition in 1893. After the rebuilding and the successful world's fair, planner Daniel Burnham established a plan for Chicago in 1909 (after everything was built and done).

Geography Question
What do many consider Frederick Law Olmsted's greatest example of a suburb?
        A. Petaluma, California
        B. Belle Isle, Michigan
        C. Riverside, Illinois
        D. Ramapo, New Jersey
The answer is C. The question is asked because Riverside is part of Chicago and Frederick Law Olmsted was the first president of the American City Planning Institute, forerunner of the AICP and APA. There is no practical purpose for this information. It is just APA advertising.

Demographics Question
According to 2010 Census Data, where is the mean center of population for the United States?
        A. St. Louis County, Missouri (St. Louis, MO)
        B. Phelps County, Missouri (Edgar Springs, MO)
        C. Texas County, Missouri (Plato, MO)
        D. Cook County, Illinois (Chicago, IL)
The correct answer is C for 2010. The answer for 2000 was B. The purpose of this question is the quantification of people without divisiveness nor specificity to any location.

Safety Question
Rubber mats cover the unused light rail tracks at University of Minnesota crossings to prevent light rail cement-embedded track dangers. Which of the following objects have become stuck in light rail tracks, causing deaths?
        A. Stroller
        B. Wheelchair
        C. Motorcycle
        D. A and B
The correct answer is D. This question compares wheel sizes to embedded tracks, addressing safety issues of objects trapped in the tracks. Notice the noun-verb agreement requires a plural answer. This is a dead giveaway. [light rail hazards]

Geographic Safety Question
Debris has caused light rail trains to derail. Match the debris with the location of the derailment.
        A. Leaf oils and rust in Tacoma & gravel in Cleveland, Ohio
        B. Gravel in Tacoma & leaf oils and rust in Cleveland, Australia
        C. Marbles in Portland & motor oil in Detroit
        D. Sand in Chicago & motor oil in Detroit
The correct answer is B. Gravel in the tracks derailed a light rail train in Tacoma in 2012. Leaf oil and rust was blamed for the derailment of a light rail train into a station bathroom in 2013.

Legal Question
Which federal agency governs the standards for cement-embedded light rail tracks?
        A. AREMA
        B. FRA
        C. both AREMA and FRA
        D. there are no Federal standards
The correct answer is D. Chicago has neither light rail nor embedded tracks. APA doesn't care. APA gets confused by multiple federal agencies.

Diversity Question


Which of the following pieces of federal legislation focused on slum clearance?
        A. 1906 Antiquities Act
        B. 1934 Federal Housing Act
        C. 1949 Housing Act
        D. 1968 New Communities Act
The correct answer is C. The question provides the legality for the acquisition of low income housing for higher income development.

Financing Question
Who is credited with the following quote "a budget may be characterized as a series of goals with price tags attached"?
        A. Jane Jacobs
        B. Aaron Wildavsky
        C. Matthew Barnaby
        D. Robert Moses
The correct answer is B. The question is asked as a nod to every planner's dream of unlimited funds, originally known as the Las Vegas planning experience, now called the Dubai experience.

Transportation Question
The current federal transit planning process, with its policies and institutional emphasis on cost effectiveness, biases the alternatives analysis toward routes with existing right-of-way and ease of obtaining right-of-way, especially for rail service, without regard to potential real estate developments on inexpensive land. This results in transit lines that are direct and cost-efficient from an engineering standpoint, but do not have the dangers associated with embedded tracks and multimodal roads encouraged by the planning profession.
Which best identifies the transportation goals of transportation planners?
        A. Eliminate urban blight, low-income housing, and diversity
        B. Economic growth of real estate developers
        C. Federal money for infrastructure increases chances of Olympics or Super Bowl, just not for Minneapolis or Detroit
        D. Planner pride in change for change's sake
"There are no right or wrong answers," the American Planners Association will say before they start grading. They will only mark B or C correctly, most of the time. There is no oversight.

Labor Question
For bus and rail operations, labor costs are directly linked and become a financial burden on the system itself. Which of the following scenarios have labor implications:
  I.    Bus drivers make too damned much money for steering, braking, and collecting fares.
  II.   The honor system of light rail fare collection requires no cashiers or ticket takers. Businesses should consider using this exchange model.
  III.  Light rail train operator training just sounds redundant, especially for a job without steering, braking, collecting fares, or making announcements.
  IV.  Houston light rail planners promised quiet light rail to residents and when residents complained, MetroRail track workers began manually greasing the rails several times per week. MetroRail has since introduced automated rail lubrication for noise abatement and reduced derailment.
  V.   Transit security officers are replaced with cameras.
  VI.  The Atlanta Olympics insulted local bus drivers by offering $6/hour. Hiring from outside Atlanta, caused a massive transportation debacle. Bus drivers got lost, crashed buses, and quit during their shifts.
  VII. Changes to cement-embedded light rail tracks must be made with a jackhammer.
        A. All of the above.
        B. None of the above.
        C. I and II. Couldn't read any more.
        D. II, III, and IV
The correct answer is A. The question addresses the labor component of transportation, to reduce a positive impact for low income neighborhoods. When you run into long questions like this one during the test, use the Mark option on the exam to mark it and move on to shorter questions that involve less reading.

Planning Question
Which is the most common mistake made by planners?
        A. not talking with community residents and businesses
        B. not providing insider investment information to politicians
        C. not developing corridors where property values are low for quick turnaround
        D. not using the Critical Path Method, the Ouija board of decision making
The correct answer is A, but the American Planning Association will make the mistake of marking C instead because that's where the money is. "That's why, without consulting anyone, I spent the entire town budget on the thing that is under this tarp." - Mayor Shelbourne, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Eminent Domain Question
Which best describes the result of Kelo v. City of New London (2005)?
        A. Planners can take private property if the property is part of a spiffy real estate development project.
        B. Planners banked on companies to increase the tax revenues and attract a wealthier population in place of the lower middle class home owners. The property was taken and sits abandoned eight years later.
        C. Eminent domain was strengthened  by the Supreme Court, the President, and several states.
        D. The NLDC did not change its name to RCDA. Connecticut Governor John Gowland (federal inmate 15623-014) and development commissioner Peter Ellef did not go to prison for corruption.

The correct answer is B. Watch PBS Constitution USA episode 2 which shows the property damage and personal hardship resulting from the New London CT fiasco. Forty-four states (and a Presidential order) have since enacted legislation restricting eminent domain. Opposition to the ruling was widespread but never filtered down to the APA. The APA material says, "government’s pursuit of a public purpose may benefit or depend upon individual private enterprise" and then it mumbles to itself "until they screw up and leave us holding the bag." Pfizer closed its New London facility in late 2010 with a loss of over 1000 jobs. In 2012, its New London tax breaks were set to expire which would have increased Pfizer's property tax bill by almost 400 %. The developer, Corcoran Jennison Companies, couldn't get a loan despite being given 91-acres of waterfront land for $1 per year.

Condemn-Nation Question
Between the moment a project redraws maps and city inspectors are sent to find property defects to determine condemnation, homeowners and businesses can learn if their property will be targeted for condemnation. How?
        A. Freedom of Information Act
        B. by hiring a lawyer
        C. by inviting the city inspectors over for coffee and/or a brewski
        D. transparent government

The Washington Post received the list of properties, that Maryland would be either condemning (or otherwise acquiring) for the Purple Line, through a FOIA request. The correct answer is A, although B isn't a bad idea either. Columbia University Professor Tom Merrill provides a concept for legally requiring greater than fair market value. But what's the FMV of a forest? An ancient woodland in Kent, England was condemned for its rocks in September 2013.

Step Down Method Question
The latest census reported the population of Centerville to be 24,000. Riverside is the neighborhood you are studying. Riverside is located within Centerville, and has historically been one of the larger, more vibrant neighborhoods. At the time of the last census, 8% of the population lived in the Riverside neighborhood. Five years have passed, and City has experienced growth in all of its neighborhoods. The current population of Centerville is estimated to be 32,000. Use the step down method to calculate the population.
        A. 1,920
        B. 2,016
        C. 2,560
        D. 19,200
Use the Tongue To Corner of Lips Method also. The question implies that the answer should be calculated for the current population. It doesn't say that. Take 32,000 x .08 = 2,560. The answer is C.

Saturation of Plans - Spatial Areas of Practice Question
Smart growth includes reduced fiscal burden on governments and their taxpayers caused by the costs for financing and maintaining ever-increasing infrastructure deficits or shortfalls. Which of the following is not an example of smart growth?
        A. A balanced transportation system that makes it possible for residents to walk or ride a bicycle to a store, school or work.
        B.  In 2010, Federal Transit Administration head Peter Rogoff chastised transit agencies for planning new rail lines when they couldn't maintain current ones.
        C. Smart growth encourages urban sprawl by extending metropolitan transit into rural communities instead of allowing inner city housing construction to increase urban density.
        D. Every transit agency that builds new rail lines eventually hits a financial wall that forces service cuts. San Jose hit the financial wall in 2001, cutting service by 25 percent and losing more than a quarter of its riders. Portland hit the financial wall in 2012, cutting service by 12 percent and predicting cuts of as much as 70 percent will be needed to meet its financial obligations.

This question is in the Saturation of Plans section but it seems to be another transportation question. The APA should know that just about the entire country needs plans to address critical water shortages, except for Chicago which slurps from several straws in Lake Michigan. This question should be about water: fixing leaking water mains, prioritizing needs, reducing runoff... but no, water doesn't make the AICP Current Topics list. LOL. The correct answer is C.





 Other resources: APA Bulletin
                             AICP Exam for May 2013
                             AICP Exam Prep for 2013, 2012, 2011, & 2010
                             American Planning Association policy guides
                             State Chapters with good materials: Florida, GeorgiaNorth Carolina, & Utah
                             Light rail crashes
                             Flash Cards of planning law