Sunday, March 1, 2009

75% Want Both

The previous poll question asked about Corridor 11 in the draft Regional Transit Vision Plan. In the long term it proposes both commuter rail and light rail in the CSX Corridor Lightfoot - Newport News. 75% agreed with that recommendation, 18% wanted light rail only, while 6% wanted commuter rail only. If both ran in tandem, commuter rail would be the rush hour express versus light rail offering local service throughout the day.

For lack of a better idea, I'm going to ask another Transportation question. How should Virginia Beach cover the local share of light rail construction? Should it come out of the General Fund, a TIF or SSD enacted to pull the revenue from properties adjacent to the rail line, or a new tax or fee?

37 comments:

Reid Greenmun said...

The questions is premature. The results of a citizen referendum and the updated EIS for the NS ROW line are needed before such matters are even worht discussing.

If the cost benefit analysis reveals the return on investment is inadequate for the expense then the proposed rail line should not be constructed at all.

If the private sector wants to buy the NS ROW and invest their own money, without the use of tax funds, go for it - and I hope they can turn a profit.

The rail service that ran along that same route used to be run by a private enterprise and it paid for its operations, maintenance, and made a profit.

That was long ago with far less potential riders, so perhaps the private sector is the right answer.

After all, in such a scenario those that actaully use the light rail would be the individuals that pay for the services they use, not others who do not.

Reid Greenmun said...

Ops, the questions ARE premature, not "is". Blush. I'm in a hurry this morning. At first i simply typed "question" and then changed it to read "questions".

Avenging Archangel said...

Reid,

A prominent civic activist was discussing this question with me nearly a year ago. He knew light rail was coming and wondered how it would be paid for.

Secondly, as a couple of us have tried pointing out to you on another site, there isn't going to be a referendum. That's a self-serving VBTA pipe dream.

You then talk out of both sides of your mouth on finances. Why would the private sector want to do something that would require an operating subsidy (as every line in this country requires)? They couldn't turn a profit. On the other hand, if they could do it, your closing paragraph is moot.

The bottom line: the only thing that can stop light rail in Virginia Beach is the FTA.

BK said...

Tell me why is it that liberal socialists believe they know what is right for the masses so therefore they make the decisions? What makes them so smart and superior? What in the world is wrong with referendum on issues that involve extraordinary outlay of public monies and will effect unborn generations. If all the cards are laid on the table, don't the electorate have the right to place their approval or disapproval to the issue?

Bob K.

Avenging Archangel said...

The only beneficiary of a referendum would be the extremist VBTA. Their group is dying off, and they need to win a referendum to try to recruit new members.

Polls show a solid majority of residents supporting light rail. Council should move forward knowing they have the backing of the people.

BK said...

Excuse me. But I'm not a member of VBTA and as I remember the last time we had a referendum on light rail I never heard of VBTA. As a matter of fact I only know of VBTA from your blog.

I have never been asked to participate in a poll nor do I believe polls constitute nor replace the results of referendum. I have not made up my mind on light rail because I need to know the information pertinent to the project.

Besides how can any poll be valid if the study isn't available. I don't need VBTA nor any other organization telling me how to vote either. I will do that on my own merits, thank you. But how can I express acceptance or rejection without the ability to cast my ballot?
More importantly, how do know the City Council will vote the same way I feel. They have not seen the studies. I am not comfortable with any elected who says yea or nay sight unseen. No sir, I need more say in my legacy than that.

Bob K.

thesh00ter said...

well then put ur money where ur mouth is. instead of coming here and objecting, go to the city council meetings, go to the State Del. about it. blowing ur anti-mass transit steam here isn't going to do u good.

BK said...

Gee Shooter: Did I hit a nerve? I don't believe I professed either positive or negative mass transit sentiment. I only responded with my opinion to a posting. Isn't that what blogs are all about . . .dialog?

What is wrong with an advisory referendum to either confirm or deny the polling data that the original poster referred? Candidly, I haven't seen the results of any poll published in any of the online newspapers. Again how can these polls gauge public sentiment without the project particulars known? Do you support or object to light rail sight unseen? Based upon the demeanor of your post, you will accept the lightrail irrespective of any information. Is that right? Are there any aspects that would dissuade you from supporting the project. Are there any cost limits that trip your "shooter" trigger?
Are you saying, "give me my light rail!. I don't care how much it costs. I don't care who has to move. I don't care about the ridership?" That right??

Bob

Reid Greenmun said...

BK,

It is easy to advocate something you know that you will not have to pay the full cost of.

As you can tell from this blog, the some advocates for the Light Rail line down the old NS ROW are uncivil and overly agreesive when anyone suggests that the facts are exampled and those targeted to pay for the proposed light rail line and its massive "feeder" bus system are offered the opportunity to vote on the matter.

Offered the opportunity to study facts as documented in an EIS that will have to be submitted to the Federal government.

One could conclude from their anger that they fear such facts.

Perhaps that is why guys like Henry try to steer the discussion away from asking if such a use of public funds is wise to strategies for who they would like to target to shift the burden of payment for their massive taxpayer subsidied transit dreams and transportation costs.

If the fares we set to actually cover the expense of the services THEY were demanding I suspect THEIR support would sone end. However, if THET were targeted to pay for services they could not use they would most likely howl the loudest and attack those seeking such an "unfair" tax policy.

Since the voters of Virginia Beach have alread gone on the record and rejected this project it is only fair that another referenud is conducted to determine the will of the citizens - since, THEY will be targeted to pay for this LRT system in Virginia Beach if it is not a private venture that is not using tax funds.

Brian Kirwin said...

"What in the world is wrong with referendum on issues that involve extraordinary outlay of public monies and will effect unborn generations."

Good point, Bob. By your logic, if most of the money will be federal money, it should be a national referendum, right?

Avenging Archangel said...

Reid,

Chutzpah! You now want to cite the DEIS that you and the VBTA opposed funding in the first place?!? Do you have any shame? (Obviously not.)

Furthermore, roads don't pay for themselves. To do so we'd have to go to a steep Mileage Tax...the very tax you opposed in a Tidewater Liberty post.

Typical Reid Greenmun: he wants one set of rules for what he supports (roads), but an entirely different set of rules for what he opposes (mass transit).

BK said...

Re: Brian Kirwin

Brian:

Your question is an absurd allegory that evades a response to the queries I posed. Hence, I will entertain your dubiety if you will first respond with a concise, ludid rebuttal rather than a pointed remark to minimize the validity or value of my position.

Bob

Avenging Archangel said...

Bob,

Kirwin is right: most of the money would be Federal. Therefore, his point is valid.

BK said...

Avenging Archangel:
"Most of the money would be Federal".
Without a study, how can that be true? Is that all inclusive? i.e. construction, maintenance, local eminent domain issues, additional local security, service, trash removal?

What about my initial queries? Do I get a response to those yet. Boy, this is an evasive group!

Bob

thesh00ter said...

it is quite understandable that people could/would be misplaced by this. but the funny thing about this as well as the Norfolk alignment, is that i don't think anybodies property that is currently being used is going to be demolished. (don't hold me on that) i know businesses are being held up by the construction, but not displaced entirely. but, lemme check the Tide website and/or the HRT website for more info. yeah that's right, they have a website that has docs and any other info u need about cost, land use etc. but, by the way u responded to Mr. Kirwin, ur too smart to go to a site like that and waste ur time reading. yeah think that's the reason why you haven't seen any polls or results or studies. you are right about opinion though, i just don't like spam. but this is a free country, you can "have it your way at BK."

BK said...

Re: the Shooter:

Now, now, did I catch a bit of sarcasm in your response?? Thank you for the reply, though. I am aware of the HRT site and I've read those reports prior to your query. I do take some of the data advisedly since it is a bureaucratic agency and of course is in a public relations mode. Hence adverse aspects are not necessarily prominently available.

The reports do not address the certain aspects of a Newtown to
Oceanfront that are unique to the project nor does it identify any economies or diseconomies of scale that may be germane.

I have not found any reputable polling data that includes aspects of the product.

I'm still awaiting an comprehensive answer as to the objection to an advisory referendum, other than a link to a relative little recognized VBTA (taxpayer or transportation?) organization.

What preempts the philosophy to gauge the public interest that is so indicative on this blog? Do you (rhetoric, not specifically directed to the shooter) feel the electorate is too ill equipt?

Bob

Erik Maldby said...

Bob: VBTA = Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance. Their Transportation Chairman, Reid Greenmun, posts here often

I used to live in Virginia Beach before the Army shipped me to the West Coast

BK said...

Thank you Erik and thank you for your service?

Bob

Reid Greenmun said...

The majority of the costs will be paid by the taxpayers of Virginia beach. The Federal government MIGHT help pay for construction, but the operating and maintenance costs are not paid by the federal government, they are paid by the local governments of the cities the rail line runs through.

In addition, in this case. it is predictable that HRT will end up using Virginia Beach tax funds to bailout Norfolk's expenses for running the Tide - which, would be extended into Va Beach down the NS ROW.

Henry apparently can't provide any good reason for not placing the question on the ballot and letting Beach voters decide if they want to pay for this expensive experiment - and let us not forget the expensive "feeder" bus system that HRT stated was required to make the propsed light rail line "work".

As to the VBTA objecting to the funding of another EIS for ther NS ROW LRT line. The taxpayers have already paid for a EIS for that line. I have read it.

But, since the MPO has decided to pay for another EIS then of course the referendum should be held after the updated EIS is made available - so that we can all decide if the proposed LRT service is worth the "investment" of hundreds of millions, perhaps even a billion or more - in tax funds.

Like I stated here, the decision to build the proposed LRT doewn the NS ROW should not be made without good facts, so this topic discussing WHO should pay for it is very premature.

Avenging Archangel said...

Bob,

Reid continues to make the case against a referendum for me. As noted, he's the VBTA Transportation Chairman, and he shows here he has no intention of being honest about light rail. Already in this thread:

1. He compares the old railbus (4 times per day service) to light rail (4 times per hour service).

2. He continues to attack the mass transit operating subsidy, while embracing the subsidy for roads.

For roads to pay for themselves, we'd need a Mileage Tax high enough to cover 100% of costs. Reid is on record opposing even a partial Mileage Tax.

3. He claims the Feds "might" cover the majority of construction costs, when in fact he knows that's common practice.

4. He claims we'll have to cover Operating and Maintenace costs locally. Norfolk already has a Federal grant for the first two years of O&M on The Tide, and it's case is strengthened by getting Virginia Beach in.

5. He then unleashes the spectre of Virginia Beach bailing out Norfolk, which he knows is legally prohibited under HRT's operating agreement.

The VBTA would spearhead the "No" campaign, and here their Transportation Chairman show they can't open their mouths about light rail without lying.

My favorite part? Where he claims voters can read the DEIS before voting. How many voters would actually read a DEIS? Game. Set. Match. No referendum.

Brian Kirwin said...

Let's have a referendum on Reid's transportation idea - people should sell their homes and move closer to where they work.

Avenging Archangel said...

Brian,

We'll have that referendum right after Reid moves from Virginia Beach to his work - in Portsmouth.

BK said...

Avenging Archangel, you have answered my query as to why the blog prominently opposes the referendum.

So let me summarize. My ability to either cast my vote on a referendum hinges on the fact that there will be an organized effort to oppose light rail. Because they will distort the the facts and lie about the project, I need to be protected from being led astray and preempts me from seeking information on my own. Nor do I need to. Hence suppression of dialog as to the pros and cons is unnecessary as long as there are six individuals on city council who deem the project worthy on my behalf.

That is definitely a weak argument.

What would an organized effort to oppose light rail have to gain? Opposition for the sake of opposition? I could see where proponents, especially developers who contribute highly to perhaps six members of council would gain monetarily.

What is the oppositions motivation?

Wouldn't proponents like yourself launch a campaign in support of light rail (lie if you need to yourselves) and it would be politics as usually. Does the electorate really need to be protected from political banter. Heck, that's the American way - all politicians embellish and lie.

Bob

Brian Kirwin said...

"What would an organized effort to oppose light rail have to gain? Opposition for the sake of opposition?"

Sounds about right.

That, and yet another way to get attention for the next time they all run for City Council and lose.

Bob K said...

Ooooo! Are the VBAT's underdogs? Heck, I'm a Detroit Lions fan! or was!

Bob

Reid Greenmun said...

Funny banter. Mostly drivel.

Waiting to make a decision on spending hundrends of millions in tax funds on a light rail line along the ND ROW in Va Beach until the new EIS is available and the facts can be used to determine a cost benefit analysis is simply a prudent and mature path for decision-making.

Conducting a referendum once facts are available is also a prudent course of action because:

1. We already had a referendum on this same light rail line and Beach voters rejected it.

2. In case the taxpayer subsidy crowd hasn't noticed, our economy has collapsed and our nation is broke - and going into massive debt to survive. Meanwhile, our city has huge busget shortfalls and unemployment is on the rise as people's 401 Ks and retirement funds invested in the stock market disappeared. This proposed light rail line is projected by HRT to offer very low ridership and a very expensive cost. Perhaps now is not the time to waste precicious tax funds on such a nice-to-have TOD boondoggle?

3. We don't have kings on City Council, we have elected representatives that work FOR the citizens. A referendum is a good way to determine the will of the people and to guide our elected representatives to serve our needs as we express them at the ballot box - on an well defined and bonded referendum question.

4. The political process has been corrupted in Va Beach - the new mayor spent over $600K to buy his seat. Can anyone trust City Council to be acting in the interest of those that will be targeted to pay for this Light Rail line - a ruse for the purposes of promoting more development?

BK said...

Reid Greenmun:

Your points 1 and 3 are solid and make it difficult to refute the validity of holding a advisory referendum. Points 2 and 4 are arbitrary.

Bob K

Avenging Archangel said...

Bob,

What Reid doesn't mention is that the VBTA's own Transportation Plan doesn't require a referendum for Virginia Beach light rail. It sets a treshold for projects to go to referendum at $1 billion; VB LRT would cost about half that to construct.

Reid Greenmun said...

Bob, as is often the case, Henry is either confused or choses to distort the truth.

The Transportation suggestions prepared for Gov. Kaine and the General Assembly suggested changes to the state code that required conducting a referendum for major transportation projects.

This would make referenda on such projects manitory and help to prevent many of the seemingly poor decisions being made by all-appointed regional government in the form of regional PDCs and MPOs.

The proposal does not restrict the ability to conduct additional referenda when it is prudent to do so.

In the case of the proposed Light Rail line into Va Beach along the old NS ROW, myself and others believe it is prudent to conduct another referenda.

Bob, as to point 4 - review the industries that donated large amounts of money to Mayor Sessoms. These businesses would obviously expect a retrun on their "investment". Clearly we end up with a corrupted political process as a result.

A referendum on a specific issue is far more clear then the popularity contest and marketing campaign strategies used to "sell" candidates during the election cycle.

Making the decision to spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars on the NS ROW and a LRT system is a far more cut and dried question that a referendum can be used to allow those targeted to pay for it to direct their representaitves as to their decision on the matter.

Obviously we don't need to construct a LRT system along that corridor. But their may be sufficient reasons to do so - or not.

As Randy Wright and Mayor Fraim admitted, the Tide is being supported politically to induce more development, not to reduce traffic congestion.

Reid Greenmun said...

Question: Hum, since credit is so amazing difficult to acquire now, how will this new "private sector" TOD development be funded?

Reality: The economic markets have dramatically changed and the sales job of promised riches to be gained from TOD needs to be reevaluated in light of the new realities we are experiencing.

New truth? TOD may have had a postive track record in the glory days of easy credit and lax financial scutiny that lead to excessive risk taking. But those days are no gone.

If TOD is not going to bring local cities windfalls in new property taxes, then perhaps the new reality of our tight credit and difficult bond market have to be rethought and the real reasons local politicians supported light rail as a "benefit" to taxpayers no longer exist?

Avenging Archangel said...

So by Reid's own admission, Virginia Beach light rail would fall under "additional referenda". His own group's plan doesn't require a referendum for Virginia Beach light rail.

When the VBTAers go before Council demanding a referendum, we'll be there waving copies of their own Transportation Plan at them.

thesh00ter said...

it's funny that Reid mentions the fact that we are in an economic crisis. ok then, what was the excuse 10 yrs ago then? yeah i know what ur gonna say, you and burger king have been saying it it pretty much all of ur post. but i say: "what is the excuse". cuz to me that's all it is. u must really enjoy ur job Reid, because u wouldn't be able to sway people so easily in any another city like VA beach. u wouldn't get away with this in Charlotte, or Baltimore, or any other smaller but heavily populated cities. whether u had a hand in swaying the people or not, it wouldn't be hard, because a good majority of them are simple minded anyway. they feel that HR is going to continue to be a folksy, one horse town forever, despite the nearly 2 million people that live here and countless amount of people that work here or travel through from outside it's borders. so yes enjoy ur job Reid, while it last ; ) cuz even though i don't live in VA beach, or know personally, Sessoms has one thing that u don't have, or should i say 2

i'm sorry Henry but i had to get that out. if u want to delete this so be it

Avenging Archangel said...

Shooter,

It stays. Reid and the VBTA live in a world that is long dead, then they try to hold up progress on the real world.

One of the axioms I was taught on politics is that there are builders and there are destroyers. Reid is definitely a destroyer.

Reid Greenmun said...

Henry, you are a sage in your own mind, LOL!

Henry, I am a problem solver and a producer. You? Well, we know what you are.

Enjoy the world you build inside your head.

Everyone needs a hobby.

But, your personal attacks aside (ignored), the reality remains the same. This topic is premature because the information required to make an informed decision as to IF the proposed Light Rail line and it's very expensive feeder bus system should be built is not yet available.

Once it is the practices of good government should result in the question being placed on the ballot to allow those that will pay for it to express their views based on the merits of the project and the potential for return on their investment.

Avenging Archangel said...

Punting light rail to referendum has nothing to do with good government. The VBTA wants a referendum because:

1. They know they don't have 6 votes on City Council to kill it.

2. They want a referendum campaign as a recruiting tool.

3. They want a "win" (the residents would lose) to try to pretend to be relevant.

Reid Greenmun said...

Putting Light Rail in Va beach on the ballot after it has already been rejected by voters once most definately has everything to do with good government.

Henry's VBTA rants are a red herring to attempt to distract folks from the real issues - that being the return on investment in the Va Beach LRT proposal.

Keep trying Henry, maybe you can succeed in your dishonest efforts to avoid discussing the facts about the proposed LRT system along the old NS ROW.

Avenging Archangel said...

Reid,

The only "facts" you've discussed are:

1. Some libertarian ideological points that are clearly out of the mainstream.

2. The VBTA's self-serving clamoring for a referendum that isn't going to happen.