Light rail: Tourism dollars depend on improved public access

Full story: Monterey County Herald

Tourism is one of the main economic pillars of the Peninsula; others include government, education and fishing.

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YGBSM

Salinas, CA

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#1
Dec 22, 2010
 

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Matthew Sundt needs to wake up. If the San Jose area can't keep their light rail economically viable without subsidies, cutbacks, and fare increases, what makes anyone think light rail will work here? I just can't see it.
Commonsense

Salinas, CA

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#2
Dec 22, 2010
 
Fishing? A major economic driver for our area In THIS century? Hmmm....

Got data?
Pennbody

San Francisco, CA

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#3
Dec 22, 2010
 
It is just another "bridge to nowhere" project, wasting tax payer money

Light rail is the most costly alternative to build and maintain. TAMC failed to run a dual track environmental impact report for bus rapid transit in the event the project fails to meet expectations. Light rail is the least flexible option and does nothing to serve the commuter needs of the greater Peninsula or Salinas.

In fact, at a recent planning conference, light rail was not the preferred alternative outside large urban areas. It was bus rapid transit, allowing services to go to the people instead of the people needing to go to the transit service. It also is much easier to increase and decrease capacity as circumstances warrant.

I do not believe TAMC owns the right of way through Seaside and Monterey. How would this affect the viability of the project? Without those approvals, is this project really light rail to nowhere? I see a 13-to-2 vote by TAMC to proceed, yet the citizens have yet to have a real voice in the affected communities.

If we spend $145 million so 1,750 commuters can make 3,500 light rail round trips per day between Marina and Monterey, that's almost $83,000 per commuter. Why don't we just use that money to buy each commuter a limo and a chauffeur? Then the commuters won't care how long they sit in traffic.
MontereyGuide

Salinas, CA

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#4
Dec 22, 2010
 

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Another place to look is the Belen/Los Lunas - Albuquerque - Santa Fe corridor where the Rail Runner (train) was instituted, in part, to avoid interstate widening to relieve congestion. While convenient, this has been undersubscribed by users and requires substantial subsidies to keep fares low. This is in a metro area of 150K+ for Santa Fe (with a substantial commuting government worker population) and 800K+ for Albuquerque. With the population numbers for the Monterey Peninsula, and no plan for large parking areas external to Monterey, what chance on return does a smaller area have for $145M invested?????
Brent

Carson City, NV

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#6
Dec 22, 2010
 

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There are many factual flaws in the writer's arguments.

First, congestion in the San Francisco Bay area is nothing like the relatively unpopulated Monterey Peninsula, even on a hot summer day. Visitors need to transit from one attraction to another when they visit the Peninsula. Try taking the bus to the 17-Mile Drive or mid-Carmel Valley, or Point Lobos, or even Cannery Row; those are not easy destinations to reach in a timely or cost-effective manner on the relatively expensive MST, especially for a traveling family of several people.

Second, the projected ridership on this light rail to "nowhere" hardly justifies the huge capital investment of taxpayer money, whether it comes from the Feds, state, county, locally-approved sale or property tax increases, fare box hikes, et al. Does the Alaska "bridge to nowhere" ring any bells in relation to this proposed project? Improved bus service would cost far less than this boondoggle of a public works project, proposed only to satisfy some fantasy about public transportation that works in a densely populated urban area, not the Monterey Peninsula.

Third, no one has adequately addressed the huge congestion problem of non-existent grade separation between the railroad tracks and vehicular traffic. The backups at Canyon del Rey, Tioga and California streets, for starters, will be nightmarish whenever a train rolls through. And let's not forget about access to the large surface parking structure at Fisherman's Wharf and how that will tie up Del Monte when trains pass.

Fourth, with California in an epic, protracted fiscal mess because of its many overpaid public employees, project and regulatory follies, it is beyond ludicrous that this project, potentially serving a very small part of the population should go any further than permanent termination. Better that the money, if there is any should be used to pay down unaffordable debt.
Ms Ftz

Salinas, CA

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#7
Dec 22, 2010
 

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I just wish I could get to SF without driving.

Since: Mar 09

Monterey Peninsula, CA

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#8
Dec 22, 2010
 
Pennbody wrote:
I do not believe TAMC owns the right of way through Seaside and Monterey. How would this affect the viability of the project?
Seaside and Monterey purchased the right-of-way in 1980 using funds provided by Caltrans. Since state transportation funds were used, the two cities are legally obligated, through an agreement with Caltrans, to use the ROW for transportation purposes, specifically restoring rail service between Monterey and San Francisco or other "fixed guideway" transit uses. The only other approved use was a recreation trail, which was constructed shortly after the ROW was acquired. The rec trail however, is considered a secondary use, nut the ROW's primary function. Fortunately, the ROW is 100 feet wide, more than enough to accommodate both the rec trail and a rail line.

The cities of Monterey and Seaside signed a 50-year extension of the agreement in 2000. If these cities fail to live up to their end of the bargain, Caltrans could exercise its right, under the purchase agreement, to sell the ROW to the highest bidder.

Anyone who wants to read the agreement can see it here http://www.montereypeninsula.info/delmonte/Mo...

That said, I am not much of a fan of the light rail plan. Contrary to Matthew Sundt's assertions, it would not do much for tourism, since its primarily a local commuter service. Tourists lugging baggage aren't going to want to change trains in a warehouse district of Castroville. It's hardly a setting that says "Welcome to Monterey!"

As I pointed out in a June 12 guest commentary, light rail has been a distraction from the original goal providing direct intercity rail service between downtown Monterey and the SF Bay Area. That will be far more attractive to tourists. Sundt points out t hat we're competing against other travel destinations t hat have good public transportation. True, but its INTERCITY public transportation that attracts tourists, not local commuter systems.

California's intercity rail network has grown tremendously in the last 20 years. The third busiest intercity rail corridor in the country reaches within 60 miles of here. THAT is what we need to be connected to in order to attract tourists.

-Mr. Toy
www.montereypeninsula.info/delmonte/clubcar.h...
Anonymous

Oakland, CA

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#9
Dec 22, 2010
 
How is Castroville in the San Francisco Bay Area? The Castro district in San Francisco and Castro Valley in the East Bay are both in the San Francisco Bay but Castroville is much further south and removed from the San Francisco Bay Area. Travelers to Monterey would need to drive or be driven to Castroville to use the light rail only saving them about 12 miles. It would probably be more convinient for many of the drivers to just drive an extra 12 miles to Monterey rather than having to travel a short distance to Monterey via light rail. What would be a better solution would be having quick and accessible public transit from the San Francisco Bay Area, not just the South Bay, connecting to the city of Monterey.
Anonymous

Oakland, CA

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#10
Dec 22, 2010
 
What about intercity bus routes to major Bay Area destination cities not-stop to Monterey such as San Francisco and Walnut Creek?

Since: Mar 09

Monterey Peninsula, CA

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#11
Dec 22, 2010
 
Anonymous wrote:
How is Castroville in the San Francisco Bay Area? The Castro district in San Francisco and Castro Valley in the East Bay are both in the San Francisco Bay but Castroville is much further south and removed from the San Francisco Bay Area. Travelers to Monterey would need to drive or be driven to Castroville to use the light rail only saving them about 12 miles. It would probably be more convinient for many of the drivers to just drive an extra 12 miles to Monterey rather than having to travel a short distance to Monterey via light rail. What would be a better solution would be having quick and accessible public transit from the San Francisco Bay Area, not just the South Bay, connecting to the city of Monterey.
Castroville would be where passengers could transfer from light rail to intercity trains that TAMC plans to run between Salinas and the SF Bay Area. In other words, you'd catch a train in Oakland, ride it to Castroville, get off, wait five to ten minutes for the light rail train and ride it into Monterey. But this would be awkward for tourists. Who wants to sit and wait for a connecting train with minimal shelter in a Castroville warehouse district?

-Mr. Toy
www.montereypeninsula.info

-Mr. Toy
www.montereypeninsula.info
Jack Gracie

Monterey, CA

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#12
Jan 3, 2011
 
It should be noted that Matthew Sundt is married to Elizabeth Caraker, Principal Planner for the City of Monterey and the staff person assigned to the Waterfront Master Plan.

Since: Mar 09

Monterey Peninsula, CA

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#13
Jan 3, 2011
 
Jack Gracie wrote:
It should be noted that Matthew Sundt is married to Elizabeth Caraker, Principal Planner for the City of Monterey and the staff person assigned to the Waterfront Master Plan.
I'm not sure that makes much difference. Monterey's position towards light rail is tepid at best. Just because a husband advocates something doesn't mean the wife does, too. She hasn't said much about light rail one way or the other.

-Mr. Toy
www.montereypeninsula.info

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