Golf Carts v Pedi-cabs is reporting that pedi-cab operators are none-to-thrilled about the fancy golf carts now competing with them for downtown Austin transportation.   Capital Cruises now has two golf carts moving people around town.  Next time you decide to walk, remember that you are competing with pedi-cabs.

Thanks to DANA’s Roger Cauvin for the tip!

A Vision For Rail

Obama’s high speed rail initiative is being covered across the web today.  This is not surprising as informed Americans recognize that construction of more roads, along with the commensurate increase in cars for those roads, is the wrong path towards a sustainable and connected Union.

High speed rail is designed to be a substitute mode of travel within a defined economic corridor.  Air travel will remain the primary mode of transportation; however, rail system will be vastly more convenient and accessible for most people.  For instance, it will not require thousands of acres of scorched earth suburban development as airports do.  Rather, a train station, a single building, could be placed inside the urban core of the connecting cities.

Of course, it’s easy for me to be excited about this vision since Austin is one of those connected cities.  Notice the “fly over” states?  What is their incentive to support this vision?  Pheonix, Denver, and Las Vegas are three large cities that are NOT connected in this vision.  That’s a significant oversight, IMO.


An American High Speed Rail System

$0.10 Gas Tax Freakonomics

Austin Gas Tax Freakonomics

Austin Gas Tax Freakonomics

A 2007 U.S. Census estimate places Austin’s population at 743,074 people.   We’ll use 0.85 as the multiplier to approximate the number of vehicles per capita in the State of Texas.  Assume the average car owner drives 12,000 miles a year and gets 24mpg.   That person will purchase 500 gallons of gas each year.  By employing a $0.10 gas tax per gallon, for the driver this equates to $50.00 per year, or only $4.17 per month.  But, the City could collect over $31.6MM in a single year. (The City could realistically expect much more from drivers passing through.)

$31.6MM is more than half the cost of Portland’s, Tampa’s, or Seattle’s budget for their street car system (article, pdf).  A real world case study in streetcar economics yielded enhanced property values, connectivity, 400 new businesses (90% locally owned), the majority of these businesses are owned by women and minorities.

Even I, an economic conservative, can identify with the social value generated by $4.17 per month towards paying for an Austin streetcar.  Food for thought for our next City Council.


Rail Stops Vs. Bus Stops

Great quote via the Overhead Wire

“Rail transit drives walkable urban places. I’ve never seen one dollar of real estate investment invested because of a bus stop. But if you have [rail] transit, it’s a different story altogether.”Chris Leinberger

Permanence yields investment.  Bus stops come and go.  I would take it a step further and suggest that in several cases the presence of a bus stop could actually inhibit real estate investment.

Downtown Austin Car Share – Smart Car Pilot Program

How do you increase parking?  Shrink the cars, of course!

How do you increase parking? Shrink the cars, of course!

Daimler will partner with the City of Austin to operate a car-share pilot program, Mayor Will Wynn announced yesterday morning.

From the Statesman:

“The city will set aside urban-core parking spaces for 200 of Daimler’s “Smart” cars. Rather than paying for the spaces, Daimler will let city employees use the cars for a number of hours that’s equal to the monetary value of the spaces. (That amount hasn’t been determined yet; it will be negotiated over the next few weeks, city officials said.)…The program will start in October and run for six months. Daimler will pay for fuel, maintenance and insurance during that time, said the city’s transportation director, Robert Spillar.”

The car share program is a proven model in many cities, and the Smart Car program specifically is already smashing success in Germany.  Austin mayoral city council candidate Chris Riley is responsible for Austin Car Share – a small but well utilized car share program in Downtown Austin.

Thanks to Austin Contrarian for picking up on this story.

A Vision For Austin Rail

Imagine you work in Austin, but you live in San Antonio.  Rather than enduring Interstate 35 each morning, in a more perfect world you would have a rail system that drops you off into a downtown terminal.  Imagine if our city leaders could design a “Grand Central” of Austin.  This short homemade video makes Austin appear to be an international city.  It’s incredible to see the city come into view.

These days CapMetro can’t seem to tie its own shoes.  I do hear Amtrak is getting stimulus money, though.

link [via skyscraperpage]

City Parking Meters

City Parking Meters

City of Austin getting new parking meters
City of Austin getting new parking meters

City of Austin getting new parking meters

Rob Spillar stopped by the DANA board meeting this past Tuesday to share his recommendation to replace the existing parking meters.  Quite simply, the recommended system is VASTLY superior (ppt) to the old meters.

1) potential to partner with CapMetro to purchase bus/rail tickets
2) potential for city to compete with parking garages on weekend nights
3) time purchased is transferable to other parking locations
4) free parking for motorcycles and scooters

Today, Austin City Council approved the new parking meters on consent.


Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 4/23/14 7:03 PM PDT. Neither the Board nor ACTRIS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. All data is provided “AS IS” and with all faults. Data maintained by the Board or ACTRIS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

Information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2014.