The answer is trolleybuses
July 17, 2002
Regarding the Entrance to Aspen, what is needed is not another vote on the same redundant issue (S-curves versus straight shot) but a NEW SOLUTION to the entrance transportation problem.
Many of us now accept that light rail is undoable in the next 15-plus years (if not longer). Given this situation and the fact that the current preferred entrance alternative centers around light rail, there is no viable solution for the entrance that is timely and implementable.
The preferred alternative of light rail is stuck in a Catch-22 and the entrance is in limbo. So the logical and practical thing to do next is to seek a NEW preferred alternative that is attainable (affordable) and acceptable to the citizens of Aspen.
This new solution should try to accomplish as many of the positive benefits of light rail as possible (to carry support from light rail advocates) and eliminate or reduce as many negative drawbacks to light rail as possible (to capture support from light rail detractors).
The goal of this new solution should be to reconnect the various political factions in this issue into a cooperative compromise supported by 60 percent or more (a super majority) of the electorate, rather than a tentative, fickle and marginal hair breath’s majority of 51 percent or 52 percent. Let’s work for a solution that truly solves the problem, improves the situation, and that most of us can support and will be willing to pay for.
In search of such a solution, my company, which does professional-level research on transportation and land use issues, investigated this issue and wrote a report proposing a new solution. This report was provided to the city pro bono about a year ago.
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This paper addressed all of the major issues and interests around the entrance and proposed a workable, elegant and affordable solution consisting of modem dual-mode electric trolleybuses operated on the light rail corridor.
This solution works on the S-curves and can be economically moved over to straight shot if and when it is built. San Francisco is now building 273 such dual mode electric trolleybuses to expand and replace its aging fleet (Mass Transit magazine, May 2002). For those interested, this paper is posted on my Web site at nvgrp.com and is available from me at 925-3660.
I believe this system, or one similar to it, has all of the attributes necessary to garner the support of at least 60 percent of the citizens in Aspen. The city should stop wasting its time and money and energy on partisan non-solutions and circular argument and voting around unworkable, marginally supportable proposals.
It should move forward and resolve the issue through creating an appropriately designed, affordable, supermajority supportable solution to the entrance. Such a solution is what needs to be put before the voters.