Opinion: Constructing QUARTA’s Trams was the biggest waste of taxpayer money in recent Quentins History

QUENTINSBURGH- The following is an opinion editorial by recently hired QDOT transit planner Greg Sullivan, who specializes in helping find cost-effective transit/roadway solutions. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of PWN News.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about QUARTA potentially wasting taxpayer money with a few of their big infrastructure projects.

A lot of the discussion arose again when QUARTA announced plans to put emergency call buttons at every QLine Metro entrance, in every metro station, in/at every park and ride, and at all major bus stops and transit centers. I think this is largely unnecessary. Quentinsburgh is one of the safest cities in the world, and QUARTA is one of the safest transit systems in the world. Most metro stations already have these buttons on the platforms, and transit centers and park and rides usually have either existing buttons, a staffed building, or phones that already serve this role. But it’s an understandable move. QUARTA has been safe for years, and it seems like they’re making sure that continues to be the case. I still think that the cost may be worth more than the benefit in a system already known for safety, though.

I think there’s also a strong argument that QLine metro lines 11 and 12 (constructed originally as lines 10 and 11 and running most recently as lines 9 and 11) were a waste , as the area seems like bus rapid transit, like QLine 15 off the coast, may have been a more effective and more reasonably priced alternative that would have worked very well in the area. While the area is growing, it’s still not big enough to have truly needed a heavy rail line, even if it’s just a local one. These lines could have been built as BRT and simply rebuilt as a light rail as density and demand grew enough to warrant it.

But there’s one part of the QUARTA system that is the single biggest waste in the system’s history, and that’s the construction of the 3 stand-alone trams; the PlaneTrain, the Fairgrounds Tram, and the Geolympiad Shuttle.

For one, these trams aren’t linked to the main metro system track-wise. They don’t use the same train cars (in fact, they don’t even use the same company! Tram cars are made by Starmobility, while subway cars come from Chang y Sainz) and thus cannot be linked into the main system. You can see evidence of that along the Geolympiad Shuttle, where the tram LITERALLY runs ALONGSIDE the metro line 2 for two whole kilometers. That’s TWO MILES OF REDUNDANT TRACK. There’s also a one-station redundant stretch along Clayton Road.

This also leads to “island routing”, or lines that literally seem to go nowhere productive and can’t be expanded without certain parts being redundant. Take the Fairgrounds Tram, for example. QUARTA has been looking for a way to extend it and make it more effective for years. The problem? The subway system surrounds the tram and serves the area well enough that there’s nowhere to expand the tram without it being an even bigger waste of money than it already is.

But the biggest problem is the fact that PRACTICALLY NO ONE RIDES THEM.

As implied by the names of the three trams, the Fairgrounds Tram, Geolympiad Shuttle, and PlaneTram, these lines were built for very specific venues and in some cases, very specific events as well.

The Geolympiad Shuttle tram got huge amounts of riders DURING the 2016 Pancontinental Games in Quentinsburgh, as visitors/spectators used the tram to get back and forth from venue to venue. Ridership was easily in the hundreds of thousands. But that ridership only lasted through the Geolympiad itself. Currently, the most ridership on the entire line is Read University students using it as an extra way to get across campus or a way to connect to nearby metro lines that do not come far into campus. A little extra amount comes from those going to Quentinsburgh Firestorm baseball games, or the Horizon Plaza Mall and Hotel Complex (also built for the Geolympiad). Ridership today? only 5,000- on a good day. To make matters worse, the area is already surrounded by subway routes. Something as simple as a couple infill stations and a really reliable bus circulator could have done the trick, for the Geolympiad and even today for the occasional rider.

The Fairgrounds Tram is even worse. There was no real big event that warranted even the consideration of such a cost-ineffective transit project. The Quentins State Fair has seen declining visitors year after year, especially as Thrill Planet becomes more accessible, and less and less events are being hosted at the Quentins Fairgrounds. Yet we have a tram that was built especially for the Quentins Fairgrounds. Ridership, at best, is around 100 on a good, non-fair day, most going to either a small expo at the fairgrounds or trying to transfer between QLine Metro lines 1/14 and line 2 without going downtown. During the state fair that number can reach as high as 500 daily (yayyyyyyyyyyy *sarcasm*). The tram was built with the capacity of handling 15,000 passengers or more daily. A bus could have EASILY done the job.

The PlaneTram is easily the most effective and cost-worthy tram of the three, being used by hundreds of thousands of passengers every day. I wouldn’t call it a waste persay. But the same need could have been easily and effectively met by a frequently running airport shuttle bus, without the cost of new construction.

To be clear, I’m not referring to QUARTA’s small but successful trolley system. The Downtown Trolley has been running surprisingly well after some route tweaks, the James Street Trolley has greatly improved surface transportation in downtown Quentinsburgh, and the Waterside Park Tram (which, ironically, is actually a trolley) provides a quick connection to Waterside Park Isle and to Quentinsburgh Beach. All three have proven to be valuable assets to the system.

But the three standalone trams, as well as the costs of continued operation, have been a weight around QUARTA’s ankles for a long time, and will continue to be until they figure out what’s the best financial decision for the trams.


Rice farmers, processing mills race against time before cooler weather arrives in Yamikonatsu’s harvest season

Yamikonatsu, Larigothiel (Sakura News Center) – One of Belphenia’s main farming towns are gearing up to harvest and ship rice out of Larigothiel and to cities across the Theocratic People’s Kingdom of Belphenia, rice farmers in Yamikonatsu are racing against time to harvest and ship rice out of the village and into Belphenia’s main rice processing plants in Greridia and Nantoka City, before cooler weather arrives in this year’s harvest season.

The state government of the Mikasatshu Division recruited at least 15 truck companies, and 10 guilds and factions to help harvest every rice field in the Yamikonatsu area under the guidance of the Larigothiel Prefecture leader and Guild Master Junko Tamashiya, and Mikasatshi Division’s state leader Shun Momieru, to race against time to end this year’s harvest season for Yamikonatsu.

The Mikasatshu Division state government said that “the year’s harvest season is the greatest opportunity for rice farmers, shipping companies, and consumers across Belphenia, and by then, it will be an economic boost for the rice industry for the Belphenian economic system yet”.

The rice farmers reported that in the past month, the rice is ready for harvest when the grain turned yellow and started to drop. The water is then drained from the rice paddies to make way for the farmers to start harvesting across the Yamikonatsu area.

Akame Ryunashi, a local rice farmer and resident of Yamikonatsu, was very satisfied when she was notified by the Yamikonatsu Rice Farmers Association that her sister’s rice restaurant in Shovelmage City will get a new shipment of rice once the products are already processed and shipped from Greridia. The agency also said that the rice products will be shipped to her father’s grocery store in Spray, and to her cousin’s rice truck in Akashiya, Sakura Prefecture. Another farmer, Takoshi Mizuyama, said that he wants to have his own rice shipped to Meredy Prefecture instead of Yalobusha due to not coming to an agreement with Jubania Trucking drivers from Erzanna Prefecture.

In Yalobusha, rice processing mills across Greridia are preparing to acquire shipments of harvested rice from Yamikonatsu to begin processing. The harvested rice is then processed through sorting machines that clean the kernels and remove foreign matter. The processing continues, and eventually, the rice is enriched. Under Belphenian law, all rice products must undergo quality testing under the guidelines of the Belphenia Food Quality Council.

In Yamiberii County, Larigothiel, rice farmers still struggle to create new rice paddies in the hamlet of Hayashi, five years after the Volkman period ended. Yuki Minoshi, a village chief of Hayashi said that he already requested the state government’s help to boost the town’s economic system despite the after effects of the Volkman period. “I already saw what Yamikonatsu boosted their economic system in that town, but Hayashi is in desperate need for help, five years after the terrible, Volkman era we lived in. Since this is the Moka era, we must make Hayashi grow. But we shouldn’t fail, just like we did fail to make this town grow in the Clear Heart period.” Minoshi said.

Local residents in Hayashi also struggle to create new rice paddies along Larigothiel Prefecture Road 101, when they encountered bad soil called the Momikumi clay at the Yamiberii-Sukima county line, and when the farmers got back to Hayashi, they plan to wait until winter is over, and by then, to create three new rice paddies along Central Avenue in the spring.

This morning, rice farmers in Yamekoi worked to Great Heart’s religious music from a nearby sword naming ceremony where Reiko Beard, the ceremonial leader of Belphenia and the governing body of Great Heart observing the naming of Yamekoi’s village chief Setsuko Araragi’s katana, “Emina”, but one woman is missing. Two days ago, Erza Beard, Prime Minister of Belphenia, had an opportunity to travel to Yamikonatsu with Deputy Prime Minister Masahide Shiroma for her first time to help direct local farmers load the harvested rice into semi trucks, before she and Shiroma returns to Yamekoi to attend the observance of today’s sword naming ceremony in the afternoon.

The rice harvest season for Yamikonatsu will end on October 31 when a local shikashime of Great Heart, or a representative of Larigothiel Prefecture or the state of Mikasatshu Division uses the horagai to signal the end of this year’s harvest season.

Several arrests in Ārakkar after police find large amounts of drugs hidden in fake turtlefruit shells

(Ārakkar, 27 February 2016) – In what has been the largests drugs related operation in Řots to date the police found a ‘huge amount of drugs’ worth several hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of Řots Varks hidden in 97 boxes containing mostly fake turtlefruit shells yesterday morning. A few real turtle fruits had been added in case of a superficial controle, but the police were tipped and went through the cargo more thoroughly than expected.

The five persons that were supposed to collect the boxes were held and are currently in police custody. In the course of the day, the police raided several buildings in downtown Ārakkar and the neighbouring village of Valkar, during which 26 more suspects were arrested. It is said that Bidevi Koras Avēt, the Ārakkar alderman responsible for local economy and trade is among them, but the police said that they couldn’t deny nor confirm that as the investigation is still ongoing.

The police told the press that the drugs were intended for the South-East Astrasian market. “Drugs from Tarephia have been finding their way through our country for years, but in the last three to five years we noted a sudden traffic increase. With today’s catch we administered a severe blow to the drug scenes both in Řots, in our neighbouring countries and hopefully in the countries of origin as well”, a spokesman of the police said.

The “Turtlefruit Scandal”, as it is already called, may have consequences for more people. “In order to maintain such an enormous clandestine operation, people in high places have had to be involved”, Vase Belōr Galati, the chief commissioner of the national police, said today in a televised interview. In the next couple of days, the police will be expanding their investigation to other cities as well, especially the capitals of Nekkar and Kotōlets and the southern harbour of Kiřtemon. “It is important that we put a stop to this as quickly as possible”, the chief commissioner said.

Turtlefruits, especially the so called “Freedemian” variant, are a quite popular exotic fruit in Řots and the most important fruit that is imported from the Tarephian continent.

Belphenia phases out incandescent and CFL light bulbs in favor of energy-saving LED light bulbs

A compact fluorescent light bulb imported from Commonia. In 2016, the ban on incandescent light bulbs went into effect almost 3 years too late, due to making consumers’ energy costs skyrocket. To protect the TPKB’s environment, lower energy costs, and consumers’ health, the ban on compact fluorescent light bulbs went into effect in January because of the mercury content in CFL bulbs, in which it is deemed unsafe to use or dispose of.

Magehaven (Belphenia State Television) – The lights are out for incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs across the Theocratic People’s Kingdom of Belphenia, as the ban on incandescent and CFL light bulbs in every home, public places, samurai districts, ports, ships, and government buildings in all prefectures and states in favor of energy-saving LED light bulbs.

In March 2015, the phase out and the ban on incandescent and CFL light bulbs was created by the Yaelian-based group called the Associates on Protecting Belphenia’s Environmental Resources (APBER), a guild in which they are very aware of the disadvantages arose from consumers who are using incandescent and CFL light bulbs.One city in Sakura Prefecture, Magehaven, was very satisfied with the use of LED lighting in every homes and public places, including street lighting and traffic lights.

There were many bad experiences and mishaps with incandescent and CFL bulbs among Belphenians. In February 2012, Mirohatram, Erzanna had been dealing with high energy costs that led to a power crisis around the city due to the use of incandescent light bulbs. Even after transitioning to compact fluorescent light bulbs in October 2014, they were unable to get the energy costs down. In the prefecture of Jasmine, they fell into a power crisis in which the Jasmine prefecture government to encourage residents to transition from incandescent to CFL light bulbs in April 2015. Instead, it led to disadvantages and incidents from elderly consumers who are using CFL light bulbs started to worry about the mercury content and health risks from mercury exposed from broken CFL bulbs in Jasmine City.

Throughout May and July, the organization became aware of cases of samurai and pirates accidentally breaking CFL light bulbs during sword fight training in samurai schools that resulted in both groups losing their swords to direct mercury content from broken CFL bulbs in Yaelian, Seraphina, Xanthe, Waukesha, Larigothiel, and Astigoth prefectures. The Southwest Larigothiel Household Hazardous Waste Management in Lucretia said that they have been getting reports about a small number of pirates used a broom or vacuum cleaner to clean up a broken CFL bulb. The pirates who used their brooms or vacuum cleaners were told by the prefecture government to dispose them immediately due to the exposure of mercury content. In Seraphina City, one samurai had to open the windows and evacuated the samurai school after two pirates and a female samurai accidentally hit the lamp with the CFL light bulb inside with their bokken during training. In Astigoth, hazmat cleanup crews were called to a gymnasium in Udrogoth after a structural steel rack collapsed onto a box of CFL light bulbs after construction workers forgot to install an emergency support structure in July 2015 in which it gained the attention of the Belphenia Council on Environmental Protection, the National Health Council, and the LED Lighting Movement of Belphenia.

In August 2015, the three organizations called the Government of Belphenia and Great Heart for the request to take the proposed ban on incandescent and CFL light bulbs to the Grand Court of Belphenia in Remiville after the broken CFL light bulb incidents in Larigothiel, Seraphina, and Yaelian involving samurai sword training sessions. A Seraphina representative said that “even in their homes, the samurai and pirates still break apart CFL light bulbs during home training. This is something that is raising a health concern among Belphenians”. Two Sakura Prefecture representatives also said that all CFL light bulbs were made and imported from Commonia. “All CFL light bulbs are from Commonia. But why the mercury content where it is raising a serious concern on every Belphenian’s health. Unfortunately, because of the mercury, this is truely, yes. We cannot let the Belphenians and the shirarume to waste their time being in hospitals for mercury exposure, and even wasting their time calling hazmat and spending time on cleaning up broken, Commonian-made CFL bulbs. About eight to ten long hours of broken CFL bulb cleanup at home, including airing it out by using windows? This is merely a hassle. We all concerned about safety by calling a phase-out and ban on them”, said Aki Onozawa, a shimatsume of Great Heart’s governing body.

On October 31, Luisa Windmere, the head judge, said that the Belphenian government said that incandescent light bulbs only makes consumers’ energy costs skyrocket and must be banned, and compact fluorescent light bulbs were deemed unsafe for use by all Belphenians because of the lengthy cleanup process, concerns from Great Heart involving their samurai training sessions, and serious health concerns involving mercury among all Belphenians in the Grand Court’s final ruling. On November 1, the proposed ban was approved by the Parliament, and by then, Erza Beard, Prime Minister of Belphenia, signed the ban into law on November 3. The phase out of both incandescent and CFL light bulbs began on November 5, 2015 and ended where the ban went into effect on January 2, 2016.

Merchants and retailers were ordered by the Belphenian government to stop selling incandescent and CFL light bulbs on their store shelves permanently and transition to selling LED light bulbs only at very low prices of 5 Moka Pieces per bulb. The lighting manufacturers, including Nettleton Industries, had been working to produce new lighting fixtures and home products that can handle LED light bulbs to retailers and consumers.

The energy costs are expected to go down for Belphenians who are using LED light bulbs by July 2016.