Friday, August 10, 2012

Blog Stage 7

Austin dabbles in the field of international racing next year as it hosts the F1 race. I believe that this move will greatly benefit the economy of the city as well as name recognition. The cost of building the track and stadium totals around $300 million, but some estimate that the facility may bring upwards of $6 billion over the next 15 years. (Source) F1 has long been an international phenomenon, huge in the European scene and considered by many to be a rich man's sport. If all goes will this means that Austin will be the new home for an already popular sport.

Economically, the city is already experiencing growth from the F1 craze, with over 200 local hotels fully booked for F1's inaugural race. Interest rates on vacation home rentals have also skyrocketed, around 25 times the norm. Hotels are able to increase their rates because the demand is so high, generating huge amounts of money. (Source) Local businesses and restaurants will also see a rise in customer numbers as a result of the weekend, because of the large influx of tourists. Austin's image will be displayed all around the world, helping to bring awareness to Austin's quirky culture and hopefully encouraging more tourism and therefore more economic gain.

All in all, I feel that bringing F1 to Austin is a lucky move on the city's part, as it will bring lots of business and awareness to the city. Hosting such a prestigious racing event highlights Austin as an emerging modern city, promoting the city's image and benefiting its citizens.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blog Stage 6

One of my colleagues, Tom Cheung, poses an interesting take on the MetroRail that was recently built in Austin. He makes a point that the MetroRail only services an extremely small area, whereas the established bus system services a vast majority of Austin. Tom takes an exceedingly critical view on the MetroRail, stating that "The only good thing that can come from this are for Austinites having the ability to say that their own city has a rail system". While I agree with Mr. Cheung on the fact that the MetroRail should not be expanded, I do not believe that it is as bad as he makes it out to be. 

The MetroRail offers a direct mode of transportation between downtown Austin and Leander, allowing residents of Leander a safe option to explore and participate in Austin's vibrant and well-known night life. The schedule even accommodates for this by having later runs on Fridays and Saturdays past midnight. Although the MetroRail currently is not showing very strong numbers, it's possible that expansion may benefit the city of Austin. The reason I believe the MetroRail fails is because of the layout of the city. If you look at a city that has a thriving subway or rail system, like New York, it's because the streets are always packed, the subway the only alternative for fast transportation. In Austin, the streets are only crowded in the downtown area. Since suburban areas are so far away, it's more efficient to drive to work every day. The MetroRail offers 2 recognizable benefits. One, it is a greener and more environmentally friendly way to travel. If it was expanded, it's clear that we would cut down on our carbon emissions. Second, it could be used to eliminate some of the rush hour traffic that plagues Austin highways. Being stuck in gridlock is a trademark of driving in Austin, and the expansion of the MetroRail system would help to alleviate this.

Overall, I don't believe that expanding the MetroRail would be a good idea because of the reasons Tom listed, that costs would be too high and the demand isn't near high enough. However in the future, as the population of the city grows and technology advances, it seems like it would be a viable option.