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  #781  
Old Posted May 27, 2019, 12:01 AM
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Immigrants often come from non-transit-riding cultures. So I seriously doubt that immigrants or low car ownership are the reasons that the bus ridership in Toronto's suburbs is so high. I don't know why you would make that association.

The ridership in suburban Toronto is similar to the suburbs of other Canadian cities. You will find high bus ridership in suburban Quebec City, Winnipeg, Halifax, London... it's the same everywhere no matter the immgrant status or ethnic makeup of the population.

To divide rail riders and bus riders along the lines of non-immigrants vs. immigrants, or car owners vs. non car owners, or choice riders vs. captive riders, is to assume they are separate groups, and that is already a fatal mistake. Rail are also often bus riders and vice versa. To use rail, people often have to take the bus to and from the rail station. If people really were not willing to take the bus no matter what, then rail is most likely out of the question as well.
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  #782  
Old Posted May 27, 2019, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
Like it or not, most of Dallas-Fort Worth isn't really conducive to transit. Instead of building the DART rail system they could have spent billions to create 10 min frequency bus routes in Garland and Irving. But that would probably just result in a lot of empty buses driving around because a car is still superior in comfort for getting around those kinds of places and all but the poorest people(who don't live in those areas) can generally afford one. DART is doing as much as it possibly can, which is to concentrate transit on areas where it can work. For what its worth, knowing people from Dallas many are proud of the DART rail and will tell you they rode it when they took classes at the community college downtown and like riding it to NBA games or concerts, etc. It's useful and the taxpayers who paid for it seem to appreciate it, and that's all that really matters at the end of the day.
I’ll mostly agree with that. There are few major thoroughfares in the DFW area that has all commercial zoning. You’ll see mostly with a Google Earth bird-eyes view pockets of commercial zoning within relatively large residential zoning; with the commercial properties located at major thoroughfare intersections every mile or so. Most of the way along multilane thoroughfares is zoned residential. Where you will see commercial properties all the way along a corridor is following freeways. Paralleling freeways is where DART built most of its’ light rail lines - mostly using old railroad corridors that TXDOT chose to follow to build the freeways decades sooner. It is always easier to build new transportation projects paralleling existing transportation lines; in the past, now, and in the future.

On every light rail line heading north of downtown Dallas, the light rail lines placed a train station at an existing DART express bus transit center; Downtown Garland (Blue), Arapaho Road and Parker Road (Red), Trinity Meadows (Green), and Convention Center (Orange). In every case, the light rail passenger count at these stations were four to five times more than at the express bus centers. Therefore, it is easy to say light rail trains attracts far more passengers than buses did.

But, since these light rail lines attracted far more passengers than on the largest bus lines, which parallel them, these bus lines were eliminated being redundant. So bus ridership fell as train ridership rose. But critics will not point that truth out. Overall transit ridership rose and fell with local economic conditions, and the DFW metro area economics has faired very well recently, so overall transit ridership is down. But that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean light rail is terrible for transit.

As for bus lines ever having 10 minute or less headways in DFW, I do not think in general that had ever happen on a system wide basis. Maybe on the very few bus lines with huge ridership, but definitely not system wide. But there are streets in downtown Dallas where buses and trains run minutes apart - where multiple lines use the same streets.
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  #783  
Old Posted May 27, 2019, 1:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Doady
BRT vs. LRT doesn't matter. Stop attributing ridership growth to rail construction.
BRT vs. LRT doesn't matter. Stop attributing ridership growth to cities turning away from rail.

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  #784  
Old Posted May 27, 2019, 2:13 PM
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BRT vs. LRT doesn't matter. Stop attributing ridership growth to cities turning away from rail.

I'll do it if you do it. Deal?
Good grief, talk about misrepresentation of what he was talking about. I totally agree with Doady. For rail to be as successful as possible, it must to be integrated with good bus service. That is his point, and mine as well.
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  #785  
Old Posted May 27, 2019, 2:37 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
I’ll mostly agree with that. There are few major thoroughfares in the DFW area that has all commercial zoning. You’ll see mostly with a Google Earth bird-eyes view pockets of commercial zoning within relatively large residential zoning; with the commercial properties located at major thoroughfare intersections every mile or so. Most of the way along multilane thoroughfares is zoned residential. Where you will see commercial properties all the way along a corridor is following freeways. Paralleling freeways is where DART built most of its’ light rail lines - mostly using old railroad corridors that TXDOT chose to follow to build the freeways decades sooner. It is always easier to build new transportation projects paralleling existing transportation lines; in the past, now, and in the future.

On every light rail line heading north of downtown Dallas, the light rail lines placed a train station at an existing DART express bus transit center; Downtown Garland (Blue), Arapaho Road and Parker Road (Red), Trinity Meadows (Green), and Convention Center (Orange). In every case, the light rail passenger count at these stations were four to five times more than at the express bus centers. Therefore, it is easy to say light rail trains attracts far more passengers than buses did.

But, since these light rail lines attracted far more passengers than on the largest bus lines, which parallel them, these bus lines were eliminated being redundant. So bus ridership fell as train ridership rose. But critics will not point that truth out. Overall transit ridership rose and fell with local economic conditions, and the DFW metro area economics has faired very well recently, so overall transit ridership is down. But that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean light rail is terrible for transit.

As for bus lines ever having 10 minute or less headways in DFW, I do not think in general that had ever happen on a system wide basis. Maybe on the very few bus lines with huge ridership, but definitely not system wide. But there are streets in downtown Dallas where buses and trains run minutes apart - where multiple lines use the same streets.
This is such strange logic.

First, your light rail lines should have higher ridership than a bus line. Otherwise, what was the justification for building light rail in the first place?

Bus lines that follow the light rail route can be cancelled, however, if the stop spacing is much longer on the rail line or the bus routing is significantly different, the bus route is still needed. Decisions to cancel the bus route under those circumstances are being made by people who do not use transit.

The logic concerning the economy is totally the opposite of what should be happening. When the economy is bad, fewer people are working and therefore not using transit on a daily basis. When the economy is good, the opposite should be the effect. The tie-in with car ownership just suggests that transit service is so bad that people can hardly wait to stop using it. That should tell everybody something. If we are building light rail lines or BRT all over the city, surely this should make transit more attractive. If not, some terrible planning is being done.
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  #786  
Old Posted May 27, 2019, 3:18 PM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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When the economy is bad, fewer people are working and therefore not using transit on a daily basis. When the economy is good, the opposite should be the effect.
You are neglecting under-employment.
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  #787  
Old Posted May 27, 2019, 4:00 PM
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
I think what is happening is that light rail is/was focused on promoting TOD and cross-town rapid transit. Ridesharing and cheaper gas is eating into demand for transit among upper/middle class downtown people and commuters.

Buses are doing ok because of the suburbanization of poverty and the fact that a few cities are finally figuring out how to design and run more efficient networks and invest in better service.

I wouldn’t write off light rail as a mode and assume BRT is magically better independent of route and service considerations. That’s falling victim to a cargo cult mentality. I recommend googling Christopher Speiler, a Houston writer and transit expert. He points out that we missed hitting the densest places with either light rail or bus and our networks don’t work as well. Regardless of conveyance I think we need more ambition in serving tighter neighborhoods even if it’s costly to get lines into them. For Houston my fantasy network would reach out west to places like Uptown, Westheimer, Chinatown and Westchase. link the big hub areas together.
I did look into Chris Speiler and was happy to see he had a new blog. I actually mostly like what Houston is doing. I think we should scrap light rail extensions as planned and focus more on BRT, bus service, and park&ride. I think for a multipolar like Houston, a core of light rail connected with BRT, and a network of park&ride in the suburbs would provide an appropriate blanket (picture 2).

From his blog: METRONext and the keys to successful transit

Dark lines are BRT/LRT
Light lines are commuter bus.







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  #788  
Old Posted May 27, 2019, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
And in most of the world, light rail isn't called light rail at all; it is called a tram.
In the USA, trams are called streetcars. Streetcars have stations (or would a better word be stops) every few blocks along its' entire length, every 600 - 900 feet, or if you prefer every 200 - 300 yards or meters. Golly, DART runs a streetcar line to Oak Cliff for the City of Dallas that has a bridge over the Trinity River that places stations a mile apart (close to 1500 meters - five to seven times the streetcar average between station stops).

Expecting USA light rail systems to have distances between stations or stops like USA streetcar systems (the world "tram" standard?) is being slightly unrealistic.
Like it or not, the fact remains that DART has characteristics that make it as or more similar to the commuter rail systems found in much of the world than to many light rail systems in North America. That's a statement of observation rather than of expectation.

Personally I don't think there's anything "wrong" per se of having a high frequency commuter rail system as your main form of urban rail (the Bay area seems to be enjoying its). It really just comes down to the cost - including opportunity cost of not funding alternatives - of that system relative to the payoff. Having fully electrified double tracking for the entire route is very expensive to the point that it only really makes sense with a minimum level of ridership relative to route length so to not also spend enough for routing and station locations that will generate ridership may not result in a good investment. Whether it was a good investment in DART's case I personally don't know while Cirrus doesn't seem to think so.

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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
I do not care how common it is, DART built a light rail system the citizens of Dallas and its’s twelve other member suburban cities wanted. Almost half the local taxes collected to subsidize the entire system does not come from Dallas. The suburban cities as a group have almost as much power, politically and financially, as Dallas alone, so the system has to service them. That is why it does. Those who criticize DART for building a suburban friendly light rail system ignores these realities!

Maybe if DART was just limited to within city limits of Dallas politically and financially it could have built as an urban friendlier light rail system these critics want. But that did not happen! I do not see any of these critics suggesting DART should give all the suburban city’s taxes back, collected since 1983.
Regardless of whose idea something is or whose decision it was that doesn't really say much about whether or not it was a good investment. It may not be right to criticise DART for a decision it was not responsible for, but that's different from the decision itself being immune to criticism.
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  #789  
Old Posted May 28, 2019, 2:03 AM
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^ Spieler has a blog post (https://www.trainsbusespeople.org/bl...dlvt8ljmfjzx2v ) where he puts the Houston and Dallas light rail systems side by side:

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  #790  
Old Posted May 28, 2019, 3:47 AM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
Good grief, talk about misrepresentation of what he was talking about. I totally agree with Doady. For rail to be as successful as possible, it must to be integrated with good bus service. That is his point, and mine as well.
If you look at the systems with the highest rail ridership, they also have the highest bus ridership. The New York City area buses carry approx 930 million riders annually, by far the highest per capita bus ridership in the US.

I was just trying to say, bus network and rail network aren't separate systems with separate customer bases. To treat bus riders as second class in any way will hurt the rail system as well. That is an easy trap for agencies and politicians to fall into, and I think you can see people here falling into that trap as well. Transit should be connecting people, not dividing them.
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  #791  
Old Posted May 28, 2019, 6:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
It really just comes down to the cost - including opportunity cost of not funding alternatives - of that system relative to the payoff. Having fully electrified double tracking for the entire route is very expensive to the point that it only really makes sense with a minimum level of ridership relative to route length so to not also spend enough for routing and station locations that will generate ridership may not result in a good investment. Whether it was a good investment in DART's case I personally don't know while Cirrus doesn't seem to think so.

Regardless of whose idea something is or whose decision it was that doesn't really say much about whether or not it was a good investment. It may not be right to criticise DART for a decision it was not responsible for, but that's different from the decision itself being immune to criticism.
I do not have problems with criticism when the criticism is valid.

If critics can not tell the difference between a regular and express bus line, they loose the argument. The bus transit centers I mentioned earlier only lost their express bus services, not the regular bus lines circulating through their local neighborhoods.

If we accept your premise that DART's light rail system is more akin to European commuter rail systems, where European commuter rail lines seem to provide excellent services to its' customers, why criticize DART for following their examples? Few US transit systems use European built trains - specifically diesel electric powered Stadler GTWs and FLIRTS - Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Denton do. DART should be praised for thinking out fo the box and using European transit solutions, not criticize for it.

The reason why DART chose to double track the entire light rail system is because it is electrified, that they had already spent extra doing so. Here's something else to second guess them and chew the fat on; the DART board has decided to proceed with double tracking the new Cotton Belt (Silver Line) commuter rail line. Yes, for an over $Billion project, double tracking only added less than $100 Million to the entire project. Electrifying the approximately 30 mile line would have added thrice that amount.

I repeat, the lessons to be learned here are;
(1) electrifying a railroad line costs significantly more than double tracking that line.
(2) double tracking a railroad line is operationally more valuable than electrifying it.
(3) electrifying a line is valuable and worth the extra expense only if train headways are very short.
(4) there are some critics who only believe urban rail systems are worth building in the USA where suburban rail systems flourish worlld wide.

Last edited by electricron; May 28, 2019 at 1:31 PM.
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  #792  
Old Posted May 28, 2019, 8:43 PM
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One issue I see in the US involving public transit is where ridership falls, agencies RAISE prices to make up for the shortfall. In the private sector they would lower the prices to increase ridership, but not in the static world that is the government.

DART. I think the criticisms are relevant and should be taken seriously. However, there are some facts and hopefully future developments that hasn't soured me on DART:

1. TOD development, definitely north of Dallas, has been tremendous. When we look at how successful a rail system is, I think its important to see how much development has sprung up next to the lines. And not only calculate how much development but to gauge the developments urban qualities vs what would have been built without rail.

2. With the Cotton Belt line being built, even more suburban commuters will be riding rail. Hopefully, this increases ridership going downtown too.

3. When D2 is finally built Dallas will double its amount of light rail stations downtown and increase the amount of land that is within 5 minutes of walking to a station. It will also help with headways.

4. Connecting Dallas's two streetcars will make a singular line which will have much more utility and also add many more streetcar stops in downtown, therefore increasing, just like D2, the number of people downtown within a 5-minute walk to a rail station.

5. The apparent suburban nature of DART today can be seen one of two ways; A total failure or an opportunity. I think if DART starts focusing on the actual city of Dallas(I know the politics of this, but I think it could easily happen) by expanding rail in a smart fashion to serve their central city residents, it will increase ridership, increase density, and overall make Dallas a much more transit-oriented city.

6. Downtown Dallas has barely scratched the surface when it comes to residential construction. Compare Dallas in the last ten years to Austin. Dallas is now beginning to build more residential units downtown and I see no reason why this should slow down. This will increase the density of downtown, add more transit users heading to suburban areas, and create more demand for downtown services. The building of more residential units downtown will also accompany four new parks being built that will greatly increase the attractiveness of downtown and give more reason to get on the train to head down there.

7. HSR. *If* this happens, it will help DART out a lot. Also, it will help spur development in south downtown(most of the development seems to happening in the northern part of downtown.

I think DART is in a slump right now. Maybe it built too much suburban rail too quick. Gas prices are low as crap, the economy is humming along nicely, and lyft and uber are around. However, I think once gas prices go up, lyft and uber begin to charge prices necessary to make a profit, and the economy slows down a bit, you will see rail usage go up and places like Dallas will be thankful they have such a large system in place, and hopefully a system that continues to grow.

One last thing, take a good look at downtown Dallas on googlemaps. It has the land area and enough empty lots to create a wonderful urban environment. It already has a lot of jobs located there...Imagine if they can triple the amount of residents, create a subway line, connect two streetcar lines, and add four new parks while increasing the number of services. Dallas has a LOT of potential, I think that is what keeps me interested in the city. Some cities have it mostly right today(SF, Seattle, NYC, Chicago) and some will never develop into a large urban center for many reasons. Dallas is primed to become much more urban in the next twenty years and I think DART will have a big part in this.
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  #793  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 1:26 AM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
I do not have problems with criticism when the criticism is valid.

If critics can not tell the difference between a regular and express bus line, they loose the argument. The bus transit centers I mentioned earlier only lost their express bus services, not the regular bus lines circulating through their local neighborhoods.

If we accept your premise that DART's light rail system is more akin to European commuter rail systems, where European commuter rail lines seem to provide excellent services to its' customers, why criticize DART for following their examples? Few US transit systems use European built trains - specifically diesel electric powered Stadler GTWs and FLIRTS - Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Denton do. DART should be praised for thinking out fo the box and using European transit solutions, not criticize for it.

The reason why DART chose to double track the entire light rail system is because it is electrified, that they had already spent extra doing so. Here's something else to second guess them and chew the fat on; the DART board has decided to proceed with double tracking the new Cotton Belt (Silver Line) commuter rail line. Yes, for an over $Billion project, double tracking only added less than $100 Million to the entire project. Electrifying the approximately 30 mile line would have added thrice that amount.

I repeat, the lessons to be learned here are;
(1) electrifying a railroad line costs significantly more than double tracking that line.
(2) double tracking a railroad line is operationally more valuable than electrifying it.
(3) electrifying a line is valuable and worth the extra expense only if train headways are very short.
(4) there are some critics who only believe urban rail systems are worth building in the USA where suburban rail systems flourish worlld wide.
In terms of the part I bolded, I'd answer by saying that most of the European cities with suburban rail system aren't criticised for building them because they also have an urban rail system such as a metro or pre-metro rather than intending it to be the only - or even main - rail system in the region. There are exceptions of course. Liverpool only has a suburban rail system and Copenhagen was unique for a long time in that it only had the S-tog suburban rail until the first metro line opened in 2002. Manchester's light rail system can be compared to DART. But these are incredibly rare.

Of course on an urban-focused forum, many people will object to having a transit system that appears to cater mainly to suburban service while being weaker in terms of service that prioritizes and encourages denser urban development.
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  #794  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 5:53 AM
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San Francisco also has a suburban rail system with BART. But the difference with San Francisco is it also has a highly-developed bus and streetcar network for short trips.

A city of the size of Dallas should have a system designed for both long distance and short distance. But with so few resources, they have probably should focused those limited resources on one type of service instead of dividing them. In trying to serve both long distances and short distances, the system does neither well.
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  #795  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 12:29 PM
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Immigrants often come from non-transit-riding cultures. So I seriously doubt that immigrants or low car ownership are the reasons that the bus ridership in Toronto's suburbs is so high. I don't know why you would make that association.
Which immigrants come from "non-transit riding cultures"?

Obviously immigrant share it isn't the only factor, but it's a major one. It isn't a coincidence that NYC's transit ridership rebounded as immigration rebounded.

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The ridership in suburban Toronto is similar to the suburbs of other Canadian cities. You will find high bus ridership in suburban Quebec City, Winnipeg, Halifax, London... it's the same everywhere no matter the immgrant status or ethnic makeup of the population.
This isn't true. Toronto's suburbs have far higher transit ridership than typical Canadian burbs. In fact, the burbs have higher transit ridership than many Canadian inner cities.
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  #796  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 1:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Doady View Post
San Francisco also has a suburban rail system with BART. But the difference with San Francisco is it also has a highly-developed bus and streetcar network for short trips.

A city of the size of Dallas should have a system designed for both long distance and short distance. But with so few resources, they have probably should focused those limited resources on one type of service instead of dividing them. In trying to serve both long distances and short distances, the system does neither well.
San Francisco has light rail, commuter rail, metro rail, buses, and wired pulled trolleys. Dallas has light rail, commuter rail, buses, and electric powered trolleys. The only differences between the transit services provided is that Dallas blends metro rail with light rail, where in San Francisco the two services are separated, although paralleling each other under Market Street with an extra set of tunnels. Some engineers might suggest blending the two services into one is slightly more efficient and just as effective.
And to make my earlier replies shine some more light upon this discussion; BART metro has 48 stations over 109 miles today, averaging 2.27 miles/ station. That's more spacing between stations than DART's light rail system.

But BART's ridership is multiple times higher than DART's. Why?
Is it the type of trains running on the tracks, speed and length? No
Is it the larger spacing between train stations? No
Is it the speed of the trains? No
The answer is geography. There is this huge body of water between San Francisco and Oakland. There are only four "direct links" between San Francisco and Oakland. (1) One highway - the Bay Bridge, (2) One train system - BART, (3) Air by many airplanes - very expensive, and (4) Sea by many ferries - very slow. Every mode of transportation requires paying a toll or fare.
Meanwhille, to get to north Dallas from downtown there are more than three highways, many surface streets, and even more roads. You can do so without paying a toll. There just is not a major geographic feature limiting transportation choices.

One could walk, ride a bike, car, truck, bus, van, motorcycle, skate between downtown Dallas and its northern suburbs without paying any fares or tolls what-so-ever; the only way to get to Oakland from San Francisco directly without paying a fare or toll is to swim across the Bay.

Last edited by electricron; May 29, 2019 at 1:19 PM.
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  #797  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 8:55 PM
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BART is a suburban rail system, designed primarily to transport suburbanites from outlying areas into downtown. It is more akin to Berlin S-Bahn and Paris RER rather than U-Bahn or Metro. It is even undergoing extension into San Jose, 70km away from downtown San Francisco. Are you saying this is untrue?

It's not just regional ridership, San Francisco also has vastly higher local ridership than Dallas. Even when people don't cross the water, they are still using transit at a much higher rate compared to Dallas. Muni gets more riders than BART.

The main difference between the BART and DART rail systems is the latter's heavy reliance on park-and-ride facilities to get people to and from the stations. It is treated like a typical commuter rail system, and no surprise its ridership is no better than a typical commuter rail system.

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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Which immigrants come from "non-transit riding cultures"?

Obviously immigrant share it isn't the only factor, but it's a major one. It isn't a coincidence that NYC's transit ridership rebounded as immigration rebounded.


This isn't true. Toronto's suburbs have far higher transit ridership than typical Canadian burbs. In fact, the burbs have higher transit ridership than many Canadian inner cities.
My family comes from Vietnam. Transit in Vietnamese cities is non-existent, even worse than Dallas.

Quebec City's transit ridership is around the San Francisco level, 90-100 unlinked trips per capita. Despite the lack of immigrants, it still has typical transit ridership for a Canadian city.

Toronto does have the highest suburban ridership but it also has the highest inner city ridership. It just has the highest ridership overall.

I don't think you can divide rail and bus along the lines of choice riders vs. captive riders, non-immigrants vs. immigrants, etc. It wouldn't explain Quebec City and its bus-only system. It wouldn't explain what is going on in the US either. If it is a factor, it's a very small one.
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  #798  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 9:09 PM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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The main difference between the BART and DART rail systems is the latter's heavy reliance on park-and-ride facilities to get people to and from the stations. It is treated like a typical commuter rail system, and no surprise its ridership is no better than a typical commuter rail system.

Really?

Most BART stations outside the ones in SF proper and core Oakland have enormous park and rides at the expense of integrating with their surroundings. Even West Oakland and North Berkeley have surface lots surrounding them. Look at every station north of Berkeley, south of coliseum, millbrae, and so on. Warm Springs, Milpitas are new and have hugebgarages and turn their backs on the adjacent underwhelming TOD, Pittsburg Antioch is a damn freeway median station in the middle of nowhere.

SF is just more urban and transit oriented and downtown Dallas is full of parking lots and served by a radial tollfree freeway system.
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  #799  
Old Posted May 29, 2019, 9:43 PM
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I was just trying to say, bus network and rail network aren't separate systems with separate customer bases. To treat bus riders as second class in any way will hurt the rail system as well. That is an easy trap for agencies and politicians to fall into, and I think you can see people here falling into that trap as well.
Yes I agree with all of this, and see it often in both bus>rail and rail>bus directions. We can move on.
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  #800  
Old Posted May 30, 2019, 1:43 AM
jtown,man jtown,man is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
SF is just more urban and transit oriented and downtown Dallas is full of parking lots and served by a radial tollfree freeway system.

Exactly.
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