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  #2041  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 2:21 AM
CrossedTheTracks CrossedTheTracks is offline
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Originally Posted by DoubleK View Post
Has the decision on low floor technology been decided?

Or will that be a part of the contracting strategy due to council in Q1 2018?
It's been stated "it will be low floor" for years now.

I'm not sure how much of the design -- at this instant -- is constrained by that choice; probably not much yet, in the sense that nobody's made any build-ready blueprints and nothing's constructed or contracted yet. But the point of no return is probably coming up shortly if it hasn't already. I imagine it would require a very compelling argument to change it to high-floor.
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  #2042  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 2:35 AM
Rollerstud98 Rollerstud98 is offline
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WHAT is the reasoning for the low floor design?
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  #2043  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 3:28 AM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Originally Posted by Rollerstud98 View Post
WHAT is the reasoning for the low floor design?
In the beginning, the line was envisioned to be mostly surface level, so a low floor design was deemed more appropriate, and is also what all the other cool cities are doing. I believe it was actually decided before the SELRT/SETWAY and NCLRT were even one project. However as design progressed and they sensibly realised that it would be best to mostly grade separate the line, they did not stop to question whether those (exaggerated) benefits of low floor design were neccesary.

Really the route should have been decided first, and then an appropriate technology choice decided after. But Druh Farrell et al. had their heart set on low floor from the beginning, as they want a cool hipster tram like Portland. Three of them actually went to Vancouver, Seattle and Portland and somehow decided that Vancouver's vastly better system was worse than the LRTs in the US cities. Madness.

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  #2044  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 4:09 AM
suburbia suburbia is offline
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Originally Posted by Rollerstud98 View Post
WHAT is the reasoning for the low floor design?
Only knowing the value propositions of the different technologies at a superficial level, the counter question also comes to mind. Is there any reasoning / benefit for a high floor design?

Comparisons for safety, speed, cost?
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  #2045  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 4:49 AM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Only knowing the value propositions of the different technologies at a superficial level, the counter question also comes to mind. Is there any reasoning / benefit for a high floor design?

Comparisons for safety, speed, cost?
The benefit of high floor itself is truthfully relatively minor - increased interior capacity due to the cabin not having to fit around the wheel wells. I would also imagine the design is simpler so would be cheaper and easier to maintain, but that is speculation.

However the true disadvantage we have is that because the system has always been envisioned as a low floor 'streetcar style' LRT, we never considered that we could instead have a proper automated system (which would probably be high floor).

In stage 1 of the Green Line there is literally no advantage to the vehicles being low floor. None whatsoever. Yet because that was decided arbitrarily years ago, the line has been compromised to reflect it. Stage 1 is almost entirely grade separated, with the 6 or so road crossings being fairly minor to grade separate. If the city had taken a step back once the route had been decided to rethink, they could have seen that the option was available to change the technology to a grade separated, high floor automated system which would give us lower operating costs, a safer, more reliable system and eliminate any BS union disputes down the road. Not having to pay drivers for 30 years and not having the countless collisions the grade crossings cause would likely pay for any increase in cost.

You might say that while stage 1 is easy to grade separate, the future stages won't be, but that is only true for the in street running section down Centre St. However, anyone who has taken a minute to look at this route in the slightest detail will realise that running it down the middle of that road is a terrible idea that should be avoided anyway.

But sadly, this ship has sailed and we are stuck with a line that will never live up to its full potential.
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  #2046  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 5:02 AM
CrossedTheTracks CrossedTheTracks is offline
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Originally Posted by suburbia View Post
Only knowing the value propositions of the different technologies at a superficial level, the counter question also comes to mind. Is there any reasoning / benefit for a high floor design?

Comparisons for safety, speed, cost?
Historically (wish I could give proper years, but I don't know exact time), yes, high-floor had an advantage. Current low-floor technology has reduced the gap substantially.

The old advantage is that old "low-floor" trains weren't really low floor, but simply low-boarding. They either had stairs right at the doors (much like old high-floor buses) or portions of low floor, and then stairs within the carriage, transitioning to a high-floor area above the bogies.

This made it easy to build cheap stations, but compromised on accessibility and available floor space within the carriage. By contrast, with high-floor trains, as long as the platform is accessible (ramps, elevators), then the train itself is fully accessible and the entire floor is available for standing/seating/etc.

Current low-floor designs are low-floor throughout, with some minor loss of space around wheel wells.
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  #2047  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 8:03 AM
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I sure do wish they had gone with high floor.
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  #2048  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 1:43 PM
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
The benefit of high floor itself is truthfully relatively minor - increased interior capacity due to the cabin not having to fit around the wheel wells. I would also imagine the design is simpler so would be cheaper and easier to maintain, but that is speculation.

However the true disadvantage we have is that because the system has always been envisioned as a low floor 'streetcar style' LRT, we never considered that we could instead have a proper automated system (which would probably be high floor).

In stage 1 of the Green Line there is literally no advantage to the vehicles being low floor. None whatsoever. Yet because that was decided arbitrarily years ago, the line has been compromised to reflect it. Stage 1 is almost entirely grade separated, with the 6 or so road crossings being fairly minor to grade separate. If the city had taken a step back once the route had been decided to rethink, they could have seen that the option was available to change the technology to a grade separated, high floor automated system which would give us lower operating costs, a safer, more reliable system and eliminate any BS union disputes down the road. Not having to pay drivers for 30 years and not having the countless collisions the grade crossings cause would likely pay for any increase in cost.

You might say that while stage 1 is easy to grade separate, the future stages won't be, but that is only true for the in street running section down Centre St. However, anyone who has taken a minute to look at this route in the slightest detail will realise that running it down the middle of that road is a terrible idea that should be avoided anyway.

But sadly, this ship has sailed and we are stuck with a line that will never live up to its full potential.
The VAST majority of grade separated heavy rail metro systems around the world are not automated, despite the technology existing for decades. This tells me that automated lines are somewhat overrated - the capacity advantages of automation (which are rather unnecessary in a small city like Calgary anyway - I doubt the C-Train will EVER be in a situation where it requires >30,000pph in each direction!) can just as easily be obtained with automatic train control (ATC) which most modern Metro lines with drivers use. Further, given again that very few Metro lines around the world are driverless, I daresay that the cost advantage of driverless systems is probably nowhere near as great as it might seem at first blush, otherwise everyone would be using them.
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  #2049  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 2:15 PM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Originally Posted by The Chemist View Post
The VAST majority of grade separated heavy rail metro systems around the world are not automated, despite the technology existing for decades. This tells me that automated lines are somewhat overrated - the capacity advantages of automation (which are rather unnecessary in a small city like Calgary anyway - I doubt the C-Train will EVER be in a situation where it requires >30,000pph in each direction!) can just as easily be obtained with automatic train control (ATC) which most modern Metro lines with drivers use. Further, given again that very few Metro lines around the world are driverless, I daresay that the cost advantage of driverless systems is probably nowhere near as great as it might seem at first blush, otherwise everyone would be using them.
This isn't because automated isn't much better, it's because most systems are older than ours and people/unions are resistant to change. A combination of over powered unions and a misinformed public means that even in cities that have made their lines automated, they often still keep their 'drivers' - see London and Toronto. In those cities on their automated lines the driver's only function is a very highly paid button pusher to open and close the doors.

Those cities then have lost one of the biggest advantages of automated systems due to politics - not having to pay an army of incompetent (relative to a computer) drivers a good salary. Since the Green Line is a fresh line, not involving drivers should be easier, and dare I say I think in conservative Calgary the idea of not having to pay for a huge amount of public sector jobs should be an easy pill to swallow.

Agreed capacity isn't likely to be a pressing concern for many years as long as we build the stations big enough, but automated has other big advantages. The fact it is grade separated makes it inherently more reliable, but perhaps the nicest feature is that not having to pay a driver means running frequent trains at off peak times and late into the night is much cheaper, giving a much better service at these times. These advantages also happen to be the worst aspects of our current LRT - reliability and off peak frequency.
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  #2050  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 2:21 PM
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
This isn't because automated isn't much better, it's because most systems are older than ours and people/unions are resistant to change. A combination of over powered unions and a misinformed public means that even in cities that have made their lines automated, they often still keep their 'drivers' - see London and Toronto. In those cities on their automated lines the driver's only function is a very highly paid button pusher to open and close the doors.

Those cities then have lost one of the biggest advantages of automated systems due to politics - not having to pay an army of incompetent (relative to a computer) drivers a good salary. Since the Green Line is a fresh line, not involving drivers should be easier, and dare I say I think in conservative Calgary the idea of not having to pay for a huge amount of public sector jobs should be an easy pill to swallow.

Agreed capacity isn't likely to be a pressing concern for many years as long as we build the stations big enough, but automated has other big advantages. The fact it is grade separated makes it inherently more reliable, but perhaps the nicest feature is that not having to pay a driver means running frequent trains at off peak times and late into the night is much cheaper, giving a much better service at these times. These advantages also happen to be the worst aspects of our current LRT - reliability and off peak frequency.
Almost all Asian systems are quite new, yet there are very few automated lines even in Asia. For example, there's not a single fully automated line on the Shanghai Metro, which is only 25 years old.
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  #2051  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 2:24 PM
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I do have one faint, naive, hope. The technology already exists to make both driverless cars and automated trains. Combining the two together to make a driverless LRT is well within the means of technology, especially by 2026. So we could have automated vehicles on the Green Line, if we were brave enough.
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  #2052  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 2:32 PM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Almost all Asian systems are quite new, yet there are very few automated lines even in Asia. For example, there's not a single fully automated line on the Shanghai Metro, which is only 25 years old.
I can't explain that, maybe because labour is cheaper? But if these trains have automatic train operation then the drivers are there simply 'to be there' and operate the doors. That is not an efficient use of money.
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  #2053  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 4:48 PM
DoubleK DoubleK is offline
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Milomilo: Thanks for the video, I must have missed that the when it came out.

Who actually makes the decision on the technology? Council based on the recommendation of staff?
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  #2054  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 8:59 PM
BlaineN BlaineN is offline
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You are 100% correct on that. I've ridden a few systems that are low floor (Houston and Dallas) and don't see at all what the big deal is. The cars I was in had more than one level on the inside of the cars. Not sure if ours would be like that or not, but what a pain.

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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
In the beginning, the line was envisioned to be mostly surface level, so a low floor design was deemed more appropriate, and is also what all the other cool cities are doing. I believe it was actually decided before the SELRT/SETWAY and NCLRT were even one project. However as design progressed and they sensibly realised that it would be best to mostly grade separate the line, they did not stop to question whether those (exaggerated) benefits of low floor design were neccesary.

Really the route should have been decided first, and then an appropriate technology choice decided after. But Druh Farrell et al. had their heart set on low floor from the beginning, as they want a cool hipster tram like Portland. Three of them actually went to Vancouver, Seattle and Portland and somehow decided that Vancouver's vastly better system was worse than the LRTs in the US cities. Madness.

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  #2055  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 9:39 PM
CrossedTheTracks CrossedTheTracks is offline
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To be somewhat charitable, I'm pretty sure Druh doesn't love low floors "because they're low floor", but because they enable stations that can fit into her ideal vision of an urban environment.

That stage 1 will have so few such stations certainly weakens the argument, but in any case, the real disagreement isn't about the position of the floor in the train, but whether you think the trains should integrate into an urban fabric or be separated from it. Obviously Druh and milomilo disagree fundamentally!
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  #2056  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 9:49 PM
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Im pretty sure she likes them because it’s the funky hipster thing of the moment, her minions will blow blindly go along with whatever she says.
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Originally Posted by CrossedTheTracks View Post
To be somewhat charitable, I'm pretty sure Druh doesn't love low floors "because they're low floor", but because they enable stations that can fit into her ideal vision of an urban environment.

That stage 1 will have so few such stations certainly weakens the argument, but in any case, the real disagreement isn't about the position of the floor in the train, but whether you think the trains should integrate into an urban fabric or be separated from it. Obviously Druh and milomilo disagree fundamentally!
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  #2057  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 9:49 PM
Corndogger Corndogger is offline
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Originally Posted by CrossedTheTracks View Post
To be somewhat charitable, I'm pretty sure Druh doesn't love low floors "because they're low floor", but because they enable stations that can fit into her ideal vision of an urban environment.

That stage 1 will have so few such stations certainly weakens the argument, but in any case, the real disagreement isn't about the position of the floor in the train, but whether you think the trains should integrate into an urban fabric or be separated from it. Obviously Druh and milomilo disagree fundamentally!
Druh could care less about the south part of the line. In her area she wants the train to disrupt traffic as much as possible--don't forget she was a huge advocate for putting it down the middle of the Center Street bridge and reducing it two lanes.

Like I've said before, I'm really surprised that people haven't picked up on what a complete disaster this is going to be. People in the far north think they are going to have a somewhat rapid ride into downtown which is just not going to be the case. I don't see anyone "winning" under this plan other than Druh and of course she'll be long gone before it's built.
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  #2058  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 9:56 PM
BlaineN BlaineN is offline
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I agree. Druh might be thinking of the urban fabric, but she's not thinking of the big picture and as usual only cares about one small part of the city. The whole green line end to end would be far better served by the existing train cars. The low floor thing is just an artsy fartsy fad.

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Im pretty sure she likes them because it’s the funky hipster thing of the moment, her minions will blow blindly go along with whatever she says.
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Originally Posted by Corndogger View Post
Druh could care less about the south part of the line. In her area she wants the train to disrupt traffic as much as possible--don't forget she was a huge advocate for putting it down the middle of the Center Street bridge and reducing it two lanes.

Like I've said before, I'm really surprised that people haven't picked up on what a complete disaster this is going to be. People in the far north think they are going to have a somewhat rapid ride into downtown which is just not going to be the case. I don't see anyone "winning" under this plan other than Druh and of course she'll be long gone before it's built.
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  #2059  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 10:26 PM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Obviously Druh and milomilo disagree fundamentally!
Definitely! I've come to realise that one of the biggest urbanist myths is that the rail infrastructure itself is what makes a place walkable, or urban. But this is not true! It's the access to public transit that is what matters, not actually having the rails outside the shops.

To be honest, I'm not necessarily fundamentally opposed to low floor LRT, it just has to be in the right context - which the Green Line is not. A low floor LRT down 17th Ave SE would probably work great. And if money was no object, I'd love a network of streetcars instead of buses - but money is an object and the you have to look at the value for money of these things. As I see it, the only true advantage an LRT has over a full metro is that it is cheaper - so if it is not cheap ($5B for half the Green Line certainly isn't!) then what is the point?

I am glad the Green Line is happening and think it will be great for the city, and the route that has been decided is pretty much bang on, I just think we have caused it to be flawed for no good reason. That the line ended up being too expensive and needs to be staged I think is a blessing in disguise, as it will allow us to look more critically at the surface running on Centre St.
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  #2060  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2018, 10:35 PM
topdog topdog is offline
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Thank you for pointing this out in a logical fashion rather than an emotional one. If I had a nickel for every fool who blindly followed the cool hip trends even though they weren’t the right trends, I’d be a millionnaire
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Definitely! I've come to realise that one of the biggest urbanist myths is that the rail infrastructure itself is what makes a place walkable, or urban. But this is not true! It's the access to public transit that is what matters, not actually having the rails outside the shops.

To be honest, I'm not necessarily fundamentally opposed to low floor LRT, it just has to be in the right context - which the Green Line is not. A low floor LRT down 17th Ave SE would probably work great. And if money was no object, I'd love a network of streetcars instead of buses - but money is an object and the you have to look at the value for money of these things. As I see it, the only true advantage an LRT has over a full metro is that it is cheaper - so if it is not cheap ($5B for half the Green Line certainly isn't!) then what is the point?

I am glad the Green Line is happening and think it will be great for the city, and the route that has been decided is pretty much bang on, I just think we have caused it to be flawed for no good reason. That the line ended up being too expensive and needs to be staged I think is a blessing in disguise, as it will allow us to look more critically at the surface running on Centre St.
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