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Old Posted Aug 3, 2018, 6:05 PM
Makid Makid is online now
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Originally Posted by GlassCity View Post
I know light rail is a broad category. I use it as short-hand for urban, in-street non-grade separated rail, and I always assume others do too, so that's my bad. I do think however that the common freeway/railway alignments alternatives, even when grade-separated, are stupid for a different set of reasons. But yeah, when I criticize light rail, I'm thinking Portland Yellow Line, Minneapolis Green Line, Phoenix light rail, etc.

In any case, yes there are places where it's done better than others, in that it comes much closer to metro standards. My beef is with those where they just plop it down into a street and that buses could do just as well. Comparable BRT systems don't cost nearly as much as LRT systems cost, and they're much easier to replace with real rapid transit one day.

If we're using specific examples, a Vancouver suburb wants to replace a bus line with an LRT line right now. The projected time saving is ONE minute off the current bus route, that doesn't even have its own lanes or anything. At a cost of $2 billion. I'm sure the LRT is an improvement in Houston, but it's not even close to the improvement a metro would be. Plus, shifting buses to inner lanes could be done too, and "not building rails" saves a ton of money.

Either way, my argument's less about buses this time and more compared to metros. In-street urban light rail is significantly slower than grade-separated metros, so no, I don't think it fills its role at all. It might fill its role as the primary spine of the transit network, but that's a job that a real metro could do so much better, and though it's more expensive, you'll get much more value for your money.

Sorry, I know that was all over the place, but I'm exhausted. If this discussion continues I hope to give you a much more coherent response tomorrow
-- If this deserves its own topic please feel free to move this post --

I have added a bold section to the quote above as it is a topic I have been talking on recently both in the local transit forum and on other forums. I have also been trying to push what I will describe to transit planners, transit agencies and such as a way to potentially improve transit ridership and improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow while possibly saving money from a full blown BRT build out.

I will preface this by saying this will not work in all situations and all streets but it could work in many cities on many streets/roads.

Has anyone thought about why bus infrastructure is laid out the way it is? Why are the stops on the sidewalks? Why are they predominantly at the corners? For cities with bus lanes, why are they predominantly in the outer most lanes?

Next you have the cities that have Streetcars or LRT that is separated from traffic but is also next to the curb. In some cases, there is no corresponding return option for at least 1 block.

Now, I do live in Salt Lake City, land of wide streets and blocks that go on forever, so we can fit everything in our streets. But as I said earlier, it may not work on all streets/roads it can work on many.

When Salt Lake City was first building its Light Rail system the City had cited a study that stated it was safer for pedestrians to only cross 1/2 the street to reach transit as opposed to the entire street.

This is why the entire Light Rail system in Salt Lake City runs in the center of the street once it exits a dedicated ROW just north of 1300 South. The system has dedicated lanes with stations stations in between the tracks. This is the same for the branch to the University along 4th South, to the Airport and to the Central Station where it meets FrontRunner (Commuter Rail).

Now, if it is true that it is safer for pedestrians to reach transit to only cross 1/2 the street, why aren't more transit connections in the middle of the street? Cost. Everyone thinks it has to be either LRT or BRT because no one wants to upset the current transportation paradigm.

Let's move buses from the outside lanes to the inside lanes. Within the downtown areas, add mid-block pedestrian crossings to a center pedestrian transit station where they area able to congregate and await their bus safely. They can pre-purchase tickets or other pre-boarding procedures while waiting.

For outside of Downtown areas, the pedestrian station can be placed back just far enough before the left turn lane to not cause issues. It would need dedicated pedestrian signals for safety. In some suburban areas, the stations could be located up to 1 mile apart or further if needed.

Buses would have doors on both sides of the bus but would be primarily using those on the left side since that is the lane the bus would be driving in.

This could be called BRTOT or Bus Rapid Transit Over Time.

A BRT project with full bi-direction lane separation, right of way, signal prioritization, stations, buses and more for say 12 miles, depending on the area could range between $350 and nearly $1 Billion.

Using BRTOT, the Transit Agency would just need to procure the buses, work with the City and DoT as needed to build the island stations and protected pedestrian intersections to the stations. If the agency is able to get signal priority as well that can further enhance the speed of the routes.

As the costs would vary based on route length and frequency, I used a few routes around the Salt Lake City metro area to get an idea. Some run at 15 minute frequencies, others at 30 minute frequencies. I was able to get an average cost $25 Million a route.

Costs do go down if you have more than 1 route that shares a portion of a given route which also increases efficiency. This also allows additional frequencies to be added to routes the same way, just add a bus. When ridership on a given route gets high enough to deem to be upgraded further in a segment to separated BRT, minimal work is needed to add a barrier between the now dedicated bus way and the vehicle lane. The center median can be landscaped over time.

The difference between a single BRT line or multiple BRTOT lines is drastic. Even if they didn't add/upgrade as many BRTOT but upgraded frequency to at least 15 minutes on the BRTOT routes they do add/upgrade, I would expect that the projected ridership and development potential would be close to what the transit agencies are forecasting. Transit times are probably only slightly slower if that from dedicated BRT on the route as well if signal priority is provided.

This is a transit option that hasn't been tested because no one has wanted to upset the balance but I think it should be tried.

Even traffic researchers can see that something needs to change with regards to Left Turns and maybe this is something that could change it as opposed to radical transportation designs around driving: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/...d-medians.html.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2018, 7:40 PM
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scalziand scalziand is offline
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For comparison sake:
The recently completed Hartford-New Britain busway forms the core trunk route of teh CTFastrak system. It cost ~$600million to build the 9.4mile busway on an old rail line. It serves 12 routes.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2018, 7:45 PM
Crawford Crawford is online now
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Originally Posted by Eightball View Post
3k daily riders on a 3 mile streetcar in Detroit seems like a huge success to me. What am I missing? Transit usage there is quite minimal and the line is very short. It just needs to be extended!
They spent hundreds of millions of dollars to have lower ridership than they previously had with buses. Not sure how that can be remotely considered successful.

And transit usage on Woodward Avenue is not minimal. Detroit has/had strong bus ridership on this one route.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2018, 3:18 PM
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M II A II R II K M II A II R II K is online now
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Another Phoenix Light Rail Fail: Light Rail KILLS Transit Systems



- Well, another year's ridership numbers are out for Valley Metro and Phoenix light rail and they are just as grim as they have been every year since Phoenix spent the first $1.4 billion on the first leg of the rail system.


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Old Posted Aug 10, 2018, 3:52 PM
dubu dubu is offline
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you got to have a commuter line and more then one light rail line. the location of the city doesnt help, people would rather be nice and chill in there cars.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2018, 5:09 PM
exit2lef exit2lef is online now
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The rabidly anti-rail Coyote Blog consistently ignores a number of factors:

-- Phoenix's current light rail line was built along the path of its most heavily traveled bus route. Since trains replaced buses along much of that corridor, it's only natural to expect a migration of bus riders to rail.

-- Rail funding has not starved bus funding in Phoenix. Phoenix voters approved a tax increase in 2015 that provides revenue for both. Since then, the bus fleet has been updated, service frequency has been improved, and service hours have been extended to match rail.

-- Overall decreases in transit ridership are a nationwide trend with possible causes that include an improving economy, low gas prices, and the rise of so-called "rideshare" services. Phoenix has actually done better than most U.S. cities in terms of retaining transit ridership in the face of trends that are being felt far more severely in other cities.
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