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Thread: Transit system between busses and light rail

  1. #1
         
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    Transit system between busses and light rail

    I'm interested in learning about a transit system that's slightly above busses but not quite in the "light rail" league.

    I've heard that some cities have implemented "light rail on rubber wheels" as a cheaper alternative to conventional light rail. I believe that the newest line of the Los Angeles' metro system was just like that.

    Can you point out any other examples and give me your general thoughts?

  2. #2
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Here's a good example from Bogota. I'm sure there are better articles than this, but this is the one I have bookmarked.

    http://yesmagazine.org/article.asp?id=615

  3. #3
    That is a great article about Bogota. I have a lot of respect for what Enrique Penalosa has accomplished in this city. I recently saw this picture about one of their "no-car" days.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails what_city, world.jpg  

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    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Everyone out there's heard of Curitiba, right? Though Curitiba is closer to a bus-subway than a bus-light rail system.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Albuquerque has something called "rapid ride" which is an articulated express bus system. One of its functions is to feel out routes for potential light rail (or electric streetcar as they are currently considering) by assessing levels of ridership and generating interest. I am somewhat skeptical that the electric streetcar will ever go in given its cost and our lack of money, but that's another story.

    Rapid Ride also has wireless internet access. They are definitely trying to attract a higher socio-economic commuter ridership that generally shuns riding the regular bus system (which still exists).

    Here's a link: http://www.cabq.gov/transit/rapidbus2.html

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by njm
    Though Curitiba is closer to a bus-subway than a bus-light rail system.
    Not really. The buses do not run in tunnels, they just use reserved lanes in the middle of boulevards. The only parallel to a subway would be pre-paying and the loading platforms (which many light rail systems have).

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    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    Not really. The buses do not run in tunnels, they just use reserved lanes in the middle of boulevards. The only parallel to a subway would be pre-paying and the loading platforms (which many light rail systems have).
    Actually, I have not seen that many pre-pay light rail systems. Except where light rail runs underground. (i.e. Boston, Brussels.) Pray-tell where you've seen them.

    Other subway-like features in Curitiba include: 90 second headways, the tri-articulated busses, and the frequent crush-loads.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by njm
    Pray-tell where you've seen them.
    Boston, San Francisco, Portland (POP), and Los Angeles (POP).

    Quote Originally posted by njm
    Other subway-like features in Curitiba include: 90 second headways, the tri-articulated busses, and the frequent crush-loads.
    All characteristics of many light-rail systems (see above).

  9. #9
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    Boston, San Francisco, Portland (POP), and Los Angeles (POP).

    All characteristics of many light-rail systems (see above).
    Proof of purchase isn't very subway-like. Furthermore, Boston and SF are only pay-to-enter when UNDERGROUND, a caveat that I'd already acknowledged. Curitiba is pay-to-enter, not proof of purchase for all stations along the busways. Try as you might, I'm going to go by the words of my friends who have been to Curitiba.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Samminn
    I'm interested in learning about a transit system that's slightly above busses but not quite in the "light rail" league.

    I've heard that some cities have implemented "light rail on rubber wheels" as a cheaper alternative to conventional light rail. I believe that the newest line of the Los Angeles' metro system was just like that.

    Can you point out any other examples and give me your general thoughts?
    Here's a webpage that gives a good description of such transit systems/vehicles:
    New-Era High-Tech Buses

    A group of planners, politicians, and business leaders are trying to get one of these systems (either the Bombardier or Translohr version) built here in Milwaukee to link Downtown with surrounding nearby neighborhoods: Milwaukee Connector Project

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by njm
    Try as you might, I'm going to go by the words of my friends who have been to Curitiba.
    I have been there too my friend and written several papers on it. Not trying to start an argument, I just don't see how a bus system could ever be compared to a heavy rail rapid transit system, especially since Curitiba is planning to replace one of its major express bus spines with a light rail line..

  12. #12
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    I have been there too my friend and written several papers on it. Not trying to start an argument, I just don't see how a bus system could ever be compared to a heavy rail rapid transit system
    when it's set up like a heavy rail rapid-transit system

    especially since Curitiba is planning to replace one of its major express bus spines with a light rail line..
    And I'm sure they'll love it until they realize it won't provide them with much more capacity after having spent a fortune building it.

    I never said it was "a subway, with buses" anyway. I said it's a subway-bus hybrid over a subway-light rail hybrid. It employs more ideas of a subway (largest vehicle possible, short headways, no mixed traffic, pay-to-enter boarding) than it does light-rail ideas (some mixed traffic, proof of payment, intermediate vehicle size to negotiate tighter turning radii.)

    Now unless my friend lied to me all along, this is a pretty accurate assessment.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by njm
    when it's set up like a heavy rail rapid-transit system



    And I'm sure they'll love it until they realize it won't provide them with much more capacity after having spent a fortune building it.

    I never said it was "a subway, with buses" anyway. I said it's a subway-bus hybrid over a subway-light rail hybrid. It employs more ideas of a subway (largest vehicle possible, short headways, no mixed traffic, pay-to-enter boarding) than it does light-rail ideas (some mixed traffic, proof of payment, intermediate vehicle size to negotiate tighter turning radii.)

    Now unless my friend lied to me all along, this is a pretty accurate assessment.
    I think you may be considering the words "light rail" and "streetcar" as being synonynous...

  14. #14
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Markitect
    Here's a webpage that gives a good description of such transit systems/vehicles:
    New-Era High-Tech Buses

    A group of planners, politicians, and business leaders are trying to get one of these systems (either the Bombardier or Translohr version) built here in Milwaukee to link Downtown with surrounding nearby neighborhoods: Milwaukee Connector Project
    Besides the cost ($300M), a *BIG* problem with this propsed line is that it may not work in ice and/or snow, someting that Milwaukee experiences 3-4 months every year.

    I firmly believe that if the powers-that-be in Milwaukee are so enamoured with electric powered transit, they should just use that money to restore the über-extensive trackless trolley bus system that the area once had (one can string a lot of that kind of wire for that money). It was replaced with diesel busses when petroleum-based diesel fuel was reeeeeeally cheap (early 1960s).

    Mike

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    Look at OMNITRANS, San Bernardino CA. They are planning a system

    Quote Originally posted by Samminn
    I'm interested in learning about a transit system that's slightly above busses but not quite in the "light rail" league.

    I've heard that some cities have implemented "light rail on rubber wheels" as a cheaper alternative to conventional light rail. I believe that the newest line of the Los Angeles' metro system was just like that.

    Can you point out any other examples and give me your general thoughts?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920
    Besides the cost ($300M), a *BIG* problem with this propsed line is that it may not work in ice and/or snow, someting that Milwaukee experiences 3-4 months every year.
    So I assume then that it's substantally different than Toronto's system, which tends to work better than its busses in ice and snow?

    In Chicago, it's often the case that the trains are the only things still moving during major snowstorms.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  17. #17
         
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    Thanks a lot everyone. Very helpful.

    Has someone here worked on planning such a system and perhaps participated in implementing one?

    And also, what about the dilemma between construction cost, regional vs. state? Transit projects can help reduce traffic and lower the needs for traffic improvements when transit systems like this follow new development. But isn't it so in the US that state and federal funds are only viable for traffic projects, not transit projects? You know of any examples of how this awful dilemma can, or has been worked out?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- Between around 1980 and 1997, very little Federal money went to transit because there was no mechinism to fund it. After 1997, the Transport Equity Act (TEA) authorizations have diverted around 20% of Federal transportation money to transit projects. That money is very competitive (because there's not nearly enough to fund all the transit projects people want) and transit projects generally end up only getting something like 60% of their funding from the Feds (with the rest coming from state and local sources), compared to around 80% for highway projects.

    The Federal government provides virtually no operating funding for transit, except for small cities.

    State funding for public transport depends on the state.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    ^-- Between around 1980 and 1997, very little Federal money went to transit because there was no mechinism to fund it. After 1997, the Transport Equity Act (TEA) authorizations have diverted around 20% of Federal transportation money to transit projects. That money is very competitive (because there's not nearly enough to fund all the transit projects people want) and transit projects generally end up only getting something like 60% of their funding from the Feds (with the rest coming from state and local sources), compared to around 80% for highway projects.

    The Federal government provides virtually no operating funding for transit, except for small cities.

    State funding for public transport depends on the state.

    Since 1991 you can also transfer your STP funds from FHWA to FTA. The reverse is also true, you can take your transit money and 'flex' it for roads as well. The real problem in starting or expanding a transit system is coming up with the matching funds to access those federal dollars and also operating funds. These are not popular taxes as people don't understand the true cost of transportation, and never really think about the benefits of transit as well.

    Mihcigan subsidizes public transit through an up to ten percent take down on its state gas tax. This is not enough to run the system, but does provide the funding needed for acessing the federal capital funds. With increases in the amount of transit funding, and decreases in road funds, and the goal to improve roads in this freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw state, there just doesn't seem to be enough money anymore. This means that prioritization and looking for other resources has become important for both the roadside and the transit side.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  20. #20
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    This report might be of interest. It has an interesting series of drawings and ideas about moving from a car oriented design, to a separate transitway for buses to eventually light rail (streetcar)

    Caution the file is huge (15meg) and only a small part of it deals with a transitway.

    http://www.city.vaughan.on.ca/newsce...hill_yonge.pdf

    This report may also be of interest

    http://www.region.york.on.ca/Service...th+Link+EA.htm
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  21. #21
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    While still light rail. . . spokane is considering a diesel option ot avoid the elelctrical infrastructure invovled in traditional light rail.

    http://www.spokanelightrail.com/spok...b.aspx?id=1495

    http://www.spokanelightrail.com/spok...b.aspx?id=1514

    at $14.5m per mile the cost isn't that bad. . .

  22. #22
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by planner?
    While still light rail. . . spokane is considering a diesel option ot avoid the elelctrical infrastructure invovled in traditional light rail.

    http://www.spokanelightrail.com/spok...b.aspx?id=1495

    http://www.spokanelightrail.com/spok...b.aspx?id=1514

    at $14.5m per mile the cost isn't that bad. . .
    Diesel is generally a bad idea if you want a system akin to Portland's downtown integrated light rail, but if it is operating a bit apart, similar perhaps to extended commuter rail, on traditional rail lines, then diesel is usually acceptable.

  23. #23
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    cycling in devloping nations

    Quote Originally posted by Powered by Sweat
    That is a great article about Bogota. I have a lot of respect for what Enrique Penalosa has accomplished in this city. I recently saw this picture about one of their "no-car" days.
    Cycling in Colombia has to be put into perspective. Colombia is probably the biggest cycling country in the Western Hemisphere; for sure it is in Latin America.

    El Mundo a newspaper from Medellin, http://www.elmundo.com/ sponsors
    16th Clascico Nacional de Ciclismo Infantil replete with yellow jerseys (camisetas amarillas) for the winners, which means it started in 1989/1990. I can't think of any city in United States that has a similar event that attracts as many children cyclists in a city(around 6000). Colombia also has some world renown cyclists, http://outside.away.com/outside/feat...go_pena_2.html.
    Good quote:

    "European riders like the legendary Italian Fausto Coppi, who'd won both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in 1949 and 1952. In 1958, Coppi got schooled by the locals on epic high-altitude climbs like Medellín's 19-mile Alto de Minas. "

    *Santiago Botero of Phonak is from Medellin

    Not to bash anyone, but generally in America we feel since we are rich we automatically have better education, development of movements, etc than other poorer nations. It ain't true at all. Cycling in Colombia dwarfs America's fascination with bicycles.

    Im not trying to say the poster was assuming anything, like Colombia was given cycling by a generous major or that the major introduced city-wide cycling events to the country, but there are some people who will assume he Penalosa did created something from nothing just because it is a developing country.


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  24. #24
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    Emerald Express In eugene OR is under construction and should be completed this fall.

    The Wasatch front is considering expanding the mass transit system to include BRT. It is still in the study phase, but some lines do appear on the long range plan, which means they are eligible for funding.

  25. #25
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cololi
    Emerald Express In eugene OR is under construction and should be completed this fall.

    The Wasatch front is considering expanding the mass transit system to include BRT. It is still in the study phase, but some lines do appear on the long range plan, which means they are eligible for funding.
    I checked out the Emerald Express site and thought it was a rather interesting idea for the Lane County area which I have been to a number of times. Having grown up in Portland and lived there up until four years ago I have much experience using the bus and light rail systems there.

    In the dark ages I used to take the bus owing to the fact that I lived in the SW 'burbs of Portland and that's all there was. The routes were minimally convenient, took forever to get where you were going, and basically it was a if I must proposition. When I was in high school the 'burbs got many more lines with increased frequency of service and was much easier to ride. They (Tri-Met) also instituted a summer youth pass for $40 lasting June 1-August 31 and offered discounts at the zoo, McD's, and the like.

    When the light rail expanded to the west side I owned a car by then but I rode the train 3-4 days a week rather than drive to work and worry about parking the car etc. I loved it, same commute time more or less since the train isn't hindered by traffic, less stress, etc. The EmX looks like it has a similar feel, with the pre-paid ticket/pass system, boarding from left or right, bike friendly, and it's a hybrid vehicle so not spewing as much pollution. If Lane County can manage to keep the EmX lanes for only the EmX busses it should be pretty successful and certainly a cheaper alternative than light rail while providing desperately needed efficiency. I wish where I lived now would consider such a system, many more people would ride it if it were as convenient and easy as a car.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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