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Old December 31st, 2007, 05:01 PM   #21
greg_christine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milwaukee-københavn View Post
Baltimore and Minneapolis are very different cities. It would be unfair to expect development around the entire length of the rail system in Baltimore for a number of reasons:

1. Baltimore is a very economically depressed city. While I imagine that its extensive rail system has helped shelter the city from further decline, it won't fix years worth of social issues.

2. Baltimore has a relitavely extensive rail system. It would be nearly impossible for the city given its current socio-economic situation to support development along the entire length of the system.

Minneapolis is an economically prosperous city that has been experiencing significant development, especially along its current rail line. The light rail and streetcar lines are proposed or planned to complement and strengthen the development patterns that are already in place and help reduce bus congestion. They are also being planned by a relitavely progressive city government that has been very aggresive in addressing the other socio-economic issues that stang in the way of city-wide redevelopment.
Of the large cities on the Northeast Corridor (Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston), Baltimore has the least developed rail transit system. There is one heavy rail metro line that is 15.2 miles in length and has 14 stations and a daily ridership of 45,000.



There is also a light rail system that is 30 miles in length and has 33 stations and a daily ridership of 24,500.



The light rail system is shown on transit maps as having three routes but in reality it is a single line with two short spurs. Only three stations are not on the main trunk of the system.

It is true that much of the city of Baltimore is economically depressed; however, parts of the city are thriving and the metropolitan area that stretches from Washington to Baltimore is booming. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in central Baltimore is Fells Point. It is not served by rail transit. Meanwhile, sections of Howard Street that are directly on the light rail line remain derelict.

The point of this is that there is a limit to what rail transit can do in guiding development. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
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Old December 31st, 2007, 05:30 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slartibartfas View Post
Which ignores the benefits of leverage along those lines, like better walkability and less car dependence. Local centers of neighborhoods are exactly what cities need. Trams, but also light rail or subway are helping to create something like that. As you mentioned above, busses are not as good in causing that development.

That means those lines help increasing their own ridership, because things tend to concentrate aroudn the stations making the track increasingly more attractive for many people.

Of course a PT line is no garantee for development, but in city planning nothing is for sure, never.


PS:
What causes those higher operating costs of the tram line in comparision to electric trolley buses? What is included in these annual costs? I have already read about lines where the operating and maintenance costs of comparable streetcar and bus routes showed a 4 times higher number for the bus system. If I remember correctly.
The only comparisons in which I've seen higher operating costs quoted for buses compared to light rail are based on average cost per passenger for an entire network of bus lines. It's an apples and oranges comparison as the typical bus line has a ridership potential too low to be a candidate for conversion to light rail. The Orange Line BRT and Gold Line LRT in Los Angeles offer a good comparison for lines of similar length and with similar features that operate through areas of similar population density in the same city:

Opening Date
Orange Line BRT: October 29, 2005
Gold Line LRT: July 26, 2003

Route Length
Orange Line BRT: 14 miles
Gold Line LRT: 13.7 miles

Stations
Orange Line BRT: 13
Gold Line LRT: 13

Average Weekday Ridership
Orange Line BRT: 25,618
Gold Line LRT: 19,579

Cost of System
Orange Line BRT: $330 million
Gold Line LRT: $859 million

FY 2008 Operations Budget
Orange Line BRT: $21 million
Gold Line LRT: $42 million





The Orange Line BRT operates on its own right-of-way except where it crosses intersecting streets and at short turn-around areas at the ends of the line. It has many of the features of LRT including off-vehicle fare payment and traffic signal priority. Despite its relative low cost and high ridership compared to the light rail Gold Line, I have seen little enthusiam among transit agencies for considering BRT in lieu of LRT. Trains carry greater prestige. Las Vegas is the only city that I am aware of that seriously considered both LRT and BRT and chose the BRT option.
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Old January 2nd, 2008, 04:49 PM   #23
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Greg_Christine,
Verry good points about the rail, BRT, and Trolly buses. My comments were aimed at standard bus service not the other two (especially trolley buses). ROW BRT can work very well. I still stand by that people will and are far more willing to ride a train than any bus, at least in the USA. I rode the Charlotte Blue Line last week. In the words of fellow riders when they were talking to the conductor:

Conductor: "So, is there a reason so many kids are on the train to DT today that I do not know about"

Riders with kids:"No, we just wanted to take the kids on a ride on the train"

That comment would NEVER happen with a new bus line. Of course joy riders will not make a system viable in the long term, but they do help in the start.

Now, with that said, it is very true that sometimes BRT will work better, it really depends on the situation. Also, politically, trains are an easier sell to the public - esppecially if a tax is involved. The USA generally has issues with people seeing buses as transit for people that cannot afford cars. I certainly do NOT agree with that, but it is a fact.

Choice riders (people that can drive their car but choose not to) are more attracted to trains than a bus, no matter what city we are talking about. I would really like to see statistics that show the amount of choice riders using a given transit type.

However, with that said, the main issue is that BRT and trolley buses are generally not well executed. The system in LA is not the normal BRT system. It was well conceived and executed properly, it is a great example of what BRT should be, but it is not the normal BRT line in the US by any stretch of the imagination. Generally BRT is just a fancy bus in the normal traffic lanes with better stops and information at the stops, what is billed as "BRT" should really be what all of our bus lines are like.

So, I guess I am saying that I am for any well executed transit system that benefits the people of a metro area, be it BRT, LRT, Heavy Rail, Commuter rail, or a regular bus network.

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Old January 3rd, 2008, 07:27 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tampasteve View Post

So, I guess I am saying that I am for any well executed transit system that benefits the people of a metro area, be it BRT, LRT, Heavy Rail, Commuter rail, or a regular bus network.

Steve
That sounds like a reasonable stance.

I have to say however that I also myself appreciate tramways more than bus lines. I guess most people in Vienna will think of the streetcars better than of the busses. I dont know if this is based on reason, but its a fact.



I know this is from a biased page, but its sounded rather reasonably what they wrote:

http://www.lightrailnow.org/myths/m_...m#STL_20070531
http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_brt_2006-08a.htm
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Old January 4th, 2008, 03:43 AM   #25
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Light Rail Now makes some of the boldest claims of any transit advocacy website. Consider the relative cost claims made in the article at the following link based on the light rail and bus systems in St. Louis:

http://www.lightrailnow.org/myths/m_...m#STL_20070531

Quote:
It is particularly interesting to note that, even with its heavy capital costs, when operational costs are considered, St. Louis Metro's LRT in this period exhibits total costs slightly less than the agency's bus operations. However, higher total passenger-mileage was carried on the bus system, so a more complete analysis would require taking into consideration the differing life-cycle costs for each mode (e.g., railcars last considerably longer than motor buses) by annualizing capital costs.

To obtain a total annualized cost figure for each mode, capital costs were annualized using common economic analysis (see discussion below). Annual operating costs were averaged for the 10-year period, as was annual passenger-mileage for each mode – reflecting the advantages of the longer lives of both LRT infrastructure and rolling stock.

For bus, average annual O&M costs were $104.6 million, and average passenger-mileage was 139.0 million. For LRT, average annual O&M costs were $26.2 million, and average passenger-mileage was 104.8 million.

Via this "averaging" method, with annualized capita costs, the total cost per passenger-mile for each mode was calculated as follows:

· Bus – $0.88
· LRT – $0.74

This suggests that, with total capital and operational costs considered, St. Louis's "capital-intensive" LRT ends up costing approximately 16% less per passenger mile than the agency's supposedly "cheap" bus system.
St. Louis has two light rail lines and dozens of bus routes. Many of the bus routes serve less densely populated suburban areas and feed passengers into the light rail routes. The typical bus route has a ridership potential too low to be a candidate for conversion to light rail. The costs per passenger-mile quoted in the article are skewed by the fact that many of the buses operate on routes with low ridership potential.

It is useful to compare the rhetoric from both sides. The following website is critical of the light rail system in St. Louis:

http://www.publicpurpose.com/ut-stl-lr94.htm

The following graphic from the above website shows bus ridership in yellow and light rail ridership in green:



It makes the story that light rail has done little to improve overall transit ridership in St. Louis and that the high cost of light rail may actually have contributed to the degredation of the bus service. I don't agree with many of the claims of this article. There are no doubt other factors that contributed to the drop in overall usage of transit services, but the article does make an interesting counterpoint to the Light Rail Now article. The ridership curves end in 2004. I belive recent extensions of the light rail system have resulted in a large boost in ridership.

Now, consider the ridership claims made in the second Light Rail Now article:

http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_brt_2006-08a.htm

Quote:
Los Angeles, 2003-2006 – Two recent public transit facilities of nearly the same length – the Gold Line LRT (a 13.7-mile line opened in July 2003, serving the Pasadena area northeast of central LA) and the Orange Line "BRT" service (a 14-mile busway, opened in October 2005, operating predominantly on a dedicated busway through the San Fernando Valley) – seem to invite comparison. However, it must be emphasized that the two lines serve corridors with dramatically different characteristics.

The Orange Line busway operates in a much more mature transit corridor with a population within 0.5-mile of the line 42% greater than that along the Gold Line. In addition, the Orange Line serves at least 40% more major activity centers than does the Gold Line. [9, 10; population analysis by Darrell Clarke; other analysis by LRN]

It should be noted that, because of electric propulsion, better level crossing protection, and other factors, the Gold Line LRT provides an 18% faster schedule speed than the Orange Line "BRT". However, this advantage would appear to be matched in Orange Line service by the significantly lower peak-period headways (i.e., less waiting time for passengers) on the Orange Line busway: approximately 5 minutes average on the "BRT" vs. 11-13 minutes on the Gold Line LRT. [10]

Taking these factors into consideration, one would expect the Orange Line to be carrying approximately 59% higher ridership than the Gold Line at a comparable point from opening: January 2004 for the Gold Line vs. April 2006 for the Orange Line. At that point, the Gold Line's ridership was 15,400, and the Orange Line's was 18,700. However, to match the passenger-attracting performance of the Gold Line, with its denser and more transit-favorable corridor features factored in, the Orange Line busway should have been carrying about 24,500 rider-trips by April 2006. In other words, the Orange Line busway's ridership is approximately 24% lower than one would expect from a comparable LRT service in the same corridor.
I completely disagree with Light Rail Now's analysis of the relative ridership of the lines. I've been through the areas that each line operates and I am dubious of the claim that the Orange Line corridor is more densely populated. Also, the Gold Line has a much better route in my opinion. The terminus of the Gold Line is at Union Station on the perimeter of the main business district in downtown Los Angeles and connects directly to the Red Line Metro and the Metrolink commuter rail services. By comparison, the Orange Line has its terminus at the northern end of one of the branches of the Red Line Metro.

I do agree that the higher service frequency of the Orange Line contributes to its higher ridership. The Gold Line operates two-car trains with a capacity of about 300 passengers at fifteen minute headways for much of the day. The Orange Line operates 60-foot articulated buses with a capacity of only about 100 passengers at five minute headways for much of the day. The higher capacity of the light rail trains is actually a disadvantage in this instance as it has resulted in the transit agency choosing to operate trains at longer headways.

The Light Rail Now article is one of the few instances in which I've seen a number placed on the claim of the public being biased in favor of light rail over buses. Often when visiting a new city, I will spend an afternoon riding the rail transit lines but I have never gone out of my way to ride a bus line, so I can provide my own proof that a bias in favor of rail exists. The question that should be asked is whether this bias is enough to offset the added cost of light rail. Despite my qualms with Light Rail Now's analysis, I'll assume that their claim of a 24% ridership bias in favor of light rail is correct. Consider the numbers from the comparison of the Orange Line BRT and Gold Line LRT:

Cost of System
Orange Line BRT: $330 million
Gold Line LRT: $859 million

FY 2008 Operations Budget
Orange Line BRT: $21 million
Gold Line LRT: $42 million

The Gold Line cost more than twice as much to build and costs twice as much to operate. If LRT costs twice as much but garners only 24% greater ridership, BRT could still be considered the winner. To put it another way, a BRT line could be built twice as long as an LRT line for the same amount of money and this would more than offset the public ridership bias in favor of light rail.

I consider myself to be a supporter of light rail and rail transit in general and I certainly prefer light rail over buses; however, I don't buy any of the claims that light rail is more cost effective.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 06:11 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
Cost of System
Orange Line BRT: $330 million
Gold Line LRT: $859 million

FY 2008 Operations Budget
Orange Line BRT: $21 million
Gold Line LRT: $42 million

The Gold Line cost more than twice as much to build and costs twice as much to operate. If LRT costs twice as much but garners only 24% greater ridership, BRT could still be considered the winner. To put it another way, a BRT line could be built twice as long as an LRT line for the same amount of money and this would more than offset the public ridership bias in favor of light rail.

I consider myself to be a supporter of light rail and rail transit in general and I certainly prefer light rail over buses; however, I don't buy any of the claims that light rail is more cost effective.
I know your view is of course far superior to mine as you do know the details and you know the lines.

What I don't get though is how the operational costs can be two times as high for the Gold line. I would be very interested why this is the case. What makes the light rail so much more expensive in operation? Are there any numbers in detail or comparative studies?

I can not serve with any numbers, but I always thought that at least in Vienna which has in fact a very large tramway network (with one real light rail line interwebbed with it), the operation costs of are not inferior to the bus service, rather the opposite).
I think one major factor are the cost of maintenance of road or raillines. For the light rail the total costs are often added to the costs, for the bus service often nothing at all. Even though the bus service through its own operation and the heavy weight of the busses very well causes damages that have to be repaired regarding the street. The way you define and include those costs has a major impact on the overall maintenance costs.


I know that is yet another railway fan page I quote, but on the page of the PT-Vienna-fanclub (the page hosts bus as well as tram supporters though as both are important parts of the Viennese PT system), someone claimed that at the same high capacities, tramways are cheaper than busses. He further claims that the break through for the tramway is when a bus line needs a large capacity bus every 5 min to cope with the demand, when the costs of the rail are fully applied to the tramway, but the costs for the roadmaintenance are completely ignored for the bus. When you handle those costs differently, the break even point for the tramway comes already earlier. And of course does it matter how you handle the variable and fix costs...
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Old January 6th, 2008, 03:52 PM   #27
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Usually, a large part of the explanation is that the transit agency does not pay for the maintenance of the traffic lanes for buses but does pay for the maintenance of the tracks for trains; however, this explanation does not apply for the Orange Line in Los Angeles. The right of way is a former rail corridor. The transit agency paid to have it paved as a busway and I believe the transit agency pays for its maintenance.

The Orange Line probably would have been built as light rail if it were not for interference from the state legislature. A local member of the state legislature pushed through a measure that required any rail transit line in the corridor to be in a tunnel. He was trying to force the line to be an extension of the Red Line metro. Instead, the result was that light rail could not be built, so the project became BRT.

The following are some cost estimates from various transit studies that I have found on the Internet:

VANCOUVER - COQUITLAM/EVERGREEN LINE
Capital Cost
- Guided Buses: $285 Million
- Light Rail: $670 Million
- Skytrain: $840 Million
Operations and Maintenance Costs per Passenger Boarding
- Guided Buses: $4.10 /Passenger
- Light Rail: $6.95 /Passenger
- Skytrain: $4.30 /Passenger
Selected Mode: Light Rail

LAS VEGAS - HENDERSON TO NORTH LAS VEGAS
Capital Cost
- Bus Rapid Transit: $700 Million
- Light Rail: $1,115 Million
Operations & Maintenance Cost
- Bus Rapid Transit: $218 Million/Year
- Light Rail: $203 Million/Year
Selected Mode: Bus Rapid Transit

SAN JOSE - WARM SPRINGS BART CONNECTOR
Capital Cost
- Busway BRT: $1,155 Million
- Light Rail: $1,514 Million
- BART: $3,710 Million
Operations & Maintenance Cost
- Busway BRT: $19.5 Million/Year
- Light Rail: $41.8 Million/Year
- BART: $63.0 Million/Year
Selected Mode: BART

NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA
Capital Cost
- Bus Rapid Transit: $178 Million
- Light Rail: $250 Million
Operations & Maintenance Cost
- Bus Rapid Transit: $4.7 Million/Year
- Light Rail: $9 Million/Year
Selected Mode: No decision yet.

SEATTLE - I-90 TRANS-LAKE WASHINGTON LINE
Capital Cost
- Busway BRT: $3.1 - $4.2 Billion
- Rail Convertible BRT: $3.7 - $5.0 Billion
- Light Rail: $4.6 - $6.2 Billion
Operations & Maintenance Cost (Net change relative to common baseline)
- Busway BRT: -$5.5 million/year
- Rail Convertible BRT: -$17.2 Million/Year
-Light Rail: +$29.0 Million/Year
Selected Mode: Light Rail

SEATTLE - CAPITOL HILL STREETCAR STUDY
Capital Cost
- Electric Trolley Bus: $13.4 - $15.4 million
- Streetcar: $129.7 - $149.2 million
Annual Operating Cost
- Electric Trolley Bus: $3.5 million
- Streetcar: $5.2 million
Selected Mode: Streetcar

The interesting thing about the above list is that Las Vegas is the only place where BRT was selected despite the fact that it was the only place where LRT was predicted to have lower operating costs. It seems that these decisions seldom hinge on cost.

Higher riderhship is often the rationale used for selecting light rail. A major issue for projects for which federal funding is sought is that FTA guidelines do not allow for a ridership bias in favor of rail. Under the guidelines, bus and rail options with equal travel times and equal headways would be predicted to have equal ridership. I have heard rumors that the FTA guidelines may be changing to allow for a bias in favor of rail.
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Old January 6th, 2008, 05:00 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
Usually, a large part of the explanation is that the transit agency does not pay for the maintenance of the traffic lanes for buses but does pay for the maintenance of the tracks for trains; however, this explanation does not apply for the Orange Line in Los Angeles. The right of way is a former rail corridor. The transit agency paid to have it paved as a busway and I believe the transit agency pays for its maintenance.
I guess this argument evaporates as well if the Public transport is run by a city owned company like it is the case in Vienna

I want to add however that even if it is private run, this view is rather short sighted. Because if the transit agency does not pay for the stress it causes on the streets, someone else has to, which will to a large extend the tax payer anyway. I mean just because the transit agency gets away without the need to pay for it, does not mean that the costs for the society go away.

Private run companies may not care about the greater good, city authorities however should.



What I dont get though is, what that "Bus Rapid Transport" should be. I mean I have seen pictures and I have read about it, but I still dont get. It looks for me rather like an PR thing. Call the bus BRT and hope that people forget their rail bias.

What has this BRT that makes it so special?
Large busses, stops that are like the ones of streetcars, bus lanes? If thats all, I'll call that "BRT" simply "bus", because thats nothing the bus system in Vienna would not know as well. Perhaps I have overlooked something, then I would be pleased if you help me out.
Quote:
The Orange Line probably would have been built as light rail if it were not for interference from the state legislature. A local member of the state legislature pushed through a measure that required any rail transit line in the corridor to be in a tunnel. He was trying to force the line to be an extension of the Red Line metro. Instead, the result was that light rail could not be built, so the project became BRT.

The following are some cost estimates from various transit studies that I have found on the Internet:

VANCOUVER - COQUITLAM/EVERGREEN LINE
Capital Cost
- Guided Buses: $285 Million
- Light Rail: $670 Million
- Skytrain: $840 Million
Operations and Maintenance Costs per Passenger Boarding
- Guided Buses: $4.10 /Passenger
- Light Rail: $6.95 /Passenger
- Skytrain: $4.30 /Passenger
Selected Mode: Light Rail

LAS VEGAS - HENDERSON TO NORTH LAS VEGAS
Capital Cost
- Bus Rapid Transit: $700 Million
- Light Rail: $1,115 Million
Operations & Maintenance Cost
- Bus Rapid Transit: $218 Million/Year
- Light Rail: $203 Million/Year
Selected Mode: Bus Rapid Transit

SAN JOSE - WARM SPRINGS BART CONNECTOR
Capital Cost
- Busway BRT: $1,155 Million
- Light Rail: $1,514 Million
- BART: $3,710 Million
Operations & Maintenance Cost
- Busway BRT: $19.5 Million/Year
- Light Rail: $41.8 Million/Year
- BART: $63.0 Million/Year
Selected Mode: BART

NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA
Capital Cost
- Bus Rapid Transit: $178 Million
- Light Rail: $250 Million
Operations & Maintenance Cost
- Bus Rapid Transit: $4.7 Million/Year
- Light Rail: $9 Million/Year
Selected Mode: No decision yet.

SEATTLE - I-90 TRANS-LAKE WASHINGTON LINE
Capital Cost
- Busway BRT: $3.1 - $4.2 Billion
- Rail Convertible BRT: $3.7 - $5.0 Billion
- Light Rail: $4.6 - $6.2 Billion
Operations & Maintenance Cost (Net change relative to common baseline)
- Busway BRT: -$5.5 million/year
- Rail Convertible BRT: -$17.2 Million/Year
-Light Rail: +$29.0 Million/Year
Selected Mode: Light Rail

SEATTLE - CAPITOL HILL STREETCAR STUDY
Capital Cost
- Electric Trolley Bus: $13.4 - $15.4 million
- Streetcar: $129.7 - $149.2 million
Annual Operating Cost
- Electric Trolley Bus: $3.5 million
- Streetcar: $5.2 million
Selected Mode: Streetcar

The interesting thing about the above list is that Las Vegas is the only place where BRT was selected despite the fact that it was the only place where LRT was predicted to have lower operating costs. It seems that these decisions seldom hinge on cost.

Higher riderhship is often the rationale used for selecting light rail. A major issue for projects for which federal funding is sought is that FTA guidelines do not allow for a ridership bias in favor of rail. Under the guidelines, bus and rail options with equal travel times and equal headways would be predicted to have equal ridership. I have heard rumors that the FTA guidelines may be changing to allow for a bias in favor of rail.
thank you for the numbers, but is it possible to get numbers on what those operational costs of bus vs light rail consist of? I really am interested on why exactly the calculations see the bus to be cheaper in maintenance than light rail in most cases.

Thats what I simply dont get. If rideship bias provenly exists, that it is forbidden to involve it into calculations. I mean ridership predictions are at the very core of any efficiency analysis, the guidlines however force the responsible persons to ignore this important issue. Thats irrational.

If the FTA is going to change this, I support this step. I mean, I dont care if there is a bias towards bus or railbound systems, but its stupid to force the authorities to ignore this important factor.
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Old January 6th, 2008, 06:07 PM   #29
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BRT is only truely effective if it is built like it was in Ottawa. Express and local lanes, divided, grade-seperated, stations. Now all they need is level boarding . At the time LRT and BRT would have cost the same and the LRT would draw more riders, but they built the BRT for some odd reason.
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Old January 6th, 2008, 09:26 PM   #30
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They built BRT because it was started in the 1970's at the height of the bus craze and the busway was supposed to be a showpiece of Canada's bus industries. The system is designed so that local buses can wind through neighbourhoods before joining up with the busway and becoming express routes. Ottawa currently has plans to convert the system to LRT based on the success of their O-train.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 01:52 AM   #31
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delete.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 08:01 AM   #32
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Central Corridor planners approve the St Paul-Minneapolis rail route

Needless to say this will be a big deal for the Twin Cities, especially St Paul.

From today's St Paul Pioneer Press:

Central Corridor planners approve the St. Paul-Minneapolis rail route
While the decision is historic, many major issues must be resolved.
By Dave Orrick
[email protected]
Article Last Updated: 02/28/2008 06:32:11 AM CST

We have a route.

Not proposed, not envisioned, but planned — and supported by just about every public official with a say in it.

That's the bottom line after two votes Wednesday chose the route of the Central Corridor light-rail line linking downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis via University Avenue.

What we'll get is a $909.1 million, 11-mile, 20-station train running every 7 minutes, 30 seconds, 21 hours a day, seven days a week for a fare price that likely will be comparable to a bus ticket.

Decades of on-again, off-again hopes for such a connection coalesced in recent weeks as political, civic and business leaders compromised under the hammer of a looming federal deadline.

"This is a quantum leap forward," said Peter Bell, chairman of the Metropolitan Council, which will build the line beginning in 2010 and run trains starting in 2014.

"To get Minneapolis, St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, leaders of the Legislature, the University of Minnesota and the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) anywhere near the same page, much less on the same page, is amazing."

While many leaders called the votes historic, plenty of questions remain.

If the federal government signs off on the plan, the line will transform areas in its path, and no one has yet figured out exactly how. For example:

-- A six-block stretch of Washington Avenue through the University of Minnesota will be closed to cars — and possibly buses — to make way
for the two-car trains. Streets surrounding the U's East Bank and West Bank campuses will be significantly altered to handle the traffic; no one yet knows how.
-- University Avenue will be ripped up and resurfaced to accommodate trains running down the middle. Bus schedules will be altered, with some service being eliminated, some scaled back and two north-south routes added. Of the 1,156 curbside parking spaces now serving the thoroughfare's businesses, many will be gone. No one knows how many or how to deal with it. No parking lots are planned.

-- Downtown St. Paul will see trains running along Cedar Street, with parking eliminated and southbound traffic reduced to one lane. The block bounded by Cedar, Minnesota, Fourth and Fifth streets will be diagonally bisected to accommodate the tracks and a station. Along Fourth Street, parking will be eliminated and traffic reduced to one lane — no one knows which way yet — as the train travels to Union Depot in Lowertown, where more roads and potentially buildings will be altered by tracks leading to a train maintenance yard near the Lafayette Bridge over the Mississippi River.

-- The previously rail-less region will have a virtual transit party at the new Minnesota Twins stadium in downtown Minneapolis. There, riders from the Hiawatha Line (serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America), the planned Northstar Line (serving Hennepin and Anoka counties and points northwest) and the Central Corridor will share a station.

It took plenty of compromising to get there.

The U gave up on hopes for a tunnel beneath Washington Avenue on the East Bank campus.

Ramsey County gave up, at least for now, on plans to bring the train to the backside of Union Depot, where it could link with other envisioned transit lines.

And St. Paul and Ramsey County leaders agreed three additional stations along University Avenue — at Hamline Avenue, Victoria Street and Western Avenue — must take a back seat.

Infrastructure for them will be "roughed in," but the only way any will be built before 2014 is if the federal government changes its funding formula, or if other parts of the project appear to be cheaper than now thought. If that happens, building at least one of the stations is top priority, leaders agreed Wednesday.

The Met Council overwhelmingly approved the route Wednesday evening. Hours earlier, a key advisory panel, which includes St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and representatives from the Hennepin and Ramsey county boards and the University of Minnesota, unanimously approved the route.

On Monday, key leaders from the state House and Senate signed off on it during an informal meeting. Bell is appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has said he'll support the plan if everyone involved agrees, though a funding plan for the state's share of the cost — about $300 million — has not been formed.

The federal government, which will pay half the construction cost, must give its approval — a lengthy process that will formally begin in September, when the Met Council submits detailed engineering studies of how the project will be built. Officials are confident the plan has a good chance because the route approved Wednesday meets the FTA's complex funding formula.

"Transit funding can have more drama than Lindsay Lohan's social life," Rybak observed.

Indeed, a lot must be done before September, Bell said, "particularly at the university."

The U's Board of Regents has yet to address the route approved Wednesday, and Kathleen O'Brien, vice president for university services, said her vote in favor of the plan was "with reservations."

The U plans to continue studying its preferred options, a pair of paths through Dinkytown and along the northern edge of campus, where a series of new research and academic facilities are planned. Detailed studies on that route won't be available until May or June.

If it turns out that such a route is cheaper or better, officials could decide to go with it, but the move would delay the project at least a year.

O'Brien said her vote in favor of the Washington Avenue ground-level route was largely because the U doesn't want to force an unwarranted delay.

Bell said he's especially concerned about the impact of the so-called "transit mall" that would replace Washington Avenue between Coffman Memorial Union and McNamara Alumni Center.

Although it is not definite, Bell and others involved said it is unlikely cars would be able to use the Washington Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River, creating a traffic engineering imbroglio.

The plan adopted Wednesday calls for $39 million to deal with traffic snarls created by trains along the entire length of the line, and Bell said he fears, given the scenario at the U, the amount is "woefully inadequate."

The issue could be clarified by March 12, the next scheduled meeting of the advisory panel and the Met Council.

The Central Corridor will be the region's second light-rail line since streetcars disappeared half a century ago. The Hiawatha Line opened in 2004 and has exceeded ridership projections by 65 percent, according to the Met Council.

http://www.twincities.com/localnews/...nclick_check=1
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Old February 29th, 2008, 09:26 AM   #33
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Sounds good to me! Congratulations!
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Old March 1st, 2008, 08:21 PM   #34
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Good , i'm going to update my M-SP metro thread.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 08:25 PM   #35
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For the construction of the Corridor:

-- A six-block stretch of Washington Avenue through the University of Minnesota will be closed to cars — and possibly buses — to make way
for the two-car trains. Streets surrounding the U's East Bank and West Bank campuses will be significantly altered to handle the traffic; no one yet knows how.
-- University Avenue will be ripped up and resurfaced to accommodate trains running down the middle. Bus schedules will be altered, with some service being eliminated, some scaled back and two north-south routes added. Of the 1,156 curbside parking spaces now serving the thoroughfare's businesses, many will be gone. No one knows how many or how to deal with it. No parking lots are planned.

-- Downtown St. Paul will see trains running along Cedar Street, with parking eliminated and southbound traffic reduced to one lane. The block bounded by Cedar, Minnesota, Fourth and Fifth streets will be diagonally bisected to accommodate the tracks and a station. Along Fourth Street, parking will be eliminated and traffic reduced to one lane — no one knows which way yet — as the train travels to Union Depot in Lowertown, where more roads and potentially buildings will be altered by tracks leading to a train maintenance yard near the Lafayette Bridge over the Mississippi River.

-- The previously rail-less region will have a virtual transit party at the new Minnesota Twins stadium in downtown Minneapolis. There, riders from the Hiawatha Line (serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America), the planned Northstar Line (serving Hennepin and Anoka counties and points northwest) and the Central Corridor will share a station.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 08:37 AM   #36
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yay the united states is finally embracing Mass Transit finally this could be a new age in the united states and a better one as well.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 03:14 PM   #37
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That is great! Wow, Minneapolis/St. Paul is really going to be a great transit town in 15 years or so! Good for you guys! Man, it makes me so jealous....all we have in Tampa is our crappy bus system and 2.4 mile streetcar line in a tourist area.

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Old March 2nd, 2008, 05:16 PM   #38
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There is also plans for a Southwest Line, which is years off, and the Northwest (Bottineau) Line, which will be LRT or BRT.

Northstar Commuter Rail opens in 2009.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #39
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MINNEAPOLIS | North Star Line

This is the first heavy rail commuter transit line in the Minneapolis-St Paul area. It is built along existing tracks and will compliment the Hiawatha light rail line from downtown Minneapolis to Bloomington via the airport. A 10 mile central corridor light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St Paul is approved with pending construction and another light rail line from downtown Minneapolis to the southeastern suburbs is in the late planning stage and will probably begin construction within a year or two. This is an exciting time for rail transit in the region. Ten years ago Minneapolis-St Paul had no rail transit, by the middle of the next decade we should have the beginning of a real system with 4 lines up and running.

Finally, all aboard for Northstar

Some commuters rode for business and others just for pleasure during Northstar's long-awaited debut.

By BILL McAULIFFE, PAUL LEVY and JIM FOTI •, Star Tribune Staff Writers

Last update: November 17, 2009 - 12:08 AM

The last Northstar commuter train of the day left the Target Field station at 6:10 p.m. Monday, concluding a historic Twin Cities commuting day right on time.

For commuters on the state's first long-distance commuter rail line, it was a day to test connections and, in some cases, see what it was like just to ride a train.

"This is my first train trip," said Julie Schlangen, 31, on her way from St. Cloud to her job at the St. Paul Public Library. "I want to see how it works."

So did government officials, taxpayers and other commuters who had endured a nearly 13-year wait, a $317 million price tag and political derailments before Monday's maiden voyages on the 40-mile Northstar commuter line. Some passengers, like Schlangen, awakened hours before dawn for the novelty of taking that first train out of Big Lake, in Sherburne County. By the afternoon, though, most passengers seemed to have found a routine already, settling in to work on laptops, read, call home or just gaze into the urban night as the doors closed on the train's first day.

Metro Transit reported that more than 2,400 paying customers rode Northstar trains Monday. On a typical day, the line is projected to have 1,700 passengers each way.

Jim Hadfield, 58, of Big Lake, who works in sales in Minneapolis' Warehouse District, thinks the daily $14 round-trip fee may be more expensive than driving down Interstate 94. "But this is less of a hassle, definitely less stress," he said.

At Target Field, extra transit employees were on hand to shout directions to arriving passengers: "Light rail to downtown this way! Enter the skyway system at the 5th Street parking ramp!"

Planners of the Northstar line have been touting it as a way to get to the airport, and Mike Kaufman of Coon Rapids didn't waste any time giving it a try. Rolling suitcase in tow, he boarded Northstar at 7:42 a.m. (after a mad dash across the skyway at the Coon Rapids station) and transferred to a Hiawatha train to catch his 10:30 a.m. flight to Cincinnati. He expected to save nearly $100 on airport parking and spent $4 for his train ticket.

"Technically, I can get two hours of work done on my laptop -- an hour each way -- and I never could have done that in my car," said Vicki Domka, of Becker, who was riding her first train of any kind. "I can't believe how smooth this ride is."

Brent Neeser's 7-year-old seeing-eye dog, Boomer, was a picture of contentment as the Northstar train glided along while passengers smiled and smirked as they watched the stop-and-go traffic on Hwy. 10, which runs parallel to much of the rail line through Sherburne and Anoka counties.

A few snags

Trains were on time -- the first one arrived three minutes early -- but the first day was not entirely free of glitches. At Target Field, the doors of the 7:10 a.m. train didn't open for a few minutes, so its more than 300 passengers were stuck inside. Once they made their way upstairs to the Hiawatha station, light rail wasn't there to greet them because of a mechanical problem. A replacement Hiawatha train left the station at 7:25.

During the afternoon rush, there were some frantic dashes for closing doors, some doorway stumbles and even a few people who missed trains and had to wait for the next one. Only one person missed the final train, arriving at Target Field two minutes late on a connecting light-rail transit train.

The morning door delay was because of a conductor error, said Bob Gibbons, Metro Transit spokesman. "You can bet that won't happen again," he said.

Susan Sullivan of Andover hopes not. "When I got to the Government Center, it was 10 minutes later than my bus ever got me there," she wrote in an e-mail. "And I will be paying $2 more each day for the 'privilege' of riding this."

Gibbons said about 45 percent of the riders arriving in Minneapolis headed to the light-rail station, which also had its debut today, extending the Hiawatha line by three blocks. Nearly half the morning riders, had boarded at either Elk River or Coon Rapids.

Not every Northstar rider went all the way to Target Field, however -- Metro Transit reported that 32 morning riders were going between suburban stations.

Chuck Nyberg got on with his bicycle in Elk River and off in Anoka, where he works as an engineer. Keith Holkestad got on in Coon Rapids and was heading west to Elk River, where he works as a surveyor.

Drew Kniffin, 28, who lives in downtown Minneapolis, had a job interview in Elk River, with Northstar and his bicycle getting him there.

Unusual journeys

The sole outbound morning train to Big Lake had 44 customers when it headed northwest at 6:05 a.m. Kate Pound of St. Paul, was one of them and had one of the more complicated commutes. She rode her bicycle to a bus stop, transferred from the bus to a light-rail train and then to Northstar at Target Field. She departed the Big Lake station via a Northstar Link bus to her job as a geology teacher at St. Cloud State University.

"It's great, it's cheaper, I'm doing the right thing in terms of my carbon footprint," she said. "But what if I'm late and miss my connection in Big Lake? As long as I don't get stuck, this is the way to go."

Vlad and Genny Kedrosky, both 73 and retired teachers from Edina, said they got up at 2 a.m. and drove to Big Lake, just for the novelty of taking the initial 5 a.m. train to the Target Field station. They described themselves as "rail fans with nowhere to go." But they seemed to reach their desired destination.

"This was great," Genny Kedrosky said. "Even better than we'd hoped."


http://www.startribune.com/local/wes...7PQLanchO7DiUr

Last edited by Somnifor; November 17th, 2009 at 01:25 PM.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #40
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