daily menu » rate the banner | guess the city | one on oneforums map | privacy policy | DMCA | news magazine | posting guidelines

Go Back   SkyscraperCity > Infrastructure and Mobility Forums > Subways and Urban Transport

Subways and Urban Transport Metros, subways, light rail, trams, buses and other local transport systems



Global Announcement

As a general reminder, please respect others and respect copyrights. Go here to familiarize yourself with our posting policy.


Reply

 
Thread Tools
Old March 16th, 2007, 04:21 AM   #461
CrazyAboutCities
Registered User
 
CrazyAboutCities's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Seattle, Washington
Posts: 8,549
Likes (Received): 240

Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
I just looked at the webpage at the above link. The line item for the Capitol Hill project is a link to a PDF file titled "Enhanced Transit: Streetcar or Bus Connection between Downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill Station via First Hill (John Street) (Seattle)". The PDF file can be found at the following link:

http://soundtransit.org/Documents/pd...st_Hill_DP.pdf

The document provides the following numbers for the streetcar and bus options:

Average Weekday Ridership
Streetcar: 3,000 - 3,500
Bus: 2,000

Capital Cost (Millions)
Streetcar: $129.7 - $149.2
Bus: $13.4 - $15.4

Annual Operating Cost (Millions)
Streetcar: $5.2
Bus: $3.5
Thanks for the link. Its help me alot to get an idea what exactly third streetcar route would be like. It looks good!
CrazyAboutCities no está en línea   Reply With Quote

Sponsored Links
Old March 16th, 2007, 04:35 AM   #462
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

^I don't see the advantage to this. The ridership estimates versus costs are about the same (if we assume the average rider travels the same distance on bus versus streetcar).

The capital costs of the streetcar are an order of magnitute higher than bus. That money is far more logically spent on expanding the rapid transit system than duplicating an existing system.

Streetcars have far more ROW maintenance than do buses, so usually buses are cheaper to operate given ridership thresholds below 5000 passenger-miles/route mile.

And it would almost certainly have negative rider benefit, because a streetcar would be almost certainly be slower than a bus (which increases operating costs).

Long term, develop comprehensive rapid transit system that increases ridership base, THEN go back and convert bus lines to streetcar. By that time the ridership density would clearly make streetcar the better choice.

Build what you don't have first, then rebuild what you've got. Streetcars are usually gimmicks in the US.

Nate
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 06:25 AM   #463
UrbanBen
the transit nazi
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 966
Likes (Received): 12

Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
^I don't see the advantage to this. The ridership estimates versus costs are about the same (if we assume the average rider travels the same distance on bus versus streetcar).

The capital costs of the streetcar are an order of magnitute higher than bus. That money is far more logically spent on expanding the rapid transit system than duplicating an existing system.

Streetcars have far more ROW maintenance than do buses, so usually buses are cheaper to operate given ridership thresholds below 5000 passenger-miles/route mile.

And it would almost certainly have negative rider benefit, because a streetcar would be almost certainly be slower than a bus (which increases operating costs).

Long term, develop comprehensive rapid transit system that increases ridership base, THEN go back and convert bus lines to streetcar. By that time the ridership density would clearly make streetcar the better choice.

Build what you don't have first, then rebuild what you've got. Streetcars are usually gimmicks in the US.

Nate
Um. Look, I have no idea where you're coming up with these ideas, but we *had* streetcar density a hundred years ago, and we've got more density than that today. Yes, capital costs are high - but not as high as building it later when you decide it's a "better choice".
UrbanBen no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 07:03 AM   #464
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

Because Seattle had it then doesn't mean Seattle has it now. Density of people is independent of travel density of transit. Travel patterns and automobiles are other strong patterns in this picture.

That point is still independent of my argument that the capital expenses on a slow streetcar system are better spent on rapid transit, which everyone seems to think Seattle needs more of.

My ideas are well established in several analysis of transit economics. See Pushkarev, Zupan, et al (1982), Nehashi (1998), etc.

Nate
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 07:57 AM   #465
Jaxom92
Urban Studies Grad
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 203
Likes (Received): 0

I don't know of any "gimmick" modern street car lines in the U.S. Our waterfront streetcar could be considered a tourist attraction (if they ever get that new maintenance shed built), but it is a legitimate form of public transportation. The monorail is more a gimmick than the streetcar line. Also, the history of urban streetcars in the U.S. is anything but gimmicky.

Portland has a very successful streetcar line that's currently under expansion. I think a network of neighborhood street car lines would create an extremely attractive environment. More so than buses. The general population is also more inclined to ride streetcars versus buses due to this attractive factor.

The speed of the street car isn't any slower than a bus. It is probably faster in most cases because buses must stop for traffic and lights while a street car has signal priority. Tacoma Link is essentially a streetcar system and even in light traffic it is faster than the buses that run on the same route (excluding headways, which are ten minutes). Heavy traffic it's a hands down win. First hill has a large work force due to the hospitals up there. Rush hour traffic is conceivably heavy because of this. I don't know this for sure because I've never been in the neighborhood. But the point is still valid.
__________________
Jax
Jaxom92 no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 08:31 AM   #466
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

Well, put it this way:

Based on the pdf presented above the line would be 2.2 miles long, IIUC.
Even if the average passenger traveled 75% the length of the route the operating cost per passenger-mile for streetcar (3250 riders) would be

$2.66 (7 day a week service)

For the bus:

$3.39 (only 6 day a week service with 2000 riders)

Here we see the streetcar has 28% greater operating efficiency than the bus. Either way these costs are extremely high by any standard.

The FTA's November 2006 listing for cost per passenger-mile for the University Link segment (I don't know if this includes or not the first segment in it's computations, but it doesn't take away from the point) is

$0.40. Pretty darn good. (Making a good case for Heavy).

The capital costs of a streetcar line are 10 times higher than for bus. The FTA's estimates for 'years of useful life for a mixed traffic guideway' is 20 years. That essentially means that every 20 years one is required to invest in the cost to rebuild the guideway at a similar cost, presumably at that $100+ million amount. (Fully grade-seperated surface and tunnel are rated at 125 years, FWIW).

Streetcars work best in small-medium, compact, relatively dense cities with very limited suburban extensions (like Europe and the US before WWII). Unless a city has an HRT system as the backbone, streetcars don't generally exist in big cities that lack density and compactness. Seattle may one day be transit oriented enough so that densities are higher on transit to justify streetcars (like most US cities).

The bus alternative would probably be more operationally economical than streetcar were the route longer, which should be easy to do. 2.2 miles is just too short. Making the streetcar longer would greatly add to its capital costs.

Wouldn't Seattlites rather have that money going to ensure expansion of Link Light Rail?

I'd say most are gimmicks from a cost/benefit perspective. It's mostly illusion and romance. You can bike faster than the Portland streetcar, I think; it averages between 6-7 mph or something.

Please audit this if I've made any math errors or interpretive mistakes about this project. It's late and I could have misread.

Nate

Edit: Looking more closely, it seems the bus route is about 0.4 to 0.5 miles longer (the distance from John to Aloha). One might expect the average travel distance to decline as a percentage as the route becomes longer. At 70% of route length for the bus, and 7 days a week (I overlooked), the costs are more roughly equal, making streetcar less economically logical. Of course, one wouldn't expect weekday ridership on weekends, so the the per unit costs are higher still. I think the Link figure was for weekdays only.

Last edited by getontrac; March 16th, 2007 at 09:19 AM.
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 08:37 AM   #467
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

Apples to apples:

One can give the bus the same as the streetcar. Streetcar doesn't necessarily imply signal priority or pre-emption.

All things being equal, bus is usually faster. Streetcars are at the mercy of their slow braking systems and whatever might be in front of them.

Nate
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 08:41 PM   #468
Jaxom92
Urban Studies Grad
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 203
Likes (Received): 0

I have a couple things today. First is a Seattle Times article that talks about the testing. The information is about the same as in the Sound Transit news release from yesterday, but the article also goes into more of the safety issues. While this article isn't in the editorial section, the implied opinion is that there isn't enough being done for safety in the Rainier Valley corridor.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...safety16m.html

The second item is another photo, this time of trains testing in SODO.

__________________
Jax
Jaxom92 no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 08:58 PM   #469
UrbanBen
the transit nazi
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 966
Likes (Received): 12

Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
Apples to apples:

One can give the bus the same as the streetcar. Streetcar doesn't necessarily imply signal priority or pre-emption.

All things being equal, bus is usually faster. Streetcars are at the mercy of their slow braking systems and whatever might be in front of them.

Nate
I think you may be missing the biggest impacts here - a streetcar is much more permanent than a bus. Portland's streetcar contributed to the attraction of over a billion dollars in new development.

Even the FTA recognizes that more people will ride a streetcar than a bus in the same corridor - there's already bus service in that corridor, and it's packed. The streetcar will add service that doesn't already exist, in a class that doesn't already exist. More importantly - that extra 1-3,000 riders a day will also ride other parts of the system - you're not just talking about that one corridor.

Arguing individual cost/benefit points doesn't work in transportation just as it doesn't work in any macroeconomic system. Once you take a more holistic view, I think you'll see why so many cities build streetcar lines - they have more benefits than just rider per dollar.
UrbanBen no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 11:10 PM   #470
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

Then I think we can agree to disagree here.

Seattle will gain more riders by spending that capital money on rapid transit than on an expensive variation low-ridership service. The project is a low ridership line, according to the numbers for a streetcar.

I think my contention is truly much more holistic than building all these expensive streetcars. You've already got slow, local transit, do the bus alternative instead, save your pennies for what you don't have enough of--Link LR, the more Seattle saves now, the more it will be able to expand, sooner.

If funding is tight or problematic (as it certainly has been), direct your money toward your priorities. What is more important, getting a slow streetcar, or expanding Link faster? I get the impression Link is the bigger priority.

If you build the bus alternative, you've not spend $100 million that can be put toward Link. I think the $100 million toward Link LR will garner more riders than the differential between the bus and streetcar alternatives (1000-1500 riders).

I simply find this an illogical order of construction of capital projects.

What do others here think?

If slow streetcars are more important than expanding fast Link quickly, than you may be making the best decision. Either way, the operating costs for the project cited are very high for so few passengers, which may cause budget and funding problems for ST. I don't know enough about WA govt to know much of problem that would be over the long term, but an issue to consider.

Nate

Last edited by getontrac; March 16th, 2007 at 11:51 PM.
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 11:29 PM   #471
UrbanBen
the transit nazi
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 966
Likes (Received): 12

Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
Then I think we can agree to disagree here.

Seattle will gain more riders by spending that capital money on rapid transit than on an expensive variation low-ridership service. The project is a low ridership line, according to the numbers for a streetcar.

I think my contention is truly much more holistic than building all these expensive streetcars. You've already got slow, local transit, do the bus alternative instead, save your pennies for what you don't have enough of--Link LR, the more Seattle saves now, the more it will be able to expand sooner.

If funding is tight or problematic (as is certainly has been), direct your money toward your priorities. What is more important, getting a slow streetcar, or expanding Link faster? I get the impression Link is the bigger priority.

If you build the bus alternative, you've not spend $100 million that can be put toward Link. I think the $100 million toward Link LR will garner more riders than the differential between the bus and streetcar alternatives (1000-1500 riders).

I simply find this an illogical order of construction of capital projects.

What do others here think?

If slow streetcars are more important than expanding fast Link quickly, than you may be making the best decision. Either way, the operating costs for the project cited are very high for so few passengers, which may cause budget and funding problems for ST. I don't know enough about WA govt to know much of problem that would be over the long term, but an issue to consider.

Nate
You can't put that $100 million toward Link. That's mitigation funding for losing the First Hill subway stop - it's politicized, it can't simply go to a "better project".

5,000 riders per day for a streetcar is quite good - better than most bus routes in Seattle.
UrbanBen no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 16th, 2007, 11:49 PM   #472
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

Can you tell me what prevents this liquidity of funds for transit? What's going on? I'm not up on all the history of the local politics, as you know.

(5000 riders is okay, 3500 is a bit low; the lines really need to be longer than 2.2 miles to be economical versus standard bus service--$5.3M is a hell of a lot of money for only 3500 people).

Nate

Last edited by getontrac; March 16th, 2007 at 11:54 PM.
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 12:04 AM   #473
SteveM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 505
Likes (Received): 6

Another thing to remember is that streetcars typically allow boarding through multiple doors, and unlike buses, don't require driver accuracy to align a low-floor stop for easy wheelchair access. For short hauls with many stops, the time spent loading and unloading passengers through the single front door on a bus can be significant.

Obviously, you can buy bigger buses with bigger doors, switch to proof-of-payment systems for buses, build curb bulbs, etc., but the costs associated with those changes probably aren't included in the bus cost estimates here.

All that said, UrbanBen is right that this streetcar is a political rather than an engineering project: a sop to First Hill for being excluded from the light rail line owing to technological challenges and cost uncertainty.
SteveM no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 12:30 AM   #474
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

I think the bus alternative was intended to be more of a BRT-style operation anyway, so, in theory, it could incorporate "rapid"-type advantages in bus design.

Hmm....I say let First Hill pay a disproportionate amount then, IMO. They're really sucking funds up. I hate when politics undermines transit planning. Politics are everpresent, but transportation infrastructure is simply TOO expensive to get jerked around by bad political decisions. It'll be the death of this country...think of all those highways we'll have to rebuild once their useful life is up.....

Nate
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 12:34 AM   #475
Jaxom92
Urban Studies Grad
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 203
Likes (Received): 0

Essentially, the streetcar is the worked out "deal" to make up for light rail not being there. As UrbanBen said, it is more of a political decision than an economic one (though the light rail line to first hill would have been much more expensive than the streetcar). Buses and a streetcar line were both looked at an it landed on streetcar.

I agree with Ben about the hidden benefits of the increased demand for development along street car lines (as opposed to bus lines). The benefits include increased property values directly from the street car construction, increased growth pressure and thus property values, and the increased tax-base as a result of the property value increase.

Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
Hmm....I say let First Hill pay a disproportionate amount then, IMO. They're really sucking funds up. I hate when politics undermines transit planning. Politics are everpresent, but transportation infrastructure is simply TOO expensive to get jerked around by bad political decisions. It'll be the death of this country...think of all those highways we'll have to rebuild once their useful life is up.....
Unfortunately, politics is planning (and visa-versa). They've become an inseparable duo. Though there are benefits too. A democratic society necessitates a high level of political maneuvering in order to accomplish anything.
__________________
Jax
Jaxom92 no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 12:38 AM   #476
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

To bad one couldn't just use the extra $100M for the streetcar to directly invest in (re)development in the area.

Still, looking at the big picture, having a more extensive rapid-transit system sooner would jump values and development for the whole region and put Seattle in the league with Boston, Philly, DC, SF, and (maybe) Chicago.

Nate
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 12:51 AM   #477
Jaxom92
Urban Studies Grad
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 203
Likes (Received): 0

Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
Still, looking at the big picture, having a more extensive rapid-transit system sooner would jump values and development for the whole region and put Seattle in the league with Boston, Philly, DC, SF, and (maybe) Chicago.
You're quite right about the light-rail doing a greater job of raising development pressure and property values in the region, and specifically on the alignment, than the streetcar line. I don't know the exact figures for what light rail did for Portland, but I believe development directly spurred by has reached into the billions of dollars.
__________________
Jax
Jaxom92 no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 01:03 AM   #478
getontrac
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mt. Vernon in Baltimore
Posts: 907
Likes (Received): 0

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaxom92 View Post


Unfortunately, politics is planning (and visa-versa). They've become an inseparable duo. Though there are benefits too. A democratic society necessitates a high level of political maneuvering in order to accomplish anything.
The problem is that politicians and the public at large (including the business community) don't understand transportation/transit very well, much less than other hot issues, and poor decisions often result. The advocacy group I'm involved with in Baltimore seeks to educate the public and root out the non-sense that gets put out by anti-transit politicians. Even with a new transit friendly gubernatorial administration, it's hard work. Many flat out don't understand the New Starts federal funding process. There's still a lot of "transit is good", "rail is good/better" (not always) stuff. The devil is in the details. But you've got to start out with a sound, open, long-term, planning process first. Study all reasonable alternatives...etc.

Nate
getontrac no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 17th, 2007, 02:29 AM   #479
kub86
Twinkie
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Seattle/Bellevue
Posts: 733
Likes (Received): 10

Yeah, the streetcar on First Hill was a "deal" between seattle and Sound Transit since no LRT can be built there. Sound Transit will be designing it instead of King County.

And the First Hill Light Rail station would've cost an extra $320 million with the ridership projected at 5,500. So a streetcar is the 2nd best, connecting capital hill station, first hill, and int'l station. I looked at their frequency chart, and it's at 5 minutes peak; 10 minutes off-peak (better than the earlier proposal of 10mpeak/15m off peak).
kub86 no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old March 18th, 2007, 12:01 AM   #480
UrbanBen
the transit nazi
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 966
Likes (Received): 12

Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
I think the bus alternative was intended to be more of a BRT-style operation anyway, so, in theory, it could incorporate "rapid"-type advantages in bus design.

Hmm....I say let First Hill pay a disproportionate amount then, IMO. They're really sucking funds up. I hate when politics undermines transit planning. Politics are everpresent, but transportation infrastructure is simply TOO expensive to get jerked around by bad political decisions. It'll be the death of this country...think of all those highways we'll have to rebuild once their useful life is up.....

Nate
First hill is paying a disproportionate amount - consider how much sales tax revenue they generate.
UrbanBen no está en línea   Reply With Quote


Reply

Tags
king county metro, seattle, sound transit, us light rail

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Related topics on SkyscraperCity


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 11:19 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Feedback Buttons provided by Advanced Post Thanks / Like (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2018 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2018 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

SkyscraperCity ☆ In Urbanity We trust ☆ about us | privacy policy | DMCA policy

tech management by Sysprosium