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Old June 8th, 2007, 02:11 AM   #741
BoulderGrad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyAboutCities View Post
Heh. That doesn't sounds good to me. It needs to become into profit so they can continue expand its system without having to ask everyone in The Puget Sound for more and more taxes or we will be in serious debt for over 50 years from now.
But if they charge too much for it (i.e. Vegas monorail) then no one will ride it, thus making it impossible to justify system expansions. It's a very delicate balancing act.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 03:21 AM   #742
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A couple of things to keep in mind about this:

- Seattle intends to run a metro-style light rail: frequent (every 3 minutes at peak), long trains, fully separated right-of-way (except a small part of the initial line), etc. I don't know a ton about Charlotte and Pheonix, but my understanding is that they're running at the surface, in the streets.

- North Carolina and Arizona have significantly weaker labor laws than Washington. Labor is not an insignificant cost on a project this size.

Seattle's streetcar is costing on the order of $40 million per mile. This is still more than comparable systems in places with cheaper labor, but it might make a closer comparison to Charlotte/Phoenix's light rail systems (i.e. with shorter trains running at longer headways and at grade).
The light rail line in Charlotte is almost entirely grade-separated. It is being built along an abandoned rail corridor. This is the way many cost-effective light rail lines were built in the early days of the light rail revival. The cost of the line is relatively low and it should be reasonably fast and safe.

http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/...ridor/Home.htm

The light rail line in Phoenix is being built primarily in the medians of city streets. This is the way many recent light rail lines have been built now that few abandoned rail corridors through the centers of large cities remain to be exploited. The cost of the line is relatively low but there are consequences for speed and safety.

http://www.valleymetro.org/METRO_light_rail/

I am very much in favor of grade separation; however, grade separation does not make for cost-effective light rail in places like Seattle where there are no conveniently located abandoned rail corridors. Seattle is basically paying for a heavy rail metro but getting light rail.

The South Lake Union and future First Hill Streetcars are not comparable to the light rail lines under construction in Phoenix and Charlotte. Neither the Phoenix line nor the Charlotte line will share traffic lanes with motor vehicles. Both will be designed for multi-car trains composed of 90-foot light rail vehicles rather than 60-foot streetcars operated as single units.

Last edited by greg_christine; June 8th, 2007 at 03:45 AM.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 08:01 AM   #743
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Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
I am very much in favor of grade separation; however, grade separation does not make for cost-effective light rail in places like Seattle where there are no conveniently located abandoned rail corridors. Seattle is basically paying for a heavy rail metro but getting light rail.
Do you see this as a problem considering the headways they want to run on the busiest section (Northgate to Downtown)? If light rail can achieve a level of service comparable to heavy rail, are we suffering too ill effects because of the cost?
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Old June 8th, 2007, 08:06 AM   #744
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But if they charge too much for it (i.e. Vegas monorail) then no one will ride it, thus making it impossible to justify system expansions. It's a very delicate balancing act.
I agree. People would use light rail system more if they costs way lower than gas prices for sure.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 08:59 PM   #745
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Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
The South Lake Union and future First Hill Streetcars are not comparable to the light rail lines under construction in Phoenix and Charlotte. Neither the Phoenix line nor the Charlotte line will share traffic lanes with motor vehicles. Both will be designed for multi-car trains composed of 90-foot light rail vehicles rather than 60-foot streetcars operated as single units.
I don't disagree that the service isn't comparable (especially not with Charlotte's line, if it's mostly grade separated), but I claim the construction costs per mile of, say, Phoenix's in-street light rail ought to be comparable to Seattl's in-street streetcar. In both cases, the cost is building stops, reinforcing the streets for heavier cars, adding track, etc. In neither case is anyone building expensive tunnels, elevated trackway, etc.

By the way, I don't understand your disappointment that Seattle is "only getting light rail". In what way is Seattle's planned light rail inferior to a third-rail metro?
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Old June 9th, 2007, 01:40 PM   #746
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I know it's not related to the light rail.

Sound Transit just updated their quarterly ridership data and they also said they added 7th car to the commuter rail between Seattle and Tacoma to keep up with the demand. The ridership data they provided showed pretty big growth in ridership. The Sounder commuter rail ridership (quarterly) totals for 2006 and 2007: 382,123 471,692 23% They're predicting 10.1 million riders for the whole sound transit agency for 2007. 3.1 million riders in 1st quarter 2007, also. The average weekday boardings for the ST agency is 43,900 for 1st quarter 2007.


I wonder what's the maximum number of cars that will fit the current platforms they have at those stations?

Last edited by sequoias; June 9th, 2007 at 01:48 PM.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 06:00 PM   #747
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... I don't understand your disappointment that Seattle is "only getting light rail". In what way is Seattle's planned light rail inferior to a third-rail metro?
My disappointment stems from knowing what is being built in other cities. The most obvious compromise in the design of Seattle Central Link is the Rainier Valley segment with its at-grade street crossings and restricted speed. You can look north to Vancouver to see what else is missing. The Mark II vehicles in Vancouver have a walk-through design with no drivers cabs. The floor inside the vehicle is entirely flat and passengers can walk from one end of the train to the other and even look out the windows at the ends:



It won't be possible to move from car to car on the Seattle trains. The Seattle light rail vehicles will have an awkward stepped-floor arrangement with cabs across the ends similar to the San Jose light rail vehicle shown in the following photo:



The trains in Vancouver are fully automated and unmanned, which brings several advantages:

- Train speeds across the network can be adjusted simultaneously in a coordinated manner to help maintain schedules.
- Headways between trains of 90 seconds are used in service and headways as tight as 75 seconds are claimed to be achievable.
- High service frequency can be maintained during off-peak hours with no cost penalty due to the need to staff trains.
- Problems due to operator errors are greatly reduced.

I have seen plans for Central Link to ultimately have three-minute headways through the downtown tunnel and I have seen claims that two-minute headways should be possible. The two-minute headways will be difficult to achieve given that it will take the operator about a minute and a half just to walk from the cab at one end of a 4-car train to the cab at the other end. Please note that the difference between two-minute headways and 90-second headways is the difference between needing 4-car trains versus 3-car trains. No other city in the United States has light rail trains longer than three cars.

I believe what happened in Seattle is that the political leadership accepted as gospel the propaganda that light rail would be less costly. Even after the cost numbers came in for the initial segment, they believed light rail would be less costly in the suburbs where they expected the line to be predominantly at-grade. Instead, the design evolved in the opposite direction. Planners realized that a high degree of grade-separation is necessary in order to provide a high enough travel speed to be competitive with private automobiles. Unlike many other cities, there are no conveniently located abandoned rail corridors that could be exploited. As a result, the cost of the system is similar to a heavy rail metro.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 07:23 PM   #748
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^ I agree too. I think a majority of seattleites didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world engineering-wise. We just sort of hopped on the light rail bandwagon like the rest of the nation for its supposed cheaper cost to build.

To me, what's disappointing, is that we kept making our light rail more and more metro-like...which inflated our costs to the point where we probably should've just built a full-blown subway instead of the hybrid thing we'll have now. So we don't have a light rail, or a metro, but like someone mentioned, more like a "light metro"....which is fine and better than what's being built in other cities, but since every subway fanatic knows that fast automatic lines are the cream of the crop of transportation...you sort of get disappointed when you find out your city is paying cream of the crop prices for something inferior. I feel like it was a missed opportunity.

As for the train cars...yeah, I'm not the biggest fan. Like greg_christine already said, there's no walk-through design and there's weird steps....and of course there's that horrid wave on the outside. But don't get me wrong, Central link is a positive, important step forward for our city.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 07:40 PM   #749
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I dont get why the US does have so big problems in implementing modern public transport, like every stupid european or asian city is able to do.....

Why is it so damn expansive?
One mile of light rail in Germany (which is known for its high prices in all fields of technology) costs about 15mio$ /mile.

How do you get those horrible 25-60 mio$ per Mile ???
Is your light rail made out of pure Gold?

For 60 mio$ per mile, you get twice the shanghai maglev (30mio$ per mile), which is known to be the most expansive public transport on earth (and therefore used only on its 20 miles long demonstration line....

That discussion is pretty similar to the one, when germans discuss about skyscrapers, especially supertalls: All city representatives aruge, that skyscrapers are a waste of money, and that they cost more money in the end than they bring back.
Thats why you see no skyscrapers in Germany and no light rail in the USA.....

Last edited by pflo777; June 10th, 2007 at 12:04 AM.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 10:21 PM   #750
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Because Americans are still addicted to automobiles. Look at east coast cities, they have public transits that built over hundred years ago just before automobiles arrives on the streets. In my opinion, automobile screwed up ours American Society big time.

We used to have trolleys here in Seattle before they got replaced by trolley buses and automobiles.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 01:11 AM   #751
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Originally Posted by CrazyAboutCities View Post
Because Americans are still addicted to automobiles. Look at east coast cities, they have public transits that built over hundred years ago just before automobiles arrives on the streets. In my opinion, automobile screwed up ours American Society big time.

We used to have trolleys here in Seattle before they got replaced by trolley buses and automobiles.
Just wanted to correct you that most east coast cities do not have very old metro systems. I think Boston and New York are the only ones with systems still in use that are over 80 years old, and maybe bits of Philly's system (correct me if I'm wrong on that). But cities like Washington D.C. and Atlanta have relatively new systems. DC's system was actually a compromise between building a number of expressways through downtown. They instead decided to build the beltway around the city (worlds largest parking lot), and then build rail lines radially out from downtown. The system first opened in 1976, and is still growing in size and ridership.


I also totally agree with greg and Kub. It's nice that we'll have a rail transit system again, but why didn't we make it as modern as we could? Maybe they'll figure out something further down the line.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 01:13 AM   #752
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Right now in Vancouver, we're building a 19-km automated rapid transit rail line, called the "Canada Line", from Downtown Vancouver to the airport and Central Richmond. 16 stations in 2009 and 4 future ones in the future, as well as twenty 2-car trains with each car 20 metres long. A 2-car train can carry 334 passengers. The system will have a capacity of 15,000 pphpd.

About 9 kms of it (Vancouver) is a subway while the remaining 9 kms (Richmond and airport) is mainly elevated.

The thing is about 2/3rds of the stations will have 40 metre platforms, expandable in the future to 50 metre platforms, while the other third of stations will have 50 metre platforms when the line is complete in 2009 in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics. When all platforms are expanded in the future to 50 metres, a 10-metre car would be added in the middle of the 2-car trains.

This is very low capacity for a metro area of 2.2 million, and is expecting 3 million by 2020. Not only that but the urban centres of Downtown Vancouver and Central Richmond are growing rapidly, employment and residential, and the airport is expected to employ 15,000 more people over the next 15 years as well as more passengers from 16 million to 25 million annually.

And yet, such a small capacity system will cost CAN$2 billion. Note though that $1.3 billion is public money, while the remaining $700 million is funded by the private sector, and they'll also operate the line for the next 35 years to profit from building and operating the line.

The Canada Line uses a different technology from our existing SkyTrain network. The C-Line uses standard third rail, used in many cities around the world, while SkyTrain uses Bombardier's linear propulsion technology. Not only that but the C-Line trains, the same model used in Hong Kong's MTR, are about a metre wider than SkyTrain cars.

I think we're going to regret building a line with such short platforms and I'm happy to see that at least Seattle has some sort of long-term thinking, building platforms 3x the Canada Line's length.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 01:18 AM   #753
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Also, quit knocking the wave design. I actually kinda like it. At least its better than the Air Stream Trailer trains in NY:


Or the 70's throw back designs on the Denver light rail trains:


Blech...
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Old June 10th, 2007, 03:38 AM   #754
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[QUOTE=BoulderGrad;13641361]Just wanted to correct you that most east coast cities do not have very old metro systems. I think Boston and New York are the only ones with systems still in use that are over 80 years old, and maybe bits of Philly's system (correct me if I'm wrong on that). But cities like Washington D.C. and Atlanta have relatively new systems. DC's system was actually a compromise between building a number of expressways through downtown. They instead decided to build the beltway around the city (worlds largest parking lot), and then build rail lines radially out from downtown. The system first opened in 1976, and is still growing in size and ridership. [QUOTE]

Thanks for the correction.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 07:36 PM   #755
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No other city in the United States has light rail trains longer than three cars.
Minor correction, here in Buffalo, we run four-car trains for special events downtown. During rush hour we only run three-car trains, we could run four, but due to system length, ridership does not warrant it.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 08:43 PM   #756
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I am very much in favor of grade separation; however, grade separation does not make for cost-effective light rail in places like Seattle where there are no conveniently located abandoned rail corridors. Seattle is basically paying for a heavy rail metro but getting light rail.
We're getting right of way, and we can make it heavy rail in another sixty or seventy years if we need to.

Remember, we can't expand I-5 in Seattle - WSDOT recently suggested it would cost $25 billion (2005 dollars, as I recall) to add one lane each way from one end of city limits to the other (consider beacon hill, capitol hill, convention center, ship canal bridge). That's in comparison to under $10 billion in capital expenditures (2006) for 50 miles of something between light and heavy rail.

When you call something cost effective, you're comparing to need (which is extremely great - we have the worst traffic in the country by some estimates) and you're comparing to the cost of building the equivalent capacity in another system. LRT will comfortably carry 8000-9000 pphpd (people per hour per direction) - that's a new eight lane highway in the same corridor (2200pph per lane, in 2000 vehicles phpl, max). How much would it cost to build a highway equivalent in the same corridor, with the same direct access to each urban center served? 100 billion capital? How much would it cost to build feeders, expand thoroughfares, and provide parking? What would the economic impact be of all the real estate lost (even if the main corridor were underground, like North Link)?

When you make an apples to apples comparison, the Sound Transit 2 project is basically the only way the region can afford to expand north-south transportation capacity at *all*.

Last edited by UrbanBen; June 10th, 2007 at 08:46 PM. Reason: fixed parentheses
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Old June 10th, 2007, 09:14 PM   #757
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My disappointment stems from knowing what is being built in other cities. The most obvious compromise in the design of Seattle Central Link is the Rainier Valley segment with its at-grade street crossings and restricted speed. You can look north to Vancouver to see what else is missing. The Mark II vehicles in Vancouver have a walk-through design with no drivers cabs. The floor inside the vehicle is entirely flat and passengers can walk from one end of the train to the other and even look out the windows at the ends:


The two-minute headways will be difficult to achieve given that it will take the operator about a minute and a half just to walk from the cab at one end of a 4-car train to the cab at the other end.

a entirely flat floor would require high floor cars, which would not be able to run side by side with buses.

the walking problem is easily solved. have a operator board at Westlake as it is going to the terminus at the end of the car(towards Sea-Tac) so as it switches tracks it can start right away without the operator walking, this is done in hong kong by KCR at East Tsim Sha Tsui, note, KCR trains are 12 cars long.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 09:20 PM   #758
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Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
No other city in the United States has light rail trains longer than three cars

Sacramento do. I saw a video of the light rail with 4 cars on the street near downtown Sacramento.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 02:01 AM   #759
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Minor correction, here in Buffalo, we run four-car trains for special events downtown. During rush hour we only run three-car trains, we could run four, but due to system length, ridership does not warrant it.
Yes, you are correct. My statement that only Sound Transit will run light rail trains longer than three cars was incorrect.

Please note that the light rail vehicles in Buffalo are not articulated. Each vehicle rides on two bogies and has a length of 64 feet. The Sound Transit light rail vehicles are articulated. Each vehicle rides on three bogies and has a length of 95 feet. A four-car train in Buffalo is about the same length as a three-car train in Seattle.


Last edited by greg_christine; June 11th, 2007 at 02:28 AM.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 02:13 AM   #760
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My disappointment stems from knowing what is being built in other cities. The most obvious compromise in the design of Seattle Central Link is the Rainier Valley segment with its at-grade street crossings and restricted speed.
The section in Rainier Valley runs in between MLK. It does not run on MLK but in between the lanes that go each direction. I never remembering hearing this would have speed restrictions nor do I understand why it should.

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