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Old March 21st, 2014, 08:21 AM   #481
ssiguy2
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The real question is how much rapid transit do you get for the money spent.

People will compare a 15km LRt and 15 BRT and the LRT may get higher ridership and then declare BRT a failure but that is a false analogy. If you have $1 billion and you have the option of 4km of Metro, 10 km of LRT or 50km or BRT...........this is how you really judge what is best. The LRT or subway maybe a bit faster but then if they only service a small area what good does it do?

It all depends on need, location, density etc but the reality is that most US LRT systems have been an absolute failure of monumental proportions and those cities would have been far better off building large transitways/BRT and serve 3 or 4 times as many passengers, destination, and gotten rid of the dreaded "last mile".
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Old March 21st, 2014, 12:52 PM   #482
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I have a question. My city (which is in Europe) has many 9-12 floor residential districts which are connected to the city center with regular buses and trolleybuses. In the districts themselves the roads were build with the tram in mind. But the city won't build any new tram lines until all the current rolling stock is replaced (that is going to take some 10+ years). Would there be any sense in using the reserved space to build a busway which could then with the addition of rails and dismantling of one of the trolleybus wires be refitted to suit trams in the future?
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Old March 21st, 2014, 03:43 PM   #483
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssiguy2 View Post
The real question is how much rapid transit do you get for the money spent.

People will compare a 15km LRt and 15 BRT and the LRT may get higher ridership and then declare BRT a failure but that is a false analogy. If you have $1 billion and you have the option of 4km of Metro, 10 km of LRT or 50km or BRT...........this is how you really judge what is best. The LRT or subway maybe a bit faster but then if they only service a small area what good does it do?

It all depends on need, location, density etc but the reality is that most US LRT systems have been an absolute failure of monumental proportions and those cities would have been far better off building large transitways/BRT and serve 3 or 4 times as many passengers, destination, and gotten rid of the dreaded "last mile".
I don't agree at all. The question isn't just of quantity but also of quality, and the cost isn't just about initial investment but also long term investment, operation, and maintenance.

If you want to compare 15km of BRT and 15km of LRT, you'd have to compare not just the initial cost, but the cost per rider for both the initial investment and the long term operation and maintenance, and consider how long each system will be used and if one will need to be upgraded or replaced sooner than the other.

One must also consider things that are not directly financially impacting like rider satisfaction, neighbourhood and environmental impact, aesthetics, etc. For instance, a BRT may still get 2/3 the ridership of the LRT, but the riders may not find the BRT as enjoyable an experience and use it simply out of necessity as not every rider is a choice rider.
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Old March 21st, 2014, 04:56 PM   #484
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The real question is how much rapid transit do you get for the money spent.

People will compare a 15km LRt and 15 BRT and the LRT may get higher ridership and then declare BRT a failure but that is a false analogy. If you have $1 billion and you have the option of 4km of Metro, 10 km of LRT or 50km or BRT...........this is how you really judge what is best. The LRT or subway maybe a bit faster but then if they only service a small area what good does it do?

It all depends on need, location, density etc but the reality is that most US LRT systems have been an absolute failure of monumental proportions and those cities would have been far better off building large transitways/BRT and serve 3 or 4 times as many passengers, destination, and gotten rid of the dreaded "last mile".
Just one thing to start with, BRTs do not solve the "last mile" problem. The last mile problem is the issue that rapid transit lines need to have stops spread apart farther than local transit lines, so the likelihood of one's destination being within walking distance of the stop is much lesser. A BRT with as many stops as a normal bus line would be a normal bus line.

What BRTs can do is have buses get off the trunk line and continue as local lines. But that doesn't solve the last mile problem, it simply removes a transfer. It means that people on the BRT line will have to wait for the one bus they need. If there is a bus every minute on the trunk, but only 1 in 5 takes a specific local line, the effective frequency for users of that line is one bus per 5 minutes only. The result is also much higher operating costs as local lines can't simply pool their riders on the trunk line to increase vehicle occupancy rate in the off-peak hours.

The best solution to the last mile problem is transit-oriented development. If most job centers and commercial points of interest are located at rapid transit stations, then there is no last mile problem.

That being said, your example is a bit too simple. You only consider the capital cost involved, and not the operating cost. Yes, a 1 billion capital investment will give you more BRT lines than LRT lines or subway lines (unless there are unused rails you can reuse, in which case rail transit can be dirt cheap). But what happens to costs over the next 10, 20 or 30 years? Can you afford, with the operating budget you have, to keep all those lines going for all that time? Or will the operating costs submerge the budget of the transit operator, forcing cuts down the line and an incapacity to build new rapid lines later?

Here, let me do quick calculations. I'm Canadian, so I'll think in Canadian dollars, convert as you please.

From what I've seen of transit projects, I'd estimate the following in the developed world, these are just guesstimates, don't take them as pure cash:

A BRT costs 15 millions per kilometer to build, the operating cost is around 4$ per user
A LRT costs 60 millions per kilometer to build, the operating cost is 3$ per user
A subway costs 250 millions per kilometer to build, the operating cost is 2$ per user

Now let's compare the costs of a 10 kilometer line of each over 30 years, depending on daily ridership. Cost per user and total cost. You'd get the equivalent graphs:

This is the graph of the cost per ride for each type, the X axis is ridership per day, the Y axis is the cost in dollars per ride


And here is the graph for the total cost (Y axis, in millions of dollars)


Again, those numbers are guesstimates, but they illustrate the principle. Overall, LRT would actually be cheaper over these 30 years than BRT if daily ridership is above 50 000. If you expect less ridership than that, like in the US where transit use is normally dreadfully low because of car-dependent, low-density developments, then yes, BRT makes more sense. But as expected ridership increases, LRT and HRT (heavy rail transit, subways) becomes less and less expensive. At some point, paying for subways is cheaper than anything else.

How correct is this calculation? Well, let's just mention that Ottawa in Canada is converting the central part of its BRT into an LRT. This will cost 2,1 billion dollars. However, it's estimated that the conversion will save 16 to 100 million dollars per year in operating costs for the transit operator and the city. Over 30 years, the project almost pays for itself if the estimates are accurate.

On the other hand, let's take a developing country, where wages are 5 times lower, but building infrastructure is only 2 times cheaper (which is realistic due to lower productivity in construction work). Let's do the same exercise with these factors and see what happens:




In this case, the capital cost advantage of BRT holds for much higher ridership than it did in developed world.
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Old March 21st, 2014, 05:19 PM   #485
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I have a question. My city (which is in Europe) has many 9-12 floor residential districts which are connected to the city center with regular buses and trolleybuses. In the districts themselves the roads were build with the tram in mind. But the city won't build any new tram lines until all the current rolling stock is replaced (that is going to take some 10+ years). Would there be any sense in using the reserved space to build a busway which could then with the addition of rails and dismantling of one of the trolleybus wires be refitted to suit trams in the future?
In EU, there are fonds of Regional Operational Programs which can finance projects of roads renovation or of nonpolluting public transport. Therefore, the renovation of those boulevards (with a project to segregate a busway), and the relocation of Trolleybus wires upon the busway can be partly funded by EU, so it makes sense. At a later stage rails can be laid on the busway, but as long as the surface around them will be covered with asphalt, the segregated lanes would be available for trams aswell as for buses. I saw at least somewhere (I have to find the pic) that trolleybus wires could be also laid to serve the same segregated lanes, without interacting with the wires for the tram...
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Old March 21st, 2014, 08:04 PM   #486
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In EU, there are fonds of Regional Operational Programs which can finance projects of roads renovation or of nonpolluting public transport. Therefore, the renovation of those boulevards (with a project to segregate a busway), and the relocation of Trolleybus wires upon the busway can be partly funded by EU, so it makes sense.
As I understand, our city council did something stupid that now none of our city's public transport projects can use the EU funds. But for some reason all the regular road and new highway construction projects can.

But the wide boulevards in question are not congested. So on segregated lanes public transport would be only a little bit faster - the lack of waiting at intersections. Would the loaned money for the segregated lanes be worth it? Would it's construction drastically increase passenger usage and relieve congestion at the bottlenecks closer to the city center? Last year we reconstructed a part of a tram line in the sort of part of the city I am talking about. And now it's usage is 140% compared to before. It's now the most used transport route in the city. But would there be the same results for trolleybuses?

Quote:
At a later stage rails can be laid on the busway, but as long as the surface around them will be covered with asphalt, the segregated lanes would be available for trams aswell as for buses. I saw at least somewhere (I have to find the pic) that trolleybus wires could be also laid to serve the same segregated lanes, without interacting with the wires for the tram...
We currently have one place where trams, trolleybuses and regular buses use the segregated lanes. But since we now have trolleybuses with diesel generators the public transport company no longer has the interest to mess with some complicated new wiring. And I think, to allow trolleybuses, the wires should be quite far apart which could increase wear and tear.


Until some 5 years ago (before we introduced trams with pantographs and before we had trolleybuses with diesel generators) there was at least one place (within a depot) where there really were trolleybus wires which were used also by trams.
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Old March 21st, 2014, 08:45 PM   #487
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Calgary BRT day-time vehicle vs. night-time vehicle on the same route.



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Old March 22nd, 2014, 03:11 AM   #488
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Brisbane's inefficient busway. Most people choose to walk because it's faster.
Seperate bus lane ≠ BRT

According to me BRT can work well in developing nations, areas with an urban layout unsuitable for (above ground) rail transit and in regions where normal buses don't attract a lot of people but the cost for rail is too high. Also I am of the opinion BRT should be used supplementary, as a rail network should still be the main goal to be achieved.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 09:04 AM   #489
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TransJakarta BRT (or Busways, as we call it here)

So far the only decent public transportation alongside the suburban commuter trains here in the city..

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Old March 22nd, 2014, 11:36 PM   #490
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Originally Posted by ssiguy2 View Post
The real question is how much rapid transit do you get for the money spent.

People will compare a 15km LRt and 15 BRT and the LRT may get higher ridership and then declare BRT a failure but that is a false analogy. If you have $1 billion and you have the option of 4km of Metro, 10 km of LRT or 50km or BRT...........this is how you really judge what is best. The LRT or subway maybe a bit faster but then if they only service a small area what good does it do?

It all depends on need, location, density etc but the reality is that most US LRT systems have been an absolute failure of monumental proportions and those cities would have been far better off building large transitways/BRT and serve 3 or 4 times as many passengers, destination, and gotten rid of the dreaded "last mile".
What you say makes some sense, but there are a few confounding factors. One is that your relation to how many km of metro vs BRT vs. LRT is not necessarily relevant. Cities have different sizes, geographical areas and densities so "how much transit you get for the money" is a misnomer in that sense. Generally, value for money in transit is gauged by ridership.

Also, BRT can be just as ineffective at solving the "last mile" problem as LRT. Frankly, walk-in metro stations do a pretty good job of that. Local bus is also a great measure for last mile problems. But most importantly, prioritizing pedestrian and bike routes is the best way. In America s=certainly, on-site or nearby station parking can help load as well.
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Old March 23rd, 2014, 12:29 AM   #491
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a new small BRT that opened in a Toronto suburb last year, almost 50km more of this type of BRT coming over the next couple of years as well.



image hosted on flickr

http://spacing.ca/toronto/2013/09/12...ion_rapidways/
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Old March 23rd, 2014, 08:54 AM   #492
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I agree , there is no such thing as "one size fits all".

My point was that there are so many US cities that are building LRT for no other reason than someone else has one and they want to look "modern" by having one.

A lot of these systems also state their ridership levels but don't state how many are actually NEW to transit and not just people taken off the current bus and now taking the LRT.

The reality is that most of the newer systems built in the US over the last 20 years have been complete failures for the massive amounts of money spent. Dallas has greatly expanded it LRT to now being the largest in the US. Although I give them full marks for investing in transit, the results have still been poor as per capita ridership is lower now than it was 12 years ago.

Cleveland has shown that even middle America will take the bus if it is fast, convenient, and pleasant. The Healthline BRT has been a stellar success and this from a city that has both LRT and subway systems. It cost less than half what LRT on the same route would have cost but was built much faster with far less disruption. Within 2 years ridership on the route soared by 80% over what was already the busiest route in the system. It has also created massive amounts of TOD and has led to a complete renaissance of the once mighty Euclid Ave.

Does that mean the Healthline would work everywhere? Of course not. It's just that BRt is often written off and LRT is always seen as the superior option whether that makes for good transit planning or not. So much of it is pure politics...............the politicians just love ribbon cutting ceremonies right before an election and LRT looks better at the media events than buses. The politicians will show all his pearly whites stating what a great day it is for the city to have LRT even though it is probably the first and last time he/she would be caught dead taking transit.
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Old March 23rd, 2014, 03:05 PM   #493
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US cities that use federal money to build transit lines are required to perform an Environmental Impact study that includes multiple options, usually including "No Build", road improvements, and BRT; however, the cities are not bound by the results of the study, and the outcome of the study can be skewed by the starting assumptions. Typical starting assumptions include the following:

- The BRT and LRT options operate along exactly the same route with exactly the same transfer points with no consideration given to the possibility that BRT routes might reduce the need for transfers by extending into outlying neighborhoods beyond the dedicated busway.

- The cost of eventually converting BRT to LRT is a consideration regardless of whether expected ridership levels would actually require such a conversion.

Cities usually get the outcome they want from such studies. Perhaps this is necessary as the biggest hurdles in building transit lines in the US are political rather than technical. A certain amount of political capital is necessary to raise taxes to fund transit, so nothing can happen if the politicians aren't in agreement with the plan. Democracy often isn't so much about giving the electorate what they want but rather convincing the electorate they want what the political and business elites want.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 12:41 AM   #494
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They don't have all to be like this



(Belo Horizonte's new system)




Moreover you really have to explain us how a 1-km bus lane can cost 1 billion dollars. Brisbane's seems more like a case of deep incompetence and mismanagement and no bearing on the BRT modality per se.
Everything is insanely expensive in Australia however this project was particularly bad. Down the road on the Gold Coast they are spending 1.5 billion dollars on a 13km light rail line (and that cost includes 14 new trams as well). The reason why Busways are so much more expensive than light rail is because they require gigantic stations and have to be completely separated from traffic.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 12:48 AM   #495
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Seperate bus lane ≠ BRT

According to me BRT can work well in developing nations, areas with an urban layout unsuitable for (above ground) rail transit and in regions where normal buses don't attract a lot of people but the cost for rail is too high. Also I am of the opinion BRT should be used supplementary, as a rail network should still be the main goal to be achieved.
Brisbane has far more than just bus lanes. In fact Brisbane's busway network is the most over-engineered on the planet. They are now looking at spending billions of dollars on a 5km long bus tunnel.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 05:20 AM   #496
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I agree , there is no such thing as "one size fits all".

My point was that there are so many US cities that are building LRT for no other reason than someone else has one and they want to look "modern" by having one.

A lot of these systems also state their ridership levels but don't state how many are actually NEW to transit and not just people taken off the current bus and now taking the LRT.

The reality is that most of the newer systems built in the US over the last 20 years have been complete failures for the massive amounts of money spent. Dallas has greatly expanded it LRT to now being the largest in the US. Although I give them full marks for investing in transit, the results have still been poor as per capita ridership is lower now than it was 12 years ago.
In depth ridership statistics are almost universally available if it is requested. So a statistic such as new riders vs riders formerly taking bus is available.

Population growth in the DART district has easily outstripped transit investment, and the recession meant a drop in not only transit ridership but in commuting levels of all kinds including driving, in both absolute values and percentages. Other cities with this phenomenon are Atlanta and SLC.

Your time frame of 20 years is irrelevant to a point. All transportation investments (including BRT) are long term.

This is first and foremost a land use issue. Cities with successful LRT systems (transportation systems in general) have worked with their land use planning in an effective way. Cities that have struggling transit systems are still predominated by land use systems that are not conducive to transit.

I agree with you in the sense that BRT is valuable and underutilized by American cities when compared to the levels of contextually appropriate transit service that may be invested in. But overall, in the United States, solving the transportation crisis is going to include measured and direct strategic investments in rail over BRT.

Also, there are many means to an end. "Ridership" is not the only variable critical to transportation investment especially into rail. There are multiple reasons investments may be made into LRT over BRT.

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Old March 24th, 2014, 09:49 AM   #497
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I agree , there is no such thing as "one size fits all".

My point was that there are so many US cities that are building LRT for no other reason than someone else has one and they want to look "modern" by having one.

A lot of these systems also state their ridership levels but don't state how many are actually NEW to transit and not just people taken off the current bus and now taking the LRT.

The reality is that most of the newer systems built in the US over the last 20 years have been complete failures for the massive amounts of money spent. Dallas has greatly expanded it LRT to now being the largest in the US. Although I give them full marks for investing in transit, the results have still been poor as per capita ridership is lower now than it was 12 years ago.

Cleveland has shown that even middle America will take the bus if it is fast, convenient, and pleasant. The Healthline BRT has been a stellar success and this from a city that has both LRT and subway systems. It cost less than half what LRT on the same route would have cost but was built much faster with far less disruption. Within 2 years ridership on the route soared by 80% over what was already the busiest route in the system. It has also created massive amounts of TOD and has led to a complete renaissance of the once mighty Euclid Ave.

Does that mean the Healthline would work everywhere? Of course not. It's just that BRt is often written off and LRT is always seen as the superior option whether that makes for good transit planning or not. So much of it is pure politics...............the politicians just love ribbon cutting ceremonies right before an election and LRT looks better at the media events than buses. The politicians will show all his pearly whites stating what a great day it is for the city to have LRT even though it is probably the first and last time he/she would be caught dead taking transit.
I'm sorry, but you can't just claim the Healthline is a great success and the Dallas LRT is bad. The ridership of the Healthline is a paltry 14 000 a day, sure it's much higher than before the BRT, but that's far from impressive. The Dallas LRT lines in total have a ridership of more than 100 000 a day. BTW, most of the so-called renewal around the Healthline was actually planned and announced before the line came to be. The line was planned to provide transport to this development, the development wasn't brought about by the line.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 11:45 AM   #498
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Also, BRTs need a lot of space to match the capacity of LRTs or subways, the Transmilenio for instance is 20 meters wide (65-70 feet) because it needs passing lanes in each direction to reach its capacity. In many European, Asian and even North American cities, you could hardly find such a large road to appropriate for a BRT like the Transmilenio. Bogota could do it because the authoritarian government had spent a lot of its money building extremely large roads (very questionable use of funds considering how few of the population have cars BTW).
1. As a matter of fact Bogota has a lack of road infrastructure for the amount of cars running on them. Hence, you get huge traffic jams all over the city. It actually needs many more roads to cope with the ever increasing amount of cars.

2. The big roads weren't there, the city spent a significant amount of money expanding many of them in order to fit the system.

3. Colombia is a democracy, not an authoritarian state.

4. Inform yourself.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 05:31 PM   #499
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BRT in Pakistan

I think BRT is a very effective mass transit service for third world countries. In Pakistan, they constructed a line in Lahore in 2013. It's a 27 km long signal free line with dedicated flyovers over congested road junctions. It also has the capability to be converted into a LRT line in the future when it's economically feasible. They're also constructing metro and monorail lines in the city now to compliment the BRT line. The construction time for this project took 11 months and cost around 3 hundred million USD. A very quick, cheaper and effective method to provide public mass transit.

After the success of the Lahore BRT (Locally known as Metrobus), more cities are beginning feasibility studies and construction. The Islamabad-Rawalpindi Metropolitan Area has also begun construction of it's own BRT line this week. It is to be operational by Q1 2015. Two BRT lines are proposed in Peshawar to complement a Monorail line. A few more lines are proposed by private real estate developers across the country.

Everyone in Pakistan is impressed with BRT. The Lahore BRT is already nearing it's capacity and they've ordered more buses to deal with that. Below are a few pictures of Lahore BRT to give you an idea as to what it's like.



Dedicated overhead metro line



On the ground metro stations



Overhead metro station


Underground metro station



Metro line running through the city


Bus congestion during rush hour
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Old March 24th, 2014, 06:15 PM   #500
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Lahore BRT is one of the best BRT projects in the world. Being 100% segragated from traffic, when they will consider that a LRT more appropriate, they just have to lay down the rail, all the bridges, stations or other pieces of infrastructure al already in place...
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