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"The Albury Coach Rail Interchange opened in 2003. The  million-dollar project is a joint venture between Transport NSW and Albury City." title=

I have been following Daneel's excellent series on Local Rail, with Chapter 3, Local Rail (3/5): Subways, metros and RER, appearing this afternoon.

However, one odd feature of the discussion that struck me was the "fightback" from bus advocates. At least, this strikes me, since it seems clear to me that the best way to boost bus ridership per mile is to anchor bus routes on regional train routes and link them to suburban origins and destinations that are off the line of the rail.

Why is it that we get this habit of advocates for different modes of public transport spending a lot of effort fighting to undermine each other? All it accomplishes in the long term is slow down the move away from yesterday's car-based public transport system to the energy efficient transport we will need in the future.

Some speculation on this question after the fold.

I have had very little time for blogging this summer, as I am spending most days of the week slinging boxes of up to 90 pounds off a boxline as a transhipment warehouse ... such being the life of a instructor level academic when there is no class to instruct and there remain bills to be paid.

However, I have made time for Daneel's excellent series on Local Rail, with Chapter 3, Local Rail (3/5): Subways, metros and RER, making its appearance this afternoon. While the first two made more of a splash (the first of Daneel's diaries was guest hosted by Jerome a Paris), Chapter Three is every bit as important as Chapters One and Two.

First, I am going to focus in on the money quote from the repeated intro to Daneel's series:

... Coordination between different modes of transport, rather than rivalry, is essential. Even just in rail, one shoe doesn't fit them all. Different public transport modes are for differing kinds of travel, and it's best to have them as different levels in a linked-up system, say:

  1. high-speed rail,
  2. express rail,
  3. normal stopping trains,
  4. rapid transit,
  5. metro (subway/elevated),
  6. light rail,
  7. buses.

Of these, this series covers the four categories of local rail (nos. 3-6 on the list); as well as some ingenious ideas to mix these categories.

In Chapter One, Local Rail (1), focusing on regional stopping trains, this prompted one of the type responses that I noted above:

Diesel hybrid busses better for US right now.

Much more flexible and don't require the huge infrastructure build up.

Rail works in Europe because they have (never lost) the early rail infrastructure. In US it requires massive building projects.

Using suburban/urban bus stations, folks driving from suburban homes 20(?) miles to bus stations for last 10  (?) miles to city jobs, US could make a huge transition over next 10 years.

Eliminating cars from cities allows for fast easy transport in the cities via frequent Diesel-hybrid busses like the Jitney system in Atlantic City where you are never more than minutes from hopping on a transport.

Busses can quickly adapt to changing city structures and job patterns.

The suburban/urban system eliminates the rush hour lost time/energy of the main commute to work.  Frequent, fast bus service is the key which eliminates the real show stopper for mass transit, the long wait for crowded transport.

Diesel-hybrid bus system allows for upgrade to hydrogen-hybrid bus system going forward.

by Azulchico on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 03:37:02 PM EDT

... and I won't go into detail arguing the specifics point by point, because underlying the whole argument is the underlying premise that there is one choice that is "best" for everywhere across the country, "right now".

Also in Chapter 2, Local Rail (2/5): Rapid transit, there was the comment:

raise the fares instead.

from L.A./CA.

   For example, while 94 percent of its ridership are bus riders, MTA customarily spends 70 percent of its budget on the six percent of its ridership that are rail passengers. Despite increasing demand, MTA reduced its peak hour bus fleet from 2200 to 1750 buses in the last decade. 1992 data reveal a $1.17 subsidy per boarding for an MTA bus rider. The subsidy for a Metrolink commuter rail rider was 18 times higher ($21.02); for a suburban Blue Line light rail passenger, more than nine times higher ($11.34); and for a Red Line subway passenger, two-and-a-half times higher ($2.92).

granted, those numbers are old, but if you also consider the income level of metrolink riders vs bus riders  it would make sense to me to concentrate on dropping bus fares at the expense of light rail fares.

Quick! Man the Blogs!

by HiBob on Tue Jul 10, 2007 at 02:14:13 PM EDT

... which elicited the reply:

Here we go again.

This was played out in the first diary of this series Bob.  So lets look at the cost of buses versus trains in real costs...just vehicles.  In 2007 your transit authority buys two LRVs for six million.  It carries  464 passengers per two car consist with one driver.  60 foot articulated buses (nothing longer is legal in the US nor should it be if it is on the same streets as cars) carry 90 passengers max.  So to carry the load of the LRT you need about 5 buses.  Those 5 buses cost about a million each, each need a driver and have to be replaced in 12 years which means in 24 years you have spent 6 million on two LRVs and 10 million on 10 buses not to mention inflation for the 12 year bus replacement.  Then, you have the costs of paving the roads, which in the case of the Orange Line in LA are already messed up (photo proof)  But no one ever adds those costs in.  Nor do they mention that rail attracts 34-43% more riders.  

Let's also look at energy usage...The Department of Energy Oakridge Lab puts out data every year.  The most recent shows rail on top again. 4,318 BTU per passenger mile for bus versus an average of 2,978 BTU per passenger mile of any rail (Amtrak, Rapid Transit and Commuter Rail)  

Now I've certainly given more than enough data here to prove the point that Daneel will probably get to.  So can we quit this bus obsession now?  Rail is an investment to save costs over time.  To make money you have to spend money.  Why are people so worried about making the up front investment in rapid transit.  We know from experience in Chicago, Boston and New York city that it pays you back over and over and over again.

by The Overhead Wire on Tue Jul 10, 2007 at 08:37:51 PM EDT

... But Its Not Just Buses Versus Trains
Its not just buses versus trains. In various public transport forums, I have seen heavy rail vs light rail fights, light rail versus monorail, high speed rail versus local rail, metro versus rapid transit, people movers versus any and all of the above, and I am sure that is just a sampling.

One reason is, of course, that in online forums, a disagreement and an argument often generates far more verbiage than agreement does, so the profile of disputes is artificially inflated. But that is, I think, only a subsidiary factor here.

More to the point is the idea that "public transport" is one category ... a single pigeon hole for everybody who does not want or cannot drive a car, plus those unusual cities that never agreed to destroy themselves with an entirely auto-dependent public transport system, and so retained a portion of a pre-existing system to build upon.

So in other word, the argument is a symptom of the core problem ... the absurd idea that a one-size-fits-all system is possible. In reality, one size fits all systems never actually fit all, and they never fit most very well.

And when we are thinking about improving the nation's Energy Independence, and reducing our CO2 emissions, "fitting well" in the sense of serving a particular transport task becomes very important. We have, in other words, been spending more than three quarters of a century building a transport system that does nothing particularly efficiently, and throwing lots of energy at it to compensate. ... and when we started doing it, we were a major global oil exporter.

After WWII, when the Europeans were looking at their current account balance and realized that they could not afford to allow people to buy gasoline at its commodity price ... America was still an oil exporter, and still had rising oil production.

And then we hit our national peak oil in 1968, and in the 60's started to be an oil importer, and then we had two OPEC oil price shocks, and then we started to grow up. And then we had, just as I reached voting age, the conservative Morning In America Again fantasy that this fundamental core change in America's economic relationship with the world regarding Energy was an Inconvenience that we could avoid by ignoring ... and if necessary, defeat with military force.

It has been, in other words, a quarter century past time to slowly and incrementally attack this problem. This had become a problem we must attack on all fronts at once ... from electric bikes and circulator buses through to trolleybuses through to all the modes of local passenger rail that Daneel is describing in his series, through to high speed electric rail.

And especially for all of us who took the 7/7/07 Live Earth pledge, equipping ourselves with information is one of the most important things we can do to meet the transport point in our pledge. Because while "one size fits all" works fine based on stereotypes of what "most" people iin "most" places "mostly" want to do "most" of the time, an energy efficient transport system requires a far more information intensive understanding of what particular people in particular places want to do in particular at particular times of day.

Luckily for us, America really is not the only nation in the world, and there has been ongoing design solutions for specific situations in cities all across the world. By learning, we can become effective advocates for transport that is both energy efficient and effective for the specific role that it plays.


Well, that is the long winded way of saying it. The quick way would be to just say, "Go, read, rec and comment on Daneel's diary." Let's work through the nuts and bolts of the role that different types of systems play.

Originally posted to BruceMcF on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 02:33 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Don't tip jar (21+ / 0-)

    Go and rec Daneel's diary ... its getting late in Hungary, but it would be great for him to see that it made a strong move up in what will be after midnight for him. and Energize America

    by BruceMcF on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 02:29:21 PM PDT

  •  Headed to read Daneel's diary (5+ / 0-)

    It makes perfect sense that one size doesn't fit all and that a combination of transport would be the biggest solution to auto dependence.

  •  I should have noted that buses have thier place (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daneel, koNko

    but was rebutting the idea of all bus all the time.  As in the comments of the 3rd diary, i think an overlapping network of modes is most important.  Buses serve as feeders and serve less dense neighborhoods while rails are useful as trunk lines and circulators in dense areas.      

    •  And even smaller buses as feeders (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Daneel, HiBob, koNko, The Overhead Wire

      to larger express buses. There are areas where buses are enough cheaper than rail that a bus heavy system makes sense.

      Seattle has a geography that works against rail, steep hills with layers of clay and sand and gravel that are costly to tunnel through; and enough waterways and lakes besides, all working to create narrow choke points for surface rail. And the urban area is well built up, high value real estate that would be costly to acquire.

      For the Seattle area rail would likely be best used for fast, fairly long distance trips. Large buses on the major roads, without too many stops, compliment the rail and serve areas where rail doesn't pay to build. Smaller buses to feed both rail and express bus routes; plus be a better match to the many old narrow streets in parts of town.

      However there a metropolitan areas where rail could make up a larger portion of mas transit.  For those areas it is likely to be a problem to convince people that streets aren't the only way to move people, and just because some cities went heavy with buses doesn't mean that's the only solution.

      •  However, where there are a lot of water ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... hazards, that is exactly where the Aerobus technology really comes into its own ... with up to 600 meters between pylons (more than a third of a mile), bridging water can be as simple as having a pylon on both sides.

        Here is what a pylon looks like (from an earlier trial installation):

        And here is what it looks like in the middle of the stretch in between pylons:
         title=  title=

        ... in general, for the high capacity rail that has featured in the first three of Daneel's diaries, this:

        rail would likely be best used for fast, fairly long distance trips

        ... well describes one of the two core roles that it plays:

        • fast, fairly long distance trips through the metropolitan area; and
        • underground in heavily built up areas, where providing the same passenger capacity for motor road transport would require five to twenty times more tunnelling, plus expensive motor exhaust ventilation systems.

        And indeed, in the RER system discussed in Daneel's diary today, both of these core roles are combined in the same system.

        This is why light rail ... and I am not a "tram versus monorail" partisan, so to me, Aerobus is simply one particular type of light rail ... occupies the space in between rapid transit and buses in the idealized (and partially overlapping) network hierarchy. and Energize America

        by BruceMcF on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 05:23:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  While the Aerobus looks interesting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          everyone I've shown it to hate it because of the "visual pollution"; the same argument that is being used against wind turbines. It's just not the pylons, it's the cables and somewhat elevated stations.  Given that there is a big drive to teat down one of the two highways through the city, basically because it ruins the view from million dollar condos not yet built, any proposal to string cables about is likely to meet a similar fate.

          Overwater in the PNW is a little tricker, given that most water is surrounded by fairly steep hills, filled with view property building, to outright bluffs.  The waterways are wide enough to make the 2-pylon model questionable, and have boat traffic that precludes pylons around the mid-point.

          I suspect that an Aerobus type system would have to try to piggyback on the Interstate, acquiring right-of-way would likely run far too much otherwise as you're usually encountering property that has vastly increased in value since the last major road building in the city.

          The bus/light rail tunnel in Seattle just about killed the life of the street it went under, the last thing the city needs is more of that.

          •  I am not sure how elevated you think stations ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HiBob, koNko

            ... have to be ... four feet above street level would be a fine platform, as well as midway between ground and first floor or first and second floor if the platform is connected to a building.

            The cables don't strike me as any more visually intrusive than a light rail electric supply, and much less than a monorail. There is, certainly, more "there" in the run of the line, but you need a lot more support poles for a light rail electric supply.

            And, yes, an Aerobus system would often piggyback on a road, but there's no need for it to be an Interstate ... pylons up to a third of a mile apart are a lot less right of way than a light rail or monorail has to acquire.

            Indeed, the lowest at-ground construction impact of any light rail system is the second big advantage it has going for it in a built up area. To get any less visually intrusive with energy efficient transport, you are looking at the system with the electric supply in the street, with only the area being passed by the light rail vehicle being electrified at any point in time, for safety ... and then you have to give up two lanes of traffic to get the light rail through, or else have an elevated or subway light rail line.

            What strikes me as a transport cyclist is the gross visual pollution caused by the same motor cars that is dragging our current account into the sewer, and its accepted as reasonable, because having a grossly inefficient car based transport system is "normal".

   and Energize America

            by BruceMcF on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 06:23:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was showing folks the Aerobus (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              site and a couple of other images of it that I'd found.  The stations there were more than 4 feet up, and generally would need to be to give decent clearance of the cars from ground traffic.

              And how other people view something isn't anything I've had much luck in affecting. If they think it's ugly, they seem to be stuck thinking that way and ignoring what the alternatives mean.

              •  On the second point, that's why I brought ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ... up the far more severe and far more ubiquitious visual pollution that is accepted without a ruffle ... because we are used to it.

                How low the platform can be is a question of how long the block is and where the platform is placed in the block ... though in many cases my personal preference would be for a station clearing over a pedestrian overbridge, since it provides a destination anchor and a stakeholder for the pedestrian overbridge to keep it in use and maintained.

                The most convenient platform is a streetside platform with low-deck light rail on ground level, but then you have to have the streetscape available, which means the hard argument of taking roadway lanes from cars in order to fight congestion. Ground level congestion seems to be why the light rail (both conventional light rail and monorail) that I saw in KL was elevated.

       and Energize America

                by BruceMcF on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 07:58:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yeah, it's already there in palce (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  and part of it is caused by the cars of people complaining about proposed new visual pollution like monorails or Aerobus cables. But it's their car, so it's not visual pollution.

                  Elevated platforms in the city core would require elevators as well, full access laws. Overbridges on their own would serve no purpose, and would also require elevators at each end. Surface platforms would either take away from fairly narrow sidewalks, or the parking of a retail district that's struggling to survive the lure of the malls, or both.

                  The only area where stations and overbridges might naturally go together is over the Interstate, which is partially trenched where it cut through hillsides.

                  The monorail was supposed to integrate stations with buildings along the route, in some cases serving as an extension of a building, as the current toy one does.

                  •  Yes, it requires elevators. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Platforms on the lower side can have ramp access to one side of the island that meet open access regulations, but higher platforms require elevators, or a connector into a building with publically accessible elevators.

                    As for the retail district struggling to survive the lure of the mall, having walk on access at the second deck of a suburban park and ride station that gives walk off access to the retail district is an attractive alternative to driving to the mall and parking in a massive lot.

                    Note that this:

                    The monorail was supposed to integrate stations with buildings along the route, in some cases serving as an extension of a building, as the current toy one does.

                    ... is what a pedestrian overbridge does, except for integrating buildings on opposite sides of the street ... presuming that the street that the route takes through the heavily built up area is a busy thoroughfare.

           and Energize America

                    by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 04:53:24 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      The "New Towns" of Japan, China and Taiwan typically use a TOD model with:

                      • Ground level access routes for surface traffic to/from the station (Bus terminals, Taxi stands, drive through drop-off points)
                      • Ground level service outlets (ticketing, convenience stores, resturants/foodboxs, coffee shops, storage lockers)
                      • Elevated and subterranian platforms
                      • 2nd to 6th level (or less) mixed-use retail or office
                      • Above the mixed-use levels, high-rise appartments , offices or hotels
                      • All adjoining buildings are connected to each other and the station by foot bridges, usually within a radius of 0.5-0.8km, making it possible for pedestrians to walk to the station and adjoining buildings safely above street traffic.

                      These design features are typically master-planned in the zoning of station areas and the result is highly functional in every respect since traffic is well segregated and managed, and station areas can handle dense traffic during rush hours.

                      Think 3 dimensional. Think compact. Think before you build.

                      "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

                      by koNko on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:21:55 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Sydney is nowhere near as well planned for ... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Daneel, koNko

                        ... transport, but I did very much appreciate the fact that Town Hall Station was connected underground the street to the Queen Victoria Building, when I was doing teaching for the University of Newcastle a half block north of the QVB.

                        This is the south side of the QVB facing Town Hall, which I never saw as I was walking through underneath the street:

                        And, yes, ground floor of the QVB is a substantial bus transfer plus taxi stand. The buses are on the western side, around the corner to the left of the picture. The monorail goes through to the north of the QVB.

                        This is the QVB on the inside:

                        I never had that much money that I ever did any shopping there, except for the wonderful fruit smoothies at a smoothie bar downstairs near the entry to Town Hall Station.

               and Energize America

                        by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:42:00 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        but in this case geography, geology, and existing buildings get in the way. The Eastside could better handle such design and planning, unfortunately that's the conservative area with strong support for building more freeways, doing away with HOV lanes, and so on.

                        If we could get Seattle's population to stop opposing elevated transportation we could start such 3-D planning. But there's too much citizen and small business opposition to elevated structures, tracked transport down streets often have a negative impact and really meet community opposition. The hills, water, and soil make tracked and buried choices very expensive; tracked either takes away from the limited number of major existing street or has to tunnel to avoid excessive grades.

                    •  May be a differenc in cities (0+ / 0-)

                      there's no street in the city core that stands out as a main throughfare, except for the Viaduct which is more of a bypass than street. The core is narrow, about 12 blocks wide but part of that is occupied by the viaduct and a steep hillside; one street occupies the space between the Viaduct and waterfront seawall and docks.

                      Some areas are occupied by recent skyscrapers, part by fairly low buildings of two to 4 stories, and part by older building of moderate height. The last group would work with stacked sidewalks, the skyscrapers don't and in some cases are set back from the streets.  

                      If attention had been given during the last several decades, overbridges could have been built starting part way up a hill, spanning the intersection, and being tied into buildings on the downhill side, integrating with stairs and elevators there. But now such would be faced with the now existing skyscraper design, and publicly expressed opposition to skybridges.

                      All (SFAIK) the park&rides in the region are simple parking flat lots, often tucked into spots not considered desirable building sites because of surrounds bluffs.  Only the malls have multistory parking.

                      Seattle isn't a mass transit friendly city, geography and geology getting in the way. The good transit corridors have already been filled, monorail or gondola style transport looks like the best way to add capacity, but face opposition because they are so visible.

                      •  The Viaduct is where the existing rail ROW ... (0+ / 0-)

                        ... seems to run, according to ... so depending on rail ROW sharing opportunity, that would be the main rapid transit trunk if it is available. In that case, the light rail lines would be along generally east/west lines.

                        Given a gondola line slung under the I-90 bridge and a rapid transit line along the Puget Sound edge of downtown, , then you could see a 2way loop alignment running generally west, somewhere in the vicinity of Rainier and Jackson, and then from Qwest and Amtrak to the rapid transit, then something like Madison, Union and back down MLK to get back to the bridge.

                        Given that rapid transit alignment, there would also be an appeal to connecting the rapid transit to the Seattle Tacoma Int'l Airport ... the rail alignment, of course, passes by Boeing, so there may be an east-west alignment that would be a useful commuter axis.

                        On this point:

                        All (SFAIK) the park&rides in the region are simple parking flat lots, often tucked into spots not considered desirable building sites because of surrounds bluffs.  Only the malls have multistory parking.

                        Yes, if a system is serious about forestalling auto congestion and gasoline consumption, park and rides are not placed where the parking is available for next to nothing, but where they do the most good, and one strategy to do that is to top off a local strip mall or supermarket ground level parking lot with a second level for park and ride use.

               and Energize America

                        by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 02:03:27 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  Elevated Lines Can Be Beatiful Too (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Daneel, BruceMcF

                  The only type of transport that doesn't create a visual distraction is a subway.

                  Elevated lines don't need to be visually unattractive or environmentally obtrusive if they are done right.

                  Here in China, an emerging standard for elevated Metro construction uses simple and attractive pre-fab concrete roadbeds lined on both sides with planters to provide greenery to abate noise, improve the appearence and contribute to the environmental quality of the area. Where lines pass residential buildings additional noise abatement is provided by clear or pale green plastic panels.

                  Typically, the elevated lines are build over roads providing shade and avoiding the sprawl that side-by-side routing would cause.

                  If one considers the net reduction in vehicle traffic a well used mass-transit system provides, as a line comes into full use, losing the environmentally noxious clutter of congested traffic seems to be a pretty good trade-off.

                  Modern lightweight construction techniques enable simple structures of minimal size, and that should be the standard of comparrison, not the oversized bloated constructions of the last century.

                  Be Modern! Be Progressive! Build Rail!

                  "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

                  by koNko on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:03:38 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Could you go into details? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            koNko, The Overhead Wire

            About this:

            The bus/light rail tunnel in Seattle just about killed the life of the street it went under

            Do you mean that a dead road full of cars was the result on the surface?

            About the visual pollution thing. On one hand, one should explore if this is the view of the majority or that of a loud minority -- inthe case of wind power, polls I know of show that it's the latter.

            The other thing is that opinions can change with time if people get used to the sight. The same thing happened to light rail catenary a century ago: when my city Budapest was the first in Europe to push for a major network, they insisted on a special hidden-third-rail system, but that was gradually replaced with catenary in the next few decades.

            •  during construction (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Daneel, koNko, The Overhead Wire

              the street was mostly closed to traffic during construction. Many of the street level businesses along it closed or moved, some of those in upper stories also moved.  While it is slowly recovering, it's a less friendly section than before, some of the storefronts have been replaced with blank walls, the area just looks poorer - stores that moved in have tended to be of the dollar-store/non-chain convenience/greasy spoon sort.  While doing jury duty a couple of years ago I walked along it for several weeks, and was struck by the number of "commercial space for lease" signs there were, there's still a fair amount of those signs.

              Generally it's a minority complaining about visual pollution, although the recent experience with the monorail shows it may be a fairly sizable minority. As with several projects, the legal and political battles can so drag out a project that it dies. This is Seattle, these days full of high-tech folk and artists somewhat divorced from real commerce and industry, upset that they have to walk under the Viaduct to get to the waterfront (except that they drive there), angered that a freight train delays their getting to a baseball game (wanting to replace the industry served by the trains with cute retail stores), horrified at the stacks of container shipping along the waterfront (wanting to replace it with high cost condos), and ready to talk most any project to death.

              •  The freeway teardown (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                is a whole other diary :)  I'd like to see a discussion on that.  San Francisco, Portland, and Milwaukee have done it with great success.

              •  This is another advantage of the Aerobus ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ... system, construction is faster per mile than a monorail or elevated section of modern tram, which reduces street closures.

       and Energize America

                by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 04:55:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Business Comes Back (0+ / 0-)

                And on well-managed projects, business operators usually get priority for good locations on reconstruction projects.

                And we often see ownwers of unprofitable businesses making exagerated claims about lost business to seek inflated compensation, then "going out of business" once they get the cash in hand.

                Usually, healthy businesses with loyal clientel survive development projects and benifit from new business when redevloped areas rebound.

                "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

                by koNko on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:37:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Daneel I'm (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Daneel, koNko

              going to be in Budapest in October.  We should get together and have lunch.

            •  Vocal Minority - Selfish Regressives (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Daneel, BruceMcF

              City planning should follow the priciple of "greatest good".

              As Lincon observed, you can never make everyone happy, but you can make rational, functional, efficient and environmentally sound plans work with consultation, compromise and a good set of earplugs for the construction )and post-construction complainers).

              We can very simply "greatest good" by measurements of energy consummed and costs of ownership.

              I'm totally confident a good mass transit system wins. We ahve numerous living examples to study, and compare the percapita energy used in areas with/without good mass transit for general comparrison purposes to win the arguements.

              And then, some unsubstantiated arguements can be ignored.

              "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

              by koNko on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:32:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  The Achilles Heel of buses as trunk transport ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Daneel, koNko, The Overhead Wire

        ... is that they get caught up with the congestion created by the cycle of:

        • roadworks
        • encourage more sprawl
        • increase average miles driven
        • create more congestion
        • roadworks

        The point of rail for a variety of trunk passenger roles (broadly speaking) is that it does not slow down when the road traffic does, so that the more congested the road becomes, the more time savings the rail offers to more people.

        The same thing could, of course, be done with separated busways, but that is for a much smaller urban center than Seattle, because buses require more square feet of dedicated corridor than light rail for the same seat capacity, just as light rail takes up more square feet of dedicated corridor than rapid transit for the same seat capacity. So if you need four lanes or more of busway, you are better off with two lanes of light rail ... or on a trunk with even more demand, two lanes of rapid transit. and Energize America

        by BruceMcF on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 09:01:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  congestion and that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Daneel, koNko

          Being "above the traffic" was the big selling point for the monorail plan. Opposition to it as being ugly, noisy, and letting people peer into 2nd or 3rd story windows resulted in the planned first line being planned to route through a more commercial strip of the city, which also happens to be one of the 4 major N/S routes through town.

          The opposition caused things to drag out enough that a third vote on the project shut it down, after two votes in favor of building it overrode the city government. Buses were presented as more flexible and less intrusive, as well as much lower cost. The congestion issue was somewhat covered over or ignored.  

          Some of the same people that opposed the monorail want to remove the elevated roadway that carries 80 to 100 thousand cars a day, stating that "the increase in congestion will be minor"; they want to do this because it's "ugly". I suspect few of these people ride buses or travel through the city core.

          Buses win for now, because they mostly do share the roads with other traffic, which keeps the right of way costs down. There are a few stretches that have dedicated bus lanes, at least during commute time; most of the available roadway that could be converted to that has already been done.

          •  Except, of course, since the buses often do ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Daneel, koNko

            ... not reduce congestion very much, because they attract few people who are deciding between driving and other forms of public transport, so they support keeping the money for roadworks flowing. However, that "opportunity cost" on the bus ROW does not show up in the spreadsheets ...

            ... as with so much public spending on the car-oriented portion of the public transport, that roadworks spending is reactive rather than proactive ... it is something that public authorities feel that they are forced into doing.

            Of course, on a Curitiba type plan, you simply ban cars from one in three streets, and use heavy planning controls to zone and develop those streets into being activity centers. There is the multiple lanes for buses rather than fewer lanes for light rail.

            To replace 80 to 100 thousands cars a day, however, a track each way of light rail is not enough ... you need a track each way of rapid transit, with supporting light rail and bus routes integrated to connect into that trunk.

   and Energize America

            by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 04:41:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Above, Below or Through (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It's fundamental that rails reduce congestion and get to destination on schedule better than any other form of trasportation.

            It's a proven advantage.

            "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

            by koNko on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:43:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  For cities like Seattle (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        with steep grades, rack railways would be an option, also sub-terranean (an example to follow would be line C of the Lyons Metro).

        Another model to look at could be Swiss city Lausanne, which lies on the steep side of Lake Geneva, and one subway line will utilise a rubber-tyred system I'll discuss in the fifth and last episode on Tuesday (I will also mention another rubber-tyred system in the next part on Sunday).

      •  The existing rail ROW seems to run in one ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Daneel, koNko

        ... main alignment in from the south, then split into two just north of Boeing Longacres (a couple of miles north of Boeing). One alignment goes up past Boeing Field / King County Airport, and the other goes up the east side of Lake Washington through Bellevue.

        With the option of main North/South rapid transit, one primary focus of a light rail system would be providing connecting east/west lines of travel.

        The wider bodies of water look like they would be easily traversed by slinging an Aerobus line under the bridges.

        And of course the "toy" monorail could be integrated into the system ... since monorail passed over its guideway and Aerobus passes under, bringing the Aerobus line over the monorail line would allow for ramp connected platforms.

        In line with the progression of Daneel's local rail series, first work out how to make use of the existing heavy rail right of way for regional stopping trains and rapid transit, and then build the system out from that trunk. and Energize America

        by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 06:22:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ahmen ! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The better integrated the mix, the more convenient & efficient the system.

      "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

      by koNko on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:32:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'll note that while I was briefly on the ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... Energize America rail email discussion list, I found myself sounding like a devout local rail advocate when HSR-only people were arguing, and a devout HSR advocate when local-rail-only people were arguing.

      Its hard to remember to constantly say, "certainly, X is necessary, but don't start thinking that it is sufficient." But we do need to push ahead on as many fronts as possible, rather than falling into the trap of arguing "solve suburban access first", "no, solve inter-regional transport first", "no, solve metropolitan trunk transport first." and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 10:55:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  wow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, The Overhead Wire

    I hadn't realized that discussion had gone so much further.
    I'm not a great fan of buses; given the option I'd rather ride a train. Where I live though, my options to get to work are a 20 minute drive or a three bus 90 minute minimum bus ride.

    No argument from me on trains being  much more successful than buses in getting people out of their cars. People don't like taking the bus. Case in point: My SO. She could walk two short blocks to a  bus that would take her downtown and stops right in front of her building. Her other option is to drive and park in a pay lot. The walk from the lot to her
    building is much longer than the walk from home to the bus stop; the extra time walking probably is greater than the extra time in the bus vs driving.
    She never takes the bus.

    No argument from me on light rail being more energy friendly either. Overhead Wire's figure uses national averages from the existing fleet, but I doubt even modern buses using much more efficient and clean powerplants would compete with light rail.

    So lets look at the cost of buses versus trains in real costs...just vehicles.

    well, that's just it. The real cost is  not just the cost of vehicles, it's the cost of the vehicles plus the infrastructure. Which is tremendous when it comes to creating public transportation from scratch in big dumb sprawling cities. I'll agree that proponents of buses don't bother to include costs due to repaving (I was wondering about that and looking for the numbers the other day before I posted that comment), just as proponents of trains emphasize operating costs over initial expenditures.

    I still haven't seen a good apples to apples comparison of bus vs light rail costs: one that looks at an equal number of passenger miles on the same route that includes all of the capital and debt service costs, fuel costs, repaving costs etc.  Then repeat the calculation at some of the lower passenger densities that bus routes serve.

    Then look at a city with sprawl. Most of the miles of a transportation network is going to be low density, where a vehicle with a 464 passenger capacity is going to have 64 passengers. San Diego county metropolitan area is about 600 sq miles and is thinly served by ~300 miles of two way bus route. At half the cost per mile of our last light rail extension it would  cost thirteen billion dollars to replace it with light rail. It would then be very expensive and inefficient to operate, since most of the network doesn't  need the high capacity that light rail offers. So of course no one proposes light rail to replace bus lines in places where density is low. But those areas still need public transportation.

    from the diary:

    More to the point is the idea that "public transport" is one category ... a single pigeon hole for everybody who does not want or cannot drive a car, plus those unusual cities that never agreed to destroy themselves with an entirely auto-dependent public transport system, and so retained a portion of a pre-existing system to build upon.

    Very well put.

    My complaint is really about places that shift to light rail at tremendous cost with the result of bleeding money away from areas that are  already thinly served, and away from people who can't afford cars. I don't think Portland is one of those places, but L.A. is, and San Diego is heading that way.

    Quick! Man the Blogs!

    by HiBob on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 06:45:19 PM PDT

    •  However, light rail replacing buses is not ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Daneel, koNko, The Overhead Wire

      ... what integrated transport systems are all about. You would not in any serious system (which therefore means, you might only here in America ...):

      At half the cost per mile of our last light rail extension it would  cost thirteen billion dollars to replace it with light rail.

      What you do is to provide trunk lines and reorient the buses to provide local service connecting the lines with suburban origins and destinations away from the lines. You do not have to go very far on a light rail line before the five minute leeway that a short loop bus route has to allow to synchronize with a light rail schedule is made up, and after that its both time saving and a better trip.

      More important is the long term impact of attracting development toward the trunk transit route, which light rail can provide because of their inflexibility. Buses are too flexible too provide a substantial impact on property values given the term of a normal mortgage for either commercial or residential real estate.

      The real problem is not cost, its finance. Since so much more of the cost of rail is up front, starting a system from scratch requires money up front. And so going from a system that is more expensive to operate per passenger mile, based on long bus routes, to one that is less expensive, based on higher frequency, shorter bus routes and longer light rail trunk routes, costs more money up front, and given the more limited ability of city government to finance capital spending, can end up putting the squeeze on current operating budgets.

      If the core rationale for the project is the energy savings, on grounds of both energy independence and reducing CO2 emissions, then that is a local project in service of national objectives, and it is the federal government that should be overcoming the finance hurdle for that infrastructure. and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 08:54:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not apple to apple, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, BruceMcF, The Overhead Wire

      because light rail can transport more people faster than buses. You don't want to replace every bus line with light rail, only overcrowded ones. Comparisons of what percentage buses and light rail transport in the same network don't make any sense. I also protest the 'bleeding away' comment -- money should be earmarked for different modes separately, and yeah right all of it should increase.

      I won't say more about light rail, because that's my next diary. But I refer you to the first diary, wherein I discussed the re-start of a branchline in Germany, which involved the reorientation of bus lines from parallel to feeder service. (I note a line in an out-of-city region with population density comparable to US sprawl.) Not only does that rail line carry more than three times the passengers buses carried previously, but buses doubled their ridership on their new lines, too.

  •  Not Just Friends ... Inseparable Partners (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daneel, BruceMcF, The Overhead Wire

    One without the other is simply incomplete.

    Together, the sum is greater than the parts by a high multiple.

    The best model seems to be:

    • Circular minibus routes that begin/end at the station extending to mid-points between local stations
    • Metro Bus grids with at least one major line terminating of passing the station from each direction of outlying areas
    • Dedicated Bus/Minibus Terminals that loop through the Station Main entrance
    • Taxi Stands
    • Common, stored value (electronic) passes that can be used for all rail/bus services in a region

    Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hong Kong are excellent examples of how to do this right, each representing a different set of geogrphical and population desity factors (and requiring a slightly different mix)

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

    by koNko on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 11:29:45 PM PDT

    •  Stored value passes are just one system ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Daneel, koNko

      ... the key in general for ticketing is integrated fares, so that switching mode halfway through a trip does not modify the cost of the trip. In smaller cities, this can be done by having a zone system and magnetic-stripe paper tickets, with all in-zone and metro tickets working the same way on all transport routes in the zone. and Energize America

      by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 05:00:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good Point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This is often the case with stored value systens.  In fact, since such systems use time stamp and location encoding on entry, they are quite flexible to enable/manage:

        • Zone based fares
        • division of fares between lines when zone fares cannot be agreed
        • Flexible/discount fares to promote off-hours travel to ease conjestion (eg Hong Kong "Early-Bird" fares)
        • Vendor sponsored promotions (eg, to promote stored value purchases, some in-station vendors offer discounts)
        • Bonus point schemes (some lines provide a bonus value when recharging cards with a certian value)

        But the best reason to use stored value is it's quick & convenient for everyone and eliminates the need for ticketing.

        "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

        by koNko on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:56:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  However, in smaller urban areas ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Daneel, koNko

          ... the capital cost of the equipment can overwhelm their benefits, and magnetic stripe paper tickets are easier to sell to passengers boarding a local suburban bus. For a county RTA serving a county of 200,000 people or fewer, currently taking cash fares and paper transfers, magnetic strip paper tickets can be an easier step up.

          There are typically only a few gateway connection services into a metropolitan transport system from that kind of RTA ... for those already on public transport coming in from the outlying area, a second ticketing system giving access to the whole metro area is not a threshold barrier.

          The key barrier to avoid is different ticketing systems and/or discriminatory fares for mode switches within a given local transport area.

 and Energize America

          by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 09:49:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure about the cost (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but I suspect it is not very high because (passive RF) proximity smart cards and smart phone systems are nearly universal in Asia and used as POS electronic cash cards so the terminals are quite cheap. There are even stand-alone terminals for taxi/bus that are "unloaded" at shift change.

            ACS is one vendor of such systems, Fujitsu provides the system for JR.

            The  encoders work within range of about 100mm and sense approach to discriminate between multiple cards, since you dont have to make physical contact cards can be carried in wallets, ID holders, mobile phones, etc and really facillitate [passenger flow.

            These systems are pretty addapatble, in most cases the hosts don't abandon mag tickets because you still need to handle single trip customers so they seem to just add-on the encoders to existing infrstructure.

            These systems are very popular with Convenience Stores, paper vendors and even vending machines in some cases. So once they come into use, theres a snowball effect in addoption. A good example is Hong Kong's Octopus Card.  The Octopus Wiki contains some fun facts including a comprehensive listing of electronic fare collection installations worlkdwide.

            "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

            by koNko on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 12:42:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In NSW, when they were trialing adopting them ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ... the card itself cost nearly $20 Australia, which makes for quite a barrier for a system like the Newcastle Bus Service with more than half cash fare customers ... since they would not be sold on the bus and the normal POS electronic cash card is the bank debit card over the Australian EFTPOS system.

              System integration where the cards are commonly used as cash cards would be a widely available service that could be essentially obtained for a small transaction fee or widely available as a standard add-on to most POS systems marketed, including ticketing systems.

              In the US, system integration would have to be contracted for, and while it would be a small part of the total cost for a city of a million plus, for a system of, say, one regional stopping train to the nearest large city, five circulator/suburban buses and one main trunk bus line, those fixed costs start to enter into the decision.

              And there is the point:

              in most cases the hosts don't abandon mag tickets because you still need to handle single trip customers so they seem to just add-on the encoders to existing infrstructure.

              ... where the single trip system is often proprietary, and either they are the system integrators, or the RTA has to switch their cash fare system in order to tender the addition of smart card out to competitive bid.

              My main point is that the key target is not a particular technological solution to a problem, but a clear definition of the problem to be solved: there should be not discrimination in switching between transport modes, and integrated ticketing.

     and Energize America

              by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 01:31:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I'm going to post a diary tomorrow about TOD (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daneel, koNko, BruceMcF

    There was a request in one of Daneel's diaries for this so I'll post it on Saturday.

    •  Thanks! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Daneel, The Overhead Wire

      That was my suggestions and I look forward to your Diary.

      BTW, I read that TOD is begining to get a bad rap in the USA since it's become kind of a buzword applied to anybody's project regardless of the objectives of principles followed, so let's have some good discussion about do's, dont's, the good, the bad & the ugly ...

      "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

      by koNko on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:59:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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