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Friday, December 9, 2011

Equitable, sustainable...

... buses!

Not trains.

Comments (24)

On some matters, reason triumphs over religion, except here.

“BRT projects can be put in place quickly, and integrate well with other transportation modes, from subways to cycling and walking, while fitting today’s often constrained budgets,” says Rep. Earl Blumenauer, of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-OR). “Now more than ever it is important to find creative solutions to provide affordable transportation options that meet the needs of our communities and residents and keep our economy moving forward.”

Has Earl told Sam, Charlie, and Lake Oswego about this?

Old ideas are not dead, might not always require new infrastructure and seemingly have more promise than today's "touted" technologies.

When I rode the BRT in Vegas, I thought it was simply brilliant. Sleek, clean, efficient, fast, and full of happy riders.

I wondered why Portland chooses trains that cost many times more...but quickly realized that Stacy & Witbeck, Rick Gustafson, and all the other porkers in this town likely squelched such an idea in the name of self preservation long ago.

Nah, buses will never fly here - you have to keep the roads in reasonably good shape, and we know that's not goin' to happen.

I kept waiting for a question mark after "buses".

Portland's Approach:

Let's not invest in the bus system - let's have the oldest, least reliable bus fleet of any major transit agency in North America. Let's have deplorable bus stops, many of which have no sidewalks to get to it, and many of the bus stops require you to stand in a drainage ditch. And let's pack as many willing riders in those buses so if the bus has to make "a panic stop" that we can injure as many people as possible.

Once we convince enough people that buses just suck, everyone will want light rail! Light rail and streetcars everywhere!!!!

The TriMet apologists in Portland love to cite the false story of the streetcar scandal in Los Angeles of how Big Oil bought out the Red Cars (they didn't) and shut them down (they didn't, the government body MTA did). I'd like to know what the scandal of Portland is - who is being bribed, by which companies, to what extent. It's clearly obvious that the streetcar and light rail companies have a financial hand in regional politics like the developers who want those projects, and it's well past time to expose them and put a stop to Illinois style corruption in Oregon.

But according to the American Public Transportation Association, U.S. buses travel at a nationwide average speed of 12.5 mph.

Eugene, OR: The Emerald Express (EmX) has off-board fare collection and near-level boarding making it quicker and easier to hop on. Dedicated right-of-way through Eugene’s most congested areas, signal priority, improved station design, and wide stop spacing make buses 30% faster than before.

So in Eugene, are we saying that BRT is going at 16.25MPH now? WHOA! I better fasten my safety belt when I get on one of those things.

I'll start riding the bus when Tri-Met can get one of these. See it in action here.

I'll start riding the bus when Tri-Met can get one of these

Not in Oregon you won't...nuclear powered?!!!!

Rail transit zealots like to diminish the better alternative of modern bus systems by falsely insisting they ALL need a dedicated right or way and that just isn't possible. Such as with 43 and McLoughlin.

These corridors could easily accomodate additional modern bus transit without a dedicated right or way or more road lanes. The traffic is simply not very bad, and won't be.

But here again rail zealots has produced false traffic studies and forecasts in both corridors along with false population forecasts.

Worse yet they block any efforts to invest small amounts into any modern bus pilot programs to prove how effective they can be.

Can't have that. It would completely blow up the RailVolution agenda.

excuse me

rail zealots have produced

I wonder if Bow Tie Earl's nose is growing after seeing that remark above about busses. Isn't he one of the biggest public shills for Light rail and streetcars in the entire USA?
Down here in Reno we not only have a nice fleet of mostly new hybrid busses - some of the larger ones being articulated; but a shiny new bus transit station as well. And we are having many of the busiest bus stops on Virginia Street set up with above grade stops; making boaring much easier and faster.

Anyone interested in Bus Rapid Transit should take the time to rider the Emerald Express in Eugene Springfield. The buses are clean, easy to board and you can count on the schedule. Tri-Met has to make the switch. They could use a phased strategy of acquiring right of way, starting frequent service buses on the new right of way and then, if ridership gets up to levels adequate to fund trains (and assuming trains have additional benefits) trains could be used later without all the upfront cost of the rails, overhead power systems, etc.

Buses? What fun is that?

geeze *&^%$#

I meant
right of way


Oooohhhh, look! They're so shiny and have such cool styling! We need to tear out those passe' streetcar lines so we can get some of those nifty new buses!

Sadly the sales job of trolleys emanating out of Portland continues. Portland's trolley mafia has been in Tucson sparking the future 4 mile trolley costing over $200 Million. Of course several Portland companies and individuals have been in Tucson selling.

Today, a RTA Tucson trolley official said that the trolley will entice millions of dollars of development along the line. He cited Portland as an example of how trolleys are instigators of development. When explained how there are over 6 taxpayer subsidies that are really the instigators his reply was, "I didn't know that". He's been Blumenhaured.

When shown this article, Tri-Met and Portland officials squeezed their eyes tightly shut, stuck their fingers in their ears and started shouting LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA....

Which, come to think of it, is how they normally act.....

It should be noted that BRT originated in Curitiba, Brazil and some years ago the former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil Jaime Lerner, gave a presentation in Portland on Curitiba's transit system and the next day I believe he spoke to the elected chair warmers.

Some time after that a number of people working for Metro spoke about their experiences when they studied Curitiba's transit system.

All of which have been widely ignored by the chair warmers.

BTW I personally gave the present mayor of this village a three ring binder on transit when he was campaigning for city council only to be ignored.

Funny that no one has mentioned that EmX in Eugene is a placeholder to acquire the right of way for future light rail plans. Or the added congestion caused by LTD's "improvements": loss of travel lanes (not including their plans to reduce ORE 99 by one lane), elimination of left turns at several intersections, and no turns on red light at others. Or LTD's slashing of the conventional bus network in favor of EmX. Sound familiar?

The one that sticks in my mind was that the initial line was sold as a trial and test bed. Yet even before they ran one bus down it, LTD was already constructing the next line. So much for the trial.

LTD is as out of touch with their district as TriMet thanks to the unelected and unaccountable board structure.

So why the rail fixation?
Isn't it obvious?


And those billions of dollars create millions of dollars for the people involved with every aspect of the boondoggle.

BRT doesn't make money for all the cronies! Why would a technocrat want that?

While I appreciate the general sentiment, the type of BRT advocated by the authors is just as misguided as the light rail mania. There is no place in Oregon where a dedicated BRT lane would be justified.

A much more practical version would be limited-stop bus service in general purpose lanes, such as the TM 92x South Beaverton Line or the 99x McLoughlin Blvd line (due to be cancelled as soon as the much slower Milwaukie LR line is built).

Los Angeles has hundreds of route-miles of such service, known as the Metro Rapid. That's what the authors of this report should have celebrated, not the goofy Orange line they write about. The Orange line is poorly designed with many grade crossings, it's not a pleasant ride, it's not fast, and there is no feasible way to replicate it on a mass scale due to high cost.

The Metro Rapid system can be replicated, and TriMet already knows how to do it. But TM management is "all-in" on the wrong strategy, and they won't admit they're wrong.

Funny that no one has mentioned that EmX in Eugene is a placeholder to acquire the right of way for future light rail plans.

I have no problem with that. LTD has no ability to build a light rail line anytime in the foreseeable future, so what if EmX is so successful that at some point it has to be rebuilt as a rail line? The right-of-way is there, the utilities have all been relocated, even the station platforms are there.

I have NO problem with incremental upgrades to transit. Which frankly Portland needs to do a lot more of:

Standard bus -> Frequent Service bus -> Articulated Bus -> Electric Trolleybus -> Streetcar.

Versus TriMet's approach of building streetcar lines that are strictly developer-oriented transit (where no transit existed previously because there was no reason for it), and ignoring the existing, well-patronized bus lines.

Remember this:

The Gateway EmX line cost $41 million for 6.7 lane miles (roughly 3.35 route miles) - just over $10 million a mile. For Streetcar, you'd buy three Streetcar vehicles but no track, wire, facilities, stations - just the two vehicles. You'd buy a quarter mile of rail, but no vehicles or anything else. Light rail is even worse.

The original Eugene-Springfield EmX line (Franklin Corridor) was $25 million or $6.25 million/mile. $6.25 million would get those two streetcars - and nothing else. No rails, no platforms, no maintenance facility, no nothing. Or, a couple hundred feet of rail.

Up in Snohomish County, the SWIFT BRT project cost $29.5 million for its 16.7 mile route - or $1.8 million/mile. (In comparison, TriMet's WES commuter rail is 14.9 miles - and cost $165 million.) Also, Community Transit has reported that the operating cost per boarding ride for SWIFT was as little as A DOLLAR. (WES is $19. MAX is around $2.00, the bus system average is around $3.00, but TriMet's 72 Killingsworth/82nd Avenue bus is the cheapest - it's about 80 cents.)

And here's an interesting tidbit from up north: When King County Metro replaced the 174 route (which itself was a pretty heavily used bus line) with the RapidRide A Line, ridership spiked from 5,000 weekday boardings to 8,000 weekday boardings. All, by making targeted improvements in BUS service - new buses, better schedules, new bus stops, and dedicated bus lanes, queue-hopper signals and other ITS improvements.

For $61.6 million, or $5.6 million/mile.

Beat that, TriMet.

A much more practical version would be limited-stop bus service in general purpose lanes, such as the TM 92x South Beaverton Line or the 99x McLoughlin Blvd line (due to be cancelled as soon as the much slower Milwaukie LR line is built).

Los Angeles has hundreds of route-miles of such service, known as the Metro Rapid.

There's a HUGE difference between the two systems described above.

TriMet's remaining express buses (92X, 94X, and 99X, although the 96 is also an express it should be in a class by itself as it's the only "Freeway Express") are a valuable and popular component of the bus system. Heck, I ride the 94X twice a day, and have in the past used the 92X, 95X (now discontinued) and 96. I did ride the 99X once.

However their function is very different than Metro Rapid, or even some of the BRT systems. To John Charles' credit, the LACMTA Orange Line deserves a fair amount of criticism - it was overcapacity from day one, very expensive - it is everything that the anti-bus/pro-light rail folks complain about BRT. They hold out the Orange Line as an example that BRT is just as expensive as LRT. (Never mind that EVERYTHING in Los Angeles is more expensive; the region's light rail lines still came in several times higher than the Orange Line, so the Orange Line continues to be a fraction of the cost of LRT.)

Metro Rapid is a form of BRT, also known as "BRT Lite". You have the new buses, the improved stops, the ITS enhancements. You have everything BUT a fully dedicated lane for the buses. Snohomish County's SWIFT is just that. So is Rapid Ride. And parts of LTD's EmX line are like this too. In fact, the latest BRT routes use a combination of shared-lane with ITS enhancements, and dedicated lane when appropriate.

Of course, the LRT lovers decry the lack of the dedicated lane and complain that "the buses just get stuck in traffic"; completely ignoring that the Portland Streetcar does too since it is entirely in traffic (now that the short stretch of separate track from Riverplace to South Waterfront is now mixed-traffic). And never-mind that the Streetcar, in places, uses THE only lane of traffic causing traffic jams behind it; whereas BRT-Lite usually has bus pull-outs, and traffic signals to let the bus back in - and there's usually a second through lane for regular traffic to simply pass the bus.

The other big difference between BRT-Lite and an express bus is that express buses typically are rush-hour only, and operate in one direction. Try taking a 94X from Portland to Tigard in the morning. You can't. Try taking a 94X at 5:00 AM, or 10:00 AM. You can't. The express buses have a particular problem in that over 50% of their operating time they are in non-revenue mode (no riders, no revenue). TriMet has tried to rectify that by having some returning 94s run back into Portland as a 12 - but they end up running as an extra bus in the wrong direction as the primary mode of travel, right behind a regular 12 bus, so it just slows them down on their return to make another 94 run (and provides no additional service unless someone just happened to miss the regular 12 bus by a minute or two. I spoke with one Operator who drove such a bus who said that in the entire time she had to do that run, she NEVER picked up a rider - they all took the bus right in front of her.)

That said - express buses provide a valuable service, and so does the "Rapid Bus". I've said for a long time that TriMet would be very wise to implement such a service on the existing 12 line to King City. It would also work on the 33 route, and even the 4 and 9 (to Gresham), 35 (to Lake Oswego/West Linn), 57 (Forest Grove-Beaverton) and possibly a good number of other routes. For even a $50 million investment per line (although as little as $25 million) TriMet could build out a complete BRT network that serves virtually EVERY city in TriMet's district AND increase ridership AND decrease operating expense - for the cost of just ONE light rail line (at $500 million) that offers little benefit to the region.

And back to those express buses. TriMet would be wise to invest a couple bucks in these:


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