One big reason for the energy is the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's $200 million Euclid Corridor project, which is reshaping Euclid Avenue around a bus rapid transit line. Pundits have long derided the project, funded primarily by federal money, as a boondoggle. Media coverage has focused primarily on businesses that failed during construction, along with the hassle of negotiating a sea of orange traffic cones.
The mortgage-foreclosure crisis, which has left as many as 12,000 homes vacant in Cleveland neighborhoods, has also obscured the impending rebirth of Euclid Avenue. But the developers say they see what's coming. With the RTA project due for a ribbon-cutting in October, they're rushing to renovate empty buildings and buy vacant lots.
But in the back of my mind I'm always worried about the folks who are pushing the technology as an alternative to rail on corridors that need a higher capacity mode. A lot of these folks just want to stall the process or just don't like transit at all. They even complain that higher density development will result. Oh the horror! From the Washington Post:
Cuccinelli, Marshall and other state leaders, including Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), acknowledge that they are in the minority. But they have long criticized the rail line to Dulles. Its costly, four-station diversion through Tysons Corner, they say, is more about helping developers reap the profits of high-density development than about moving people to the airport. Its dependence on revenue from the Dulles Toll Road to cover a huge chunk of construction costs would put the burden of any future cost escalations on commuters.But here is where the wheels on the bus come off for me. Officials in Miami Dade County are discussing the possibility of expanding the South Busway to four lanes to allow for carpoolers and HOT lanes. This is the dream of every road warrior that wants to build a busway instead of a rail line. The idea that they can co-opt the line for cars is always in the back of their minds. While this is not the thought of well intentioned Mayors like Jaime Lerner of Curitiba and Enrique Penalosa of Bogota, it is the thought of many in the United States including Florida County Commissioners. From the Miami Herald:
Howell and other critics of the project believe the solution for the Dulles corridor is in a type of service known as bus rapid transit, an express bus service with dedicated lanes and stations, allowing commuters to move as quickly as they would on a rail line without getting stuck in traffic.
This type of bus service was ruled out by local officials and business leaders because of the difficulty of building dedicated lanes through Tysons Corner and because of the increased number of riders that a true rail line would draw. But it is so much cheaper that it should be revisited, boosters say.
Imagine widening the Busway from two lanes to four and giving buses and carpoolers with at least three passengers a free ride. Then sell the excess capacity to solo drivers willing to ''buy'' their way out of congestion with a variably priced toll that would rise when lanes are crowded and drop when they aren't.
Instead of encountering dozens of incredibly looooooong lights at the busy cross streets on today's Busway, imagine flying over all the major intersections as the government guarantees a reliable 50-mph journey from Dadeland to Florida City or the turnpike interchange near Southwest 112th Avenue. It may sound pie-in-the-sky today, but that pie could be baking in the near future.
At the urging of County Commissioner Dennis Moss, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority are jointly studying ways to bring ''managed lanes'' to the Busway. ''It's the most exciting thing I've worked on in quite a while,'' MPO planner Larry Foutz said.
BRT is built on roads. Cars go on roads. So therefore...