Saturday, October 25, 2008

Deep Seeded Bias

Jeff Tumlin as usual gets it right:
Jeffrey Tumlin, a transportation planner with Nelson Nygaard, a BART consultant, sees the skewed funding priorities as part of a deep-seated bias against transit in American public policy. "If your road or highway is experiencing bad levels of service, it's assumed that you need to get money to expand capacity," he says. "When you're allocating money for transit, nobody ever asks how crowded buses are."
This is a pretty good article from Salon as far as msm goes. Then there is this part, which is the story of most people's life on BART if you're taking the train during peak hours. Sardines.
Four minutes later, another Pittsburgh-Bay Point train arrives and an audible groan goes up in the station: This train is packed too. Inside one car, a poster on the wall applauds riders for taking the train instead of driving: "Thank you for not gridlocking today. Thanks for taking BART." It's not even peak rush hour yet.
Second tube anyone?

HT Bus Chick

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yup, RUSH HOUR. sure a second bay crossing would be useful, so would telecommuting, not choosing to live 50 miles from your cubicle. And when the trains wern'crowded in rush hour, the naysayers whined about 'wasting' money on transit.

Dave Reid said...

It's amazing to me how this bias impacts state after state. In Wisconsin the DOT is literally about to launch $6 Billion worth of freeway repair and expansion (after just spending $800 million) but we can't get a dedicated source for buses in Milwaukee or $200 million to start a commuter rail line.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I don't get this obsession with telecommuting. As much fun as it is to work from home, I find that I'm much more productive and can get answers faster in my office. People talk about telecommuting being the wave of the future, but with human nature the way it is, I just don't see it for most people.

the transport politic said...

Take a look at something that might change peoples' perceptions of transit. Review a history of the development of high speed rail in the United States and its potential future at the transport politic.

arcady said...

And yet somehome, WMATA manages to run 26 trains per hour through Rosslyn, while BART can manage only 20. I guess it's the third set of doors that does it, because BART's limiting factor is dwell time and Embarcadero and Montgomery. I suspect a turnback track past, say, Civic Center would be helpful too, rather than the current arrangement to terminate some trains at Montgomery via the crossover. And by the way, there already is a second bay crossing, the Bay Bridge, which is perfectly capable of carrying trains (at least until the $7 billion replacement for the east span is put in service).

Jon said...

I think a second bay crossing between Oakland and San Francisco for rail is essential. Infact I'd like to see the HSR continue across from SF to Oakland thru the Oakland Hills northeasterly to Concord/Martinez and ending in Sacramento. The bridge/tunnel could also be used for Caltrain in the East Bay running on the existing tracks to Martinez and another branch from SF to SJ via Hayward and Fremont. Maybe even a revived Key System-like operation could also use the new bridge/tunnel for service in the close-in neighborhoods of Oakland and Berkeley and running into SF. Afterall BART doesnt serve a lot of parts of Oakland and Berkeley. This was mentioned about 10-12 years when the replacement bay bridge was in early planning.

Unfortunately they ruled out designing the bridge to ever allow for the future possibility of rail service on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge (assuming the Western span was ever replaced). I have seen a map of the proposed second BART crossing tunnel somewhere, oddly its not a straight route under the bay as one would expect but rather has a big bowed curve of a route as does the proposed extra rail crossing between NJ and NYC Penn Station.

Alon Levy said...

The proposed extra rail crossing between NJ and NY is completely ridiculous for a lot of reasons - for a start, it's meant to be part of a separate system from the existing crossing, as opposed to simply a four-tracking project; it's also intended to terminate in a deep-level station that lies right next to a water tunnel and thus can't be extended further.

I hope that the second bay crossing proposals are intended primarily to four-track the existing tunnel, and not to create a parallel system. I also hope the extra capacity is used to add extra subway service inside San Francisco.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Alon, the Transbay Tube is just that, a tube and not a tunnel. It was done that way for earthquake safety and actually sits on top of the bottom of the bay anchored by cables. They really would have to sink a second tube to be able to expand capacity. With that being said, I've heard that they would want to make the new tube two different types of rail lines whether it's commuter rail and HSR in the tube with BART or LRVs. In order to do that, they will have to four track it because BART is not the same gauge as regular railroads for reasons only the morons who designed it understand.

Anonymous said...

Think about how the Key System use to cross the bay.

I can see the need for an other crossing though make it some thing that can be used by both passenger and freight trains.

The can be said about a rail link between Staten Island & Kings.

Freight & Passenger trains!

295bus said...

A simple solution to crowded BART trains (and traffic on the bridge) would be more housing on the west side of the Bay.

the transport politic said...

There may be a bias towards highway transport, but transit agencies have been really hurt by their deals with AIG. But these agencies need to stop the short-term thinking that leads to these bad deals. Read about this issues at the transport politic.

Alon Levy said...

PT, that sounds like a really bad idea. I'd say that unless service disruptions in the existing tube are completely impossible, the second tube should be part of the BART system, with switches between the two tubes on both sides of the bay.

Anon, the proposed tunnel you're thinking of is from Jersey to Brooklyn, and is freight-only. Operating mixed traffic is a bad idea in general, and especially in the US, with its passenger rail-busting FRA regulations. There's a separate, low-priority proposal for SI-Brooklyn subway service, which will be passenger-only.

arcady said...

"Operating mixed traffic is a bad idea in general"
I wouldn't say this is a bad idea in general, but mixed traffic (meaning a mix of speeds) will reduce overall capacity. In many cases, this is a tradeoff that makes perfect sense, and in other cases (with dense traffic and little room for expansion), it does not. And in many cases, it makes sense to separate the traffic by time, rather than by tracks.

Anyhow, in the particular case of BART, I believe the plan is that the new tunnel will have two tracks of BART (connecting to the existing system somewhere in Oakland), and two tracks of mainline rail, to allow Capitol Corridor and HSR trains to cross the bay. The second tube would then connect to a subway line along Geary.

Alon Levy said...

Ah. Well, that sounds like a reasonable alignment. The part about sinking four tracks at the same time sounds particularly prescient - here, the ARC people insist that two tracks are enough, even though they won't be able to handle even current demand.

arcady said...

I don't want to sidetrack this debate, but the two new tracks of the ARC/THE are enough capacity to last a while. Given that they run 24tph on the current tracks, this would be a doubling of capacity. The constraint becomes their six-track deep cavern, where each train gets about 12 minutes at the platform before it has to leave to make way for the next one. Also, the separate terminal and lack of tail tracks precludes the use of three tracks in the peak direction and one reverse-peak, as Metro North does at GCT. And finally, there's the major problem of vertical circulation. 24 trains per hour means 43000 people per hour, which means 12 people per second. Even if in normal operations, this isn't a limitation, it can become a major constraint during disruptions, and I imagine that reverse peak commuters wouldn't be too happy to miss their train because they were waiting in line for the one escalator that's going down. Oh and the Secaucus Loop is another classic: it would take trains from the lower level of the Secaucus station to the upper level, in approximately 6 minutes, thus providing the all-important one seat ride, assuming of course a total replacement of motive power with something that can run on AC and diesel.

Alon Levy said...

Only half of Jersey-to-Manhattan commuters use the New Jersey Transit as it is. The ARC tunnel is likely to lead to more demand in the future, increasing the need for more tunnels. And unfortunately, it can't be used for through-running because it stub-ends at the same depth as one of the water tunnels. This is a separate problem - one of lack of coordination that could allow through-running - but it speaks to how bad the situation of transit in the US is.

Matt Fisher said...

Yup. The ARC tunnel plans appear screwed. Why didn't they consider, for example, extending it further to let some trains pass through Grand Central, instead of placing it under Penn Station?

I don't get this stuff about telecommuting either. Besides, I like to see a lot of people in person, although I have so many friends on Facebook.

A lot of these designs for rail tunnels appear to be screwed up. Comparatively, in Brussels, a north-south rail link was designed with three pairs of tracks AND opened in 1952.