Friday, December 5, 2008

Just Like Light Rail, Only Cheaper?

Not so much. $60 Million a mile. This is based on ripping up track and laying down a new road and running buses on it. But here's some quotes from Hartford, which has been planning this project forever and where some people are having second thoughts.
Legislators have begun to wonder, not irrationally, if a rail connection might be the better alternative.
...
When well-executed, bus rapid transit isn't much different from light rail. It is a transit vehicle — an articulated bus — running on a fixed path, a roadway instead of rails.
...
The advantage of rail is that it feels more permanent. But good busways also feel like they'll be there for a long time.
Ughh. You mean isn't much different since light rail is transit too? I agree with Richard.
I think it's fine to explore BRT, but at the same time, let's not argue that it can do the job as well as fixed-rail transit.
Let's get real and stop trying to think that these buses act like trains. There is a reason we don't call buses trains. Just because you have an articulation doesn't mean you can couple. Anyway, we shouldn't have to keep repeating how rail is better than bus on the necessary rail corridors. It's annoying this even has to be discussed anymore.

5 comments:

Bob Davis said...

Here in So. Calif. we had an abandoned rail right of way in the San Fernando Valley that would have been great for light rail. Unfortunately, politics intervened and it became a busway. Now the buses are stuffed and people are saying, "Gee, we could have had a real rail line." Our local transit discussion board has kicked this around at length, but I think the SFV folks are stuck with buses for a long time.

Anonymous said...

For 50 years, North America had ripped up rail and replaced it with "efficient" buses. Transit use then plummeted with each route that was replaced with buses.

Eric said...

The anti-SMART folks in Marin suggested that a superior alternative to DMUs would be to pave a 70 mile ROW for buses. Good thing that "plan" got stopped in its, er, tracks.

Anonymous said...

I hope the Orange Line fiasco in the SFV gets fixed eventually. All they need to do is

(1) find a location for an LRT vehicle base and light maintenance facility

(2) Repeal the special local laws which prevent light rail.

Even Zev Yaroslavsky (sp?), the original political busway advocate of the region, seems to be willing to consider it if he gets pushed hard enough.

Matt Fisher said...

I'm known for commenting here about how BRT is not truly "train like", especially in where I live - Ottawa. To tell you what, the "Orange Line" is one of the worst BRT examples ever, as is Boston's "Silver Line".

Does it really make sense to use colours for names of BRT routes as much as for trains? I say no, because it can lead to confusion into making people think these bus routes are "rapid transit" just as much as RAIL transit is.

As to where paving over rail lines for busways has been done - and it's been done in Ottawa - I know it's also been done in Pittsburgh and Miami, and these are also stupid. Also, in England, in Cambridge, they're "paving over" a freight line to nearby St. Ives for a "guided busway" and this is actually under some opposition.

BRT is not "the bus that looks like a train" or "the bus unlike any other bus" or "just like rail, but cheaper". BRT is just a glorified bus, no matter what colour it's painted in. It's rather like putting lipstick on a pig.