The World Resources Institute has issued a report that states BRT is better than LRT for the Purple Line. The question is how they came to this conclusion. It's littered with the usual objections to light rail with a few new ones for good measure. My favorite quip is the "we like light rail but not in this instance" which we've seen about a million times before. In the report, they even admit to thinking short term.
Major capital projects implemented in the near-term will shape the long-term future of transport in the region. WRI urges regional planners and other decision makers to consider current needs and concerns in the context of tomorrow’s transportation challenges, especially regarding traffic congestion, fuel costs, and climate change.So what you're saying is that we should look at everything? Well you forgot a few things guys, like changes in development patterns, particulate matter and lifecycle costs in terms of construction. Replacing all the buses every 12 years is always good for the environment. Another annoying FTA related issue is the no build alternative. It's not really a no build but rather a basic bus service. Of course incremental change from a bus line to BRT is going to be more "cost effective". The other bus line doesn't even exist! Then there is this:
As illustrated in Figure 7, only the Medium and High Investment BRT alternatives reduce CO2 emissions, with 8,883 and 17,818 fewer metric tons per year, respectively, compared to the No Build scenario. All of the remaining alternatives increase annual emission levels compared to No Build.Again. The no build doesn't even exist, so how is the BRT line reducing emissions and LRT isn't? Well the truth is it is reducing emissions because the alternative isn't the no build but rather nothing at all. Both lines reduce GHGs in the transportation sense. What we don't know is exactly what the reductions in VMT are going to be from land use and whether the land use patterns will create more incentives to walk, creating even less car trips and development patterns that themselves save infrastructure and energy costs. Not to mention they say nothing about particulates from a single source of pollution versus multiple sources that spew along a whole corridor.
Energy consumption from roadways decreases with introduction of LRT, but the resulting emissions reduction is not sufficient to counterbalance the effect caused by the high electricity CO2 emission factor. While we anticipate that this emission factor will decrease in the future due to increased use of renewable energy sources and likely GHG reduction legislation, these drivers have not been included in the AA/DEIS. Further consideration is given to the electricity emission factor in the following sections.
In all reality, the Purple Line should be a subway. Bringing it down to light rail is bad enough, but all the way down to bus rapid transit would be a wasted opportunity to change the corridor. But for once, could someone do an analysis that includes land use change, the issues of air pollution, the real lifecycle costs? This analysis shows how much affect the FTA policy has on what our future will look like, and that is upsetting. Let's stop leaving out the whole picture.