Saturday, December 23, 2006

Buses are Better? No They Aren't

So the good folks of Boston are having a debate. Should they restore streetcars on the Arborway Green Line or Replace them with Rapid Bus. Distinction....BRT has its own lanes, Rapid Bus does not. Ridership on the line is in decline from 28,000 in 1988 to 14,400 in 2005. This is really all i need to know to make a decision but lets look at what the bus lovers (actually just afraid of change) are saying.

(Note: Buses are the workhorses of most transit systems but high ridership trunk lines should be more cost effective to extend the reach of bus service in a region. Light Rail serves this need by having lower operating costs per passenger by A. attracting new passengers and B. efficiently bringing them to thier destination)

Tracks Make Pavement Hard to Maintain - Well so do buses. Actually, recent issues have arisen from the Orange Line and its pavement cracking. While this might be an issue with the contractors, it also tells the story of pavement and buses. The weight of a bus is just too much. If they are so worried about the pavement from rail...they should be really worried about the pavement from buses.

Bicycle Hazards - Yes riding over the tracks can be an issue. But Portland has signs and warnings for cyclists. I don't think that a few folks ignoring the warnings and taking the spill every year would be enough to warrant the line not run rail.

Traffic Flow - Here they say that traffic flow for cars will be impeded by the streetcars. Well isn't it already impeded by buses every day? I don't get this logic... why are people so worried about traffic flow? We shouldn't design the world for cars, we should design the world for pedestrians which means that a little traffic calming never hurt anyone. If you need to speed that bad go to Talladega.

Restricted Curbside Access - Well this is a no brainer. In Portland they have bulbouts. And if it takes up 7 parking spaces, so what...see above world for cars link. Heck there is probably an answer including creating several bulbouts for each of the door ends keeping space in the center for cars and deliveries. It's not an insurmountable engineering task and its still not enough to warrant bus only service.

Then they give a plethora of reasons why they feel bus is better... which i will answer tomorrow.

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