Sunday, December 24, 2006

So Tell Us Why Bus is Better...

The folks at Better Transit Without Trolleys want us to believe a few things below...mainly the 5 points that will be refuted below...

Faster Travel- "Buses Can Provide Faster Service Than Trolleys" is what they say. However we know that diesel engines whether hybrid or not are inferior in terms of acceleration when it comes to moving large loads of people. And with stops short before getting back on the main rail line this will allow greater time savings than a bus. Also, buses going into downtown have to contend with traffic and snow while an LRV will enter the subway system for enhanced people movement. This can even be improved with an rail lane during peak hours and pre-empted signaling. The rails will also be a snow clearing priority...experience from the Silver Line shows that snow is stored in the dedicated lanes after a storm. See picture.

They also complain about cars double parking. Tickets and information can easily take care of that issue. Also the idea of a huge LRV hitting or even just waiting with many angry passengers behind your car is a great deterrent.

Less Waiting- By claiming 17,000 (It's actually more like 14,000 now) passengers they believe that the traffic density does not warrant rail service at increased headways. But the fact is that if bus service continues there will be a continued decline in ridership. If the traffic density of 28,000 from 1988 is to be brought back, this line will need greater vehicle capacity. A band aid simply won't work and neither will limited bus capacity.

More Service - What does more service mean? They mean more frequent service and claim streetcars cost more than buses. Well according to the NTAD this is not true and actually rail is significantly less than buses in terms of expense per rider. This is a ridiculous claim that has been shot down over and over again. They also say that capital costs are less. Well thats not true either given that rail vehicles have a 30 year time frame while buses last 12. That means in order to have the buses you need to buy two for every LRV but then 12 years later you need to buy 2 more meaning you have to have 4 buses for every LRV in cost!!!! And each of those two buses per LRV has a driver meaning even greater operating costs.

Accessibility- They say...can't do it with don't know the facts...and we aren't changing our minds. Basically they say it will cost more to apply ADA to streetcars than buses. However streetcars can be low floor and wheelchair accessible also. If it needs to go into the subway and has a certain platform height then neighborhood platforms can be built. They are not that expensive and can easily be created on the bulbouts. Their claim is expense but it should be called an investment. Building and continuing rail operations is an investment, while buses should be seen as a non-returning expense.

Safer Streets for All- this was discussed in the previous post with the bike safety.

What the above excuses tells me is that merchants don't see the direct benefits of rail to them. More riders and greater service means a better situation for them however for some reason they believe buses are the answer. If buses were the answer then all of the rail lines in Boston would have been replaced with buses by now. The proof is in the pudding and the pudding (eg ridership) has dropped by 50% since 1988. They should get it back with rail.

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