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Old 09-01-2016, 01:22 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,516,721 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathguy View Post
Ok, I consider the L interchangeable with light rail because they serve the same purpose and work in much the same manner. However, I'd like to learn what the fine distinction between the two is so let me know?

My years might have been off, I was indeed thinking of the mid-90's cuts you were talking about but couldn't find exact dates but I knew it was over 10 years ago. Time flies.

My point is that even Chicago, with much much higher densities has had ridership challenges at times and had to make service cuts as a result. It's just a cautionary example.

Chicago's system overall works great, no question there. I was a Metra and CTA user on a daily basis for almost a decade.

Maybe there is a more comparable city with similar population\sprawl\traffic that has light rail systems we can look at for a better comparison?


But what does Chicago transit or even light rail have to do with KC's streetcar? The KC Streetcar is a totally different animal than Chicago's METRA or CTA. And it's not really even comparable to most light rail lines. It's a trolley. It's an upscale bus only people prefer rail vs buses.



I'm sure mathguy won't read this below, but others might be interested.


Streetcars run in traffic mostly sharing right of way and are slow and stop more frequently than light rail, but not as frequently as buses. They also are much shorter than light rail as they don't have multiple trains (at least in the US). They don't require the long platforms and stations that light rail does. They can basically use bus stops for stations which are less intrusive in urban areas. They don't carry many more people than an articulated bus. Portland has a large modern streetcar system, but new lines have opened in Dallas, Atlanta, Tucson etc while historic lines operate in Philly, San Francisco, Memphis, New Orleans etc. They are basically urban people movers/trolleys used to connect neighborhoods and for short trips. It makes little sense to extend street car lines beyond an urban area especially if they maintain their track in traffic because it would be a very slow commute and they are not really for "mass" transit.

Light rail is mostly in dedicated right of way but can run on city streets and interact with traffic, but rarely do they actually operate on a driving lane like streetcars. Light rail systems can vary from functioning more like streetcars (mostly in downtown areas) such as Salt Lake City, Buffalo, Denver, Houston and Baltimore to functioning like heavy rail such as in St Louis, Boston, Los Angeles, Cleveland etc. Even in downtown areas, light rail is slow, but separated from most traffic, except in cities that put all their downtown light rail in subways like Pittsburgh, Toronto, Boston and St Louis. Once away from downtown areas, light rail typically will transition into higher speeds and dedicated right of way and becomes more used by commuters and huge parking lots than local urban trips, therefore functioning more like heavy rail. Streetcars typically compliment light or heavy rail serving different purposes.

Heavy rail is often third rail subway/elevated ie: Chicago, DC, NYC, Philly, Atlanta etc. Very large high capacity trains that never interact with traffic or pedestrians. Distance between stations is at least a mile in urban areas and much further outside center cities. These lines typically don't go near as far as commuter rail, but can reach into the outer suburbs of some cities like NY, DC and SF. Heavy rail is very expensive and only a few US cities have expanded or built them in last 40 years.

Commuter rail are typically diesel locomotives (east coast has a lot of electric trains as well) and travel over very long distances. They often share tracks with freight trains and typically run during peak hours only, especially in smaller cities like Nashville. Chicago's METRA is one of the only commuter rail systems that run all day long so it can be used for more than commuting. Even MARC and VRE in DC only operate during rush times. Smaller cities like Orlando and Austin are trying to use commuter rail as more of an all day long transit option because it's so much cheaper than any other rail transit technology over long distances. However commuter rail moves very few people compared to light rail or heavy rail. A commuter rail line to Blue Springs might get 1200 riders a day and would not trigger much TOD (transit oriented development) other than at the end of the line. A light rail line to Blue Springs would have 20-40 thousand riders a day and would likely create billions in TOD and redevelopment all along the route.

People movers like in Detroit, Jacksonville, Miami and Irving TX and what you see in large airports. Those are the very small self guided vehicles typically on elevated track often with rubber tires. They require a huge infrastructure footprint for what they do and are not very efficient. It was kind of a 60's fad, although the system at WVU in Morgantown, West Virginia works quite well.

Monorail is uses in Las Vegas and Disney, but Seattle has a short line.

You also have BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) that is used in a few cities (LA, Seattle, Cleveland, Boston etc) and works quite well when in dedicated right of way. KC's MAX is not BRT. BRT should be considered in KC for commuter transit vs rail. It makes a lot more sense to run articulated BRT vehicles to Lee's Summit via the rock island right of way than trains because once downtown they could distribute passengers around downtown. Trains will have to go out of their way through industrial districts and drop people off in no mans land north of the river market while BRT could be more direct route and more door to door service, not to mention cheaper.

If KC ever expands the streetcar beyond the plaza, I would hope they do something similar to Houston and upgrade most of the existing line along Main Street to having a dedicated lane for the trains and then separating the track from the streets altogether once leaving the urban core as they go into the northland or eastern Jackson county. Then you would actually have something that commuters would use.

Last edited by kcmo; 09-01-2016 at 02:12 PM..
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Old 09-01-2016, 02:05 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,516,721 times
Reputation: 5415
If you want to see how all different transit modes compare, go to Seattle. Seattle has everything

Monorail near the space needle, heavy commuter rail to the suburbs, commuter coach buses to suburbs, Bus rapid transit, modern streetcars, vintage streetcars and light rail (one system that functions like heavy rail in Seattle and Tacoma has one that is more traditional light rail on city streets) oh and a people mover at SeaTac airport too.

The only thing they don't have is true third rail heavy rail but like I said, their light rail functions as a heavy rail system using subways etc.
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:48 PM
 
48,973 posts, read 39,428,364 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
But what does Chicago transit or even light rail have to do with KC's streetcar?
Because another poster in the thread was comparing the streetcar ridership to the viability of light rail and comparing it to other cities.

Did you not read the thread before attacking me?
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Old 09-01-2016, 11:36 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,516,721 times
Reputation: 5415
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathguy View Post
Because another poster in the thread was comparing the streetcar ridership to the viability of light rail and comparing it to other cities.

Did you not read the thread before attacking me?
No, I actually don't read most of your posts and I'm pretty sure you never have read mine considering how many totally made of things you have said that I have said.

I just noticed you didn't know much about transit just like I have noticed you don't know much about a lot of things about KC outside of JoCo.
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Old 09-02-2016, 04:22 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
3,666 posts, read 1,776,951 times
Reputation: 2215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathguy View Post
Ok, I consider the L interchangeable with light rail because they serve the same purpose and work in much the same manner. However, I'd like to learn what the fine distinction between the two is so let me know?

My years might have been off, I was indeed thinking of the mid-90's cuts you were talking about but couldn't find exact dates but I knew it was over 10 years ago. Time flies.

My point is that even Chicago, with much much higher densities has had ridership challenges at times and had to make service cuts as a result. It's just a cautionary example.

Chicago's system overall works great, no question there. I was a Metra and CTA user on a daily basis for almost a decade.

Maybe there is a more comparable city with similar population\sprawl\traffic that has light rail systems we can look at for a better comparison?
It is true that even systems with high ridership experience service cutbacks, but those are usually in response to fiscal pressures more than they are to declining ridership. Though I do now vaguely recall that there was some sort of reduction in service (and even the closing of some stations) on the Lake Street 'L' (Green Line) around the time you recall, and those cutbacks were related to the depopulation of a swath of the West Side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
If you want to see how all different transit modes compare, go to Seattle. Seattle has everything

Monorail near the space needle, heavy commuter rail to the suburbs, commuter coach buses to suburbs, Bus rapid transit, modern streetcars, vintage streetcars and light rail (one system that functions like heavy rail in Seattle and Tacoma has one that is more traditional light rail on city streets) oh and a people mover at SeaTac airport too.

The only thing they don't have is true third rail heavy rail but like I said, their light rail functions as a heavy rail system using subways etc.
There is now an advocacy group in the Seattle area that's pushing for a more comprehensive network of "light metro" lines in the core city and adjacent areas. The group calls itself "Seattle Subway"; it chose that name because, it says, the city actually has one now in the form of Sound Transit's Link LRT line, which is being expanded into the spine of a multi-branch metropolitan system.

That was a very good summary of the differences among the various modes of rail transit. I'm going to tinker with it at the margins:

--The "historic" streetcar systems you list in your post upthread are not all "legacy" systems; in particular, Memphis' heritage trolley (the industry term for streetcar lines that use either refurbished or replica old-style streetcars) is a relatively recent creation. The thing that unites all of the legacy systems save one - Boston*, Cleveland, New Orleans, Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco - is that they have some grade-separated right of way, usually a subway tunnel. New Orleans is the one exception, and until 1980, so was Pittsburgh. (San Francisco's, a route under a hill that's the oldest subway on the West Coast, is located outside the downtown, in contrast to the others.)

*Boston may qualify as a legacy "light rail" system because all of the lines that survive save one have no street running in mixed traffic. Two branches run in reserved medians, as does part of a third, and the fourth is completely grade separated and follows a former mainline railroad branch. This branch, opened in 1957, could be called the first "light metro" line in the country - save for an extension of one rapid transit line there that opened in 1928. That extension uses rebuilt PCC (Presidents' Conference Committee) streetcars on a private right-of-way; unlike the later branch, though, it has grade crossings.

--There's a generational break in the nature and form of "heavy" rapid transit in the U.S. The four systems that opened before World War II - Boston (the first subway in the US), New York, Philadelphia (SEPTA) and Chicago (the oldest of the four but the last of them to open a subway; that occurred in 1940) - don't extend far into the suburbs of their central city (or didn't in Boston's case), if they extended into the suburbs at all (New York City's doesn't). Those that opened after the war - Cleveland, Philadelphia (PATCO, the oldest of what I call the "Second Subway Era" routes or systems, opened in 1969), San Francisco/Oakland, Washington, Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles* - were conceived as a combination of urban circulator and suburban commuter service (and in most cases function better as the latter than the former). They do extend far into the suburbs of their core cities. Boston operates a Second Subway Era system retrofitted onto a First Subway Era one.

*Save for LA's two subway lines, neither of which leave the city limits. Its light rail lines, however, do serve some of its suburbs.

--Four US cities operate what I refer to as "regional rail" service (after the term for one of them, Philadelphia's) - commuter rail service that opeates in both directions (to and from the core city center) throughout the day and into the evening, thus providing a higher level of metropolitan mobility. They are: New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia (the last being completely electrified, the only such system in the country. That distinction, however, came as a result of eliminating all of the diesel service to points beyond the end of electrification on the former Reading Railroad side when the Center City Commuter Connection tunnel opened in 1984, making Philadelphia the only US city that operates commuter service through rather than to the city center.) However: I think that several of the commuter lines in the Washington/Baltimore region, especially the one connecting both cities, also operate throughout the day.

--BRT as conceived in most US cities to date does not require separate dedicated rights-of-way, but the best-performing ones have them: LA's Orange Line, Hartford's CTfastrak. Boston's Silver Line is part full BRT (some of it in subway, a rarity that Seattle once had as well) and part BRT-lite (dedicated stations, less-frequent stops, BUT operates in reserved street lanes for much of its length). Don't KC's MAX lines operate in reserved lanes? If so, then they qualify as BRT-lite. If they reach the point where their downtown segments choke on all the traffic, they may, as in Ottawa, Canada, be converted to light rail systems (with new downtown subways in Ottawa's case).
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Old 09-02-2016, 06:51 AM
 
1,298 posts, read 985,135 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
You also have BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) that is used in a few cities (LA, Seattle, Cleveland, Boston etc) and works quite well when in dedicated right of way. KC's MAX is not BRT. BRT should be considered in KC for commuter transit vs rail. It makes a lot more sense to run articulated BRT vehicles to Lee's Summit via the rock island right of way than trains because once downtown they could distribute passengers around downtown.
Here's a thought: what about an "amphibious" vehicle that could travel the rail lines, but then switch to pavement for that "last mile" of service? I could imagine an invention with both types of wheels... I wonder if anyone has worked on this?
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Old 09-03-2016, 06:46 PM
 
48,973 posts, read 39,428,364 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
.... but like I said, their light rail functions as a heavy rail system using subways etc.
Exactly what I was getting at. Call it what you like.
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Old 09-03-2016, 06:56 PM
 
48,973 posts, read 39,428,364 times
Reputation: 30626
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
No, I actually don't read most of your posts and I'm pretty sure you never have read mine considering how many totally made of things you have said that I have said.

I just noticed you didn't know much about transit just like I have noticed you don't know much about a lot of things about KC outside of JoCo.
I know not to compare ridership from a free streetcar to a pay rail system.

I already said that if you want to build light rail, light-heavy rail or heavy rail all over KCMO then it's totally fine with me.
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Old 09-03-2016, 07:04 PM
 
48,973 posts, read 39,428,364 times
Reputation: 30626
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarketStEl View Post
It is true that even systems with high ridership experience service cutbacks, but those are usually in response to fiscal pressures more than they are to declining ridership. Though I do now vaguely recall that there was some sort of reduction in service (and even the closing of some stations) on the Lake Street 'L' (Green Line) around the time you recall, and those cutbacks were related to the depopulation of a swath of the West Side.
Since people have already pointed out that they expect these to run with subsidy, it's also fair to note that they are then subject to fiscal pressures. It's a reality of any system built with subsidy.

Depopulation of the west side? Meaning they didn't have the density and ridership.....which is what I'm pointing out here.

LOL...this entire discussion started because someone compared free streetcar ridership after a few summer months to light rail sustainability. If people agree with this position then so be it, go divert money away from other developmental projects for it.
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Old 09-03-2016, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,516,721 times
Reputation: 5415
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarketStEl View Post
It is true that even systems with high ridership experience service cutbacks, but those are usually in response to fiscal pressures more than they are to declining ridership. Though I do now vaguely recall that there was some sort of reduction in service (and even the closing of some stations) on the Lake Street 'L' (Green Line) around the time you recall, and those cutbacks were related to the depopulation of a swath of the West Side.



There is now an advocacy group in the Seattle area that's pushing for a more comprehensive network of "light metro" lines in the core city and adjacent areas. The group calls itself "Seattle Subway"; it chose that name because, it says, the city actually has one now in the form of Sound Transit's Link LRT line, which is being expanded into the spine of a multi-branch metropolitan system.

That was a very good summary of the differences among the various modes of rail transit. I'm going to tinker with it at the margins:

--The "historic" streetcar systems you list in your post upthread are not all "legacy" systems; in particular, Memphis' heritage trolley (the industry term for streetcar lines that use either refurbished or replica old-style streetcars) is a relatively recent creation. The thing that unites all of the legacy systems save one - Boston*, Cleveland, New Orleans, Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco - is that they have some grade-separated right of way, usually a subway tunnel. New Orleans is the one exception, and until 1980, so was Pittsburgh. (San Francisco's, a route under a hill that's the oldest subway on the West Coast, is located outside the downtown, in contrast to the others.)

*Boston may qualify as a legacy "light rail" system because all of the lines that survive save one have no street running in mixed traffic. Two branches run in reserved medians, as does part of a third, and the fourth is completely grade separated and follows a former mainline railroad branch. This branch, opened in 1957, could be called the first "light metro" line in the country - save for an extension of one rapid transit line there that opened in 1928. That extension uses rebuilt PCC (Presidents' Conference Committee) streetcars on a private right-of-way; unlike the later branch, though, it has grade crossings.

--There's a generational break in the nature and form of "heavy" rapid transit in the U.S. The four systems that opened before World War II - Boston (the first subway in the US), New York, Philadelphia (SEPTA) and Chicago (the oldest of the four but the last of them to open a subway; that occurred in 1940) - don't extend far into the suburbs of their central city (or didn't in Boston's case), if they extended into the suburbs at all (New York City's doesn't). Those that opened after the war - Cleveland, Philadelphia (PATCO, the oldest of what I call the "Second Subway Era" routes or systems, opened in 1969), San Francisco/Oakland, Washington, Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles* - were conceived as a combination of urban circulator and suburban commuter service (and in most cases function better as the latter than the former). They do extend far into the suburbs of their core cities. Boston operates a Second Subway Era system retrofitted onto a First Subway Era one.

*Save for LA's two subway lines, neither of which leave the city limits. Its light rail lines, however, do serve some of its suburbs.

--Four US cities operate what I refer to as "regional rail" service (after the term for one of them, Philadelphia's) - commuter rail service that opeates in both directions (to and from the core city center) throughout the day and into the evening, thus providing a higher level of metropolitan mobility. They are: New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia (the last being completely electrified, the only such system in the country. That distinction, however, came as a result of eliminating all of the diesel service to points beyond the end of electrification on the former Reading Railroad side when the Center City Commuter Connection tunnel opened in 1984, making Philadelphia the only US city that operates commuter service through rather than to the city center.) However: I think that several of the commuter lines in the Washington/Baltimore region, especially the one connecting both cities, also operate throughout the day.

--BRT as conceived in most US cities to date does not require separate dedicated rights-of-way, but the best-performing ones have them: LA's Orange Line, Hartford's CTfastrak. Boston's Silver Line is part full BRT (some of it in subway, a rarity that Seattle once had as well) and part BRT-lite (dedicated stations, less-frequent stops, BUT operates in reserved street lanes for much of its length). Don't KC's MAX lines operate in reserved lanes? If so, then they qualify as BRT-lite. If they reach the point where their downtown segments choke on all the traffic, they may, as in Ottawa, Canada, be converted to light rail systems (with new downtown subways in Ottawa's case).
Nice reply. It's not too often I find people as nerdy as me on these topics. I tried to keep my post very simple since most people won't read this stuff about transit and was still a long post. I agree with all of your more detailed replies. When I was typing that, I kept running into problems because there are so many different transit systems and many cities have various types of each mode, like Boston. It gets confusing.

I love the Philly commuter rail system. Some of the lines go through some wonderful inner suburbs. I had a photo shoot there last year and had to photograph about a half dozen stations and I was really impressed by the transit and the neighborhoods.

FYI, the only commuter line in DC/Baltimore that operate during the day is the MARC Penn line, which is the electric line that shares the same track as the Amtrak NE Regional and Acela, which are also used for commuting. That line also started running on weekends last year and it's been very popular because a lot of people live in Downtown Baltimore and commute to DC because it's cheaper and Baltimore is booming with urban apartments. They don't run freight on that line. I know the other MARC lines are peak times only, although that's a a few hours of service for both commutes. I'm not sure about VRE (Virginia Railway Express), but I don't think they run during the day either. Even METRO stops running trains at midnight which is really sad for a big city like DC. Also, MARC is using a lot of old equipment. Many of the double decker passenger cars they have are actually old Chicago Metro cars. Both MARC and VRE are starting to get new equipment, but I'm surprised by the old equipment and lack of all day service (which is mostly due to sharing track with CSX). DC is having transit problems right now. Even after opening the new METRO silver line, system ridership is down. Personally, I'm looking forward to the purple light rail line which is a "beltway" line connecting suburbs. DC needs more of that type of transit.

KC's MAX does not use any dedicated lanes. They have the parking lanes marked buses only for peak hours, but it's pretty useless and rush hour parking is not enforced in KC. MAX also uses regular 40 foot buses, so they don't have the capacity that most BRT lines that use articulated buses and they don't have off bus ticketing so the process of getting on and off MAX buses is just as slow as a regular bus. There is not really anything "BRT" about KC's MAX lines other than fewer stops. There is also nothing "metro area express" about MAX. KC's MAX is a decent bus line for the urban core though. Works well enough. DC runs these on a lot of high volume routes with fewer stops. It's basically the same as KC's MAX only they use larger buses. They don't call it BRT though.



Alexandria and Arlington just opened a new BRT line though. I have not used it yet:

Last edited by kcmo; 09-03-2016 at 08:45 PM..
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