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Old 01-02-2013, 01:25 PM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlite View Post
A physically separated rail right of way which has crossings at grade is called light rail, not streetcar. Some light rail has worked quite well--such as in San Diego--other light rail has been a colossal dud, such as in San Jose.
my understanding is that San Jose has issues with urban layout, and limits on development.

as for the distinction between light rail and street car, that is to some degree arbitrary, as many systems mix operation in mixed traffic with operation in segregated right of way. Just as, at the other end of the light rail spectrum, some light rail systems have few at grade crossings and are closer to heavy rail.

as for the evidence on street car vs bus independent of frequency and related attributes, I am having trouble posting it here, but there was a study done in Australia and presented at TRB that found an indepent statistically positive value for rail modes - BOTH for light rail, and for street cars, over BRT.

I would agree that the comparative advantage of rail is greatest when seperate ROW represents a large portion of the route (by chainging vehicles you get particular capacity advantages, and the capital savings of BRT are reduced due to the cost of transit dedicated pavement for BRT, and transit dedicated pavement mntnce) and that the biggest advantage of BRT is when transfer free service to low density areas is needed. For in street operation city areas there are advantages both ways - leans more to rail where the volumes involved require costly to maintain articulated buses (thats an issue for the Columbia Pike line in Arlington County Va) and where TOD is a big question.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brooklynborndad View Post
my understanding is that San Jose has issues with urban layout, and limits on development.

as for the distinction between light rail and street car, that is to some degree arbitrary, as many systems mix operation in mixed traffic with operation in segregated right of way. Just as, at the other end of the light rail spectrum, some light rail systems have few at grade crossings and are closer to heavy rail.

as for the evidence on street car vs bus independent of frequency and related attributes, I am having trouble posting it here, but there was a study done in Australia and presented at TRB that found an indepent statistically positive value for rail modes - BOTH for light rail, and for street cars, over BRT.

I would agree that the comparative advantage of rail is greatest when seperate ROW represents a large portion of the route (by chainging vehicles you get particular capacity advantages, and the capital savings of BRT are reduced due to the cost of transit dedicated pavement for BRT, and transit dedicated pavement mntnce) and that the biggest advantage of BRT is when transfer free service to low density areas is needed. For in street operation city areas there are advantages both ways - leans more to rail where the volumes involved require costly to maintain articulated buses (thats an issue for the Columbia Pike line in Arlington County Va) and where TOD is a big question.
I'd be very interesting in seeing that study. Some analyses of BRT lump together true BRT on a decidcated right of way with Rapid buses running on the street, which are far more common, at least in the US. Rapid buses can provide good service--they've gained a lot of ridership in LA. But they don't give the visual of a dedicated right of way and they do get stuck in traffic, if less so than a local bus or a streetcar. BTW, to me, a streetcar is a line where all or almost all of the route runs on the street, in traffic.

When light rail is running two or three car trains, like in Los Angeles, you definitely get a capacity advantage. But a lot of the time, light rail and especially streetcar lines are running single cars. At that point, from a capacity standpoint, you've pretty much got a bus on rails.

Light rail makes sense where there's strong demand. But it's also been built in places like Northern San Diego County or the Camden-Trenton corridor where it just doesn't make sense.

Was there anything else interesting presented at TRB?
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:57 PM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlite View Post
.

When light rail is running two or three car trains, like in Los Angeles, you definitely get a capacity advantage. But a lot of the time, light rail and especially streetcar lines are running single cars. At that point, from a capacity standpoint, you've pretty much got a bus on rails.

no

BeyondDC

according to this a single street car has a higher capacity (per manufacturer specs) than an articulated bus.

And articulated buses are said by some to have maintenance issues.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:00 PM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlite View Post
. BTW, to me, a streetcar is a line where all or almost all of the route runs on the street, in traffic.

Then im not sure what you would call Arlingtons proposed Crystal City/Potomac Yard line - it will run partly on a transit only lane, and partly in mixed traffic (in fact the line will start as buses, and then be converted to rail). Its not being called LRT, because a PART runs in mixed traffic, and the part that runs in its own ROW runs in a transit lane on the street,with frequent at grade crossings, rather than more seperated ex freight rail ROW like the proposed purple line, or Baltimores central light rail line.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:25 AM
 
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I've seen different arguments on streetcar vs. bus capacity, I'm going to let that go for now.

In terms of distinguishing different types of rail lines: In any classification system, there are always intermediate, border cases, perhaps PART will be one. There are even a few ambiguous cases between plants and animals. But things can still be classified.

I'd say the difference between the Portland Streetcar and the MAX light rail is pretty clear, and recognized in Portland. In San Francisco, the F streetcar runs on the surface, the Muni Metro light rail lines right in a tunnel downtown and on in-street rights of way in the neighborhoods. BART is heavy rail with no grade crossings, running generally above or below ground (occasionally in a trench). Downtown Los Angeles voters just approved a property tax assessment to build a streetcar, which is clearly different from the light rail lines or the heavy rail Red/Purple line.

Another operational distinction is length of trip, because the streetcars are slow, their routes are usually only a few miles long. Light rail lines, with their overall faster speeds (even with street running segments) can work for longer trips along longer routes.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:22 AM
 
Location: In the heights
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The gondola is a novel idea, but any sort of disruptions in service would be terrifying for the passengers trapped in there. For Austin specifically, the area is pretty flat and the streets aren't very narrow so I don't quite see the benefits over BRT. Also, if the width of buses were a problem, we could just manufacture thinner buses or mini-buses such as those found all over southeast asia, right? Really, what I think we need to do is ready our legislation and licensing for the move towards self-driving cars and larger fleets of these being deployed in major cities as rapid personal transit systems.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:31 PM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,820 posts, read 10,738,210 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlite View Post
In terms of distinguishing different types of rail lines: In any classification system, there are always intermediate, border cases, perhaps PART will be one. There are even a few ambiguous cases between plants and animals. But things can still be classified.
I am not saying the terms are entirely meaningless. I am saying the ambiguity is high, high enough to justify the usage some have that elides the distinction (we call a bus a bus for example whether it runs entirely in dedicated right of way with full BRT features, on an HOV lane with no other BRT features, on a (slow) dedicated lane in an urban area, or on a local street in mixed traffic - despite operation differences, we don't feel a need to distinguish it as different modes) and that its almost certainly questionable to use the distinction to assert that one particular form (streetcars) are not justified. I would go on a case by case basis. Obviously if you cannot see ANY potential advantages to streetcars in any environment (because you discount the claimed capacity and ridership advantages) then you may be less interested in a case by case analysis, and more interested in a grouping that enables you to dismiss an entire "mode" as not cost benefit justified.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brooklynborndad View Post
I am not saying the terms are entirely meaningless. I am saying the ambiguity is high, high enough to justify the usage some have that elides the distinction (we call a bus a bus for example whether it runs entirely in dedicated right of way with full BRT features, on an HOV lane with no other BRT features, on a (slow) dedicated lane in an urban area, or on a local street in mixed traffic - despite operation differences, we don't feel a need to distinguish it as different modes) and that its almost certainly questionable to use the distinction to assert that one particular form (streetcars) are not justified. I would go on a case by case basis. Obviously if you cannot see ANY potential advantages to streetcars in any environment (because you discount the claimed capacity and ridership advantages) then you may be less interested in a case by case analysis, and more interested in a grouping that enables you to dismiss an entire "mode" as not cost benefit justified.
I don't dismiss whole modes. The Portland streetcar, beneficiary of an unusual set of circumstances, seems to work well. Actually the F Market in San Francisco works well, so long as it's understood that its purpose is as much to provide a sightseeing ride as to actually transport people. That's also a very intense corridor, one not found in many cities.

There's a big oversell of streetcars going on right now. A lot of city government people seem to think they can get the speed and capacity of a light rail line, with the lower cost of a streetcar. That doesn't work. If a city wants a downtown circulator to cover a couple of miles, maybe a streetcar makes sense. But if the city wants to carry commuters who live 5-10 miles from the downtown, a streetcar is not going to work. Also, if a streetcar makes a giant one way loop, making it far less convenient, like the line proposed for Downtown LA, then the streetcar is also unlikely to work.

In my experience, it's the streetcar advocates who dismiss a whole (family of) modes, the bus. They say things like "nobody will ride the bus," "nobody wants to ride the bus", "middle class people won't ride the bus" and yes, "White people won't ride the bus." Oh, and, nobody will do development connected to a bus line. I'm not attributing any of these attitudes to you, but they do get said all the time. They of course ignore a few things like how fast is the bus, how frequent is the bus, how pleasant is the bus itself, how reliable is the bus etc, how convenient to origins and destinations etc.

When I think about transit, I start with demand and service: Which points A and B are people trying to get to, and what's the best way to do that. Then one looks at mode to achieve that. The problem with the streetcar fans is they start with mode first, then go to need and demand later.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,079 posts, read 102,815,223 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlite View Post
I don't dismiss whole modes. The Portland streetcar, beneficiary of an unusual set of circumstances, seems to work well. Actually the F Market in San Francisco works well, so long as it's understood that its purpose is as much to provide a sightseeing ride as to actually transport people. That's also a very intense corridor, one not found in many cities.

There's a big oversell of streetcars going on right now. A lot of city government people seem to think they can get the speed and capacity of a light rail line, with the lower cost of a streetcar. That doesn't work. If a city wants a downtown circulator to cover a couple of miles, maybe a streetcar makes sense. But if the city wants to carry commuters who live 5-10 miles from the downtown, a streetcar is not going to work. Also, if a streetcar makes a giant one way loop, making it far less convenient, like the line proposed for Downtown LA, then the streetcar is also unlikely to work.

In my experience, it's the streetcar advocates who dismiss a whole (family of) modes, the bus. They say things like "nobody will ride the bus," "nobody wants to ride the bus", "middle class people won't ride the bus" and yes, "White people won't ride the bus." Oh, and, nobody will do development connected to a bus line. I'm not attributing any of these attitudes to you, but they do get said all the time. They of course ignore a few things like how fast is the bus, how frequent is the bus, how pleasant is the bus itself, how reliable is the bus etc, how convenient to origins and destinations etc.

When I think about transit, I start with demand and service: Which points A and B are people trying to get to, and what's the best way to do that. Then one looks at mode to achieve that. The problem with the streetcar fans is they start with mode first, then go to need and demand later.
That is the mantra of many light-rail advocates as well.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:10 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
6,473 posts, read 11,124,503 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
That is the mantra of many light-rail advocates as well.
Yes, and while there is a bit of truth to it, it's not a compelling argument on its own.

You might enjoy this post: Human Transit: dissent of the week: my alleged "bias" against rail
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