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Old 01-17-2014, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
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Aspiring urban planner here. Is there a such thing as High Speed BRT? Meaning, BRT with it's own dedicated ROW but travels at higher rate of speed than normal BRT buses, say 79 mph.

What would be the drawbacks to this? And would it be cheaper than building a light rail system with it's own ROW...as I understand that the costs associated with engineering and the study on the environment are one of the detriments to building light rail systems in this country.

I will say I love how Chicago's CTA lines are in the middle of the expressways. Something could be done similar, I would think, in cities with heavy congestion.

Thoughts?
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Old 01-17-2014, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Northville, MI
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Consider Ahemadabad BRT system. Its quite successful for a densely populated city I hear :

Ahmedabad BRTS - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:19 PM
 
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79 MPH is way too fast to be driving in any major city even with a dedicated rite of way. The most they might do is 55-60mph not with the stops. For the CTA having lines in the expressway has it's pluses and minuses. One of the downsides is that the EL is a little cut off from the community(the station is located on a bridge over the expressway).
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:49 PM
 
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What the heck is a high-speed bus? Is there such a thing? 79 mph is not a safe speed for a bus, especially not in an urban environment. ROW or no no ROW they still have stop at the stoplight. They won't be able to stop in time at that speed. The idea seems rather absurd if not comical.


Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan - YouTube
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:51 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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79 is faster than th speed limit for car traffic. That is too fast.
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:41 AM
 
Location: Vineland, NJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adi from the Brunswicks View Post
Consider Ahemadabad BRT system. Its quite successful for a densely populated city I hear :

Ahmedabad BRTS - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wouldn't a city as densely populated as Ahmedabad, be better served by subway system instead of BRT?
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Old 01-18-2014, 01:45 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwillyfromphilly View Post
Wouldn't a city as densely populated as Ahmedabad, be better served by subway system instead of BRT?
Not if the cost to build the subway system is prohibitive. BRT is better than a tiny subway system, or no subway system at all. The ridership of that BRT is tiny considering the size of the city (130,000 per day?). Of course, if it were larger, say 1-2 million, BRT would have capacity issues.
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Old 01-18-2014, 06:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccdscott View Post
Aspiring urban planner here. Is there a such thing as High Speed BRT? Meaning, BRT with it's own dedicated ROW but travels at higher rate of speed than normal BRT buses, say 79 mph.

What would be the drawbacks to this?

I will say I love how Chicago's CTA lines are in the middle of the expressways. Something could be done similar, I would think, in cities with heavy congestion.

Thoughts?
I'll start by saying that, generally speaking, rail lines in the middle of expressways are good for getting 9-5ers into the city from suburban park&rides. They're pretty much terrible for everything else. When you get off a subway you need to be able to walk to wherever you're going. The sweet spot is a 1/4 mile radius (5 minute walk) but when your station is in the middle of an expressway the road is taking up most of the real estate in that 1/4 mile radius

I think the problem with your question about high speed BRT starts with the definition of BRT. The current definition is divided into Gold, Silver, and Bronze versions. IMO anything below Gold isn't really BRT. I think the definition would better be:
BRT (Curitiba, Bogota)
Busway (Pittsburgh, Brisbane)
Bus Priority (Cleveland, Boston)

The NJ turnpike has bus only lanes that continue through the tunnels into Manhattan that sort of replicate what you're talking about but I doubt the buses top 70mph and as they approach the city they slow down quite a bit just from the sheer volume of buses.

Pittsburgh, PA and Brisbane, Australia have extensive busway systems for cities of their size. These are dedicated ROW completely separated from any other traffic and the speed limits are typically in the 50-65mph range for obvious safety reasons. While I've been on Chinatown coaches which were clearly going 80mph it's not safe and it's especially not safe for a city bus - more importantly it's not safe for the other buses on the busway nor for the passengers on any of the platforms.

Quote:
And would it be cheaper than building a light rail system with it's own ROW...as I understand that the costs associated with engineering and the study on the environment are one of the detriments to building light rail systems in this country.
BRT systems often come out cheaper because concrete is a little cheaper than rail, the vehicles are a little cheaper and the signaling system is cheaper. The ROW will be the same cost for either mode.
It doesn't matter if you're introducing BRT or LRT - you still have to do an EIS. The natural environment is important but for transportation projects in urban areas it mostly winds up reading like a cost-benefit analysis. It includes things like predicted impact on air quality, traffic congestion, hours saved, disruptions during construction, etc, etc. When you're talking about a $400m project an EIS really isn't going to add much to the budget. The costs get run up during construction - usually on purpose - and because governments don't manage their own projects anymore. They hire out to middlemen who skim millions and who then hire dozens of subcontractors to do the actual work - meaning that during the tendering process governments really have no idea who will be doing the work.


Now, back to Pittsburgh and Brisbane, neither of these busway systems are really BRT in my book for several reasons - there is no level boarding so even with low floor buses there's a still a step up and step down for boarding/alighting; passengers don't have to prepay on the platform - everyone stills taps on/off (or pays cash!) on the bus which means there's no 'all door boarding' which greatly increases dwell time; the busways aren't routes per se but rather viaducts that carry multiple routes so unless you're headed to one of the stations where you know every bus stops you have to know the routes and timetables and good luck if you have to transfer.

In the case of Pittsburgh the busways were built on the cheap by using old railroad ROW. In Brisbane the busway costs are absolutely outrageous - running A$700m for ~3km for the recently built Eastern Busway - because the ROW had to be purchased and constructed from scratch. For the price it's a really inferior product to light rail or metro.

The Eastern Busway was particularly expensive because there is a lot of tunnel/bridge/surface/tunnel/surface action going on (which is ridiculous in and of itself) and a new bridge had to be built across the river but then the rest of the busway segments weren't all that cheap either -

South East Busway (completed 2001):
15,6 km (9.7 mi), US$421 million
$27 million/km
$43 million/mile
*this looks relatively cheap but it's because the ROW had already been purchased and graded as part of the Pacific Motorway construction.

Inner Northern Busway (completed 2008):
4.7 km (2.9 mi), US$408 million
$87 million/km
$141 million/mile

Northern Busway Project (completed 2011):
1.2 km (0.7 mile), US$158 million
$132 million/km
$214 million/mile

Everyone likes to drool over Curitiba but what no one realizes is that it was so cheap because they took existing infrastructure for it. The cost of it was the cost of putting up barriers and platforms and buying buses. And then Curitiba is a small-ish city with a well educated population and a high standard of living. As the city has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years the BRT system has proven to be wholly inadequate.

The busways in Pittsburgh work because they're relatively low volume. In Brisbane they're very high volume during the am/pm peaks so they have sky high operating costs (buses pass some points on the system once every 10 seconds for most of the 7:30 to 8:30am hour - that's a lot of bus drivers and a lot of diesel) and during off peak they still maintain service on most routes at least twice an hour so when you have 20+ routes sharing the busway you wind up with a really high volume of mostly empty buses.

BRT isn't rail and can't perform close to the standards of rail without spending the kind of money you'd spend on a rail project. IMO, BRT is great for small metros (1-2 million) that don't plan to grow much in the future and in larger metros it's better suited to the suburb-to-city, busway type roll (PGH); as a feeder route to a metro line (LA); or as a circulator service in the core to fill in gaps in the system (Boston) or to alleviate pressure at choke points in the system.
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Old 01-18-2014, 08:26 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 25 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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We are getting BRT up in the northwest corridor of the Denver metro. The (RTD, CDOT and its contractors) are spending zillions, billions, and trillions to build exclusive bus/HOV lanes (which HOV will require THREE not two people to access).

U.S. 36's new HOV lanes to require carpoolers carry 2 passengers, not just 1 - Boulder Daily Camera
US 36 Express Lanes Project | 36 Commuting Solutions | Commuting Options and Advocacy for U.S. 36
Here's a video:
Arista Broomfield U.S. 36 Bus Rapid Transit Preview - Arista Broomfield
*I haven't watched this*
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:03 AM
 
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^ The HOV will require 3 people in your car to enter for free. If it's you +1 you can still use it if you pay the toll.

Having seen/used HOV lanes in the DC (where people used to ride with dummies and mannequins in the passenger seat) and NYC area HOV-2 is close to pointless - especially if it's also supposed to be a high frequency bus route. Free HOV-2 would completely clog up the system and remove the "R" from BRT.

My guess is that probably 1/3 of that $460 million for the Boulder BRT went to buy buses, build the stations (they look pretty elaborate, straddling the expressway, probably a few elevators per station), and build things like ramps, bridges and flyovers.

The other 2/3 went into buying land for the park & rides, building parking garages, running utilities to them, and buying the other associated rights of way both for the route itself and for the roads that will connect the park & ride lots to the existing street network.
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