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Old 02-08-2014, 01:53 PM
 
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I was thinking one way to make mass transit more appealing would be to increase vehicle frequency and eliminate a schedule to adhere to. One idea I'd like to explore is an elevated rail system that instead of trains carries smaller, lighter, automated vehicles that operate at a high frequency.

Instead of waiting up to 10-15 minutes for a train to board, there would be a 'minibus' arriving and leaving every 30 seconds.

This could be done by adapting the travel patterns of detachable gondolas to these rail busses. Gondolas run nonstop in a circular pattern but are able to slow down enough at stations for loading and unloading. Obviously the rail cars wouldn't have to be propelled by cable, but they could still mimic the same travel pattern.

Here's a basic illustration of what it would it would look like compared to a traditional train system:


The system could operate on an elevated track like Mandalay Bay Tram's which would have a minimal effect on the streetscape and leave ground-level activity (cars, cyclists, pedestrians) virtually unaffected.

The stations would also be much smaller than existing train platforms, and the operators would assist passengers at these stations instead of operating individual vehicles.

Could this work?

Last edited by abqpsychlist; 02-08-2014 at 02:15 PM..
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Old 02-08-2014, 02:06 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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I've wondered about this too. Presumably one reason why this hasn't been implemented in the past is that it would cost more to have more operators but if you had automated trains that wouldn' be an issue.

The other thing is you'd need fully grade separated rail so that the "minibuses" wouldn't interact with traffic or pedestrians (because it's automated). The cost of fully grade separated rail is quite high and often only justified in areas with very high ridership potential - which means "minibuses" with 30 second headways wouldn't provide adequate capacity. Toronto has 1,080 passenger trains operating at 2-3 min headways, and is being upgraded to 1:45min headways and even so many are worried about whether that will be enough to accomodate ridership growth.
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Old 02-08-2014, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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These don't go far enough. The whole PRT thing is like fantasy land stuff. It only works for very short distances.

Take a look at this article about the rise of off-peak transit.
Far Beyond Rush Hour: The Incredible Rise of Off-Peak Public Transportation - Eric Jaffe - The Atlantic Cities

Really the magic interval to get people to take transit more is making it come every 15 minutes during a reasonable time window (I.e. All day), within a 10 minute walk of your destination.
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Old 02-08-2014, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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They tried this in Detroit. It is a bust.

Whatever Happened to the Downtown People Mover? - Eric Jaffe - The Atlantic Cities
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Old 02-08-2014, 03:32 PM
 
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I thought of the idea of using an under hanging monorail system in NYC. The monorail cars would have a mechanism to lower themselves to street level to load and unload, than rise an run above the traffic. This would eliminate the need to build elevated stations. It would also need much less elevated infrastructure than normal elevated trains.
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Old 02-08-2014, 03:45 PM
 
Location: The City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
I thought of the idea of using an under hanging monorail system in NYC. The monorail cars would have a mechanism to lower themselves to street level to load and unload, than rise an run above the traffic. This would eliminate the need to build elevated stations. It would also need much less elevated infrastructure than normal elevated trains.

This i interesting, wonder if is more cost effective - likely moreso than underground

Even with stations that are elevated it would seem less infrastructure required, just wonder on the wind impacts, though El trains manage that aspect well enough

Also dedicated ROW rail has longer term cost savings (greater life of vehicle, energy to pwer, scalability (adding more capacity is cheaper in the long run once infrastucture is ther I believe)
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Old 02-08-2014, 04:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
These don't go far enough. The whole PRT thing is like fantasy land stuff. It only works for very short distances.
At one point automobiles and airplanes were fantasy land stuff too. And besides, this would be much closer to traditional transit in that all passengers go on the same route and stop at all the stations, unlike PRT. I don't see any reason why the proposed 'rail busses' would be limited to shorter distances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Really the magic interval to get people to take transit more is making it come every 15 minutes during a reasonable time window (I.e. All day), within a 10 minute walk of your destination.
But even a 15-minute headway can mean up to 30 minutes of standing around / wait time if someone had to make a transfer. Wouldn't it be that much more attractive if you could walk up to the station and board the vehicle right away?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
The main problems with the Detroit People Mover seem to be that it is limited to one direction around a 3-mile circle with little to no connection to existing transit options. Just because a transportation technology is poorly implemented doesn't mean there's something inherently wrong with that technology. I'm sure there have been a few streetcar and light rail projects that were busts, but that doesn't mean we should discard those methods.

The 'railbus' would be elevated and automated like the DTM, but would be faster and travel further, like existing light rail or BRT routes. That thing was also built back in 1987, so we also have 25+ years of design and technological updates to work with.

Another thing the DPM doesn't offer is the continuous loading and unloading, as seen @ 1:14 and 4:35 of this video:

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Old 02-08-2014, 04:29 PM
 
642 posts, read 962,248 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
I thought of the idea of using an under hanging monorail system in NYC. The monorail cars would have a mechanism to lower themselves to street level to load and unload, than rise an run above the traffic. This would eliminate the need to build elevated stations. It would also need much less elevated infrastructure than normal elevated trains.
I was thinking hanging monorails could work too, rather than a bottom-supported system. They also seem to be pretty energy efficient - with the Shweeb people can go really fast using their own feet!

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Old 02-08-2014, 04:45 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Some interesting commentary:

Human Transit: the next transport revolution: trolley wire on every street?

http://www.govtech.com/transportatio...t-Revival.html
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Old 02-08-2014, 04:52 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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I just don't think these systems should be the backbone due to capacity and flexibility. Elevated trains make sense for longer distances and driverless system are better for shorter distance but disconnect people from the street level experience.

Last summer I went to Portland, and we only took transit. We decided at the last minute to take the street car instead of the the bus. Since the street car is so s,ow, and we didn't know where we were going (and how far the transfer was) we were acutely aware of the streetscape. We happened to see a bar with a great name and decided to stop for a pre-dinner drink. It turned out to be one of our fave stops on the entire trip. If we were elevated above the street we would have missed that experience.

One of the benefits of street level transit is that you have better visibility of your surroundings. If everything is a pod designed for quick travel you miss these opportunities.
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