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Old 09-22-2014, 01:08 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Yes, underground light rail should have the same terrain dififculties as underground rapid transit. The MUNI light rail in San Franciso goes from surface to underground and back to surface through some hills to avoid climbing up and down.

Sunset Tunnel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:14 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,958,188 times
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Just to add/reiterate - a 6-car light rail train can do the same thing a 6-car heavy rail train can do. The difference is that light rail is more versatile and that's mostly because it doesn't have a 3rd rail and so it doesn't need an exclusive ROW. It can run at grade, if can run in the street, elevated, undergound, wherever. What gives you more capacity is a longer platform, a better signaling system, and an exclusive ROW. After that it doesn't make much of a difference if your trains are using a 3rd rail or overhead catenary.

You really have to go back to the 50s and modernism - when people thought that downtowns would just be big office parks (like the way a lot of downtowns used to look in the 80s) and everyone would live in the suburbs - in the late 60s/early 70s we got or got plans for BART, DC Metro, Miami Metrorail, MARTA, PATCO, and Baltimore Metro. Most of them have similar fare structures (pay by distance) and when they started were using very similar (and advanced for the time) fare media. Most of them have very similar specs for their stations and rail cars as well. All of them have a downtown-to-suburbs focus with extensive park'n'rides.

We got these systems because that's what people in the 50s and 60s wanted our regions to look like. It wasn't until the 80s /90s that people started to take light rail seriously and that's because attitudes about cities were changing and some people were taking a hard look at the mess made by their predecessors.
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:45 AM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,863,448 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
Just to add/reiterate - a 6-car light rail train can do the same thing a 6-car heavy rail train can do. The difference is that light rail is more versatile and that's mostly because it doesn't have a 3rd rail and so it doesn't need an exclusive ROW. It can run at grade, if can run in the street, elevated, undergound, wherever. What gives you more capacity is a longer platform, a better signaling system, and an exclusive ROW. After that it doesn't make much of a difference if your trains are using a 3rd rail or overhead catenary.

You really have to go back to the 50s and modernism - when people thought that downtowns would just be big office parks (like the way a lot of downtowns used to look in the 80s) and everyone would live in the suburbs - in the late 60s/early 70s we got or got plans for BART, DC Metro, Miami Metrorail, MARTA, PATCO, and Baltimore Metro. Most of them have similar fare structures (pay by distance) and when they started were using very similar (and advanced for the time) fare media. Most of them have very similar specs for their stations and rail cars as well. All of them have a downtown-to-suburbs focus with extensive park'n'rides.

We got these systems because that's what people in the 50s and 60s wanted our regions to look like. It wasn't until the 80s /90s that people started to take light rail seriously and that's because attitudes about cities were changing and some people were taking a hard look at the mess made by their predecessors.
Not quite. light rail is built to run in the streets which means smaller narrower cars. Rapid Transit does not need an 3rd rail(in fact parts of Chicago EL ran without it as late as the 90ies!). 3rd rails have certain advantages over catenary but that is about it.

The exclusive right of way is what makes rapid transit more expensive and light rail less expensive, and less capable.
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:56 AM
 
Location: The City
22,341 posts, read 32,192,195 times
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Originally Posted by chirack View Post
Not quite. light rail is built to run in the streets which means smaller narrower cars. Rapid Transit does not need an 3rd rail(in fact parts of Chicago EL ran without it as late as the 90ies!). 3rd rails have certain advantages over catenary but that is about it.

The exclusive right of way is what makes rapid transit more expensive and light rail less expensive, and less capable.
I think the point is light rail is more flexible to accommodate both dedicated row and on the street and in theory a light rail line can function the same way as a HR
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Old 09-24-2014, 12:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kidphilly View Post
I think the point is light rail is more flexible to accommodate both dedicated row and on the street and in theory a light rail line can function the same way as a HR
It won't carry as many passengers per car and will not have complete control of the right of way if in the street.
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Old 09-24-2014, 12:34 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,991 posts, read 42,026,386 times
Reputation: 14811
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirack View Post
It won't carry as many passengers per car and will not have complete control of the right of way if in the street.
True but at there's some overlap. You can run trains more frequently and end up carrying more passengers in total. Calgary's light rail has higher ridership per mile than Chicago's subway, though the busiest subway lines in Chicago obviously have more. Certainly systems like Atlanta's could get away with light rail-sized trains, Vancouver's busier system mostly does with higher ridership. Seattle's system is light rail that will be mostly grade separated but likely get more boardings than Atlanta's.
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Old 09-24-2014, 01:28 PM
 
2,553 posts, read 2,007,216 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
Just to add/reiterate - a 6-car light rail train can do the same thing a 6-car heavy rail train can do. The difference is that light rail is more versatile and that's mostly because it doesn't have a 3rd rail and so it doesn't need an exclusive ROW. It can run at grade, if can run in the street, elevated, undergound, wherever. What gives you more capacity is a longer platform, a better signaling system, and an exclusive ROW. After that it doesn't make much of a difference if your trains are using a 3rd rail or overhead catenary.

You really have to go back to the 50s and modernism - when people thought that downtowns would just be big office parks (like the way a lot of downtowns used to look in the 80s) and everyone would live in the suburbs - in the late 60s/early 70s we got or got plans for BART, DC Metro, Miami Metrorail, MARTA, PATCO, and Baltimore Metro. Most of them have similar fare structures (pay by distance) and when they started were using very similar (and advanced for the time) fare media. Most of them have very similar specs for their stations and rail cars as well. All of them have a downtown-to-suburbs focus with extensive park'n'rides.

We got these systems because that's what people in the 50s and 60s wanted our regions to look like. It wasn't until the 80s /90s that people started to take light rail seriously and that's because attitudes about cities were changing and some people were taking a hard look at the mess made by their predecessors.
For commuters--not a small portion of ridership-- that kind of system flexibility is really not an added benefit. For a commuter, the value is point-to-point travel time. For them, in the end, be it commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail, or BRT, a dedicated ROW is the way to go.

For example, San Jose has LRT and it is a sprawling system. But, the ridership numbers are terrible. Part of that is simply because, halfway between the suburbs of south SJ and the jobs of north SJ, the LRT goes from grade-sep dedicated ROW to a semi-dedicated ROW on city streets. That adds a lot of time. Especially considering the car may be as fast or faster, and certainly more private and flexible.
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Old 09-25-2014, 12:13 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,958,188 times
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
True but at there's some overlap. You can run trains more frequently and end up carrying more passengers in total. Calgary's light rail has higher ridership per mile than Chicago's subway, though the busiest subway lines in Chicago obviously have more. Certainly systems like Atlanta's could get away with light rail-sized trains, Vancouver's busier system mostly does with higher ridership. Seattle's system is light rail that will be mostly grade separated but likely get more boardings than Atlanta's.
Agreed.

Chicago trains can carry more people per hour than Calgary because the CTA trains are longer. Vancouver is dealing with the problem of having platforms that are too short and the short-term solution is to mess around with the configurations until they can lengthen the platforms so that they can add more cars.

NJTransit is famous for running trains that are far longer than the platforms they serve. If you're on an NJT train it's common to hear "if you're in the last two cars you must walk forward to exit. these cars will not platform and the doors will not open."

When it comes to capacity the type of rail vehicle you're using is mostly arbitrary if everything else is constant.
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Old 09-25-2014, 12:36 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,958,188 times
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Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
For commuters--not a small portion of ridership-- that kind of system flexibility is really not an added benefit. For a commuter, the value is point-to-point travel time. For them, in the end, be it commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail, or BRT, a dedicated ROW is the way to go.

For example, San Jose has LRT and it is a sprawling system. But, the ridership numbers are terrible. Part of that is simply because, halfway between the suburbs of south SJ and the jobs of north SJ, the LRT goes from grade-sep dedicated ROW to a semi-dedicated ROW on city streets. That adds a lot of time. Especially considering the car may be as fast or faster, and certainly more private and flexible.

What you are talking about is a design flaw in the system - not a disadvantage of a particular mode. This was repeated a lot with systems that were designed in the 80s/early 90s. You see it in Buffalo, SJ, Sacramento, Portland, Baltimore, etc. where the suburban parts of the network are fully grade separated (or may have a few grade crossings on an otherwise exclusive ROW) but as soon as they get downtown they take to the streets. It's backwards. You know see Baltimore trying to avoid repeating that mistake with the Red Line (but making a different but just as critical mistake instead).

For instance, smart money would use streetcars for no more than 3-5 miles from the center of the urban core. It would use commuter rail for distances of up to 80 miles (but further than 10). Light rail is appropriate for distances of 5-20 miles depending on density, context and ROW. Heavy rail is appropriate for trips up to 15 miles but again, depending on the number of stops and density of ridership it's probably best for trips under 10 miles.

I agree that full grade separation is usually the way to go and, short of that, it should be full signal pre-emption/priority but the former is expensive. OTOH, most research on the matter would disagree with your assumption that most commuters value travel time first and foremost. For most people it's a complex CBA involving price, time, specific destination/origin, and perceived benefits (eg, privacy of a car vs. reading on the train) or disadvantages (eg, stress of driving vs. stress of a crowded train).
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Old 09-28-2014, 09:00 AM
 
2,415 posts, read 2,430,339 times
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Originally Posted by gwillyfromphilly View Post
I think the main problem in the United States is that subway systems are viewed as a luxary for a city, while other countries view subway systems are a necessity for a city.

The American mentality nowadays for building mass transit is to look for the cheapest option possible, even though it may not be the best option as the cheapest option could possibly hurt them in the long term.
New York City, Chicago, and Washington DC are the only cities that have basically fulfilled their master plan when it comes to its subway system. Every other city has fallen quite short of that and is a testament to how mass transit isn't viewed as a high priority when it comes to cities with growing populations.

Many of you probably didn't know this but only 5 of the top 20 largest cities in the United States have subway systems(New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco).
If including all types of non-commuter rail trains (i.e., heavy-duty subway trains & light-rail trains) serving a metropolitan area, you should have also mentioned the following:

  1. For well-developed subway &/or light rail systems (serving the greater bulk of its main city & metropolitan area): Boston,MA; Newark, NJ; Atlanta, GA; Cleveland, OH; Baltimore, MD; San Diego, CA; Portland, OR; Dallas, TX
  2. For something-less-than-fully-developed subway &/or light rail systems: Denver, CO; Miami, FL; Pittsburgh, PA; New Orleans, LA; St. Louis, MO; Salt Lake City, UT; Houston, TX
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