-The bus will not shave off a significant amount of time that the existing Division bus clocks.
-The stops are not heated or cooled shelters, shielded from the elements (look outside today). The only benefit is the ability to pay at the stop, which is the least of the problems riders face.
-The bus isnt any different than the one already in use. Basically the same design, and I'm sure horrid shocks, that makes riding on them uncomfortable, and you wont have any more room then you have now on the bus.
This sounds like the opinion of someone who has never actually ridden a bus. Anyone who has used one (I admit it's been a few years since I used The Rapid regularly) knows how much time is wasted waiting for passengers to fumble with crumpled up dollar bills at the farebox. The next most prevalent reason for delays, in my experience, is accommodating handicapped riders (not saying that they're a problem - just that boarding them takes time). Level boarding helps a lot with this issue (though there'd still be some time spent securing wheelchair restraints, I'd imagine). Add in other benefits like prioritized signals and dedicated lanes, and I can see where they're getting their time savings estimates.
Most Chicago El stations aren't climate controlled either, IIRC. Neither are the stations for the Minneapolis streetcar line. Plenty of people get along just fine by dressing appropriately for the weather, and using such practical accessories as boots and umbrellas.
I don't know specifics on the fleet they're purchasing, but they're not the same models that run on the regular routes. At one time, articulated buses were discussed, though I'm not sure if they're still on the table. While the buses won't have the same "oooh, shiny!" factor as streetcars, they will be distinctive from the rest of the fleet.
There is also this assumption that people driving on the highways will gladly opt out to park on 60th street, and wait outside for a bus to not save them anytime off of their existing car ride, afford them none of the comfort of having your own space, and no ability to take alternative routes or run errands before and after work. Any money you save will be eaten up by bus fare, and time spent.
And there still is no honest indication that even the planning for this line is having any economic impact. Why would it? There is already a bus that travels the commercial length of S. Division. It doesn't run more than a few minutes slower. If there was a rush of people making trips up and down Division you would already have seen these magical developments materialize. What changes now just because you have the same bus with a different name and some fancy bus shelters? The hope that a different name and fancy shelters will trick people into thinking this is different?
People with that mentality will never be attracted to mass transit. However, people that have limited parking at work (as DT continues to thrive, parking spaces will become more expensive, giving employers additional incentive to encourage their employees to seek alternative commuting options), as well as people that like to relax while someone else does most of the driving, or to interact with others, will be attracted to it.
I will admit that part of the appeal of this project is in its appearance - by not looking like a normal bus line, it will appeal to people who might otherwise see buses as transportation for poor people and wide-eyed ideologues (who are also probably poor). The permanent stations make a statement - we're investing in infrastructure that can't be removed simply by pulling up signposts. The improvements in safety (snow melt, lighting, emergency call boxes) and operations (discussed above) are a bigger part. Companies want to be located in areas where the citizens have shown a commitment to improving their infrastructure.
And for a few days, there will people people that will be tricked. I contend that any initial use will be the most hard-core transit activists ***the Salon*** riding it just to say they did, only to realize that there is nothing on Division from Wealthy to 60th that any of them ever wanted to go to anyway. Unless pawn shops (less entertaining than the ones on TV), and used car lots along with fast food joints are now the in thing to go to. Most commuters will get bored quick with the first cold day, or thunderstorm rolls through or when they find out that a BRT that is sharing the road with regular traffic starts showing up late.
And on top of that most of the people along S. Division, south of 28th street, have cars. Much easier to just drive the car to the Meijer, or walk to some of the few independent groceries in the area, then to ride a bus that will stop at none.
If there are zero developments along the line over the next 10-20 years, then this statement will be true. However, that has not been not the experience of other cities that have put in BRT lines; transit infrastructure - even "streetcar-lite" BRT lines - is a selling point for many businesses. I'm looking forward to seeing a Wealthy-esque revitalization occur at Burton and Division.
You're right that this route will not be used by people living near 54th & Division to make trips to Meijer. No one is claiming that (unless they're propping up a straw man); it is intended to be used mainly by people going downtown for work, entertainment, and events.
I give it 6 months before the first news story about less-than-anticipated ridership.
I'm sure you're right about this. Typical WOODTV and Mlive readers eat that sort of thing up, and those companies are craving eyeballs for their advertisers. The instant that there's a whiff of something that can be blown up into a "Target 8 On Your Side Special Investigative Report", they'll be there, making up their own facts and inflated expectations along the way.
Should have gone with a light-rail option. If nothing else it would have been something different, quicker, and more comfortable.
You could hook way more people with this...
(image of a streetcar from a metropolitan area four times our size)
(image of a regular Rapid bus, from a 2009 GR Press article)
I agree that a light-rail line would be "different, quicker, and more comfortable". It'd also be significantly more expensive to build. And not fund-able through Very Small Starts USDOT grants. And not realistic for our city's needs (right now).
By the way, here's an actual rendering of a Silver Line bus:
I will admit to being biased. Last year, we purchased a house in Garfield Park that is a quarter-mile from the Burton Silver Line stop. While not a deal-maker (the abnormally large lot size and historic house share that credit), the proximity to the BRT line, as well as the Burton road diet, were factors in our decision. We're looking forward to taking our kids (two so far - 2yo and 4wo) on the Silver Line to go shopping at the Downtown Market, to Symphony concerts, to museums, to ArtPrize, and to downtown restaurants (the last one not with the kids, at least some of the time), without having to worry about finding parking downtown.
I very much hope that the Silver Line brings the anticipated levels of development - the Burton Heights business district is in need of investment beyond the cheap-rent cell-phone and XXX shops. However, even without that investment, I will be happy to utilize the new service - perhaps even for commuting, should I end up working downtown at some point.
Would I have preferred a streetcar along that route? Absolutely. However, given our current transit needs and the national political climate, that isn't a realistic proposition right now.
Edit: Looks like John beat me to it with the factual imagery and factual facts.
Edited by organsnyder, 09 April 2013 - 01:50 PM.