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Cost of Beach's proposed BRT system drops to $21.4

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While I wish it was light rail, I guess any public transportation in Virginia Beach is a good step, although I'm not sure this is going to be very popular, maybe with tourist

VIRGINIA BEACH

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Las Vegas just opened their bus rapid transit which runs through the heart of the strip. They have a website that I ran across one time. It looks pretty decent and runs just like light rail (without the ugly overhead lines.) They have their own dedicated lanes and have an optical eye (computer that as it reaches a station the eye takes over and guides the bus to the docking station by markings in the road. It is a pretty sophisticated system and would be a great addition to this area. I believe Detroit is also looking into a bus rapid transit system. Las Vegas had their system 100% paid for because it was a pilot system that the feds where interested in to see how well it works. I guess we will find out soon how effective it is.

:rolleyes:

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Bus rapid transit is no different than light rail other than the fact that it runs on tires. Rail corridors can still be used by bus rapid transit and kept in tack in case it converts to a light rail system. Bus rapid transit can still be given priorities at intersections or crossing much like light rail. If I were voting I would say lets all look at Bus Rapid transit across the region. Hampton and Newport News are now looking at it. I don't see why Norfolk can't look at it. For the cost that it would take to build this starter light rail line we could build a bus rapid transit strip running from newport news through the third crossing through downtown norfolk on into virginia beach. On top of that we would be more likely to get federal funding for the project because of how much more inexpensive this system is. Than, when this area grows we can convert it over to light rail if it becomes more feasible. It only makes sense to start out with baby steps.

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the rail already exists for norfolk and you would have to build bridges to handle pavement and a train can pull alot more people than a bus.

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the rail already exists for norfolk and you would have to build bridges to handle pavement and a train can pull alot more people than a bus.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes the rail exists, but you don't have to use it right away. Why not pave a road in that right of way also and use it as a bus rapid transit road only. By the way bus rapid transit buses are capable of carrying in excess of 120 people each bus. They are articulated much like a light rail train meaning they are one vehicle but attached in different areas much like a train. These are not normal busses that you are use to seeing. They look just like a light rail train just without the steel wheels.

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Yes the rail exists, but you don't have to use it right away.  Why not pave a road in that right of way also and use it as a bus rapid transit road only.  By the way bus rapid transit buses are capable of carrying in excess of 120 people each bus.  They are articulated much like a light rail train meaning they are one vehicle but attached in different areas much like a train.  These are not normal busses that you are use to seeing.  They look just like a light rail train just without the steel wheels.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

i think they should stay away from buses with the rising cost of oil

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Most of these buses run on a combination of different sources. Fuel cells, electric, deisel, natural gas, even hydrogen. Much like the net in downtown norfolk and cities like philadelphia, new york already have these buses that run on direct routes through their downtowns. These are not gas hogs like current local buses and actually are much more environmentally friendly.

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I say go forward with this. With a lot of the cost being picked up and the city having the option of paying over 15 years I say this sounds very promising. There may be other things that need to be worked out but this could be a good start and hopefully in the future we can link our rail to Norolk's. The buses look pretty cool as well.

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the rail already exists for norfolk and you would have to build bridges to handle pavement and a train can pull alot more people than a bus.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

isn't most of the rail single track and in questionable shape?

If the Beach can get this BRT off and running in a short time Norfolk should give up the ghost on this one. They have been talking about the LR thing for so long that I don't even care. How would BRT be so much more different than a huge lumbering LR car? They could probabaly do a line that would run from the base to the Oceanfront.

I have seen LR work well in Portland, Oregon. However, when I went to Baltimore, I was surprised at how run down, FILTHY and in bad shape all the cars were in their LR system. (Don't get me started on how Baltimore has a subway that they have completely squandered!) I have this feeling that any LR in Norfolk would be a collosal waste of $$ in respect to the benefits and would end up looking like a dumpster in a short period of time. I think that Norfolk should try to stop being the "leader" in everything local and try to work with VB on this important project.

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I think BRT can work, just as efficient as light rail, if built on its own right-of-way. The best thing is its millions of dollars cheaper, thus making it realistic for the city to build a more extensive system, instead of a short starter light rail system. As long as its on its on right-of-way, you can always convert it to light or heavy rail, at a later date, if that's what the community wants.

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isn't most of the rail single track and in questionable shape?

If the Beach can get this BRT off and running in a short time Norfolk should give up the ghost on this one.

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isn't most of the rail single track and in questionable shape?

That would be more of a problem for a BRT route than for light rail. Buses need more space because they have to be steered and can't drive completely and perfectly straight. Even the Civis bus with the optically guided technology would need a wider right-of-way than a similar light rail because guess what happens when the guiding technology malfunctions (which it can). That's right, the driver must drive the bus like a regular bus, which means it will not go completely straight ahead on its BRT route.

With light rail, all you do is repair the existing track and put another one next to it. Takes up less space than a two-lane road. You don't even have to put up expensive overhead wires. You just buy diesel LR cars. Diesel LRVs run all over Germany and Switzerland. Even New Jersey Transit has diesel LRVs - they run from Trenton to Camden on its River Line with success.

How would BRT be so much more different than a huge lumbering LR car?

You mean a lumbering 60-foot BRT bus that can't seem to stay in one lane? Or has its "dedicated" bus lane blocked by other traffic like the Silver Line in Boston? At least these "huge lumbering" LR cars you speak of stay in one "lane". Imagine one of those lumbering 60-foot buses on the streets of Downotwn Norfolk having to share those streets with cars and trucks? Or one of the 80-foot Phileas buses? That's even worse, especially if the rear of the bus starts to "fishtail" like what happened in Nancy, France with their 80-foot BRT buses. You don't have this problem in downtown Jersey City with the NJT Hudson-Bergen light rail because the trains are segregated in their own lanes and the tracks are insulated by rubber and mounted onto raised concrete so cars don't drive on the tracks. The same thing can be done in Downtown Norfolk and in VA Beach Town Center

I have seen LR work well in Portland, Oregon.  However, when I went to Baltimore, I was surprised at how run down, FILTHY and in bad shape all the cars were in their LR system.  (Don't get me started on how Baltimore has a subway that they have completely squandered!)

If Hampton Roads follows the Portland or San Diego model, then it will work. If they rely too heavily on single-tracking, don't offer good inter-modal connections and insist on commuter-rail sized custom-built cars like Baltimore did, then well, who knows what could happen. Personally, I don't think any railroads other should be single-tracked because single-tracking severely limits how much service can be run on the line. Would you build a one-lane road? Of course not! So why settle for a one-track rail line? In addition, Hamprton Roads should go with off-the-shelf LRVs like the ones NJT uses on its River Line.

I think that Norfolk should try to stop being the "leader" in everything local and try to work with VB on this important project.

And that's your problem right there. That's why it's so hard for Hampton Roads to get major regional projects done. VB refusing to work with the other cities, trying to be the big kid on the block and taking the attitude that "trains bring trouble" (where the hell did that attitude come from, anyway?). Listen, nobody's gonna rob a bank or a 7-11 in the suburbs and make their escape to the city on a light rail train. Burglars aren't gonna rob a house in the suburbs and plan their escape on a light rail train with everything they've taken from the house. It's time VB put its jealousy of Norfolk aside and start working with the rest of the region and Norfolk to get things done!

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I agree, for a city that has only been around for since the 60's its got a crazy attitude toward other cities and only looks for what is best for VaBeach and not the whole area. Norfolk makes attempts to work other cities and yes with VaBeach but beach doesn't compromise one bit. I agree with Mike D and that was the point i was trying to make about light rail. The track right now has a bridge that goes over a river and you couldn't convert that without major construction. The track goes all the way to OCEANA come on people wake up. Its there and just needs to be repaired. Wait that means the "Norfolk Bad Element" might come to the beach. The sad thing is the track runs right through the town center and to downtown Norfolk, if Vabeach was smart and had Hampton Roads in mind they would have worked to get light rail between the two downtowns. I wonder if VaBeach will ever move the courthouses to the Towncenter area. Its kind of stupid to have the courthouse all the way on the southside of the city where the population is low.

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Just so you know all bridges that are associated with the light rail project will be rebuilt. They will not be using existing bridges because they are single tracked. HRT is looking at double tracking from the get go. Not to mention that a new bridge will have to be built to get to Fort Norfolk/Sentara/EVMS.

I agree that most Bus Rapid transit projects will be failures because they are constructed on existing roadways that are already clogged. By the way, the optical system only guides that bus into the docking station therefore the bus driver still drives the bus. However we have a chance to do something no one else has every proposed to do. We can run a bus rapid transit system in a dedicated lane which is already vacant and ready to go.

You might say that it would be a waist to rip up the existing track and pave a road through this corridor but what you don't know is that the track used for light rail transit and regular trains is different. All of the track would be ripped up along the route anyway. Why not give bus rapid transit a try (as long as it is through this corridor and grade seperated)

With grade seperation you can't tell me that these buses would be any different than light rail. This system can be marketed just like a light rail line. The vehicles are cheaper than consists (light rail vehicles), less maintenance issues than light rail which have ugly overhead catenary lines, power sub-stations, and track to maintian. Not to mention that the government would be more willing to give funds for this type of system over light rail because light rail is very expensive to keep going. Las Vegas had their system 100% paid for, the feds are still looking for pilot programs. I bet we could have the system 80%-100% paid for by feds.

With that said, a system that HRT is proposing is going to be a failure if it does not include virginia beach. As much as that pains me to say. I too also think that Virginia Beach polititians are arrogant and selfish. But, unfortunately the majority of downtown workers do not come from downtown, they come from the chesapeake, mostly virginia beach. Most people are not going to be willing to drive halway down 264 (halfway to norfolk) and park their cars so that they can pay to ride the rest of the way into downtown. Without Virginia Beach a transit system will not thrive.

Bus Rapid Transit (grade seperated) could be the type of compromise that Virginia Beach might go for. There is no reason we can't compromise on this issue and in the future change it over to light rail if needed.

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The rail transit that Norfolk was planning is really meant for people in the city to get around not people coming from other cities. They figured that other people wil drive into the city and having residents not drive but ride on the light rail to ease the traffic. Also it was designed connect the medical district on Kempsville Rd. with EVMS and Norfolk general for doctors and patients who have to bounce around between the two areas. Why should Norfolk compromise with Vabeach who all the sudden wants BRT and Norfolk has spent lots of money over the years on the light rail. I did a search on Norfolk and light rail and found out they have been working on this project for over 10 years.

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Actually a majority of their population numbers are base a commute rides. Other than downtown this line really serves no one. Every one in norfolk would have to drive or take a bus to get to the line. it is in the southernmost part of norfolk. Also the line will not service the kempsville medical grounds anymore. That option has been taken off the table due to expense and a certain business there that wouldn't put up with a station in that vicinity. However, the light rail line was not designed to serve norfolk. It was originally designed to connect to virginia beach with norfolk which was the only way this line will be economical. Light rail is not like a subway, it is not built to service just downtowns. It is built to be a commuter train into downtown areas. Therefore if light rail gets built and does not connect to virginia beach it will be doomed.

If you lived downtown, what good is the light rail line to you? Why would you use it. The line does not serve a large population of people unless all of the people who work in downtown live along the corridor, highly unlikely. Even if it was just built for norfolk it would not be effective because anyone traveling in norfolk could get to downtown norfolk faster than traveling all the way to the south of the city just to hop on a light rail line for a few more miles. Trust me, HRT is banking on park and ride commuters for this project to work.

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I hope newport news and norfolk can work on connecting the two like they discussed

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Newport News is ready and willing. The only obstacle is the third crossing. alot depends on the third crossing. It will be built, it's just a matter of when. Both of the proposals on the table have dedicated transit tunnels so that is good news. Hopefully we'll have a recomendation by the end of the year. Both companies are refining their proposals and coming up with exact time schedules and cost analysis. I believe those proposals are due late this year with a record of decision some time next year if all goes well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. :unsure:

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Newport News is ready and willing.  The only obstacle is the third crossing.  alot depends on the third crossing.  It will be built, it's just a matter of when.  Both of the proposals on the table have dedicated transit tunnels so that is good news.  Hopefully we'll have a recomendation by the end of the year.  Both companies are refining their proposals and coming up with exact time schedules and cost analysis.  I believe those proposals are due late this year with a record of decision some time next year if all goes well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.  :unsure:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

VDOT gave them till this winter.

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As a long time resident of Norfolk (Ward's Corner, Ghent and Larchmont) I am always rooting for it when I think it is right. However, as someone who is also from Oregon, where LR is so successful, I think we have to put things into perspective about the actualy viability of LR here.

Portland is a very liberal and 'green' city. It has a lot of people who think a bit differently about sprawl, building heights to protect scenic views (the limit in the CBD is now 300 ft) and city space devoted to parks (they turned the downtown freeway into a riverside park). It is also a fairly homogenous city that is the largest municpality in its metro area.

Baltimore is a blue collar city that has many blighted areas. Sprawl covers huge swaths of land from Aberdeen to the DC suburbs. The LR and metro are not particularly successful. It is a decling city that is experiencing patches of redevelopment.

Which city sounds more like Norfolk? Because I go to Portland 2-3 times every year I can tell you that frankly we are LIGHT YEARS behind them in urban development. If you doubt me look up anything about the "Pearl District" and tell me that anything in Norfolk is happening on that scale.

Personally I prefer rail but realistically, I doubt that is an option. VA Beach has only been a city since the early 60's but it is also the state's largest city. Let's be real here. Right now it is Republicans who are running the show in Richmond and the nation as a whole. Norfolk is one of the few democratic strongholds in the commonwealth. I just do not see how any of this adds up to Norfolk getting LR in the next 20-30 years. By then, what is the point?

VA Beach is trying something new and different and may stand to get more funding. Norfolk could use 'dedicated lanes' for this system and impose $500 fines for blocking the lanes. BRT or LR are not panaceas, but having two competing forms of transit for the same line is inconvinient for toursits and locals. And having starting line from the hospital to Newtown Road is about the dumbest waste of hundreds of millions of dollars I have heard of. The freeways to the CBD are only crowded when the tunnel is backed up, not to the CBD itself!

Portland's system is good, but most of the other LR trains that I have been on in the US are not (LA, Sac, Baltimore). I venture to say that Norfolk's will probably fall into the second category. In addition to LR, Portland has an excellent bus system that is widely used, staffed with courteous drivers, is prompt and runs on 15 minute intervals.

If you need any proof of how Norfolk would handle a LR system, look at the status of most HRT busses. Until they get the bus system in shape why should we throw $$ at them to 'handle' a LR system? If the problems that prevent people from riding the bus now (rude drivers, busses constantly breaking down, busses that are late, early or do not come at all among others) cannot be addressed, why on earth can you conclude that they will be better with a LR system? Why not spend extra cash getting the bus system in shape by replanning stops, making more express routes and dedicated lanes?

Ok... now I'm ready to get off the soapbox now

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