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Memphis BRT


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Great plan however, I think the BRT line should continue down Poplar to Colliervilles town square (and plans to reach Moscow). There should also be a plan to offer BRT along the route for future light rail so right of way can be established in the future. 


As for BRT going down to Elvis Presley Blvd, no need. I think normal city buses work fine for that stretch.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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I do favor BRT over light rail as a more efficient use of taxpayer funds; but it needs to be executed correctly.  This is an interesting article on the BRT concept from a DC blog.  Light rail, while speedier, seems so inflexible with the rail infastructure.  Maybe if there were exclusive lanes on certain routes, the speed difference could be reduced.

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In this arena, Memphis should really float heads and shoulders above Nashville and several other cities. We've got a great street grid. The buses are nice. I am just disappointed that ridership is so low...except on the #50.


Did anyone get to this meeting back in July?


On Tuesday, July 29, MATA and Livable Memphis are presenting a public meeting to discuss a new Midtown Alternatives Analysis transit study. This is an opportunity to meet MATA staff and their consultant team to discuss transit projects that would enhance service within the Midtown area and improve connections with destinations around the city and the region. 

The location is the IBEW Local 474 Union Hall at 1870 Madison Ave from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. (This location is served by MATA bus route 50) 

The Midtown Alternatives Analysis project will build on the results of the Short Range Transit Plan, looking at existing MATA service in relation to residential neighborhoods, important destinations, employment centers and other services. The study will recommend future high capacity transit corridors and types of service, and will help position these innovative transit projects to compete for federal and state transportation funding. 

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I just got finished posting on the joke of a debate in the Nashville section over AMP. There are many areas where Memphis did things right and Nashville didn't, and transportation is one of them. I-40 was never built through the core of the city to destroy important neighborhoods, and the trolley system (despite its current technical difficulties) has been running for over 2 decades with increasing ridership and is a huge success. So, Memphis - through better planning - still has its beautiful parkway system as opposed to I-40 in Midtown, and it has 6 miles of streetcar/trolley tracks where new light rail vehicles could be purchased if they opt to upgrade. These were better decisions regarding transportation.


Given budget constraints most cities are facing, BRT is certainly becoming more popular as an alternative to light rail. Make no mistake, I think rail transport is better, but you do have to do it right in order for rail to be better. While I think having rail in the street like the trolley is good for a downtown/midtown circulation system, my experience in other cities has taught me that light rail in the street over longer distances as a city-wide system is less attractive. I recently rode the new Green line connecting Minneapolis to St Paul, which is a distance of roughly 10 miles and it rides primarily down University Ave stopping at intersections. The ride took 40-50 minutes every time I rode it.


What this tells me is that light rail is good if its in its own right of way only for longer, city-wide transport. Otherwise, smaller local transit lines just like Memphis has with the trolley works fine if its in-street and distance isn't long. You should never, however, build light rail in the street for 10, 15, or 20 miles as a city/metro wide system, it just becomes too slow to have high utility.


So, not even taking into account BRT's cost savings, I think BRT is more appropriate if you're going to be running the service up and down Poplar or other major corridors rather than wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on a system that would likely take almost an hour to get from I-240/Poplar in the east into downtown Memphis since its running in the street and stopping at intersections.


On another note, I really do hope MATA opts in the longer term to retire the vintage trolley vehicles and order some light rail vehicles that operate on the existing installed track. Memphis has roughly 6 miles of track (roughly 2 miles on the riverfront, 2 miles on main, 2 miles on Madison). This is the perfect length for a downtown streetcar network utilizing modern vehicles, it'd speed up the system vs the vintage trolleys for sure.

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