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GRDadof3

Mass Transit Alternatives

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Thought it might be interesting to open a thread regarding how people feel about the Streetcars vs. Bus Rapid Transit in Grand Rapids.

There was a study done by the ITP/Rapid a few years ago:

http://www.ridetherapid.org/Main/GT2/June2...lettersetup.pdf

I think there are a couple of people in this forum who were involved in this study.

I'm going to paraphrase, but BRT is a system that confines busses to their own lanes in traffic with zero clearance stations, builds new lanes next to existing roadways, or allows the bus drivers to control traffic lights to "slide" ahead of traffic just before the light turns green. A good video demonstration of this is here. You need Quicktime, and it is much better with high speed. The advantages are that it is much less expensive, but there are many critics of the program. Just do a google search of "bus rapid transit" and you'll see what I mean. Well, I'll save you a step:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&biw...sit&btnG=Search

Civis_1.jpg

The other alternative that is not as expensive as light rail is Streetcars:

portlandstreetcar34.jpg

portlandstreetcar33.jpg

portlandstreetcar27.jpg

portlandstreetcar30.jpg

Or a few vintage style streetcars:

Portland_VT_511_512_b_sm.JPG

Obviously much more expensive than the BRT, requiring tracks laid in existing roadbeds. I even loaded a google page for you:

http://www.google.com/search?biw=1003&hl=e...G=Google+Search

I think GR is poised to be a world class city, like Portland, in about 10 - 15 years. It's all about momentum, and this time next year, when GR looks like this...

9BA53FA8-50D0-4F78-A33E-FE97D8096B19-2003_8_29_11_53_39_rdax_300x217.jpg:P

...the momentum it will create will be quite shocking (I believe). We really have some great street level architecture, and a lot of new residential projects planned that will add to the skyline. But are we ready to step into the role as a next "world class city"? They are very big shoes to fill.

Read the reports linked above, and see what you think.

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They would technically work but they do not convey the same sense of mass transit that light rail does. I am one for building for the future and I think high speed busses do nothing but fix current problems.

The South Beltline should have taught us about building for the future, and it obviously did not. Adjusted for inflation, if it was built when originally planned (and not hi-jacked by the East side of the state) it would have cost 1/10 of what it did. The reason it was the most expensive highway project in Michigan history?

Because the plans were known and they waited too long, driving property values along the route to insane levels.

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I was glad to hear our DASH system recently was recognized as being a highly utilized system. I think it does a great job for now (though I wish it would come to north monroe, I'd use it !)

I like the light rail idea, so I say BRING IT.

For now, I'll just have to keep riding my scooter around....

It is healthy that DT people are becoming less dependant on their own cars. As my good friend Sam Cummings has said "Grand Rapids does not have a parking problem, we have a walking problem."

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They would technically work but they do not convey the same sense of mass transit that light rail does.  I am one for building for the future and I think high speed busses do nothing but fix current problems.

The South Beltline should have taught us about building for the future, and it obviously did not.  Adjusted for inflation, if it was built when originally planned (and not hi-jacked by the East side of the state) it would have cost 1/10 of what it did.  The reason it was the most expensive highway project in Michigan history?

Because the plans were known and they waited too long, driving property values along the route to insane levels.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I didn't want to sway people either way, but I also think the BRT System is not as good. They sure do make it look fantastic in that slick video though (obviously trying to sell the idea). I also don't think that it will create the spinoff developments along the routes like streetcars do. I can invision one loop of streetcars going up and down Seward, past GVSU and over Wealthy past the giant residential redeveloped old Sligh Building ;) , over to Division and up into the Heritage Hill area, looping back down Fulton to Division, up Division to Michigan, down to Monroe (or under the bridge at Bond Street when they tear down the GRPress Building, up Monroe (or Bond) to Leonard, across Leonard back over to Seward. Sweet!

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I'd like to see vintage looking Street Cars in the city (including Leonard, Creston, Eastown, Uptown, Division, Heritage Hill, etc) with light rail to the north east west and south suburbs all converging at the Grand Central Station downtown. Of course, the number one stop would need to be the Airport.

Actually, an airport route would seem somewhat "inexpensive" if they followed 131 down to the South Beltline, over to Patterson and into the airport.

Joe

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Is it possible to have streetcars without the overhead wires? The trend in urban design is to conceal all the wires. This would add more. Thoughts?

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Is it possible to have streetcars without the overhead wires? The trend in urban design is to conceal all the wires. This would add more. Thoughts?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I found this excellent essay on the subject of wireless streetcars:

http://trb.org/publications/circulars/ec05..._02_Swanson.pdf

You would think in the 21st Century we wouldn't need overhead wires for power. They mainly talk about hybrid vehicles, conduit power, or a system called Innorail. I really like the thought of having grass or brick pavers between the rails to also add to the aesthetics.

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I'd like to see vintage looking Street Cars in the city (including Leonard, Creston, Eastown, Uptown, Division, Heritage Hill, etc) with light rail to the north east west and south suburbs all converging at the Grand Central Station downtown. Of course, the number one stop would need to be the Airport.

Actually, an airport route would seem somewhat "inexpensive" if they followed 131 down to the South Beltline, over to Patterson and into the airport.

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree. I think a mix of vintage streetcars (for the nostalgia and tourist draw) and modern streetcars to reinforce the image as a legitimate transit system would be good. It's funny that we had light rail all over GR at one time:

http://www.grpl.org/photocoll?cat=transportation

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It is healthy that DT people are becoming less dependant on their own cars.  As my good friend Sam Cummings has said "Grand Rapids does not have a parking problem, we have a walking problem."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Amen to that!

Heh I rarely see anyone walking more then one or two blocks to get to where they are going.

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I've always thought the commuter rail system out to the suburbs would be easier if existing rail right-of-way is used. If they were to be used, you'd have routes to Wyoming/Grandville, Walker/Marne/Coopersville, Walker/Comstock Park, GR Township/Ada, Kentwood/Airport, and Wyoming/Cutlerville. Unfortunately there is no longer rail to Rockford or Caledonia.

I'm in favor of a rail system over bus. I think it's more scaleable as the city grows. I also like the DT loop that GRDad proposed.

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Yeah, Rails to Trails is a cool idea having grown up right along the railroad in Rockford, but it sure would be convenient if the County could have used this for a light rail system. Then again, you can't hold up progress for 50 years waiting for someone to finally get that light-rail systems are needed.

Joe

I've always thought the commuter rail system out to the suburbs would be easier if existing rail right-of-way is used.  If they were to be used, you'd have routes to Wyoming/Grandville, Walker/Marne/Coopersville, Walker/Comstock Park, GR Township/Ada, Kentwood/Airport, and Wyoming/Cutlerville.  Unfortunately there is no longer rail to Rockford or Caledonia.

I'm in favor of a rail system over bus.  I think it's more scaleable as the city grows.  I also like the DT loop that GRDad proposed.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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Holy crap! I thought this was still years away. The $14 million must be to do more studies, or is it actually to start moving forward with a streetcar/station system?

Interchange, streetcar project included in federal highway bill

Friday, July 29, 2005

By Sarah Kellogg and Kyla King

The Grand Rapids Press

WASHINGTON -- Plans for a new interchange on Int. 196 in Jenison and a high-tech streetcar system in Grand Rapids are moving forward, thanks to a federal highway funding bill approved by the U.S. House Thursday and going through the Senate today.

The legislation earmarks almost $18 million for the Int. 196 interchange at Baldwin Street that was promised in 1998. Another $14 million will go The Rapid Transit system for streetcar-like vehicles with rubber tires that would travel on their own guideway between stations.

Preliminary plans suggest Cherry or Wealthy streets as likely corridors connecting to routes from downtown to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, and Clyde Park or South Division avenues as possible routes from downtown south to 76th Street.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ss...0260.xml&coll=6

Streetcars on rubber tires would be similar to the GLT System by Bombardier:

http://www.bombardier.com/index.jsp

goto: core business > transportation > total transit systems

Anyone here on the ITP Committee?

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This is exciting! I cant wait to hear what exactly is going to get done with the money. When is the next ITP meeting; I think I want to attend.

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Has Grand Rapids ever had a streetcar system in the past? I know Lansing had a very extensive streetcar system in it's early days possibly lasting as late as the 50's, the tracks were on many downtown streets, extended south to Mt. Hope, north to Grand River Ave (Old Town) and East along Michigan all the way to East Lansing. We could really use this sort of system again, I don't really like the BRT though. What I would really like to know is how a city like Eugene could support this sort of system, it's metro only has 330,000 people. What I would really like to see is light rail, or even better, an overhead rail system, however I don't reallt think Lansing or GR could justify a system like that, although it would likely be feasable. But when it comes to street cars I say it's about time, they should of never been done away with, and it is time to restore the system, hopefully Lansing can get something like this done also.

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Has Grand Rapids ever had a streetcar system in the past? I know Lansing had a very extensive streetcar system in it's early days possibly lasting as late as the 50's, the tracks were on many downtown streets, extended south to Mt. Hope, north to Grand River Ave (Old Town) and East along Michigan all the way to East Lansing. We could really use this sort of system again, I don't really like the BRT though. What I would really like to know is how a city

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I've ridden on BRT in places as far as Jakarta. It can work, and it can be a success in both ridership, time savings, and congestion reduction. I think it should be considered, and not always thrown away as "second class" transit, which I think normal busses are. It may be dangerous to encourage that perception in the case that BRT becomes your only feasible option, and even it is hard to get enough of the population to support. I'd rather see it than nothing at all. And keep in mind that it's easier to convert a busway into a railway than to start from nothing!! So whether by laying the actual physical foundations or the foundations of a more transit-oriented community (too bad the 80% of that transportation bill will do a lot to go farther in the other direction), you can think of it as a first step. And if you paint lines on the road to look like rails, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference!

If you want to see the awesomest streetcar system in North America, just go to Toronto. No overhead wires, a great stock of oldschool cars. Some of the routes go underground and others have dedicated right-of-way in the middle of busy streets.

Re: Rails to Trails, trails are better than getting converted into buildings or other permanent uses. But leaving them as rails is much much better than turning them into trails. People aren't going to want to give up their trails. If it's just a building or two on top of old rails, it's even easier to buy them than to take away trails from a vocal community.

tomo

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Re: Rails to Trails, trails are better than getting converted into buildings or other permanent uses.  But leaving them as rails is much much better than turning them into trails.  People aren't going to want to give up their trails.  If it's just a building or two on top of old rails, it's even easier to buy them than to take away trails from a vocal community.

tomo

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have been looking at the White Pine Trail a lot lately (since I work in Rockford a lot), and I think that the right-of-way is wide enough to add a transit line (BRT or LRT), and keep the existing bike trail. How exciting would that be ;)

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I think if ITP were to go with a light-rail of some kind, it would head south-east from downtown toward kentwood. At least that is the plan. I think most of the GR population lives south of downtown anyways.

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I think if ITP were to go with a light-rail of some kind, it would head south-east from downtown toward kentwood. At least that is the plan. I think most of the GR population lives south of downtown anyways.

I think that there were 2 lines proposed. One that went down south division to 76th street and the other that connected DT to the airport.

I like the DT to 76th on S Division route.

I think the other route should take Fulton to Lake Dr. then head through east town, go through DT EGR(probably will face a lot of resistance from the soccer moms), hit up Breton village, make a stop @ Calvin, come down the Beltline and elevate to a large stop that serves both malls, then take 28th to patterson and the airport....Oh I'd like the other end to stop st GVSU DT.

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I agree, but I dont think E. GR would be real keen on it since most of those folks are rather well-off; thus they probably wouldn't use it much. I say run down Division first to get lots of riders, then use that as leverage to get a second line built heading towards woodland/kentwood areas. I also think GVSU should help build one from the DT Campus to Allendale that folks on the west side could use too, like they do with buses.

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I agree, but I dont think E. GR would be real keen on it since most of those folks are rather well-off; thus they probably wouldn't use it much.  I say run down Division first to get lots of riders, then use that as leverage to get a second line built heading towards woodland/kentwood areas.  I also think GVSU should help build one from the DT Campus to Allendale that folks on the west side could use too, like they do with buses.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The first route that ITP will do is the one from the new ITP station downtown to the airport. It is presently the densist areas anywhere in Kent County. They are just trying to decide whether it will be down Cherry or Wealthy (watch for speculative land buying along those routes, and might explain why at Cherry and Diamond is a makeshift "station" in the median there). There would be stops at or near East Hills/Cherry Hill area, Easttown, then the tricky part is getting from Easttown to the Breton Village area. Lake Drive, Franklin, Breton, Boston and Plymouth are pretty residential with narrower streets and strong neighborhood organizations. Look forward to fights and a lot of misrepresentations. If you look at the bus routes through there to the malls, they go down Fuller to Franklin, then to Giddings, and zig zag to Burton. Then they talked about having a Calvin stop, 28th Street (maybe a couple of stops), Aeropark, and then the airport.

If you do the first run down Division, then the image that will be developed in people's minds is that it is no better than busses, and just serves lower income people (sorry to be elitist, but that's what people will think). If you want to get middle/upper income people to jump on board with this concept and expand it in the future, than you have to develop the first line where it will be a mix of people and through a mix of neighborhoods, and also serve visitors/tourists.

My only idea about going to Rockford would be for future lines 4 or 5. And if you think there are not enough people in Rockford to support light rail, then try gettting through the area where Plainfield and Northland Drive/Beltline merge around rush hour ;)

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If you do the first run down Division, then the image that will be developed in people's minds is that it is no better than busses, and just serves lower income people (sorry to be elitist, but that's what people will think).  If you want to get middle/upper income people to jump on board with this concept and expand it in the future, than you have to develop the first line where it will be a mix of people and through a mix of neighborhoods, and also serve visitors/tourists.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree, but doesnt that seem like a bit of a risk? What if only a handful of people ride it? Then it would be hard to get a second line built because people will say "Well, no one rides the first line, why should we build a second?" I think the biggest factors in getting people to ride is that it has to be substantially faster than driving a car, clean, and fairly convenient.

For example, if I rode it to the Central Station, there would have to be something like DASH buses running through downtown every few minutes. It would be too far to walk to my office next to Moch's site, expecially in the winter.

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I agree, but doesnt that seem like a bit of a risk?  What if only a handful of people ride it?  Then it would be hard to get a second line built because people will say "Well, no one rides the first line, why should we build a second?"  I think the biggest factors in getting people to ride is that it has to be substantially faster than driving a car, clean, and fairly convenient.

For example, if I rode it to the Central Station, there would have to be something like DASH buses running through downtown every few minutes.  It would be too far to walk to my office next to Moch's site, expecially in the winter.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, that would make sense. I have been researching this quite a bit lately, and most communities that have implemented modern transit systems have feeder lines at the ends of the some of the runs (similar to DASH busses), because there is no way that you can run BRT or LRT on every thoroughfare. At first, I thought that would be a pain in the *ss, but it seems to be working in other cities. Commuters just get used to one or two transfers between home and work. If you look at new developments in San Diego and Denver for instance, about 1/2 of them are transit oriented mixed use developments. Most of you guys probably already know this :thumbsup:

It is a challenge, like you said, to get a good balance of high ridership, and to make it somewhat "cool" so that communities, and potential riders, that are in future link-ups will embrace the idea. It also obviously helps to be clean, safe and efficient.

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