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Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids


GRDadof3

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I'm not sure why it keeps being referred to as a monorail. Mono means one, as in one rail. This has two rails and looks a lot like steel roller-coaster track.

I agree that the idea is hokey. Why use hydrogen when it could just run on electricity? Why carry cars? How much extra structural support will be needed to carry the weight of a vehicle? I guess on a positive side if it is using roller-coaster track then it should be able to make really tight turns at high speeds. Maybe even throw in a few corkscrews for fun.

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I just went to Interstate Traveler's web site (the "Hydrogen Super Highway" company) and came away far from impressed. First of all, a company that has supposedly secured funding (the news article says they have it secured) - even if they had a small fraction of the funding needed - could design a web site that looks better than the one they have now, which reminds me of a late-1990's Geocities personal home page.

Also, the technology is hardly explained well. First of all, why hydrogen? According to their web site, they'll use solar panels to produce the hydrogen, which I assume will then be transported to the cars and used for fuel. Since it's a brand-new, restricted-access, proprietary rail system, why not electrify the rail and get rid of the hydrogen (and its expense and inefficiencies) entirely? To me, it sounds like the hydrogen part is a buzz-word to get attention rather than a plan based on scientific research.

The worst part is this idea keeps resurfacing every 3 years or so, taking peoples' eyes off the ball trying to institute true mass transit in Michigan.

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Roundabouts on major corridors like like East Beltline only make sense if there's an intersection with another major corridor, and there aren't really any out there. Most of the streets crossing it, like Fulton or Leonard or Knapp, have pretty light traffic, and most of the people crossing those intersections aren't making turns (that's why they use Michigan Lefts - they keep traffic moving straight in respective directions).

On the other hand, East Beltline/28th Street is a pretty big intersection, and they COULD put a roundabout there, but the double left-turn lane configuration they have now is working just fine, IMO. 28th Street does get backed up sometimes, but not to a point where it's worth tearing up the ground.

Check out the mid-June posts in this thread... We discussed the HYRAIL idea in more detail. The way I see it, any money spent on these tracks would be much better spent investing in high-speed rail. But that's just me.

Speaking of which, I think GR should lobby long and hard to the point of obnoxiousness towards inclusion in any high-speed rail projects that pop up in the midwest. Since we're kind of out of the way, it'll be tough, but I think GR should do everything it can not to be left out of this.

Regarding the roundabouts on the Beltline, I disagree that they need to be on high-capacity corridors. In fact I would argue the opposite. Remember that the purpose of a roundabout is to keep most of the traffic on the road MOVING. With the stoplights that we have now, many vehicles are required to STOP, not once, but twice. A roundabout slows traffic, of course, but it keeps moving; this is also a safety feature, and is much more environmentally sound (starting from a dead stop is very inefficient.) They would be perfect at mid-capacity corridors like 3-mile and Knapp, and possibly Leonard; Also possibly Cascade Rd. I would think that 28th and Beltline might be the last place we could put one, it is the busiest intersection in the area (as far as I remember) and might not benefit that much from a roundabout. We might also consider those median openings on Chicago drive that M-dot was recently pegging for closure...

The worst part is this idea keeps resurfacing every 3 years or so, taking peoples' eyes off the ball trying to institute true mass transit in Michigan.

Indeed.

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Regarding the roundabouts on the Beltline, I disagree that they need to be on high-capacity corridors. In fact I would argue the opposite. Remember that the purpose of a roundabout is to keep most of the traffic on the road MOVING. With the stoplights that we have now, many vehicles are required to STOP, not once, but twice. A roundabout slows traffic, of course, but it keeps moving; this is also a safety feature, and is much more environmentally sound (starting from a dead stop is very inefficient.) They would be perfect at mid-capacity corridors like 3-mile and Knapp, and possibly Leonard; Also possibly Cascade Rd. I would think that 28th and Beltline might be the last place we could put one, it is the busiest intersection in the area (as far as I remember) and might not benefit that much from a roundabout. We might also consider those median openings on Chicago drive that M-dot was recently pegging for closure...

You're right - 28th/Beltline is completely impractical. I should've made it clearer I was speaking in hyperbole, envisioning this massive circle like the Lambeth Bridge Roundabout from European Vacation, or even better, the "Magic Roundabout" in Swindon, England:

magicroundabout.gif

Definitely my favorite intersection of all time! :wub: Would love to see it in action for myself one day.

I hear what you're saying, and I agree circles on the Beltline wouldn't be a bad thing, but my point was that my first intersections of choice would be ones where traffic is coming, going, and turning in all directions in fairly equal proportions. On East Beltline intersections, a heavy majority of the traffic is north/south, so a heavy majority of green light time is given to those directions. As it is now, you can drive from 28th to Knapp in 10 minutes, and on to West River in another 10. That's as fast as non-freeway corridor is going to get; we couldn't ask for better. And if you want to make the Beltline safer and more gas-efficient, you could put express lanes that pass over the intersections instead of circles.

It's true that Michigan Lefts are getting installed all over the place in corners that don't need them, like on 44th Street, for example. I would look to that route and others like it first.

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You're right - 28th/Beltline is completely impractical. I should've made it clearer I was speaking in hyperbole, envisioning this massive circle like the Lambeth Bridge Roundabout from European Vacation, or even better, the "Magic Roundabout" in Swindon, England:

magicroundabout.gif

Definitely my favorite intersection of all time! :wub: Would love to see it in action for myself one day.

I hear what you're saying, and I agree circles on the Beltline wouldn't be a bad thing, but my point was that my first intersections of choice would be ones where traffic is coming, going, and turning in all directions in fairly equal proportions. On East Beltline intersections, a heavy majority of the traffic is north/south, so a heavy majority of green light time is given to those directions. As it is now, you can drive from 28th to Knapp in 10 minutes, and on to West River in another 10. That's as fast as non-freeway corridor is going to get; we couldn't ask for better. And if you want to make the Beltline safer and more gas-efficient, you could put express lanes that pass over the intersections instead of circles.

It's true that Michigan Lefts are getting installed all over the place in corners that don't need them, like on 44th Street, for example. I would look to that route and others like it first.

Good points. The flyover idea for the beltline is a nice one. But at that point it's almost an expressway. I seem to remember in Virginia in particular many high capacity roads use a system like that. Of course it is probably in use elsewhere as well. I guess re-working the Beltline won't be high on the priority list, when all is said and done, there are many more pressing issues. Chicago drive, and 44th, as you mentioned are good corridors to eye for some sort of re-working. Perhaps it won't be roundabouts that are deemed most effective, they don't work in every situation.

BTW, that famous diagram of the roundabout threw me for a huge loop when I saw it for the first time. Have you seen the actual picture of it? I found it via google images, and it looks almost exactly like the diagram. Good example of how the Brits can get out of hand with the roundabouts sometimes. I dont know how the roads are in that particular area, but something tells me that they could have worked out somthing a bit less complicated than that...

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Good points. The flyover idea for the beltline is a nice one. But at that point it's almost an expressway. I seem to remember in Virginia in particular many high capacity roads use a system like that. Of course it is probably in use elsewhere as well. I guess re-working the Beltline won't be high on the priority list, when all is said and done, there are many more pressing issues. Chicago drive, and 44th, as you mentioned are good corridors to eye for some sort of re-working. Perhaps it won't be roundabouts that are deemed most effective, they don't work in every situation.

Detriot has flyovers on Woodward at 8 mile road.

It definitely removes any pedestrian friendliness from that intersection.

If you think the beltline is bad now, imagine it bein twice again as wide with bridges/tunnels for express lanes.

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??? It's not a problem at all for pedestrians crossing 8 Mile or Woodward there. The "flyover" is not a problem for pedestrians to go under or next to it. I lived right next to it and never had a problem.

~John

:offtopic:

On the contrary, I find the parts of Woodward Ave I've been on in the Ferndale area around 9 Mile to be pretty pedestrian unfriendly.

While it's certainly possible to cross to the other side, it's a HUGE distance and the scaling just seems all wrong for pedestrians and the cars are moving pretty fast, and there are 3 lanes in each direction. While there is on street parking to serve as a bit of a buffer, and the buildings are right up on the road in a more urban fashion, it just feels wrong.

To me, that road just screams for a road diet and big elevated light rail system right down the middle. But it seems like there have been calls for that for a long time and the governments over there can't get their **** together for a variety of reasons.

That's one of the reasons I like GR. The different levels of gov't seem to play nice together MOST of the time and there's a lot of cooperation that takes place to better the region. This has been discussed on UP before.

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:offtopic:

On the contrary, I find the parts of Woodward Ave I've been on in the Ferndale area around 9 Mile to be pretty pedestrian unfriendly.

While it's certainly possible to cross to the other side, it's a HUGE distance and the scaling just seems all wrong for pedestrians and the cars are moving pretty fast, and there are 3 lanes in each direction. While there is on street parking to serve as a bit of a buffer, and the buildings are right up on the road in a more urban fashion, it just feels wrong.

Correct, while it's safe for pedestrians, the flyover at woodward and 8 miles makes for a sea of asphalt that is unfriendly (if not unsafe).

That was my contention. I apologize for not fully explaining myself.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Grand Rapids DDA decides to buy conventional shuttle buses, much to Mayor Heartwell's chagrin-MLive

In short, the mayor was the lone advocate on the DDA for new hybrid DASH shuttles. The rest voted to purchase standard diesel shuttles instead.

I like hybrids as much as the next guy, but those would cost over $200,000 per bus. I don't blame the DDA for being practical. Moreoever, if they had decided to drop that much cash on the hybrids, that move would be used to persuade people to vote down the next Rapid millage .

As has been mentioned in this thread, a streetcar would fix both problems...

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Transit Potpourri:

-Check out www.transitmeansmore.org to see a group of people uniting to develop transit options in eastern Ottawa County. The same group also commissioned a study with some surprising results which suggests strong support for public transit in this suburban area.

-Consultants Nelson/Nygaard completed one of a couple of studies for the West Michigan Transit Linkages project. Creating the links will be an up hill battle. Good community support, but political suspicion and funding issues exists.

Attached is the study (PDF)

Linkages_Study.pdf

-The Rapid will hold a public meeting Thursday, October 29, at 6:30 pm to discuss its federal obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act for the Silver Line. This is a formality to have inline just in case a 2010(?) voter initiative passes to fund and unlock federal money. The meeting will be held at Tommy Brann's, 4157 S. Division.

-The Rapid is also commencing a mater planning process for public transit in the service area. A large outreach program will begin later this year with workshops at various suburban locations and Grand Rapids. A list of locations and dates are on www.rapidtmp.org

Edited by Rizzo
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Transit Potpourri:

-Check out www.transitmeansmore.org to see a group of people uniting to develop transit options in eastern Ottawa County. The same group also commissioned a study with some surprising results which suggests strong support for public transit in this suburban area.

-Consultants Nelson/Nygaard completed one of a couple of studies for the West Michigan Transit Linkages project. Creating the links will be an up hill battle. Good community support, but political suspicion and funding issues exists.

Attached is the study (PDF)

Linkages_Study.pdf

-The Rapid will hold a public meeting Thursday, October 29, at 6:30 pm to discuss its federal obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act for the Silver Line. This is a formality to have inline just in case a 2010(?) voter initiative passes to fund and unlock federal money. The meeting will be held at Tommy Brann's, 4157 S. Division.

-The Rapid is also commencing a mater planning process for public transit in the service area. A large outreach program will begin later this year with workshops at various suburban locations and Grand Rapids. A list of locations and dates are on www.rapidtmp.org

Thank you Rizzo. I actually saw this from a link on Transit Initiatives Facebook's post.

http://www.facebook.com/transit.initiatives

~John

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Rizzo,

After hearing the President of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association speak at an event last week, I'm interested in pursing the West Michigan Rail idea further again. (GR - Muskegon - Holland) He is a very passionate person and he really motivated me to look into this once again.

I spoke briefly with the Nelson/Nygaard consultants about it last time they were in town, and I'm going to be connecting with some of the other players that may be interested in the next few months.

Any interest in getting together soon to discuss? I think there are still some questions out there that need to be answered regarding feasibility. If we can get together to concretely get these questions on paper, identify the correct players, and identify some action steps, we can determine if pursuing this is still a good option.

I was thinking a "rail-drinks" type atmosphere where anyone who would like to join the discussion could join. I believe you guys did this before.

Thoughts?

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Rizzo,

After hearing the President of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association speak at an event last week, I'm interested in pursing the West Michigan Rail idea further again. (GR - Muskegon - Holland) He is a very passionate person and he really motivated me to look into this once again.

I spoke briefly with the Nelson/Nygaard consultants about it last time they were in town, and I'm going to be connecting with some of the other players that may be interested in the next few months.

Any interest in getting together soon to discuss? I think there are still some questions out there that need to be answered regarding feasibility. If we can get together to concretely get these questions on paper, identify the correct players, and identify some action steps, we can determine if pursuing this is still a good option.

I was thinking a "rail-drinks" type atmosphere where anyone who would like to join the discussion could join. I believe you guys did this before.

Thoughts?

Contact me through private messenger if that is available or [email protected]

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

So I'm looking at the peer analysis results for last year's Rapid operations. It compares 10 cities.

http://www.ridethera...news?newsID=157

Page 16 is interesting. While our transit system services an area nearly *twice* the population of Lansing or Madison, ridership is considerably less than either city. Can these ridership figures be explained simply as characteristics of college towns, and if so why does Ann Arbor have nearly half the ridership as Lansing?

GR has its share of colleges too which in aggregate student/faculty population should rival MSU or UW, or maybe its that GR's colleges are more commuter oriented? I dunno, just musing out loud. Any take on this?

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Being a recent Michigan Alum, I can speak towards the low numbers in Ann Arbor...

First, the campus is very nicely interwoven with the city. If you live on central campus, you can easily walk to anything you need. This obviously reduces bus ridership...

Secondly, and the #1 reason in my book, is nearly all of the students use the blue Michigan buses to get around campus. These buses do not keep ridership tallies.

I did ride the AATA while living in Ann Arbor and that is because I did not live on or near campus. I was about 3 miles away from North Campus (Where my program was) and when my car wasn't functioning or I didn't want to risk the parking ticket, I would walk to the bus stop and take it in. Not sure how it is now, but a few years ago (2005) your student ID only got you free rides on a very select number of routes (mainly Park N Ride Routes) so that could have an affect on reduced ridership numbers also. (I do believe all AATA routes are free for students now)

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So I'm looking at the peer analysis results for last year's Rapid operations. It compares 10 cities.

http://www.ridethera...news?newsID=157

Page 16 is interesting. While our transit system services an area nearly *twice* the population of Lansing or Madison, ridership is considerably less than either city. Can these ridership figures be explained simply as characteristics of college towns, and if so why does Ann Arbor have nearly half the ridership as Lansing?

GR has its share of colleges too which in aggregate student/faculty population should rival MSU or UW, or maybe its that GR's colleges are more commuter oriented? I dunno, just musing out loud. Any take on this?

I looked up the stats on this once. MSU has about 3.5 Million riders vs. just under 1 Million GVSU riders (?) But also, just more people ride the bus in Lansing than GR.

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I looked up the stats on this once. MSU has about 3.5 Million riders vs. just under 1 Million GVSU riders (?) But also, just more people ride the bus in Lansing than GR.

Yes, opponents of any future 'Silver Line' initiative can point to this. Also, as has been said before, this area has no bad traffic problems. It's a tough one-two to overcome.

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