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damus

Light rail vs. bus rapid transit vs. buses

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I live in a part of the country (Southeastern CT) that could see some phenominal growth in the years to come. We already have 2 of the world's largest casinos, but may soon have 2 large movie studios, one of which will contain a theme park that will supposedly outdraw the Magic Kingdom by several million visitors a year. The locations of these attractions would all fall along a light rail "loop" around the region I envisioned that would also serve the shoreline. I also could see a light rail system working in the nearby "city" providing a free shuttle loop between two attractions while servicing an area of the city prime for revitalization.

I am disheartened by editorials in local papers.... They advocate traditional bus transit. I have not heard of any serious proposals for light rail in years, now and then someone is quoted as saying "monorail", but that would require new lines and there are existing out of use rail lines along 66% of my dreamnt up loop line.

http://www.lightrailnow.org/

BRT vs LRT - What's the difference?

Bus Rapid Transit is Better than Light Rail

I have always felt there is a stigma associated with buses, and that they're not the best option for long distance regional transportation anyways. Light rail now actually provides figures showing that light rail transit is cheaper in the long run and provides the benefit of encouraging transit oriented development that buses wouldn't. The data can be found here. Anyone have any thoughts as to what I can do to increase awareness of light rail's benefits?

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LRT vs. BRT really depends. BRT can be implemented by simply marking off bus only lanes on the road and adding some street funiture, suches kiosks and clear bus stop markers which can be inexpensive and easy to retrofit to existing infrastructure but may be affected by vehicular traffic. However a very high quality BRT can also be implimented complete with stations, guide ways on deticated right-of-ways, to acheive LRT like performance. However the pricetag for such a BRT system is just as expensive as an all out LRT. In that case an LRT would be a better investment as it is more robust and has a higher capacity than BRT.

Is LRT Better than BRT of vice versa? I think it depends on size and population density of the Metro area. A small to mid size but dense metro area could do just fine with a BRT as it is cheaper and easier to install. But a large metro area say with a population of 1.5 million or greater with urban sprawl, LRT would be a better choice as they can handle the capacity. Plus with higher maximum speeds than BRT, LRT can also function as commuter lines connecting the 'burbs to the core city as well as slower street cars lines serving a downtown.

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Is LRT Better than BRT of vice versa? I think it depends on size and population density of the Metro area. A small to mid size but dense metro area could do just fine with a BRT as it is cheaper and easier to install. But a large metro area say with a population of 1.5 million or greater with urban sprawl, LRT would be a better choice as they can handle the capacity. Plus with higher maximum speeds than BRT, LRT can also function as commuter lines connecting the 'burbs to the core city as well as slower street cars lines serving a downtown.

How about a region with a high immigration rate (chinese seem to avoid cars at all costs around here), several "cities under one roof" including 2 casinos that draw close to 50,000 visitors a day on peak days and not too much fewer on off peak days, a theme park that is expected to draw Disney numbers and which is involved in a major development that stands to create 22,500 jobs just on the main site, another possible smaller theme park, the beaches, and a historic touristy town that I think could benefit from a light rail stop and a good bus system connecting it to all the tourist traps there. Also there's about 15,000 or so jobs in one area (Pfizer, Electric Boat) right along a barely used rail line. Am I crazy to think that this area (county population still less than 300k) that is going to see somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 billion in private commercial development in the next few years is a prime spot for a light rail system that would minimize sprawl?

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We have been so conditioned to thinking buses and traqms that we forget to look at the system design itself. That is far more important than whether the vehicle has rubber or steel tires.

BRT can be simply regular busses on regular roads, traveling with traffic. They can also be run in their own lanes or on dedicatedroads, and there are also systems in place which actually guide the bus (such as the Leeds guided bus and the O-bahn in Australia). Light Rail can run in the street with traffic, or on it's own right of way. Alweg monorails can't run in traffic, but they can be built elevated and run above the street. So what you need to do first is to figure out what you want, THEN figure out what the best option is.

Also, be careful about existing rights-of-way. They sound tempting, but in many cases they are abandoned for a reason. Don't let the romance or convenience of existing rights-of-way trick you into poor routing - you will loose more than you save. And remember that you have to upgrade and maintain that track, too, so it may not be that much cheaper.

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Also, be careful about existing rights-of-way. They sound tempting, but in many cases they are abandoned for a reason. Don't let the romance or convenience of existing rights-of-way trick you into poor routing - you will loose more than you save. And remember that you have to upgrade and maintain that track, too, so it may not be that much cheaper.

The big advantage of the preexisting and under-used right of way is that it goes through developed or soon to be developed areas right along the river. I'm not as familiar with the shoreline communities, but I know from working in the area that unused tracks cut through the center of Pfizer's Groton, CT campus. Look here where the big river is. There is the Providence & Worcester line on one side and the New England Central line on the other. Both are used, but sparingly. The New England Central line cuts through the Mohegan Reservation, and the P&W cuts through the proposed Utopia project.

Route 2 will probably have to be completed someday and it would be smart to secure right of way for rapid transit alongside the highway's right of way. This would serve Foxwoods, the proposed North Stonington Studios, the beach town of Westerly, RI, and any other stop the local communities would like for say, a commuter line stop. The shoreline from Westerly to old Stonington to Mystic/Noank, to Groton Long point is moderately developed. Mystic is a huge tourist trap that would benefit from a good bus line and a rapid transit stop, and Groton Long point's stop could be right in between two of the region's biggest employers (Electic Boat and Pfizer) and isn't too far from Uconn's Avery Point campus. It makes sense, and once the investment in the light rail or commuter rail is made, it's cheaper to maintain and ends up costing less per passenger than a bus sytem.

I do not think that traditional buses are good for long distance trips, so the real question is use mostly existing right of way for rails or creating new right of way for buses.

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Long Distance rail and Light Rail are usually not a good mix in this country due to regulations. By the time you get a light rail vehicle up to those specs it gets costly and heavy. Particularly with talk of restoring passenger service from Worcester, you may want to have dedicated tracks. Yes it is much more difficult and more expensive upfront, but if you can keep the system totally seperate then you gain from the ability to chose what kind of vehicles you want.

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This debate has been raging in Minneapolis/St. Paul about the central corridor line. Shoudl they built LRT or BRT?

The thinking is that LRT is a longer term solution and the price tag isn't that outrageous considering that it connects two large central city cores via a University with 50,000 students. And also since ridership on the existing LRT has exploded while bus ridership has increased only modestly. People like the nostalgia and "newness" of riding on a rail track.

I've been on streetcar systems, LRT systems, subways, and bus systems. The problem here in Salzburg, Austria is that the trolleybus system only has dedicated bus lanes in certain areas where the street is wide enough to accomodate a dedicated lane. The other day, a lady's car stalled in a "one lane" area and traffic was backed up for a couple miles. A normally 10 minute bus ride took 30 minutes. They also seem to close the Autobahn for minor work and re-route the traffic through the city center. (this is incredibly stupid).

Because of this, there is a big push to build a subway system in Salzburg. The thing with streetcars is that they have to stop with traffic with thraffic as well... unless they alter the traffic light patterns like they did with the Hiawatha LRT in the Twin Cities so that the trains don't have to stop until they get downtown. This can be a good alternative.

But all in all, I'd say LRT is the better, longer term solution. Especially since people like riding trains more than busses. They don't stink, they don't get stuck in traffic, and they're quieter (when run on electricity)

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Every system has advantages and disadvantages. I think you have to start from a service perspective first. Decide whether you want something grade separated (no traffic interference, but more engineering), quick on and off and high visability, or cheap but more as a subsidised transit than an automotive alternative. For speed and heavy volume you want something grade separated, either monorail/beam or subway, for the high visability and quick on and off with close stops you want light rail or busses running in dedicated roads. Only choose conventional bus transit or priority lane bus transit when you are less concerned with getting people out of cars and more concerned with giving more people access to transit.

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I think density plays a big part in all of this. If you don't have enough of it I don't think all of your transportation options will work very well. A city can have a large population but if it doesn't have density it's still hard to get some of your public transportation options to work for you.

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