All Aboard!

Ostrava Boardings portlandtransport’s Ostrava Boardings photoset

One of the implications of the ubiquity of streetcars here in the Czech Republic is that they are more casual about their platforms.

In the first photo you can a large group crowding on what is about a four-foot strip of pavement next to the center-running streetcar rails. I believe the shift was just getting off at a nearby factory. There appear to be police present to help with crossing of what is a fairly busy arterial street.

In the second photo there isn’t even a platform. There is simply a zone striped yellow with the word “TRAM” in the travel lane. When the vehicle shows up, riders cross the street to board it. I assume that regulations require car drivers to keep clear of this zone when a streetcar is present.

A far cry from all the design standards for MAX stations and Streetcar platforms in Portland!

6 responses to “All Aboard!”

  1. One of the big reasons we have such strict requirements here for design (and a reason the structures are expensive) is for the Americans with Disabilities Act. I wonder how accessisble their system is without being able to roll on with a wheel chair?

    I suppose one option to make this work in pdx would be to have the trains have a system like the busses have with built in wheelchair lifts. Do you see anything like that over there?

  2. No question that there is nothing like ADA here, and I’m certainly not suggesting that the U.S. should abandon ADA. There are busses with lifts, but it is not anywhere near 100%. In fact the lift busses have a special symbol on the front.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure that we don’t way overengineer some of these things!

  3. I think what it does show is that we can get creative with cost-savings…

    In areas where streetcar service is quite frequent (I don’t think Portland is there yet…) all that may be needed is the proper curb extension without having to have a full shelter, which would save on capital and maintenance costs. This is especially true if there is a nearby business with an awning that wouldn’t mind a few extra folks milling about – coffee stand, perhaps?

    And in areas where service is frequent most of the day, a NextBus display (and power and communications, etc.) wouldn’t be necessary.

    Shelters and NextBus can always be added later where demand merits. Of course, I like having both, but if the point is to get a streetcar built for minimal $$$, every bit helps.

    – Bob R.

  4. Cheaper is often not more cost effective. I appreciate that Portland Streetcar has made the extra effort (gone to the extra expense) of making its stops attractive, safe, open to all, and in general a place where I don’t mind standing for a few minutes. Design standards are important when you want to attract other investments to the alignment and make the line something that residents and visitors value and remember.

  5. Instead of saying ‘cheaper” how about another term: “pocketbook-friendly”;”high-benefit ratio”; rapid payback scenario”; etc. Whatever it is, lowering the expense and increasing the overall benefits to the city is a win-win situation.

    It would be less expensive to install a system when a roadway is being built than to retrofit it; less expensive to not have to acquire new right of way; less expensive to have fully utilized vehicles; less expensive to have trouble free components; maybe, someday, when materials are reengineered, it will take less labor to construct a system. I realize that there are qualifications and exceptions to these statements–I’m just suggesting some things to help this concept towards cost effectiveness. Feel free to add some more.

  6. Bob R. says:
    “a nearby business with an awning that wouldn’t mind a few extra folks milling about – coffee stand, perhaps?”

    I think the closest example of this in Portland is a coffee stand at 5th and Everett. The stand is open to the outside and provides a good view of arriving buses (the actual stop still has a standard Portland Mall shelter. There are other examples of businesses that serve as waiting areas (for example, at PGE Park) but they are not as accessible and connected to the stop/station. It gets bonus points because the space was taken from an auto shop.

    Now if only I had realized that the Safeway porch at 10th/Columbia can serve as a replacement shelter for the stop across the street…

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