Rapid Streetcar

A quick shout out to a post over at “The Overhead Wire” blog that talks about the topic of rapid streetcar.

It posits that Streetcars with greater stop spacing could serve as more cost effective alternatives to Light Rail, and references the proposed Lake Oswego line as an example.

[Bob, if you dig through the linked report far enough, I think you’ll find the answer to your question about the turning radius spec for our Streetcar vehicles.]

59 Comments

59 Responses to Rapid Streetcar

  1. Ron Swaren
    July 11, 2007 at 11:06 pm Link

    I’ve said it all along. We have got to get the costs down somehow. Or else substitute a vehicle like the GOMACO as mainly a tourist draw. In Europe there are yards full of old streetcars and rail cars–just waiting for an idealistic restorer. There should even be room for improvement (cost reduction) in the Streetcar with it now being built here. Sure redesigning it is a pain in the a–, but the more affordable it is the greater should be the demand from small and midsized towns. Very important if you want your business to thrive.

    Seems like laying the track could be cheaper. I wonder if one could redesign the railbed to use less concrete (by honeycombing, maybe) and then prefab sections on an assembly line. One might not get the nice curves that Central has, but these wouldn’t be needed on long stretches out to the burbs.

    As far as speed my understanding has been that the Skoda is governed down to 25 for central city use, but the vehicle is actually capable of 70 kph (45 mph). I do think it should be redesigned to carry more passengers–don’t exactly know how. Less door space? Extra section? Another inconvenience is that extra cars may need to be purchased to accomodate peak travel times, but these should last longer if they are not used as much the rest of the day. I suppose alternating cars would balance the wear and tear out equally in the stable of vehicles.

    For linking the smaller towns —EG, Lake Oswego to Oregon City or to Milwaukie–streetcar should be fine: MAX would be overkill.

  2. zilfondel
    July 12, 2007 at 12:36 am Link

    Extra section would work; Europe has streetcars with 4-5+ articulated sections. In some places they also run them in trains, with 2 coupled together.

    Some photos of nicer streetcars in Europe:
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=145721

    ^ Bombardier makes the really sweet Eurotram that is in widespread use, including Strasbourg and Milan and Porto, among others. Apparently they use a modular design, and I’m sure that Inekon could do the same (although if they didn’t design it for easy expansion from the start, it will be much more expensive to do so in the future).

  3. Joseph
    July 12, 2007 at 5:57 am Link

    I agree with Ron that today a full-fledged light-rail line to run between Milwaukie, LO, and Tigard would be overkill, but I believe it would be heavily used by 2050 and a streetcar line might not be enough to meet the demand at that time (although creative solutions such as doubling- or tripling-up the streetcars may be sufficient for decades to come). However, light rail along 99E from Portland to Oregon City would be appropriate well before 2020 and should be a priority, same as light rail through the I-5 corridor to Wilsonville.

    I’ve also seen suggestions to use the rail line from Tigard through LO across the Oak Grove trestle to Milwaukie as a commuter rail line. Implementation of this concept would probably greatly increase ridership levels on the planned light rail line along 99E between Portland and the Milwaukie transit center. I, for one, would hop on a train in LO so I wouldn’t have to use Hwy 43 to get downtown.

  4. Chris Smith
    July 12, 2007 at 6:26 am Link

    The issue with longer streetcars (or trains of multiple vehicles, which is probably what Portland would do first) is the impact on the streetscape. Longer or multiple platforms would require parking removal in amounts that would have been unacceptable when we first planned Streetcar.

    I wonder though with the success of Streetcar if neighborhoods would be more willing to entertain that discussion now.

  5. Ross Williams
    July 12, 2007 at 12:32 pm Link

    I agree with Ron that today a full-fledged light-rail line to run between Milwaukie, LO, and Tigard would be overkill, but I believe it would be heavily used by 2050 and a streetcar line might not be enough to meet the demand at that time

    I think the studies of the Milwaukie corridor showed heavy ridership even in the short run. Milwaukie acts as a transportation hub for a much wider area. By 2050 an extension to Oregon City from Milwaukie, Clackamas Town Center or both will be easily justified.

  6. Nick theoldurbanist
    July 12, 2007 at 3:33 pm Link

    “I’ve said it all along. We have got to get the costs down somehow. Or else substitute a vehicle like the GOMACO as mainly a tourist draw.”

    >>>> GOMACO-style is what should have been done in the first place. Put a regular bus line on 10th and 11th Aves to handle the traffic, and build a few heritage trolley lines in other places. With a GOMACO-style line, you can CHARGE to ride it, and it adds a lot more charm-wise than the sterile things we have now.

    There would have been much less (or maybe none) of a stink, I think, with heritage lines.
    But no, the railheads wanted to rationlize streetcars as a modern form of transit. Sorry, the only “modern” forms of rail transit are heavy rapid transit or commuter rail.

  7. Bob R.
    July 12, 2007 at 4:06 pm Link

    “But no, the railheads wanted to rationlize streetcars as a modern form of transit. Sorry, the only “modern” forms of rail transit are heavy rapid transit or commuter rail.”

    Please see my reply to your comments in the Maintaining Portland’s Streets: Myth Busting thread.

    Sorry, Nick, but the Portland Streetcar carries 3X the ridership per route mile as TriMet’s busiest bus line (assuming your characterization of the “excellent” bus service on 82nd Ave. is correct). To substitute bus service, even assuming the same level of ridership (doubtful), would require many more operators and would require MORE public subsidy than the current streetcar.

    As to why Heavy Rail and Commuter Rail get to be “modern” under your hierarchy, but Streetcars don’t, that’s a very odd and arbitrary distinction.

    – Bob R.

  8. Nick
    July 13, 2007 at 9:42 am Link

    I was talking about the portion of the #72 that runs along 82nd–it seems to be much more heavily travelled than the portion that runs along Killingsworth to Swan Island. I understand that the route as a whole operates at a PROFIT! And the service levels ARE excellent: 10 min. base and SATURDAY headways. 6-8 mins. in the PM and 15 min. to after 10 PM.

    And it is not a fair comparison to the streetcar:
    1) The streetcar is so hyped to death so the tourists think it’s cute; nobody ever hyped the #72. 2) Practically no one pays on the streetcar–Fareless Sq. or no–so how can you compare a route where almost everyone rides for free to a route where EVERYONE pays? People will jump on the streetcar to ride for a few blocks instead of walking. A bus line would have provided basic transportation without the fluff, and without the fare evasion past Fareless Square.

  9. Bob R.
    July 13, 2007 at 10:27 am Link

    I was talking about the portion of the #72 that runs along 82nd–it seems to be much more heavily travelled than the portion that runs along Killingsworth to Swan Island.

    The portion of the #72 that runs along 82nd, including the Clackamas Town Center Transit Center, has an average of 12,049 weekday boardings (FY2006) over 9.25 miles — 1,300 boardings per route mile, still less than half of the Portland Streetcar’s 2,700+ boardings per route mile.

    As for Fareless Square, TriMet’s budget CAC has recommended a re-evaluation of Fareless Square (PDF), so sometime in the near future all interested parties should get their say.

    – Bob R.

  10. djk
    July 13, 2007 at 11:39 am Link

    The streetcar is so hyped to death so the tourists think it’s cute;

    Good point. The streetcar benefits greatly from the fact that transit riders have no minds or opinions of their own. I’ve never met a tourist who couldn’t decide for himself whether a particular form of transit was desireable or not.

    Just imagine how poorly the streetcar would do if people weren’t jumping on board because of the hype, and just, say, rode it because it took them someplace they wanted to go.

  11. zilfondel
    July 13, 2007 at 11:49 am Link

    In Portugal, the city of Porto uses a streetcar vehicle for their lightrail system (which they call a light metro, because it has many grade-separations and underground stations. It was done very cost-effectively, too.

  12. Lenny Anderson
    July 13, 2007 at 1:43 pm Link

    I ride the 72 very frequently, and its ridership is a great cross section of Portland, if not the world. For many young people, mothers with children and elderly, it is their only way to get around.
    TriMet will be reconfiguring the line in September so its busiest segment, 82nd Avenue, will have 6 minute service in the afternoon. The less busy Cully to Swan Island end will have to do with 12 minute frequency…not too shabby.
    What Streetcar and MAX do, in addition to providing frequent and reliable service to many without cars, is attract many more riders who have a choice…should I drive or take MAX? Over the past 10 years in my line of work…encouraging Swan Islanders to use transit, etc….I don’t know how many times I have heard it said, “I’ll never take a bus, but love MAX.”
    We clearly see that in the numbers on Interstate MAX vs the old 5 Interstate bus.

  13. Lenny Anderson
    July 13, 2007 at 1:59 pm Link

    MAX is actually modeled on the U-bahns of most German cities…overhead wires, exclusive ROWs mostly on the surface…really just oversized streetcars (Stassenbahns). The “U” comes from the fact that most, not all, go into tunnels in the central city. MAX, for now, is an “ohne U-bahn”…without the tunnel. Only Berlin has a true third-rail “heavy rail” type subway.
    S-bahns also run with overhead wires, are operated by the national railway company (state owned) and are their commuter rail system. These cars are wider. In Frankfurt, Munich and Stutgart and other cities, some S-bahn lines are in tunnels, sharing stations with the U-bahn.
    These cities also have streetcars…small vehicles operating just like ours in the street; slower, shorter, narrower, and in the view of many, friendlier. There was strong opposition in Frankfurt to the construction of the east/west U-bahn line as it replaced several very lovely strassenbahn lines.
    The larger cities have multiple U-bahn, S-bahn and Strassenbahn lines, and many fewer bus lines than is typical here.

  14. Nick
    July 13, 2007 at 5:17 pm Link

    “The portion of the #72 that runs along 82nd, including the Clackamas Town Center Transit Center, has an average of 12,049 weekday boardings (FY2006) over 9.25 miles — 1,300 boardings per route mile, still less than half of the Portland Streetcar’s 2,700+ boardings per route mile.”

    >>>> I reiterate: You can’t compare a line which almost everyone does not pay to a line where everyone has to pay. AND, the #72 makes money for the system, instead of being a 2 million dollar drain on the city’s finances.

  15. Nick
    July 13, 2007 at 5:24 pm Link

    “We clearly see that in the numbers on Interstate MAX vs the old 5 Interstate bus.”

    >>>> Like I’ve said before, Lenny, if you can get away without paying….I read something somewhere a little while ago about Trimet finally doing some enforcement action on I-MAX–it looks like fare evasion was rampant.

    Also, the demos of North Portland are changing, and gas prices probably have something to do with this. Don’t be so fast to give all the credit to MAX.

  16. Ron Swaren
    July 13, 2007 at 6:44 pm Link

    Ross says:
    “By 2050 an extension to Oregon City from Milwaukie, Clackamas Town Center or both will be easily justified.”

    This is goood news. The year 2050 will mark the 500th anniversary of rail technology replacing ordinary roads, since “wagonways” using wooden rails were invented in Germany c. 1550. And it will be almost the 250th anniversary of rail locomotive technology, as well.

    Well, I had to go down and look at the Milwaukie TC, and burned about an eighth of a gallon of gas there and back. True, as Mr. Newman says it was a fairly busy TC, but how many people are going to and from Portland City Center I couldn’t tell. The biggest group (six, I think) got on the 34 to River Rd. However, my next unofficial sample should be conducted earlier than 5:30 PM.

    What I would like to know is of those going north from Milwaukie TC how many will be going to eastside and then downtown vs. how many would go to the westside, such as to OHSU or LO? North of the Milwaukie TC I just don’t see the potential for that many new riders until one gets to the Brooklyn area. And Brooklyn is within such close proximity to downtown I just can’t see the sense in having a big MAX vehicle to get them the remaining 2-3 miles. Don’t they ride bikes? And a bus connecting that distance certainly wouldn’t wear our very fast or use much fuel.

    Back to 2050: We don’t have a clue as to what lies ahead, except there will be more people and they will still move around from place to place. I think an interconnecting rapid transit web might be more appropriate than a radiating design. I do believe that within ten years all of our present material science knowledge will be completely stood on its head. Likewise with energy and propulsive systems. Personally I keep thinking about the long proven technology of sending tubes through vacuum lines, such as offices have long used to send papers. Here’s a thought: an adequately sized clear plastic tube through which a tubular vehicle carrying people at upwards of 150 mph, connects major population centers in the Portland area. It could be powered by an underwater turbine engine placed in the rapidly flowing Columbia River just under the I-5 bridges. Downtown Portland to Vancouver in 3 minutes, but get there before the bunco parlors close!

  17. Ross Williams
    July 13, 2007 at 8:59 pm Link

    how many people are going to and from Portland City Center I couldn’t tell.

    But, the ridership studies could. There is a reason for doing those studies, peoples intuitive impressions are often wrong, as I think yours are here.

    North of the Milwaukie TC I just don’t see the potential for that many new riders until one gets to the Brooklyn area

    I believe the plans call for a large park and ride at Tacoma. But I think you are ignoring other destinations both near Brooklyn, such as the Fred Meyer HQ, and in the Central Eastside that will be served.

    Don’t they ride bikes?

    Are you planning to drop off all the riders from Milwaukie and give them bicycles? The fact is the last mile of every trip is only one mile long.

  18. Adron
    July 15, 2007 at 1:19 am Link

    For linking the smaller towns —EG, Lake Oswego to Oregon City or to Milwaukie–streetcar should be fine: MAX would be overkill.

    I don’t see why MAX would be overkill. It’s cheaper generally, carries a zillion more people at much faster speeds, and is of a higher manufacturing quality than the streetcar. In addition MAX is much more quit. Probably when the Streetcar gets up in age it will most likely prove to be less reliable and more costly in maintenance than MAX too.

    Just my guess from the manufacturing differences.

  19. EvergreenTransitFan
    July 15, 2007 at 10:00 am Link

    I liked how there is a suggestion to use Rapid Streetcar in Kansas City to carry out the will of the voters on Light Rail, but more economically. The KCATA is for Bus Rapid Transit, but they are going ahead with some of the planning for the citizen-initiated Light Rail line passed on the 7th try last November. They called the concept budget engineering. An example, although not a streetcar, is the Music City Star in Nashville. Negotiations with CSX and other Class I railroads seem to go nowhere in Nashville, so what did they do? They found a short-line that they were planning a commuter rail route on anyway, offered money for track improvements. That was the majority of the first leg of the Music City Star’s capitol improvements. The coaches are used from Chicago, and locomotives are used from Amtrak, and in the case of the former, just before they were retired, they had been given a rebuild. Railcars sure last a long time, like the METRA bi-levels. They keep finding new homes after METRA retires them now. MARC in Maryland, VRE in Virginia(they will probably be buying more, new and used, as SOUND TRANSIT might be needing their cars back soon), and Nashville.

    http://www.lightrailnow.org/features/f_kc_2007-05a.htm

    One idea for streetcars in Kansas City called for some used PCC cars that a collector in Pennsylvania has, Turns out, they were originally built for, Kansas City! That might be a tough sell with ADA, but Philadelphia put some of their PCC Cars back into service, and used wheelchair lifts from buses being retired to accomodate the ADA.

  20. Erik Halstead
    July 15, 2007 at 6:14 pm Link

    Over the past 10 years in my line of work…encouraging Swan Islanders to use transit, etc….I don’t know how many times I have heard it said, “I’ll never take a bus, but love MAX.”

    If TriMet actually spent money towards making the bus comfortable and enjoyable, that opinion would go away. Seattle and Vancouver, BC proves it EVERY SINGLE DAY. So does Eugene’s LTD and many other cities that properly invest in bus service.

    TriMet spends but a pittance on its bus system, as to make it so unbearable that people claim to “want” MAX because TriMet flat out refuses to invest or even consider improving bus service out of fear that people would actually see no need to spend 10X the money on LRT.

    If TriMet just spent one year’s capital budget entirely on bus service, we could have hundreds of low floor, hybrid articulated busses that would increase capacity, reduce fuel expense, improve reliability, and modernize the fleet. All without hiring a single new employee.

    In year two, spend the budget on new bus stations and stops, streamlining routes, ensuring that Opticom is installed and functioning on all major streets, installing the on-board stop announcement/readerboard system, improving fare collection, and installing electronic arrival signs at all significant stops.

    In year three, purchase a fleet of smaller neighborhood busses to extend service to un/under-served areas.

    In just three years, transit service to the ENTIRE region could be improved, instead of building just one six mile LRT line along a freeway. And the federal match for new bus replacements is more than a LRT project too.

  21. Ross Williams
    July 15, 2007 at 7:32 pm Link

    If TriMet actually spent money towards making the bus comfortable and enjoyable, that opinion would go away.

    That is complete BS. Anyone who has used both MAX and buses on a regular basis knows that. The MAX is just a much more pleasant experience. And that has nothing to do with the quality of the buses.

    Seattle and Vancouver, BC proves it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    Well, no they don’t. There are plenty of people who use buses in Portland. There are also people who won’t use buses, who do use MAX. And that has been shown to be true repeatedly all over the country.

  22. EvergreenTransitFan
    July 15, 2007 at 8:49 pm Link

    We don’t have enough rail options to prove the bus is better. King County Metro has a good portion of it’s weekday routes be tailored to suburban rush hour, peak-flow, with just a few trips. A few of them, like the 311-Duvall-Seattle, 214 North Bend-Snoqualmie-Seattle, and until it was cut back to an Auburn-Seattle route, the 152 Enumclaw-Seattle route. Supposedly their cost per rider was $5 more than the $2 fare. The all-day routes in Seattle were doing good until I-695 passed and the Suburban cities excercised their majority on the County Council to make sure they did not get the brunt of the cuts. My neighborhood has several routes, and two routes in 2000 were hit hard. The 50-West Seattle/White Center, a rare East-West without going to Downtown Seattle route was cut outright. The 39-Beacon Hill, which serves the VA Medical Center, lost Sunday Service, and all service after 6pm, we barely got that back and it took awhile. The 7, which some estimate might make money, was pretty much not touched. The fare is $1.25-$1.50 for the 7, and the Cost per rider on Seattle routes was at the time around $2 per rider. THe $3+ cost per rider that often gets cited in the state summary is an average of KCM’s nearly 300 routes.

    One thing I noticed in Washington D.C, is that contrary to what I heard from some anti-rail people in Seattle, D.C still has a good bus system and they are improving it too. Even the buses that have not been replaced have had overhauls that include AC, and electronic next-stop anouncements. They have the DC Circulator, which is a partnership between DcDOT and WMATA, using Van Hool Low Floor buses(even lower than New Flyer), and there is also Metro Extra, a Rapid Bus project that will run on 7th and Georgia Avenues, from Downtown to Silver Spring Metro. I went there on the Red Line while I was there, that place was Bus City. Meeting Metro trains running about every 4 minutes during rush hour, plus MARC COmmuter trains.

    Also in Vancouver B.C, the B-Line bus routes are on their way to being replaced by the Canada Line(Automated Metro, but not exactly SkyTrain technology, made by Rotem of Korea), and Evergreen Line(Light Rail).

  23. Nick
    July 15, 2007 at 9:12 pm Link

    “That is complete BS. Anyone who has used both MAX and buses on a regular basis knows that. The MAX is just a much more pleasant experience.”

    >>>> Speak for your self, Ross. MAX sucks, in many ways.

  24. Nick
    July 15, 2007 at 9:24 pm Link

    “We don’t have enough rail options to prove the bus is better.”

    >>>> The point is: Seattle is doing it all with buses, except for ST Commuter carrying a paltry 6000 riders per day with a huge subsidy per rider (as I understand it), despite a MUCH HIGHER DENSITY than Portland.

    So who the hell needed LRT in Portland, except for railfans and Neil G’s contractor cronies?

  25. EvergreenTransitFan
    July 15, 2007 at 10:21 pm Link

    SOUNDER is growing, and the ST Express Bus Routes also have a higher subsidy per rider. The 590-series bus routes run every few minutes during the Peak Hour, but can get stuck in traffic. Also, we are about to see SOUNDER add extra cars in August on two trains, possibly beyond their current 6-7 car lengths, due to a 19 day problem on I-5. It is elevated through Downtown Seattle, and portions of it need expansion joints replaced, which will be done in broad daylight, with it down to one lane. Although the 590s get off the Freeway before the area in question, the traffic jams are forecasted to begin in Tacoma if they cannot get 50% of the trips diverted. Now I am hoping those fears do not come true, as those trips could possibly divert on city streets. If they had the rolling stock I would like to see them add second sections on some of the trains. The bad news is, SOUNDER only has 4 trains Seattle-Tacoma, and the 5th Round trip as well as 1st Reverse trip, are not due until the next service change, problem is, that is in September, co-ordinated with Metro, CT and ST. They have had a few exceptions, like the abrupt start to SOUNDER operations on the Everett route. THe Tacoma Line had a few hickups at first, but has grown pretty good, it had the misfortune to start when Gasoline was at the level of about $1.25-$1.40 per gallon, not the $2.90 to $3.02 we currently have up here.

    I am hoping the WSDOT is wrong on the traffic nightmare for August, but it looks like they are going to do it after the Chevrolet Cup Hydroplane Races(yes, we still have them, the whistles of the turbines and roar of the last piston boat, and I root for the latter, maybe because it is the underdog, maybe because it is one of the newest boats and only one to have the old engine), which draw a big crowd because of the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, which despite reservations due to the crash, are still coming. WSDOT has done their job putting out the warning, it is up to the commuters to head their warning. Now maybe there might be quite a few people willing to stand than get stuck in traffic. The Everett Line might suffer from the fact that King Street Station is on the South edge of Downtown, and people have to walk or take the bus South to catch a northbound train. Not sure if the often suggested station at Broad Street would do anything. Connect it with a Western Ave Streetcar that goes Downtown, but complements the Waterfront Streetcar, it might work.

    Metro Route 99, which is waiting on a new streetcar barn(they cannot park the Melbourne Cars outside, corrosion, plus concerns about the marine air affecting the interior, which is still based on the original woodworking). When I was in Portland a few times, I noticed the modern cars Portland Streetcar uses are parked outside, but that was in mid-day, do they do that overnight as well? Just wondering on that. The stop known as Clam Central Station, at Madison Street, would prove it’s purpose. Yes it is across from one of Ivars’ flagship eateries, the Acres of Clams, but it is also a block and a half from a major transportation node, Pier 52, also known as Colman Dock. Some of the Ferry boats that pull in there are the biggest in the fleet, Jumbo MkIIs Wenatchee and Tacoma on the Bainbridge run, about 200+ cars, nearly 1500-2000 walk-on passengers, Issaquah 130s, Super Class boats(built in 1960s, some of the last car ferries not built by a Puget Sound Shipyard), and Jumbo MkIs(mainly the Walla Walla) on the Bremerton Run, and it can get even busier if Fauntleroy is down, the Vashon gets diverted to Seattle. It can get very busy. There is talk of breaking the current Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth triangle up, and having the Southworth boats run right to Colman Dock. Now a foot ferry would be faster, but we have not been able to get them to work, neither the Public nor Private Sectors have done it. This time the Vashon Foot Ferry is on the chopping block, and the state means it. That would mean more foot passengers getting off at Fauntleroy to catch a Metro Bus because the Monorail was cancelled, and the Monorail Authority had it stop way short of the terminal to even work. Now had a streetcar ever served Fauntleroy? Yeah, 80 years ago.

    Now I wonder what are the grades your streetcars can handle? A group that had ideas for a Waterfront without the Viaduct had a CGI of a Portland Streetcar running from Colman Dock up Madison Street. That is a steep grade, in the old days, it was a Cable Car, and Trolleybus Route 10 currently uses that street. I would rather have an East West connecter in Downtown be a trolleybus, and do it by de-coupling the 11-Madison Park line from the Suburban Route it currently is thru-routed with, and restore the 11 to it’s original terminal(at least from about 10-15 years ago) of Colman Dock, and re-electrify it, and have it’s downtown routing switched from Pike/Pine to Madison/Marion. WSF Long Range Plans call for minimizing the need for a third boat on Bainbridge, and the associated improvements to SR305 that would be part of that to accomodate the auto traffic(which currently uses the shoulder of it as an extra waiting lane if the terminal is full), by enclosing the Solarium Deck(the top deck) of the Jumbo MkIIs, and use that as more walk-on passenger space. Those passengers will have to go somewhere when they get to Colman Dock.

  26. EvergreenTransitFan
    July 15, 2007 at 10:25 pm Link

    WHat I meant by abrupt start on the Everett Line was that they anounced it would be starting 1 week after they made the anouncement in December 2003. There were not promotions, no special event service, the only thing they did was make the first month or two fare free. The Tacoma Line had several promotions, including using the train for special service on Sundays to certain Mariner Games. It was mainly to get the crew familiar, but it also helped let people know it was there. None of that was done for the Everett Line.

  27. James Aslaksen
    July 16, 2007 at 12:27 am Link

    Lenny Anderson said:
    Only Berlin has a true third-rail “heavy rail” type subway.

    Don’t forget Hamburg, Munich, and Nuremberg, three cities which have true third-rail, “heavy rail” systems.

  28. Ross Williams
    July 16, 2007 at 5:43 am Link

    Speak for your self, Ross.

    Well yes that’s all any of us can do, but apparently a large number of riders agree with me. Just to be clear, I like bus and MAX. But there are a significant number of people who will ride MAX or streetcars, who, for whatever reason, won’t take the bus.

  29. Chris Smith
    July 16, 2007 at 7:34 am Link

    The preference for rail is a mathematical fact. In the process of doing the modeling for the Streetcar Loop, Metro analyzed transit ridership in NW Portland after the introduction of the Streetcar and found something like a 20% ridership preference for Streetcar (i.e., Streetcar service attracted 20% more riders than a bus on the same route/schedule).

    Don’t hold me to the 20% number, it could be +/- 5% from that, I’m quoting from memory.

  30. Lenny Anderson
    July 16, 2007 at 12:18 pm Link

    Thanks for the correction on German subways, though my recollection is that the U-bahn in Munich is overhead wire MAX type car.
    The beauty of the MAX type car is it can run as a subway in the central city, it its own ROW to the suburbs and if need be just go down the middle of a street. Portland has yet to do the subway thing, but it will come. Third rail systems have to be completely separated for safety’s sake…very costly.
    MAX isn’t just a better ride, it also has lower costs per ride (Bob R. has done all they work on this over and over again).
    Seattle will only have its first LRT line in a couple of years, so its hard at present to not be on a bus up there.

  31. EvergreenTransitFan
    July 16, 2007 at 4:59 pm Link

    It will soon be about the only thing keeping LINK from opening before the latest scheduled date will be the Beacon Hill Tunnel, which is a little behind schedule because of a tragic construction accident awhile back. It was a big surprise when they broke through the East Portal the first time, because there had not been any notice construction resumed. Right now they are getting ready to drill again, as they are only doing it West to East to avoid impacts on residential areas. Tracks are being installed on just about every segment now. Rapid Streetcar does look cheap compared to LINK, and even cheaper compared to NYC’s Second Ave Subway. Some are using the latter to make the Boston SilverLINE BRT tunnel look cheap.

  32. Erik Halstead
    July 16, 2007 at 9:49 pm Link

    The preference for rail is a mathematical fact. In the process of doing the modeling for the Streetcar Loop, Metro analyzed transit ridership in NW Portland after the introduction of the Streetcar and found something like a 20% ridership preference for Streetcar (i.e., Streetcar service attracted 20% more riders than a bus on the same route/schedule).

    And what was the “preference” options? Was there ever an option of “enhanced” bus service? Or giving potential riders a menu of upgrades to bus service? Or was it “TriMet’s standard bus service” (i.e. non-air conditioned, 17 year old 30′ Gillig Phantom bus (this based upon TriMet’s standard bus assignment for busses in this area), with no bus stop amenities, no bus arrival sign, not even a timetable sign, and no bus stop pullout or curb extension, and having to pay a fare of $1.70 each boarding) vs. an expensive Streetcar that someone else pays for with every amenity built-in up front?

    Of course I’d pick a brick of gold if someone else had to foot the bill.

    On the other hand, if Streetcar only added 20% of the ridership, then the capital expense towards Streetcar should only be 20% that over existing bus service. But as we can clearly see with TriMet’s capital expense towards MAX, MAX gets 90% of the pie and bus only 10%.

  33. Chris Smith
    July 16, 2007 at 9:57 pm Link

    Erik, the buses on the #15 line (which lost ridership to Streetcar) are newer low-floor air-conditioned buses, so I think the comparison is a little fairer than you suggest.

    You’ll probably now rant about the central city getting the better buses, but I believe TriMet’s rationale is to put low-floor vehicles on lines that offer transfer to MAX to facilitate transfers for passengers with mobility devices.

  34. Erik Halstead
    July 16, 2007 at 10:03 pm Link

    That is complete BS. Anyone who has used both MAX and buses on a regular basis knows that. The MAX is just a much more pleasant experience. And that has nothing to do with the quality of the buses.

    Then what does it have to do with, Ross?

    Well, no they don’t. There are plenty of people who use buses in Portland. There are also people who won’t use buses, who do use MAX. And that has been shown to be true repeatedly all over the country.

    First of all, I’d suggest not drinking or using drugs before typing:

    1. Seattle’s transit usage is growing FASTER than Portland, despite being a bus-only system. (I’m talking King County Metro only, not including Pierce Transit, Community Transit, Everett Transit, Intercity Transit or Sound Transit, all of which also had ridership increases but I don’t have the specific numbers.)

    Meanwhile, Portland’s disinvested bus network had a ridership drop in CY2006 despite having everything else in favor for transit ridership gains – increasing fuel costs, congestion, media attention to the environment.

    2. So what if there are people who won’t take the bus? I know plenty of people that don’t ride transit at all – including light rail, commuter rail or subways. Is this an argument to disinvest in a mode of transport – if so, the fact that less than 10% of all trips in the Portland metro area are taken by mass transit should speak for something. Should we build more highways because nine out of ten trips are auto based? Or should we invest in quality transit (regardless of mode) to attract people to ride transit (regardless of mode) throughout the region?

    3. What’s being proven true all over the country? That people ride MAX? The last time I checked, MAX doesn’t serve the country. Well, wait a second:

    Kansas City – Bus Rapid Transit (http://www.kcata.org/media/MAXFacts.htm )
    Holland, Michigan – bus service (http://www.cityofholland.com/Brix?pageID=63 )
    Modesto, California – bus service (http://www.modestoareaexpress.com )
    Birmingham, Alabama – bus service (http://www.bjcta.org/index.php?id=226 )

    Or are you talking about Amtrak, the national passenger railroad network that has a less-than-one-percent market share of all intercity trips?

    Many cities, including the Seattle-Tacoma area and Vancouver, BC have invested into their bus networks, and are gaining ridership, improving transit access, and making a difference for the environment. Portland seems to make excuses for the bus system and continues a policy of disinvestment, in order to engage in social engineering to convince people that light rail is “better” without making bus service remotely comparable.

  35. Steve
    July 17, 2007 at 12:15 am Link

    To the original topic of Rapid Streetcar as a more affordable way to build light rail: the streetcar is good (far better than a bus, whatever Erik thinks) at handling standing passengers. There are several wide doors, a high open space/seat ratio, a floor always level with the curb, a guideway that ensures it always stops right next to the curb, etc. This is great for the current streetcar model (lots of stops, short trips, etc.), but the lack of seats means it loses some of its advantages over, say, a bendy bus for longer trips with fewer stops.

    Obviously, you could put more seats in your long-distance streetcar cars, but then they make worse streetcars when downtown and stopping often.

    None of which is to say a Lake Oswego streetcar isn’t a good idea, especially given the right-of-way issues. But I don’t believe Rapid Streetcar is a silver bullet; a streetcar is not as well optimized for the longer distance express mode as it is for the short hops downtown.

  36. Jason McHuff
    July 17, 2007 at 12:36 am Link

    Regarding buses-vs-trains, really what we need to do is to get rid of the subsidies that encourage people to stay in their cars–“free” parking, pollution clean-up, some road projects, oil defense, etc. Make it so people are attracted to transit in the first place, not because its been glamorized. That way, we can choose modes based more on what makes economic sense.

    P.S. to Eric–your Oregonian letter is making some rounds of bus operators, which I would consider a compliment. I would also like to note that better buses would solve some of the problems with the Portland Mall. However, I’m not seeing the lack of mid-day service that you mention.

  37. Lenny Anderson
    July 17, 2007 at 1:01 pm Link

    Lightrail is for all intents and purposes Rapid Streetcar. The LO opportunity is unique due to the existing but narrow ROW, too narrow for double track LRT operation, but too valuable to give up; i.e. perfectly suited to Streetcar running at higher speeds with fewer stops.
    re buses vs. trains, etc. The only place this is a matter for discussion is in high capacity corridors, and it boils down to BRT vs LRT. In the meantime, let’s look at more signal pre-emption, articulated buses, fewer stops, better access to stops, ticket machines, etc., to make the existing service in key corridors better.
    But please don’t call this BRT until we give it exclusive ROW, at least in the peaks; Limited Service is more accurate label.

  38. Erik Halstead
    July 17, 2007 at 1:19 pm Link

    the streetcar is good (far better than a bus, whatever Erik thinks) at handling standing passengers. There are several wide doors, a high open space/seat ratio, a floor always level with the curb, a guideway that ensures it always stops right next to the curb, etc. This is great for the current streetcar model (lots of stops, short trips, etc.), but the lack of seats means it loses some of its advantages over, say, a bendy bus for longer trips with fewer stops.

    Once again, there are busses out there that have several wide doors, low level floor (except at the very rear of the bus, but doors at curb level without steps).

    But since TriMet refuses to bring one to Portland, most Portland residents will never know unless they travel to Seattle/Tacoma, Vancouver, or Everett, or any one of the dozens of cities that have invested in them and are increasing their bus ridership. Thus the argument that Streetcar is “better”, because the comparison is with a 17 year old Gillig Phantom, not with a modern bus like a New Flyer D60LF or DE60LF-BRT.

  39. Nick
    July 17, 2007 at 5:39 pm Link

    “But since TriMet refuses to bring one to Portland, most Portland residents will never know unless they travel to Seattle/Tacoma, Vancouver, or Everett, or any one of the dozens of cities that have invested in them and are increasing their bus ridership.”

    >>>> That’s because the rail cabal won’t let in anything that could show up MAX (that would not be hard to do, as it is one the worst designed and operated systems I have ever seen).
    As I understand it, there are some pretty powerful people in this town who want rail projects–I guess a lot of people are making money off this.

  40. Bob R.
    July 17, 2007 at 6:30 pm Link

    [MAX] is one the worst designed and operated systems I have ever seen

    You should get out more. :-)

    Anyone care to nominate cities with “worst” transit (rail) service?

    – Bob R.

  41. djk
    July 17, 2007 at 6:39 pm Link

    Nick, if MAX is “one the worst designed and operated systems” you’ve ever seen, do let us know which ones you’ve ridden that were better. I’d be interested in the comparison.

    As for me, I was in San Diego last week. Got around on the Trolley and local buses for several days. I was quite interested in checking out the Trolley since it’s supposed to be a very successful system.

    I respect that the San Diego Trolley is the most economically efficient light rail system in the country, with better than 50% fare recovery. And I loved that I could ride it right to the Mexican border and walk over to Tijuana.

    But in terms of the experience and comfort of riding it? And being able to get to all the places I want to go on it? And ease of boarding and deboarding? And bicycle and wheelchair access?

    It can’t touch MAX.

  42. Nick
    July 17, 2007 at 7:09 pm Link

    “Nick, if MAX is “one the worst designed and operated systems” you’ve ever seen, do let us know which ones you’ve ridden that were better. I’d be interested in the comparison.”

    >>>> Even the old legacy LRT’s in Boston (with the 1897 Boyleston St. subway!), Philadelphia, Cleveland, etc. that I rode were better than MAX. At least they ran in subways and didn’t crawl through downtown like MAX does.

    And then the great job CTA did in Chicago with the L,after WWII, having had to deal with modernizing a very slow and antiquated system.

  43. Jason Barbour
    July 17, 2007 at 8:21 pm Link

    Erik, the buses on the #15 line (which lost ridership to Streetcar) are newer low-floor air-conditioned buses…
    Thus the argument that Streetcar is “better”, because the comparison is with a 17 year old Gillig Phantom…
    It might be the perception of whoever was being surveyed. Route 15 has had the low-floor New Flyers for a long time, but 17 had some of the older Gilligs (1400s/2100s) and Flixibles (1700s/1800s) until recently. 77 is still serviced with the 2100s. Both of the other routes I’ve mentioned run either close to the streetcar or share a portion of the route.
    So, if the perception of the person being surveyed was “bus=Chris’ answer,” they might’ve answered differently than if “bus=Eric’s answer.” I doubt that the perception of the person was surveyed.

  44. Chris Smith
    July 17, 2007 at 8:39 pm Link

    It wasn’t a survey, this was just statistical analysis of ridership data.

  45. EvergreenTransitFan
    July 17, 2007 at 11:39 pm Link

    KCM is finally getting bus age down. Metro inherited a fleet that dated back to the 1940s(With some new buses purchased over the following decades) when they got started in 1973. By the time the trackless trolleys were replaced, they were between 34 and 38 years old. They were so desperate to get extra buses on the road during the first oil shock, they dragged retired buses out of cow pastures!(PCF-Brill 798 was an example). Thanks to Metro missing several attempts at joint orders, the trackless trolleys continued to soldier on, the 1978 AM Generals were finally retired by 2002, after 24 years of service. The 4000 series MAN articulated trackless trolleys are almost replaced. They were purchased around 1986-1987, but give them a year because they were out of service that first year with an axle-hopping problem. On the Diesel Front, the last replacement cycle had complications because one County Government wanted to go with CNG like Pierce Transit was doing, it’s replacement stuck with diesel.

    Now the ultimate case of streetcars lasting a long time, outdoing buses, has to be San Francisco, with the PCC Cars on the F-Line. Some are SF Originals, others were used ones procured from cities that had dropped streetcars, some are used from Philadelphia. They are between 50 and 60 years old, and still going strong, and more might be pulled out of retirement. The streetcar that may hold the longevity record might be San Francisco Muni #1, built in 1912, was running on the F-Line for a while until wiring problems sidelined it, but they want it back running by 2012, in honor of the system’s 100th anniversary.

    http://www.streetcar.org/mim/spotlight/news/torpedo/index.html

  46. Steve
    July 18, 2007 at 12:03 am Link

    Erik writes:

    Once again, there are busses out there that have several wide doors, low level floor (except at the very rear of the bus, but doors at curb level without steps).

    But since TriMet refuses to bring one to Portland, most Portland residents will never know unless they travel to Seattle/Tacoma, Vancouver, or Everett, or any one of the dozens of cities that have invested in them and are increasing their bus ridership. Thus the argument that Streetcar is “better”, because the comparison is with a 17 year old Gillig Phantom, not with a modern bus like a New Flyer D60LF or DE60LF-BRT.

    Erik, I live in Seattle and ride our low-floor buses on a regular basis. They’re no match for a streetcar, especially once they get full. Portland’s streetcar never needs to wait more than about 20 seconds at a stop.* The 71/72/73 (usually the kind of low-floor bendy bus you champion) through Seattle’s U-District regularly wait upwards of a minute at each stop. Stop every few blocks and this adds up.

    I’m not saying the low-floor buses are not good — they work better than high-floor buses in general, and they’re not bad for commuter buses where everyone gets off at the same place — but they’re far, far worse than the streetcar as a frequent on/off short-trip circulator.

    * = Full disclosure: I’ve only ridden Portland’s streetcar on weekends, so I could be missing something.

  47. cd
    July 18, 2007 at 12:44 am Link

    bob — how about cities with exciting, useful transit service?!

    to the wide doors and more room crowd above — curitiba’s buses are HUGE and FAST, they rely on their sci-fi elevated tube stops to get people in, out, and on their way at an incredible rate, combined with equally ridiculous turnover during rush hours . . .

    berlin has an equally well oiled machine with its u and s’s and buses — been covered

    mexico city = the most intense transit system i have seen, subways with rubber wheels [kind of like buses, kind of like subways]. extremely extremely ridiculous turnover, extremely fast and always packed during rush hour, and pretty easy to navigate.

    even cairo, the most terrifying place to WALK in the world has a subway that is pretty well connected.

    hong kong: meet the pinnacle of efficiency and clealiness — underground . . . on an island!!!!! compare to manhattan/nyc — on an island, filthy, and unreliable! i still love it though, because tourists cant handle it.

    and the secret ingredient is . . . people!!!!! with no time or space or money to drive, except berlin. but thats because berlin is trendy/eurpoean and they sort of care about the environment — kind of like portland, except they have a few more people [and they like bikes MORE]. time to shake off that mid-sized city non-sense, tighten up the UGB and start laying some more tracks . . .

    and dont give me any stats. . . i just want to see where people have been and when they have been impressed

  48. EvergreenTransitFan
    July 18, 2007 at 12:11 pm Link

    Montreal uses the same technology as Mexico City, I believe, but there is a reason. Rubber-Tired subway cars were pioneered in France.

    Now one interesting thing in Berlin, most of their hills are artificial, made out of WWII rubble. There tram system was cut-off during the era of the wall, but they are expanding them into the Western part of the city. That and a brand new central train station where the services of the Deutsche Bahn, and others come together. (When the city was divided, there obviously was no central station)

    As for Metro 71/72/73, the only reason why they get the low-floors is that those three are tunnel routes. They need the Hybrid-Drive for the tunnel. The current South Lake Union Streetcar to nowhere could be extended through the Eastlake corridor to the University District(I would go for Husky Stadium where the first LINK station will be in that area), the Eastlake Ave bus routes could be eliminated or re-routed. I would like to see more coverage given to the 25-Laurelhurst bus, so it could improve schedules on that bus to feed University LINK(and the streetcar).

    An SLU extension would cross via the 1919-vintage University Bridge, and was built for streetcars. The good news is the city has been upgrading it over the years. The bad news is the last rebuild of the approaches to the University Bridge, supposedly made it hard for streetcars to use it, but the Drawspan is still o.k. Electric Transit Vehicles cross it everyday. Trolleybus routes 49 and 70 use it to cross the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

    I wonder what is the maximum gradient these cars can handle? Might give some support to a suggestion made to get streetcars back on Queen Anne Hill via Taylor Ave, although for tourists(and commuters, Routes 2 and 13 get a lot of riders), the tougher, and steeper Counterbalance would proabably be a bigger draw.

    Now METRO has ordered 700 new articulated buses(including options), but they should by new 40ft buses as well, as they are still the workhorse of the fleet, used on many diesel trunk routes, as well as running Night Owl services, even on the 7.(Metro puts all Night Owl routes that connect in a tight spot in Downtown around 4th and Union, to make connections easier.(Could use more security though) One thing that they need? More buses with Air Conditioning. 400 of the 1400 fleet now are AC equipped. Some claim that is why they will not ride Metro on a hot day. I would like to see that. Now as for the Waterfront Streetcar line, and the bus that is currently subbing on it? It has the same Air Conditioning of the New Orleans St. Charles Ave. Streetcar, called opening the windows!

  49. Nick
    July 18, 2007 at 4:00 pm Link

    “It wasn’t a survey, this was just statistical analysis of ridership data.”

    >>>> The trouble is, METRO “analyzed” the data, and it has a definite bias in this regard. I really don’t trust any stats coming out of Metro or Trimet, esp. when it comes to rail.

    And it was only 20% (if you believe METRO) more riders that preferred the streetcar?
    I thought it would be higher, given the way that streetcar has been hyped to death.

  50. Chris Smith
    July 18, 2007 at 5:29 pm Link

    Nick, Metro would have a hard time rigging this. They have a model that looks at transit and estimates ridership. When they apply the model to NW Portland, it underestimates the ridership of Streetcar. They had to apply the ‘preference’ factor to get the model to match reality.

    Also, Metro is not especially a Streetcar fan institutionally (although David Bragdon was part of the original effort). If they have an institutional bias it is probably for Light Rail. But I think they’ve conducted this analysis quite honestly.

  51. J
    July 18, 2007 at 7:00 pm Link

    I’m not clear whats so bad about TriMet’s bus system. They instituted the frequent service system recently with improved bus stops including shelters, benches, bulbouts at major stops and even relatively minor stops, gps tracked arrival system on the entire bus system, frequent head ways and posted info and schedules in all stops. I have ridden a lot of bus transit systems in the country and without a doubt I can say that TriMet’s bus network is years ahead of any other US bus system. With most transit system’s bus stops you are lucky if the route number is posted on the bus stop let alone the destination or direction.

    I agree that articulated buses should be added to the bus fleet.

  52. Jason Barbour
    July 18, 2007 at 11:33 pm Link

    I’m not clear whats so bad about TriMet’s bus system.
    It’s not… many of us ride it all the time, take it for granted, and we all have differing opinions of how it should be operated and what modes should operate where… I guess we’re all Self-Proclaimed Experts on Public Transit (OK, at least I’ll admit to that).

    Oh, and another thought about 17-year-old buses – most of the systems out there are still running a few of them. C-TRAN has a few. Cherriots is running RTS’s from the mid-80s! Even SMART has a few that are almost as old as I am (and one that’s from 1979)! I got the info. on C-TRAN and Cherriots from the Busdude.com site (and my own personal experience – at least Cherriots isn’t still running the TriMet hand-me-downs), and on SMART from the Draft Transit Master Plan on their website.

  53. Erik Halstead
    July 18, 2007 at 11:41 pm Link

    I’m not clear whats so bad about TriMet’s bus system. They instituted the frequent service system recently with improved bus stops including shelters, benches, bulbouts at major stops and even relatively minor stops, gps tracked arrival system on the entire bus system, frequent head ways and posted info and schedules in all stops.

    J,

    Ride the 12B sometime (which is a frequent service route) and you’ll find that what you describe as the basic attributes of a frequent service bus route just does not exist.

    It should, but it doesn’t.

    The majority of bus stops lack shelters or even benches. In fact according to TriMet’s fact sheet (http://www.trimet.org/pdfs/publications/factsheet.pdf ), TriMet has 7,625 bus stops, and only 1,100 bus shelters. According to another TriMet document from 2002 (bus stop design standards), TriMet should install at a minimum 100 new bus shelters each year; however thanks to its disinvestment policy it only funds about 30. In other words, TriMet is about 350 bus shelters behind its proper investment level. (Hey, Metro? How about putting THAT in the MTIP/RTP???)

    Bulbouts are not consistent; there are actually quite a few stops that are downright dangerous (the inbound stop at Barbur and SW 19th is a perfect example; it requires busses to pull into the left lane of Barbur to resume its route.) My bus stop is located on the side of Barbur with absolutely NOTHING on the same side of the street (except a chain link fence discouraging me from walking onto I-5) and no crosswalk. The nearest traffic signal (several hundred feet southwest) doesn’t even have a pedestrian signal to cross Barbur. The stop before mine; the bus stop sign is actually IN a tree; most passengers who request that stop know to walk up and request the stop personally from the driver or the driver will not even know there’s a stop there. (A driver once even stated that she had no idea that was a marked bus stop sign. So much for that new fancy bus stop sign design.)

    Frequent headways are only as good as schedule reliability. Today, I saw (using Transit Tracker) three 94 line busses within a three minute interval; they’re supposed to be 15 minutes apart. Line 12 busses are rarely spaced 15 minutes apart – in fact my evening bus home was 10 minutes late; the next bus was 5 minutes behind it (and ultimately passed us south of Barbur Blvd TC). That meant that some passengers could have had as much as a 30 minute wait – for a frequent service bus.

    Posted info/schedules at all stops? Many of the bus stop schedules are missing and/or outdated – when the line 12 schedules were rewritten in January (and the line 95 bus cancelled), the schedules weren’t updated. To this day, there are still line 95 schedules posted at official TriMet stops.

    I don’t know of a major transit system that doesn’t post basic route information on its signs; I believe in the metro area SMART (Wilsonville) doesn’t; but there are so few places where multiple SMART routes share a route and the system is so small (there’s only five routes) that signing the route name/number is really not all that necessary.

    (I agree, it should be done anyways, but that’s a Wilsonville problem – not mine.)

    Oh, yeah, did I mention those 17 year old non-air conditioned busses?

  54. EvergreenTransitFan
    July 18, 2007 at 11:44 pm Link

    I was wondering, would Double Decker buses work in Portland? We have one transit agency considering Double Decker Buses on some commuter routes. They did a test with one from Victoria B.C. Community Transit of Snohomish County is the agency considering that. I know they would not work on the ST Express 590 series routes, because of Downtown Tacoma. Skybridges, the Commerce Street Layover Tunnel, and a few other low clearances.

    I like up here, we have a pro-rail and pro-transit government trying to rip up a rail line and turn it into a trail. I think it is more of trying to do BNSF’s dirty work for them, and at the same time in a complex deal, get rid of a money draining asset of the King County DOT, King County International Airport, aka Boeing Field. An attempt to get more commercial passenger service to use that airport failed, about all they got was Helijet Airways running their only Fixed-WIng flight between Seattle and Campbell River, British Columbia(They use Helicopters to fly from Victoria to Seattle). An attempt by Southwest to fly into the same airport they pick up their new planes from, was quashed by Georgetown(they have a gripe, the airport has been their neighbors since the 1920s). The latest excuse to turn it into a trail is capitolizing on the need to widen I-405.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003793962_rail18m.html

    http://www.rethinkrail.com/rtr-intro.html

    http://www.eastsiderailnow.org/index.html

  55. Chris Smith
    July 18, 2007 at 11:59 pm Link

    Bulbouts are not consistent;

    Streetscape improvements like curb extensions are actually the responsibility of the local jurisdiction (e.g., City of Portland, or City of Tualatin), not TriMet.

    You’ll be happy to know that at the Portland Streetcar board meeting today I suggested to the board that they needed to look beyond just securing TriMet funding for the Streetcar Loop to looking at expanding the total revenue stream for transit operations in the region, because buses were getting the short end of the stick.

  56. Chris Smith
    July 19, 2007 at 12:03 am Link

    Bulbouts are not consistent;

    Streetscape improvements like curb extensions are actually the responsibility of the local jurisdiction (e.g., City of Portland, or City of Tualatin), not TriMet.

    You’ll be happy to know that at the Portland Streetcar board meeting today I suggested to the board that they needed to look beyond just securing TriMet funding for the Streetcar Loop to looking at expanding the total revenue stream for transit operations in the region, because buses were getting the short end of the stick.

  57. James A.
    July 19, 2007 at 2:26 am Link

    Berlin has an interesting and historic system, but the real winner for me in Germany is Munich. A semi-automated subway (with drivers operating the doors–like BART or Washington Metro) with over 900,000 daily riders on just 6 lines, an S-Bahn (rapid regional rail) system that runs on 2-minute headways through the central tunnel under the city (with 750,000 riders per day of its own), plus 10 streetcar lines and 67 bus lines, with hourly night line service around the clock on weekday evenings and half-hourly night service on weekends.

    Stats (in English): http://www.mvg-mobil.de/pdf-dateien/downloads/mvg_in_figures_s.pdf

    Plus, some of the best architecture that can be found on any subway in the world:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Munich_subway_GBR.jpg
    http://www.muenchnerubahn.de/netz/bahnhoefe/WF/

    And, Lenny, the trains are most certainly proper heavy rail, rather than light rail:
    http://www.muenchnerubahn.de/fahrzeuge/c/galerie/

  58. Lenny Anderson
    July 19, 2007 at 2:50 pm Link

    Frankfurt has a mix similar to Munich…U-Bahn (LRT), S-Bahn (Commuter rail), Strassenbahn (Streetcars) as well as buses. Both S & U are in tunnels in the Innenstadt, sharing key stations with multilevel operations. But I did miss the lovely streetcar ride from Bockenheim that the U-bahn replaced…hence my lack of enthusiasm for a MAX tunnel here. Buses in Frankfurt have many fewer stops than here, with a ticket machine at each stop; operators do not take tickets, etc.
    Did you ever ride the old S-bahn cars…wooden from the 20’s… in Berlin; I think they were replaced shortly after the wall came down. As I recall they were operated by the “Reichs Bahn,” the East German railway.
    Frankfurt also has the “Applevoi Express,” an historic streetcar that serves the local apple wine and wurst; time for a local brew pub to rent an old Council Crest historic car for a similar service here.

  59. Matthew
    July 19, 2007 at 4:50 pm Link

    “Frankfurt also has the “Applevoi Express,” an historic streetcar that serves the local apple wine and wurst; time for a local brew pub to rent an old Council Crest historic car for a similar service here.”

    Totally, someone could make a lot of money on a “happy hour” streetcar, the only problem is, what if your stop is coming up, and you aren’t done with your beer?

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