Labels

9-line access access management access point accessibility ADA air quality alignment amenity antiplanner atlanta BART BID bike Blogs boston branded bus branded buses brookings brt bus Bus Rapid Transit BYU capacity car pool cars central link Centrality certification commuter rail condo conformity congestion congestion pricing connections consistency coverage crossings CRT cycling DART dedicated dedicated right of way density denver depreciation developers development dynamic pricing economics efficiency Envision Utah equity eugene exclusive extension FAQ favela Federal Funding Flex Bus florida free fare zone freeways Frequent Transit Network frontrunner frontunner Gallivan garden cities gas prices geotagging goat Google grade-separation Granary District growth headway heavy rail hedonic High Speed Rail history housing housing affordability housing bubble housing prices HOV income infill innovative intersections intensity ITS junk science LA land use LEED legacy city light rail linear park location LRT lyft M/ART malls mapping maps market urbanism metrics metro MetroRail missoula mixed mixed traffic mixed-traffic mobile mode choice Mode Share multi-family MXD neighborhood networks news NIMBY office online op-ed open letter Operations parking parking meters peak travel pedestrian environment phasing Photomorphing planning Portland property property values Provo proximity quality_transit rail railvolution rant rapid rapid transit RDA real estate redevelopment reliability research retail Ridership ridesharing right of way roadway network ROW salt lake city san diego schedule schedule span seattle separated shuttle silver line single family SLC SLC transit master plan slums smartphone snow sprawl standing stop spacing streetcar streetscape streetscaping subdivision subsidy Sugarhouse Sugarhouse Streetcar Tacoma taxi technology tenure termini time-separation TOD townhouse traffic signal tram transit transit networks transit oriented development Transit Planning transponder transportation travel time TRAX trip planning trolley tunnel uber university of utah urban design urban economics urban land UTA UTA 2 Go Trip Planner utah Utah County Utah Transit Authority vmt walking distance web welfare transit Westside Connector WFRC wheelchairs zoning

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BRT vs. LRT

When I was reading public comments for the Ogden Streetcar project, this argument came up a couple of times:

Buses are better than rail because they can be changed in response to changing conditions.


This is bunk, and bunk in the worst way. While bus systems typically change route schedules (what time the bus comes) and bus frequencies (how often the bus comes) the rate at which bus routes (where the bus goes) are changed is glacial. Some buses still follow the same routes that trolleys followed fifty years ago.

Any time you try to change a bus line, you will get the people along the bus line coming out in droves. As you would expect. Because you are trying to steal the car out of their garage.

As a renter, it's a lot easier to change where I live then it is to change where I work. Until two years ago, I moved every single year. But I always stayed close to a transit line that took me directly (no transfers) to work.

Making route changes even more difficult is that many of the people who come to the public meeting about the route shift are going to be wretched--old, poor, retired, or disabled. For whom that route is the only form of transportation available, and takes them to critical services--doctors, grocery stores, banks, everything. And they will be furiously angry, because they are afraid that you are going to steal 'their' car.

The funny reality is that most public officials don't respond to public sentiment--they respond to their perception of public sentiment. And nobody wants to be the one who takes grandma's bus away.

Second, I'd like to discuss the idea of 'changing conditions': Conditions don't change. Transit ridership responds to density: Number of people per acre, number of jobs per acre, square foot of retail space. And those change at a pace that is glacial. The build environment doesn't change quickly. Houses last a long, long time. Office buildings last even longer. The hypothetical 'changing conditions' buses are supposed to be able to respond better to? They don't exist. Buses follow the same route trolleys followed decades before because it's still a good route. Still a lot of small houses, 8-12 of them per acre, filled with people still wanting direct access to downtown.