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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stop Spacing and Mode

I was reading a post on stop spacing at Human Transit where Jarrett Walker talks about streetcars vs light rail, and makes the distinction:
The terms streetcar/tram and light rail will be most useful if we use them to refer to the prevailing stop spacing, not the exclusivity of the right-of-way. 

Staring at the last graphic, I had an epiphany: With the addition of so many stations in downtown, and such indirect routing, TRAX is being asked to operate as a streetcar. It's kind of an open secret that the TRAX ridership between the Arena Station and the Salt Lake Central Station is terrible. Old Greek Town station is FAR too close to both Salt Lake Central Station and Planetarium Station. Salt Lake's blocks may be 660' long, but stop spacing for transit is supposed to be about twice that. 

From 10000 South in Sandy to about 500 South (Courthouse) in Salt Lake, stations on the TRAX line are about a mile apart. The 900 South stop breaks the pattern, but it was a mid-point stations added later as an early effort by UTA to promote TOD. SLC then-Mayor Rocky Anderson then demanded TWO additional stations when the TRAX line was extended from Arena to Salt Lake Central Station. But as a result, between 1300 South and Salt Lake Central Station, there are now NINE TRAX stations over a distance of 3 miles, and it takes about half hour to cover the distance. That gives it an average speed of about 10 minutes a mile.While the stop spacing is reasonable for 'local' transit service, it's kind of a waste to use Light Rail for that purpose. TRAX covers the distance between 10600 South and 1300 South in LESS time than it takes to wind through downtown.

Ergo, efforts should be made to preserve TRAX for rapid transit, and use a different (and less expensive) vehicle for downtown circulation. Perhaps a streetcar....