Friday, November 16, 2012

EmX - When curb quality counts

Normal bus stops are just bad. To pick up passengers, a bus must leave its lane, lumber into into a slanted, debris filled gutter, jolting and tilting everyone on board. And they must approach slowly so as not to spray waiting passengers with the mud and slime in the puddle.

The EmX stations are a strange hybrid between normal bus stops and transit stations. They are a contiguous part of the sidewalk, (so no land or ROW costs), but with very different curbs.The edges of roadways are typically described as 'curb and gutter', reflecting their duel function in preventing cars from running off the road and in channeling water. (Roadway engineers design a 'hump' into the road it aid the latter function).

The EmX curbs are 12" high (compared to a normal 6" or 8" curb), and covered gutters. For normal buses, entering the debris filled and slanting gutter means jolting everyone on board, and splashing anyone at the stop with the water in the gutter. It also leaves a 'gap' between curb and bus floor that's impossible to cross in a wheelchair. In contrast, the EmX stations make it possible for the bus to roll up right next to the curb, with minimal gap. The taller curb matches the hight of the bus floor almost exactly. Wheelchairs can roll on and roll off without the need for a lift.