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One of the things I worry about in regards to BRT is the compromises needed and the tough choices. I can't help but describe this in terms of what I know best, the Central Corridor here in Minneapolis/St Paul. There have been some tough choices on this line, like how to run it through the university, how to cross some busy intersections like Snelling Ave, etc. I'm worried that if this plan were being done with BRT, the tough choices wouldn't have been made. BRT buses would get forced into mixed traffic through the University and when crossing Snelling. These are the kind of lazy decisions that can't be made when you're forced to build something new along the entire guideway. Now of course this is purely a political concern, but as you posted earlier, the networks we build are purely political. Of course it would be great if we could say 'here's the projected ridership, here's the system that moves that many people,' but even that is political because it's politics that says that X people is enough to build anything anyway.
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Here's an idea that came to me while reading these comments. We all seem to agree that the scenario we're discussing here is one where ridership will be increased. And we can agree that even though we may not know why, we do know that two routes that are equal in all respects except mode, the streetcar will have higher ridership. This higher ridership is desirable, because it will cause higher density development. There will be more housing, more retail, more office compared to what the area had before the street car. As much as we would hope that the new residents are coming in from the suburbs, they're probably more likely to be from other declining cities or rural areas. But either way, there are more people. Without the increased density, this new development would have happened out in the suburbs. I shouldn't have to argue too hard that the new development in the suburbs will lead to less mobility to those who occupy it. Here's where the streetcar increases mobility, but it comes with a large assumption. The assumption I'm making here is that our streetcar system, and other 'good' transit, will offer increased mobility over no transit. So anything we can do to increase ridership on 'good' transit will increase overall mobility.
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2009 on streetcars: an inconvenient truth at Human Transit
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