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Rob
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What I like about Darrin's post is that he is advocating matching transit mode to purpose. If you love LRT, then every corridor needs light rail. That may not be so. In Minneapolis, I think the Hiawatha Line is working quite well and I like the service. One can get from Downtown Minneapolis into the airport in 20 minutes. Buses in airports tend not to do well, hindering traffic. Metro Transit, et al, are planning a Central Corridor line which will travel from Minneapolis to St. Paul downtown. I'm not sure this will be faster than current bus service because it travels the same route albeit with fewer stops. Let's talk about why the public prefers light rail to buses. I'm guessing that some of my preference are shared by other riders. These things I dislike about buses: stepping up, putting money in the fare box, meanwhile the bus is starting up, the smell of diesel, the crowdedness of buses, and the jerky motion. Modern LRT is clean, quieter, has a better ride and I feel more comfortable than in a bus. I don't feel claustrophobic unless the LRT car is extremely crowded. Darrin is right that many aspects of LRT experience can be incorporated into buses at less capital expense. These would make sense on routes where there is no speed benefit to LRT. As a taxpayer, I don't favor LRT only for development benefits and rider comfort. I do want speed in a transit system. IF PRT actually works in airports (starting at Heathrow) and other applications which can benefit from distributing rather than massing riders, we will have multiple options. Darrin doesn't like anything above ground, but I will accept above ground if speed and comfort are dramatically improved. Averaging 25-30mph non-stop is a dramatic improvement over buses(15-17mph) and light rail (20-22mph) for certain purposes. I think the issue is thinking through the benefits and costs of each transit mode for the service any city wants to provide. Aesthetics is one part of the mix. Mobility and speed must be part of the mix for non-tourist attractions. What would San Francisco be without cable cars? However, for daily transit commutes, other options are superior. Counting riders is one measure of success, but it is important to look at what each mode does and fails to do. We have limited resources and electricity is likely to be the most sustainable power for transit. My vote is for LRT, heavy rail, streetcars, electric trolley buses, and PRT where each does something which is desired that other modes cannot do.
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2009 on the disneyland theory of transit at Human Transit
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