Metro Chooses New Flyer for New Trolleybuses

ETB Route 70

ETB Route 70

Great news from Metro yesterday: the agency has selected a builder for its next big batch of trolleybuses, and the 60′ coaches will have three doors. From the news release:

King County Metro Transit announced today it will replace its aging trolley fleet with new all-electric New Flyer coaches that will take about one-third less energy to power. Metro is second only to San Francisco in having the largest electric trolley fleet in the nation.

Metro plans to initially purchase up to 141 trolley buses – about 10 percent of its entire fleet – under a contract with New Flyer totaling up to $164 million. Future bus purchases will be dependent on fleet needs and whether Metro is able to avoid service reductions in the coming years.

“Electric trolleys have a lot of fans, and I’m one of them,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “They’re quiet, they run clean, they’re part of our transit heritage, and studies confirm they’re the best for moving riders in our very hilly and dense urban environment.”

[...]

The trolleys also will be able to operate off-wire on battery power for short distances – a feature that will allow the bus to reliably reroute around collisions without calling for a Metro push truck. It also will reduce the need to substitute diesel buses when construction affects routes along electric bus corridors.

The new buses will have low floors for easier and faster boarding and exiting. They include an updated system to secure wheelchairs, and the 60 foot buses will have three doors, air conditioning and the ability to kneel the full length of the bus.

The selection of New Flyer Industries is not a particular surprise: NFI is the dominant seller of transit buses in the US, and (I believe) the only domestic manufacturer with an off-the-shelf trolleybus propulsion system. While I’ve heard off-the-record that three-doors and RapidRide-style interiors (less seating, more standing room and wider aisles) were favored for 60′ coaches, official confirmation that those coaches will have three doors – a feature whose importance is hard to overstate — is a relief. I have a question in about interior layout, and also about air conditioning, which the wording of this press release seems to suggest may only be featured on 60′ coaches.

The new trolleybuses will start to arrive in 2015, and they can’t come soon enough for me. The Breda articulated trolleybuses are 23 years old already, and they look, sound and smell every day of it. I’m convinced that a certain amount of American anti-bus prejudice, particularly in the west, arises quite reasonably from the fact that so many transit agencies operate so many terribly-designed bus routes with awful rolling stock; whereas rail systems tend to be newer, and mostly built out in straight lines with low-floor vehicles and sensible stop spacing, so they don’t provide the experience of sluggishness and decrepitude that is the unfortunate hallmark of many bus routes. Both aspects of this experience are completely fixable, and they have to be fixed if we’re to stand a chance of moving the needle on transit ridership and Greenhouse Gas emissions.

UPDATE: After the jump, renderings of the new buses. Also, all models (40′ and 60′) will have A/C.

Rendering of 60' ETB

Rendering of 60′ ETB

 

Rendering of 40' ETB

Rendering of 40′ ETB

 

Comments

  1. lakecityrider says

    I happened upon a map of the old electric line routes and the routes as they exist today. It would be awesome if new trolleys also meant expansion of the lines to previously-served areas. That said, I understand why it can’t happen now, but I can imagine, can’t I? :)

    • Gordon Werner says

      The 9 should be returned to ETB (unless they kill it when the First Hill Streetcar starts operations)

      • David L says

        The 9 is currently diesel so that it can provide a faster, limited-stop ride along Rainier (passing 7s where necessary).

        There are better ways to structure all of this service.

    • David L says

      I’m not sure where the money will come from to add any trolley overhead. That said, all of the most appropriate projects (in my opinion) don’t really expand the scope of the trolley network, but rather fill in gaps or improve routing:

      - Yesler, 8th, and 9th from 3rd/Yesler to 9th/Jefferson (3S/4S reroute)
      - 23rd Ave from John to Jefferson and from Judkins to Rainier (48S)
      - Denny Way from 1st to Olive (8N)

      Only one good project would really expand the scope of the network, and that would be Madison from 19th to Madison Park. The trouble with that otherwise worthwhile project is that Madison Park neighbors would really not like it.

      Remember, folks, not all routes work well with ETB equipment. You want to electrify routes with steep hills that operate only on low-speed city streets.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        How about a corridor improvement ballot measure? Broadway Streetcar Extension, Downtown Connector, Madison, West Seattle, UW-Ballard?

      • Ian Barrere says

        I don’t get why Madison Park residents are so anti trolleybus. The 11 would make a fantastic trolleybus route, is the prospect of overhead lines really worse than the diesel coaches rolling through their neighborhood every day?

      • Brent says

        How about ST3 being that ballot measure?

        Not everything needs to be streetcars (especially if the streetcars don’t come with dedicated ROW or signal priority). Gondolas, for one, haven’t been given the attention they deserve as an option. There might be a corridor or two in which they make more sense than at-grade transit. Without studying it, we don’t know.

      • adam says

        I’m a frequent 11 rider. I am completely for installation of trolley lines on Madison.

        I do, however, have questions as to feasibility east of 23rd:
        - This part of Madison is heavily foliated, and you can be quite sure that the prospect of even modest tree removal will rankle the locals.
        - It’s also quite wide – dual-side parking, 2 travel lanes, with dual-left-turn lanes for some short stretches.
        - Madison between 23rd and MLK is one of the steeper grades in the city, but given the other places where trolley lines exist (First Hill comes most notably to mind), this is an engineering problem with an established solution.

      • Pete Lorimer says

        It is odd (if true) that Madison Park residents are anti-trolley. Mt Baker, which is as affluent as Madison Park, loves that the 14 is a trolley route, and fought to keep it so when it was proposed to turn it into a deisel route years ago.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Responses to adam’s concerns:

        - Check out some of the routes on top of Queen Anne. Foliage and wires can work together.
        - I’m not sure how this is relevant? That sounds like a typical Seattle street.
        - Trolley buses beat almost any technology up hills. Diesels are painfully slow up the Counterbalance, but trolleys zip right up them.

      • Mike Orr says

        Madison Park supposedly bitched about trolley wires in the 1960s or 70s, and got the 11′s predecesor included in the trolley network contraction. But that was forty years ago. Since then there’s been residential turnover, population growth, an awareness of carbon emissions, and a greater appreciation for transit. So what Madison Park thought then is not necessarily what Madison Park thinks now. Nobody has asked them what they think now, so fearing they’d oppose it is premature.

      • Frank Chiachiere says

        To the extent that Mad Park opposes ETBs, it’s probably mostly status quo bias. People tend to like what they have. So Mt. Baker loves the ETBs, because they exist, and Mad Park loves not having trolley wire, because that’s the current state of affairs. Loss aversion is a powerful impulse.

  2. Gordon Werner says

    According to metro all new ETBs will have AC. The real issue though is getting improved seating layout for the non articulated ones that operate on real busy routes like the 3/4

    • Bruce Nourish says

      Metro has told me that, too, before, but I’ve learned to parse their press releases closely.

      • Ian Barrere says

        I fully agree. I would love to see a more intelligent seat layout for non-articulated core routes. Just this morning there was much shuffling and shoving trying to let people off the 47 on the way to downtown. If the floorplan was more open it would reduce the loading/offloading times of these routes significantly. If Metro doesn’t confirm something to that effect soon we should start a coalition or something, if this issue isn’t solved our transit users will be dealing with the consequences for another 30 years.

        On another note, I’d love to see the northern segment of the 8 electrified, it’s bad enough watching those diesel coaches crawl up Denny.

  3. Gordon Werner says

    Also, would love to see Orca readers at back doors on 60′s (especially since they are always 1zone rides (would req. fare enforcement though)

  4. Adam Bejan Parast says

    In my experience here and abroad forward facing 2+1 or 1+1 configurations are superior to sideways facing 1+1 bench style designs because of feet/bags protruding into the isle, wasting a good amount of the additional floor space freed up by the design. My message to Metro. Be bold. These are the most urban buses of the entire fleet and smooth circulation is a paramount concern.

    • David L says

      I think forward-facing 2+1, with the 2 on the left, would be just about right. It provides most of the circulation benefits of 1+1 and won’t shock Seattleites quite as badly.

    • Virginia says

      Another good reason to have the 2+1 or 1+1 be forward-facing is the effect of hills on sideways seating. If you’re in bench seating on a steep hill, especially if the bus needs to brake suddenly or hits a pothole, you and your neighbors get thrown into each other. (Ditto for rapid acceleration/deceleration even on flat surfaces.) With forward-facing seating, you’re just rocked backwards into the seat a bit.

      I am all in favor of the circulation/capacity benefits of 2+1 or 1+1 seating, but I hate sitting in the sideways seating sections of our existing buses because of the jolt-into-neighbors thing.

      • Jessica says

        totally. I always avoid sitting on the sideways seats if I can help it. Even if there is no-one next to me that I would be thrown into, it’s kind of headache-inducing to be thrown back and forth that much. This is on the #30 which is rather hilly for parts of the route.

    • GuyOnBeaconHill says

      I’d like to see the area at the back of the bus (past the last door) remain 2+2, particularly if there is a step up to that area. But I think it would be great if the front area (near the doors) would have a 2+1 seating arrangement. 1+1 seating is difficult for people with small children and because many of the 40′ trolleys serve hospital routes, there should be plenty of seats available for people who may not be young and hearty enough to stand for their trip.

    • Joseph Singer says

      Also regarding the bench style seating. I’ve been on a limited number of RapidRide buses and afforded the use of these straight-back bench seats and they are without a doubt the most uncomfortable public transport seating I have ever used as compared to the individual “two seats” on RR buses. Not at all comfortable for any good length of time.

      • Mike Bjork says

        It’s a pretty crappy argument to say “uncomfy seats are ok because you won’t be there for long”. You’d never say “this car has a shitty interior, but don’t worry because your only sitting in it a fraction of the entire day!” Why not try to put in some reasonably comfortable seats and then brag about it? Nor is 30-40 min from Ballard or West Sea to Downtown a short amount of time to enjoy the feeling of being bolted to a vibrating metal bench.

        To hell with seat maintenance costs; I miss the big, thick, tall, comfy seats of the older buses.

  5. Brent says

    Will there be more standing room, with double-wide aisles so no one jerk can block riders from getting to the back of the bus?

    Will there be passive restraint slots?

    • AndrewN says

      I’m thinking that the “updated system to secure wheelchairs” will include passive restraint, but I could be reading too much into the statement.

      • Beavis McGee says

        Passive restraint is notoriously unpopular (at a level of hostility) among many wheelchair users.

  6. d.p. says

    I’m convinced that a certain amount of American anti-bus prejudice…

    …whereas rail systems tend to be newer, and mostly built out in straight lines with low-floor vehicles and sensible stop spacing.

    Never fear. We are engaging in corrective action to alleviate that misapprehension.

  7. Kyle S. says

    What’s with the humpbacks on all these new buses? What does it actually gain, other than making the bus look taller?

    • Casey says

      The extra body work on the top of the coaches is to hide all the stuff New Flyer puts on top of the bus. Like the currert Rapid Ride coaches and newest gerneration hybrid coaches (DE60LFR’s) there are A/C units, baterries, a power inverter and some heavy dual electrical cords running between the components. These new trolleys will also have a bunch of important junk installed on the roof, too. So these roof flarings are there to hide all the stuff up there on the roof and at the same time, will make the trolleys look the same as the newer 68/6900′s and our Rapid Ride coaches look.

      • Casey says

        Yes, you’re right, but the purpose for the higher body work is still the same, to hide all the electrical components, A/C units, and whatever else New Flyer want to put up there. And the Xcelsiors will still look similiar to the Restyled models.

      • Beavis McGee says

        Batteries? Large quantity capacitors was my understanding – good for short hops only.

  8. SR Das says

    One question–I understand that ETB operators rely on seeing their ropes through their rear windows to make sure switches are working properly.

    But if you add A/C to a bus you lose the rear window? What will Metro do then? Add rear-view cameras, I guess…

    • Casey says

      Yes, most operators use the rear window to watch the ropes that attach to the poles. We watch the ropes move as the poles move through the switches to make sure they’re going the correct direction. There was a lot of talk about this during the procurement process, however the procurement team drove a trolley without a rear window and they concluded it wasn’t as necessary as first thought. Also, when it comes down to it, most operators would pick having Air Conditioning over having a rear window. We willl just have to adapt to the new bus.

    • Oran Viriyincy says

      Please tell me the new trolleybuses will have a rear window. The back seats feel claustrophobic without them. Why is this an either/or choice? I’ve been on many A/C buses with a rear window.

      • Mike Orr says

        Rear windows are important so you can tell whether a bus that goes closer to your destination is behind you. Of course, this would be less important if the routes were more frequent and didn’t get delayed.

      • David L says

        There are only two places to install A/C hardware: the roof, or behind the rear seats. Trolley coaches will already have current collection equipment on the roof. There may still be room on the roof for A/C equipment on the 60′ coaches, but it seems unlikely to me on the 40′ ones.

      • Fred says

        Operating the #3 and #4 often and other routes the rear window is blocked when filled with standing passengers. A separate mirror can be installed and a pole position indicator is also used in the similar New Flyers in Vancouver, BC.

  9. SR Das says

    One more thing–since these trolleys will be off-wire capable, Metro should give ETB coaches permission to pass other coaches on battery mode. That way, there will be no more congestion on 3rd Ave due to one coach using its lift/ramp. This is one advantage that the new trolleys have over the current ones.

    • Ian Barrere says

      How are the current collectors controlled when running on battery? If the operator has to get out, pull them down and clip them to the top of the bus before passing and then manually release them once the coach is passed I’d imagine it would be a zero sum game.

      • says

        Dunno on these new ones, but back when the Bredas were dual mode the operator could drop and pop the poles from their seat. Of course you had to be lined up perfectly when you popped them, but it’s certainly easier than walking 120 feet.

      • Ian Barrere says

        Got it. I’d imagine putting them back up would be somewhat easy to handle automatically with a little array of sensors or something.

  10. Mike Orr says

    I’m glad the middle doors are close to the front. On some buses the second doors are so far back it’s not practical to walk back to them to exit if you’re sitting near the front.

  11. Charles says

    At the risk of being lumped in with our friend from Kent, I have to say I’m rather disappointed that the county was not more forward looking in this regard. I am a big fan of NON internal combustion vehicles, and I think it is now time we need look beyond the traditional catenary powered ETB bus and look at renewable fueled vehicles. Particularly Hydrogen fuel cell powered. The advantage that I see is that no wires, no massive capital costs for those wires to install, no operating costs to maintain them, no constrained routes.

    Our neighbors to the north have shown the viability of these vehicles with a hydrogen production facility and a fleet serving Whistler BC.

    • reality based commute says

      Metro studied hydrogen and concluded that the technology wasn’t quite ready for this bus purchase. But it could be soon to replace current diesel buses.

    • Adam Bejan Parast says

      The capital costs of the ETB system is already spent and because ETB are fixed route transit Metro receives federal funds for maintenance of them.

    • Daniel says

      The maintenance for a hydrogen fuel system is considerably more complicated and expensive than the maintenance for overhead catenary wires. An ETB has no flammable, high pressure or cryogenic components. A hydrogen fueled bus requires all of the same motors, power electronics and controls hardware as an ETB, PLUS the hydrogen storage system and the fuel cell itself.

      Also, since the energy is coming from the power grid anyway, you may as well transmit it directly to the vehicles without storing it at all. Or, if you really really want to, you can place the storage system at the substation, which frees you from carrying all of the fuel/batteries/flywheels/reactors with you on your bus or train. Plus, since it won’t move, there is no need to make it light.

      Electric motors powered by overhead catenary wires are the simplest, most efficient, lightest, safest and most propulsion technology available. Nothing else comes close.

      Adding catenary wires is a step forward, not a step backward.

      • Charles says

        If we are going to extend catenary in more places, that requires a major investment (Ive heard on the order of about $1Million a mile. That alone should be enough to look for alternatives.

      • Nathanael says

        Like buildings, roads, railroads, dams, solar panels, etc., overhead wiring is a large capital investment which pays for itself in operational savings quite quickly.

    • Mike Bjork says

      So far, the alternative bus technologies haven’t faired too well. Super capacitors overheat, batteries die too quickly, hydrogen requires frequent refueling, the fuel cell burns out, and the high pressure poses a big safety risk; to name a few. Pretty hard to beat trolley buses. As for the ugly wires, with a little extra $$$, they could be placed on single-lane poles like the streetcar as opposed to span wires. But our existing wire system was build a long time ago.

      I’m sad Metro isn’t more forward thinking by investing in NEW trolley infrastructure and expanding the fleet. Right now, we’re looking at an ETB fleet reduction from 159 to 141 and no increase in wire. As this order is bundled with SF, we’re missing out on an opportunity to get ETBs at a reasonable cost.

      • says

        Metro’s having a hard time keeping service afloat. Kinda hard to think about how to expand when nearly every route is on the chopping block. And I’ll betcha the contract has options to buy more.

      • Mike Orr says

        Metro is thinking about expanding the trolley infrastructure. But this particular order was just to replace the existing fleet. That’s the first step. Of course, any expansion depends on not getting the big cut next year. And if Metro does get some money, it’ll have to fill overcrowding and underservice gaps before doing anything else. Then it can think about expanding the trolley network.

      • Fred says

        The engineering ETB cost benefit analysis and Metro’s 2011 numbers show Operating Expense per Passenger Mile $135 vs Streetcar $3.79; ETB $1M to $4M/mile vs. Streetcar starts at $35M. Expanded ETB would save millions and add hundreds of thousands of transit service hours.

  12. D. C. N. says

    I will actually miss the decrepit nature of the old buses… The creaking of the walls, the wide windows framed by aluminum, even the lousy nighttime lighting…

    There is just a certain sense of history every time one boards the 7 that isn’t there on other routes!

    • Joseph Singer says

      I still don’t understand when they “refurbished” the Breda buses why they re-upholstered all the Bredas. Did they just not like the brown seats? :)

    • Mike Bjork says

      Me too! The mechanical bell, the rattling of every single part, the high floor view, the CLEAR glass windows, even that old bus smell. There was a certain sense of craftsmanship in those big heavy Bredas.

      • anonymous guy says

        The Bredas certainly have character – although I recall they were often criticized in their early days due to lack of attention to detail on the craftsmanship of those coaches.

        I’ll miss those rusting hulks when they’re finally gone, though.

    • Mike Orr says

      I miss the almost complete silence of the 1980s trolleys, with just a whisper whine, and a periodic chugging sound when they charged their motor. But I actually rode one a month or two ago that was like that, on one of the Capitol Hill routes. I’m not sure if it was the remnant of an old bus, or just that it had its fan turned off for some reason. I wish they’d design quiet buses again.

  13. David L says

    Are the renderings foreshadowing a new Metro livery? I like the curved stripe shapes but I really don’t like the OMG NEON PURPLE!

  14. Joseph Singer says

    This all sounds very nice, but leaves out a few vagaries. This article talks about 60 foot New Flyers all the while showing a Gillig trolley bus on route 70 (which by the way has been and continues to be a diesel only route for nigh on many months.) Yes, the converted Breda buses are getting old in the tooth, but then again so are the pieced-together Gilligs (which sourced the propulsion from the old AMG buses since retired.) If the Gilligs aren’t going to be retired any time soon are they at least going to maintain the interiors? Most of the interiors now are falling apart. The flip-down/up seats to accommodate wheel chairs/power chairs are thread-bare and are coming apart. Other seats on these buses are also wearing out and need attention. Are we doing to be stuck with buses that are falling apart until they are replaced in 2018 or whenever the 40 foot buses get replaced?

  15. Buffy says

    I will withhold judgment until I hear d.p. drop a few “F” bombs on this blog regarding this.

    Signed,
    Buffy

  16. CharlotteRoyal says

    Is there a particular reason why New Flyer routinely keeps getting these contracts, or is it a mandated requirement that only US manufacturers can provide buses to users. In my view, this is just like the ferry construction problem in our state, where only one company builds ferries and a mandate requires ferries to be built by companies within the State of Washington.

    Why weren’t any of the Mercedes Benz buses such as the Citaro considered? Why wasn’t the Mercedes Benz CapaCity considered to replace buses on the non-electrified routes serviced by the old clunky Giligs? What about Irisbus, Iveco? Is this exclusively limited to American manufacturers? If this is the case, then that is probably why the cost for each unit is still so darned high! New Flyer gets to fleece American transit companies due to what ever (state or federal) mandate requires the agency to abide by. I think taxpayers could get a better buy.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Not exactly, Inekon and Pacifica appear to be setting up a partnership similar to the one between Skoda and OIW to manufacture streetcars that meet “Buy America” requirements. I’m not sure if the ones for the Seattle order will meet that requirement, however meeting the requirement is likely to be necessary to get future contracts for other streetcar projects.

    • says

      Uhh, you do know that New Flyer is based out of Winnipeg, right? New Flyer is the dominant US bus manufacturer (and used to be Canada’s too) because they make products that fit within what procurement managers are looking for? (Not going to argue if procurement managers are buying the right buses)

      • Casey says

        New Flyer is based in Winnipeg, but is both a Canadian and a US company. Canadian buses are made in Canada and buses headed for US transit agencies are produced in Minnesota.

    • Mike Orr says

      The purpose of the “buy American” policy is to help rebuild the economy, lower the unemployment rate, revive American manufacturing, and keep money circulating in American communities. Those factors may or may not be as important as getting the latest transit technology from Europe, but they are a value many people hold. People who wonder why their tax dollars are going to “Made in Elsewhere” rather than “Made in USA” preserving American jobs.

      • d.p. says

        We now have decades of experience with programs that “preserve 37 American manufacturing jobs” but also contribute to regulatory and infrastructural backasswardness, breed corruption and line the pockets of politically-connected businesspeople, reinforce sectors of the economy that stimulate ineffectively (the military-industrial complex) while allowing political scapegoating of sectors that stimulate effectively (arts/culture, education), and contribute to an eroding trust in government work and an all-around lower quality of life than in countries where government investments are required to prioritize effectiveness.

        Income distribution, the middle class, the economy as a whole, and what remains of the manufacturing sector have all suffered in spite of those 37 targeted jobs. When the theoretical effect of a policy fails to match the demonstrated effect, it’s time for the proponents of the theory to shut up.

      • Chris Stefan says

        d.p.
        While I agree with you, at least insofar as it regards US transit agencies being able to source transit vehicles from the company who best meets their requirements. It will require action on the Federal level as the options for US transit agencies are limited both by Federal safety regulations (which must be met regardless of the funding source) and the strings that come with accepting Federal grants for transit projects and fleet purchases.

    • Chris Stefan says

      There are a handful of companies who make heavy duty large transit coaches left in North America. New Flyer has a majority of the business (I believe Gillig is #2). Mercedes used to own Orion but decided to close Orion down and exit the North American market.

      Indeed Metro had selected Orion for the order to replace some of the Gillig diesel coaches, those buses are some of the last buses Orion will make.

      At one time foreign companies like MAN and Breda were much more willing to market their products to US transit agencies. Probably because it was easier back then to meet the FTA’s US content requirements.

      The only notable entry of a foreign manufacturer in the North American transit coach market is Alexander Dennis. I believe they are only marketing their double deck coaches in North America so far, but I could be wrong.

    • Nathanael says

      “Buy America” requirements.

      I think they are a terrible idea. And I support protectionism if it’s done right — but you shouldn’t do protectionism in a market (like train and bus construction) which you practically killed a few generations back.

  17. Jon Morgan says

    We have 159 ETBs now. All along until this press release, Metro said they were going to buy 157 new ETBs. Why the sudden drop to 141?

    • David L says

      A combination of two things:

      1) after further analysis, they expect to achieve much better reliability with the new artics than they get out of the current Bredas, enabling a smaller buy; and
      2) they are only ordering enough right now to provide post-MegaCut service, and will order a few more if MegaCut is dodged.

      Remember, before the Bredas were converted there were only 46 MAN artic trolleys. (That wasn’t quite enough, but they weren’t much more reliable than the Bredas.)

      • Nathanael says

        But MegaCut shouldn’t be cutting any ELECTRIC service hours…. cut diesel first!

  18. Bernie says

    OK, somewhat off topic but it does relate to new bus purchases. This morning I saw what looked like a regular hybrid artic eastbound on NE 20th in Bellevue. The reader board said NO PASSENGERS and then flipped to TEST VEHICLE and on the back the number board said TEST. Was this just a new bus being taken out for sea trials or is Metro testing some new technology?

    • David L says

      Just a bus undergoing road tests after maintenance. You see them routinely near bases, “TEST COACH” on the sign, a mechanic at the wheel.

  19. Chuck Greene says

    They are buying them form New Flyer, so they should be as quiet as SEPTA’s. :)

  20. Fred says

    I am interested in hearing discussion of ETBs vs. Streetcars. The Mayor is promoting the Streetcar over ETB use. I am curious who/how he gets his advice, e.g. “… S/C faster board/deboard since all doors open and people don’t use cash…” Has he not seen what is possible relative to Rapid Ride use? Streetcar stuck in traffic, stuck on rails whereas rubber tires and off-wire ETBs zoom around congestion. ETBs are grade adverse, have virtually zero headway providing greater throughput, see ETBs performance on Third Avenue during rush hour. HCT use of ETBs could provide 10 miles of service for 1 mile of streetcar. High speed ETBs are available and even greater through put in inexpensive dedicated roadway vs.rail $35M to $80M/mile. Fundamentally Riders want greater access to transit, “… how far to do I have to walk to get a ride … how often does my ride occurr?” Wouldn’t you prefer a shorter walk, more often service, fewer transfers, reduce your travel time? Hopefully we can inject some rational exuberance at Rail study/waste at Ballard H.S. June 27th. What are your thoughts?

    • Nathanael says

      Rail carries more people on one train than a bus can, and trains last for more years than buses. If you don’t need the more people per train, you don’t need rail… so you have to think about that question.

      Dedicated roadway is MORE expensive than dedicated tracks, unless you just put down some paint — and if you do that, you find it wears out quicker (see Orange Line in LA for the worst case example). So again, it’s all about how many people will be riding — trains are for larger numbers of people, buses for smaller numbers.

      Streetcars are good if they’re mostly in their own right-of-way (like Link in the Rainer Valley), not if they’re stuck behind cars (like the SLUT).

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