Is this what we’ll see?

This is yet another reason why our official platform is rail over bus.

14 Replies to “Our BRT future?”

  1. If I could produce a picture of a car crash that’s blocking a train, would that be good evidence of why cities should favor buses over trains? No, of course it wouldn’t. We need both. We need an intermodal transportation system. And one picture or example is not evidence of anything. The fact is, in the future, the Central Link light rail line will become blocked a great many times by car accidents along its route.

  2. Really? Car accidents happen every day in this region on roads. How often do they happen on rail lines?

    The difference is that cars and trains use seperate paths. They only cross occasionally, and if designed well not at all. Other than SODO I don’t know of any point where roads cross tracks for Link.

  3. taking the middle path – on the bright side, the bus doesn’t even look damaged… no matter what, i’d rather be in that bus than in the crushed little car.

    i was on a ST bus that slammed into a guardrail and ran along it for probably 20-30 yards and there was nary a scratch on the bus. the guardrail did not look too pretty afterwards. it was a little scary but no one was hurt and the operator was certainly relieved that there was nothing to get him in trouble (the incident wasn’t his fault – as in the accident in the posted article, someone else swerved into his non-exclusive ROW). in fact, it ended up being such a non-event that after the operator determined there was no damage, we just kept on going…

    the statistics do, though, overwhelmingly, state that rail travel is far safer than bus travel of any mode. i don’t have the exact link off-hand but the official stats are cited quite frequently and probably considered “classics” in transit nerd-dom.

  4. Engineers are not trained to look at the big picture. They rarely see the forest for the trees. They have their place, but they are detail people, and look at things through a very narrow scope. I’m more of a big picture person. The best thing for this region is intermodal public transportation. Rail by itself will solve nothing.

  5. Rather than starting personal attacks, can we keep the debate civil?

    What do you do that you’ve been “trained” to look at the big picture?

  6. Yes, please do keep the conversation civil. If anonymous commenters starting personal attacks, we may have to require registration.

    I agree we need an intermodal transportation system, but my point is that BRT doesn’t get close to grade-separated rail.

  7. Intermodal is just a fancy word for “lots of transfers” which is itself a nicer version of “no choice commuters”.

    This is a fundamental failing of bus transit and it should not be handwaved away. It’s also, unfortunately for Seattle, a fundamental failing of mixed-traffic streetcars. Only reserved guideway transit (true BRT which we very rarely see in this country; and the far superior LRT or heavier rail) avoids this problem.

  8. i should also mention we won’t see anything like this on “rapid” ride. the BRT bus will be stuck in traffic with everyone else.

    here here to the comment that multimodal just means more transfers. people don’t care about multimodality, they want to get somewhere faster than driving (something you DO get with rapid transit)

  9. Hold on – Over 4 miles of Link right of way is in the middle of MLK Way in the Rainier Valley. Look at a map and note the number of major arterials that cross MLK Way. There will be car-Link accidents in the Rainier Valley. It is inevitable. Every at-grade light rail operation in America usually has a number of accidents at startup as the traveling public learns that trains don’t stop as fast as cars and they carry a pretty good punch.
    In the accident you cite, it was not the bus that careened out of control but the SOV. An out-of-control vehicle could do the same along MLK and 8,000 person per hour per direction capacity of Link would be compromised for hours. Not unlike the accident in Everett.
    Haven’t we already seen a few accidents of streetcar (rail) with cars? And in each case, if it had been a bus moving at that speed, it could have a) veered to avoid the collision or b) stopped faster than a rail car.
    I’m not saying rail stinks and buses rule. Rail perform better over bus in most categories of reliability and capacity measurements. But categorically calling rail the best choice for every transit problem and using this accident to prove it is a bit hasty.

  10. rail doesn’t work as well when the r.o.w. is shared with other uses – no question, just look at the streetcar. as someone who rode fixed rail on a dedicated r.o.w. for most of my life, i found it to be generally a ton more reliable (but not perfect) than BST (bus stuck in traffic) and certainly a lot faster of a way to get around. it is an “ideal” world but one we’re perfectly capable of having for ourselves here if we can stop kidding ourselves with things like BRT that’s definitely not BRT, etc.

  11. Multimodal man, that was one of my points. There are many more places where roads cross Link rails than SODO.

    I rode the SLU street car for the first time the other day. I was struck by how many close calls we had in the roughly 3 mile round trip. I was also surprised by how often we became stuck if just one car was a little too close to the tracks, in which case we couldn’t move, and had to wait for the car to get out of the way before we could proceed. I’m still for street cars, but this line seems less designed to move people in an efficient manner, and more like a showpiece to rebuild a neighborhood.

  12. It’s going to take a long time before car-crazed Seattle gets used to the idea of fixed guideway transit.

    Until that happens some day, there will be plenty more idiots handed drivers licenses (just show up and pay your $….no tests or insurance required!) playing bumper cars with buses in HOV lanes.

    I agree with many of the comments here. Just painting a solid white stripe down the road does not make for Bus Rapid Transit. BRT is a loose term often used (too often) by ideological opponents to rail. Indeed, Tom Delay is known as the father of BRT on the national level, since he commissioned the GAO study some years ago, which BRT activists still refer to as their holy bible. (Delay used the study to fight a light rail project in Houston)

    I wasn’t surprised to read that John Niles, (Discovery Institute, Washington Policy Center, Kemper Development Corp) who spends all his waking hours fighting rail in favor of BRT, also opposed construction of the downtown Seattle transit tunnel in the early 80’s, when he first arrived in Seattle. This, despite the fact the DSTT is about as close to real Bus Rapid Transit as we are ever going to get in this region; which is probably why Niles wasn’t in favor of it.

    The anti’s “Least Cost Planning” charade always favors cheap short-term solutions over effective long-term (capital intensive) projects.

    So, the purveyors of BRT in this region actually oppose BRT. Which would explain why they are so good at spinning their wheels. It also helps explain why “progressive” Seattle is still in the transit dark ages. It seems that way, at least.

  13. “Hold on – Over 4 miles of Link right of way is in the middle of MLK Way in the Rainier Valley. Look at a map and note the number of major arterials that cross MLK Way.”

    Luckily, the east-west traffic crossing MLK isn’t that bad, due to the fact you have a lake to the east, and a major hill (sided by large greenbelts) to the west. There are, obviously, a few large arterials. But those arterials are in fairly clost proximity to light rail stations. So the chance of a 35 mph collision isn’t as great.

    If you have ever been on a bus traveling in the HOV lane on I-5, you know that there is a point each day where the HOV lanes are operating at a relatively high speed, compared to stop-and-go traffic in the general purpose lanes.

    Many drivers play the game of “chicken” dodging in and out of these higher speed lanes, and that is where inevitable collisions with buses will inevitably continue to occur.

    Feb. 1st was a good day for bad drivers:
    Chaos rules the roads Friday in Seattle area

    Carjacking, pileup, and high-speed chase contribute to gigantic traffic mess

    Calendars might have read Friday, the first, but for many on Puget Sound freeways it seemed a lot more like the 13th.

    There was the carjacking, the stabbing and the high-speed chase on Interstate 90 heading east from Seattle. Then there was a rolling domestic violence episode that sent a car weaving down the busy freeway.

    Oh, and that 25-car pileup that closed Interstate 5 for hours just south of Tumwater, and a crash that blocked southbound I-5 during the afternoon commute in Seattle.

    “It was a crazy day,” said Trooper Jeff Merrill, a State Patrol spokesman and one of several officers who helped arrest the carjacking suspect. “I don’t know what happened out there.”

    What happened? Drivers were driving. That’s what happened. Pursuing their god-given right to drive.

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