After listening to Rob Johnson debate Mark Baerwaldt on KUOW (you can listen here, it starts about 15 minutes in), I read this article by conservative rail supporter Paul Weyrich (via Orphan Road) on the problems with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and why he supports Light Rail Transit (LRT) over BRT. Definitely worth a read.
He brings up a couple of points that I missed in my argument on LRT versus BRT:
Then there is the matter of speed. Both buses and rail cars can run at the same top speed. But the acceleration and deceleration rate of a rail car or train is much faster than that of a bus. That is why rail systems can maintain better schedules than buses. And there is the question of replacements. Buses don’t last for more than 15 years, with overhauls maybe 20. Electric rail cars, on the other hand, if well maintained can operate indefinitely. The SEPTA Red Arrow Division operated streetcars and interurban cars that were some 60 to 70 years old before they finally were replaced. Ever come across a 70-year-old bus in regular service? Boston, Philadelphia, Kenosha and San Francisco operate PCC streetcars from the 1940s and 1950s seven days a week. Those are modern quiet streetcars developed by the President’s Conference Committee in the 1930s to attempt to stave off competition from automobiles and buses. They will be able to operate for at least another 15 years.
At the Tour we took, Link Light Rail maintenance chief John Zastawniak said that Link cars last 20 years without overhauls.