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.

11 Replies to “BRT vs Rail Again”

  1. Hell, some of Amtrak’s current fleet dates back to the 50s too. Not just local fleets.

  2. I heard the radio show this morning. It was amazing how much Mark still thinks 1996 is relavent.

    I would have liked to hear Rob bring up capacity limitations of BRT and go deaper into operating efficiencies of rail.

  3. budget and rights of way are the key to the transit mode choice.

    in general, electric trolleybuses last longer than diesel buses. They also accelerate and climb hills better.

  4. I like BRT more that most people on here but everything Mark said was either a half truth or a flat out lie. He need to remember that it is 2008 and we can’t dwell on thing that happened in 1996.

    Rob who is a good friend of mine did a great job of not throwing mud and simple and clearly illustrate how LINK will effect our region and the real the cost it will have (just one tank of gas!).

    BRT get a bad wrap because people try to attack LRT when they really should just be fighting for more transit funding.

  5. @anon – most of the time electric will be the way to go. The reason being is that electric motors have less moving and touching parts than internal combustion engines.

    the thing a lot of folks don’t talk about is comfort. rail vehicles are just wider than buses. the room and the feeling of space definitely matter to folks who just left their cozy autos.

  6. Eh…I’m hoping that I won’t have to ride the same train for 20-50+ years and that our region will hopefully upgrade to better and technologically superior trains in the future…

  7. There’s also a list … the top 10, and bottom 10 cities to live in during high gas prices. Seattle made the list!

  8. pantograph, you’re right. It’s interesting to note that despite being wider, they don’t actually take up a wider lane. Lanes for buses have to be wider than the buses because there’s a human steering. Rails make steering unnecessary, and allow the lane space to be more efficiently used.

Comments are closed.