Sacramento has 61km of light rail. I didn’t even know they had one!

Our low-floor 60 foot hybrid buses have 61 seats. A single light rail car not only has more seats, it also has several times the standing room. You all know that, though.

Also, thanks tres_arboles, we had lunch at the Everett Street Bistro, which was a fantastic recommendation!

46 Replies to “61 Days (barely)”

  1. Ok, you’re probably going to take this as me being a troll, but I’m not. This is just an honest question. But why is standing on a bus bad, but standing on a train good? Often on this blog, people complain about over-crowded buses where passengers sometime have to stand. But now standing room is a selling point. “Double the standing room!” What gives?

    Also, did anyone catch the “Who will ride Sound Transit light-rail trains?” article in the Times? If you didn’t, check out the comment section. The anti-rail people were out in force.

    1. When people have to stand on a bus it means you’re out of room. They just aren’t designed for standing except as an overflow measure. When someone wants to get out of the bus they have to squeeze by a line of people standing in a narrow isle. Also, sudden stops, sharp turns or steep hills are less than comfortable while standing on a bus – these really don’t exist on a rail line (well, maybe the sudden stops, but hopefully not very often).

      That being said, I’d love to see buses designed like light rail cars for crowded city routes. Yesterday I pulled a stroller on a bus and there really wasn’t any room for it (people made room, but it didn’t work well). It would be nice to have a large open space in a bus meant for standing – it would double as a way to bring on bulky items like strollers or luggage.

      Regarding the “who will ride” article, I had dinner last night with a woman who is thrilled about Link opening. Her 45 minute bus ride to work changes to a 7 minute train ride.

      1. It would be so nice if KCMetro were to remove one seat on the aisle forward of the back door on all buses – so nice!

      2. No! Other cities like San Francisco and Vancouver have this, and it sucks to be standing in a bus when it’s stuck in traffic. I would rather see more seats on the trains, as BART does. The newest line of Metro buses does have fewer seats (and they’re harder too), and I think that’s a step backward.

        However, in most places with trains, SRO is generally limited to the highest part of rush hour, where many of the people standing are going to transfer soon. This is partly because trains come more frequently so there’s more built-in capacity.

        In places that implement lloyd’s suggestion, SRO occurs all day long.

      3. I think the largest factor for whether or not to remove seats is the length of the average trip. If I’m riding for 15 minutes, standing is fine. An hour… not so much.

      4. I don’t doubt the woman, but I’m trying to think, what route is she currently taking that takes 45 minutes, that will become only 7 minutes on Link? I can’t think of any scenario where that would happen.

      5. I’m not sure, and she certainly could be exaggerating. But she lives near Rainer and I believe she works downtown.

      6. I took the 36, and often was passed twice by full buses. I can see her situation – the schedules are highly inaccurate for those buses.

        If she takes the 48 with a transfer that’d be similar, as well.

      7. Wow, the comments section of that article is amazing. Sadly it is pretty typical for a Times or PI comment thread on transit. The usual pro-car, anti-transit ignorance mixed with a healthy dose of racism. The comments about Rainer Valley and South King County are disgusting.

      8. Okay, let’s not get too rambunctous (spelling?) about this…sorry to break the news, but it is not possible that a rider’s average travel time will be reduced from 45 min. to 7 min. Ain’t happenin’. If the trip is from Beacon Hill to the ID or Pioneer Square tunnel stations, average bus time might be 30 minutes but not 45. Not that it doesn’t seem like 45, sometimes… we do need to maintain some credibility.

  2. 2 reasons I can think of:

    1. The ride on a light rail vehicle is much smoother. Less halting and accelerating and fewer sharp turns.
    2. More standing room = more room to maneuver. When someone is standing on the bus it’s a huge pain to get past them to get off the bus. Likewise, simply turning around with a bag over your shoulder is tough on a typical bus, with such narrow aisles.

  3. It’s ridiculous the number of places that have light rail or grade-separated rapid transit (and we don’t).

    For all it’s self-proclaimed greenness, Seattle is one of the last remaining car-dependent major metro areas in the world.

    (What was that about “world class city”, Mr. Nickels?)

    1. From what I recall, most of Sacto’s light rail is not grade separated. But your point is well taken and I agree whole-heartedly.

      I attribute most of this to the “don’t move here” mentality that seemed rather pervasive when I moved here in the late 90s. I’m sure it had been around for quite some time. It doesn’t seem nearly as pervasive anymore. Perhaps because everyone is a transplant! :)

      1. As a pro-transit native Seattleite who was prone to anti-transplant sentiment in the past, I can say that the bulk of this discontent was aimed at “Californians” whether they were actually from California: people moving in with loads of equity from places with higher housing prices who built huge homes out in the middle of nowhere as they paved over the forests and farmland that were plentiful in decades past. My perception was that most of the local sprawl was being driven by new arrivals.

        While it’s certainly true that transplants are responsible for a lot of sprawl, I’m older and wiser now and realize that natives are just as likely to be responsible, and a lot of transplants come from cities and appreciate good transit and city living. But I strongly doubt that people who grew up here are more likely to be paving the forests for McMansions than transplants, and transplants shouldn’t feel superior on that basis.

      2. I’m one local who was born at Swedish Hospital in 1948 who has always lived in the city as an adult and always in apartments of fewer than 1000 square feet.

  4. Wow, I knew Sactown had light rail. I grew up there and they had one line built in the 80s. But I had no idea they had 61km. Way to go Sacto! :)

    1. They also run 4 car trains…which happen to block intersections and still load passengers =P

    2. They recently completed a line to South Sacramento and a line to Folsom, both of which have exceeded ridership projections, as well as an extension to the amtrak station. Unfortunately the Folsom line is single-tracked (limiting headways to 30 minutes) and it’s often standing-room only during the morning rush hour. Victim of its own success I guess.

    1. Yeah, I left my computer in Seattle when I went to Portland.

      Brian mentioned it, though!

      1. I left my computer AND my phone when I went to portland. It was awkward.

      2. With the nice weather, I thought maybe you guys were becoming foul-weather friends. ;)

    1. Many of those trains discussed were the top of the line limited services. The vast majority of trains in the 1930s were uncomfortable (no reclining seats), slow locals, hot in the summer and cold in the winter (little heat, no AC). The Broadway, the Twentieth Century and the Super Chief were always and clearly the exceptions and not the rule.

      1. Well there was the Twin Cities Hiawatha which I believe still has the official speed record for a North American passenger train. Unofficially the Hiawatha supposedly was clocked in excess of 125 MPH with steam power no less. Sad we can no longer do that some 70 years later.

        Admittedly the Hiawatha was a limited service but between it, the Twin Cities Zephyrs, and the Twin Cities 400 there were between 4 and 5 fast trains a day between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

  5. And 61 seats is about the max you can get in one bus with one operator. LINK will have 4 car trains in the future; One operator and a Gajillion seats.

    OK not a Gajillion, but way more than any USA-legal bus.

    Did we mention that buses get stuck in traffic?

  6. I overheard two people talking on the bus that LINK will go broke because the fare will be too high nobody rides it. It is just one other misinformation whisper campaign that seems to be going on. Isn’t the bus base fare going to eventually be higher than LINK’s base fare? I thought the misinformation, either by word of mouth or online would die out as we get closer to start-up. Plus, isn’t base fare for Metro scheduled to go up in January?

    1. The off-peak adult base fare will increase from $1.75 to $2.00 on Jan 1, 2010. It will make riding Link within Seattle cheaper than or equal to Metro at all times. One-zone peak becomes $2.25 and two-zone peak becomes $2.75 making it always cheaper to ride Link than Metro for most trips. Link’s max fare is $2.50 at all times for any DSTT station to Tukwila and Airport.

      Those misinformers are going to be in for a surprise.

      1. I am expecting a rough transition period between July and January, I don’t expect immediate results. Plus, it will not be a line to nowhere for long. I guess my problem is I do try to think long-term, and look at a bigger picture. If there are no major problems getting U-LINK built, and it opens in 2016, it might come in handy. The US is considering bidding for a future World Cup, possibly 2018. We got two venues big enough here, and LINK will serve both, as well as the airport. Although with cost overuns with the Vancouver Olympics, it might not be worth hosting these events in the future, but we are fast gaining the infrastructure to do it.

        SOUNDER was less than stellar in 2000, but remember, we did not have huge gas price swings we have today. Back then it stayed between 97 cents and $1.40 per gallon. Today, they fill up fast. I don’t see the $4.75 per ride fare putting SOUNDER at a disadvantage over ST Express buses.

      2. (I used Tacoma-Seattle fare, I know it gets progressively cheaper as the train gets closer to Seattle).

      3. When will we just set fares based on distance travelled rather than mode of transport decided by some planner/railroad surveyor 20 to 100 years ago?

    1. KC Metro Fleet
      Breda Trolley buses = 56 seats
      New Flyer D60HF (High Floor) = 64 seats
      New Flyer DE60LF Hybrid 1st Gen = 58 seats
      New Flyer DE60LF Hybrid 2nd Gen = 56 seats
      New Flyer D60FL (Low Floor) = 62 seats
      New Flyer DE60LF-BRT (RapidRide) = 48 seats

      Community Transit
      New Flyer DE60LF-BRT (Swift) = 48 seats
      New Flyer D60HF = 62 seats

      1. Community Transit’s replacement for 60 ft buses:
        Alexander Dennis Enviro 500 (the Double-Tall) = 70 seats

      2. Also, these will be built in California, probably because ADL expects more orders from here, and Falkirk, Scotland does not qualify for the Buy American Act.

      3. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Buy American Act applied to all cars and light-trucks (SUV’s) sold and/or registered in the USA.

      4. It would, but an interesting thing is, that Hondas are made in the US, one of their newest plants is in Greensberg, Indiana. The plant helped get RailAmerica’s Central Railroad of Indiana booming. Chrysler’s minivan production, on the other hand, is centered in Windsor, Ontario. Now Buy America might apply, to Federal Government purchases.

  7. My guess regarding the woman whose commute will be shortening from 45 min. to 7 min. is that she is traveling between Tukwila and Rainier Beach.

    1. THe 39 used to do that, but allegedly it was often an empty bus stuck in traffic on that leg.

    2. That would make a lot of sense then since it would be 7 minutes from South 154th to Rainier Beach Station.

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