Cute animation showing Montreal’s plan towards a fully electric transit system. I like how the electric bus is assembled and plops down on the ground like a toy.

45 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Montreal Transit Electrification”

    1. Good question, Alex. I think right now it’s in Montreal getting fitted with that car disintegrator that will make reserved lanes unnecessary.

      Also, given difficulties with transit on the 520 bridge and arguments about Sand Point, I think the very first scene in the video, with the windshield shot of the jet-speed trip along the river shows a huge amount of promise.

      The Swiss probably even now are working out how to hang the span wires from bank to bank. Making wiring the river- and Lake Washington- no sweat.

      The greatest thing is that when all this happens, Prime Minister Steven Harper will be go berserk and reveal that he’s really just an agglomeration of shale-oil molecules’ own hedge against rejection of the Keystone Pipeline, and go gurgling down the oil-drain that Dick Cheney created for his own similar escape from torture charges.

      So be patient with the First Hill Streetcar. The DBT project now knows that starting the streetcar line through their own tunnel was a bad idea, so Opening Day is awhile off.


    2. You mean the First Hill Station tram?
      I think they want to coincide the grand opening with the rest of the line going under Capital Hill, just to be fair.

      1. “… the line going under Capital Hill …”

        How do we know you don’t pay much attention to Capitol Hill?

        But count me as a critic of a streetcar plan that will run 10-minute-headway connections when Link is running at 6-minute headway, and then run 15-minute headway while Link is running at 10-minute headway. And then get stuck behind SOVs and delivery trucks. For the cost of buidling the line, buying a couple more trams would have been a relatively small addition.

      2. I should have looked up the spelling, having actually thought about it for a moment. It’s funny, before I retired from Metro, I drove mostly trollies. When I did a 43 base route up Jackson to Broadway in the PM, I would stop at every zone, let passengers know where I was heading (John St.), and see if they wanted a lift. Few ever took me up on it, so I finally quit asking.
        That’s the new tram line that will generate 3,000 riders per day.(cough, cough)
        Have a nice day Brent.

      3. The 43 and FHSC paths cross at Broadway and John. Other than that, there is no correlation between them.

        Of course it will not generate 3000 daily trips before Capitol Hill Station opens. After that, I think it will be proportional to the number of tram trips, with people taking it instead of walking, just because they see it coming or laying over.

        FWIW, the Broadway extension may actually get more people to jump on the tram at Capitol Hill Station since they can see the tram is actually moving.

        In defense of the 43, it has been packed most times I have ridden it. I agree with Al that riding Link from downtown to Capitol Hill will be a distinctly more pleasant ride.

        Have a victorious Sunday!

      4. Brent, it sounds like mic is talking about driving from the base up Jackson and Broadway to start a trip.

        So the people waiting at zones on Jackson weren’t looking to go up Broadway. But since none of the regularly scheduled routes there go that way you wouldn’t expect to find riders going that way at those zones. Anyone going to First Hill would be on the other side of the street heading toward a downtown transfer.

      5. “For the cost of buidling the line, buying a couple more trams would have been a relatively small addition.”

        Perhaps the real reason is not really a matter of cost, but drivers not wanting to get stuck behind them.

    3. “Although the start date of passenger service is uncertain due to delay in delivery of the streetcars, service could begin as early as the first quarter of 2015.”

      “The streetcar’s Czech manufacturer, Inekon, recently incurred a backlog of orders and a short supply of parts, including brakes, which was holding up production. Inekon, which built the South Lake Union streetcars, is also working out a wiring design issue.”

      1. Oregon Iron Works’ United Streetcar division is suspending business operations after they finish their contracts on ordered cars. They are holding out hope for future orders but see none on the horizon and were in over their heads on the current car orders.

    1. News traveled slowly then, and the US wasn’t interested in following Britian like the Commonwealth countries were. The US had a lot of German immigrants who brought the Straßenbahn and calqued it as “streetcar”. (A more exact translation would be “street railroad” or “street track”.) In the beginning it was horse driven, then electric. The vehicles were called “cars”; this continued until automobiles took over the term “car”. I don’t know where “tram” came from; I always assumed it was a contraction. That’s partly why the term “light rail” came about, as a worldwide term to unify these, and also to distinguish something that’s faster than the old streetcar practices.

      Automobiles also have a different terminology between US English and British English. Gas vs petrol, hood vs bonnet, etc. But nowadays new technologies have a single worldwide term, because an international team discovers them and they’re propagated instantly in the news and movies.

      1. From what I can find online, there’s a lot of disagreement in Europe as to where the word “tram” came from. Tempting to say it sounds like something people would call something in England- whatever it is.

        For “light rail”, it seems to me that a good working definition is a rail-car or a train of them that can handle the average curve on a streetcar line- but can also perform at much faster speed on its own right-of-way.

        BART right-of-way must be completely reserved for the entire length of every line. While MUNI lettered lines run both street track-often seriously slowed by plain stop-signs along their route- and higher speed in the Market Street tunnel.

        So, does it help to define “heavy” and “light” according not to the weight of the vehicles, but to the degree of reservation the different modes absolutely require? To me, if there’s any street running anywhere on the line, service classes as light rail.

        Also hellaciously tempting to say that firm definition of light rail is that it can’t be automated. But just for spite, Seattle Subway might sneak a robot mechanism aboard a car in the yard, and put it into service with a drone-remote.

        If there’s any problem, would be a howl to watch supervision try to figure out who gets ordered to see their Base Chief.


      2. “Light rail” is based on the German Stadtbahn which came to be known as “pre-metro” elsewhere in Europe.

        The defining feature was subway or metro like grade separation in the central part of the system with tram like ROW on the outer parts of the system.

        In US practice the multiple unit capability was kept and the lines were given reserved lanes. Only a handful of systems like St. Louis and Seattle had a European level of grade separation in the central part of their network.

      3. “There is also a “mobile” and a “cell” phone, depending on where you are.”

        Hmm, that may be the last of the divergent terms. Cell phones started in the early 1980s and they were originally car phones, too big and heavy to carry around, so not very “mobile”. The analog network was limited to a very few areas. I don’t know if the first wave took hold in Europe, but we do know that the second wave was higher in Europe than the US, mostly because of the common GSM (digital) standard and “caller pays” standard (so that people had an incentive to have phones and receive calls, but not to send them). Whereas in the US people had an incentive not to have a cell phone because they had to pay long-distance-equivalent charges for local calls, even receiving them, and the phone didn’t work in the next city (different network) or small towns (no network). But eventually GSM and generous/unlimited plans and rural coverage made inroads in the US. So anyway, the GSM wave in Europe was definitely more “mobile” than the first analog wave (handheld phones instead of car phones), so that may be why the term caught on in the UK. And now I see that even US carriers almost always say “mobile” or “wireless” in their ads, not “cell”. So I think “cell phone” is becoming a colloquial-only term, and it may eventually become dated. “Pop” is headed that way too, as “soda” has been making inroads in “pop” land such as the northwest.

    2. yards, feet, inches, soccer, “freeways”, Amtrak, …

      Sorry, our credit card machines don’t work with Europay. Maybe you can get cash at that ATM over there. Oooh, maybe not.

      Oh, what a pain it is for tourists when our machines don’t even speak the same language.

    3. If I’m not mistaken New Orleans is very particular to calling them streetcars, not trolleys, whereas Philadelphia and Boston call them trolleys, not streetcars. Streetcar is also the word used for the modern styled applications, while trolley now typically refers to the vintage operations (although Seattle’s vintage Waterfront line called them streetcars). And of course San Diego calls it LRT system the Trolley. I think the point is trolley/streetcar/tram is actually one of the few regional terms, much like soda/pop/coke, although in this case its only really used in a big city.

  1. Because America has never had “Trams”. The vehicles doing the same work in our past were called street cars, longer distance ones were called Interurbans. Just not part of our nomenclature.

  2. So Montreal is reintroducing electric trolley buses? That seems like a big deal given how few cities in North America have introduced or reintroduced trolley buses.

    1. Very likely an add-on order for the same trolleybuses Seattle is getting. It’s much easier to continue building more of the same thing.

      1. The term is known as piggybacking. When NJT recently placed an order for bilevel coaches, Montreal’s rail system tacked on cars for them selves since it was the same Canadian company manufacturing the cars.

      2. I’m not finding much info online about Montreal trolleys. Sounds to me its become more of that rapid charge electric bus with minimal overhead, I think like what Spokane is proposing.

        By the way, isnt Dayton also looking for replacement trolleys too?

    2. Did you see that part of the animation where a bus disconnects from the wires, crosses an intersection, then re-connects on its own?? Is that actually possible without human intervention? Why can’t we have nice things????

  3. Very SimCity-esque animation style, especially the cutaway view of Montreal and Quebec.

    What is the reason the STM is constructing a trolleybus network? Practical, full-size electric buses are already in operation worldwide, from multiple manufacturers. While performance could be better – BYD’s bus has a range of 155 miles; 15.5 hours at 10 mph average speed, or 10.3 hours at 15 mph average speed – at the rate batteries are improving full electric buses are likely able to meet all urban transit route demands within the next 5-10 years.

    1. Battery-electric buses are very likely to replace all diesel buses in the next 10 years. It would be wise for transit agencies to buy *only* electric buses in the future.

      That said, overhead-wire trolleybuses are somewhate more efficient, last longer, and cost less to buy upfront. So for a route which is going to run lots of buses forever, it’s probably superior.

  4. Returning to a frequently debated topic, does anyone know the exact origin of the 3 minute headway limit for Link in the DSTT? According to an ST document (see page 15):

    Due to a fire/life safety requirement, trains in the light rail tunnel between International District
    / Chinatown and Northgate must maintain a separation allowing no better than 3‐minute
    scheduled headways in the tunnel

    but in NYC, the MTA has subway branches with more than 20 trains per hour, so this can’t be an invariant national rule, unless the NYC subway was grandfathered in. Is there some local or WA state legislation that set the 3 minute headway limit, or did ST come up with the limit on its own? Is it specific to the design of Link and the DSTT?

    1. It has to do with emergency ventilation of the tunnel between Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium. They eliminated a ventilation shaft at Montlake and this limits the number of trains that can be in that segment of tunnel simultaneously.

      1. I had thought that the lack of the ventilation shaft between Capitol Hill and UW Stations limited headways north of Capitol Hill to 4 minutes, but there would still be a 3 minute limit even if a new ventilation shaft was build in that segment. Is this incorrect?

    2. We should look into this fire requirement. It was mentioned in the ST LRP board workshop in November too, as the limiting factor in northern Link headways. Whose requirement is it, what is it based on, and how much flexibility is there to consider modifications to it?

      1. Note: the ventilation shaft issue was not mentioned. So the fire limitation may be related to that but it may not. I think the ST board considers the ventilation shaft a deferred project that will be done eventually; i.e., when Link needs maximum capacity. But the 3-minute limitation may be above and beyond the ventilation shaft.

  5. Can anybody in the know point me to a doc/site that explains the decision to reduce the Renton Municipal Garage P&R from 200 stalls to 150 (due to “leasing costs”)? My unscientific observations show the designated commuter stalls to be near capacity every day while plenty of paid stalls on the other floors are vacant.

    1. Heh, so in this case Metro doesn’t want to pay for parking any more than the other garage users…

      Just out of curiosity, how does the garage operator keep people from parking in the commuter spaces for other purposes? More typical parking policies for suburban downtowns charge commuters at least what other users would pay, but… the west coast is the west coast…

      1. I guess it’s on the honor system, just like across the street at the non-leased lot. I’m not sure if they should be charged for or not but why not put up a gate with an ORCA reader and consider the entry swipe a “ride” and the next a “transfer”? That would be a good validation of transit use. It might be overkill for the Renton garage but it would be worth it at larger lots.

  6. In Europe trams is short for tramways. Even the French call them tramways!…

    Tramways come in all sizes, from small to big (lengthwise). Alstom trams go from 24 meters to 44 metres in length. The 44 meters ones have 7 sections. ( one 3-sections Central Link link car is 29 meters long). Note that trams in the historical area of Bordeaux (France) are powered by ground.level slabs.
    Trams in Lyon (France)

    Trams in Dublin

  7. According to Wikipedia, Tramway = a system of trams (public transport vehicles running on rails)

    Strictly speaking Aw is right….The tramway would be the portion of a street, avenue, road etc. where .trams run. In some cities there is a very low divider to separate that tram-way from the car lanes.

    More trams (not my photos but I used these trams


    not a tram but the confusedly named Osaka new Tram, in fact an automated LRT
    note the rubber tires…

  8. Classic American infrastructure planning “agree to study a future line when capacity on the initial line is reached.”
    AKA – “agree to discuss buying more government funding once we’re 30 days from default,” AKA “agree to discuss healthcare once patient is already sick and needs to go to the doctor immediately.”

    Because “efficiency.” Or something.

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