When you have no room to turn a bus around…

22 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Bus Turntable”

  1. San Francisco cable cars?

    Portland has a very tight bus turnaround for the 15 bus by Forest Park with all kinds of flashing light warnings since it has to do a three point turn in a tiny intesection. Despite doing that for 60+ years all of a sudden after a safety review they cut back the line like a mile earlier (nowhere else to turnaround) then after outcry installed this deluxe warning system and let the bus return.

  2. Pretty sure we can all think of at least one location where this would solve a lot of problems.


    And some other places.



    Worst thing about modern global warming is that none of it is caused by great things like this. Retro powerplants and cars just don’t get it. Especially when the power-plants are still working is that certain temporary resident of 1600 Pennsylvania has replaced everybody in Government who knew their jobs, and hired lobbyists from companies the government was supposed to protect us from.

    I mean, Texas is going wind and solar because from the greediest most pollution-tolerant point of view coal and oil just lose too much money. Those huge white jetliner wings are said to kill birds. Yeah, somebody’s invented ones that don’t, but come on! These new ones won’t even scare cow one.


    Except the breeds more concerned with property value than eating grass. Which from the looks of it here is legal though highly regulated.


  3. If the majority of bike lane users are able-bodied young white males, would it be fair to say that bike lanes are racist, sexist, ageist and ableist? This writer makes that case.

      1. Here’s the problem identifying white people. Imagine you’re in the Scottish Highlands three hundred years ago. Or three weeks. You come upon a group of grim young men wearing plaid Utilikilts, each carrying a razor four feet long and a wood shield the size of a cartwheel.

        They ask you “Have ye seen a blooody Campbell? We MacDonalds dinna tak kindly tae oor village being burned doon because King Willie tricked us intae helpin’ him write a folk song!”

        Now imagine if you’re the author to the above piece of crap: “Well, what color are they?”

        “Coolor? Red hair, freckles..They’e the color of a CAMPBELL!”

        “Well, you’ve got red hair and freckles…” “Aye, but they’re a different PATTERN!”

        So you see the demographic problem. How do you know if you’re not looking at getting run out of your street lanes by Scots Irish power. Those guys really were early red-haired freckled majority of the European invaders, I mean undocumented arrivals early in our history. Ask and Anglican!

        Also- how many Danes, Englishmen, Swedes, Dutchmen, and Belgians did we wipe out while the Nazis all got away by posing as them! The Clanton Gang were Irish, are probably still ticked that Wyatt Earp and his brothers, who being Welsh were a small ungrateful minority who used Welsh Power to monopolize the OK Corral.

        And a further complication. It’s in the book “Little Big Man”. The movie stunk, but the hero, who actually was red-haired, freckled, and four feet high, learned that the Cheyenne thought everybody who could fight Pawnees was also a Cheyenne and didn’t know it. No adoption ceremony- red hair, freckles, bloodthirsty little skunk, what else could be be?

        So not a very safe bet over DNA test to prove that Elizabeth Warren is not an Indian. Because if she’s braver- not a very high bar to clear-and tougher- ditto unless you’re a Honduran kid-she could bet him how many Native Americans would want to kidnap him.

        Certainly in no hurry to scalp him.


      2. The article is nonsense drivel, or identity politics run rampant. Should we shut down Link because its riders are more white and middle class than the parallel bus routes? What matters is that the bike lanes are open to everyone and they fulfill a universal need, they provide a low-environmental impact form of transporation and get people outdoors. Why don’t the discontents start by finding out why the rate of minority cycling is lower? Do the bike lanes not match their trips? Can they not afford bikes? Is it less practical for the kinds of jobs they have? Or are they just not interested?

        As for e-scooter lanes, I’m skeptical of them. Wait at least ten years to see whether it’s just a fad or a mainstream form of transportation. Bicycles have proven themselves for over a century and throughout the world. E-scooters look very much like toys and we might end up wasting money on them, in fact to coddle a white tech-bro whim. They most resemble Segways, and Segways never caught on. In fact, Segways make more sense because their gyroscope supposedly keeps people from falling. So maybe we should focus on those if we think we need a walking alternative.

    1. Ok, well you don’t believe bike lanes are racist, do you believe Link cars are sexist? Studies have shown that office thermostats are calibrated for men’s comfort, not women’s. Women, because of their physiology, like room temperatures to be a little warmer, and men like it a little cooler. But instead of splitting the difference, many thermostats are set at a level that men find comfortable. In other words, office temperatures are sexist. So what I want to know is, what are the interior of Link cars temperatures set at?

      1. Sam, you’re headed in a positive direction on question of gender, ride quality, and proven ability. So here’s what we do. Every few hours, have a roving squad of women in uniform board a train, and immediately announce that next station the train will go into “Major Clean and Inspect.”

        It’ll be not only a clean-up, but a training session. Anybody who doesn’t want to participate- board next train four minutes later. Those still aboard, you’ll have your orders. Broom off aisles and seat-floors. But also note things broken or defaced. Could be given a company smart-phone to record necessary repair or clean-up, to be performed later.

        A lady inspector should also take willing passengers around the car, pointing out trouble, what it’s called, and what’s its remedy. Gender equality? Will never say either men or women, individually or in groups, are to anyone over anything. However, would bet that a man trained by a seven year old girl will have a razor for a learning curve.

        Law enforcement? Once saw a woman in transit police uniform get two eight year old girls down from the overhead aisle handrail where they’d been hanging like monkeys for half an hour because the male driver was an alleged butt head. My own “take?” Blaming the victim.

        But I will say, and be ready to prove, that when someone is needed to create and keep order at short notice, if a woman can’t do it better, she’ll be in action faster. And best thing of all: so will every male she trains. Calling my senators tomorrow morning about a Defense appropriation.

        With the Draft gone 43 years, if we “get hit”, first mopping-up operations will not be this Nation’s finest three and a half weeks, let alone hour. “Sam!?” “Yes ,ma’am?” “This mop is DIRTY! Ten thousand push-ups and then get it so clean you can eat it for lunch like spaghetti! You EQUAL to that!?” Your call, Sam.

      2. Is that the best troll you can do? C’mon, Sam, you can be more plausable than that.

        Why don’t you take a thermometer and measure the temperature in Link cars? Aren’t the facts on the ground more important than what a bureaucrat sets some dial to, which may not even be the actual temperature?

    2. Sooo you identified that we need to get more minorities and women into cycling, just like we need to get more minorities and women in politics, leadership roles at large companies, and pretty much everywhere else.

      Do you boycott all the oil companies and auto/bus manufacturing companies because their board rooms are full of old white men?

      What form of transportation isn’t inherently racist or sexist based on your bizarre criteria?

      1. I don’t think he actually has this criteria; he’s just saying whatever he thinks will anger us most.

  4. The bus turntable is very cool. It might be something that could be used at the Madison Valley end of Madison BRT, if that ever happens. Of course, Metro would ban children from riding the turntable (boooo!) and it would have to be built so that bike riders couldn’t possibly get stuck their tires stuck in the gap.

    1. I’m skeptical we’re going to see it here any time soon. Considering that the turntable is an unusual concept, probably just one vendor that does it, patent protected, exorbitantly expensive. Plus, it requires tearing up and repaving the street, not just for the turntable itself, by also the area nearly in order to install an underground electrical cable to actually power the turntable’s motor.

      For the sake of turning around the bus at the end of the route, the cost is only justifiable if the service hours is saves is enough to justify the install. Considering that the cost of the install would easily buy another bus (maybe multiple buses), this feels dubious. Another potential use case for a turntable is to allow a bus to make a very sharp turn in the middle of a route (but not turn all the way around), to allow bus service on a narrow street where bus service would ordinarily not be possible. I can’t think of any streets around here you would want to run a bus on, where that would be necessary.

      The final use case I can think of is, what they did in the video – use the turntable at the end of a dead end on a coverage route, to allow the bus to make a detour to serve a particular institution’s front door, in a way that would otherwise not be possible. But, routes like this make for service that is excruciatingly slow, and the vast majority of riders are able to walk far enough that a reasonably-straight-line bus can serve their needs. Those that can’t have Uber and Lyft as alternatives.

    2. “Considering that the turntable is an unusual concept,”

      The San Francisco cable car turntables are presumably a century old, and it’s a similar concept as articulated buses. If they get over having it motorized because modernism, it could be hand turned. Not that Metro would consider anything like that.

      Another issue, is applying it here a solution in search of a problem? Which routes would benefit from it? The 2 has a big round street end, which it needs for layovers anyway. The 10 manages to cope on its narrow street. I’d rather Metro spend money on more and faster bus service than on a gee-whiz doohickey. We already have two of those, called the streetcars.

  5. In the particular example shown in the video, I couldn’t help but notice that only a couple passengers got off the bus before the turnaround, while the majority of the passengers remained on and sat through it. If this were the end of the route (the logical place for a turnaround), everyone would have gotten off. Which means that this particular turnaround is not actually about turning the bus around at the end of route, but allowing the bus to travel down a dead-end street, for coverage reasons, in the middle of the route, where the bus would otherwise not have been able to fit. The video itself was a minute and a half, but it only includes the time for the actual turnaround, not the time the bus spent driving down the dead-end street to get to the turnaround point.

    All in all, this has the feel of a long “detour” for thru-riders, which is great as a novelty for tourists exploring the city, but terrible for people to be subjected to on their daily commute (which is not good, as the bus looked very much like a transit bus, not a tour bus). This smells a lot like the detour the 50 and 60 used to make into the VA hospital parking lot, only worse.

    I don’t know how long this particular dead end is (the video leaves no context regarding the location at which it was filmed), and whether a bus *really* has to drive to the end of it vs. travel in a straight line and make people headed to the dead end walk a few blocks. At the very least, the combined service hours plus cost of the turntable, feels like a huge financial commitment for adding a detour to a coverage route to save a small number of a people a few blocks of walking.

    1. If you do an internet search for “BizkaiBus 3513” you should find a 46 minute video of the bus route shot from the front of the bus (and accompanied by a Euro/SynthPop soundtrack). The turntable appears at about the 18:45 mark of the video. Enjoy!


      There’s also an abbreviated timetable online. The 3513 runs every 2 hours between Bilbao and Lekeitio.

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