Tacoma Link conversion? You Bet’cha!

Imagine using this….

Instead of these little guys….

For those that don’t know, Tacoma Link (streetcar) was built in such a way to support it’s bigger brother, light-rail for about 80% of it’s system. If Sound Transit goes to the ballot in 2008 or 2010 and passes, the Kinkishayro equipment could be ordered and used even if the line isn’t connecting to the main line. What would the changes be you ask? Not as much as you would think…

  • The arrival of seven Kinkishayro light-rail vehicles
  • Rebuilt stations to handle 1 car train (read below)
  • The curve at 25th Ave to Pacific to be reconfigured. Current curve is too tight for LRVs
  • Expanded Operations & Maintenance Facility to handle Kinkishayro LRVs
  • 1 percent of art added to stations and key locations along the line
  • Modified Fare Structure
  • 7 new center-island platform stations, including shelters, signage, lighting, seating, ticket vending machines, CCTV’s
  • Power system conversion from 750dc to 1500dc unless LRV’s can “step down” and still performance solidly.
  • Construction of 5.5 miles of new double track light rail system to Tacoma Community College

There is one thing however that makes this a bit more difficult because, all of the stations on Tacoma Link have room for a one car train and would remain so. Normal Link consists are setup for a maximum of four car trains. This wouldn’t be a problem as long as nothing changes for the buses at Tacoma Dome Station but in my opinion, I would at least make it compatible for 2-car trains, especially if your expecting 8,000+/- passengers per weekday. When the full system is going, I would assume they would make the it still separate?

Most do not remember this document but Google found it for me while I was researching University Link and if any additional cars have been ordered yet.

Read over it and comment. I really wouldn’t mind the change but really, 2-car trains should be the goal and while space becomes an issue because the Kinki’s are 95 feet long vs. the current 66 foot long Skoda’s, nevertheless, it would be welcomed cause it does get very, very cramped sometimes on the Tacoma runs.

The total distance would go from 1.6 miles to 7.1 miles in length and would cost around $600 million for the project.

Sound Transit link on Tacoma Link conversion to Kinkishayro cars (.pdf file)

Compare and Contrast:

North, Central, University, East, South Link Light Rail – Kinkisharyo/Mitsui of Japan
Manufacture Specs are available at this link http://www.kinkisharyo.com/st_seattle.html


95 feet


12.5 feet


Estimated 105,000 pounds


8.7 feet

Passenger capacity

200 passengers, 74 seated

Fuel type


Fuel capacity



Powered by electrical-1500 volts D.C. traction power system

Tacoma Link – Inekon Trams formerly Skoda Dopravni Technika of Czech Republic
Manufacture Specs are available at this link http://www.skoda.cz/darkblue/obrazek.asp?ID=1613


66 feet


11.35 feet


61,729 pounds


8.1 feet

Passenger capacity

56 (30 seated and 26 standing)

Fuel type


Fuel capacity



Overhead electrical wires – 750 volts D.C., with pantograph current collection

National Transportation Planning

Megan McArdle of The Atlantic has an interesting, very wonky podcast about transportation planning in America, where she interviews her father, who happens to have been on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. I hope to digest their report sometime soon.

It’s just chock full of information, so take the hour to listen. Some interesting tidbits, including a follow-up comment thread here:

  • Injecting even a dollar of federal funds into a new project adds 4-8 years to the completion time of that project. A 1992 report kicked off high-speed rail between Washington and Charlotte, and the EIS for that project should be complete by 2010.
  • In the early 20th century, there was forceful opposition to construction of the New York City subway, particularly complaining about the disruption construction would cause. Building rail really is about sacrificing convenience now for the sake of future generations, isn’t it?
  • Part of the reason for the success of NYC’s transit is not only that it allowed high density near the lines, but that it forbid high density in other places. If true, we’re in big trouble.
  • Towards the end there’s an interesting discussion of optimal fares and how to pay for rail capital costs.
  • At about the 40:00 mark, Seattle is cited as a positive example (no, really) because transit here is not viewed as something that just poor people take.

SB 6772 Hearing at 3 pm

SB6772 is Mary Haugen’s (pictured) attempt to get local governments to pay for the state’s roads. You still have time to mail your senator and tell them you don’t like this bill. TV Washington will broadcasting starting at 3pm, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens on this front.

Update, after the hearing
Haugen clearly loves this bill. She spoke at length about how great the bill is for Seattle, and how helpful it would be for Spokane.

One interesting thing is that if 6772 passes, there’s no way ST2 will get on the ballot this year. First, the elected officials would need to get elected, probably this November. If they hustled, they could get something on the ballot sometime in 2009, though it would likely have to wait until 2010.

The Park-and-Ride Dilemma

At the meet-up, we had a short discussion of suburban park-and-rides that got me thinking. Giant parking garages are really a double-edged sword.

First, I’d like to dismiss the utopian-environmental argument that potential train riders will take the bus to the park-and-ride if there is inadequate parking. This is nuts. The whole idea of using transit for strictly local travel doesn’t really take off until non-car-ownership is a reasonably convenient option, which it most definitely is not in the suburbs. People spurned at the garage will drive to work. So you’re losing ridership, short term.

On the other hand, as Ben pointed out to me this weekend, put too many parking spaces around a station, and you suppress transit-oriented development (TOD). I grew up not far from the Shady Grove terminus of the DC Metro, which has 5,467 parking spaces (!) that totally surround the station Dodger Stadium-style. Now, the rules are a bit different for the end of the line, because you want to capture all those people driving from points north, but it’s been over 20 years now and I can’t help but notice the lack of TOD around that station.

So there’s a definite short-term vs. long-term tension there: put in too little parking, and no one rides your system; put it too much, and you end up suppressing the TOD that’s one of the big benefits of rail in the first place.

There are a couple of courses of action this points to:

(1) Build vertically. If you must have lots of parking, build that garage high so as to not take away vital real estate from long term development options.

(2) Manage demand. As I’ve mentioned previously, a nominal parking fee may allow to utilize resources more effectively. For a buck or two, someone who actually would consider taking a bus, bicycle, or walking, might choose the alternate mode instead of going for the most convenient option. A dollar or two also won’t discourage too many people from riding.

As a fringe benefit, this kind of demand management could fund electronic signs to let drivers know when the lot is full, reducing commuter frustration. As commenters from a previous post suggested, this is a major bummer when you have a train to catch.

Central Link Light Rail Update – 12-26-2007

Construction is coming nicely along with the OCS (Overhead Contact System) in place from Tukwila International Blvd Station to I-5/SR 599 and Mlk Way/Boeing Access Rd to Raymond Street. The bridge linking Tukwila Station over SR 518 to the Airport is complete and ribbon rail is along side of the new Airport Expressway that is currently being welded.

First Up, Mt. Baker Station

Looking the other way at Mlk Way

Redevelopment along Mlk Way and the Route 42

Columbia City Station @ Alaska Street

Othello Station

Henderson Street Station

The recently completed elevated section of Boeing Access Road.

Tukwila International Blvd Station

I’ll have to take some time out this weekend and explore the Airport Segment more in-depth. Not any places I would recommend stopping at near the Airport where you can get photos of the construction though it may be a thought to take the bus to the terminal and walk up to the top of the parking garage and shoot down towards the alignment. I’m sure you can get a good vantage point of the Expressway and might be able to see the Tukwila Station as well.

Everett Streetcar – $131 Million

A recent study of the proposed Everett Streetcar reached a new point with cost estimates released but already touted a high caliber system, if the University of Washington Everett Campus is built. The Streetcar would connect the new Riverfront development, including a possible UW Everett Campus at Everett Station.

Everett Station is home to the Everett Transit Customer Service Center as well as WorkSource, WorkForce, The University Center and Espresso Americano. Amtrak to Seattle, Chicago, and Vancouver, BC, Greyhound, Northwest Trailways, Skagit Transit, Island Transit, Sound Transit bus and Commuter Rail to Seattle and Community Transit also provide service from Everett Station.

The system is broken down into 4 segments, Segment A – Riverfront to Everett Station which would be the initial segment came in at $54 million dollars, $2 million more than the South Lake Union Streetcar. Everett Station is also the recommended site for the future UW Everett Campus. Riverfront is also undergoing a huge transformation of new housing, retail, and commercial use. BNSF Railway played a huge roll in this transformation by relocation a rail line used to get into Delta yard was recently finished.

Segment B would continue from Everett Station to Downtown via Smith Avenue, Wall Street, and Hewitt Avenue. Downtown Everett is slowly becoming a mini-Bellevue with smaller tech businesses moving in to get away from the crowded Bellevue, Kirkland, Seattle, Tukwila region. A lot of new retail, restaurants, cafes and commericial businesses have gone in in recent years and would benefit greatly from the Streetcars presence.

Segment C would continue from Downtown/Hewitt Avenue to the Marina on 10th, a location where new housing, retail and commercial is to be developed. This would also serve the Everett Naval Base and ferry service to Hat Island.

Segment D would depart from Downtown to Everett Community College via Colby Avenue.

The problem now is funding; including Inekon-Trio Streetcars (same as Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Washington, DC, and Toronto), maintenance facility, add about 3 miles of north and south spurs, right-of-way, vehicle and maintenance costs and the price tag swells to more than $131 million. That isn’t including the $6 million to $9 million a year to operate the Streetcar.

Streetcars are better than buses because they attract up to 60 percent more riders, seem to encourage quality urban development and open door for creative funding strategies, Brennan said.

Portland, for example, has seen more than $3 billion in development along its streetcar line since it opened in 2001, including about 6,000 residential units and 4 million square feet of commercial space, according to the Nelson-Nygaard study.

The city also paid for 30 percent of its capital costs with bonds that will be paid back from revenue collected in a special taxing district, which charges a variable fee to property owners in a three block radius of the route.

When Tacoma replaced an existing bus line with streetcars, it saw a 500 percent spike in ridership, Everett’s consultant said.

While some stakeholders and city officials are gung-ho about the prospect, it’s not yet clear to what extent property owners along the proposed routes are willing to chip in for the steep initial cost of a streetcar system.

We shall see.

More can be read at the Everett Herald Online

Walkable Cities

Dan Savage points out this MSNBC article about the most walkable cities in America. DC ranks first, with Seattle sixth. Dan is stunned that Seattle could be sixth without rail transit, but I’m not suprised. Seattle is built around dense urban villages, like DC is, and has a good commute pattern centered around a few job centers in the City that has allowed a few nice walkable neighborhoods.

Since the study is based on per-capita walkable places, NYC ranks very low, ironically because density is so high.

But I am in disbelief that Los Angeles could be ranked 12th. In Downtown LA, many of the side walks aren’t even wide enough to put a few people in a row on the side walk, and I rarely saw anyone walking down the street anywhere in the city. See the image, the side walk is no more than four feet wide.

What to make of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s analysis?

Cities were ranked by their walkable urban places divided by population. Seattle scored high, even though it’s the largest city in the rankings without a meaningful rail transit system.

Survey coordinator Christopher Leinberger, a real estate developer and visiting fellow at Brookings, said rail transit plays a “significant role in catalyzing walkable urban development,” with 65 percent of the walkable urban places being served by rail transit service.

Prop 1. too big, costly, but…..

The survey also showed 65 percent support to build 50 more miles of light rail, in response to a favorably-worded question.

But Sound Transit heard bad news, too. Only 23 percent thought sales taxes — the agency’s largest source of money — are a good way to pay for transportation. Car-tab fees, tolls and gas taxes were more acceptable.

More at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004041565_transpopoll29m.html

My thoughts:

I really don’t go off the results of these surveys anymore simply because the number of people are so low. If we went by these small polls each and every time, we wouldn’t need any real elections other than to make it “official” This is based on only 1,013 people…when I start seeing numbers of 5 to 6,000 people surveyed then I would take it a bit more creditable.

Yes, we are taxed out here to death in regards to sales tax. I would be comfortable paying a State Income Tax and reducing the Sales tax to say, 2.5% from it’s current 9.4% and I also would not mind using Toll or HOT lanes to fund transportation and maintenance projects.

We need leadership in this State however to get us moving and not crawling along on our knees. We should have had a light-rail system going by now and in the process of expanding it. We should have had plans to replace the trolley barn that was destroyed to make room for a park. It is a shame that our leaders are too self absorbed to not think ahead and let things go to waste before it’s time to replace them (86 year old ferries ring a bell?)

Something needs to change and I’m really starting to see that it isn’t the public attitude but our older leaders that no longer have a vision of keeping us going and what makes him/her look good to the people that support them. Look at Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, Charlotte, New York, Washington DC, that all are in the process of great, huge transportation projects…then look at us…It’s a sad comparison.

Why South Sound Deserves Transit

The News Tribune makes their case. They seem to understand the long-term importance of transit:

It was painful to see the headline atop the lead front-page story in Thursday’s Seattle Times: “Light rail to Tacoma: Is it worth the money?”

The problem with nearly all criticisms of light rail is that they focus on current population densities and demand for transit. Yet Proposition 1 would create enduring transportation corridors operating independently of freeways and adaptable to future transit technologies. Build the line from Sea-Tac to Tacoma in our lifetime, and it will be there in our great-grandchildren’s lifetimes.

Tukwila Station Event

These photos are actually legally taken this time:

It was a pretty nice event. Governor Christine Gregoire spoke, as did Senator Patty Murray, Pierce County Executive and Sound Transit Chair (and cowboy boot enthusiast) John Ladenburg, Port Commissioner Lloyd Hara, and State Representative Dave Upthegrove. The station looked great and it was actually raining during the speeches but I didn’t feel a drop on me. Beneath the station is a wonderful bus transfer section where buses can pick up and drop off on both sides of the station. There’s a lot of room for multi-modal transfers there.

There’s going to be a really nice mezzanine between the platform and the ground where the buses are. I wonder what exactly that space will be used for. They have already finished the elevated section between Rainier Valley and Tukwila so the only concrete construction left is from Tukwila to Seatac itself.

Some random things I learned at the event:

  • Politicians are great at congratulating themselves and thanking each other. On this note, Patty Murray said something great (paraphrased) “in twenty years people won’t remember who the leaders were, they will just be glad that it was built”.
  • The port commissioners really do answer to no one. Lloyd Hara said “we are going to make this a green airport” in the same sentence as saying “were are expanding 509 to the airport and adding a third runway.” It can’t become a green airport if you are adding highway lanes to the roads leading there and increasing the amount of air traffic.
  • On that note, where were the Sierra Club when these plans were being made? 509 expansion? That’s 15 lanes of general purpose highway (I’m not being facetious). We all know that air travel pollutes as much as highway travel per distance travelled, so where were they when the third runway was being built? One flight to New York and back is as bad as a 12 mile each way commute in a car for a whole year. A 50% increase in traffic at Seatac is a far bigger carbon effect than the roads in Prop. 1.
  • Union construction workers are very friendly people.
  • One factor in the long walk from the station to the terminals in the airport is that they are moving the terminals northward toward where the station is due to the increased traffic there. I had no idea that was going to happen.
  • Both Patty Murray and Christine Gregoire are very short. Both Larry Philips and Dave Upthegrove are very tall.


It was a beautiful day for most of the day today, and to get out and enjoy it I decided to head to Bellevue Square to start looking for some new threads to wear for the next wedding coming up. I know there is nothing in Bellevue that I can’t get in Seattle, but I wanted to check out the lake and see what the scene was like over in Bellevue. This also meant that I got to take the 550, which is quite fast for bus service. Yes, it costs more, but for the views, express service, and comfortable Sound Transit buses why not? Plus it probably is no secret, I like Sound Transit, I haven’t had any problems every time I have had to take their buses. Except today! It wasn’t anything ST did, but everything the passengers didn’t do. That is: Pay the EXACT fare! Appalled, disgusted, and confused begin to describe some of my thoughts about this experience. I counted today cause it got to be about every other customer, and 5 didn’t meet that requirement! 5. I am not a fan of fare evaders, I pay my fare as do most on the bus. The thing that got under my skin the most enough to cause me to blog about it, was level of disrespect to the driver. If these punks get on a bus they should know ahead of time what they are going to have to pay! All they have to do is look at the fare box! Watching the people who claimed they didn’t have the extra dollar get off the bus and laughing about it with their friends. There is only one word, ignorance. One guy, get this, used his “Sounder” ticket and read ignorantly to the driver that it should count as a transfer on the bus while walking off the bus. What a moron, the Sounder didn’t run today! The offenders today were younger in their teens, one older, mix of male and female. I have ridden the 550 before where 2 offenders did the same thing once in Bellevue except they didn’t give the sob story that they didn’t have the money, they flat out ran off the bus and flipped the rest of us off. Now, I wonder is this something that occurs on certain routes more than others? I see it on intercity routes, and I feel like it would probably occur on those routes more due to increased passengers. I thought while riding, perhaps it is confusing passengers to have ST and KCM buses be different in cost? But then the disrespect makes me think these people know the difference between the two and probably understand the cost breakdown well enough. Seattle to Bellevue is 2 zones, and costs $2.50! They should make no mistakes, $2.50, not $1.30, and definitely not free! Not to take it out on you, I am sure you all express my frustrations as paying transit folk! I wonder if it might make things better if there was a ST ticket vending machine (TVM) like the Sounder uses at multiple locations downtown that people could buy their tickets and show them upon boarding. That way, you won’t slow down the bus, you will have proof of purchase, and I will feel better about the world. Maybe we could even make it a machine that represents all transit agencies in the metropolitan area. What do you think? Have you encountered this before? Feel free to vent if needed, surely I have.

Numbers Shine for Sound Transit

Sound Transit released some stats on 2nd Quarter performance and their hard work is starting to pay off! Total ridership on Sounder, Link light rail, and Express buses went up 11% compared to last year. The Sounder alone went up 20% while Express buses went up 10% and Link light rail 2%. This is awesome, especially since Central Link isn’t even completed yet. In fact they had 3.5 Million people use Sound Transit in the 2nd Quarter. When Central Link is completed and rolling on its rails, I only see Sound Transit going up. In my perfect world, when ST Link is running to Everett and Redmond, the numbers will be as high as some other larger cities perhaps? San Francisco? Chicago?

Speaking of ridership the 19 days of pain are almost here, and as you may have heard Sound Transit added a Sounder round trip run for a total of 5 runs. The new trip starts in Puyallup at 6:17am and returns leaving King Street at 4:50pm. They have tweaked the normal schedule so make sure to take a peek if you are a regular. I see this as really the only way to sanity during this stretch of time. It will show the region that we need grade separated transit badly. In fact I hope people will use Sounder and see that it is the way to go even with all I-5 available. It provides Sound Transit with a great opportunity to showcase the Commuter Rail. So tell everyone about it that can use this awesome service. Too bad they couldn’t do 9 or 10 round trip runs! However Sound Transit is the agency that is adding service on buses and trains during the I-5 maintenance project. King County Metro is not adding any additional service as they are maxed out. Is anyone trying Sounder out for the first time? What are you doing to avoid this mess? Vacation? The coffee shop idea Mayor Nickels was talking about?

Is the iPod Responsible for Increase in Transit?

I know it seems silly, but is the ipod, among other portable devices, partly responsible for the increase in transit ridership we’ve seen in the country over the last few years? The Overhead Wire thinks the ipod is a great transit equalizer.

Now with the iPod, we can have thousands of songs in a device that is the same size of our wallet, allowing us to listen to whatever we want to, whenever we want to. But while the iPod can be hooked up to the car, it seems to be more useful from a transportation standpoint to walkable transit oriented neighborhoods. When you get out of a car the radio turns off or there is a tape transition, but when you leave a train or bus, the music continues on kind of like a soundtrack to your life.

In my opinion, it’s this soundtrack quality that can give transit a bonus versus the car.

It’s an interesting point to consider. Gasoline prices are certainly another cause of increase transit ridership, but I bet iPods, Nintendo DS, PSPs, and other portable, personal electronics becoming more sophisticated and less expensive have made transit more comfortable for a lot of people. Personally, I have an iPod (mostly news podcasts and not music) and a DS (mostly castlevania and puzzle games). What do you do on transit?

RTID did have a plan for 520, Viaduct is expensive

Read about the 520 plan here. It’s what they told me earlier this month, but I didn’t completely believe them. It’s basically a lot of tolls and the expectation that the viaduct won’t use much of the state’s special project money.

On the subject of the viaduct, you probably have already heard that Seattle’s Council approved $8.1 million for the study of a surface/transit option. Hopefully Light Rail could be part of the surface transit option, since the cost of a light rail system around there through West Seattle could be comparable to the difference in cost of the surface transit from the rebuild. The difference from the tunnel could pay for a new subway practically .

Project Cost (in millions)
Tunnel $3,600 to $4,100
Rebuild $3,200 to $3,500
Surface Roads ~$1,600
East Link Light Rail to Downtown Bellevue $1,465.2 to $1,684.9
Light Rail from University of Washington to Northgate* $1,126.6 to $1,239.3

*Includes about 3 miles of cut-and-cover bored subway.

If they can build rail from Seattle to Bellevue for less than $2 billion and imagine what they can do with the difference from the surface roads improvments and either the tunnel or the rebuild. They could connect light rail from Burien to West Seattle to Sodo and build a subway through Belltown to Seattle Center and maybe even connect rail through Ballard for the $3.5 potential difference between a tunnel and surface roads. I bet that plus the roads option would get more total people through than either the rebuild or the tunnel, and with the state’s new definition of capacity, that’s what should be done.

Update: someone wanted links to the numbers, so here they are for Sound Transit. Click on the project and a pdf will open with the cost estimate. For the Viaduct, I got the numbers from Wikipedia.

BRT vs Light Rail

Houston has decided to go with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) rather than Light Rail. Their project was more expensive than they expected, and the feds wouldn’t pay for part unless they switched from rail to buses. This is bound to continue the conversation here about BRT vs Rail that has been going on for sometime.

The BRT that they are selling us here and that which is going up in Houston are two very different things. According to the click2houston article: “B.R.T. is a diesel bus on rubber wheels that’s similar to light rail in that it follows a fixed guide-path and makes far fewer stops than a regular bus.” In Seattle, BRT is essentially more buses that make fewer stops but that’s it. They would not be on their own paths, and they would not have elevated platform stops.

Also, BRT is not the stopping point for Houston, it’s just an interrum as they move torward rail. Again, from the click2houston article.

Chairman David Wolff says B.R.T. allows METRO to live up to the spirit of the referendum. And notes as METRO’s building these lines, it will lay down tracks so it can switch to light-rail if ridership numbers justify it.

“That’s an additional expenditure which we wouldn’t have to do, but we want to show people that we want to get to light-rail as soon as we can,” Wolff said.

King County Executive Ron Sims, has been keen on BRT for years. After the viaduct vote went down, many more Seattle-area politicians have been talking about BRT. Erica C Barnett at the stranger had a nice summary six months ago.

The primary argument for BRT, especially during the Bush era of parsimonious transit funding, is that it’s cheaper and easier to implement than light rail. But while it’s undeniably less expensive to put buses on existing streets than it is to build the substantial infrastructure needed to create a new rail transit system, there are other measures of cost-effectiveness besides capital costs.

[T]he data is clear: BRT draws far fewer transit riders—and, importantly, far fewer new [Emphasis in the original, Ed.] transit riders—than light rail or other fixed-rail systems. In a 2001 study that’s often cited as evidence that BRT can work along the former monorail Green Line, the Seattle Department of Transportation found that elevated transit like the monorail or elevated light rail would add about 56,000 daily riders to the North Seattle-to-downtown corridor; BRT would add just 32,500. From West Seattle to downtown, the disparity was even more startling: nearly 28,000 riders for elevated rail, and just 10,000 for BRT.

Real-world statistics bear out the Seattle planners’ estimates: In Houston … there are six BRT routes running on 44 miles of freeway HOV lanes throughout the city. Currently, just 36,000 people use the system. In Portland, a much smaller city … a 33-mile light-rail system carries nearly twice as many riders as Houston’s: some 74,000 a day. Because of the higher ridership, the cost per passenger mile … is actually lower in many cities, including Portland, for rail than it is for “affordable” BRT.

Bus lanes, unlike rail, can be easily converted for use by other types of vehicles, in effect subsidizing private autos with public-transportation dollars. In Houston, highway lanes that were originally dedicated to “bus rapid transit” have been converted into HOV lanes where buses compete with private cars. This is exactly why you’ll never see real economic development around a bus stop: Buses can be moved; trains have to go where the rails go.

There is a really important point under the surface of Erica’s argument here. BRT does nothing to improve property values, while light rail improves property values considerably. That is why South Lake Union residents were willing to pay half the price of the streetcar there. And Streetcars aren’t even mass transit, just rail-based local transit. Imagine what a real rail system would do for this property values.

Admittedly, few places have tried BRT in America. As this article, with a more positive spin on BRT than the Stranger, says:

flexibility, she concluded that “bus service has a negative image, particularly when compared with rail service.”

She said rail-based plans are often viewed as the mark of “a world-class city” and an image-enhancer that can attract developers.

“As more experience is gained with BRT, its advantages and disadvantages will become better understood,” she said.

BRT is better than nothing, for sure. But it is not the sort of rapid, mass transit that will get people to leave their cars. Rail is.

More links:
Dan Savage on BRT.
Wikipedia on BRT
Bus Rapid Transit.net