12 August, 2008

BRT vs LRT vs CR vs BUS vs AUTO...?


In response to several articles that have labeled rail transit, light rail and streetcars as "political graf", an interesting side by side comparison has been done. Does the highway based transit really work "Just like rail only cheaper?". In balance, keep in mind that NO WHERE would I suggest that Light Rail or any rail take on the transit for Jacksonville by itself. Can't be done without the buses, and frankly a Light Rail Lite BRT system, one that extends the reach of those trains, or streetcars, is just what the doctor ordered. We need them ALL.

When we resort to claims that transit XXX is going to be the save all of the world, and transit YYY must go, it reminds me of a famous Evangelist. Billy Sunday, once said, in consideration of our no longer going out and winning folks for Jesus, rather we were stealing members from each others churches. "Lord, we are no longer fishers of men but keepers of aquarium's." Ditto for the single mode transit lobby.

From the Orphan Road:

King County = Seattle, Washington
Washington D.C.

For an example of how rail can more more people more cheaply, we need only look to Washington DC. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the operator of DC Metro, spends almost exactly the same amount of money as King Country Metro does, $560 million to $580 million. Except for that $560 million DC metro moves almost a million people a day on rail (three times what KC metro moves per day with its buses) and the WMATA agency provides buses that carry another 120,000! It’s only possible because of the investment put in place years ago, and residents there can reap the benefit of a reliable, traffic-separated transit system that’s relatively cheap.

And DC's population density is roughly the same as Seattle's, so it's not like they've achieved this amazing transit ridership simply by crushing everyone into Manhattan-style apartments.

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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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