WHEN, "AS GOOD AS RAIL", NO LONGER EXPLAIN THE LOADS...
OVER THE RAINBOW TO AN ANSWER.
First your going to have to understand this whole exercise is based on the numbers that rail nearly always beats out bus in "all things equal" performance. Nobody knows why. Countless millions of dollars have been lost in study after study as to, "Why people prefer rail?" Some simply close their eyes and ears to this, but most will clear the throat and mutter, yes, rail does seem to have a slight edge. Again and again, WHY? WHY? WHY?
It's weird that we have spent so much energy on such a basic human tendency. Believe me when I say I don't believe it's some magic bus stigma. I don't believe it's really the "Transit For The Poor" or "Who rode the short bus in school", etc. that we struggle with here. There is a silly old theory that "Rail does well because people know where it's going." PISH! Anyone that can read or hear can figure out how to use smart transit. Real time information and electronic destination signs SHOULD be more then enough to reproduce rail performance.
Would more gimmick transit like PCT BUSES (Potato Chip Truck - Thinks it's a Trolley), express and non-stop services or restroom equipped-reclining, top of the line, seat-Silver Eagle's, with full bar and tables do the trick? Busway's, dedicated lanes, HOV, guide wires, bus trains, even "slot car buses". Comfort, low floors, que jumping, signal priority or freaking flying wing buses and they'll still come up short on ridership. In view of the ridership gap, are the millions spent on BRT really worth the investment when a clear rail alternative is available? There is a ton of talent and energy being invested in reinventing the wheel. Sell it however you want, but I want to take you over the rainbow on this one.
Look hard at the image at the top of this article.
If you see The Grand Canyon with a Gateway Arch type bridge perhaps 4 feet wide, 5 miles across and 7,000 feet straight down from the peak, then we're all on the same page.
We are going to cross it. Do you hug the beam or walk? Neither.
We are starting on the South end of the canyon in North Central Arizona. ALL THINGS ARE EQUAL in this and we will assume that the grades are no problem for either vehicle. Oh, you see where this is going?
Now on the starting line you have a scaled down BRT super bus, 3.9 feet wide and 10 feet long with but two seats. It's been driving over that giant arch with a professional driver for years. Our driver of record could thread the needle with a bus at 90 MPH, and this toy is no challenge to him. BUT, is it a challenge to you?
There IS a catch to this study, just for incentive, if you don't ride, we're just going to shoot you, (mass transit, bad neighborhood, you'll understand). The "safe driver" is about to leave with our golf cart size bus and YES he will drive this bus over the arch and over the canyon. Will you WANT to jump aboard for the ride? What could we do to convince y0u? Perhaps if we added all those BRT toys? What if we added guide wires? What about? Could we?
FORGET IT BUBBA, I AIN'T GETTING ON YOUR SCALE MODEL BUS,
JUST SHOOT ME.
NEXT: Alright, now we reproduce the whole show, this time we have an identical vehicle to whatever you imagined your bus to be. The only change is THIS TIME IT'S ON RAILS. Stay on this side and we'll gladly have the our happy transit gangster shoot you.
ARE YA DEAD YET?
Not me, send a note to me in Saint George, Utah...
I'm gone on the mini-streetcar.
Did I have you thinking about it?
Did you notice a difference that two rails make? Imagine if you will, going over the circus giganticus Roller coaster with a Golf Cart? I don't think so.
The I-405 at 6:00 PM? A blow out on the I-40? A high speed collision on the I-95? Driver has a stroke? Heart attack?
Remember that in this, all-things-were-equal but the bus failed through NO FAULT OF IT'S OWN. The remotest chance of an accident on that narrow arch was enough to vote for rail. Humans vote with their instincts. No amount of dollars or engineering is going to prove that the bus was "As good as rail - only cheaper."
See you on the streetcar JACKSONVILLE, MIAMI, SARASOTA, FT. LAUDERDALE, TAMPA, CINCINNATI, COLUMBUS, COLORADO SPRINGS.