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BRT (or Rapid Bus) is NOT a stepping stone towards light rail

As part of an excellent series of takedowns of BRT, the San Francisco Bike Blog has written an excellent rebuttal to the frequent claims that BRT or Rapid Bus plans can function as stepping stones towards light rail. One relevant excerpt relating to a transitway in Ottawa that was designed to be convertible to LRT::

The study concludes that with limited financial resources, it is better to invest in new rapid transit corridors than to replace an existing one. It is not considered cost-effective to convert the Transitway to LRT at this time.

Please check out the rest. There's a lot more good stuff in the other links from Jeff's collection as well, including impacts on the urban environment from smelly, noisy, uncomfortable buses versus electric trains.

In our case, our potential investments in our completely useless Rapid Bus plan are completely nonportable to light rail (the stations are on the wrong side, for instance). Ironically, as the linked story points out, every improvement that could be made to make Rapid Bus more like Bus Rapid Transit would make it less likely we'd ever see light rail on the #1 corridor.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Don't Hurt Us Mr. Krusee, We'll Do Whatever You Want , I Told You So , Rapid Bus Ain't Rapid , Republicans Hate Poor People , Republicans Hate Public Transportation , Republicans Hate The Environment , Transit in Austin , Transportation , Urban Design , Walking in Austin (Pedestrian Issues)

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Comments

Well... I guess they get to test out their light synchronization technology that they'd need if they put in light rail. So uh... that's something, right?

Cap Metro buses get around town about as fast as you would get around town in a car. The slowdowns are the stops. I fail to see how we gain anything until the transit can go enough faster than traffic that they make up for the stop time.

Have to disagree on that one. When I drive home, I sometimes take Mopac to CC, sometimes to 5th, sometimes to Enfield, and occasionally to 35th. Depends on the traffic. The bus, on the other hand, must use the same route every day (so much for 'flexibility') with a few exceptions (the 98x buses have a bit of leeway during the long stretches they don't have any stops).

So I'd argue it's not just the stop time - it's also that they have to stay on the road WITH those stops even when the alternative route has less traffic that day.

I doubt the light synchronization technology is portable. For rapid bus, they're just going to hold the light a little bit if it was about to turn red - I would imagine LRT would merit actual preemption.

Is there anything we can actively do to discourage this folly? Other than kick Laura Morrison et al out of office (she likes Rapid Bus from what I remember, correct)?

Last time it took McCracken and Martinez in their capacity as Cap Metro board members. I don't know how they feel about this updated attempt - it's probably worth emailing them (they surely already know how I feel, but may not know if others feel the same way).

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