Learning from Denver

The Stranger’s Erica Barnett is in Denver reporting on the opening of the regions new T-REX transportation project. The T-REX project can certainly teach us something about how to handle megaprojects. A $1.7 billion project, completed in 5 years, widening 17 miles of freeway and adding 19 miles of light rail.

T-REX

However, this project has disproved one frequently made assertion: light rail is not always preferred to buses. From the Rocky Mountain News:

Swamped with an “unprecedented” barrage of complaints about longer commutes that accompanied the startup of T-REX light-rail service, RTD is making changes to bus schedules and routes, but it won’t bring back the popular express buses it eliminated.

But the source of many of the complaints – elimination of direct nonstop coach bus rides from far-out suburban park-n-Rides to downtown or the Denver Tech Center – remains. Regional Transportation District staff said with Southeast light-rail lines serving as the new spine of the corridor, it can’t afford to compete with itself by adding some of the canceled bus routes.

Something to think about as Sound Transit 2 proposes a massive light rail expansion.

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BRT the Japanese way…

While the US has its share of vehicles that can operate on rails or roads for quite a while, they’re all pickups for railroad maintenance:

RailTruck

Via Engadget, the Japanese do us one better. With rural villages shrinking, a Japanese railroad has developed a railbus that has two sets of wheels: steel for rail lines, and rubber to serve remote villages that are no longer economical to maintain rails to. Undergoing testing now, the railcars will cost $170,000 each. Those fancy new hybid buses Metro is running? $645,000 each.

Railbus

These would certainly be some of the “unique vehicles” Ron Sims’ RapidBus BRT plans call for.

In the year 2025…

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
-Chinese Proverb

What will Seattle transit look like in 2025? The beginnings of a major change are arriving, with Link scheduled to advance to Northgate, and many proposed streetcar lines under consideration. But how do we get from that to an integrated system? Some thoughts, after the jump. Continue reading

The Sufrace Alternative

While the People’s Waterfront Coalition wants a boulevard as a stick to reduce demand by inducing gridlock, that is certainly not the only way a boulevard could work. Beyond the flip, a boulevard concept that retains capacity while maintaining a vibrant waterfront.
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What about Ballard?

Ballard is another neighborhood heavily dependent on the Viaduct. The untimely demise of the monorail leaves transit riders dependent on bus routes made increasingly slow and unreliable by congestion on 15th NW and Westlake. After the break, a modest proposal to rectify the situation…
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Focus on West Seattle

West Seattle is the neighborhood most directly affected by the changes the Viaduct will undergo. As it closes for construction, trips that used to access Downtown via the Seneca St. exit will be forced to take 4th Ave South or I-5 to reach the core. This will require a rerouting of the most popular bus in West Seattle, the 54, which currently uses the Viaduct for express trips to downtown from the Junction.

Not to worry, Ron Sims is on the case. His Transit Now! initiative plans to provide the closest thing to a “true” BRT line yet attempted in Washington. Some thoughts, after the jump.
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Mitigating the Viaduct

With the failure of the Green Line, the transit situation for the western portion of Seattle has been thrown into disarray. Whatever option is chosen for the viaduct replacement, there will be a considerable reduction in auto capacity through downtown during construction. This will last years, and the reduction in capacity could be permanent if the People’s Waterfront Coalition boulevard plan gains traction.

However, choosing the boulevard would reduce the cost of the project signifgantly. In an ideal world, this would free up resources for transit improvements to offset the loss of people-moving capacity. Over the next few weeks, I aim to explore the neighborhoods affected by the viaduct’s closure, and what sort of transit projects might improve mobility among Seattle’s neighborhoods.