Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 9

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ART OF TRANSIT: The Metro 181 on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Metro 181 on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

It’s now legal to build light rail in the Valley (Curbed LA)

The Valley could get its own Metro light-rail train (LAWeekly)

Light rail in the San Fernando Valley (Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian press release) 

Gov. Brown on Tuesday signed a bill by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian that would make it legal to convert the Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley into light rail. The bill reverses the 1991 “Robbins” bill that outlawed light rail along the old Southern Pacific rail right-of-way that would eventually become the Orange Line.

So that’s interesting. Perhaps mostly because it shows how times have changed in the past 23 years. Whereas neighborhoods once upon a time went to great lengths to keep rail projects at bay — and a few still do — many more are actively lobbying for rail projects in their communities.

From LAWeekly:

Coby King of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA) says it’s his community’s turn to get a light-rail line that could run north-south from Canoga Park to Chatsworth:

The Metro Orange Line has been a victim of its own success, and is now so overcrowded and slow it has to turn away new passengers. Conversion to light rail is the best option for the Orange Line, with its significantly higher ridership potential and low cost relative to heavy rail and underground subways.

Nazarian himself says that having a train run though the Valley would “lead to greater connectivity to the Red Line and other transportation lines throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.”

There are some mighty tall hurdles to clear for the Orange Line to ever become a rail line. The Metro Board of Directors has not asked for a study of a conversion. Nor is a conversion in Metro’s long-range plan that was adopted by the Metro Board of Directors in 2010. The list of projects in the plan that are both funded and unfunded are below, including the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor:

LRTP1

LRTP2

All that said, a conversion certainly has its advocates in the Valley, which today boasts a population of 1.77 million, according to the Census Bureau. And the Orange Line has certainly proven popular, with almost 30,000 weekday boardings, according to the latest ridership estimates from Metro. The key questions, however, remain unanswered: how many more people could a train carry? Would a train definitely be faster? (the Orange Line currently takes 55 minutes to travel between NoHo and Chatsworth and 45 minutes between NoHo and Warner Center during the morning rush hour.) What is the cost? Where would the funding come from? Assuming money is in limited supply, what’s more important — this or a transit project connecting the Westside and Valley?

Discuss, please.

Caltrans to place homes in path of 710 freeway for sale (Star News) 

The agency has listed 53 properties purchased decades ago by the state in case a surface extension of the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena was ever built. That possibility is gone: Metro is currently studying five alternatives as part of its SR-710 Study including a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit, traffic improvements and the legally-required no-build option. The state owns more than 500 properties in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles — many of which will be sold after the project’s environmental studies are completed.

Who gets to buy the properties? Excerpt:

According to a draft set of rules Caltrans released last month for the sale of the houses, tenants who owned the house before Caltrans bought it through eminent domain will get the first shot. They will be asked to pay a fair market value.

Next in line will be current tenants who have lived in the house for more than two years and qualify as having low to moderate income. Then come tenants who have lived in the house for five years and do not earn more than 150 percent of the area median income, which is $64,800, according to the federal government.

Both of those situations would have the tenant purchase the home at an affordable rate or the “as is” fair market value, which is derived from the comparative home sales.

After that, a public or private affordable housing organization could purchase the home at a reasonable price. Then the current tenant — if they make more than 150 percent of median income or have lived in the house less than 2 years — can buy at fair market value. Last in line are former tenants at fair market value. After that, if the house is still on the market, it will go up for auction for anyone to buy.

 

The draft environmental study for the project is scheduled to be released in February.

Balancing cars, cash and congestion: Metro Silver Line BRT in ExpressLanes (Streetsblog LA)

A good overview of the history of the Silver Line bus service that runs between El Monte Station and Harbor Gateway Station using the ExpressLanes on both the 10 and 110 freeways as well as surface streets in downtown Los Angeles.

The post also looks at the issue of too much traffic in the ExpressLanes on the 10 freeway between Union Station and Cal State L.A. — where there is only one of the tolled lanes in each direction. According to Metro, there has been a marginal reduction in speeds on that segment in recent months (which the agency hopes to correct through by adjusting tolls) although the overall average speed of the ExpressLanes remains above the federally-mandated 45 mph.

Streetsblog also went out and looked at that segment firsthand on several occasions and found:

After hearing from our tipster and from Metro, Streetsblog visited the 10 Freeway ExpressLanes three times. All on rush-hour mornings on weekdays in mid-June 2014. The good news is that there wasn’t any bumper to bumper traffic. The lanes work. Plenty of buses, carpools, and solo drivers were commuting smoothly toward downtown Los Angeles.

The only slowing observed was that transit buses would often develop a “tail” of cars lined up behind them.  It appears that buses, driving the speed limit, marginally reduce the speed of other vehicle in the ExpressLanes.

Most likely, the toll lanes are experiencing the dip in traffic congestion that generally occurs in Los Angeles during summer months. Gas prices are generally higher in the summer. Fewer students are commuting to school. Some residents go on vacation. And, lately, according to Mayor Garcetti’s video here, drivers may be playing hooky to watch World Cup soccer.

The comments include some interesting debate about the Silver Line and the ExpressLanes. I’ll echo Streetsblog’s request for any feedback from readers here who use the bus or drive in the ExpressLanes.

Bicycling can be deadlier in L.A. than in Mumbai, Shanghai and other big traffic cities (LAWeekly)

Writer Chris Walker argues that he felt safer on a bike in the chaos of the aforementioned cities (and many others in Asia) than he does in L.A. He offers some statistics to back up his argument but much of what he says is anecdotal (not that I entirely disagree with his points). His main point: drivers in L.A. have very, very little regard for cyclists.

27 replies

  1. If the Orange Line is to be electrified, I believe it would be a mistake to not use that opportunity to tie it in to the East SFV corridor line. Since the Chandler right-of-way extends to Van Nuys Boulevard (as part of the former PE ROW) it would make the most sense to electrify only that portion, interline it with the East SFV corridor from Chandler to Sherman Way, then use the Sherman Way median for the remaining length of the line. That would provide both east-west connectivity and additional service for the densest portion of Van Nuys.

    Before the electrification starts, bus lanes could be installed on Oxnard and Lankershim from Valley College to North Hollywood Station, allowing the 901 buses to use the existing bus loop on the east side of the station. It could also allow for the extension of the 901 along Lankershim, possibly Riverside and Olive, to Burbank, Glendale and beyond.

    Here’s a map I created showing the sort of changes I’m talking about: http://i.imgur.com/IFqPkcH.png

  2. The Valley needs a Sepulveda Pass subway before they need to convert the Orange Line to a light rail. Or double track of Metrolink from Chatsworth to Burbank, or any number of other things.

  3. “Where would the funding come from? Assuming money is in limited supply…”

    C’mon. You all know that the most common answers to these questions are “let’s write up a new bill and raise taxes,” or “let’s hope Congress does something.”

    I’m getting sick of these as being the only ideas available. I say we should at least consider partially privatizing Metro, allowing the sale of some shares of Metro, gain funding from pro-transit investors, and letting investors take control the decision making process over government bureaucrats.

    I’d do it. If Metro IPOed, I’d take some money from my IRA account and purchase at least $20,000 worth of Metro shares. A true pro-transit advocate will be able to see mass transit as a great investment opportunity, not one of those indirect BS statements like “oh it’ll help businesses” or “oh, it’ll improve the quality of life” but as true investment – a real money maker.

    Cue the anti-privatization socialists and public employee labor union supporters in three, two, one…

  4. Crayz9000 I like your map.You have some of the same ideas that I do about some routing of various lines.

  5. My feeling from what I read above is that the SFV to Westside right now is more important than the converting the Orange Line. I understand that people that ride it are unhappy with over crowding or having to wait for another bus. I also would be interested in knowing why MTA does not have any double deck buses anymore. They use to have some back in the day of the El Monte Busway and I used to see them in Downtown LA heading for El Monte. Why has this not been tried on the Orange Line? They have had them in London for years. If they work there how come they can not work here as well? I do feel that something needs to be done about the traffic on the 405 Freeway; it is long over due. And I am speaking of rail not car pool or express toll lanes.

  6. spending a couple billion redoing the Orange Line (while crapping all over the current riders by disrupting the service or forcing the service onto adjacent streets for a few years) seems insanely wasteful.

    Especially when the Orange Line could carry a lot more riders if they had signal priority.

    Yup, we can spend a few billion on a train or we can spend nothing on clicking a few computer toggles and changing the timing of the street lights and get the same result from either. Well not quite the same result, the latter solution that is free also comes without the five years of human misery caused by the construction.

    I love trains, but it is idiotic to convert the orange line when all that needs to be done is changing a few traffic light signals–something that is free to do.

    I also note that the subway to sea isn’t in either of the above documents on the construction or further study plans. Is Metro really going to have a subway to nowhere (by the time it gets to the VA most of the Vietnam vets will be dead and there are not nearly as many vets from our most recent wars)? You’d think they’d want the Subway finished, rather than leaving it hanging in the car utopia middle of nowhere it’s currently schedule to terminate at.

  7. It takes two-and-a-half motor vehicle lanes to put a BRT, LRT or tram down the middle of a street. A engineer consultant at a East San Fernando Valley Transit Improvement Project meeting begged the question about the Sepulveda corridor project in which he essentially stated after the tunnel is dug from the SFV to the Westside, then where are they going to put the train? He believes it will never get built because of the traffic congestion on the Westside would cause too much resistance from stakeholders to taking away motor vehicle lanes. It would have to be a tunnel on the Westside to overcome that and the money set-aside for this project is not nearly enough to have that much of the project below ground.

    Under ideal circumstances it would be at least a decade before the Orange Line could be converted to rail. In the meantime, Metro should consider a much more specialized 60-ft when the current buses need to be replaced. The Phileas 60 on page 26 of this pdf is an example of a bus that has many advantages over the current bus design that is used on the Orange Line:

    http://www.nbrti.org/docs/pdf/2006_brt_compendium.pdf

    The Phileas 60 compared to the NABI 60, shown on page 22:

    Phileas 60 holds 50-percent more passengers by having less than half the seats of the NABI 60 and more standees. Not getting on the bus is much more of a problem for customers than no available seats.

    The Phileas 60 has a fully independent suspension–which is the norm for all modern automobiles. This produces a smoother ride.

    The Phileas 60 is also capable of using a automatic guidance system by using magnets imbedded in the road. This would allow docking close enough to station platforms to not need the use of wheelchair ramps. It also could be used to keep the buses from bunching up by regulating the speed of the buses. This control of the speed could also produce shorter route times by enabling the bus to go through more intersections without having to stop. Accelerating from a stop significantly delays the average speed of the bus.

    The Phileas 60 is also 12,000 pounds lighter than the NABI 60. This enables the bus to carry more passenger without exceeding the maximum weight per axle allowed by law. Less weight also produces faster acceleration for the same power output and more mpg.

    Downsides to the Phileas 60 is that it is not assembled in North America–which rules out using federal funds to purchase it and it also costs about two-and-a-half times more than the NABI 60. The point is not that the next bus has to be a Phileas 60, but that the higher passenger capacity, much lower weight, automatic guidance system, fully independent suspension and tighter turning radius are all features that 60-ft buses in the Metro system should have and especially the Orange Line BRT.

  8. Converting the Orange Line to light rail should absolutely move to near the top of Metro’s list. It would actually be one of the “biggest bang for small bucks” solutions possible. I’m quite convinced that converting the line to light rail would cost less than $500 million – in fact, it’d likely be as little as $200-$300 million.

    Before committing to building new lines, Metro needs to seriously think about “retrenchment” and improving the system they have *now*. In addition to the Regional Connector, that means doing things like converting the Orange Line to light rail, and finally biting the bullet and converting the Blue Line (Union Station to Long Beach) to “heavy rail”, as well as little things like extending the Green Line east so it finally reaches Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs train station. Things like the Sepulveda Pass project are “pie in the sky” projects that are unlikely to happen any time soon…

  9. Yay! Repealing the Robbins Bill and allowing the Orange Line is a dream come true. Now upgrade it to light-rail and build the Sylmar to LAX rail project proposed by The Transit Coalition.

    The San Fernando Valley deserves to have rail as its transit spine like elsewhere in the County. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) should only be the supplement and not the spine of our mass transit system.

  10. Has Metro worked to be able to be able to obtain and operate longer buses as seen in cities with real Bus Rapid Transit?

  11. You guys make me laugh. Sure it’d be nice to have rail everywhere from your front door of where ever you live to where ever you want to go for ultra cheap.

    It ain’t gonna happen. Only one person has commented how the money is going to come from. Everyone else is just posting dreams without ever thinking about the financial aspect of how to get the money to build what they want.

    Money doesn’t grow on trees. Is this hard for you guys to understand?

  12. Josh Young:
    Most of us are, contrary to perceptions, painfully aware of the costs involved.

    The thing is, we’ve been spending an inordinate amount of money on subsidizing public highways. If we spent an equivalent amount on transit, well, we could have a high speed rail and local rail network that would put the best of Europe to shame.

    Instead, we have crumbling highways and high congestion.

    Dreams of transit are more about providing inspiration of what we COULD have if we put our money where our mouth is. You don’t start with this year’s budget and ask “what can we build with this?” because the answer is always going to be “Not much.” Instead, you look at what you really need, figure out how much it’s going to cost and how you can save on those costs along the way, and then figure out how to get the budget needed to make those dreams come true. That’s why Metro spent all the time and money formulating both short-range and long-range plans: so they can approach the necessary agencies to get their budget funding.

  13. Where to get the money? Simple. Stop fighting stupid wars.

    The total amount of tax dollars spent fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan could’ve been to better use right here in the USA. Both parties are guilty of this from the two terms of Bush and the two terms of Obama.

  14. The least expensive rail choice would be a tram (streetcar). It has a big advantage over light-rail in that it can run in mixed traffic. This means for the Orange Line that a tram could run in mixed traffic for the last few blocks to the Warner Center. If it was a LRT, then there would have to be grade separation from the current separated busway to the Warner Center. This alone would increase the cost by hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The ability to run in mixed traffic would also make a tram the better rail choice for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project. Using a tram for this project was initially tossed out by the project team as having no advantage over BRT because it would get bogged down in mixed traffic, but the board of directors wanted them to study this further. Being able to run in mixed traffic along Van Nuys Blvd from the Orange Line to Ventura Blvd and along San Fernando Rd would increase the length of rail by being able to run in mixed traffic. The current study has a potential LRT terminating at the Orange Line at the south-end and at the north where it meets San Fernando Rd. Passengers would then have to board a bus to complete the entire length of the project. Those inconveniences and delays kill any perceived advantage of LRT over trams or BRT. Getting LRT to run the entire length would require the train to have tunneling at both ends of the route, which would raise the cost well beyond the amount of money that could probably be raised for this project.

    The diagrams in this October 2013 The Source article highlights where the ridership is and the recommended installation for each of the alternatives:

    http://thesource.metro.net/2013/10/14/metro-staff-report-refines-the-alternatives-for-east-san-fernando-valley-transit-corridor/

  15. Dennis,

    There are actually very few instances where you could run a tram that you couldn’t run LRT. The gauges and drive are very similar. Main difference with a tram is the low-floor boarding, but older streetcars (and the ones (currently?) used in the San Diego Trolley system) simply had stairs at each entrance.

    Both the Blue and Expo lines have street-running segments along Flower St, and the Blue Line continues running in the streets along Washington and Long Beach boulevards. Expo Phase 2 is going to operate in street-running configuration along Colorado in Santa Monica.

    The biggest argument against trams for Metro is that they can’t interline with the rest of Metro’s fleet. They might be able to run on the same tracks, but the high-floor boarding platforms will prevent them from operating anywhere but the street.

  16. crayz9000,

    The interline argument that comes up often is flawed. The train used on the Green Line always will be used for the Green Line. There is no shared maintenance facility or shared track for both the Blue and Green Lines; they never intersect together. And neither is it easy to just pick up a train used on the Green Line and plop it on to tracks used on the Blue Line.

    For what it’s worth, building the Orange Line trolley/light rail will be the same thing. It’ll have it’s own maintenance yard which will never intersect with any other part of the Metro system, it’ll never be plucked up and placed on say the Red Line or any other part of the Metro system.

  17. Steve, can you run a post on why the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor added the Tram to the list of options being studied AFTER it had been ruled out for analysis and without any consultation with the public? Metro had said that they were going to have public meeting in the spring of this year and then postponed them for at least six months.

    The Orange Line should be in contention for LRT conversion as part of any Measure R+ extension or supplement proposed by Metro.

    ****

    As Crazy9000 states above, the tram would not be operable with a potential LRT system through the 405/Sepulveda Pass. The Sylmar Metrolink Station with a LRT link to the East San Fernando Valley project would be an ideal place for commuters from Santa Clarita, Palmdale, etc to be able to transfer to West LA without having to go to Downtown LA.

    • The tram, as I understand it, is basically light rail but the kind that doesn’t need a platform — doors are at street level. I’ll try to find out more about when the project’s draft study will be released.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  18. crayz9000,

    Did you bother to read my link to what the ESFV Transit Corridor team concluded would probably happen to install the alternatives? It very clearly shows that a LRT would possibly require tunneling for 1.5 miles. Due to cost constraints, it would terminate where Van Nuys Blvd meets San Fernando Rd and where it meets the Orange Line. That’s only 6.7 miles out of the 11.2 miles of the project length.

    There are several factors involved in what improvements will be made for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project. One of the biggest limitations is the cost. Metro only has $170 million for their financial commitment. The cost estimate for light-rail is $1.8-1.9 billion–even with shortening the route. There is a very slim chance that Metro can get at least 10.6 times more money than they have to do this type of project. The fact that they include it in the alternative evaluations does not mean that they necessarily can get adequate funding.

    The tram alternative is shown for the entire 11.2 mile length of the project and there is no tunneling mentioned. Clearly the project team does not agree with your statement that the LRT can run in the same areas as a tram. I’m working with what Metro is proposing for each alternative, your trying to convince me of something that Metro has no intention of doing.

    At a Metro outreach meeting the manager of this project stated that a tram was ruled out because it typically runs in mixed traffic and that is where it loses any advantage over buses. If something gets in its way in mixed traffic, then its stuck there until that object moves out of they way. A bus can move around objects that are in the roadway.

    Many of the major street crossing for the Expo Line Phase II are grade separated as is the first Phase.

    The upcoming Crenshaw Line also has many grade separated sections. This is a major reason why it will cost at least $2 billion for 8.5 miles.

    The Blue Line has had many fatal collisions. This is something that Metro is trying to avoid by using grade separation for the newer LRT routes.

    Again, the tram alternative in the diagram for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project has no grade separation at all. Clearly there is less safety concerns for this alternative type than there is for the LRT alternative or the BRT alternative–which also does not have grade separation in the diagram shown.

    The diagram for the tram alternative clearly states that it will run for 6.7 miles in its own dedicated median which will be separated from traffic. It will run in mixed traffic for 4.5 miles–which the LRT alternative will not.

  19. George H,

    There is actually a non-revenue (maintenance only) track connecting the Green Line to the Blue Line’s mainline tracks. That is how they are able to get the Green Line trains to the Blue Line maintenance yards for anything the Division 22 yard at Redondo Beach can’t handle.

    The Green Line runs Siemens P2000 trains. Other P2000s used to be used for the Gold Line and (after the introduction of the Breda P2550) have now been switched to the Expo and Blue lines. The P2550s were originally intended to be suitable for any Metro Rail line, but after Breda built them over-weight, they (from what I understand) cannot be used on the Green Line due to weight restrictions.

    Finally, from what I’ve gleaned from the intial Metro studies and other comparisons of LRT and tram technology, the low-floor trams (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-floor_tram) being studied for use in East SFV corridor have a few serious drawbacks (outside of the interline problem) that may take them out of the running:

    * Most low-floor trams have fixed bogies that increase track wear and prevent higher speeds on curves.

    * The missing and fixed bogies result in 15% additional maintenance costs to the trams and 20% higher maintenance costs to the infrastructure, on average.

    * Low-floor trams need special measures to be ADA-compliant, like fold-out ramps or lift ramps for wheelchair access. Level boarding LRVs do not.

    Finally, if the East SFV corridor is connected via Sepulveda Pass to Westwood and eventually LAX, there’s going to be a definite issue trying to mix low-floor and high-floor LRVs when you get to the Crenshaw/LAX right-of-way.

  20. Wish I could edit a comment so I don’t have to post another one.

    Dennis, I have looked at Metro’s plans for the East SFV corridor. I’m not sure why the Metro planners believe a low-floor LRV can run in mixed-flow traffic while a high-floor LRV cannot. Both are based on the same streetcar technology and as I mentioned, San Diego Transit has been running high-floor LRVs in mixed-flow mode for years now.

    The only drawback of using any LRV in street-running mode, as has already been mentioned, is the inability to pass cars. Any street-running LRV line is going to run into serious timing issues whenever it encounters traffic, which is a big part of why the Los Angeles Railway’s network disappeared.

  21. Dennis,

    Metro stated in their last report to the public that the route was excluding San Fernando Rd and a connection to the Sylmar Metrolink Station because of the issues caused be realignment of rail tracks caused by High Speed rail coming to the area. Metro said that they were committed to bringing a connection to the Sylmar Station eventually. This also points out the flaw in a Tram because unless the 405/Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor also used Tram in their proposed tunnels, the Tram and LRT trains would not work together and therefore you could not a single seat ride for Metrolink customers from Sylmar to West LA and allowing them to bypass downtown LA.

    Metro has also subtracted the the route south from the Orange Line and Van Nuys Blvd from the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor and added it (and therefore it’s cost $$ of construction) to the 405/Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor planning study.

    See http://www.metro.net/projects/east-sfv/east_sfv-faq/

    And faq #15 for info

  22. crayz9000,

    Your assumption seems to be that Metro has an almost unlimited amount of money to work with on these Measure R projects. The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project was not meant to be a major project under Measure R. It originally included the wording “Rapid” and had $70 million of Measure R money set-aside for it–by far the smallest of any transit project, meaning it was to be a minor upgrade of the bus line. Compare that to the $1.21 billion set-aside under Measure R for the Crenshaw Line–which already has cost overruns that bumped it up to $2 billion. This increased cost makes it less likely that all of the Measure R transit projects can be completed. If other Measure R transit projects, such as the subway extension, go over budget, then this will endanger the Sepulveda Pass project–which is the last project to be finished under Measure R.

    There is not enough money from Measure R to make the entire length of the ESFV project light-rail. In fact, its extremely unlikely that it can be made rail at all as the original estimated price for LRT by the project team was $1.8-1.9 billion.

    The $240 billion BRT alternative also likely would have not had a chance to be built if there was not money left over from the Orange Line extension upgrade which enabled the ESFV project money to jump to $170 million. The constraints of money makes it much more likely that Metro will choose to built a BRT for this project rather than rail. Its simple, if they cannot get enough money for rail, then they cannot build rail. This decision is not driven by preferences of Metro, its money constraints that will ultimately determine which of the alternatives can be installed.

    A major problem with having several alternatives studied for each of these projects is that much of the public believes that the most expensive alternative can be built. The alternatives being studied are not listed with the assumption that Metro will be able to get the money for all of them. Its basically a exercise in studying the pros and cons of each alternative independent of money available. Its also a natural reaction that people would choose the most expensive project since the ticket price that they will pay is the same no matter what alternative is built.

  23. In the valley,

    The BRT, tram and LRT Metro diagrams all have routes where they would have to run in mixed traffic on San Fernando Rd and below the Orange Line to Ventura Blvd. Since the LRT cannot run in mixed traffic, its route has been shortened to 6.5 miles out of the 11.2 miles in order to exclude those sections. I don’t see much of advantage for LRT if you have to get on a bus below the Orange Line and at San Fernando Rd in order to complete your journey. It would not save time and it would be much less convenient compared to a tram or BRT.

    The pluses and minuses of each mode will be part of the evaluation. Each one has an advantage over the others. Such as a tram or BRT can run in mixed traffic and a LRT cannot. A tram can get stuck behind an object that does not move. A bus is much more flexible in routing and running in mixed traffic than fixed rail and it also costs much less and is faster to construct.

  24. All,

    Please read this: http://www.humantransit.org/2010/03/streetcars-vs-light-rail-is-there-a-difference.html

    There is NO REASON why a light rail vehicle cannot run with traffic in mixed flow, or why a streetcar cannot run on a dedicated right of way. Streetcars and trams are both LRVs. The only differences come from stop spacing – typical streetcars operate more like local buses, while LRT is better suited for long-distance runs with stops over 1 mile apart.

    San Diego operates portions of its lines mixed-flow in downtown San Diego. Other portions operate on dedicated right of ways. Both utilize the same vehicles.

    I admit that my fantasy map makes the assumption that Metro gets a Measure R2 for the additional funding. It already needs a Measure R2 just to finish what’s on the table. Regardless, there’s no reason that the existing LRVs in Metro’s fleet can’t run on the proposed tram routing. If they can run through downtown Long Beach, they can certainly handle Van Nuys and San Fernando.

  25. crayz9000,

    The LACMTA Blue Line LRT does not run in mixed traffic in Long Beach. Mixed traffic means a through lane that cars, buses, trucks, bicycles and trains travel in. The only vehicle that is allowed to travel along the median where the train tracks are in Long Beach is the Blue Line LRT. Other types of vehicles can cross the tracks at intersections when a train is not approaching and they are given a signal that indicates they can proceed.

    A tram (streetcar) is designed to run down the middle of a through mixed traffic lane. That’s why Metro puts it into a different category than a LRT.

    The original outreach meetings mentioned trams as vehicles that typically travel in mixed traffic. Since then, the ESFV transit corridor team has proposed putting a tram in a separated median for 6.5 miles just like the BRT proposal and running in mixed traffic for the rest of the 11.2 mile route as the BRT would. Its suggested by their latest diagrams that the LRT might have to be underground for about 1.5 miles of this 6.5 mile median separation–unlike the tram or BRT, but the LRT would not run in mixed traffic for the rest of the route.

    Because of having to run on fixed rails, both a tram or LRT would easily be disrupted by traffic induced delays if they run in mixed traffic. This would greatly reduce the reliability and usefulness of these modes as transit over a bus which can go around most objects in its way.

    There are much more advanced 60-ft buses that are designed specifically for BRT that have a capacity 50% greater than the NABI-60 that are used on the Orange Line. The Van Hool Exquicity-18 is an example:

    http://www.exquicity.be/media/723/Download_Folder_ExquiCity.pdf

    The NABI 60 used by the LACMTA seats 57. The Exquicity-18 can be fitted with 44,35 or 29 seats. Having only 29 seats would probably give a capacity 50% greater than the NABI-60 because there would be much more floor space for standees.

    Part of the evaluation should be whether the capacity of a 29-seat 60-ft bus would be sufficient to handle the demand along this corridor. As Jarrett Walker has stated before on his Human Transit blog–trains should be put in when you need a really, really long bus.

    The anticipated ridership of this project corridor may not reach the level of ridership that would require a tram or LRT. Again, there is a finite amount of money available, putting in a much more expensive design reduces the number of projects that can be built with this fixed amount of money.

    Its very unlikely that there will be sufficient funding to put a train along the ESFV transit project corridor and there is also the problem with having to complete the project by 2018. It takes much less time to put in a BRT than a LRT or tram.