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-   -   CHICAGO: Transit Developments (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=101657)

ardecila Apr 23, 2008 1:45 AM

Yea. I'm pretty sure that signal priority on buses is the cheapest way to get the CTA system running more smoothly. Anybody know how much this costs per stoplight? If CTA bought, say, 1000 units, would the unit price go down?

I imagine there would have to be some central computer coordination, or the buses in, say, River North would seriously mess up the efficient flow of traffic, with lots of perpendicular bus lines changing the coordinated stoplights in random patterns.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2008 1:32 PM

Signal priority doesn't usually work like the systems in some cities that allow emergency vehicles to actually change the signals to all-red. Instead, signal priority for transit usually just means that a green light is extended a few seconds if a bus is approaching, so the bus doesn't get caught by a changing light.

Chicago3rd Apr 23, 2008 1:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3503582)

As for the Portland Streetcar, bear in mind that for a tenth of the capital cost, Portland could have bought a fleet of twice as many distinctive new buses and painted a big green stripe on the street so the line would have the same "visibility." And the operating costs for the buses would have been about half, meaning they could run twice as frequently. Let's hope the Portlanders waiting in the rain for the streetcar to arrive realize how lucky they will be to be eventually get to ride in a streetcar instead of a bus.

It is wonderful....having lived in Portland. Same thing with the FLine in San Francisco....it works. Designated lanes help lots...lol. The reason the street cars failed in so many North American cities was because of lies and propoganda put out by the car industry....and all the saprovors that live off that industry.

VivaLFuego Apr 23, 2008 4:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3504585)
Signal priority doesn't usually work like the systems in some cities that allow emergency vehicles to actually change the signals to all-red. Instead, signal priority for transit usually just means that a green light is extended a few seconds if a bus is approaching, so the bus doesn't get caught by a changing light.

Right. The transponder on the bus will hold a green light until it gets through the intersection. Alternatively (additionally?), another form of transit signal priority is queue-jumping, where buses get a dedicated lane (far right or far left) and their own signal, so that buses waiting at an intersection get a green light before the rest of traffic. This would be particularly useful for certain chokepoints in the Chicago road network, like the exit ramp from northbound Lakeshore Drive to Belmont.

VivaLFuego Apr 23, 2008 4:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 3504597)
The reason the street cars failed in so many North American cities was because of lies and propoganda put out by the car industry....and all the saprovors that live off that industry.

It's a bit more complicated than that... As Mr D has alluded to, any rail/traction power system like streetcars has a significantly higher capital cost than bus systems sharing streets with cars. Mid-century, there simply wasn't the capital investment money available to maintain streetcar infrastructure (tracks/wires/etc) in most cities. It was hard enough maintaining operations, and this was before anything resembling significant public (federal/state) subsidy for transit. Given the lack of subsidy, transit agencies that were hanging on by a financial thread had basically no choice but to gradually shift to buses which were much more rapidly scalable for changing financial and demand conditions.

Of course I'm not saying it's never worth the investment for the potential benefits you get from an electric/rail system, but the notion of streetcars failing nationwide because of a conspiracy is overblown. There were isolated cases, but the trend for public transit was toward more economical bus operations. In mid-century, auto use was being heavily subsidized (e.g. the 90% federal match for highway construction) while transit got basically nothing.

Note that this also explains why it was during the 40s and 50s that the CTA tore down several rapid transit lines, like the Humboldt Park, Normal Park, Kenwood, Stockyards branchs, and the Westchester and Berwyn extensions on the west side. Basically, there were no capital investment dollars to maintain them (though Humboldt probably could and should have been saved).

emathias Apr 23, 2008 4:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3503582)
But how would a streetcar get around stalled traffic on Division? There's a reason streetcars in mixed street running survived nowhere except Toronto in North America. The experience is miserable for the streetcar riders creeping across town and for the drivers who get madder and madder because they can't get around the streetcar.

As for the Portland Streetcar, bear in mind that for a tenth of the capital cost, Portland could have bought a fleet of twice as many distinctive new buses and painted a big green stripe on the street so the line would have the same "visibility." And the operating costs for the buses would have been about half, meaning they could run twice as frequently. Let's hope the Portlanders waiting in the rain for the streetcar to arrive realize how lucky they will be to be eventually get to ride in a streetcar instead of a bus.

For most of the length from Humbolt Park to as far east as Orleans, it wouldn't be horribly difficult to create dedicated lanes for streetcars. To really improve service for buses, you'd have to do that anyway. Whether either is a good use of street lanes is a different question, but even with buses if you want the bus to be used you have to give it a fighting chance to not fall tooo far behind the car's inherently better travel time.

Since part of my preference for trams is that they're electric, one good combo solution would be to buy buses that are hybrid/electric trolley-buses that are capable of running on overhead electricity and can be given dedicated lanes in some areas. A BRT solution that was run like trolleys and could run from overhead power in congested areas to reduce pollution or as a diesel for flexible routing in less congested areas could probably accomplish a lot. And even a mutant bus like that might be less expensive than a trolleycar.

emathias Apr 23, 2008 4:15 PM

Honor System?
 
I know in some countries, transit payments are essentially honor system - you can be asked to prove you paid, but most of the time you're on your honor. This has the benefit of allowing entrance/exit from unmanned doorways. Do you think honor-system payment for certain high-traffic bus routes would work for the CTA?

In theory, it would reduce stop time by expediting boarding, making each trip faster and more convenient at rush hour. If better service increased ridership enough or reduced run times meant fewer buses were needed, it should offset some percentage of the revenue lost from dishonorable folks who don't pay, maybe even netting a gain in revenue.

But could it work in Chicago - are transit riders honest enough?

Abner Apr 23, 2008 7:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3503582)
As for the Portland Streetcar, bear in mind that for a tenth of the capital cost, Portland could have bought a fleet of twice as many distinctive new buses and painted a big green stripe on the street so the line would have the same "visibility." And the operating costs for the buses would have been about half, meaning they could run twice as frequently. Let's hope the Portlanders waiting in the rain for the streetcar to arrive realize how lucky they will be to be eventually get to ride in a streetcar instead of a bus.

Mr Downtown, I don't necessarily disagree with you, but Portland has gotten some benefit from the streetcar that it probably couldn't have gotten from buses. As I'm sure you know, the streetcar came along with the city's targeted redevelopment of downtown, the Pearl, and now the South Waterfront, all of which are seeing a staggering (for a city its size) amount of change. I'm sure the local government knew that the best way to get affluent people to take transit around downtown would be to make it more pleasant and "classier" than a bus. The streetcar is roomier, has smoother acceleration and a much smoother ride, is quieter, etc. It's a visible amenity and a sign of the city's commitment to inner Portland.

Now, of course, they're beginning a project to massively expand the streetcar with a route across the Broadway bridge and down MLK/Grand, which greatly need the traffic calming and beautification. And although the streetcar doesn't have its own right of way--which would definitely help--cars tend to stay clear of the streetcar lane when traffic is not too heavy. This is not to say that any of these benefits (except the smoother ride) would translate well to Chicago's case.

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3504893)
Note that this also explains why it was during the 40s and 50s that the CTA tore down several rapid transit lines, like the Humboldt Park, Normal Park, Kenwood, Stockyards branchs, and the Westchester and Berwyn extensions on the west side. Basically, there were no capital investment dollars to maintain them (though Humboldt probably could and should have been saved).

Many times have I wished it was still there. And don't forget the northern section of the Paulina connector, which I think was maybe the biggest mistake they made.

Abner Apr 23, 2008 7:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3504914)
I know in some countries, transit payments are essentially honor system - you can be asked to prove you paid, but most of the time you're on your honor. This has the benefit of allowing entrance/exit from unmanned doorways. Do you think honor-system payment for certain high-traffic bus routes would work for the CTA?

I don't know if they still do it, but in Prague they at least used to allow what amounted to freelance ticket enforcement. Tough guys would get some kind of license and then prowl around for ticket cheats. Not a great system to emulate, but one that probably worked. The aforementioned Portland streetcar, on the other hand, is WAY too lenient about cheating, which is one of its biggest problems.

VivaLFuego Apr 23, 2008 7:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3504914)
I know in some countries, transit payments are essentially honor system - you can be asked to prove you paid, but most of the time you're on your honor. This has the benefit of allowing entrance/exit from unmanned doorways. Do you think honor-system payment for certain high-traffic bus routes would work for the CTA?

In theory, it would reduce stop time by expediting boarding, making each trip faster and more convenient at rush hour. If better service increased ridership enough or reduced run times meant fewer buses were needed, it should offset some percentage of the revenue lost from dishonorable folks who don't pay, maybe even netting a gain in revenue.

But could it work in Chicago - are transit riders honest enough?

Here's my take, make of it what you will and I'd be interested if someone has some counter-evidence:

Generally, at least in developed countries, fare enforcement is correlated to the mandated fare recovery ratio and accompanying subsidy level. e.g. agencies with a lower farebox recovery ratio, therefore a higher percentage subsidy, combined with a reliabile subsidy, can be more lax about fare enforcement (think, most light rail lines in this country which have fare recovery in the 20-30% range). Alternatively, even if the farebox recovery ratio is high, if the subsidy is generous enough then fare enforcement is less of an issue (see Metra, which has to find ways to divert operating funds to capital just to reduce its fare recovery ratio to the statutory 54% level).

CTA has a high (by American standards) fare recovery ratio, and a subsidy that shrinks in real terms every year, so being lax about fare collection just isn't a possibility unless the subsidy increases.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2008 7:58 PM

Self-service fare collection, which is the term the industry prefers to "honor system," is standard in Europe and for nearly all the new North American light rail systems. Portland tried it for buses in the early 90s but abandoned it a couple of years later. Los Angeles even had it for their heavy-rail Red Line, which meant downtown subway stations with no turnstiles. For various reasons, though, LA has now decided to abandon it on the Red Line.

I would not hold my breath waiting for it to come to Chicago buses.

nomarandlee Apr 23, 2008 8:26 PM

So Viva or Mr. Downtown how your analysis and projection would be for a downtown circulator system change based on LTR vs. BRT? Do you think demand and high density would make an eventual switch over from BRT to LTR realistic? Or is even the downtown area better served for all routes by bus or BRT?

Nowhereman1280 Apr 23, 2008 8:57 PM

I hope to god we never waste money on a trolley for Chicago, or bus system kicks ass and could kick more ass with the additional funding it would cost to install trolley. Or, instead of waste money on downtown trolleys, how about complete the circle line or something which would do far more good for this city.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2008 9:05 PM

I feel (pretty strongly) that light rail is the wrong technology for downtown Chicago. It has the disadvantages of both ordinary bus (caught in traffic) and railroads (expensive inflexible guideway). The draft EIS/Alternatives Analysis for the Central Area Circulator concluded that trips via the bus alternative would actually be a couple of minutes faster than the light rail option.

The real advantage is not in the grade-separated Carroll Street corridor, but at the ends. Especially at the Streeterville end, buses can diverge from the line-haul route and do their own circulation through narrow streets around Northwestern Memorial Hospital. It's easy to imagine three or four circulator routes--hospital, River North, Lakeshore East, Navy Pier--that all converge and run along Carroll Street, then to Ogilvie and Union. Or give the four routes different destinations at the west end as well. Run one to Ogilvie, one to Union, one to UIC, and one to Illinois Medical District. The sheltered stations along Carroll would allow you to easily switch from the bus you started on to the one ending up at your destination. I was very impressed by the way this worked in Ottawa.

aaron38 Apr 23, 2008 9:35 PM

What is the service time / milage for a typical bus on a typical day? The largest advantage of the streetcar system is that it's electric. No need to take the cars out of service to refuel, and no need for fuel at all, which considering $120 barrel oil, isn't a bad prospect.

Buses could be battery electric, but what range would an electric bus need to have to match the current milage of a diesel bus, and how much time could be allotted for recharging, which could take hours unless the battery was the zinc pellet system, or the batteries could be hot swapped by forklift.
I don't know if the technology is there yet.

aaron38 Apr 23, 2008 9:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3504901)
Since part of my preference for trams is that they're electric, one good combo solution would be to buy buses that are hybrid/electric trolley-buses that are capable of running on overhead electricity and can be given dedicated lanes in some areas. A BRT solution that was run like trolleys and could run from overhead power in congested areas to reduce pollution or as a diesel for flexible routing in less congested areas could probably accomplish a lot. And even a mutant bus like that might be less expensive than a trolleycar.

Just saw this post. Do these buses exist? That can run on overhead wires and have a diesel engine? I've never heard of overhead wires for anything not on rails. Alignment would be a bitch, but a moveable arm with a computer control loop should be able to handle it.
Interesting.

Or, this is an idea, if the ultra-capacitors reach their promise, then an electric bus may be able to get by with dedicated charging at select stops along the route. At each stop, the bus would take a quick charge good for a mile or two, then run off the ultra-caps to the next stop. A smaller battery would give the bus some meaningful range, but it would essentially be able to circulate non-stop if it was on a loop with frequent stops, and ultra-caps are good for millions of cycles.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2008 10:39 PM

Combination diesel/electric trolleybuses were used in Seattle in recent decades. Like any custom order, they're pricey and may not be the most reliable. Public Service of New Jersey had such buses in the 1930s.

Of course, dozens of North American cities had trolleybuses from the 1930s through the 60s. Chicago had them on many North Side streets until the early 70s. They still run in Boston, Dayton, Edmonton, Vancouver, and San Francisco.

In the 70s, there was a lot of talk about flywheel buses that would use regenerative braking or charging at stops to rev up a big flywheel, which would provide energy for acceleration and running. As with a lot of great theoretical ideas, there's a fair distance between a sketch in Popular Mechanics and a reliable bus ready for bidding.

Abner Apr 23, 2008 10:50 PM

I've never actually heard how much work is necessary to make the Carroll transit corridor a reality. Do any of you know what kind of money it would take to get a busway (or light rail line or whatever) running, and why the city hasn't been doing much publicly to push the project along?

sukwoo Apr 24, 2008 12:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aaron38 (Post 3505751)
Just saw this post. Do these buses exist? That can run on overhead wires and have a diesel engine? I've never heard of overhead wires for anything not on rails. Alignment would be a bitch, but a moveable arm with a computer control loop should be able to handle it.
Interesting.

The relatively new Silver line in Boston uses dual-mode diesel/electric buses with an overhead wire. It seems to work reasonably well.

Busy Bee Apr 24, 2008 12:25 AM

Quote:

They still run in Boston, Dayton, Edmonton, Vancouver, and San Francisco.
Don't forget Seattle and Philadelphia as well.


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