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Old Posted Jan 12, 2023, 3:53 AM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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Relative cost of paved street versus rail track?

It's commonly understood or assumed that rail is very expensive and roads are cheap. After all we build roads and streets everywhere but rail is uncommon and a major undertaking.

Obviously if you compared a city street with a section of electrified rapid transit, or a bumpy shoulder-less 2-lane asphalt highway with a railroad with few grades and wide curves requiring substantial earth moving, then yeah the rail choice is way more expensive.

But I think this is apples and oranges, in a way.

I'm not an engineer, but when I observe the construction of new urban streets they come with curbs, gutters, sidewalks, trees and landscaping, lighting, etc and it's fairly elaborate. There is a lot of steel rebar that goes into the ground before the concrete is poured. Adding a lane, putting in a raised median, all involves workers putting in metal forms and rebar and moving utilities, etc. Then you have things like guardrails.

In light of all this, would adding tram style streetcar tracks be that expensive? What makes that suddenly so hard? There's catenary of course, but battery technology could make that less necessary some day.

Why does urban rail transit break the bank when a similar if not larger amount of resources can be easily justified on minor roads in suburban master planned communities or shopping centers?
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Old Posted Jan 12, 2023, 7:01 AM
SFBruin SFBruin is offline
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Boy are you preaching to the choir with this post ha.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2023, 2:57 AM
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electricron electricron is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
It's commonly understood or assumed that rail is very expensive and roads are cheap. After all we build roads and streets everywhere but rail is uncommon and a major undertaking.

Obviously if you compared a city street with a section of electrified rapid transit, or a bumpy shoulder-less 2-lane asphalt highway with a railroad with few grades and wide curves requiring substantial earth moving, then yeah the rail choice is way more expensive.

But I think this is apples and oranges, in a way.

I'm not an engineer, but when I observe the construction of new urban streets they come with curbs, gutters, sidewalks, trees and landscaping, lighting, etc and it's fairly elaborate. There is a lot of steel rebar that goes into the ground before the concrete is poured. Adding a lane, putting in a raised median, all involves workers putting in metal forms and rebar and moving utilities, etc. Then you have things like guardrails.

In light of all this, would adding tram style streetcar tracks be that expensive? What makes that suddenly so hard? There's catenary of course, but battery technology could make that less necessary some day.

Why does urban rail transit break the bank when a similar if not larger amount of resources can be easily justified on minor roads in suburban master planned communities or shopping centers?
First, the costs of adding rail infrastructure on top of the costs of building the street will always be an additional cost. Much of the capital costs associated with adding streetcars or other electric powered transit projects includes rebuilding or modifying the streets and plumbing beneath. Either way you consider it, there are additional capital costs using electrified rail transit.

Then one must consider the maintenance and operations costs. Are trains, streetcars, or buses cheaper to maintain and operate? With little to no public transit, as in most of America, much of the operations and maintenance costs are paid by private parties using privately owned vehicles.

Ideally, for the best cost comparison, the vehicles being used are at maximum capacity. if there is just a driver in the most common four passenger car, it is being used at 25% capacity. How often do you ride public transit with less than 25% capacity? Your answer probably depends upon the density of buildings where the public transit system runs. in most of America, there is not sufficient density existing in most of the cities, especially in residential neighborhoods. That's why transit enthusiasts preach about rezoning and building more transit orient developments frequently, so residential density will be increased. Even they realize that residential density, as is, is not high enough in most of America.

A great bus system can be as effective and could provide better transit services depending upon the corridor's existing and future environment than a poorly used train transit system. But transit agencies and cities are envious of one another and dreams of having what some other city has. That's human nature. But trains are not the best answer for public transit everywhere.
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