As high speed rail progresses through the planning stages special attention will need to be paid to the important issue of local connectivity in ensuring high ridership (and high speed rail’s success). Our major problem with funding transit expansion has been the federal government’s unwillingness to give us money because of the demonstrated lack of local political will in funding transit operations and maintenance. As is the case for most transit systems, funding initial construction is not as big a hurdle as funding ongoing operations and maintenance.
Which is why I wonder why MDT and FIU are putting all of their eggs into the proverbial Bus Rapid Transit ‘basket’. Current plans show a mixture of BRT and BRT light for most major corridors in Dade County. Don’t get me wrong, BRT is not bad, but our goal should be to accommodate the greatest capacity for the same long term cost. When comparing the O&M of Bus Rapid Transit with Light Rapid Transit this crucial cost is the same. While initial construction of BRT infrastructure is lower, the operations and maintenance costs, the burden most placed on our local municipalities, is the same as light rail technology, only at a fraction of the capacity.
Don’t take it from me. The bipartisan Congressional Government Accountability Office did its own analysis comparing the costs of BRT with LRT in 2003:
Communities consider several factors when they select mass transit options. Our 2001 report examined such factors as capital cost and operating costs, system performance, and other advantages and disadvantages of Bus Rapid Transit. We found, for example, that the capital costs of Bus Rapid Transit in the cities we reviewed averaged $13.5 million per mile for busways, $9.0 million per mile for buses on high occupancy vehicle lanes, and $680,000 per mile for buses on city streets, when adjusted to 2000 dollars.4 For comparison, we examined the capital costs of several Light Rail lines and found that they averaged about $34.8 million per mile, ranging from $12.4 million to $118.8 million per mile.5 In addition, in the cities we reviewed that had both types of service, neither Bus Rapid Transit nor Light Rail had a consistent advantage in terms of operating costs.
Said another way, apart from the difference in initial cost, choosing BRT costs as much per year to run as LRT, but with less capacity (light rail cars hold more passengers than bus rapid transit cars). When thinking over the long term, the equation heavily favors LRT, because the lost capacity over time far outweighs the initial savings, especially when one considers latent demand for mass transit.
What this means for the average citizen is that real transit solutions, such as a metro-rail link down the Douglas corridor or an LRT Bay link, are going to lose out to costly BRT lines that will spend our transit dollars without making meaningful strides in increasing ridership, or connectivity.
Subscribe via Email
Find us on Facebook
- Jacob on Movement for Miami’s First On-Street Bicycle Parking Corral Gaining Traction
- Anonymous on El Portal Councilperson Presses CITT on Rail
- Anonymous on El Portal Councilperson Presses CITT on Rail
- ajozz on Florida Turnpike Expansion “Open House”
- Mark Rampion on El Portal Councilperson Presses CITT on Rail
- Mike Arias on El Portal Councilperson Presses CITT on Rail
CategoriesAccident Architecture bicycles bike lanes Bike Miami Days biking Biscayne Boulevard Brickell bus Climate Change Coconut Grove complete streets Downtown Miami FDOT High Speed Rail Metrorail Miami Miami-Dade County Miami-Dade Transit Miami 21 Miami Beach Museum Park News Parking Parks Pedestrian Pedestrians Pic o' the Day Planning Real Estate Development Rickenbacker Causeway Sprawl Streetcar Traffic Transit Transitography Transit Oriented Development Transportation Tri-Rail Uncategorized Urban Design Urban Development Boundary Urban Growth Urban Planning Walkability
- Long Road Ahead for Las Vegas-Phoenix Interstate Connection March 6, 2014The planners of the 1950s didn’t foresee the growth of the Southwest’s two largest cities. Upgrading the freeway connection between the cities, however, remains a tough task.
- The Dichotomy of California's Frontier Myth: 'Hell-A' and Utopian San Francisco March 6, 2014“[There] is something about the frequency with which California and 'the future' are used synonymously,’ writes Kristin Miller. But the future looks much different when set in Southern California as compared to Northern California.
- Urban Planning Fundamental: Facilitate a Strong Labor Market March 6, 2014Wendell Cox reviews a new working paper by Alain Bertaud called “Cities as Labor Markets.” Cox calls the lesson contained therein “Urban Planning 101” and a “much needed midcourse correction to urban planning around the world.”
- San Francisco Announces New Pedestrian Safety Program: WalkFirst March 6, 2014With its own “Vision Zero” goals in place to eliminate pedestrian fatalities within a decade, San Francisco has developed the WalkFirst plan to target the most dangerous intersections in the city for safety improvements.
- A Call for 'Cooler' Buses March 6, 2014Edward Glaeser pens an opinion piece on the missing ingredient in the bus riding experience—cool. Not necessarily Mick Jagger cool, but definitely Steve Jobs cool.
- Does the Future of Las Vegas Look Like Orlando? March 6, 2014At a recent Las Vegas city retreat, city leaders and outside experts presented ideas for the future of Las Vegas. Among the ideas proposed: emulate Orlando, Florida.
- How Smart Cities Encourage Citizen Engagement March 6, 2014The extent to which cities will build data collection systems into the infrastructure—or how much we’ll voluntarily gather and share information from our smartphones—has yet to be determined. Here is a survey of what some cities have launched so far.
- Transportation Reauthorization Funding Mechanism May Be Settled March 6, 2014How best to "plug the growing hole" in the Highway Trust Fund which provides the federal revenue for roads and transit: increase the gas tax, new vehicle miles traveled fees, more road tolls, or "corporate tax reform"? All but one is a user fee.
- The Organizations Behind the Growth of Biking in D.C. March 6, 2014Adrienne LaFrance surveys the bike scene in Washington D.C.—from co-ops to bikeshare programs to social groups.
- How to Gain 21 Million Transit Trips a Year in Chicago? March 6, 2014At a recent hearing of the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force, experts like Peter Skosey made the case for the types of changes necessary to meet Chicago’s goals for increased transit ridership, focusing on transit oriented development.
- Long Road Ahead for Las Vegas-Phoenix Interstate Connection March 6, 2014