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Posts from the "BRT" Category

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Updated Report Shows CAHSR’s GHG Reductions Less Costly Than Thought

UCLA’s Lewis Center revised some of the estimates in its recent report comparing the costs of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using California high-speed rail to those of bike, pedestrian, and local transit projects. The report’s authors found that high-speed rail is not as expensive as an emission reduction as they first thought.

Lewis_yellow_box_REVISED_copyThe update makes several adjustments to the analysis, which compared CAHSR to Los Angeles Metro’s Gold Line light rail and the Orange Line bus rapid transit route, as well as the bikeway that runs parallel to it. Originally, the report found high-speed rail to be a much less cost-effective way to reduce GHGs than any of the three urban transit options. While the new cost-benefit analysis for high-speed rail looks much better, it’s still not quite on par with local transit investments.

The new comparison of costs among high-speed rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, and the bikeway is shown in the table below. As discussed in our previous story on this report, the authors consider anything less than the current price of a metric tonne of emissions under the cap-and-trade system (about $11) a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The lower the cost, the greater the cost-effectiveness.

The UCLA authors’ new cost/benefit estimates.

The new estimate for CAHSR is -$335 per metric tonne, compared to the previous $361. Those estimates are the full public cost plus user savings (in the case of high-speed rail, that’s the price of a ticket compared to the cost of driving or flying). However, the bus rapid transit, light-rail, and bikeway are still more cost-effective at -$676, $1,233, and $3,569, respectively.

Here’s why the numbers changed: Read more…

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Report: In Cutting Emissions, CAHSR Expensive Compared to Local Upgrades

Streetfilms featured Los Angeles’ Orange Line BRT and bike path in 2009. A new UCLA report says infrastructure projects like the Orange Line are a better way to invest cap-and-trade funds than CA High-Speed Rail.

UCLA’s Lewis Center published a report yesterday finding that California’s High-Speed Rail project is a relatively expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the near-term, compared to upgrading local transit and bicycle infrastructure.

Comparing CAHSR to Los Angeles Metro’s Gold Line light-rail and Orange Line bus rapid transit route and bikeway, the report finds high-speed rail to be the least cost-efficient investment the state could make.

The high-speed rail project costs more per metric tonne of GHG emissions than the current cost of allowances under cap-and-trade, the report says. If the savings costs to users are included in the calculations, then the light-rail, busway, and bikeway projects cost far less than the cap-and-trade auction price, which makes them more cost-effective ways to meet the emission reduction goals set out in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, A.B. 32.

“There are a lot of projects that can reduce GHG emissions,” said Juan Matute, one of the report’s authors. “And differentiating between them will become more important in the future. One way is to look at the cost-effectiveness of the reductions.”

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed cap-and-trade expenditure plan includes $250 million for high-speed rail to be spent in the next year alone, but very little for other transit or bicycle and pedestrian projects. High-speed rail isn’t scheduled to be online until 2022, so the savings it yields won’t help meet the state’s 2020 emission reductions goals. Meanwhile, the funds could be used for more local investments such as transit services or bicycle and pedestrian connections that would reduce GHG emissions more quickly. Read more…

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What Corridors Could Be Best for BRT? Metro’s Study Progresses

Back at the August 4, 2011 Metro Board meeting Los Angeles Mayor (and Metro Board member) Antonio Villariagiosa authored a motion that directed Metro undertake among other bus service improvements initiatives a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) study ” … with local jurisdictions to identify, analyze and recommend a minimum of five corridors in the County that can accommodate an effective Bus Rapid Transit system” with the goal of building a cross-county BRT network.

A strategy to identify the five corridors was approved at the Oct. 19, 2011 Metro Board meeting. A progress report in the form of a board box item was distributed to the Metro Board in June 2012. By then the study had acquired a name that is a bit of a mouthful: Los Angeles County Bus Rapid Transit and Street Design Improvement Study.

The latest updates were presented at the Feb. 20, 2013 Metro Board Planning and Programming Committee meeting and the March 27, 2013 Metro Citizens’ Advisory Council meeting.

And what is the status? In February at the Board meeting staff stated:

We will complete this study and return to the Board in May 2013 with a final report, highlighting a countywide bus rapid transit system of approximately 12 corridors, and identifying a subset of approximately 5 corridors that are most promising for near term implementation, should the Board choose to proceed with BRT corridor project development.

The deadline appears to have slipped as the March presentation avers “Anticipate study to be completed by June 2013″. Read more…

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Separated Bike Lanes on South Fig? LADOT Presentation Hints at Future Project

Good Enough

In January 2011, consultants for the South Figueroa Corridor Project unveiled three different visions for the soon-to-be Living Street.  The visions were labeled “Good,” “Better,” and “Best.”  A recent presentation to Caltrans, made available on their website, shows current thinking on the legacy project from the project team and the new lead agency, LADOT.

There’s good news and bad news.  The bad news: it looks like “better” and “best” are off the table.  The good news?  ”Good” still includes a transit only lane and a pair of bike only lanes.  The northbound bike only lane and separate transit only lane run the entire 3 mile route of the project from 7th and Figueroa to MLK Boulevard.  The Southbound bike only lane starts at 10th Street and goes all the way south.

The lane width varies in different sections of the street, after the jump we show what parts of Figueroa are going to see what types of lane configurations.

The South Figueroa Corridor Project was a project of the Community Redevelopment Agency.  Recently, the LADOT took over as lead agency for the project, and promised a quick environmental review.  The funding for the project comes from Prop. IC, and must be spent by the end of 2014.  Other parts of the corridor project, include improving connections to L.A. Live/Staples Center on 11th Street, and improvements to MLK Boulevard and Bill Robertson way to provide connections to the Expo Line. Read more…

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Senate Requests Trio of Transit Related Reports from GAO

The Dictionary of Terms compiled by Metro’s Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library defines BOARD BOX as “an interoffice memo to board members that does not require board action. The board box provides an avenue for staff to track status of projects or programs, and includes information of upcoming workshops and other special events.” While not posted on the Metro website access has been provided in some cases to Board Box items via the Metro Board Archives.

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee wants more info on BRT and other transit projects. Photo:Light Rail Now!

One agency that does post its Board Box is Access Services, the consolidated Transportation Services Agency for Los Angeles County that also administers on behalf of the fixed route transit agencies in Los Angeles County complementary paratransit mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The December Access Services Board Box includes an intriguing bit of news in the report of Andre Colaiace, who is Deputy Executive Director for Planning and Governmental Affairs at the agency. Colaiaice attending a meeting of the American Public Transit Association (a trade group) Legislative Committee in Washington, DC.

At the meeting he learned that this past summer the Senate Banking Committee requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) undertake studies on Bus Rapid Transit, Paratransit Services and the Coordination of Transportation Services (see pp.4-6 of the Board Box for a reproduction of the letter from the Senate to the GAO). Colaiaice notes “I have already talked to the researcher for the Coordination Study and am planning to discuss Access Services with the group who is working on the paratransit study.”

Read more…

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Metro Board Quickly Moves on Green Construction, Position on HSR, Bike Share and Bus Studies

Villaraigosa re-emerges as a leader on bus issues. Photo: Los Angeles Times

This morning, Mayor Villaraigosa’s last term as Chair of the Metro Board of Directors got off to an efficient and relatively controversy-free start as Supervisors passed motions on studying the impacts of Metro’s bus cuts and Bus Rapid Transit expansion, a second study on the costs and benefits of a bike share program, the approval of a green construction program and even a preferred route for California High Speed Rail.  The only real debate among the Board Members came when Director Diane DuBois challenged Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the definition of “local” in the local jobs program and on whether or not to give free Metro passes to uniformed Girl Scouts during the group’s 100th birthday party.

Here’s a quick roundup of the major happenings.

Review of bus service and Bus Rapid Transit Opportunities – Nobody can accuse Mayor Villaraigosa of thinking small.  The new Board Chair introduced a motion to examine the impacts of the hundreds of thousands of hours bus service cuts that have occurred since the expiration of the Consent Decree between the agency and Bus Riders Union in 2007.

“We see this as a tremendous opportunity to reverse some of the damage that has been done in South L.A.,” testified the Bus Riders Union’s Sunyoung Yang.

To secure unanimous passage, Mayoral Appointee to the Board Richard Katz clarified that this motion “doesn’t undo anything that this Board has already done.”  When questioned directly, Metro CEO Art Leahy confirmed with this interpretation.

A second part of the motion called on staff to examine the possibilities to expand the agency’s Bus Rapid Transit program.  Yang confirmed the BRU’s support for this strategy, “We should continue building on the victories and the massive breakthrough we had on the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes.”

Also testifying in favor of the motion were other BRU members, the Sierra Club Transportation Committee, and Kymberleigh Richards of the San Fernando Valley Service Council.  The LA Times had more on the Mayor’s bus plans in this morning’s paper.

Green Construction Program – Even critics of Metro have to concede the agency has become a leader in promoting green transportation.  Metro was the first big-city transit agency in the country to have an entirely natural gas bus fleet, and they’re beginning to move towards a zero-emissions fleet.  Today, they finalized a “green construction policy” for Metro projects.

Support for the policy was near universal with the Clean Air Coalition, NRDC, Sierra Club, Bus Riders Union, and East Yard Community Groups for Environmental Policy all voicing support.  No construction or contracting groups expressed opposition.  In fact, the only complaint about the program was that it doesn’t apply to LADOT or Caltrans projects.  The policy passed unanimously.

Basically, the new policy is just what it says it is.  Metro contractors now have to use construction equipment, vehicles, and generators that meet modern clean air standards.  This will improve health for residents and construction crews by requiring equipment that emits significantly less air pollution than older models.  Contractors can meet either retrofit old equipment or purchase new equipment.  The NRDC Switchboard has more details on the program.

Bikes and light rail and high speed rail, all after the jump. Read more…

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Moving Beyond the Automobile: Bus Rapid Transit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) provides faster and more efficient service than an ordinary bus. “These systems operate like a surface subway, say BRT advocates, but cost far less than building an actual metro.” Watch this chapter of Moving Beyond the Automobile to learn about the key features of bus rapid transit systems around the world and how BRT helps shift people out of cars and taxis and into buses.

Streetfilms would like to thank The Fund for the Environment & Urban Life for making this series possible.

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Can the U.S. Make Bus Rapid Transit Work as Well as Latin America?

Bogotá's Transmilenio system. Photo: Streetfilms

In suburban Maryland, the debate about transit has often been cast as a decision between a light rail “purple line” and bus rapid transit. Democrat Martin O’Malley and local environmentalists lobbied for light rail while Republican Bob Ehrlich’s push for bus rapid transit was largely seen as an effort to “obfuscate, alter, study and delay” the progress on light rail. So in the D.C. area, BRT is sometimes seen as the choice of people who don’t really want transit to succeed.

But that’s selling BRT short, according to a panel of experts at Brookings this morning. For inspiration, they looked to Latin America, the motherland of bus rapid transit, housing 26 percent of the world’s BRT systems, according to Dario Hidalgo of EMBARQ, the sustainable-transport arm of the World Resources Institute.

It all started with Curitiba, Brazil, which pioneered BRT in 1972, reducing congestion, improving air quality, and shortening travel times. The Curitiba system has been a model for others, including powerhouse systems like TransMilenio in Bogotá, which carries 44,000 passengers per hour per direction during the peak period. Car use has gone down, and traffic fatalities have declined by 56 percent.

“What’s important isn’t if the tire is a steel tire or a rubber tire,” said Hidalgo. “What’s important is the service that’s provided to the people.”

Logic like this flies in the face of entrenched biases in favor of one mode or another. Rail, especially, has its adherents among those who think buses are a lower-class form of transportation, ridden only by those with no other option. But more than 20 percent of TransMilenio riders own cars. “We can’t be religious about modes,” said Robert Puentes of Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program.

Read more…

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Battle Lines Drawn in Battle Over Fate of Wilshire BRT in Condo Canyon

Screen shot 2010-12-02 at 9.40.49 PM

Late yesterday afternoon, the news broke that the federal dollars needed to construct the Wilshire Bus-Only Lanes project would not be put in danger if the one mile just west of Beverly Hills were excluded.

This means that the “Condo Canyon” residents who don’t want bus-only lanes outside their condos and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, their representative to the Metro Board, may be free to remove their “back yard” from the project.  Such a move would widen the hole in the bus only route that already exists because Beverly Hills has already opted out of the plan.  A vote on the final route for the project is expected at the December 9th Metro Board Meeting.

However, now there’s push-back to the push-back.

After it appeared that the bus-only project might be endangered, a group of Bruins, bus riders, cyclists and environmentalists banded together to support the project and counter the pressure being placed on the board by the Condo-Canyon NIMBY’s. Read more…

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Wilshire Bus-Only Lanes Move the Environmental Review Stage

6_16_10_chinese.jpgIt won’t be separated as this BRT in the PRC, but it will be nice.  Photo:我爱铰接巴士/Flickr

Sometimes I enjoy having dinner at the Wilshire/Western Denny’s for the
opportunity it affords to watch the amazing dynamic transit action
occurring at that intersection. This includes frequent and very busy
bus lines (local and Rapid) along both streets plus hoards of people
entering and exiting the rail station. It reminds me how tremendously
heavy transit use in the Wilshire corridor is. And partially
explains why a Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project has been in gestation
and has now reached the draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental
Assessment
stage.

Next week Metro is holding four public hearings on the proposed Wilshire BRT project. Details on time and place are below. But
please
indulge me as I lay out some of the history behind it all. I hope you
are comfortable because it takes a fair amount of exposition to
sketch out, stretches back decades and includes a mind-boggling number
of zigs and zags to where things stand now. But trust me, I have a
purpose in laying out the highlights of how we came to this point and
the significance of the project. And yes despite the several lengthy
paragraphs of history that follow this is just the cliff notes version
of what has happened. Which is sort of a scary thought in itself.

Improving
transit service in the Wilshire corridor has been a regional goal since
at least the 1970s. Originally the hope was for it to have mass
transit. In fact the original subway alignment was to run along
Wilshire as far west as Fairfax. Then in 1985 a methane explosion
occurred in the basement of the Ross Dress for Less near the Farmer’s
Market. This provided the pretext for subway opponents in the Miracle
Mile and Hancock Park areas to champion a ban of federal funds being
used in what was dubbed the "methane zone" along Wilshire essentially
between Crenshaw and Fairfax. The subway instead was re-routed along
Vermont and Hollywood Blvd. with a stub west on Wilshire ending at
Western.

Read more…