- Cars could never cross here
- Pedestrians have no reason to cross here
- Several cities have light rail systems without concrete walls, have pedestrian crossings
True, true, and true. No argument. My point was many existing cross streets would no longer be able to cross streets like Natural Bridge or Jefferson if we built light rail in the right-of-way. Places to cross by car, bike, or foot would be limited.
Some of the examples people mentioned included Minneapolis and Houston. I have no personal experience with either so I turned to the internet.
Houston’s original Red Line, opened in 2004, had few obstacles. The tracks were in the street with very little dividing it from traffic (example). Similar for their 2013 Red Line extension (example). The Green & Purple lines, opened in May 2015, are different. The Purple line has fences & barriers (example) but does provide pedestrian crossings between stations (example). Houston usually has 3-6 accidents per month, but had 17 in July.
Besides accidents, these can be slow. From 2014:
Residents of the Twin Cities greeted the opening of the new Green Line light rail link last month with joy and excitement, finally able to take advantage of a train connection between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The 11-mile rail line runs through a relatively densely populated area, serves two business districts, and travels through the heart of a university.
It’s also alarmingly slow. Green Line trains are taking up to an hour to complete their journeys, and even optimistic schedules released by the local transit agency put running times at 48 minutes, or less than 14 mph on average.
Of course, the Twin Cities are hardly alone in their predicament. Recent transit lines elsewhere in the country feature similarly leisurely travel times. The new Houston North Line, for example, is averaging 17 mph. Los Angeles’ Expo Line is slightly quicker at 18 mph. Bus rapid transit and streetcar projects popping up virtually everywhere are often significantly slower. Only the Washington, D.C. Metro Silver Line, which will extend that region’s subway deep into the Virginia suburbs, will speed commuters along at an average of 32 mph. It will do so while only stopping at 5 stations, all of which will be located in the middle of expressways.
Our MetroLink, which operates in exclusive right-of-way, has an average speed of 24,7mph, according to Wikipedia. How does Metro achieve higher speeds? Less conflict points mean the vehicles can get to higher speeds between stations. Which brings me to another local example of how Metro builds light rail to reduce conflicts/accidents. Forest Park Parkway & Des Peres Ave., prior to the Blue Line, was as signalized intersection allowing cars, bikes, and pedestrians to cross the busy roadway.
The intersection is still signalized — and cars coming from the North can still cross here, as can pedestrians & cyclists. It’s roughly halfway between the Skinker & Forest Park stations — a mile apart.
Anyone who thinks Metro St. Louis will build an in-street light rail system — operated at expected light rail speeds — with easy pedestrian crossings between stations is naive. It’s not going to happen — and it shouldn’t. St. Louis has enough pedestrian deaths as it is!
I think we should improve North-South public transit in the region, through the city. I’m just looking at how Metro builds light rail and thinking it isn’t what people want.
— Steve Patterson