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Cincinnati’s Modern Streetcar

Last month I visited Cleveland to check out the best Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route in the country, see Cleveland’s Healthline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Part 4. Earlier this month I was back in Ohio, this time in Cincinnati.

During my 3-day visit for a Streetsblog meeting we checked out the upcoming Cincinnati Streetcar. Expected to be operational by the end of September 2016, the tracks, overhead wires, & platforms are all in place.

My first sighting of their streetcar project was the tracks near The Banks (development between stadiums) turning to cross the highway and enter the central business district.
My first sighting of their streetcar project was the tracks near The Banks (development between stadiums) turning to cross the highway and enter the central business district. Second St to Main St
The platform here is little more than the sidewalk.
The platform here is little more than the sidewalk.
Most platforms are higher than the adjacent sidewalk, but very close
Most platforms are higher than the adjacent sidewalk, but very close
The platforms, built within the parking lane, are higher than the sidewalk to allow for level boarding.
The platforms, built within the parking lane, are higher than the sidewalk to allow for level boarding.
Same platform from the other direction. This platform had ramps at both ends, some only have one ramp.
Same platform from the other direction. This platform had ramps at both ends, some only have one ramp.
Warning signs are up to alert cyclists to the danger of the tracks.
Warning signs are up to alert cyclists to the danger of the tracks.
A colorful welcome at one platform
A colorful welcome at one platform
Looking east
Looking east
The overhead wires are visible in this view, looking East along Central Parkway from Race St
The overhead wires are visible in this view, looking East along Central Parkway from Race St
Looking West on Central Parkway from Walnut, the streetcar track cut into the median to make the turn into the near land on Walnut. At numerous intersections cameras are able to detect the streetcar, causing the traffic signals to go into a special mode to stop all traffic -- in this case allowing the streetcar to turn right across several lanes of traffic.
Looking West on Central Parkway from Walnut, the streetcar track cut into the median to make the turn into the near land on Walnut. At numerous intersections cameras are able to detect the streetcar, causing the traffic signals to go into a special mode to stop all traffic — in this case allowing the streetcar to turn right across several lanes of traffic.
On Walnut the streetcar turns into the right travel lane
On Walnut the streetcar turns into the right travel lane
This platform on Elm @ Elder is next to Findlay public market, 1.5 miles from The Banks. The streetcar will connect these points and everything in between.
This platform on Elm @ Elder is next to Findlay public market, 1.5 miles from The Banks. The streetcar will connect these points and everything in between.
The far end of the initial line is Henry St., now closed to cars because streetcars will enter/exit maintenance yard to the left. This is at the edge of Cincinnati's Brewery District
The far end of the initial line is Henry St., now closed to cars because streetcars will enter/exit maintenance yard to the left. This is at the edge of Cincinnati’s Brewery District
The maintenance facility is a new structure.
The maintenance facility is a new structure.
End of the maintenance building as seen from the yard,
End of the maintenance building as seen from the yard
They've received their first of five vehicles, #1175. Their last streetcars ended in #1174. Each costs $2.9 million
They’ve received their first of five vehicles, #1175. Their last streetcars ended in #1174. Each costs $2.9 million

Their streetcar will run north-south on their grid of streets. Where we’ve butchered our grid, theirs remains largely intact, albeit mostly one-way couplets. I traveled over a mile on each of four parallel streets: Elm, Race, Vine, & Walnut. Their rights-of-way are also much narrower than ours are now — they didn’t have someone like our Harland Bartholomew aggressively widening streets by forcibly taking the front bay of buildings.

What we call a trolley or streetcar, Europeans call a tram.  Same thing, different name.

The vehicles are CAF Urbos 3, which are 100% low floor. If Cincinnati decides to do a light rail line out to the suburbs in the future they can use the same vehicles. Yes, modern streetcars use the same vehicles as light rail. The difference comes in how the route is designed. Kansas City is using the same vehicle for their streetcar line, which will also open next Fall.

If we do street-running light rail, or a streetcar, these would be in consideration. To meet requirements for federal projects, they have at least 60% US content.

Like most cities, Cincinnati had streetcars in the 19th century, a subway was started but abandoned. Cincinnati hasn’t had rail transit in decades. See their official stteetcar page here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Cleveland’s Healthline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Part 4

This is my final part on Cleveland’s Healthline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). However, donations to offset the cost are still accepted here.

Earlier posts:

One of the articles that got me seriously looking at BRT was from Forbes in September 2013: Bus Rapid Transit Spurs Development Better Than Light Rail Or Streetcars: Study. Two parts stood out:

“Per dollar of transit investment, and under similar conditions, BRT can leverage more (development) investment than LRT or streetcars.”

For example, Cleveland’s Healthline, a BRT project completed on Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue in 2008, has generated $5.8 billion in development —$114 for each transit dollar invested. Portland’s Blue Line, a light rail project completed in 1986, generated $3.74 per dollar invested.

and…

The U.S. has seven authentic BRT lines in Cleveland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Eugene Ore., and several in Pittsburgh. None achieve the internationally recognized “gold standard” of BRT like Bogota’s TransMilenio line. But one planned for Chicago’s Ashland Avenue might.

“There’s no gold standard BRT in the U.S. yet,” Weinstock said, “but if we continue with the Ashland project on the current trajectory, Ashland could be the first gold in the U.S.”

I’ll address Chicago’s Ashland Ave in a future post. BRT — more development return than LRT or streetcars?

Long-time readers know I love rail — especially streetcars. Public transit was often about real estate development, to get people to a new project, developers would build a streetcar line to get them there. Cities would lease part of the public right-of-way (PROW) so they could operate. Cities, including St. Louis, would have multiple private companies providing public transit. Eventually cities would increase the fees for the track & overhead wires in the PROW or even require the operators to repave roads where they operated. This quickly made streetcar operations unprofitable. One solution, of course, was to abandon the track and use rubber tire vehicles — the bus.

Eventually governments bought up all the private systems — remaining streetcar lines and those that had been converted to bus. Remember, their origin was rooted in the development of real estate. With land developed these lines became strictly about moving people to/from. We need to retuning to the days of the connection between transit and development!

Which brings me back to Cleveland’s Healthline, it had an amazing $114.54 dollars of development for every dollar spent on the BRT line. Below is page 9 from More Development for Your Transit Dollar: An Analysis of 21 North American Transit Corridors.

Click to open larger version
Click to open larger version

As you can see from the BRT, LRT, and streetcar limes above the return on investment is all over the board. In the top section (Strong TOD Impacts) we see the LRT cost more than the BRT or streetcar lines, but had significantly less development.  A return of $3,74 on every dollar looks good until compared to $41.68 or more. Kansas City’s MAX bus line doesn’t even meet the basics to be BRT — yet it has had a return of $101.96 per dollar!

The report begins talking about the Metro subway system in Washington D.C. — a long & costly undertaking:

A growing number of US cities are finding, however, that metro or subway systems are simply too expensive and take too long to implement to effect significant changes in ongoing trends toward suburban sprawl. As such, cities are turning to lower-cost mass transit options such as LRT, BRT, and streetcars. These systems, which frequently use surface streets, are much less expensive and can be built more quickly than heavy-rail subways or metro systems. Over the past decade, some evidence has emerged that some LRT systems in the US have had positive development impacts. Outside of the US, in cities like Curitiba, Brazil, and Guangzhou, China, there is copious evidence that BRT systems have successfully stimulated development. Curitiba’s early silver-standard BRT corridors, completed in the 1970s, were developed together with a master plan that concentrated development along them. The population growth along the corridor rate was 98% between 1980 and 1985, compared to an average citywide population growth rate of only 9.5%. However, because bronze-, silver-, or gold-standard BRT is still relatively new to the US, evidence of the impact of good-quality BRT on domestic development is only now beginning to emerge and has been largely undocumented. (p14)

A detailed look at the Corridors with Strong TOD Impacts begins on page 110:

The analysis shows that all of the corridors in the Strong TOD Impacts category had Strong government TOD support and either Emerging or Strong land potential.

The only two transit corridors in our study that rate above bronze — the Cleveland HealthLine BRT and the Blue Line LRT — both fell into the Strong TOD Impacts category and were in Emerging
land markets. The Blue Line LRT leveraged $6.6 billion in new TOD investments, and the Cleveland HealthLine BRT leveraged $5.8 billion, making them the two most successful transit investments in the country from a TOD perspective. Portland achieved this over a much longer time period and in a stronger economy than Cleveland did.

In the Strong TOD Impacts category, three corridors with below-basic-quality transit had Strong land development potential and Strong government TOD support: the Portland Streetcar, the Seattle SLU Streetcar, and the Kansas City Main Street MAX.

In each of these cases, local developers and development authorities did not feel that the transit investment was all that critical to the TOD impacts. Thus, we can conclude that if the land market is strong enough, and the government TOD efforts strong enough, a below-basic transit investment might suffice; but a higher-quality transit investment could have even greater impacts.

Not all of the investment along Cleveland’s Healthline is urban. We visited this CVS  — built right after the line opened. The building is set back behind a fenced parking lot.

A typical suburban CVS is among the new development along Cleveland's Healthline
A typical suburban CVS is among the new development along Cleveland’s Healthline. Click image to view in Google Maps.
Like most newer CVS stores, it has an ADA accessible route out to the public sidewalk.
Like most newer CVS stores, it has an ADA accessible route out to the public sidewalk. In this view from the entry pedestrians must go left to the intersection to reach the EB & WB stations. If the entry were at the corner less walking would be required.

As I noted previously. a lot of the new development was on college & hospital campuses — it would’ve happened anyway — but it faces the street rather than looking internal (like SLU, BJC, etc).

I’ve got to read the full report a few more times so absorb it all — while recognizing it was written with a pro-BRT viewpoint.

Any TOD effort is most successful when land-use planning and urban development efforts are concentrated around a high-quality mass transit corridor that serves land with inherent development potential. Assistance from regional and city-level agencies, community development corporations, and local stakeholders can help create more targeted policies to direct development to such transit corridors. Local foundations can be critical to the process of funding redevelopment and providing capital and equity for projects. Local NGOs, which can communicate the projects to the public to help broaden support, are also important.

Although cities in the US are still far from fully transforming their declined urban neighborhoods into high-quality, mixed-use urban developments, they are well on their way. Gold-, silver-, or bronze-standard BRT, when combined with institutional, financial, and planning support for TOD, is proving to be a cost-effective way of rebuilding our cities into more livable, transit-oriented communities.

Regardless of their bias, the above is true — we’ve invested hundreds of millions in light rail and have little TOD to show for it because of poor land-use planning.

Like streetcars & LRT, I think BRT is a great option to consider in the St. Louis region, We can argue about the mode, but we need to take action to have land-use planning that will strongly support transit-oriented development!

— Steve Patterson

 

MetroBus Stop Now Visible

November 13, 2015 Accessibility, Featured, Public Transit, Walkability Comments Off on MetroBus Stop Now Visible

In September I posted about a dangerous to reach MetroBus stop, and once there it was nearly impossible for the driver to see me waiting. It stopped because a passenger wanted to get off, not because he saw me. The problem was overgrown trees just before the stop.

Looking West for the approaching MetroBus, August 2015
Looking West for the approaching MetroBus, August 2015
Looking Eastbound on November 1st
Looking Eastbound on November 1st

Driving down Manchester recently I noticed the overgrowth had been trimmed, as I had requested, by the City and/or Metro. Crossing Manchester at this point is still dangerous, nothing has been done to address that. In August I used this stop to take the #32 back downtown because overgrowth on the other side blocked the sidewalk — preventing me from reaching the next stop at the traffic light seen in the background. That overgrowth was also cleared.

It’s far from perfect — but it’s also far more user-friendly than before.

— Steve Patterson

 

Cleveland’s Healthline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Part 3

In Part 1 I introduced you the best Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in America — Cleveland’s Heathline BRT, in Part 2 I looked at where it missed points in international rankings, scoring 76/100. Today I want to look at areas where it should’ve scored lower: pedestrian streetscape, & wheelchair access.

Many intersections along Euclid Ave pedestrians must press a button to get a walk signal. This was not requited elsewhere. This is an unnatural extra step that most pedestrians ignore. Decidedly less pedestrian-friendly!
Many intersections along Euclid Ave pedestrians must press a button to get a walk signal. This was not requited elsewhere. This is an unnatural extra step that most pedestrians ignore. Decidedly less pedestrian-friendly!
The streetscape is only 7 years old but many of the curb ramps & detectable warnings were in disrepair. On the plus side they didn't hold water like so many in St. Louis.
The streetscape is only 7 years old but many of the curb ramps & detectable warnings were in disrepair. On the plus side they didn’t hold water like so many in St. Louis.
In some spots the new sidewalks were too narrow, we passed through here often meeting people trying to walk side-by-side. When meeting others only wide enough for single-file.
In some spots the new sidewalks were too narrow, we passed through here often meeting people trying to walk side-by-side. When meeting others only wide enough for single-file.
At some stations I entered via the front door via a typical low-floor bus fold out ramp
At some stations I entered via the front door via a typical low-floor bus fold out ramp
But it often didn't work so the operator had to lift it manually.
But it often didn’t work so the operator had to lift it manually.
Manual ramp operation is a benefit of low-floor vs high-floor buses. There's no manual mode for a high-floor lift that doesn't work.
Manual ramp operation is a benefit of low-floor vs high-floor buses. There’s no manual mode for a high-floor lift that doesn’t work.
Other stations meant I had to enter/exit on the driver's side so I had to use the first left-side door. The gap is too wide, the built-in power ramp only worked once.
Other stations meant I had to enter/exit on the driver’s side so I had to use the first left-side door. The gap is too wide, the built-in power ramp only worked once.
Most of the time the driver had to grab the portable ramp for me to enter/exit.
Most of the time the driver had to grab the portable ramp for me to enter/exit.
Another time before the ramp was in place
Another time before the ramp was in place
Ramp ready now
Ramp ready now
Exiting
Exiting

Bus Rapid Transit is supposed to deliver a light rail-like user experience. Maybe in other BRT systems around the world they’ve figured out accessibility but for me this was a standard bus experience. Maybe that’s a fair trade-off — most get a better experience.

I can still use donations to help cover the costs to visit Cleveland — click here to donate $5+ dollars.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Cleveland’s Healthline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Part 2

Last week I introduced you to transit in Cleveland. including their Heathline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), see Cleveland’s Healthline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Part 1. In summary, they had long planned street-running light rail (LRT) on their most important East-West corridor — Euclid Avenue.

RTA originally conceived the project in the 1980s as the “Dual Hub” light-rail line, but found in the 1990s that a rail line would have cost $700 million to $800 million. Inspired by the rapid bus system in Curitiba, Brazil, RTA redesigned the Euclid Avenue project to achieve the speed and high-class feel of light rail at the lower cost of a bus line. (Euclid Corridor Health Line is a strong RX for Cleveland’s once and future Main Street)

Curitiba, Brazil? In 1971 a young architect. Jaime Lerner, became mayor.

Realising the importance of mass transit, planners called for the creation of subway lines, as well as widened streets for cars – but construction would be costly and could take decades to complete.

Instead, Lerner saw an opportunity in the one form of transport that many considered a lost cause: the bus. His idea was to devise a system that gave buses as many of the functional advantages of urban train systems as possible. He proposed to integrate dedicated bus lanes along the city’s main arteries, with stations placed on medians along the routes. This would allow buses to run at speeds comparable to light rail, while dramatically reducing the cost. 

A savvy deal-maker, Lerner made a bargain with private bus operators to pay for the creation of the new infrastructure, while they would provide the vehicles in exchange. With this trade-off in place, the first rapid bus lanes of Curitiba ended up costing 50 times less than rail.

Though the system wasn’t an instant success after the opening of the first line in 1974, it gradually worked its way into the livelihoods of residents. In 1979, Lerner created the Rede Integrada de Transporte (Integrated Transport Network) to better manage the system and, as new routes were added, it began to show its full potential. By 1993, it was carrying 1.5 million passengers a day.

But high ridership created a problem. Buses in the system still used conventional boarding systems, where passengers entered through the front of the bus and paid fares on board. Lerner, who was back in office for his third term as mayor, came up with an elegant solution.

He called for a revamped station design that enabled faster boarding through multiple doors, and fares would be exchanged before entering the station – similar to subway or light-rail systems. Offboard payment would also allow for the creation of transfer stations, meaning one fare would cover the entire system. To top it off, Lerner gave the stations a distinctive look by placing them in futuristic glass tubes. These new “tube stations” debuted in October 1991 as part of the first Ligeirinho express line. Today there are 357 tube stations throughout the city. (How Curitiba’s BRT stations sparked a transport revolution)

Curitiba’s Rede Integrada de Transporte has been so successful (overcrowded) they are now considering a costly subway system. This new mode, BRT, prompted Cleveland transportation planners to switch from LRT to BRT in planning for their Euclid Ave. corridor.

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It has paid off handsomely — Cleveland’s Heathline is the highest ranked BRT in the U.S. However, it isn’t ranked high enough to achieve a gold-level rating. In 2014 it got a score of 76/100 — giving it a silver rating.  No BRT system in the world has earned the full 100 points, Curitiba’s Green Line ranks second worldwide with a 92/100 score. The highest ranking BRT is in Guadalajara, Mexico with 93/100. Here are some videos on BRT in Guadalajara (Spanish but the visuals are great) & Curitiba.

Let’s take a closer look at the 14 areas where Cleveland’s Healthline missed 24 points:

Off-board fare collection 6/7

Off-board fare collection is one the most important factors in reducing travel time and improving the customer experience. There are presently two basic approaches to off-board fare collection: “Turnstile-controlled,” where passengers pass through a gate, turnstile, or checkpoint upon entering the station where their ticket is verified or fare is deducted, and “proof-of-payment,” where passengers pay at a kiosk and collect a paper ticket that is then checked on board the vehicle by an inspector. Both approaches can significantly reduce delay. Turnstile-controlled is slightly preferred, but proof-of-payment systems on bus routes that extend beyond BRT corridors extend the benefits of time savings to those sections of the bus routes that lie beyond the BRT corridor.

Each station along Cleveland’s Healthline has a fare machine where tickets can be purchased — we mostly opted for day passes because they’re priced at just $5, a roundtrip would be $4.50. Our Metro doesn’t offer day passes.

Off-board fare machine located within each station.
Off-board fare machine located within each station.
Signs in each station indicating fare must be paid, if checked. This is likely why a point was lost.
Signs in each station indicating fare must be paid, if checked. This is likely why a point was lost.

At times I rode the Healthline boarding passengers would enter through the numerous side doors and walk to the front to swipe their cards on the fare box by the driver. Other times my husband tried to swipe his card and the driver said they weren’t worrying about fare collection at that time. I still don’t when a person is expected to go all the way up to the front of the bus to swipe their payment — at least the bus was able to keep moving during the fare parade.

Intersection Treatments 3/6

There are several ways to increase bus speeds at intersections, all of which are aimed at increasing the green-signal time for the bus lane. Forbidding turns across the bus lane and minimizing the number of traffic-signal phases where possible are the most important. Traffic-signal priority, when activated by an approaching BRT vehicle, is useful in lower-frequency systems but less effective than turn prohibitions.

Cleveland allows left turns across the bus-only lane, on left arrow.

The car & truck are in a left turn lane. To their right is a lane for vehicles continuing Eastbound on Euclid Ave., to their left is a bus-only lane.
The car & truck are in a left turn lane. To their right is a lane for vehicles continuing Eastbound on Euclid Ave., to their left is a bus-only lane.

I’m curious how cities handle traffic where left turns aren’t allowed across the bus lane. A prohibition on left turns is very much like street-running light rail.

Peak frequency 1/3

How often the bus comes during peak travel times such as rush hour is a good proxy for quality of service. For BRT to be truly competitive with alternative modes, like the private automobile, passengers need to be confident that their wait times will be short and the next bus will arrive soon.

During peak times it is every 5 minutes, which means morning & afternoon weekday rush:

Arriving every 5 minutes during morning and afternoon weekday rush hours, and providing service in 10, 15, 20 and 30 minute increments during other hours, the HealthLine offers service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Often when we'd arrive at a station the sign
Displays in each station indicated how many minutes until the next departure. I didn’t see this for their regular bus service though common in Chicago.

Off-peak frequency 0/2

As with peak frequency, how often the bus comes during off-peak travel times is a good proxy for quality of service.

The RTA website says during off-peal it operates every 8-15 minutes, but as the quote above indicates, it is actually 10-30 minutes off-peak.

At 2:41am I had a 30-minute layover on the East end of the Healthline
At 2:41am I had a 30-minute layover on the East end of the Healthline

I was impressed the Healthline operates 24/7.

Express, Limited, and Local Services 0/3

One of the most important ways that mass-transit systems increase operating speeds and reduce passenger travel times is by providing limited and express services. While local services stop at every station, limited services skip lower-demand stations and stop only at major stations that have higher passenger demand. Express services often collect passengers at stops at one end of the corridor, travel along much of the corridor without stopping, and drop passengers off at the other end.

Infrastructure necessary for the inclusion of express, limited, and local BRT services is captured in other scoring metrics.

Cleveland didn’t design their system for Express or Limited service. Like regular bus routes, it doesn’t stop at a station unless someone wants to board or de-board. Still it can take a while to travel from end to end.

Multi-corridor network 1/2

Ideally, BRT should include multiple corridors that intersect and form a network, as this expands travel options for passengers and makes the system more viable as a whole. When designing a new system, some anticipation of future corridors is useful to ensure the designs will be compatible with later developments. For this reason, a long-term plan is recognized, with an emphasis on near-term connectivity through either BRT services or infrastructure.

Not sure why they received 1/2 points.

Passing lanes at stations 2/4

Passing lanes at station stops are critical to allow both express and local services. They also allow stations to accommodate a high volume of buses without getting congested with buses backed up waiting to enter. While more difficult to justify in low-demand systems, passing lanes are a good investment, yielding considerable passenger travel-time savings and allowing for flexibility as the system grows.

Again, they didn’t plan for Express & Limited — but they do have some points where one bus can pass by another,

Minimizing bus emissions 2/3

Bus tailpipe emissions are typically a large source of urban air pollution. Especially at risk are bus passengers and people living or working near roadsides. In general, the pollutant emissions of highest concern from urban buses are particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Minimizing these emissions is critical to the health of both passengers and the general urban population.

The primary determinant of tailpipe emission levels is the stringency of governments’ emissions standards. While some fuels, like natural gas, tend to produce lower emissions, new emission controls have enabled even diesel buses to meet extremely clean standards. However, “clean” fuels do not guarantee low emissions of all pollutants. As a result, our scoring is based on certified emissions standards rather than fuel type.

Over the last two decades, the European Union and the United States have adopted a series of progressively tighter emissions standards that are being used for this scoring system. Buses must be in compliance with Euro VI and U.S. 2010 emission standards to receive 3 points. These standards result in extremely low emissions of both PM and NOx. For diesel vehicles, these standards require the use of PM traps, ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, and selective catalytic reduction. To receive two points, buses need to be certified to Euro IV or V with PM traps (note: 50 ppm sulfur diesel fuel or lower is required for PM traps to function effectively).

Vehicles certified to the Euro IV and V standards that do not require traps emit twice as much PM as vehicles meeting more recent standards. Therefore, these vehicles are awarded one point. Ideally, buses will include contractually stipulated requirements in the purchase order to control real-world NOx emissions from buses in use, because the actual NOx emissions from urban buses certified to Euro IV and V have been tested at levels substantially higher than certified levels. Because that is hard to verify, it is included as a recommendation, but not as a requirement, for receiving the one point. Zero points are awarded for U.S. 2004 and Euro III standards and less stringent standards, because these standards allow ten times as much PM emissions as the U.S. 2010 and Euro VI standards.

Buses also generate greenhouse gas emissions. Since no clear regulatory framework exists that requires bus manufacturers to meet specific greenhouse-gas emission targets or fuel-efficiency standards, there is no obvious way to identify a fuel-efficient bus by vehicle type. For CO2 impacts, we recommend the use of the TEEMP model, which incorporates the BRT Standard into a broader assessment of project-specific CO2 impacts.

Emissions is one area where rail (streetcars, light rail) is superior to diesel busses.

Stations set back from intersections 1/3

Stations should be located at minimum 26 meters (85 feet), but ideally 40 meters (130 feet), from intersections to avoid delays. When stations are located just beyond the intersection, delays can be caused when passengers take a long time to board or alight and the docked bus blocks others from pulling through the intersection. If stations are located just before an intersection, the traffic signal can delay buses from moving from the station and thus not allow other buses to pull in. The risk of conflict remains acute, particularly as frequency increases. Separating the stations from the intersections is critical to mitigating these problems.

Cleveland’s Healthline has a variety of station types, but most are near intersections.

This station serves Westbound bus heading downtown, it allows the bus to get out of the intersection for boarding.
This station serves Westbound bus heading downtown, it allows the bus to get out of the intersection for boarding.
One station was entered via a mid-block walkway.
One station was entered via a mid-block walkway.

Center stations 1/2

Having a single station serving both directions of the BRT system makes transfers between the two directions easier and more convenient—something that becomes more important as the BRT network expands. It also tends to reduce construction costs and minimize the necessary right-of-way. In some cases, stations may be centrally aligned but split into two—called split stations, with each station housing a particular direction of the BRT system. If a physical connection between the two directions is not provided, fewer points are awarded. Bi-lateral stations (those that, while in the central verge, are curb-aligned) get no points.

The stations on the East end aren't in the center
The stations on the East end aren’t in the center

The stations on the East end aren’t in the center.

Sliding doors in BRT stations 0/1

Sliding doors where passengers get on and off the buses inside the stations improve the quality of the station environment, reduce the risk of accidents, protect passengers from the weather, and prevent pedestrians from entering the station in unauthorized locations.

The small stations are open on both ends, an opening on one or both sides for the bus. The other bus doors open onto platform, not in the shelter.
The small stations are open on both ends, an opening on one or both sides for the bus. The other bus doors open onto platform, not in the shelter.

Integration with other public transport 1/3

When a BRT system is built in a city, a functioning public transport network often already exists, be it rail, bus, or minibus. The BRT system should integrate into the rest of the public transport network. There are two components to BRT integration:

  • Physical transfer points: Physical transfer points should minimize walking between modes, be well-sized, and not require passengers to exit one system and enter another;
  • Fare payment: The fare system should be integrated so that one fare card may be used for all modes.

Very little observed integration.

Secure bicycle parking 1/2

The provision of bicycle parking at stations is necessary for passengers who wish to use bicycles as feeders to the BRT system. Formal bicycle parking facilities that are secure (either monitored by an attendant or observed by security camera) and weather-protected are more likely to be used by passengers.

Didn’t see any bike parking.

Bicycle lanes 1/2

Bicycle-lane networks integrated with the BRT corridor improve customer access, provide a full set of sustainable travel options, and enhance road safety.

Bicycle lanes should ideally connect major residential areas, commercial centers, schools, and business centers to nearby BRT stations to provide the widest access. All such major destinations within at least two kilometers of a corridor should be connected by a formal cycleway.

Moreover, in most cities, the best BRT corridors are also the most desirable bicycle routes, as they are often the routes with the greatest travel demand. Yet there is a shortage of safe cycling infrastructure on those same corridors. If some accommodation for cyclists is not made, it is possible that cyclists may use the busway. If the busway has not been designed for dual bike and bus use, it is a safety risk for cyclists. Bicycle lanes should be built either within the same corridor or on a nearby parallel street and should be at least 2 meters, for each direction, of unimpeded width.

Didn’t see any bike lanes.

Bicycle-sharing integration 0/1

Having the option to make short trips from the BRT corridor by a shared bicycle is important to providing connectivity to some destinations. Operating costs of providing bus service to the last mile (i.e., feeder buses) are often the highest cost of maintaining a BRT network; thus, providing a low-cost bicycle-sharing alternative to feeders is generally seen as best practice.

Only saw one bike-share area during our visit, not close to the Healthline.
Only saw one bike-share area during our visit, not close to the Healthline. 

Still seeking donations toward the cost of the trip — have raised $200 of the $375 total so far — click here to donate $5, $10, $15 or more.

Next week Part 3 will look at areas of the Healthline’s design & operation I didn’t like.

— Steve Patterson

 

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Error: (#10) This endpoint requires the 'manage_pages' permission or the 'Page Public Content Access' feature. Refer to https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/review/login-permissions#manage-pages and https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/review/feature#reference-PAGES_ACCESS for details.
Type: OAuthException
Code: 10
Please refer to our Error Message Reference.

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