Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2010

» New streetcar, light rail, and commuter train systems will open in 2010. But the real story is in the new lines being constructed.

2009 was a huge year in North American public transportation, with the opening of new light rail lines in Seattle, Portland, Dallas, and Los Angeles as well as a new SkyTrain link in Vancouver representing a more than $6 billion overall investment in new fixed guideway transit nationwide.

This year, the biggest event will be late in the year when Dallas’ Green Line, the nation’s longest light rail project at 28 miles, will open for full service. Six other major projects will open throughout 2010 in other cities in North America. But at the same time, transit systems throughout the U.S. and Canada will begin construction on almost two dozen new major corridors whose ultimate investment cost will total more than $20 billion once they’re completed — one of the biggest years of construction starts ever.

This is on top of the dozen of projects in fifteen North American cities already under construction that will be completed in later years.

Before, I’ve summarized the projects coming online in 2010 with new service and those beginning construction. Remember that The Transport Politic features year-round updates of this information on the Under Construction and Planned pages.

New Service

January

» Vancouver Downtown Streetcar opens (1.1-mile streetcar), running as a demonstration line for the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in the city. Project’s success will determine the future use of streetcars in the city.

Spring

» Austin Capital MetroRail opens (32-mile CR DMU), connecting Downtown Austin to Leander. Expected 2,000 daily trips. Originally expected to open in 2009. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: What’s Taking Austin So Long?, 8 June 2009.

April

» Edmonton South LRT Extension opens (4.5-mile LRT), running as an extension of the existing line from Health Sciences Station to Century Park Station. Expected 100,000 daily riders. First segment, to South Campus, opened in 2009. C$673 million cost.

Fall

» Montréal Train de L’Est opens (32-mile CR), connecting the city’s Gare Centrale with the east island and Mascouche in the Rive-Nord. C$300 million cost.

December

» Dallas DART Green Line opens (28-mile LRT), completing Northwest-Southeast trajectory, sharing downtown segments with existing Red and Blue Lines. First segment opened in September 2009. $1.8 billion cost. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: First Phase of New Green Line Expands Service to South Dallas, 13 September 2009.

» Denton County A-Train opens (21-mile regional rail DMU), running from Denton to North Carrollton, designed to interface with the DART Green Line expansion. $191 million cost.

» Los Angeles Expo Line Phase 1A opens (5-mile LRT), from Downtown Los Angeles to Crenshaw Boulevard. Because of cost increases and construction delay, completion of the whole 8.6-mile line to Culver City won’t be done until 2012. $864 million cost. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Expo Line to Santa Monica, 5 April 2009.

New Construction Starts

Calgary

» West Line (5.2-mile LRT), extension of the existing 7th Avenue LRT to 69th Street SW. C$700 million cost, projected opening 2012.

Cincinnati

» Streetcar (3.9-mile streetcar), running north-south through downtown. $102 million cost, 6,400 estimated daily riders, projected opening 2011. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Cincinnati’s Riverfront Transit Center Attracts Criticism, 7 July 2009.

Denver

» East Line (22.8-mile electric CR), to run from downtown Union Station to DIA airport. $1.3 billion cost, projected opening 2015. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Denver FasTracks Problems Expose Complexities of Building Transit at the Regional Scale, 7 December 2009.

Detroit

» M1 Rail Line (3.4-mile LRT), running northwest from Downtown Detroit along Woodward Avenue to Midtown. $125 million cost, projected opening 2011. Relevant articles on the Transport Politic: Detroit Considers a Streetcar, 18 November 2008;Detroit Regional Transit Plan Approved, 9 December 2008; Bringing Rapid Transit to Detroit, 16 March 2009; Congress Approves M1 Involvement in Detroit Light Rail, 21 December 2009.

Edmonton

» Downtown to NAIT (1.9-mile LRT), extends existing line from Churchill Square to Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. C$825 million cost, projected opening 2014. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Edmonton, First North American City with Modern Light Rail, Plans Major Expansion, 12 November 2009.

Fort Worth

» Southwest to Northeast (CR DMU), from southwest Fort Worth to DFW Airport. Projected opening in 2013.

Honolulu

» Main Line (20-mile LRT), stretching east-west from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. $5.3 billion cost, 90,000 estimated daily riders, projected opening in phases from 2012 to 2018. Relevant articles on the Transport Politic: Honolulu’s LRT Re-routed, 29 January 2009; Is Honolulu’s Elevated Acceptable?, 19 May 2009; Still in Planning, Ambitious Honolulu Rail Transit Project May be in Financial Trouble, 21 August 2009.

Houston

» University Line (10-mile LRT), connects all of the city’s planned light rail corridors. Estimated 49,000 daily riders, projected opening in 2012. Relevant articles on the Transport Politic: Houston Readies Four Light Rail Lines by 2012, 16 February 2009; After Years of Conflict, Houston’s Transit System Advances, 28 May 2009.

» Uptown Line (4-mile LRT), links University Line to areas in North Houston. Projected opening in 2012.

Los Angeles/Riverside

» Perris Valley Line (24-mile CR), extends existing MetroLink System from Riverside to Perris along I-215 corridor. $169 million cost, 5,700 estimated daily riders, projected completion in 2011.

Orlando

» SunRail (61-mile CR DMU), would run north-south form Poinciana to DeLand, via Orlando. $615 million cost, 7,400 estimated daily riders, projected opening in phases from 2011 to 2013. Relevant articles on the Transport Politic: Rail in Florida Advances, 5 February 2009; SunRail and Florida HSR Promoted as Inexorably Linked, 11 April 2009; Florida Convenes Special Legislative Session for SunRail, Tri-Rail, and High-Speed Rail, 4 December 2009.

Sacramento

» Downtown-Natomas Airport Line (13-mile LRT), from downtown to the airport. Projected opening 2014.

» South Corridor (4.3-mile LRT), extending existing service from Meadowview to Cosumnes River College Station. $270 million cost, 11,270 estimated daily riders, projected opening 2012.

» Riverfront Line (Streetcar), extending across downtown. Projected opening 2011.

Salt Lake City

» Draper Line (LRT), extends existing north-south line to Draper City, via Sandy City. Projected opening 2015.

San Francisco/Antioch

» MUNI Central Subway (1.7-mile LRT), extending existing T-Third Street line from Caltrain Terminal to Chinatown. $1.29 billion cost, 78,000 estimated daily riders, projected opening 2016.

» eBART (10-mile CR DMU), to stretch east-west from BART Pittsburg/Bay Point Station to Antioch. $523 million cost, 10,100 estimated daily riders, projected opening 2014.

San Jose

» BART to Silicon Valley (16.1-mile metro), running south, west, and then north to Santa Clara, via Downtown San Jose. $6 billion cost, 90,000 estimated daily riders, projected opening 2018. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: BART to Silicon Valley Likely Delayed, 1 March 2009.

Toronto

» Spadina Subway Extension (5.3-mile metro), extending existing Yonge-University-Spadina Line from Downsview to Vaughan Corporate Center, via York University. C$2.6 billion cost, projected opening 2015.

» Sheppard Avenue East Line (LRT), east-west from Don Mills to Meadowvale Road. C$555 million cost, projected opening 2012. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Toronto Gets Funds for Another LRT Line, 18 May 2009.

» Etobicoke Finch West Line (LRT), west from Yonge Street to Route 27. C$880 million cost, projected opening 2013.

» Eglington Crosstown Line (19.3-mile LRT), east-west from Kennedy Station to Martin Grove Road. C$2.3 billion cost, projected opening 2015. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: $9 Billion for Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown and More, 2 April 2009.

Vancouver

» Evergreen Line SkyTrain (6.8-mile metro), extending existing Millennium SkyTrain Line from Longheed Town Centre to Coquitlam Town Center. C$1.4 billion cost, 22,900 estimated daily riders, projected opening 2014. Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Vancouver Faces Major Funding Gap, 31 July 2009.

Already Under Construction, Opening Post-2010

Calgary » Northeast Line Extension (1.8-mile LRT), to open 2012

Dallas » Orange Line (14-mile LRT), to open in phases 2011-2013; Blue Line (4.5-mile LRT), to open 2012

Denver » West Corridor (12-mile CR EMU), to open 2013

Houston » East End Line (3-mile LRT), to open 2012; Southeast Line (6.1-mile LRT), to open 2012; North Line (5.2-mile LRT), to open 2012

Miami » Miami Intermodal Center/Earlington Heights Corridor (Orange Line Phase I — 2.4-mile metro), to open 2011

Minneapolis/St. Paul » Central Corridor (11-mile LRT), to open 2014

New York City/Northern New Jersey » ARC Tunnel (commuter rail), to open 2017; 7 Line Extension (metro), to open 2013; 2nd Ave Line (2-mile metro), to open 2017; LIRR East Side Access (4-mile commuter rail), to open 2015

Norfolk » Tide (7.5-mile LRT), to open 2011

Pittsburgh » North Shore Line (1.2-mile LRT), to open 2011

Portland » Eastside Loop Extension (3.3-mile streetcar), to open 2011

Sacramento » Downtown-Natomas Airport Line (13-mile LRT), to open 2014 (phase I, very short extension, opening 2010)

Salt Lake City » Mid-Jordan Line (10.6-mile LRT), to open 2012; West Valley Line (5.1-mile LRT), to open 2012; Airport Line (6-mile LRT), to open 2015; FrontRunner South (44-mile commuter rail), to open 2013

San Francisco/East Bay » BART to Warm Springs Extension (5.4-mile metro), to open 2014

Seattle » University Link (3.2-mile LRT), to open 2016; Sounder Extension to Lakewood (8-mile commuter rail), to open 2012

Washington/Northern Virginia » Dulles Line (23-mile metro), to open in phases in 2013 and 2016; Streetcar Network (many streetcar lines), to open beginning 2011

More details, of course, on the Under Construction page.

55 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • Regarding Austin:

    The 2000 figure was the capacity of the system with the originally planned 5 trains in operation (1 in reserve). Since then, plans have changed; current plan is to have 4 trains running, some not going all the way out to the end of the line.

    I’d estimate capacity at something like 1600 now – that’s not prospective riders, that’s capacity.

  • Dallas’s long light rail line isn’t necessarily a good thing. Urban rail thrives on connectivity, not length.

  • Max Wyss

    Concerning Austin: Maybe that schedule makes it a little bit less of a mess… according to the official website, they will run in 35 minute intervals… IMHO a good way to not get the ridership numbers wanted.

    BTW, the interior (which may or may not have an effect on the ridership) is definitely not among the best I have seen in GTWs … who would obstruct the great big windows with baggage racks…

    I am not familiar with the area, but is the ridership potential so bad that they won’t offer all day service? What a waste of resources…

    About Dallas’ LRT route length: There are long LRT lines elsewhere (Belgium, BLT line 17, Köln/Bonn area, Düsseldorf area etc. However, they have either very good connectivity in the middle, or are bridge lines between centers.

  • Richard Lenthall

    Yonah, this list is good reading, any chance of a European list, however?

  • Max, I’m pretty sure the long lines in the Rhine-Ruhr area are all S-Bahn lines, which connect to urban trams and buses. S-Bahn service can be done on a larger scale than light rail, because it leverages existing railroads to reduce construction costs, and runs at a much higher speed.

  • EngineerScotty

    Any chance the list can be updated with the projects which are already underway, but not scheduled to complete in 2010?

  • I seriously doubt if the Evergreen Line in Vancouver starts construction this year. Translink faces a huge budget deficit and both the fed and prov governments are going into penny-pinching mode this spring.

  • Kyle

    What about Mexican cities? They’re part of North America too!

  • EngineerScotty –
    Done.

    Richard & Kyle –
    When I get more time, I might think about it…

  • Thanks for the list. Now I don’t have to make my own, which I did for 2009 (although not as comprehensive, and just for light rail).
    http://www.stevevance.net/planning/2009/01/new-light-rails-this-year/

  • It’s interesting to see that most of the building in the United States is occurring in areas that aren’t currently transit rich. In other words not the Northeast and Chicago. Its also interesting that most of the new building is LRT and CR and not heavy rail. I guess this is due to cost. It’s good to see we are building some stuff though there could be a lot more on the list. Surprised to see that Sacramento and Salt Lake City are doing so much haven’t really heard about those. Also will Norfolk be the smallest city in North America to have LRT?

  • Ocean Railroader

    It looks like Denver is laying the ground work for new railroad eletric catenary lines by setting up a seed or a headwaters starter set with 22 miles of main line eletric trains. After it is build maybe it might be extended with BNSF talking about going eletric.

  • The Northeast and Chicago don’t really do light rail – they do heavy rail. And they do it at high cost per route-km even relative to other heavy rail project, so a project that looks like a small deal of only a few km can actually turn out to be the most expensive one.

  • Denver’s west line is LRT not commuter rail. There will be a commuter rail west line but it is not under construction yet and is several miles north of the under construction light rail line (although the corridor it follows does end up in Golden like the light rail line).

  • Max Wyss

    Alon, I was specifically referring to LRT lines (using LRT vehicles, DC electrification, and having inner-city operation). Some lines may actually be labelled “S-xx”, or “U-xx”, but they are LRT. Specifically in mind in Köln/Bonn area, I had the lines 16 and 18, both connecting Bonn and Köln (where line 16 even goes further south to Bad Godesberg). And in Düsseldorf, I am thinking of the U79 to Duisburg.

    I was not thinking of the “tram-train” operations around Karlsruhe, which does have some very long lines, but which are on DB tracks outside of Karlsruhe.

    S-Bahn lines (using mainline rolling stock, AC electrification, no inner-city operation) are considerably longer, because in many cases, they are diameter-lines, running through the centers.

  • Ah… yeah, you’re right. But still, those lines have a dense network or urban transit to connect to, which the Dallas Green Line doesn’t.

  • Max Wyss

    With that, I agree…

    Well, Dallas has a lot of homework to do…

    Note to the Dallasers: A network is more than just lines; much more…

  • W. K. Lis

    Correction with Toronto’s Spadina Subway Extension. Construction activity will begin in 2010. Service on the new extension is planned to start in late 2015.

  • Alon, Max – to Dallas’ credit, it is building a new downtown link in addition to its existing line, plus it is constructing a streetcar system. It will have commuter rail connections up into Denton County and along the Cotton Rail corridor. It’s hard to argue that the city’s not trying to build the dense network you’re suggesting is important.

    W.K. – Thanks, corrected.

  • Yonah, the urban transit of, well, anywhere outside the US, is not just a single streetcar. It’s a dense network of subways and light rail.

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Dallas light rail has plenty of reach into the suburbs; what it lacks is transit density at the core. And a single streetcar that, I’m going to guess, does not time its schedules to meet the light rail and commuter rail, and easily gets stuck in traffic, isn’t density at the core.

  • Alon –
    Right, and by downtown link, I meant a second light rail line downtown, in addition to the streetcar project. Dallas is also planning a West Dallas LRT that will serve parts of the core. To argue that the city is only planning suburban extensions is wrong.

    It certainly could do more, but it’s doing more right now than most US cities.

  • Alon,
    Us Dallasites are working on that. We’ve been plagued with decades of nothing but auto-centric sprawl. Almost all the stations will have bus connections plus rail connections to Denton and a planned connection with the Cotton Belt which is the same as the Fort Worth SW to NE line. Many developers are planning urban destinations at many stations. As the fastest growing region on the nation right now, its going to take years to reverse our auto centric life-style, but it will come.

  • For the Minneapolis/St. Paul light rail’s new Central Corridor line, only utility relocation and barrier setup has so far occurred. I think you should add “St. Paul” to the list, as much of the construction will be there.

  • Allen

    The East Corridor is project to cost $1.3 billion, not $2 billion.

  • > will Norfolk be the smallest city in North America to have LRT?

    Norfolk’s metro area is 1.7 million, which makes it comparable to Charlotte and Austin, and notably larger than New Orleans (1.1m), Buffalo (1.1m), Salt Lake (1.1m) or Honolulu (900k) – which will become the real new smallest once its line opens.

    If you go by city proper population rather than metro area population (which really would not be appropriate), then Norfolks 230k would still be quite a bit larger than Salt Lake City (182k), not to mention Tacoma (197K) and any number of other places that are part of larger metro areas.

  • ^
    And of course, still smaller cities have minor heritage streetcar operations.

  • Ocean Railroader

    I live near Norfolk and drive down there several times a year and Norfolk is really only one city that is a part of a much larger mega city in the Hampton Roads area that runs from Newport News to Virginia Beach it is really one super city if looked at beyound the Norfolk City limits. I’m shocked how they could have let their streetcar system die consdering how much growth they had in the last few years. In fact I remember hearing in a newspaper that the Norfolk and Virginia streetcar system used to be over 69 miles of track.
    They also had a story in the news how one of the orginal streetcar drivers got to see the new light rail cars and he offically said that the streetcar system was back in the form of light rail in fact the new light rail line runs along a former streetcar rail bed. It’s cool that streetcars are back in Norfolk and soon Virginia Beach.

  • J

    Why do you include Canda but not Mexico?

    Mexico City is getting a brand new subway line in the next couple of months (line 12)

  • J

    Also, the Providence to TF Green airport project is almost done. No start date has been announced, but the MBTA has agreed to run trains and the station is on schedule.

  • Wad

    I’m curious about the Denton County project.

    Is the A-Train commuter rail, or will it be a DMU akin to the Sprinter in north San Diego County, which has all-day service?

  • Max Wyss

    According to their website, they most likely will operate all day Monday to Saturday, at hourly intervals throughout the day, and at 25 minute intervals during peak time. (that has potential for improvement, but could be way worse).

    Vehicles are Diesel GTW by Stadler. (that is definitely a good choice; ok, electric together with FLIRT would be better, but that may come later…).

  • Nathanael

    “Why do you include Canda but not Mexico?

    Mexico City is getting a brand new subway line in the next couple of months (line 12)”

    I’m guessing Yonah doesn’t read Spanish, and therefore missed the announcements in the Spanish-speaking countries. :-) Google Translate is your friend for such things….

  • Spokker

    When you visit Canada and try to get around by transit there is less of a chance that you will be gunned down in the drug wars crossfire.

  • Woody

    Spokker — Maybe you are thinking of the rail line proposed for bloody Juarez, across the bridge from the West Texas town of El Paso.

    Most of the violence in Mexico is concentrated along the border with the U.S. — demonstrating the close connection between our cause and their effect — but methinks the Mexico City subways are not particularly dangerous.

  • Woody

    At 28 miles, the Green Line IS a long line, but it’s actually two lines from the ‘burbs to downtown. These lines connect and the trains continue past the city’s core — the through-running that Alon usually applauds. Perhaps that was for DART’s operational reasons, but more likely it was for political balance between the richer areas north of downtown and the poorer areas to the south.

    The Green Line will connect Southwest Airlines’ hub at Love Field with the DART system. Again political considerations of balance probably required construction of the Orange Line next, extending to Dallas-Fort Worth AIrport with its American Airlines hub, by the end of 2013. Meanwhile the Orange line will also reach the U of Dallas campus, and the Belt Line commuter train station. At 14 miles it is no longer than the two parts of the Green Line.

    I’m surprised to find myself in the role of defending Dallas, but I think DART’s expansion of rail service is about as good as you could get. A downtown-only or inner-city-only plan would not get the needed votes or funds from the rich residential areas.

    Linking suburbs not just to downtown offices but also to sites like the State Fairgrounds, the Spurs’ arena, the Arts District, the Convention Center, the U of Dallas campus, Love Field, and even D-FW has helped the system build support, even if many riders to these destinations will make the trip only occasionally. And at some point it will be possible for many residents to say, “Yes, I can get there without a car.” Already thousands of commuters reach downtown jobs by rail, allowing two-car households to get rid of the costly spare. They will be the base of support for infilling the center city with more transit lines.

    DART has been a resounding success, and it is becoming a showcase for transit in the South-Central region.

    Houston is scrambling to catch up with light rail, to extend its hugely successful single line, after its plans were kneecapped by two or three House Republicans who wanted to rule the big city from D.C., or suburban Sugarland.

    Austin has totally and completely botched transit, losing a close referendum on light rail, then turning around to squander money and goodwill on a disastrously stupid plan for a rail line that will serve a few busloads of commuters.

    San Antonio also lost a rail referendum, but leaders are looking at Dallas and Houston now, and rail transit is being talked about again.

    Fort Worth is trying to get its act together, too, with plans for streetcars and commuter rail.

    Oklahoma City may also be getting serious about rail transit. This after decades of the city being roadkill from the Interstates that cut off the Capitol complex and the U of Oklahoma medical school/hospitals from the traditional downtown.

    DART has shortcomings, but Dallas’ transit is now at least a decade ahead of all these neighboring cities, and maybe two decades ahead of regional rivals like Phoenix, Memphis, Kansas City, and St Louis.

  • Nathanael –
    Any self-respecting American should know at least some Spanish. That’s not my problem. Rather, it’s a matter of time: I’d love to cover more issues, but I’m limited in my ability to keep up.

  • Woody, I know that the DART line is an example of through-running. The reason I’m skeptical is that so far the urban network is T-shaped, with three lines meeting at West End, and each service running over two of the three lines. It would be better to build new suburban lines in such a way that they’d run on different streets in the city center, creating a more expansive network than a T.

  • Allen

    @Woody, Dallas is in the desert southwest? Since when?

  • DBX

    I notice Chicago is conspicuous by its absence from any of these lists. This is a city that has seriously lost its way — the only one of the top ten US central cities to lose population during the current decade. From selling off its parking meters to an investment bank at one-third of their real value, to casually brushing off every serious proposal for transit development, not to mention a stubbornly high rate of gang activity compared to most of its top-ten city peers, Chicago is a city mired in stagnation. The dysfunction that is the Illinois state government does not help, but California cities are still progressing even with a far worse crisis in Sacramento than in Springfield.

  • Woody

    Allen — There is, or was in more prosperous times, a small industry of relocation advisors who helped manufacture the arguments for moving corporate headquarters and other facilities from cities infested with uppity black folks to places with more whites, or at least where the brown people seemed more politically docile.

    I got to know more about these outfits than you would ever want to. The election of a black mayor in Chicago or New York set off their cash registers — ca-ching ca-ching. But I shouldn’t attribute all such corporate moves to purely racist motives. Avoiding taxes and breaking unions were also powerful factors.

    View the relative attractions of various Sunbelt cites vis a vis the Rustbelt locations as relocation specialists do. Then yes, Dallas competes with Richmond, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Orlando as well as with Houston, Austin, Denver, and yes, even Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City.

    When I got neck deep in this relocation muck, it was Reagan era, 25 years ago. Commuting times sometimes made a chart, table, or slide, but public transit or lack thereof was never mentioned. Dunno what they say now.

  • Tom Taggart

    Where art thou philadelphia?

  • Alex, the Austin CR plan is so lame because it, like Tri-Rail before it, assumes that people who previously commuted by car, in Austin’s case ignoring some pretty good express bus routes to do so, will be willing to ride a train that doesn’t go to any activity centers at all – expecting them to transfer to shuttle buses on the work end of their trip to do so.

    ANY transfer in a city without a healthy culture of public transit dooms ridership among choice commuters – but ESPECIALLY the stupidest one of all – to stuck-in-traffic shuttlebuses.

  • M1EK: no, timed cross-platform transfers have a history of success, to the point that some ridership models don’t even include a transfer penalty for them. It’s the transfers from rail to bus that require walking a block and have no schedule coordination that reduce ridership.

  • Ed Von Nordeck

    Do not count the Riverside- Perris line to open in 2011.

    All the funding is not available.

  • Roger Christensen

    Assuming EIR is adopted in February, Expo Phase 2 Culver City to Santa Monica could start construction in 2010 with a projected 2015 opening.

  • Russ Jackson

    The big problem with the Denton County A-Train is the need to transfer at Carrollton to DART in order to go into Dallas, due to the DCTA not having funds to electrify its line. The new cars they bought will be diesel-electric, but will not arrive for two years so they will use TRE’s RDC cars initially. Enthusiasm high here for this project.

  • Alon, once again, I am referring to ‘new rail’ cities (cities with little current transit market share outside the transit-dependent). Obviously the first rail line will involve a transfer to bus, because otherwise it wouldn’t be the first rail line, but even if the second rail line requires a transfer to or from the first, it underwhelms compared to the car that everybody is currently driving.

    You keep bringing up modelling which was developed from places like New York, which is completely irrelevant to a place like Austin (or Dallas, or Portland, or Salt Lake, or San Jose).

  • I’m not talking about New York, where the transfers are not timed (in fact, in the one place where frequencies matter the most, Staten Island, many buses are timed to just miss the ferry).

    If you want to restrict attention to North America, then look at Calgary’s LRT, which has by far the highest ridership of North American new-rail cities. Its shared trunk line has two branches to the east and one branch and one stub to the west. The one-seat ride practice you suggest would involve running four services, connecting each eastern branch to each western branch. The actual practice is running two services, so some branch-to-branch combinations require a transfer, but frequencies for each service are higher.

  • Max Wyss

    To Russ Jackson:
    Technically, it would be possible to build dual mode GTWs. I don’t think it has been done yet, but the concept would allow for it. And if it would not fit into one power cube (that’s what they call the power unit of those trains), a double unit, using two power cubes, one diesel, one electric, would definitely work. If I remember correctly, about one fifth of all GTW units built are diesel powered, the rest is electric, either 15kV AC or 700 to 3000V DC.

    It would also be possible to replace the power unit at a later time.

  • Alon,

    I am not suggesting that all rides must be one-seat; or even that the majority of rides must be one-seat forever. I AM suggesting that when you’re starting rail service in an area where driving is cheap and easy, expecting any significant fraction of your new transit patrons to accept a transfer at all (meaning a 3-seat ride for most, a 2-seat ride for some) is ridiculous naivete.

    I don’t know enough about Calgary to opine; but my statement holds up when applied against facts on the ground in every US city with which I have even a passing familiarity.

  • 3-seat ride above is “car to park-and-ride, train 1, (train 2 or bus 1)” in case that wasn’t clear; 2-seat ride is for people within walking distance of train 1’s station.

  • The US has no inner-urban light rail system with cross-platform transfers, not yet. Nor does it have any successful new light rail system, unless you count Portland’s 100,000 passengers a day and Los Angeles’s 150,000 as successes. That’s why you have to go to Canada to look for examples. And Calgary violates all of your rules: after opening each light rail line it reconfigured the bus system to feed it, giving most people 2-seat or even 3-seat rides.

  • We’re operating on entirely different premises, then; I consider Houston and Dallas’ first efforts to be successful because they led to massive expansions approved by voters in a transit-hostile state that even involved potential tax increases.

  • Houston and Dallas both seem successful – Houston for once has done the right thing and avoided exurban construction entirely. But because both systems are new, it’s hard to tell whether their success will give them high ridership in the future. It’s the same with Phoenix, which is doing well for a one year old system.

  • Washington, DC is also putting in new street cars. There are 2 separate sections that should open in the coming months.

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