Last week, Bombardier demoed the new railcars for the Montreal Metro:
About 600 people were present for the unveiling at the Bombardier factory in La Pocatière — about 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City — including Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and hundreds of Bombardier employees. The new wagons have more standing room, bigger windows, and it will be possible for passengers to walk from one train car to the next while the metro is in motion.
Of course, Montreal’s new trainsets will be an articulated design. That is now a standard feature for heavy-rail metros. Articulated trains have better passenger circulation, and allow for more space.
Here is a diagram showing how the articulated section will look like on Montreal’s trains:
And here is an actual photo of the new rolling stock:
Many other transit agencies across North America have adoped articulated trainsets. A partial list includes:
Toronto: The newest subway cars (Toronto “Rocket“) is a fully articulated train design. They are built by Bombardier Transportation with designs based on the company’s Movia family of trains.
Vancouver: Mark II ART rolling stock, manufactured by Bombardier Transportation, used for Skytrain.
Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic): I wonder how many are aware that the Dominican Republic has an impressive metro system? It uses articulated trains built by Alstom (based on the Metropolis design).
Panama City: Currently under construction, it will open in early 2014. Their system will also use the Alstom Metropolis design.
Conspicuously absent from this list is any transit agency in the United States. Transit planners in the US have a deep aversion to articulated trainsets. So-called 3rd world countries like Panama and the Dominican Republic get the best possible trains — whereas the US (richest and most technologically advanced country in the world) is still using crappy train designs from 40 years ago. And the US is paying more too!
The investigation has just begun, but it is likely that the NTSB will find that the fatal Metro-North derailment was due to excessive speed. It is precisely the kind of accident that PTC would have prevented.
But the FRA has a different view. FRA Administrator Joe Szabo sent a blistering letter to the MTA complaining of unspecified problems in its safety culture:
The Federal Railroad Administration today called for mandatory safety retraining of Metro-North workers and the creation of a confidential reporting system that lets employees report safety concerns, according to a letter from the agency to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It directed MTA, which operates the railroad, to respond by Dec. 6. The MTA needs to show its employees “a serious, good faith commitment to the safe operation of the system and inform them of the steps that MTA will take to enhance safety in both the short- and long-term,” Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo wrote in the letter to MTA Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast.
At best, his letter is premature. At worst, it is disingenuous for trying to deflect blame from the FRA.
Historically, the FRA was opposed to PTC technology (until Congress intervened in 2008). Since that time, the FRA has botched the PTC implementation. Rather than pointing fingers, the FRA needs to answer why the PTC implementation is taking so long, despite being a turn-key technology.
Behold! San Diego’s new 10-story parking edifice:
The vision for the Waterfront Park at the County Administration Center led to the creation of the new garage. While visitors to the County building can use its new underground parking, employees needed a place close by to park. And the Little Italy structure allows the neighborhood to accommodate more visitors as well.
“It encourages people to visit this culturally rich and progressive community, a community with some of the best restaurants, hotels, stores, open markets and public events in the downtown area,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts.
General obligation bonds will be used to pay for the $24 million project.
From an NPR puff-piece on cycling. This lady is clearly deranged:
And then there’s the issue of safety. In fact, on Insua’s ride, a car cut through the single file of bicycles, missing one person by just a couple feet. So perhaps the greatest obstacle to bike trains is that drivers don’t like sharing the road.
“It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.
“It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”
Washington Metro is trying something new with its Silver Line extension. The suburban stations will not be surrounded by huge parking garages. Instead, the idea is to promote transit-oriented development, and more walking to the station. Quelle Horreur!
That decision has been cheered by “smart growth” advocates, but some residents are concerned that their streets will become de facto Metro parking lots. And some potential Silver Line riders — accustomed to driving to Metro stations to board their trains — wonder how they’ll get to the new rail line if they can’t drive.
“The reason places like Bethesda are popular is because you can drive and park,” said John Lucas, who lives about a mile from Tysons. “Now we have to get in the car and drive past two or three stations to get to where we can park. It’s going to be impossible. There are not alternate forms of transportation that are reliable.”
Mr. Lucas is so lazy he can’t walk 1 mile?
San Jose has removed some buffered bike lane from Almaden. It had been supposedly striped as part of a road diet plan. But now the city is saying the lane was installed “in error“. John Brazil, San Jose Bike Planner, writes in an e-mail:
That one block of Almaden Blvd bike lanes south of Woz/Balbach was installed in error.
San Jose plans to provide a bikeway connection south under Hwy 280 via 2nd and 3rd Streets since they do not have a freeway interchange. Almaden Blvd at 280 does have a freeway interchange and one-way loop that is very challenging to bikes. In addition, adding bike lanes on Vine and Almaden south of Hwy 280 are not currently funded.
To avoid the Almaden/280 interchange, Almaden Blvd bicyclists will be able to use the Woz/Balbach/San Salvador bikeway (to be implemented this fiscal year) to planned bike lanes southward on 2nd and 3rd street under 280 (planned for next year). This will be a more bike friendly route without an interchange.”
Oh my, this is wrong for so many reasons. First of all, the lane reduction calmed traffic on Almaden. Putting extra car lanes back in won’t be good for neighbors, or for peds crossing the street. Second, there are places on Almaden that bicyclists might want to visit (hasn’t John Brazil heard of Routine Accommodation?). Third, the city will be removing an existing bike facility before the “replacement” is ready.
I’m also baffled by the description of the 280/Almaden interchange as being “challenging” for bikes. The one-way loop is actually an elegant design that has fewer turning conflicts.