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Archive for the ‘transit’ Category

MBTA looks at EMU offerings

Here is an RFI update from MBTA, for a proposed EMU upgrade of their commuter rail:

2020-06-15-fmcb-K-EMU-RFI-update

There is “no consensus” on whether to use lightweight trains vs. FRA-compliant tank-trains.

 

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Anaheim has its $200 million ‘ARTIC’ station. San Francisco has its $2+ billion Transbay Terminal. But the award for most expensive and useless intermodal station project will surely go to San Jose, for its $10 billion (yes with a “b”) Dirion makeover.

There is a lot that can be said about problems with the project, but this one picture from a recent presentation sums it up:

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The Caltrain/HSR platforms are on the elevated structure, and the VTA LRT stop is proposed to be re-located underground. Note that the layout we have today has both the LRT and Caltrain platforms at-grade alongside each other. So after spending $10 billion, they’ve made the transfer worse — even though convenient “intermodal” transfers was a design goal. With the Caltrain tracks elevated above grade, it would be simple to continue the LRT line at-grade through the station area, with a stop directly at a station entrance (preferably the north concourse side on Santa Clara St).

What’s bizarre is that a group of stakeholders were sent on a junket to study European train stations, including this one in Rotterdam –which as you can see has the trams located at-grade directly outside the station:

Screen Shot 2020-04-10 at 7.18.38 PM

 

 

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Blood on their hands

It was 1 decade ago that Berkeley City Council canceled the AC Transit BRT project, a decision which generated nationwide ridicule. Councilmember Robinson is trying to revive the project, and asked council to reverse the decision. This may be just virtue signaling (Berkeley routinely passes meaningless proclamations), but we’ll see:

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The 2010 AC Transit BRT project was much more than bus lanes — it was a Complete Street makeover with left-turn pockets, bike lanes, and crosswalk fixes to make Telegraph safer for all road users.

From 2010 until 2018 (the last year data is available) the CHP SWITRS database records a whopping 216 injuries on Berkeley’s portion of Telegraph Ave. How many of those injuries could have been prevented had the BRT project been built? Well, we can look to Oakland where a road-diet along its portion of Telegraph reduced total injuries by 40%. Oakland DOT also reports that their Telegraph improvements accomplished a Vision-Zero milestone: no pedestrian collisions in crosswalks. By contrast, Berkeley’s section of Telegraph had 54 pedestrian injuries in the years 2010-2018.

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Injury collisions (all types)

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TGV derailment

A landslide caused a TGV derailment near Strasbourg. According to media reports, the train was going 170mph, but there were no fatalities:

The driver, whose injury was not specified, was evacuated by helicopter following the accident near Ingenheim, around 30 kilometres (20 miles) northwest of Strasbourg. The train was still intact but the locomotive was leaning on its side and four other wagons were also off the tracks, according to the state rail operator SNCF and AFP journalists at the scene.

“Despite going off the tracks, the TGV remained upright,” the operator said in a Twitter post.

TGV’s have semi-permanent coupled passenger cars, which helps avoid jackknifing.

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The Problem: transporting thousands of employees from/to a very large North Bayshore employer in Mountain View to the Caltrain station.

The solution, as proposed by some on the Mountain View City Council: a $1 billion monorail:

The idea has been floating around since 2009 under several names and iterations — Personal Rapid Transit, pod cars, SkyTran, autonomous shuttles, monorails and gondolas — all aimed at solving the practical challenge of efficiently moving commuters roughly 3 miles, from the city’s downtown transit center to Google, NASA Ames and other major employers.

Despite the decadelong wait and worsening traffic, the project suffered another setback last month. An $850,000 study to figure out the land requirements needed for the future Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) line, originally intended to begin last month, has been pushed back to November. Council members granted the request of city staff who sought a one to two year delay, citing burdensome workloads and a vacancy in the public works department. The study now aims be complete in April 2021. Estimated costs to build an elevated system over surface streets could cost as much as $195 million per mile, raising questions over how the city could cobble together enough transportation funds to pay as much as $1 billion.

There is of course a trivial solution: just stripe bus lanes. The $850k cost of the study is enough to pay for it. Google and the other employers already have buses, as does the VTA.

prt_mv

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Middle of Nowhere

BART’s low-ridership Warm Springs outpost always had that middle-of-nowhere vibe. But seeing tumbleweeds blow by adds a whole new feeling of remoteness.

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So much for that Climate Emergency.

Last September, Mayor Sam Liccardo and the San Jose City Council adopted a Climate Emergency Declaration that was supposed to focus efforts to reduce the GHG emissions. It followed a similar declaration by Santa Clara County.  63% of San Jose carbon emissions are from automobiles, and yet

San Jose leaders want to squash an effort to divert transportation funding away from highways interchanges and expressway improvements and toward increasing public transit options.

The city council on Tuesday voted 7-2 to send a letter to the Valley Transportation Authority Board of Directors urging them against shifting any money from the funding priorities promised to Santa Clara County voters with the 2016 transportation sales tax, Measure B.

With only about one year into using the 30-year funding source, Mayor Sam Liccardo said that it was too soon to have this conversation. “It is fundamentally disempowering to community and democratic processes whenever we engage in that much outreach and that much engagement and then within a year of us being able to spend these dollars.”

It is amusing that San Jose leaders only now care about adhering to voter promises in the transportation tax measure. Voters were previously promised better Caltrain, LRT, and bus service, only to have that funding redirected elsewhere. It is also strange to say it is “too soon” to have a conversation about funding priorities when VTA has just made cuts to bus service.

 

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One of the new lines runs to inner Mongolia:

The 174km (108-mile) line has a maximum design speed of 350km per hour, and links up with a high-speed service to Lanzhou, in the northwestern province of Gansu. It stretches westward, connecting with other high-speed routes across Shanxi, Hebei and the eastern part of Inner Mongolia.

With the introduction of the services, the trip from Beijing to Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia, is expected to take two hours and nine minutes, a fraction of the nine and a quarter hours it takes now. The new service is expected to foster economic and social development between Inner Mongolia and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

 

 

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Ok boomer

Man, if you thought your local city council had some nutcases…

This was from a 2017 meeting in Tampere, Finland. Incidentally, the Mayor presiding over the meeting went on to become Transport Minister, and will be the country’s next Prime Minister .

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MARTA orders new rolling stock

MARTA has ordered new rolling stock. Given its similarities to BART, it is interesting to compare to BART’s troubled railcar purchase. Whereas BART staff said open gangway trains were not feasible, Atlanta apparently has no problems with the technology:

MARTA’s board of directors have approved a $646 million agreement with Stadler Rail for the purchase of 254 new rail cars. The agreement also contains options for MARTA to order up to 100 additional rail cars.

The rail cars are scheduled to be delivered between 2023 and 2028, with the delivery of a pilot car in 2022.

The cars will feature an open gangway design with modernized electronic signage and public address system, more comfortable seating plus handholds and stanchions with better functionality, two wheelchair positions, charging stations, luggage space and enhanced video surveillance.

newsEngin.24978288_MARTA-car1

 

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