From: Alanscotch [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 07, 2002 5:14 AM
Subject: for MTC - Rail versus Bus, BRT & Busway
MTC Commissioners and Staff
Attn: Doug Kimsey, at 101 Eighth St., Oakland, CA 94607;
via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments on MTC 2002 RTP Amendments
The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) which I assume
MTC is a member, is recommending to Congress on the TEA 21 reauthorization
1. Provisions for greater system performance criteria
with funding to institute it;
2. More focus on Metropolitan Transportation planning with more flexible
3. Increasing the Capacity and
Accountability of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO)s.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which MTC is a member,
is recommending for TEA21 reauthorization similar policies and conditions
In addition, they stress:
improving the Planning Process with Public Involvement;
Consolidate planning factors;
Promote land use/transit linkages;
Improve the New Start Criteria and Rankings;
Coordinate human services with transportation policies; and
extend benefits of transit commutes to ALL workers.
Of these AMPO and APTA recommendations to TEA 21 reauthorizations ,
most member agencies are trying or hoping to apply them in their planning
Projects that MTC has approved are not in keeping with what is being recommended
AMPO and APTA. Many are ineffective, very expensive projects with
high estimated cost per trip per new rider and they take many years to
construct and put in service. Some projects underestimated cost,
underestimated use and required greater operating subsidy resulting
in cuts in bus service.
Viewing current and past MTC Blueprints there were many projects that had
much lower cost per trip that benefited a more diverse ridership but MTC
ignored these projects and chose the more popular and costly ones. I am
glad to see, however, in the planned adjusted updated RTP, it includes
several of these low cost per trip projects. I thought overall MTC
and was following Performance and Cost Effectiveness Standards and
Criteria but evidently MTC is swayed by mis-informed public opinion, too much. (altered)
There recently was a UCLA Public Policy Symposium held at Lake
Arrowhead that several MTC Staff and Commissioners also attended titled
"Tackling Traffic Congestion". This Symposium covered
the problems of congestion; its causes; the economic implications;
induced and latent demands; environmental impacts; pricing; use of ITS;
mentioned the need to examine and implement improvements on a cost and
performance basis, for many
projects are outweighing the benefits in cost.
They are not the most cost-effective
solutions. Especially true with rail projects.
I ask MTC to face the realty that there is no
solution to congestion peaks. They can only be shortened in duration and
only where roadway expansion is correlated to development .
I ask MTC to know that rail is the most inflexible transit mode. It has access problems for low density sprawl. Rail primarily
requires auto access with extensive parking.
MTC has shown a propensity
towards Rail or BART projects by prematurely authorizing specific studies
for the acquisition of rail Right-of-Way into low density suburbs. If a
study is to be made, MTC could have authorized a pre-emptive study to determine what is the most cost-effective transit
mode that provides the best accessibility, improving
our environment at the least cost and greatest quality of life.
By authorizing a study for the purchase
of a rail Right-of-Way, MTC is pre-judging
the transit mode and not considering many other potential and vital
developmental conditions we need to consider for our future.
The application of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) with its many
elements is flexible, versatile and proven to be
cost-effective. One can use local buses
in low density areas and after the bus gathers riders in the neighborhood and
enters an arterial that is heavily used, BRT can take over.
Where congestion exists on an arterial,
various BRT elements can be applied.
BRT has proven to greatly increase
ridership at relatively little cost.
LA's Light Rail (LRT) Blue line which is
currently about the highest carrying LRT in the country took around 10
years to develop a ridership of around 85,000 per day and it cost over $800
In comparison LA's Wilshire Metro Rapid Bus
has managed to double ridership to over 90,000 per day within a
short 6 month period and cost around $10MM. 1/80th the cost of rail.
The advanced form of BRT is the Busway which has also proven to be very
effective in increasing ridership and invariably its cost is a fraction
of most rail projects. Pittsburgh, PA 's MLK Busway, cost $17 MM per
mile and during peak periods carries riders equaling 2 freeway lanes
or 5 arterial lanes. It has over 10 local bus routes picking up riders
the neighborhood and when the buses get to the arterial they merely enter
the Busway saving riders from having to transfer. They then
them to major destinations along the Busway.
The overall trip time is usually shorter than
an overall BART trip. A
comparable BART trip entails, catching a local bus or driving to BART,
for the train, with longer stops. Driving to BART pollutes
the air and adds to local congestion.
(A car takes up 300 sqr.feet, that could
be developed for better use)
Since most busway stations do not provide acres of
parking like suburban
BART stations, it allows immediate Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
around stations. In the last 30 years, BART has not been successful in
developing TOD around Stations, though they have tried.
Ottawa, Canada has a grade separated Busway over
most of its routes, with
many elaborate glass enclosed stations. It still cost 2/3 of a LRT.
It handles 200,000 trips per day to major destinations along the Busway
like Schools, University, Train Terminal, City Center and Government
Offices and operates similar to Pittsburgh. From each direction into
central Ottawa the Busway each carries about 100,000 trips. BART has 5
lines and not a single BART line carries 100,000 trips today.
Ottawa has exploited the nexus of land use and transit. Since most
stations do not have parking, the areas around stations are readily developable,
so Ottawa has attracted over 4 times the Busway's
construction cost with TODs around stations in a short period of 5 years.
Transit service is so convenient that 40% of Ottawans commute using public
transit. Prof. Cervero considers Ottawa's Busway the most cost effective
transit project in North America.
At BART stations the land value of one parking space can be over
$25,000 (property around some BART stations was purchased at over $85 per
square foot). The public subsidy for one free parking space can range from $500
to over $2600 annually when including the capital,
maintenance and land value costs. Alternatively low cost (or
even free) feeder transit during peak commute periods produces
development around the transit centers and can be car free
pedestrian areas that are so popular in many places in the US and around the
to re-evaluate the whole financial, human and environmental science of
Communities need to be informed
not to make a giant step of little or no transit to a new Rail system
which attracts relatively few riders thereby less
cost-effective. A "quantum jump in transit".
Experience shows that building a Rail or BART
extension through areas that have little transit
does not generate much ridership while requiring considerable capital funds
plus considerable subsidies to operate for years. It took BART 25 years
to build a decent ridership at a level that most foreign Metro systems
would have within a couple of years. The LRTs of San Jose have still to
show any decent ridership after 10 years of operation.
The reason for the success of foreign metro
and rail is that they have Corridor Density.
If communities desire a fixed route transit system like BART extensions
or LRT, they should already have corridor density to
MTC should cater to land use
development with gradual transit upgrades in stages:-
1. Initially an arterial trunk line bus
2. BRT or express bus service and only
3. Busway (or rail).
Land use and development, as we all know, needs to be correlated to
True, MTC has little regulatory
powers over land use, however, I believe MTC can still have some degree of
influence on how land use and development takes place by the way they
coordinate funding for transportation projects.
MTC can evaluate regional
transportation applications similar to how the Federal Government
requires applicants to apply for funding. If MTC develops more rigorous
standards and criteria to measure and evaluate requested
transportation improvements it could save hundreds of millions of
dollars (even billions) and still produce more public satisfaction.
MTC should require data
as to how Communities desiring transit or road improvement funds, meet MTC
standards and criteria. Data on;
existing developed corridor or nodal density and its size,
existing general plan and zoning, and
past consistency and enforcement of the general plan along the corridor,
MTC can use this to evaluate
how well communities are planning and developing
in keeping with the goals of their region and MTC. Communities
could also evaluate how well their desired type of transportation
improvements would fare for regional funding or what they would need to
do in land use or development in order for their improvement to qualify
for MTC's regional funds.
Is MTC concerned with the viability of a
transportation project AFTER its
constructed? It is believed that there is a serious problem
developing with VTA in
that they have extended so much of their transit funds to capital
projects that they have overlooked or ignored their operational funds and
are jeopardizing their day to day transit operation.
Similar funding problems have developed with about
a dozen cities that
built rail transit across the country according to
a report from the
Kennedy School on Government of Harvard on the impact of
reported that excluding the capital cost, the overall operating
transit trip after rail became operational is greater than
operated only buses.
spent so much to construct the rail system, these cities feel compelled to
keep it in operation. To do this, they have cut back on their bus
service, but bus service invariably is the most widely
used transit of
their system that serves most of the populace that needs transit.
Extracted and amended from a letter written by
Roy Nakadegawa PE
BART Director, District 3
751 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA, 94707
Attachments; SJX, OAC, and VTA
(altered to the extent
that Roy may not agree with some of it)