Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

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alexschief
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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby alexschief » February 19th, 2021, 6:34 pm

I'm not surprised to see Central chosen! The importance of that corridor is why it's driving me nuts that it's not paired with Nicollet.

While I think this is a missed opportunity, I hope there will be further opportunities to fight about it when the F Line project is more fully planned, just as the B Line was ultimately extended down Selby (although an F Line that went down Nicollet while keeping this same alignment would be too long).

I also am not too bent out of shape about it, because I actually think there's an opportunity to fix this later on. University NE would be a good route for aBRT implementation down the road, I think in the K-T range. But with no stations planned for 53rd St, there's no reason the University NE portion of this F Line wouldn't be severable, and couldn't be attached to a University NE aBRT route (I've written about one possibility for such a route) in the future. Lobbing off 5 miles from the the Central aBRT route would free it to cross downtown and continue down Nicollet.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby tmart » February 19th, 2021, 8:56 pm

It's great to see these all funded and I think as more of these lines come on, we're gonna see it as a really transformative step in transit for the region. We've taken existing bus routes and resources and turned them into something much more efficient, for relatively little money and much less red tape (though still way, way too much).

But with Lake recently funded and Central designated as a corridor now, it sure feels like we're waving the white flag on ever getting more trams/LRT/streetcars built along urban corridors (with the possible notable exceptions of Bottineau and Riverview, if those projects make it out of the planning phase). I know lots of folks here had their (totally reasonable) criticisms of the plans put forth for Nicollet-Central and the Greenway, but I would have preferred we revise those plans rather than supplant them entirely--the corridors were good candidates for trams, even if we got some key details wrong, and I'm sad to think that the most we believe we can achieve for Minneapolis going forward is really good mixed-traffic buses. And I really do think that the more aBRT lines we build, the harder it will be to find political will and funding for anything more disruptive to cars, more expensive, or longer to build. It's too politically convenient for project opponents (of all types) to say, "why spend so much on rail when we can get buses for so cheap?" or "why take away car space when the A/B/C/D/E/F/G lines prove we can build 'bus rapid transit' lines in mixed traffic?"

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby Hero » February 20th, 2021, 3:42 am

The presentation is up for next Wednesday's Met Council meeting, with the recommendations for the F, G, and H Lines:

Image

This was the order I was hoping for, so I'm happy to see it. Hopefully the additional $56M in funding for the F Line (over the $25M they'll be allocating through the Regional Solication process) will be easier to secure than the D and B line funding was.
I remember seeing a population map of the metro area and it seemed downtown Minneapolis was at the center but when I look at this map it looks like it favors the east side of the metro. Is this because they want to cover multiple counties? Or is the population and job centers farther east than I think it is? Maybe the opt outs are blocking?

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby LakeCharles » February 20th, 2021, 8:48 am

Because St. Paul is is the capital and second largest city, pretty much.

You are correct that the population center is close to Downtown Minneapolis, and the employment center is even further west than the population center.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby StandishGuy » February 20th, 2021, 12:16 pm

It's also maddening that hundreds of millions will be spent on suburban BRT routes along low-density, car-oriented development. It's now going to cost more than a half billion dollars to construct the Gold Line because the FTA is requiring more parking spaces, for exaple. The E, F, G & H ABRT routes could all be funded serving far more riders for that kind of money. I predict the Orange, Gold and Purple Lines to be big flops based on the Red Line roll out and Denver's experience with their regional rail and BRT network.

RTD similarly poured money into LRT and commuter rail out to the suburbs, which generally doesn't serve Denver residents because of their routing down rail corridors. The result is lackluster ridership (Pre-pandemic) even on expensive LRT lines. One RTD staffer told me a couple years ago that they had just opened a new line that was drawing only 4,000 riders a day and she and her colleagues were so depressed about it.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby DanPatchToget » February 20th, 2021, 12:51 pm

The Red Line is a bust because it was designed around a highway expansion, and it doesn't go to either downtown. I guarantee with a few stops in Richfield and Minneapolis it would get a lot more ridership. The Orange Line is also being built around a highway expansion, but it has the advantage of directly serving Downtown Minneapolis. I think ridership will be lower than projected (that projection taking into account the pandemic), but not a "big flop." The Orange Line also has a lower cost than the Gold Line, which I believe will have ridership that is probably around the same as the Orange Line.

The BRT and LRT routes are part of regional equity. Could they be planned better? Absolutely, but we can't just pretend the growing suburbs don't exist. Rather than making it an urban transit vs suburban transit issue it should be funding bigger roads and highways vs funding better transit.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby alexschief » February 20th, 2021, 2:15 pm

But with Lake recently funded and Central designated as a corridor now, it sure feels like we're waving the white flag on ever getting more trams/LRT/streetcars built along urban corridors (with the possible notable exceptions of Bottineau and Riverview, if those projects make it out of the planning phase). I know lots of folks here had their (totally reasonable) criticisms of the plans put forth for Nicollet-Central and the Greenway, but I would have preferred we revise those plans rather than supplant them entirely--the corridors were good candidates for trams, even if we got some key details wrong, and I'm sad to think that the most we believe we can achieve for Minneapolis going forward is really good mixed-traffic buses. And I really do think that the more aBRT lines we build, the harder it will be to find political will and funding for anything more disruptive to cars, more expensive, or longer to build. It's too politically convenient for project opponents (of all types) to say, "why spend so much on rail when we can get buses for so cheap?" or "why take away car space when the A/B/C/D/E/F/G lines prove we can build 'bus rapid transit' lines in mixed traffic?"
I think this is sort of the wrong way of thinking about it. Corridors that demonstrate high ridership help make the case for improvements, just as the aBRT corridors are upgrading the local bus corridors that have the highest ridership, and not suburban corridors with no service.

Let's say, for instance that the B Line becomes a massive hit. There's a lot of residential and office development along Lake Street and by 2030, the aBRT is pretty crowded. So Hennepin County installs some bus lanes, and Metro Transit ups the frequency to 8 buses/hr, and that just makes the service more popular. That the path for how something like Midtown LRT could justify itself.

I think a lot about the original B Line, which was supposed to be on West 7th. Now we're discussing rail transit on West 7th, but aBRT could've already been running down that corridor for three years now. Not only have the people who use the #54 and other buses along that corridor gotten a raw end of the deal (10-15 years with local transit instead of a rapid bus), but the corridor isn't making as strong a case as it could've for rail. If there was aBRT down West 7th and it was getting 10k riders per day, pre-pandemic, then the Riverview project would be a lot better off.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby DanPatchToget » February 20th, 2021, 4:44 pm

But with Lake recently funded and Central designated as a corridor now, it sure feels like we're waving the white flag on ever getting more trams/LRT/streetcars built along urban corridors (with the possible notable exceptions of Bottineau and Riverview, if those projects make it out of the planning phase). I know lots of folks here had their (totally reasonable) criticisms of the plans put forth for Nicollet-Central and the Greenway, but I would have preferred we revise those plans rather than supplant them entirely--the corridors were good candidates for trams, even if we got some key details wrong, and I'm sad to think that the most we believe we can achieve for Minneapolis going forward is really good mixed-traffic buses. And I really do think that the more aBRT lines we build, the harder it will be to find political will and funding for anything more disruptive to cars, more expensive, or longer to build. It's too politically convenient for project opponents (of all types) to say, "why spend so much on rail when we can get buses for so cheap?" or "why take away car space when the A/B/C/D/E/F/G lines prove we can build 'bus rapid transit' lines in mixed traffic?"
I think this is sort of the wrong way of thinking about it. Corridors that demonstrate high ridership help make the case for improvements, just as the aBRT corridors are upgrading the local bus corridors that have the highest ridership, and not suburban corridors with no service.

Let's say, for instance that the B Line becomes a massive hit. There's a lot of residential and office development along Lake Street and by 2030, the aBRT is pretty crowded. So Hennepin County installs some bus lanes, and Metro Transit ups the frequency to 8 buses/hr, and that just makes the service more popular. That the path for how something like Midtown LRT could justify itself.

I think a lot about the original B Line, which was supposed to be on West 7th. Now we're discussing rail transit on West 7th, but aBRT could've already been running down that corridor for three years now. Not only have the people who use the #54 and other buses along that corridor gotten a raw end of the deal (10-15 years with local transit instead of a rapid bus), but the corridor isn't making as strong a case as it could've for rail. If there was aBRT down West 7th and it was getting 10k riders per day, pre-pandemic, then the Riverview project would be a lot better off.
I've said it numerous times and I'll say it again, the 54 is already pretty close to aBRT except for the stations and off-board fare payment. The B Line on West 7th would be a very small upgrade. Having taken the 54 occasionally pre-pandemic, I'm fine with waiting for Riverview LRT, though it would be nice if the process was sped up just a little.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby Oreos&Milk » February 21st, 2021, 3:03 pm

I’m start to get excited about Riverview line it’s gonna be awesome having trains from MOA to Minneapolis and St. Paul. It’s really gonna make Red line more valuable. Plus E line really seemed to come out of nowhere, probably cause I wasn’t paying to much attention. It’s really awesome seeing this system of dependable easy to understand transit becoming the backbone of our network.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby EOst » February 21st, 2021, 4:50 pm

I think this is sort of the wrong way of thinking about it. Corridors that demonstrate high ridership help make the case for improvements, just as the aBRT corridors are upgrading the local bus corridors that have the highest ridership, and not suburban corridors with no service.

Let's say, for instance that the B Line becomes a massive hit. There's a lot of residential and office development along Lake Street and by 2030, the aBRT is pretty crowded. So Hennepin County installs some bus lanes, and Metro Transit ups the frequency to 8 buses/hr, and that just makes the service more popular. That the path for how something like Midtown LRT could justify itself.

I think a lot about the original B Line, which was supposed to be on West 7th. Now we're discussing rail transit on West 7th, but aBRT could've already been running down that corridor for three years now. Not only have the people who use the #54 and other buses along that corridor gotten a raw end of the deal (10-15 years with local transit instead of a rapid bus), but the corridor isn't making as strong a case as it could've for rail. If there was aBRT down West 7th and it was getting 10k riders per day, pre-pandemic, then the Riverview project would be a lot better off.
Except this isn't how New Starts works. Funding eligibility is based on a formula of increase in ridership after investment and reduced commute times. If you build an incremental improvement that brings 60% of the ridership and/or commute time benefits, that makes you that much less competitive for New Starts funding. That's why Ramsey County killed the B Line on West 7th even though Riverview was years away, because the incremental ridership increase wouldn't be sufficient to qualify for FTA funding.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby EOst » February 21st, 2021, 5:08 pm

I remember seeing a population map of the metro area and it seemed downtown Minneapolis was at the center but when I look at this map it looks like it favors the east side of the metro. Is this because they want to cover multiple counties? Or is the population and job centers farther east than I think it is? Maybe the opt outs are blocking?
If you count thru-running lines as separate, which makes the fairest comparison, there are 11 lines planned feeding into downtown Minneapolis (12 if you count the Marcy-Holmes bit of the E Line as a separate line), compared to 7 feeding into downtown Saint Paul. A, B, and H serve both--B counts to the Saint Paul total and H to the Minneapolis, but each one serves the other city in important ways. A is the special case, but it ties the network together.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby alexschief » February 22nd, 2021, 7:07 am

I think this is sort of the wrong way of thinking about it. Corridors that demonstrate high ridership help make the case for improvements, just as the aBRT corridors are upgrading the local bus corridors that have the highest ridership, and not suburban corridors with no service.

Let's say, for instance that the B Line becomes a massive hit. There's a lot of residential and office development along Lake Street and by 2030, the aBRT is pretty crowded. So Hennepin County installs some bus lanes, and Metro Transit ups the frequency to 8 buses/hr, and that just makes the service more popular. That the path for how something like Midtown LRT could justify itself.

I think a lot about the original B Line, which was supposed to be on West 7th. Now we're discussing rail transit on West 7th, but aBRT could've already been running down that corridor for three years now. Not only have the people who use the #54 and other buses along that corridor gotten a raw end of the deal (10-15 years with local transit instead of a rapid bus), but the corridor isn't making as strong a case as it could've for rail. If there was aBRT down West 7th and it was getting 10k riders per day, pre-pandemic, then the Riverview project would be a lot better off.
Except this isn't how New Starts works. Funding eligibility is based on a formula of increase in ridership after investment and reduced commute times. If you build an incremental improvement that brings 60% of the ridership and/or commute time benefits, that makes you that much less competitive for New Starts funding. That's why Ramsey County killed the B Line on West 7th even though Riverview was years away, because the incremental ridership increase wouldn't be sufficient to qualify for FTA funding.
It's a bad system!

I think Midtown is a clearer case of how aBRT could build ridership that results in a higher score for a related within the FTA's framework through the use of warrants.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby MNdible » February 22nd, 2021, 1:27 pm

There are probably some good equity reasons to extend the tail of the H line into the east side of Saint Paul, but it seems like there's going to be a significant hit to ridership by forcing a transfer to get into downtown St. Paul, no?

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby EOst » February 22nd, 2021, 1:43 pm

That was the big argument for why Rice-Robert had to come first, to make the transfer less onerous.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby MNdible » February 22nd, 2021, 1:57 pm

But still. People hate transfers, even if it's to another aBRT. And the eastsiders are much more likely to want to go to downtown St. Paul anyway.

alexschief
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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby alexschief » February 22nd, 2021, 2:15 pm

But still. People hate transfers, even if it's to another aBRT. And the eastsiders are much more likely to want to go to downtown St. Paul anyway.
People hate transfers because they've been conditioned by bad transfers. If transfers are quick and relatively painless, as can be the case with hi-frequency transit and nice stations, then they hate transfers a lot less.

From a system perspective, you need to build transfers in as a part of your network. When transit is designed as a hi-frequency grid, it provides a great deal more mobility than if every route goes downtown and you've got a hub and spoke system (which still requires transfers if you want to go anywhere that is not on your line, but those transfers are a lot less direct, and so nobody does them).

The B Line is going to be a game-changer for MSP, with the number of hi-frequency transfers that it facilitates, and the H Line will be like a northern version of the B Line, making a ton of new connections.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby Tcmetro » February 22nd, 2021, 2:37 pm

I think Como-Maryland is a good idea. This would be the second route besides the 61 that connects the East Side and North End (as well as Minneapolis). Maryland riders already have the 54 and 64 to go to DT St. Paul, as well crossing routes like the Rush Line, 61, 62, 68, and 71.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby MNdible » February 22nd, 2021, 2:45 pm

I'm just hopelessly old-fashioned for believing that the transit system should go where most people want to go, rather than creating the magical Cartesian transit grid of the future.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby alexschief » February 22nd, 2021, 3:14 pm

I'm just hopelessly old-fashioned for believing that the transit system should go where most people want to go, rather than creating the magical Cartesian transit grid of the future.
But a grid actually does best reflect where people want to go. Pre-COVID, just a fifth of all trips were commute trips. It's true that downtowns are the single most common trip origins and destinations, but they represent a fraction of trips overall. If you focus on building a transit network that can get people downtown quickly, then you've built a transit network that can get people downtown quickly. But you haven't built a transit network that people can rely on to get anywhere else. A grid network allows you to get people anywhere in the city with a single transfer that doesn't need to be downtown, and if the service is hi-frequency and the stations are high-quality, then that transfer can be relatively painless. Designed correctly, the net result should be a decrease in door-to-door travel time for all trips that are not on the same line, which is most of them.

Don't take my word for it, just look at what cities are doing all around the world. Not all geographies are the same but cities that don't already have them are predominantly moving towards this model of hi-frequency grid networks.

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Re: Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridors

Postby tmart » February 22nd, 2021, 5:51 pm

I think another way of looking at this is that a transit grid makes sense for the same reasons a street grid makes sense. It would be ridiculous if Minneapolis only had Hennepin, Lyndale, Nicollet, Chicago, Portland, etc. and none of Franklin, Lake, 38th, 46th, etc.--even though none of the streets in the latter category go downtown. At least inside the cities and the first ring, transit trip needs aren't really fundamentally different from car trips.

I will say that a network designed around transfers is super reliant on having great frequencies, or else the whole thing falls apart. In the before-times my commute (not in MN) involved a bus and a subway, each on about every-7-minute frequencies. That meant my average wait time to make my transfer was ~3 minutes, or basically nothing. If I missed my transfer, it was a mild inconvenience and I had to wait a few more minutes. But had those lines been on 20-minute headways, that would add on average 10 minutes to the trip each way (compared to a hypothetical one-seat ride) and in the worst case 20 minutes (which, in my case, would've meant almost doubling my commute time).

(As a fun aside, there actually is a one-seat express bus that follows the exact same route but then turns and stops near my office, but the frequencies are so much lower that I never take it unless it happens to be the first one to arrive at my bus stop. So I guess I accidentally voted with my feet that frequencies are more important than eliminating transfers!)

All that to say, IMO the grid is the right idea, but the biggest question mark in this network design is simply that we have to really be committed to maintaining those high frequencies on each line, or else the whole thing quickly falls apart.


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