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Erik Griswold

Exactly why I will always have a nagging suspicion of BRT; because it can be and often is eventually opened to private vehicle traffic because of the prevailing, dare I say Marxist, view of asphalt being a "commons".

(Railways and other fixed-guideways aren't)

For example, look at what has happened to the Transit-funds built El Monte Busway:


Bruce Nourish

In the El Monte case, my reaction depends on whether the resulting HOT traffic will be enough to delay buses. If not, I don't see a problem, especially if the toll revenue goes to transit (not sure from the wiki article).

Seattle's express lanes work just fine that way (minus the tolling; HOV not HOT). Were we not building East Link in the I-90 express lanes, I'd have liked to see them converted to two way transit+tolls.

Just as we shouldn't go for ideological or class based reasoning about who uses transit service, we shouldn't do that when it comes to the right of way. The the only question to me is, will the pathway still be as fast and reliable?

In Delhi the petitioners seem to be demanding unrestricted GP access, which would of course be a disaster.

Bruce Nourish

At least from an inspection of the agency-provided fact sheet, the El Monte project looks pretty smart:

"> Toll-free travel for vehicles that meet minimum vehicle occupancy requirement [3+], motorcycles, and privately operated buses.
> Trucks (other than 2-axle) are not allowed entry.
> Minimum peak tolls shall be no less than 150% of Metro transit fare on the Metro ExpressLanes.
> All vehicles using Metro ExpressLanes are required to have a transponder.
> Tolling will shut down (i.e. no toll users will be permitted to enter the ExpressLanes) when travel speeds fall below 45 mph for more
than 10 minutes.
> Emergency vehicles may use the Metro ExpressLanes when responding to incidents
> The toll range will be $0.25-$1.40 per mile; toll rates will vary within the range based upon demand.
> The toll rate is based on traffic levels in the Metro ExpressLanes to ensure a minimum of 45 mph."


So assuming this fact sheet is correct, it's HOV 3+ and private coaches for free and lower-occupancy vehicles with a toll, but if congestion occurs the LOVs get priced out or booted out. Seems like a really smart way to maximize the utility of an express lane to me.

If project like this are an example of the failure of BRT, I say we need more failure, stat.

Jeff Wegerson

So did I read the Wiki article right. During the experiment in 2000 with lowering the requirements for use of the HOV lane from 3+ to 2+ passengers not only were the HOV lanes drastically slowed (65 mph to 20 mph) but so were the regular lanes (25 mph average to 23 mph)?

That means that so many people switched from 3+ to 2+ that they slowed things down so much in the HOV lanes that some spilled over into the regular lanes. Mind blowing.

So by enticing some people to pay to leave the regular lanes they are hoping to speed up the regular lanes. At the expense of slowing the then HOT lanes, of course.

So the next step is to take some of the money from the 3- cars and pay it to 4+ cars as an enticement towards further reductions in vehicle usage.


I'm with Erik Griswold on this. The sheer difficulty of letting cars onto railroad tracks is an argument in favor of rail. (Though not in favor of "shared lane streetcars", which are almost never right.)

Bruce Nourish

No, the whole point is that by charging one- or two-occupants a variable amount of money, you don't slow the transitway down, but you do provide more mobility to more people.

It might not work, of course, in which case it makes sense to keep it at HOV 3+, but there's no reason in principle to oppose such projects within an existing freeway right of way.


"It might not work, of course, "

Politics. Think politics; it's always politics. If you can actually trust the politicians to keep the HOV lanes flowing, that's one thing. I wouldn't; the invididual-driver lobby is still very strong.


I recently heard a BRT advocate say that much of the controversy in the Delhi system arose from a station design that exacerbated congestion by placing stations right at intersections. I'm assuming that since stations require much more space and intersections are bottleneck anyway that this was what caused the problem. Can anyone comment further? Are most BRT stations placed away from intersections?


I lived and worked in Brisbane last year, and used the South East Busway corridor to commute to the CBD. Travel times were consistent and fast precisely because private automobiles were prohibited on the busway, regardless of the number of occupants. (I believe emergency vehicles had the option to use the busways if necessary.) I didn't sense a lot of "bus stigma" - many different types of people rode the bus.

Some stations were at intersections (e.g. Stanley St, Woolloongabba) but they did not interfere with traffic. Others shared space with vehicles and were a bit bottlenecked (Victoria Bridge/Cultural Centre).

From what I understand, Brisbane chose to build busways because the buses could run separated from traffic in some sections, and then disperse onto local arterial roads to more effectively serve the lower density suburbs. The train lines in the city are good, but tend to work best when you're within walking distance of a station.

Mr. Sharan is falling into the bus stigma trap. When you have a convenient, frequent service, whether BRT or rail, people will use it.


Of course most stations are placed at intersections. How can passengers get to a station in the middle of the street if it's not at an intersection?

Alon Levy

Sharan is not a bus vs. rail mode warrior. He's a bus vs. car mode warrior. He's not saying "Build rail because nobody rides buses." He's saying the city should give drivers more privileges over bus riders because bus riders are peons and drivers are the Wealth Creators.


One thing about the El Monte Busway project is that an additional lane is being built. Up until the Express Lane project starts, the Busway was only one lane in each direction, which caused crowding when the HOV-2's were allowed on. The project will add an additional lane in each direction, providing more capacity.


I stayed in Delhi for a while (work related), and the observation about cars accelerating unpredictably to jump into gaps in traffic is absolutely true. As a foreigner not used to this, you need a few near death experiences until you realize that. Needless to say, my alertness as a pedestrian has risen to new heights during my stay.

Mercedes-Benz Stretch Limousine

Poems given in this article was nice and it's true that in the Delhi car and buses are in many numbers.

jens w.

Really interesting article. I have never been in Dehli but now i know it works in India.

Hassan Ovski

More bikes and few cars would be a good solution!

Chris Rahimi

A great read - and what an eye opener! Thanks for the info :)

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