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Recap of the BRT meeting from Sarah

Thanks to Sarah for posting as a comment this synopsis of the BRT presentation tonight, which she attended. And as she put it: "'... a synopsis from someone that actually went to the meeting instead of sitting here and complaining about it." (Thanks Sarah.)

here's what was said at the meeting:
- first of all, this is a pilot program so they're going to try different things.
- for everyone that's worried that the CTA is out to destroy neighborhoods, they are not going to wholesale close off lanes to parking and auto traffic. it sounds to me like they are going to restrict parking during rush periods on either side of the street (inbound-AM, outbound-PM) where it is physically possible. so if it's not physically possible, they're not going to do it (and as far as "morning" or "afternoon" retail... i didn't know it was THAT hard to just cross the street). The buses supposedly will run from about 6am to 8 pm, but will have dedicated lanes only on rush periods.
- from the way i understood it, the pre-pay things won't be at every stop, and where they do have them, there will be someone there making sure the fare is paid. i think they're going to use some sort of portable machine so it doesn't take up the whole block or whatever.
- i guess it doesn't sound that much different than express buses they have now, but they say that with the combination of faster boarding, signal priority, and the dedicated lanes where its feasible will make things faster.

--Sarah

Comments

This sounds amazingly labor-intensive. I'm in favor of subsidizing public transit, but is this going to require even more ongoing subsidies than regular CTA service? That seems that it would be a problem once the seed money is gone.

I went to the meeting too, and I second all of Sarah's observations. It really does seem little better than express bus service, since the only time the buses will actually have a dedicated right-of-way is for a couple hours during rush hour. On the one hand, this should eliminate the anxieties of those who think this so-called BRT will hurt businesses and neighborhoods. On the other, it also eliminates the potential for BRT to end bus bunching, perhaps even during rush hours since the presenters gave no convincing solution to how the BRT buses will be able to smoothly pass local buses using the same lane.

The pre-pay fare collection process remains a mystery. If, as the presenters mentioned, each prepay-equipped stop is manned, it will also be tremendously expensive. If anyone is aware of some other solution I'd like to know about it, but it seems to me they should either skip the idea altogether (which would further slow down the so-called BRT) or shell out the capital funds to build unmanned boarding areas. If this would even be possible given the space constraints, I do not know.

I like the BRT idea, but I've been very disappointed by the CTA's lack of consultation with the public thus far and with the number of key details that they still haven't figured out, with no guarantee that the logistics are even possible. Shades of the Block 37 debacle all over again.

The slide show also included the projected long-term plan for the BRT network should the trial run (Halsted, Chicago, Jeffrey, 79th) work well. It should be posted eventually at
http://www.transitchicago.com/news/whatsnew2.wu?action=displaynewspostingdetail&articleid=105349#presentations
From memory, the routes included N Lake Shore Dr, Ashland, Western, Pulaski, Cicero, 87th, 63rd, 55th, North, Belmont, and Lawrence.

Too bad the CTA link for BRT presentations that the rest of us could view
still says "Coming on September 25, 2008"

http://www.transitchicago.com/news/whatsnew2.wu?action=displaynewspostingdetail&articleid=105349#presentations

I'm hoping this gets fixed soon. (I've noticed mistakes like this get fixed pretty quickly after being posted here, someone must be watching)

I'm underwhelmed by the whole project. Very few dedicated lanes, only one way in Rush Hour, not really a permanent station ... BRT can actually work, and does work in some cities, but this does not look promising. The CTA should make the bus-only lanes permanent and build real stations. These BRT lines should operate as if they were rail lines.

I have ridden BRT in LA where it has its own road.
It's the Orange Line in The Valley, from North Hollywood west to Warner Center.
There it works.
It's not going to work here.
Especially on the chosen streets.
All it takes is one car that's parked in the way & the bus has to wait to go around it.
Just how many tow trucks are going to be needed to pull the cars out of the way every day?

A far more practical solution is to try the large merge arrow on the back of the bus. California tried it for a year & abandoned it, but it's a lot cheaper & would be applicable to all bus routes.
A very large arrow [15" diameter], pointing to the left is mounted on the left rear of the bus. When the bus is about to pull back into traffic, the driver activates it, just like a turn signal, and all traffic MUST stop to allow the bus back into the traffic lane. That's one of the reasons for delays on the bus, waiting for traffic to let the bus in.
There needs to be a huge fine for violations, I think it was $500 in California.
It was relatively inexpensive to add to the buses there & would certainly speed things up here if it was enforced.

Oh, I'm *sure* the city's going to have a hard time finding willing tow truck drivers to service the BRT lanes..

I have other questions about the integration of BRT and lcoal:

Are they proposing actual express routes? You've only got corridors of a couple miles on routes that are 7-12 miles long. Will the BRT buses make limited stops over the rest of the route? Or are they simply express for 2 miles, and then local?

Also, proposed station intervals are 1/2 to 1/4 mile. At a quarter mile, you're hardly even skipping anything. If there are many 1/4 mile intervals inside the BRT portion of the route, then it seem ridiculous to maintain local service on a separate bus. There are already intervals of close to 1/4 mile on State, and no one bats an eye that they can't catch the bus at Washington.

And I didn't get the loading area situation. The photo makes it look like you could fare-jump just by walking up from street-side. Or is there an attendant?

Basically they're saying we don't have to fear all the negative aspects of a real BRT system because they're going to gut the idea so much that it becomes nothing more than express buses with more and bigger doors (and probably fewer seats.)

A clever way to get Federal money for some extra buses. But if that's all it really is, don't make such a big deal about it to the public because although small business owners might be relieved, and neighborhood activists might be relieved, the general public is going to ask what happened to the grand plan.

Still, I'm not ready to back-down too far. This could all just be a way to deflate the oposition at an early stage, and they really do plan to make it real BRT, with all it's negative aspects.

In other words, I'm not convinced that they conned the Feds to get the money, but they're not conning us now.

"Are they proposing actual express routes?"

I'm not completely sure, but I think the couple miles on each trial route is temporary and if they go forward the BRT portion would be extended to the entire route. I assume that even during the trial phase, the bus would only stop every half-mile or so over the entire corridor.

"If there are many 1/4 mile intervals inside the BRT portion of the route, then it seem ridiculous to maintain local service on a separate bus."

The presenters indicated that 1/2 mile stops would be the norm, with 1/4 stops only at key destinations.

"And I didn't get the loading area situation. The photo makes it look like you could fare-jump just by walking up from street-side. Or is there an attendant?"

Like I said, they were very vague about how pre-pay would work - it doesn't seem like they know themselves. And they implied that every pre-pay stop would be manned, which would cost huge amounts of money.

"Oh, I'm *sure* the city's going to have a hard time finding willing tow truck drivers to service the BRT lanes.."

They don't seem to care too much about the already-existing rush hour parking restrictions on LaSalle and Clark, for instance.

The city can't even keep the yuppie scum moms at Francis Parker school from double parking their SUVs on NB Clark every afternoon, turning Clark into a one lane street, how are they going to stop the parkers on the BRT routes?

If there are parking restrictions the city actually wants to enforce, there will be about 9,000 tow trucks willing to help out..

BRT = More bad long-term planning

I'm usually for expansion of the CTA, but this whole thing just seems like a bus route with a few less stops. I guess they're either planning it wrong or not selling it very well. Plus I have a hard time envisioning how these pre-pay locations will work.

[I'm usually for expansion of the CTA, but this whole thing just seems like a bus route with a few less stops.]

This is kind of what I'm thinking right now, also. It seems like an elaborate name for bigger buses that can change stoplights, with a few dedicated bus lanes thrown in for good measure.

Which, as far as that goes, is fine by me. It doesn't sound so far like something that's going to make a huge difference for good or bad, but I guess we won't know for sure until it's implemented.

MK: "the stated purpose of the plan is to encourage use of public transit in order to relieve congestion. Yet it focuses on peak direction rush hour driving to downtown. Almost everyone who commutes in this manner already uses public transit. Those who don't probably have a good reason such as a need for their car."

Only about half of commuters to the Loop take transit. Is there really no room to improve that number? I doubt it. MK, if you have some numbers to prove your point, please supply them. I too am a little skeptical of how useful the Chicago and Halsted routes will be, but the South Side routes seem far more promising for increasing transit ridership.

But the larger point is that the long-term BRT plan is *not* focused on the Loop. Key routes like Ashland, Western, and Cicero could dramatically increase transit use - if BRT actually does make the bus commute faster.

What it boils down to is that we're getting a lot of free money from the federal government to buy new buses and test out promising new technologies. At best we'll get a great new addition to the bus system, at worst we'll marginally improve the experience of bus riders. I'm afraid the latter is more likely, but I don't see any reason to oppose the attempt.

Jake,

I agree that there is great potential in faster arterial routes on major streets, most of which have high ridership already.

If they can figure out a way to make BRT work on these routes, great. My feeling at this point is that I'd rather have seen all that money invested in signal priority throughout the 13 or so routes indicated on the BRT map as potential corridors, rather than investing so heavily in new buses, boarding infrastructure, etc. The big problem is unreliability, and signal priority changes that, by speeding up buses that are behind schedule.

Ultimately, BRT depends on dedicated lanes. I think they've oversold a small program (their small-scale BRT), underestimated the impact of a better program (signal priority) and failed to realize that to achieve a working BRT plan with true dedicated lanes (ie, all day both ways, like in Mexico City, etc.) they'll need to show more success on the existing express routes to get people to buy in.

The Ashland and Western express routes work reasonably well now, and attract some new riders, but they're still not express enough and not reliable enough to change the playing field. I'd have preferred to get those routes and the Cicero and Garfield routes working properly, and then transferring that success to the other major arterial routes.

BRT is really pointless if the routes don't go into the loop. I live right on Halsted and would consider taking the BRT to work, but do I really want to walk one mile to Monroe and LaSalle in the middle of winter.

I can speak for the Near North Side that 90% of the people work in the loop or perhaps river north. Having the halsted brt drop you off so far away offers very little utility.

I have a feeling that the CTA will phase out the normal buses over time and only the brt will remain (because it's so efficent, wink, wink). It's a future excuse to skip stops and speed through red lights.

tpac, why not take the BRT to the Blue Line, which would leave you a couple blocks from work? The Halsted route, which I still think isn't half as useful as a Western or Ashland route would be, still should be helpful to people living in the gaps between El lines.

ryan, I basically agree with everything you said. The problem, I think, is that the feds wouldn't have been willing to fund anything they couldn't call BRT, because they're trying to push BRT as a cheap alternative to building more rail. If the CTA can figure out an affordable way to make pre-pay boarding work, and eventually makes the bus-only lanes permanent rather than rush-hour only, it might all end up being worth it. No evidence of that yet, tho.

"Only about half of commuters to the Loop take transit. Is there really no room to improve that number? I doubt it. MK"

I'm curious where you are getting that number, Jake. Is this just people who work in the loop or does it include those who go to such places as restuarants or museums? From your wording it sounds like it does. And it also sounds like it includes evenings and weekends. And what exactly is the definition of the loop in the statistics? I've heard people refer to places as South as Roosevelt and as north as Division at least as the loop. The only number that matters for this discussion is the amount of workers commuting downtown during rush hour. And even that is too broad. The BRT routes only serve people living in certain portions of the city who work downtown during the usual 9 to 5 ish hours. I would be absolutely astonished if the amount of city residents who commute to the loop during rush hour and do not need a vehicle at their job is any less than 90%. And the other 10% likely have good reason to drive. After all, they are spending enormously more than they would otherwise. Perhaps they need their car immedietely to pick up their children from someplace. Or perhaps they are not going home after work on the days they bring their car. I don't know a single person who lives in the city and works downtown who drives everyday.

Ryan,

The reason why the CTA is not using the money to do something that makes more sense is because they don't have a choice. The federal government is not allowing any flexibility with this. We are having a discussion about this in another thread (http://www.ctatattler.com/2008/09/bus-rapid-trans.html) which I highly recommend that people read. It is rather silly to have two simultanous discussions about the same subject with people bringing up points in one discussion that have been addressed in the other.

Sorry about the bad link. It should work now:

http://www.ctatattler.com/2008/09/bus-rapid-trans.html

Brown line regurge

The brownline was regurgitating passengers at Fullerton, going out of service and leaving around 10am this morning. It wasn't until 4 trainloads of us peons were crammed on the platform that an in service train came along.

None of it would have been much of a big deal had just ONE of the CTA employees bothered to tell the throngs of confused passengers what was going on.... But alas, I'm dreaming of a company that cares.

If you're going on Brown line today leave early, pack a lunch and bring rapelling gear!!!!

Keep in mind that the entire system, bus and rail, is already essentially on a prepaid system. As seen in an earlier discussion, there are still plenty of people who do pay cash, but if you've got either kind of Chicago Card or either kind of farecard, when you board or enter a turnstile, you aren't paying; you're verifying either that your balance is sufficient to allow you to ride or that your prepaid plan hasn't expired.

Has the fare been announced for the BRT? On one hand, it would be absurd to charge standard bus or rail fares. On the other hand, if they don't, who'll take it?

The point of the BRT pre-payment they're talking is that if everyone has registered payment before the bus pulls up, boarding can proceed thru front and back doors with no standing in line at the card reader. If they can figure out a way to do it without adding hundreds of new positions to the payroll, it would be a big improvement.

At the meeting, they said the fare would be the same as "other CTA premium services like rail and express buses." What that's supposed to mean I have no idea, since all Chicago Card and cash fares are the same, and the transit card fare only distinguishes between rail and bus with no special charges for express buses (as far as I know). So either they misspoke or they're planning on introducing new distinctions when they increase the fare next year.

In light of the recent discussion about zoned fare charges on the train, the BRT fare should remain the same as any other trip. If BRT actually does produce a much better service, this could be the best way to improve low-income riders' commute. It would be petty and mean to force them to choose between a lower fare and a faster, more comfortable commute.

This whole BRT project seems like an exercise in small ideas.

Small ideas with a big price tag.

I guess they can afford to fiddle around with stuff like this since someone else is paying for it (for now), but why not try something that would really make a big improvement.

If they wanted to sell the public on the idea of BRT, they should have implemented a dedicated bus lane on LSD and on Michigan Ave in peak direction. It would make driving on these routes slower during the rush, but the bus commute would be dramatically faster. If you want more people to take the bus, then you need to make taking the bus much faster than driving. Over time, if even a modest number of people switch to the bus as a result, it may actually ameliorate a good bit of the reduction in driving speed in the remaining regular lanes.

Aside from slowing down the driving commute, it's hard to see what the downside to trying this out would be. It wouldn't require any special boarding procedures or new equipment or staff, and it wouldn't require any elimination of parking. Mostly it would require some new lane markings and, at least initially, some increased labor on the part of traffic enforcement to make sure people take the lane restrictions seriously.

I'm not saying the cost would be trivial, but it's hard to see how this require anywhere near the amount of money the CTA and the city plan to spend on on various BRT plans that can't possibly accomplish that much, even if they succeed.

In short, the city and CTA are aiming low. After 847 years in office, is Daley really still this risk averse?

It is a little puzzling that the New York Assembly killed the congestion pricing legislation and then three weeks later Chicago had the money. They were already testing the new buses for BRT in New York. Maybe that crack lobbyist Frank Kreusi secured the money in record time. It's all a part of Mayor Mumbles' Olympic wet dream. Cities that are thought to be forward-thinking regarding transit have BRT therefore we need BRT to be seen as forward-thinking. Last year Daley proposed starting lacrosse teams at some of the city's worst performing high schools because there is a lacrosse team at New Trier. Daley reasoned that the mere opportunity to play lacrosse would enhance student achievement. The transitive property rarely works as well in real life as it did in freshman algebra.

A dedicated bus lane on Michigan Avenue, even of it could phyically be done (which is an open question), makes zero sense. There already is a way that everyone can bypass the traffic on Michigan. They can take the red line. Yes, I realize it is not exactly the same thing. They will have to walk a couple of blocks and it may not be all that convenient for people going to places between the stations (even though the stations are not very far apart). But nothing is perfect. People going past Michigan Avenue can also easilly take one of the bus routes that use Lake Shore Drive all the way to wherever it exits South of the river. A strong argument can perhaps be made that they should have more bus service using Lake Shore Drive instead of Michigan during off peak hours (I think right now they don't have any). That has the exact same effect as a BRT lane on Michigan. Michigan Avenue depends on tourists. It is neccessary for the economy for people to be able to easilly use taxicabs on that street. A BRT lane would make it extreamly difficult to enter and exit taxis and for them to move in an efficiant manner. And, of course, everything I stated about the illogical arguments of the supposed goals of the BRTs (discouraging driving) on the streets they are planning it is even more true on Michigan.

A BRT lane on Lake Shore Drive will, of course, have catastrophic effects to Chicago's economy. That, needless to say, is a non-starter.

The thought of a dedicated bus lane on Michigan has been beaten down pretty well here. For one thing, that's the de facto case right now during rush hours; for another, cars and cabs have to share the rightmost lane because it's illegal to make a right turn around a bus, and just about half the streets involve right turns. (In fact, note that within the last year or so, northbound bus stops for express buses were removed from two major intersections because express buses clog Michigan so thoroughly that drivers couldn't make right turns onto Chicago or Wacker.)

"There already is a way that everyone can bypass the traffic on Michigan. They can take the red line."

I suppose "take the train" is a very simple response to any complaint about bus travel time, but I'm not sure it's a terribly constructive one.

Most or all of the LSD express buses have to plod through several blocks of Michigan Ave. Setting aside that the red line is indeed "not the same thing," do you seriously think it would be helpful for all of these people to pile onto the red line?

As for practical issues with a dedicated lane on Michigan, yes, you might have to change the rules some in order to get it to work. Right turns by regular traffic could be handled well enough with new traffic signaling. Will this make life more difficult for private cars and cabs? Sure. Frankly, that's a positive side effect, not a negative one. If people want to get around Michigan Ave faster, they can take the bus and save themselves some time and money in the process.

Unless the city is going to find a way to add lanes to major transit corridors or spring for additional subway tunneling or elevated rail lines, we have something close to a zero-sum game in many of the most congested parts of the city.

If a baseline constraint for any bus improvements is that private auto traffic must not be significantly inconvenienced, then the CTA should just give up now because significant improvements just can't be made without reallocating more traffic capacity to buses and less to cars.

"If a baseline constraint for any bus improvements is that private auto traffic must not be significantly inconvenienced, then the CTA should just give up now because significant improvements just can't be made without reallocating more traffic capacity to buses and less to cars."

The main purpose of public transportation, at least in urban areas, is to make it more efficiant to travel around. This not only includes the people travelling on the buses and trains that directly constitute public transit. It also includes those travelling in the cars, cabs, and other vehicles that the buses and trains cause there to be a need for less of. The reason why public transportation is paid for by both those who use it and those who don't is because it is intended to benefit both groups of people. It should not be a transit vs. cars and cabs argument. The economy of a dense urban area depends on both mass transit vehicles and private vehicles operating as efficiantly as possible. Also, the faster traffic moves the less pollution is emitted. Cars and cabs being squeezed into one lane (or forced to clog up a different street) and driving slowly as a result is not consistant with the goals of public transportation. It is incorrect to consider cars and cabs as the enemy of transit. They actually are supposed to be a major beneficiary of it.

"Most or all of the LSD express buses have to plod through several blocks of Michigan Ave. Setting aside that the red line is indeed "not the same thing," do you seriously think it would be helpful for all of these people to pile onto the red line?"

I'm not sure what you mean. Nobody is suggesting that everybody on those buses should have to use the rail line. No one mentioned getting rid of the buses. The people choose between using the buses and the train. Since you mention plodding through Michigan, you are apparently focusing on people who need to get pretty far south on the street. These people have a good option, during rush hour, of the other LSD express buses. All people have to do to get to them or to any of the train lines is walk a few blocks. Nobody needs to travel on Michigan Avenue on an express route. I know I never have used an Michigan express bus south of around Superior in years.

Various modes of transportation need to co-exist in an urban area. While it's true that mixing express buses with stop-and-go local traffic doesn't work well, that doesn't mean the answer is to ban the local traffic from local streets.

If your purpose is to move people from point A to point C without having to stop while passing through area B, the answer is not to destroy area B, or make it less of a destination.

And that's assuming you really want to move people from point A to point C. Bisecting our cities to build expressways to do that 40 years ago wasn't exactly a success.

But if that's what you really want to do, they got the right cocept for infrastructure 40 years ago. And it was essentially the same answer that the land speculators 100 years ago had, too: Dedicated, private right-of-ways that bypassed the congestion of the neighborhoods.

Yes, if you build it wrong, these right-of-ways can also destroy the neighborhoods they bisect. The Dan Ryan is a good example of that. But part of the reason for that is the expressways need an excessively wide right-of-way. A two-lane busway that widens a little for stations doesn't have to kill a neighborhood, especially if it's built in, for example, an under-used existing rail right-of-way.

The buses that ply the neighborhoods should be serving those neighborhoods. People traveling to or from those neighborhoods, And their existance should not make it harder for drivers to get in or out of those neighborhoods whether they're driving single-ocuupant vehicles, or delivery trucks full of supplies for neighborhood shops.

Flopping down a system who's primary purpose is to express people through a neighborhood has to take second chair to infrastructure that serves the neighborhood.

"It is incorrect to consider cars and cabs as the enemy of transit. They actually are supposed to be a major beneficiary of it."

They slow the bus down and consume vastly more of the road's limited 'bandwidth' per capita than the buses do.

For PR purposes it's fine to remind the general public that public transit benefits everybody else on the road, too, but to call that the *purpose* of public transit is a stretch. Public transit is supposed to move large numbers of people quickly with less environmental impact.

Speeding up a steady stream of buses carrying a hundred people apiece in exchange for slowing down cars typically carrying one or two people apiece is an easy call, if your goals are to maximize overall speed and minimize environmental impact. The politics may be complicated, but the math here isn't.

But yes, if you live in an up-is-down kind of world and the goal of public transit is to make it more convenient for people to drive, then the optimization would be somewhat different.

"Nobody is suggesting that everybody on those buses should have to use the rail line."

Actually, you did: "There already is a way that everyone can bypass the traffic on Michigan. They can take the red line."

"Cars and cabs being squeezed into one lane (or forced to clog up a different street) and driving slowly as a result is not consistant with the goals of public transportation... I know I never have used an Michigan express bus south of around Superior in years."

Indeed. Perhaps it is a more recent advent, but Michigan -- at least the part I'm thinking of just north of the Loop where all the uber-congestion is -- and LSD each have 3 or 4 lanes in each direction. So what I'm suggesting would mean that regular traffic would be reduced to 2 or 3 lanes, not 1.

===
But yes, if you live in an up-is-down kind of world and the goal of public transit is to make it more convenient for people to drive, then the optimization would be somewhat different.
===

Better than living in a world with blinders on, seeing it as a bus versus car world.

Urban areas depend on multiple modes of transit being availble. If it gets to the point that everyone has to ride public transit, and private vehicles aren't allowed, the city would die.

===
Speeding up a steady stream of buses carrying a hundred people apiece in exchange for slowing down cars typically carrying one or two people apiece is an easy call, if your goals are to maximize overall speed and minimize environmental impact.
===

Actually, the primary goal isn't either. The primary goal is a healthy economy.

Speeding hundreds of poeple to outer neighborhoods and the suburbs at the expense of the economic well being of the inner neighborhoods isn't an easy call, but the economic well being of the neighborhoods should take precident over the fast travel through the neighborhoods.

There should be incentive for people to want to live closer. When they are given incentives (in the form of speedy transport) to live further away, you're encoruaging the kind of sprawlling growth that marked the 60s-80s as being one of the toughest times for big cities.

Ghettos formed in those neighborhoods that transportation systems were designed to speed people through, and the concept of a "ring of dispair" became part of the urban development lexicon. "Renewal" efforts largely failed because they often included even more transportation infrastructure meant to speed people past the area, rather than serving the needs of the area.

Over the past 15 years or so, we've started to see real renewal happening in the ring-of-dispair, and part of that is because that development didn't include infrastructure meant to speed people past the neighborhood.

I'm not saying we need to destroy existing infrastructure meant to speed people past neighborhoods. I'm not advocating anything that radical.

What I am advocating is that we don't destroy existing neighborhoods to build more infrastructure to speed people past those neighborhoods, no matter what mode of transport they choose.

Just because they're on a bus doesn't make their trip a higher calling.

BRT should be on PROW's, not slicing through and killing the commercial areas that make a neighborhood vibrant.

Local traffic over through traffic. That's the easy call. The mode that the local traffic chooses is less important than that it is local traffic.

In these fragile economic times, when everyone is talking about how "Main Street" needs to be saved, it's ironic that we're talking about BRT infrastructure that will put an even bigger squeeze on the viability of "Main Street".

BRT without PROW's should not be built in Chicago. It would be a huge step backwards in urban development at the worst time.

"For PR purposes it's fine to remind the general public that public transit benefits everybody else on the road, too, but to call that the *purpose* of public transit is a stretch. Public transit is supposed to move large numbers of people quickly with less environmental impact."

I don't understand. Your two sentences are contradictory. You are right that public transportation "is supposed to move large numbers of people quickly with less environmental impact." And that includes cars and cabs. If a bus rapid transit system forced them onto a more limited number of lanes it would cause the traffic to move slower and with a worse envitomental impact. It would also cause drivers and cabs to use other nearby streets which would cause more congestion (and thus more pollution). Isn't that the opposite of what you are suggesting your goal is?

"Speeding up a steady stream of buses carrying a hundred people apiece in exchange for slowing down cars typically carrying one or two people apiece is an easy call, if your goals are to maximize overall speed and minimize environmental impact. The politics may be complicated, but the math here isn't."

Again, I don't get what you are trying to say. The effect is the exact opposite of what you state. Your suggestion of a BRT on Michigan would minimize the speed of all vehicles on that street and those nearby except for the BRTs. And no matter what, those will be only a small percentage of these vehicles. Pollution would increase and the lesser ability of people to move around will also discourage economic activity and decrease tax revenue.

"'Nobody is suggesting that everybody on those buses should have to use the rail line.'

Actually, you did: 'There already is a way that everyone can bypass the traffic on Michigan. They can take the red line.'"

Huh? I was suggesting that people have the choice to use the buses or the red line. Actually, they have many other choices as well. If they are coming from or going to an area closer to the loop (which seems likely if travelling through Michigan Ave. traffic is a problem) during rush hour they have the option to take a number of bus routes that enter the drive earlier. But they, of course, still have the option of the Michigan Avenue express buses. I am really baffled as to how you are interpreting me as saying that everybody who currently uses these buses should have to take the red line. I am certainly not suggesting they should eliminate these buses. I was saying that they should not be replaced with bus rapid transit routes.

MK's faux bafflement is a lost cause, but with respect to a good point Rusty has made a few times about the effects of express buses on neighborhoods: I tend to agree with much of what you've said about this both above and previously. While I did refer to express buses when making my initial comment about dedicated bus lanes, this was really kind of besides the point on my part. Whether or not you have dedicated lanes really doesn't depend on buses operating local or express. The main benefit is not being stuck in auto traffic, which would be the case either way.

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