Thursday, June 30, 2005

VTA's minimal job to start its first rapid bus line

Next week, VTA will start its first rapid bus line on the El Camino corridor. The cost to improve the corridor was $3.5 million. Since the project corridor is about 26 miles long, it comes to about $134,616 per mile. BART would cost at least 1000 times more per mile and it certainly won't have 1000 times the ridership as the 22 corridor. The rapid bus, similar to the Baby Bullet Caltrain service, has the potential to substantially increase service and ridership at a reduced cost. That's why VTA has been dragging its feet when it comes to implementing rapid bus: trying to protect its senseless BART project.

LA's Metro Rapid set a standard for rapid bus, an initial implementation of fuller scale bus rapid transit. On its web site, MTA stated its characteristics:

Key Metro Rapid Attributes:
  • Simple route layout: Makes it easy to find, use and remember
  • Frequent service: Buses arrive as often as every 3-10 minutes during peak commuting times
  • Fewer stops: Stops spaced about a ¾ mile apart, like rail lines, at most major transfer points
  • Level boarding: Low-floor buses speed-up dwell times
  • Bus priority at traffic signals: New technology reduces traffic delay by extending the green light or shortening the red light to help Metro Rapid get through intersections
  • Color-coded buses and stops: Metro Rapid’s distinctive red paint makes it easy to identify Metro Rapid stops and buses
  • Enhanced stations: Metro Rapid stations provide information, lighting, canopies and “Next Trip” displays

VTA's proposal for 522 met most of the charactistics as the LA's Metro Rapid, except with the minimal required frequency for headway based service (every 15 minutes) and the lack of enhanced stations. Except with the special Rapid signs, the rapid stops are just regular stops with regular shelters, and there won't be any next trip displays that would come in handy for passengers to decide whether to wait for the rapid bus or take the next bus they see.

Although it would cost more for VTA to implement these features, the cost would be relatively small and would enhance the effectiveness of the faster service. Unfortunately, VTA would rather spend more money on consultants for the preliminary engineering of the BART project, which all by itself it doesn't improve transportation.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

VTA needs NextBus, already in use in San Francisco. NextBus would be most effective on the 522, which does not keep to schedule. It was tested on the MUNI 22, and found to be very promising.