Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)Bus Rapid Transit is a bus. Sometimes it has stations with platforms, sometimes dedicated lanes, sometimes it uses honor-based fareboxes, and sometimes it's really just a bus route with an expensive name. As a bus, it has braking and steering advantages over light rail trains and its capital infrastructure costs are less than light rail. Buses have transparency and accountability advantages over light rail. On a bus, you can see the driver and what the driver is doing. As the bus goes by you can see how many people are on the bus. On light rail the windows are obscured with film preventing the operator from being seen and preventing the lack of riders from being seen from outside.
HealthLine - Cleveland's BRT ExampleHealthLine is a $197 million, 6.8 mile($29 million per mile) RTA Euclid Avenue bus rapid transit system in Cleveland, Ohio. Construction began in 2006, was completed in 2008, and inconvenienced Euclid Avenue consumers and businesses, causing many businesses to close.
HealthLine bus passenger lists the problems:
♦ most bus riders must stand (BRT has half the seats of a traditional bus)
♦ half of the bus seats are on raised platforms (difficult for seniors & disabled)
♦ narrow aisles & 18" seats
♦ station platforms not marked as eastbound or westbound
♦ riders don't know where to stand on the platform or which doors to go in
♦ two foot leaping gap between bus & station platform
♦ fareboxes that don't work
♦ bus shelters with 2 or 3 cold metal seats
HealthLine buses are slower than expected, 25 mph in pedestrian zones. The rules were changed to allow buses a 35 mph limit. Either way it's not rapid transit (10.6mph average speed), has problems with traffic signals and crashes. Euclid Avenue had 411 reported collisions from October 2008 to July 2011, plus:
► 2013 March 12 - HealthLine bus hit a car at Euclid & East 4th at 10:30am sending 8 people to hospitals, including both drivers.
► 2011 November 1 - HealthLine bus hit a car at Euclid & East 89th at 2pm. Both vehicles were westbound. The car wanted to make a right turn.
► 2011 October 24 - HealthLine bus hit a car at Euclid & East 9th at 12:30pm.
HealthLine uses New Flyer articulated buses made in Winnipeg, Canada; Crookston, MN; and St. Cloud, MN. (Light rail uses Siemens and Bombardier trains from Germany.)
Here's another Cleveland opinion of HealthLine.
Gateway Corridor Bus Rapid TransitThe problem with the Gateway Corridor is that it can't beat I-94.
The best place for a bus rapid transit is where it can be rapid -- on the highway. Buses can't travel fast on residential streets, like the St. Paul portion of Hudson Road. Many express buses already run successfully on I-94 (MetroTransit express 294, limited stop 350, express 351, express 353, express 355, express 375), using the shoulder to move around traffic instead of a dedicated lane. And the Gateway Corridor ridership can't justify the opportunity cost of dedicating an I-94 lane each way for either a bus or a train.
Bus rapid transit on Hudson Road in St. Paul would be painfully slow for Woodbury travelers and would not be beneficial to Hudson Road residents and businesses. Snow plows would hack at the dividing curbs. But buses have the breaking and steering advantage over trains (improved safety) and reduced infrastructure (lower capital costs and maintenance).
The Gateway Corridor SolutionIf the list of eastside buses above aren't enough, add another bus to I-94, with seating like existing MetroTransit buses and without removing a lane from traffic.