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According to new study, buses are more "green" than rail transit...

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 9:51 AM
Tom, thank you for a very fair and accurate analysis.  On the APTA website, with some menuevering, you can get the true passenger-mile costs for several systems that operate different modes of public transit.   You will find that rail comes up with the lowest cost per passenger mile in almost all cases, and the exception are very special, like the SF cable cars only, some of the heritage operations.  Cost per passenger mile is lowest for heavy rail rapid transit, intermediate for commuter rail and light rail, and highest for diesel buses.
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Posted by b&ofan on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 9:03 AM
 alphas wrote:

gardendance's arguement that road costs should be assigned to busees really doesn't fly.  Other than construction of lanes and similar strictly for buses, the cost of the road construction would be there anyway for autos.   And buses normally aren't heavy enough (unlike larger trucks) to do that much damage to roads and bridges.   Also, some transit buses are powered by other than traditional diesel and the percentage is increasing. 

(snip)

 ************************

I beg to disagree. Over the road trucks are presently limited by Federal law to 20,000 pounds per axle load to a maximum of 80,0000 pounds vehicle load. While the overall weight of a standard forty-foot transit bus is far less than that of OTR trucks, most of the bus weight is concentrated at the rear axle; the motor(s), transmission, air conditioning, hydraulic equipment, air compressor, and cooling system are all either close to, over or aft of that rear axle. The result is that an >unloaded< transit bus carries approximately 24,000 pounds weight on the rear axle only. On hybrid buses, the weight of the batteries is carried on the roof over that same rear axle, adding another 700 to 1000 pounds axle weight. Add another couple of thousand for full passenger load, and the weight of the bus on the rear axle is significantly higher than the axle weight allowed for trucks on freeways! These are then driven over city streets that in many cases were designed to support 18,000 pounds or less axle load. Transit buses are, in general, exempt from all weight limits. The results are obvious: the wheel ruts in lanes that carry heavy bus traffic along the streets. With so much concentration of axle weight, the bus not only stresses the superstructure of the roads, but pounds them unmercifully at every crack, pothole, and joint. The ground vibration so created can cause serious problems with nearby structures. 

The other aspect has to do with long term costs of running the transit system. While installing a bus route is by far less expensive than opening a rail line, over the long haul the difference is more than made up, because (1- Three forty-foot standard buses are required to carry the same number of passengers as one light rail vehicle at full loads, requiring roughly three times the number of operating personnel; (2- The buses have to be replaced from two to four times more often - typical bus life is 12 years, a railcar will last from 25 to 50 years in full service, both with excellent maintenance considered; (3- More vehicles require a larger storage area and more maintenance space and personnel - railcars are simple and quick to maintain, buses (especially hybrids!) are very complex and require much more detailed maintenance, and break down more frequently; (4- Buses require a much larger complement of spare parts to support the higher number of vehicles required for equivalent passenger loadings and a more intricate selection of spares; (5- Electric transportation does not generate the huge volumes of hazmat waste produced by the buses, because buses require anti-freeze, hydraulic fluid, and lubricating oil by the gallon that all have to be replaced on a periodic basis, worn-out tires that are very difficult to recycle, and worn-out vehicles that have to be disposed of one way or another at a much higher pace than the rail cars. The power to run electric rail is a tiny percentage of the total power used in any metropolitan area; the generating plants hardly even feel the difference when a rail system goes on-line. And unlike buses, a railcar while decellerating generates electric power (via regenerative braking) that assists other cars on the line to accelerate or climb grades, whereby the buses waste the energy used while powering in brake pads and drums and tire friction as heat or as engine/transmission heat during "jake braking."

Buses very definitely have their place. I would argue against rail where peak loads are fairly light and off-peak requirements are limited at best. But rail shines in corridor service off-street and can do this job, long term, much more economically that buses at the same task. I believe that there is a choice to be made that is contingent upon application: rails should be used as corridor routes both radially into and out of a city, and between suburban CBDs/central plazas, while buses should be used to feed the corridor routes and provide service where sustained passenger loadings and levels of traffic congestion would not support inaugurating new rail service.  

Regards: Tom Fairbairn

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Posted by DMUinCT on Friday, April 25, 2008 9:07 AM

   Over the past 25 years, Boston has been rebuilding X-New Haven lines into 80mph Commuter Rail.  They have over 600 miles of track under there control.  The MBTA will give you all the documentation you need.  www.mbta.com   It not only cuts polution (required by law) by taking cars off the road but helps new drivers to decide, road or rail.  Also, rebuilding a Rail line is cheaper than widening an Expressway.

  As the three Interstates (I-90, I-93, I-95) started to backup for 3 to 6 miles each morning and night, a need developed to get people out of there cars and to work On Time.  Commuter Rail runs near, or in some cases, along side the Expressway System and carries 600 to 800 passengers per train.  If you buy a monthly "Commuter Pass", you ride the train into North or South Stations.  You then swipe your Pass as you enter one of the 4 Subways, and go to any place in Boston, for the one price of the "Commuter Pass".  

  As you sit in traffic, a Commuter Train streaking by is good reason to leave your car at home.  How many buses do you need to replace just one commuter train?  And when they are stuck in traffic with the rest of us?

Don U. TCA 73-5735

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, April 25, 2008 12:46 AM
This is a biased study.   It includes all the greenhouse gases emited in the CONSTRUCTION of the light rail line and assumes the roads and busways are had for nothing.   Also it does not include the greenhouse gases produced in the distilation an distribution of petroleum products and does of course include those produced in producing electricity.
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Posted by alphas on Thursday, April 24, 2008 11:04 PM

gardendance's arguement that road costs should be assigned to busees really doesn't fly.  Other than construction of lanes and similar strictly for buses, the cost of the road construction would be there anyway for autos.   And buses normally aren't heavy enough (unlike larger trucks) to do that much damage to roads and bridges.   Also, some transit buses are powered by other than traditional diesel and the percentage is increasing. 

Heavy rail (subways especially) is crucial for very large cities.  After that it depends on the individual particulars of a city as to whether or not heavy or light rail, or mix thereof, is good for it. 

CATO is really no different from any of the other "think tanks".  They all have their political agendas and viewpoints.   The question is are they being honest in their research?   That's always hard for anyone not immediately familiar with all the ins and outs of a particular issue to know.   CATO gets dished by the left all the time but their research supposedly has held up pretty well under examination.       

  

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Posted by gardendance on Thursday, April 24, 2008 10:35 PM
 paulsafety wrote:

Oh, and in another study, this organization also debunks the National City Lines "Myth"...

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa559.pdf

..."Some supporters of mass transit have perpetuated the story that General Motors conspired to destroy the nation's transit systems by replacing "efficient" streetcars with "dirty" buses, but that is little more than an urban legend that has been debunked by numerous books and articles."...[emphasis added]  Shock [:O]     Banged Head [banghead]

well there is in my opinion a fair amount of truth to National City Lines role in the demise of trolleys to be greatly exaggerated, or at least they did nothing more than supply the public what they wanted. Again, as I mentioned before, the true enemy is the private automobile. John Q Public abandoned public transit for the auto, the percentage National City Lines's companies that they converted to bus is not really much different than the percentage of companies that they didn't control that also converted to bus.

What's often ignored in the discussions I encounter is that many rail concerns, again whether controlled by National City Lines or not, did not convert to bus, but rather converted to nothing at all, just plain went out of business.

Patrick Boylan

Free yacht rides, 27' sailboat, zip code 19114 Delaware River, get great Delair bridge photos from the river. Send me a private message

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 24, 2008 9:00 PM

  The science behind Cato is.....Come up with a premise and a theroy to support a agenda in this case Lazzai Faire ecnommics and a free market except from taxation and then hire proffesors to do reserch to support that agenda...

As opposed to real scentific reserch that simply asks "what is this stuff" and then "why does stuff happen" and then "can we make this stuff happen again" then gets around to debating after years of asking those question to finnaly "is this stuff good or bad for us"

Problem is that Gannett-USA Yesterday and other news people treat Cato as gospel and as a authentic news source for filler stories.... Turns out that Gannets owner Al Neuman is a arch-conservitive

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Posted by paulsafety on Thursday, April 24, 2008 8:07 PM

Oh, and in another study, this organization also debunks the National City Lines "Myth"...

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa559.pdf

..."Some supporters of mass transit have perpetuated the story that General Motors conspired to destroy the nation's transit systems by replacing "efficient" streetcars with "dirty" buses, but that is little more than an urban legend that has been debunked by numerous books and articles."...[emphasis added]  Shock [:O]     Banged Head [banghead]

 

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Posted by gardendance on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 9:31 AM

the study's title is "Does Rail Transit Save Energy or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?" so I was expecting it to talk about energy and greenhouse gas. But it does have this paragraph about financing"

"Rail transit agencies must go heavily in debt to cover the high cost of building rail transit lines, and once that debt is paid off they have to go in debt again to reconstruct and rehabilitate worn out rail lines.
...
Such indebtedness-which is not needed to operate a bus system-leaves transit riders vulnerable to economic downturns that reduce the tax revenues transit agencies rely on to both repay their debts and operate their systems."

Do you notice how the paragraph assigns ALL the construction and reconstruction debt to rail, but magically the debt of building and maintaining highways "is not needed to operate a bus system", and by extension is also not needed to handle automobiles.

Patrick Boylan

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Posted by gardendance on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 8:57 AM
 DMUinCT wrote:

   Commuter Rail is designed to remove traffic from the highways.  Buses add traffic to highways.

I'd appreciate some documentation to back up your assertions.

Yes I agree that a bus with no passengers adds 1 vehicle to highways. But if you're going to say commuter rail is designed to remove traffic, without documentation, then I hope you will also acknowledge that buses are designed to carry passengers. Eventually that bus will fulfill its design and carry passengers, some of whose trips would otherwise have been single occupant automobile trips, and so the bus has reasonable potential to remove traffic from highways.

 I'm just about the biggest jolly trolley boy around, so I don't have any love affair with buses. But I'm going to remember that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the common enemy of all public transit is the automobile.

Patrick Boylan

Free yacht rides, 27' sailboat, zip code 19114 Delaware River, get great Delair bridge photos from the river. Send me a private message

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Posted by oltmannd on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 8:31 AM
 Paul Milenkovic wrote:

You had better not pay any attention to any argument coming out of Cato Institute.

Those folks might be bitter.

Yup.  It's full of mostly useless junk.

Electric transit is bad because the feeder bus network isn't used. (huh?)

2/3 of the energy for electric transit is used up in generation and transmission (forgets to mention that 80% of energy consumed by a car is waste heat and losses)

Existing electric traction technology compares poorly to new technology for other modes (forgets that same technology can be applied to electric traction)

Not even worth the time to read all the way thru.  The author is "stealing money".

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 7:56 AM

You had better not pay any attention to any argument coming out of Cato Institute.

Those folks might be bitter.

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?

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Posted by DMUinCT on Monday, April 21, 2008 8:56 PM

   Commuter Rail is designed to remove traffic from the highways.  Buses add traffic to highways.

   If they refer to "long distance" trains (running half full) vs a couple of Buses, then maybe the bus would be less poluting.

Don U. TCA 73-5735

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, April 21, 2008 4:04 PM
The Cato Institute is well known as a libertarian (anarchism for rich folks) think tank so that point of view should be kept in mind when reading their reports. 
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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According to new study, buses are more "green" than rail transit...
Posted by paulsafety on Monday, April 21, 2008 3:49 PM

A new study suggests that bus-only transit is more environmentally friendly than rail transit.

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9325

"Far from protecting the environment, most rail transit lines use more energy per passenger mile, and many generate more greenhouse gases, than the average passenger automobile. Rail transit provides no guarantee that a city will save energy or meet greenhouse gas targets."

What do you think?  Should we abandon rail and go with 100% fuel cell and alternative fuel buses?Laugh [(-D]

 

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