Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) June 5, 2012
We have a Photo Gallery entry for Route AF, the segment going from Lakewood's Federal Center to the Market Street Station. (I consider the route the best buy in RTD.)
I used it to go to see the BRT demonstration at the stations. These pictures are from that demonstration.
The combination of seeing a BRT vehichle, taking Route AF, and all the news on the question, gave me food for thought.
NOTE: At the bottom of this page are a few questions about Light Rail vs. BRT.
As it turned out, there was a very interesting example of a bus that is currently offered in the BRT market. I beleive I heard that this particular example was headed for San Antonio. And we got lucky in getting there early since the manufacturer was leaving earlier than the publish show ending time.
These three pictures are included in the gallery below where you can click on them and see a larger version.
The seating for 60 is comfortable, clean and modern. The articulated car was certainly comparable or better than the nice Light Rail cars we have today. Keep in mind that this is a sample on loan from North American Bus Industries, Inc. (NABI)
We sat on the NABI bus for perhaps 10 minutes or so but no one from RTD appeared at the brochure desk or the inside the bus. Someone was likely there busy with other people.
This BRT example was very inviting and it resulted in the thinking at the bottom of this page.
Click on these exhibits that NABI provided to see a size that is more readable. The three pictures above are repeated so you can get a big version.
Here is a little conversation I had with myself....
Wow, I got to this BRT display by taking the AF from the Lakewood Federal Center to the Market Street Station. It was a lightening-fast ride of exactly 18 minutes (2 minutes ahead of schedule). I could not have driven, parked, and found my way any better. And this great round trip for a Lakewood senior is a total of $4.00. Downtown is very much in reach for me and the automobile alternative is out of the question.
Observation: The AF from Lakewood to Downtown is faster than the new Light Rail will be when it comes. The AF is effectively an outstanding example of BRT right now.
Question: If the AF is so fast, perhaps the best ride in the entire system, what will happen to the route when Light Rail comes? (I asked the bus driver on my way home.)
Answer: The AF goes away.
Question: Why do I like that?
Answer: Because Light Rail is not affected by traffic and weather. Our ride today on the AF is in perfect conditions and in the late morning. If it were rush hour or if it were snowing, it would be a different story.
QUESTIONS: Will BRT to Boulder use a dedicated lane to simulate the dedicated Light Rail track AND will the lane have new, dedicated snow plows to make it impervious to weather? (Better not steal the plows from the current population.)
IF the two answers are yes - dedicated lanes; and yes - dedicated snow plows; then BRT could be better than Light Rail. Add platform boarding from dedicated stations, proper parking and responsive scheduling - this is a winner.
This is good looking vehicle and an excellent overall proposition. I hope that when there is another opportunity to discuss BRT with the public that the RTD powers-that-be all participate. I had hoped for that on this day.
BRT can be presented well and be a winner.