Nicollet-Central Streetcar

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
VAStationDude
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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby VAStationDude » April 17th, 2014, 6:15 pm

The design calls for parking to the right of the streetcar/travel lane. I don't foresee a scenario where eliminating cars from Nicollet or turning it into a frontage road for on street parking and business access is at all viable. Between 28th and Lake might be politically viable as part of a opening Nicollet in that stretch.

Minneapolisite

Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby Minneapolisite » April 17th, 2014, 7:02 pm

Once again, I think this project shows how biased MT is toward the burbs: they get all these express routes, but why no express routes that go from one end of Mpls to the other? They're only in the planning stages for a BRT line in St Paul on Snelling, but tons of express routes already run in and out of the burbs today. An express bus could literally pop up tomorrow with no special infrastructure improvements and be very useful to cross large distances of our cities. Why don't we already have these in place and then worry about going full out (or not) BRT later? There's no NE (Lowry & Central) to South (Linden Hills) express route: Central Ave-Old St Anthony-Downtown(a stop or two on Marquette)-Uptown (down & up Blaisdaill/1st east & west 28th/26th to the Uptown Transit Station)-Linden Hills ("downtown"), it doesn't exist even though it should. I'd pay the $3 every now and then too just for how much faster it would be or maybe even the monthly pass to cover the more expensive express rides. Right now there's not even a limited stop route that runs that route that I know of, let alone one that runs frequently.

Tcmetro
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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby Tcmetro » April 17th, 2014, 7:28 pm

Minneapolisite wrote:Once again, I think this project shows how biased MT is toward the burbs: they get all these express routes, but why no express routes that go from one end of Mpls to the other? They're only in the planning stages for a BRT line in St Paul on Snelling, but tons of express routes already run in and out of the burbs today. An express bus could literally pop up tomorrow with no special infrastructure improvements and be very useful to cross large distances of our cities. Why don't we already have these in place and then worry about going full out (or not) BRT later? There's no NE (Lowry & Central) to South (Linden Hills) express route: Central Ave-Old St Anthony-Downtown(a stop or two on Marquette)-Uptown (down & up Blaisdaill/1st east & west 28th/26th to the Uptown Transit Station)-Linden Hills ("downtown"), it doesn't exist even though it should. I'd pay the $3 every now and then too just for how much faster it would be or maybe even the monthly pass to cover the more expensive express rides. Right now there's not even a limited stop route that runs that route that I know of, let alone one that runs frequently.
There's a few reasons. One is that these are basically Arterial BRT lines that are being proposed. Not exactly the same routes, but the same concept applied to the busiest routes. The second is that the point-to-point express bus routes perform best when traveling from one concentrated destination to another. This is exactly what the suburban express buses do. Riders congregate at a suburban park and ride location and take a bus to a concentrated employment district, namely downtown. This is pretty much the only viable (operationally and politically) bus service to provide to the suburbs. The third problem is that the freeways closest to the city centers are the most congested. This leads to unreliability, which is a huge problem on the #94 bus.

I think that simply cutting bus stops around the city to every 1/4 mile could have almost the same effect as Arterial BRT. The investment into stops is more justifiable when more riders board at each stop. By closing half of the stops, the others will have more riders who will use things like benches and shelters. This won't solve the congestion problems, but that can be helped with TSP and bus queue lanes. We could even allow those with transfers and GoTo cards to board in the back of the bus, similar to the program in San Fran, which will help boarding times. There are a lot of low-hanging fruit that could be had, we just need our transportation leaders to have the same mindset.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby Minneapolisite » April 19th, 2014, 12:13 pm

True, I'd much rather see more shelters for fewer stops than throw away more money on meaningless sticks in the ground.

grant1simons2
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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby grant1simons2 » May 13th, 2014, 2:45 pm

Any updates on this?

helsinki
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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby helsinki » May 29th, 2014, 7:19 am

There was a very lucid discussion of public transportation at Strong Towns recently (podcast # 175 - http://www.strongtowns.org/strong-towns-podcast/) that I thought related directly to the Nicollet/Central streetcar project. Note: if you listen to the podcast, skip the first 20 minutes as they are unrelated to transit.

The gist of the discussion is that public transit (especially rail transit) has all too often imitated highway design by designating 'corridors' and building very large infrastructure projects to service the corridor with routes and stops determined more by political coalitions than by the wisdom of the connections they make. Perhaps most importantly, the distorted mechanism by which transit is funded through the federal government (recently discussed at Streets.mn in the context of the rather absurd SWLRT design process: https://streets.mn/2014/04/30/what-south ... get-wrong/) produces a severely disproportionate public investment vis-a-vis the financial productivity of the land uses immediately adjacent to the line.

Instead of imitating the highway 'corridor' model, the podcast proposes an alternative model of incremental upgrades in transit service between places as those places emerge as economically viable nodes worth connecting. The value capture financing method is held out as the ideal means of paying for improved transit service; the correct level of transit is the amount that the immediately adjacent land uses are capable of themselves supporting financially. The Northstar line gets thrashed in this analysis because it doesn't actually make it to St. Cloud, it's logical terminus, but instead stops at a bunch of cornfields and parking lots.

The Nicollet/Central corridor strongly embodies the ethos of transit development articulated in the podcast. The 'starter' line connects economically productive places with high pre-existing demand for transit service: Lake Street, "Eat Street", Loring Park/Convention Center, Nicollet Mall, existing LRT infrastructure, the Mississippi waterfront, and St. Anthony Main. The project uses the value capture financing mechanism. It reduces the number of existing transit stops, thereby reinforcing the nodal development pattern. It is a natural upgrade from existing bus service in an urban setting, not a quixotic attempt to lure drivers out of their cars in an otherwise thoroughly auto-dominated landscape.

One could argue that it is nonsense to spend $200 million (in 2017 dollars) to connect places only 3 miles apart. I would argue exactly the opposite: it is precisely the places that are close together where such costly transit investments should be made. The intensity of land use justifies connecting the places strung along those 3 miles by a more intense transit mode. By contrast, neither Brooklyn Park (Bottineau LRT) nor Eden Prairie (SWLRT) will be transit-friendly enough in the near or medium term future - either in their built environments of in their transportation cultures - to justify the extension of the Blue and Green lines to the periphery of the metro out past the 494/694 beltway.

mattaudio
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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby mattaudio » May 29th, 2014, 8:15 am

The Nicollet-Central line gets it right in theory... but it gets it completely wrong when it comes to actually building useful transit. Remember the rendering where the tram is fouled by a Toyota Matrix in the right of way... We need to build our transit backbones right, and that means (at least) dedicated right of way or (possibly) grade separation in our core cities.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby EOst » May 29th, 2014, 10:35 am

But that isn't the choice; when do you ever, EVER see there being the political will and money for a grade-separated or dedicated ROW for this thing? It's never going to happen. The choice here isn't between Something Good and Something Meh; it's Something Meh or nothing.

Getting the Nicollet-Central streetcar isn't a final thing; it's a down payment. When it's running, when people see that it could have some value, maybe there could come a day where we'll have a dedicated ROW or really good signal priority. But you're really letting perfect be the enemy of the good here.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby mattaudio » May 29th, 2014, 11:08 am

The good? There's a good chance this will be slower than existing buses. It's a public art project, not a transit improvement.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby grant1simons2 » May 29th, 2014, 11:56 am

matt you seem to not like trains. Just what I've gathered from other threads. What needs to be realized is that this is a tourist thing. Many people will use it because they like it better than the buses. If KrapMart is ever demolished it would most likely be extended south, therefore people can go from Lyndale to Nicollet in a "fun" way. Just look at San Francisco, the reason why the streetcars are still there is because they are basically an attraction. If the city does this right, we could be the same. I for one would love to ride from lyndale into downtown on a streetcar, sounds like a good time.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby PhilmerPhil » May 29th, 2014, 12:01 pm

If you know Matt at all, you'd know that the above post will not only do nothing to sway him to your side, but it will probably infuriate him!

PS: I personally lean towards favoring a streetcar here.

mattaudio
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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby mattaudio » May 29th, 2014, 12:20 pm

I like trains, which is why I've proposed complete a) streetcar b) LRT c) commuter rail d) regional rail and e) high speed rail services for our region. I just don't like trains when the transit service will suck. Which seems to be most of the way we implement trains in our region. Central and Hiawatha exempted from that generalization.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby EOst » May 29th, 2014, 12:21 pm

mattaudio wrote:The good? There's a good chance this will be slower than existing buses. It's a public art project, not a transit improvement.
It doesn't matter if it's slower, because that's really missing the point.

Maybe I have a different perspective than you because I've actually ridden on modern mixed-traffic streetcars, in Portland and in Seattle. You're right, they're not immensely fast (though I don't think they're actually slower than buses; they kept up pretty well with traffic). But that doesn't matter; you don't use them because they're fast, you use them because they're extremely pleasant. They glide along, they're always regular, they have nice stops, and in general they feel like you're riding on something nice and solid.

Does that mean they're perfect? No, of course not; they'd be a lot faster with a dedicated ROW. But if I had a choice between walking two blocks to a streetcar and getting on a bus right in front of me, I'd do it every time, because the experience really is that much more pleasant.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby mattaudio » May 29th, 2014, 12:25 pm

I've been on streetcars in Seattle and in many European and Asian cities. They're nice. But that's really missing the point too.

How can politicians justify building a streetcar like this when our core bus system is so inadequate? Once every local bus route is at aBRT standards, then we can look at streetcars. Incrementalism. Value seeking.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby grant1simons2 » May 29th, 2014, 12:36 pm

you'd know that the above post will not only do nothing to sway him to your side, but it will probably infuriate him!
Yeah I figured that. It's just that I've been annoyed lately that people have been focusing more on timing and speed lately. Speed can be fixed. It's called innovation. Trains can be sped up, what we need is just the infrastructure for them

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby mattaudio » May 29th, 2014, 12:39 pm

The innovation that would be necessary to speed up Nicollet-Central streetcars if the proposed line is built would be to remove cars. Not that I'm against that...

grant1simons2
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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby grant1simons2 » May 29th, 2014, 12:54 pm

Majority of Nicollet is already separated in what looks to be enough for streetcars anyways https://www.google.com/maps/@44.959611, ... !2e0?hl=en

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby EOst » May 29th, 2014, 1:06 pm

mattaudio wrote:I've been on streetcars in Seattle and in many European and Asian cities. They're nice. But that's really missing the point too.

How can politicians justify building a streetcar like this when our core bus system is so inadequate? Once every local bus route is at aBRT standards, then we can look at streetcars. Incrementalism. Value seeking.
Declining return on investment. Does it really dramatically improve our transportation system if every bus route is aBRT? The main improvements of aBRT are:

1) Bigger buses
2) Nicer stops
3) Fewer stops
4) Signal priority kinda

Of those, (1) isn't necessary for most routes. (2) would certainly be nice, yeah, but there are a lot of streets used by buses where they'd be very out of place. (3) you and I might want, but it's a tough sell that a lot of people would see as a downgrade. And as for (4), I'm not sure it's even useful on all routes (since a lot of them are on streets that have few signals; think of the 9 going through Longfellow; waiting at signals isn't the problem), but even that is something that could be done alongside streetcars, rather than instead of it.

mattaudio
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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby mattaudio » May 29th, 2014, 1:15 pm

grant1simons2 wrote:Majority of Nicollet is already separated in what looks to be enough for streetcars anyways https://www.google.com/maps/@44.959611, ... !2e0?hl=en
Not exactly sure what you mean by that, but since the street view shows the CLTL in the middle -- my idea (well, it's a European idea) was to run gauntlet track down narrow dedicated ROW in the middle of Nicollet, bowing out around center island stations. Except at stations, this leaves plenty of room for a traffic lane plus a parking lane. Or we could treat them as woonerfs on each side of the rails as well.

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Re: Nicollet-Central Corridor

Postby mulad » May 29th, 2014, 1:56 pm

A lot of it comes down to whether the streetcars are side-running or center-running. I always think of center-running streetcars first, but side-running can work here (and be compatible with aBRT stations). With bumpout stations, parking can be preserved, and there can be a center turn lane to prevent left turns from gumming up the works. In theory.


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