U of M Transitway

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Andrew_F
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U of M Transitway

Postby Andrew_F » July 26th, 2012, 12:59 am

Lately I've been wondering how much it would cost and what ridership would be like for a "Maroon Line" LRT running from the West Bank to Randall & Bufford via the U of M transitway and the Green Line. An intermediate stop could be at Como and possibly Raymond. Looks like about 2.5 miles of track, 95% of which is on dedicated and mostly grade-separated ROW. It could probably even be single-tracked with passing sections, since trains should be able to stick fairly close to a schedule with only 5 stations.

Has anyone else thought much about this? What do you think of the prospects?

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby mattaudio » July 26th, 2012, 8:01 am

I thought about something similar... I put it in as a streetcar but the ROW is there to build it out as LRT-capable tracks... It would connect to the Maroon Line streetcar (Hennepin/Downtown/University/Riverside) and Green Line LRT at the Stadium Village stop... http://goo.gl/maps/fVd2S

Also building campus connector trackage to LRT spec would allow State Fair trains.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby MNdible » July 26th, 2012, 8:56 am

It also might take some of the strain off of the regular Green Line trains -- I can just imagine all of the students at the West Bank piling onto an already packed train coming out of downtown during rush hour.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby mattaudio » July 26th, 2012, 9:03 am

MNdible wrote:It also might take some of the strain off of the regular Green Line trains -- I can just imagine all of the students at the West Bank piling onto an already packed train coming out of downtown during rush hour.
I realize my map is pie in the sky, but I really hope the future streetcars are interlined between Uptown and U of M.

If there was rail service on the campus connector, maybe it could continue west from Stadium Village on the Green Line LRT ROW to provide additional frequencies.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby Andrew_F » July 26th, 2012, 11:44 am

My idea would be to run it to the West Bank, but if at some future date we have grade separation on 5th, it would be nice to have one-seat rides from the Saint Paul campus and the fairgrounds into downtown.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby MNdible » July 26th, 2012, 1:00 pm

It would be difficult to extend it into downtown, because the capacity of that corridor is maxed out between the Blue and Green Lines. Once the Green Line splits off at the Metrodome, however, there should already be spacing built into the schedule for additional service.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby Andrew_F » July 26th, 2012, 1:05 pm

MNdible wrote:It would be difficult to extend it into downtown, because the capacity of that corridor is maxed out between the Blue and Green Lines. Once the Green Line splits off at the Metrodome, however, there should already be spacing built into the schedule for additional service.
Even with grade-separation, you think capacity along the shared alignment would be maxed?

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby MNdible » July 26th, 2012, 1:07 pm

I think so, but I'm not an expert. As I recall, the headways during peak operations are as little as 3 minutes between the two services.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby mattaudio » July 26th, 2012, 1:15 pm

My map shows using the Green Line to 11th Ave, where the University connector would follow the old MILW ROW diagonally for two blocks where it would then join the streetcar tracks at 9th Ave and Washington.

This would mean that there would be no capacity issues as the Blue Line and the university connector would not share ROW (except for the third track near 11th Ave)

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby Andrew_F » July 26th, 2012, 1:54 pm

mattaudio wrote:My map shows using the Green Line to 11th Ave, where the University connector would follow the old MILW ROW diagonally for two blocks where it would then join the streetcar tracks at 9th Ave and Washington.

This would mean that there would be no capacity issues as the Blue Line and the university connector would not share ROW (except for the third track near 11th Ave)

Good solution! The one gripe I have with that is what if at some point the line is extended up Randall, across the fields, and up Snelling to Rosedale? I think we would want LRT-spec if that were the case.
MNdible wrote:I think so, but I'm not an expert. As I recall, the headways during peak operations are as little as 3 minutes between the two services.
Perhaps when 5th is grade-separated, we'll be forward-thinking enough to put in 3 or 4 tracks.

Regardless, I think it could possibly fit in. Realistically 2-3 minutes is the headway limit I think, but I know I've seen trains on the loop here in Chicago operate with significantly shorter headways for the short distance and low speed of the loop. Perhaps 5th could operate similarly?

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby mulad » July 26th, 2012, 1:57 pm

The U of M should really consider railstitution of the transitway for their own uses (students most of the time, plus shuttle service for remote parking when there are events at the stadium), though I'm not entirely sure how well it would work for the State Fair. The transitway gets most heavily used by buses during the fair between Como Avenue and Energy Park Drive, where most of the buses turn to access MN-280.

I might be getting a bit picky, but I don't think the transitway is close enough to the center of the fairgrounds for it to work all that well for a shuttle service during that time of year. Add in the fact that most of the buses coming to the fair are arriving from all different directions, and the benefit kind of wanes. Now if we ever had streetcars running on Como Avenue again, that might be a different story. I suppose there's a chance that a spur could be made over closer to the fairgrounds, but with the expense to build it and all the worries we have about copper/metal theft these days, it seems like it'd be a pain to keep it maintained and protected from vandalism.

But, if someone really wanted to try, I think it'd be possible to get trains going from the St. Paul campus/fairgrounds to downtown Minneapolis without too much trouble.

Like streetcars, light-rail trains in downtown could basically line right up one after another -- at least as long as the electricity supply can support them, and if trains can switch back and forth between tracks easily enough. To keep things flowing smoothly, there would need to be at least one empty city block between each train (so they can all move basically in unison as lights change rather than caterpillaring along). Things are worse right now since the tail tracks are closed beyond Target Field -- the limiting factor is the time it takes for trains to go through the crossovers between Nicollet and Hennepin, reach the end of the line, and make it back to Nicollet. Only two trains can be occupying those tracks at any given time (one per track).

Once there are crossovers at Target Field again, things will improve. My gut tells me that the real limit of the tracks is closer to one train every 90 seconds.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby MNdible » July 26th, 2012, 2:40 pm

Perhaps when 5th is grade-separated...
When... or if? I don't know of anybody outside of this board that thinks this is likely to happen.
mulad wrote:My gut tells me that the real limit of the tracks is closer to one train every 90 seconds.
I'm not buying this. In a theoretical world, where everything is perfectly timed, it might work. But this would require every train to board quickly and without incident and have the light turn green exactly when it is ready to leave the station, and every train through downtown would need to have similar good luck. Even with the mythical grade separation, I'm still doubtful that you could pull it off.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby woofner » July 26th, 2012, 4:00 pm

Trains operate at 90 second headways all over the world - New York and Mexico City run lines at that frequency, and that's with much longer trains. But yes, grade separation is needed or else traffic on the cross streets won't have time to get through the intersections (there is some padding on the cycle time, not sure how much, so that if a train runs through an intersection you can't have as short of phases as ones where only smaller vehicles pass through). I won't comment on whether that grade separation will only happen after the porcine airport is built, but it's worth noting that Hiawatha carries more riders per day than any at-grade corridor downtown except maybe Washington, and if Central meets its ridership projection it won't even be close.
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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby NickP » July 27th, 2012, 8:37 am

Mulad! Railstitution?! Great word mate! :)

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby mulad » July 27th, 2012, 10:50 am

Heh, not my word, but thanks. It's the inverse of "bustitution".

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby FISHMANPET » August 7th, 2012, 11:51 pm

You can at most be running one train through each light cycle downtown, which gives plenty of time for getting on and off the train. I recall hearing that the electrical on Hiawatha is built for 3 car trains with 1.5 minute headways, not sure if they're adding onto that with Central Corridor (probably not) or if it's even possible to add more juice into that.

But I also think it doesn't matter. You can either be lazy and force a transfer at West Bank (which might require some fancy track work to allow the train to turn around) or put in a siding at the Metrodome station for the train to burn time and turn around, and make transfers into downtown pretty quick.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby mattaudio » August 8th, 2012, 8:24 am

In the interim (a.k.a. in the next 20 years instead of 50 years) maybe it would work well to route a single streetcar line on Hennepin-Downtown-University Ave-Stadium Village-St. Paul Campus. But build the ROW from Stadium Village to St. Paul Campus either to LRT spec or easily upgradable.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby mulad » August 15th, 2013, 10:01 am

I guess this cropped up in the Strib two weeks ago, but the Heritage Square part of the State Fairgrounds is planned to be demolished after this year's fair in order to make way for a new transit center. Does anyone have details on what's expected to be built?

On the one hand, why are we demolishing stuff when there are vast parking lots nearby? On the other hand, Heritage Square has always had its share of problems (though plopping a transit center right there would solve the "in the middle of nowhere" problem...).

A map of the area is below.


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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby Tcmetro » August 15th, 2013, 11:30 am

Agree about the why not use the parking lots sentiment. This is, however, much needed for the buses, and will significantly reduce traffic on Como.

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Re: U of M Transitway

Postby FISHMANPET » August 15th, 2013, 3:03 pm

Ugh, wrote a post and terrible hotel wifi ate it.

I'll agree that traffic on Como is really bad. I take the bus from the UofM, and it spends as much time getting from the stadium to Como Ave as it does going from Como Ave to the transit parking lot. Something where buses can pull directly off the transitway would be a welcome addition, and help traffic for both cars and buses.

I didn't know Heritage square existed, but it sounds like there are more problems than just traffic, so I think they were going to tear it down one way or the other. They probably make a whole pile of money on parking, so I can understand why they wouldn't want to get rid of all their parking lots.

Also, when it mentioned drawings of train depots I knew exactly who the article was talking about.

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