Minneapolis Streetcar System

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby helsinki » January 20th, 2015, 3:16 pm

VAStationDude wrote:The funny thing is we're actually not implementing anything close to what Munich has. Munich [doesn't] have mixed traffic streetcars.
But Munich does have mixed-traffic streetcars. Lots of them!

For instance:
http://eriksmail.de/Templates/dso/SWM22 ... 200713.jpg

or

http://philipshane.files.wordpress.com/ ... h-tram.jpg

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby mattaudio » January 20th, 2015, 3:55 pm

Though I can definitely say that I accidentally drove onto a dedicated streetcar ROW in Munich, where cars were not allowed. :o

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby woofner » January 20th, 2015, 4:20 pm

I think the streetcar roundabout is a cool idea that would create an opportunity for a unique public space within the development. However, I think it would be a struggle to make the public space very comfortable or compelling if there were an overpass shadowing it, so I'd suggest jettisoning that element. I also wonder how the roundabout idea would work with level platforms - wouldn't there be substantial gaps between the rectangular cars and the curved platforms?

But yeah, there is no real reason to build three miles of streetcar rather than forty miles of aBRT that could be retrofitted with streetcars later.
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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby helsinki » January 20th, 2015, 4:39 pm

woofner wrote:But yeah, there is no real reason to build three miles of streetcar rather than forty miles of aBRT that could be retrofitted with streetcars later.
But there is an excellent reason: compactness.

Transit works best when it is compact. When we blow it apart across the landscape, we run into serious problems. Many variations on this theme are raised in opposition to streetcars - namely, that so many more miles of X could be built instead. Therein lies the point; quantity is the enemy of quality. Munich has an outrageous number of tram lines, subway lines, and bus lines. It is also geographically tiny, and this smallness is a large part of it's success.

A two mile subway is likely superior to a forty mile bus line. Because once you're forty miles out, you're in the middle of nowhere.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby FISHMANPET » January 20th, 2015, 4:47 pm

Nobody's talking about building a 40 mile aBRT line straight out of the core, we're talking about a network that is in total 40 miles long.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby helsinki » January 20th, 2015, 5:04 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:Nobody's talking about building a 40 mile aBRT line straight out of the core, we're talking about a network that is in total 40 miles long.
I know.

But to my mind, the more Metro Transit can reduce it's scope to a core area and focus on providing excellent service in that core area, the more likely it is to become a viable transportation alternative. As it stands, it is focused on workplace commuting and providing scraps to the transit dependent, i.e., poor. The status quo isn't a reasonable means of getting around Minneapolis or St. Paul except in highly specific circumstances (it is not difficult, for instance, to go downtown).

aBRT as proposed just seems like what normal bus stops should be like. Shelters, maps, timetables, and lights are not luxuries or novelties, nor do they elevate a bus line to a different "mode". The whole 'streetcar vs. aBRT' dichotomy seems a bit artificial in this regard.

aBRT in Minneapolis will be a lot like MetroRapid in L.A. And not that MetroRapid is terrible for what it is, but it's just not a good way of getting around L.A. Why? Because L.A. is just too big. Minneapolis is the same. The metro is gigantic. There is no practicable way of serving nearly any of the suburbs in a way that would make it genuinely convenient for someone in that suburb to say: "Hey, the best way to get where I'm going is Metro Transit".
Last edited by helsinki on January 20th, 2015, 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby seanrichardryan » January 20th, 2015, 5:06 pm

I've ridden around the circle numerous times. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Lee+C ... 77d514112d
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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby VAStationDude » January 20th, 2015, 5:12 pm

I'm basing street car speed on operating conditions elsewhere in this country, specifically Portland. Their streetcar is scheduled at 6.5 mph though maintaining that speed, despite greater amenities than local buses, has proven difficult. The 18 bus is scheduled to run between 18 and 20 minutes from Lake to 3rd street. That works out to 7.5 - 8.3 mph.

If you can get a paper copy of Appendix C - Run Time Methodology from the Nicollet Streetcar Alternatives Analysis read the laughable run time projections [ie bus maneuverability and not needing a totally clear platform to open vehicle doors doesn't outweigh the ability of rail to consistently approach a station. (Holy Lord mixing streetcars and buses on Nicollet Mall will be disastrous) ] and then give it a more appropriate use if you're out of toilet paper. (the AA is also online: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/nicollet-c ... S1Q-071591)

What are the advantages of streetcar over enhanced bus? It's certainly not construction costs, operating costs, construction impacts or transit travel time. The arguments I read generally focus on real estate development, street calming and place making. Significant real estate development is happening right now without the streetcar, so that argument doesn't hold water. However, the city is eager to divert tax dollars that would have existed without the streetcar to its funding. In my experience Nicollet is a pretty dang friendly pedestrian street despite the crummy state of the sidewalks. I find it's really easy to jay walk midblock or cross at the unsignaled intersections, unlike Lydale Avenue S. Place making kind of goes along with the first two and it's worth noting that 26th and Nicollet intersection has really taken off in the last two years despite horrific 26th Street bisecting the intersection.

My apologies on forgetting the Munich tram street running sections. Now that I think back to the last time I was in Munich, which was almost ten years ago, I do remember mixed traffic street cars. Though Munich does have a lot of both. It's Strasbourg, which I've been to much more recently, that has minimal mixed traffic sections.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby FISHMANPET » January 20th, 2015, 5:16 pm

helsinki wrote:
FISHMANPET wrote:Nobody's talking about building a 40 mile aBRT line straight out of the core, we're talking about a network that is in total 40 miles long.
I know.

But to my mind, the more Metro Transit can reduce it's scope to a core area and focus on providing excellent service in that core area, the more likely it is to become a viable transportation alternative. As it stands, it is focused on workplace commuting and providing scraps to the transit dependent, i.e., poor. The status quo isn't a reasonable means of getting around Minneapolis or St. Paul except in highly specific circumstances (it is not difficult, for instance, to go downtown).

aBRT as proposed just seems like what normal bus stops should be like. Shelters, maps, timetables, and lights are not luxuries or novelties, nor do they elevate a bus line to a different "mode". The whole 'streetcar vs. aBRT' dichotomy seems a bit artificial in this regard.

aBRT in Minneapolis will be a lot like MetroRapid in L.A. And not that MetroRapid is terrible for what it is, but it's just not a good way of getting around L.A. Why? Because L.A. is just too big. Minneapolis is the same. The metro is gigantic. There is no practicable way of serving nearly any of the suburbs in a way that would make it genuinely convenient for someone in that suburb to say: "Hey, the best way to get where I'm going is Metro Transit".
\

If the current aBRT proposals don't represent the core area that MetroTransit should be serving, then boy I don't know. Would you say that the 3 miles of NIcollet Ave S of downtown is the only thing Metro Transit should be focusing on?

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby helsinki » January 20th, 2015, 5:28 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:If the current aBRT proposals don't represent the core area that MetroTransit should be serving, then boy I don't know. Would you say that the 3 miles of NIcollet Ave S of downtown is the only thing Metro Transit should be focusing on?
No. I think the "A" line and "C" line proposals are actually pretty great. Honestly, I think the "Red" line and "Orange" lines are utterly pointless. Again, I think the line of argument "we should build aBRT instead of streetcar" is artificial. We should build streetcar and aBRT close to the core. We should emphatically not build Southwest as currently designed, nor should we build so-called BRT lines to hulking parking ramps in who knows where.

As to speed, the comparison to Portland is inexact. Portland is famous for having 200 foot blocks; very pedestrian friendly to be sure, but presenting the streetcar with a lot of intersections. Minneapolis blocks are 660 feet long, I believe. Although I haven't counted, I would guess that the Nicollet-Central streetcar will cross far fewer intersections than would a comparable stretch of streetcar in Portland. This should lead to a quantifiably significant increase in travel speed.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby helsinki » January 20th, 2015, 5:43 pm

VAStationDude wrote:What are the advantages of streetcar over enhanced bus? It's certainly not construction costs, operating costs, construction impacts or transit travel time.
You are certainly correct about capital costs. I would also agree about construction impacts, but it is important to note that this literally happens once. Not to dismiss the concerns businesses on the street might have, but just noting that it really shouldn't be a dispositive argument.

I wouldn't be so sure about operating costs. Streetcars will last much longer than buses, so vehicle replacement costs will probably be lower in the long run, despite each streetcar vehicle costing considerably more than a bus. Streetcar engines are arguably subject to less wear than comparable bus engines. Their wheels and suspension are much less susceptible to wear. Fuel costs are more predictable. Streetcars are considerably larger, so far more people can be moved per driver.

As to transit travel time, I disagree. Not only would streetcars realize considerable time savings by not pulling out of and back into traffic, but there would also be half the number of stops. Further, each stop would likely be for a shorter amount of time (given the multiple entry/exit platform, pre-payment, etc.).

I think you may have also overlooked the real (and powerful) rail bias. Your grandmother would probably ride the streetcar. She probably wouldn't ride the bus.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby EOst » January 20th, 2015, 6:23 pm

VAStationDude wrote:I'm basing street car speed on operating conditions elsewhere in this country, specifically Portland. Their streetcar is scheduled at 6.5 mph though maintaining that speed, despite greater amenities than local buses, has proven difficult. The 18 bus is scheduled to run between 18 and 20 minutes from Lake to 3rd street. That works out to 7.5 - 8.3 mph.
The Portland streetcar's runtime is comparable to other buses in the urban core of Portland; most figures exaggerate the difference by comparing its speed to that of all buses in the system, including ones in less-congested areas with wider blocks (and commuter express buses). MAX through downtown is only slightly faster, mostly because it has wider station spacing.
VAStationDude wrote:If you can get a paper copy of Appendix C - Run Time Methodology from the Nicollet Streetcar Alternatives Analysis read the laughable run time projections [ie bus maneuverability and not needing a totally clear platform to open vehicle doors doesn't outweigh the ability of rail to consistently approach a station. (Holy Lord mixing streetcars and buses on Nicollet Mall will be disastrous) ] and then give it a more appropriate use if you're out of toilet paper. (the AA is also online: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/nicollet-c ... S1Q-071591)
I too am worried about the implications of mixed buses and streetcars on Nicollet Mall, but I think you're underplaying the time-savings implications of level boarding. I take the 18(/17/11) every day through downtown at least three or four times, and I can say from constant experience that buses lose tons of time on nearly every run when they need to kneel (or, heaven forbid, extend the ramp) to accommodate the elderly and people with strollers.

(The other night, for example, I was on a NB 18 that missed two lights at 9th kneeling, extending the ramp, and boarding a lady with a stroller. She got off at 7th.)
VAStationDude wrote:What are the advantages of streetcar over enhanced bus? It's certainly not construction costs, operating costs, construction impacts or transit travel time. The arguments I read generally focus on real estate development, street calming and place making. Significant real estate development is happening right now without the streetcar, so that argument doesn't hold water. However, the city is eager to divert tax dollars that would have existed without the streetcar to its funding. In my experience Nicollet is a pretty dang friendly pedestrian street despite the crummy state of the sidewalks. I find it's really easy to jay walk midblock or cross at the unsignaled intersections, unlike Lydale Avenue S. Place making kind of goes along with the first two and it's worth noting that 26th and Nicollet intersection has really taken off in the last two years despite horrific 26th Street bisecting the intersection.
All the advantages you mention are important. There's also significantly higher capacity, which is important, especially given rail bias (someone earlier worried that the streetcars would be full all the time, given how full the 18 is, but this wouldn't have the quite significant numbers coming from the many 18 branches south of Lake).

But yes, of course real estate development is a critical thing. You're correct that on some portions of the route, there has been (and will likely continue to be) significant real estate development. However, that's not true in all portions. The stretch from 15th to 24th has large numbers of vacant lots and underutilized or shuttered buildings, with even more located a block in either direction (eg. two corners of 15th, the western stretch north of 94 to 15th, the parking lots and vacant lots on 18th, the Family Dollar complex, both north corners of Nicollet and 22nd, etc.) In Stevens Square and Whittier, aside from the two buildings at Nicollet and Franklin and the building housing Bad Waitress, there's been very little large development in years. Even if the Streetcar won't likely produce a Rose Quarter-style construction boom, it's hard to argue that the area doesn't need whatever help it can get.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby VAStationDude » January 20th, 2015, 9:27 pm

I agree expensive street cars have comparable run times to bare bones buses without nice stations and pop fare systems.


Level boarding is best but all door abrt boarding is a huge improvement over the current setup. I believe the A brt line will have raised platforms but obviously operating conditions on Snelling are different than Nicollet. As you noted Portland buses are just as fast as level boarding street cars.

The difference between lrt and articulated bus capacity is huge. Streetcar and articulated bus - not so much. Really we're talking 20% extra capacity for five plus times the capital costs.
http://www.minneapolismn.gov/nicollet-c ... S1Q-071590

Why not rely on the less developed Nicollet parcels for street car funding instead of the value capture district authorised by the state legislature?

Street car operating costs include tracks and overhead wire. Ongoing road maintenance costs are covered by road funding streams - property taxes, transfers from the state, etc., not transit operating funds. Federal funds are often utilized for bus purchases but can not be used for operating expenses like driver salary, streetcar mechanics and overhead line maintenance.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby EOst » January 21st, 2015, 8:56 am

VAStationDude wrote:I agree expensive street cars have comparable run times to bare bones buses without nice stations and pop fare systems.
So, before you were saying streetcars were slower than the 18, now you're saying they're comparable to Portland buses. Which is it?

Remember too that Portland's "bare bones buses" aren't identical to ours. They have an extensive TSP system rolled out, for example, which helps reduce travel times significantly; their standard stop spacing is also a bit longer than ours. All that adds up; TriMet's average bus speed is a bit higher than that here, even accounting for highway express lines.
VAStationDude wrote:Level boarding is best but all door abrt boarding is a huge improvement over the current setup. I believe the A brt line will have raised platforms but obviously operating conditions on Snelling are different than Nicollet. As you noted Portland buses are just as fast as level boarding street cars.
Snelling aBRT will have raised platforms, yes, though past experience with level-boarding bus systems indicates to me that it won't be sufficient totally obviate the need for kneeling and ramps (in part because drivers never seem to be very good at pulling close to the curb, especially when there is snow on the ground). Beyond that, boarding on a streetcar and on an aBRT line should be very similar time-wise.
VAStationDude wrote:The difference between lrt and articulated bus capacity is huge. Streetcar and articulated bus - not so much. Really we're talking 20% extra capacity for five plus times the capital costs.
http://www.minneapolismn.gov/nicollet-c ... S1Q-071590
Standard 60' articulated buses carry max ~110 people (60 seated, 50 standing). Streetcar capacity is dependent upon the vehicle chosen; if MT goes with the United Streetcar design used by Portland (which isn't necessarily a given; Cincinnati is using Urbos, Atlanta Siemens S70s), they're rated to carry 157 passengers (29 seated; 127 standing). That's an almost 50% increase, driven mostly by the fact that streetcars are significantly wider than buses.
VAStationDude wrote:Why not rely on the less developed Nicollet parcels for street car funding instead of the value capture district authorised by the state legislature?
I don't really understand what you're asking here. They chose the parcels they did for the Value Capture district because they already knew they were being developed. In any event, the buildings in question (esp. LPM, Nic on 5th, Marq4 etc.) are significantly taller (and therefore generate higher revenue) than anything likely to be built along Nicollet in Whittier.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby xandrex » January 21st, 2015, 9:48 am

EOst wrote:Standard 60' articulated buses carry max ~110 people (60 seated, 50 standing). Streetcar capacity is dependent upon the vehicle chosen; if MT goes with the United Streetcar design used by Portland (which isn't necessarily a given; Cincinnati is using Urbos, Atlanta Siemens S70s), they're rated to carry 157 passengers (29 seated; 127 standing). That's an almost 50% increase, driven mostly by the fact that streetcars are significantly wider than buses.
Agreed.

Not that what I'm about to say justifies the cost, but even if the streetcar wasn't at max capacity and only holding as much as the bus at crush loads (see: pretty much any bus going south from downtown during evening rush), that's a lot more comfortable ride just because of the extra space. And even when a light rail is packed full, it's still much more comfortable to ride in than a bus because there's far less jostling/being thrown into your neighbor because of the driver swerving to miss a pothole (or generally being crazy).

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby mulad » January 22nd, 2015, 8:18 am

The ratio between seats and standing room area is probably a bigger factor than vehicle width (and I'm still not really sure how wide a lot of LRVs/streetcars are -- if anyone has real measurements, especially compared with buses, it'd be nice to know). As xandrex said, some of the reason for more SRO space is the somewhat smoother ride -- less bucking and swaying than typical city buses, though by no means does it get eliminated. Trip distance also matters a bit -- a LRV/streetcar in the Midtown Greenway trench doesn't wouldn't need much seating since the track would be fairly straight, and most trips would be pretty short (a high density of destinations and transfer points, and the maximum distance is only 4.5 miles).

The ratio of seating to standing room shouldn't be set in stone for any particular mode, though -- it should probably be evaluated on a corridor-by-corridor basis.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby EOst » January 22nd, 2015, 9:15 am

Bus/LRV measurements vary depending on the maker and model. United Streetcar claims theirs are 8' wide, though I don't know if that's interior or exterior; Urbos is somewhere between 7.5 and 8.5, depending on the specs.

The arterial bus picture they always show looks a lot like a Gillig low-floor bus, but I don't know that anyone has confirmed that.

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Re: Lake & Nicollet Redevelopment (Kmart site)

Postby talindsay » January 22nd, 2015, 2:43 pm

Streetcars can carry way more standees than buses, official statistics notwithstanding - standing on a bus, even a crowded bus, is a difficult and uncomfortable affair, while standing on a streetcar with well-built tracks is easy and comfortable. Level boarding of wheelchairs and grocery baskets is much easier with streetcars. Station logistics are easier. These are all minor details, and the aBRT lines will accommodate all of these better than current buses, but their important for dense urbanism and streetcars do address them better.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby VAStationDude » January 22nd, 2015, 8:36 pm

I agree taking out seats greatly increases capacity and that well built rail like lrt and heavy rail offer superior ride comfort. Portland's streetcar, in my experience, has pretty poor ride quality compared to their MAX light rail and our system.

Atlanta's streetcar experiment isn't off to a great start.


http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/01/ ... ng/384734/

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby EOst » January 23rd, 2015, 7:19 am

Yeah, Portland's rolling stock has never impressed me. There are much better vehicles out there to choose from.

Of course Atlanta's streetcar is having problems; it just opened. Can you name a recent major transit project that didn't have difficulties at start? All of ours sure have, doesn't mean they weren't worth it though.

That said, if you look at a map of the Atlanta streetcar, it should be clear that it isn't really trying to do the same thing that Nicollet-Central is; it's purely a downtown circulator (which doesn't even meet up with MARTA!).


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