Minneapolis Streetcar System

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Silophant
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby Silophant » April 21st, 2015, 11:18 am

On that topic, what happened to all the articulated buses that used to run the 16 and 50? They didn't get sold off, did they?

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby MNdible » April 21st, 2015, 11:29 am

They may just be holding them in reserve, as they're always retiring older buses out of service.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby twincitizen » April 21st, 2015, 12:46 pm

For the streetcar skeptics/critics among us (myself strongly included), I think we need to be more clear that we don't oppose streetcars - we oppose running them in 100% mixed-traffic (and to a lesser degree having stops closer than 1/4-mile, i.e. within Downtown).

I'm not opposed to the starter streetcar line on Nicollet. I'm opposed to it being only marginally faster than the bus. I'm definitely opposed to running streetcars on Nicollet Avenue (Eat Street portion) in the current 3-lane configuration. That simply will not work. Any time a left-turning vehicle is even partially encroaching into the traffic lane or too wide = stopped streetcar. A car parallel parking in the already sorta narrow parking lanes = stopped streetcar.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby MNdible » April 21st, 2015, 1:16 pm

Just to play devil's advocate, you know that most streetcars operate in very similar circumstances to what you're describing, right? If you resolve your concerns, you're basically building an LRT line.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby EOst » April 21st, 2015, 1:59 pm

Those kinds of trade-offs aren't unique to mixed-traffic streetcars, either. The only other non-mixed-traffic option I've seen suggested here which has a chance of happening (ie. doesn't remove every street parking spot on Eat Street) is the gauntlet track, and that would hardly be immune to people blocking its tracks either in any number of ways.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby trigonalmayhem » April 21st, 2015, 2:35 pm

We need dedicated ROW for high capacity routes. Changing a slow overcrowded bus to a slow overcrowded streetcar that still runs in the same mixed traffic is probably a waste of time and money. At the very least let's take a serious look at actual (enforced) bus lanes on key corridors and grade separation downtown. Anything less is a sad bandaid to string us along another few years instead of an actual forward-looking long term plan for growth and supporting increased density.

trigonalmayhem

Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby trigonalmayhem » April 21st, 2015, 2:37 pm

Oh and the businesses and drivers who would complain about losing street parking or extra traffic lanes can piss off. They've been getting disproportionate use of public right of way for far too long and far too cheaply.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby xandrex » April 21st, 2015, 2:37 pm

trigonalmayhem wrote:Honestly if we keep skimping on transit it will be a self fulfilling prophecy as young liberals who crave urbanity leave in droves for more progressive places and hollow out the state into a crazy conservative wasteland. This is pretty much what happened to Wisconsin ... Look at how many of their young people end up in Minneapolis or Chicago.
Oh, come on. That's just silly. Choosing a streetcar now instead of waiting/hoping for a transit tunnel maybe someday is not going to be what drives young progressives out of this state. Let's remember something: Most people who identify as progressives are pretty content driving cars. The urban, mass transit-advocating cohort lives largely on UrbanMSP, for better or worse.
EOst wrote:I take that same ride every day, twice a day (the 11, 17, or 18 to transfer to the 6U or the 3). When the bus ends up taking a long time--and it sometimes does--it is very rarely because of rush hour traffic. Instead, it's because boarding takes so damn long that buses miss their green lights. That doesn't need a tunnel to fix; it needs level boarding, off-board ticketing, all-door boarding, and maybe some signal priority. Don't get me wrong; a tunnel would be great, and would help to solve all of these things too! But I really doubt the added time savings of a tunnel vs. those improvements above-ground would be significant enough to warrant the cost when Nicollet is already an exclusive busway.
Agreed.

Traffic just rarely is an issue when I ride the bus - it's missing stoplights. It's almost always people taking wayyyyyyy too long to board, usually because they don't have their money ready to pay for fare. And you've gotta love the folks who stand right up front when the bus pulls up and insist on asking the driver if the bus goes to [insert obscure address here], all the while blocking anyone else from getting on.

Another thing particularly I've noticed about Nicollet buses - almost everyone with a mobility issue, whether that's a wheelchair that needs strapping down or a person with a cane that needs the bus to kneel, get on in the corridor. Mothers with strollers, too. It's why, despite Nicollet being a block closer, I always take Hennepin. My 10 minute bus ride across the river once turned into a 40 minute nightmare because all of the above things I mentioned happened with a few blocks on Nicollet. Never again. Could have walked home faster.

Now I'm riding the bus between NE and downtown, so maybe south Minneapolis transit is toooooootally different. But I can't imagine that's the case.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby Nick » April 21st, 2015, 3:18 pm

In any case I have a fairly elaborate and tangentially streetcar-related stunt planned next month so I can't change my mind (again, see: first post in thread lol) until after that.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby acs » April 21st, 2015, 3:31 pm

trigonalmayhem wrote:We need dedicated ROW for high capacity routes. Changing a slow overcrowded bus to a slow overcrowded streetcar that still runs in the same mixed traffic is probably a waste of time and money. At the very least let's take a serious look at actual (enforced) bus lanes on key corridors and grade separation downtown. Anything less is a sad bandaid to string us along another few years instead of an actual forward-looking long term plan for growth and supporting increased density.
I think one thing people are forgetting about here is the Orange Line. Yeah I know the majority of us wanted 3C SWLRT through this area and we love to rag on highway BRT, but really come 2019 the fastest way between lake and downtown will be the orange line by far and no streetcar or aBRT or downtown tunnel is going to change that. How much would it cost (In $ as well as political will) to add an orange line station at Franklin Ave? Likely far less than a streetcar or a downtown transit tunnel. If we're really going for metro level service here then IMO that's where we should focus our efforts along with dedicated lanes straight into Marq2.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby MNdible » April 21st, 2015, 4:08 pm

Agreed re: the Orange Line and Lake Street.

From Franklin, unless you live right next to the freeway, commuting the few blocks into downtown is certainly easier/better with a regular bus route. It probably still has some value for reverse commutes, but for most people along Franklin, a bus ride on the 2 over to 35W isn't much quicker than a bus ride into downtown to connect to the Orange Line there. And there's likely an awful lot of expense to adding a station there because of the adjacency to the 35W/94 Commons.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby EOst » April 21st, 2015, 4:54 pm

Exactly re:Orange Line, though I'd agree with MNdible here that a Franklin Orange Line station probably isn't worth the trouble. I live two and a half blocks away from Franklin & 35W, and even so, I can't imagine why I'd prefer that going downtown over the 3 blocks to the 18 (more destinations) or the half-block walk to the 11.

Then again, I also don't find the idea of a 1/2-mile spaced Metro-level service on Nicollet proper very appealing. Today I took the 18 from 18th to 26th (gotta get my Lu's); it took maybe six or seven minutes? If I had needed to walk to Franklin instead, and then get off at 25th or so, there's no way the amount of time I gained by the limited-stop service would have been balanced by the extra time I would have spent walking.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby seanrichardryan » April 21st, 2015, 5:59 pm

The Orange line goes both ways. Isn't Franklin a legitimate transfer spot for those on the #2, #9 etc. to head south?
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby acs » April 21st, 2015, 6:03 pm

^ That was also what I was getting at. For those going from Stevens square to lake street, would going over to Franklin for a nonstop ride to Lake be faster then a mixed lane ride down Nicollet? I really don't know the answer so that's why I'm asking, maybe we really do need both enhanced local and intermediate distance service here.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby mulad » April 21st, 2015, 7:59 pm

I think the Orange Line has too few stations planned for Minneapolis. I had it in mind when I wrote this article from today, but didn't mention it specifically. Franklin should probably be included.

But we have another thread for the Orange Line.

I was running some numbers this morning for boardings along some of the main transit corridors downtown. Except for LRT, the data is from the set published in May last year (pre-Green Line):
  • 5th Street (LRT): 18,500
  • Marq2: 14,200 (Metro Transit ridership only, not including opt-outs like MVTA)
  • Nicollet Mall: 13,400
  • 7th/8th Streets: 12,200 (not counting route 94)
  • Hennepin Avenue: 9,300
The five light-rail stations from Target Field to Downtown East win in this ranking, though Marq2 is probably on par if the opt-outs are included. 5th has two different routes, Nicollet Mall has 7 routes, and Marq2 has something like 61.

One of the only ways that Marq2 is able to handle that many buses is that the express routes all have pay-exit policies for the outbound direction. People just get on and don't have to worry about paying until they get off the bus. (This always screws me up -- I've accidentally tapped my card when boarding outbound express buses a few times now.)

We should get proof-of-payment rolled out across the system and let people board at all doors. As much as I want to see off-board payment on the aBRT routes, it would probably be a much quicker fix for our system to get a second Go-To reader installed at the rear door on existing buses. This has been very good out in San Francisco, where it has reduced dwell times from 4.3 to 2.7 seconds per boarding passenger (although they're heavily affected by tourist traffic).

Still, I think we all have to take the ridership figures on 5th Street to heart -- that's with just two lines which terminate downtown. It will be higher once Southwest and Bottineau are implemented.

We've debated the capacity of the 5th Street corridor before, and it's quite possible that it's carrying about as many trains as it can at the moment, which is why the Blue and Green line extensions will be run-through services. One train every five minutes per direction.

If the line was in a tunnel, there's little reason it couldn't act like a true rapid-transit line and consistently handle headways of 90 seconds -- more than 3x as many trains as the current line runs. As long as the routes branch out of the tunnel appropriately, it could handle a huge number of passengers, equivalent to some of our busier freeways.

Of course, that's based on light-rail trains rather than streetcars, but I tend to think that corridors like Nicollet should really be based around a "heavier" form of rail transit than streetcar anyway.

I've wondered if there could be a tunnel from downtown all the way to the Greenway, which could be used to branch off multiple services. That would really be something to see.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby Uptown46 » April 21st, 2015, 11:38 pm

Something like this tunnel plan from 1990:

http://www.ajfroggie.com/roads/minnesot ... wn1990.jpg

H/T to Froggie for the map.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby FranklinAveFixation » April 23rd, 2015, 8:39 am

I was gung-ho for the Nicollet streetcar until I realized they were still going to be running 18's down the Mall.
Until they show me the plan that minimizes the number of buses the use Nicollet Mall I shall remain opposed.
I'm thinking just that free convention center route, no other buses.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby twincitizen » April 23rd, 2015, 9:52 am

They probably can't stop running 18's downtown until the streetcar goes much further south. There is still very heavy ridership just south of Lake Street and you'd be making people get on bus for ~2-12 blocks and transfer to the streetcar if all 18 buses were halted at Lake. If the "starter segment" went to at least 36th-38th, I think then you could at least begin the conversation about having some (if not all) 18's terminate there... or perhaps get on 35W north at 36th St and run express into downtown.

This is a huge part of the reason I think that the NE segment would have been a better choice for a roughly 3-mile starter line. We're already crossing the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, so why not instead go from Nicollet &15th/16th-ish to as far into NE as you can get for ~$250MM? Instead, the starter project is going to spend a bunch of money on the Nicollet bridge over I-94, which will need to be replaced or significantly enhanced to carry streetcar. If every 18 is still going downtown on Nicollet, then I'd rather focus on replacing / modifying the Route 10 with streetcar. Existing Route 10s could divert and increase coverage on another street thru NE (taking over the NE portion of the 17 perhaps?), and/or run on 3rd Avenue downtown (direct connection to Central/3rd Ave bridge). 18's cannot really be diverted to another street downtown.

After several edits I think I just struck genius... here's the tl;dr summary

1. Switch up the "starter segment" to focus on NE instead of Whittier.
2. Run it from the Convention Center to 27th Ave NE / Shoreham Yard
3. At 27th Ave NE, the existing Route 10 would divert over to Washington St NE, taking over the NE leg of the 17.
4. (Optional/controversial) This reconfigured Route 10 could run on either Hennepin or 3rd Ave S thru downtown, reducing bus traffic on Nicollet Mall significantly. Only the Route 18 and the streetcar would be running on the mall.

99. In the distant future the streetcar makes it down to Nicollet & 46th St S. Route 18 runs from the MN River in Bloomington to 46th Street in Minneapolis, where it terminates. Passengers transfer to either the streetcar or the Orange Line.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby EOst » April 23rd, 2015, 10:08 am

There is probably more obvious development potential in the Whittier/Stevens leg than in the Central leg, and it's certainly a more attractive corridor for tourists, convention-goers, and even downtown residents. The interesting parts of Central don't start until quite some distance north, and that would be a very long (and not very scenic) ride from downtown. Plus, that 94 bridge really does need an upgrade; as it stands, it's a pretty big psychological barrier between Loring and Stevens. Compare it to the Lasalle bridge, which has nice sidewalks and reasonably attractive railings.

I wonder how much more money it would take to extend the streetcar south of Lake? If it could be extended relatively quickly to 46th, I suspect you could route the Grand branch and areas south along Lyndale instead, since a lot of Grand's buses already take that route.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby twincitizen » April 23rd, 2015, 11:20 am

EOst wrote:I wonder how much more money it would take to extend the streetcar south of Lake?
Problem with that is they are currently planning to swing around the back of Kmart on 29th>Blaisdell and terminate at Lake & Blaisdell. So on top of that already silly expenditure, you'd be building more extra track to get back on Nicollet. I think we can agree that particular outcome is not even a remote possibility. I know you made your comment in the context of Nicollet being open, but right now I'm not confident that is any more likely than the streetcar itself. I agree with you there is more development potential on inner Nicollet than inner Central, but I'm not sure that's a good enough reason to build the line. Whittier is just so unprepared "politically" for development. That neighborhood organization is incredibly hostile. That's not a good reason to *not* build the streetcar, but it's a consideration for sure.

Aside from like MIA / MCAD, I'm not sure what's so interesting in Whittier that downtowners/convention-goers are so eager to visit. Eat Street as a destination thing feels pretty tired. Other neighborhoods across the city have really beefed up their restaurant options since Eat Street became a "thing" in the 80s(?) or whenever. Central & Lowry area is fantastic. The brewery scene (many just a block off Central) is rocking. Unless you have a particular predilection for a dozen places that serve Pho... Eat Street just ain't all that special anymore.


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