Minneapolis Streetcar System

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seanrichardryan
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby seanrichardryan » July 26th, 2012, 8:41 pm

How would it connect on the west bank, seven corners area?
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mattaudio
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby mattaudio » July 27th, 2012, 9:10 am

seanrichardryan wrote:How would it connect on the west bank, seven corners area?
Only one line would cross 35W on Washington to 7 corners... the line would go south on Cedar then east on Riverside to Franklin where it would loop through East Bank, Dinkytown, and to the Hennepin Ave bridge.

The Lyndale-North line (optional) would turn south at Chicago or 11th Ave to loop back towards Loring Park.
The proposed extension of the campus connector via Green Line LRT trackage would cross over to Washington on the old diagonal MILW alignment then join Washington Ave through to North Loop.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby ECtransplant » August 31st, 2012, 5:28 pm

http://finance-commerce.com/2012/08/see ... ban-spine/

Someone with a subscription care to update us?

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby mulad » August 31st, 2012, 8:36 pm

A lot of the story is going over the history of streetcar plans in the city and listing costs that have been seen for streetcar lines around the country, ranging from a $250 million investment for a 7-mile line in Portland to a $69 million, 1.3-mile line in Atlanta.

Anyway, the story covers the Alternatives Analysis phase currently underway for the Nicollet-Central line. I'll mention right now that some open houses are scheduled:
  • Wednesday, Sept. 26, 11 a.m., Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 26, 5:30 p.m., 5th Precinct Police Station, 3101 Nicollet Ave. S.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 27, 5:30 p.m., Eastside Food Co-Op, 2551 Central Ave. NE.
The AA includes alternatives like the "rapid bus" service, estimated at $4 to $6 million per mile, which is much cheaper than the $30 to $60 million per mile for streetcars. (Though I wonder how much buses would cost if streets were maintained as well as rails typically are.) They're planning to keep the overall budget below $150 million, since the largest federal grant so far for these "Small Starts" projects has been $75 million (and local transit projects are limited to getting 50% of funding from the feds). It's also unclear how much money might be able to be raised locally. They might start with just 2 to 4 miles.

There might be some inclusion of other potential streetcar routes, like the Midtown Corridor -- It would be best if the different lines could share maintenance facilities or possibly make a larger order for vehicles, reducing overall costs.

The overall cost for the whole streetcar network in Minneapolis was estimated at $663 million, so I think it's really frustrating that the Small Starts program has had such small payouts so far -- I figure there should really be some middle ground between that program and New Starts, which handles light rail and subway/elevated rapid transit systems.

We'll have to see if the AA will lean more toward the Rapid Bus system or streetcars.

Also, there was a mention of a streetcar study for Saint Paul. A year-long feasibility study is supposed to start next week: http://stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=4872

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby VAStationDude » September 6th, 2012, 8:51 pm

Rapid bus is the way to go if improved mobility is the goal. Street cars are fancy but are no faster than rapid bus. Chicago, central and Nicollet rapid bus could be implemented for the cost of a duplicative starter street car.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby mattaudio » September 6th, 2012, 9:04 pm

We know that rapid bus done right would be just as good. But rapid bus done right would cost a lot as well. Unfortunately rapid bus, BRT, and other bus-based systems are promised as "just like rail" but then amenities are cut and it basically turns into a few enhancements of the existing service. That's my concern with rapid bus.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby Tcmetro » September 6th, 2012, 9:15 pm

Rapid bus is $1-3 million per mile, much cheaper than a streetcar.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby VAStationDude » September 6th, 2012, 9:32 pm

Agreed. We'll see if metro transit can stick to wide station spacing and proof of payment fare system on Snelling and West 7th. Personally I don't think rail in mixed traffic is a good idea. It will be slow, delay prone and costly.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby min-chi-cbus » September 7th, 2012, 8:48 am

There is a bus rapid line here in Cleveland that I frequent because it goes to the Cleveland Clinic (the Midwest's OTHER Mayo Clinic), but I personally HATE it! It's SO slow because it stops every other block if people request to stop, making the 3-5 mile trip take 30 minutes minimum. I guess it's neat they these buses have their own personal lanes, ROW, and lights, but it really isn't efficient in my opinion.

Take that for what it's worth.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby woofner » September 7th, 2012, 11:55 am

Cleveland's Health Line really seems to stretch the meaning of the term rapid transit - 30 stations in 6.8 miles is impossible to serve rapidly. Metro Transit's arterial transitways - which they're not claiming to be rapid transit - are planned to have fewer stops per mile than that, although we'll see how many they end up with once the politicking starts. Maybe pertinent to the Central Corridor - does the Health Line get a lot of interference from left turning vehicles? I just got back from New Orleans and their streetcar lines are basically non-functional because no one has qualms about parking in the median right in front of a moving streetcar (or biking or walking in the median for that matter).

Back to the topic at hand, the city just put up a survey about Nicollet-Central:

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/news/WCMS1P-098107
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby min-chi-cbus » September 7th, 2012, 2:21 pm

redisciple wrote:Cleveland's Health Line really seems to stretch the meaning of the term rapid transit - 30 stations in 6.8 miles is impossible to serve rapidly. Metro Transit's arterial transitways - which they're not claiming to be rapid transit - are planned to have fewer stops per mile than that, although we'll see how many they end up with once the politicking starts. Maybe pertinent to the Central Corridor - does the Health Line get a lot of interference from left turning vehicles? I just got back from New Orleans and their streetcar lines are basically non-functional because no one has qualms about parking in the median right in front of a moving streetcar (or biking or walking in the median for that matter).

Back to the topic at hand, the city just put up a survey about Nicollet-Central:

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/news/WCMS1P-098107
Not at all. They have their own separate lanes, firstly, and at many intersections passenger vehicles cannot turn left because of the BRT ROW. And like I said previously, although they share the same intersection as vehicles, they have their own lights which are up or down arrows/triangles and are timed only for the buses. I can't remember seeing any intersections where cars could turn left and what they did, but my guess is that they couldn't turn while a bus was approaching -- the bus always has the right of way (hence, "rapid", I suppose). I just rode it a couple hours ago too!

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woofner
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby woofner » September 7th, 2012, 3:21 pm

Yeah, New Orleans' streetcars have their own lanes as well, but motorists there tend to use them as their own private slip lanes (while the pedestrians and cyclists use them as a walking or biking path). But I'm assuming Minnesotans will act more like Clevelanders than New Orleanians, so it probably won't be a big deal. I think most of the unsignalized left turns are going to be prohibited on Central Corridor, too. They could be in New Orleans, too, for all I know - ignoring signs is the rule there.

Minneapolis' streetcars, to give a nod to the actual topic, are not planned to run in a reserved right-of-way.
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby Tcmetro » September 25th, 2012, 8:11 am

Reminder:
Home > News & Events > News Updates & Events
Attend an open house on Nicollet-Central transit study

Three open houses have been scheduled to give the public an opportunity to learn about modern streetcar and enhanced bus options being considered on a key route through Minneapolis.

The City of Minneapolis is examining options to improve transit service along the busy corridor that includes Nicollet Avenue through south Minneapolis and downtown and Central Avenue in Northeast.

The open houses will provide an overview of the Nicollet-Central Transit Alternatives Study, which is just beginning and will continue into 2013. The study will identify a preferred transit enhancement that could serve as the first phase of a long-range vision for transit service in the corridor.

The corridor extends from the I-35W & 46th Street Station and Nicollet Avenue on the south, through Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, over the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, and north along Central Avenue NE to the Columbia Heights Transit Center on Central Avenue at 41st Avenue NE.

Open house schedule:

Wednesday, Sept. 26
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall

Wednesday, Sept. 26
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
5th Precinct Police Station
3101 Nicollet Avenue S

Thursday, Sept. 27
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Eastside Food Co-op
2551 Central Avenue NE
http://metrotransit.org/TransitArticles ... cleid=1063

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/nicollet-central/index.htm

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby mattaudio » September 25th, 2012, 8:20 am

I vote for the cut and cover LRT idea :) especially between Lake/Nicollet and Central/Hennepin because it could interline Southwest via the Greenway continuing on to a line towards Rosedale someday.

That's under consideration, right? I've always heard the old Norwest Center was built with some sort of underground station or the ability to accommodate vertical circulation for some sort of subway like what was planned in the 80s.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby MNdible » September 25th, 2012, 8:49 am

mattaudio wrote:I vote for the cut and cover LRT idea :) especially between Lake/Nicollet and Central/Hennepin because it could interline Southwest via the Greenway continuing on to a line towards Rosedale someday.

That's under consideration, right?
In a word, no.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby helsinki » October 14th, 2012, 6:30 am

There seems to be a significant degree of skepticism here about pursuing a streetcar network in Minneapolis; many seem to prefer the less expensive (and seemingly more politically palatable) option of improving bus service or opting for BRT (the latter alternative doesn’t make sense to me, since this is essentially an LRT-like express service, unlike the local-service streetcar). There was an interesting article on Streets.mn a few months ago arguing the counter-intuitively pro-urban, anti-streetcar position; find the article here: https://streets.mn/2012/04/23/the-magic ... -of-buses/

I thought this article was fascinating for a number of reasons. First, it seemed to be an exercise in rhetoric, not argument. This was surprising given the source. Second, there was an exchange in the comments section wherein a commentator demolished (in my, admittedly sympathetic, opinion) the myth (perpetuated by the author) that streetcars don’t work when mixed with automobile traffic.

When I say the article was an exercise in rhetoric, not argument, consider the four supposed benefits of streetcars that the article purportedly debunks as untrue. The author says there are four arguments for streetcars over buses: (1) they have lower operating costs, (2) they offer a smoother ride, (3) they’re more user-friendly, and (4) they promote development.

As proof that streetcars don’t offer lower operating costs, the author dismisses the fuel and labor cost savings offhand. The fact that electricity is not only less energy intensive, but also an energy source (while indeed derived often from coal power) that is cheaper and more predictable in price (fueling buses subjects Metro Transit to the vagaries of the market in a manner detrimental to accurate budgeting) are both dismissed by the author. These arguments are powerful and can’t be dismissed so readily. Further, the higher capacity of streetcars vis-à-vis buses is mentioned, but not taken seriously. No one can seriously deny, however, that streetcars can move far more people (larger, longer vehicles with far more standing room) more quickly (easier boarding/exiting, no proof of payment delays) than can buses. Higher capacity translates into lower operating costs per trip.

The, the author follows with a predictable ‘higher initial capital costs’ argument. Yes, a transit line with rails, overhead wires, stations, and vehicles costs more to build than a transit line with only vehicles. What is often missed in this discussion, however, is that the higher upfront capital costs invested in streetcars (around which it is indeed difficult to form political consensus) will over the life-span of the line generate significant cost savings through lower operating expenditure and higher use.

As to the smoother ride argument, the author doesn’t even try. Instead, we are treated to a silly quotation of an old jingle describing the rough ride on the old pre-1954 streetcars. Modern streetcars offer a very smooth ride; arguments to the contrary are disingenuous or ignorant.

Third, the author equates the user-friendliness of streetcars to their ‘navigability’ – in essence, the rails and wires just let people know where they’re going. Navigability, in the author’s opinion, can be solved with better signage. What is lost in this discussion, however, is the full panoply of amenities offered by streetcars that make them more attractive to users: physical stations with proper lighting, ticket vending machines, shelter from the elements, benches, (revenue generating) advertisements, low-floor boarding (meaning no queues behind the disabled, easy access for bikes), security cameras, posted information such as maps and schedules, announced train arrivals, etc. Admittedly, BRT has these amenities as well, but if you’re going to build such extensive stations, why not put in a wee bit more effort, build a proper streetcar system and avoid the higher maintenance, lower capacity issues that plague BRT?

Finally, (actually addressed first in the article) is the issue of whether streetcars promote development. Reducing this argument to the “permanence” of rail over bus lines, the author unhelpfully states: “The simple fact that after 1954 there were no more streetcars in the Twin Cities belies their permanence.” Thanks for the reminder; how does this contradict the argument that streetcars promote development? Is the author arguing that the first iteration of streetcars in Minneapolis did not do so? Because this is simply unture. The author then describes how buses also promote development. Cool, that’s true. Again, is this an argument against streetcars? At the end of this segment, the author returns to the stale argument that streetcars don’t get you to where you’re going faster than cars or buses. I disagree, but again, this doesn’t go to the point of development.

Many people contend that streetcars don’t work when mixed with automobile traffic. The author of this article repeats this argument in the comments segment (and it has been repeated on this forum). I profoundly disagree. So did one of the commentators, and I quote their exchange below because I think it is more elegantly stated than I could ever put it.

In a response to the author’s contention that mixed automobile-streetcar traffic slows the streetcar down, a commentator wrote:

Commentator: “I feel this argument is pretty weak — buses get slowed by traffic to roughly the same extent.

Author: Cars on tracks block the streetcar, the untracked bus can go around. This is in principle regulatory, if you keep cars off the streetcar tracks entirely, no problem. That doesn’t happen because you are using streetcars, not LRT, when you don’t have exclusive RoW.

Commentator: Well, there are two main types of blockages in my mind: Immobile vehicles and obstacles (parked cars, broken cars, random large objects that have fallen off a truck, etc.), and traffic congestion.
I doubt that immobile vehicles/objects pop up nearly as often as critics suggest. It’s illegal to park on or otherwise obstruct tracks. Plus, while liability issues would generally prevent it these days, the car owner still runs the risk of picking a fight with a vehicle that is many times heavier than the car.
Then there’s traffic. Center-running streetcars have to deal with left-turning traffic, but standard buses have to wait for an opening in traffic as they pull away from stops. Both streetcars and buses would probably work best these days with bulb-out platforms along the right side of the street.
Buses don’t pass other vehicles all that often either, though that’s partly due to stopping patterns. It doesn’t do much good to pass someone if the next stop is in less than 600 feet anyway.”

Anyway, if you’ve read this far, to sum up: I think streetcars are cool and that they make sense and aren’t just toys but a sensible and serious transportation option that Minneapolis should pursue.

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Nathan
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby Nathan » October 14th, 2012, 8:15 am

Thanks for that! I had read that article a while back with some dismay, and am glad you posted some contrary argument. I am very excited for mpls to have some streetcars again. I'm hoping the new LRT and Street Car will create some exponential growth.

I also think the article fails to mention how the busses were new and seemingly so much better at moving people. So, trendy, and at a time when people were fleeing the urban environment. It seems somewhat strange that streetcars would be back at all if buses were so superior.

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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby woofner » October 14th, 2012, 12:47 pm

While I enjoy the enhanced bus vs. streetcar debate, I don't think it's a very useful one in practical terms. Even if it were possible to say that one is definitely better than the other, you couldn't necessarily apply that decision to every corridor in every environment, there are too many local variations.

For me it comes down to the reality of extremely constrained transit capital funding situation. Capital costs for streetcars in Minneapolis ranged from $13m-$18m per mile in the 2007 study, whereas rapid bus capital costs were $2m-$6m per mile in the study completed this year. I just have a hard time believing that they will be able to finance a useable streetcar line, something they more or less acknowledge in the Nicollet-Central study. In the meantime, Metro Transit seems as though they'll be able to finance the Snelling rapid bus line out of their normal capital funding pot.

When you consider the capital costs, the advantages of streetcar that you listed fade away. Even if you believe that rail attracts more passengers and private investment than bus - which I do, somewhat, although I also don't think there's conclusive evidence - does it really attract 2-9 times as much of that stuff? Because you can build 2-9 miles of rapid bus for every mile of streetcar. That matters to people riding the bus right now, as well as the absolute number of potential riders you can attract.

Finally, I'll throw out a reference to Jarrett Walker's treatment of the issue, which is the best I've seen. Here's the basic post, from which you can probably click through to the sequels:

http://www.humantransit.org/2011/02/sor ... ences.html
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby MSPtoMKE » October 14th, 2012, 2:55 pm

My main problem with Bus Rapid Transit or Rapid Bus projects are that it seems like usually, too many compromises are made. It is very easy to whittle down the amenities here and there because buses really are more flexible than streetcars. No need for curb extensions at all the stops, or off board payment everywhere, just have it operate like a regular bus in some areas to save some money. Rapid Ride in Seattle is an example where they have skimped on these amenities. I think the the Metro Transit Rapid Bus project is great, and for most of the corridors it will mean a significant improvement of service, but I would like to keep the option of a streetcar open on a few busy corridors. If it is possible to build rapid bus stops with curb extensions that can be easily upgraded to a streetcar stop in the future, that would be ideal.
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Re: Minneapolis Streetcar System

Postby FISHMANPET » October 15th, 2012, 9:57 am

I was gonna come and link another Jarret Walker post:
http://www.humantransit.org/2009/07/str ... truth.html

But yours is better.

Most of the benefits Helsinki attaches to streetcar can be had with buses as well. Off vehicle fare collection doesn't have anything to do rail, it has to do with collecting the fare off of the vehicle (like Select Bus service in NYC). Same with amenities in waiting areas. If you build them, they'll be there. It's also pretty terrible rhetoric to refute a point by conceding it but saying that other points are more important.

Read that link reddisciple posted, and if you want to dive into a more stream of consciousness post, read the one I posted.


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