A Line - Arterial Rapid Bus

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
mulad
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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby mulad » July 9th, 2013, 7:51 pm

I went to this evening's open house at Hamline University -- for once, a corridor that I actually live next to! Kinda sorta (I'm 1/2 mile from the route, but more like 3/4 mile from the nearest actual stops). I mostly use the 84 on evenings and weekends.

I had already forgotten by the time I walked in this evening, but these are the first meetings for this line specifically, as opposed to the enhanced bus concept in general. There are still two meetings in this round coming up on Monday and Wednesday next week.

My conversations mostly affirmed that Metro Transit is still aiming for something that is basically BRT, mostly just missing that primary defining feature -- exclusive lanes. I also asked a bit about level boarding and got an okay answer, but not a great one. The folks I talked to seemed to (silently) agree that the Red Line's implementation leaves a lot to be desired with the way the buses crawl into stations, but they weren't really looking at trying something like the "tongue" ramp that shoots out of buses on Cleveland's HealthLine, and would still have the big flip-out ramp like current low-floor buses. (I'm surprised to see that the HealthLine uses New Flyer buses -- Metro Transit is still aiming for Gilligs on these high-amenity routes.)

I made some notes and comments that they should consider a stop somewhere between Midway Parkway/Dan Patch and Hoyt Avenue. Arlington Ave (neighborhood side) and Randall Ave (State Fairgrounds side) are actually the streets that are halfway between the proposed stops at Como Ave and Larpenteur, though. The big problems for really any of those stops are the lack of sidewalks along the Fairgrounds property (ironic for a place known for such heavy pedestrian activity), as well as on both sides of Snelling between Hoyt and Larpenteur.

Just because I tend to get my groceries at the Har-Mar Cub Foods and go to Har-Mar in general on an oddly frequent basis, it'd be good to improve pedestrian access across Snelling up there too -- There's enough room that they could probably build a pedestrian bridge, or a more skyway-like structure with elevators like a mini Apple Valley Transit Station. Actually, I could go on at length about all the problems and possibilities there...

I also put down a note about the stop at Como Avenue -- I think buses could probably stop on or near the Snelling Avenue bridge over Como, rather than going down and up the ramps. Stairs would work fine for the able-bodied, though I'm not sure if adequate wheelchair ramps could be built. Adding elevators would probably blow the budget...

bptenor
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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby bptenor » July 9th, 2013, 8:20 pm

Thanks for the update. I was planning on going but got caught up. There's a ridiculous number of opportunities along this corridor. I hope they take their time to get it right...but still open for service ASAP. I'd assume sidewalks will be added on both sides of Snelling for the entire length. If one can't get this most obvious of pedestrian amenities correct, well...

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby UptownSport » July 10th, 2013, 8:24 am

mulad wrote:it'd be good to improve pedestrian access across Snelling up there too -- There's enough room that they could probably build a pedestrian bridge, or a more skyway-like structure with elevators like a mini Apple Valley Transit Station. Actually, I could go on at length about all the problems and possibilities there...
Yes, a wooden side walk from the 1800's would be an improvement!

There's a lots of lower-income apartments where people tend to need transit (or walk) and plenty of destinations.
Roseville is very receptive, write them a letter

https://forum.streets.mn/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=1007

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby mattaudio » July 10th, 2013, 8:27 am

Maybe Snelling could be a multiway boulevard north of Larpenteur. :)

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby pannierpacker » July 22nd, 2013, 2:45 am

I attended one of the open houses. One thing that I think will make or break this project is ensuring that riders can pay ahead of time before they board. I understand that the Cedar Ave BRT is currently lacking this feature at many stops. Granted, this may not be needed at a really small stop like Roselawn, but Snelling and University definitely needs to have some kind of "pay head of time" feature. They should probably do this at Como Ave as well and any other major transfer points, as well as at the beginning and end of the line.

Having a consistent route will go a long way. I used to not enjoy taking the 84 to Minneapolis because not every bus made it that far. Some stopped in the Highland neighborhood and turned around.

Better transfer connection timing at Snelling and University will be a lovely feature as well. From what I understand the entire Snelling line is timed so that it will always stop at Snelling and University when the Green line passes through. I almost missed that transfer late at night one time and would have had to walk 3.5 miles to where my vehicle was parked at Rosedale. I've also found myself waiting around for almost a half hour on Sundays when taking the 84 to the 16 in the morning.

I hope that near Har Mar the bus stops get better too. At the Snelling and B stop it's a pain if you are going from Target to Rosedale because you have to back track down Snelling about one quarter of mile. Also the stops west of Snelling have benches while the stop east of Snelling does not. I agree that better pedestrian connectivity is needed in this area and it is happening slowly. I don't think the answer is pedestrian bridges or tunnels to get across Snelling. I think the retail in the area needs to do a better job at accommodating pedestrians. Snelling could also use some more consistent sidewalk placement in general. Why does the sidewalk on the service road only go so far before it stops?

The Rosedale stop should get better as the bus will no longer make that silly loop in front of Herbergers which adds a few minutes of idle time onto the route. I wish they would do some type of special grade separated station at Snelling and B2. There is already a nice underpass at B2. A staircase and elevator or ramp at this location would make it a better stop for MN-DOT employees. It would also allow the Snelling BRT to easily continue further north to the universities and businesses up there that would benefit from the access.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby mulad » July 22nd, 2013, 5:53 am

Their goal is to have fully off-board payment. I got a little confused by their presentation boards, which only showed the big ticket vending machines and on-board Go-To readers -- they didn't show any of the Go-To pedestal readers, which are the real key to getting off-board payment going properly.

I've had similar problems with transfers at Snelling and University -- attempting to transfer from a westbound 16, 50, or 94 to a northbound 84 almost never works right, and I end up waiting a long time for the next bus (even though the frequency of service is supposed to be every 15 minutes Monday through Saturday, I often end up waiting 20 minutes or more). I have walked all the way from University to Como without seeing a bus once or twice, though I'm more typically able to walk from University Ave to somewhere around Hewitt (on the Hamline University campus) before the bus catches up with me.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby mulad » September 5th, 2013, 11:04 am

Katie Roth tweets that the Snelling line didn't get any funding from the most recent round of TIGER grants (of course, the pie has been shrinking year over year...). So they'll be looking at other ways to fill a $10.2 million funding gap.

https://twitter.com/katielynroth/status ... 1319820288

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby Tcmetro » October 4th, 2013, 11:38 am

An update that was presented to Saint Paul's Planning Commission was posted to the Snelling BRT website.

http://metrotransit.org/Data/Sites/1/me ... ission.pdf

Suggests Snelling will be complete in the end of 2015, followed by W 7th in 2016, Penn in 2017, and Chicago-Fremont in 2018.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby Tom H. » October 4th, 2013, 12:41 pm

Hmm... slide 7 says "...BRT vehicles won't have on-board fareboxes", which is good. Off-board payment accounts for much of the time savings on these aBRT lines.

However, in the image on the same slide, I read " Customers with Go-To cards or passes can tap their card at any door when boarding." Why can't they do what they do at LRT stops now, i.e., you tap your card before you get on the bus, and there are no card-readers of any kind on the vehicle itself? Maybe I'm missing something, but having on-board card-readers seems like a step in the wrong direction, especially if we already have ticket machines at each station.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby VAStationDude » October 4th, 2013, 1:26 pm

I believe some stops won't have fare machines. West bound stops along Ford Parkway and 46th street don't warrant the $80k expense. Also on board readers are cheaper and not exposed to the elements.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby mulad » October 4th, 2013, 1:33 pm

Well, the pedestal readers are all that would be required in that case, not the big TVMs. The pedestals should be pretty cheap, though I've never seen a price quoted.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby VAStationDude » October 4th, 2013, 2:12 pm

I'm guessing there are electrical and IT costs associated with any kind of "connected" stop whether a tvm or just a go to card reader is present. The linked pdf says every station will have a tvm. One of the planner at a meeting a while back told me they'd leave out a few tvms. Pretty minor planning detail but a couple hundred $K towards more useful improvements would be better.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby MSPtoMKE » October 4th, 2013, 5:36 pm

If they are planning to have a TVM at every station, that is welcome news. However, if they are going to leave them out of lesser used stations, I think they really do need a way to pay onboard for customers without GoTo cards. Having a hybrid onboard/offboard payment system isn't ideal, but I don't think you can just limit certain stations to GoTo card only. Perhaps they need to look into less expensive TVMs. I believe the Seattle Streetcar has TVMs based on the electronic parking meters that the city uses.
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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby twincitizen » October 4th, 2013, 7:05 pm

No GoTo Card = wait for the local bus that takes cash. At least you'll have a nice heated station at which to wait. We need to stop coddling people.

Think of the additional labor & maintenance expense of having a TVM that needs to have cash removed at every single station, every single day.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby MSPtoMKE » October 4th, 2013, 7:27 pm

I would think the two biggest groups of people who don't have GoTo Cards would be infrequent riders and low-income riders. There are people who need the cash they have at hand, and cannot afford to "invest" in the money on a Smart Card all at once (do they still cost $5?). Yep, I guess the slow bus is good enough for those sorts of folks. And it will be hard to attract new riders when they show up at a station and find out they aren't part of the GoTo club and can't ride. I don't think they should coddle riders, but until they remove the barriers to getting a GoTo card, I think they will need a farebox onboard or TVMs at all stations.

Edit: Also, the B Line will not have a parallel local bus route for much of the distance, it will replace the 54.
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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby Tcmetro » October 4th, 2013, 7:41 pm

Perhaps there will be cash-only machines at the stops and GoTo readers on the buses and at the busiest stops? A TVM costs about $75,000 each. There would probably need to be 1,000 TVM's for all of the aBRT stops! Or perhaps there will only be one TVM at a low-volume stop, and riders going the opposite direction will have to cross the street to buy a ticket?

On the BRT in Las Vegas there were TVM's at the stops as well as on the buses. But that was on the Strip, which is easily one of the busiest bus lines in the country.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby FISHMANPET » October 5th, 2013, 12:33 am

There are disposable goto cards now. So that means they can be sold at any store like the old paper passes, which helps to solve the poor people problem. But really what kind of transit system doesn't let you pay at the stop. Put goto readers on all the doors and a regular fare box in the front. Have police to fare checks like they do on the train and call it a day.

On the other hand a tvm shouldn't cost $75k. It just... shouldn't. If we can put parking meter pay stations on every block in this city we can find an affordable tvm solution.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby Mdcastle » October 5th, 2013, 6:29 am

I think Chicago uses the equivalent of disposable paper Go-To cards now. It was kind of funny actually, I bought a pass when I was there Thursday and noticed it was different but tried to shove it in the slot as usual- didn't work... There's a 50 cent surcharge if you buy one for a single ride but they are available for casual users.

(OT, but I am happy they're selling day passes at the machines now. Twice I've put $20.00 on a ticket expecting to just use the same one next time, but lost it once I got home).

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby UptownSport » October 6th, 2013, 10:48 am

twincitizen wrote:No GoTo Card = wait for the local bus that takes cash. At least you'll have a nice heated station at which to wait. We need to stop coddling people.
Brilliant.

Busses (or I'm sorry, BRT) are just like trains except cheaper, except you can't ride them because you can't buy a ticket.

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Re: Snelling BRT/enhanced bus

Postby VAStationDude » October 8th, 2013, 8:16 pm

Aside from three transit stores, hundreds of retail establishments, mt website, mt telephone customer service, ticket vending machines at light rail and future brt there is no where to buy tickets. We need to stop coddling a small number of potential customers to the detriment of regular riders who deserve faster service and better frequencies.


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