A Photo Essay: Las Vegas BRT vs. Dallas Trinity Railway Express Bus Rapid Transit vs. Commuter Rail – Part 3 of a 5 part series
To date, much has been said by the Metro Jacksonville Group regarding the potholes in our existing Bus Rapid Transit plans and the need to seriously consider regional commuter rail as an alternative mass transit source and higher priority. However, pictures speak a thousand words. Now its time to take a photo tour of North America’s first city to implement the Irisbus Civis as Bus Rapid Transit, as well as one of the newer commuter rail lines running in the South.
LAS VEGAS BUS RAPID TRANSIT vs. DALLAS’ TRINITY EXPRESS COMMUTER RAIL
LAS VEGAS MAX BUS RAPID TRANSIT
The Las Vegas system connects downtown to Nellis Air Force Base. Irisbus Civis is billed as an optically guided bus that uses white lines in the pavement to direct it.
The dedicated bus-only lane utilizing traffic signal priority began service in June, 2004. This system is considered a national FTA demonstration project for BRT. This is the type of bus JTA is seriously considering for our proposed BRT system.
A photo tour of Bus Rapid Transit
Irisbus Civis coming out of its bay in the Las Vegas Downtown Transit Centre
Interior of the guided bus
In several areas, BRT is nothing more than bus lanes on existing streets
This picture serves as a good example of what our BRT will resemble along Phillips Hwy.
Here is the guided bus stuck in traffic. So much for "Bus Rapid Transit"...
The Irisbus Civis isn't guided all the way but only uses the white guiding lines when docking in the station. Note how easily it fades away....
One of the marketing ploys of Irisbus is how the guided bus docks so close to the station that it would look and feel like heavy or light rail. However, for those familiar with rail transit, that is so untrue as seen in the following four photographs
These photographs show how stations (bus stops) are set up to give the look and feel of rail
TRINITY EXPRESS COMMUTER RAIL – DALLAS/FORT WORTH, TX
The Trinity Railway Express (TRE) story started as far back as the mid-1980s, when the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth had the vision to purchase 34 miles of the, now bankrupt, Rock Island railroad for $34 million, with the hopes of one day starting a commuter rail line between the two cities.
After years of inaction, the cities finally began planning for the system in 1994. Initial service on a 10 mile section began in 1997. Initial passenger rail cars were rented from Amtrak and the Connecticut DOT. In 2001, ridership saw a huge increase with the opening of American Airlines Center (TOD) and the extension of the line to downtown Fort Worth. Ridership has increased from 175,969 riders in 1997 to 2.16 million as of 2004.
For more info: www.winwaed.com
TRE runs from downtown Dallas’ Union Station 34 miles west to Downtown Fort Worth. A station serving DFW Airport is one of the 10 stops along the route.
A photo tour of TRE Commuter Rail
Union Station in downtown Dallas connects the TRE to Dallas’ new light rail system
Trinity’s rail cars include….
An aerial of the Medical/Market Center station. In Jacksonville, the S-Line corridor could easily provide a similar type station for Jacksonville, giving commuters direct non-vehicular access to Shands Medical Center.
Interior of typical Bi-Level passenger rail car
Passengers wait at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport station
Commuter rail remains a cheap form of mass transit, because it runs on existing railroad tracks
Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center is within walking distance of Sundance Square
The TRE has become an effective alternative form of transit in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Implementing commuter rail on existing freight rail tracks also opens the doors to transit oriented developments on old industrial sites and under-utilized land. The Victory development, just outside of downtown Dallas is a prime example of urban TOD. When complete, the project, constructed on a 72 acre former railyard site, will include American Airlines Center (home of the Dallas Mavericks, a 32 story W Hotel, mid-rise residential units and retail space.
American Airlines Center and the Victory Development are served by TRE commuter rail
After carefully evaluating these examples, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that rail transit is superior to buses (in any form). The age old argument favoring BRT is that rail is more expensive, but in this case it is most likely less than half the cost of our planned BRT system and can be up and running in a shorter amount of time, if it became a higher priority. Now that we’ve laid the case for commuter rail, its now time to prove why Jacksonville’s layout is set up perfectly for a successful commuter rail system.