The Local bus is the foundation of a robust transit network. Buses are less expensive to deploy and operate, and can be re-routed as development changes over time. However, these key attributes, which make buses such an effective base, can also make them ill-suited for high-capacity transit. It’s really a case of different tools for different jobs.
High-capacity transit has the following characteristics:
- Dedicated lane/right-of way for at least a portion of its route
- Transit priority treatments on its route
- Fewer stops, higher speeds, more frequent service, carries more people
- Congestion resistant/proof
A typical Local bus carries 40 passengers, and a typical Red Line commuter rail train carries more than 400 passengers.
On the other hand, vehicles such as MetroRapid buses can be operated more like trains and achieve many of the same benefits as rail if there is a dedicated lane for travel during the peak rush hours. However, there are still trade-offs, as vehicle capacity is still less than rail (even for articulated or “bendy” buses), so more buses and drivers are needed.
Also, buses typically last half as long as trains (12 versus 25 years), and may not generate the same type of land development as rail without a similar investment in infrastructure and long-term commitment to a route.
Project Connect will look at a range of high-capacity transit mode alternatives, including dedicated bus rapid transit, light rail and commuter rail, before recommending a preferred solution. We’ll work together to define the problems and select the best solutions.