Bus Rapid Transit or Second Avenue Subway?
September 25th, 2008
In a time of trillion dollar bailouts and billion dollar deficits, does an expensive new subway line make sense when there are possibly cheaper alternatives? Jim Dwyer posed the question in his New York Times column, and although the Times doesn’t allow comments, Streetsblog does, and a number of transit buffs are in a tizzy.
The expensive project? The long awaited, oft derailed, Second Avenue Subway. The alternative? Bus Rapid Transit.
“If you just took the cost overruns for one year on any of the megarail projects, that would pay for a handsome bus rapid transit network,Ē says Joan Byron, from the Pratt Center for Community Development in the column.
Bus Rapid Transit makes better use of the roads for speedier commutes by dedicating lanes, using pay-before-boarding systems, and taking advantage of technologies such as wireless systems that communicate with traffic lights.
A number of questions that come up in the Streetsblog comments concern capacity: It may be cheaper and quicker to build Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, but can it carry nearly as much?
“BRT, particularly in its Americanized, watered-down form, will not match the efficiency and capacity of a subway,” one commenter contends.
Sure, advocates may be talking about creating a citywide rapid transit network – as the Pratt Center certainly has – but it might be informative to look at estimates for ridership of the Second Avenue Subway next to the planned Second Ave. Select Bus Service.
Another big topic on Streetsblog is the divisive aspect of the discussion. All people involved want more transit options, the argument goes, so why does it have to be one or the other?
Gary Reilly, a candidate for City Council, says the federal government needs to be fully funding transit projects such as this. “$700 billion for Wall Street?” he asks. “Hell no!” he answers. “$700 billion for infrastructure spending?” he asks again. “Now you’ve got my attention.” That may be out of the city’s jurisdiction, but Reilly did advocate putting the 7 line extension on hold and implementing a light rail instead.
House Transportation Committee Chair, Rep. Jim Oberstar, has similar views to Reilly: “We need to have a grander vision, a greater sense of investment in urban America,” Oberstar declared this week, according to The Real Estate. “We need to start with our infrastructure investments in New York City – we need to spread that lesson across America, and next year we’re going to do it.”
Oh, and The Overhead Wire coins the term, “BRTistas.”By Mike Muller on September 25, 2008, 6:10 pm
In category: Public Finance, Transportation | 3 Comments »