Monday, June 23, 2008

BRT Scheme in Provo/Orem moves forward...

Metro system map including future extensions and expansions.Image via WikipediaHere is the latest article on the BRT project in Orem/Provo area.

Parkway may get rapid bus line

According to the article the current 830 line attracts 3000 riders per day but the BRT is supposed to carry 13,000 to 15,000 riders. I just don't see that happening.

Anyone who rides the 830 route will know that most of the riders are heading to local stops along the way especially 700 East and 1230 North, and 550 West. There is also a large amount of travel from BYU to the Mt. Timp Transit Center.

Unfortunately current policy at the Federal Transit Administration supports high ridership numbers for BRT and low ridership numbers for light rail which always makes BRT look better.

My worry is that the BRT will not meet ridership potential and that will give cause for all the anti-transit types in the Orem/Provo are to say "see, you got BRT and it failed so you don't need no light rail". If you look at the Busways in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh you will find that they are carrying below to substantially below what they were projected. The Harbor Freeway Bus way in Los Angeles is lucky to get 5,000 riders while a few miles away sits the Blue Line that carries 78,000 passengers per day.

Another problem I see with the proposal is the idea of running buses every 5 minutes. Once you get buses running that frequently you start getting problems with buses bunching together and schedule problems.

Further you have long term capacity restrictions with BRT. The much touted Orange Line in Los Angeles has hit capacity at 20,000. Metro cannot add more buses and unlike rail you cannot simply add another car to the consist.

What will help this line is Front Runner South allowing people to transfer to and from Front Runner to head for such destinations as UVSU and BYU.

Of course little progress can be expected out of the Utah Valley area so long as their planning is through MAG which is a rural based organization. The needs of Utah County are very different from the needs of the rest of the MAG area but so long as those rural interest have the say, good planning will be stymied.

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1 comment:

Charles A said...

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty certain MAG is not rural. MAG is what is called a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The formation of an MPO is required by the Federal Govt for any population above 50,000 to conduct regional transportation planning. MAG is just one of numerous MPO's that exist around the country. For example, Salt Lake, Weber, and Davis Counties are under the jurisdiction of an MPO called Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC), St George is under the Dixie MPO, and Logan fits beneath the Cache MPO. Sure MAG's jurisdiction includes the more rural Summit and Wasatch Counties in addition to the more urban Utah County, but that does not mean MAG is rurally based. Transportation issues and decisions influence far beyond the urban centers so it is important to consider the impacts on the surrounding communities.
I know several of the planners at MAG and they do a terrific job.