Monday, August 22, 2005

What's So Bad About Bus Rapid Transit?

Will Vehrs once noted on this blog that "if squirrels are rats with better PR, buses are the rats of the transportation system." And buses are getting no respect in Virginia Beach. Plans for what would be Virginia's first bus rapid transit system, serving Virginia Beach's resort strip and its new convention center, are getting a little shaky. Here's a good Virginian-Pilot story on the latest developments.

There are so many things going wrong at once: the local hotel owners association opposes the BRT system because it would apparently require turning Atlantic and Pacific avenues into one-way streets, which they see as a huge discouragement to business. And then there's the negotiation over purchasing parts of a 15.4-mile right-of-way now owned by Norfolk Southern. The city of Norfolk needs that property too, for its light-rail proposal, but the sides can't agree on a purchase price. (They really can't agree: at one point Hampton Road Transit offered $2.7 million; Norfolk Southern said the property was appraised at $48.4 million)

Says the article: "If all goes as planned, the BRT routes would cover six miles on Atlantic Avenue and 19th Street, the campgrounds on General Booth Boulevard, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and express trips to Lynnhaven Mall and Town Center. BRT would use dedicated lanes with ticketing, boarding and scheduling similar to those for light rail systems, at a fraction of the cost."

It would replace the existing trolley system, but run year round and carry more people (421,000 vs 807,000) - and be more expensive ($217,400 a year for the city versus $457,500).

The Pilot has dissed the project in a recent editorial , saying: "The fact is, beyond the project’s official proponents, it has little support among any of the communities that actually matter: business, mass transit advocates, tourists, citizens."

The city council has delayed until early October a vote that would finalize more details of the project...

3 Comments:

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why go to all that trouble to negotiate with the railroad over that right of way? How did it get the right of way in the first place? Eminent domain. Sauce for the goose baby.

 
At 8:33 PM, Blogger Bob Burke said...

Virginia Beach City Council member Richard Maddox, who the paper describes as BRT's biggest supporter on the council, did mention in the article the idea of the city using eminent domain to acquire the property - though the council itself hasn't discussed it yet. But I suspect he's happy to put the idea out there.

 
At 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least if you build BRT and it fails, you will have the roads you need

 

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