Bus rapid transit saves money
I cannot understand the rationale for a Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project. It is expensive to place the rails and, once they are in place, they cannot be changed. Thus, they are not able to meet changing requirements.
Many countries use bus rapid transit. To quote Wikipedia: “Typically, a BRT system includes roadway that is dedicated to BRT buses, and gives priority to these buses at intersections where they might interact with other traffic; alongside design features to reduce delays caused by passengers boarding or leaving buses, or purchasing fares. BRT aims to combine the capacity and speed of a metro with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus system.”
The capital costs of implementing BRT are lower than for light rail. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found the average capital cost per mile for busways was $13.5 million while light rail averaged $34.8 million. However, the total investment varies considerably due to cost of the roadway, amount of grade separation, station structures, traffic-signal systems and vehicles.
According to the “Bus Rapid Transit Shows Promise” (GAO September 2001) “Operational costs of running a BRT system are generally lower than light rail, though the exact comparison varies.” In the GAO study, BRT systems usually had lower costs based on operating cost per vehicle hour, operating cost per revenue mile, and operating cost per passenger trip, mainly because of lower vehicle cost and lower infrastructure cost.
Also, the proposed light rail system has no connection to the airport or long-distance passenger train or bus stations. Doesn’t it make sense to integrate any new system with those we already have?
From the Institute for Transport and Development Policy: “Any perceived advantages of (light rail) over BRT are primarily aesthetic and political rather than technical … there are currently no cases in the U.S. where (light rail) should be favored over BRT.” (W. Hook, S. Lotshaw and A. Weinstock, 2013, “More Development For Your Transit Dollar. An Analysis of 21 North American Transit Corridors,” p. 21)
Edwin L. Nirdlinger
Our church and the light rail plan
As the community debates the merits of the proposed Durham Orange Light Rail Transit project, it might find interesting the experiences of one of Chapel Hill's smaller congregations, Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Officials from Triangle Transit met with Aldersgate officials in October 2015 and presented their plans for the rail location along 15/501. We strongly objected to the location of the elevated tracks directly in front of our sanctuary and preschool playground. Noting that the proposed line crossed over to the east side of U.S. 15-501 immediately after passing in front of Aldersgate, we asked them to move the crossover point a little farther south so as to spare our church.
That would require the taking of a couple of UNC Botanical Garden gravel parking spaces and scrub pines at the busy street corner immediately across from us. Triangle Transit never replied to that modest proposal.
The Jan. 11, 2017, issue of your paper announced an update on the project. Several of our members studied the new proposed location on the project’s website and noticed that Fern Lane in front of the church was going to be relocated and the elevated rail would be much closer to our sanctuary and preschool playground than officials stated 14 months earlier. We immediately contacted GoTriangle and they advised that the plan was final, as they could not locate the rail on any part of the Botanical Garden property. They claimed the Botanical Garden was classified as a public parkland resource and therefore protected by Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act.
We all met on Feb. 20 and GoTriangle informed us for the first time that Fern Lane would be narrowed considerably and shoved up into Aldersgate’s front yard, and that the 18-step stairway leading up to our new sanctuary would be demolished to make room for the large concrete viaduct that would carry the tracks past our front door. At that meeting they persistently rejected our 2015 proposal to move the point where the viaduct crosses 15-501 farther southward so that it avoided Aldersgate. Also, they could not explain why the proposed tracks were slated to cross 15-501 immediately after passing our front door and traverse a lengthy section of UNC-owned wooded park land on the far side 15-501 diagonally across from Aldersgate and directly across from the much larger St. Thomas More Church right next to us. (After all, park land is park land.)
The writer is the buildings and ground chair of Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
In my 50 years of observations on the Bolin Creek Craig tract, here is what I have observed:
First, this is not just a good weather promenade. On the contrary, if it rains for three days in a row, the same people will usually be in there at the same time each day. In fact I would love for someone to set up a counter there and actually count the souls that pass along that mud trail in a day or in a week. That would be most telling. There is no topsoil on earth that can be sustained under those conditions. I have been along that trail when it was pure mush and really treacherous to navigate.
2. In the 50 years that I have owned the property it is very rare to see much of the path flooded, ever. Accordingly I would like that myth be put to rest. The problem is the constant pounding of feet day in and day out on nothing but clay. When it rains its muck and then silt enters Bolin Creek as it flows eastward through Chapel Hill.
There are two possible solutions:
The first is No Trespassing signs, because it is private property, and a sewer line right of way to OWASA does not give anyone a right to trespass or run a motorbike down it any time day or night. I am not interested in pursuing that. Its too beautiful not to be shared with the community. Frankly I have always enjoyed sharing that with the public. Just across the creek are houses hanging on the side of the hill overlooking Bolin Creek. And I could have had the same on this tract. In fact it once was zoned for 13 units per acre. I have chosen all these years not to go there and don’t regret it.
The second solution to prevent the very severe topsoil erosion along the Craig portion of Bolin Creek, is to establish a BASE (as in road base, as in trail base). That would stabilize the trail and prevent MOST of the very serious erosion problem along that beautful corridor
I am not in any way familiar with any of the other properties either across the creek or to the east or west and do not wish to speak to what is best for them.
And lastly I am perplexed with the video of a plane flying over, a high school/UNC student being interview and other people that go out there for several hours and sending me reports about the property.
In fact I would invite all of you to go out there, Sit down on a log beside the stream, enjoy the tranquility, and visit for hours. Do this at different times of day and night and in all kinds of weather. And then I would love to talk to you and perhaps your observations would have some validity.
Burr, Tillis, disappoint
I know that Sens. Burr and Tillis are proud Americans and North Carolinians committed to preserving the Constitution. I know they believe that working to protect American ideals – the rule of law, civil rights and liberties, equal treatment of all, and holding those in power accountable – is more important than partisan differences. That is why I am disappointed that our senators have resisted holding in-person town halls.
Before all else, the job of Congress is to be an independent branch of government. Sens. Burr and Tillis have an opportunity to win respect from both sides of the aisle by asking meaningful questions of the Trump administration – and answering tough questions from their constituents.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if, after his many years of service, Sen. Burr were only remembered for hiding from his constituents in his last term? Can Sen. Tillis win re-election, if he avoids his constituents for a full term? Can we expect to see our senators in Chapel Hill on Friday, March 17, at a town hall meeting organized by constituents who wish to share their stories and voice their concerns?
on behalf of a Women’s March Huddle in Chapel Hill
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