Trams attract more passengers than buses
The following from Ed Tennyson, who is the foremost transit expert and historian in the USA, is a reply to a news story that Seattle suburban residents like the LRT but do not particularly like buses very much.
Buses, for what ever reason, just do not attract much new ridership and BRT, which in most cases refers to a tarted up express bus, suffers from the same malaise. As one transit expert in the UK told Zwei; “A bus is bus, just is a bus.”
THERE IS SOLID LOGIC BEHIND THE OPPOSITION TO BUSES:First, there is the Transportation Research Board Special Report# 1221 of 1989 that reported that Light Rail most often attracted 35%to 43% more riders than buses when conversions were made,usually from rail to bus but occasionally from Bus to rail back then.The TRB Report suggested that reasons included the certain routeconfirmed by the tracks. To many modern people all buses look alike,Router numbers mean little to most of them and they fear ending upfar from where they intended to go. Rational, maybe not but real.Second, my brother’s best friend could not ride buses as the exhaustmade him sea sick. Other people could stand the smell but did not likeit.Thirdly, APTA’s Annual FACT BOOK reported that from1948 to 1975,as buses replaced most Street Car lines, bus ridership dropped 72%The end of gasoline rationing had something to do with it maybehalf the loss, but from 1953 to 1972, the Light Rail Line in New-ark grew as Public Service buses lost huge volumes of riders,. .The Street Cars on Market Street in San Francisco lost no ridersafter maybe 1953, until 1972 when Market Street was shut downto build BART. Years later when Street Cars were restored, theyattracted more passengers than ever.Fourth, they built the downtown Seattle Bus Subway with Bredaall-service vehicles that broke down a lot and cost too much .Fifth, Seattle had too much experience with “good” bus service.The 2011 FTA National Transportation Data Base reported BusRapid Transit in Seattle cost 96 cents per passenger-mile tomaintain and operate. Seattle Light Rail that year was new andcost $ 1.08 per passenger-mile but with full operation in 2012 withcosts well below bus service. Motorists fear BRT will get some ofSeattle’s jammed street space but at least some Light Rail will getits own new space.Sixth, Seattle is strong for Clean Air. They do not think buses willhelp much with that. Light Rail will. The National Transit Data Basesays buses get only 32 passenger-miles per gallon but Light Railgets in between 40 and 50 depending on how high their load factorsare.Since Light Rail does not use oil, the textbook conversion rate is13.5 kilowatt hours is equal to one gallon of diesel fuel. That costsabout five cents per passenger-mile by LRT but 11 cents by dieselbusSeventh, back about 1962, I think it was, Seattle bus managementasked for money to scrap the trolley-buses and replace them withmodern flexible diesels. The Professional Engineers of King Countyorganized a strong political pitch to keep the faster on hills and leastcostly trolley coaches. Voters went for the cleaner, less costly trolleybuses, but did not expand them much, just renewed them. Busmanagement claimed cost per bus-mile was less than cost per trolleycoach mile which was true, but trolley coaches got the slowest hillyroutes and the shorter routes close to downtown so were slower.The Professional Engineers showed that Bus drivers are paid bythe hour, not the mile and make more stops per mile. so hourlycosts, not mileage cost should be used. That favored trolleycoaches. They went through that same exercise about twoyears ago and trolley coaches won again.