Comment 109977

By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 05, 2015 at 10:37:30

Once the bus facility is built it will stay a bus facility. A rail maintenance facility is a very different animal from a bus garage. Once you have a bus garage it will stay a bus garage. Everything from how the floor of the facility is constructed to the equipment actually used in a rail facility is different from a bus garage. In the past, old streetcar barns could be converted to buses because of the similar sizes of the two vehicles but, not now. The shear size of the modern LRV's used today in the North American market start at 27-30 metres long (Siemens S70/S200 Model) going through the 28-42 Metre long mid size models (Bombardier Flexity Family of Products) stretching up to the 48 metre long, eventually 59 metre long monsters that Ottawa will be using (The largest and second largest version of the modular Alstom Spirit Citadis) make conversion from bus to rail operations inside these facilities difficult if not nearly impossible. All these are the length of the individual rail vehicles not the length of a multi vehicle operating consist or a LRV train. Although, Waterloo's Ion LRT Line will be initially operating with single car consists or trains as does Toronto's legacy streetcar network (a design trade off to allow these vehicles to operate on the TTC's tight surface curves but disallowing multi car consist operation).

Toronto's Flexity Outlooks (the legacy streetcar replacements) and the Flexity Swift LRV's for the Eglinton, Finch and Sheppard LRT lines both models at 30 metres long are relatively speaking small to average sized for new LRV's operating around the world. Only in the new mixed traffic streetcar operations popping up in North American cities like downtown Portland and the new ones soon to start up in Washington, Atlanta, Cincinatti and Kansas City have individual vehicle lengths 18-23 metres (60-75 feet) anywhere near the length of a modern transit bus. However, there is no confusion these are not LRT systems but mixed traffic streetcars. Consider that, most buses are 12 metres long (standard 40 footer) and stretch to 18 metres (the length for most standard articulated buses) the size differential between modern LRV's and modern surface buses is quite large.

Even the rare Bi and Tri articulated Buses (not legal in Canada or the USA) which stretch from 23-30 metres in length and were both proposed by Ottawa's OC Transpo and Pittsburgh's PAT Transit for BRT operations realized that, they have very different maintenance and operating requirements compared to standard bus operations. Even when cities like Ottawa and Pittsburgh both highly experienced in BRT operations, tried to operate them in the 90's, both federal Canadian and American departments of transportation put too many conditions for even their Busway only operation plans to be sucessful. Implementation became so difficult that both operators programs were shelved. Both BRT operations in Ottawa and Pittsburgh found that, along with the extra safety requirements, the relatively high purchase and very high operating costs (compared to other transit buses) associated with these very large road vehicles meant, it was easier to concentrate on more conventional things like, improved single articulated bus operation and double decker bus operation. So if you think that a bus facility can be re-purposed as a rail maintenance facility later without very high conversion costs being associated with the project, think again!

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