Posts Tagged 'oakland airport connecter'

The Oakland Airport Connector: Bringing cable cars back to the Bay Area! (maybe)

Cable Car at Doha International Airport (planned)Despite all the controversy, the BART Oakland Airport Connector project in the San Francisco Bay Area is an exciting project. This is because BART, the agency in charge of building the project, is using an open bidding process that allows for anything from maglev trains to cable cars to be used. So, does this mean that BART, ‘the most advanced system in the world’ (at the time it was built) might actually build a cable car? Yep! And this website thinks that’s a good thing. DDC – Doppelmayr Cable Cars, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group (a company that primarily makes chairlifts and gondolas) makes just the right kind of train for this project.

DCC Cable Car at Birmingham International AirportThere are several advantages to this technology. First of all it is simple, even simpler than the cable cars in San Francisco. That’s because the cables are fixed to the cars. So there is no wear and tear on the cable, or jerky motion, when the cable car needs to stop and go. Because the technology is so simple it’s quick and easy to construct. It is also very reliable and it is affordable too.

One of the biggest advantages of this technology is that the train cars are so light weight because the engine is located at the station rather than in the car itself. This means that the guideway doesn’t require as much concrete reinforcement and is much cheaper to build. The light weight also reduces wear and tear on the cars and the tracks which reduces maintenance costs.

DCC Cable Car at Birmingham International AirportThis technology would require just one or two trains. Because the length of the railway needs to be over three miles, two trains would probably be best for this project in order to decrease headway times (the time interval between trains). This doesn’t mean that two tracks need to be built though – just one track would suffice, except for a short distance to allow the trains to pass halfway between the airport and the Coliseum BART Station. (Although two tracks could be built to make the system even more reliable).

Cable Car at AirportThe trains used in these systems are completely automated, which further reduces operational costs. Additionally, because only one car would pull into either terminus station at one time, it is possible to build very simple, low cost stations. Furthermore, passengers can board and exit the train from both sides, which reduces dwell time (how long the station spends at a station) and lowers headway time.

MGM Cable Car in Las Vegas

© Brian A. Tyler and Switching Modes, 2009.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brian Tyler and SwitchingModes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Capital Costs vs. Operational Costs: the general state of misdirected anger

Oakland Airport ConnectorRail projects are expensive. Take, for example, the San Francisco Bay Area: Despite the fact that BART is having budget difficulties they moving ahead with a $500 million 3.2-mile Oakland Airport connector, a $3.4 billion rail car fleet replacement and a $6 billion extension to Silicon Valley. MUNI, which is also in the midst of a budget crisis, is moving ahead with $1.58 billion 1.7-mile surface/subway expansion program. It should be no surprise then that the amount general outrage directed at this apparent disparity between these ‘elitist’ projects and the service cuts faced by the same agencies seeking these glamorous expansions is growing.

What is lacking in this debate however is that these rail projects have lower operating costs than the services they are meant to replace. For example BART has one of the highest fair box recovery ratios of transit system in the country! Furthermore these projects increase transit capacity, speed and reliability and thus are able to entice more people to switch modes.

Making a statement with transit

These projects also make a statement – they’re massive monuments to transportation. They’re immovable and permanent. This is important because people who are willing to give up their car need some reassurance that transit is there for them. Switching modes is perhaps one of the hardest and most life altering changes that a person can make; the automobile is almost an extension of a person. To give up one’s car, for many people, is to give up a part of oneself – a part of one’s identity. That void needs to be filled, and a bumpy, impermanent bus route just won’t do it – not even if you label it BRT.

Rail. It WorksNow, I know that there are people out there outraged that I am concerned about people who have cars when there are people out there who barely have access to, or who may no longer be able to afford the bus. There is no excuse for the transit services to be cut, especially when ridership is at such high levels and global warming is peaking its’ ugly head. Everyone should be outraged by this! However, the solution is not to attack the projects that put transit on the right track for the future. These projects will allow buses to be replaced by trains that cost less to operate and simultaneously allow for increased reliability and capacity. These projects are the way forward. We should support them.

No Good.

IMAGE CREDIT: BART; BART; Flickr by ‘Will aims to rage’ and ‘pbo31’; Charles Cushman

© Brian A. Tyler and Switching Modes, 2009.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brian Tyler and SwitchingModes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



© Brian A. Tyler and SwitchingModes.com, 2009.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and/or concepts without express and written permission from this websites’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brian Tyler and SwitchingModes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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