An Overview of Bus Rapid Transit in the United States (5)

EmX – Eugene, Ore.

The four-mile EmX Green Line links two of Lane Transit District’s (LTD) major hubs in downtown Eugene and downtown Springfield. Approximately two-thirds of the EmX service uses exclusive lanes. Transit lanes have been constructed in concrete to differentiate these from the general traffic lanes. The route employs a combination of single and dual exclusive lanes, and vehicle entry into the exclusive right-of-way is controlled by a series of block signals approximately three city blocks long. The route was provided for a total capital cost of $24 million, equating to around $6 million per mile.

EmX service is provided by specially designed 60-foot articulated vehicles featuring multiple doors on both sides. Eight new EmX stations utilize raised platforms, display a distinctive shelter design and provide customers with real-time passenger information. Stations are located predominately in the median of the street, emphasizing the “rail-like” nature of the service.

Station platforms provide level boarding to decrease dwell time and increase accessibility. Other time-saving measures that are employed include transit signal priority and queue jump lanes. The combination of these measures is expected to save LTD 40 percent in travel time savings over the next 20 years.

Since beginning service in January 2007, ridership has increased by approximately 70 percent, with an average weekday ridership of more than 4,600 boardings. Public acceptance is also high, with a recent survey yielding an average rating of 7.4 on a 10-point scale.

A second EmX line, the Pioneer Parkway Extension, will be added in Fall 2009, providing service to a new $350 million regional medical facility and to one of the region’s fastest growing business, hotel and retail centers. This linking of EmX to a major new development site demonstrates the way in which LTD intends to use the EmX service to stimulate economic development in Springfield and Eugene. City planning agencies have begun planning exercises to encourage higher density development around EmX stations and in December 2006, a 13-acre parcel adjacent to the EmX route was sold for $5.8 million. Commercial interest in the property is high, largely due to its location along the EmX route. It is hoped that more widespread economic, mobility and environmental benefits will be experienced once plans for a multi-corridor network of BRT routes around the city have been implemented.

Metro Orange Line – Los Angeles, Calif.***

In October 2005, the Metro Orange Line began service. The Orange Line is one of the first “full-service” BRT systems in the United States, featuring a dedicated busway (running on a disused rail corridor), high-capacity articulated buses, “rail-like” stations (incorporating level boarding and off-board fare payment) and headway based schedules. The 14-mile route connects the western terminus of the Red Line subway at North Hollywood with Warner Center, the third largest employment center in Los Angeles County. The total capital cost of the system was approximately $350 million, equating to $25 million per mile (Callaghan & Vincent, 2007).

Ridership projections were estimated at 5,000 to 7,500 average weekday boardings for the first year of Orange Line service and 22,000 average weekday boardings by 2020 (11). By May 2006, only seven months after opening, the Orange Line had already achieved its 2020 goal, attracting 21,828 average weekday boardings. Subsequent surveys found that 62 percent were existing transit users, and 17 percent were new riders. More than one-third of riders have a car available for their trip (Callaghan & Vincent, 2007).

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