MBTA Bus & BRT

CS

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(Off discussion, but on topic, I promise)

Is there any discussion on expanding the 60ft bus fleet? Many of the key routes would benefit big time, and some routes (32 comes to mind, and not only because I live on the route) could easily be converted to BRT (the railfan in me is hurting saying this).
We can't seemingly do rail "extensions" (I call it restorations), but can we at least add capacity where needed? A bus packed to the point where passengers can't get on at FREAKIN MIDNIGHT is just too much...
 

Matthew

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There's nowhere available to store and service them. Trust me, it's been asked. A lot.
 

George_Apley

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There's nowhere available to store and service them. Trust me, it's been asked. A lot.
Are there any conversations at all about where such a facility could be built/expanded? I'm assuming not...
 

Jahvon09

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No it doesn't.

Starting in april, commuter rail monthly passes will just be printed in ink on charlie cards. There will still be no actual acceptance of Charlie on commuter rail.

I've used my Charlie Card on the commuter rail from Boston to Providence. I got a discount on the ride because it's a disability pass. :cool:
 

davem

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If only there was an unused bus yard within the city limits...
 

Alon

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I've used my Charlie Card on the commuter rail from Boston to Providence. I got a discount on the ride because it's a disability pass. :cool:
Was it a Charlie Card or Charlie Ticket? I never used the Card on the Providence Line, or saw anyone else use it, but maybe we just didn't know it was possible. Or maybe it was too long ago (I lived in Providence 2011-2012).
 

sm89

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What about swapping in some smaller buses for less heavily traveled routes?

SEPTA appears to have some buses in the 25-30 foot range on their roster.
http://www.philadelphiatransitvehicles.info/septa-bus-roster.php
I was actually looking at bus prices yesterday (I don't know how that happened), and the price difference between a 35ft and a 40ft was only about 8k on a bus costing almost 250k. Sure there's a savings, but the flexibility for operations is probably better.
 

Arlington

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I was actually looking at bus prices yesterday (I don't know how that happened), and the price difference between a 35ft and a 40ft was only about 8k on a bus costing almost 250k. Sure there's a savings, but the flexibility for operations is probably better.
The only advantage I can see is fitting slightly more buses in a depot yard.
 

BPLange7

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I think you'd have to go smaller than 35 feet. The chassis for the the 25 foot varieties is basically a glorified truck. If the market on a 40 foot bus is $300k, Id think a reasonable price would be in the range of $125-$175k. You'd get vehicles that are better on gas, easier to store, easier to drive, easier to maintain. You'd be limited in the routes - max 20-25 passengers and would get bogged down if more than a couple people got on/off at each stop, but this seems like a more cost effective way to service the low service routes.

You aren't going to be at 50% the operating cost since a huge portion is labor, but even at a reasonable estimate of 75%-80%, it makes sense to shed the unusedcapacity on routes at the bottom of the rankings. (If shedding the routes themselves is off the table)
 

Matthew

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It does not make any sense for the MBTA to store, maintain and operate smaller buses. That's a whole new set of manuals and knowledge they have to train workers on. That's another set of vehicles that have to be swapped in and out, incurring costly deadhead time, whenever flexibility is needed.

It's bad enough to have to deal with 40-footers, 60-footers, and the dual-modes.

There just isn't enough savings from trying to micromanage bus sizes. And any savings you might find would probably be swamped by the costs of dealing with yet another bus fleet, and loss of flexibility. It would be terrible if you had to send out a 25-foot bus on a key bus route because that happened to be what was available at the terminus.

Labor, labor, labor is your major cost factor. A 40-foot bus driver costs the same as a 25-foot bus driver. (Now, a bus driver who had 40 feet, that might be a different story...)

If a contracted out company wants to run 25-foot "community shuttles" on the cheap, that's their business, but the T shouldn't get into it.
 

CS

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The MBTA previously had 35ft buses. The last set were the RTS 8000 series , made in 1989 which were retired sometime around 2005.
 

fattony

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It does not make any sense for the MBTA to store, maintain and operate smaller buses. That's a whole new set of manuals and knowledge they have to train workers on. That's another set of vehicles that have to be swapped in and out, incurring costly deadhead time, whenever flexibility is needed.
This was may first reaction as well.
 

winstonoboogie

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The Transportation Research board did a nice review of small bus operations in urban systems a few years ago:
http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/tcrp/tsyn41.pdf

Some of the issues are as noted:
-Labor makes up a high percentage of per hour operating costs, the cost reduction with smaller equipment can be minimal
-Smaller buses with lower initial capital costs can have very high maintenance costs, especially if they are operated on services that result in more wear and tear than what the bus is designed for. Although not mentioned in this report, CTA (Chicago) purchased 45 small 30-ft Optima buses (a bus type that is no longer in production) in 2006 and retired the fleet in 2014. They were replaced by conventional 40-foot buses. The buses did not hold up well, even when operated on some of CTA's lower ridership services like local routes in Evanston.

During the rush-hour, the MBTA has very few routes where there isn't at least one trip that the total demand is appropriate for the capacity of a 40-foot bus. Even some of the lower ridership local routes in Lynn and Quincy usually have at least one trip (usually one with many students) that carry more passengers than the seating capacity of a 30-foot bus. Rush-hour demand drives the size of the bus. You don't want to have a fleet of small buses that aren't practical to operate in rush-hour and only come out in the off-peak. The potential per hour cost savings from a small bus is lost if that bus sits around doing nothing in the peak.

The MBTA's scheduling also results in drivers frequently operating trips on multiple routes during one driver shift. As an example, a route 77 bus might arrive at Harvard and then do a round-trip on route 78, followed by another trip on route 77 when the bus returns to Harvard.
 

Scalziand

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I was actually looking at bus prices yesterday (I don't know how that happened), and the price difference between a 35ft and a 40ft was only about 8k on a bus costing almost 250k. Sure there's a savings, but the flexibility for operations is probably better.
Cripes. WRTA just spent $7 mil (of grants) on 6 electric buses last year, to save $3 mil over the life of the buses.

http://blog.mass.gov/transportation/greendot/worcester-regional-transit-electric-transit-bus-fleet/
 

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