Streets & Transit

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  • It may not have been on this page I also brought up the idea of connecting Lansing's Classic Neighborhood, Old Town, Downtown, and REO town. I thought it might be interesting and fun to have classic urban buses run a loop through the three areas. I'm thinking of just rebuilding the coaches on modern chaises and motors. It would be very cool if they were REO Speedwagons, or other Lansing or Michigan build buses. Living in REO town it would be great to have a free service on such a route. I was thinking there could be another loop going up Michigan to Sparrow and back to Washington Sq. I know that soon there will be the new bus line up Michigan but it might be too expensive to just ride down to Washington Sq. for lunch. I think that both of these mini lines would be great for tourist as well. When they have shows and conferences at the Lansing Center I see people walking around down there looking for some place to go eat and shop. A free ride to our historic neighborhoods would be fun for tourist and great for business.

    I know that it would be a greater expense, but a small track lite-rail trolley would be very nice and a tourist attraction itself. The small city Racine Wisconsin has a classic trolley line that people ride just for fun.
  • I've been wanting to see an actual trolley installed connecting these three neighborhoods for as long as I can remember. I remember when the PSD (Principal Shopping District), then the city's downtown association and now Downtown Lansing, Inc., did a market study back around fifteen years ago it included a recommendation for a trolley. At the time it seemed even more out of reach, but with CATA about to spend $155 million on a BRT line (though, the VAST majority of that is federal money), it becomes harder to argue on building a little trolley line. From South Street to Grand River on a line drawn along Washington square is 2.1 miles (and if you wanted to stretch the line east from Washington to Cedar that's another 0.3 miles).

    The cost could really be reduced if we use a classic trolley instead of a modern one, fewer stops, and a single rail (with sidings). The River Rail Streetcar in Little Rock, Arkansas would be of similar length when it was first built (started at 2.4 miles when it opened in 2004) and also uses historic trolley cars. It was so successful that they ended up adding nearly another mile to it beginning in 2006. Initial costs for it was...$19.6 millionr dollars, which is a pittance to the $155 million we're about to use to build the BRT line.

    Another example of a historic-styled line of similar length is the TECO Line Streetcar in Tampa, Florida. It's 2.7 miles (2.4 mile when put into operation) and was funded by a special assessment for the businesses along the proposed line. It's ran by a non-profit but with city subidies. Anyway, when they added a 0.33 mile expansion in December 2010, they did it for only $5.5 million.

    So, it's really not as far-fetched as it may seem. The problem is that we'd need a vocal advocate to test the waters to see if anyone is interested, and no one has really brought this up to anyone in city government. CATA has also been playing it safe with its millage for quite a few years now and it shows with ridership having plateaued after years of significant increases. Maybe now that CATA is basically done with the train station and are well into finishing up the planning for the BRT they can concentrate on new projects.
  • That is very interesting I had not heard of the other trolley lines. Before they dug up Washington Ave in the 60's you could still see the rails for the street cars, they had trolleys that went all the way to Lake Lansing. History tells us that GM had something to do with the demise of urban street car and trolley lines, so of course Lansing had to get rid of their's. and I think that the motor/bus way of thinking is why the new Michigan Ave line will be buses with rubber wheels. I think the plan looks good that kind of line works pretty well in Boston with the silver line but what most people say is it's still a bus. So I am hoping that the buses themselves will look really cool and the least like buses as possible, if it is cool and easy they will ride! I think zoned fares would be the way to go, get a ticket when you get on and pay as you leave for just how far you rode. I will write CATA with these ideas maybe someone will take a look at the ideas.

    I was by the new train station the other day, it's still not open and weeds seem to be growing all around the new building, do they have an opening date set?
  • What is up with the Entertainment Express though? I have ridden it a few times and always been the only, or almost only, rider. The vehicle itself has terrible suspension and wooden seats with no cushioning - which wouldn't matter so much if Michigan Avenue wasn't in horrible condition in some places! Oh dear.
  • I have never seen that fakey trolley bus in service. They use those things for tourist tours in the little town I lived in out east and I always thought they looked bad and the people on them always looked kind of embarrassed, which leads me to why you were the only one riding the trolley. They are fake looking and to use a phrase "nerdy" young people out for the night are not getting on that bus. I think late night bus service is a great idea but with a regular bus on a scheduled route. Perhaps have the service be free or a dollar after mid-night. That could bring a lot of people downtown to the clubs and back safely. Late night bus service was very popular in Boston a place full of students and were the T closes at mid-night.
  • Yeah, I think the Entertainment Express can probably be considered a failure at this point, it always looks empty. I could imagine it being much more successful if it were free, I'd also agree that it'd probably be better off served by traditional buses.

    Has there been any discussion of how late the proposed BRT will run? That could alleviate most of the need for the Entertainment Express, unless they went ahead with offering a free late night bus service.
  • edited October 2015
    Looking further down the road. Anybody see this? Fully electric buses that only take 5 minutes to charge and can drive for 250 miles on a single charge.

    3051475-slide-s-2-meet-the-electric-bus-that-wants.jpg
  • I'm surprised that they have the ability to travel 250 miles and that they can charge the battery in five minutes. I wonder if the 250 mile range counts in stopping and starting every half mile? If these are for real and priced competitively they will be great.

    Sooner or later (probably sooner), electric drivetrains will replace just about everything. What will differ is what supplies/stores the electricity.
  • The electric bus is an interesting idea, it would be cool if just by running they recharge their own batteries. May they could get a charge somehow at each stop. Lansing loves internal combustion so it is hard to imagine CATA going electric, but maybe if the BWL got involved they could change some minds.
  • I don't see where in the article that it says can charge in 5 minutes. They did mention an airport-style shuttle that could charge in 10 minutes to drive 30 miles, but the full-size bus pictured was mentioned as charging overnight. Still cool technology though, but I think it is a bit further off than the article makes it seem (maybe 5 years out still before it can become a reality outside of their manufacturing testbed).
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