Thursday, April 17, 2008


All too often, public agencies' solution to any problem is based around spending money. For example, about ten years ago, the VTA decided that it's light rail fleet should be low-floor, to improve accessibility (before that, wheelchair lifts were used, like on CalTrain). So they bought an entirely new fleet, even though their original LRVs were less than half-way through their service life.

So it's kind of refreshing to see a transit agency improvise occasionally, and come up with clever solutions. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is solving the same problem VTA had in a novel way--by splicing low-floor sections into existing articulated LRVs, increasing overall capacity in the process as well. Here's an article in Metro Magazine.

From Metro Magazine

VTA's foolishness was a boon to a few other transit systems, who saw an opportunity to increase capacity by buying some perfectly good used trains at bargain prices. Some ex-VTA cars are now enjoying a second career in Salt Lake City (others are on the property in Sacramento, but haven't actually been pressed into service yet).

In the late 90's, CalTrain picked up some used equipment (some 2nd hand from Chicago Metra, some with a much longer and interesting history) to add capacity during the dot-com boom. They unloaded all of this after the arrival of the new Bombardier cars. Too bad, since the trains are getting pretty crowded again lately!


Fritz said...

Very cool and very smart.

Winston said...

Or VTA could have adopted Sacramento's approach of having a short platform with a wheelchair ramp at each station. That way you get the advantages of faster wheelchair boarding without having to replace your entire vehicle fleet AND replace all your platforms.
Here's a picture of Sacramento's distinctly lower tech (and cheaper) approach: