What is BRT?
A bus rapid transit (BRT) system emulates the efficiencies and operations of light rail at a fraction of the costs. Attributes of a BRT system are:
Exclusive Right-of-Way guarantees travel time.
Signal Priority gives buses priority through intersections.
Level Boarding makes boarding easier and faster.
Off-Board Fare Collection means no fumbling for change and allows boarding at all doors, not just the front door.
Less Frequent Stops improves travel time.
Improved Stations amenities for passenger comfort.
Park & Ride Connections
Low emissions (green)
Doors on both sides
Why is LTD moving forward with a BRT system?
The BRT concept was developed as part of a regional transportation plan update. As part of the plan update, several transit options were considered, analyzed as part of the transportation modeling process, and discussed in public forums. BRT clearly emerged as the preferred transit strategy during that process. BRT was seen as a way to significantly enhance transit service and achieve many of the benefits of light rail without the high cost of rail. As a result, BRT was approved in 2001 as a key element of the new transportation plan by Eugene, Springfield, Lane County, and LTD.
LTD likes the BRT concept because it is appropriate in scale and cost for a community our size, it results in more efficient transit operation, and it can be developed one line at a time as warranted by community demand and as funding allows. BRT is a system that the community can grow around. It is much easier and less expensive to put a bus rapid transit system in place before transportation problems become severe, rather than waiting until the problems reach a crisis level and then trying to implement a transit solution.
What are the operating benefits of EmX?
Traffic congestion is increasing along with the growth in our community. And we know that as buses are increasingly delayed or stuck in traffic, our service will get worse, not better. By protecting the bus from traffic congestion through exclusive transit lanes, traffic signal priority, and other BRT enhancements, LTD can provide faster, more reliable transit service for our customers. This will make transit an increasingly attractive transportation alternative. Besides better service for our customers, EmX offers LTD the potential for lower operating costs and higher ridership productivity per mile of service. Compared to traditional transit, EmX vehicles should get better fuel mileage, travel farther in each service hour, provide better schedule reliability, and carry more customers per service hour than a conventional bus system.
Will we have a name other than BRT for the system?
Since BRT is a generic term for a transit mode, it was important to come up with a name that could be developed to convey the personality and image we want for our BRT system. The name EmX (pronounced “M X”) was chosen to tie to LTD’s historical roots (Emerald Transportation) and to convey the express nature of the service. As additional lines are added to the system, each will have a distinctive color designation. The Franklin corridor is called EmX Green Line.
Where is the first EmX corridor?
The pilot corridor, Franklin EmX, links downtown Eugene and downtown Springfield, traveling primarily on Franklin Blvd. This corridor also serves the University of Oregon, Northwest Christian College, and Sacred Heart Medical Center. The corridor was selected because of its high traffic volume and population density, its heavy transit ridership, and the opportunity it offers to involve both Springfield and Eugene. By linking the Eugene Station and the Springfield Station, two major hubs for LTD, the Franklin EmX forms a “backbone” that will benefit all future EmX lines.
How has the community been involved in BRT decisions?
LTD has always valued public participation in transit planning, and staff have made a very concerted effort to involve the community in EmX planning and design.
The BRT concept was discussed as part of the regional transportation plan update and benefited from the large amount of public involvement associated with that effort. In addition, LTD staff and Board members have met with hundreds of community members to discuss BRT, including civic leaders, business owners, environmental groups, neighborhood groups, and service groups. Presentations have been made to many more community residents who are involved in local service clubs and organizations. Newspaper and television advertising, printed brochures, and postcards have been used to help the community learn about BRT.
A separate, more focused public involvement process was used for corridor planning and design. Special public meetings and design workshops hosted by LTD involved community residents in the actual design of the corridor. Open houses are another way for the public to learn about the project. These open houses are well advertised and encourage public participation. The Franklin EmX included more than 20 workshops and open houses, as well as direct contact with every business along the corridor.
BRT is a new key transit strategy in the Regional Transportation Plan, the metropolitan area’s updated comprehensive transportation plan, which had an extensive public comment period.
How was the vehicle selected?
Over the past years, different vehicles have been used in simulations of BRT designs. Searching for the best vehicle with operational efficiencies, as well as image, has been an exciting challenge. In 2003 a contract with New Flyer Industries was signed. The first six hybrid-electric, 60-foot articulated vehicles were delivered in late 2006. The hybrid vehicles went through a test period, followed by bus operator training, timing studies, and training for people with disabilities.
Why don’t we build a light-rail line like Portland?
Eugene/Springfield lacks the population density and financial resources necessary to support the huge investment required by light-rail transit. In fact, Portland, Oregon, is the smallest city in the nation to have a light-rail system.
However, LTD’s BRT corridor planning work and right-of-way investments do help lay the groundwork for the eventual development of light rail in our community at the point that it makes sense, perhaps decades into the future.
How will LTD proceed with future corridors?
Future extension of the BRT system will continue to involve a high level of public and partner agency involvement. Planning has begun, and will continue during construction of the first corridor, for concurrent future phases. In Springfield, the Gateway EmX extension is nearing completion and will begin operating in January 2011.
The LTD Board has directed staff to begin evaluating a West Eugene Corridor, at the direction of Eugene City Council.
Building of the next corridors depends on available funding. Selection criteria of corridors include nodal development consideration, population and employment densities, and traffic congestion issues.
Why don’t we just add more bus service, like we have done in years past?
Traffic congestion is increasing along with the growth in our community. And we know that if the buses are increasingly delayed or stuck in traffic, LTD service will get worse, not better. By protecting the bus from traffic congestion through bus traffic signal priority and other right-of-way enhancements, we know we can provide faster, more reliable transit service for our customers. As auto driving becomes less and less convenient due to traffic congestion, the bus will become an increasingly viable alternative for motorists. Besides better service for our customers, EmX offers LTD the potential of lower relative operating costs and higher productivity per mile of service. We believe this will be true because EmX vehicles will stop less often. Compared to traditional transit, EmX vehicles should get better fuel mileage, travel farther in each service hour, provide better schedule reliability, and carry more customers per service hour, than buses that are often delayed or stuck in traffic congestion.
Is it true that the new route only saves six minutes in travel time?
The six-minute time savings is the initial peak-hour travel time savings. The time savings of EmX compared to conventional transit will increase over time because conventional service will slow down with increases in traffic congestion. It is projected to be an 11- or 12-minute time difference within 20 years.
The time savings will benefit every rider on every trip every day. If we assume 3,000 boardings per day and an average of four-minute time savings (some trips during slow traffic times), total cumulative time saved by riders is about 60,000 hours. In 20 years this figure could be about 175,000 hours per year (more travel time savings and more people).
The investment to secure the right-of-way is one that will continue to reap benefits for much longer than 20 years. In fact, the farther out we look, the more significant and important that investment is.
It also may be worth mentioning that many very expensive road improvements are done to save minutes in travel time during peak hours. The benefit comes (as with EmX) in the cumulative savings due to the high number of people who save those few minutes.
Where is the money going to come from?
Bus rapid transit is affordable within LTD’s current and projected revenue base if federal funds can be leveraged to cover the bulk of the capital costs. With continued federal funding assistance, LTD does not project the need for any new or increased taxes to support BRT.
How will EmX work for people with disabilities?
Some benefits of BRT for bus riders with disabilities include the following:
Increased safety at stations, e.g., improved lighting, more visibility, improved passenger amenities.
Safer crossing for customers with disabilities, with a central median station and shorter crossings.
Higher frequency of service on the major corridors means greater independence for riders, which means less reliance on the Customer Service Center or others to provide schedule and routing information.
Training is available for customers with disabilities.
Low-floor buses are faster and easier to use.
For some customers, neighborhood service may change and may involve more transfers. For others, the service may be unchanged or vastly improved and more direct. The trade-off of potentially more transfers in exchange for higher frequency neighborhood service linking nodes in the community may be beneficial to all customers, including bus riders with disabilities. Bus riders may end up with better, more frequent service to their local destination.
How do EmX stations protect customers from the weather?
The EmX station design is a design that incorporates a number of operational factors while creating a new look for the service. Shelters provide basic protection from rain and sun and the open design provides maximum visibility, which increases safety for customers using the station. Service frequency is high and therefore wait times will be short. The design minimizes the potential for vandalism, which reduces ongoing operating costs. Stations have been designed to accommodate additional shelter “units”, which can be added as needed.
Single columns allow for free movement of passengers on the platform with minimal obstacles. The centrally located columns on the EmX platforms allow for vehicle boarding from both sides of the platform. Additionally, the single line of structure minimizes obstacles that can confuse or cause danger to disabled passengers.
The roof forms direct the rainwater to a central gutter and downspout for distribution to the storm system; thus, rainwater does not cascade off roof edges onto waiting passengers. The central column acts as a downspout and the single gutter minimizes the time required for annual cleaning.
The shelters are designed in a modular fashion to allow the same concept to be used at multiple stations and in various quantities. Many of the new stations have provisions to add an additional shelter should the ridership at a particular station warrant additional shelter space. The modularity allows for mass production of the shelter elements at a fabrication shop rather than on-site where work conditions are more constrained.
Steel is used for its durability and strength. Small pieces are used to reduce the area for tagging and to maintain visibility. High-quality paint protects the steel from the weather and minimizes required maintenance.
Was artwork included in the Franklin EmX project?
Yes, artwork was intergraded into the handrails at each new EmX station. In late 2002, Lin Cook, a local artist from Monroe, Oregon, was selected to commission artwork for LTD’s first bus rapid transit line. Lin’s proposal included both cast and laser-cut aluminum forms to hang within the frame of the hand railings. The aluminum forms depict native foliage, a different species for each station. Art at some station locations highlights foliage that may have significance to that part of town. Lin’s artwork was one of the last pieces of the project to be installed prior to the opening of the line in January 2007. Nearly $120,000 of the project budget was set aside for commissioning this public art.
Where did the name Dads’ Gates Station come from?
From the UO website:
The ornamental Dads’ Gates were placed at the intersection of East 11th Avenue and Franklin Blvd and dedicated in January 1941. The UO Dad's Club was the sponsor and underwriter of the project. The Dad's Club was a patron-parent organization established in 1927. The concept for the gates began in 1938 and was supported with funding from the Dad's Club, with additional support from a Public Works Administration (PWA) program. Designed collaboratively, Ellis F. Lawrence and architect students supplied the concept and working drawings, and metal smith O. B. Dawson crafted the final work. Orion Benjamin Dawson was a master blacksmith who produced numerous iron works as an employee with the Depression-era Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. Dawson's work in Oregon can be seen at the University of Oregon's Knight Library and Howe Field, Oregon State University, and Timberline Lodge. Efforts are now underway to add the gates to the National Register.
Why is EmX free to ride?
The EmX system began operating as a free system. Because the route operates between downtown Eugene and downtown Springfield, the majority of customers will transfer to the EmX vehicle and therefore will have paid a fare on their previous bus. Since the two largest institutions along the route, UO and Sacred Heart Hospital, provide group passes the District will have already collected their fare revenue. The District began charging a fare on EmX in September 2009. The EmX system has been designed to operate as a “pre-paid” fare system. This means customers must have a valid fare instrument in their possession at all times while riding an EmX vehicle. Customers who arrive at an EmX station without a valid fare will be able to purchase a ticket on the station platform.
Why don’t EmX vehicles have bike racks?
Level boarding will allow customers to walk their bikes on board. LTD staff worked with local cyclists to test the best way to secure bikes inside the vehicle. The result was a decision to allow cyclists to board through the rear door and stand in an area that will have a flip-up seat. Grab rails and stanchion poles will allow cyclists to hold their bikes and maintain their balance while traveling along the route.
LTD is testing a bike rack that has been installed inside the bus. Riders can place their bike in the rack, and then they need to stand or sit close by in case they need to move their bike to provide access for another bike rider.
EmX Fast Facts
Project cost: Total: $24 million; federal funding--$19.2 million; local funding--$4.8 million
Planning & design:
Vehicle: $960,000 each (six vehicles purchased; 4 in service, 2 spares)
Corridor length: 4 miles
Exclusive right-of-way: 60 percent
Number of stations: 10 (8 along the corridor, plus the Eugene Station and Springfield station)
New traffic signals added: 5 (10th & High, 11th & Mill, Dad’s Gate, Franklin & 13th (Moss), Franklin & Orchard)
Audible pedestrian devices: 3 (Dad’s Gates, Agate, Walnut)
Queue jumpers: 1 (McVay Station)
Service frequency: Weekday peak: 10 minutes; off-peak: 20 minutes; weekends: 20 minutes
Travel time: 16 minutes one-way
Vehicle capacity - Customer capacity: seated: 44; with standing load:100
Vehicle weight: 50,000 lbs; with passengers: approximately 65,000
Front Axle: 11,200 lbs
Center Axle: 13,760 lbs
Rear Axle: 24,980 lbs
Total: 49,940 lbs
Bike capacity: 3+
Wheelchair capacity: 2; one forward facing bay and one rear-facing bay
Current ridership: 2,700 boardings per weekday
Projected ridership: 40% growth over 20 years
Gateway EmX Extension
$33 million - Federal Transit Administration
$5.4 million - State of Oregon ConnectOregon
$2.9 million - LTD Local Match
Round-trip corridor length: 7.8 miles
Exclusive right-of-way: 5.2 miles
Number of stations: 14
Service frequency: Weekday peak: 10 minutes; off-peak: 20 minutes; weekends: 20 minutes
Travel time: 40 minutes per round trip
Customer capacity: Seated: 44; with standing load: 100
Bike capacity: 3
Wheelchair capacity: 2; one forward facing bay and one rear-facing bay