Thursday, July 07, 2011

Capacity of the LRT versus the capacity of buses

I am going to use the 4 pm to 5 pm hour as this seems to be busiest hour for rush hour in this region and look at the buses on Douglas and compare that to the LRT.   This is all northbound only and buses passing Uptown in this one hour.

  • #30/31 - 7 buses
  • #32x - 1 bus
  • #50 - 9 buses
  • #57x - 2 buses
  • #61 - 4 buses
  • #70x - 2 buses (there are 3 in 62 minutes)
  • #72 - 3 buses
  • #75 - 3 buses

This is a total of 31 buses that are providing commuter service that would in theory be partially or completely replaced by the LRT.    The total capacity of these buses going northbound is about 2600 to 2700 people.   Even if we only look at the buses using Douglas all the way to Uptown, that is 22 buses in that hour with a capacity of around 1800 to 2000 - the variation in both cases is because I do not know the mix of double decker and other buses on the routes.

The LRT, as outlined in the Victoria Regional Rapid Transit Project Report, is stated to be a 40 metre long train, I assume this is a three car train.   This train has a capacity, according to the report of 230 people.   The system is to start with 13 trains and eventually move to 20 trains.

With 13 trains and a 90 minute round trip, no more than 9 trains can pass through Uptown in one hour and most hours the limit will be 8.   The 90 minute round trip assumes no stopping time at either terminal for the operator to have a break.  

9 trains with a capacity of 230 passengers means a total capacity outbound during the peak rush hour of 2070.

With the eventual 20 trains, this will be 13 trains in an hour passing this point for a maximum fully built out LRT being able to handle 2990 people in one hour.

Current bus capacity is about 600 more people per hour more than the LRT would initially be able to move.

If all those buses were double deckers, the capacity would be 3100 for the buses, which is higher than the projected final maximum for the LRT.

So what is the maximum capacity theoretically possible for the LRT?   Given the restrictions of Douglas Street downtown, a headway of less than 4 minutes is functionally impossible as long as there are traffic lights downtown.   I honestly think 5 minute headway is the best that could be consistently achieved and the 20 train final LRT seems to bear that out, but let us look at 4 minute headway.

A 4 minute headway would be 15 trains per hour and this would give us an upper capacity of 3450 people.

So what is the possible capacity of buses on Douglas Street?   How long is a piece of string?   The theoretical limit to how many buses that could operate is way beyond what demand could ever be.

At the moment, between 4 pm and 5 pm, 81 buses cross Yates Street going northbound on Douglas.   This is a capacity of around 6900 to 7000 passengers which should give everyone a sense of how many people buses could move along Douglas if we wanted them all to go to the Westshore.

So why is the LRT being proposed as a solution when it can not handle more passengers than the current buses?   There is no more space for new transit passengers than what we have at the moment and we want to spend a $1,000,000,000 to build the system?
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