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  1. #1
    poor grad student MariusPontmercy's Avatar
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    Default Route 23 Light Rail Restoration.

    Is the 23 actually going to be restored to light rail, or can I file this in the same category as the Northeast Extension of the BSL? I noticed that the street level tunnel for 12th St. at the Convention Center expansion has a housing for the overhead wires and the rails are still there. Meaningful? They did build a station of the Northeast Extension and we know where that went.
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  2. #2
    A Fortnight Dead hammersklavier's Avatar
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    It's permanently temporarily suspended. Several parts of the trackwork would have to be rebuilt for any substantive trolley service to return. In addition, the current setup of the trolley line running down the main carriageway* in the street is hardly the most efficient way to effect light rail: most of 12th is wide enough to hold two carriageways (a travel lane and a parking lane) and have the third carriageway taken up and purposed for exclusively light-rail use. (Likewise, I argue that the trolley on Girard needs to be completely separated from traffic lanes; a segregated transit lane can handle larger equipment.)
    _________
    * The part of the street you actually drive along. Technically, the "street" extends from lot line to lot line, usually 50 ft.; 10 ft. sidewalks on either side of these streets means that the carriageways--traffic lanes and parking lanes--lie in 30 ft., or about 10 ft./lane.
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  3. #3
    poor grad student MariusPontmercy's Avatar
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    So it goes in the cabinet with the NE extension then? Shame.
    "imagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations hath diverse names" - Thomas Hobbes

  4. #4
    Senior Member radiocolin's Avatar
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    I have spoken to various people at SEPTA and can tell you that the route 23 trolley is never coming back. The route is almost too long for a bus, let alone a trolley which can't maneuver around any problems.

  5. #5
    Philly Remixed mixiboi's Avatar
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    Yeah, the 23 Trolley was killed by outdated and falling apart technology, on top of being the last SUFACE trolley to go down one way streets.

    And when they converted the Trolley barn to a bus barn in Germantown, it was over.


    It will Never come back, so don't even bother putting it next to the NE BSL extension.


    Now if you want to talk about using part of the trolley rail for another (shorter) light rail route? Then yeah you can put that next to the NE BSL.

    The 56 and 23 are dead, but the rail they left behind can be put together to make an nice light rail route.

    But that is if SEPTA ever get cars to replace the K-Cars....

  6. #6
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    Trackless trolley might be feasible though, especially if the price of gas rises. SEPTA has said that reinstating the 29 as trackless is a possibility.

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    I’m not an expert on transit terminology but I consider light rail to be larger vehicles or multi-vehicles that have a much greater capacity than a bus or trolley. The Route 23 was a trolley route and those vehicles carry no more people than a bus. Then the only advantage becomes electric vs. diesel and there is a laundry list of disadvantages.

    I don’t really see any point in bringing back trolley’s on this route especially with how narrow and congested the route is through CC and South Philadelphia. I am a big fan of the new trackless trolleys though – best of both worlds.

    Marius, do you think the trolley should be restored and why?

  8. #8
    Double spaced desolate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
    a segregated transit lane can handle larger equipment.)
    .[/size]

    and is hella nasty to look at if not not exacyl like that one picture they show from Houstin with the water.


    Here in Philly all of our dedicated transitways are nasty.

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    I'm not seeing all these supposed bikes in all these million dollar bike lanes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burholme06 View Post
    I’m not an expert on transit terminology but I consider light rail to be larger vehicles or multi-vehicles that have a much greater capacity than a bus or trolley. The Route 23 was a trolley route and those vehicles carry no more people than a bus. Then the only advantage becomes electric vs. diesel and there is a laundry list of disadvantages.

    I don’t really see any point in bringing back trolley’s on this route especially with how narrow and congested the route is through CC and South Philadelphia. I am a big fan of the new trackless trolleys though – best of both worlds.

    Marius, do you think the trolley should be restored and why?
    Trolley, light rail, and tram are all synonymous. Of course, articulated cars on dedicated ROW (like the Hudson-Bergen line in North Jersey) is not quite the same as the light rail that runs in W Philly or ran as the 23, but they are all trolleys.

    The single car trolleys do hold more people than a 40' bus, this is obvious if you've ridden a K-Car or PCC II when full. There is much more standing room, and the vehicle performs better under the load. Still, I see your point and I also question the practicality of light rail on the southern part of the 23.
    Last edited by BarryG; 11-11-2010 at 10:33 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarryG View Post
    Trolley, light rail, and tram are all synonymous. Of course, articulated cars on dedicated ROW (like the Hudson-Bergen line in North Jersey) is not quite the same as the light rail that runs in W Philly or ran as the 23, but they are all trolleys.

    The single car trolleys do hold more people than a bus, this is obvious if you've ridden a K-Car or PCC II when full. There is much more standing room, and the vehicle performs better under the load. Still, I see your point and I also question the practicality of light rail on the southern part of the 23.
    germantown ave is also narrow and congested. I can't see it being worth it to put in dedicated ROW two blocks from the subway either. The new hybrids are a vast improvement over the old buses, philly needs rapid transit though, not surface rail.
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  11. #11
    poor grad student MariusPontmercy's Avatar
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    It is an asset. Light rail spurs development and desirability unlike bus routes, which people don't have the same attachment to. It could be an asset for several neighborhoods in the city IF it were done correctly, which may mean moving the tracks from the center of the street. I don't know where there's space for a dedicated transit lane on 12th and 11th streets except for a few isolated stretches.

    Let me remind everyone, money is allocated in their capital budget starting fiscal year 2015 for the restoration of the line. It's not simply proposed, they intend to spend the money but I suppose that's pending funding. Also, if you look at former streetcar lines in Philadelphia that were "permanently temporarily suspended" SEPTA usually tears up the track and pulls down the overhead wires and poles within the decade. If nothing else this stuff is valuable as scrap metal. The fact that they've let the stuff sit for 18 years makes you stop to think what exactly they're up to. Maybe I'm making too many inferences though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MariusPontmercy View Post
    It is an asset. Light rail spurs development and desirability unlike bus routes, which people don't have the same attachment to. It could be an asset for several neighborhoods in the city IF it were done correctly, which may mean moving the tracks from the center of the street. I don't know where there's space for a dedicated transit lane on 12th and 11th streets except for a few isolated stretches.

    Let me remind everyone, money is allocated in their capital budget starting fiscal year 2015 for the restoration of the line. It's not simply proposed, they intend to spend the money but I suppose that's pending funding. Also, if you look at former streetcar lines in Philadelphia that were "permanently temporarily suspended" SEPTA usually tears up the track and pulls down the overhead wires and poles within the decade. If nothing else this stuff is valuable as scrap metal. The fact that they've let the stuff sit for 18 years makes you stop to think what exactly they're up to. Maybe I'm making too many inferences though.
    it's always on the budget and never gets funded. why is it better for the city than a bus route? I doubt the numbers work in favor of the city, especially considering much of the route is already either in decent neighborhoods or projects. why should this project take precedence over projects that add value, outside railfan desires, to the city?
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    Quote Originally Posted by eldondre View Post
    it's always on the budget and never gets funded. why is it better for the city than a bus route? I doubt the numbers work in favor of the city, especially considering much of the route is already either in decent neighborhoods or projects. why should this project take precedence over projects that add value, outside railfan desires, to the city?
    Exactly, I am a huge fan of light rail but I don't see the 23 as a battle worth fighting. The "spurs development" argument might work in places without a lot of transit that are getting shiny new LRVs, like Portland or Texas, but does not hold water in the densely populated route that the 23 runs. When the 15 was converted back to trolley, ridership did not go up.

    The practical argument for light rail is that it is cheaper to run long term than buses--the vehicles last 2-3 times as long (sometimes longer). If gas prices rise, the argument becomes stronger. The problem is that SEPTAs funding situation--nothing guaranteed outside of a year--makes long term investments like rail, wire, and LRVs less attractive.

    If the funding situation is fixed, and fuel prices rise, I do expect that we will see trackless trolleys on the 79 and 29 and maybe other routes like the 23. It helps that SEPTA's butt buddies at New Flyer (manufacturer of all the buses) also make tracklesses.

  14. #14
    poor grad student MariusPontmercy's Avatar
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    SEPTA may see it as low hanging fruit. Unless they expand elsewhere, then you need to pay the cost of new construction, although I agree it would ultimately be more beneficial. I've heard of no projects like this from SEPTA however. Also, this is considering SEPTA does any expansion of anything anywhere. Given the lean budget that's going to be thrown their way and lack of dedicated funding, I wouldn't have expected anything to be built in a long time anyway.
    "imagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations hath diverse names" - Thomas Hobbes

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    Quote Originally Posted by MariusPontmercy View Post
    SEPTA may see it as low hanging fruit. Unless they expand elsewhere, then you need to pay the cost of new construction, although I agree it would ultimately be more beneficial. I've heard of no projects like this from SEPTA however. Also, this is considering SEPTA does any expansion of anything anywhere. Given the lean budget that's going to be thrown their way and lack of dedicated funding, I wouldn't have expected anything to be built in a long time anyway.
    What does this mean? Light rail is not attractive to SEPTA; they prefer buses for a number of reasons. The current management may be a bit kinder than before, but not by much. The only reason the 23 trolley murmers are kept around is that they need to maintain the illusion that the bustitution was "temporary," as they promised the city when they bustituted it in 1992. At the time they promised to have the 15, 23, and 56 up and running with new LRVs in 1999. Oops. We did get the 15 back in '05, I still can't believe it, but it's hardly a success in my mind (and I like rail).

    You say "low hanging fruit," but most, including SEPTA, see "waste of money." Reinstating the 15 cost over $100 million, and the 23 is a lot longer and with rougher terrain.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarryG View Post
    The practical argument for light rail is that it is cheaper to run long term than buses--the vehicles last 2-3 times as long (sometimes longer). If gas prices rise, the argument becomes stronger. The problem is that SEPTAs funding situation--nothing guaranteed outside of a year--makes long term investments like rail, wire, and LRVs less attractive.
    that and when you run buses, maintenance of the ROW is someone else's budget. of course there's a flip side to this, buses can change routes easily, why has SEPTA not changed the 23's route?

    I'd have to say current management is at least competent. I appreciate the cleaner stations and if I still reverse commuted, I'd appreciate the reverse express that many asked for for years (which fell on deaf ears with faye moore)
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  17. #17
    Senior Member luchobucho's Avatar
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    I think the best thing for the 23 would be to split it in two sections, and operate in two sections. The G-Town Section and the 11th/12th Section.

    I think the G-town section would be more useful, but the 11th/12th section provides ultra local service through the center of the east of broad neighborhoods.

  18. #18
    poor grad student MariusPontmercy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarryG View Post
    What does this mean? Light rail is not attractive to SEPTA; they prefer buses for a number of reasons. The current management may be a bit kinder than before, but not by much. The only reason the 23 trolley murmers are kept around is that they need to maintain the illusion that the bustitution was "temporary," as they promised the city when they bustituted it in 1992. At the time they promised to have the 15, 23, and 56 up and running with new LRVs in 1999. Oops. We did get the 15 back in '05, I still can't believe it, but it's hardly a success in my mind (and I like rail).

    You say "low hanging fruit," but most, including SEPTA, see "waste of money." Reinstating the 15 cost over $100 million, and the 23 is a lot longer and with rougher terrain.
    They promised basically the same thing on just about every other streetcar line they tore up, but they unabashedly went ahead and permanently dismantled those. I'm really looking at projects in their capital budget and wondering which ones, if any, are real.
    "imagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations hath diverse names" - Thomas Hobbes

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    Quote Originally Posted by MariusPontmercy View Post
    They promised basically the same thing on just about every other streetcar line they tore up, but they unabashedly went ahead and permanently dismantled those. I'm really looking at projects in their capital budget and wondering which ones, if any, are real.
    I believe they were required to formally agree. they should just abandon it. the 56 might be worth bring back in some form, not the 23. none of those projects have a chance in hell without the city pushing and paying for them. I'd rather see the navy yard extension.
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    Default Kills me for this thread to end on that note

    The 23 is the transportation centerpiece of the Northwest. It was a fixture in the community for 120 years. The permanent abandonment of the line would be a huge tragedy and a wasted opportunity.

    All of the 23's former problems are easily solved by breakthroughs in transit technology. Double parked trucks can be instantly fined via license plate scanners. Bunching caused by uncoordinated red lights can be solved by wireless signaling that gives trollies, busses and emergency vehicles the right of way.

    The 15's ridership didn't improve because the revamped PCC's interiors unattractive and cramped, and the tracks on the median sometimes require dangerous maneuvers to get to. This wouldn't be the case for new LRVs on Germantown Avenue.

    The arguments agains funding light rail are shortsighted and narrow. They're the same arguments that have prevented this country from developing true high speed rail, perpetuated by people who think public transit's only purpose is to turn a profit for the operators.

    The benefits come from the attractiveness and solidness of light rail, as well as the noise and environmental benefits. Light rail attracts investment: just compare the girard avenue of today vs the girard avenue of 6 years ago. The Germantown Avenue commercial corridor in Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Germantown, and Nicetown was built for and by the streetcar.

    The cultural importance of the 23 is perhaps the most significant argument for its return. Look at the murals, the company logos, the signs around the northwest and you'll find that the trolley features prominently. Look at how, even in its absence, it's a tourist attraction.

    Our on-street light rail transit system was the sole survivor of the Great American Streetcar Scandal on the east coast and the only system to fall victim to the neglect of its own operator in the 80s and 90s. Its remnants are a part of this city's heritage and should never be paved over, especially in this age of higher and higher fuel prices, increased public transit ridership, and renewed light rail development.

 

 

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