Thursday, January 4, 2007

LTD's EmX is running a little late

Eugene OR - The Register-Guard paper out of Eugene OR report that the test runs on Lane Transit District's (LTD) new EmX Bus Rapid Transit project are running behind what they were hoping to see.

The LTD wants buses to run the line between downtown Eugene and downtown Springfield in 16 minutes. Tests have the buses completing test runs anywhere between 13 to 19 minutes or longer with drivers simulating stops. They expect to see lower times once drivers get used to the operation and learn the ropes of pulling in and out of the stops and using signal priority.

I see a small problem here and that is the LTD is putting a very narrow time period on the route and expects it to be even less as time goes on. Even if this was a rail line, the margin of time allotted is narrow and can easily be blown by issues such as slow passenger boardings and other unexpected delays.

I think the LTD will find their time estimate of 16 minutes is too low once the operation is open to public ridership.

Rushing the EmX timing, as it appears is being done, can create safety issues. As drivers try to make time on a tight schedule, mistakes become more common as little things like checking mirrors before pulling out, jumping a traffic signal a second or two earlier, speeding and other issues can put people at risk.

Safety should not be compromised just to meet a schedule. While the LTD admits they may have to adjust the schedules to allow for a slower running time, it would have been more prudent to initially make the running time slower and then adjust it up from there rather than make a fast schedule right out of the box.

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