Here is an excerpt from the report on the Los Angeles Metro Rapid bus
program.  Lrt proponents are fond of talking about such programs as
just express bus service.


The Metro Rapid Demonstration Program has been a success, meeting all 7
of the program's original objectives.

Objective 1: Reduce Passenger Travel Times - The Metro Rapid program
introduced several attributes specifically to reduce passenger travel
times, including bus signal priority, level boarding/alighting with
low-floor buses, headway rather than timetable-based schedules, fewer
stops, far-side intersection location of stations, and joint active
management of the service operation from the Transit Operations
Supervisors (TOS) in the field and the MTA Bus Operations Control
Center (BOCC). Since the initial date of service, Metro Rapid operation
has achieved the following improvements in operating speeds:

o  Wilshire/Whittier Corridor - operating speeds increased by 29%.
o  Ventura Corridor - operating speeds increased by 23%.

Objective 2: Increase Ridership - The increase in ridership has come
from three principal sources:

(1) 1/3 of the increase is from brand new riders (riders from households
making over $50,000 per year rose to over 13% of total line ridership);
(2) 1/3 are current riders riding more often (a higher percentage now ride
5 or more days a week); and
(3) 1/3 are current MTA riders who changed routes (diversion).

o  Wilshire/Whittier Corridor - ridership has increased by 42%.
o  Ventura Corridor - ridership has increased by 27%.

Objective 3: Attract New Riders - As noted above, approximately 1/3 of
the ridership increase are new riders based on a survey conducted in
September 2000, prior to the work stoppage.

Objective 4: Increase Service Reliability - Metro Rapid was designed to
improve service reliability by addressing bus bunching and the incidence
of vehicle overcrowding. To date, service reliability has been excellent
on the Ventura Metro Rapid, out-performing the time-point based local
service in terms of achieving lower bus bunching and improved reliability.
Service reliability has been mixed on the Wilshire/Whittier Metro Rapid,
largely due to heavily loaded trips during much of the day. Scheduled
service was increased in September and December 2000, and will again be
increased this coming June 2001 in order to match service levels with
demand. Service reliability has been improving with the increase in
service and with the introduction of a new module in LADOT's bus signal
priority system that helps maintain headway intervals. It is further
anticipated that service reliability will continue to improve with the
next round of improvements in June 2001.

Objective 5: Improve Fleet and Facility Appearance - Fleet appearance
has been excellent with both Divisions 7 and 8 turning in strong
ongoing performances. The improvement in fleet cleanliness was very
obvious to customers as they indicated in the on-board before and after
surveys. Facility appearance has not yet been measured; the Stations
have been only recently constructed along Ventura and Wilshire-Whittier

Objective 6: Improve Service Effectiveness - Service effectiveness
(passengers per revenue hour or mile) has been mixed: Wilshire/ Whittier
is up, while Ventura is not. The Wilshire/ Whittier corridor shows
significant improvement in effectiveness (productivity is up 17% and
subsidy per passenger improved 18%) despite increased service (service
hours are up 20% but resulted in a 42% ridership gain). The Ventura
corridor has showed a marked decline in service effectiveness that is
the result of large increases in local service concurrent with the
initiation of Metro Rapid (the local service was operating twice as
often as Metro Rapid in peak periods). This increase in local service
has not generated a significant change in ridership and may be
addressed by Operations in the June 2001 Shake-Up. It is anticipated
that the effectiveness of the Ventura corridor will improve
dramatically with better matching of local service levels with local
service demand.

Objective 7: Build Positive Relations with Communities - As part of
the development of the Metro Rapid Station concept and design, staff
worked closely with the individual communities to implement the Metro
Rapid program. Staff have developed a uniform station design that meets
the "image-linkage with the vehicle" requirement, while simultaneously
meeting community preferences. Staff has worked with the local
jurisdictions to address any concerns identified by adjacent
property owners without hampering the Metro Rapid program.

Next Steps

o  Build on the success of the Metro Rapid Demonstration Program with
input from the Municipal Operators, cities, and County.

o  Complete the Phase I attributes still in implementation, including
expansion of the bus signal priority system outside the City of Los
Angeles, and upgrading of Metro Rapid bollard gate stations to canopy
gates stations where feasible.

o  Implement the Phase II Metro Rapid System Expansion Program and
remaining Phase II Metro Rapid attributes, including:

o  High capacity vehicles

o  Exclusive lanes/by-pass lanes

o  Multiple door boarding and alighting with off-vehicle fare collection

o Feeder network


o  An analysis of customer ratings and importance of all service
attributes clearly shows that Metro Rapid riders perceive a quantum
leap in service performance and quality. Changes of this magnitude in
performance ratings are rare, particularly over a relatively short time
frame (90 days). MTA has essentially raised the bar significantly in
terms of service quality for its riders through the Metro Rapid
Demonstration Program.


One of the principal objectives of the Metro Rapid program is to
provide high quality rail emulation service with significantly lower
capital investment. The Metro Rapid capital program involved three
areas: station development, bus signal priority, and vehicle
acquisition. The station program was designed, fabricated and
installed at a cost of approximately $100,000 per mile. The bus
signal priority system cost was approximately $20,000 per
intersection. Buses used to operate the Metro Rapid Program were
NABI 40-foot CNG low-floor vehicles from current fleet procurement


Bruce Gaarder
Highland Park  Saint Paul  MN


The Independent Unsubsidized Voice of

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