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Video: Articulated Buses on the Pike?

by ARLnow.com March 26, 2012 at 9:40 am 7,011 99 Comments

Critics of the Columbia Pike streetcar have been pushing the idea of articulated buses as a cheaper and more flexible alternative to streetcar service.

Specifically, some critics have been citing the streetcar-like bus in the video above — which is currently in use in Las Vegas — as a way to get the increased capacity of streetcars while making bus travel more attractive to non-riders. The bus offers prepaid, level platform boarding — which makes loading and unloading passengers quicker and easier — plus a quiet and smooth ride. Since it runs on tires rather than a track, it also has the ability to get around accidents or any other obstruction.

Articulated buses are an option being studied for the Columbia Pike corridor, but a streetcar does have advantages that supporters say a bus cannot match. A streetcar line, supporters say, can attract transit-oriented development and promote economic growth. Plus, rail transit seems to have a psychological advantage over bus transit — in general, more people would be willing to ride a streetcar than they would a bus.

The cost of articulated bus service on Columbia Pike is estimated at $53 million, compared to the estimated $250 million cost of a five-mile streetcar line.

  • Truthi

    Note we did actually test the CIVIS bus that they use on Vegas on CP and it was a HUGE success.

    • 1234

      When were they tested? Are the results of the test available to the public?

  • ColumbiaForester

    Rail will still be more successful. Articulated buses will increase ridership a bit, but make no mistake that a rail line is more beneficail to the area in the long run.

    • T.G.E.0.A….

      Not on Columbia Pike.

  • kevin r

    Rail is better, but for 5x the price, I think those buses need to be at least seriously considered.

  • Josh S

    The comparison is simply not legitimate. The Las Vegas buses ride in dedicated lanes. That won’t happen on Columbia Pike.

    End of story.

    • NPGMBR


    • Wayne Kubicki

      Point taken – but the problem is, the proposed Pike streetcar isn’t in a dedicated lane, either.

      • Josh S

        I’m not sure that is a problem. Some people don’t like it, but plenty of streetcars worldwide share travel lanes with cars, etc. If you are on a two-wheeled vehicle, you will definitely need to pay attention to those tracks, but otherwise, I don’t see it as a problem.

        • T.G.E.0.A….

          Its not the shared lanes that is at question for either bus or track, but the cost.

        • R. Griffon

          I’m not sure that is a problem. Some people don’t like it, but plenty of BUSES worldwide share travel lanes with cars, etc.

          So how how then is a dedicated lane even relevant?

          • Eponymous Coward

            I’m late to the party here, but it isn’t about a dedicated lane, but rather a dedicated capital commitment. This is why light rail is superior to bus for reasons that have nothing to do with a “hipster trolley fetish.” It’s about development. Development that buses can’t achieve, because no one trusts local government.

            The reason why Metro drove development — even in a jurisdiction as incompetent as the District — is that the stations represented a capital investment commitment not easily abandoned by the Compact.

            A municipality can reroute bus lines and abandon areas of unfixed transit service overnight. You can add extra police on the street, more teachers, etc., etc., and pull all that funding in the next budget, after the developer has issued a 20-year bond to fund multi-million dollar revitalization projects. Sorry, pal. Good luck signing those leases.

            Public works commitments to particular neighborhoods, on the other hand, constitute a mostly irrevocable commitment that no amount of gov’t promises to private capital investors can match. Look at the Phoenix light rail example. Even the anti-transit Republicans wound up favoring it, not because it necessarily moved a lot of people, but because it spurred community development that they had otherwise failed to do.

            Developers don’t trust local government promises. They trust local government investments.

            Thus: You don’t need a dedicated *line* to get development. You just need the capital investment. You don’t get that from bus stops.

    • This system will only work with dedicated lanes for buses.

    • jan

      also, notice the wide turning radius: no way will it be able to get around accidents.

      • nom de guerre

        Do you think the streetcar will be able to get around an accident, a disabled vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or an UPS truck or other delivery truck that is parked in the right lane of Columbia Pike?

      • R. Griffon

        No wider than a regular bus. The rear half has it’s own steering, with logic built-in so that it doesn’t cut corners any closer than a regular vehicle of that length. You can even see this in the video where it turns a 90 degree corner. It doesn’t simply drag the rear half with it.

      • speonjosh

        Yeah, just a weird comment. Have you never seen articulated buses in operation? They change lanes, go around corners, etc. In fact, you wanna look alive when driving next to a 38 Geary, especially the express line. Those suckers fly, dodging and weaving the whole way…..

    • dk

      Yep, that’s the sticking point. I think dedicated bus lanes are a terrific idea, but if that’s not possible, a bus–no matter how souped up–just can’t compare to rail.

  • VA

    I ride the bus on Columbia Pike almost every day – commuting to work during rush hour when it’s usually standing-room-only, so I’d LOVE to see this articulated bus in place as a way to increase capacity. Rail is waaay too expensive and will take a long time to implement – I mean, how many years have already been wasted just talking about it?!

  • Richard Cranium

    As long as they have slip-lanes for the buses, they will be the better option.

  • SomeGuy

    Let’s hope there’s never an emergency (e.g., car accident, sink hole, water main break, etc) in the path of the streetcar, because a streetcar will not have the flexibility to route around it. But this bus, at a fraction of the cost of a streetcar, has that additional capability.

    • Josh S

      While one certainly needs to be aware of these kinds of risks when planning the system, I don’t think you actually should make a yes or no decision for the whole thing based on something that may or may not happen and if it does happen, certainly wouldn’t happen on a regular basis.

      Besides, in the event of something like a water main break or other disruption that would last several hours, I think there would likely be the possibility of operating buses along the route for that time frame. I don’t believe that the streetcar is intended to completely replace the 16 line.

      • Another Dude

        Regardless of the frequency of lane shutdowns, when the streetcar doesn’t go, it blocks a precious lane of CP traffic. Fact is, (1) CP is not wide enough for streetcars and (2) drivers in this area certainly aren’t courteous or smart enough to operate a vehicle on the same lanes as a streetcar system. Drivers are barely civil to buses around here. Can you imagine what happens when half of CP has streetcars operating on it? Save the taxpayer bucks and go with the buses.

        • speonjosh

          I don’t think there is any reason to disregard the frequency of lane shutdowns. Planes do crash but most of us still ride them because we recognize the frequency is extremely rare.

          Where are these facts that indicate that CP is not wide enough for streetcars? What makes you say that? What engineering study has been done that concludes that? Beyond that, how do you walk outside, look at the street and conclude it’s not wide enough to fit a streetcar?

          I can imagine what happens with streetcars quite easily having lived in a city with them, driven on the same roads with them, commuted on a daily basis on them, etc. It’s no big deal. (Except, again, for those on two wheels.) In some ways they are easier to share the road with since you can be sure they won’t be veering into your lane when passing them.

          • ConstantCritic

            Sometimes it’s not wide enough for a dump truck and school bus to pass in opposite directions.

          • nom de guerre

            April 18, 2005-Accident on the Pike involving a trash truck and a schoolbus near S. Courthouse Rd.-2 fatalities, 3 serious injuries.


          • speonjosh

            I guess by this logic because there are occasionally mid-air collisions, the sky is not big enough for more than one plane at a time?

      • Russ

        “…I don’t think you actually should make a yes or no decision for the whole thing based on something that may or may not happen and if it does happen, certainly wouldn’t happen on a regular basis.”…like loyal and massive streetcar ridership? Just sayin’

      • SomeGuy

        Nope. I wasn’t suggesting you make a potential $250 million decision based solely on the ability to turn as necessary (or lack thereof). But the $200 million savings for nearly the same, and perhaps more, functionality might be something to consider.

        • Another Dude

          There ARE a few other projects needing funding in Arlington that would $200 million could address and that would benefit a broader range of Arlington’s citizens. Or, hey, here’s another thought — give some money back to taxpayers who have been clipped over and over by this Board in recent years.

          • speonjosh

            Might be a relevant post if the $250 million dollars was coming entirely from county tax revenue….

          • DCBuff

            Oh, I think it is a very relevant post. When all is said and done, and if the street car is put into operation, the costs to Arlington taxpayers will far exceed that amount. The street car will operate at a loss, there will be costs for maintenance, and the inevitable cost overruns. And, as far as that money coming from the Feds and the Commonwealth, Arlingtonians pay taxes to them as well.

          • John Snyder

            Buses are subsidized right now. They need drivers and fuel and maintenance, none of which are free. The difference to Arlington taxpayers is between about $45M for big buses and $112M for streetcars, after state and federal contributions. And the best case scenario for the big buses is that they cap out in capacity in about 10 or 12 years. So at best we are right back to where we are now, with only escalated construction costs and more car traffic to show for the $45M.

          • Josh S

            OK, but then you have to compare the costs to the costs to build and maintain Columbia Pike itself. It’s not a toll road so every single car ride on that road is a money losing proposition.

  • no more please

    the only “benefit” of rail over bus was “economic development”. translation more and more big buildings, big houses on small lots, more traffic, long lines at restaurants, increased property taxes and then of course more bonds to build more schools and parks, more concrete and asphalt, less trees and wildlife. NO THANKS, NO STREETCAR please. We already cannot park in front of our own houses thanks to Sienna Park and Penrose Square and Naval Support Facility and Human Services. enough is enough.

    • Josh S

      This is the head in the sand approach to population growth.

      • John K.

        Great… let’s widen 66 then, while we’re at it. Population isn’t only growing in transit-friendly corridors!

    • NIMBY whiny douche

      As soon as I move into a neighborhood, all change should cease.

    • Parkington

      Yeah, your poor poor proptery values…oh wait those are going up right?

      Move to Front Royal, please.

    • R. Griffon

      > We already cannot park in front of our own houses thanks to
      > Sienna Park and Penrose Square and Naval Support Facility
      > and Human Services. enough is enough.

      You know you can petition the County for zoned parking to remedy that. Don’t suffer in silence if this is truly the case.

      • FrenchyB


      • Josh S

        Where does it say you are entitled to park in front of your house?

  • BC

    This is what they should have done to Dulles. Not as sexy as rail, but 20% of the cost.

    • John Snyder

      Buses have been running to Tysons Corner since the early 1970’s (or before). Did that solve the traffic problems?

  • If the busses can have their own lanes, Metro like payment and access, it seems this is an option that should be taken seriously.

  • Curious

    I’m just curious what the cost savings over time is with a light rail over a bus with regard to the cost of gas versus electricity. With the ever increasing cost of gas, would a bus service become more expensive in the long run or is that cost negligible ?

    • Yay articulated buses

      According to the County, operating and maintenance costs are about $3M more per year for the streetcar vs. articulated buses in 2015.

    • SteveP

      In addition to the cost of fuel, maintenance costs also need to be taken into account. I don’t have any info handy, but if I recall correctly, reliability is worse and regular maintenance more frequent for articulated buses over regular buses. Light rail is generally more reliable and requires less maintenance than regular buses. I wish I had a source handy for this (a quick google didn’t help, and I’m at work so I don’t have much time).

      Assuming I remember correctly it would be interesting to add that into long term costs along with the gas vs. electric and other costs (operator salary?).

    • R. Griffon

      Aren’t nearly all municipal buses now CNG?

  • Gas v. Electricity

    Current ART and Metro buses get 3.5 miles per gallon. They hybrid buses get 5 miles per gallon. Gas is WAY more expensive.

    • BC

      All of that assumes that the maintenance cost of trains and rails are along the lines of dedicated lane maintenance for a bus…which I’m certain it is no. For a five mile stretch, it would take a hell of a long time to make up $200M in difference (particularly when I suspect rail/train maintenance is dramatically higher than bus).

    • JamesE

      Awful MPG, I suggest going on a bus-free diet.

      • Yes, but 3.5 MPG (0.67 L/km) carrying 40+ passengers. Compare that to 18 – 32 MPG (0.13 – 0.07 L/km) single rider cars. It only takes a bus carrying 5 people to match the fuel efficiency of an SUV, which is empty by most standards.

        If those same 40 people were all driving in separate cars, they would use nearly 8x the amount of fuel that the bus would use to drive the same distance.

        • FrenchyB

          +1. You’re being pretty generous with the assumed single vehicle MPGs as well.

    • R. Griffon

      I’m curious how you arrived at an MPG figure for an all CNG fleet. Can you point to a source?

  • Russ

    These up-to-date buses WITH SLIDING DOORS AND LEVEL ENTRY are the smart way to go. Real flexibility, with some attention paid to a unique “look” would make the flexbus way more attractive than a clunky train that will run a crater of construction through the area for years and send costs through the roof, require a specialized rail maintenance yard, and lose millions of precious taxpayer money.

  • M

    I think this bus is potentially a huge deal. It should run for elected office. I mean, you got the first mainstream bus that is articulate[d] and bright and clean and a nice-looking vehicle.

  • esmith69

    Rail-based systems will ALWAYS be more efficient than tire-based systems. It’s a simple matter of physics. However, tire-based systems do have the benefit of more flexibility (i.e. ability to change lanes and make turns). There’s definitely positives and negatives to both options, so I think it’s irresponsible to make blanket statements that one option or the other is the only way to go.

    If Columbia Pike had one more lane in each direction, I think dedicating it strictly to streetcar use would be great and this would really help traffic issues. In that scenario I think the added expense of a streetcar would be well worth it.

    Unfortunately the lack of long-term planning many decades ago has meant that we’re stuck with the poor setup that’s there now, with storefronts just feet away from the road and no real room to add a dedicated lane, either for bus or streetcar use.

    I’m not sure anything other than an underground system (i.e. Metro) will ultimately help the traffic issues at all. And obviously that’s never going to happen in today’s political climate.

    • Southeast Jerome

      Well yes an underground option is clearly the best for the long-term. But we only think about about the here and now.

      Who cares what happens in 50 years when gas is $10/gallon.

      Just look at the trend of people moving from suburbs to cities, its already happening.

      The shortsightedness of the political “leaders” pathetic.

    • truth be told

      “Rail-based systems will ALWAYS be more efficient than tire-based systems.”

      There is less efficient energy conversion from coal, to steam, to turning a turbine, to transmission system losses as compared to the efficiency of an internal combusion engine. Studies show it is actually about a wash when it comes to energy conversion when you take into account the energy utilized to produce the liquid fuels.

      • esmith69

        Please provide some sources to your claims–I have never heard anyone make these type of claims.

        There’s a reason why they encourage people to use electric or plugin hubrid cars instead of pure gasoline vehicles…

  • ShirleyMan

    How exorbitant is the cost of a ligit underground metrorail? Even though an underground metrorail would be much more pricey, in the long-term it would have to be the best option, IMO, and something I as a taxpayer in S. Arlington, I would be willing to spend. A long-term outlook is needed on projects like this and an underground metrorail would yeild the most benefit to our area… or is the county too worried that Columbia Pike could actually compete with Wilson Blvd in terms of growth and prosperity. Increasing the buses or putting in a novelty streetcar doesn’t seem like the best long term investment of funds…

    • esmith69

      Right with you on the Metro idea. Unfortunately there is a surprisingly large contingent of tea partiers and libertarians in Arlington who are against pretty much any kind of spending, and definitely would never go for any kind of additional taxes, even if it’s to fund something very beneficial like a metro line.

      • Southeast Jerome

        Yes- the same tea partiers and libertarians that bash government but tend to use govt services the most!

    • Yay articulated buses

      Totally agree that Metro is the best long term investment.

      Unfortunately it’s ~5x more expensive than the streetcar and, I guess, politically untenable? In my mind, articulated buses are the best next step – a big improvement over existing transit (same carrying capacity and transit times as streetcar at 1/5 the cost) that can be implemented much more quickly and less disruptively than a streetcar.

      We’ll have a stronger argument and bigger commercial tax base to support Metro as the Pike continues to gentrify and increase in density, and can rapidly redeploy articulated buses elsewhere (like the the Shirlington/Ballston corridor dominated by Glebe). While I doubt doubt that developers would like a streetcar more than articulated buses, I feel it’s inappropriate for taxpayers to pay $200M more for a system that doesn’t provide a better transit solution than articulated buses.

    • ShirleyMan

      Yeah, well I agree if we’re picking between a street car and some dressed-up buses, it doesn’t make sense to spend $200M more on a street car with no significant added benefit. With neither option addressing the problem or tapping fully into the Pike’s Potential, its no wonder we’re stuck debating between which crappy option is less crappy… I wish Arlington would actually push for a solution that tax payers can stand behind and will truely address the issue, ie Metro rail.

      I realize the current poltical climate, but gesh, itsn’t it time for our representatives to grow a pair and do whats best for our county? What’s so scary for our politicians to stand behind a solution like undergournd metrorail, which I’m sure many many Arlington residents would actually be excited about…

      • speonjosh

        Wouldn’t it be about affordability? Benefits divided by cost yields a score which can then be converted into an overall feasibility ranking? I think this kind of ranking reuslts in the streetcar winning. I think this partly because I think that the high-speed bus option would be more expensive than people usually assume. Because simply purchasing some articulated buses hardly makes any difference.

        • ShirleyMan

          Well, I think it is pretty clear that more buses or a street car will not be able to support the magnitude of development and density that a metro rail could. Show me a good affordability study of all these options done out to 2040 and then we can evaluate the options. I like to think, based on demonstrated development on Wilson Blvd, that the benefit of a metrorail would be so much greater in the long run than a patch-work solution like more buses or a street car…

          Plus like CW below, droves of people would be super excited to live on/by the Pike if a Metrorail is planned… unfortuantly, excitment about a street car of more buses just isn’t there…

        • Ballstonian

          I think there’s also the logistical aspect of it. Many people think “metro is nice, put a metro there” without consideration of how it would actually work. Would it simply be a branch line off the Pentagon Station? Would it be an offshoot of the Blue or Yellow? Can the existing tracks handle another line heading into the City (a problem being faced with the Silver Line)?

          Metro might bet he snazziest option, but Its also the most fraught with logistical nightmares.

          • CW

            But we’re not talking logistics yet. We’re talking strategy. Logistics can be accomodated.

          • Ballstonian

            I would hope that the Board would look at them in conjunction. Seems like a waste of time/money if they explore something that isn’t even possible, let alone feesible.

          • Ballstonian

            Also, I’m not sure what the restrictions would be for digging a tunnel under/around the Pentagon these days.

          • ShirleyMan

            Well for any large capital project, of course you have to look at these logistics. What I don’t see in the overall discussion is this option of a metrorail and I feel like it should be discussed. We shouldn’t be afraid to look at it as a legit option. For a transit study as large as the Pike Transit Initiaitve, I feel like most residents would support a metro rail in lieu of the street car / more buses which still are hefty investments and will actualize much lower benefit for the pike long term than a metrorail. If we’re going to do something to improve our mass transit, might as well do it right first and not half-a** it… Dream Big, Go Metro on Columbia Pike!

          • Ballstonian

            Which is fine, but I don’t see too many people getting past the “yay metro on the pike” stage and into the details. You support the idea, how do you see it working?

          • Car-Free Diet

            Before getting on board with this Metro on the Pike campaign, do you have any sense where this line goes to? Where it ends? Yes, as someone noted it could start from Pentagon City or the Pentagon Station, but where is it going to end? At Skyline, up into Annandale?

            Many Arlingtonians have the same problem as New Yorkers, not only do they think the world revolves around them, they think their little world is the entire world.

      • CW

        I’d put a down payment on a house down that way tomorrow if I had a promise of a subway in 5-10 years…

  • Bluemonter

    I think these busses are a distant second to the street car line. The following negatives exist with the articulated line:

    1. More accidents (Human Error will alway’s trump technology that reduces that chance for Human Error – Railes..)

    2. Cost of Fuel is a lot more expensive than electricity and should be seriously considered. Make no mistake people gas will be at $10/gallon within 15 years. It was just $2/gallon about 4 years ago and is at $4/gallon today…

    3. The ride will not be as smooth as the street car because it will be on asphalt with no dedicated lane. I hope you like the potholes because that is not going to change.

    4. People will ride the articulated bus less frequently than the streetcar, mainly because the ride is just not as comfortable. For example when I take the metro to work I read or play on my laptop. When I take the bus anywhere i almost never get on my laptop and reading is attempted buy rarely achieved.

    5. You will have less development dollars with the articulated bus. I know this is a positive for some on this blog but should be looked at as a negative. You already have a lot of development on the Pike. So the question is really.. do you want a business that pays tax on maybe half of the $500k in revenue they report or a business that brings in $5M a year and pays you tax on all of that income.

    6. I agree the best option is an underground metro but given the current political climate this is not going to happen. Also, the streetcar is supposed to get federal funding for the project actually costing arlington something like $56M. I know you could get Federal Funding for the bus idea costin Arlingotn maybe $15M but wouldn’t you actually want a streetcar instead of a bus when the actual dollar difference to you is more like $45M.

    7. If you are arguing cost based on $250M you are more concerned about the macro economic level of the country and not the micro level transportation needs of the county. It is unfair and a B.S. put out by tea partiers who probably don’t even live in Arlingtong and the few Republicans that are on this board are latching onto the number.

    8. Street car is better than the bus on a pure service and transportation level. Now again people, don’t you want rail over bus for an additional $45M?… The answer is yes.

    • nom de guerre

      You make a lot of good points. But regarding comment #3-although the streetcar will only be able to travel in one lane each way, I think the description of it being dedicated is misleading. I believe the streetcar will share this lane with other vehicles, including busses and cars.

  • JohnB

    RPC: 25017098
    2012 Assessed Value: $68,965,500
    Commercial $11,555,800 x $1.083/$100 = $125,149.31
    General $57,409,700 x $0.958/$100 = $549,984.93
    Total annual assessment: $675,134.24

    2007 RPCs:
    25-017-043: $10,272,800
    25-017-045: $774,700
    25-017-047: $1,621,900
    25-017-049: $1,444,000
    Total: $14,113,400 x $0.958/$100 = $135,206.37

    The redevelopment of Sienna Park resulted in an additional $540,000 in tax revenue. That’s an additional $16.2 million over 30 years assuming assessments and rates stay flat. That is for a single property. The redevelopment of Columbia Pike will pay for the street car many times over and result in a more vibrant, liveable, walkable community. It will be appropriately scaled to the surrounding neighborhoods because the people who live there got involved in the process and the Form Based Code codifies their priorities. It will not result in the “Clarendonization” of the Pike specifically because the community did not, and does not want that, and the Form Based Code does not allow for that.

    • Streetcar hype

      That assumes the expanded tax base actually pays for the streetcar. Since developers (and County coffers) would be the major beneficiaries of streetcar vs articulated buses (i.e. 5x the expense for no transit improvement. they should pay for it.

      The ONLY way I’ll support the streetcar is if Arlington fronts the cash, but explicitly dedicates a percentage of commercial tax revenues (or levy an additional streetcar tax) to recoup the investment AND demands higher-than-normal contributions to affordable housing since further gentification of the Pike will eliminate one of the last major sources of market-rate affordable housing.

      As an aside, you’re clearly a rookie in the zoning game. I know from painful personal experience that developers and County staff will make a mockery of your Form Based Code and play for additional height, density, and geographic expansion of commercial zones using tactics such as LEED certification, affordable housing contributions, whining about ‘commercial viability’, claiming other community benefits such as public art, etc. It’s unfortunately not about what the community wants, which is why we need change on the Board!

      • JohnB

        Columbia Pike is the first and only Form Based Code implemented in the County and so far the properties developed under it and the site plans submitted have all conformed to the Form Based Code. Having actually been to the meetings and put in the effort to collaborate with the County during the planning process I have to disagree with your assessment that it’s not about what the community wants. From my perspective, it’s people who don’t participate when the planning is being done who complain after the fact that nobody is listening to them.

        • NPGMBR


  • Russ

    Look. Rail is neat. I love rail. I have trained across Korea, up and down West Coast of US, from virtually my front door ob Metro to Union Station then Amtrak to Montreal and back (and their Metro), a gig working in Laurel via MARC, Light Rail in San Jose CA, the subs in NYC, and and a memorable trip across the US in winter. I ride Metro almost daily. My wife and I have one car, which she mainly uses.
    But have you read http://www.arlnow.com/2011/12/02/developing-pike-streetcar-cost-soars/ ? I am absolutely positive that streetcars will blow all cost guesstimates out the window when finally the first rider climbs aboard as businesses recover from street closures and construction gridlock.
    How about a single rail option? You know, one side rides on trail other on rubber with emergency option to run off rail for short distances? Or metro totally on rubber wheels as the Montreal Metro does? The only whole rail option I could support is an EL – pass-throughs into some buildings, stairs/elevators up at present bus stops. Minimal construction disruptions. Movable (within limits) in the future if necessary. Looks cool.

    • Josh S

      Of course the final cost will be higher. But so would the final cost be higher for any project. It’s just the nature of things. I think probably the *relative* cost of bus vs streetcar vs metrorail would stay the same.

  • IWittig

    Articulated buses at 1/5 the price sounds like the perfect solution.

  • MC

    This is a solution more appropriate for long distances through sprawl, like Vegas. It would work great on I-66: why not make one land on I-66 a dedicated lane for articulated buses to bring people from Loudoun County to DC? Columbia Pike is much denser, and will require more stops than this kind of solution. Let’s do it right with a streetcar, and not be so whimpy and shortsighted.

  • Andrew

    I don’t know why Arlington doesn’t consider a monorail for Columbia Pike. Seriously. Some even make money:


    • Zippy

      How about a zip line……now that would be unique !!

      • Andrew

        That seems to be part of the problem. No one takes monorails seriously. If you read that link I included, it sounds like monorails are cheaper and faster to build, safe and can turn a profit. They don’t have accidents with surface traffic. Why not, Arlington?

        • We should build a version of the “L” right over Columbia Pike, and have it turn at 7 and go all the way up to one of the Falls Church metro stations.


        • Josh S

          Where would you put the supports for a monorail down Columbia Pike?

          • nom de guerre

            Didn’t you read CW’s previous post on this topic?

            “But we’re not talking logistics yet. We’re talking strategy. Logistics can be accomodated.”

            I think we also need to think about logistics-they can cost a lot of money.

  • JMB

    Plus, rail transit seems to have a psychological advantage over bus transit — in general, more people would be willing to ride a streetcar than they would a bus.

    This seems to be the only advantage of a street car system over buses – people just think street cars are cooler.

  • YTK

    I’d love to see how the hey is this thing is going to manage the hill on Columbia Pike going down past the Navy Annex. Maybe I won’t want to see this.

    • nom de guerre

      I think the problem may be how it is going to manage this hill GOING UP. The proposed route is supposed to take a left off Columbia Pike UP a steep grade on South Jefferson Street towards Skyline. I have heard that the project may involve the regrading of this street to allow it to be able to manage the steep grade.

    • I’m in no way a supporter of this debacle. But, what makes you think a streetcar can not manage these hills?


      • Greaseman

        Nice picture. An excerpt taken from a County press release reveals the following: “re-grading Jefferson Street, (adds $20 million to base cost).” I’m not sure why they have to regrade Jefferson Street, but I”m guessing it is to reduce the steep grade there for some reason and $20 million is a fairly significant amount.


  • mga5

    Honestly i dont think the articulated bus is a bad idea. What they do need is dedicated bus lanes or light rail lanes so no traffic will not get in the way. I’ve been in los Angeles and they have the Articulated bus running as if it was a light rail line on its own street and its great. Has its own stations like a metro and all street lights give the right of way to the bus so your commute is very quick. Plus in its own street the bus ran every 10 to 15 minutes and on rush hour or “peak” it ran almost every 5 minutes. It was really reliable. I think we should consider the time it would take to get where we want to go and how soon we will get it, because if it will take 5 years to get the street car and only 2 years or less for the bus I say which ever is sooner. Oh and that five mile stretch needs to be extended. Also will the street car have bike racks? because the articulated bus does.


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