Posts Tagged: Light Rail

23
Nov

2009

The Speed of CPT (and Chickadees)

The other day I wrote about how Toronto’s streetcars were like shooting chickadees with cannonballs.  In terms of speed, the streetcars were designed to operate at speeds far in excess of what was possible in an urban environment.

So how does CPT stack up on our Cannonball Index (that doesn’t exist, by the way, but wouldn’t it be great if it did)? Pretty well, in fact.

Cable-Propelled Transit maxes out at around 40 km/hr and most are built with a maximum speed of around 27 – 35 km/hr. Doesn’t sound too impressive, does it?  Remember, though, these vehicles actually travel at that speed. None of this built to go 100 but actually goes 10 nonsense.

Of course we have to factor in the time required for the vehicle to stop and allow passengers to alight and board but that time is offset by three major factors:

First, terminal time.  Because CPT is almost always fully automated, terminal time (the time a vehicle idles at its two terminal stations) is statistically irrelevant.

Second, drivers’ breaks.  Again, because CPT is typically fully automated with driverless vehicles no time and speed loss occurs due to bathroom breaks.

Third, crawl speed.  In the case of aerial-supported Gondola systems, vehicles don’t stop at stations. Instead, they are slowed down to what is known as “crawl speed” or “creep speed”.  Vehicles move through the stations at a speed of less than a meter per second allowing passengers to safely board and alight.  For those with accessibility issues, the vehicles can be stopped entirely for safe loading. Crawl speed doesn’t have a dramatic impact on overall average speed, but it does increase it somewhat.

So next time you’re riding a streetcar in Toronto . . . please, think of the chickadees.

Plz kanz yous think of me?

Please, think of me?

Creative Commons image by spaceamoeba



Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

18
Nov

2009

Shooting a Chickadee with a Cannonball

The Swiss have an expression to describe solving a problem with far more than is necessary.

To do so, they say, is to “shoot a chickadee with a cannonball,” and is a perfect description of what light rail is to the transit planning problem.

As an example: Toronto’s current fleet of streetcars were designed to reach a top speed of around 100 km/hr, and yet they never reach that speed. Not even close. In fact, if one looks at the Toronto Transit Commission‘s own service summaries, one sees that the average speeds of most streetcar lines in Toronto rarely eclipse 15 km/hr. Most hover around 12 or 13.

(You can find several TTC service summaries on the fine Transit Toronto website.)

Anyone whose ever ridden a Toronto streetcar can tell you the reason. Streetcars in Toronto stop constantly to linger at red lights, pick-up and drop-off passengers and avoid any of the pitfalls of modern urban traffic.

Yes, terminal time and driver’s bathroom breaks also factor into the equation, but the point is still the same:

Streetcars in Toronto will never reach speeds of 100 km/hr because the nature of urban environments preclude it. In fact, even subway trains, which stop far less frequently and operate in exclusive rights-of way, rarely surpass average speeds of 35 km/hr.

It’s like that guy who buys a Ferrari and drives it into the city every day only to get stuck in traffic jam-after-traffic jam. It’s all fine and well that you have a Ferrari that can go zero to 200 in 3.2 nano-seconds (or whatever), but if you use it in the city, you will never get to do so.

So what’s the point? There isn’t one . . . unless you like shooting chickadees with cannonballs.

That Guy

That Guy

Creative Commons image by vm2827



Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.