Saturday, August 25, 2012

Efficiency in mass transit

This is a seven car Sounder train.  Each of its seven coaches can carry 162 riders.  That's a grand total of 1,134 riders.  Using a crew of just two, using railroad tracks used for dozens of BNSF and UP freight trains and Amtrak passenger trains.

That's efficiency.

Unlike TriMet's WES trains, that used seldom-used tracks that had to be extensively rebuilt (and now maintained at TriMet expense), whose (sometimes) two-car trains carry the same amount of riders as one of Sound Transit's coaches, using cars that have three diesel engines each in them and whose fuel economy (per car) is less than half that of a bus, but carries only twice the capacity of a bus.  A one car train (most frequent mode of operation) still requires the same crew (two) as this seven car Sound Transit train.

And unlike WES, Sound Transit's trains serve a very highly utilized transit corridor - Seattle to Tacoma (and Seattle to Everett), not connecting the fourth largest suburb to the tenth.

However, like WES, these trains sit parked on the many highways are simply closed down between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM?


punkrawker4783 said...

Sounder sits parked on MANY weekends, they do run for afternoon Sounder, Mariner, and Seahawks games on Saturdays and/or Sundays.

Erik H. said...

Yes. That's part of the problem - as they say in the airline industry, the plane doesn't make any money on the ground. And even my son - my EIGHT year old son - pointed out that the engine was still running the entire time, as the train was parked.

But during the commute, Sounder kicks WES's butt and then some.

railsignalman said...

Since it was designed to haul commuters mostly M-Fr. Why would they operate on the weekend with a fraction of the ridership, but operating costs the same? Also I am sure the freight owners of the rail line want them out of the way so they can make more money without commuter train delays to their business.

WES is definitely a failure in it's present form. It is just ahead of it's time. Using present infrastructure that is well maintained by the railroads makes good sense. Commuter rail works very well in regions that are much more congested and sprawled out like Seattle and LA. It won't be too long in the foreseeable future 20+ years and Portland will be in the same boat.

Jason McHuff said...

Erik, do you agree with the Federal regulations that require two people to move what's considered a single locomotive, and that locomotive to be way overweight (instead of having modern safety features)?

Would you say that you are a railfan?