Rave Review for Cleveland’s BRT Debut

cleveland_brt_station.jpgCleveland bus riders at one of the Health Line’s new stations.

Cleveland’s first venture into Bus Rapid Transit — a 10-mile route called the Health Line — was turning heads before it fully launched, attracting planners from other cities looking to boost transit ridership. Now that the ribbons have been cut, the Plain Dealer’s Steven Litt hails the finished product:

The core section of the line, from Public Square to University Circle,
has center median stations on raised platforms designed to enable
riders to step directly onto buses, as if they were rail cars. An
innovative precision docking system makes it easy to align the buses
with precise spots on the platforms, so riders know where to queue.

The 34 stations along the line are smartly tailored gems. They have
a light, transparent feel that makes them look both elegant and safe.
They complement the architecture of nearby buildings, rather than
obscure views.

Less noticeable are the ingenious ways in which landscape
architects from Sasaki Associates in Watertown, Mass., redesigned the
avenue from building face to building face to include 5-foot-wide
bicycle paths and tapering islands with flower beds at the bus
stations.

Intended to spur economic development along the city’s historic but struggling main drag, Euclid Avenue, the Health Line figures to get even more attention from other cities if the Obama administration commits to increased federal investment in transit:

Financed primarily by the state of Ohio and the federal government,
the project shows how smart investments in mass transit and public
space can help struggling cities turn themselves around.

The project also is a reminder — after the collapse of the I-35
bridge in Minneapolis and the catastrophic failure of levees in New
Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — that America still has the ability to
tackle high-quality, large-scale infrastructure projects with style.

That’s important at a moment in which the country has elected a new
president who wants to invest heavily in urban infrastructure to create
jobs, jump-start a sputtering economy and revitalize cities.

Just two weeks after the ribbon-cutting, the Euclid Corridor
project is becoming a national model. Joseph Calabrese, director of the
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, which masterminded and
built the bus line, said the agency has recently entertained large
civic delegations from San Antonio and Nashville, Tenn.

Photo: Steven Litt/Plain Dealer

  • v

    was in cleveland to get-out-the-vote last weekend. definitely noticed the brt system, which seemed to be working very smoothly. there is a station right in front of the Board of Elections, where people were lined up for hours to vote early. a number of people arrived by bus, which is great because 1) maybe some of them wouldn’t have been able to vote early otherwise 2) they were able to get to the polling place quickly instead of taking an hour to park. who knows how many people couldn’t find a place to park and ended up leaving the polling place.

    the hard times of the past few years have made cleveland seem more sprawly due to a high fraction of unused buildings, so i hope a great transit system can help! extra points for the ‘make it a pleasant place to wait’ design.

  • Great to see that the Healthline is getting some good local press.

    Having followed the project over the years, I believe the biggest disappointment is the alignment of the BRT line from University Circle into East Cleveland rather than Cleveland Heights. More details are on my blog.

  • The Dealer’s article was a simple puff piece, written by someone who didn’t report on the bus experience, but reported what he thought others would think about the bus experience.

    Let’s see what Mr. Litt thinks if and when he ever rides it.

    Like most BRT proponents, he’ll probably never ride it.

    Let’s hope they don’t have to replace the potentially-tainted concrete.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Long Island's bus and rail networks are run as two separate and unequal systems. Photo: Adam Moreira/Wikimedia Commons

On Long Island, Transit Operates as Two Separate and Unequal Systems

|
The Long Island Railroad is building some of the biggest infrastructure projects in the region -- even the world. The hugely expensive East Side Access tunnel and terminal at Grand Central and the construction of a third track for the LIRR Main Line will open up new possibilities for convenient, all-day transit that people can use for all types of trips. But not if Long Island continues to operate its rail and bus networks as a two-tiered transit system.
STREETSBLOG USA

Gun Lobby’s New Target: The Bus

|
Letting people carry firearms on transit vehicles is a new priority for the gun lobby in several states where legislation to expand concealed carry rules to buses and trains is gaining momentum. Proponents of theses bills imagine armed transit riders protecting themselves from would-be assailants. Some states, like Texas, already allow guns on transit. But not everyone thinks crowded buses are a […]