Lane Transit District's new-age bus system - Bus Rapid Transit - is still largely on the drawing board, with inaugural service between the Eugene and Springfield downtowns not expected until the end of next year.
By the end of 2006, five state-of-the-art buses are expected to replace the No. 11 bus five buses replaced one bus? along the four-mile portion of the route between the Eugene LTD station at Willamette Street and 11th Avenue, and the Springfield Station at Pioneer Parkway and South A Street.
Though the new vehicles won't be particularly rapid - they'll stick to posted speed limits - LTD says the service will be: The buses will use designated lanes and have fewer stops, special loading platforms and control of traffic signals to shave five minutes - and often more - off the 21-minute ride.
The buses will run either in a designated lane next to vehicle lanes, or in a lane that also accommodates other vehicles or - during a stretch along Franklin Boulevard between East 11th Avenue and Walnut Street - in a lane separated from traffic by a curb.
The district originally wanted twin dedicated lanes running the length of the stretch between the Eugene and Springfield stations, but has settled for exclusive lanes along 60 percent of the route to maintain access to businesses.
The district is also putting up "block signals" that will tell EmX drivers when they can enter single-lane stretches that serve buses in both directions.
For those who are not familiar with the Eugene/Springfield area, you can drive from one end of Springfield to the other end of Eugene in less than 30 minutes.
To my knowledge, I don't think the public was even asked if we even wanted this system.
With the recent failures of the 6 LTD's hybrid buses estimated $1.02 million and now they want to spend another $23 million for a new system.
Take note that in order to put in a system like this especially a long Franklin Boulevard, something is going to have to go, and I'm assuming that they're going to take down all the trees in the center median.
I would think that if LTD really want to be more efficient and cost effective, that they would take their smaller 20 passenger buses back and forth between Eugene and Springfield.
It would also be more cost effective for them to take control of the traffic lights since there is already system currently in place for emergency vehicles. The only modification required to the buses to control the lights would be the addition of a strobe light on each bus.