Let’s go for a trip on the Phoenix LRT. The video at this link takes 10 minutes to play. The link may not be live, ie you may have to copy and paste to your browser. http://youtu.be/D3EANU4FmiI
Leave the window size small, as the video is low resolution, taken from a handheld digital camera while sitting behind the driver.
The Phoenix LRT is 20 miles long (32 km), and has 28 stations. It opened in Dec 2008. Ridership in 2011 averaged 40,600 pax per day. The peak day carried over 60,000 pax.
The trains are two-car train sets, thus the platforms are about half the length of the ones planned for Ottawa.
Let me nag you while you take your trip;
minute 1.14: notice the visual signal is similar to road traffic signal, but has only a single light showing a white horizontal bar for stop, and a while vertical bar for proceed. This is the same signals Ottawa streetcars used back in the 40’s and 50’s.
1.50: the overhead wires carried 750v. The catenary is strung in sections; towards the end of each section a second catenary wire appears beside the first, which then terminates at the next power pole. You can see this again at 5.55 as well as other times during the trip if you have sharper eyes than me.
5.20: Holy Deja Vu! Here we are crossing a body of water beside a clone of our Prince of Wales Railway bridge ! Theirs appeared to be still active for regular trains, so the transit authority built a new bridge for the LRT.
Notice too how most of the time the tracks seem set right into a smooth bed of concrete. It is attractive. Despite repeated inquiries to the Rail Office here in Ottawa, I have never gotten an answer as to whether we are going to have a utilitarian roadbed of ties or a nicely finished roadbed with concrete, syngrass, or planter trays of Sedum. Keep in mind that thousands of condo dwellers will be looking at that track bed every day. Of course, if it goes on any of the NCC’s parkland, I expect it to be a Cadillac finish, even if few people can see it. But through LeBreton Flats or the Scott Street cut??
6.38: coming up on the right is a newish looking low-rise urban development with easy access to the LRT. A nice example of Transit Oriented Development (TOD).
7.35: cyclist waiting on the platform. Many riders brought on their bikes. My trip was at midday, and the cycles not hung up (because the racks were busy, shown at 9.30 ) took up a lot of space in competition with wheelchair patrons.
7.40: notice the pedestrian nonchalantly crossing the track in front of the train. Quick, get out the AED for the Ottawa transit planners who think anything less than a six foot chain link fence all along the tracks will create an excessive danger to pedestrians! The Phoenix LRT blends in and shares the built environment very well; Ottawa’s wont play as well with pedestrian desire lines.
7.58: this is the speedometer readout on the train. Its maximum rated speed is 55mph. But there is a solid red line extending up at about the 2 o’clock position, which I think was 40 mph. The digital readout showed the train was often travelling between 28 and 36 mph (in metric, the maximum rated speed is 88 kmh but like Ottawa’s the maximum speed in daily use will be about 65 kmh. The speeds I observed the train travelling were usually in the 45 to 58 kmh range. )
8.25: notice the signal light for the train is a very bright small light buried in the middle of the concrete roadbed. There was also a signal mounted on a post, so whichever way the driver was looking he saw a signal. Of course, the roadbed signal would not work well in Ottawa between December and March.
8.40: the LRT stops at an intersection for a traffic light. This was unusual, most of the time the LRT hit a green light at intersections.
9.20: notice the LRT train set parked ahead on this track. And more pedestrians crossing the tracks.
9.30: cyclist on board. This was at the last stop of the line, so I got to walk an empty car and show the exiting cyclist.
thanks to Geoffrey Treen, a reader, for splicing together my various snippets of film.