Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby Myrtone » Sun Jun 26, 2016 3:19 am

Both Pittsburgh and San Francisco seem to have some stops in locations where high platforms aren't possible. But if Pittsburgh can convert to mostly high platform loading, why couldn't Cleveland convert to high platform loading throughout?
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby electricron » Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:44 am

Myrtone wrote:Both Pittsburgh and San Francisco seem to have some stops in locations where high platforms aren't possible. But if Pittsburgh can convert to mostly high platform loading, why couldn't Cleveland convert to high platform loading throughout?

Did anyone respond they couldn't? There's a difference between couldn't, shouldn't, and wouldn't.

You're assuming the powers to be in Cleveland will want to continue to use high floor vehicles forever. Maybe they want to buy low floor vehicles when they replace their existing high floor vehicles? So keeping things as they are keeps their options open in the future. They are grandfathered now on having level boarding with their existing vehicles, what they have is good enough. But that will not be true when they replace the existing vehicles. At that time they will have to make a choice, either buy low floor vehicles or raise the height of their existing platforms. It will be their choice on how to meet the federal laws.

Dallas' DART took an unique choice. They were like Cleveland, having high floor vehicles with very low platforms. DART was in the middle of expansion, building both the Green and Orange Lines after having already built the Red and Blue Lines. They were looking at doubling the size of their fleet. They stretched all of their vehicles, both recently built and brand new ones, with the new "C" car having low floors while the "A" and "B" cars remained with high floors. They also raised all the existing platforms a few inches (not a few feet) for level boarding with the new "C" car. There's built in humps, or ramps, on the older platforms now because they didn't raise the entire platforms. The wavy platforms meet the law requirements for level boarding. The new platforms were all built level at new low level/floor height.

If Cleveland chooses to buy low floor vehicles in the future, they most likely will have to raise all their platforms a few inches just like Dallas. If Cleveland chooses to buy high floor vehicles in the future they will have to raise all their platforms a few feet. It will be their choice to make.

But today they don''t have to make that choice. They can keep it the way it is if they choose to do so. So it's more like they wouldn't than couldn't or shouldn't.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby jtbell » Sun Jun 26, 2016 11:05 am

As far as the stations themselves are concerned, Cleveland could probably go either way, from a technical point of view. As I recall, there's plenty of space in the broad median strips of Shaker and Van Aken Blvds. Aesthetics and cost would would be in favor of low platforms.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby Myrtone » Sun Jun 26, 2016 12:01 pm

electricron wrote:Did anyone respond they couldn't? There's a difference between couldn't, shouldn't, and wouldn't.


The strange part is this; the systems Pittsburgh and San Francisco, both of which have some stops in the street environment that cannot have high level platforms, nevertheless provided high platforms in a few others, along with dual height entrance steps. Yet Cleveland, which has a light rail entirely on reserve, and even sharing tracks with subway trains, still hasn't.

electricron wrote:You're assuming the powers to be in Cleveland will want to continue to use high floor vehicles forever. Maybe they want to buy low floor vehicles when they replace their existing high floor vehicles? So keeping things as they are keeps their options open in the future. They are grandfathered now on having level boarding with their existing vehicles, what they have is good enough. But that will not be true when they replace the existing vehicles. At that time they will have to make a choice, either buy low floor vehicles or raise the height of their existing platforms. It will be their choice on how to meet the federal laws.


Actually, I'm assuming nothing here. Low floor rolling stock was developed for systems where some stops are in streets that don't allow platforms higher than the wheel tops. Bogie design with independent wheels and outboard drives, roof mounted control equipment, and wheel-boxes in the passenger compartment all make them work. Low floor vehicles seem to function best on essentially street based systems, with stopping (on demand) at frequent stops. I know there are low floor L.R.Vs, particularly in North America, which do run extensively off street, but these have part high floor.
Cleveland seems to be able to avoid the problem that low floor L.R.Vs were designed to solve, running all on reserve, with stops in locations where they could use high platforms. What I'm really saying here is that it will be their loss if they squander this advantage, unless they plan on extending their network into the street environment.

electricron wrote:Dallas' DART took an unique choice. They were like Cleveland, having high floor vehicles with very low platforms. DART was in the middle of expansion, building both the Green and Orange Lines after having already built the Red and Blue Lines. They were looking at doubling the size of their fleet. They stretched all of their vehicles, both recently built and brand new ones, with the new "C" car having low floors while the "A" and "B" cars remained with high floors. They also raised all the existing platforms a few inches (not a few feet) for level boarding with the new "C" car. There's built in humps, or ramps, on the older platforms now because they didn't raise the entire platforms. The wavy platforms meet the law requirements for level boarding. The new platforms were all built level at new low level/floor height.


I have seen photos of the Dallas Light rail showing stops in the street environment, maybe they have stops in locations where platforms that high aren't possible.

electricron wrote:If Cleveland chooses to buy low floor vehicles in the future, they most likely will have to raise all their platforms a few inches just like Dallas. If Cleveland chooses to buy high floor vehicles in the future they will have to raise all their platforms a few feet. It will be their choice to make.


The trade of of raising the platforms a few feet, as opposed to a few inches, and this is ongoing, is sticking indefinitely with rolling stock that has under-floor type bogies, control equipment also under the floor, and no wheel-boxes. The ongoing trade-off of the other is making way for extensions into the street environment.

electricron wrote:But today they don''t have to make that choice. They can keep it the way it is if they choose to do so. So it's more like they wouldn't than couldn't or shouldn't.


Could it be that the sooner they make that choice, the better?

jtbell wrote:As far as the stations themselves are concerned, Cleveland could probably go either way, from a technical point of view. As I recall, there's plenty of space in the broad median strips of Shaker and Van Aken Blvds. Aesthetics and cost would would be in favor of low platforms.


What sort of cost do you mean? One-off and ongoing are two different types. Imagine a heavy rail operator converting to low floor heavy rail rolling stock (does exist, in Europe) instead of building up their railway platforms.
Imagine someone building a new metro system with low floor trains instead of building high platforms, thinking that it will save them a little money since their metro doesn't need to be interoperable with existing rail.
But the cost of building the platforms is insignificant compared to the impact of platform height on every generation of rolling stock purchased for the metro system. And all heavy metro has been able to avoid the problem that low floor rail vehicles were designed to solve. Most non-metro heavy rail has too. Level boarding is standard on metro systems around the world, on suburban rail here in Australasia, and on heavy rail in the British Isles, probably nearly all heavy rail in English speaking countries outside North America.
So building a metro with low level platforms and low floor vehicles would, in fact, be squandering the advantage of high platforms being possible in all locations.

Also see this thread on another forum about someone's disagreement with a low floor recommendation in Calgary.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby electricron » Sun Jun 26, 2016 11:29 pm

Myrtone wrote:[Could it be that the sooner they make that choice, the better?

That depends upon when they must replace the existing light rail vehicles, doesn't i?. Replacing them prematurely, before their time, would be a huge waste of money. The longer they can keep the existing vehicles in service, the cheaper it is for not only the light rail operator, but also its customers. A penny saved is a penny earned.

Do you have to live within your means, i.e. on a budget? The way you keep advocating spending money without considering how much money they have begs that question to be asked. Everybody lives on a budget, from the richest person on Earth to the poorest.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby Myrtone » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:23 am

If you already have high floor vehicles, but low platforms, it seems likely to be possible to convert to high platform loading without replacing, only refurbishing or at least modifying the existing rolling stock. What was actually asking is if maybe the sooner they add level boarding the better.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby electricron » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:35 am

Myrtone wrote:If you already have high floor vehicles, but low platforms, it seems likely to be possible to convert to high platform loading without replacing, only refurbishing or at least modifying the existing rolling stock. What was actually asking is if maybe the sooner they add level boarding the better.

Why would you build high platforms for your stations when you plan to buy low floor vehicles next?
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby Myrtone » Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:03 am

What if you a are able to avoid the problem that low floor vehicles were designed to solve? Shouldn't you make the platforms higher, especially if making the platforms higher and modifying the existing fleet brings the accessibility sooner than if you wait until the existing fleet needs replacing.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby electricron » Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:18 pm

Myrtone wrote:What if you a are able to avoid the problem that low floor vehicles were designed to solve? Shouldn't you make the platforms higher, especially if making the platforms higher and modifying the existing fleet brings the accessibility sooner than if you wait until the existing fleet needs replacing.

Why is accommodating mobility challenged persons with level platforms sooner better?
The light rail lines were built as early as 1913, over 100 years ago, they were built for inter urban streetcars, basically electric powered buses on rails. Have you ever seen high platforms for buses? The existing platforms would have to completely redesign and rebuilt for all the stations to raise their platforms 4 feet. That includes any electrical wiring for lights, signals, and ticket machines, which means rewiring just about everything fed by underground conduits. They would have to do them in phases, a quarter, third, or even a half of them a a time. So it's going to take years to accomplish. While the work is being done in phases, there will be some with high platforms and some with low platforms, it'll be a mess and confusing until all are finished.

Meanwhile, the light rail vehicles Cleveland is using today were built in 1981. They're over 30 years old. They will probably be replaced within the next 20 years. So even a program to rebuild the platforms isn't going to shorten the time to get level boarding much than waiting for new low floor light rail cars. Certainly not worth the expense to rebuild platforms when new rail cars, which will have to be purchased anyways, will/should be coming soon.

If having level boarding is important to you, I suggest it will be wiser to replace the existing high floor light rail cars with low floor cars quicker. You save all the money which could be used for new rail cars instead, and the headaches and confusion caused by construction. They wouldn't need even one environmental review, public planning meetings, engineering firm, nimby protests, or one construction permit, All the RTA board would have to do is release a RFP, and choose the cheapest compatible bidder to build the new rail cars. A much, much easier and quicker proposition. They could do the new vehicles purchase within one year, it'll take close to 10 years to finish the environmental impacts, planning and designing, building and testing the new platforms.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby Myrtone » Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:18 pm

Why is accommodating mobility challenged persons with level platforms sooner better?

Whatever reason the A.D.A was passed in first place.

electricron wrote:The light rail lines were built as early as 1913, over 100 years ago, they were built for inter urban streetcars, basically electric powered buses on rails. Have you ever seen high platforms for buses? The existing platforms would have to completely redesign and rebuilt for all the stations to raise their platforms 4 feet. That includes any electrical wiring for lights, signals, and ticket machines, which means rewiring just about everything fed by underground conduits. They would have to do them in phases, a quarter, third, or even a half of them a a time. So it's going to take years to accomplish. While the work is being done in phases, there will be some with high platforms and some with low platforms, it'll be a mess and confusing until all are finished.


But even long ago, high platforms did exist for rail vehicles that never needed to stop in the streets. You don't generally see high platforms for buses because platform stops and stations are easier to implement with rail vehicles. Also, I'm not sure how difficult it is to design low floor buses, but it has been explained before why a low floor rail vehicle is difficult to design.
The existing platforms would have to be rebuilt and redesigned, and it could be done in phases, with folding steps provided on vehicles during the transition. It might be "a mess and confusing" for a short period of time, but the trade off, in the long term, is providing level boarding to rail vehicles with more conventional railway type bogies, underfloor electrical control, and no wheelbox intrusion.

electricron wrote:Meanwhile, the light rail vehicles Cleveland is using today were built in 1981. They're over 30 years old. They will probably be replaced within the next 20 years. So even a program to rebuild the platforms isn't going to shorten the time to get level boarding much than waiting for new low floor light rail cars. Certainly not worth the expense to rebuild platforms when new rail cars, which will have to be purchased anyways, will/should be coming soon.


But you said that don't have to make the choice today, and can keep it that way if they choose to. Could they last as long as 50 years or more if refurbished. Look at how long the Pearly Thomas cars in New Orleans have lasted. There are cases around the world of trams lasting more than 50 years.

electricron wrote:If having level boarding is important to you, I suggest it will be wiser to replace the existing high floor light rail cars with low floor cars quicker. You save all the money which could be used for new rail cars instead, and the headaches and confusion caused by construction. They wouldn't need even one environmental review, public planning meetings, engineering firm, nimby protests, or one construction permit, All the RTA board would have to do is release a RFP, and choose the cheapest compatible bidder to build the new rail cars. A much, much easier and quicker proposition. They could do the new vehicles purchase within one year, it'll take close to 10 years to finish the environmental impacts, planning and designing, building and testing the new platforms.


I'm not saying it's important to me, I've never even been anywhere near Cleveland, but it's obviously important to those who devised the A.D.A, and you said that replacing them prematurely would be a huge waste of money. But if you build up the platforms to the vehicle floors, you might be able to achieve level boarding without replacing the rolling stock, this approach does mean that the new rolling stock can be more mechanically more similar to the existing rolling stock than if they convert to low floor.

Did you note what I said before about the technically differences between high and low floor rail vehicles, the reason low floor vehicles were originally developed, and that some light rail systems, like virtually all heavy rail, especially metro style rail, has been able avoid the problem that low floor rolling stock was designed to solve.

If you can achieve level boarding without replacing rolling stock, which can be done if platforms the same height as vehicles floors are possible in all locations, then doing so sooner may well be better, unless there is a proposal to make extensions into locations where platforms that high cannot be built.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:40 pm

Moderator's Note: asked and answered. Contact Greg or me if there is anything else pertinent.

EDIT: reopened at members' requests.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby Myrtone » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:20 pm

One thing I forgot to mention; While it is easier to achieve level boarding to fixed guideway vehicles than manually steered ones, high-level boarding stops do exist in a number of South American cities, most notably Curitiba in Brazil. Obviously these cities were able to avoid the problem low floor buses were designed to solve.

Taking a look at systems with high platform loading throughout, they continue to buy new high floor vehicles and show no intention of converting to low platform loading with low floor vehicles. Given that, and the design constraints on having floors lower than the wheel tops, and that the systems that started with high floor and have converted or are converting to low floor didn't have high platforms in the first place, what does that all tell you guys?
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby electricron » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:01 pm

Myrtone wrote: Given that, and the design constraints on having floors lower than the wheel tops, and that the systems that started with high floor and have converted or are converting to low floor didn't have high platforms in the first place, what does that all tell you guys?

It suggests to me that building low platforms at stations is far cheaper than building high platforms. That building a low floor light rail vehicles doesn't cost much more than building a high floor vehicle. So the cheapest solution, with long term planning in mind, is to build new low floor vehicles next vs rebuilding all the stations with high platforms.
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby Myrtone » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:39 pm

What does cheaper mean in this case? There is a difference between one-off and ongoing costs?

The cost of constructing platforms really seems insignificant compared to the impact of platform height on each generation of rolling stock

Take a look at light rail and tramway networks pre-dating low floor vehicles. Some have high level platforms, some do not. The vast majority of legacy systems don't and never did have high platform loading, likely because high platforms aren't possible in all locations, not even most locations in case of a typical first generation tramway.

(1) A few legacy systems, such as Pittsburgh, do have some high platform stops, but they converted from all street level or low platform loading quite recently in relation to the history of these system. Most do not and never have had high platform loading.
(2) Of light rail that began before low floor vehicles, some, such as Edmonton and Calgary have high platform loading, while others, such as San Diego and Dallas, only ever had low platform loading.
(3) Only the ones that never had high platform loading are converting and have converted to low floor, the ones that don't are still buying new high floor rolling stock. Did you note what I said about the design constraints on low floor vehicles? Could that be the main reason why high platform light rail systems stick to high floor?
(4) Does anyone here know what Dallas Area Rapid transit, San Diego trolley, Baltimore light rail, Philadelphia Trolley and Toronto street car system have in common, not shared with systems in Edmonton, Calgary and St. Louis that lead to the former never having had high platform loading anywhere and the latter having had high platform loading at all stops since they were opened?
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Re: Why do Cleveland L.R.Vs have steps?

Postby electricron » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:54 am

Myrtone wrote:(3) Only the ones that never had high platform loading are converting and have converted to low floor, the ones that don't are still buying new high floor rolling stock. Did you note what I said about the design constraints on low floor vehicles? Could that be the main reason why high platform light rail systems stick to high floor?

Those with high platforms will stick to high floor vehicles because it will cost more money to rebuild their high platforms to low platforms. Buying a new low or high floor vehicle will costs basically the same. There's no savings to be gained by changing platform heights when you can continue to buy new vehicles to match what you already have.

You might think Pittsburgh was wise to change platform heights, I believe they wasted money doing so. Never-the-less, the local transit agency made their own decision over what works best for them, not some advocate thinking their way and only their way is best. ;)

Let Cleveland decide what works best for them now and in the future. If they want heavy rail with high platforms and light rail with low platforms, it''s their choice to make.

Just like El Paso, who will be returning 6 PCC streetcars into service soon. The streetcars will have high floors, but they are building 29 stations with low platforms. They plan to accommodate wheelchairs with lifts installed on their 6 vehicles at the back door. Obviously they think running and maintaining 6 lifts will be cheaper than building 29 high platforms. But that's the choice they made.
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