Nashville TN: Music City Star

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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby GWoodle » Tue Dec 08, 2009 10:09 pm

ne plus ultra wrote:Here's the wrap-up on the Lakewood experiment:

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091 ... r+Lakewood

30 pax a day (meaning 15 people inbound and then 15 out). They're saying they never intended to consider a permanent train from Lakewood. That this was just about publicizing the availability of the existing train to people in the Lakewood area. Maybe that's true. If not, it's a decent retrospective excuse, I guess.


From my experience, it turned out about right. The few passengers that live in Lakewood & work downtown can go to the Donelson station & pick up a Lebanon Road MTA bus that offers more frequent service & free parking. Riding the bus takes you to the fancy new downtown bus depot where you have a nice place to wait for another bus. The MCS train station is not near the bus depot. Too bad the 2 could have not been combined in some way to provide more bus/train links.

10 years ago the bus system was also bad & slow. Who wants to ride an old smelly bus with no A/c? not me. The mayor has spent a lot of money replacing the bus fleet to make it attractive. Ridership seems to be holding on with gas prices higher than a year ago but well under $4.00/gal or $3.00. Prices seem to be holding steady at $2.65.

I'm becoming concerned the MCS is a poster child on how not to have a commuter rail. You can't use old equipment on an old rail & make it look new & fancy. We'd have to use some diesel tilting technology to get speeds over 40-60mph on the curvy single track line. It will be a harder sell to get something running on CSX track.

The new BRT seems to be working fine. The new bus has a distinctive shape. So far, limiting the number of stops cuts 10 minutes from the trip by not having to stop at every block. The bus alternates with the slower local services. The concept may be extended to other heavy use routes. This may be the future for Nashville in having something with a frequent & flexible schedule to ride on.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby GWoodle » Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:16 pm

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091 ... in-service

A little news. Stimulus money funds MCS deficit.

ridership up to 400 rt/800 per day

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091 ... 066/NEWS03

Accident on the MCS. Train hit a dump truck on the track. No one injured.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby ne plus ultra » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:06 pm

GWoodle wrote:http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091211/NEWS0202/912110356/Stimulus-keeps-Music-City-Star-in-service

A little news. Stimulus money funds MCS deficit.

ridership up to 400 rt/800 per day

Except that it was 850/day in Oct. 08, (see up-thread, with a reference to an MCS newsletter) so this isn't actually up. By Oct. 08, gas prices had already fallen pretty far.

A year ago, there was talk of some transit-oriented development near one of the suburban stations. Has any of that happened, or was it a casualty of the credit crunch? How full are these cars? Presumably they're nowhere near capacity, so maybe there's room for a few bikes, which would at least allow some people to avoid waiting for a bus at the other end. Otherwise, it looks like this train is waiting till the Chinese economy starts booming and they buy up the price of oil again.

EDIT - I looked around and realized they already allow bikes on the train.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby dmclement » Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:01 pm

GWoodle wrote:http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091223/NEWS01/912230400/2066/NEWS03

Accident on the MCS. Train hit a dump truck on the track. No one injured.


The above article quotes MCS as using a leased locomotive to power the train after the regular power had hit the dump truck, anyone know what leased power MCS used/uses?
Owner of North American Rail Gen group - Locomotive-hauled passenger (& freight) train operations in North America (USA & Canada).
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby GWoodle » Fri Dec 25, 2009 9:57 pm

dmclement wrote:
GWoodle wrote:http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091223/NEWS01/912230400/2066/NEWS03

Accident on the MCS. Train hit a dump truck on the track. No one injured.


The above article quotes MCS as using a leased locomotive to power the train after the regular power had hit the dump truck, anyone know what leased power MCS used/uses?


http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 497&nseq=0

This is the lineup. #121-122 owned by MCS. #381 on lease from NERR (Nashville & Eastern). MCS #120 may be in KY for a rebuild similar to the Metra units.
The MCS had some stimulus money (1.5-1.7mil) to rebuild 1 loco
#381 was the 3rd loco in use during the Lakewood trial runs MCS must be able to run 3 cab-coach + 4 regular coaches daily
Last edited by GWoodle on Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby GWoodle » Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:11 pm

ne plus ultra wrote:
GWoodle wrote:http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091211/NEWS0202/912110356/Stimulus-keeps-Music-City-Star-in-service

A little news. Stimulus money funds MCS deficit.

ridership up to 400 rt/800 per day

Except that it was 850/day in Oct. 08, (see up-thread, with a reference to an MCS newsletter) so this isn't actually up. By Oct. 08, gas prices had already fallen pretty far.

A year ago, there was talk of some transit-oriented development near one of the suburban stations. Has any of that happened, or was it a casualty of the credit crunch? How full are these cars? Presumably they're nowhere near capacity, so maybe there's room for a few bikes, which would at least allow some people to avoid waiting for a bus at the other end. Otherwise, it looks like this train is waiting till the Chinese economy starts booming and they buy up the price of oil again.

EDIT - I looked around and realized they already allow bikes on the train.


Thanks for your interest. Ridership may have peaked back in July 08 with falloff in the winter 08/09. Given the economy, it may be a struggle for the MCS to keep pace with prior years.
Transit development may be at the missing Martha station. Not sure how good development has been on the Lebanon end.
There may be some develoment in some bus connections from the Donelson station to nearby business + Opry Mills Mall.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby wigwagfan » Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:08 pm

ne plus ultra wrote:Without getting too far afield on BRT, I'll just say that while you may be right about the bus getting the green "before" other traffic, I doubt it. That would require some sophisticated equipment AND a commitment to ticket other drivers (or they'd quickly learn to go when the bus-light turned green). And for what? It wouldn't actually help to let the bus go before other traffic.

What this sounds like is more typical "signal priority", meaning that stops will be on the far side of the light, and when the bus approaches the light, a controller on the light will recognize its approach (via some sort of radio transmission) and hold the green longer so the bus can get through the light (along with any cars that happen to be approaching the light at the same time).


Portland has a few "queue jumper" lights in operation, where the bus stop is on the NEAR side, and the bus will get a green light about 3-4 seconds before the mainline lanes will get their green light. The signals are almost always 3M programmable visibility heads. The signals require use of an Opticom transmitter on the bus and a receiver at the signal to function (same system that fire trucks/ambulances use for signal preemption) so that cars (the queue-jumpers are often in right-turn lanes) can't activate it just by using the right-turn lane to go straight.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby ne plus ultra » Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:50 am

wigwagfan wrote:
ne plus ultra wrote:Without getting too far afield on BRT, I'll just say that while you may be right about the bus getting the green "before" other traffic, I doubt it. That would require some sophisticated equipment AND a commitment to ticket other drivers (or they'd quickly learn to go when the bus-light turned green). And for what? It wouldn't actually help to let the bus go before other traffic.

What this sounds like is more typical "signal priority", meaning that stops will be on the far side of the light, and when the bus approaches the light, a controller on the light will recognize its approach (via some sort of radio transmission) and hold the green longer so the bus can get through the light (along with any cars that happen to be approaching the light at the same time).


Portland has a few "queue jumper" lights in operation, where the bus stop is on the NEAR side, and the bus will get a green light about 3-4 seconds before the mainline lanes will get their green light. The signals are almost always 3M programmable visibility heads. The signals require use of an Opticom transmitter on the bus and a receiver at the signal to function (same system that fire trucks/ambulances use for signal preemption) so that cars (the queue-jumpers are often in right-turn lanes) can't activate it just by using the right-turn lane to go straight.

I certainly believe you. But it doesn't seem like a very efficient use of the technology.

In return for stopping the flow of traffic in all 4 directions for 4 seconds, the bus gains ... exactly 4 seconds. It's a zero sum thing -- what the bus gains, all the cars lose.

With normal sig priority, traffic parallel to the bus is given an extra 4 seconds (so cars AND the bus are flowing), and the bus thereby gains the 30-seconds of the light cycle that it didn't have to wait through. Depending on how it's done, you can give the extra 4 seconds back to the perpendicular traffic on the next cycle -- so the bus wins big, but no cars lose.

The one drawback is that mathematically, this kind of signal priority is only really useful at intersections that back up. If the intersection doesn't back up, then the bus is most likely to reach the intersection on its initial approach, which is apt to be distributed randomly through the 30 seconds of the red-light cycle; And with a near-side stop, it can use the 30 seconds of red-light time as loading time. But in Chicago, what is more common with near side stops is that a bus reaches the backed up traffic at an intersection, waits for the light, then sometime midway through the light cycle it reaches the corner where patrons are waiting. There is not sufficient time left in the cycle for an average load of 2-5 people to board, so the boarding time carries it just past the end of the light cycle, and the bus is forced to idle through a second cycle before moving. Signal Priority and far-side stops shortcircuit this.

Far side or near side, I guess I can't really see the point of holding the traffic parallel to the bus. So he gets a little head start. Is that really worth it? And doesn't it only work if the bus happens to be the front vehicle in whatever lane it's in?
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby superbad » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:43 pm

I am certain that the Star will see ridership grow as the nashville regions population continues to explode. I know that the hand-me-downs they are suing now were a bargain compares to new equipment, but it seems to me that fuel effeciantcy-wise it might be better that the Star uses DMU's like in N. san diego county or Austin, or the Dentin-A train.. has the transit agency there gone as far to explore the possibility of using these in the future?
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby GWoodle » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:30 pm

superbad wrote:I am certain that the Star will see ridership grow as the nashville regions population continues to explode. I know that the hand-me-downs they are suing now were a bargain compares to new equipment, but it seems to me that fuel effeciantcy-wise it might be better that the Star uses DMU's like in N. san diego county or Austin, or the Dentin-A train.. has the transit agency there gone as far to explore the possibility of using these in the future?


With stimulus money, 1 F40 is being rebuilt. Parts s/b available for some time. I'm not sure if the agency can get 10-20 more years on the old coaches. Having extra cars for parts may help. Having the line near & part of a railway museum may be a source for talented mechanics to keep old cars running. Not sure what kind of supervision the MCS gets. I would suspect the distant future depends on a local source for government support + future federal government plans.

Since the MCS is now operated by the MTA (bus operation), there seems to be more effort into the BRT or using private Grey Line & Gaylord diesel type bus. The MTA may be happy to attract new ridership under the "new owners". Having 2 new free downtown routes could help a lot. This would enable visitors to park at a convenient suburban station & do business downtown without the expense of day parking.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby GWoodle » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:40 pm

What this sounds like is more typical "signal priority", meaning that stops will be on the far side of the light, and when the bus approaches the light, a controller on the light will recognize its approach (via some sort of radio transmission) and hold the green longer so the bus can get through the light (along with any cars that happen to be approaching the light at the same time). [/quote]

http://www.nashvillemta.org/PDF/BRT.pdf

The plan calls for the BRT bus lane to use a Right Turn Only lane or other places where the bus can pull over & stop. Gallatin Road does have some wide shoulders in spots. The timing device would be used to help get the bus back into the normal flow of traffic. In other places, a new Right Turn lane would need to be built.
In the RT bays, the stopped bus would block traffic waiting to make a right turn. Bus stops are mostly Before the light. The bus may get the 4sec start. There may be police watching for the motorist that guns it to beat the bus.
So far, on weekdays the BRT cuts 10 minutes from the normal trip. On weekends, there may be a 9 minute difference. IMHO the main difference is in restricting the number of stops on the route.
It also helps to have highly visible 15 minute headways weekdays & 30 minutes weekends.
The bus looks a lot like a PCC on steroids. I don't know how many PCC's were built with a bend in the middle to create a longer 3 axle carbody.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:25 am

Moderator note:

BRT is a valid transit option... that doesn't fall under our purview at RAILROAD.NET. I have no issue with comparisons between BRT and the Music City Star, even those to the detriment of the MCS service, but we've gotten pretty far into discussion of signal preemption that has nothing to do with rail operations.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby ne plus ultra » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:14 am

GWoodle wrote:http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091211/NEWS0202/912110356/Stimulus-keeps-Music-City-Star-in-service

A little news. Stimulus money funds MCS deficit.

ridership up to 400 rt/800 per day

And now up a little further to "approach 850 per day" or 425 rt:

http://wpln.org/?p=14268

The article calls it "a significant improvement over fall and this time last year.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby GWoodle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:41 pm

Should be a fun time Monday. The recent snow storm left 2.5-7 in of snow behind. About an inch was heavy with a mix of ice, sleet, snow, etc. Travel on the highway is restricted to 20-25mph at best. Snow crews have been out but my street is still snow covered as I type this. Temps may return to 30's & above the rest of the week to melt it away.

I expect the MCS to run on-time as usual. All the stations are marked to permit 4 car trains at any time.
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Re: Nashville TN: Music City Star

Postby neroden » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:53 am

superbad wrote:I am certain that the Star will see ridership grow as the nashville regions population continues to explode

But does it go to the right suburbs?

It always seemed to be one of the more questionable commuter rail lines in the country to me, seeming to have been chosen based on the availability of track rather than on the need for service. But perhaps some locals can share more information on the demographic geography of Nashville.
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