Real Change editor Adam Hyla has an interesting article about the bus tunnel in this week’s issue. Apparently, some drivers are concerned that the light-rail-focused engineering adjustments are not ideal for buses.
The problems can be summed up by a measurement: 14 inches, the height from the light rail tracks embedded in the road to each station’s platform. That height makes for a nearly even transition between the floor of the trains (which don’t arrive until 2009) and the station platform.
But Metro’s diesel-electric hybrid buses ride lower than the trains. So, to make bus floors approximately the same height as the platform, Metro poured a four-inch-high concrete bank sloping up the road bed to the curb. As they approach their stops, bus drivers must negotiate this bank, steering their right wheels up it sidelong and onto a lip. Their 60-foot coaches need to come within six inches of the curb.
The 14-inch platform height also means that the buses’ right-hand mirrors sit at a height of about five and half feet — extending over the passenger area — within striking distance of any unsuspecting commuter.
The likelihood of a person getting hit by a bus mirror seems pretty slight (especially given the precautionary measures that Metro GM Kevin Desmond discusses in the article), but the concrete bank is an issue worth keeping an eye on. Those of you who ride bus-tunnel routes regularly: Keep me posted!