It has been a while, a long while, since I rode Light Rail into a downtown core or out of the core for work. More than 4 years at least.
In Tacoma I rode the Link Streetcar from one end to the other to get to work. With an early Monday Amtrak Cascades ride to Tacoma from Portland and a Thursday late Cascades ride back home. Both parts of this trip were awesome, with the ability to work, drink, and actually enjoy the train trip. The streetcar trip was so short, sweet, and quick that it was perfect to enjoy a cup of coffee and just watch the sun peeking up through the sky.
Before that I had the pleasure of taking Trimet’s MAX Light Rail out to Beaverton, and before that just past Beaverton to parts near Intel’s Campus and almost all the way to Hillsboro. Those trips were pretty long but both allowed a smooth and easy trip to work.
I’ve also spent a few weekends here and there running into and out of the city on PATH from New Jersey to New York, the Subway, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak Acela and the locals, plus other systems.
All the rail systems are amazingly smooth in comparison to American Buses on American Streets.
There has been one exception with the Swift & Faux BRT Services in Seattle. These buses are actually smooth riding and ride on pseudo dedicated roadways. These buses still aren’t as smooth as light rail or passenger rail like Amtrak, but they are a drastic improvement over the “trucks with people” in them nonsense that we seem to have so many of in the US.
If I were to draw a conclusion from just my experience in the US and Canada, we need to let the traditional bus models die and bring this new style of transit service into play full force. Some of the traditional bus modes might work in small towns or for far flung service, but it should be put to rest in the city. 60ft, smooth suspension, smooth riding buses on semi-dedicated routes should be used.
But I digress, just sitting here dreaming of a smoother more vehicle friendly and civil ride into work. May we citizens get BRT, LRT, Commuter Rail, and other higher quality, civil modes of commuting!