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Appendix: Case Study Profiles

7. Eugene, Oregon - Emerald Express (EmX) Green Line BRT

Funding Sources and Amounts: $25 million (includes purchase of six vehicles). Construction costs were $12 million.

Planning and design costs were $6 million.

Years: 1996–2007

EmX Green Line, Franklin Corridor: Federal funding from the New Starts program ($13.3 million) and from Formula Funds ($6.7 million) was used for 80% of the project costs. The remaining 20% ($5 million) came from local funding).24

Agencies/Organizations Involved: Lane Transit District (LTD), local contractors, businesses along Franklin corridor, Lane County Commission, and representatives of the Eugene and Springfield city councils.25

Geographic Area: This transit line serves Eugene and Springfield along a 4-mile stretch from the Eugene Station on 10th Avenue to the Springfield Station on Franklin Boulevard.26

Problem to Be Addressed

As part of the update process of TransPlan, a 20-year government plan to spend $1.53 billion on the transportation system of the Eugene-Springfield met- ropolitan area, BRT became an important piece in the analysis of how to meet statewide transportation goals. In 1998, it was determined that the BRT system would be provided for the Eugene/Springfield area. The Emerald Express (EmX), as the BRT system was named, will operate along the Franklin Corridor and was planned to be comparable to a light rail system by providing speed, convenience, and comfort. The Lane Transit District (LTD) Board, Eugene and Springfield city councils, and Land County Commission made the final adoption of the project.

Introduction of the EmX service resulted in reduced travel times and improved levels of service reliability. The new service reduced average travel times from 16 minutes to 15 minutes. This reduction has come from a number of different sources, including reductions in the time spent in transit, and reductions in dwell time. EmX implementation has had a greater impact in the Springfield-bound direction, reducing mean travel times by almost 1.5 minutes, compared to only 32 seconds on the opposite direction.27

Objectives of Project

Through the EmX Green Line, LTD strived to increase the speed, convenience, and comfort of the existing bus system along the Franklin corridor. Its goals included the following:28

Summary of Project

LTD began BRT service on its Franklin Corridor EmX on January 14, 2007. The 4-mile route con- nects downtown Eugene and downtown Springfield, the two main hubs for LTD's system. The corridor, which has the highest ridership of all LTD routes, also serves the University of Oregon (UO) and Sacred Heart Medical Center, which are two large markets for LTD's services. The EmX operates in dedicated lanes along mixed traffic as well as on separated running ways, and was developed with eight stations located at major destinations. Each station has a covered shelter or kiosk and is fully accessible per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seating, trash receptacles, lights, and maps of LTD bus service are some of the amenities provided at each shelter.29

Type of Funding Used for Project / Plan

Population Served and Modes Served

The residents of Eugene and Springfield; BRT.

Project Details

"In the mid-1990s, LTD was looking to upgrade its bus infrastructure and improve service, especially system travel times. There was also a debate over how to address the growing county's long-term transportation needs. The agency decided they needed a rapid transit system with exclusive rights- of-way to avoid worsening traffic congestion and to compete with car travel...LTD General Manager mark Pangborn describes how agency planners were inspired when they read about Curitiba's BRT system...As a result, BRT became the long-term transit strategy. LTD envisioned a system of BRT cor- ridors that could be built in stages, to match funding availability and ridership demand, at much lower cost than light rail.

"The EmX (short for 'Emerald Express') is planned as a comprehensive system of BRT corridors. The EmX uses dedicated transitways, exclusive bus lanes, transit signal priority, high-capacity vehicles with exclusive bus lanes, transit signal priority, high- capacity vehicles with near-level boarding, widely spaced stations, off-board fare collection, and short headways.

"The first EmX corridor, the Green Line, operates on a four-mile stretch between Eugene and Springfield... In Eugene, the EmX starts in the downtown transit hub. For the Green Line's eastern terminus in Springfield, LTD commissioned a new bus station designed to meet national 'green building' standards. The station is also a joint development project, with a small number of businesses paying rent to LTD. The line serves the two cities' downtown districts, the University of Oregon, and a major hospital. The Green Line replaced one of LTD's most popular bus routes, which served about 2,700 riders. Since the Green Line opened, corridor ridership has jumped by almost 50%, with daily boardings averaging around 4,700.

"The Green Line cost $25 million to build, or $6.25 million per mile. System construction cost about $12 million, and planning and design another $6 million. LTD used federal funds for 80% of the project costs. The agency secured $13 million in New Starts funding, making it one of the first agencies to build a BRT project through New Starts.

"The Green Line has 10 stops spaced about half a mile apart, compared to the 18 stops on the previous bus route that the EmX replaced."30

"The EmX has also been successful in generating interest in land development. A local realty firm attributed increased interest in properties to the prox- imity to a bus rapid transit line. Purchasers of the properties intend to use it for investment purposes.

"In regard to environmental quality, the system has successfully created a 'green' image. LTD's commit- ment to the environment was recognized with a 2008 Sustainable Transport Honorable Mention from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. With less than a year in operation, the EmX was the only United States project selected as an award winner for 2008.

"One of the major issues faced by LTD in implement- ing the EmX was obtaining vehicles with doors on both sides...Eventually, LTD and New Flyer Industries, a North American vehicle manufacturer, worked together to create a unique vehicle that was designed to meet the needs and expectations of EmX. Doors on both sides, styling, and bicycle boarding were three important features that LTD wanted to incorporate in their EmX buses. The first six hybrid- electric 63-foot articulated vehicles were delivered in late 2006. The configuration of the interior of the vehicle allows for level boarding, which results in faster travel times and ease of use. Since Lane County is known as a cycling community, it was important that accommodations be made to provide for this type of multi-modalism. It was also considered important that the bicycle bays be located onboard the vehicle and not at the front exterior so the look of the vehicles was not compromised.

"The community was involved in the corridor design process. LTD made an effort to meet with every owner and/or occupant located along the corridor to discuss the concept of the system as well as to inform them of any potential impacts and encourage feed- back. A number of design charettes were also held during which attendees were asked to participate by providing input on the design of the system, as well as open houses during which LTD provided informa- tion about system elements and implementation. These public workshops, open houses, and public hearings were supplemented by working groups of elected officials and stakeholders."31

Livability Principles Promoted by Project

Promotion Livability Principles
F Increase transportation choices
  Promote affordable housing
P Enhance economic competitiveness
F Support existing communities
P Coordinate Federal policies and leverage investment
P Value communities and neighborhoods

P: Partly Supports
F: Fully Supports

Challenges

  • LTD was one of the first agencies to construct a BRT project in the United States using FTA's New Starts Program. In designing the EmX Green Line, the agency had minimal previous experience from which it could draw.
  • How to address service reliability issues - were the travel time goals too ambitious?

Successes

  • In developing the Green Line, LTD regularly con- sulted community input to ensure the final design would meet residents' needs.
  • Reducing travel time along corridor. The new Green Line reduced travel times and improved levels of service reliability along the Franklin Corridor.
  • Transit ridership along the Franklin Corridor increased as a result of the new Green Line. The project initially experienced a 46 percent ridership increase along the corridor.*
  • EmX created a branded, green image for the system, which is intended to complement the natural beauty of Eugene and Springfield. Going along with this green image, LTD planted grass in the center of the guideways, which serves an aesthetic as well as func- tional purpose by helping to absorb fluid leaks from the buses. The corridor is also landscaped with native plants.**

* BRT Policy Center. Eugene, Oregon EmX. http://www.gobrt.org/Eugene.html. September 2007. Accessed February 1, 2010.

** BRT Policy Center. Eugene, Oregon EmX. http://www.gobrt.org/Eugene.html. September 2007. Accessed February 1, 2010.

Perspectives on Implementing the Project and Its Impacts

Project Status 32

As of early 2010, the status of the project is as follows:

The EmX Green Line has been operational since January 14, 2007. More information on how to ride the route is available at http://www.ltd.org/search/showresult.html?versionthread=4ad1af141066a0c486aaa2a65bba1ac7.

LTD is currently constructing its second EmX corri- dor, the Gateway EmX Extension, which will connect downtown Eugene and Springfield to UO and the Gateway area, which includes the Gateway Mall, Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, and International Way businesses.

Construction is scheduled for 2009–2010, with service planned to begin in January 2011. More information is available at http://www.ltd.org/search/showresult.html?versionthread=91a9a11313910620861b5f2c1d51daff.

Applicability of Lessons Learned to Other Projects or Challenges

Roles of MPOs / DOTs and Policy / Plan Outcomes

The Central Lane Metropolitan Planning Organization and Oregon DOT were not involved in the initial phase of the EmX project. The Gateway EmX Extension project, however, is being partially funded by Oregon DOT through ConnectOregon, a transportation program that provides funds for rail, public transit, air, and marine/ports projects.

For More Information

Sources and Other Resources:


24 Thole, Cheryl, Alasdair Cain, and Jennifer Flynn. The EmX Franklin Corridor - BRT Project Evaluation. Federal Transit Administration. April 2009.

25 Thole, Cheryl, Alasdair Cain, and Jennifer Flynn. The EmX Franklin Corridor - BRT Project Evaluation. Federal Transit Administration. April 2009.

26 BRT Policy Center. Eugene, Oregon EmX. http://www.gobrt.org/ Eugene.html. September 2007. Accessed February 1, 2010.

27 Thole, Cheryl, Alasdair Cain, and Jennifer Flynn. The EmX Franklin Corridor - BRT Project Evaluation. Federal Transit Administration. April 2009.

28 Thole, Cheryl, Alasdair Cain, and Jennifer Flynn. The EmX Franklin Corridor - BRT Project Evaluation. Federal Transit Administration. April 2009.

29 Thole, Cheryl, Alasdair Cain, and Jennifer Flynn. The EmX Franklinb Corridor - BRT Project Evaluation. Federal Transit Administration. April2009.

30 BRT Policy Center. Eugene, Oregon EmX. http://www.gobrt.org/Eugene.html. September 2007. Accessed February 1, 2010.

31 Thole, Cheryl, Alasdair Cain, and Jennifer Flynn. The EmX Franklin Corridor - BRT Project Evaluation. Federal Transit Administration. April 2009.

32 Lane Transit District. Gateway EmX Extension. http://www.ltd.org/search/showresult.html?versionthread=79712a1d3f98cfceb53a859f88825651. Accessed February 2, 2010.

33 Thole, Cheryl, Alasdair Cain, and Jennifer Flynn. The EmX Franklin Corridor - BRT Project Evaluation. Federal Transit Administration. April 2009.

Updated: 01/03/2014
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