Automated Microbus Feeder System for the College Park, Maryland Metrorail Station
(The planned Bi-County Transitway will serve this same corridor, which may make the Microbus system described here unnecessary. Nevertheless, the route is shown as an example of a low cost application)
The proposed Microbus system connects a heavy rail station just outside of Washington, DC with the main campus of the University of Maryland, a distance of 1.06 miles. There are only two stations. The route runs northward from the rail station parallel to the rail line, and crosses Paint Branch Parkway via a new 65-ft bridge. It then passes through a wooded area, crossing a low volume pedestrian path at grade. Finally, it runs under U.S. Route 1 in space that's currently unused in an existing underpass, and ends at the eastern edge of the campus.
Cost models for the Microbus roadway and bridge give values of $1.2M and $0.25M respectively. The two stations and miscellaneous infrastructure are estimated to total less than $1M. Finally, about 15 Microbuses should allow service at one minute headways; these are estimated to cost $100,000 each. Aside from land acquisition, this gives a total cost of about $4M for a system approximately one mile in length.
The service policy would be simple. A Microbus would leave every minute both peak and off peak if anyone was waiting. However, the trip would be canceled if no one was waiting and the vehicle was not needed at the other end. In case of a sudden spike in demand, such as when a Metrorail train arrived, multiple vehicles could be run with a minimum headway of 5 seconds.
(This page is under construction)