May 15, 2008
It's No Hallucination: Polka-Dot Buses Aim to Cut Travel Time
By JENNIFER MASCIA
No, there are no illegal drugs being handed out as passengers begin their morning commutes: For the past few weeks, those seats on the M23 crosstown bus really have been decorated with light and dark blue bubbles.
The new upholstery is probably the most conspicuous feature of Select Bus Service, an experimental project by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with the support of the city and state Departments of Transportation, to improve service on congested routes.
The project, the result of several years of study, draws on several elements of Bus Rapid Transit, a system of bus operating practices used in cities around the world. The system's main elements will eventually include bus shelters where passengers pay the fare before boarding; fewer stops and greater distances between stops; dedicated bus lanes with a distinctive color and lettering; direct routes with frequent service that supplements, but does not replace, regular local bus service; and electronic signals that give the buses priority (a few extra seconds) if a traffic signal is about to switch, say, to yellow from green.
If the project is successful and put into place citywide, it could prove to be a great relief for customers who have long complained about the snail-like pace of city buses, especially the crosstown buses in Manhattan. It could also mark one of the starkest changes for bus riders, who for more than a century have been accustomed to dropping their change - or now, dipping a MetroCard - into the fare box upon boarding.
Under the new system, customers will pay before boarding, collecting a proof of purchase from a fare dispenser, similar to a MetroCard vending machine or Muni-Meter parking ticket machine, in the bus shelter.
In Chile, Commuters Sue City over Transit System
by Julie McCarthy
All Things Considered, October 8, 2007 · Cities around the world have been trying to lure commuters out of their cars and onto mass transit with the aim of making urban life cleaner and greener. While a state-of-the art system installed in Chile has reduced pollution in the city of Santiago, a bungled adjustment has also left millions of passengers reeling - and hundreds of others suing the government.
The new system may be generating less pollution, but it is also generating mountains of complaints. What was once a 40-minute trip can now take 2 hours. As a result, commuters report losing their jobs for being late, or being forced to change jobs because routes have changed.
So troubled is Santiago's new mass transit system, known as Transantiago, that President Michele Bachelet made an unusual admission just days after its disastrous roll-out.
Money - Grant-givers say people-hauling efficiency is their primary goal, not urban revitalization
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
In the Bush White House, the political appointees who set the nation's mass transit policies view Portland's streetcar system as an extravagance: A sweet way for a relatively few privileged urbanites to move about a city that prides itself on dense downtown development. Rapid bus lines, in the administration's view, would move more people from place to place at less expense.
That thinking could cost Portland, which is hoping to expand its streetcar line and become the first in the nation to be built with substantial federal money. The city has spent years building political and neighborhood consensus about the new route, which would cross the Broadway Bridge and go south to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, nearly completing a streetcar loop of the city's core.
But the project now navigates a political battlefield. Think tanks, Democrats in Congress and the White House are fighting over whether the federal government should help cities use streetcars to promote urban revitalization, or simply fund buses that move the most people over the greatest distances for the least amount of upfront money.
Rapid line goes too fast down Telegraph Avenue, critics say
By Doug Oakley, MEDIANEWS STAFF
Inside Bay Area
BERKELEY - Philip Rowntree says every time AC Transit's new express bus speeds by his T-shirt stand on Telegraph Avenue, he gets covered with dust and filth kicked up by the vehicle's exhaust.
And, Rowntree also notes, he and other street vendors fear the new speeding buses are going to slam into someone on the crowded four-block stretch from Dwight Way to Bancroft Way.
AC Transit added an express 1R bus line that runs from San Leandro to University of California, Berkeley, and back. It has fewer stops and generally goes faster than the one line that runs the same route.
"It's disgusting," Rowntree said Wednesday. "Something happened about three or four months ago, and it's not the pollution they are kicking out but the air from the exhaust blows all this filth off the street onto me."
Russell Chatman, who sells jewelry next to Rowntree, said the buses dirty him too and go way too fast.
"I realize it's a rapid transit because the drivers have their deadlines to beat, but for them to come as fast as they do, it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt," Chatman said.
Weinshall Points to the Future
In a speech that seemed a significant departure for New York City’s transportation department under the Bloomberg administration, city transportation commissioner Iris Weinshall laid out an array of measures to improve New York’s pedestrian and bicycling environments, soften the quality of life impacts of heavy traffic and begin to reclaim the sheer urban acreage given over to automobiles. Commissioner Weinshall made her remarks at the opening of a large-scale transportation conference convened today at Columbia University by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
Both in terms of language used, which seemed to indicate that city government had moved closer to a goal of reducing car use, and the packaging together of a broad set of policy reform steps, the commissioner’s speech may signal that the problem of planning for a future city of 9 million
people is starting to concretely impact city policy.
The commissioner said NYC DOT would:
-Soon announce 5 bus rapid transit corridors, with accelerated construction (starting in fall 2007) on two of them. She also said NYC’s BRT system could become the world’s “most extensive.”
-Implement its recently announced initiative to build 240 new miles of bicycle ways (MTR #540).
By Erico Guizzo
São Paulo operates the world's most complex bus system
It's a warm Tuesday night in São Paulo, and as on most nights during rush hour here, a swarm of cars clogs every centimeter of Rebouças Avenue, slowing traffic to a crawl. But inside bus 7598, Carlos Soares holds on firmly to keep his balance as the jolting vehicle whizzes past the congestion. The bus he's on is one of thousands in this city that run in special lanes that cars are forbidden to use. Convoying one after the other, the buses form a kind of virtual train on tires.
"Look at their faces," says Soares, a 20-year-old video producer, pointing at the drivers stuck nearby. "They're mad because the buses took one of their lanes. But for us on the bus-we love it."
With 26 391 buses, 1908 lines, 34 transfer stations, and 146.5 kilometers of dedicated busways, São Paulo operates what is currently the world’s most complex bus system. Extending from bustling downtown avenues to narrow neighborhood streets, this sprawling network of lines is the basis of public transportation here. One in every five paulistanos—as residents of São Paulo are called—hops on a bus every day to go to work, school, or other destinations. Daily bus ridership in the metropolitan area is some 10.5 million passengers. With such people-moving capacity, the entire population of Belgium could ride on São Paulo’s buses over the course of a single day.
Don't clog loop, say Co-op City residents
BY BILL EGBERT
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Monday, April 2nd 2007, 2:35 PM
As the MTA rolls out plans for a new rapid-transit bus route for the Bronx, people living at one end of the line are saying, "Not so fast."
The proposed new express route for the Bx12 bus would run from Broadway and 207th St. in Manhattan, along Fordham Road and Pelham Parkway, to terminate at Asch Loop in Co-op city.
But Co-op City residents say the idea of ending the route at Asch is loopy.
"This is not about improving service to Co-op City," said Arthur Taub, a Co-op City transit advocate leading the charge against the proposal. "They're not giving us anything but headaches."
A dedicated bus lane for the Metro Rapid Line 720 would cost less in time and money than digging a subway to Santa Monica.
By Michael Woo and Christian Peralta, MICHAEL WOO, a former L.A. city councilman, is a member of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission and teaches urban planning at USC and UCLA. CHRISTIAN PERALTA is managing editor of Planetizen.com.
November 18, 2006
THERE'S NO question that we need alternatives to sitting in L.A. traffic, and the Wilshire Boulevard corridor is as good a place as any to start.
While the continuation of the Red Line subway along Wilshire championed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and others is a worthy goal, the project's $5-billion cost is staggering. Even if the money is found, the 10 years it would take to construct is too long to wait for a solution to our worsening congestion there. Why not improve what's already working on Wilshire: Metro Rapid Line 720, which boasts about 50,000 boardings a day between East L.A. and Santa Monica?