Free Public Transit Throughout Estonia

streetcar

We provide access to roads for free to car drivers so why don’t we match free access to movement to people who don’t drive cars? That’s part of the rationale for Estonia providing free public transit for the entire nation – the first country to do so. Estonia is a small nation which makes this sort of initiative easier to implement than in countries with large territory. The coolest part of the Estonian free transit is that it started by the citizens of the capital of the country voted for free transit in Tallinn. That first implementation worked out so well that the idea spread from there.

Who is profiting the most from free buses, trams and trains in Tallinn?
“A good thing is, of course, that it mostly appeals to people with lower to medium incomes. But free public transport also stimulates the mobility of higher-income groups. They are simply going out more often for entertainment, to restaurants, bars and cinemas. Therefore they consume local goods and services and are likely to spend more money, more often. In the end this makes local businesses thrive. It breathes new life into the city.”

What inspired the Estonian government to introduce free public transport all over the country?
“People in other parts of Estonia started to demand free public transport, too. In Wales, an experiment with free public transport is about to end in May, but has already been extended for another year. Taking this as an example, we would also like to remove the public transport ticketing for all rural connections in Estonia.”

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Bus to the Future

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Every couple of years some new-fangled technological solution pops up claiming to fix all of our transit woes. We’ve long been promised flying cars and still we need to people on the ground. Today cities are hoping that ride-sharing apps will fill in the void left from poorly funded public transit while industrialists like Elon Musk want to tunnel under our cities. Regardless of these “advanced” solutions we still need to support mass transit. Over at City Lab they’ve decided to launch a series on celebrating one of the most efficient urban people movers” the bus.

Because it turns out that when rubber-tired fleets are treated as a mighty social good, people willingly hop on. See the Minneapolis “A Line,” where buses are essentially held to the standards of rail service: They get first-go at traffic lights, accept boardings at every door, and stop every half mile, rather than every block. Look at all of the citiesfollowing the example of Houston, which overhauled its bus route network in 2015 and saw a 15 percent Saturday ridership spike in the first year; Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York City are all taking their cues. And look, perhaps most of all, at San Francisco, Phoenix, and Seattle, the only major cities where bus ridership meaningfully ticked up last year. All have city-wide plans to fund and improve service. What’s been missing in most cities is this type of attention.

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Electric Busses Save Tonnes of Energy

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The implementation of electric busses into public transit fleets continues to grow – and it’s happening too quickly for the oil industry. Obviously the oil industry doesn’t like sustainable energy sources; however, public transit systems do. The efficiency gains of an electric bus fleet are evident and as a result less oil is being consumed. Chinese cities are the quickest at buying up electric busses and as a result the costs of adding these efficient vehicles to a fleet have gone down globally.

For every 1,000 battery-powered buses on the road, about 500 barrels a day of diesel fuel will be displaced from the market, according to BNEF calculations. This year, the volume of fuel buses take off the market may rise 37 percent to 279,000 barrels a day, about as much oil as Greece consumes, according to BNEF.

“This segment is approaching the tipping point,” said Colin Mckerracher, head of advanced transport at the London-based research unit of Bloomberg LP. “City governments all over the world are being taken to task over poor urban air quality. This pressure isn’t going away, and electric bus sales are positioned to benefit.”

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Shipping Industry Finally Delivers on Climate Change

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When climate conferences occur and parties sign on to legal agreements like the Paris Agreement some industries are excluded. Historically aviation and shipping have been left out from many climate change agreements which has resulted in both industries being behind the times, inefficient, and down right bad for the planet. Already, climate change is harming coastal nations and these coastal nations usually favour shipping. The impact of increasing water levels, storm surges, and more has led to those shipping-friendly nations to better regulate international shipping practices.

The result is a deal that shipping industry will finally address their greenhouse gas emissions by reducing their emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

Mr Paul added: “This is history in the making… if a country like the Marshall Islands, a country that is very vulnerable to climate change, and particularly depends on international shipping, can endorse this deal, there is no credible excuse for anybody else to hold back.”

The UK’s shipping minister, Nusrat Ghani, described the agreement as ” a watershed moment with the industry showing it is willing to play its part in protecting the planet”.

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Streetmix: Remix Your Street

StreetmixGood Street from Streetmix

Let’s be honest, people are bad at conveying their ideas on what streets can look like. Thankfully there’s an open source project designed to help people remix their local streets and share it with others. The web based design tool Streetmix provides a simple drag and drop interface to rethink your local roads, you don’t need an urban planning degree to figure out what should go where. Give it a try, generate some images, and go talk to your community about making your neighbourhood more people-friendly from the street up.

Why does Streetmix exist?

When city planners seek input from community meetings from the public on streetscape improvements, one common engagement activity is to create paper cut-outs depicting different street components (like bike lanes, sidewalks, trees, and so on) and allow attendees to reassemble them into their desired streetscape. Planners and city officials can then take this feedback to determine a course of action for future plans. By creating an web-based version of this activity, planners can reach a wider audience than they could at meetings alone, and allow community members to share and remix each other’s creations.

The goal is to promote two-way communication between planners and the public, as well. Streetmix intends to communicate not just feedback to planners but also information and consequences of actions to the users that are creating streets. Kind of like SimCity did with its in-game advisors!

Streetmix can be used as a tool to promote and engage citizens around streetscape and placemaking issues, such as Complete Streets or the Project for Public Spaces’ Rightsizing Streets Guide.

Check out Streetmix.
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