Bus to the Future

bus

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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To Decrease Emissions Germany to Offer Free Public Transit

Germans have reputation of loving to drive so it might seem a little shocking to see the nation explore free public transit. The push for free travel comes from the need to reduce the country’s emissions – and soon. EU countries that don’t meet emissions targets in the next few years can be taken to court to answer for the inability to provide clean air for their citizens. Germany is a large country and if they figure out a way to make public transit free then it’s likely that other nations can follow.

“Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany,” the ministers added.

The proposal will be tested by “the end of this year at the latest” in five cities across western Germany, including former capital Bonn and industrial cities Essen and Mannheim.

On top of ticketless travel, other steps proposed Tuesday include further restrictions on emissions from vehicle fleets like buses and taxis, low-emissions zones or support for car-sharing schemes.

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Go Ride the Bus, Busses are Great!

When is a bus not a bus? When it’s a trackless train.

Busses are a great solution to traffic congestion, so much so that bus rapid transit (BRT) systems are growing the world over. The problem with getting more money into BRTs and expanding them is the baggage of the word bus. It turns out that many people have negative associations with the idea of taking the bus, however if the same vehicle is called something else then it gets support.

How projects are described and packaged can affect the way people feel about them, which is why a slick video with CGI-rendered trackless trains might be so alluring to city leaders desperate for new narratives. But if transit is going to succeed, the rail-bias cycle needs to break. And it actually can, studies have found, when buses are as good as trains. The Orange Line, a BRT that runs along a closed corridor through L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, has spacious cars, frequent service, dedicated lanes, and smooth connections to bus and rail; it’s tripled its original ridership estimates. In a 2009 report by the U.S. DOT, some Orange Line passengers said they didn’t even see it as a bus at all, but something closer to a train. Part of that is due to how the system was marketed and branded—the Orange Line was always portrayed as an extension of L.A.’s Metro rail system, rather than as a regular part of the bus network. But it’s also because this bus is objectively superior to most others.

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The Future of Transit: Gondolas

The Gondola Project is all about bringing fast and cheap public transit to cities by using (what else?) gondolas! Some people may think that gondolas are only for ski resorts or tourists but there’s a lot of growing interest around the world in using gondolas as an alternative to light rail and to get public transit to place it otherwise can’t get to.

There are many advantages of using gondolas from the small footprint (you can run them down the medians of highways) to their ability to cover vertical distance easily. Even the very flat city of London has a suspended cable car system under construction!

Here’s a video called “Aerial Ropeway Transit: Exploring its Potential for Makkah”:

U of T Research Contributing to Makkah’s Transportation Development from Colin Anderson on Vimeo.

The Toronto Star recently ran an article on exploring gondolas in Toronto and how other cities are exploring the idea.

A gondola doesn’t offer the same capacity as a subway but it could move 5,000 to 6,000 passengers an hour, “which is good compared to a streetcar line,” said Shalaby.

The Queen streetcar line carries about 1,800 people per hour at its busiest point in the morning peak, according to the TTC. That’s compared with about 30,000 on the Yonge subway, 2,100 on the Spadina streetcar and 200 to 300 on a neighbourhood bus route.

Meantime, Vancouver is releasing a business case in January for a gondola that would transport commuters up Burnaby Mountain to Simon Fraser University and a nearby residential development.

“Because it’s on top of a mountain, it gets snow before ground level. Right now we serve the university with very large articulated buses that have to go up and down that hill. There are 10 to 15 days a year they can’t make it to campus because road conditions are so poor,” said Ken Hardie, spokesman for TransLink.

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Montreal Launches Bixi the Pedal Powered Public Transit


Bixi is the name of Montreal’s new bike-sharing program. If I had my way every city in the world would have a system like this. Way to go Montreal!

The city joins Paris, Barcelona, and Lyon with the installation of its own public bike system, named Bixi, making 2,400 bicycles available to the public at more than 300 locations across six Montreal boroughs.

Starting next spring, residents will be able to borrow bicycles from one station and drop them off at another.

“You grab it, you ride it, you bring it back,” Montreal’s mayor Gerald Tremblay told The Canadian Press. “It will become an emblem for Montreal.”

Bixi may be a more health-friendly means of transportation, but it’s also environmentally friendly. The bikes, which were made in Quebec, are composed entirely of recycled aluminum and the parking stations run on solar power.

The entire operation cost $15 million and was paid for by Stationnement de Montreal, a company that manages the city’s on-street parking.

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