Trams Win For Moving People

Traffic is a problem in every city, and more and more people are concerned with the most efficient way of getting people from A to B. It turns out we already know the answer: mass transit. The issue in traffic planing is slowly changing from how much space should cars get to how much space should the car give up. Bicycling and mass transit are the most efficient way to move people through cities and now urban planners are thinking of how to divide up space that the car once dominated for those modes of transportation.

Cars, as you’d expect, came dead last, taking over four minutes to move just 200 people over the line. In the city, the superior acceleration and speed of a car give no advantage. Busses and trams come first—no surprise, they’re called “mass” transit for a reason. But bikes come in far behind pedestrians, taking two minutes to get 200 people over a line, compared to just 38 seconds for walking. Obviously, over longer distances, things change a lot, but it’s interesting nonetheless, as much city travel is stop-start.

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Wirelessly Charging Electric Buses to be Tested

The city of Mannheim will be testing a new kind of electric bus which can be charged wirelessly. Bombardier, who makes the buses, is hoping to prove that using electric buses can be cheaper and more efficient than current models. Every time the bus stops to pickup or drop off passengers a device beneath the street will use wireless power to recharge batteries on the bus.

Two buses outfitted with special batteries will get charged by underground induction energy transfer stations each time they stop along the route.

Bombardier spokesman Marc Laforge said the technology could be attractive for governments looking to electrifying transit systems without installing overhead wires.

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Bus + Train = Burain

Train companies use maintenance vehicles that can switch from road to rails, however, this is the first time I’ve seen bus do this. Japan Rail is testing the bus-train combo on the island of Hokkaido. The system seems to work because the mass transit there is not mass at all.

Dual-mode vehicles have four rubber tires for road use and four steel wheels for the rails, and it takes less than 15 seconds to go from road to rail and back again. It drives just like a bus on the road, and a hydraulic system raises the tires and lowers the steel wheels as the driver guides the vehicle onto the tracks.
Japan Rail provides rail service for the island of Hokkaido, and about one-third of its lines carry less than 500 people. It developed the dual-mode vehicles as a means of cutting costs on those lines without reducing service. The vehicles use a Toyota microbus body and axles built by Hino. The two companies will help Japan Rail refine the technology and increase passenger capacity with an eye toward commercial production.

Whistler Buses Go Hydro

The government of BC (the Canadian province, not the era) is planning to outfit mountain city Whistler with a whole scad of hydro-powered buses. Diesel vehicles are the current norm, but the new buses will run entirely on fuel cells, which produce no harmful emissions.

Small numbers of fuel-cell- powered buses have been used in demonstration projects in cities in Europe and the United States over the past decade.

But the Whistler project, which is forecast to have 20 of the city’s 30 or so buses running on hydrogen power, will be the largest fuel-cell-powered fleet in the world and the first project to make such vehicles the backbone of a public transit system.

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