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Posts tagged "buses"

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NYC Buses: Time for a Turnaround

New Yorkers take 2.5 million rides on the city's buses every day. While NYC's buses provide essential transit, especially in areas beyond the reach of the subway, they are among the nation's slowest and least reliable.

Now a coalition of transit advocates are promoting practical strategies to improve the performance of NYC buses systemwide.

Transit advocates knew something was wrong when they observed declining bus ridership despite increasing population, a growing economy, and record-high subway ridership. To figure out what could be done about it, they spoke to industry experts and researched successful efforts in peer cities to identify common sense solutions to NYC's bus problems. This research is summarized in their report "Turnaround: Fixing New York City's Buses".

The bus system faces big challenges, but these challenges have clear, proven solutions. By transforming how riders get on and off the bus, designing streets to prioritize buses, adopting better methods to keep buses on schedule, and redesigning the bus network and routes, policy makers in city government and the MTA can turn around the decline of the city's buses and attract riders back to the system.

We'll get to see how serious public officials are about tackling these problems on October 6, when the City Council transportation committee holds an oversight hearing on how to improve the quality of NYC bus service.

This Streetfilm was produced in partnership with TransitCenter, the second in a series of four films examining transit in American cities. If you enjoyed this one, check out the first film, "High Frequency: Why Houston is Back on the Bus."

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Houston: Buses, Bayous, Beltways and Abounding Optimism for Better Mobility

Last week found me in Houston. And for a few hours (see above) I got to go explore their expansive bayou greenway system - which by 2020 will be the largest network of trails and parks in the nation. That may shock you about Houston, it's great trivia to pull out in a room with transportation friends.

But the primary reason I was there was to look at the ambitous realignment of Houston METRO's bus system, a complex multi-year project to make buses run more efficiently, faster, with more frequency and routes that make more sense for the city. It's already reaping great rewards and sweeping the nation with ample positive press so we thought it would make a great Streetfilm. Thus, thanks to our funding partners TransitCenter in a few weeks we'll be posting a film to tell the story.

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This photo is me with Janis "Bus Lady" Scott who is just one of the great folks I got to spend time with on the streets of Houston riding transit.  I think Janis just might be Jane Jacobs reincarnated.  She was so charming I might post a bonus Streetfilm segment just on her after finishing our primary feature on MetroBus.

I also got to do one of the more amazing things I have ever been allowed: I rode in an empty bus around downtown Houston just to get some driving shots after interviewing Cara (below) an energetic bus driver at Houston Metro who helped out planning some of the new routes. You'll meet her, the "Bus Lady" and many others in our film.

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While I was there, I was a guest speaker at Houston Tomorrow's Streetfilms screening at the Rice University Media Center. Always nice to see our films playing up on a handsome big screen with lots of folks. Furthermore, I was very excited since Jay Blazek Crossley their Executive Director, chose a great slate of Streetfilms mostly pulled from this blog post, which I've been cajoling communities to play. You should, after all they are free to screen.

Read more...

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Cardboard Cut-Out Cuomo Rides the NYC Subway

The advocates at the Riders Alliance have been campaigning for many months to get Governor Andrew Cuomo to ride the NYC subways. The governor’s office has refused to answer any of their inquiries. So on Thursday, they did the next best thing: They brought along a cardboard cut-out of his likeness to see how straphangers would react.

Subway delays are on the rise, but so far, Cuomo has failed to fund the MTA’s $32 billion five-year capital planto fix tracks, modernize signals, expand capacity, and upgrade the equipment that moves New York City. It wasn’t hard to find straphangers who want better service to give fake Cuomo a piece of their minds.

 

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Buenos Aires: Building a People-Friendly City

Buenos Aires is fast becoming one of the most admired cities in the world when it comes to reinventing streets and transportation.

Just over a year ago, the city launched MetroBus BRT (constructed in less than seven months) on 9 de Julio Avenue, which may be the world's widest street. The transformation of four general traffic lanes to exclusive bus lanes has yielded huge dividends for the city and is a bold statement from Mayor Mauricio Macri about how Buenos Aires thinks about its streets. More than 650,000 people now ride MetroBus every day, and it has cut commutes in the city center from 50-55 minutes to an incredible 18 minutes.

That's not the only benefit of this ambitious project. The creation of MetroBus freed up miles of narrow streets that used to be crammed with buses. Previously, Buenos Aires had some pedestrian streets, but moving the buses to the BRT corridor allowed the administration to create a large network of shared streets in downtown where pedestrians rule. On the shared streets, drivers aren't permitted to park and the speed limit is an astonishingly low 10 km/h. Yes, that is not a misprint -- you're not allowed to drive faster than 6 mph!

Bicycling has also increased rapidly in the past four years -- up from 0.5 percent mode share to 3 percent mode share and climbing. Ecobici is the city's bike-share system which is expanding to 200 stations in early 2015. Oh, and add this amazing fact: Ecobici is free for all users for the first hour.

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Transportation Videos & Photos from Montevideo & Buenos Aires!

I was very fortunate to be able to take a long vacation to South America and was in the cities of Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Asuncion. Of course with me a vacation can never be truly 100% relaxing when there is transportation observations to be made and I was able to squeeze in some Streetfilms work here and there.  Here are some short videos and photos with commentary.

The first video above (apologies for some sound, it was a very impromptu shoot without using all my gear) is from Montevideo, Uruguay. I was very surprised to see so much bicycling and very new bike infrastructure. And also: bike share! My wife and I had a few hours to rent bikes and were able to meet up with Matias Kalwill, creator of the app Bikestorming which aims to increase urban bicycling, who took us for a very quick city loop. I thought viewers would be happy to experience biking in another country, even if not given the usual Streetfilms treatment.

Public Space Takeover! While in Buenos Aires (an official Streetfilm on their MetroBus and other transportation accomplishments coming soon) we were fortunate to capture residents flooding the Avenida 9 de Julio (widest Avenue in the world) to celebrate Argentina advancing to the World Cup final. How exciting it was to be in the middle of it as it all occurred. Instant public space by the people!

Speaking of Avenida 9 de Julio (which is where Buenos Aires' MetroBus BRT runs) coincidentally we happened to be there on July 9th which is a national holiday. They had many car-free celebrations and festivals. They had some vintage buses to check out. I grabbed the above footage for all you bus nerds out there. Read more...

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Salt Lake City: A Red State Capital Builds Ambitious Transit

According to Congress for New Urbanism President John Norquist, the Salt Lake City area has the fastest growing rail system in America. And as Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt pointed out last month, "It's the only city in the country building light rail, bus rapid transit, streetcars and commuter rail at the same time."

Since the late 1990s, SLC certainly has embarked on a very ambitious program of transit construction. In 2006, residents voted to invest more and expedite the implementation of the system. This May the city opened its newest light rail line, to the airport, and in December the Sugar House streetcar is scheduled to open.

SLC does have a lot of catching up to do. The region as a whole is still built around the car. In this brief clip, Norquist talks about the lack of transit-oriented development at stops outside the downtown. I also don't love the gigantic widths of neighborhood streets, which I mentioned in my write up of exploring the city while trying out bike-share. But as Norquist points out, these are all opportunities to transform things for the better.

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Making Muni Faster and More Reliable by Speeding Up Boarding

Some of the most important changes for San Francisco's Muni system are also the simplest ones. In the first of our five-part series on creating a faster Muni, we focus on bus stop boarding. By instituting a prepaid boarding system called proof-of-payment, Muni could dramatically quicken the boarding process, speed service and improve reliability.

Under the system, riders who have a monthly Fast Pass, a transfer, or a TransLink card could board through any door on the bus. Instead of showing the driver proof-of-payment, passengers just hold on to their transfer or ticket, and fare inspectors randomly board vehicles to check for payment. That's already how it works on Muni's light rail vehicles when they run on the street, which has led to faster boarding times and lower fare evasion rates.

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Rethinking Streets in Paris

Back in July I made a video about Paris' public bicycle system, Velib. Its success must in part be credited to the provisions made for safe cycling and the understood "street code," where users are responsible for others whose vehicles are lighter than their own.

This video explores traffic calming amenities Paris has installed. For example, in several areas of Paris curbs have been removed and bikes, pedestrians, buses and taxis coexist at low speeds. On wider roads bikes share the BRT lanes with buses and taxis. Counter-flow bike lanes expand the bike network. Raised crosswalks and neckdowns slow traffic and make pedestrians more visible at intersections. Watch for more.

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Mobilien: Paris’ Version of Bus Rapid Transit

Le Mobilien is Paris' version of what we know as a bus rapid transit system or a surface mass transport network. Paris has been doing “bus rapid transit” for decades, and after years of on-street operation and continuous fine-tuning they have now developed a system which they call the “Mobilien” - French for MOBI-lity plus “LIEN” which means link. Linking mobility. Unlike the BRTs that most US cities are looking at, the Mobilien adapts to different city contexts (i.e. street width and specific neighborhood dynamics). Mobilien doesn't aim at producing top speeds but making steady progress through the traffic stream. It launched in Paris after three years of planning in 2004 with the goal of cutting down on car traffic. To make the project possible, Paris' officials eliminated much on-street parking to create dedicated bus lanes that are shared with bicycles, taxis and emergency vehicles. Eric Britton from the new Mobility Agenda took me on a tour of Mobilien.