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Posts tagged "Bus Rapid Transit"

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Greater Boston’s Bus Transformation

Greater Boston’s bus system is undergoing a long overdue transformation. From redesigning the network to pursuing electrification to completely re-imagined streets primed for better bus service, the experience for thousands of daily riders in the region is looking better than it has in decades. The evolution of bus lanes and BRT elements is visible throughout the region in municipalities like Somerville, Everett, Chelsea and Boston where street are transforming to support public health and an integrated transit system as a pandemic recovery strategy as well as to combat climate change, traffic congestion and to build a better, more equitable region.

Massachusetts is emerging as a national transit champion by giving street space to the bus and looking to build BRT, even as there is more work ahead to connect gaps in the network. Leadership from elected officials, community members and other regional collaborators has turbo-charged all the bus improvement projects, showcasing what can be done in only a few years and inspiring a future that prioritizes buses and the people who rely on them.

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Boston Area Bus Pilots Move Region Closer to BRT

It was a momentous 2018 year for bus riders in greater Boston as municipalities around the region took bold steps to pilot elements of BRT in collaboration with the MBTA. Empowered by grants from the Barr Foundation, the municipally led regional effort showcased small but salient service and street design improvements that garnered public and political support for better buses and the vision of Gold Standard BRT. The demonstrated BRT elements included dedicated bus lane segments, queue jumps, transit signal priority and level platforms, and were enhanced by creative art installations and community group partnerships.

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Sustainable Transport Superheroes Swap Notes

In the midst of a record number of pilots in Massachusetts showcasing how bus service can be improved to actually provide rapid transit, two advocates fighting to bring transport justice sit down to swap wisdom about what it takes to transform transportation. Rehana Moosajee, former City Councilor and Head of the Mayoral Committee for Transport from Johannesburg, who oversaw implementation of Africa's first BRT - Rea Vaya, and Michelle Wu, a progressive sustainable transport champion on the Boston City Council, join in a conversation. This interview between two sustainable transport superheros demonstrates how city leaders can galvanize change.
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Unsustainable: Traffic 2018

New York is facing its most serious transportation challenge in decades.

Subway reliability is way down, and the bus system is shedding riders at an alarming rate. And because transit is so unreliable, today New York is accommodating growth in cars, in the form of the tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft vehicles we now find on our streets each day.

It's difficult to even list all the reasons why shifting transportation growth into cars in New York City is a bad thing. Choking the economy with congestion, safety concerns, making slow bus service even worse, poorer air quality - you name it.

For our latest Streetfilm, we spoke with leaders in New York's transportation, labor and business communities to get their take on this alarming trend - a problem "screaming for a solution."

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Seattle: America’s Next Top Transit City

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in America, and it is making bold investments to ensure most residents live within walking distance of frequent transit.

"Seattle can’t handle any more cars than we currently have," says Seattle DOT Director Scott Kubly. "Our mode split needs to go from 30 percent single occupancy vehicle to 25 percent, and the lion's share of that is going to be carried on the bus."

The city’s efforts are paying off -- both bus and rail ridership have seen huge gains in recent years, and 70 percent of trips to downtown Seattle are not in private vehicles.

In the past two years, city voters approved the $900 million Move Seattle transportation levy, and then regional voters enacted the Sound Transit 3 package, a $50 billion transit expansion plan. These were votes of confidence in the transit system and the agencies that run it.

Seattle is demonstrating how trains and buses can work in tandem to build a fast, frequent, and reliable network that wins over riders. A key factor behind this success is the leading role played by city government, which actively works to improve transit instead of passively following county and regional agencies.

The Seattle story demonstrates that when governments create clear transportation priorities, provide thoughtful, goal-oriented planning, and deliver good service, ridership goes up and a firm foundation of public support can be established.

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The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway

Just when you think you've seen everything in the transportation world, you encounter something different. That happened to me on an infrastructure tour in Cambridge, England, when my guides showed be this guided busway.

The video only shows a short segment of The Busway, but it's fascinating. The wheels of the bus run between grooved concrete slabs along an old rail line. The system also handles drainage without burdening the sewers: Stormwater is absorbed by the ground.

At 16 miles, the Cambridge guided busway is the longest one in the world. Bus speeds can reach up to 55 mph.

A busy biking and walking path runs right next to the route. You won't find railings separating the busway from the trail. There's no honking or flashing lights like you would find in the USA -- just common sense.

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Talking with Guillermo Dietrich, Buenos Aires’ Head of Transport

A few months ago, I was fortunate to spend a few days observing the tremendous street changes that have occurred in Buenos Aires (documented in our Streetfilm above). I also got to meet and interview Guillermo Dietrich, the architect and force behind shaping a city that has dramatically improved transit (via MetroBus BRT), walking (with 100 blocks of 6 mph shared streets in the downtown) and bicycling by adding miles of bike lanes & a free bike share system (Mejor en Bici). The Streetfilm has been very successful and I thought it'd be good to follow up with some questions to help fill in more of the Dietrich's personal story.

1 - You’ve accomplished a remarkable transformation in Buenos Aires in the last five years. Where did you get your inspiration from to change the streets?  

A lot of our work is based on international experience but always adapting solutions to our own reality.

To build the on- street protected cycle network we took as reference the examples of different cities such as Bogotá, Barcelona and Paris, among others. Those examples were crucial when planning the network, however the design itself is of our own authorship. Every city is different, each place has its own topographic characteristics. Plannification must take in consideration of those qualities.

The improvement and increase of pedestrian areas in order to encourage walking is based on what is called pedestrian “desire lines”. The study of the desire lines is an international tendency adopted by cities like New York, London, San Pablo, Madrid and Tokio, among others.

One of our main aims is the priority of public transport. We had introduced a network of Bus Rapid Transit that was inspired in different experiences around the world, especially in Latino America such as Bogotá or Curitiba. However we came out with our own brand: “Metrobus”. The critical components of a well-planned BRT solution are the importance of political will and support, flexibility (not all BRT corridors are the same) and an open mind in listening to the points of view of all stakeholders involved.

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Guillermo Dietrich (center) with Clarence Eckerson Jr. (left, Streetfilms) and Paula Bisiau (right, Director of Healthy Mobility)

2 - Metrobus BRT has dramatically changed the way people get around Buenos Aires and has cut commuting times. Are you seeing evidence of residents switching from driving to transit?

In order to decrease the use of cars we need to offer alternatives. That's why one of our sustainable mobility plan’s objectives is the priority of public transport, which it is the most efficient transport mode.  Over the last six years the percentage of people who use cars as their main transport mode has decreased from 17% in 2008 vs 12% now.

 3 - Speaking of driving, prior to being Head of Transport, you were the CEO of Dietrich, one of Argentina’s largest car dealerships.  When you took this job how did your view of streets change?  

During my time at Dietrich, naturally, my work was framed in the enterprise’s search for profit. We were selling cars, and I worked to accomplish that objective. However, when I decided to be part of the Government, my work shifted in a total different direction. Being in charge of the Transport Department my main aim is to improve citizens way of moving. At the beginning of this journey I understood that public space and streets are for people. When we (myself and Transport Department team) started with the sustainable mobility plan we knew that public transport should be a priority, and that some cars use would be discouraged. Why? Because it’s the way that most people choose to travel around the city (more than 80% of Buenos Aires citizens). Working in public sector involves the pursuit of common good.

4 - Is there advice you can give other cities struggling to more fairly balanced their modes of transportation?  Any advice on what to say to drivers? 

Wherever you go you´ll find congestion. Car drivers must know that traffic increases every year. This is impossible to avoid. There is no city in the world where congestion does not increase. That's why we need to encourage rational use of cars. To accomplish that aim, we must offer citizens less polluting and more efficient transport systems. Metrobus, and our bike sharing system are both part of that work.

Today it's beyond debate whether we should or shouldn’t encourage public transport as a priority. Our policy is to reward people who chooses transport modes that are less polluting, more economic and more efficient than particular cars.DSC08331

 5 - What are a few things we can look forward to in the coming years from Buenos Aires?

In 2015 Buenos Aires will launch four new Metrobus corridors in order to reach 56 km that will connect the main transport hubs of the city. We have already worked on the renovation of two important hubs and we will continue working to transform three new ones.

We will also expand our bike sharing system. In the short term, we will be installing new infrastructure and technology in order to respond the exponential growth of trips and demand for public bicycles. Technology is also being used to optimize our traffic light system. We have six control centers from which we monitor lights. For example, we can expand green light in order to avoid congestion. We will be adding technological tools to improve the whole system.

Regarding urban mobility, we are studing different car sharing systems around the world. We want Buenos Aires to have its own system with electric cars.

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Parking: Searching for the Good Life in the City

Streetfilms is proud to partner with ITDP to bring you this fun animation that's sort of a cross between those catchy Schoolhouse Rock shorts and the credit sequence for a 1960s-style Saul Bass film.

For too long cities tried to make parking a core feature of the urban fabric, only to discover that yielding to parking demand tears that fabric apart. Parking requirements for new buildings have quietly been changing the landscape, making walking and transit less viable while inducing more traffic. Chipping away at walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods has been a slow process that, over the years, turned the heart of American cities into parking craters and even mired some European cities in parking swamps.

Many cities around the world are now changing course by eliminating parking requirements while investing in walking, biking, and transit. Soon cities in the developing world will follow, providing many new lessons of their own.

Parking isn't the easiest topic to wrap your head around, but it is right at the core of the transportation problems facing most cities. We hope this film helps illuminate how to fix them.

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Bike Report from Pittsburgh: Cool Bicycling Bridges & ProWalk/ProBike/ProPlace Coming in 2014!

Last week I was in Pittsburgh on a panel for the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2013: Moving People Forward Summit. It's a warmup for the much larger 2014 conference which will be also held there. Put it on your calendar.

It's no secret that Pittsburgh is a great city of bridges. And while they may currently lack a comprehensive on-road network for bikes,  pedestrians and bicyclists do have ample space and comfortable access to just about all their bridges.

Last time I visited in 2010, I fell in love with the elegance of the Hot Metal Bridge, which crosses the Monongahela River and provides an intergral link in the Great Allegheny Passage which connects all the way to D.C. One evening, I spent over an hour soaking in the atmosphere and the observing the people using it. It's peaceful, clean, and has great views.  I'd put it amongst my Top Five U.S. bike bridges.  I knew this time back I had to put together a montage, I hope it conveys my experience.

The conference ended with a group bike ride which showcased some of Pittsburgh's new bicycle amenities. One relatviely new facility really shows why we need to make top notch connections for bikes and peds that are not only functional, but incorporate art wherever  possible.   Check out some footage of the Shady Liberty Pedestrian Bridge.

Okay, let's get back to the conference, Pittsburgh City Council Member Bill Peduto delivered a great speech to help kickoff the event and charge residents for 2014. He's won the Democratic Primary for Mayor and now is the overwhelming favorite to win the post in less than 2 months.  As I found out later when I met him for dinner, he has a very impressive grasp of transportation issues from Bus Rapid Transit to PARKing Day, and has been a huge fan of Streetfilms for years. Understanding just how important livability is to a city in the bike/ped/transit realm he can hit the ground running on transportation and I think the next four years in Pittsburgh has a chance to be groundbreaking. Here's a few minutes of his remarks I grabbed.

Read more...

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Rethinking the Automobile (with Mark Gorton)

For more than 100 years New York City government policy has prioritized the needs of the automobile over the needs of any other mode of transport. Working under the faulty assumption that more car traffic would improve business, planners and engineers have systematically made our streets more dangerous and less livable. As a result, even the idea that a street could truly be a “place” – a shared space for human interaction and play – has been almost completely destroyed.

During his decade long effort to understand and improve the streets of New York City, entrepreneur and livable streets advocate Mark Gorton has gathered together a compelling set of examples of how transportation policy impacts the quality of our daily lives. Mark is regularly invited to speak in public about these issues.

In his current presentation “Rethinking the Automobile” Mark explores the history of autocentric planning and considers how New York and other cities can change. Filled with ample video footage of dozens of Streetfilms, we’ve worked with Mark to create a version of the presentation here.

As the founder of Streetfilms, Streetsblog, OpenPlans, and the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, Gorton has been on the front lines of the battle to transform New York’s streets. But Mark is not done fighting. He contends that the recent improvements that have been implemented in New York should only be considered as the “tip of the iceberg” and that a truly comprehensive set of changes are still necessary.

For more on Mark’s continued efforts to make our world more equitable, livable, and safe visit www.rethinktheauto.org

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Build a Better Bridge: Why the Hudson Valley Wants Transit on the Tappan Zee

New York State is on the verge of one of the largest transportation projects in the nation - the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Hudson Valley residents, business owners, elected officials and environmental advocates participated in the State DOT’s ten-year, 280 meeting planning process. Through these meetings and millions of dollars of State studies, a consensus emerged that transit was a vital component of the Tappan Zee Bridge project.

According to the State’s own documents “Without major transit investments, already unacceptable levels of congestion are forecasted to occur in the corridor far into the future.”

In the fall of 2011 Governor Cuomo reversed course, deciding that the bridge project would move forward without transit. The State now proposes to build a $5 billion bridge that is twice as wide as the current bridge and provides no relief to the increasing traffic congestion that threatens to constrain the region’s growth and diminish quality of life in the villages and towns along the I-287 corridor.

Local leaders are joined by over 20 environmental, good government and labor groups in calling on Governor Cuomo to put transit back into the Tappan Zee Bridge project. This video shows how they are fighting for this once in a lifetime opportunity to relieve congestion in the I-287 corridor and local roads, improve air quality, achieve sustainability goals, and reduce motorist travel time.

The state is accepting public comment on its Tappan Zee DEIS until March 15th. You can find more information on upcoming public hearings on this project and to tell the Governor to put transit back into the project at www.brtonthebridge.org.

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Ten Years After Redefining BRT, What’s Next for TransMilenio?

Three years ago Streetfilms brought you a comprehensive look at Bogotá, Colombia's TransMilenio, the world's most advanced Bus Rapid Transit system. TransMilenio changed the way Bogotá residents think about public transportation, becoming indispensable to the 1.7 million people who use the system daily. If anything, the bus network became a victim of its own success, handling more passengers and crowding than its planners anticipated. Today, ten years after TransMilenio launched, we revisit this groundbreaking transit system and examine how it must improve as it matures.

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Guangzhou, China: Winning The Future With BRT

Guangzhou is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The economic hub of China's southern coast, it has undergone three decades of rapid modernization, and until recently the city’s streets were on a trajectory to get completely overrun by traffic congestion and pollution. But Guangzhou has started to change course. Last year the city made major strides to cut carbon emissions and reclaim space for people, opening new bus rapid transit and public bike sharing systems.

The Guangzhou BRT system opened in February 2010. It now carries 800,000 passengers a day, seamlessly connecting riders to both the metro system and the city's new bike-share network. For these innovations, Guangzhou won the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy's 2011 Sustainable Transport Award. Watch this Streetfilm and see how one of the world's most dynamic cities is "winning the future" on its streets.

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MBA: Bus Rapid Transit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) provides faster and more efficient service than an ordinary bus. "These systems operate like a surface subway, say BRT advocates, but cost far less than building an actual metro." Watch this chapter of Moving Beyond the Automobile to learn about the key features of bus rapid transit systems around the world and how BRT helps shift people out of cars and taxis and into buses.

Streetfilms would like to thank The Fund for the Environment & Urban Life for making this series possible.

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The Slowest Bus in New York City

New York City has some of the slowest bus service in the country. The 9th annual Pokey and Shleppie Awards, given by NYPIRG's Straphanger Campaign and Transportation Alternatives, shine a spotlight on this unfortunate fact by recognizing the slowest and most unreliable buses in the Big Apple. Tune in above to see which routes earn the oh-so-prestigious award.

We won't spoil the surprise by telling you the winner, but even despite speeds slower than walking, the slowest route in New York City carries 3.7 million passengers annually. The runner-up, the M14, carries 12 million riders a year. Higher speeds would not only help all those New Yorkers get to work or spend more time with their families, they'd also surely increase ridership.

That's why the Straphangers are organizing support for Select Bus Service along Brooklyn's Nostrand Avenue. The current limited bus service there, the B44, ranked as the fourth-slowest bus in the borough -- not quite a Pokey Award winner, but a real contender. With innovations like off-board fare payment, dedicated bus lanes, and transit signal priority, the B44's 13.3 million annual passengers could soon face a far faster ride. In the Bronx, Select Bus Service on Fordham Road improved bus speeds by 20 percent and ridership by 30 percent. In the first month of operation, Select Bus Service on First and Second Avenue cut trip times by 14 to 19 percent.