» Boston’s Green Line extension, bloated after years of planning, gets slimmed down. A lesson for other cities.
Given how reliant the people of New York City are on their Subway, an outsider just looking at ridership data might conclude that the system must be paved with gold, or at least its stations must be decent to look at. After all, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the comfort of a transit system plays an essential role in encouraging people to abandon their cars and get on the train or bus. That’s why, some would argue, it’s so important to put amenities like USB charging and wifi into transit vehicles.
Yet anyone who has ever ridden the Subway knows first hand that its success has nothing to do with aesthetics or access to luxury amenities. Stations are hardly in good shape, trains are packed, and cell service is spotty
Continue reading Frequent service, not escalator access, is what attracts transit users »
» Metropolitan Seattle plans to offer its voters the chance to fund a large new transit expansion program. But are the projects chosen for initial funding the right ones?
Building a regional fixed-guideway transit network is no quick or easy feat, at least in the United States in our era of high costs and relatively slow construction timelines. Seattle’s first light rail line was funded by voters in 1996 but didn’t open its first section for thirteen years; the full extent of the initial line just opened last month, a full twenty years later.
ST3 may be the most ambitious transit expansion package in the entire country, but is it more important to provide access to far suburbs or to focus on corridors where transit can do best?
Despite the slow pace, residents of big cities across the country are hungry for more, hoping to spread the benefits of rapid transit to other
Continue reading You’ve got $50 billion for transit. Now how should you spend it? »
» Late to the bike-sharing game, Los Angeles nevertheless could offer an important innovation: Transfers to and from transit.
You might say that bike sharing has conquered the world, invading city after city since the first modern systems featuring information technology opened in Europe in the 1990s. Now more than 40 U.S. cities have systems in operation. They’ve been attracted to the relative ease of implementing bike sharing, the low costs of operation, and the popular interest in the programs which indeed do a lot to expand mobility in cities.
Los Angeles is the glaring outlier, the only one of the ten largest American cities with no system. Though the City of Los Angeles planned a system in 2013, that proposal fell apart after difficulties with permitting got in the way. In the meantime, other cities in L.A. County—including Santa Monica and Long Beach—have implemented new dock-less networks.
Continue reading In L.A., efforts are afoot to make bike share a genuine part of the transit network »
» For commuter rail, through-running is becoming increasingly popular in city after city looking to take advantage of faster travel times, direct suburb-to-suburb services, and more downtown stops. Leipzig, Germany, whose City Tunnel opened in 2013, is a case in point.
There’s a romantic notion of the downtown rail terminal in the American popular culture, often expressed in movies and books. It’s a scene that is easy to conjure up in one’s mind: The steaming locomotive comes slowly to a halt at the end of a track, passengers stream out into a giant waiting room, and from there they exit into the bustling metropolis. The railroad terminal is the physical manifestation of the end of a journey and the exciting moment of arrival.
For railroad companies and government agencies, the need to create this welcoming travel environment has inspired multi-billion-dollar station redevelopment schemes. The argument made has been that in order to
Continue reading For rail services, downtown sometimes isn’t the right place for a terminus »
» Self-driving cars could alter how we get around—and also change the way our cities work.
Even the concept of a self-driving car is enough to get people talking in raptures about the potential for a utopian future society. It could fulfill the promise of “personal rapid transit” transportation planners hoped to provide decades ago, offering personalized point-to-point service without the hassle, congestion, or crashes involved with driving.
The autonomous vehicle, some predict, will replace many of today’s forms of transportation and radically expand mobility by allowing people, including the young, old, and disabled, to get around without having to walk, without having to know how to drive, and without having to wait for a bus or train. Operating without a driver and using electricity for power, the autonomous vehicle could be cheap to operate and environmentally friendly. It could, in fact, replace car ownership for many households.
We’re years away from the
Continue reading Will autonomous cars change the role and value of public transportation? »