Mobilien in Paris
My battle with WordPress and video continues. I found a really nice flash video I wanted to embed into a post here. But it won’t. So please click on this link to visit my other blog (which uses Google’s blogger) that likes embedded videos better than WP
Bus Rapid Transit, so called, is cheap. Very cheap indeed by SkyTrain standards. And yes, Malcolm, we know you don’t like it. But I think that one of the best features of the Parisian implementation is that it shows what can be done with existing streets. A bus lane is a much better user of space than a general purpose lane in terms of people moving capacity.
A gp lane can move around 1,000 vehicles per hour which at our average vehicle occupancy is around 1300 people. A bus lane can move well over 10,000 people per hour – it is simply a matter of bus frequency. The ideal implementation is to use a section of road which has several bus routes so that the combined headways produce a very high frequency service along the exclusive part.
So taking a lane away from cars and dedicating it to the exclusive use of buses, bikes and taxis makes a very powerful statement. This street is a public space. It is not solely for the exclusive enjoyment of those who insist on driving themselves. Far too many transportation decisions in this region are based on not upsetting drivers – for example the Burrard Bridge bike lane proposal, or the long rancorous debate over a short length of Granville Street which is closed to cars. But if we are going to make this region more sustainable, reducing car use has to be high on the agenda. Since traffic expands to fill the space available we must reduce the amount of space that cars are allowed to use – both moving and parked. A steady war of attrition with a target annual reduction (like they did in Copenhagen) is essential. And once that lane is freed up the easiest thing to do is use it for this type of combined service. Note that the lane width is greater than the average traffic lane – which allows bikes and buses to coexist peacefully.
Not getting caught up in traffic is what makes bus service reliable. This allows for better use of the resources to maintain headways and thus make bus journeys much more predictable for users. It also means there is less need to wait at bus stops – an important gain as time waiting is valued much more highly by users than in vehicle time. Would a tram be better? Probably, but it would cost more and take longer to implement. Is this a good first step to take to get more people onto transit? Of course! Is it going to require an act of political courage – yes, unfortunately. But maybe in this region we can start showing the rest of BC what progressive, sustainable policies look like if we elect someone other than the usual small c conservatives who tend to dominate municipal politics. Of course we are still stuck with a provincially stifled regional transportation authority but that could be changed next year.
Or we could just go on voting for more of the same, just as we did nationally.
To be absolutely clear – I do not think BRT is the sole solution to every transit problem. There is no single, one size fits all solution for every problem. BUT solutions that are on the surface – not under or over it – should be looked at first. Solutions which have been shown to work elsehwere should be adopted before any new innovations are considered. (Let others pay for R&D) And solutions which are cheap and adaptable are much better than those which are expensive and very difficult to adapt once adopted. BRT has to be one of a range of tools, and there are plenty of guides around to show how to determine which tool is appropriate for each set of circumstances. Ideally we should plan ahead and adopt technologies than have the capacity for “scaling”. Rebuilding the Expo line shows the weakness of the current system. It is going to cost a fortune and will get only a small step forward in capacity. Trying to do that on the yet unfinished Canada Line will be even more costly – because it is in tunnel. But turning the bus lanes on No 3 Road into tram tracks would have been cheap, easy and effective. Just as utilising the Arbutus line – or the old BCER Interurban – would have been a very much lower cost proposition than what we are about to do now. But even if neither was ideal from some perspectives – and almost any project has to make compromises – the Cost Benefit Ratio nearly always works better for low cost projects.