What's happening at other transit agencies?

Montreal subway trains run on rubber tires and are great for checking out your hair. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

This weekly post features news from other transit agencies and planners from around the world. Did we miss a good story? Let us know in the comments.

$16.8-billion plan aims at big transit boost for Montreal

The Montreal Gazette reports that the region’s Agence Métropolitaine de Transport — don’t you just love when French looks exactly like English backwards? — unveiled an ambitious plan to boost transit ridership in Canada’s second largest metro area. The target: Increase the percentage of trips on transit from 25 to 30 by 2020. The means: Expand and improve transit service, including rail extensions, BRT and commuter rail electrification. The catch: The $16.8 billion program doesn’t have all the funding lined up yet, though the plan proposes increasing gas taxes and road tolls, as well as capturing some of the value that transit will add to adjacent properties. AMT has not yet considered, however, borrowing against future tooth fairy revenues from teeth lost to playing ice hockey.

San Diego forum envisions a future downtown, advocates urge transit over cars

San Diego Union Tribune writer Bob Hawkins checked in on a forum hosted by the San Diego Taxpayers Association last week and relays some interesting visions for the city’s downtown from two transit advocates. Kris Michell, head of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, foresees a downtown that is eventually “all transit” — especially as a growing urban population makes more cars and more parking unfeasible. Hawkins elaborates:

What Michell envisions is a fleet of rapid transit buses whisking suburban residents to the outskirts of the city where they would board a free “downtown circulator” that would bring them into the business center. Michell sees the circulator — be it vans, a trolley on wheels, shuttles, a people mover — as the centerpiece of a traffic-sane downtown.

Head of mobility advocacy group Move San Diego, Elyse Lowe adds that the city needs to move beyond having a monthly downtown parking pass that’s cheaper than a monthly transit pass. Agreed, Elyse!

How Manhattan sped up its buses without rapid transit

Eric Jaffe of Atlantic Cities reviews a brand new enhanced bus service that will carry New Yorkers crosstown along 34th Street. The busy corridor includes such destinations as the Empire State Building, Penn Station and Madison Square Garden; buses in mixed vehicle traffic had previously been chugging along at a meager average of 5 mph. The new bus-rapid transit line will boost trip speeds through the use of bus-only lanes and pre-boarding fare payment, allowing riders to board at any of the bus’s doors, which cuts back on time the bus is stopped. Introducing signal priority is planned for next year. The bus lanes won’t, however, be physically separated from cars with a barrier, leading some transit planners to lament that it won’t be the “subway-on-wheels” some had hoped for.

Houston Metro updates progress on new light rail lines

Houston, Texas is busy expanding its nascent rail system from one starter line to a network of lines that improve access to the city’s major destinations — an effort we think could benefit from America Fast Forward. According to Houston public radio KUHF, 14 new miles of trail will be ready to open in 2014. The work will be helped by an infusion of $900 million from the federal government.

Housing scarcity an artificially created problem in Portland, Maine

Parking and affordable housing policy go hand in hand: An underground parking spot can easily cost $20,000 to build and car ownership has its own expenses. Christian MilNeil of the Portland Daily Sun highlights  the consequences of Portland’s minimum parking requirement for new housing developments, namely: less housing gets built, what’s built is less affordable and scarce public housing funds get diverted to building car storage — never mind if the spots are actually needed.

Philadelphia buffered bike trail program made permanent after big boost bicycle use

The city of Los Angeles is set to get its first buffered bike lane this fall, so what can we expect? In Philadelphia a pair of lanes on 10th and 13th Streets have led to a surge in bike riding there, such that bikes now make up a quarter of all rush hour travelers on those two roads, according to the local CBS affiliate.

Talking transportation with former Milwaukee mayor John Norquist

Grid Chicago’s interview with Milwaukee’s former mayor is worth a read because it illustrates the fact that Los Angeles shares a similar history and fate with many cities that might not seem too similar at first blush. For instance, Milwaukee had an extensive urban trolly network at the end of World War II that was torn out. The city has also succeeded in revitalizing its formerly industrial waterfront, something many river advocates in Los Angeles seek to do as well.

4 replies

  1. RE: NYC’s bus improvements.
    Oslo has 24 hour passes that are valid on all forms of publicly owned public transit (bus, T-bane [their Metro], and ferry). Buy it, get a time stamp validation and go! The busses allow multi-door boarding with the pass. Those that need to pay the fare board the front door. The middle doors are wide and low (wider than the front doors on the Orange line busses), very easy.

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  2. Actually, until very recently, the Montreal Gazette stylebook policy was to refuse to use the French-language names of the AMT (Commuter Rail) or the STM (operator of the Metro).

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  3. SCRTD/LACMTA has had a similar NYC project for nearly 20 years. It is now know as the Wilshire BRT that now has funding. NOTHING NEW, again. The biggest hurdles to the BRT, until now, were–you guessed it–Beverly Hills and Westsiders UNcooperation.

    The lack of transit funds has forced NY to improve it always lack-luster bus service. While it is bad that they can’t do ANYTHING beyond what has been funded regarding NYC Subway (not counting projects to connect commuter rail with the other’s terminals), the good effect is that NYC is discovering it can use buses more efficiently than they had been as they have money for that only. But, again, NYC is still way behind other cities around the world who have robust bus transit.

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