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.
Wellington, New Zealand, transit network gets a makeover from Jarrett Walker
Friend of the blog and Human Transit writer Jarrett Walker has helped New Zealand’s capital reconfigure its bus network so that transit riders can use it more freely and spontaneously. Previously the system had a lot of lines running “from everywhere to everywhere,” but they’re weren’t frequent enough that you could free yourself from the schedule. The new approach? Service has been concentrated along a core network of very frequent lines, emphasizing connections much in the same way the Metro Rapid bus system works. The Wellingtonista blog has its take on the changes here.
Next target: Extending BART under downtown San Jose
As Joel mentioned in yesterday’s headlines, BART got the all clear to start construction on an extension towards — but not quite all the way to — San Jose. The phase that takes the train underground through downtown San Jose and out to Santa Clara looks to be a more complicated and pricey endeavor. The Mercury News reports that there’s an estimated price tag of $4 billion, with only half of that already secured.
Virginia Beach, Va., weighs options on light rail
“Public private partnerships” are all the buzz with transit agencies, but there aren’t a ton of examples of it in practice. However, Virginia Beach officials are exploring ways to make the private sector a partner in investing in the city’s planned light rail line. One proposition being considered, according to the Virginian-Pilot: Offer development rights to property developers in exchange for them building the stations and additional amenities.
London Underground Wi-Fi deal goes to Virgin Media
In advance of the the London 2012 Olympics, 80 underground stations will get a wireless upgrade courtesy of the British cell phone company Virgin Media. The service will be free during the Olympics to all transit riders. At the games’ completion, however, full internet access will come at a cost to Londoners not currently on Virgin Mobile, but real-time Transport for London info will be accessible to non-paying customers through a new web portal, reports the Guardian.
Coming soon: New subway trains and real-time bus arrival signs in Washington, D.C.
More exciting changes coming to public transit in the District. The transit agency, WMATA, has solicited bids from contractors to install over 100 real-time information displays at bus stops around the region, as well as an additional 20 per year after that through 2017, according to the Smart Planet blog.
And those traveling underground will get some added comfort in the form of new rail cars on the Metro system. DCist reports that the new cars will have more ergonomically designed seats and digital signage that tells you which stop the train is approaching and those immediately following it.
State bill would reimburse Boston-area transit riders for late commuter rail trains
Here’s a potentially bold move from Massachusetts: The state legislature is taking up a bill, according to the Boston Herald, that would reimburse commuter rail riders the full cost of their fare if their train departs their station more than 20 minutes late or if the car’s interior temperature fails to meet a basic standard of decency. And there is nothing decent about Boston in August — or January for that matter.
Trains ready to roll under the river to Pittsburgh and North Shore
A couple weeks back we mentioned that Pittsburgh residents will benefit from free rides on a new light rail extension linking downtown to its baseball and football fields, thanks to a deal struck with a local casino and Heinz Field. Well, the local media got a peek of the new line and says everything will be “all systems go” starting March 25.