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.
Select Bus Service gets a ‘B’ from East Side Manhattan riders
New York’s relatively new BRT transit service has proven quite popular with strap-hangers, according to a recent survey of 1,300 residents in one Manhattan city council district. The New York Daily News reports that the average grade given by respondents was a B and that one-in-five would like to see more BRT lines featuring wider stop spacing, dedicated bus lanes and pre-paid fares — all of which considerably speed up bus times. (Only one-in-five? Hmm.) For reference, Select Bus Service falls somewhere between a typical Metro Rapid line and the Metro Orange Line in terms of BRT features and amenities.
Florida East Coast Industries, Inc. announces plans for private passenger rail service in Florida
Even though the Florida’s governor rejected high-speed rail dollars from the federal government last year, the private sector seems to think it would financially viable. Florida East Coast Industries, Inc. (FECI), is planning to invest $1 billion to build, operate and maintain a new passenger rail line connecting Orlando to Miami and other South Florida cities. A press release boasts that the new line would be primed to capture a part of the 50 million people who travel between South and Central Florida each year. The project would entail upgrading 200 miles of track along the coast and building an additional 40 miles of track inland towards Orlando. FECI expects trains to cover the 240 miles in three hours, which is roughly the same time it takes Amtrak’s high-speed Acela trains to make the New York–Washington D.C. run. If all goes accordingly to plan, service on the new line could begin in 2014.
Google and Mountain View may pursue “personal rapid transit” to solve commute congestion
While Mountain View, Calif., already has some good transit access to the rest of the Bay Area — via Caltrain and San Jose light rail — Google headquarters’ location is a full two miles from either of those. So Google and the city are looking for ways to improve that connection and boost the number of workers who use transit, writes former Ventura Mayor Bill Fulton for the California Planning and Development Report. At a recent transportation workshop, a number of ideas were put on the table, including the less-glamorous, but very effective option of having employees pay for their own parking. Free parking, it turns out, is a strong incentive not to use transit.
But it was personal-rapid transit that captured the most interest that night. The PRT in question “would whisk employees to and fro within the North Bayshore area, to and from the transit center, and possibly to other destinations as well.” Ironically — but not surprisingly, if you’re familiar with Don Shoup — even a representative from a PRT company thought the paid parking option was the most effective way to go.
Toronto City Council votes for light-rail transit, kills Mayor Ford’s subway plan
The saga over how to best improve transit in Toronto continues. Quick back story: Mayor Rob Ford has advocated for transit expansion of the entirely underground variety. However, transit advocates and other political figures have argued that light rail would be the better use of scarce dollars, because more miles and stations of LRT can be built than of subway for the same money. Just this afternoon the Toronto City Council voted to reject the Mayor’s preferred option, reports the Globe and Mail. This comes after an expert advisory panel found that LRT was indeed a “better bang for the buck,” according to the National Post. One panelist made the compelling argument that “the LRT option is the choice for the ridership, for the funds that are available, and also for timeframe in terms of the impact on the community and for equity issues as well – bringing rapid transit to more people.”
Oregon company to oversee Chicago’s massive bike-sharing program
Where does an American city turn when it wants help making itself more bikable? Portland! Chicago has selected the Rose City’s Alta Bicycle Share, Inc., to roll out 3,000 shareable bikes at 300 stations across the Windy City. The Chicago Sun times has the details on how rentals would work:
Bicycle enthusiasts would pay $60 to $85 for an annual membership that gives them unlimited rides under 30 minutes —even if they ride five times a day, 365 days a year.
The cost to members will be $1.50 to $2 for every hour after the initial 30 minutes. For those who don’t buy a membership, daily rentals will range from $5 to $7 for an unlimited number of rides under 30 minutes.