Transportation headlines, Friday, July 23

Here’s a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

[D.C.] Metro seeks to ease congestion on busy bus routes, saving time and millions (Washington Post)

The word “efficiency” is used a lot in transit and the Washington D.C. Metro is looking to make slow buses (some never get above 5mph) more efficient by taking GPS data and then going to the streets and making the subtle changes that can make a world of difference. Things like making sure parked cars are out of rush hour lanes and that traffic lights are timed for bus priority can significantly speed up a bus trip – without the political challenge of creating a dedicated bus lane. It should be noted however that even small changes are no walk in the park and require collaboration with multiple agencies and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

TriMet embraces open source with ‘Open Trip Planner’ (BikePortland)

As a transit nerd and computer nerd, news from Portland always gets me excited. This time Portland’s transit agency TriMet has revealed that it’s working on “an open source multi-modal planning tool” that will be made available to the public in early 2011. TriMet is already at the top when it comes to providing transit data and getting third parties to embrace it – as evidenced by Portland’s many fantastic transit apps. The new trip planning tool promises to take things to the next level. I checked out the demo (you can too by clicking here) and my initial impressions are very good. One feature I think a lot of Angelenos will be jealous of: the system will be able to calculate a combination transit/bicycle trip. Too cool.

CTA installs mag vending machines in some stations (Chicago Tribune)

Here’s a clever way for a transit agency to earn a little extra revenue. Chicago’s CTA is implementing a pilot program that will bring magazine vending machines to rail stations. The agency says each machine is guaranteed to make $500 per month. Hat tip to Yonah Freemark of the Transport Politic for this one.