What’s happening at other transit agencies?

A digital rendering of BART's concept for its new car interiors. Snazzy! Photo via BART.gov.

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.

BART’s Fleet of the Future: Update on key features for new train cars

Bay Area Rapid Transit posted this update on its ongoing project to design a new fleet of rail cars for the system. The design above diverges from earlier proposals we’ve seen, but overall I give it a thumbs up: A good mix of seating and standing room, with space for commuters who use wheelchairs and folks with bikes.

Here are some of the highlights from the agency’s website:

1. Split train capability
2. Three doors on each car to make getting on and off faster and easier
3. Energy efficiency improvements
4. Exterior digital displays showing route color and destination
5. Better passenger information — audio and visual
6. Noise and HVAC improvements
7. Easier to clean seats and floors
8. More handholds
9. More priority seating for seniors and people with disabilities
10. System to transmit BART info to hearing aids and cochlear implants

For more tidbits, you can check out this presentation [PDF] from the agency.

Beijing metro lines open

A common refrain these days holds that if we don’t implement some policy — say, high-speed rail — we’ll be left behind by China. That’s definitely true when it comes to urban mass transit. China’s capital Beijing is building transit lines at a fevered pitch, with the latest three segments opening last month to over 126,000 riders on the first day, according to the Railway Gazette.

The publication adds: “With the three extensions increasing the network to [223 miles], the Beijing metro now has 227 stations on 15 lines, with daily passenger traffic expected to reach seven million.” Wow. If that’s not stunning enough, the plan is to nearly triple the rail system to a whopping 600 miles by 2020. Not bad for a system that’s younger than President Obama (the first lines opened in 1969).

Wondering why we can’t build transit that fast? I’d wager that it has a lot to do with our continuing national priority to fund highways, the higher cost of labor in the U.S. and environmental protections — and the last two are pretty reasonable if you ask me.

Improving the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Transportation writer Alon Levy shares his thoughts on what Boston needs to do to bring its century-old transit system into the modern era. After all, the Boston region is beating back the trend of shrinking cities in the Northeast, actually growing roughly 9% over the last decade.

In particular, he’d like to see the region electrify its diesel commuter rail system and switch to lighter trains, both of which would make trips faster and cheaper for the transit agency to run. Levy argues that these improvements, plus more frequent trains, would persuade more of the region’s Boston-bound commuters — and there’s a lot of them — to ride transit instead of driving.

Delhi’s BRT corridor to connect international airport

Transit planners in Delhi are designing the first of five new bus-rapid transit projects in New Dehli, which will connect the city’s international airport to a number of congested neighborhoods 15 miles away. Like many big cities in fast-developing countries, the rapid increase in car use has brought traffic to a standstill and spoiled the air in India’s capital.

In response, the Delhi Integrated Multi-modal Transit System has been charged with helping to keep Delhi residents moving, via BRT, light rail and other transit services. According to the Economic Times of India, the proposed BRT system will feature many of the treatments you might expect — like dedicated lanes and improved pedestrian waiting areas — that will help buses get around the morass.


1 reply

  1. Comparing US and China is like comparing apples and oranges; the US is a democracy and China is an authoritarian Communist state run by single state party officials.

    Over here we live in a democracy; we have a voice in government and whatever the government decides to do, we take every precaution to listen to the locals’ voices, and if they disagree with it, we let our representatives know our grievances. While many may not agree with what Beverly Hills to block the subway plan to the sea or how the affluent neighborhoods of Palo Alto are obstructing the CA high speed rail plans, those are all democracy being in action and are acting upon what the founding fathers of this nation intended. The con is of course, while the time it takes China to go from blueprint to startup in less than ten years, we spend that same ten years doing meetings and discussions, and by the time we get shovel ready, labor and material costs has risen over budget. Remember how the CAHSR costs pretty much doubled?

    In contrast, China gets to build it so fast because they are a Communist country where the people have no voice against what the government decides to do. If China says build it, they show up with bulldozers the next day to knock down existing structures whether the residents or businesses there like it or not. The pro is they get to go from blueprint to startup in less than ten years before material and labor cost rise. The con is that if you happen to own a home or a business that’s in the way of government plans, you’re forced out with little or no compensation and no other recourse of action.

    Which do you prefer? A democracy where the movement may be slow and may be very expensive in the long run but your voices are heard, or a authoritarian Communist country where movement is fast, the cost is cheap but your voices never heard?