Why buses represent democracy in action

Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, was  responsible for introducing a number of in terms of transportation and public space innovations. In this short video he  talks here about buses versus cars (really people v. cars) and the experience of Bogotá in giving clear preference to buses with their now world-famous Transmilenio  (BRT) mass transit system. As mayor  he also introduced a number of innovations including land-use, parks and public space projects as well as Bogotá’s Bike Paths Network. If you listen to his talk you will see the very large number of issues and themes which relates to the situation in Penang today. Let’s see what we can learn from Bogotá.

Enrique Peñalosa  is today President of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), and internationally active bogota CFD smallas a consultant and speaker. (As a personal note I might add that he and I were jointly awarded the prestigious Stockholm Environment Prize for our collaboration in planning and executing Bogotá’s first Care Free Day, a carefully planned project which on 24 February 2000 kept something like 850,000 cars off  the city streets for most of the day, to the great joy of the population (if less so for many would-be drivers of course).  In the years since, the city continues to celebrate its annual good-spirited Car Free Day, every year on the first Thursday of February. Meaningful results require vision,  strategy and strong leadership.

about the editor 21dec13

About these ads

One thought on “Why buses represent democracy in action

  1. Buses are important and flexible. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit has recently looked at what it labled the SuperNOVA area of the Commonwealth – the Northern Virginia region plus the outlying counties which are a source of commuter housing and traffic for the high cost region. That includes Front Royal – Warren County where I live. Bus connection are critical and do not now exist on a regular basis. Following are comments offered for the study which would be applicable in most States.

    SuperNOVA Transit/TDM Action Plan Survey – Department of Rail and Public Transit, Commonwealth of Virginia – Follow up comment to December 11 Public Meeting – Marriott Courtyard Alexandria
    Email comments December 30, 2013. Points are numbered for convenience, but would all work together long term for the Commonwealth. For those who need an orientation, the DRPT project site is here: http://www.SuperNoVaTransitVision.com.

    1. Region to region public mobility transportation needs, where the individually owned automobile is too costly on a regular basis or not a household option, require a state-wide approach. Commuting and general transportation from towns, counties and cities in the Northern Shenandoah Valley (Planning District 7) to locations in Northern Virginia (Planning District 8) or similarly from places in Central Shenandoah (Planning District 6), Rappahannock-Rapidan (Planning District 9), Thomas Jefferson (Planning District 10) or the George Washington region (Planning District 16) to Northern Virginia, or between regional centers like Winchester, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Charlottesville, Culpeper, Warrenton and Fredericksburg, are outside the scale of operation of the MPOs and each of these Planning Districts. The scale is likewise greater than the VDOT Districts. Region to region services need to be handled by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and funded like Federal or State Primary Highways for Virginia. The MPO or PDC scale is too small to deal over these greater distances which require a public mobility option. As noted at the December 11 meeting, it is in part a need to recreate what Greyhound and Trailways services provided in the past. The service, while focused on commuting for rush hours, is also for travel to and between these regions by tourists, students, or workers at Federal sites in these regions, like the FBI center in Winchester and the Smithsonian and Customs centers in Front Royal. There are similar locations in the other PD regions.

    2. For the Northern Shenandoah Valley, regional shuttle service should be considered between Winchester and Front Royal to Dulles Airport and Vienna Metro as a minimum. The “shuttle” equipment could be a van or bus, scaled to start-up and expansion with use. Routes 7, 50 and I-66 could be used in a variety of ways for a backbone service for region to region service. An 8 p.m. departure from Vienna Metro to the Northern Shenandoah Valley would enable commuters to get back to their vehicles if they had to work late, or otherwise missed a car or vanpool. This would save funds that the guaranteed ride program might now be paying, or be a more reliable option in the minds of long distance commuters. This is a current un-met need and should be operating by 2014-15.

    3. Services could be contracted from existing coach services or van operators in the various regions. Fares should be kept affordable in order to establish the service. Private efforts to run routes by Schrock and the Valley Connector were ultimately unsuccessful because the full cost cannot be carried by the daily rider any more than a SOV pays the full cost of the roads upon which they drive. Just as the State has built, expanded and maintained the State road network, they now need to begin to fund a greater transit network. There is a great love for rail service, but Virginia does not have the population concentrations throughout the State that make it feasible. Bus Rapid Transit, a nominally lower cost version that is light-rail like, would not be cost-effective investments to connect the non-metro and small metro regions. Feeder services to MegaBus or other long distance services may produce options.

    4. The SuperNOVA project should be scaled to the entire Commonwealth. This might be phased, adding the PDs listed above or going all-at-once to a Statewide planning process. While fuel prices remain low for the present, a price shock could quickly increase demand for region to region services. A backbone system that connected major cities and towns in each region should be seen as both resiliency and sustainability necessities. CNG for large vehicles, such as buses, could be a parallel infrastructure. These fueling stations would also serve State and local government fleets. A backbone network should be in place by 2017-18.

    5. The regional shuttle fleet vision should include Wi-Fi service on the vehicles, with charging stations for riders as well. Transportation and communication go hand in hand and this would improve personal logistics for riders, keeping private vehicles in reserve for those trips that public mobility assets can’t meet.

    6. Park and Ride lots throughout the Commonwealth should be considered for development as mini-hubs for transportation. They can be bus, van, taxi or kiss and ride points. Within County-Town-City service areas, traditional local transit is rarely 24/7/365, but taxi and new on-demand services can get people to pick-up points for the next leg of their journey. A network of key regional lots – some of which might be contracted in shopping centers or at other commercial locations – should be a goal.

    7. A final need is that of user orientation training. In my used of the Vienna Metro center, I’ve arrived there too late in the day to get a parking space, so I had to drive on into D.C. for a meeting. Are there parking lots nearby where I could get a shuttle? It seems that if this is the case, I’ve not been able to find information on the web. This may be local knowledge, but it isn’t visible to the out of region traveler. Weekends would be a good time for people to test alternatives, and that could be offered at reduced rates.

    8. Region to region transportation is not a priority focus for localities or their local regions. Therefore, it must be so for the Commonwealth. Local matches, if any, should be in-kind.

    9. In the NoVa-Washington, D.C.-Maryland-West Virginia Mid-Atlantic Region, State to State is another level of regional mobility that is critical. That level should be considered as well. A multi-region conversation was begin in 2005 as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Roundtable. Virginia could be a leader in expanding the conversation that was begun here.

    Tom Christoffel, AICP, FeRSA

    For maps of the areas go to http://goo.gl/Kln27B

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s