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- Bicycling to Solve Traffic Congestion in Penang 07/12/2013
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- Rethinking Transport and Public Space in Penang 27/11/2013
- Dead End in Brazil: Interview with Bolivar Torres, O Globo Brazil. 26/11/2013
- Carsharing in Hungary – Starting from scratch 25/11/2013
- Sustainable Penang: Final Phase 1 Report 21/11/2013
- Come out and claim the road – by Sunita Narain 20/11/2013
- The Sustainable Transport Conundrum (3) 12/11/2013
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Category Archives: Public transport
Just when we thought we were finally starting to figure out how to make a major shift to public transport, this troubling article shows up in the main paper in Tallinn Estonia, at the time of their introduction of a new program to create FFPT Fare Free Public Transport. Now someone has to figure out how to offer Germ Free Public Transport. GFPT. Quite seriously. Where do we start to work out way through this one? Have a look and tell us what you think about it.
Here is a “free transport project” that is working remarkably well: In the Spring of 2005 the community of Greater Lyon in cooperation with their supplier JCDecaux launched the world’s first mega Public Bike System, Vélo’v. The project put some 3000 bikes into service, available in about 300 stations spread for the most part over the City of Lyon. All this is successful, amply detailed in many places and continues to this day to yield yeoman service for some 60,000 registered users (including the author). To gain access to the system, in addition to one day or one week tickets, the user pays an annual fee of € 25, and when using a bike a caution is debited from the users credit card until it is returned to a parking slot. From a user perspective it is a very successful system and use experience.
* But where is the “free public transport” element?
This report sponsored by Siemens under a program initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) recommends “that about 4.2% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), needs to be spent annually to develop Bogotá into a world-class transit-oriented metropolis”. The report has been implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, active in Colombia for almost 50 years, and Siemens, a German global corporation present in Colombia for nearly 60 years. And to see it for yourself, click here for the full report that has just been released. http://despacio.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Bogota-21-english.pdf Continue reading
Priority for Public Transport in Tallinn (Probably the Best)
- Eric Britton, 06. september 2012 01:00
Your editor was kindly invited by Mayor Hau Lung-pin to come to Taipei City this year to discuss preparations for the celebration of the city’s tenth successive Car Free Day — and as part of this collaborative brainstorming process to draw on my experience of some seventeen years working with this, one hopes, transformative transportation approach in different cities around the world. Continue reading
At the end of the day our transport sector, no matter where it is, is shaped by the perceptions of the main players, the opportunists, planners, decision makers and the public of what is there and what is it that people want and need. And if it is a mess in your country or city,well that’s because these perceptions are simply not clear enough. Read what Nate Sliver of the New York Times has to say when there is a collision between the experts and common sense on one much discussed transportation topic. Interesting things happen when smart people from the outside poke their noses into the transportation box. As we say: “you never know where the next good idea is going to come from”. Continue reading
There are a number of important factors to consider when comparing PRT, public transit and automobile costs, and therefore when comparing the cost-efficiency of roadway versus transit investments. (Commentary by Todd Litman of Victoria Transport Policy Institute on some of the figures raised in the discussions of PRT vs. cars and public transport.) Continue reading
The economic crisis combined with the rising cost of fuel has caused significant changes in travel behavior of Italians — is what emerges from the year-end economic report Audimob of 2010 of the Observatory on Mobility Behavior of the Italian National Institute for Training and Research for Transport (ISFORT)
We have often said that new mobility is a strategy which is ultimately made up of a very large number of often very small things that together make a difference. And so it is just in this spirit that we have decided to launch a new series in which you are invited to participate. It is the 2011 World Streets Bright Awards, celebrating “great small convivial ideas that are easy on the pocket and can be multiplied by thousands and make a difference”. It’s simple and works like this.
This is the first shared posting from India Streets, a sister program to W/S that is to open for publication on 1 November. At this point the site is still in Beta. Your visits and comments for improvement are most welcome.
In the wake of the sheer madness, no that’s too kind, outright stupidity, flagrant self-satisfaction and puerile cuteness of yesterday’s “Why Leftists want to pull you all on mass transit” piece, we offer you some brief words of respite taken directly from Paul Krugman’s 7 October piece in his “The Conscience of a Liberal” blog from the New York Times. Our bottom line: Don’t give up on America yet. We may be in the slow lane, but with a lot more hard work and hard thinking we just may get there yet. Continue reading
New World Bank Report. Challenges to Inclusive Bus Rapid Transit
The World Bank recently published a report, “Technical and Operational Challenges to Inclusive Bus Rapid Transit,” compiled by Tom Rickert, a consultant with extensive experience on accessible transportation. While the technical report is intended primarily for an audience of BRT system and service planners, its release marks a recognition of the practical challenges in making public transport in the developing world fully accessible.
This essay has been contributed by one of the 2010 Jason Chang International Fellows, Jane Voodikon, who introduces herself as follows: “Since my interest in transportation and planning is purely personal – I have no professional background in any transportation-related field – I hope to walk away from Kaohsiung 2010 with a more informed picture of transportation possibilities and the goals and objectives related sectors should be working toward.” – Jane Voodikon, Concerned person and editor. Los Angeles and Chengdu, China. Continue reading
The happy life is one where every day something happens that makes us smile. Today we were blessed with this article that appeared in China Hush under the title “Straddling” bus–a cheaper, greener and faster alternative to commute. Your editor was fascinated and hopes that you will be too. Thank you Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd. Continue reading
Today’s piece by Alex Berthelsen of Planka.nu, Sweden’s largest public transport NGO, is part of World Streets wide-open international brainstorming series on “free public transport”. The most recent article in this series appeared here last week under the title “Why Free Public Transport is a bad idea“, inviting our readers to share their critical thoughts on this important, contentious but ultimately quite subtile subject. The flood gates immediately opened and within days we heard a variety of responses, negative and positive, from thirty readers logging in from more than a dozen different countries. You can access their comments and all the articles in this series via http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/category/free-public-transport/. And as always your critical comments and suggestions are welcome here. Continue reading
There are a good number of proponents around the world supporting the idea that public transport should be free. And if we here at World Streets have our own thoughts on the subject (stay tuned), it is always good practice to check out both sides of the issues. Just below, you will find four short statements taken from the Wikipedia entry, setting out arguments against FPT. More to follow on this and in the meantime we are interested in hearing from our readers and colleagues around the world both with (a) their comments on these criticisms and (b) yet other critical views.
* Note: See the numerous, extensive, excellent comments below.
World Streets is pleased to announce publication in the weeks ahead of a series of articles and other media to introduce and investigate this idea in-depth in these pages. We would ask our readers to bear in mind that there is a great deal more to this approach than may at first meet the eye. So let’s see what we get when we stretch our minds together on this perhaps surprisingly important and, we believe, ultimately practical sustainable city concept.
Fair enough. We all want choices. That is no more than human nature, But when it comes to transport policy and practice in the United States at the highest level, the idea of real choices is no less than a revolutionary statement. Right from the mouth of President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, who continues to surprise and delight. (But now, vigilant citizens, let’s see where the $$$ go. There is no such thing as passive democracy.)
US Transportation Secretary on Biking, Walking and ‘What Americans Want’
By Leora Broydo Vestel, as printed in the Green Inc. — blog of the New York Times.
We propose that you check into their site from time to time. The Times has become a leading international voice for sustainable transportation. (We need more of them.)
The United States transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, recently caused a stir when he proclaimed that bicycling and walking should be given the same consideration as motorized transport in state and local transit projects.
“It’s what Americans want to do,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, of his emphasis on the role of bicycles and walking in good transportation policy.
Supporters, who continue to post notes of adulation and thanks on Mr. LaHood’s Facebook page, say the acknowledgment of biking and walking as legitimate modes of transportation is long overdue.
Critics, conversely, believe the secretary is taking the country in the wrong direction.
Mr. LaHood, formerly a Republican congressman from Illinois, spoke with Green Inc. about his reasons for introducing the new policy, the impact it will have on transportation financing, and why bike paths are a good bang for the buck.
Q. Bicycling and walking advocates had a very positive reaction to the policy change. But here at Green Inc., we heard mostly from critics who said it showed you were “delusional” or reflective of some sort of “Maoist” bent. What’s your response to the response?
A. My response is that this is what Americans want. Americans want alternatives. People are always going to drive cars. We’re always going to have highways. We’ve made a huge investment in our interstate highway system. We’ll always continue to make sure that those investments in the highways are maintained.
But, what Americans want is to get out of their cars, and get out of congestion, and have opportunities for more transit, more light rail, more buses, and some communities are going to street cars. But many communities want the opportunity on the weekends and during the week to have the chance to bike to work, to bike to the store, to spend time with their family on a bike.
So, this is not just Ray LaHood’s agenda, this is the American agenda that the American people want for alternatives to the automobile.
What’s happened around America is people are buying bikes and they’re using them for recreational purposes on the weekend and there’s no better family way for people to spend a weekend than riding their bikes on these biking trails.
This is what Americans want and we’re accommodating their needs to really find places to recreate. And what could be healthier than taking a 30-minute walk, which is recommended by every doctor in America, or hopping on your bike and riding four, five or six miles and enjoying the great outdoors?
Look, this is a win-win. This is a way for people to get out of their cars, a way for people to recreate, a way for people to get good exercise, and it’s what Americans want to do.
Q.In announcing the new policy, you used pretty forceful language, saying it was a “sea change” and “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.” The actual policy, however, is more benign in tone, saying, “well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of federal-aid project developments.”
Do you stand by your initial characterization of the policy?
A. I think that livable and sustainable communities is a game changer. It’s a game changer because it’s what Americans want. It’s a game changer because people do want to get out of congestion, they want to get out of their cars, they want to be able to enjoy the outdoors, they want to be able to recreate with their families.
And so it’s a game changer from the point of view that it’s a major component of livable and sustainable communities that provide alternatives to automobiles. And some of it is transit, some of it is light rail, some of it is street cars, some of it is good buses. But certainly a big part of it is the opportunity to bike or walk to the grocery store, to work, to the drug store or just spending time with the family and getting some good exercise.
Q. In terms of the way federal transportation dollars will be spent on the ground, is this a zero sum game? Does more money for biking and walking mean less money for motorways?
A. We’re always going to take care of our highways. As I said, we have a state-of-the-art interstate system that’s been developed over three or four decades. We’re not going to give up on our roads. We know people are always going to drive cars. They’re going to use their cars for long distances.
But as we develop our livable and sustainable communities program, biking and walking paths will be a major component of it. And they will get some significant dollars.
Q. In response to the policy change, a member of Congress said he didn’t understand how you get a bang for the buck out of a bicycle project. Why do you think they’re a good investment?
A. You don’t have to get a bang for the buck in every form of transportation. Certainly, transit, it provides a good bus or light rail or other kinds of transportation services. But, they don’t make money doing it.
This is a good bang for the buck because it provides alternatives to people, and good exercise, and for people who are very health conscious and for people who want to spend time with their families.
This is a win, win, win. It incorporates a lot of different opportunities for people and it’s a good bang for good health, and a good bang for a different form of transportation, and it’s what the American people want.
Q. Was there any particular reason you wanted to introduce the new policy now?
A. It has more to do with the fact that we’re rolling out our livable and sustainable communities as we travel around the country and I also was at a huge bikers’ conference in Washington, D.C., and we wanted to give them the chance to really understand that all of their hard work over a long period of time has finally paid off. There’s an administration in place now that has taken to heart their request for more walking and biking paths.
# # #
Let us see if we can put this into perspective. Now, while it is very good to hear America’s Transportation Secretary taking an active, even enthusiastic stance in favor of bicycling and walking, and while it is great if not entirely unexpected news that the cyclists and pedestrians groups are strongly and vocally supporting this policy change (because it is indeed an important policy change), we also need to bear in mind that this is a small step.
What we need is for the Secretary to embrace the full range of the options which are opened up by the New Mobility Agenda, all of which need to be understood individually and, now comes the hard part, orchestrated in each place into a fully tailored unique mobility package so as to provide fair transportation for all the people who live and work in that place.
I ask myself this: what is it that we can do, you and I and others who care, in order to broaden the palate of transportation options which are needed in order to provide full and fair service for the entire population, bearing in mind that in most places more than 50% of the people who live there cannot or should not be driving their own car. I guess we just have to keep working on it. (We will !)
Every once in a while sustainable transport and sustainable city planners get a break. Some of these are immediately recognizable as such, for example when your city has decided to host some important international event such as the Olympic Games, a World Expo, or some kind of international athletic, cultural or political event, all of which occasions which may provide the funding and vision of the city which is simply not there in the ordinary hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.
But these “opportunities” may also take a far less rosy form, such as a crippling transit strike or even a natural disaster which may temporarily or permanently wipe out some part of the city’s normal transportation arrangements. In this article, our friend and colleague Todd Litman reports from Canada on one of the more happy occasions for transition and innovation. But at the end of the day there is always the question: “what is the legacy of all this?”
Way-To-Go Vancouver Olympics – Lessons For Transport Planners
- Todd Litman, Executive director, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Victoria BC
The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics are over now. City Planner Brent Toderian described in a recent Planetizen blog how the event showcased Vancouver’s Urbanism, including the quality of its neighborhoods, streets and public transit system, and the delight of a shared community experience.
There are other important lessons for planners from this event. Let me share some observations about the Olympic Transportation Plan.
Overall, it was successful. With just a few exceptions, everybody got where they needed to go on time, with reasonable comfort. This success resulted from excellent planning by many people representing various organizations: Olympic committees, cities, regional agencies, provincial and federal governments, and various service providers.
Let me share some thoughts based on my experience having helped in a small way develop the plan. It was a very fun planning exercise. Basically, this was a huge party attracting many honored guests. Our job was to insure it went smoothly and everybody had a great time. This is logistical science at its best. We needed to insure that tens of thousands of people could travel reliably between numerous diverse venues, including about 30,000 people from Vancouver up to Whistler and back every day for more than two weeks. We had tremendous resources available: if it required six hundred extra buses with 1,800 extra drivers, or total control of a highway or traffic lanes, we got them.
Oh, did I mention that this all takes place during the middle of winter, and much of the travel involves mountain roads? Did I mention that schedules were subject to change at any time due to weather or other unexpected events? And did I mention that security trumps everything else, so each component of the plan needed security review?
No problem – we are planners! Making all of this work simply required applying basic transport management:
* Encourage use of efficient modes. Improve and promote walking, cycling, ridesharing and public transit.
* Discourage unnecessary automobile travel. Discourage driving, and limit vehicle traffic and parking in key areas such as downtown.
* Give priority to more valuable trips and the more efficient modes. Expand sidewalks and bike lanes, and bus lanes.
* Provide clear information to users. Use websites, maps, brochures, signs, volunteers and news releases to let visitors and residents know how to travel and what to expect.
To accomplish this we identified and prioritized the various categories of trips: competitors, coaches, officials, media, visitors, various staff, and freight deliveries. We estimated volumes of each group, prioritized them, and determined how best to transport them taking into account each groups requirements: some need to stay together, some required extra equipment (clothing, skis, guns, etc.) and some (particularly paralympic participants) used mobility devices.
Although this may sound like a big event, it is really just a blip in regular travel volumes. The Vancouver region has about two million residents. Adding 100,000 visitors is just a 5% increase. Experience with such events indicates that given suitable services and incentives, residents can reduce their driving so total vehicle travel is below normal levels. The key is to improve efficient alternatives and frighten residents just enough that they minimize driving.
* Completion of the Canada Line heavy rail transit from the airport to downtown Vancouver.
* Additional bus service, including some dedicated bus lanes.
* Parking restrictions downtown and around many venues.
* Lots of user information concerning how to get around.
* Preparation for large pedestrian crowds.
Projects like this give me great respect for coach buses, the large buses used for long-haul passenger transport. They are key to Special Event and Emergency Response transportation management. To appreciate the efficiency of a fleet of such buses, let’s do a little math. Under favorable conditions, a single highway lane can carry up to 2,200 automobiles, or about 6,600 passengers at three passengers per vehicle. The same lane can carry about 1,000 buses, or about 50,000 passengers per lane-hour at 50 passengers per bus.
Coach buses have other attributes that make them particularly useful for such circumstances:
* They have professional drivers who are (generally) well trained and responsible.
* They have good communications systems that allow operators to communicate with dispatchers, police, and other drivers.
* They can carry lots of baggage.
* They are designed for long-distance highway travel (local transit buses are not and may overheat on long climbs).
* They can contain washrooms and other amenities such as padded and adjustable seats, televisions, wireless Internet access, and even bar services.
These features are very important. The availability of real-time information, comfortable seats, and clean toilets can make a huge difference in the overall enjoyment of a trip. Whenever you need to transport tens-of-thousands of people, call in the coach buses!
However, large buses have constraints that must be considered in planning. They are difficult to maneuver and take time to load, and so require large staging areas to insure that everybody knows exactly where and when to board. Staging areas require good access (parking, public transit access, taxi stands, etc.), guidance (wayfinding signage and people who can answer questions), washrooms, refreshments and (if possible) entertainment.
Despite a few minor problems (a bus broke down and a few drivers got lost) the Vancouver Olympic’s transportation program went very well. Everybody involved in planning and running the event should feel proud. It displayed Vancouver at its best and demonstrated the value of high quality public transportation, effective transport management and an attractive public realm. Many residents who previously relied on automobile travel began using public transportation during the Olympics and now continue.
The limited legacy
My biggest disappointment is the limited legacy. Although Vancouver got a new rail line between downtown and the airport, other public transit services reverted to previous levels. Buses are once again crowded and stuck in traffic. In contrast, South Africa implemented wonderful new Bus Rapid Transit systems for the 2010 World Soccer Cup, which will provide durable benefits to residents and visitors into the future.
# # #
About the author:
Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: email@example.com. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560
This article originally appeared in Planetizen on Monday, 5 April at http://www.planetizen.com/node/43644. And if you have a bit of time when you visit World Streets, you may find it useful to have a look at the latest on Planetizen and a baker’s dozen of other closely related publications and programs which you will find conveniently summarized just to your left here under the rubric: Latest from the world’s streets.
South African travel writer Sihle Khumalo knows African public transport intimately, but is more accustomed to his own private wheels in his home town of Jozi. He took time out recently to explore his own backyard by public transport, from Soweto to Sandton…
Having travelled by public transport in more than 10 other African countries, it was only natural that I explore my own backyard using taxis and the newly launched Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System – better known as ReaVaya. Amongst other things I wanted to see how our public transport system compares with the rest of Mama Africa.
My plan was pretty straightforward: take ReaVaya from Soweto to the centre of Johannesburg and then a taxi to Sandton. On a Friday afternoon, a day before my trip, I decided to walk from my office – which is in downtown Johannesburg – to buy myself a ReaVaya ticket.
In Gandhi Square, at the Metrobus ticket kiosk, I was told by a gum-chewing lady that she only sold tickets for Metrobus and not ReaVaya.
‘Isn’t Metrobus and ReaVaya both own and managed by the Johannesburg Metro?’ I asked, while trying to hide my shock
‘My brother I said I only sell Metrobus tickets.’ Before I could interject, she continued: ‘If you want a ReaVaya ticket go to Commissioner Street.’
A bit peeved, I decided that I was going to buy the bus ticket in Soweto the following day.
On a sunny Saturday morning, armed with all the info I had gathered from the informative BRT website, my wife drove me to Soweto. On entering Soweto, I noticed that young trees had been planted (better late than never) along Chris Hani (former Old Potchefstroom) Road. Since it was already after 10am, we were caught in a non-ending funeral procession of cars heading for the cemetery. Sowetans just can’t wait to bury the dead, I concluded. After passing Maponya Mall, we turned right into Klipspruitvalley Road and voila, there it was, Emfuleni bus station.
I could not miss the red structure in an island separating the lanes that were running in the opposite direction. After jumping out of the car and waving goodbye to my family, I noticed that – although there was a pedestrian crossing – cars (especially taxis) were not slowing down to give me a right of way. It took a while, and only another funeral procession had past that it was it safe to cross – into the modern bus station.
A friendly young man wearing a ‘volunteer’ reflector vest showed me where to buy the ticket, which set me back five hundred cents. He also explained where, once my ticket had been checked, I must stand while waiting for the bus.
Within 10 minutes the bus arrived and, for a Saturday morning, I was surprised at the number of the people going to town. There were only a handful of empty seats. I sat next to Nana – a beautiful, fat black woman. She did not even wait for me to get comfortable in my seat. By the time we got to the next stop, approximately 5km down the road – right opposite Orlando Stadium – we were talking like long-lost friends who had just met: hitting high fives and laughing out loud.
The bus was clean and tidy and the seats were comfortable. Nana, in a tight black dress, explained that the red chairs were called priority chairs and reserved for pregnant women, disabled people and people carrying babies. I was still nodding, showing how impressed I was by the BRT, when our conversation was interrupted by the ticket inspector.
Once the formalities were over, Nana continued.
‘Taxi drivers are unhappy with BRT because most people are not using taxis anymore. The reason for that is besides cost – taxis charge R7.50 from Thokoza Park to town whereas BRT cost only R5.00 – the buses take half the time taken by taxis. On weekdays, I used to leave my place at 6am and now with BRT I leave my house an hour later and still make it to work on time. Ja this BRT has really hit the taxi owners hard. Maybe they should introduce a special fare or discounts on certain days.’
Before I could say anything, she beat me to it…‘Nowadays taxi drivers even allow passengers to eat in the taxis, something that they never ever allowed before the introduction of this BRT.’
Within half an hour, we were in town. I was already so impressed that I could not help but think that if I lived in Soweto I would definitely use my car to drive to the office in Main Street anymore. This is exactly what South Africans have been waiting for – a safe, convenient and reasonably priced public transport system – I concluded as I jumped off at the corner of Rissik and Market roads.
The city centre has seen a revamp in the past couple of years, hence trendy eateries such as Ninos, Cappellos and Darkie Café have opened and seem to be doing well, with middle-class people – mostly black diamonds – enjoying their meals there. Instead of going to a restaurant, though, I opted to pop into the Carlton Centre.
After paying R8, I, together with some German tourists, took a lift to the 50th floor. This was the first time I was going to have an aerial view of Johannesburg from the Roof of Africa, as the 50th floor is known. It suddenly struck me that everyone visiting Jozi for the first time should take a turn here in order to get the proper orientation and perspective of South Africa’s biggest city. After absorbing an incredible view of the landmarks, it was time to head for Noord taxi rank, which made the headlines a while back when taxi drivers assaulted a woman for wearing a miniskirt.
I walked through Smal Street through to King George Road. As to be expected of most city centres in South Africa, there were loads of black people walking up and down and not even one white person in sight. Some people were having their hair plaited right on the busy pavements. Just when I thought I had seen it all, there was a shop – just before the taxi rank – which was selling uqanduqandu (an African version of Viagra, which apparently works wonders by keeping the middle leg, in a heavily dilated manner, pointing towards the magnetic North until sunrise). Maybe in 20 years time, when I am in my mid-50s, I might need it, I thought to myself.
I spent more than 30 minutes walking around in Noord taxi rank looking for Sandton-bound taxis. As a typical male, I do not ask for directions at the first sign of not finding what I am looking for. I walked around in circles looking at people boarding taxis heading not only to other South African cities and towns but also to neighbouring countries, such as Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Eventually I decided to swallow my pride, but the first five people I asked had no clue where taxis heading for Sandton were parked. It was eventually a middle-aged man wearing a Jacob Zuma 100 % Zulu boy T-shirt who took me out of my misery. The taxis I was looking for were in Central Taxi Rank, which happened to be three blocks away.
Thus after crossing three sets of traffic lights I came across the MTN-branded Park Central, from where taxis travel to different suburbs. Quite honestly I had never heard about this taxi rank before.
In no time, thanks to the Sandton signboard, I saw which taxi I had to take. Against my good judgement I selected a back seat, which meant I had to squeeze myself between two young thin girls who spoke with a fake American accent. Although all three persons, excluding myself, were thin, it was a very tight squeeze.
As if this were not enough, when the taxi left the rank, it became apparent that we were about to encounter a new problem: the cost from the City Centre to Sandton is R9, but all of us were carrying only R20 notes. And as the driver was speeding along Twist Street, he was also trying to calculate the change due to the passengers. He was such a multi-skilled guy that, while doing all of this and changing lanes, he still had the time for a chat on his cellphone.
By the time the taxi, 25 minutes later, dropped me at the corner of Maude and West streets in Sandton, I had reached two conclusions…
Firstly, that as much as South Africa’s public transport system is better than that of other African countries, we still have a long road to cover before we can claim to have a world-class system.
And secondly, it is a no-brainer why Sowetans have deserted the taxis. Give me BRT anytime. Although with taxis you stand a good chance of being squeezed between two beautiful sexy things wearing miniskrits. That explained why, I thought further, there was a shop just outside Noord taxi rank that was selling uqanduqandu.
Thanks to the author and Mobility Magazine Africa for their permission to simultaneously publish this excellent article.
About the author:
Sihle Khumalo is the author of two books – Dark Continent My Black Arse, and Heart of Africa – which tell of his travels by public transport throughout Africa.
For more information on the Rea Vaya BRT, visit www.reavaya.org.za
And for more from World Streets on Rea Vaya:
* “Take a ride where the drivers aren’t rude to you” – http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2009/09/take-ride-where-drivers-arent-rude-to.html
* “Transport Realities in South Africa: Slow, but maybe a start” – http://newmobilityagenda.blogspot.com/2009/04/transport-realities-in-south-africa.html
Recently the city of Philadelphia, experienced a six day long strike by the local transit authority, SEPTA. Subways and buses stopped operating only hours before the Monday morning rush hour leaving workers scrambling for alternative modes of transportation to get to the office.
- Submitted by Timothy Ericson, CityRyde, Philidelphia, PA USA
The strike also left many school aged children stranded and unable to attend classes. Even non-transit riders were frustrated with huge increases in vehicular traffic on all of the city’s roads and hiways. During the strike period, bicycle ridership skyrocketed in Philadelphia as it was the only option for many commuters to reach their destinations. The strike forced many residents to view the bicycle as a primary form of transportation.
Paris, France had a similar scenario back in October of 2007 when their transit workers went on strike. However Paris commuters had an option that Philadelphia commuters did not, they have a bike sharing system. Vélib’, one of the largest bike sharing systems in the world, experienced a tremendous increased in ridership during this strike. According to a New York Times article, Vélib’ trips almost doubled to 175,000 trips a day, and this was still before the system was completely installed throughout the city. City officials even installed temporary stations throughout the city to try and curb the demand. Although many Parisians complained that bicycles were not available, they were lucky to have a bike sharing system available to them when the city was paralyzed.
During Philadelphia’s transit strike CityRyde had the opportunity to demonstrate to city commuters a fully functional bike sharing system during the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s “Bike the Strike” event. (CityRyde would like to send a special thank you to all of the staff members of the Coalition who put together the event and allowed CityRyde to demonstrate along side them.) CityRyde’s CEO and co-founder was quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer article saying, “Bike sharing has transformed cities around the world, and we’re hoping to do the same thing in Philadelphia.” Besides showing people “there are other options out there,” today’s demo of the idea was timed “to help push it along in the City Hall,” Ericson said.
This is a wake up call to cities all over the world to look into alternative forms of transportation. Bike sharing gives residents and visitors freedom to move throughout cities on an environmental friendly, cost effective bike sharing bicycle.
CityRyde demonstrated the Samba system which is currently deployed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
CEO and Co-Founder
CityRyde, Bike Sharing Experts
3225 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
USA: +1.215.475.5224 x200
If you click here you will be taken to the European Commission’s proposed “Action Plan for Urban Mobility” for the period 2009 to 2012. That’s very interesting for the New Mobility Agenda and World Streets since that is our target period for those reductions 5 to 50% GHG reductions and all that goes with it. Does it give you a sense of high urgency which is ours here? We invite discussion and comment here.
Brussels, 30 September 2009
What can the EU do?
The EU can stimulate cities to develop policies which will help to reach the EU objectives of combating climate change, creating an efficient European transport system and strengthening social cohesion.
With the Action Plan, the European Commission presents for the first time a comprehensive support package in the field of urban mobility. Local, regional and national authorities are free to use this support, and the tools that will be offered. Using them will help to address the challenge of sustainable urban mobility and facilitate their policy making. In addition, Europe’s citizens and companies will benefit from this on a daily basis.
The actions foreseen will:
* Promote integrated policies to deal with the complexity of urban transport systems, governance issues and the necessary coherence between different policies, for example between urban mobility and cohesion policy, environment policy or health policy.
* Focus on citizens’ needs by promoting reliable travel information and a high level of protection of passenger rights.
* Help to green urban transport by introducing new, clean vehicle technologies and alternative fuels and promoting smart charging to encourage transport users to change travel behaviour.
* Address funding by exploring existing funding opportunities, innovative public-private partnership schemes and possible new funding solutions.
* Support sharing experience and knowledge to enable better access to this information and help stakeholders to capitalise on these experiences and on relevant data and statistics.
* Optimise urban mobility to encourage effective integration, interoperability and interconnection between different transport networks.
* Improve road safety to achieve a high level of road safety, especially for vulnerable road users such as young people and the elderly.
Why an action plan now?
European towns and cities face ever-growing challenges to make urban transport sustainable. These challenges have been discussed in the Green Paper on urban mobility (1) that the Commission adopted in September 2007. They must be addressed if the European Union’s overall strategy to combat climate change, achieve objectives for energy efficiency and renewable energies, and strengthen social and economic cohesion is to succeed.
Nine out of ten EU citizens believe that the traffic situation in their area should be improved (2).
Citizens’ travel affects not only urban development but also the economy. Towns and cities need free-flowing, efficient transport systems. But urban transport is also an essential component of long-distance transport. Most passengers and freight start and end their journeys in urban areas and pass through several urban areas on their way. Urban transport is thus a vital element of a competitive and sustainable European transport system.
Why does action at EU level add value?
In general local authorities are themselves best placed to define and implement urban mobility policies adapted to local circumstances. But they face common problems. The EU can support them and enable and encourage the development of a new culture for urban mobility in Europe, without prescribing one-size-fits-all or top-down solutions. This approach was supported by stakeholders during the consultation that followed the adoption of the Green Paper.
There is much to be gained from working together at EU level and mobilising EU resources to support action at local, regional and national levels.
The exchange of information and the development and testing of new solutions can be done efficiently at EU level. EU-wide dissemination and replication of new, innovative approaches can enable public authorities to achieve more, better and at lower cost.
What are the actions?
The Action Plan includes twenty actions addressing the following issues:
Improved information: To help making travel easier, the Commission will work with public transport operators and authorities on better travel information. It will study the different access rules for green or environmental zones that have been introduced across the EU and consider the need for further action.
Passenger rights: The Commission will work with stakeholders to agree a set of voluntary commitments on passenger rights in urban transport. In recognition of the fact that persons with disabilities have the right of access to urban transport on equal terms with the rest of the population, it will include urban mobility in the EU Disability Strategy.
Better planning: Integrated planning can provide a good response to the many mobility challenges that cities are faced with. To accelerate the take-up of sustainable urban mobility plans in cities and regions the Commission will prepare information material and launch promotional activities. It will also produce guidance documents on important aspects of these plans, such as urban freight distribution and intelligent transport systems for urban mobility.
Greener transport: Many citizens would like transport to become greener. The Commission will continue to support research and demonstration projects, for example on lower and zero-emission vehicles. It will set up an internet guide with information on clean and energy-efficient vehicles and discuss with Member States how energy-efficient driving could be included in private drivers’ driving tests. The Commission will also discuss urban mobility issues with stakeholders from the health sector.
Sharing experiences: To help policy makers to share experiences, the Commission will establish a database with information on the wide range of tested solutions that are already in place. This database will also include an overview of EU legislation and financial instruments relevant to urban mobility and offer educational tools. The Commission will study how to improve the availability of data and statistics, facilitate information exchange on urban pricing and encourage international dialogue on urban mobility with Europe’s neighbouring regions and global partners.
Funding: Finally, funding is often a key issue. The Commission will work to streamline existing EU funding sources and look at future funding needs. It will also prepare a guidance document on sustainable urban mobility and Cohesion Policy and study the effectiveness and efficiency of different urban transport pricing solutions. Education, information and awareness-raising campaigns play an important role in the creation of a new culture for urban mobility. The Commission will therefore continue to support the organisation of public awareness campaigns, for example the European Mobility Week.
When do the actions come into place?
The actions will be launched over the next four years. In 2012 the Commission will conduct a review of the implementation of this Action Plan and assess the need for further action.
For Further information
More information on the Action Plan on Urban Mobility can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/urban/urban_mobility/urban_mobility_en.htm
(1) : Towards a new culture for urban mobility. COM (2007) 551.
(2) : Attitudes on issues related to EU Transport Policy. Flash Eurobarometer 206b, July 2007.