Monday, November 20, 2006

LA Times Op-Ed Backs BRT on Wiltshire Blvd.

Excerpts from the Op-Ed:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's BRT (or "bus rapid transit") experiment on Wilshire and in other parts of the city is like a bus system on steroids. In order to approximate the speed and capacity of a more expensive urban rail system, the Metro Rapid buses exploit their advantage over conventional MTA buses by scheduling more frequent service, fewer stops, coordination with subway station locations and even a device that extends a green light for an approaching bus.

Now, transit planners want to make the Metro Rapid system even more productive by installing a dedicated bus lane along Wilshire and implementing a prepaid fare system, similar to the Valley's Metro Orange Line. These improvements could cut bus travel time between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica by an estimated 20% to less than 50 minutes, making a Wilshire BRT line competitive with a subway.

. . .

Dedicating road space to bus riders makes transit work better for everyone, and it ultimately benefits motorists by reducing the number of cars on the road. Instead of caving into parochial interests, county and city officials should push for dedicated lanes along all of Wilshire Boulevard.,0,236036.story?coll=la-home-commentary

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Support for BRT from the East Bay Bicycle Coalition

The following article is reprinted with permission from the October 2006 issue of RideON, the newsletter of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.

Telegraph Bus Rapid Transit Project

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is proposed to link the East Bay’s most heavily used bus corridor. The project is designed to serve Berkeley,Oakland, and San Leandro by operating from downtown Berkeley to Bayfair BART and Mall along Telegraph Avenue, International Boulevard and East 14th Street.

What is BRT?

BRT is a new and cost-effective way of providing high-quality transit service with buses. The buses operate primarily in bus-only transit lanes with light rail-like service characteristics and station spacing. Traffic signals are modified giving buses priority, helping them move more quickly and reliably. BRT stations are similar to light rail stations, each with a boarding platform, shelter, proof-of-payment ticket validation, ticket vending machines, security features, and real-time vehicle arrival information. BRT is much less expensive than light rail to construct and operate and retains the flexibility to operate in conventional traffic lanes.

BRT and the Community

• Improved Travel Times - Current bus trips from Downtown Oakland to UCB that take 25 to 30 minutes will average 15 to20 minutes.

• Improved Transit Reliability - The ability to operate in bus-only lanes reduces the unpredictability of typical city traffic.

• Increased Transit Usage – Projections show weekday ridership would increase 35%.

• Improved Quality of Life – Automobile dependence leads to residential and commercial corridors typically forsaken bypassing motorists. Improved transit service makes the community more attractive to new development and brings aboutmore opportunities to meet the community’s current housing and retail needs. Bicyclists and BRT

BRT buses running in bus-only lanes in the center of the roadway reduce the busbike conflicts inherent on traditional bus routes.

BRT does not create hazardous rail track crossings that cause solo diversion crashes.

BRT’s increased service frequency and faster travel may attract additional bikeon-bus passengers for medium-distancetrips. Bicyclists traditionally eschew waiting for buses for shorter trips in favor of pedaling. Most current bike-on-bus tripsinvolve transbay travel; longer express bus trips; access to destinations that involve steep climbs; or emergency travel necessitated by inclement weather, bike breakdowns, or situations like getting caught out after dark without lights.

• With BRT stations spaced farther apart, the bicycle becomes relatively better suited than walking for some passengersto access transit.

• How the BRT buses and elevated platforms at stations will accommodate loading bicycles on-board buses or bus racksremains uncertain.

• Not all bicyclists will need to travel with their bike on-board a bus rack. Making a secure bicycle storage option available atall BRT stations, such as the BikeLink eLockers, would help appeal to existing bicyclists and help lure motorists fromcars to convenient bike-bus trips.

• Bicyclists benefit from increased room on popular arterials where parking is removed (no door zone!) and faster implementation of the stalled Telegraph Avenue bike lanes with Federal monies.

• Improved signal interconnection, reduced speeding, better lighting, more shopping opportunities and increased foot trafficwill enhance traffic safety, personal security and the make opportunities to create bicycle-friendly communities on BRTcorridors.

BRT An Election Issue

In the District 7 Berkeley City Council race, BRT has become a major campaign issue. George Beier has launched a well-funded challenge to the incumbent (and bicycle-advocate) Kris Worthington. Beier is President of the Willard Neighborhood Association and has made opposition to BRT (and the Southside Plan) a cornerstone of his campaign.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Public Support for BRT In San Francisco

This report from Joel Ramos, who is organizing for BRT on behalf of Transportation and Land Use Coalition (TALC):

I was at the Geary BRT workshop last night, and all 50 or so people in attendance seemed to unanimously support the project. The only issue some had was that they preferred an LRT. However, after several explanations from the MTA, folks finally understood that it would be too expensive, and would take too long.

In the interest of time, some even advocated that some of the alternatives be dropped (such as curbside BRT and simply enhancing current service), as they simply weren't nearly as effective as center lane BRT.

Probably the best part of the event was a 2 minute long computer animation that portrayed a BRT vehicle traveling down Geary Blvd, amongst two-way traffic, while stopping at bus stations along the route. The whole animation was projected from a "bird's-eye" view, that is, from an in-flight perspective (above and at an angle).

It was rather inspiring!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Buses and Bikes in Paris

by Hank Resnik

As many of you know, Paris is my second home. A major reason for this is that Paris is truly a transit-oriented city. All the neighborhoods cluster around transportation nodes, most often Metro stations.

In recent years the bus system in Paris has improved greatly. Most impressive has been the newly implemented citywide network of bus-only lanes. Very close to the apartment we're renting, for example, is a major street. Formerly it was four lanes with two lanes of traffic in each direction. In the last year it was divided by a wide concrete median into two two-lane streets. One of the two-lane streets is for private vehicles. The other is primarily for buses.

The citywide network of bus-only lanes enables buses to move quickly and without the obstruction of other traffic, and it makes bus travel a lot faster and more convenient than traveling by car. It seems odd that anyone would prefer a car to any other mode of transit in Paris, in fact. At most times of day private vehicles move slowly and often encounter gridlock.

The bus lanes are shared with two other kinds of vehicles: taxis and bicycles. My bike is still my primary mode of transportation in Paris, and I find the bus/bike lanes both safe and convenient. Paris is becoming more and more bike-friendly, part of a deliberate program on the part of the mayor and city administration to reduce private automobile use, promote transit, and provide safe and convenient opportunities for bicyclists.

Paris is hardly unique in Europe, where the private automobile is always considered just one option for getting around, not the only option. Combined with all its other attractions, however, Paris is getting better all the time.