Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Eugene, OR, Uses BRT With Hybrid Buses To Fight Global Warming

Eugene Oregon Strives to be Carbon Neutral. By Daisuke Wakabayashi
The Birmingham Post, December 26, 2006.

"From an urban forest infused with hiking trails to wetlands housing endangered plants and animals, the natural beauty of Eugene, Oregon, provides a scenic backdrop befitting America's greenest city. Nestled between the Willamette and McKenzie rivers in central Oregon, the city has adopted aggressive environmental policies aimed at conserving energy, using alternative fuels and fostering an industry of green business. Nonetheless, Eugene struggles with many of the same problems facing other growing US cities: urban sprawl, congested roadways and limited public transport... Voters approved a $27.5 million (£14.1 million) bond in November to purchase land to build new parks, upgrade existing ones and expand hiking trails. Green space already accounts for 16 per cent of Eugene's land. Connecting it all will be the city's new rapid transit system of large hybrid-electric buses that run in dedicated lanes."

thanks to:
Climate Crisis Coalition Newsfeed
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Alan Hoffman of the Mission Group Speaks on BRT

Alan Hoffman of The Mission Group spoke on Dec 6 about
BRT and transit at "The Forum at Redwood City: A Continuing
Conversation on City Design."

The forum was attended by about fifty people,
including the mayor of Redwood City. Half of the time was
spent in a discussion of research that has been done on what it
would take to get people out of their cars - the other half
covered BRT systems.

Some of the points:

1) Transit will decongest roadways only if transit time is better
than drive time. "Can it get me there quickly without having to wait?"

2) Flexible BRT systems with dedicated busways, multiple door
loading, and pre-payment are essential if transit is going to compete
with the automobile.

3) Transit systems must also have good door-to-door connectivity.
"Will it get me from Point A to Point B?"

4) Headways must be less than 10 minutes. Transfers should be
minimized through system design. The BRT system in Brisbane,
Australia is noteworthy for the way that it has reduced the necessity
for transfers.

5) People must feel good about the experience. Good customer
service, safety, and aesthetics are essential. Bus stops and transit
centers should be well-designed, clean, and transparent. Bus shelters
should not be covered with ads or anything else that prevents a clear
view from the street.

6) Transit systems should be designed with a great deal of
consideration for the preferences of women. Safety is of paramount
importance. Hoffman mentioned one city whose mayor is a woman who
insisted that the bus system be designed so as to be easy to use by a
woman with a baby in a stroller carrying a backpack.

7) One-sixth of the public truly prefer transit. One-sixth will
never use transit. Two-thirds will use transit if it will compete
with the automobile in connectivity, frequency of service, and if
they feel good about the "riding experience".

8) He questioned the value of piecemeal approaches to BRT.

According to Hoffman, San Diego is giving thought to BRT.

He also discussed Brisbane, Australia's BRT system and mentioned that
the cricket stadium in Brisbane, Australia has seating for 30,000
people and no parking lot - see http://www.barmyarmy.com/oz_gi.cfm
for a description of the Brisbane Cricket Ground (there go the
tailgate parties). According to the website, transit tickets are
included in the price of admission to the stadium.

Alan Hoffman is a founding principal of the The Mission Group, San
Diego, CA. A description of The Mission Group can be found at
www.missiongrouponline.com along with several reports on transit
which can be downloaded in pdf format. One of particular interest is
"Smart Growth, Smarter Transit: What Really Increases Transit
Ridership." Many of the points mentioned by Hoffman in his
presentation are covered in this report.

I would recommend that anyone interested in BRT listen to Alan
Hoffman speak if they have the opportunity.

I'm grateful to Joel Ramos of TALC (www.transcoalition.org) for his help with this note and for
letting us know about this event.

Len Conly

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rail Interests Target Bogota and Curitiba

"As more and more cities are realizing that Bus Rapid Transit can
provide the same high status service that was previously only the
domain of metro rail, and that bike lanes can confer both high status
and a healthy ride to work if good facilities arc provided, there are
signs that certain vested interests are becoming concerned...

If a BRT system is as efficient or more than a metro rail system,
why should we invest eight to ten times more to build a subway,
instead of investing in education, water and sewage supply?"

Sustainable Voices - from Sustainable Transport, Fall 2006

"Sustainable Voices" is a section of Sustainable Transport for
opinion pieces that are intended to foster healthy debate on
controversial issues. The views expressed in the article below are
those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of ITDP.

Rail Interests Target Bogota and Curitiba
by Oscar Edmundo Diaz, ITDP

The success of Bogota's TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit system and
the impact it has had on other cities considering mass transit
investments has not gone unnoticed. There are powerful lobbying
efforts to build a metro rail system in Bogota and Curitiba, two
cities that have become associated in the public's mind with Bus
Rapid Transit. One country in particular that makes both fine wine
and urban rail equipment recently sponsored a public transit
conference at the World Bank to promote urban transport technology
(read: metro rail systems), and representatives of that same country
were in Mexico earlier in the year spreading misinformation about
Bogota's TransMilenio and Curitiba's URBS systerns. Similar
tensions between metro (rail) interests (a few specific companies and their
national backers) and BRT 'interests' ... are today in
evidence in many major cities from Dakar, Senegal to Jakarta, Indonesia.


Until recently, there were several misconceptions in the developing
world that made us think we were more developed, when in fact they
kept us underdeveloped:

* more cars = more developed
* rail~based public transport = more developed than bus-based
* bicycles are for poor people

As more and more cities are realizing that Bus Rapid Transit can
provide the same high status service that was previously only the
domain of metro rail, and that bike lanes can confer both high status
and a healthy ride to work if good facilities arc provided, there are
signs that certain vested interests are becoming concerned.

The world's metro rail system with the best studies is the one that
was never built: Bogota's. In 1998, then-Mayor Enrique Penalosa took
the risk of telling Bogotanos that metro rail was not affordable and
decided to implement a modern, self-sustainable, state-of-the-art bus
rapid transit system called TransMilenio. Today TransMilenio, with
only 82 kilometers out of a total plan of 388 kilometers moves 1.4
million passengers everyday. The corridor with the highest demand,
Avenida Caracas moves 42,000 passengers per hour per direction during
peak hours. This number is not only higher than the capacity of 85%
of the metro systems in the world, but lower than TransMilenio's
maximum capacity of 55,000. It is these facts that have metro rail
interests nervous.

In Bogota, three things happened this year after the Labor Day
weekend. First, TransMilenio opened a new corridor. Opening a new
corridor requires adjustment of the operations in the first days
after the inauguration, because it is difficult to predict exactly
how many passengers will use the new system, and services were not
yet adjusted to the new demand. Secondly, a new map of the system was
released. A new map needs time for people understand how it works,
and some people were confused. Third, on the same day, the old
system's bus companies took advantage of the situation and went on
strike. As a result, many passengers faced long lines, generating bad
publicity. Because of the strike, despite not having optimized its
new operations, TransMilenio moved two million people that day,
though of course it was more crowded that ever. Naturally, armchair
traffic experts and metro rail interests took advantage of the situation.
This was a good opportunity for metro rail promoters to say, "What
Bogota needs is a subway. TransMilenio has reached its capacity."

TransMilenio is not perfect and faces some operational challenges
that are being resolved. In June 2006, ITDP sent a team of the best
BRT operational experts to Bogota whose recommendations are being put
in place.

Curitiba, too, faces a challenge from metro rail interests. Despite
the fact that transit ridership is falling in Curitiba, it is not
falling uniformly, and two corridors have seen growth. One BRT line
is being rebuilt with a passing lane at the stations that will
increase the BRT system's capacity significantly. The same approach
could be taken in another corridor facing capacity constraints, but
enormous investment has already been made in the planning for a
metro rail system, and metro interests are making very attractive
promises to the city of Curitiba. What could be a better public
relations coup than to show that even Curitiba. the mother of BRT,
needed a metro?

It is no wonder that rail interests are concerned. Since 2002, 300
delegations from more than 45 countries have visited Bogota to learn
how to implement it in their countries. Most of these delegations
also visit Curitiba. The delegations are not only from developing
countries. The US also sent a delegation -- from the Federal Transit
Administration and Department of Transportation.In May 2006 they
produced the report "How to Implement Bogota's TransMilenio BRT
system in the United States," available online at:

http://www.nbrti.org/mediafdocuments/Bogota %20Report_FinaI%20Report_May%202006.pdf

For this reason, it is not surprising that rail-oriented promoters
are trying to implement a metro or light rail in Bogota, as evidenced
by the Alstom Company's spate of infomercial-like articles that have
been published in El Tiempo, Colombia's main newspaper, promoting the
benefits of rail-based systems. In several cities, BRT systems have
been chosen over metros, such as in Panama City, Jakarta, and Lima,
among others. Even cities with metro rail systems have chosen to
expand their transportation systems using BRT, like Mexico City and
Santiago de Chile. This means that the rail manufactures have missed
some business opportunities, and what could be better for them than
having metro rail built in Bogota? It would give them justification
for the argument that BRT systems are not the right solution.

So let's compare some numbers to see how good metro rail systems
really are for developing country cities. Today subway line
number 4 is being built in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the cost per
kilometer is $100 million. The average per-kilometer cost of a
TransMilenio corridor is $15 million - and over half of this
amount is used to build infrastructure for automobiles that run on
either side of the bus corridor. Sao Paulo has busways, but they stop
at the edge of the city center. Even though Curitiba is in Brazil,
Sao Paulo never built a world class, Curitiba-style BRT system
through its city center. Was this to protect the metro rail ridership?

If Bogota had decided to build a subway using the 82 kilometers that
TransMilenio currently uses, an additional investment of $6.9
billion would have been required, equivalent to the construction
(including land acquisition) of 2,150 high-quality schools for 1,000
children each. With the cost of one kilometer of a metro corridor at
$100 million we could build housing solutions for 50,000 people in

TransMilenio's fare is fifty cents, while Madrid's metro is 2.5 times
higher at $1.27. This amount, unlike TransMilenio, doesn't cover
the system's operational costs. The Buenos Aires subway moves only 3%
of the population using a 48.9-kilometer system, while
TransMilenio moves 19% using 82 kilometers. In the developing world
subways move about 5% of the population, 10% at the most. It is so
expensive to build a new line that expansion is very slow. It's
impossible that enough kilometers of a metro rail systern can be
built in five years to move 1.4 million people like TransMilenio does
today_ The average speed of TransMilenio is 26 kilometers per hour,
similar to rail-based systems.

If a BRT system is as efficient or more than a metro rail system, why
should we invest eight to ten times more to build a subway, instead
of investing in education, water and sewage supply?

Submitted by:
Roy Nakadegawa P.E.
phone: 510-526-5094; fax: 510-526-5094
751 The Alameda Berkeley, CA 94707