Friday, February 23, 2007

Mexico City’s MetroBus One Year Old

The Bulletin of the
Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP)

Mexico City’s MetroBus Celebrates Its First Birthday
On the first anniversary of Metrobus’s inception, its positive impacts
are becoming evident and may spell more changes ahead.

By Bernardo Baranda

Mexico City’s MetroBus

June marked the one year anniversary of MetroBus, Mexico City’s Bus Rapid Transit system. The occasion was celebrated with a city government event and a photographic exposition titled, “One Year in the Right Direction”.

MetroBus transports an average of 250,000 passengers a day during the week through 36 stations on Insurgentes Avenue, the city’s longest street.

The system had replaced 350 older microbuses with 97 brand new articulated diesel buses that have eliminated over 35,000 tons of greenhouse gases and reduced passenger exposure to tailpipe emissions by 23-59%, according to recent studies by the Mexico City-based Center for Sustainable Transport/EMBARQ. The system has also managed to reduce travel time by an average of 33% as well as decrease accidents by 30%.

Another factor that distinguishes the MetroBus system from others is its flat fare. Passengers now pay $3.50 pesos (about $0.30 USD) per trip regardless of how far they travel, a departure from the previous distance-based system.

These positive changes have not gone unnoticed by passengers. In a poll also fielded by CTS/EMBARQ, MetroBus passengers gave the system an average approval rating of 8.2 out of 10, and 6% of passengers reported having switched from using cars since MetroBus was opened.

Perhaps the project’s most important accomplishment is the discussion it has spurred throughout the city about the need to invest in high quality public transport. Newly elected mayor Marcelo Ebrard has promised that his administration will build ten more MetroBus lines during his term.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Interview with Enrique Peñalosa

Click HERE for an excellent video featuring an interview with Enrique Peñalosa, the visionary former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia. With citywide BRT, bike lanes, and pedestrian streets and plazas, Bogotá has become a model of what cities can accomplish.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

FBRT Makes A Good Showing At The Joint Meeting Of The Transportation Commission and DAPAC

Friends of BRT member Rob Wrenn is also a member of the two groups that met Wednesday, 1/31, to consider transportation plans for Downtown Berkeley. The two groups are the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) and the Transportation Commission. Here's Rob's report:

I thought the meeting went well. Len Conly and Chuck Siegel spoke during public comment in favor of BRT, as did Steve Geller and Claire Risley. Doug Buckwald was the only person to speak against. He falsely stated that there had been no significant public review of BRT.

Three motions were passed by both the Transportation Commission and DAPAC:

The first motion was to drop consideration of the Oxford-only BRT option. One DAPAC member, Jim Samuels, admitted that he had supported it but said that after hearing everything he understood the objections. Staff said the option was developed in part in response to merchants who thought BRT on Shattuck would be bad for their businesses. Nathan Landau, who is on the Transportation Commission and also works for AC Transit, was effective in
pointing out the limits of this option. The votes on both commissions were close to unanimous.

The second motion said that staff should look at both BRT EIR options: BRT running both ways on Shattuck and the loop that has BRT going northbound on Shattuck and southbound on Oxford.

The third motion called for looking at having traffic run both ways on Shattuck west of Shattuck Square. Mim Hawley raised the issue of allowing buses to continue running east of Shattuck under this option and it passed with the understanding that two-way Shattuck did not preclude buses east of Shattuck Square. I added an amendment that AC should be asked to evaluate
the impact of any changes on buses.

Both the second and third motions also passed by close to unanimous margins.

After the meeting, a DAPAC member told me that Planning Director Dan Marks had said he was surprised by the level of support for BRT.

Friends of BRT is Being Noticed

The following article is from the Berkeley Daily Planet of Friday, February 2, 2007.

Friends of BRT is making an impression on people. That's a good beginning. We will have even more work to do after the AC Transit EIR for the BRT project is released. That is expected to happen very soon.


A Close Look at Downtown Transportation Options
By Riya Bhattacharjee (02-02-07)

Berkeley’s Transportation Commission joined the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) on Wednesday to talk about transportation conditions in downtown Berkeley and explore options for transportation improvements.

Transportation consultants for the Downtown Area Plan, the IBI Group, highlighted the challenges and some of the information pertinent to the downtown plan.

Matt Taecker, secretary to DAPAC, along with the IBI Group, explained the role of transportation modeling and how it would be used to understand the impacts of lower- and higher-intensity land use options. Alternative configurations of roadways and transit facilities were also examined.

DAPAC members and transportation commissioners gave their opinions on the options that should be modeled and voted against a plan to run Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Oxford Street.

AC Transit’s proposed BRT project, promising to make Berkeley a “green” city on “the cutting edge of new transportation technologies,” has yet to finalize the routing and design of BRT.

The rapid buses would serve passengers traveling between Bayfair, Downtown Oakland, and Downtown Berkeley along East 14th/International Blvd., and Telegraph Avenue.

“BRT should be an effort to make transit better for people, so that more people use it. It should not be a attempt to keep people out of downtown, like some people want to do to the homeless,” said Transportation Commissioner Rob Wrenn.

DAPAC member Juliet Lamont said that incorporating the use of greenery downtown into the transportation plans was extremely important.

Len Conly, co-chair of Friends of BRT—an organization that was formed in 2005 in order to support AC Transit’s BRT project—spoke in favor of BRT.

“A BRT system, such as that proposed for Telegraph Avenue, uses dedicated lanes, multiple door loading, and off-board payment of fares to make bus travel much faster and more convenient, especially for the disabled. BRT will help reduce congestion, oil consumption, pollution and carbon dioxide emissions,” Conly said.

The boards also voted to approve the option of two-way traffic on the west side of Shattuck Avenue and consider options for the east side of Shattuck.

Taecker told the board members that transportation modeling helped illustrate “how downtown Berkeley’s transportation system functions today, and how it might function in the future.”

He added that staff would present results of the transportation modeling to both boards in April so that DAPAC could have an informed deliberation on “preferred” options in May.

The transportation modeling would be responsible for measuring:

• Quantity and distribution of trips (origins and destinations)

• Mode split of trips (autos, transit, walking and bikes)

• Traffic performance (intersection volume & capacity)

• Other performance issues, including those related to parking.

Taecker told board members that parking-related conditions would be discussed in a future joint meeting. A representative from AC Transit told board members that AC Transit would be releasing its draft EIR for the BRTproject very soon.

Some of the highlights in the study presented by the IBI Group illustrated that downtown Berkeley attracted nearly 10,000 work-related trips daily with downtown residents generating approximately 1,000 work-based daily trips

UC Berkeley generated approximately 30,000 daily trips, of which roughly half were work related. The study also showed that BART accounted for 22,000 of the 40,000 daily transit trips (work and non-work) to and from downtown.

Information on BRT from the FTA

Thanks to Roy Nakadegawa for alerting us to a wealth of information on BRT available from the Federal Transit Information. Since it would be an unusually long blogger item and a bit difficult to follow, you can find it on the FTA website by clicking HERE.

Included are updates on most of the cities in the U.S. either planning or currently implementing BRT systems.

Friday, February 02, 2007

BRT And Pedestrian Safety

In response to an article about neighborhood residents complaining about how dangerous it is to cross Telegraph Ave., I wrote the following letter to the editor, which appeared in the Berkeley Daily Planet:


Editors, Daily Planet:

Neighborhood residents have complained about the removal of the Telegraph Avenue median strip, which makes it less safe to cross, and Councilmember Worthington has suggested that AC Transit should improve pedestrian safety when it improves the street for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

It is important for residents to understand that a full implementation of BRT, with dedicated bus lanes, will make the street much more safe for pedestrians, for two reasons.

First, it will slow traffic by leaving only one traffic lane in each direction instead of two. There would be no fast lane: all drivers would have to go the same speed as the most prudent drivers.

Second, the curbs around the bus lanes could easily be designed so they are also safe places for crossing pedestrians. There would be two pedestrian refuges at each intersection instead of just one median.

I expect that the safer crossing would also help to revitalize business on Telegraph south of Dwight, as it would become easy for people shopping on one side of the street to cross to the stores on the other side.

In addition to the global benefit of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and the regional benefit of providing a more efficient transportation system. Bus Rapid Transit would provide the local benefit of increasing pedestrian safety.

Charles Siegel