Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's not BRT if it's not on the map

It's not BRT if it's not on the map
TransJakarta Corridor 1 station and bus

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has a 'branding problem'!

Bus improvements of many kinds are being called BRT. This is muddying debate over BRT in many places. Bogota clearly has superb BRT. More and more cities do. But is Delhi's 'first BRT corridor' really BRT? Are Taipei's median bus priority lanes BRT? How about Jakarta's busways?

Walter Hook of ITDP has an interesting answer: It's not BRT if it's not on the map!

Here is the relevant quote from an interview with Walter on Streetsblog NYC:
A rule of thumb should be whether or not a map company would include the BRT system in a map of New York City. If it doesn't appear on any map other than as a standard bus route, then it has failed to enter the public consciousness as something above and beyond normal bus services.

I knew TransJakarta had succeeded when I bought a 2007 tourist map and it included a map of TransJakarta and its stations. The Orange Line in LA is on the ‘Mass Transit Map’ which includes the subway and light rail lines, and it's packed, so I think it's a success.

When I went to Taipei and asked about the BRT system, nobody knew what I was talking about. It wasn't on any map. That is a sign that it has failed. In reality, Taipei only has dedicated lanes for buses, and continues to inefficiently operate the same tired old buses on them. It really cannot be called BRT.

Is this a useful addition to the search for clearer definitions and terminology for BRT? See also Dario Hidalgo's efforts at the City Fix. He suggests the term, "Quickways" for high-end BRT systems.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two problems, one solution?

Two problems, one solution?
[Update: Looking for more parking policy information?  
Try Reinventing Parking.]


Problem 1: Is parking a hellish nightmare for your local business or shopping district? Do drivers complain that they can never find a parking space? Is the roadway clogged with honking vehicles searching for a parking spot?

Problem 2: And are the local public facilities in terrible shape? Are the footways cracked? Drain covers broken? Rubbish uncollected? Are the street plantings (if any) dying?

Does that sound familiar? Donald Shoup suggests a single solution to both of these problems:
Performance-based pricing (would solve Problem 1) with the revenues returned to the local area to be spent on solving Problem 2.

Shoup explains more in an article in the Feb 2009 edition of the Parking Today magazine: The Price of Parking on a Great Street

As I have said before, I suspect this policy would be perfect for many of Asia's cities. Can anyone suggest a city in Asia that might be willing to do a trial?

Here is an excerpt from Shoup's article:
Performance-based prices can balance the varying demand for parking with the fixed supply of curb spaces. We can call this balance between demand and supply the “Goldilocks principle” of parking prices: the price is too high if many spaces are vacant, and too low if no spaces are vacant. When a few vacant spaces are available everywhere, the prices are just right. After the city adjusts prices to yield one or two vacant spaces in every block (about 85 percent occupancy), everyone will see that curb parking is readily available. In addition, no one can say that performance parking prices will drive customers away if almost all curb spaces are occupied.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Suprise! Latin American cities are great at city-centre public realm

Suprise! Latin American cities are great at city-centre public realm

Who knew? Many Latin American city cores have wonderful pedestrian zones that rival those of European cities in quality.

A new post by Barbara Knecht at Planetizen Interchange highlights the region's downtown pedestrian zones and its many Ciclovia (car-free Sunday's with certain roads closed to motor vehicles and opened to feet and non-motorised wheels).
In a recent trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile I traveled through Montevideo and Colonia, Uruguay; Rosario, Mendoza, San Juan and Cordoba, Argentina; ViƱa del Mar and Valparaiso, Chile. All ten cities had significant thriving downtown pedestrian zones. The smallest was perhaps 5 blocks in San Juan, the largest 30 blocks in Santiago.
Actually, I did know. The photos with this post are mine, taken in Puebla, Mexico.

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