Wandering around the web, I discovered today a good news from Rome: A brand new BRT opening in the south-east of the city. The new infrastructure will start from ANAGNINA subway station and extend further east, passing through Cinecittà Est and Tor Vergata. All details of this infrastructure are here (PDF).
In Vaud, public transport is organized around several companies, each one with its own website, its own design, its own line numbering criteria. During the day, a centralized bus and train schedule and fare system allow users to organize their trips without many inconvenients, but during the night (between midnight and 4AM), things become more difficult: some companies ask for a night surcharge, some other turn their lines into an on-demand service, and all these changes turn a night trip through Vaud into a treasure hunt.
To compensate the lack of informations in nightbus services, CITraP-Vaud has recently launched Somnambule, a complete listing of all bus and trains which run in Vaud between midnight and 4AM. Choose the area in which you want to travel and you’ll have the complete list of all company which operate night bus/train services, all the needed tickets and surcharges and all the bus/trains timetables.
Today, on All About Cities, I found an interesting post on improvements in public transports.
What if people with longer commutes could sit in a luxury coach, fully stocked with amenities, including:
Wireless internet (like the google bus in San Francisco)
A personal TV with a variety of programs (as on many airlines, especially in business or first class)
A comfortable tray table for your lap top, with a plug in
A cup holder for your morning latte
Free newspapers and magazines
Maybe even a bathroom
With mobile and internet technology, you could buy your ticket 10 minutes before heading out the door once you know you’ll be ready and confirm there is a seat for you.
Or you could advance book tickets, catching the 7 AM bus every day.
What if these luxury coaches departed from certain Starbucks (or equivalent) locations in the suburbs?
You could buy a latte and have a clean, safe place to wait. A bus company rep might even be in there with a mobile device to check you in.
As some suburban areas become higher density, this Starbucks might be at a Lifestyle Centre near peoples homes (walking distance or a park-and-ride situation).
What if some downtown workers who lived in suburbia could make extra money driving a nice coach into town. Presumably, there will be a need for some buses to drive in and stay until the end of the work day. An enterprising person could get his or her bus driver license and earn an extra $50 per day (and not have to pay their own commuting costs).
On shorter commutes perhaps different companies’ buses would be en route and you could check availability by mobile device and book a seat, catching it at a designated location. From the same mobile devices the driver would know whether to stop or not.
With competition among several commuting providers in a given metro area, service would be good. Creativity would be essential. Someone might offer regular customers Friday afternoon TGIF happy hour, for example.
One company might offer “business class” seating and “economy class” seating, similar to the airplanes.
Here in switzerland CFF already provides most of these services on several lines (i.e. the Geneva-Lausanne intercity trains I often use), and I was discussing with people in All About Cities whether these amenities can be extended to buses. I think buses are necessary, but cannot offer all the amenities of trains, mainly because of the different kind of comfort that the two systems offer.
One erroneous statement is that bus rapid transit is just like light rail but on rubber tires. Light rail runs on domestic, low-cost electricity. Bus rapid transit runs on high-cost foreign oil. That is bad and costly.
Buses last only 15 years, while light rail cars last 40 years. In ice and snow, light rail has guidance and braking. Buses do not, unless the roadway is cleared and salted, polluting streams.
On open right-of-way, light rail absorbs water, but busways need extensive water runoff provisions to prevent damage. Light rail cars are larger than buses for comfort, efficiency and safety.
Bus size is limited by highway laws and clearances. The light rail ride is smoother and faster. Rails have no potholes, and electricity provides more power for acceleration.
If we want clean air, less foreign oil, lower long-term costs and more transit use, we must think about those differences.
(video: a supercapacitor bus recharges in Shanghai)
As gas prices are getting higher and higher, the need to find other alternatives to gas-powered buses becomes more and more urgent. High frequency bus lines have no problem in this conversion, as they can be turned into trolleybus lines without excessive cost, but this reconversion can be problematic for low frequency lines.
For this kind of lines, a solution may be the use of frequently,fast-recharging electric buses. Instead of kilometers of bus overhead wire, this kind of buses will require a network of recharging stations, each one being basically a short section of trolleybus overhead wire.
Two variants of this system exist, and differ mainly for the electricity storage system.
The most ancient one was the Gyrobus, experimented in the 50s in the cities of Yverdon, Gent and Kinshasa. In this variant, electricity is stored in a flywheel turning at 2000-3000 rpm. As the bus plugs into the grid, the wheel is put in motion by an electric engine. When the bus unplugs, the engine turns into a dynamo that takes back the energy stored in the flywheel and sends it to the engine. A gyrobus needed to recharge every 5-6 km, and a recharge could take from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. The high mass and spin of the flywheel of the gyrobus affected significally its behaviour on street, making Gyrobus rides smoother than average bus rides.
A new version involves the use of supercapacitors, batteries that could be recharged in a very short time. Its performance are similar to the gyrobus’s ones, the main difference being the absence of the flywheel and its consequences on buses’s beahviour. This version is currently operating in Shanghai.
One of the nice surprises you can find while riding public transports, is finding yourself into a special, historical train. Ancient rolling stock, old fashioned staff, special festive ambiance… in a while, the trip loses its tmosphere of boring daily commute and turns itself into an improvised party: everybody starts to talk, new friendships are made…
From june 27, 10 new nightbus lines link Turin city center (piazza Vittorio Veneto) with its surrounding suburbs. The new lines will run every Friday and Saturday night, from 1.00 AM to 5.00 AM. Buses will run every 20 minutes on the Star Notte Line, and every hour on the other lines.
Public transport has always been seen as the poor alternative to cars. While cars are always pictured as a way to get pleasure and new sensations, public transports are always seen as a way to go from a point to another, just trying to limit as much as possible the problems that come from the travel itself.
But another image of public transports is possible.
First of all, a special train or bus can be reserved for a special event.