Tag Archives: masstransit

Let Them Take Uber!

BART Strike Shows Privatization’s Dark Side:

Just compare these two reactions to the BART strike. One is from an executive of a ride-share company called Avego, which allows drivers to open up their cars (for a fee) to strangers looking for a lift:

“All you need to do is book a trip from San Francisco to wherever you’re going home for tonight or every day this week there’s a strike,” Paul Steinberg, director of Americas for Avego, said in an interview on “Bloomberg West.”

And another is from a working-class Oakland resident who uses BART to get to work every day:

Ilysha Kipnis of Oakland expected limited BART service, not zero service. Because buses and ferries were jammed, she decided to take a bus back home to wait out the traffic.

“We’re so reliant on public transportation,” said Kipnis, who works at a salon in San Francisco. “Hopefully, (BART directors) understand how much we need the trains to run. … I really need it.”

Notice the split here. The tech executive assumes that people who are stranded by BART can simply arrange for an alternative way of getting to their destination. (Incidentally, his company is also the one running a helicopters-for-commuters promotion to take advantage of the BART strike.) But the Oakland resident doesn’t work at Google or Facebook, where free shuttle service is provided, and she can’t easily get herself around by car. For the tech executive, a BART strike is an annoyance. For the salon worker, it’s a threat to basic existence.

Straddling Bus

Song Youzhou showed off his design for bus that allows traffic to pass underneath, at last May’s Beijing International High-tech Expo. The idea is passengers would board the bus at elevated stations, without interrupting traffic flow. Song proposes that streets be modified to either have rails for the bus to ride on (effectively turning it into a tram), or installing an optical guidance system (probably similar tot he one installed on some TEOR buses.) to aid in driving.

Song claims that Beijing’s Mentougou District (a Beijing suburb) will adapt 186 km of roads for the bus, beginning at the end of this year.

When I first saw the picture for this, I though that passengers would board at street level perhaps through either a stairwell mounted in the legs, or maybe retractable stairs. An elevating platform would available for wheelchair access. I’m kind of disappointed that this design requires elevated platforms, but it probably for the best. What will be interesting will be to see how drivers react to encountering one of these busses. The use of special traffic lights for cars under the bus, is a good idea.

It will be interesting to see if this is actually built, and if it is is widely adopted.

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Bullet Train Hopping

Jianjun Chen in China proposed an interesting idea for eliminating station dwell times for trains. In his/her design, each train has a detachable boarding shuttle mounted on the roof of the train. Passengers who wish to disembark leave the main passenger compartment of the train, and enter the shuttle. Meanwhile, embarking passengers board an identical shuttle already located at the station. As the train approaches, the shuttle mounted on the train, disengages so it can slow to a stop at the station, while the shuttle is grabbed and mounted onto the moving train.

By using a separate boarding shuttle, passengers can board and unboard at their leisure, while transiting passengers can continue on their journey. By eliminating dwell time, passenger throughput can be increased, and travel times diminished. Chen calculates that such a system would would decrease the travel time between Beijing and Guangzhou from an estimated 8 hours to approximately five and a half, if five minute stops on all 30 intermediate stations were eliminated.

via Machine Thinking