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Re: [carfree_cities] "Nobody with a choice ever took a bus anywhere."

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  • J.H. Crawford
    ... First of all, this is a bit of hyperbole. Seccond, it s only a bit of hyperbole. Let me explain why. ... Emphasis in on high quality. In social work, we
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 15 9:46 AM
      >J.H. Crawford tells us that "Nobody with a choice ever took a bus anywhere."
      >
      >I have a bit of a problem with that one. Now, while that's what they say in
      >Memphis and Phoenix, I can I am sure put together a list of more than 500
      >cities in Europe in which there are a lot of people who a lot of the time
      >will argue differently.

      First of all, this is a bit of hyperbole. Seccond, it's only a bit of hyperbole.
      Let me explain why.

      >Let me tackle that in a somewhat more aggressive way, if only to keep things
      >warmed up here. The goal of a sustainable transportation system is to piece
      >together a wide spectrum of technologies and services that offer high
      >quality options to single driver car travel in cities.

      Emphasis in on "high quality." In social work, we always said, "Services
      for the poor are poor services." Now, as usually delivered, bus service
      is the poorest of poor services, and the expectation is that only the
      poor will use it.

      >Now as it happens, a
      >very significant part of the strategy is to render such travel (i.e., cars
      >thus used) just that much more difficult and less possible each year: a
      >gradual shift which gives people time to adjust to a new, better and more
      >sustainable transportation configuration.

      Fine.

      >Buses, minibuses, vans, articulated buses and other wheeled vehicles
      >carrying groups of people who are pleased to be there is a significant part
      >of the big picture. So why knock them? I am puzzled. Is there something
      >here that I have not understood?

      I basically do not think that you can offer high-quality service with
      buses. Here's what I have to say about it in _Carfree Cities_:

      -------------begin quote---------

      Buses and the Common Man: No Thanks!

      Everybody hates buses. They�re slow, they stink, they�re noisy, they take forever to board, they lurch, and the small, hard seats pinch your butt. When the Road Gang set out to kill public transport, their weapon was the bus. Trains, on the other hand, once were glamorous. The food was delicious, the service elegant, the ride comfortable, and the view excellent. For a century, trains were the fleetest, finest transport. No bus ever offered such amenities. No bus was ever glamorous. Nobody with a choice ever took a bus anywhere.

      Mayor Jaime Lerner Fixes Buses

      That having been said, it must be admitted that Jaime Lerner fixed his local bus system. A long-time mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, Lerner is an architect and planner with vision. Working with meager resources, he and his staff set out to make city buses work, and they succeeded beyond any reasonable expectation. Lerner and his team:

      Laid out a sensible route network
      Gave buses priority over cars
      Built level-loading platforms with fare prepayment
      Achieved excellent speeds and high capacities
      Lured 30% of automobile commuters onto buses
      Spent a tiny fraction of the cost of a new metro

      Notwithstanding Lerner�s successes, the system is still not as good as a metro. It occupies considerable amounts of land, the buses are noisy and smelly, and performance is not quite up to metro standards. It is, however, an excellent interim step. A later upgrade to a rail system becomes feasible once the traffic and routes have been developed by the bus system. Indeed, Curitiba is now considering the replacement of some bus routes with tram lines.

      ------------end quote----------

      One other critical point that I did not make in the book:
      When you lay rails, you're making a long-term commitment
      to public transport--it's not a here-today-gone-tommorrow
      kind of thing. When people see that kind of commitment,
      they start to base location decisions on it, as was the
      case in Toronto. They built a metro in the 50s, and today
      you can see where the stops are from an aerial photograph--
      they're where all the high-density construction can be seen.

      Rail is in everyway superior to buses, from the perspective of
      both the user and those who live and work near a transit corridor.
      Most people, given a reasonable choice between taking the bus on
      the one hand and taking the metro, tram, ferry, or driving a car,
      will almost invariably choose not to take the bus.

      Regards,


      ###

      J.H. Crawford _Carfree Cities_
      postmaster@... http://www.carfree.com
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