It’s Time to Love the Bus

Come on, America. London has done the koolest thing ever .  I know MARTA is financially strapped, but now, I really have transit envy!

(Credit: hxdbzxy via Shutterstock)

London has  unveiled.their new Routemaster bus  – the Mayor describes it as “nostalgia” meets “latest technology”.The fuel-efficient bus will be quieter than its diesel-run predecessor and.lots and lots of glass so you feel like you are on the tour bus, on vacation – not being shuttled in a mobile box. ANd the best thing…wait for it…wait for it… has a platform for  hop-on, hop-off service. How fun! Now we’re talkin’!

Making people like the bus when not liking the bus is practically an American pastime essentially means making the bus act and feel more like a train.Trains come on time and MARTA’s trains are quite good at that.  But if we had busses like London,  or maybe dedicated lanes like Seattle’s RapidRide. Or, what about Eugene, Ore. that features a grassy median….?

Busses get hung up in traffic. Cars are the reason buse

Photo not by me. Captured from…

s are late. Not busses. New York is doing things like “bulbing” its sidewalks into the street at bus stops so buses don’t have to struggle in and out of traffic. San Francisco is outfitting its fleet with foward-facing cameras to catch cars that block the bus lane. Chicago is even letting its buses drive on the expressway shoulders during rush hour. Not every solution needs a high-tech fix. The other day I got on an Express CCT (Cobb County Transit – yes, I had to go OP) and it is an tour bus = high back seats, high windows – I was on it an hour (yes, really far out there….) and feltlike I was on vacation! I felt more relaxed because the interior was so pluch, comfy – I got a lot done nestled in!

The other night, Midtown Alliance announced plans for an eco-district, one of five in the country. I hope they ask me about MARTA and better transit ideas.  i want those GPS’s on teh bus so I know how long and far away the bus is, if it is not on time. In an age when your phone knows exactly where you are, it should know where your bus is, too. Chicago, Philadelphia and New York let riders track their bus’s location on their smartphones via GPS. And GPS can be used to hold green lights for oncoming buses, like in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

Bus stops could use an upgrade. I vote QR codes with specials from area restaurants and businesses. All tied to MARTA and a potential revue stream. A design studio in Seattle-, created a  conceptual bus stop  that includes an interactive map to demystify the route, and flashing green lights atop the bus-stop poles that signal impending arrivals. Dubai is rolling out air-conditioned bus stops.One in Vancouver, temporarily, included a hammock.

Whether more glamour will translate into more riders is yet to be seen. But one thing is certain: When it comes to improving mass transit, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit on the humble city bus. The vital connective tissue of multi-modal transit systems, the bus could be an efficient — nay,elegant — solution to cities’ mobility woes if only we made it so.

The new Routemaster model

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