September 15, 2011

Annals of Transit – 6

An occasional update on items from the Transit City.




From the New York Times:

The economic downturn is playing havoc with the nation’s public transit systems even as ridership remains near record levels: since 2010, 71 percent of the nation’s large systems have cut service, and half have raised fares, according to a survey released Wednesday by the American Public Transportation Association, a transit advocacy group.

And in many cases, those fare increases and service cuts — made necessary by flat or reduced state and local aid — are being implemented on top of similar moves earlier in the downturn.

“It’s compounding,” Art Guzzetti, the vice president for policy at the transportation association, said of the repeated years of service cuts and fare increases. “I’ve been in the business 32 years. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs along the way. That’s been the nature of the business. But notwithstanding that, this is the worst it’s been in my time.”




From re:place, by John Calimente:

“Transit systems always want to paint their buses in matching colours so that riders can spot them easily. But what if different bus colours could tell you roughly where they are going? Seoul, Korea has done just that. It takes time to become familiar with a transit system, especially its bus routes. While rail has the advantage of being very legible – one can always see the directions that the rails are headed – buses are another matter. Transit systems try to help by providing route maps at stops, naming routes after their destinations or neighbourhoods they pass through, or through their route numbering system.

In Vancouver, for example, buses with triple-digit route numbers leaving downtown and beginning with 24 are headed for North Vancouver, 25 to West Vancouver, and 13 to Burnaby. Surrey routes start with the number 3 and Richmond routes start with 4. But that’s rather obscure …

“What bus systems really need is way to make their routing easily understandable even to those who have never ridden them before. I recently found out that Seoul, Korea has implemented a system that goes a long way towards solving the bus legibility problem. In 2004 the Seoul Metropolitan Government completely overhauled their city bus system. Instead of replacing the buses themselves, though, they went with a different approach that consisted of 5 key changes:

? Bus routes were simplified

? Route numbers were changed so that they explained both the origin and destination of the route, based on a district numbering system

? Four bus categories were created with a different colour scheme (red, blue, yellow, and green)

More here.


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  1. Vancouver could help a lot by just improving the information at bus stops – many of them don’t even say which routes stop there.

    In London, bus stops usually have timetables, route maps, local street maps, sometimes those digital count down displays (That seem to pathologically lie, but anyway…)

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