What is Smarter Transit
Smarter Transit Starts with Smart Decision
Smarter Transit Examples
Light Rail: Vancouver, BC Skytrain & Canada Line
Light Rail: Vancouver, BC Skytrain & Canada Line vs. Sound Transit Seattle "Central Link" Segement
Bogota (Colombia) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System
Initially riders raved about TransMilenio because it reduced commute times and improved mobility. Ridership numbers soon far exceeded projections and in the last of couple of years it has been bursting at the seams in the downtown area. The severe overcrowded to a complete reversal in user satisfaction, so something had to be done.
After much debate this past year a contract was awarded to a Chinese company to build a 17 mile heavy rail (high capacity) transit system to relieve congestion. It will be a driverless system, and likely carry 1 million daily riders in the first year at a very reasonable recurring cost. The Bogota mayor who initiated the TransMilenio is in office once again, and supports this system, so I have no doubt that this will be a great example of Smarter Transit.
Since some may argue whether the performance of a transit system in a developing country should be compared to a US city, I found a similar city in Australia which is very close in population. The Brisbane metropolitan area population is around 2.3 million compared to over 3 million for the Sound Transit district. Both cities have similar economic status and cultures, so the 300 buses per hour for the Brisbane Busway is reasonable for a US system in a city like Seattle.
Smarter vs. Stupid Transit
Smarter versus stupid decision in life get down to cost versus benefit (service provided).
The Swift Blue Line running down highway 99 in From Everett to Shoreline is arguably the best example of Smarter Transit. Community Transit spent
A smart transit idea implemented by the incompetent or corrupt becomes stupid transit. How do you identify incompetence and corruption? Follow the money. Spending 10 times as much money to provide similar service or worse than a peer organization is the sign of utter incompetence or corruption.
Vehicles which do not require a driver, thereby eliminating the primary recurring cost for providing transit service is "brilliant" transit since it provides an opportunity for reasonable transit frequency for low ridership densities, at a reasonable cost and environmental impact. Vancouver, BC's Skytrain, my example for Smarter Transit rail, uses driverless vehicles to sufficiently reduce operating costs to achieve their 100% fare recovery.
The technical challenges of designing a driverless transit vehicle operating a pre-planned route must be trivial compared to dealing with the unknown terrain and operating style of a passenger automobile.
Joining Community Transit (who skillfully implemented their Swift Blue Line Lite BRT) for the Smarter Transit performance are the Puget Sound Vanpool programs. Vans provide the fastest service at the lowest recurring and non-recurring cost.
References & Calculations
a. SAN DIEGO GETS AN OLD-STYLE TROLLEY, The New York Times, July 26, 1981
b. $86 million(1981$) /13.5 miles = $6.4 million(1981$)/mile
c. $6.4 million(1981$)/mile * (2.6 2014$)/(1981$) = $16.6 million(2014$)/mile
d. Sound Transit Light Rail Extreme Costs chart, Sound Transit Central Link Sets Record for Most Expensive US Starter Light Rail System, ref. p) Seattle Central Link Light Rail cost $188 million(2014$) /mile
e. Sound Transit, Progress Report Link Light Rail, March 2015, 3.15 miles, $1.948 billion
f. $1.948 billion / 3.15 miles = $618 million/mile.
g. Wikipedia,, Bus Rapid Transit“
k. Bus Rapid Transit Nearly Quadruples Over Ten Years,” Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, November 17, 2014.