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xjuan 1
I am from Bogotá and let me tell you: TransMilenio is one of the best solutions to public transportation available to cities unable to build larger and more complicated systems, such as a Metro. It has served not only for transportation but also as an educational tool, since it requires the public to behave in a civil manner for it to work properly. Of course, it isn't perfect and it has its problems and limitations, but it's the best alternative found so far. Plus, it has been copied in other cities such as Santiago de Chile and Mexico City.
Posted by xjuan on January 9, 2013 at 8:41 AM · Report this
This is quite interesting, because at the same time as being about democracy of public space, TransMilenio and other BRT systems in Latin America are essentially neoliberal projects. They are taking previously unsubsidized and under-regulated individually/family owned bus companies (which for numerous reasons didn't work) and creating a system that requires large, in some cases multinational, bus companies with the need for large amounts of capital and then subsidizing them with public funds (to differing amounts in each case).

The introduction of public funds has, for the most part, not been linked to any increase in public accountability. This is public transit, but the public doesn't own it, and the ownership is being accumulated in fewer and fewer hands. This creates a very interesting tension and luckily I get paid to study it. So thanks for justifying my reading slog at work everyone!
Posted by SantiagoFan on January 9, 2013 at 9:14 AM · Report this
TVDinner 3
Quito also has a kickass BRT system worthy of imitation.

In the first video, one of the things that really stands out to me is this: "If somebody has to get in the car to buy milk or bread, then the city is not working."

Amen. I live .7 miles from a grocery store in West Olympia, but the poorly connected, auto-centric street layout - not a grid - makes it hellish and dangerous to walk there. Biking is out of the question. The city is not working.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on January 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
TVDinner 4
@2: Fascinating. Is there a place where we can read your research?
Posted by TVDinner http:// on January 9, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this
the problem in seattle is we don't have the HUGE kinds of avenues they have in curitiba or in fact, in most cities.
look behind penalosa. see the huge right of way? there's nothing like that in seattle.
most cities have dozens of six and 8 and even ten lane avenues all over. We have maybe a couple of six laners. Most of Seattle has "arterials" that are two lanes each way.

Thus, dedicating a lane to busses does have a cost, in reducing car mobility.

The classic, tried and true spine of a rapid transit system all over the world is a multiline rail with lines meeting downtown, and grade separated largely (ekxcept inouter banlieus, and there, it's still exclusive right of way).

Till we build that NOTHING in seattle will "work" with "work" being defined as moving you about the city, FAST.

(Yes, we should do bus improvements to mimic BRT as much as possible).
Posted by we have narrow avenues on January 9, 2013 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 6
@4, I was going to ask the same question...
Posted by Charles Mudede on January 9, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
Enigma 7
Urbanized is a great movie and anyone interested in making their cities livable should watch it. Even if you don't agree with everything, it introduces concepts that are great topics to think about and discuss.
I loved the Mexico City BRT system when I was there in November. I can't help but see our "Rapid Ride" a little lacking after that.
Posted by Enigma on January 9, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 8
Jakarta's BRT system, on the other hand, is a great example of what can go wrong. They basically put BRT on wide almost-highways going through the city, and didn't give true priority at intersections. The result is that you are stuck at intersections and are dumped off at stations in the middle of highways - still far from where you really want to go.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 9, 2013 at 10:32 AM · Report this
@5 - what about Hwy 99? It runs from Everett to Tacoma, through high transit usage areas. I use it all the time, and it is most often backed up due to poor light timing, rather than actual traffic.

I've often thought that would be an ideal street-level center lane streetcar /BRT route (not unlike how MLK is laid out).

In fact, looking at a map of seattle, we seem to have reasonable N-S arterials that could form the basis of a BRT system with little more than some jersey barriers and a few new street lights. Lake city way-35th, 513-24th/23rd, The I-5 express lanes that are always pointing the wrong direction anyway, 509, Holman-15th-elliott. W Marginal, etc. Add some of that to a bus system that can prioritize E-W movement and the existing light rail/sounder/park-and-ride assemblage we we're talking about something useful.
Posted by Chris Jury on January 9, 2013 at 11:28 AM · Report this
@4 and 6- Thanks for asking. The answer is nowhere yet. I am just 6 months into a 2 year research project on this subject. (I work for an international research centre on BRT.) So check back with me in a year.

Posted by SantiagoFan on January 9, 2013 at 11:39 AM · Report this
Fnarf 11
Mexico City's BRT down Insurgentes is a dream. I think they've built another crosswise line since we were there. The only thing that would make it better would be to integrate it more tightly with their Metro, which is also one of if not THE best in the world.

@9, Aurora is getting RapidRide soon. It's going to suck like the rest of it, especially for me, since the stop is going to be almost ten blocks further away (i.e., unusable).
Posted by Fnarf on January 9, 2013 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 12
Good lord people, why do you think the Government invests billions in War with Iraq and most likely Iran? For THE OIL. We don't need no stinking money put into mass transit when putting money into Oil Wars makes lots of heroes who make the ultimate sacrifice and keeps gas prices cheap compared with say Europe. The fantasy of "the war on terror" is so exciting. Mass transit is dull and boring.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 9, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
@11 - Rapid ride, like the more advanced Swift offered by CT on Aurora, is not BRT.

Swift for example does not run on saturdays or sundays. It is therefore useless as a concrete alternative to a car. The reason Rapid transit systems work in that capacity is the regularity and the independence from traffic. If I ride a commuter bus, for $2-3 each way, which means getting to the stop, waiting in the rain, hoping it might be on time, transferring, hoping the next bus is on time, with the waiting and transfers and Metro/CT lateness it usually takes 1.5 to 2.5 times as long to get anywhere). Why wouldn't I get in my car, that i need anyway because the bus doesn't run on weekends?

Until we have a rapid transit system that can answer that question or we build about 75-100,000 more housing units in the downtown core (or do away with the needs for 2 income households or long term leases/mortgages) it will not succeed.

Posted by Chris Jury on January 9, 2013 at 6:32 PM · Report this
Fnarf - I live in Mexico City, and they're set to build ten new Metrobus lines during the next six years. They put in another two during the past year, and it's starting to integrate much better with the subways (a couple months ago, they rolled out their version of the Orca card that you can use on both, for example). They're also expanding the bikeshare program to three more boroughs during the same time. That's what a war on cars looks like, ladies and gentlemen.

And yeah, true rapid transit is awesome. You pay before getting on the platform, dedicated lanes, it's amazing. I ride it every day.

And to whoever said BRT in Latin America is a "neoliberal project" - have you ever actually ridden any individual/family owned buses in any major Latin American cities? Death traps they are. I'd feel sorry for the owner/operators of these buses if they knew how to drive, but they don't, so no.
Posted by redemma on January 10, 2013 at 8:25 AM · Report this
Fnarf 15
@14, that's exciting as hell, and makes me long for Mexico City even more. Go and have a set of tacos al pastor at El Huequito for me. Or Tacos Gus in La Condesa!
Posted by Fnarf on January 10, 2013 at 11:15 AM · Report this

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