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Thread: Perception of public transportation

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Perception of public transportation

    Does anyone know of any medium size communities doing any aggressive marketing campaigns to change the perception of public transit? From what I have noticed, there seems to be a negative connotation with public transit showing it as transportation for the poor rather than transportation for everyone?

    Part two is does anyone know of any programs to make public transportation look and feel classier. For example, something other than the cheep plastic mold seats, cleaner bus and subway stops, and visually attractive busses and train/ sub cars.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I often ride the loser cruiser (bus) to work.

    I don't think this is a medium sized city problem. I think it is much worse in larger cities that only have bus as a mode. For example, we are trying to upgrade our public transportation here. I've attened several meetings where I've heard even other planners say things such as 'if it was a light rail system, I'd use it every day, but I'm not riding a bus'. It seems that according to these folks the only thing we need is a $20 billion train system and we're an instant New York, Chicago, or Washington DC. All of our post industrial problems go away.

    During visioning sessions (uggh theres that word!) we hear from transit advocates that anything short of heavy rail or light rail simply will not work, yet we don't have the densities to support it like we once had.

    The truth is when the bus system is working well, it is an awsome thing. I've transferred before simply by walking off of one bus then onto another. Its also leaves a lot to be desired as you can't pick whom your going to ride with. You might get some nut or stinky guy sitting next to you.

    The current bus systems can be improved drastically by implementing some parts or the whole from the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) playbook. This is done at low cost and not only improves performance, but looks.

    In terms of materials on seats this is simply an issue of how much the bus service provider wants ease of cleanliness over comfort. Most buses in Detroit have a padded plastic formed seat. This is not true of all busses, not the people-mover.

  3. #3
    I think there is a stigma associated with buses that stems from the importance they are given on the transit network, which is none at all. Buses are added as an afterthought to the road network designed for cars. Why are you taking the bus instead of driving your own car? Obviously because you're poor. Buses offer much worse service than cars for any task. Their only pro is that they are cheap.

    Transit system with their own right-of-way do not suffer from this because they appear to be important enough to deserve their own right-of-way. Then your choice becomes to either take the car network, or take the transit network, each with its own pros and cons. It becomes a real choice based on your expected outcome, not just a question of affordability.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    The current bus systems can be improved drastically by implementing some parts or the whole from the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) playbook. This is done at low cost and not only improves performance, but looks.
    I have yet to see any implemented "Rapid Bus" or "Quality Bus" solution in this country which was good enough to be worthy of the claim that it's drastically improved performance (or, more important in most cases, reliability).

    I don't mind if transit takes 20% longer to get to work if it's reliable every day. IE, I'll take a 40-minute guaranteed commute on a train (or a bus) over a car commute which averages 30 minutes but is really a 22.5-minute drive which takes an hour once a week because of an accident.

    Rapid Bus or Quality Bus can't get you there. Extending a green light a bit does nothing to help reliability if you're sharing your lane with cars; and dedicated runningways generally aren't happening in this country even with systems that purport to be BRT.

  5. #5
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    I think the orange line in the valley in LA is just about finished.... but it's LA and it only goes from the west valley to the western terminus of the Red line subway -- which goes to downtown. Not so much of a value if you work/play/need to get to the Westside or many other places for that matter.

    We'll see.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian chukky's avatar
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    We had a "Catch the BUZ" campaign, in whcih bus stood for Bus Urban Zone or soemthing odd. It was centred around the new express buses, which in my area leave every fifteen minutes for the city.

    It was a while ago, but I remember somehting with a woman's hand (with a white sleeve, and rings and bracelets) hailing the bus, and there was a sign like the ones at the busstop, with "Ladies Luncheon" where the name of the busstop is usually.
    And a caption "whereever youare going" or something like that.

    It was pretty successful, the express stop in The Gap is always filled with middleaged middle class women. I attribute it to:

    The sheer hassle of parking in downtown Brisbane.
    The relatively high cost of parking in a garage in Brisbane.
    The low cost of parking on street, meaning there are never any spots.
    The ease of parking at the pick-up stops.
    The relatively few stops.
    Airconditioned buses.
    The frequency of buses.
    Bus lane at Coopers Camp Road. This one short buslane... like ten metres... single handedly makes it about as quick to bus as to drive. But thats a bitch of an intersection.
    The busstop in the city is as close to the centre of the Queen St Mall as possible.
    The Mall itself -- Brisbane has successfully turned its downtown into a suburban shopping mall.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    I can't speak to specific instances of cities making huge strides to boost the image of transit. But there certainly is more stigma associated with buses than there is with streetcar, lightrail and subway. There's nothing like replacing streetcars with buses for encouraging people to buy cars. This was the best marketing campaign GM ever devised.

    Cars are a tolerable means of transportation in part, because of not having to share the ride with multiple destinations. The frequent stops and multiple destinations of buses on - as jaws mentioned, a right of way - already clogged with passenger cars, makes them woefully slow and innefficient. Plus, in most American cities, the grid dominates, which means that trips at a diagonal to the grid, often require at least one transfer, adding immensely to the amount of waiting that is necessary. So another consequence of their using a shared right of way, is that it's impossible for a schedule to be adhered to with much precision. The waiting involved with streetcars is predictable enough to use an expected wait time sign, because stops are limited. On subway, wait times are more predictable still. Waiting for transit is a very different thing when you can see a sign you know is an accurate estimate of how long it will be. Invariably then, buses are most often frequented by people whose time has been deemed by wage labor capitalist society, to not be worth very much.

    I will say the bus system in Portland seems an improvement over that I experienced in Baltimore. I don't want to be too hard on buses. Bus drivers have a lot of responsibility, and work very hard at getting people to work. But anytime someone trumpets more busing as the best solution to transit problems, we should be wary of it as being potentially a trojan horse to encourage more car culture.
    "The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism." -Lewis Mumford

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by doinky
    I have yet to see any implemented "Rapid Bus" or "Quality Bus" solution in this country which was good enough to be worthy of the claim that it's drastically improved performance (or, more important in most cases, reliability).

    I don't mind if transit takes 20% longer to get to work if it's reliable every day. IE, I'll take a 40-minute guaranteed commute on a train (or a bus) over a car commute which averages 30 minutes but is really a 22.5-minute drive which takes an hour once a week because of an accident.

    Rapid Bus or Quality Bus can't get you there. Extending a green light a bit does nothing to help reliability if you're sharing your lane with cars; and dedicated runningways generally aren't happening in this country even with systems that purport to be BRT.
    There are only a few examples of this type of bus system in the states currently. The best example is in Curatiba Brazil. We are fortunate enough in my region to have plenty of room in our rights-of-way to run these as a separated system in most areas.

    I don't understand why you don't think that giving busses a green light priority will improve how the system performs. The buses travelling along the roadway will get the green once it hits the intersection. No automobiles will follow this bus as it will probabaly make at least one or two extra stops for passengers per mile. The result is a faster trip for the person using the public transportation system. In fact cars on perpendicular roadways are negatively impacted by the green light priority to a certain extent.

    We must continue to strive to find flexible alternatives that move more people at a reasonable cost. This is especially true as many regional systems are seeing major increases in users of transit and rideshare programs due to the much higher costs associated with gasoline and parking in central businsess districts.
    Last edited by DetroitPlanner; 11 Oct 2005 at 10:11 AM.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Does anyone know of any medium size communities doing any aggressive marketing campaigns to change the perception of public transit?

    Part two is does anyone know of any programs to make public transportation look and feel classier.
    I would look at Orlando, Seattle and Santa Monica.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    I don't understand why you don't think that giving busses a green light priority will improve how the system performs. The buses travelling along the roadway will get the green once it hits the intersection. No automobiles will follow this bus as it will probabaly make at least one or two extra stops for passengers per mile. The result is a faster trip for the person using the public transportation system. In fact cars on perpendicular roadways are negatively impacted by the green light priority to a certain extent.
    It's not going to "give buses a green"; it's more likely going to extend a green which would otherwise be about to change to red. If you're really changing lights to green for the bus 100% of the time, you're travelling in something more like a dedicated runningway.

    "Rapid Bus" in Austin is going to run on a very congested corridor. Holding a green for a few seconds up ahead of the bus isn't going to help much if traffic is backed up from the next 5 lights (one each block). Yes, this happens. (This was the corridor where light rail would have run, but it was narrowly defeated in 2000; and Capital Metro didn't try again in '04 with a shorter line).

    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/archives/000163.html

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DCBuff's avatar
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    Boulder

    I would take a look at Boulder. The buses routes have names like leap, jump, skip, hop, etc. and each route has great graphic painted on the bus, which make it easy for people to identifity the route they could be taking to save gas or time. But Boulder is a bubble, so this may just work for a left wing college towns. http://www.ci.boulder.co.us/goboulde...und/index.html
    "A man is what he does in his dreams." ~Camilla Sacci

  12. #12
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by doinky
    It's not going to "give buses a green"; it's more likely going to extend a green which would otherwise be about to change to red. If you're really changing lights to green for the bus 100% of the time, you're travelling in something more like a dedicated runningway.

    "Rapid Bus" in Austin is going to run on a very congested corridor. Holding a green for a few seconds up ahead of the bus isn't going to help much if traffic is backed up from the next 5 lights (one each block). Yes, this happens. (This was the corridor where light rail would have run, but it was narrowly defeated in 2000; and Capital Metro didn't try again in '04 with a shorter line).

    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/archives/000163.html
    I don't see road congestion as an issue in my area, maybe thats the reasoning why we don't seem to understand each others position. I know that sometimes I am guilty of thinking to parochially. The only time we see backups like that here are due to road construction. Thankfully we have wide streets and Blvds developed prior to the interstate system. When the interstate system was constructed, this took much of the traffic off of these main routes (some 8, 9 or 10 lanes wide) and put it in the ditch.

  13. #13
         
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    Seattle and Sydney

    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    I would look at Orlando, Seattle and Santa Monica.
    Seattle did a lot through the employer transportation pass programs. Instead of buying parking passes for employees, they get a bus pass.

    By filling buses with Microsofties, a culture of people taking the bus and using their computer to write emails (no wireless yet!) has taken on.

    Still, there are a lot of gains to be made by getting bus only lanes, so that the people that are commuting by bus (60 per vehicle) feel less traffic and congestion delays than the people travelling by car (1-4 per vehicle) do.

    Ah well, as we speak, Sydney is painting more buslanes in the CBD to force drivers into the new cross city tunnel. Its certianly was not concieved of originally to shift people onto the bus, but seeing a bus get priority and into primo locations, helps it become a better/ classier/ faster/ option.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Boru's avatar
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    Dublin, (1,000,000 persons, depends on what you consider medium) had to implement a Quality Bus Corridor (QBC) system about 7-8 years ago. The bus system was very run down, and high levels of economic growth led to an explosion in car use. The attitudes of the 1980's were still very evident (see Margaret Thatcher, UK prime ministers comment that "anyone still riding on public transport after the age of 35 was a failure"), and bus use was rapidly decreasing.

    The Dublin CBD was the destination for over 90% of the jobs in the City, and there was (and still is) limited commuter train services. The physical infrastructure was not there for large scale car use.

    In a step back from the 1970s and 80s method of widening road to accommodate more cars, a political decision backed by the nations economists (the so-called dismal scientists) led to the setting up of the Dublin Transport Office (DTO) and umbrella group whose remit was to develop a transport strategy for the next 12years, which would be implemented by the Local Authorities.

    The first thing they did was to put in a (singular) QBC. Disaster for all businesses along the route, along with traffic chaos was predicted. Insted it increased use of the routes along the QBC by between 200-400%. What surprised everyone was the amount of suited and booted men and women the QBC attracted.

    The city has now had scores of QBC's developed at a fraction of a cost of light rail, and with a far, far larger carrying capacity. The other attraction was to invest in brand new buses, with ramped access for wheelchairs and people with prams and buggys. Upholstered seat, buses no more than 5 years old, Clean (very important this one). The main problem is punctuality. At least a light rail system can guarantee this.

    All in all the QBCs have reported increased ridership, but nothing to the volume of the first very sucessful QBC. It takes time. bus use is slowly increasing, while care use is staying the same. This may sound bad, but car sales in Ireland are at an all time high, so it seems that many of those cars are being left at home.

    Other options being examined are to allow commuter buses to use the hard shoulders on overcrowded motorways and national routes.

    By the by, Dublin has a new light rail system with massive ridership (for its limited size, only 2 lines). Just goes to show that you can doll a bus up as much as you want, its trams that float peoples boat. Dublin transportation office website below.

    www.dto.ie

  15. #15
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    I think it's mainy the "bus stigma" that keeps people from using them. The bus is an automobile and shares traffic with all the others, so it's not seen as anything special. Most people would rather drive their own cars where they can listen to the radio, smoke, etc. in their own personal space. Most of the time, they get where they're going more quickly than the bus can get them there anyway.

    Light rail, trains, subways, etc. are different to people because they are not cars. They're unique, have their own tracks, and can get people to their destinations more quickly in many cases. Plus, the trains are just "classier" as they have been used throughout history by people of all incomes. Buses came around at the time of the automobile and were mainly for people who could not afford their own car (at least in America). I don't think it will ever be possible to get people to associate transit buses with a positive image.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  16. #16
         
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    Quote Originally posted by jread
    I don't think it will ever be possible to get people to associate transit buses with a positive image.
    I think that is changing, newer buses help. So does not using the buses to ferry around homeless people. And eliminating fare-evaders (tying bus driver bonus to 100% fare collection would help). These are all particularly small steps to take.

    I wouldn't give up just yet. Its possible to have a mass transport system that uses buses. There just needs to be political will behind making it faster and cleaner for paying customers.

    Don't give up.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Transport Queen
    I think that is changing, newer buses help. So does not using the buses to ferry around homeless people. And eliminating fare-evaders (tying bus driver bonus to 100% fare collection would help). These are all particularly small steps to take.

    I wouldn't give up just yet. Its possible to have a mass transport system that uses buses. There just needs to be political will behind making it faster and cleaner for paying customers.

    Don't give up.
    I just found out yesterday why our local bus system hasn't expanded down to my neighborhood:

    This is my email to the local transit organization and their response -

    Dear Mr. Read:

    Thank you for taking the time to contact Capita Metro recently with your inquiry. We are in receipt of the following:

    Hello, I was just wondering if there was a way to find out what areas Capital Metro is planning to expand to in the future, specifically the Southwest Austin area (around Slaughter Ln.) I currently live off Manchaca Rd. South of Slaughter Ln. and was curious to see if there would be any bus stops located in this area in the future (right now the closest one is 2 miles away at Slaughter/Manchaca).

    Thanks!

    I believe you are referring to service on Manchaca via Route 3 Burnet/Manchaca. We recognize the need for service south of Slaughter on Manchaca. Unfortunately, we have not been able find a place to safely turn a 40 foot bus around. We have worked with the neighborhood groups to try to use the subdivisions to turn the bus around, but have been denied access.

    We are hopeful that one day the road conditions improve so can find a place that is safe to turn the bus around. I apologize for this inconvenience. I believe it is just a matter of time and patience.

    Sincerely,

    Mary Helen McCarthy

    Community Planner

    Capital Metro
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  18. #18
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm.....

    I recently heard that European trains are taking away from air travel numbers.
    Appaently the trains are getting faster, the service is better and the comfort level is higher. I know this is more regional travel and not local mass transit, but maybe there is something to be learned from it....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  19. #19
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jread
    This is my email to the local transit organization and their response: "Unfortunately, we have not been able find a place to safely turn a 40 foot bus around. We have worked with the neighborhood groups to try to use the subdivisions to turn the bus around, but have been denied access."
    Capital Metro needs permission to use public streets? Strange. Or, are the subdivision streets owned by the residents?

    From looking at Google Earth, I see several ways to turn a bus:

    1. Left on Melibee Trail, left on Pardoners Tale Lane, left on Canterbury Tales Lane (gag me), left on Ravenscroft Drive, right back onto Manchaca Road

    2. Left on Moreland Drive, left on Easy Street (which looks like a dump), left on Chappell Lane, right back onto Manchaca Road

    3. There are a bunch of what appear to be industrial buildings with large parking lots in the vicinity of Chappell Lane and Manchaca Road

    Does the city require/encourage the construction of bus pullouts/shelters at each subdivision? Perhaps the next one down the road could be required to build a loop as part of the permitting process.
    Last edited by jmello; 14 Oct 2005 at 3:15 PM.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    Capital Metro needs permission to use public streets? Strange. Or, are the subdivision streets owned by the residents?

    From looking at Google Earth, I see several ways to turn a bus:

    1. Left on Melibee Trail, left on Pardoners Tale Lane, left on Canterbury Tales Lane (gag me), left on Ravenscroft Drive, right back onto Manchaca Road

    2. Left on Moreland Drive, left on Easy Street (which looks like a dump), left on Chappell Lane, right back onto Manchaca Road

    3. There are a bunch of what appear to be industrial buildings with large parking lots in the vicinity of Chappell Lane and Manchaca Road

    Does the city require/encourage the construction of bus pullouts/shelters at each subdivision? Perhaps the next one down the road could be required to build a loop as part of the permitting process.
    I honestly don't know enough about the process to know what needs to be done. I do agree with you on the areas that would be just fine for a bus to turn around, though some of those go into subdivisions. I'm not sure how residents of subdivisions can keep the buses out... I don't think they pay for the maintenance of their streets or anything (then again, I have no clue). I would think that at the very least the City could make street improvements to accomodate bus services.

    Even my beloved fiancee doesn't want the bus in our subdivision because all of "those people" ride the bus and have no business being in the neighborhood

    I'm about ready to give up, buy a hummer, vote Republican, buy some guns, and do everything in my power to isolate myself from everyone else around me.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  21. #21
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jread
    Even my beloved fiancee doesn't want the bus in our subdivision because all of "those people" ride the bus and have no business being in the neighborhood .

    I am guessing that this is the issue. When she says "we are working with neighborhood groups", it sounds to me like they floated the idea at a public meeting and it didn't go too well.

    The word "safely" is probably also key, I spent hours behind the wheel of a 40ft bus, and they are tough to get turned around.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  22. #22
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by giff57
    I am guessing that this is the issue. When she says "we are working with neighborhood groups", it sounds to me like they floated the idea at a public meeting and it didn't go too well.

    The word "safely" is probably also key, I spent hours behind the wheel of a 40ft bus, and they are tough to get turned around.
    Do you think I'd have a better chance of convincing the city to make road improvements for bus service to the area? I'm pretty sure the neighborhoods are not going to go for the idea of letting the buses in.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by jread
    I'm not sure how residents of subdivisions can keep the buses out...
    In many cases, just because they rattle their cages loud enough to scare our pansy City Council into doing what they want. In your case, though, it might also have to do with where the prospective turnarounds are located in relation to the city limits. No subdivision in Austin can LEGALLY keep buses out; but subdivisions outside Austin's city limits might be able to. You're far enough out that I bet you have chunks of ETJ and unincorporated areas to deal with.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by doinky
    In many cases, just because they rattle their cages loud enough to scare our pansy City Council into doing what they want. In your case, though, it might also have to do with where the prospective turnarounds are located in relation to the city limits. No subdivision in Austin can LEGALLY keep buses out; but subdivisions outside Austin's city limits might be able to. You're far enough out that I bet you have chunks of ETJ and unincorporated areas to deal with.
    Ah, so that's the deal here. Our neighborhood is in the corporate limits of Austin but you're right in that a lot of the area is in the ETJ. Hmmm.... this is a difficult situation.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by jread
    Ah, so that's the deal here. Our neighborhood is in the corporate limits of Austin but you're right in that a lot of the area is in the ETJ. Hmmm.... this is a difficult situation.
    Well, I hate to be a jackass (well, many would disagree on that point), but this is why if you want to have more options than the single occupant vehicle, you shouldn't move that far out from the city-center. Kinda like my far-suburban-north friends who whine about how long it takes to get downtown...

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