Bx12 Select buses greeted attendees of the “Buses in the Boroughs” symposium Tuesday morning.
With spring colors and fragrance in full bloom at the New York Botanical Garden Tuesday morning, TSTC along with Transportation Alternatives, the Straphangers Campaign, and the Pratt Center for Community Development hosted a symposium on bus rapid transit to showcase how this transit option has transformed major cities around the world and to preview New York’s plans for BRT throughout the five boroughs.
Walter Hook and Oscar Edmundo Diaz, both of the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, discussed BRT systems in nearly two dozen cities around the world (both presentations are available on TSTC’s website). Hook’s presentation spanned multiple systems and highlighted some technical “dos and don’ts” for BRT providers (such as the advantages of median bus lanes, the need for multiple-door buses, how to fit BRT into narrow streets, etc.). His presentation drew on the broad and detailed knowledge of ITDP, which consults governments around the world in planning BRT systems and produces an 850-page BRT Planning Guide.
Diaz, a native of Colombia and a specialist in urban transport systems, focused on what many consider the world’s most successful BRT system, the TransMilenio of Bogota, Colombia. TransMilenio can carry up to 42,000 passengers per hour per direction and travels an average 18.1 mph, more than twice as fast as the average bus in NYC. It is top-of-the-line BRT, with pre-boarding fare collection, level boarding at platforms, and enclosed stations — a worthy transit system for a city of 7 million. Of course, the quickest way to get a sense of TransMilenio is through pictures:
Clockwise from top left: TransMilenio in dense urban areas, level boarding between bus and station platform, fare collection at turnstiles (not on the bus), interior of a TransMilenio bus.
Diaz emphasized how a well-built system can dramatically improve the lives of commuters and residents who lack transit access, and as a result, economic and social opportunity. While 21% of TransMilenio riders own cars, the system is also accessible to low-income commuters, mothers with children in tow, the handicapped, and the elderly. In surveys, the #1 reason TransMilenio riders said they liked the system was because it allowed them to spend more time with their families.
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