Evolving public transport

Streetfilms.org has an excellent documentary about the rapid transit system in Curitiba Brasil which is an inspiring model for ideas of how to improve our own transportation infrastructure.

Of note, a few of the ideas are actually quite applicable here:

  • High capacity buses running very frequently on express lines
  • Raised height entry/exit to speed the rate at which passengers can board/exit (also possible, low floor buses)
  • Prepaid fare systems prior to boarding the bus

Our system unfortunately is very cumbersome.  We use buses too large to move quickly, send them to areas far too congested and waste a huge amount of time loading and unloading passengers.  On top of that, the buses aren't even all that convienent as there are many portions of the island that they cannot access.

Is there a better way?  Are there ways we can change the dynamics of public transport in order to make things far more efficient and satisfy the needs of more Bermudians?  If so, getting from where we are to where we want to be begins with measuring the problem and then adapting a plan to solve those problems.

As we've noted, the present system is less than ideal though rather than embark upon random untested and unpredicted solutions to problems that may not exist it would be valuable to spend some time understanding the problem.

Ideally, we should be monitoring and modelling our entire transport system.  We've already covered how anonymous cell-phone signal tracking can be a non-invasive means of monitoring private transport usage so we're left with how to monitor usage of the public systems.  The combination of GPS and automatic passenger counters would enable us to track and model where and when people get on and off such that we could better understand the overall usage and capacity of our transport infrastructure.

Once we actually understand how our transport infrastructure is used we can better adapt and evolve it to better meet the needs of our people.  Through modelling we could discover that there are core bus stops that service the majority of people leading us to create a set of express bus lines that only service those stops.  We could identify spots where buses are frequently stuck waiting for traffic to let them out and add special traffic lights at those points triggerable by bus drivers to force traffic to yield to let the buses out.  We could discover that town is a huge culprit towards the slowdown and resolve to create bus depots outside of town and switch to a minibus system for serving town from those depots.  The possibilities are endless however if we don't take the time to start measuring the problem we'll unfortunately never succeed at managing it.

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One thought on “Evolving public transport

  1. I think that efforts to have the central bus terminal in a, well, centralised location, have failed. Traffic flow is terrible when vehicles are leaving, and it’s extremely bad during rush hour.

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