Bus Meister Game – Thanks for the Feedback!

London Buses - 2
Double Decker Bus in London: from my flickr photos of London.

Thanks to everyone for providing feedback on the Bus Meister game via e-mail, comments and at the TRB meeting!

One funny question was, “Why are the buses traveling on the left (curb) lane?”

The answer is that we wanted the buses to travel left to right and also wanted to show the buildings in the background … so the buses need to travel “British style”. Maybe we should make them double decker?

Our next steps are to revise the factors to make the game work better (i.e. show the benefits of PT priority more clearly), then we will make Bus Meister a real game with levels (top level is “Bus Meister” of course!). When we launch this version of the game it will be on facebook and have a more interactive website so that players can use social networking to get involved in improving public transport in their own communities. … Lots to do, but quite exciting.

Bus Meister game: http://www.greencitystreets.com/busmeister

Bus Meister Public Transport Priority Best Practices wiki: http://busmeister.wikispaces.com

Please keep those comments coming!

Cali Columbia’s Bus Rapid Transit System Film

Here’s a film from current TV on Cali Columbia’s new bus rapid transit system which is called MIO. It’s a nice film illustrating many of the benefits of BRT. At one point a user complains that she likes the older minibuses better – because the new system is too crowded! Not sure if that’s really a negative … a few more buses might solve the problem.

For a slightly less serious look at South American BRT systems check out my music video parody: The Bus From Curitiba on YouTube.

The Bus from Curitiba

My latest music video: “The Bus from Curitiba” probably needs some explanation, so here’s a little bit about bus rapid transit and then the words with a couple comments.

Bus Rapid Transit and Public Transit Priority

Curitiba Brazil is famous for pioneering the development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). In the 1970s the city decided to build a very efficient bus-based public transport network instead of a relatively short section of metro line (which would have cost the same amount of money). The results have been nothing short of fantastic.

Curitiba’s BRT system has been replicated throughout the world, although not to the extent that it deserves. Many cities are seduced by the thought of rail-based public transport preferring the sexiness of rail over the benefits of creating a more comprehensive public transport network.

Rail-based public transport is critical in large cities where there is sufficient demand, but I think it’s better to build an attractive and efficient public transport network – based on buses – and then replace buses with higher capacity rail lines when necessary rather then building ‘starter rail lines’ and hoping to attract riders. It’s the network that enables people to get ‘from everywhere to everywhere’ thus addressing the oft heard complaint that “I can’t get there with public transport.”

For more information on Curitiba see: the great Streetfilms Curitiba video showing the system in operation and describing how it works; Professor Robert Cervero’s excellent book The Transit Metropolis (which also describes many other interesting examples of public transport throughout the world); and the wikipedia article Rede Integrada de Transporte.

BRT can be defined as the systematic application of public transport priority techniques. Zurich is a great example of another approach towards systematically applying public transport priority techniques; rather than building any large project Zurich incrementally added improvements that speed-up bus and tram service over the last thirty years thus creating a fast and efficient surface public transport system. You can read more about Zurich in Professor Cervero’s book and in some of my publications and on my website improving public transport efficiency.

The Bus from Curitiba – Lyrics

I visited Curitiba to ride the buses in 1997. The city was extremely pleasant and enjoyable. In addition to the buses I remember a fantastic passion fruit smoothie. Here are the words:

Fast and fun and clean and quickly,
The bus from Curitiba comes cruising,
And when she comes the people all say ahh …
When she moves she’s like a Samba that
Rides so smooth and sways so gentle
That when she passes each one she passes says ahh …
Oh I would ride her so gladly,
If transport planning weren’t done so badly,
Yes, I would ride her so gladly,
But each bus that we put in a plan,
Just gets replaced by a tram,
Fast and fun and clean and quickly,
The bus from Curitiba comes cruising
And when she passes I smile
But we don’t BRT
Not in our city,
No we just don’t BRT.

OK, I am not being totally fair. Planning isn’t always done badly, but as I outline above, I think too often we ignore the bus option (of course capital and operating funding programs also enter into the picture, but that’s for another song). And, of course, trams make sense in larger cities with strong demand, but gladly and badly is a pretty good rhyme don’t you think?

MIT Media Lab’s Bill Mitchell Interviewed

Here’s a great video interview of Bill Mitchell, the Smart Cities Director at MIT’s Media Lab. They are developing ideas like the cars in the photo above, rethinking the entire concept of cars from technology to the transport systems in which they operate.

I was especially interested in his description of the ‘future of mobility’ where he talks about the need for sophisticated management algorithms helping to make more efficient use of existing resources (11:15 into the interview). This is exactly the idea behind the Bus Meister concept for using Web 2.0 applications to help provide priority for public transport.

Car Trap in Holland

Daniel Sparing, a colleague from Hungary, just posted the photo above on his flickr site. It’s a good picture of a public transport priority measure. He calls it a bus trap but says in the comment “or to be more precise, a car trap. Buses can pass through.” He’s got lots of great bicycling photos on his site too.

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