Public Transport Strategic Planning using Levels

Public Transport Strategic Planning using Levels

Zürich Stadelhofen Station Trams, 2010.

Zürich Stadelhofen Station Trams, 2010.

I’m making a presentation at SPUR in San Francisco on January 7 on the concept of public transport network level and using it to describe the performance and future improvement of Zurich’s public transport system.

A public transport level is a specific type of service designed to serve a particular market. Service is defined as a combination of vehicles, infrastructure and operating characteristics. A “pure” level is when the service is targeted specifically to one particular market. A “hybrid” level is when a service is targeted to serve several markets. Urban travel is generally described as three markets: short, intermediate and long distance trips.

Campaign poster for Zürich S-Bahn project in 1981. Project approved.

Campaign poster for Zürich S-Bahn project in 1981. Project approved.

Consequently many cities have developed three-level public transport networks: surface buses and trams to serve short trips, rapid rail to serve intermediate trips, and regional rail to serve longer distance trips. Often, by design or for historic reasons, cities have additional levels, fewer levels and/or the levels that are not precisely matched to their markets. For example, two-level networks are often found in medium size cities. Their advantage is lower costs while their main disadvantage is a mismatch between transport mode and market that manifests itself in capacity limitations.

Using the level concept to help analyze and plan public transport service is useful because it focuses attention on matching service qualities to markets. The presentation will use this approach to analyze the success of Zurich’s public transport system and to provide a structure for planning improvements that will be needed to meet rapidly increasing public transport demand. This approach could help other cities (re)design their public transport systems to be more attractive and efficient. More specifically, the approach could show how two-level public transport networks could be a viable option for medium sized cities and large cities with dispersed settlement patterns.

My co-authors Hermann Orth and Ulrich Weidmann are also presenting the paper at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting: A Level-based Approach to Public Transport Network Planning; Session 514: Public Transportation Planning and Development: Food for Thought on Networks Design, Accessibility, and Investment Policy Tuesday, January 13, 2015 8:00AM – 9:45AM Convention Center, 149.

Here’s a link to the full paper: A Level-based Approach to Public Transport Network Planning (forthcoming)

San Francisco – February 2014

San Francisco – February 2014

San Francisco Yerba Buena Gardens - February 2014

San Francisco Yerba Buena Gardens – February 2014

Just returned from a nice visit to San Francisco … great weather and lots of interesting meetings. The photo above is of Yerba Buena Gardens looking towards the SF MOMA which is currently being expanded/remodelled.

Bay Area Bike Share station at 3rd and Howard streets in San Francisco.

Bay Area Bike Share station at 3rd and Howard streets in San Francisco.

Around the corner from the photo above I ran across my first set of Bay Area Bike Share bikes. Great to see that San Francisco and the Bay Area are becoming more bike friendly. Here’s a photo of the bike station at 3rd and Howard streets.

I seem to be running into bike sharing everywhere I go these days: Washington DC, New York, Brussels, San Francisco and, naturally Vienna, one of the first cities to have public bike sharing. There are photos of all these bike share systems in my flickr set Bike Photos.

Broccoli Rabe pizza at Delfina in San Francisco.

Broccoli Rabe pizza at Delfina in San Francisco.

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without visiting (or re-visiting) some of my favorite restaurants. In my short trip I could fit in Delfina Pizza in the Mission … had a really delicious Broccoli Rabe pizza with a Lagunitas Little Sumtin’. The breadsticks at Delfina are addictive. Great meal for just under $30 including tip (with a couple slices to bring home). By the way the Pacific Heights Delfina looks to be bike friendly from the photo on the website. Cool.

Sign in front of Henry's Hunan restaurant, Sansome Street, San Francisco.

Sign in front of Henry’s Hunan restaurant, Sansome Street, San Francisco.

I also returned to one of my all time favorite Chinese restaurants: Henry’s Hunan. I first started going to Henry’s Hunan in 1984. The Sansome Street location was on my way home from work and I would stop by, sit at the counter and watch as the women cooked my dinner in the huge woks three feet in front of me. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about cooking with a wok. Unfortunately that location was damaged in the 1989 earthquake, but there are several other Henry’s Hunan in San Francisco.

Anyway, I went into the Henry’s Hunan on Sacramento (just east of Sansome) and sat at the counter. It really reminded me of the Sansome Street location, women cooking in woks three feet away and all. I had one of my favorites: hot and sour chicken. When I left I noticed a sign by the cashier saying that the restaurant was designed to look like the original (so I wasn’t crazy). I mentioned to the cashier that I had eaten at the original and he said, you must have known my father and grandfather then … right, he’s third generation! The food remains great and my hot and sour chicken rice plate was $7.50 for a large portion. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

Visiting friends in Berkeley we stopped by at the hardware store and I found several items which I really need. These photos require no further explanation.

Civil Engineer tape available at Berkeley Ace Hardware.

Civil Engineer tape available at Berkeley Ace Hardware.

Plasticville USA model available at Ace Hardware Berkeley.

Plasticville USA model available at Ace Hardware Berkeley.

All to soon my visit was over and I returned to Vienna via Zurich on Swiss International Airlines. Here’s a photo of our A340 as we waited to board. I always enjoy flying Swiss via Zurich, it’s relatively quick and the times work out well.  And of course, there’s my music video “Flowers in Your Horns” which I made for a contest Swiss organised when they started flying to San Francisco. (OK, I should say I enjoy it to the extent it’s possible to enjoy a long flight in economy class these days … and, oddly, the airlines always ask you if you are satisfied with the seats in their surveys, shouldn’t they know by now that no-one is satisfied with a standard economy class seat? – but, I digress.)

Swiss A340 San Francisco International Airport - February 2014

Swiss A340 San Francisco International Airport – February 2014

Web 2.0 for citizen involvement

Web 2.0 for citizen involvement

Schedule information screens on Zurich public transport vehicles, from my flickr photos.

The Infrastructuralist just had an interesting article about IBM’s Smart Cities program and some work they are doing in Viet Nam. I added a comment suggesting that a good solution for many urban problems is the use of Web 2.0 techniques to involve the public in planning and operating urban services. Read the article and my comment here (The Infrastructuralist is no longer available).

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