Tag Archives: public transportation

Cheer up! Chin up!

It’s easy to feel down about the state of public transportation today.

The Transport Politic has a more upbeat look, though, with their map of transit projects opening and under construction in the U.S. and Canada.   It’s good to remember that even with raising fares and, in some cases, service cutbacks, new infrastructure is still being built!  A full run down on all the projects, and links to their respective websites available here.

 

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On Transit, A Comparison: Hours of Operation

In preparation of this post, I learned several things this week.

Firstly, Philadelphia’s transit system is ridiculously confusing for someone who doesn’t live in the city.  Two  different transit systems operate within the city: The SEPTA, which operates mostly within the city, and the PATCO, which connects Philadelphia to New Jersey.  On top of that, SEPTA itself runs a variety of different services, incorporating basically every method of transit available today: —bus, subway and elevated rail, commuter rail, light rail, and electric trolley bus.  Holy crap, how do you keep track? And because commuter rail is integrated into the overall system, hours of operation vary wildly between lines, not to mention the PATCO line which is 24hrs.

So, all this being said, I have unfortunately abandoned Philadelphia for the time being.  If someone can give me a tutorial, I’m all ears, but for now I am overwhelmed.

Secondly, it is really hard to make any sort of attractive chart or infograph using only excel, paint, and word… especially when you have limited design skills to begin with.  So forgive me the rudimentary design elements, hopefully they will improve as these posts continue.

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OK. So, this week I examined transit from an hours of operation perspective…and service varies widely.  From Chicago and New York who operate 24hr systems to the majority of other systems that only operate from around 5 am til midnight.  As much as every transit user craves a 24hr system, it’s good to keep it in perspective that it’s an outlier at this juncture in the US and Canada.

Though service hours vary in many cities based on specific transit line and day of the week (i.e. not included in the chart is the fact that Toronto’s subway doesn’t open until 9 am on Sundays), Washington is the only city who has extended weekend hours, staying open on Friday and Saturday nights until 3 am.

Am I missing any? Are there any systems in North America with extremely short hours, or other 24 hr systems or extended hours?  Did I misrepresent your city? Let me know!

Footnote:

This graph also doesn’t take into consideration 24hr or late night bus service.  As routes and times vary greatly, this chart only focuses on subway and rail hours.

**This is the second post in a series of posts on North American Public Transit systems**

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City Centers and Children

Urban planners are always trying to get people out of their cars, especially in Cambridge, MA and Cambridge, UK, where an organic street pattern, tons of pedestrian traffic and narrow roads cause congestion and misery.  In grad school, a frequent topic of conversation was how to make not driving a reasonable option for the parents of young children.  Babies can’t easily be carried on bikes, and even if they could, when you have a baby you typically can’t travel light.  With no good option, most parents elect to drive whenever possible.

How can planners make cycling or public transportation more attractive to people with small children?  At least part of the solution is market-based.  There are lots of child bike seats – personally I’m partial to the one where the kid rides on the handlebars, but you can carry bigger kids with a seat behind you (see below).  In Cambridge, I’ve also seen a number of adult-child tandem bikes:

this sort of thing - its all over the place

I’ve also seen quite a few Dutch cargo bikes, wherein parents can carry their children in a wheelbarrow-ish sort of thing:

In Massachusetts, I think I saw one of these in two years.  Here I see a few per day.  When I looked into it, though, I was shocked at how expensive cargo bikes are – beginning at 1500 euros – and I think it’ll be a while before they catch on in the states.  Still, its clear that there is a market for “child transport cycles,” as they’re called.  A great thing about child transport bikes is that it makes living in a dense neighborhood much more appealing – having a car on my street would be a nightmare, but having a bike is no trouble at all.  So I expect these increasingly popular bikes to contribute to the re-urbanization of American yuppies.

The city of Cambridge (UK) has gone one step further to encourage cycling: at a center city bicycle parking lot, parents can exchange their bicycle for a stroller (or a push-chair, as they’re called here), allowing parents to spend time in the city without having to carry their children.  And its free!  Cambridge is a miserable place to drive, but its one of thousands of miserable places to drive – so the opportunities for replicating the bike-for-stroller model are essentially infinite.

In the states, cities have looked into organizing bike trains for small schoolchildren to allow them to cycle to school; cities could also look into more closely aligning bus stops and schools to allow more people to take public transportation to school.  And in cities with Metros, making light rail easier with bikes and strollers would make the Metro (or bike and Metro) a more attractive alternative to driving.

What are the other things that cities could be doing to make cycling/public transport easier for young families?

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