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Friday, March 23, 2007

A 'surface subway' plan

Dave at the Boise Guardian has a plan:

We feel public transit needs to be dependable and frequent to get riders. Trains, light rail, trolleys, etc. have a major drawback—they are limited to riding the rails and they cost more than the entire budget of God. Buses can use existing streets and with existing technology they can make traffic signals go green (like the fire trucks do). The GUARDIAN plan calls for buses to pass by the “stations about every 20 minutes. Rather than wind around neighborhoods in ill fated attempts at being all things to all people, the GUARDIAN LINES will intersect for transfer purposes and get the average rider pretty close to their destination. We don’t claim to have a perfect solution, but with 3 buses on each of the streets identified in our route map we will have the ability to move a lot of people effectively. It will use 30 buses. The GUARDIAN has offered up the basic system. The rest of you can chomp on it, but we are seeking suggestions to get people to our “stations” which will be at each intersection on the map as well as at each end of the line. Think in terms of STATIONS and straight line routes. We can already see a potential Federal Way route in the future.

Read it all here. What do you think?


Julie in Boise said...

To start the conversation, here's the comment I posted at the Guardian. I encourage you to cross-post comments there, too:

I think this is a good start, and I have cross-posted this at the Boise Bus Blog. A few thoughts:

20-minute intervals all day would boost ridership. This, along with extending service hours until 10 or 11 at night, seven days a week, are in my mind the most critical factors in getting more people on the buses.

However, I think there would have to be a few more stops along the major corridors than simply at the major intersections. For example, would the folks who currently catch a bus at Targee and Columbus, say, be willing to walk two more blocks to Vista and Targee? I think so. But an extra six or eight blocks to Vista and Overland?

We have to remember that the people who already rely on the buses - older folks, visually impaired, people with disabilities - often have trouble getting around. Their needs, frankly, must remain paramount.

As for light rail, I agree that buses ought to be the main workhorses of our transit system, especially for the next 10 to 15 years. But in your list of population densities, you left out Salt Lake City, which has 1,666 people per square mile. And of course, light rail has proven to be a huge hit down there.

Light rail would be more for moving folks between the Treasure Valley's cities, not within thew city limits.

Anonymous said...

How lame are you Dave? Do you really think you've solved it?

In YOUR OWN article you say you still need shuttles and circulators. OK, that only doubles your cost since the real cost of any operation is salary and benefits. Even in YOUR OWN article you admit failure...poor Julie even calls you on it. If it's so easy to create perfection, how do two people at a blog already destroy such a brilliant plan? The idea is as fleeting as the saltine cracker I just ate. Stick to the "guardian"...

Your idea is very grand. It's such a grand idea that when people already have the option of boarding at Chinden, State, Franklin and Broadway to get downtown ON DIRECT TRIPS INWARD they still drive their car. Oh, that's right---the CAR!! Cars are faster--quicker. There's just too many stops!! You are so right...that's why the buses are empty--they are empty because the buses take way too long picking up all those passengers!! Non-stop passengers. If they'd just quit riding, I could better make this mass transit system more like my car!!

Oh, and the elderly, disabled, etc, Julie refers to really enjoy walking a mile or two on side roads without side walks. It's so popular that I see dozens of people in suits and pants skirts traversing the curbs of our fine, dusty, windblown roads to and fro work on a constant basis.

If we want to do something worthwhile about transit:
1) Convince downtown employers to stop funding employee parking and provide only bus passes. But then companies won't want to locate downtown because they'll lose their best workers to outlying employers.
2) How about lobbying the chamber to make parking impossibly expensive? A free 20 minutes is an instant incentive to not take the bus---but be careful, we need to protect P.F. Changs's.
3) Why don't we force people to stuff $3 in the fare box next time instead of $1 so they can hire more drivers and fund the service? But then what about the people who "need the service"--they can't afford it. Besides, my latte was already $4...
4) Stop complaining about route planning or how many people get on at certain intersections. It has everything to do with CAR ownership and use. Even the best systems in the U.S. can't deliver what a car can. Proof--GM was once the largest manufacturer of buses--even they got out of the business..