The Flexibility of the Bus is Both a
Strength and a Weakness in
Providing Access to Opportunity in
Metropolitan Areas
Does...
Access to opportunity in metropolitan areas is a
major motivation for improving public transport
– Transportation
– Land U...
Omnibus
The derivation of the word “bus” is from the
Latin “omnibus” – for everyone
3
http://goldenagepaintings.blogspot.c...
Omnibus
Earliest public transportation mode was the horse-
drawn cart, selling rides to anyone who pays
4
Omnibus
Selling individual rides changed to selling an
increasingly integrated service:
• Inventing the concept of separat...
Horse Cart
Horse cart placed on rails
• Expanded capacity and productivity
• Forced stronger need for public permission to...
Streetcar
Electrification further strengthened:
• Economies of scale
• Service networks
• Interaction with land use intens...
Beneficiary Payment
• Users
• Land Developers
8
Subway
• In many cities, intensification of use led to development of
subways
– To reduce excessive conflict on the street...
Omnibus No Longer Serves All
Growth in availability of the automobile in the
1920s, and public policy encouraging auto-
or...
Flexibility
Greater flexibility of the bus also led to weakness in stability
of service
• Weaker economy of scale of produ...
Omnibus No Longer Serves All
Inadequate understanding of the need for
subsidy led to:
• Weakened service
• Growth of unser...
Austerity Stresses Political Will
Fiscal austerity makes the maintenance of public
transportation subsidy to serve the ent...
Inherent Growth in Need for Transit “Subsidy”
Labor costs rise faster than the average rate of inflation,
as income of mos...
Inadequate Service
Today, most metro areas are substantially underserved
by public transportation; if the objective is to ...
Promise of BRT
In both of these dominant circumstances, BRT
offers great promise to provide significantly
improved public ...
BRT is Often Oversold
More traditional bus services, and modestly improved bus services, continue to be
essential in corri...
The flexibility of the traditional bus to serve
much of the metro area needs to be celebrated
and protected as a precondit...
It should be recognized that BRT does not
convey the “inflexible” commitment that rail
investments convey, and are unlikel...
“Saving” money by substituting “flexible” BRT service for
an “inflexible,” more expensive rail investment is a
weakening o...
The urban design aspects of BRT are often undesirable, and in
many cases unacceptable
• High speed
• Long distance between...
Political Will
Cities people will love, which rely less upon the auto
• Urban design
• Accessibility for all
BRT can help ...
Omnibus and Political Will
• Rail is popular, necessary for capacity
• Bus is essential
• BRT is strategically useful to e...
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Webinar: The flexibility of the bus is both a strength and a weakness in providing access to opportunity in metropolitan areas, does BRT help or hurt?

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2014-04-24 webinar by Fred Salvucci

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Webinar: The flexibility of the bus is both a strength and a weakness in providing access to opportunity in metropolitan areas, does BRT help or hurt?

  1. 1. The Flexibility of the Bus is Both a Strength and a Weakness in Providing Access to Opportunity in Metropolitan Areas Does BRT Help or Hurt? Fred Salvucci MIT ALC-BRT Webinar April 24, 2014 1
  2. 2. Access to opportunity in metropolitan areas is a major motivation for improving public transport – Transportation – Land Use 2
  3. 3. Omnibus The derivation of the word “bus” is from the Latin “omnibus” – for everyone 3 http://goldenagepaintings.blogspot.com/2011/01/london-omnibus.html
  4. 4. Omnibus Earliest public transportation mode was the horse- drawn cart, selling rides to anyone who pays 4
  5. 5. Omnibus Selling individual rides changed to selling an increasingly integrated service: • Inventing the concept of separation of residence from workplace • As a means to support city growth 5
  6. 6. Horse Cart Horse cart placed on rails • Expanded capacity and productivity • Forced stronger need for public permission to build tracks in the street, and regulation 6
  7. 7. Streetcar Electrification further strengthened: • Economies of scale • Service networks • Interaction with land use intensification • Increased “accessibility” or connectivity 7
  8. 8. Beneficiary Payment • Users • Land Developers 8
  9. 9. Subway • In many cities, intensification of use led to development of subways – To reduce excessive conflict on the street – To improve the quality and capacity of service – Further supporting intensification of land use 9 http://cache.boston.com/multimedia/2011/01/bos_then_now/tremont_recut.jpg
  10. 10. Omnibus No Longer Serves All Growth in availability of the automobile in the 1920s, and public policy encouraging auto- oriented, lower density residential use: • Weakened the viability of higher capital streetcar systems • Led to greater need for “subsidy”, or face loss of service in lower density markets • Led to greater use of buses, with more flexibility to serve lower density markets 10
  11. 11. Flexibility Greater flexibility of the bus also led to weakness in stability of service • Weaker economy of scale of production provides greater flexibility to reduce frequency, and/or eliminate entire lines • Economy of scale of the consumer becomes collateral damage as reduced frequency and density of service network makes public transportation unfeasible as a primary mode for more of the metropolitan area and population • Without the stability inherent in the inflexibility of electric rail services, transit oriented development becomes less viable for most of the metropolitan area, relegated to niche market status 11
  12. 12. Omnibus No Longer Serves All Inadequate understanding of the need for subsidy led to: • Weakened service • Growth of unserved land use • Weakening of potential political will, as non user beneficiaries decline 12
  13. 13. Austerity Stresses Political Will Fiscal austerity makes the maintenance of public transportation subsidy to serve the entire metropolitan area more politically difficult as • Transit riders become a political minority • With reduced political power • Exacerbated by low income of many transit dependent families 13
  14. 14. Inherent Growth in Need for Transit “Subsidy” Labor costs rise faster than the average rate of inflation, as income of most transit riders grows at less than the rate of inflation Leads to requiring increased level of subsidy over time for the same level of service (Baumol Effect – Baumol and Bowen, 1966) 14
  15. 15. Inadequate Service Today, most metro areas are substantially underserved by public transportation; if the objective is to provide accessibility without the financial and environmental costs of the automobile for most households • Mature slow growing metro areas – Auto is dominant mode, dominating legacy transit systems (if the legacy system even survived) • Rapidly urbanizing metro areas – Lack legacy transit systems and often have non-integrated weak services, provided without subsidy through local monopoly providers 15
  16. 16. Promise of BRT In both of these dominant circumstances, BRT offers great promise to provide significantly improved public transportation services • To substantial proportions of the metropolitan area • More quickly than would be financially or politically feasible with primarily rail service 16
  17. 17. BRT is Often Oversold More traditional bus services, and modestly improved bus services, continue to be essential in corridors with narrow street widths, and modest existing land use densities. These are usually essential to any goal of offering access to the entire metropolitan area, and should not be designated as “BRT Lite” or “Not True BRT” Frequent stops and fine-grained network of traditional bus service are the best hope for providing service to most of the metropolitan area and should not be denigrated for not being BRT, nor for not being rail. 17
  18. 18. The flexibility of the traditional bus to serve much of the metro area needs to be celebrated and protected as a precondition of success for both rail and BRT, not viewed as a source of subsidy to redirect or divert. Both rail and BRT should be net incremental services, not substitutes for buses which connect the last half mile 18
  19. 19. It should be recognized that BRT does not convey the “inflexible” commitment that rail investments convey, and are unlikely to stimulate the level of confidence to lead to high density transit oriented development. True success for many BRT investments will be proven when they are replaced by higher capacity, “inflexible” rail services 19
  20. 20. “Saving” money by substituting “flexible” BRT service for an “inflexible,” more expensive rail investment is a weakening of commitment to transit. On the other hand, providing BRT in three or four corridors instead of rail in one corridor is a significant improvement. Context is important, and unless the “saved” money goes to transit, it is likely going to sprawl-inducing road investment, not a victory for public transit. 20
  21. 21. The urban design aspects of BRT are often undesirable, and in many cases unacceptable • High speed • Long distance between stops • Long vehicles • Off-board fare collection Very limited locations in real cities “Normal bus” with more frequency and/or better bus, but not full BRT, are often he most politically feasible and right choices. 21
  22. 22. Political Will Cities people will love, which rely less upon the auto • Urban design • Accessibility for all BRT can help or hurt • Boston – Silver Lie or Silver Lining • Houston – Promise rail, deliver bus; damage political will • Los Angeles – Expand rail at expense of bus • Seattle – BRT to rail failure, rail extremism • Chicago BRT expansion celebrated while essential rail rapid transit decays 22
  23. 23. Omnibus and Political Will • Rail is popular, necessary for capacity • Bus is essential • BRT is strategically useful to expand service, but often should eventually e replaced by rail to deliver capacity and stability to support transit oriented development • Political will is strongest if the entire area and population can be served. 23
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