Bus Rapid Transit Featured in the New York Times
Photo: Flickr, CCLet's Hope that US Urban Planners Are Paying AttentionIt's always good to see modern, efficient mass-transit in the spotlight, and there's no bigger spotlight than the New York Times. They have a piece featuring Bogotá's TransMilenio bus rapid transit (BRT) system, and it's quite positive though they mostly frame it as a way for developing countries to cut down on smog and CO2 emissions (the US would benefit too!). Read on for the choice cuts.Photo: Flickr, CCEmission Reductions
Now used for an average of 1.6 million trips each day, TransMilenio has allowed the city to remove 7,000 small private buses from its roads, reducing the use of bus fuel — and associated emissions — by more than 59 percent since it opened its first line in 2001, according to city officials.
That 59% is compared to those other buses, not compared to private cars. It's an impressive number! So impressive in fact that the United Nations recognized TransMilenio's CO2 reductions by allowing it to sell carbon credits (which have generated between 100 and 300 million dollars so far). It pays to do the right thing!
Lower Cost, Faster DeploymentThe NYT also highlights the important fact that creating a BRT system is a lot faster and a loooot less expensive than building a subway: "Subways cost more than 30 times as much per mile to build than a B.R.T. system, and three times as much to maintain. And bus rapid transit systems can be built more quickly [by many years]."
Can It Work in the US?Another important, and too often overlooked, point is about branding: "Mr. Peñalosa noted that the negative stereotypes about bus travel required some clever rebranding. Now, he said, upscale condominiums advertise that they are near TransMilenio lines. “People don’t say, ‘I’m taking the bus,’ they say, ‘I’m taking TransMilenio.’" This is especially important in the US. People shouldn't care about that, but unfortunately, they do, so it needs to be addressed.
Kudos to the New York Times for covering this. BRT needs to be part of the future of US infrastructure we want to copy with CO2 reductions and increased population. We can keep adding to urban traffic indefinitely, it's also such a big source of pollution and time-waster (lost productivity = lost economic output, which is something that people should understand these days).
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