Transit

Smarter Parking at Transit Stations

Susan Shaheen and Charlene Kemmerer

Transit stations, such as many of the outlying stations along the BART system in the San Francisco Bay Area, provide parking so riders can easily get to and from the station. At first parking spots at BART stations were free to whoever showed up earliest to park. Then in 2002, BART began offering monthly reservations on some parking spots for a fee, so that riders who couldn’t rush out of the house to arrive at the station before anyone else also had the opportunity to park. Commuters without the monthly permits are faced with a dilemma if they want to take BART and can’t get to the station early. Do they risk deviating from their driving commute route to try to find a spot at the station? If they don’t find one, they will have wasted time and gas, and they’d then have to find their way back to their driving route, now a bit later, and reinsert themselves into the stream of traffic.

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Beyond the Automobile?

Sir Peter Hall

There is growing international consensus that the world needs a successor to the motor car. A deluge of commentary in recent times has alerted us all to the hazards of air pollution, traffic congestion, petroleum consumption, and now global warming. The automobile is said to be the cause of it all. Some argue that decentralization of cities and low suburban densities force people to use cars. Transportation and urban planners everywhere have been looking for remedies, preferably by finding an alternative to the car such as the bus or train.

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Dispatch from Sydney: Transport in the Land of Oz

John Landis

Australia—or Oz as it is colloquially known—is instantly recognizable to visiting Americans, even those like myself who had never been there before. As in the US, most of Australia’s population lives in metropolitan areas within twenty miles of the coast. A majority of Australians live in suburban communities, and single-family homes are the dominant housing form. Australia’s home ownership rate stands at seventy percent, slightly above the US rate.

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Flexible Transit, the American City, and Mel Webber

Robert Cervero

Melvin Webber was one of the original “bus guys” in the transportation planning field. He was one of the few to show respect for that Rodney Dangerfield of public transportation, the one that gets very little respect: the rubber-tire bus. But Mel’s vision of public transit was not stodgy old buses lumbering along city streets. He had in mind a more nimble, versatile form of transit—one that could compete with, and sometimes even mimic, the private car.

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Melvin M. Webber: Maker and Breaker of Planning Paradigms

Sir Peter Hall

Melvin M. Webber died two days after Thanksgiving in the Berkeley home where he and his wife Carolyn had lived peaceably for nearly half a century; they would soon have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, but at the age of 86 his multiple myeloma cheated them of their festival. With him passed an era in the history of Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning, where he had spent nearly all his long academic life and to whose international pre-eminence he had so profoundly contributed.

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Beyond ITS and the Transportation Monoculture

Daniel Sperling

Mel Webber wrote and thought a lot about cars. He frequently pointed out that cars remain the first choice for transport for most people because their convenience and door-to-door accessibility are unmatched by any other mode. However, many cities are headed toward traffic paralysis because cars are so popular. Car ownership and use continue to increase, but there is little expansion in road capacity.

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Dispatch from London

John Landis

Upon arriving in London (or any other major English city), the first thing an American notices is how few SUVs, pickup trucks, and full-sized minivans are on the roads. This is partly because of gasoline’s high price, currently about $5.80 per US gallon, and partly because English roads and parking spaces are so narrow. However, things do seem to be changing. Sales of SUVs are rising, particularly among suburbanites with children, as are sales of seven-passenger multi-purpose vehicles, which are slightly smaller versions of American minivans.

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Transit and Contracts: What’s Best for Drivers?

Songju Kim and Martin Wachs

Throughout its history, most public transit has been provided by private companies. During the second half of the twentieth century, however, things changed. Transit came gradually into public ownership as revenues from fares no longer covered costs and operators faced bankruptcy. Local, state, and federal subsidies kept transit afloat in most metropolitan areas. In reaction to steadily increasing subsidies and rising operating costs, many said transit services should be contracted out to private operators. Margaret Thatcher had made great strides toward privatizing transit in Britain, and there were calls for adopting similar strategies in the US. Proponents argued that private operation would be more efficient and less costly, while opponents said that private operators would save money simply by paying workers less than public operators and providing inferior benefits. Actual data were hard to come by, and both sides used dueling studies to prove opposite conclusions based on competing ideological commitments rather than actual data. It is still not completely clear whether privately operated transit service is more efficient than publicly run services.

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Progressive Transport And The Poor: Bogotá’s Bold Steps Forward

Robert Cervero

Bogotá, the Andean capital of Colombia and home to some seven million inhabitants, is widely recognized for having mounted one of the most sustainable urban transport programs anywhere. In 2000, the city began operating a high-speed, high-capacity bus system, called TransMilenio, building upon the experience of Curitiba, Brazil’s much-celebrated success with dedicated busways. Bogotá’s leaders went one step further, giving investment priority to pedestrians, followed by bicycle facilities, then public transit, and lastly cars (i.e., inversely to travel speeds).

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