Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fancy Bus Lanes in Context

Archie provides the following with regard to the “rapid transit” buses proposed as part of the Urban Ring:

BREAKING NEWS! BRTs in Bogata, Colombia!
July 11, 2009 – New York Times – Page 1
Found at:

This front page article by Elisabeth Rosenthal is quite long but worthwhile reading. It tells the reader quite a bit abut BRTs and their use in foreign countries and in the U.S. Phase 2 of the Urban Ring would utilize 60-foot articulated BRT buses. Consider EOT’s Locally Preferred Alternatives for Phase 2 and issues involving dedicated routes. Take a careful look at the NYT front page photo showing BRTs and passengers in Bogata. Then check out this in the inside page:

“But with [Bogata’s] wide streets, dense population and a tradition of bus travel, Bogata had the ingredients for success. To create Trans-Milenio [Bogata’s BRT system], the city commandeered two to four traffic lanes in the middle of major boulevards, isolating them with low walls to create the system’s so-called tracks. On the center islands that divide many of Bogata’s two-way streets, the city built dozens of distinctive metal-and-glass stations. Just as in a subway, the multiple doors on the buses slide open level with the platform, providing easy access for strollers and older riders. Hundreds of passengers can wait on the platforms, avoiding the delays that occur when passengers each pay as they board.”

Since EOT is now planning for surface routes through the dense Longwood Medical/Fenway/Academies area, how might EOT replicate Bogata’s success on that areas streets?

In fact, a major problem with EOT’s Locally Preferred Alternatives routes is the failure to provide truly dedicated BRT busways in critical areas. Rather, EOT gets to the minimum Federal Transit Agency requirement of 50% dedication by including buslanes that can also accommodate mixed vehicular traffic in the absence of strict (and expensive) enforcement, as demonstrated on the MBTA’s Silver Line on Washington Street in Roxbury, South End and downtown Boston.

And consider the BU Bridge reduced from four to three lanes: what if any dedication can be provided for these BRT buses and also accommodate auto commuters?

This BREAKING NEWS! should be reflected in public comments (due by August 7th) on EOT’s NPC.