Building a Better Bus

I’m a believer in the value of investments in rail transportation, especially as a lever for transforming neighborhoods. But improved bus service is the low-hanging fruit of mass transit policy, and in circumstances where politics won’t permit large increases in density near new transit stations it’s more appropriate to rely on buses.

Robert Sullivan has a great piece in NY Magazine about New York City’s bus rapid transit ideas. You should read the whole thing, but I’ll poach his graphic:


1. Pay on the street
More than a third of all bus delays can be attributed to the time it takes passengers to board. Here they will swipe their MetroCards at street kiosks before the bus arrives.

2. Enter at the back
A new fleet of buses improve boarding time by being lower to the ground—and allowing rear-door entrance.

3. Hold the light green
Soon after Select Bus Service launches, buses will be equipped with “signal prioritization” technology that tells upcoming traffic lights to delay turning red.

4. Own the lane
A painted lane will be reserved for buses, and cameras will photograph stray cars and trucks. But some activists—and politicians—criticize the program for not including physically separated lanes.

In an ideal world, you could easily finance this kind of activity through congestion pricing.