Tag Archives: public transportation

A Guide To The World’s Top 10 Public Transportation Cities

singapore

Courtesy of Jalopnik

Of all the cities across the U.S., only one has landed in the top 10 of the world’s best transportation cities, according to Jalopnik. New York grabbed the final spot on the list for its historic subway system that, despite its age, has been able to stand up to quite a lot. An example: it quickly returning to service after being flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

Germany has a strong grasp on quality transportation systems. Jalopnik put three of the country’s cities on the list: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt. Berlin claimed ninth because it’s punctual and has quiet rail lines, and because the city is seemingly saturated with transportation.

Frankfurt took seventh for its interesting system where riders pay for a ticket to their final destination, allowing riders to “take all day to get to that destination if you choose by getting on and off the transit as often as you like. You’ve paid for the whole day until you’ve reached the final destination.”

Finally, Munich reached number three in part for its incredibly fast service, which, according to Jalopnik, has the city providing trains every two minutes during peak hours in its central corridor.A few other European hubs made the list including Paris and London. Continue reading

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Tucson’s ‘Sun Link’ Light Rail System Is Open For Business

Tucson, Arizona is the latest city in the country, and second in Arizona, to open a light rail transit system. sunlink_2

The 18 stop, four-mile surface rail line has been in the works for 10 years, according to Sun Link Project Manager Shellie Genn. As the downtown core of Tucson has continued to grow, she said the need for light rail and an effective transit system has become increasingly important to keep the city connected.

“This has allowed us to connect areas that were previously divided by physical barriers,” Genn said. Some include the I-10 freeway and Santa Cruz River, which run through Tucson’s downtown.

Largely funded through a $63 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, Genn said Sun Link has already created more than $800 million in economic development around the line.

“There’s a real interest in developing along this line, opening up business, housing (and) grocery stores,” she said. “It’s really turning into a place where you want to be versus what it used to be like five to 10 years ago.”

The light rail line is the latest in what Genn called a national demand for more convenient public transportation as more people are migrating to downtowns and embracing urban living. Continue reading

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A Last Look At Public Transit And America’s Mega-Regions

Today, we finish our look into how the country’s “Megalopolises” are connected. An Atlantic City Lab article by Richard Florida in March defined a dozen areas in the United States as economic hubs that contain more 70 percent of the U.S. population and produce more than $13 trillion in economic output.

Over the past two days, we’ve looked at the eight largest regions and how they are connected (view our first post here, and post two here).

Hou-Orleans: This megalopolis spreads from Houston, Texas through New Orleans all the way to Mobile, Ala. Florida writes that this area houses 10 million people who produce $750 billion dollars in economic output. Travel options between this southern region include Amtrak’s Sunset Limited line, and Megabus that began service in the region in 2012.

Courtesy of Amtrak.com

Courtesy of Amtrak.com

The Cascadia: A megalopolis that stretches as far south as Portland, Ore. and as far north as Vancouver, Canada. More than 10 million people live in this region, which also includes the Seattle metro and is responsible for $600 billion in output, according to Florida.

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Public Transportation And America’s “Megalopolises”

In March, The Atlantic‘s City Lab, took a look into the power house economies of the so-called “megalopolises” of the United States. Author Richard Florida found that there were a dozen of the world’s 40 “mega-regions” here in America.

From the contiguous stretch of urban sprawl in New England, Florida named the Bos-Wash region, to the Pacific Northwest he called “Cascadia,” these dozen areas are the economic and population hubs of the country. According to Florida, “these dozen regions have a combined population of more than 230 million people, including 215 million from the United States, or 70 percent of the U.S. population.”

mega regions population

Courtesy of City Lab

Many of these areas have various forms of public transportation, some well known and extremely popular, while others are continuing to face the needs and challenges associated with creating a successful network of transportation.

Beginning today, and over the weekend,  we’ll take a look at how each of these regions are connected.

Bos-Wash: By far the largest population and economic output region on Florida’s list, Bos-Wash “stretches from Boston through New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore to Washington, D.C.” and is home to 56.5 million people. This densely populated part of the country has long had public transportation systems and in all shapes and sizes. Continue reading

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World Urban Forum Focuses On Improving City Design

Image via unhadb.org

Image via unhadb.org

The upcoming World Urban Forum, the largest, most diverse conference dedicated to cities, will address how urban design can create equitable, sustainable and livable cities for all residents.

In preparation for the event, which opened Saturday in Medellin, Colombia, and runs through Friday, some of the leaders of the World Resources Institute and EMBARQ, its sustainable transport and urban development initiative, discussed the challenges cities are facing and how they are overcoming them.

Cities bring a wealth of challenges, according to Manish Bapna, executive vice president of WRI, which has offices based in China, India, Brazil and the United States. Poverty is rampant and the urban poor often lack access to basic services, such as public transportation. Although cities currently account for 80 percent of the global GDP, they are also responsible for 75 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and 1.3 million people die prematurely due to urban air pollution every year.

“The spatial layout of a city has such a strong bearing on whether or not people remain segregated from public services,” Bapna said. “It is crucial to get the design right at the outset.”

EMBARQ, which has offices in Washington, D.C., Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, China and India, works with governments around the world to develop better access (mobility) and urban design by creating examples and working with legislators to improve finance and policy to make the projects possible.

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Which U.S. City Is Really The Best For Getting Around? Hint: Not LA

Detroit doesn't always show up on Best Cities lists. But it does on one of these.

Detroit doesn’t always show up on Best Cities lists. But it does on one of these.

It seems like every other day there’s a new “top cities” list. There are the top cities for foodies, the happiest cities, the best cities for families, and even the weirdest cities. And of course, we care most about the best cities for transit — walking, biking, public transportation, and traffic flow.

While it’s hard to compare lists, we thought it might be useful to see if there are any notable similarities or differences on these “best cities” lists.

Here are five lists from the past few years. Let’s see how they compare.

Livability’s Top 10 Best Downtowns
Livability ranks America’s best places to live, work and visit, based on a wide array of criteria. This particular list, created in 2014, looks at cities; downtowns, based on population growth, the ratio of residents to jobs, income growth, home vacancy rates, affordability of housing, and the vacancy rates of retail and office spaces. We like this list because it is includes some lesser-known cities in lieu of the major U.S. cities seen on most lists.

  1. Fort Worth, Texas
  2. Providence, R.I.
  3. Indianapolis
  4. Provo, Utah
  5. Alexandria, Va.
  6. Frederick, Md.
  7. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  8. Bellingham, Wash.
  9. Eugene, Ore.
  10. Birmingham, Ala.

Top 10 Best American Downtowns, ranked by Top Tenz
Top Tenz, a site solely dedicated to top 10 lists, included the usual favorites in this list from 2012. But this list deviates from the norm with its inclusion of Detroit and Milwaukee, both of which appear do not appear on any of the other lists we looked at for this post.

Detroit in particular is a noteworthy choice — it seems to wind up on more “worst cities” lists than those that rank the best. But Top Tenz calls Detroit’s downtown “one of the most architecturally impressive in the country” and notes that the city has been revitalized in the recent years following intensive development.

  1. New York City
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Chicago
  4. San Francisco
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Miami
  7. Boston
  8. Seattle
  9. Detroit
  10. Milwaukee

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Could Paris’ Battle Against Smog Spread To Other Cities?

The Eiffel Tower, before and after the Paris smog. Photo via StrangeSounds.org

The Eiffel Tower, before and after the Paris smog. Photo via StrangeSounds.org

By Adam Rubenfire

Dangerously high pollution levels this past week prompted officials in Paris to take some drastic measures to curb the city’s smog problem.

The most radical measure came Monday. About half of the city’s cars were forced off Parisian streets when the French government announced that vehicles with even-numbered license plates would not be allowed to drive within the limits of the city or its suburbs.

Taxis, carpools, and commercial electric or hybrid vehicles were exceptions to the rule, which, combined with favorable weather conditions, appeared to alleviate the smog that consumed the Paris skyline, according to the BBC.

Although thousands of individuals faced ticketing for violating the ban — some less cooperative motorists even had their cars impounded — there was an upside for commuting Parisians. All forms of public transit were free of charge from Friday through Tuesday.

The 100 percent discount on fares cost the region four million Euros a day ($5.5 million), according to online publication The Local.

Loosening the turnstiles and taking automobiles off the roads may seem extreme, but car free streets are the norm in some communities around the globe.

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5 Things On A City’s Shopping List For a New Transit System

A preliminary design for public transit in Ottawa. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

A preliminary design for public transit in Ottawa. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

The Marine Gateway development in Vancouver. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

The Marine Gateway development in Vancouver. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

Broadway and Commercial station in East Vancouver. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

Broadway and Commercial station in East Vancouver. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

A study for Vancouver's Cambie Corridor. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

A study for Vancouver’s Cambie Corridor. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

The Brentwood Skytrain station in Vancouver. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

The Brentwood Skytrain station in Vancouver. Image: courtesy Perkins+Will

By Matthew Varcak

Jeff Doble is playing a key role in the future of one of the world’s most dynamic cities, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is designing the new Riyadh Metro System and Bus Rapid Transit System — the largest transit system in the world to be designed and built at one time.

He talked about the priorities that cities set down in creating their new systems.

1) Iconic design. Doble says that the goal is to design structures which residents will recognize. Branding becomes important for cities establishing a transit system where there previously was none, according to Doble.

2) An easy ride. Clients also strive to create the best passenger experience. This means riders must feel safe and have clear signage and way finding.

3) A good fit. Another important factor is how the transit system is integrated into the community. “It must respond to and respect the community,” Doble said. Continue reading

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Inside The Future Of Public Transit Design

A study for the Olayya Batha Corridor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image: courtesy of Perkins+Will.

A study for the Olayya Batha Corridor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image: courtesy of Perkins+Will.

By Matthew Varcak

A public transit system does more than just get people from point A to point B.

“Cities can be defined by transit systems,” said Jeff Doble, director of transportation design for the Vancouver office of Perkins+Will. “A station’s design affects the whole community. It affects future development.”

Doble is playing a key role in the future of one of the world’s most dynamic cities, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He and his team recently completed the preliminary design of the new Riyadh Metro System and Bus Rapid Transit System — the largest transit system in the world to be designed and built at one time.

“The goal is to get an oil rich population out of cars and into public transit,” Doble said. In order to convince them to do this, mass transit must be more comfortable, convenient, and a high quality experience for passengers.

But designing such systems is an everyday event for his company. A global architecture and design firm for everything from the aviation to the transit industry, Perkins+Will currently has projects under way all over the world.

Among other projects, Doble’s work has him developing stations for the Evergreen Line in Vancouver, British Columbia, and for the elevated rail line on Oahu, Hawaii, which we spotlighted in an earlier article. Continue reading

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Riding The Bus, The Subway, The Streetcar: U.S. Transit Use At Its Highest Since 1956

Streetcar1By Micheline Maynard

During the past year, American gasoline prices dropped and more people went back to work. But they also did something else: jump on public transportation.

More people rode public transit in the United States last year than at any time since 1956, according to a new report from the American Public Transportation Association.

Some 10.65 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems during the year, which is up 1.1 percent from 2012. That surpassed the most recent peak of 10.59 billion in 2008. It’s the eighth year in a row that Americans took more than 10 billion transit trips.

Moreover, public transit growth over the past two decades has risen 37.5 percent, outpacing population growth, which was up 20 percent from 1995 to 2013.

There’s a ton of great data in the report, and we’ll be breaking it out for you over the next few days. Meanwhile, did you use public transit in 2013? Did you use it for the first time? Let us know your transit stories.

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