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Daniel Sparing
Delft, The Netherlands
researcher in sustainable transport and urban planning
Interests: railways, cycling, urban design
Recent Activity
Jarrett, you might be interested, the software company behind the timetable planners of the majority of European railway companies has just came out with a product for transit travel time for real estate. http://www.hacon.de/blog-en/immobiliensuche-mit-hafas
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I wouldn't agree that cycling is polarizing everywhere: just like transit users get stigmatized when they are few (as being poor), same happens with cycling. Once it has a decent share (i.e. the better half of Europe), the stigma is easily gone. The main problem here I see as someone working both in transit and cycling, is what people want might not be an indicator of what mode they choose. -- If you provide convenient public transport / cycling infrastructure to people, they'll use them (even if they have no emotions for them) because of the convenience. This doesn't mean that before that they were dreaming of bus lanes or cycling infrastructure.
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@dean: Bikes on buses might make sense for longer (regional and intercity) or mountainous bus routes where trains are not available. And the US intercity rail network is also not famous for its attractiveness. After all, Jarrett often argues that buses can offer virtually the same transport service as rail, except for very high capacity. Well, if a long distance service is provided by a bus instead of a rail link, it might need bicycle transport provision.
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Sam, I had similar tough experience with controllers in Switzerland. It is better than driver control, though, because you only need to experience it once every few months, not all the time.
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Technically speaking, you could transport more bikes, e.g. five bikes at the rear of a Swiss Postbus: http://www.schweizmobil.org/web/dms/schweizmobil/downloads/public/SchweizMobil/05_Medien/01_SchweizMobil/06_OeV_und_SchweizMobil/Postauto_Velo.jpg or a whole bike trailer in Germany, slides 18-20: http://www.srl.de/dateien/dokumente/de/transportation_of_bicycles_in_public_transport_vehicles_in_the_oberelbe_area_additional_benefit_and_cases_of_conflict_engl._.pdf I agree, however, that bikes should be kept out of urban buses with frequent stops. Bike parking and bike sharing/rental is the solution. These bike racks are rather for regional/intercity buses.
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Jarrett, maybe this an acceptable place to mention that I recently finished the book which was an excellent read and will remain a useful handbook, just as I expected based on this blog. About being neutral, you are being tricky and you know that. You offer well-defined choices to the policymakers/readers, such as high frequency vs. complexity etc. etc., but finally, in the last chapter, you reveal which of each choice pair are characteristics of World class, high ridership transit systems. -- As a transit advocate, one would thus really have a preference in these questions, but it is a smart tactic of yours to make the client articulate these choices.
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If you want to make the POP (also called the Honor system) work, you'll also have to make sure that the inspectors have some authority, e.g. the police helping them or themselves being in a similar legal category. The situation improved substantially in Budapest when certain types of police officers started to accompany inspectors, as one cannot refuse to hand over their ID to an official authority. Otherwise, theoretically, you can do the inspections as rarely as you want, as long as the fine is high enough to make fare evasion not worth it. Useless trivia: In some Amsterdam trams, one-way doors are used and you need to pass by the driver, or the conductor, at boarding.
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I only know one for trams, so I am afraid that doesn't count :( http://goo.gl/maps/0RYx (there is also an island tram stop in Zürich) Furthermore, Bogotá Transmilenios don't have doors on two sides--they only have doors on the left :)
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Something I'd look at is the amount of transferring (connecting ;) ) passengers vs. passengers with origin/destination in a given city. There are two distinct effects we are talking about: - as the city grows, it will gain more name and also it will make more and more sense to fly there, whether for leisure of business, and this growth can be bigger than population growth - a big city, and its big airport has a higher chance that an airline decides to use its airport as a hub, which brings loads of transferring passengers and airport (and tax) revenue, however, these people will not visit the city itself. So while both phenomena happen, it can very well be that one city has a predominantly transit airport (Frankfurt, Atlanta, Munich, Singapore) while another city fails to create a dominant airline hub but still has large traffic of its own (Brussels, Barcelona). I am not sure if my examples are the best ones but you get the point.
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I really do not understand this quote on at least two levels. 1. "accurate transport pricing is mode-neutral in that it neither discriminates against nor favours any transport mode, although it does favour high-value vehicles, such as buses and emergency vehicles" - are externalities included in the model? if yes, no need to (further) favor buses as the externality calculation already does, while if no, then we really have to prioritize everything which is not a car. 2. "Some workplaces, for example, may allow their employees to work flexible hours in order to reduce their transport costs." - what does this have to do with accurate pricing? even in a city with catastrophic transport policies (and hence congestion in rush hour), it would help a lot if one could commute in flexible hours.
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"Demand-responsive pricing encourages drivers to park in underused areas and garages, reducing demand in overused areas." I thought it should rather encourage travelers to think twice using the car, reducing road traffic. Maybe that too. From Europe, it is fascinating to me that on one hand, the US is in love with free market (so a subsidized cycling or transit investment sounds like communism, even if those subsidies are justified because of positive externalities), _except_ that roads and parking should be provided by the government and for free. That is a big exception isn't it?
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Jarrett, multiplying train performance by ridership is a step in the right direction but not enough: you have to model missed transfers too. If a train is late but the passenger still catches the connection, it might be 0 passenger minutes delay - whereas if a 30 minute headway connection is missed because of only 8 minute delay then this is in fact a 37 minute passenger delay! It is not that easy, after all :) Btw "on time" means a different positive number for different countries. 3 minutes in Copenhagen, 5 minutes in the Netherlands, 6 minutes in Belgium and Sweden, 2-3-5 minutes in Switzerland. Without considering this, it is hard to compare.
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The horizontal wheels are also rubber, plus the vertical steel guidance wheels (standard rail) as mentioned.
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2010 on paris: the new old métro line 1 at Human Transit
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"if [the railings] were used for opposite directions of traffic (at intermediate stops where both directions exist) this situation would move a little better." Are you sure? After all, in case of symmetric boarding/alighting, the time needed is exactly the same, except it is easier to board the bus when there are the fewest people (i.e. all have alighted). And - as you mentioned - it wouldn't be beneficial for asymmetric stops.
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The bus strip map is a fantastic idea: every bus route map is continuously distorted (so the angles are correct at every given location) so that the route map fits into a reasonably narrow stripe. (Of course the North-South orientation you lose.) The most obvious connection you didn't explicitly mention: the bus, tram (and metro) share the same coloring and was shared with the previous shared bikes too before the Vélib'. Now it is harder to sell a unified system if all buses and trams are painted to the colors of the subcontractors.
Toggle Commented Aug 7, 2010 on paris: converging vehicles at Human Transit
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Leidsestraat is beautiful. I have followed your previous arguments that in many cases buses can be more efficient than light rail but this street is a very good example for something where a tram is needed :) It would be much less pleasant to have buses with less defined right-of-way, vehicle emissions and lower capacity on this shopping street. Cycling is not allowed on Leidsestraat but I agree that "cyclists [...] using common sense but not observing traffic laws" and I think that is perfect. One last trivia about Leidsestraat (as someone already mentioned the interlaced track): These stops are the bottlenecks for tram length in Amsterdam, and this is why the Combinos have second and fourth sections of different length (and door number).
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There are of course advantages and disadvantages to privatizing operators -- an advantage should be sensible business thinking which would not allow this. It should be. An interesting, borderline case was a self-advertising sign on a Göteborg tram: "would you like a guaranteed seat? Apply to be a tram driver!"
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There are some mid-sized cities which work pretty well on having cross-border services, like the three countries around Maastricht, or Strasbourg and the German side, or the Austrian state of Voralberg joining a rail link between Switzerland and München. But it is true that the giant European cities often ended up in central geographic position, and this is even true for the Netherlands where not one but many cities are in the centre. Another example is the multiple-decade struggle in Geneva to build a suburban rail network to the cheaper French areas all around the city.
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Bus stop spacing is very wide here, I agree, that is exactly the surprising and new idea here (besides that the lines are grid-like in the centre and radial outside). This might not be a mistake, though, if these bus stops and routes complement the current subways. Note that this might mean both bus stops _at_ the subway stations (offering connections) and bus stops _far away_ from metro stations (offering new coverage).
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@M1EK: Barcelona is building two subway lines at the moment (besides having an already extensive service) while buses feed subway lines, so you are not necessarily right. Which proposed subway line would these buses compete with then?
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Very true post. Also, I wouldn't like rich people driving automated cars either, as this pretty much sounds like 1. rich people killing cyclists and pedestrians just because they can, or 2. rich people building elevated structures from public money in our cities, or 3. both. The false vision of green and/or automated cars is clearly a huge disruption in designing cities with high quality public transport and walking/cycling infrastructure.
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It might be just me, but I find it surprising that many of you consider perfect grids easy to navigate. To me, they are pretty much an opposite, as looking around, I could be anywhere in the grid - at least that's how i felt in Barcelona, the European city with grids. You have a lot more patterns than just grids, even if you want to make it easy to remember: look at the circular shape of many European cities, for example (Amsterdam, Budapest, etc.) The radial roads look more like desire lanes to me than a grid. Of course, light rail could use fairly straight streets, i.e. curves with large radii, but not necessarily kilometers (sorry, miles) of straight road.
Toggle Commented Jun 29, 2010 on on standard street grids at Human Transit
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I'd prefer (or at least mention) the similar: http://swisstrains.ch/
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In fact, in Holland, often these raised crosswalks are not even crosswalks, just part of the sidewalk: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spag85/tags/priorityintersection And the blind need no special signal that they are crossing a road, if in fact their priority is guaranteed. The cars basically need to drive up to the sidewalk.
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And to answer the last question: I guess, because the vertical clearance for people is much less, than for trains incl. catenary. Another reason, if trains run on elevated track (like in many Dutch cities), the tunnel is on street level, so it means less vertical movement. But otherwise let's go for the overpass. Like in Basel, another example. http://www.flickr.com/photos/willemstreinen/3106672591/
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