Monday, May 12, 2014 transportation reads:
Jarrett Walker shows what a re-imagined bus service looks like, in Houston. Lots of lessons here for US cities, especially those west of the Mississippi. Highly recommended for any of you that are transit wonks.
Dan Malouff notices bike "fix-it" stations popping up in DC. I've also noticed one here in Savannah outside the downtown Kroger. Another small step to make biking easy and fun.
Jordana Timerman writes about informal vs formal bus service in Lima, Peru. I find this whole story to be a cautionary tale.
I've often wondered - what would happen if a US city just eliminated it's transit agency? I'm not thinking of Chicago or New York or a city with a large system, but a mid-sized city that relies almost exclusively on buses. What would spring up in its place? Obviously demand would still exist, and some ability to pay would still exist as well. This is a key quote from the piece:
Yet the informal system has important strengths that should not be overlooked. Ask a researcher who studies transportation in Lima, and they'll tell you the current ad hoc bus and taxi services provide round-the-clock, cheap transportation with extensive territorial coverage. Lima's web of small minivans and motorcycles play an important role for Peru’s poorest classes, allowing access even from distant settlements around the city and fueling the metro area's exponential growth over the past few decades.
Again, I don't think this could be done everywhere, and the US is not South America. But, this idea holds great interest to me. The informal bus networks I've experienced in Latin America work very well, and have frequent service that's largely easy to understand. I can't often say the same thing (in fact very rarely say it) about more formal systems in the US.
Walker's piece above represents the best hope for American transit agencies - a way to truly maximize and improve a centralized, formal service. But the Lima piece provides a fascinating counterpoint, and should give all transit advocates pause about "common wisdom" in regards to how we provide bus service.