Posts about New York
Every time it snows, vast sections of city streets remain covered by snow long after plows and moving cars have cleared the travel lanes. These leftover spaces are called "sneckdowns," and they show where sidewalks or medians could replace roads without any loss to car drivers.
Next time it snows here, be on the lookout.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
WMATA is considering raising bus fares, with the justification that they're lower than in other cities. But somehow every time this topic comes up, people forget that there's a big difference between our bus fares and other cities': riders transferring between bus and rail pay a lot more.
The agency recently put out a survey which, among other things, asked riders what they thought about various options for a fare increase. For Metrobus, the survey asked about raising the bus fare from the current $1.60 to $1.75 or $1.85:
Passenger fares cover about 30 cents out of every dollar of the cost of providing Metrobus service. The current Metrobus fare is $1.60 for SmarTrip® and $1.80 for cash. Metrobus fares are relatively low compared to other major metropolitan areas around the country:
STANDARD BUS FARES:That makes it look like our bus fares are relatively cheap, right? Maybe compared to those cities if you're just riding the bus. But a lot of people don't just ride the bus. They take a bus from home to a Metrorail station and then ride the train, and back again in the evening. Or a bus to a train to another bus.
San Francisco & Chicago $2.00 Philadelphia $2.25 New York City & Atlanta $2.50
Many buses, in fact, don't go downtown at all. They end at a Metrorail station. When Metro opened, the agency cut back many of the buses so they just fed the rail system. The same is going to happen around Tysons when the Silver Line opens (or even before).
Therefore, to really compare fares, we have to look at the fares for a rail and bus trip. Since our rail system has variable fares, it's more complex to compute the bus-to-rail fare, so for simplicity let's look at the rail-to-bus fare, assuming you've already paid for a rail trip from some other location.
|City & |
|Bus fare (w/card)1||Bus fare after rail||Bus fare after other rail||Rail+bus pass?||Inter-agency rail+bus pass?|
|Washington (WMATA)||$1.60||$1.10||Full fare from MARC/VRE||No||Yes|
|Philadelphia (SEPTA)||$2.25||$1.00||$1.65 from PATCO2||Yes||No|
|$1.50||35¢/$1.503||No other rail||Yes||No|
|$2.00||25¢||Full fare from Metra||Yes||Yes|
|New York (NYCT)||$2.504||FREE||Full fare||Yes||No|
|Atlanta (MARTA)||$2.50||FREE||No other rail||Yes||N/A|
|San Francisco (MUNI)||$2.00||FREE||$1.75 from BART||Yes||Yes|
|$1.50||FREE||Full fare from commuter rail||Yes|
If you look at the 2nd column here, among these cities listed in the WMATA survey, taking the bus after a rail trip costs more here than in any of those cities. Three, New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta all have a flat fare for a trip throughout the city, no matter whether it's on one train, one bus, or a combination (though in San Francisco, that's just MUNI light rail, not BART).
We're not necessarily the worst. If you ignore SF Muni's light rail for a moment, the San Francisco Bay Area has a regional rapid transit system (BART) that's very similar to the Metro, and both its base bus fare and transfers between BART and buses are more expensive. Los Angeles has no transfer discount at all between LA Metro bus lines, but its base bus fare (and rail fare, for its limited rail system) is much lower, so many riders are paying less there.
Don't forget passes
In addition, all of the listed cities have combined passes that offer rail and bus trips for a discount. Large numbers of commuters in these cities don't pay every time they ride the bus or train; instead, they subscribe to a weekly or monthly pass and get their transit free. WMATA has a bus pass that a lot of people use, but nothing for rail and bus users. WMATA has, in fact, has been very stingy about passes overall.
Many cities have inter-agency passes, such as Chicago, where you can get a pass for Metra commuter rail and also the L or bus in the city. MARC and VRE also offer passes for their tickets as well as Metro rail or bus; in fact, you pay less to add unlimited Metrorail and Metrobus to a monthly MARC or VRE ticket ($108) than to get an unlimited Metrorail "short trip" pass for 28 days ($140) which offers free rides up to $3.50 but no bus rides.
WMATA could certainly move to a system like other cities' where most people subscribe to transit rather than paying each time. It has a lot of advantages, like blunting the fare loss when there's a big storm, a federal government shutdown, or just the holidays. But every time the issue comes up, finance staff say they're nervous about the relatively unknowable financial impact of the change. (They also say that they need to wait for the next generation of fare systems).
That's in large part because discussions about changing fares only arise around a fare hike. If costs have risen a certain amount, then the agency needs to raise a certain amount more money, not revamp the fare system. But we never have the discussion during the off years, either.
Should bus fares go up?
Maybe bus fares need to change (or maybe not), but this survey is pushing the idea through remarkably misleading statistics. If the proposal is to raise the bus fare but at the same time make transfers cheaper, that is certainly an option. To compare the base WMATA bus fare to the one in other cities without any mention of the transfers or passes, however, does not give riders a fair picture.
American bikesharing boomed in 2013 like never before. Led by huge new systems in New York and Chicago, the total number of bikesharing stations in the US more than doubled, from 835 at the end of 2012 to 1,925 in 2013.
After three straight years at the top of the chart, Washington's Capital Bikeshare slipped to second place. CaBi's 305 stations barely edge out Chicago's 300, but are behind New York's 330. Those three cities make up a clear first tier nationwide, with no other systems cracking 200 stations.
At this point, it's fair to say we're no longer in the pioneering period. Any city that still doesn't have bikesharing is beginning to fall behind.
It's not just the big coastal cities where bikesharing is becoming popular. There are some unexpected hotspots, where groups of nearby cities have independently launched small systems. Four Texas cities have bikesharing, plus two more in Oklahoma. Small systems are also popular in the Southeast, with 6 systems in close proximity in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee.
Oddly, the only area of the country that seems particularly underrepresented is the West Coast. San Francisco's Bay Area Bikeshare finally became the first large West Coast system this year, but it's still the only one. Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles continue to lag.
Here's the complete list. New systems in 2013 are in bold. Previous years are available for comparison.
|Rank||City||2012 Stations||2013 Stations|
|8||San Francisco (regional)||0||67|
|15||Ft Lauderdale (regional)||25||25|
|19||Long Beach, NY||12||13|
|20(t)||Salt Lake City||0||12|
|24(t)||Washington State Univ (Pullman, WA)||9||9|
|24(t)||Georgia Tech ||9||9|
|27(t)||George Mason Univ (Fairfax, VA)||4||7|
|31(t)||California Univ - Irvine (Irvine, CA)||4||4|
|31(t)||Univ of Buffalo (Buffalo, NY)||0||4|
|36(t)||Stony Brook Univ (Stony Brook, NY)||0||3|
|38(t)||Roseburg VA Hospital (Roseburg, OR)||0||2|
Notes: Systems covering multiple jurisdictions are counted either together or separately depending on how they choose to represent themselves. Thus Bay Area Bikeshare is counted as a single system, while Denver B-Cycle and Boulder B-Cycle are counted separately.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Washington's Metro subway map, with its thick lines and bullseye transfer stations, is iconic. What would New York's subway map look like in Metro style? Chris Whong shows us.
Whong redrew the Manhattan and Bronx part of the map with the 45° angles, station symbols, and simplified diagrammatic design of the Metro map. The many lines take up a fair amount of space, which is one reason New York doesn't actually make a map this way. But it's actually quite readable.
In fact, New York has had diagrammatic maps in the past, particularly the famous Massimo Vignelli map New York used from 1972-1979, which confined lines to 45° and also eschewed a lot of other information like the street grid, which is part of the current NYC map.
Whong's full map is below:
We know that most elected officials are very concerned about people talking on airplanes but aren't willing to do much about distracted, reckless, and just speeding drivers who kill people on US roads every day. Can advertising persuade these drivers to be safe?
New York's DOT created a series of ads that highlight the tragedy and loss that comes after a moment of inattention or the rush to get somewhere faster claims a life.
Meanwhile, here in DC, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) put together this 3-minute video about the dangers of speeding, featuring MPD chief Cathy Lanier, DDOT head Terry Bellamy, and others.
Former GGW contributor Stephen Miller hopes that New York's next police commissioner, former commissioner Bill Bratton, will show the same level of concern about speeding that Lanier and others at MPD seem to.
Perhaps what we need is DC officials' attitudes coupled with New York's ad-making prowess. The regional Street Smart campaign, which runs ads each spring, has recently garnered more mixed reviews or outright derision.
What kinds of ads do you think are most effective?
This map shows every Amtrak, commuter rail, metro, light rail, and tourist rail line from Maine to North Carolina, to scale.
It comes from NortheastRailMap.com, and you can even download it in a fully-editable Adobe Illustrator format.
Cross-posted to BeyondDC.
Changes to our urban landscape can seem daunting at times. But reader thm points us to this TED talk in which New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan shows how New York quickly and cheaply changed its streets, sometimes with only some paint, to improve the experience for all users.
Some of these changes we already have here, such as bike sharing and parking-protected bike lanes. Others, like BRT, are in the planning stages. But are there places in the DC area that could benefit from conversion into a pedestrian plaza?
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- Why build protected bike lanes, in one happy quote
- Protected bike lanes could fit in DC's traffic circles; here's how