Speaking of improvements…

A couple of months ago, Bus Nerd sent me his initial list of criteria for an ideal transit system. I’m just now getting around to reading it (hey–he doesn’t read my e-mail either), and I likes. Most of his suggestions are intentionally mode-agnostic, which I especially like. At this stage, there’s no sense getting distracted by the how.

1. It would be optimized for high-density areas – every part of a high-density area would be within a 5 minute walk of a transit stop.
2. High frequency visits at each stop – every 5 minutes in high-density areas, every 10 minutes on routes between cities.
3. Routes would run fairly late – in high-density areas they would run at least until midnight.
4. The system would be usable even by first-time visitors with quick inspection of a language-independent system map.
5. Routes would be unaffected by non-mass-transit traffic.
6. Transit vehicles would have no impact on the surface – high-density areas could reserve streets for security/delivery vehicles.
7. Every stop would have displays indicating next arrival times of routes and all their destinations.
8. Every stop would have a terminal that would generate an itinerary given a start and destination and optionally send it to your mobile device.
9. Mobile devices could access real-time views of the system for free and request itineraries and other trip-related information.
10. Transit hubs and crossings could lease land around stops to businesses in order to generate revenue and create convenience for riders.
11. The transit stops/system would be dry, temperate, and in general unaffected by weather conditions.
12. Every stop would be well-lit and have security mechanisms.
13. Fares would either be free or very low in cost and could be paid through a passive technology such as RFID.
14. Vehicles would provide overhead storage for large bags.
15. Routes to airports or other long-distance travel ports would have space for luggage.
16. Vehicles could accommodate 10% of the riders having personal transit vehicles such as bicycles.
17. Vehicles maximum speed would be limited only by the safety limits of the vehicle technology and not the flow of unpredictable traffic.
18. All major streets would have routes serving them.
19. The transit system would either use renewable energy or a more generic form of energy such as electricity that could be derived from solar and other renewable sources.
20. The transit system would produce very little or no atmospheric pollutants.
21. The transit system would be able to generate revenue from advertising and lease of real estate to businesses.

Some of this stuff Metro and Sound Transit have or are working toward. Some is dependent on major infrastructure changes, a few of which the city is slowly implementing. Still, we’re a long way from Bus Nerd’s vision, which I happen to think is pretty good. I can hardly think of anything to add–except a couple more that are infrastructure related:

22) Cities would severely restrict and/or heavily tax car use in areas that are served by transit.
23) Cities would control residential and commercial growth–allowing little development outside high-density areas and allowing new development only if it meets certain criteria and is supported by additional transit infrastructure.

Now, your turn. Assume the political climate and funding are there. What’s your ideal transit system?