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Posts from the ‘Public Transport’ Category

Free public transport is an attractive idea. But would it solve our traffic woes?

ABC, 18 March, 2019

The promise of free public transport is an enticing one: fewer cars, less congestion, less pollution.

And a greater sense of community, says Judith Dellheim from Berlin’s Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. “It could make the cities more human and more attractive,” she says. Dr Dellheim sees free public transport as a human right, not just a public good. “This is a valid democratic issue because public transport brings people of very different social groups together, it improves the social climate,” she says.

But do the promises stack up? And would free fares really persuade people to embrace public transport?

All eyes on Luxembourg

While most cities offer various concessions for public transport, no major urban centre has opted to do away with ticketing. The exception is Luxembourg, which will abolish all fares from next month.

The European city-state is tiny, with just over 600,000 residents, but its decision has drawn huge international interest.

“It’s possibly the first example of an entire region, in this case a city-state, making public transport universally free,” says public transport advocate Tony Morton. “There have been experiments in the past where various cities have introduced free public transport in their central areas. They’ve introduced systems where maybe the city buses are free, but the trains aren’t. “Or they’ve made public transport free for registered residents, but not necessarily for visitors. Luxembourg is the first example at scale.”

The Estonian experience

How successful the policy change will be won’t be known for at least a couple of years, but it is possible to make an assessment based on the experience of others.

In 2013, the Estonian capital Tallinn opted to abolish transport fares for all registered city inhabitants, but not for tourists and other non-residents. The move was politically popular but the results were mixed, according to Oded Cats from the Delft University of Technology.

Dr Cats, who spent several years evaluating the initiative, says there was only a moderate lift in public transport patronage, with no corresponding decrease in car use or traffic congestion. “People that already used public transport used it more frequently, as well as people shifting from walking and cycling to using public transport for short trips, which is, of course, not a desirable effect,” he says.

While the policy has been socially beneficial for the unemployed and people on low incomes, Dr Cats says the same level of assistance could have been provided through targeted concessions. And he predicts Luxembourg’s transport authorities will have a hard time persuading people to give up their private vehicles. “About half the people working in Luxembourg commute from neighbouring countries. Many people will have to still use legs of a trip which extend beyond Luxembourg, meaning that the trip is not completely free,” he says. Existing workplace incentives, like employer-guaranteed parking spaces, will also make eliminating private vehicle use difficult, he says.

Service trumps price for transport users

Mr Morton, who is the president of Melbourne’s Public Transport Users Association, is also sceptical about the Luxembourg experiment, and about the broader notion that ticket pricing is the main barrier to increased public transport usage.

“We’ve tended to argue that public transport needs to be cheap, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be free,” he says.He says scrapping fares won’t persuade people to embrace a service which they experience as deficient or poorly run. “We haven’t really made public transport a viable, attractive mode of travel for people living in the suburbs of our capital cities,” he says. “The question of how much it costs to get on the bus or on the train is not even relevant because that bus or train service doesn’t exist where they are.”

Transport economist Ansgar Wohlschlegel warns the introduction of free public transport could have perverse results if it isn’t paired with complementary measures aimed at driving down car ownership.”Once people start moving from car driving to using public transport, then the roads get less congested, therefore car driving becomes more attractive again, and therefore new people may start using the car to drive into the city because now the roads are clearer,” he says.

And that, says Dr Wohlschlegel, could ultimately result in the worst of all outcomes: increased public transport demand, coupled with an eventual increase in car traffic.

Dr Cats agrees. What’s most important, he says, is making car use more expensive during those parts of the day associated with congestion. “That has to do with parking fees; in city centres it has to do with congestion charging, with fuel taxes — unpopular measures, of course, but those are the most effective measures for reducing congestion,” he explains. “Secondly, improving the quality of public transport, specifically at those times of the day in those areas, and building very strong, high-capacity urban rail systems.”

Adjusting for the peaks and spreading demand

For international transport consultant Jarrett Walker, demand-responsive pricing is fundamental to the efficient movement of commuters in already congested cities. “Public transport agencies need to encourage people to travel outside rush hour if they can, because service at rush hour is very expensive, and outside of rush hour you have surplus capacity,” he says.

Fares, he says, are a simple and effective means of limiting rush-hour movements. But he argues for greater flexibility in non-peak times. Mr Walker says making travel free during those periods could help spread demand more evenly and have a positive social impact, particularly for those on low incomes. “They are more likely to be travelling all over the clock, and they are least likely to be travelling into the city in the morning and out of the city in the afternoon,” he says. “It’s the difference between having a job in a bank and having a job at Hungry Jack’s or at McDonald’s, or something like that, where you are coming and going all over the clock.”

When a technology ‘cure’ becomes part of the problem

Mr Walker is also sceptical about the role ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft can play in dealing with urban congestion. App-based car-hire companies often market themselves as an answer to traffic congestion and as a complement to public transport. But Mr Walker says the full picture is far less optimistic. “If a new ride-sharing solution gets two or three people in a little vehicle, that’s better than those three people driving cars. But it’s worse than those three people riding the bus or train.”

And new research from the University of Kentucky suggests a correlation between the rise of ride-hailing services and a decline in public transport patronage in the United States.

Transport engineer Gregory Erhardt surveyed publicly available transport data in 22 metropolitan areas. “There have been theoretical arguments saying that Uber and Lyft bring people to and from the rail stations,” he says.
“That perhaps they are concentrated at night, bringing people home from bars when transit doesn’t operate, and so forth. “What we found is that that’s not the case. In fact, they are operating often in the peak periods, they are operating in places where they are concentrated in the city centres, in the exact same places where public transit is viable.”

He estimates the effect on public transit has been significant. Over a six-year period, companies like Lyft and Uber, he says, can reduce heavy rail ridership in a city by as much as 7.5 per cent, and bus ridership by almost 10 per cent. And that means more, rather than less traffic. “But there is a clear benefit to the person in the car: they have this door-to-door experience that you don’t get in public transit,” Mr Erhardt adds.

Looking forward, Mr Morton argues we need a more realistic conversation about the cost of investing in better public transport, balanced against the enormous amounts of public money spent enlarging and extending road networks. “The stated motivation for not wanting to expand public transport and to boost its use is that public transport is a drain on public funds, whereas it is thought that roads somehow pay for themselves,” he says. “Now, roads do not pay for themselves. There’s actually quite a substantial public subsidy for the road transport system as well.”

For Dr Dellheim it all comes back to one thing. “When the whole of society is fixed on cars, then of course the whole life of the society, the whole economy of the society, is oriented on the car industry and car use,” she says. “So, it means that it’s necessary to rebuild the whole life of the society, to show the people that there are different possibilities, and then you see that there is a real desire to change the mode of life of the society.”

But whether free public transport is one way of doing that remains an arguable point.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-18/free-public-transport-do-promises-stack-up/10893288

Local business to help build next generation of Transperth buses

State Government Media Statement, 18 March 2019

• Malaga-based company, Volgren to fit-out 900 Transperth buses over next 10 years
• Volvo Bus Australia to supply engines and chassis for Transperth buses
• Partnership of Volvo/Volgren to keep bus body and interior manufacturing in Perth
• Jobs secured for about 160 workers throughout the supply chain
• Buses to service future METRONET train stations in coming years

The next generation of Transperth buses will hit local streets later this year, after the State Government entered into a new contract to deliver 900 new buses over the next decade.

The $549 million contract has been awarded to Volvo Australia which will use Malaga-based company, Volgren to fit-out the new fleet of buses. The new buses will replace those reaching the end of their useful life, and to expand the fleet as METRONET projects come on-line.

The modern, aluminium, low-floor diesel buses will have USB charging points, meet Euro6 emissions standards and will be fully accessible.

Volvo also outlined its potential to supply alternate technologies – including hybrid and full electric buses, which may be considered for trial by the Public Transport Authority in the future if such technologies are considered viable for Perth.

In partnership with local manufacturer Volgren, Volvo will deliver eight new buses a month for the next decade under the milestone agreement.

The bus chassis will be built at Volvo’s headquarters in Sweden, before being delivered to Volgren. The local manufacturer will then build the bus body and fit-out the vehicles to be ready for service.

The contract secures the jobs of 81 local Volgren employees, and a further 80 throughout the local supply chain. Under the new contract, Volgren also plan on increasing local fabrication and securing a local sub component manufacturer.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“METRONET is about more than just building train lines and major infrastructure, it’s also about ensuring public transport is an efficient and comfortable way to get around.

“This contract is an excellent example of local business working together with big players, combining WA suppliers and international expertise to create the best possible product for our local bus market, securing local jobs and opportunities.

“By delivering a modern, accessible fleet of buses, we’re ensuring the best network will be available to service this need as our city grows.”

Comments attributed to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:

“The 900 buses to be built by Volvo Australia and Volgren as part of this contract will be on our network for decades, which is why a trusted supplier is vital to the success of the fleet.

“The capacity to upgrade to new, greener technologies in the future – if such tech becomes competitive – is yet another way we’re futureproofing our transport network in WA.

“I hope to return to Volgren’s facility in Malaga to see the first locally manufactured bus roll off the assembly line later this year.”

Premier’s office – 6552 5000
Transport Minister’s office – 6552 5500

https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2019/03/Local-business-to-help-build-next-generation-of-Transperth-buses.aspx

Call that an EV? This is an EV… Volvo rolls out self-driving electric bus

Ecogeneration, 7 march 2019

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Volvo Buses have launched the world’s first full size, autonomous electric bus, a single-decker that can take close to 80 passengers. The bus is the first of two that have undergone preliminary rounds of testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles at NTU.

The bus requires 80% less energy than an equivalent-sized diesel bus and issues zero emissions, the company says. It will be tested on the NTU Smart Campus.

The NTU and Volvo partnership is part of the collaboration between the University and LTA under NTU’s living lab platform. The platform assesses technology maturity and road-worthiness, including the certification of technologies for deployment on public roads.

The bus comes with a Volvo Autonomous Research Platform software that is connected to key controls such as its navigation system, as well as multiple sensors.

This includes light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARS), stereo-vision cameras that capture images in 3D, and an advanced global navigation satellite system that uses real-time kinematics. This is like any global positioning system (GPS), but uses multiple data sources to give pin-point location accuracy of up to one centimetre.

The system is also hooked up to an “inertial management unit”, which acts like a two-in-one gyroscope and accelerometer, measuring the lateral and angular rate of the bus. This will improve its navigation when going over uneven terrain and around sharp bends, ensuring a smoother ride.

These sensors and GPS platforms will be managed by a comprehensive AI system that was developed by NTU researchers. It not only operates the various sensors and GPS systems on the bus, but also enables it to navigate autonomously through dense traffic and tropical weather conditions.

ABB will develop a smart fast-charging solution based on its OppCharge concept.

Offering a charge power of 300kW via a pantograph mounted on the infrastructure, the fast chargers will recharge a battery in just three to six minutes. This will enable charging during the layover times at the end of the bus route, without impacting normal operations.

“ABB is committed to pioneering technological innovations for a sustainable future. We are extremely excited to collaborate on such a landmark project which marks a positive step toward the electrification of public transport across the region and beyond,” said ABB president of electrification products Tarak Mehta.

Call that an EV? This is an EV… Volvo rolls out self-driving electric bus

Newcastle light-rail service in Australia begins operations

Railway technology, 20 February 20, 2019

The Newcastle light-rail service in the Australian state of New South Wales has started commercial operations.
The service is being operated by Keolis’ Australian subsidiary Keolis Downer on behalf of Transport for New South Wales.

Comprising six stations, the 2.7km-long tram network runs between Wickham and Pacific Park.
The service, which commenced a month ahead of schedule, will offer connectivity with the existing bus and ferry services.

Additionally, the line is catenary-free, involving no overhead wire installations across the route.

Before launching the light-rail service, Keolis Downer trained 14 drivers over four months in the testing phase to ensure smooth operations.

Six CAF-built trams exhibiting a fully accessible low floor design will run on the light-rail network. Each vehicle is designed to accommodate up to 270 passengers.

In December 2016, Keolis Downer received a multimodal transport contract in Newcastle. The scope of the contract included operations and maintenance of the entire transport network comprising light-rail, buses and ferries for ten years. Keolis Downer started operating the bus and ferry services from July 2017.

Keolis Group International CEO Bernard Tabary said: “We redesigned the bus and ferry network with efficient interchange hubs for light rail to encourage more people to use public transport.
“Thanks to light-rail, Newcastle’s transport network is truly multimodal and will make residents’ and visitors’ lives easier and the city even more enjoyable.”

Located north of Sydney, Newcastle has more than 360,000 residents.

Keolis is responsible for 25 tram networks across the world, including three networks that are to be launched soon.

Newcastle light-rail service in Australia begins operations

IA adds six rail initiatives to priority list

Rail Express, 15 February 2019

Infrastructure Australia’s newest Infrastructure Priority List has been welcomed by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), with six new or updated rail initiatives included.

Capacity on Victoria’s Cranbourne and Hurstbridge lines, port access at Melbourne, and connectivity on the Gold Coast and in Perth are all new aspects of the latest List, released on February 14. The List is compiled by Infrastructure Australia, arranging proposals into early-stage ‘Initiatives’, and ‘Projects’, whose business cases have been approved by Infrastructure Australia, thus recommending them for federal funding.

In all, the ARA counts 54 rail-related projects and initiatives among the 124 on the new list. “As Australia’s population grows, rail infrastructure will increasingly become the backbone to meet Australia’s growing passenger and freight needs,” ARA chief executive Danny Broad said. “To manage the challenges posed in our cities and regions in the long-term, Australia will need to ensure that it continuously invests in rail infrastructure.”

The list is developed using data from the Australian Infrastructure Audit, and submissions from state and territory governments, industry and the community, including more than 100 submissions in the last year. Not much has changed at the top end of the list produced on February 14. Three ‘High Priority Projects’ have graduated from the list entirely: New South Wales’ WestConnex road project and Victoria’s Monash Freeway Upgrade Stage 2 and North East Link projects. No ‘High Priority Projects’ have been added, and no rail-related ‘Priority Projects’ have been added or removed from the list.

Six new rail-related Initiatives are included on the new list, however.

1. A new Priority Initiative concerns the duplication of eight kilometres of the Cranbourne Line between Dandenong and Cranbourne southeast of Melbourne, which the Andrews Government has already committed $750 million to deliver by 2023.

2. Another new Priority Initiative is for capacity on the state’s Hurstbridge Line. Before last year’s election the Andrews Government targeted marginal seats with a $530 million proposal to build a new train station at Greensborough, and duplicate sections of track along the line.

3. An initiative concerning container terminal capacity at Melbourne was updated to include the near-time landside transport initiatives needed to support capacity growth, “including road and rail access from metropolitan, regional and national networks”.

4. Stage 3A of the Gold Coast’s G:link light rail line was essentially added, listed as ‘Public transport connectivity between Broadbeach and Burleigh Heads’. The Federal Government in November 2018 committed $112 million to the project, and the Queensland Government is progressing with the plan.

5. Transport connectivity between Morley and Ellenbrook is a new Priority Initiative, the third of Perth’s Metronet urban rail projects added. WA’s Government submitted the Morley-Ellenbrook Line for the list in September, and it joins the Yanchep Rail Extension, a High Priority Project, and the Thornlie-Cockburn Link, a Priority Project. Metronet’s Forrestfield-Airport Link was also once on the list, but has graduated.

6. Also in Perth, a new Priority Initiative is to improve the Canning Bridge public transport interchange, to improve public transport patronage and reduce impact on the adjacent road network. Canning Bridge station is on the Mandurah Line.

Infrastructure Australia chair Julieanne Alroe described the 2019 list as the independent advisor’s “largest, most comprehensive and most diverse” yet. “With a record 121 nationally significant proposals and a $58 billion project pipeline, the Priority List will guide the next 15 years of Australian infrastructure investment,” she said.
“The 2019 Priority List provides a credible pipeline of nationally significant proposals for governments at all levels to choose from. As an evidence-based list of opportunities to improve both our living standards and productivity, the Priority List reflects the diversity of Australia’s future infrastructure needs across transport, energy, water, communications, housing and education.”

Alroe noted many of the new projects would respond to the challenge of population growth in Australia.
“Congestion in our cities and faster-growing regional centres not only has significant consequences for the Australian economy, but has direct impacts on communities, reducing people’s access to education, health services, employment and other opportunities,” Alroe said.

Citing the forthcoming NSW and federal elections, Alroe urged politicians to avoid making politically-motivated funding commitments, and to trust the independent advisor’s analysis when making budget decisions.
“Infrastructure Australia is urging decision makers to commit to solving any emerging or growing problem by embarking on a feasibility study to identify potential options, rather than a pre-defined project that may not be the most effective solution,” she said. “Decision makers at all levels will best serve all Australians by continuing to consult the Priority List as a source of informed analysis on the projects that represent the best use of our infrastructure funding.”

One of those decision makers, deputy prime minister and minister for infrastructure Michael McCormack, said the Government was now taking this approach. “Once upon a time there was a ‘build it and they will come’ sort of attitude,” McCormack said when the new list was released. “There were also the political ramifications and implications and benefits of spending money on infrastructure. But the fact remains that we need rigour and accountability around what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and where we’re delivering it.”

IA adds six rail initiatives to Priority List

Luxembourg to be first country to introduce free public transport

Euronews 6 December 2018

Luxxembourg is to become the first country in the world to scrap fares on all public transport.The plans, introduced by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s coalition government, will see trains, trams and buses run free of charge from next summer.

Bettel, who took office for a second term on Wednesday, made environmental protection a key part of his election campaign.
His Democratic Party will form a government with the left-wing Socialist Workers’ party and the Greens. Currently, fares are capped at €2 for anything up to two hours of travel, which covers most journeys in the 2,585 km² nation.

Luxembourg City, the landlocked country’s capital, is home to around 107,000 but sees 400,000 commuters cross its borders every day to work, causing some of the worst congestion in Europe. Part of the cost for the initiative will be footed by removing a tax break for commuters. Luxembourg has previously shown it has a forward-looking attitude towards transport — over the summer, the government introduced free transport for young people under the age of 20.
Secondary school students are also provided free shuttle services between their places of study and homes.

https://www.euronews.com/2018/12/06/luxembourg-to-be-first-country-to-introduce-free-public-transport

Electric buses coming to Hawaii, New York & Estonia

Cleantechnica, 14 January 2019

Are electric buses news? Not if you live in Shenzhen, China, which has converted its entire fleet of buses — more than 16,000 in all — to electrics. They are also now appearing in lesser numbers on the streets of London, Katowice, Brasilia, and Jerusalem, among many other cities. What is news, though, is that more and more cities are getting involved in the electric bus revolution.

Proterra To Supply Electric Buses To Hawaii And NYC

Last week, Proterra announced Hawaiian tour operator JTB Hawaii has agreed to purchase 3 of its Catalyst E2 electric buses to replace 4 diesel-powered buses in use today. It will also install two 60 kW chargers supplied by Proterra. The company provides tours for more than 1.5 million people throughout the islands each year. During the expected 12 year life span of the new electric buses, more than 8 million pounds of carbon emissions will be eliminated.

Hawaii is a national leader in the transition to renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. It has a plan to be a net zero society by 2045. “Hawaii has set an example for other states by committing to ambitious clean energy goals, and we’re honored to be selected as the first battery-electric bus provider for JTB Hawaii,” said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple. “We look forward to working with JTB Hawaii to provide its passengers with clean, quiet, transportation and contribute to the continued preservation Hawaii’s natural beauty.”

Proterra also announced last week that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has agreed to add 18 more electric buses to its existing fleet of electrics. They will be used to shuttle passengers between the area’s three major airports — JFK, LaGuardi, and Newark.
“This deployment represents one of the largest commitments to zero-emission vehicles of any airport authority in the U.S., and we applaud the Port Authority’s goal of converting their entire bus fleet to electric vehicle technology,” said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. “We’re proud to help New York and New Jersey introduce electric bus technology throughout the Port Authority airport system. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports are a gateway to our country. Clean, quiet, Proterra electric buses – designed and manufactured in America – will make a wonderful first impression on travelers from all over the world.”

The 18 buses will prevent nearly 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from escaping into the local atmosphere during their lifespan and save over 2 million gallons of diesel fuel. The purchase price of the buses will be offset in part by rebates offered through the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program, which supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030.

700 Electric Buses For Estonia

Tallinna Linnatranspordi (TLT), the municipal transport company of the Estonian capital Tallinn, plans to switch completely to electric mobility by 2035, which will entail the purchase of up to 700 electric buses. A 10-bus test fleet is expected to begin operating in the city this year as the company explores the best routes and charging options for its new fleet of zero emissions vehicles.

According to Electrive, TLT has signed an agreement with state owned energy supplier Eesti Energia to create the charging infrastructure that will be needed to support that growing electric bus fleet. There is no word on who the manufacturer of the electric buses will be.

Electric Buses Coming To Hawaii, New York City, & Estonia

Chasing China: Chile drives Latin America’s electric vehicle revolution

Sydney Morning Herald, 10 December 2018
A massive cargo ship docked in the Chilean port of San Antonio at the end of November. It carried it its belly the first 100 electric buses from China that Chileans hope will revolutionise their public transport system.
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California is first state to mandate zero-emission bus fleet

AP News, 15 December 2018
California moved Friday to eliminate climate-changing fossil fuels from its fleet of 12,000 transit buses, enacting a first-in-the-nation mandate that will vastly increase the number of electric buses on the road. The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to require that all new buses be carbon-free by 2029. Environmental advocates project that the last buses emitting greenhouse gases will be phased out by 2040.

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transport free

The Independent, 6 December 2018
While rail travellers in Britain prepare for tickets to cost 3.1 per cent more in 2019, Luxembourg is set to become the first country in the world to abolish all fares on public transport. A new coalition government is taking office in the Grand Duchy with the promise of abolishing tickets on trains, trams and buses next summer.

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