It wasn’t so long ago that autonomous buses and shuttles felt like part of the near-term future. But delays in technology and COVID-19 have put the brakes on that prediction, and now Wired says autonomous transit will have to get past public nerves and strong opposition by unions to happen.
We’ve known for awhile that riders would be nervous about trips on driverless buses, but hiccups in testing have exacerbated that. And unions that represent transit workers have stepped up their efforts to slow or stop pilot programs, including showing up to protest in-person. All of this, the site says, may greatly delay a driverless future.
Read the story here.
The world collectively has learned a lot since COVID-19 begin forcing shutdowns and stay-home orders. Experts say that’s true for travel patterns, and the way people shifted theirs during and after lockdowns may offer a glimpse of the future of human transportation.
Bloomberg CityLab says, “The lessons of the great transportation freeze of 2020 could guide future policies as many cities reopen and attempt to build a healthier future.”
Travel declines varied by mode when shutdowns started, says the report. Walking and driving both saw declines but the most drastic was on transit, as local governments and health experts advised people to stay off buses and trains if possible. Today, walking and driving are beginning to bounce back but transit use remains low.
“Bike-share systems around the world gained popularity as commuters fled transit systems: In Beijing, the three largest bike-share systems reported a 150 percent increase in use by May, according to the research firm ITDP. Ride volumes grew some 67 percent on New York City’s bike-sharing system in early March,” the report says, noting that personal bike sales doubled this March over one year prior.
Other findings include environmental effects and the effects of transportation changes and shutdowns on Black and other minority groups.
Read the whole story here.
By Courtney Turner
I hate driving. Aside from emptying the dishwasher and folding clothes, it’s my least favorite thing to do. However, I’m finding that I spend more time in my car than anywhere else–and I’m not even commuting for work.
Because my kids aren’t eligible to ride one of the 43 buses that serve their high school, I spend 45 minutes to an hour round trip every morning to travel 12 (total) miles to get them to school and then get myself back home. It takes me another 45 minutes in the afternoon to pick them up; this time, the time suck is not due so much to crazy traffic but rather the lack of well-thought-out after school pick up procedures to allow for the departure of above-mentioned 43 buses coupled with hundreds of cars all trying to use the same egress (the result is a complete logistical nightmare and it is really only a matter of time before an angry parent decides griping on Facebook isn’t enough and takes matters into his or her own hands). Once I get everyone picked up from school, we head home and, less than an hour later, it’s time to run the baseball shuttle, which could include an hour drive north or south in rush hour traffic for a game or a 45-minute trip back to the high school for practice.
Writing this, I realize that I don’t hate driving in and of itself. I hate driving because I don’t have any other options. I used to love to drive–windows down, music blaring, cruising along. I did my best thinking while driving. Unfortunately, my current reality is windows up to drown out the blaring horns, I can’t hear my music, and I’m constantly seeing red thanks to the glare of brake lights from the gridlocked traffic all around me. The only deep thoughts going through my head center on whether or not my current situation is good for my blood pressure. While my husband can take a bus and then Metro to work, relaxing the entire time, I don’t have that same luxury. As a result, I’ve become resentful of having to spend so much time in the car simply because other options aren’t available in my area.
The Metro and buses do a great job of getting people into and out of the city every day, but it’s time to focus on the transportation issues that arise when neighborhoods and schools are overcrowded. I, for one, would like to hear my music and enjoy driving again.
Courtney Turner is IPMI’s member engagement and special projects manager.
New York City, like many urban areas, is watching bus ridership numbers fall and buses themselves get slower. It’s a cycle: More transportation options mean people opt out of the bus for cars, which means more traffic, which means slower buses, which means more people opt out, and revenue drops right along with ridership. So the city is undertaking a concerted effort to get more people on buses and then get those buses moving faster again, and they’re taking an innovative first step to get there.
Transit officials are going out of their way to ask bus riders–and some who’ve stopped riding–for their ideas to improve the system. And they’re getting some great answers. Read the whole story here.