Typically when we think mass transit, visions of buses and trains populate our mind. However, there has been quite a culture shift over the last few years for greener commuting and lower cost options that provide not only the services commuters want, but can also lead to the revitalization of various metropolitan areas. While not one place seems to have mass transit down to an art form, there are several places that have gotten creative and inventive over the years to make people’s commutes more enjoyable and beneficial while saving taxpayers money and the environment.
- Los Angeles
Over the years, Los Angeles has always been seen as an example for sustainable mass transit growth and green initiatives. Recently, the city passed a new transit plan that incorporates proposals for new bike trails throughout the city, bus-only lanes to help with congestion, and a manageable road maintenance schedule. However, the most unique aspect of this plan is the allowance for self-driving vehicles, in anticipation of the technological advances with companies such as Tesla. Los Angeles certainly has the capacity to handle the coming advances as well with a recent small tax increase that will provide the transportation division with billions of funds in the years to come.
Philadelphia has embraced the green movement for the long haul with the introduction of bike share services. In fact, they are the number one city for bicycle commuting in the US with more than 400 miles of dedicated bike lanes. With mass transit facing a decline in ridership and cost of fuel rising, the city introduced Indego, a city-wide bike sharing service. Cost is approximately $4 a ride and bikes can be rented all over the city. The convenience of the system allows for anyone, including tourists, to rent a bike any time of day or night, every day of the week. The biggest benefit to come from Indego has been to provide affordable commuting services to low-income users in all areas of the city without restriction.
- Hong Kong
Of all domestic and international cities, Hong Kong has by far the best metro system. This state of the art system is constantly monitored in a massive control center called the Super Operation Control Center or Super OCC. With Hong Kong mass transit supporting billions of passengers a year, the Mass Transit Railway or MTR is by the far the most popular option. When a problem arises that could delay transit times, the MTR strives to address each issue within two minutes. They have largely succeeded with an overall on-time performance at nearly 100%. The reason behind their success lies within the way the program is managed through accountability, funded (private and publically), and designed for riders. The system is so popular that the MTR Corporation has already started expanding to other cities worldwide to introduce efficiency and innovation.
With the rising fuel prices and decline of federal funding, many cities have been researching long-term alternative fuels options such as natural gas, biodiesel, hybrid-electric, and all-electric. The city of Dallas recently finished a study that looked into cost savings with alternatives fuels along with more efficient technologies to help make their mass transit more effective overall. The Dallas mass transit system chose to switch all buses from diesel to compressed natural gas. The switch is aimed to fulfil green initiatives as compressed natural gas is a cleaner fuel alternative. Additionally, the switch will save taxpayers millions over the coming years.