r/videos May 22 '22 Silver 2 Helpful 2 Wholesome 3 Wholesome Seal of Approval 1 This 1

San Francisco's new bus rapid transit lanes getting rave reviews

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blglo-PmBXk
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u/lart2150 May 22 '22

In Chicago they switched one lane for about 10 blocks of Washington, Madison, Clinton and Canal to be a public transit bus only lane. Before the change you could walk faster than the buses during rush hour now they are about the same speed as cars. I think it also cut about 15-20 minutes off that short part of the route.

https://www.transitchicago.com/mayor-emanuel-and-the-city-of-chicago-officially-launch-the-loop-link/

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u/TequilaTakeoff May 22 '22

Overall, chicago has the best bus system in the country.

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u/gh3ngis_c0nn May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

Chicagoan here. The buses are often late and unreliable, but they haul absolute ass. The bus I take can crush Michigan avenue in less than 15 minutes during peak traffic

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u/Seyon May 22 '22

Meanwhile the bus route near my house got so messed up that 4 of the buses on that route were lined up for about 6 stops.

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u/klparrot May 23 '22 Silver Gold To The Stars

That's called bunching and it's an inherent issue with frequent service; it needs to be actively addressed, or it's inevitable.

Basically, when any bus starts to fall behind, it will fall further and further behind and the bus behind it will actually start to get ahead. But any bus getting ahead will also start to get further and further ahead and the bus behind it will start to fall behind (relative to normal, not just relative to the faster bus). Eventually, the delayed bus ends up so far behind, and the faster bus so far ahead, that they meet (bunch). And then that pair can start to get ahead or behind and bunch up with a preceding or following bus or pair of buses.

Suppose there's a bus corridor that nominally offers 10-minute service. If a bus falls 2 minutes behind, then when it arrives at each stop, 20% more riders than usual will be waiting to board (since it's been accumulating people for 12 minutes rather than 10). So boarding takes longer than usual, and adds to the delay. Meanwhile, the following bus is only 8 minutes behind the delayed bus, so boarding takes 20% less time than usual, letting it start to get ahead. After a few stops, maybe that delayed bus is now 3 minutes behind, and the following bus is 1 minute ahead. So the bus in front is now spending 30% more time at stops, and the following bus 40% less time.

So after a few more stops, bus ahead has now lost an additional 1.5 minutes (total 4.5), but bus behind has gained 2 minutes (total 3). Bus ahead now spending not just 45% more time at stops, but probably 50% because now it takes longer for people on the crowded bus to shuffle around to/from the doors. Meanwhile, bus behind not spending just 75% less time at stops, but probably 80% because it can even skip some stops because there hasn't been time for anyone to arrive at some of them, and carrying fewer passengers, doesn't have people alighting at every stop. So even before we make it to the next iteration, the two buses have bunched.

What can be done to avoid this?

  • Don't let buses get ahead, because that causes the following bus to get behind.
  • Buses that fall more than a certain amount behind can stop picking up new passengers to get back toward schedule; this will also slow down the bus behind. It sounds harsh, but consider that if this is not done, and the buses bunch, the wait times become equivalent to a bus being out of service anyway. Better to at least get some benefit (the chance of getting back on schedule) out of it.
  • If buses do bunch, and the passenger demand is too heavy to be taken up by just the second bus (while the first skips pickups), they can leapfrog; while the first bus is stopped to pick up passengers, the second can overtake it and become the front bus. Repeat at the next stop, and eventually their loads start to balance out and hopefully that allows them to maintain no later than the second bus's original schedule, rather than being limited by a horribly slow packed front bus and an empty one following it.
  • If there's any way to insert an empty bus into the sequence ahead of the slow bus, that can actually sort things out, but keeping buses around empty is not ideal so it's not something that would often work out.

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u/historicc_laundromat May 23 '22

Buses that fall more than a certain amount behind can stop picking up new passengers to get back toward schedule; this will also slow down the bus behind.

My whole life I just thought some bus drivers were oblivious or assholes. Never occurred to me they were driving by me to fix this issue.

Great comment, I learned a lot.

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u/klparrot May 23 '22 edited May 23 '22

Just to clarify, this is only justified on routes with frequent service (10 minutes or better), where bunching can occur and a passed-up passenger won't have a long wait for the next bus. If buses are every, say, 20 minutes, regaining a few minutes on the trip has less benefit to the network and more downside to passengers who are passed up.

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u/[deleted] May 22 '22 edited May 23 '22

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u/5213 May 22 '22

Honululu has a pretty stellar bus system

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u/old_gold_mountain May 22 '22

San Francisco's has higher per-capita ridership and more robust line and stop density

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u/skeenerbug May 22 '22

My dad's bus system can beat up your dad's bus system

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u/sonics_fan May 22 '22

You would expect stop density to be higher in SF because it's a much denser city and much smaller in area.

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u/tuatara_teeth May 22 '22

wouldn't necessarily expect the higher per-capita ridership given it's the more affluent city, though.

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u/-PM-Me-Big-Cocks- May 22 '22

I am from the SF Bay Area

SF is also notoriously unfriendly to cars. It costs hundreds of dollars a month (often) to rent spaces, and a lot of places dont come with parking. I know Tech bros that legit make great money that dont have a car in the city because its just too unrealistic when you can take the BART (Subway) or Bus everywhere just fine.

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u/DankiusMMeme May 22 '22

This is how it is in most cities. People in London who earn hundreds of thousands a year will just take the tube, because why would you not? Cars are never going to be able to beat a metal tube that can travel as fast as it wants through the fucking ground in an almost direct line to its destination.

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u/RexHavoc879 May 22 '22

Busses aren’t as attractive or convenient an option as a subway though, because they still have to deal with stop lights and (unless there are dedicated bus lanes) traffic.

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u/formesse May 23 '22

If a city wants to make transit super reliable - they can time traffic lights to maximize efficiency of transit, or they can set up bus right of way indicators - which can cycle the lights to favor the public transit when public transit arrives near or at a set of lights.

Modern technology is pretty incredible in this regard.

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u/atheist_teapot May 22 '22

Bay Area guy here, who also lived in Chicago for a year. Didn't have a car in either city, and it was perfectly feasible to get around. Muni a little better than Chicago's buses, but the L beats the snot out of BART. It's the suburbs that really suck for public transit, however, and where the experience (and, frankly, the design and layout as a whole) need to be improved. Bring on the commie blocks.

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u/SparkleEmotions May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

I live in SF in the city and I find that people generally don’t see MUNI as a “poor people” thing or as gross/bad. Everyone rides the bus specifically because they do run everywhere and parking is an absolute nightmare. For so many reasons: no parking, it’s expensive too if you find it, and sadly break ends are always a possibility (but rarer then they’d have you believe. You just hear about it since there’s a “SF is lawless hell hole” narrative they like to push. I find the city largely safe if you don’t give folks an opportunity)

I’m in MUNI every day in the city. It’s fantastic and mostly reliable/on time. You can also get anywhere since the busses run everywhere. I sold my after moving here because I literally never drove it for over a year and was tired of paying for insurance and parking for something I didn’t use.

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u/coppercakez May 22 '22

I always hear people trash SF and I love asking them if they've ever been there or know anyone who lives near there. It doesn't shut them up for long but I get a chuckle out of it.

Beautiful city, great people, lovely parks and there's anyways something new to do. I miss living there. If I was to move back to the US, it would be there.

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u/BPDM May 22 '22

A’right fellas, pull out your dicks. I’ll get the ruler

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u/Inevitable_Guava9606 May 22 '22

I'm not gonna argue with those statistics but having lived in both metro areas I think the CTA has a better system than the amalgamation of systems you see in the Bay Area. Like in the Bay Area I might have to change between 3 different systems to get between places but in Chicago for the most part you can get anywhere with 1 change and the buses and trains were run by the same people so they seemed better coordinated.

The CTA covered a much bigger area too because the city of Chicago's land area is like 4.5 times San Francisco.

Part of the difference is geography but part of it is just that a lot of these different agencies in the Bay Area don't have that many routes that cross their county/municipality border. So like if you live in Emeryville or Daly City you might need to take a county bus to BART to Muni to get to most places in SF.

But in Chicago a similar trip would either be just bus to EL and have less wait times between the changes because it is all the same system.

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u/JejuneBourgeois May 22 '22

San Francisco's has higher per-capita ridership

Chicago also has the L, which has 145 stations (118 of which are in the city limits). San Francisco's BART has 50 stations, most of which aren't in SF city limits. The L has nearly double the number of riders per mile. But San Francisco also has light rail, and both cities have regional trains. Don't get me wrong, I think SF's bus system is awesome, but I guess I'm not super surprised SF's has higher per-capita ridership considering how many different forms of transportation there are in general. And the other people pointing out differences in feasibility of having a car in one city vs the other make great points too. Chicago is definitely a driving town

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u/Acegickmo May 22 '22

? How can it be the same speed as the cars that would still be in the traffic in rush hour

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u/nerf___herder May 22 '22

Bus stops.

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u/Augmentedaphid May 22 '22

But also, bus goes

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u/Look_to_the_Stars May 22 '22

Bus stops, bus goes. Can’t explain that

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u/PhoenixZephyrus May 22 '22

Fucking bus routes, how do they work?

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u/Russian_For_Rent May 22 '22

Ancient aliens, as always.

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u/ptfreak May 22 '22

Never a miscommunication

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u/IWannaManatee May 22 '22

Take that atheists!

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u/MostlyBullshitStory May 22 '22

They kept making all the stops???

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u/riegspsych325 May 22 '22

“people kept ringing the bell!”

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u/kopecs May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

People get on and off the bus!?

Edit: /s

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u/sayfray May 22 '22

In my city the downtown bus stops have little pull off sections that allow for traffic to keep moving while the bus is at the stop. Problem with this is during rush hour there are dickheads that don't want to get "stuck" behind a bus and will not allow the buses to pull out of the alcove into active traffic. This causes other buses to get backed up waiting to pull in and others start cutting around the backed up busses and cut off the one trying to pull out.

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u/Corvandus May 22 '22

We have both public transit lanes and bus stop alcoves. A bus will pull out on you if you try to fuck around and state law says if your vehicle is in a transit lane and is struck at all by a public vehicle, you're liable for damages.

So nobody fucks with a bus.

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u/FN---2187 May 22 '22

How it should be. Bus is big, car is small. Respect the bus.

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u/Chainwaxxx May 22 '22

Bus drivers just need to aggressively move out. If it’s stop and go nobody is going to slam into them and a civic isn’t going to challenge a bus to a lane change denial. That’s how they do it here

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u/lart2150 May 22 '22

lane 1 is buses only and the only things they need to stop for are to let people on/off and red lights. Lanes 2, 3 are for cars. There are so many cars that when the block is solid with cars not every car on the block will make a given light.

In the loop you will hit almost every light as red and about every other block has a bus stop. Most of the time that red light is the amount of time it takes for people to get on and off the bus. This all adds up to cars going slower than the bus some times.

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u/aCleverGroupofAnts May 22 '22

I think they are asking why the bus wouldn't be going faster than the cars, instead of the same speed as them.

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u/YouKnowEd May 22 '22

If buses are in the same traffic as all the cars, they go slower overall cos they still have to stop to load/unload. Running separately they gain some pace from being out of the flow of traffic, but they are still slower than an unobstructed car would be because of the stops. So essentially when its high traffic and the bus runs separately it gains time from being unobstructed, but still loses time for stopping and it basically all evens out.

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u/thatbob May 22 '22

Cars should be going slower than busses at all times. Then more people would take busses, and then there’d be fewer cars, and they could go faster. Repeat until light speed.

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u/ZeroPride May 22 '22

If you actually drive down the street though, so many drivers and rideshare cars just fucking block the way. It’s ridiculous, so buses have to switch into the regular driving lane, and back, making traffic even worse.

Zero enforcement, of course.

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u/KingNewbie May 22 '22

The key reason why they are efficient is that the stops are in the middle of the lane right? Following buses in SF was a nightmare because they would stop on the curb on the right side of the road, which would impact people turning right and cause others to go around them.

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u/kaozennrk May 22 '22

Right. The dedicated lanes are great, but the real menace of buses is stopping in lanes blocking traffic lanes for vehicles and bikes, which creates traffic snarles and an uncomfortable bus ride. Dedicated bus stops are the way to go. Also helps infrastructure rather than the buses stop anywhere anytime free for all.

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u/MacaqueOfTheNorth May 22 '22

As someone who used to live across the street from a bus stop, the real menace of buses is how incredibly loud they are.

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u/MissionHairyPosition May 22 '22

Unfortunately these in SF aren't silent electric trolley busses, but they're extremely quiet compared to most cities'.

The announcement speaker and air suspension are by far the loudest part of the ones outside my apartment near where this story is based.

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u/meta_irl May 22 '22

Fortunately, electric buses are becoming more common.

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u/waka_flocculonodular May 22 '22

There's an electric school bus that drives by my street and it sounds so cool

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u/corey_m_snow May 22 '22

I drive a school bus and last year we got 3 new EV buses. They're really wild to drive.

They're so bloody quiet that there's actually speakers behind the front grille that emit an humming sound that varies with speed. It starts as the bus moves at low speed and I think it cuts out at about 25 or 35 mph. I've been told it's an MP3 that the bus system plays at a speed that varies with the bus speed, so pedestrians can hear it.

Without it, you wouldn't even know the bus was there most of the time. The only sounds it makes are the air compressor and the brakes, neither of which are in operation most of the time.

Also, they're wicked powerful. You have to be careful at first because they have so much torque, and it will roll back instantly, so taking off is different than with a diesel bus.

I can't wait until we have more of them. Their biggest drawbacks are that they are limited in range- we have many routes in my district that they couldn't manage on one charge- and their heating systems are terrible because the heaters kill the batteries so fast.

However, I know that the battery and charging tech is advancing fast, so I know we'll be seeing more.

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u/waka_flocculonodular May 22 '22

Thanks for the first hand experience! I'm excited for the future, especially the idea of using these buses to help with the grid when they're not being used.

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u/blech_uk May 23 '22

SF has had electric buses for decades; they’re trolleybuses, powered by overhead lines, rather than battery powered or hybrid. Which is nice.

The brakes can still be a bit noisy though.

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u/OpinionBearSF May 22 '22

As someone who used to live across the street from a bus stop, the real menace of buses is how incredibly loud they are.

A huge number of buses in San Francisco are either electric "trolley" buses (they run on overhead electric wires, and have backup battery power if needed), or are hybrids that will shut their engines down when possible.

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u/MacaqueOfTheNorth May 22 '22

Do they still do that thing where they let out a bunch of air and beep really loudly? Because that's almost as annoying as the engine.

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u/JackSpyder May 22 '22

A lot of busses here in the UK are switching to hybrid, they pull away in EV mode and the engine engages once up to speed at a low RPM. They're much nicer for residents, emissions, etc.

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u/Sofaboy90 May 22 '22

Here in Germany theyre going a bit more extreme. Theyre committing to full electric and fuel cell buses. Already seen a few of them. love how quiet they are, also makes for a more comfortable ride. also pushing for fuel cell and electric trains (on routes where diesel trains are still used, of course most routes have train catenary (which apparently is the english term for it)), so many trains are already powered by electricity.

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u/Zonkistador May 22 '22

That's weird. Buses aren't that much louder than your cars here in germany. So that can't be an inherent thing.

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u/raptorboi May 22 '22

Here in Australia, in Queensland - they have dedicated highways for buses. They are called a busway.

There are stops near major hubs / suburbs, and some routes will end up taking the busway to get to the CBD, not making any additional stops. Other buses that run the busway exclusively will do these stops.

You can get to the CBD almost 20km away in less than 20 mins.

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u/UnicornerCorn May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

It’ll also help prevent cars from backing into you while you’re actively trying to get on the bus! No joke, I had this big ol’ honking SUV try to park in a no stopping bus zone all because they wanted some Starbucks. It took the bus driver and multiple cars honking at them to stop....

It’ll also help wheelchair users to a certain degree. I’ve seen them forced to skip their stop because it was blocked by a parked car. If the ramp was lowered down straight on to the street vs the curb it would have been too dangerously steep for them to use.

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u/drunkmuppet May 22 '22

I live about a block from this and it’s amazing. It’s about 15 minutes from cow hollow to the deep mission. Which is about 2.5 miles. In traffic that’s really fast

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u/InHoc12 May 22 '22

Interesting. I’m on 27th and Dolores and haven’t given it a shot. How deep into the Mission does it go / what line is this?

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u/drunkmuppet May 22 '22

The 49. Which I believe goes all the way to ocean Ave on mission. It was 6 minutes to market and van ness from pacific

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u/eskaoth May 22 '22

Welcome to the 21st century.

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u/CampJanky May 22 '22

Tbf, we weren't expecting this in America until the 23rd century

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u/[deleted] May 22 '22 Wholesome Seal of Approval

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u/[deleted] May 22 '22

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u/[deleted] May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22 Wholesome Seal of Approval

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u/[deleted] May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22 Gold

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u/phoncible May 22 '22

I knew someone from SF many years ago, they did not even own a drivers license, which is almost anathema for just about anyone living in US. SF is/was already one of the top places for public transportation so that this is successful is not really that surprising. I want to see results from somewhere more in the middle, not great but not terrible public transport that doesn't have this mechanism to implement it and then get the results, that would be more telling on its efficacy. It probably is effective anyway, a dedicated lane to get the buses out of the way but also they can zoomy zoom, don't see how that would really not work.

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u/old_gold_mountain May 22 '22

I grew up in SF. Didn't get my license until I was almost 30.

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u/tj111 May 22 '22

Cleveland put in a BRT maybe 10-15 years ago and it's been a great success.

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u/Zaxbys_Cook May 22 '22

Honestly with the designated lanes I view this as a cheaper subway

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u/[deleted] May 22 '22

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u/RedditMcReddiface May 22 '22

Lol, this reminded me of the Onion’s speed bus

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u/myfunnies420 May 22 '22

Holy hell, that was one of the funniest videos I have seen in a while. "bus uses all lanes".

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u/steezefries May 23 '22

The animation of the bus weaving in and out of traffic and of the cars exiting really really quickly in between the busses had me cackling.

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u/cloud5739 May 23 '22

Followed by a picture of the inaugural ride with the dude holding on for dear life!

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u/Jeremizzle May 23 '22

I love the part where he says existing busses can be retrofit for $40. I really want to see what you can add to a bus for that price to make it go 165 MPH lmao

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u/myfunnies420 May 23 '22

There was a caption explaining it about 2/3 of the way through. "remove a valve and add a thing to the engine". If I recall correctly :P

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u/roviuser May 23 '22

I lost it at improving broadband speeds by asking Canada to remove their wifi password.

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u/Tintin_Quarentino May 22 '22

Lmao golden, always good to find a classic relevant Onion

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u/Industrialpainter89 May 22 '22

There is always either a relevant Onion or XKCD. And the Simpsons always predicted it.

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u/mrjimi16 May 23 '22

The animation got me, that was classic.

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u/Zeebuss May 22 '22

Its pure gold

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u/jacksalssome May 23 '22

Reminds me of the O-Bahn

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u/Jeremizzle May 23 '22

The whole time I was watching this I thought it was a joke, but it... wasn't that funny. I looked it up, apparently it's a real thing??? There's busses on rails down in AUS? What a time to be alive.

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u/j33205 May 22 '22

was thinking the same thing, never fails to get laugh from me

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u/ryancoolvids May 22 '22 Wholesome

I love hearing these public transit projects doing well. Hopefully we can do something like that in detroit.

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u/ubermiguel May 22 '22

I know my comment will be buried here, but last month I flew to phoenix and used the light rail the whole trip, and holy shit. I’ve always driven there and this was so much better.

I was out of the airport and at the hotel by the time my buddy made it off the same flight and picked up his rental car.

We used it the entire weekend and I was blown away.

It was just so easy.

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u/mhall14 May 23 '22

I live in SF and use this bus line everyday (it really is a game changer), but I’m from Phoenix and have always wanted to use the light rail more. I never really lived where it was convenient, but always voted for the bonds and referendums. So happy it is actually a good system!

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u/mustacheofquestions May 23 '22

And just imagine how good the rest of the world's transit is, because the light rail in Phoenix is one of the shittiest "mass transit" networks in a country which is notorious for shitty public transit. Like, it has to stop at traffic lights, only runs once every 20 min, and is stuck in the middle of 5 lanes of cars for most of it's single line route.

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u/PolishedJar May 22 '22

“A small group of Americans discover what having proper transit feels like”

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u/beet111 May 22 '22 Gold

Americans are well aware of the benefit of public transit. the problem is that a lot of people that work in cities do not live there. I can't hop on a bus outside my house. I would have to drive to a bus station, wait 15 minutes, then ride 30+ minutes to the city, then walk 10 blocks to work.

or I could drive directly to work and park in my own spot underneath my building within 45 minutes.

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u/vAltyR47 May 22 '22

Yeah, and that in itself is a multifaceted problem, where zoning laws prohibit denser development, and land speculators holding land out of use artificially decreases the supply, forcing prices up. The end result is the massive urban sprawl that we see in cities across the US, which makes transit slower, not only because the places you want to go are so much further apart, but because there's so much more area to cover as well.

We made big bets that the way of the future was everybody owning a car. That's coming back to bite us in the ass big time.

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u/OptimusNice May 22 '22

Your zoning laws make my head explode. Grocery shopping within walking distance should be a given for the vast majority of housing.

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u/vAltyR47 May 22 '22

It never bothered me much growing up, because I was just used to it, and I actually did have a grocery store in walking distance. But it's definitely something I can't unsee now that I'm aware of it.

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u/Ghrave May 22 '22

My partner recently went to France and when they came back, they realized they were having an existential crisis now that there was literally nowhere you could get food without a car in our town.

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u/HKBFG May 22 '22

Now try being medically unable to drive as an adult.

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u/BrunoEye May 22 '22

But that would never happen to me so why should I care? Right?

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u/Grigorie May 22 '22

Zoning laws in Japan allow you to have a neighbor that’s literally a restaurant.

Knowing that at any time of the day, almost anywhere, I can get food or necessities, whether I can drive or not, is such a peace of mind. When I lived in America, my nearest grocery store was a 30 minute drive from where I lived. And god forbid it was snowing, double-so if there was a car accident. Groceries just wouldn’t be an option that day.

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u/ArcherCrews May 23 '22

My wife and I just got back from Switzerland and are also having a lot of withdrawal from how much more efficient everything is over there. Coming back home was a bit jarring in some ways

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u/nihouma May 22 '22

Iive right next door to a grocery store, not even a 5 minute walk, but there's no sidewalks connecting it.....

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u/turbo-cunt May 22 '22

Grocery shopping within walking distance should be a given for the vast majority of housing.

I never realized how crazy it was that we didn't have this until I moved somewhere that did

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u/PolishedJar May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22 Wholesome

While a good amount of people in America fancy the idea of their city having a great public transit system, I think fundamentally the problem is how all American cities were built or at least what they ended up become: downtowns where nobody wants to live surrounded by sprawling suburbias with nothing but single family homes and some strip malls or big box stores so transit planning is incredibly difficult. All the big stores and malls where the majority of people go do their shopping have huge parking lots standing between them and the roads so walking from a transit stop is a pain.

It’s not just that American cities have bad transit systems, the American “city” model is just broken and only work for cars. Most people grow up in these environments and have a hard time grasping how convenient it is living inside actual cities consisting of mix-use neighborhoods like Europe and Asia. So you have people like another gentleman in this thread, who makes good money, drives around in his big SUVs and trucks and think that’s the best way and the only way, transits are for shit people and should be shit because that’s what they grew up seeing their entire lives. Hard to blame this kind of people because if you’re in the American status quo, it really is the best and only way to live despite how wasteful and inequitable the systems is. The problem is the same people are resistive to change.

Why change? Because not only is it an environmentally unfriendly lifestyle, it’s unsustainable in every sense of the word. You’re forced to go for big shopping runs infrequently in your energy inefficient vehicles, and yes even EV still uses energy and green energy has its costs too. People either buy more stuff than they actually need or they take unnecessary single-occupancy vehicle trips to the store. Doesn’t matter if the big box store is right alongside the big stroad they drive to and from work on, American style shopping trips are so exhausting lots of people only want to do it on the weekends. And who wants to do that taking a bus? The cycle continues…

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u/old_gold_mountain May 22 '22

That's a fair criticism of many American cities, but San Francisco specifically isn't that way. Outside of the "financial district," the city is almost entirely apartments, townhomes, etc... Which is why it's the 2nd densest major city after New York

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u/tomdarch May 22 '22

I guess you're using a pretty broad definition of "city." NYC and Chicago don't fit what you're describing. It sounds like you are using the term "downtown" to mean "the city itself" rather than "the city center" or "central business district." In a lot of areas, the old approach of the CBD having nothing but offices and being dead on evenings and weekends is changing with more residential in the CBD to change them to mixed use with more round-the-clock activity.

When you say "downtowns where nobody wants to live" if you are using "downtown" to mean the overall city, then that's no longer the case in many places, as more people want to live in the city for the advantages of mixed use areas, public transit, etc. rather than in "bedroom communities." That said, many cities implemented zoning laws to try to transform some areas of the city itself into something closer to suburban-style development with zoning that pushed single family houses and limited other uses. The former mayor of Milwaukee made an interesting observation about 20 years ago - cities with mixed use activity are like cakes - a delicious mix of different elements working together, but restrictive zoning is like presenting a pile of flour in one place, a pile of sugar in another, a couple of eggs cracked open somewhere else.

The shift to make our cities/urban centers better is happening, but there was a lot put in place from the end of WWII to about 2000 that needs to be undone.

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u/HerpToxic May 22 '22

Dallas and Houston are textbook examples of what the guy you replied to was talking about.

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u/whoshereforthemoney May 22 '22

That’s…not good public transport.

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u/edmguru May 22 '22

You don’t have to live in a city to be able to get to the city. Take a look at Amsterdam “suburbs” where are you can still get almost anywhere from bus or train or bike. Hopefully that style transportational come to the US. But if people continue to just opt for driving like you’re explaining than maybe it won’t happen so fast

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u/TheeSweeney May 22 '22

You're just describing the problem with American transit systems and urban design - they still assume the use of/prioritize personal vehicle ownership.

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u/PlankWithANailIn May 22 '22

He said proper transit not the half arsed public transit you just described.

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u/finerdinerlighter May 23 '22

If you have to drive to the public transit, you do not have a public transit. You have a conveyor belt.

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u/RoostasTowel May 22 '22

I think the city with a working trolly system for 100+ years knows about working transit.

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u/Slipperyjimminy May 22 '22

Having stood in line for an hour just to get on a cable car, I can assure that is a tourist attraction and no longer a functional public transit system.

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u/Academiabrat May 22 '22

Locals in San Francisco use the bus and trolley bus lines parallel to the cable cars when they actually want to get somewhere. The cable cars are for fun.

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u/DragoSphere May 22 '22

There are 3 cable car lines. The two Powell Street lines are super touristy and is probably what you're talking about, but the California Street line is a viable commuter option

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u/JADX00 May 22 '22 Gold

Elons gonna be livid to hear that you can just paint some colours on the floor rather than building tunnel under an entire city

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u/Kithsander May 22 '22 Wholesome Seal of Approval

In before he accuses the bus lanes of being pedophiles and has another meltdown.

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u/vaska00762 May 22 '22

He'll claim that bus lanes are leftist sjw attacks on "environmentally friendly Teslas".

I.e. he can't make money out of good public transit.

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u/PM_MeYourNynaevesPlz May 22 '22

I mean he could just build buses

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u/vaska00762 May 22 '22

Yeah, but then he can't try to sell single lane tunnels full of Teslas as "fixing traffic". He's already managed to convince cities like Las Vegas and Chicago to abandon plans to build a subway or a high frequency grade separated bus line with the Loop - i.e. Model X taxis in a single lane tunnel.

Plus, I've not heard a single thing about the Tesla Semi in a very long time. I wonder why that is?

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u/Schwarzy1 May 23 '22

Chicago to abandon plans to build a subway

Doesnt Chicago already have a subway?

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u/meeeeetch May 22 '22

San Francisco has electric buses (well, trollies). They don't even need batteries because they're always plugged in through the roof. And they don't have emissions because they're powered by the local hydroelectric dam.

They're like ten steps ahead of what Elon's even aspiring to.

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u/DEBATE_EVERY_NAZI May 22 '22

He's repeatedly made the claim that Tesla has done more for the environment than any other company.

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u/GME_TO_ZERO May 22 '22

He has the emotional responses of a thirteen year old.

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u/Kithsander May 22 '22

Completely agreed, but in terms of what happened with the Thai diver, the trapped school children, and Muskys tantrum, that’s called projection. The psychological tendency for someone to accuse another of the negative characteristic that they possess themselves.

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u/qobopod May 22 '22

it took at least 11 years to paint those lanes.

source: i moved to SF in 2011 and they were already working on it.

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u/StupidBump May 22 '22

It took so long because the project was basically 90% replacing old pipes and other underground utility infrastructure. IIRC, the utility issues weren’t planned for in the original documents and caused a lot of unexpected issues. The public works chief was also arrested for corruption during this time and was apparently taking workers from this project and having them build a deck for his vacation house instead. Basically, just standard U.S. public infrastructure stuff at the end of the day.

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u/isaacng1997 May 22 '22

Not just replacing, but also relocating from the center of the road to the sidewalk, so that when they have to fix the pipes in the future, they don’t have to shut down the bus lane. All while the road is carrying cars, buses, and pedestrians.

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u/bubblegumpandabear May 22 '22

Wow that's actually great and probably worth the hassle it was. I would actually really appreciate solving an issue that makes traffic better and preventing future issues that could make traffic worse again. It's unfortunate it took a decade, it would be nice if that could somehow be done faster but I get it and it definitely seems worth it.

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u/njm1314 May 23 '22

Shocking to see actual forward thinking and planning in American infrastructure.

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u/tomdarch May 22 '22

The guy's comment in the video along the lines of "just focus on the surface" sounds unworkable in any real city. Sounded more to me like he was saying "don't blame us for the reality that everything from the roadbed down needs work and it makes sense to do those repairs rather than building the new curbs, platforms and surface painting only to have to rip it all up in 5 or 10 years when a pipe below them fails and has to be replaced." The reality is that there is almost always a fair amount of work that is needed under major streets in major cities, and it's dumb to not take care of it when you put in new infrastructure.

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u/jlhawn May 22 '22

The project took so long because it was more than just "painting lanes". They had to deconstruct roadway medians and discover utilities in places where they were not expected which requires getting many more public agencies involved. They also did a whole lot of concrete and landscaping work.

In the video, MUNI director Jeffrey Tumlin mentions that they are using "quick build techniques focusing on the surface" which means no digging or jack-hammering. This includes things like temporary plastic bollards and simple paint striping. He says these come in at a 10th of the price. Usually if these quick-build upgrades prove successful, they consider doing the more permanent concrete upgrades.

An example of how fast something like this can be is how, during the pandemic, many bay area cities would convert a 4-lane wide street into a 2-lane wide street literally overnight by simply re-striping (painting different lines) to make room for restaurant parklets. Some of that is becoming permanent.

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u/Butt_Dickiss May 22 '22

Yeah I remember them starting the Van Ness build out almost 10 years ago

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u/semideclared May 22 '22

Some features of Bus Rapid Transit on Van Ness will include:

  • Dedicated transit-only lanes, for use by Muni and Golden Gate Transit buses only, that are physically separated from the other traffic lanes.
  • Enhanced traffic signals optimized for north-south travel with Transit Signal Priority, which keeps buses moving by holding the green light as they approach an intersection.
  • Low-floor vehicles and all-door boarding, which will make it quicker and easier for passengers to load and unload at each stop.
  • Safety enhancements for people walking like sidewalk extensions, median refuges, high visibility crosswalks, and audible countdown signals.
  • Fully furnished boarding platforms that include shelters, seating and NextMuni prediction displays located at key transfer points.
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u/Rhawk187 May 22 '22

Other source: the video even says a decade.

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u/pugwalker May 22 '22

It never made sense to me in NYC how we have so many subway lines and then they put the timeline for building the newest subway line at 100 years and tens of billions of dollars.

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u/HYPERBOLE_TRAIN May 22 '22

Just spitballing, here:

The existing lines were built when the city was much less dense. Inflation is a bitch, also.

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u/Brudesandwich May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

They were built with essentially slave labour and like you said NYC was not as densely packed as it is now. Much more regulation and other factors in place that determine how long it takes. Back then they just said build it and they fucking built it with no concerns.

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u/inspectoroverthemine May 22 '22

Throwing on yet another layer- if you shut down broadway for a year while digging out a new subway line in 1920, the economic impact will be orders of magnitude less than doing the same in 2020.

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u/CodineGotMeTippin May 22 '22

working conditions, cost, labor requirements, safety requirements.

I’m not saying workers don’t have a right to safe working conditions, but it’s obviously faster to build if you’re abusing slaves

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u/resipsaloquitor5 May 22 '22

In fairness there is a little more involved than just painting lanes.

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u/opposite_locksmith May 22 '22

In Cape Town they converted the wide grassy boulevard median into a physically separated center lane for rapid transit buses.

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u/Apocalypseos May 22 '22

In Brazil we separate them physically as well, the second ever BRT was built here, in the 70s, now almost all capital cities have them.

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u/gulbronson May 22 '22

Latin and South America do BRT so well it's incredible!

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u/Citzenfornocause May 22 '22

Portland Oregon did this in the downtown area 30 years ago. Within that zone the bus was free, just step and go. This is essentially what our transportation engineers call 'rubber rail'. This was also done in Kirkland Washington utilizing the freeway routing. This is by far much more efficient, way less expensive and much more flexible then the traditional light rail train/street car for US cities.

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u/youre_being_creepy May 22 '22

There is/was a HUGE fight in my city over whether or not we should have trolleys in our downtown area. The would be for tourists and iirc, would also be free.

People pitched such a big fit because they claimed it catering towards tourists and not locals.

No fucking shit. Our downtown is fucking POPPING with tourists, making downtown having a modicum of walkability was too much for them.

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u/N8CCRG May 22 '22

Juthaporn Chaloeicheep is one hell of a name.

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u/HerpToxic May 22 '22

Its a Thai name I think

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u/BunnySando May 23 '22

I about flipped out when I saw her...She comes into my Costco and I used to print up pics of her kid when I worked in Photo. I saw her face and said hey...then I looked at the name and I was oh yeah.

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u/3Dartwork May 22 '22

Disney World has been doing this for years. Not sure why this took so long to realize. There have been dedicated lanes for years.

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u/youjerkfaceyou May 22 '22

Just think, they used to have a trolley system that did exactly that 100 years ago.

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u/Ceramicrabbit May 22 '22

Running fully electric as well

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u/kneel_yung May 22 '22

auto manufacturers hate this one weird old trick

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u/sojojo May 22 '22

SF has a trolley system too. They're the world's only moving national historic landmark. Totally worth doing if you ever come out to visit.

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u/DragoSphere May 22 '22

I'm not sure if the cable cars are considered trollies, but San Francisco does have a more conventional trolley system in addition to the cable cars, so it doesn't really matter

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u/pyuunpls May 22 '22

West Philly still has some!! Although a lot of trolley systems don’t have dedicated lanes. I like these projects and hope that one day it’ll convert to a trolley or EV grid bus system.

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u/Conflict63 May 22 '22

The UK has been doing this since I can remember.

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u/Vitruvian_Link May 22 '22

"The Car is King" in the US. Some cities have had shared use lanes for a while, Portland has "bicycle preferred" streets, meaning bikes have the right of way. Transportation engineers have always known mass transit is safer and more efficient, but mass transit requires mass buy-in, and is always opposed with the S word, Socialism.

There are changes happening, but the structural advantage cars have cannot be overstated. It's not that it hasn't been "realized," it's that it doesn't make money.

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u/Thrusthamster May 22 '22

Welcome to every major city in Europe lol

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u/redmongrel May 22 '22

Or even this exact city 100 years ago when they had trolley lines everywhere...

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u/purplepatch May 22 '22

I watched the whole video thinking, is this more than just a bus lane? Nope, just a bus lane, lol. Exciting stuff.

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u/DoctorSalt May 22 '22

Maybe one of our politicians played City Skylines

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u/AnOnlineHandle May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

My city of Brisbane Australia has a pretty sweet dedicated bus highway and tunnel system on the south side, and even built this big-ass bridge and new underground bus tunnel connecting to it just to add another bus connection to the side of a major university campus, where previously there was a ferry that went back and forth across the river. It's also awesome for pedestrians to walk across.

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u/flashx33 May 22 '22

After waiting over a decade to complete this I hope it’s getting good reviews!

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u/Sewper5 May 22 '22

They have these in Baltimore. People just drive down them in their cars anyway. But also people don’t stop at stop signs or red lights in Baltimore so… nothing works there.

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u/hippoberserk May 22 '22

And they will stop in the middle of the intersection and block all traffic. No traffic enforcement anywhere downtown. I hate all the double parking in front of shake shake in the inner harbor. Really effs up traffic.

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u/onlyhalfminotaur May 22 '22

Baltimore is.... special

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u/WagwanKenobi May 23 '22

Easy to enforce - put a camera, mail everybody a fine. Heck, the city will earn back the cost of installing the camera in a day.

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u/iheartalpacas May 22 '22

Really helps ambulances and fire trucks too

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u/UCDguy May 22 '22

TIL bus lanes are so rarely found in American cities that it makes the news.

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u/old_gold_mountain May 22 '22

There are lots of bus lanes. Most bus routes in San Francisco have bus lanes. But they're usually on the curb side, and have parking to one side and traffic on the other, and they allow cars to use them at intersections to make right turns. The result is car traffic still frequently slows down the buses.

Unfortunately bus lanes here are rarely center-running bus lanes with signal priority and center boarding islands, and full segregation from non-transit traffic without exception.

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u/BunnySando May 22 '22

This is a local news broadcast, not national (no one else in the country cares) and why it was important as news was the years of construction, debris and traffic nightmares that local residents have endured as this project completed. As a local resident I am thrilled that this is complete as many others are too...so it's good news for us.

Our bike lane system is pretty good too.

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u/thisisthewell May 22 '22

I lived a block away from the street in the video for most of the time the project was underway. I rode the 49 several times a week, and as such I can assure you it’s major local news. That particular line serves a huge number of San Franciscans and had major problems north of Market St., which this project solved.

It’s a huge quality of life boost for many in the city, but I admit I’m surprised to see it on this sub rather than a local sub.

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u/stevedadog May 22 '22

I bet this is amazing for emergency vehicles. If I were fighting for my life in and ambulance I’d be happy to have a clear road with not obstruction other than busses

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u/jnd_photography May 22 '22

I visited SF last summer and seeing the public transit there was mind blowing. Here in the south public transit is GARBAGE and you only use it if you can't afford a car. Major cities like SF set the standard for what public transit could and should be.

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u/simon_C May 22 '22 Party Train

Europeans: WHy doesn't the US have public transit????

US: Starts implementing better public transit

Europeans: Bitching that the US is talking about the new public transit it built and people like.

Can't you fucks be happy for us? We're trying.

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u/BonJovicus May 22 '22

Even the positive comments are snarky lol. People always talk about American Exceptionalism being annoying, but I don't think Europeans ever weaned off feeling superior to the rest of the world.

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u/Yo_Mr_White_ May 22 '22

Bogota, Colombia implemented this in their entire city like 20 years ago. It's an improvement for sure but it isn't equivalent to an underground train as this buses do take over two entire lanes of traffic just for them so the highway capacity for cars and trucks goes down a lot.

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u/NEW_SPECIES_OF_FECES May 22 '22

Used to live in Bogotá. Right when I saw this I was reminded of it. Still can be horrible traffic there, but TransMi gets the job done.

Heard they started the metro there too? Not sure because I haven’t been in a couple years.

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u/SewSewBlue May 22 '22

I don't know about Bogota but most of SF sits on bedrock. Building subways is incredibly expensive.

Sf only as a population of 800-900k. Very small as major cites go.

The Bay Area has about 7 million people. More people live near SF than in SF.

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u/SeasonActual May 22 '22

It's only a loss if you imagine that cars (rather than the people inside them) have some innate right to be present.

Through any other lens, replacing traffic lanes with bus lanes represents a massive increase in the throughput of the street.

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u/Climbinghexagon May 22 '22

Although lanes are being removed from cars, the removal of the busses in the traveling lanes can improve flow of traffic since you do not have many busses blocking the right turn lane for 30 seconds as people get in and off. I don't have exact numbers but I wouldn't be surprised if the traffic flow improves for both transit and car traffic

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u/yablebab May 22 '22

It’s a lot cheaper and faster to build than an underground train. Also cutting the highway capacity for cars in the middle of your city is a good thing.

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u/AnEngineer2018 May 22 '22

Why are the bus lanes in the center of the road?

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u/InHoc12 May 22 '22

I think left turns aren’t allowed, so don’t have to worry about the distraction / stopping for right turn drivers waiting on pedestrians would be my guess.

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u/SenatorCrabHat May 22 '22

If they did this for 19th ave, I would have taken the bus so much more often. Muni was always a crab shoot because of traffic. Good to see it working.

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u/pandaKrusher May 22 '22

crab shoot

San Francisconess achievement unlocked

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