Welcome to Catbus, a Transit Blog

May 27th, 2010 by ant6n

Why Talk about public transportation?

Transit is not just a means to get from A to B. Transit, or lack thereof, is not a fact of life that you just have to deal with. It’s an important issue because transportation shapes our cities. It is directly connected with how livable and enjoyable a city, your neighborhood is. A city that is less dependent on cars and is instead more walkable turns public spaces into areas where people live, instead of concrete deserts where people hastily pass through in their mobile fortresses that separate them from their community.

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in public transportation, especially in North America, after decades of stagnation. This is probably due to the desire to create more livable cities that are not based on cars, and the realization that an oil and car-based society is not sustainable, and comes with a high price. This and climate change lead to a growing desire for more green alternatives.

In the last decade we have seen the Renaissance of the Streetcar, the first construction of a new subway line in New York in 60 years, an ambitious plan to squeeze 30 years worth of subway extensions into the next 10 years in LA and a commitment to build a High Speed Rail network in North America. The Overhead Wire called the rush and excitement to build all these new lines the Transit Space Race.

At the same time we are seeing large investments in transit in Asia, for example the new metro in New Delhi, Shanghai becoming the city with the largest metro network, and China building the largest High Speed Rail network in the world.

There is the will to create more transit, but at the same time the recent recession is forcing transit agencies to cut service or hike fares.

But it’s not just about the will or the funding to build and maintain transit, but also about creative ideas on how to organize transit. Some claim that the kinds of transit systems in use today have been around for more than half a century basically in its current form: bus, subway, train, etc. So one just needs the funding to build and maintain one of these systems. But in fact there has been a fair amount of innovation and ideas during the last two decades, like bike sharing systems, ways to make buses have similar capacities as a metro, ways to use existing infrastructure to build much cheaper rapid transit systems. Creative ideas are cropping up to make transit generally more appealing without actually building new lines, by reorganizing it or by using information technology.

This blog is about these ideas and implementations of them and the ‘transit race’ in general. I also want to talk about the desire to create more human transit and better cities as well.

About Me

I grew up in Berlin, Germany, and live in Montreal, Canada now, for half a decade. I feel this gives me both the European and North American perspective, and I have traveled a fair amount on both continents. In many of the issues I want to talk about one of the cities (or both) might be used as an example. But despite this focus, this does not mean that the issues in general are not applicable to other places.

I should’ve been an architect or urban planner by heritage, yet I am a computer scientist by trade, and a transit geek at heart.

3 Responses to “Welcome to Catbus, a Transit Blog”

  1. Catbus» Blog Archive » How a Bus is a Metro in Bogotá Says:

    […] Catbus A blog about transit ideas and implementations « Welcome to Catbus, a Transit Blog […]

  2. Matthew Says:

    Love the name. If only we all had our own Catbus.

  3. Sophia Says:

    Did it!

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