Sunday, September 9, 2007

NoHo Trolley?

Zach Behrens at LAist is suggesting a trolley to run throughout NoHo. His routing would have the trolley creating sort of an hourglass shaped route that would run from Chandler to Moorpark along Lankershim and Vineland.

The idea - based on a similar proposal for Long Beach - is to create a circulator system that would connect the Metro Red and Metro Orange Line termini to various points in NoHo.

A better routing would be to run from the Metro Red Line at Universal City and run down the middle of Lankershim to the old Lankershim Train Station next to the Orange Line station. Stations could be placed about every 1/4 mile which would work to feed subway users to the various points in NoHo and Universal City including theatres, restaurants, shops, etc.

I can hear the chorus of voices as to why this is not a practical idea. But many cities including San Francisco (where even some of the old Pacific Electric rail cars from LA still operate) and even San Pedro here in Los Angeles have found success with creating local transit systems with historic type trolleys.

How about we think differently for a change?


Anonymous said...

Hey Gang: Maybe we need to look outside the U.S. for creative solutions to traffic and transportation. Here's a cool idea from the UK.

Intelligent Grouping Transportation
Revolutionary Taxibus Transport for 21st Century Cities

Intelligent Grouping Transportation (IGT) is a revolutionary new mode of mass public transport that can rapidly solve the problems of traffic congestion, parking congestion, vehicle-exhaust air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions with unparalleled efficacy.

IGT is a radical departure from existing concepts of transport, but is a highly practicable and eminently sensible idea, both technologically and in terms of a business model. TaxibusTo start with, IGT is exceptionally cheap to implement by transport budget standards, as it requires no infrastructure changes such as setting up rail networks, excavating underground tunnels, building extra roads, and so forth. More significantly, IGT is the first mode of rapid-response mass public transport that actually conveys passengers from door-to-door, which makes IGT vastly superior to existing modes of public transport and allows IGT to compete with - and perhaps even beat - the flexibility and convenience of the private car, therefore enticing car drivers to travel by IGT.

IGT operates using a fleet of minibus vehicles called taxibuses which travel on the road networks. Typically a taxibus will carry around six to eight passengers aboard, with the taxibus driver guided by street navigation instructions received from a computer system which automatically controls the routing of each taxibus vehicle in the fleet.

Journeying by taxibus is delightfully easy. Prospective passengers request a taxibus ride simply by submitting their current location and desired destination addresses to the IGT computer system, typically using an ordinary cellular telephone. Regularly-used addresses would be pre-programmed on the passenger's phone, so this address submission is very straightforward. As soon as a taxibus journey is requested in this way, the IGT computer system searches its database for a nearby taxibus vehicle whose current itinerary is compatible with the passenger's submitted itinerary. Once a suitable taxibus is found, it is immediately diverted to pick up and convey the new passenger.

New passengers are collected extremely quickly, generally within three minutes of submitting their journey request. Such rapid pick-up is feasible because IGT operates with a large fleet of taxibus vehicles spread across the city, continually travelling the road networks, constantly conveying passengers. A new passenger is allocated to a nearby taxibus vehicle already on the roads carrying commuters, this vehicle's itinerary being modified on-the-fly to incorporate the new passenger.

The three minute pick-up response that IGT achieves using this on-the-fly approach makes taxibus travel vastly superior to existing door-to-door public transport concepts, many of which require prospective passengers to place an order for their journey hours in advance of travel. With IGT, a passenger can spontaneously order a taxibus, even when waiting on the high street, for example, knowing that a taxibus will arrive to collect him usually within one or two minutes. This is an incredibly fast response (the feasibility of which is analysed later).

Compared to other modes of public or private transport, IGT has a remarkable overall efficiency. This extraordinary transportation efficiency results from intelligently grouping passengers with compatible itineraries onto the same vehicle. The IGT computer system automatically organises this. The computer system also creates a custom road route for the taxibus which is exactly tailored to the passengers grouped on board such that all are picked up and delivered door-to-door. The taxibus driver is directed along the custom route by the straightforward means of GPS in-car satellite navigation technology. In essence, a taxibus is like a regular bus, but with a completely flexible, computer-generated route weaving through a sequence of passenger pick-up and drop-off addresses, rather than along a rigid bus route with its fixed bus stops. The taxibus concept has become practicable due to the advent of in-car navigation technology and cellular communications technology.

Note that IGT bears little operational resemblance to the 'Super Shuttle' (a small-scale transport system in the US for taking passengers to and from the airport) or to any other type of Demand Responsive Transport. IGT runs an incomparably larger fleet of transit vehicles, and moreover, employs instantaneous, on-the-fly vehicle routing. Only recent advances in technology make it practicable to perform on-the-fly taxibus routing, which makes a sub-three minute passenger pick-up feasible. No other Demand Responsive Transport system has ever aimed for a pick-up response anywhere near as fast as this.
Passengers with compatible itineraries are placed onto the same taxibus

If you are a car driver and have ever 'dropped somebody off' along your route, with little inconvenience to yourself because your passenger's destination was exactly in your direction, then you already understand the basic principle of IGT.

There are many advantages to concurrently transporting several passengers together in the same taxibus. Although the journey obviously takes a little longer than going by car or taxi, taxibus travel is much quicker than a bus ride and is much more flexible and convenient. Grouping passengers with compatible itineraries into the same taxibus allows fare costs to be kept low, comparable to bus fares. Such grouping is also fundamental to decreasing the number of cars on the roads, since people who would have otherwise journeyed in their individual cars can instead travel in a taxibus and enjoy exactly the same door-to-door service that their automobiles provide - and with the added benefit of not having to worry about finding a parking space.

Analysis indicates that introducing a fleet of taxibuses can massively reduce the quantity of road traffic. As much as an 80% decrease in the number of cars on the roads is feasible, yet this remarkable reduction in traffic levels is achieved without decreasing the number of passenger journeys taking place on the road networks (which is important for maintaining the economic vitality of a city). IGT is also a very community-oriented mode of transport, catering for everybody, and bringing together people who share similar itineraries.
The IGT system is composed of four main elements:

# Taxibus Vehicles that travel the roads
# Cellular Telephones & Networks to transmit data
# GPS In-Car Satellite Navigation to guide taxibuses
# Computer Systems to orchestrate the taxibus fleet

All these elements already exist and are already in place; they just need to be 'bolted together' to create the IGT system.

The beauty of IGT is that its performance dramatically improves as its scale of operation is increased. The more people using the system, and the more taxibuses there are operating per square mile, the more the taxibus routing efficiency increases. Routing efficiency improves simply because with more travellers, it becomes statistically easier to find passengers with highly compatible itineraries. For large-scale IGT operations, taxibus routing becomes so direct that travelling by taxibus is almost as fast as going by car.

Note that greater routing efficiency can also be obtained with a small taxibus fleet, if this fleet is confined to a specific area of a city. It is the taxibus vehicle density which is important, not the actual number of vehicles in the fleet. In urban areas, efficiency of scale begins to kick in when there are around 15 taxibuses operating per square mile.

In summary: IGT is an immediate and elegant solution to many critical problems, with the potential to become one of the primary modes of public transport in towns and cities throughout the world. A swarm of IGT taxibuses can be quickly implemented at low cost; they are inexpensive to run and require little or no alteration to the physical and technological infrastructures of the town or city. These characteristics make IGT practicable for both developed and developing nations.

In the long-term, IGT will completely transform the urban landscape, bringing fresher air, much less traffic, and providing a highly efficient public transport service that will greatly improve the quality of metropolitan life.

The Extraordinary Capabilities of IGT

Here are a few summary facts and figures about IGT.

A fleet of just 20 thousand taxibuses, introduced to a major city such as Paris, New York or London, will provide the city with an astounding 8 million passenger journeys during each 24 hour period. We can compare this to London's 20 thousand licensed taxi cabs which transport around 0.5 million passengers during the same period, or London's 6 thousand buses which carry a total of 4 million passengers each day (in buses that have a capacity of around 80 people). Another point of comparison is the London Underground which provides 2.5 million passenger journeys every day.

Analysis shows that the taxibus vehicles and controlling computer system for this IGT taxibus fleet have a capital cost of around UK £800 million (US $1.4 billion). This is very inexpensive considering that this taxibus fleet will provide more passenger journeys each day than the entire London Underground AND London's buses put together, which is quite astounding. These low installation and running costs are a result of the fact that the main technologies underpinning IGT (cellular communications, global positioning, and electronic navigation technology) are maintained and financed entirely independently. This is a significant point to appreciate. Furthermore, as these technologies advance and improve - which they are doing at a rapid rate - the IGT system automatically benefits. City planners considering building an expensive metro system may want to reconsider: they will find they are better off implementing the taxibus instead.

An IGT system can also be set up at a fraction of this budget. One of the virtues of IGT is that it can grow organically, and it is therefore possible to implement a very small fleet of taxibuses to start with, serving a specific, localised area within a city. For example: a fleet comprising a few hundred taxibuses, restricted to the central business district of a city, would provide that region with a rapid point-to-point transit service, helping to promote a healthy business ecology in that zone. Equally, a taxibus fleet can be set up to serve a specific residential region, and perhaps helping to forge a community spirit in that area. Later, when budget allows, more taxibuses can be purchased and the fleet extended to cover more areas of the city. Of course, in the case of a small town or village, a tiny taxibus fleet is all that is required to service the whole populace.

As far as the environment is concerned, analysis indicates that in major cities, for every 10 thousand taxibuses introduced, 60 thousand private automobiles can be cleared from the roads, assuming car drivers travel by taxibus instead. In London, for example, there are around 250 thousand vehicles on the roads during the day, and a fleet of 20 thousand taxibuses could reduce this by a net 100 thousand vehicles - a cut of nearly half - which is a phenomenal amount. As transportation generates 90% of a city's air pollution, and contributes to about 30% of an industrial nation's greenhouse gas emissions, IGT's enormous potential to improve the environment becomes abundantly clear.

I_ArtMan said...

good idea. after navigating noho for five months without a car. i can see the beauty in you suggestion.