Should Transit Services Ditch the Turnstile?

Should Transit Services Ditch the Turnstile?

If you take public transit to get where you need to go, you know the awful feeling of swiping your metro card and running full speed into the turnstile. Ouch! So we’ve been wondering, should transit services across the country get rid of these pesky turnstiles?

 

The main reason that turnstiles and other forms of payment proof exist is to prevent people from stealing a ride on their city’s public transit. Most transit authorities refer to those who jump the turnstiles as “fare evaders.” According to the NY Daily News, in New York City in 2013, almost 25,000 people were arrested for fare evasion. In other words, the people arrested for fare evasion in 2013 in New York City would fill up Madison Square Garden—with 5,000 people left standing on the stage.

So you need the turnstiles, don’t you? Well, in Norway in 2005, faulty turnstiles that caused some people to get trapped after they paid their metro fare inspired Norwegians to ditch the turnstile altogether. Instead, Norway started selling metro tickets based on an honor-system, with automated options for payment like smartphone apps and reloadable fare cards, and the occasional metro personnel patrolling the train cars and demanding proof of payment.

But wouldn’t that incite a free-for-all? Actually, according to Wired, the new system in Norway led to faster transit travel, less crowding, and no increase in fare evasion. Turns out, when there’s a hefty fine at stake, most humans like to follow the rules!

A similar experiment in California where riders purchased bus tickets before boarding, or tapped their prepaid card at the bus’s door entrance, increased ridership, decreased wait times, and fare evasion decreased from about 10% in 2009 to 7.9% in 2014.

So you’ve heard our demand, transit authorities of America. Bring down the turnstiles! (And upgrade to a more effective method of ticket taking!)

If you’re on the market for a bus, turnstiles not included, click here to check out our available inventory.

RTC Transit App Is Saving Thousands of Dollars in Expenses

RTC Transit App Is Saving Thousands of Dollars in Expenses

Last year, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada released a smartphone app called rideRTC that allows riders to purchase tickets digitally and easily find bus routes to locations throughout Las Vegas. The app was designed to make it easier for visitors to find their way around the city, and eliminate barriers that might dissuade people from using public transportation. In addition to helping people plan their bus rides, rideRTC can also connect people with ridesharing services and find RTC Bike Share locations around Las Vegas.

Now, less than 10 months after the app was released, the RTC has revealed some promising figures about its performance.

Since rideRTC went live, riders have used it to purchase more than 100,000 bus passes. By eliminating the need to print paper passes, the app has already saved the RTC an estimated $10,000. As rideRTC’s user base continues to grow, these savings are expected to increase in the future. On average, the RTC estimates their app is being downloaded more than 6,000 times per month.

In conjunction with the release of their transit app, the RTC also outfitted all of its fixed-route buses with “scan and go” mobile ticket validators that allow people to validate their bus fares with a smartphone. By modernizing and streamlining Las Vegas’ transit service, the RTC hopes to increase ridership rates and successfully adapt to the changing landscape of public transit.

Looking for a new bus to round out your fleet?  You can find a variety of great new and used options at Las Vegas Bus Sales. Browse our inventory online or give us a call today at our toll-free number to learn more.

In St. Louis, a Metro Bus Hits 1 Million Miles

In St. Louis, a Metro Bus Hits 1 Million Miles

There’s a special kind of pride that comes with taking good care of a vehicle and watching the odometer tick into high mileages. But while many people are content to retire their vehicles after 100,000 miles or so, the Metro transit service in St. Louis has achieved an even more impressive accomplishment by running a bus for an incredible 1 million miles.

Its Cummins M11 engine has never required an overhaul despite being driven consistently for more than a decade and a half.

“To put it into perspective, it’s the same as if this bus had traveled around the world more than 40 times,” said John Nations, president and CEO of Metro transit’s parent company in an interview.

St. Louis Metro officials credit their rigorous vehicle maintenance program with enabling them to keep the bus on the road as long as they have.

The Metro service began redesigning its fleet maintenance program in 2001, and since then the expected lifespan of transit buses in St. Louis has increased from about 500,000 miles to 750,000 miles.

Although this is the first bus they’ve managed to run for 1 million miles, they expect more of their veteran buses to hit that same mark in the next couple of years.

In addition to increasing the lifespans of its buses, Metro’s improved fleet maintenance program has also dramatically reduced breakdown rates, making its service far more reliable for riders in St. Louis. It just goes to show how a little extra maintenance and attention to detail can make a transit bus a great investment for the future.

Experimental Singapore Bus Stop Aims to “Make Waiting Fun”

Experimental Singapore Bus Stop Aims to “Make Waiting Fun”

Generally speaking, bus stops aren’t known for being places that people look forward to visiting.

Instead, these small, spartan shelters serve as waypoints on the path to bigger and better destinations. In many cities, however, commuters spend a significant portion of their work weeks waiting for rides at bus stations.

That’s why transit officials in the Jurong Lake District of Singapore decided to create a bus stop loaded with amenities to provide commuters with an extra measure of comfort and convenience while they wait.

After coming up with the idea for a bus stop that could “make waiting fun,” Singapore officials recruited local design firm DP Architects to bring their vision to life.

At first glance, the prototype bus stop doesn’t look too different from the extended platforms you might see on a bus rapid transit route or an elevated subway station. Take a closer look, however, and you’ll find that this bus stop is anything but average.

On top of the bus station sits a vibrant rooftop garden and an array of solar panels for power.

Beneath the canopy, commuters can access free Wi-Fi service and charging stations for phones and other mobile devices.

  • There’s a bookshelf with free reading material that bus riders can take with them on their trip, and a digital panel where they can download ebooks by scanning QR codes.
  • There’s also an interactive journey-planning and bus-tracking board where commuters can find new routes around the city.
  • There’s even a swing for the bus system’s younger patrons to enjoy while they wait.

The designers at DP Architects hope that their creation will help community members to see how a bus stop can be “an extension of their social environments,” and “inspire the community to take greater ownership in shaping their own environments.”

The bus stop has been operational for six months now, and Singapore officials plan to revisit the design in the fall to see if its amenities could be adapted to other waiting areas in the city as well.

To see the innovative bus stop for yourself, you can check out the photos here from CityLab.

Designer Creates Comprehensive Transit Map for NYC

Designer Creates Comprehensive Transit Map for NYC

New York City’s famous public transport system is known for being a lot of things, but simple isn’t one of them.

Even for longtime residents of the city, finding the quickest route from one destination to another can be challenging.

The complexity of the NYC transit system has been compounded by the fact that the city’s Metro Transit Authority (MTA) has never created a map that includes both subway lines and bus routes. Instead, riders must consult different maps to see all the different components that comprise the city’s massive public transit system.

Soon, however, thanks to New York City native and professional designer Anthony Denary, transit riders may finally be able to see all their available bus routes and subway lines in one simple map.

  • Denary calls it the “Bullet Map,” and he’s recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund both an app and a printed version of the map. So far, he’s generated more than half of his $8,000 fundraising goal.
  • He was inspired to design the map based on his experiences growing up in Queens. Although he had spent years transferring from the Q5 bus line to the E train in Jamaica, he had never seen a complete picture of the city’s bus map.
  • After drafting his own map, he realized that there were more efficient transit routes around the city that he’d never been aware of.

Now, he’s hoping that his map will help to alleviate transit “tunnel vision” so that other people can find new, faster routes around the city as well. Ultimately, he hopes the map might even be adopted by the MTA.

Next time you’re visiting The City That Never Sleeps, be sure to keep an eye out for the Bullet Map app to make your travels a little easier.

Las Vegas Gets a New Mobile Transit App

Las Vegas Gets a New Mobile Transit App

There’s some exciting news for public transit riders here in Las Vegas!

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) has released a new smartphone app that makes it easier than ever to purchase tickets and find bus routes around the city.

The app, rideRTC, was developed in a partnership with Masabi, a London-based technology company whose JustRide mobile ticketing platform is used by more than 25 other transportation agencies around the globe. Using rideRTC, commuters and visitors to Las Vegas can locate bus stops, track buses in real time, and purchase transit passes in advance.

“RTC Transit takes you where Vegas takes you, yet potential riders, especially visitors, may not know where to find bus stops, how transit can get them to their destinations, or how to buy tickets,” said RTC general manager Tina Quigley in a statement. “The new rideRTC app removes all of these challenges visitors face in a new city and puts the information conveniently in the palm of their hand.”

In addition to the app’s bus-based functionality, rideRTC can be used to help people find a number other forms of transportation as well. Users can plan rides with Uber, for example, or find RTC Bike Share locations around the city.

By the end of the year, RTC transit vehicles will all have electronic readers to validate mobile passes from the app.

In an effort to encourage people to try the new app, the RTC has also announced that it will be partnering with AT&T to give users the chance to win a $150 Visa gift card. Each person who downloads the app will be entered into a drawing that runs until the April 30, 2017. Take it for a spin, and let us know what you think!

Study Finds Transit Riders Value Service Over Amenities

Study Finds Transit Riders Value Service Over Amenities

In recent years, transit companies all across the country have begun installing a variety of amenities such as Wi-Fi routers and charging stations in buses to try to incentivize ridership.

It’s a strategy that makes sense in theory, given our ever-increasing dependence on handheld electronics and Internet connectivity. In practice however, it may not be as effective as transit services would hope.

According to a new report from research group TransitCenter, Wi-Fi routers might be nice frills, but it’s fast, reliable service that riders really want.

The researchers surveyed more than 3,000 respondents from 17 regions throughout the country about what kinds of improvements they’d like to see from their local transit services. Options included power outlets, Wi-Fi connections, shelters designed for bad weather conditions, cheaper fares and more frequent service.

The survey found that the two most important determining factors in rider satisfaction are service frequency and travel times.

  • Real-time ride updates and improved shelters were also high on the list for many respondents.
  • Wi-Fi connections and power outlets, on the other hand, were the least important factors for rider satisfaction.

While this doesn’t mean that transit companies should abandon amenities like Wi-Fi service altogether, it does suggest that they would have better luck increasing ridership rates by investing in service improvements first. Commuters don’t expect much in the way of bells and whistles from their buses and subway systems. What they really want is a service they can count on to get them where they need to go, when they need to be there.

Detroit Reveals Plans to Revitalize its Ailing Transit System

Detroit Reveals Plans to Revitalize its Ailing Transit System

In the first half of the 20th century, Detroit was one of the foremost hubs of industry and engineering in the United States. For decades, the Motor City manufactured millions of automobiles for drivers all over the world. Then, the energy crisis of the 1970s forced American automakers to scale back their operations, and the city fell on hard times.  Since then, Detroit has struggled to curb an economic collapse that left the city in bankruptcy in 2013.

City planners in Detroit have long identified a slow, fragmented public transit system as one of the chief obstacles to the city’s economic renewal.

  • In 2012, the Michigan State Legislature approved the creation of a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to bridge the gap between Detroit’s two independent transit services – the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART).
  • Now, four years later, the RTA has unveiled its plan to overhaul Detroit’s transit system to make it faster, more accessible and commuter-friendly.

The RTA’s plan focuses primarily on revamping Detroit’s bus service.

  • New cross-county routes will be implemented to connect separate SMART and DDOT routes, eliminating the need for riders to transfer between lines and wait for multiple buses.
  • In addition, commuter express routes will run during rush hour between the city’s most populous areas and the places with the most employers.
  • Finally, the RTA plans to construct dedicated lanes for a bus rapid transit service to quickly move people around the city and surrounding suburbs.

 

The RTA is expected to ask voters to approve a $1.2 million tax levy to fund the project later this year. Many of Detroit’s residents hope that fixing the broken transit system will be a significant step forward in the city’s recovery.

In San Francisco, Riders Can Now Pay Bus Fare With PayPal

In San Francisco, Riders Can Now Pay Bus Fare With PayPal

Over the course of the past couple of years, a number of industry disruptors such as Uber and Lyft have forced public transit services to rethink their business strategies to keep ridership levels afloat.

San Francisco, a city with a long history of innovation in public transit, is the latest municipality to update their business model for the 21st century.

Back in January, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced that they would be partnering with mobile ticketing and payment platform GlobeSherpa to create a dedicated mobile app for ticket transactions.

After months of planning and anticipation, the app was finally made available to customers in November.

It’s called MuniMobile, and it’s designed to be especially convenient for tourists and casual riders. Once downloaded on Android or iOS, riders can save bank card information or link the app with their PayPal account. They can also purchase tickets for later and then redeem them from their smartphones.

“This mobile fare payment pilot program is part of our efforts to improve the customer’s experience on the Muni system. With this new app, riders will be able to buy tickets on their phones anywhere and anytime,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin in a press release.

The SFMTA’s pilot program might be the first of its kind, but it certainly won’t be the last. Other cities with well-established public transportation infrastructures and prosperous tourist industries will likely follow suit in the near future.

It’s a step in the right direction to help cities and their citizens make the most of public transit services.

See Japan by Bus for Just $1200 a Ticket

See Japan by Bus for Just $1200 a Ticket

No, that wasn’t a typo. A Tokyo-based company is now offering luxury bus tours throughout the country for $1200 a pop.

And get this: that’s the economy package. A longer three day trip can cost you upwards of $2500. Granted, that price does include the cost of your meals and a stay in a hotel, but we suspect these expenses account for a pretty small portion of the total ticket price.

The passenger compartments of the buses are based on the first class sections of airplanes. With plush leather interiors, flat screen seatback TV’s and more legroom than you can shake a stick at, they do look pretty luxurious, but when your bus tour through the Japanese countryside costs as much as your plane ticket around the world, we can’t help but wonder if it’s all worth it.

The buses, which only accommodate 10 passengers at a time, might appeal to you if you’re the sort that doesn’t care for big tour groups. Of course, unless you have a few grand in disposable income lying around, your preference for small tour groups won’t matter much anyway.

In spite of the astronomic cost of tickets, the touring company is reporting a successful travel season this summer. Thus far, their largest demographic seems to be retirees.

You can get a taste of the Premium Cruiser experience in this promo video from the company’s website. Sit back and enjoy some of the finest natural beauty, overly attentive attendants, and wacky translations Japan has to offer. Also, is that coffee in a paper cup? Seems like they could’ve at least sprung for ceramic.