Friday, July 30, 2010

Choices and food for thought regarding Public Transportation

Our family moved into Langley from Burnaby in 1978. In 1978, the roads were not as congested as they are today and there was reasonable public transportation. Now in 2010 there are a lot more people and our roads are congested.

Earlier this summer, my wife and I took a river cruse from Amsterdam to Budapest and I observed the public transportation in the different areas. Amsterdam had a great public transportation and a lot of their ideas would work well in the South Fraser.

Public Transportation in Amsterdam starts with modern and fast passenger trains that bring people in from the outlying areas. Some passenger rail stations are also next to the Rhine Canal which is also used for public transportation. Outside of the passenger rail stations were three choices of transportation. First were bicycles that people could park outside of the passenger rail stations free of charge. At one station there were three huge parking ramps that we in North America would use for motor vehicles, but were filled with bicycles. These three ramps were still not enough to accommodate all the bicycles and there were bicycles all around the rail station as well. At the station, there was also a place to rent bicycles and the bicycles did not have to be ridden back to the rail station. The company that rented the bicycles had offices all over Amsterdam and a rider could leave the bicycle at any one of them. Riding a bicycle around Amsterdam was relatively easy since the bicycle lanes which were actually a separated from motor traffic. The bicycle lanes even had their own traffic signals.

The second form of transportation just outside the passenger rail station in Amsterdam was what we would call streetcars and what they are called trams in Holland.

There were a large number of these trams that went all over Amsterdam for a reasonable price. These trams ran with electric overhead wires with metal rails around them that looked like they could not fall off. When we used the tram, it was relatively fast, very comfortable and went down the middle of the road. Another good point was that there was only about a minute or so between trams and even though these trams where going to different places no one had to wait long.

The third form of transportation just outside the passenger rail station in Amsterdam was buses which were just on the other side of the trams. There did not seem to be as many buses and I did not see many public buses in Amsterdam. I saw more tourist buses than public transportation buses on the whole entire trip.

There did not seem to be many motor vehicles around the passenger rail stations in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam seemed to have the best transportation system of any other European city or town we visited which had fairly good systems themselves.

We did see a taxi driver in Budapest get a little annoyed and that was a very small incident. Motor vehicle drivers in the places we visited seemed to be patient, courteous and cautious. There was no real road rage and surprisingly we never heard even a horn honk. In the European places we visited, there were very few if any right turns and I was informed that in most cases right turns are illegal.

The Rhine, Main and Danube rivers and canals from Amsterdam to Budapest are used for used for public transportation as well as commercial transportation and recreation purposes.

Every place we visited had an extensive use of bicycles and there was a lot of rail based transportation.

1 comment:

Robert in Calgary said...

No chance for a side trip to Karlsruhe?

My copy of "The Transit Metropolis" arrived Friday afternoon. I was browsing through the table of contents when chapter 13, on Karlsruhe and adaptive LRT, caught my eye. Very interesting.