New Rapid Transit Buses Are Wave of the Future

New rapid transit bus systems are being built that will not only carry your bicycle, but will be as sleek, modern and fast The commute of the future WSJas a train.

Cleveland and a few other cities are investing in new express bus systems that will try and woo drivers out of their cars, writes Kris Hudson for the Wall Street Journal.

These rapid transit buses have special electronic light changers, called “signal priority,” –yes you read that right–that will make a red light turn green, or keep a green light on longer so they can speed their way through traffic.

And many of the buses exterior designs are made to look sleek and fast, with wheel covers that blend with the exterior chassis, and downward sloping, aerodynamic fronts mimicking a train, writes Hudson.

Thirty U.S. cities have adopted some sort of rapid bus service, estimates the National Bus Rapid Transit Institute of Florida. Seattle, WA unveiled its first two rapid transit lines in 2010 and 2011.

The new bus systems have been successful in persuading those commuters who might normally associate a bus ride with being in a lower economic class, or who fear a longer commute–because then the rider doesn’t have to deal with limited parking on the other end.

That’s why Theresa Price, 43, an environmental services worker in Cleveland switched to the Healthline bus for her daily commute to the University Hospital.

Express buses in Santa Clara County, CA., have WiFi, high-back chairs with foot rests, and overhead lights to attract  Silicon Valley techie commuters.

Other rapid transit lines have been built in Kansas City, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The buses in Las Vegas include racks inside to store your bicycle, while many of the others such as Los Angeles, have exterior-front racks.

But judging by the comments left on the WSJ site, it will take a lot more than sleek buses to convert the masses who –outside of New York and New Jersey at least, long associate buses with being a part of the lower class, and with the loss of autonomy.

These two fallacies will continue to dog the American psyche as long as the car-junkie generation is still alive. Eventually, traffic-induced delays and the limits of parking will persuade drivers to give up their addictions.

“For me its the faint smell of urine, BO and vomit that makes bus travel what it is,” wrote Thomas Berardi.

And “What a clueless piece of writing! Rail has “cache” because train seats are actually designed to let you get some work done. Try checking your email and reading that white paper on the bus!,” wrote Kathleen Duke.

“Urban planning fantasies are nothing more than statist masturbation material. They get to spend vast sums of other peoples’ money to indulge in their utopian trysts that always end poorly for those they purport to help,” wrote Buck Hebner.

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