Dedicated transitways in DC and San Francisco
Red-painted dedicated bus lane on Georgia Avenue.
While I think that we need a dedicated network of transitways and other bus prioritization measures to make bus-based surface transit more effective, one of the problems of having such lanes is that because in most places bus service isn't that frequent, the lanes are empty much of the time.
The key is to put them in the places where they are most needed and build outward. For example, in DC, H Street in Downtown would be the #1 place, because a number of bus lines, not just the high frequency X2 bus, use that stretch.
Or 16th Street (16th Street NW Transit Priority Planning Study, DC Department of Transportation).
This is proving to be the case of the temporary lanes on Rhode Island Avenue NE in DC, which were added in response to Metrorail station closures on the Red Lane ("How D.C.'s 'pop-up' bus lane became like any other lane of traffic," Washington Post).
Statistics on dedicated bus lane usage, Rhode Island Avenue NE, Washington, DC. From the Express newspaper, 8/28/2018, p. 8.
Having lived in that area briefly, and knowing that bus transit service in the corridor is not high frequency, I didn't expect the experiment to go well, although I self-censored as to not make the smart growthers look bad ("Red Line shutdown will show the greatness of dedicated bus lanes," MobilityLab).
But I shouldn't ever forget that knowledge-based practice is best, not what Suzanne calls "wishcraft," where what people want trumps the likelihood of what is possible and likely based on reality.
From the standpoint of successfully implementing "controversial" transportation and land use practices, I recommend starting off in those settings and situations where you will be wildly successful, rather than taking on the challenge of successful implementation in a setting where success from the outset is no more than 50/50.
2. San Francisco is adding bus lanes to Geary Boulevard. I had no idea that the bus service in that corridor has about 54,000 riders/day, which is more than double the highest ridership routes in DC (which top out in the mid-20,000s).
The plan is to allow "private shuttles" to also use the lanes ("City approves red transit-only lanes on Geary for use by private shuttles, Chariot," San Francisco Examiner).
These can include the "Google buses" that take people from SF to work in Silicon Valley, which have been the target of anti-gentrification protests ("San Francisco's guerrilla protest at Google buses,"
"Geeks on the Google bus create giant social problem," and "The truth inside the Google bus lawsuit: gentrification," Guardian).
Some advocates are protesting against allowing private transit to use the lanes.
But from a transportation demand management perspective, facilitating the mass movement of people by transit should be prioritized, regardless of what entity provides the service.
Plus it will make the lanes more full of buses, thereby making it harder for automobiles to use the lanes illegally, in the face of minimal enforcement.
The best way to have the lanes be bus exclusive is to fill them up with buses.
Granted some people do make a legitimate point that the high use bus line should be the priority. Given that it is likely at most to have a bus come every 3 minutes, it can withstand access to private transit.
It does raise the point I made in May ("Another example of the need to reconfigure transpo planning and operations at the metropolitan scale: Boston is seizing dockless bike share bikes, which compete with their dock-based system," that from the standpoint of managing transit and sustainable mobility services in a metropolitan area it will be a struggle for these government-led organizations to integrate for profit providers into the mix.