Archives for the month of: November, 2010

Closer to home [but on the other side of the country], is another example of rapid bus transit.  In 2005, LA introduced a 14 mile bus rapid transit system that used a former rail right-of-way.  While probably not the most successful, what can we learn from this and other examples?  Could aspects of these systems work for Rochester?  Could making the commute more convenient begin to bring more people to downtown and eventually foster a desire to stay?

While Curitiba‘s rapid bus transit system is more familiar to the world, Bogotá also has an exciting and successful one of its own [TransMilenio] where the city’s original plans to build elevated highways were eliminated in lieu of a more robust bus system.  Their buses are somewhat like subways in that they have their own lanes and passengers pay at stations [instead at the entry of each bus].  There are also free feeder buses that transport people in the outer areas to the stations as well as free bicycle parking at the stations to encourage people to bike to and from the stations.  Take a look at the video below to learn more about the system.

For Spanish readers, you can visit the TransMilenio website.

I recently came across the organization Rail~Volution that is trying to initiate a national movement to develop “livable communities with transit. Livable communities are those that are healthy, economically vibrant, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable.”  See what some of the people who recently attended the conference are talking about.

I found some information on the commuters of Monroe County [where Rochester is located].  Not surprisingly, the majority of commuters work commute 10-25 minutes away from home and most drive alone.  This is not a unique condition, but is prevalent all over this country.  Are there ways to shift that large number of drivers towards some other alternate modes of transport?  Could we alter the image and experience of these alternatives?  One place to start is to imagine a series of multi-nodal interchanges where various modes of transportation meet and become a point of intense intersections.  These could then connect and link to other smaller distribution and so on.  These points could also become attractors for the less occupied downtown and perhaps could one day become one of vibrancy.

 

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information based on data from the US Census Bureau

 

The public bus system, in many cases across the US, tend to have a stigma associated with it.  How can we begin to transform this perception in a city dominated by suburban commuters?  Could we change the current social standing of riding the bus to one that is efficient and enjoyable?

I came across a new generation of design for a series of bus stops developed by MIT’s SENSEable Cities Lab called EyeStop.  It’s solar powered and runs interactive programs such as live updates on the status of the bus.

There is so much redevelopment activity happening in Rochester right now.  In addition to the plan to replace the current Amtrak station in Rochester, a new bus terminal in downtown is also in the works.

Since I am investigating a network of intersections as transfer stations, I thought it would be best to map the current transit systems/routes in downtown.  They include the river, train, bus and bike.

river + city streets

river + city streets + train

river + city streets + train + bus routes

river + city streets + train + bike routes

river + city streets + train + bike routes + bus routes

river + city streets + train + bike routes + bus routes + newly proposed train and bus station

I’ve started to take a quick survey of various transportation projects, both realized and not, in an effort to get a feel of what type of physical and social intersections they possess.  They range from strict transportation interchanges to integrated shopping centers.

OMA-Barcelona Airport Terminal, 1992 competition entry

Transbay Terminal by Richard Rogers, 2007

 

Kamppi Center, Helsinki, Finland by Juhani Pallasmaa, 2001-5

This transportation center includes a central bus terminal for both local and long distance buses, metro station, freight train, parking, shopping center, and residential housing.

While these projects are too ambitious in scale for a city like Rochester, it is interesting to see what is out there and the types of formal, experiential, and social conditions they might bring to a place.

There is news of a proposal for a new train and inter-city bus station.  This is the result of a $1.5 million federal stimulus grant to New York state to replace the current Amtrak station located  on Central Avenue.  As seen in the google image below, it’s not the most inviting place.

I think this is a great opportunity to rethink the idea of public transportation systems and how various systems might intersect.

High energy interchanges or moments of intense intersection could be an interesting proposition for mute and desolate downtowns.  In Rochester’s case, we could begin to explore locations such as those shown in the previous post.  I’ve been looking at some Piranesi etchings of fantasy worlds and their interesting level of complexity both in physical connections of networkds and the overall atmosphere.  Could we create a hub where rail, car, bicycles and pedestrians weave at various levels of ground?  Other support spaces and programs would need to exist that would eventually begin to not only facilitate a dense point of activity, but also generate a desire to move back into the downtown.

My current interest lies in the intersection of transportation infrastructures, both historic and imagined.  They could support various modes of transportation as well as other support systems such as places of exchange and gathering.