Could Bus Multiple Units (BMU)s bridge the bus-rail divide?

Here at Portland Transport, we (both editors and commenters) frequently like to engage in a bit of technical speculation, hoping for future improvements that will allow transit agencies to do more with less.  There’s lots of talk around here about electric buses, of driverless vehicles, of different vehicle configurations, and even more exotic concepts like Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) and bus/train hybrids.   And it’s a tradition ’round these parts to announce groundbreaking new transit technologies the day following March 31st.  :)

We also discuss the merits of bus vs rail a lot, and the various types thereof:  Local bus vs various grades of Bus Rapid Transit.  Streetcar vs light rail vs heavy rail (high-platform long-consist trains found in many large-city subway systems) vs commuter rail.  Some of these debates can get spirited.

Today, I’m going to discuss some utterly speculative technology that might help bridge the operational gap between large rubber-tired passenger-hauling vehicles running on paved roads (“bus”) and steel-wheeled vehicles running on steel rails.  Since I’m not aware of any existing, well-used name for the technology I’m about to discuss, I shall call it a Bus Multiple Unit (BMU).

More after the jump:

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The Future is Bright

One of the pleasures of my holiday season each year is serving on the panel reviewing presentations at the PBOT/PSU Transportation Class.

It gives me great hope for the future that we are creating a regular stream of transportation advocates who will keep making our streets better and safer. This year is no exception:

  • Alexis Gabriel (PDF, 1.6M) wants to revitalize streets, especially in East Portland, as places for people, rather than just cars.
  • Blake Goud (PDF, 625K) is looking at the challenging cycling conditions (do you enjoy finding the 12 inches between the storm drain grate and the auto lane) on Interstate Ave.
  • Anjala Ehelebe (PDF, 822K) has an interesting take on art as traffic calming, or at least entertainment while in traffic.
  • Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego (PDF, 786K) is trying to tame 82nd and Division.
  • David Kaplan (PDF, 179K) has looked at every angle on the regulation and economics of electric charging in the right-of-way on residential streets.
  • Nic Boehm (PDF, 1.3M) has a bold vision for turning Division into an exclusive transitway and bikeway.
  • Melissa Langager and Meegan Watts (PDF, 786K) are keeping the vision of “Lombard Re-imagined” alive, and are starting with a pedestrian crossing of a freeway ramp.

Keep advocating!

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KBOO Bike Show: Cyclocross

 Listen to the show (mp3, 26.1MB)

This month the Bike Show explores the life cycle of Cyclocross in the United States. From the birth of cyclocross in the 70’s, we speak with Laurence Malone– a.k.a. The Godfather of Cyclocross racing– about the sport’s humble origins in the us and what it was like to be the lone American on the starting line overseas in the early years.

We’re also be joined by current pro Ryan Trebon of the Cannondale Cyclocross World Team and recently retired and 2013 Cyclocross World Masters Champion Sue Butler about how the sport of ‘cross has (or hasn’t) grown in the ensuing years.

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December 2014 Open Thread

A few items for your consideration:

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The Future of Car Ownership

Via Planetizen:

Accounting/consulting firm KPMG predicts that the share of multi-car households will drop from today’s 57% to 43% by 2040. That will be driven by a combination of demographics and ridesharing (e.g., Uber) and carsharing (e.g. Zipcar) services.

Others suggest that autonomous vehicles could be an additional disrupter.

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