A Look to the Future: Innovative Public Transit

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Whether you drive, bike or ride the subway or bus each day, public transportation almost certainly affects both your daily commute to work and personal travel. For some of us, it can be a headache -- causing traffic congestion and wasting tax payer dollars -- but for others, public transit can serve as the most cost effective and convenient way to reach a desired destination.

As more people migrate into cities in search of vibrant communities, the mobility and accessibility of public transit has become a priority. While cities shift to accommodate to changing demographics, public transportation has the ability to be the key to unlock slow or underdeveloped areas and promote economic growth. In this article, we look at some unique public transportation options some cities have proposed (or undertaken) and what we can look forward to on our daily commutes in the future.

Want to "fly" to work? Using Austin, Texas as a potential pilot city, Frog Design has contrived a system of gondolas that they hope can replace the traditional bus, subway or light-rail. By taking advantage of built infrastructure, in this case buildings, the gondola network would cost substantially less and would connect neighborhoods with ease. While a subway might cost upwards of $400 million per mile to construct, and elevated light-rail, one of the most efficient methods of transit, could cost between $30 and $130 million per mile, the proposed gondola network would only take $3 million per mile to implement. And unlike bus, rail or subway systems, lines could be added with relative simplicity allowing for cities to cater to rapidly changing populations. Frog Design also claims that a gondola system could move approximately 10,000 passengers per hour equal to around 100 bus trips. Medellín, Columbia has already moved forward with a simple gondola that has sprouted growth and shortened travel time across the small city. 

A speedy bus? Is that an oxymoron? Not for Adelaide, Australia. Since 1986, the city has run the O-Bahn Busway, a unique network of buses that travel on tracks to circumvent the busy roads that cut through the city. The buses, which operate almost like trains, can hit speeds of 62 mph and carry 18,000 passengers per hour, clearing roads and reducing carbon emissions. Interchanges allow for simple and efficient transfer, preventing people from having to stand and wait endlessly on the side of the road. 

Don't want wires or tracks obstructing your city's wonders? As both a bustling city and a World Heritage Site, Bordeaux, France set out to create a network of trams that would preserve the city's beauty. The tramway is most notable for being one of the first to use a ground level power supply, avoiding the need for ugly wires and cables. The system carries around 165,000 passengers per day and has spurred growth in untouched parts of the city while maintaining the rich history and aesthetics of the city center. 

Although some of these options may seem far fetched in your city, innovation in public transit will continue to progress as we search for better ways to accommodate our growing desire to efficiently travel together.