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Ahead of the curve on BRT.

Byline: The Register-Guard

The Lane Transit District is operating one leg of a bus rapid transit system, is building a second and is planning a third. With all that activity, people in the Eugene-Springfield area have become familiar with the concept behind the EmX buses, and maybe even a bit jaded about the system. A helpful antidote to complacency can be found by reading a comment from a community where the idea of bus rapid transit is still fresh: Washington, D.C.

In an editorial published on Sunday, The Washington Post expressed enthusiasm for the capital city's efforts to win federal funding to help support plans for "an extensive system of priority and dedicated bus corridors." The editorial described how "Dedicated lanes, signal priority and bus stops that are more like full-fledged stations would ... transform humdrum bus service into something akin to surface subways." Imagine that.

The Post said that with few exceptions, American cities have been slow to realize the potential of "making buses fast and reliable enough to coax commuters out of their cars." Bus rapid transit systems are most advanced in places such as Sao Paolo, Brazil; Brisbane, Australia; and Ottawa, Canada. Los Angeles has also made progress, with 400 miles of roadway dedicated to express buses. Such systems overcome the deficiencies of regular bus service, with buses that make frequent stops and are often stuck in traffic.

LTD grasped this concept years ago, realizing that increasing congestion would gradually clog bus routes and lengthen the amount of time required for transit rides. The EmX system is an attempt to address that problem before it gets worse, while other communities are turning to bus rapid transit as a solution to traffic problems that have already developed. The Eugene-Springfield area is also providing a valuable service by testing how well bus rapid transit can work in a mid-sized community.

"Anything to speed service by giving buses priority will lure passengers, ease traffic and cut pollution," the Post declared. "That's just the sort of prudent mass transit strategy that's been lacking in too many American cities." Too many, surely - but not all.
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Title Annotation:Editorials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 22, 2009
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