Trends in Public Transit across the Country for 2018

Former Tesla Employee Making Electric City Buses

2018 is the year of public transit’s revival, as cities nationwide increasingly look to limit congestion, cut back on car exhaust, and make their streets more enjoyable for everyone. With the push to go green, focusing new attention on public transit, especially in regards to buses, will be instrumental in future development.

The first major trend involves the experimentation of BRT, or what’s known as bus rapid transit. In Indianapolis, work will begin this year on a 13-mile rapid transit line which will run across the city. When done, buses are expected to pick up passengers from stops every ten minutes, providing an easy and reliable ride for thousands of people. Similar projects, including bus-only lanes, are popping up in cities nationwide, including Chicago and New York.

Next up is what everyone’s been talking about lately: self-driving cars. 2018 is expected to be the year when AVs (automated vehicles) make their splash onto the markets, and we finally start to see their potential impact on our daily lives take shape. In New York, GM will soon be piloting its Chevy Bolts on the city’s streets, with the hopes of launching a robo-taxi service soon. So it’s only a matter of time that cities start to experiment with self-driving buses.

The last trend to watch out in public transit for has to do with accessibility, and how we pay for our rides. Uber and other rideshares introduced us to paying with transportation by smartphone, and this is only the beginning of what’s possible with new technology. Many cities are looking into technology known as ‘Mobility as a Service’ technology (MaaS), or using your smartphone to pay for all public transit ride options available in an area. That means tickets will go by the wayside, and you’ll be able to use one app for everything—cab, bus, and even subway.

Convenience and innovation is what the future is all about, and Northwest Bus Sales plans to be there every step of the way. Take a look at our inventory of new and used buses for sale today.

Five Accounts Bus Geeks Should Follow on Instagram

Five Accounts Bus Geeks Should Follow on Instagram

Buses are cool, just ask any social media influencer on Instagram; they have both nostalgic and new wave appeal, lending the savvy users of Instagram some creative inspiration. Check out our list of five must-follow Instagram accounts for the autobus-loving geeks of the world.

 

LA Metro (@metrolosangeles):

LA Metro links everything from trolley rides through Venice to bus routes toward Dodger Stadium. Each backdrop is beautifully tinged with the colors of a Californian sunset.

SEPTA (@septaphilly):

This is the official Instagram account of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, and they pride themselves on providing a glimpse into the shared travels of others. You’ll also get a glimpse of some stunning architecture, too.

Hauntrod (@hauntrod):

Brian Morris takes bus conversion to an entirely new (and ghostly) level. From 1938 dated Ford jail buses to dilapidated campers, the mechanic digs up the hauntingly beautiful from an ugly and forgotten world.

Chanchita Bus (@chanchitabus):

Known as “The Faction Collective,” this group of three friends chronicles their ultimate skiing excursion to Argentina. Jumping on the “skoolie” trend, they live inside their 1966 remodeled Mercedes Benz school bus as they make their way south.

Felicien Michaut Photography (@frenchcartoys): 

From his IPhone4S, this artistic French photographer aims to teach as he takes his collection of foreign-brand miniature models and places them in natural scenes, exemplifying the historical French heritage behind each vehicle. His collection includes vintage Parisian buses from 1934 on a 1/43 scale.

Get creative with your own vision: build your dream bus today with Northwest Bus Sales!

King County Metro Is Boosting Bus Service Dramatically

King County Metro Is Boosting Bus Service Dramatically

Recently, King County Metro officials announced that they would implement a single system-wide bus fare to make the bus routes in and around Seattle easier to navigate. Beginning in July 2018, all of the bus routes maintained by King County Metro will switch to a standard fare of $2.75. Then, just a few weeks after this announcement, metro officials unveiled plans for a significant expansion of King County’s bus service as well.

As of Saturday, September 23, King County Metro has added “hundreds of daily bus trips on dozens of routes across Seattle and the region,” according to The Seattle Times. This expansion includes improved late-night service from midnight to 5 a.m. on 13 routes throughout the county. Altogether, King County Metro has added more than 200 new bus trips during weekdays, and more than 100 on Saturdays and Sundays.

The bus service expansion was funded in large part thanks to the passage of Proposition 1, a tax increase which voters approved in 2014. King County Metro also chipped in an additional $30 million in funding from its two-year budget. Two more bus-service expansion are slated to occur between now and the end of 2018.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) estimates that 85 percent of the bus routes in Seattle with see improvements as a result of Metro’s expanded service. The service expansion should also result in decreased wait times at bus stops throughout the county. On some routes, wait times will be effectively cut in half. For commuters who rely on Metro’s buses to get to and from work, the expanded service is sure to be a welcome improvement.

China’s Road-Straddling Bus Takes a Test Drive

China’s Road-Straddling Bus Takes a Test Drive

Earlier this year, civil engineers at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo unveiled plans for an innovative space-saving bus that rides above traffic rather than alongside it. It’s called the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), and its unique design quickly gained a great deal of notoriety online. While some transit experts praised the bus’s road-straddling construction, others argued that it was merely a conceptual design that could never materialize into a real vehicle.

At the time, the TEB’s engineering time had nothing but a miniature scale model to demonstrate their invention. Now, just a few months later, a full-size TEB has taken its inaugural test drive in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province. The test drive was conducted in a controlled trial that didn’t exactly mimic normal driving conditions, but it did at least prove that the TEB could, in fact, be driven on a real roadway. The test drive consisted of a 300 meter run with one TEB bus carriage. Ultimately, the TEB’s designers plan to connect four of the carriages together so that a single bus could carry as many as 1,200 passengers. In addition to its one-of-a-kind design, the TEB is also unique in that it’s powered by a fully-electric drivetrain.

Even on a brief test run, watching the behemoth bus roll down the road while cars travel underneath it is an impressive sight. It’s hard to say if and when the bus will become commonplace on China’s roadways, but for now you can see the bus in action in this video of its first test run!

 

Chinese Engineers Debut Innovative Space-Saving Bus Design

Chinese Engineers Debut Innovative Space-Saving Bus Design

Here in America, many cities have begun embracing bus rapid transit systems as fast, cost-effective alternatives to subways. In China, meanwhile, engineers are taking a very different approach to modern bus transit. It’s called the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), and it debuted earlier this month at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo.

As its name suggests, the TEB’s passenger rides above traffic, rather than alongside of it. Its massive frame straddles cars, allowing them to pass underneath it without disrupting the flow of traffic. With its sleek lines and unusual form factor, the TEB looks distinctly futuristic.

Civil engineers in China hope that the TEB could allow them to bring the convenience of a subway system to cities at a fraction of the cost. Because it can carry hundreds of passengers and doesn’t require devoted lanes, TEB has the potential to be even more cost-effective than bus rapid transit systems.

“With a carrying capacity of 1,200 people at a time, the TEB has the same functions as the subway while its cost of construction is less than one fifth of the subway. Its construction can be finished in one year,” said Bai Zhiming, chief engineer of the TEB project.

Of course there are still some significant practical hurdles to overcome before the TEB hits the streets. First and foremost, drivers will likely need some time to acclimate to the idea of driving underneath enormous, highway-straddling buses. This will mean city planners will have to be careful about where they choose to implement the first TEB systems.

The engineers behind the TEB project hope to begin trial operations in Qinhaungdao City in the second half of 2016. You can check out a demonstration of the TEB in the video below!

 

New Highway Bill Aims to Repair Crumbling Infrastructure

New Highway Bill Aims to Repair Crumbling Infrastructure

Over the course of the past decade, industry analysts have become increasingly concerned about the troubled state of America’s transit infrastructure. Earlier this year, for example, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association released a report that identified 61,000 bridges as “structurally deficient.” In an effort to address concerns such as these, the Obama Administration signed a new five-year, $305 billion highway bill into law early last month. It’s known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and it’s the first major long-term highway bill to be passed in over a decade.
 

What it Means for Mass Transit

 
Of the $305 billion included in the bill, $48.7 has been allotted to repair and update the country’s mass transit systems. A large portion of this will likely be devoted to fixing an ailing rail system that has troubled the shipping industry in recent years. The FAST Act also includes legislation that makes it easier for city officials to make decisions regarding their local transit infrastructure. With the adoption of this new bill, there will (in theory) be less red tape for local transit authorities to cut through when trying to update mass transit systems or offer alternative forms of transportation such as bike lanes and car sharing programs.
 

So Where is That $305 Billion Coming From?

 
The Fast Act has the potential make some big improvements on the country’s transit system, but some legislators and economists are worried about how the funding for those improvements is being sourced. Some of the funding will be generated by selling oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve. Even more worrisome, however, is the fact that some of the funds will come directly from a Federal Reserve account. Technically speaking, Congress doesn’t have access to that money. Perhaps in an effort to preserve the country’s essential traffic infrastructure, the designers of the bill were willing to bend the rules a little (or a lot, as the case may be). After spending years trying unsuccessfully to bandage America’s aging transit infrastructure, it seems desperate times are calling for desperate measures.