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nb

Also checkout Capital Square in Madison, WI for a good central bus hub.

Nqrw.blogspot.com

At worst, Friedersdorf's idea could be interpreted as the creation of one single space which intends to concentrate all the activity of transit users, with bus lanes helping to take buses quickly away from downtown. That risks creating a ghetto of captive transit riders that doesn't contribute to the surrounding streets, and reduces the extent to which buses are visible to other potential riders.

This is different from a good transit mall, the surroundings of which, as you describe, vary with the character of the particular area of downtown through which it's passing, and helps create vibrant and attractive streets in such a way that businesses like the Hilton who might not identify their clientele as transit riders themselves.

While enclosed spaces with skybridges might provide useful facilities for transit users, they are even more cut off from the street, and risk coming to be thought of as spaces to be used only by those who really can't afford cars.

On the other hand, concentrating buses in one place is very useful for transfers. I think, then, that in some networks (radial ones more than grid ones, where as you've covered before, transfers work differently), a central facility can be useful. However, it is probably best that transit services run through on a logical axes (this is common practice in British cities), share common routes with other buses through other parts of downtown and make stops along those routes.

If done well, this approach should enable most of the downtown area to be accessible by either a short walk from the closest stop, or a transfer in the central hub. What cities don't need is an island that leaves transit cut off from the rest of the city.

EngineerScotty

Actually, the Portland Transit Mall has three major interchange points along it. Pioneer Square is one; but you also have Union Station and the Greyhound stop at the north end of the mall, and PSU (and interchange with the Streetcar) at the south end. The Milwaukie MAX line will essentially extend the transit corridor southeast to the South Waterfront area, and across the river to OMSI.

But two important things about Portland mall:

1) It is equally important as an interchange point, and as a destination point.

2) It is located in an area where there was already existing activity.

Nqrw.blogspot.com

The above comment should have read "in such a way as to attract businesses like the Hilton...".

And indeed, those are the qualities that make good transit malls like in Portland a good thing. Building a good interchange point without any of the other characteristics is less of a good idea.

Anc

Seattle seems to be going for a 3-Hub Strategy, how do you think this will stack up?

http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/ccafuturecentercitynetwork-012205.pdf

The Westlake/McGraw Plaza seems like a progress.

http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/westlakehub_streetcarplaza.htm

Richard Masoner

Boulder's transit center isn't optimal, but it's only a block away from the Pearl Street Mall.

Santa Cruz Metro Center is another decent example -- it anchors the end of downtown Santa Cruz, California along Pacific Avenue which is fairly lively.

Diridon Station in San Jose, CA is an example of a major transit hub with little commercial life -- thousands of people come through daily for Amtrak, 3 heavy commuter rail lines, employee shuttles, light rail and a dozen or so bus route connections from three different agencies that all converge on Diridon Station, but it's surrounded by acres and acres of parking.

None of these are anything close to the 'high end' plazas like some of your other examples -- they're basically very large bus shelters with multiple lanes.

Scott

While it's in a somewhat smaller city than Spokane, I think well of the purpose built, very central transit mall in Salem-Keizer, Oregon ("my old home town"). It meets most of the criteria under discussion, and was built some time ago despite virulent opposition from the local Gannett newsrag.

Sadly, having the mall has not brought stable support for transit funding from either voters or, perhaps even more importantly, the powerful Chamber of Commerce. Service has been slashed heavily over the last few years.

Westnorth

I've always been somewhat indifferent towards bus transfer centers; bringing all those loud and smelly buses together hardly creates an inviting environment, even before you add the bum-proof benches and inevitable P&R garage. On the other hand, they're usually the only place in town which offers adequate transit network information. I'd also be curious to see where the break-point is between having a bus grid, a bus mall, or a single bus transfer point -- the former two being for much larger downtowns.

Anyhow, I'll mention two good ones: Bellevue, Washington thoughtfully placed its transfer depot in the middle of its new-ish downtown, right along the main pedestrian spine. It was easy to find my way around from there, and overall it's a pleasant space. Raleigh, N.C. tucked its Moore Square Station bus terminal in the middle of a block with three street entrances, so none of the surrounding streets are overwhelmed with buses; good signage and landscaping make it a surprisingly pleasant urban room.

Brad

I live in Portland, a block off the bus mall in the NW section, and about 3 block from Union Station. I get around by bike, transit and walking. I have mixed feelings about the mall. The mall runs a considerable distance, but it is not exactly commerce friendly for the whole way.

Broadway and 4th Avenues have considerably more storefronts, main building doors, and nightlife. At night, with less frequent service and less downtown working commuters, the mall is considerably darker and uninviting with it virtually no nightlife. Though Portland is not a dangerous city, there are dangers.

I get that its purpose is to be a transportation hub to quickly get transit through a congested downtown center and is a model that can be used for other cities.

I wanted to bring your readers to the attention that good planning is required to make a bus mall equally a center of life and commerce. Dissect Portland's bus mall a little more and you will find areas where Nike is and areas where the homeless call home, even in the day.

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