Moving South Moving South
The Daily GOOD
Get our daily dose of information and inspiration. Sign up Now ›
Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered topics like the impending global water crisis, the future of transportation, and the amazing rebuilding of New Orleans. This quarter's issue is about cities, spotlighting Los Angeles, and we'll be rolling out a variety of stories all month. You can subscribe to GOOD here.
Forget Stockholm or Copenhagen or any of those tidy, polite, well-managed Scandinavian cities. Forget that cherished model of North American transit planning, Portland, Oregon, a perfectly fine and impressive study, but made for a small and more easily managed city. To find smart, progressive transportation solutions for a city as massive, frenetic, and sprawling as Los Angeles, we must look toward the surprisingly effective models in places every bit as massive, frenetic, and sprawling.
Amidst enormous internal urban migration, routine corruption, and perennially strapped budgets, a number of South American cities have tamed the auto craze to create livable streets and incredibly efficient mass transit.
Thirty years ago, a maverick mayor, Jaime Lerner, pioneered Bus Rapid Transit. Lerner calls it a “surface subway”—express buses are given exclusive, traffic-free lanes, and stops are equipped with elevated platforms where customers pre-pay, wait for the bus, and step right on when it arrives. The average stop takes less than 20 seconds. Today, more than 70 percent of Curitibans take the BRT to work. Those who still drive enjoy less congested roads.
Meanwhile, the city closed off a good chunk of downtown to all personal vehicles. The pedestrian city center—once vehemently opposed by local business folks who feared patrons would have no way to reach them—is now a vibrant commercial core.
In the mid-1990s, Mayor Enrique Peñalosa brought the Curitiba model to Bogota, creating the world-renowned TransMilenio bus system. Double-long (“articulated”) bright red express buses cruise along dedicated four-lane rights-of-way down the center of major avenues and expressways. Routine cross-town travel times are reported to have dropped dramatically: a 30-kilometer trip that once took 2 hours and 15 minutes now takes just 55 minutes. “Feeder” buses traverse neighborhoods and bring passengers to main TransMilenio hub terminals. Bicycles also play a huge role. Bike parking at TransMilenio terminals is abundant and free, and buffered cycling arterials flow through the busiest neighborhoods.
Quito, Santiago de Chile, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires are all hopping on board the surface subway trend. The advantages to urban planners and city leaders are clear: Buses are cheaper, easier, and a whole lot faster to get up and running than subways that would move the same amount of people. The best examples integrate land-use planning and rezoning efforts, concentrating high-density development along transit corridors.
photo (cc) by Flickr user Campanero Rumberounder
Learn more about L.A.'s transportation future here.
You Can’t Print a Photo from Outer Space On Polyester Celine Semaan Vernon’s new fashion project is a cosmic experiment in empathy.
Forget the Ouija Board If you want to get into divination this Halloween season, check out these alternatives to the game that rhymes with ‘squeegee’
The Standards are Too Damn High An African leadership prize that frequently has no winners has sparked a debate over whether standards of excellence can turn self-defeating.
Stop Chasing the “It” Pumpkin One man’s brave stance against pricey heirloom gourds fouling up fall.
Skid Row Is Here to Stay The largest, and probably proudest, homeless community in the United States is becoming a powerful interest group in Los Angeles.
How to Raise $750,000 for Charity, the YouTuber Way Rising YouTube sensations like Tyler Oakley and Connor Franta mobilize their massive fan base for a cause Next time your birthday rolls around, consider what these enterprising stars did to celebrate theirs.
Chelsea Handler Tries Making Fun Of Andy’s Weight. It Backfires Immediately. An embarrassingly bad attempt to make fun of Andy’s weight
Another Kind of Street Meat Searching for abundant, organic, all-natural, free meat? Consider roadkill.
“I Know It's Not P.C. But...” Sam Harris, #Gamergate, and the explosion of white, male, illiberal rage
The Best (or Worst) Outbreak Movies to Watch While in Self-Imposed Quarantine If you’re going to be scared, be really scared A panicky film primer for the Ebola zombie pandemic sure to … oh my god, look out behind you!