Transit in the Fast Lane: The Access Challenge

When you’re trying to run quality transit in a mixed-traffic situation, and you have a street with two lanes of traffic in each direction, the best practice is for transit to run in the faster lane, the one further from the sidewalk.  We see this most commonly with streetcars, but it’s true of any mode of street-running transit.  That’s because the lane closer to the curb is often delayed by random car movements, including cars turning, or trying to parallel-park, or doing pickup and dropoff.  So long as the fast lane is separate from any turning lanes, it’s the lane where you’ll get the best travel time in mixed traffic.

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Vienna’s Gentle Glass Boxes

Subway entrances are always a great challenge opportunity for transit architecture.  Should you present a consistent systemwide look or blend into the surrounding urban texture?   (The same debate happens about lots of other transit infrastructure too, right down to the bus stop sign.)

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Vienna and the “Style of Youth”

One of the joys of Vienna’s transit system is that  some key pieces of it were built in 1898, mostly designed by Otto Wagner.  It was the era of Art Nouveau (called Jugendstil in Vienna) which later grew into full-blown Deco.  A few examples are over the top, such as the Karlsplatz station house:

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Vienna: Weaving A Total Network

In talking about transit planning I’m constantly stressing the need to think in terms of interconnected two-dimensional networks, not just the one-dimensional “corridors” that are the focus of so many transit studies.  It’s a hard point to convey because (a) interconnectedness implies connections, also called “transfers,” which people supposedly hate, and (b) networks are complicated and abstract and hard to think about, which is why I’m always trying to create and promote tools for making them simpler.

What’s more, network effects are really hard to photograph.  The closest you can come is a photo of a really smooth cross-platform connection, such as this one I observed in Vienna:

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