‘subway on the street’

Good morning.

Rider Alexander Grgurich of Foundry Coworking sent some good reading our way this week: “Subway on the Street” by Robert Sullivan in New York magazine.

The piece looks at the future of public transit in New York City, a way of operating buses that transit folk like to call “bus rapid transit” — something being considered for Greater Des Moines.

Broadly speaking, bus rapid transit refers to any bus system that is set up to operate more like light rail. However, there are variations on the theme.

Some have entire roadbeds dedicated exclusively to buses. Others share the same pavement with cars but enjoy dedicated lanes, usually painted a different color to symbol that they’re for bus traffic only. Still others share lanes with cars, but are equipped with technology that make them faster with and more convenient than traditional city bus service, including real-time arrival information at bus stops and the capability on buses to trigger stoplights to turn green.

DART’s Chief Development Officer, Elizabeth Presutti, says this last variety is most likely the best fit for a market the size of Des Moines. She said a good comparison is the MAX in Kansas City.

This video gives you a good idea what it’s like:

If and when this comes to Des Moines remains still unclear, but DART will explore the possibility as part of the big-picture planning study that will get underway this fall. At this point, University Avenue is the most probable location to start a bus rapid transit line.