Mobilien: Better, Faster, Cheaper. . . than BRT (for Penang)

While Penang is thinking once again about its transportation arrangements, we are hearing a lot of late about BRT and tramways — and rightfully. Both a huge improvement over earlier proposals for a mad spaghetti mix of intrusive monorails, elevated LRT/LRV systems,  Sky Cabs hanging uselessly in the horizon, over-built road infrastructure projects  to serve and encourage yet  more car traffic, and a backbreaking  proposal for a sea tunnel that would bring yet more traffic into the island and in the process extend and multiply today’s traffic mess and associated inconveniencies

But before we make up our minds let’s also give a thought to another less well known mobility option, the Mobilien.  It may be just what you were looking for.

Paris Mobilien 1

Mobilien is the Paris version of what we know as a bus rapid transit system or a surface mass transport network. Paris has been doing its own version of “bus rapid transit” for decades, and after years of on-street operation and continuous fine-tuning they have now developed a system which they call the “Mobilien” – French for MOBI-lity plus “LIEN” which means link. Linking mobility.

The first Mobilien services hit the street in in Paris 2005, after a careful program  of  analysis and planning which involved taking a fresh look at and coordinating parking policies, delivery practices, treatment of intersections, priority traffic signals, and an increase in service frequencies between important traffic nodes and hubs. . . coordinating all these parts into a unified smart system offering much higher levels of service for their clients. A real competitor for taking your car. Better, and faster, and cheaper too.

Unlike the BRTs that many cities around the world are increasingly  looking at, the Mobilien solution adapts to different city contexts (i.e. street width and specific neighborhood dynamics). Mobilien doesn’t aim at producing high top speeds but making steady progress through the traffic stream. An important goal is to render the services more reliable and on time. To make the project possible, Paris’ officials eliminated much on-street parking to create dedicated bus lanes that are shared with bicycles, taxis and emergency vehicles.

Let’s have a look.

Continue reading

Archives: STEP – Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang

Penang cener traffic growth

How were the leading minds  in Penang looking at the challenges of sustainable transport back at the turn of the century?  Did you know this? In many ways considerably better than is the case today. They were lucid, they had focus, and they stuck with the issues at hand..

To bring you into the picture (above)  let’s have a look at a presentation made back in 1999 introducing a collaborative civil society program at the time, called STEP – Sustainable Transport Environment for Penang. If you look closely you will note that just about all of the issues and recommendations that were being discussed back then, are every bit as topical today. But somehow we lost almost two decades.

What happened? Why did not this enlightened program take off at the time.  We shall be looking at that closely in the coming weeks and seeing if we can learn at least some of the lessons of the past.

Continue reading

Sustainable Penang: Better. Faster. Cheaper

Better-Faster-Cheaper - script

It is amazing how words pop up and associate in a situation in which a number of people with different ideas and orientations come together to see if they can put their fingers on an elusive but important truth.

Over the past months as a civil society consensus critiquing the State government’s transport plan in Penang (and, no less important, the process behind it) this particular phrase has slowly taken shape, so that now these three words have come together serves as a motto, a watchword, a rallying point for the work toward coming up in various corners of civil society in Penang, coming up with ideas and proposals that are better adapted to the important work that remains to be done.

When we speak of the path to s sustainable transport system and sustainable Penang today we now speak with a unified voice of Better, Faster, Cheaper. Let’s have a look..

Continue reading

Brainstorming the Penang Transport Master Plan(s)

Penang MP Poster top illustrationDraft introduction: Welcome to a collaborative thinking exercise inviting  any and all who may have some questions about the focus, the vision and in the end the quality of future mobility services as being proposed and aggressively pushed by the state government of Penang. The central instrument for this group investigative process is a group of poster illustrations which combine simple images and a few telling words in order test our understanding of the Penang Transport Master Plan — all this as  prepared for the recent Gertak Sanggul Art Festival by Kin Yin and a group  of young collaborators (who will be identified shortly in the final section of this first presentation).

Continue reading

Global Streets: The New Lanes of Auckland

A contribution by the Global Designing Cities Initiative in partnership with the  National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) in New York, showing how one heavily auto-centric city is in the process of working its way toward a very different life style (painfully and only partially!). We might think of it as one step in the right direction. Let’s have a look.

Continue reading