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.

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And why is it Better, Faster, Cheaper (for Penang)?

Each of the modal options to be considered for various defined mobility problems in Penang need to selected and prepared with the help of meticulous analysis and transport planning, a profession in itself. So to run very quickly down the Better, Faster, Cheaper claim for Penang at least, here in a few words is our reasoning.

Better, because the Mobilien offers the great flexibility  that a city like Penang requires given the wide differences in the size and state street and road environment.

Faster, because it adapts more easily to the streetscape, as opposed to say BRT which takes up more space and requires heavier construction, which of course takes time (and money).

Cheaper, because it is just that.

But at the end of the day, now that we have your attention, all we wish to do is to ask you to make a small place in your minds to consider this one other option. It will not solve all of Penang’s mobility needs, but it may be part of the solution.

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About Streetfilms

Streetfilms produces short films showing how smart transportation design and policy can result in better places to live, work and play. Founded in 2006, Streetfilms has become the go-to organization for educational films about sustainable transportation, and inspires action and behavioral change worldwide. Individuals, public agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, and transportation advocacy groups use Streetfilms to educate decision makers and make change for livable streets in their communities. As people share the videos that inspire them, Streetfilms brings more and more people to the movement for livable streets.

* For more: http://www.streetfilms.org

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About the editor:

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