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.
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.