Frequency, speed and time saving, key factors of intermodality
It is unlikely that a motorist will accept to give up his car if in return, he only has the option of a TER every half hour, a bus stuck in traffic congestion or a bike with a high risk of being knocked over at every street corner. In other words, only a rapid, regular, frequent, safe and perfectly inter-connected transport network can make any inroads on the supremacy of the private car. These conditions exist in all the cities where intermodality has supplanted the car (see table below). The cities have usually worked on the following aspects:
The development of dedicated routes for public transport is an intermodality key success factor. Some lanes or lines are dedicated to a specific mode of public transport: tramway, train, subway, trolleybus or bus rapid transit (in the latter case the lanes are sometimes shared with taxis). Thus protected from automobile traffic and traffic jams, public transport can significantly increase its speed, frequency, regularity and compete with the automobile.
Example: In the Canadian city of Ottawa the Transitway is one of the most extensive networks of bus rapid transit in the world. It covers 50 km of dedicated lanes, including highways, and it can circulate everywhere at full speed, even during the rush hour. The Transitway’s 1,000 buses transport on average 300,000 passengers daily and are inter-connected with a light rail network (monorail) and also with numerous Park & Ride facilities where motorists can leave their vehicles.
Advanced technologies: Develop onboard services
Local authorities and operators are multiplying innovations and experiments, with mobile and interactive technologies to make public transport a place to work in, relax or be entertained. Convert users to the intermodal way with two arguments: by taking the tramway, the train and the bus rather than the car, not only are you saving on traveling time but you can work or just relax.
Example: The French region of Brittany has been experimenting now for several years with MooviTER, a new generation regional train, equipped with a range of innovative services: free access to Wi-Fi, interactive multimedia kiosks, work areas, play areas and information screens. The number of passengers on Brittany’s TERs has risen by 35 % in 5 years.
Find the right balance between cost and performance
From Clermont Ferrand’s tramway on tires to Shanghai’s magnetic levitation railway, from the solar energy powered buses of Lorient to the optically guided trolleybuses of Bologna, public transport is becoming cleaner, economical, innovative and high-performance. For local authorities and the operators the choice of technology and material has become a complex and codified process which occupies teams of engineers and urban planners full time, with several tens of criteria (cost, profitability, capacity and speed of travel, intermodal connections, environmental impact, maintenance, type of contract and image) and generally tales several years from the public benefit inquiry to the call for offers.
Example: The French company PVI has developed a revolutionary wireless technology, the Wireless Alternative Trolley Technology (Watt) for electric buses: at every bus stop an articulated arm automatically connects with the bus stop structure and for a 10-second period it recharges the bus’s batteries until the next stop. This way as the vehicle moves from stop to stop it has an unlimited autonomy and its energy bill is five times less than that of a traditional bus. The Watt technology will soon be tested in several other French cities.
Urbanism and intermodality
The success of intermodality depends on a strict association between the urban and transport plans. Any urban development or construction decision must include the necessary investments for public transport, to avoid leaving commuters with no other alternative but the car. And any investment in public transport must anticipate future urban or territory projects. In France the local authorities that are the most advanced in intermodality have been heavily involved in the elaboration of a scheme for territorial development (Scot), which organizes in the long term the development of a territory in all its dimensions.
Example: The city of San Francisco recently developed a new building code. This foresees the inclusion of electric vehicle charging points in any new building. The city’s intermodal strategy ensures coherence between the tramway, subway, electric buses and green car-sharing schemes.