Almere, Netherlands: A ‘blank canvas’ for bus-based, Transit Oriented Development

TRANSIT took note of two very interesting posts on Jarrett Walker’s Human Transit blog which focus on the bus-oriented development of Almere, Netherlands.

Almere, Netherlands is a small community that was designed first and foremost around pedestrian and bus-based transport. It is a small community sited around a serious of central busways.

The articles on Human Transit show that bus-based “rapid transit” can provide frequent, reliable public transport service for smaller communities – and if the service is integrated into the planning for these communities, their public transport needs will be easily met.

Jarrett Walker has always made this point very clear: there is no reason why bus service (or any form of public transport service) cannot be made predictable, frequent and reliable.

TRANSIT calls this type of service “rapid transit” – and while it covers a broad definition of transport technologies from bus to tram to “light rail” and “mass-rapid transit”, the focus is still the same: make the service predictable, frequent and reliable using the best technology that you have available.

In other words, you cannot just put more buses in, or just put bus lanes in, or just add special ramps for public transport – there has to be a complete and effective plan for implementing public transport and making it successful.

That kind of complete planning is something that we in Malaysia have not been able to accomplish yet.

Even the Iskandar Development Region, which is said to have focused on public transport and incorporated the planning into the design for the region, has a long way to go towards making public transport predictable, frequent and reliable.

TRANSIT’s interest in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has always been present because we believe that BRT is the easiest way to implement a real, reliable rapid transit network without the capital costs and challenges associated with railways.

Bus Rapid Transit does not have the capital costs requirements of rail, and can use existing infrastructure wherever possible.

A Bus Rapid Transit network is more than adequate to meet the existing and future public transport needs of almost all of Malaysia’s smaller cities – without the time requirement or the financial and other costs of LRT or monorail.

For the largest 5 or 6 cities in the country, a Bus Rapid Transit or “rapid transit” service is a quick way of implementing reliable public transport – providing a real option to people beyond using their car to go everywhere.

For those who are interested, Bus Rapid Transit systems are currently being planned for the Iskandar Development Region (we believe they are describing it as VRT or Vast Rapid Transit) and Kuching (the CAT or City Area Transit).

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