Wiki Wednesday: Zürich, Where Transit Gets Priority on the Street
Ready for some transit system envy? This week's StreetsWiki entry comes from Livable Streets member Andrew Nash, who fills us in on how surface transit became the mode of choice in Zürich, Switzerland:
Photo: Nicholas Kibre/WikipediaThe first thing one notices about Zürich is that trams are ubiquitous downtown. The city considered changing its tram network several times (either placing the trams underground or replacing the trams with a metro system), but voters rejected spending money on these ideas. However, in 1977, Zürich voters did approve an initiative to make the existing surface transit system work better by providing transit priority for trams and buses.
Transit priority means that public transit vehicles are given priority over other forms of transportation through such measures as traffic signal control, transit-only lanes, and traffic regulations. Watch carefully as a traffic signal changes from red to green just when a tram arrives at the intersection. Transit priority was not a new idea, but Zürich has succeeded in implementing it to a greater degree than almost any other city in the world. Zürich's public transit priority program is described in Implementing Zurich's Transit Priority Program.
Combined with Zürich's regional rail network, the extensive implementation of transit priority techniques enables the city to provide subway-like service without a subway, Nash explains. If the Zürich article interests you, check out Nash's entry on optimizing traffic signals for surface transit -- he's looking to add information about other cities that have implemented such systems.