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             This type of transport has been around for thousands of years, using animals such as horses, oxen, and even camels as the prime movers. Road transport did lose out to railways during the 19th century. However, the discovery of petroleum, which led to the invention of the internal combustion engine for road vehicles, enabled road transport to gradually dominate land transport again.

            The availability of cheap oil at the turn of the 20th century have made today’s roads packed with private cars. Despite of that, public road transport such as buses and taxis still play a crucial role, particularly in areas without airports and rail tracks. In fact, buses provide more urban public transport services than any other modes of transport, such as the single city bus fleet in New York City, the largest in North America.

Taxicab in Anaheim, California
taxi-yellowcab_600x300.jpg
Source: http://www.laconiv.org/2006/vis/taxi.htm

Taxicab

            This is a kind of public transport for a single passenger, non – shared, that enables the passenger to travel to destinations of their choice. Although many taxicabs are cars (some are Mercedes – Benz in Western Europe), they can also be three – wheeled and even human – powered vehicles, such as the rickshaw.

             Nowadays, most taxicabs, especially those that operate in Western countries, run on diesel or LPG. In some cities in those countries, there are specially modified cabs able to transport wheelchair – using passengers. The vehicles that are able to transport such passengers tend to be minivans or SUVs, which are also suitable for passengers carrying luggage or large items like a piece of small furniture.

            Taxi drivers who have been working in the same city are expected to know various important places and streets. To help them, some taxicabs in Japan are equipped with GPS driven navigational systems. The drivers in some cities such as London are trained and tested intensively to know where many popular places and streets in the city are.

 

Buses

            Bus services are categorized into several general categories. First, local transit bus services are for trips of only a few kilometers, usually within a city. Intercity bus services provide transit between cities and towns usually tens or hundreds of kilometers away, with a few stops.

            There are also various types of bus vehicles built for various purposes. In many countries, particularly developed countries, most bus operators equip their intercity buses with restroom, reclining seats, and sometimes TV screens, for hours of comfort.

 

            Such buses are designed differently from those designed for urban travel. Commonly, local transit buses have room for standing passengers. There are also special local buses designed to run along dedicated or semi – dedicated bus lanes in some cities to avoid road congestion and increase speed. Commonly called Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), this relatively newer type of bus service is intended to at least approach the service quality of rail transport while still achieving the cost savings of bus transport. Ideally, it should be a high – frequency, all day service and adopt an – off bus fare collection in an enclosed bus station or shelter similar to other forms of rapid transit. Such service quality can best be attained by using bi – articulated and guided buses that have floors of similar level as that of the station platforms. Commonly, there are fare vending machines in a BRT stations, similar to the subways fare collection system.

BRT system in Quito, Ecuador
brt.jpg
Source: http://www.transalt.org/press/askta/041203cfcp.html

            The BRT, particularly of several Latin American cities, have public – private ownership. Each of some BRT systems has a trust fund that manages, invests, and distributes the fare collections. The trust fund also contracts a fare collection contractor that supplies fare vending machines, the cards used as tickets, and deposits the cash collected to the fund.

            BRT systems can outperform underground railway systems. For instance, the BRT in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, transports about 1.3 million commuters per weekday, almost twice the number transported by the entire subway system in Washington, D.C.

 

Several Issues in BRT

            Some of the issues in implementing the BRT is obtaining separate right – of – ways for buses and maintaining the quality of the existing traffic. In some cities, such as Jakarta, a BRT line requires two exclusive lanes, for each direction, on multi – lane streets. This means that the general traffic gets fewer lanes, thereby worsening the traffic congestion parallel to the bus lanes if the number of vehicles on those lanes does not decrease. Therefore, an adequate number of buses are needed to alleviate this problem; otherwise many commuters will remain using other buses or their private vehicles. Another matter is that, due to the increased congestion, other traffic users try to avoid the exclusive bus lanes by using alternate routes, which may deteriorate the mobility of those routes.

            Despite of the issues that may still need to be addressed, BRT can still bring many benefits to the city, mainly in reducing the overall traffic congestion. In certain cities, particularly those where commuters rely heavily on private vehicles, the ridership in the first years of operation might not be very high, but it should increase in the long term. Not only the cities that have implemented the BRT can benefit greatly, but also the suburban and relatively isolated areas nearby since BRT buses can also be used in feeder systems that connect between those areas and the main trunk lines, thus improving mobility of the areas.

           

Hybrid Engine Technology

            Although more reliance on road public transport like the BRT can decrease overall pollution, urban area pollution level is still a major concern. To reduce it, there have been an increasing number of road public transport vehicles that are powered by hybrid engines, in which the engine is a combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. They can be equipped with an on – board rechargeable energy storage system. There are various ways that hybrid systems work. For instance, the vehicle is powered by only the electric motor when it is moving at a relatively low speed, and automatically turns on the combustion engine when relying on the electric motor alone is no longer sufficient. The batteries can also store energy derived from capturing the kinetic energy when the vehicle’s speed is reduced, called regenerative braking, so that the energy is not wasted.

            The availability of electric motors and energy storage systems means that the fuel – powered engine can be smaller compared to vehicles relying only on the fuel engine, thus being more fuel – efficient. An example of a hybrid bus is the new Double – Decker bus type in London, which uses a 1.9 liter diesel engine instead of the typical 7 liter engine that its predecessor used, enabling the bus to save much more energy, up to about 40 %, in very congested traffic. The smaller engine provides more room for the additional package space and weight requirements of the energy storage, which consist of lithium ion batteries.

Copyright 2007 - Aldi Yuristian