Rather than provide only my own recap of the highly insightful sessions at last week’s Smarter Transportation event in Washington D.C., let me simply point you to the recap from Sean Barry, from Transportation For America, and give you direct access to all the videos of the sessions.
Barry points out two session highlights in particular on the T4America blog, the first from Dr. Leo Kroon of the Netherlands Railway and second from Gunnar Soderholm, of the Stockholm. We’ve talked about Stockholm quite a lot here on the blog, so I’ll focus Dr. Kroon’s comments:
“Kroon described the importance of rail in his “tiny country,” whose 16 million people make it extremely dense. According to Kroon, rail market share between some Dutch cities reaches 50 percent, an amount that would be unheard of in the United States. And rather than force anyone onto the train, Kroon says the Netherlands Railways “seduces” them instead, through continued technological improvement that makes travel convenient and a commitment to reliability and affordability.”
The concept of “seducing” travelers into transit is one we could do well to emulate elsewhere. Even here in New York City, where transit is quite effective and ridership is relatively high, I would hardly consider the riding the subway a seductive experience (though, it does have it’s own charm.
Cost and efficiency are critical pieces of creating a public transportation system that seduces ridership. But it’s beyond simple utility.
Think of premium brands: Apple, BMW, etc. They seduce you on a level above pure functionality. You pay more for the experience. I could find mp3 players far cheaper than the iPod with similar (sometimes better) functionality, yet I willingly pay more so I can have an iPod in my pocket.
What if we applied a similar approach to transit? I’m not naive about the realities we face, nor the challenges of this kind of approach. But surely there’s more we can do to entice transit ridership.
Click here for video archives of the entire event, which included remarks from the following:
- * Dr. Robert Bertini, Deputy Administrator, Research & Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), US DOT
- * Dr. Leo Kroon, Logistics Consultant, Netherlands Railways
- * Gunnar Soderholm, Head of Environmental & Health Administration, City of Stockholm
- * Judge Quentin Kopp, Member and Former Chairman, California High Speed Rail Authority
- * Tom Wright, Executive Director, Regional Plan Administration
- * Janet Kavinoky, Director of Transportation Infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- * Michael Replogle, Global Policy Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
- * Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Oregon, 3rd District
Update: As noted in the comments below, I’ve corrected the Netherlands population number to “16″ million in the quote.