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Buzz

New deluxe SMART buses lure drivers from their vehicles

Two new SMART hybrid-electric buses hitting the bus system's most-used routes on Woodward and Gratiot ride, as one bus driver put it, "like a Cadillac." The two buses, which were purchased for $800,000 each using federal stimulus dollars, are roomy, comfortable, and measure almost twice as long as SMART's regular diesel buses.

Taking the bus is de rigueur in Curitiba, Brazil, which boasts the world's most sophisticated bus system, carrying the same amount of passengers as subways or light rail at a fraction of the cost. While Detroit can't yet match the elevated bus stations or dedicated lanes of Curitiba, these 100-seat mega-buses will offer SMART passengers a glimpse into the region's possible transit future.

Excerpt:

The region can't sustain rapid transit or light-rail service if more people aren't willing to park their cars at least part of the time. Unfortunately, basic buses are simply not sexy enough to lure many drivers out of their vehicles. SMART should use these hybrids to start promoting transit for people who have transportation options. Southeast Michigan is a long way from a first-class transit system -- one that can match Curitiba or even Cleveland -- but SMART's new world-class buses should whet the region's appetite for one.

Read more here.
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