Norwalk has multiple bus projects in the works
Enrique Penalosa, the mayor of Bogota, Colombia, had once said that an advanced city is one where everyone uses public transportation, exclaiming in a TEDtalk that buses represent democracy in action. Norwalk is an example of a city that understands that concept and is looking to develop two projects to put public transportation in the forefront.
The first project is a new microtransit system called “Wheels2U” that takes the idea of buses into the Uber age. Other cities such as Boston, New York, and San Francisco are piloting microtransit programs, putting Norwalk at the forefront of this emerging technology.
In the press release from the city, Mayor Harry Riling said that “Norwalk is the first city in Connecticut to launch a microtransit service. This innovative and modern approach to transportation is an investment in Norwalk. Residents and tourists can explore many of the amenities Norwalk has to offer without having to worry about parking.”
The system does not work like a typical bus system, meaning there are no bus stops or daily routes. Instead riders request a pick-up and drop-off via the app, while the app updates the driver to optimize the route. That means efficiencies in service and minimized waiting.
Because it is currently in the testing phase, it has a smaller footprint, but from their website, they aim to improve the connection between South Norwalk, the Maritime Aquarium, The Sono Collection, Wall Street, and other main attractions in the city. One of the benefits during this testing phase is that rides are free. If the app is a success then there will be a cost associated with the trip.
It runs Thursday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight, and on Sundays, noon to 9 p.m.
Foster public transporation back to top
In order to foster a community that wants to take public transportation, you might want to develop positive connotations with buses early on, and there’s no better place to start than with school buses. Norwalk’s school district has an app for that too, that allows parents or guardians to stay updated on their child’s bus route.
The app, called FirstView, was created by First Student Inc., and aims to help stay apprised of their child’s trip from school to home. With parents or guardians assured that their students are making their way home safely, they will be better able to plan to meet them or call them when they get home.
In the future, there is an option to add increased value to this program if students had student ids they could swipe to get on and off the bus. That way there is no child left unaccounted for.
Students, especially younger students, knowing that their parents or guardians will be there to greet them will foster positive feelings about taking the bus, and maybe they will grow into users of public transit themselves.
Buses, whether a school bus or public transit bus, are integral parts of a fully functioning transit system. The former shuttles the future to and from school, the latter improves the mobility of all vehicles by lessening the amount of cars on the road. Penalosa is right to say that buses are democracy in action, they are efficient, safe, and green, and with modern technology, there’s no reason not to take one to where you are going.