Posts Tagged ‘public transportation’


Dangerous game: kids on bikes pulled by a tram

In Brno,Cars,Life on April 20, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

Boys will be boys, but this is an accident waiting to happen. Once in a while you can see boys who live near the center of the city riding their bikes in the pedestrian zone. They like to grab onto rear bumpers of streetcars and be pulled at high speeds down the streets, usually along two blocks. There is practically no way they can be caught.

People in the street cannot see them. And if they do, the streetcar is already behind them and there is no way to alert the driver. And people riding the tram cannot just press the emergency brake because it would activate the magnetic brakes and unsuspecting passengers could get seriously hurt. Chances are, the two boys will enjoy their two-block ride and pedal away…

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Of course they always make sure there are no cops on patrol in the street before they perform their stunts. And as patrols on foot are seen well ahead (due to their hi-viz jackets), the bikers are safe from hefty fines…


New trams for Brno: no more subway-like seats

In Brno,Economy,Technology,Travel on November 24, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

The Brno public transportation authority, DPMB, operates nineteen trams (streetcars) known as 13T from Skoda Transportation. Some of the seats used are installed like subway seats and many people really hate it. They usually have two reasons. One, the aisle between the two rows is way too narrow, allowing only one person to stand between the two sitting persons. It is so narrow that the person’s crotch or butt is uncomfortably close to their fellow passengers’ faces. And two, as the streetcar accelerates or slows down, some passengers say their backs and necks hurt.

So there will be ten new streetcars that will have normal seating now. As to why the original nineteen were not manufactured with ordinary seating arrangement, there is no real answer, except for – according to what specialised discussion forums say – we did not think it was that big a deal. The good thing is that the low-floor parts of the streetcar can accommodate up to six wheelchairs or baby carriages.


Prague subway turnstiles: neverending story

In Economy,Prague,Technology,Travel on May 20, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , , ,

DP Praha, the City of Prague’s public transportation authority, wants to reinstall turnstiles at subway stations. The most recent discussions have been going on for two years with no real results…

The project is feasible. One of the benefits would be the improvement in terms of fare collection. However, some issues have to be resolved, such as the payment of one-ride fares via SMS cell phone messages, etc.
MF Dnes daily, March 14, 2008

Public transportation enthusiasts reacted almost immediately. They argue that the crowds of people at major transfer points who transfer between buses/trams and the subway will slow down and that people who have pre-paid cards (in which case bar codes or magnetic stripes will have to be scanned) will cause the system to crash.

However DP Praha argued that these issues will be resolved and ticket inspectors will practically disappear from subway stations. They’ve probably never heard of people in the U.S. who like to jump waist-high turnstiles.

One year later, on March 13, 2009, Czech Television reported that the project should cost CZK 2.2 bln and the estimated ROI is five years… According to the report, the turnstiles should be almost full-height types (1.7 m) and that the design should be sufficient to withstand large crowds at major transfer points (40 to 60 people per minute)…

And once again, one year later, the Green Party says that DP Praha should give up the project because the ROI calculations are unrealistic, DP Praha would have to apply for a loan and that the new technology is not friendly to wheelchair-bound citizens and mothers…

Some citizens’ organisations also claim that the system that is planned for subway will not be compatible with ticket markers on buses trams and trains…


Public transportation employees will strike

In Economy on February 23, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

UPDATE: according to a new plan the strike will take place on Thursday, March 4

Thousands of employees of public transportation companies will strike on Monday, March 1. This is their way to protest against the Czech government’s plan to impose tax on employee benefits that these people have so far been receiving, exempt from taxes. The benefits include “free passes”, meal coupons etc.

Transportation labor unions are considered to be one of the “most organized” labor unions in the country and everytime they are on strike, the rest of the country hates them. So far these strikes were limited to one kind of public transport (either Czech Rail employees only, or tram/metro employees only, etc.).

Of course, most Czechs have no compassion for these people. Most Czechs work for SME’s where there are no labour union organizations, or they do not care about being in one. Some of them think “if you do not like the perks that go with your job, find a new job”.

According to some labor union representatives, if the Czech MP’s fail to adopt the appropriate amendments to legislation, more strikes will follow…

I will have a “how the city of Brno lives without its public transportation” photo gallery here…


Olomouc transit authority: vote for seats on new buses

In Cars,Economy,Technology,Travel on January 5, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

Due to the financial crisis many cities (if not all) are forced to reduce services provided by their public transportation authorities. For example, the bus line number 53 in Brno will no longer serve Brno University of Technology campus with the Faculty of Business and Management building and dorms where approximately 3,000 students live. Instead, students and faculty will have to walk over 400 meters to the nearest tram stop.

(c) DPMO

Meanwhile, the transit authority in the town of Olomouc [English pages here] is going to buy brand new low-floor buses soon. And people can vote on the most suitable style and material for the seats used: plastic / cushioned / wooden / combined.

Although wood may seem like “this is so 1920’s”, it is not unusual in Europe these days. The streets of Vienna, Austria are served by three types of trams, two of which have wooden benches. And there are still a few buses in Bratislava (old-style, Hungarian-made) with wooden seats too.

Most cities in the Czech Republic experience vandalism on buses and trams. From what I saw, vandals “focus” on windows and walls, and should they decide to damage the new seats, any aforementioned type can be damaged. Too bad that the types in question do not include steel (like park benches)…


Brno tram driver publishes footage of pickpockets on YouTube

In Brno,Law,Life on October 10, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

Brno is a relatively small town and it has three “key transfer points” where pickpockets like to get on and off trams and rob people as they enter the vehicles. All they have to do is “create a crowd” in which the victims have to stop or where they lose control over their luggage (purses, most often). And tram drivers know there characters really well: some of them use the PA to announce “dear passengers, please pay particular attention to your belongings”, and some of them publish footage of the pickpockets on YouTube… Like this guy…

Gotta say, he is really brave. His face can be seen and recognized in some videos (from the tram depot, for example), and so some friends of these Roma pickpockets can look him up and beat the hell out of him…


Pickpocket PA in Ostrava trams

In Law,Life on February 7, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

(c) Getty Images

(c) Getty Images

An interesting approach towards people who are robbed in trams in the Czech town of Ostrava was introduced by the transit authority. A “pickpocket” speaks to passengers on regular basis. The PA is of a young “cool-dude” guy who thanks passangers for making his life easy by not paying attention to their belongings:

Hey folks. I haven’t had a decent job for three years. Please, keep NOT paying attention to your personal things, so that I can have the time of my life. Thanks. Your very own pickpocket.

According to reactions quoted by the daily [cf. the link] people start paying attention to the PA and they do actually pat their purses and bags and pockets to make sure their wallets and cell phones are where they put them. Dozens of people are robbed every day, most usually as they board the tram. There are gangs operating at certain stops where they create a “fake crowd” in which several people are making a “wall” while one does the robbing.

In the city of Brno there used to be a driver who would display photos of well-known pickpockets in his tram. Some lawyers claimed this violated the Personal Data Protection Act… I can’t seem to find out how this case ended up…


How Czechs Live (2): Trams And Buses Everywhere

In Brno on May 26, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

A friend of mine who lives in a brand new neighborhood on the very edge of Brno [her street is a dead-end street and there are just fields and meadows from that spot eastwards] spends one hour travelling to work and back every day. She boards the tram at its terminus and the ride itself takes 30 minutes.

Other people who live in villages near Brno travel by their own cars and in some cases its takes them significantly shorter time. But if there is anything that Czechs living in mid-sized and big cities do NOT complain about, it is their public transportation system.

Usual intervals at the average Brno tram stop are 2 to 5 minutes [on weekdays] and under 10 minutes on weekends. The buses and trams are clean, the damage is usually “only” limited to writer tags and scratched windows. I don’t remember seeing schedules at bus stops of Utah Transit Authority in Provo, UT. Czechs in cities often have special bus and tram lines in the morning and in the afternoon that operate in the vicinity of bigger factories. Stops are announced by an automated voice system. If you buy a card that is valid for the whole year, you can travel anytime anywhere around town and you save thousands. In case of, let’s say, a tram accident when trams stop buses immediately fill in…

The above photo is of an old bus that the Brno Transit Authority uses on special occasions. A really cool experience… 

Instead of boarding the bus via the front door [as we know it from many, if not most, U.S. cities] Czechs use all doors to get in and out. Which is one of the reasons why the job of a ticket inspector exists here. These people have had many conflicts with foreigners who are not familiar with the rules of ticket use…


Do Not Buy Tram Ticket…Send SMS

In Economy on February 1, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , , ,

Quite soon people in Brno could pay for their tram ride via SMS… This technological novelty was implemented in Prague in November. Passengers send a special-code SMS and they receive an appropriate confirmation code. When a “ticket” inspector comes the passenger can show him or her the display of the cell phone with the code…

Interesting…the problem is that technologies sometimes do not work the way they should. Several people from Prague complained that they had indeed sent the SMS but then they waited for many minutes for the code, so they had to miss several trams before they could actually board one…

The Brno city authority is still doing some feasibility study of its own. One of the reasons is that the transportation system here is called “integrated public transportation” and it consists of tram/bus/trolley transportation, commuter trains and local buses, so there are numerous combinations of tickets… Good luck in remembering all those codes…

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