Three things Europe’s public transit can learn from the United States - Mobility Lab

We get it: Europe has great public transportation, everybody rides bikes, there’s high-quality cheese everywhere, blah blah blah.

There’s a lot American transit providers can learn from studying their counterparts in Europe. But on recent trips to the continent, Mobility Lab’s Jenna Fortunati and Andy Furillo found some things that (shocker) public transportation in the United States does a little bit better.

Here are the best transit practices from the U.S. that Europe can use to make their transit even better.

Add bike racks to buses

Yes, European capital cities tend to have a much higher bike mode share than American cities. But hardly any buses there have bike racks.

Most buses in the United States have bike racks. Even in an era of expanding bikeshare systems, bike racks are important in providing a “lifeline” for bike commuters using their own cycles. They help bikers get over massive hills and bridges that don’t have bike lanes or sidewalks. Without the reliability of bike racks, bike commuting would be much harder.

Make ticketing easy to understand

While the physical type of transit card varies across major U.S. cities – from high-quality stored value cards in DC to flimsy paper ones in New York – the idea is the same: add money to a reusable card.

Andy and Jenna didn’t find this pay-as-you-go model available in European cities, especially in France. In Lyon, Andy was able to obtain a card that looks a lot like DC’s SmarTrip or San Francisco’s Clipper – but only after visiting a Transports en Commun Lyonnais (TCL) office, filling out a form, and showing his passport. The card could only be used for long-term passes, lacking a cash value option.

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