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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Technology used in ride-hailing and other new mobility services could be used to make public bus networks more environmentally friendly and convenient.

Why it matters: Public buses are frequently criticized as unreliable, inefficient and alternatively near-empty or so full that they skip stops, but electric buses with next generation technology and flexible routes could help address congestion and emissions.

What's happening: Public transit ridership is down across the U.S. due in part to new mobility services like ride-hailing and scooters.

What's needed: Many municipal bus services rely on manual surveys of passengers to assess user preferences and modify routes — an expensive and unreliable practice.

  • Instead, any and all available public transit ticket data could be analyzed to understand actual demand patterns and optimize routes.
  • Fleet optimization software could match supply and demand in real time, dispatching additional vehicles on particularly busy routes, or adding flexible routes at peak hours.
  • Contactless payment could also speed boarding times and keep buses on time.
  • The design of buses could be demand-responsive, too. In Strasbourg, France, the transit agency replaced a traditional bus line with modular electric shuttles that can add or remove cabins as demand shifts throughout the day.

But, but, but: Cities across the U.S. and world-wide are struggling with adopting electric buses.

  • In places that are moving ahead with electric buses — like Shenzhen, China, which boasts the world’s only all-electric bus network — the biggest obstacle was installing and paying for the massive charging infrastructure needed to run 16,000 e-buses.
  • TransitCenter found that the seven U.S cities which grew transit ridership last year did so by either expanding bus service or completely overhauling their bus systems to improve service.

The bottom line: Integrating advanced technology and deploying next-generation vehicles with upgrades that make them demand-responsive and environmentally friendly could make bus networks more efficient, more reliable, and more popular.

Raphael Gindrat is co-founder and CEO of Bestmile, which has developed a fleet-management platform and whose clients include Strasbourg’s transit agency.

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Oklahoma secures $2.6 million refund for hydroxychloroquine purchase — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Ohio GOP censures Rep. Anthony Gonzalez over Trump impeachment vote

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Ohio Republican Party on Friday censured Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and called for him to resign for voting to impeach former President Trump in January, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Gonzalez is the latest Republican lawmaker to be punished for voting to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.