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Integrated Transit

Research Partner: Trevor Gunderson
Studio Professor: Darrin Griechen
Site: Spokane, WA

A city is a living organism with unique individual metabolisms. Its metabolic requirements can be defined as all the materials and consumable commodities that inhabitants need at home, work, or play. Smart cities are places that take information technology and combine it with the architecture, infrastructure, and material objects to solve and address problems in real-time. The key to making a smarter city is collecting and analyzing big data that allows a city to predict and adapt to different problems, in this case transportation.

Spokane Washington has a problem, the car hinders the built environment. Wide streets make walking and biking difficult, the current downtown surface conditions and parking garages disrupt the flow and connectivity, and the public transportation system is poorly integrated. Our goal is to rearrange the current hierarchy with a transportation network that reduces wait time to less than one minute.​

Where are Cities Going?
The world just passed the threshold where there are more people living in urban areas than rural. By the year 2050 the urban population is projected to double and cities need to prepare for a massive  increase of people. In order for future cities to be successful, they will need to invest in efficient and diverse transportation to give people the options to move freely throughout the city. ​

What is a Smart City?
Traditionally, old city-planning used to be about intuition. But now we have the smart city. Smart cities are places that take information technology and combine it with the architecture, infrastructure, and material objects to solve and address problems in real-time. These smart city systems feed data into software that has the capacity to see the bigger picture, take action, and adapt.

Big Data Adaption
With this technology, systems can be more responsive because we can get real-time data about where people are at, where they are going, and what’s happening on the network. Big Data is the collection of massive amounts of information. This works in three phases: collection, analyze and predict, and adapt. These steps have been disconnected until now, because of the growth in technology. ​


Our Transportation Goal
Jaime Lerner – mayor of Curitiba, Brazil – stated that “Public transportation can’t just be an option, it has to be the best option.“ So we first began by looking at precedents of a few cities that are doing public transportation right.

Portland, Oregon uses high priority transit corridors with integrated streets for their light rail, streetcar, and bus network.

Medellin, Colombia uses a series of escalators and gondolas to scale the steep terrain, connecting the lower-income neighborhoods to the downtown.

​Curitiba, Brazil uses dedicated Bus Rapid Transit lanes, and subway-style load and unloading systems to allow the buses to run as fast as possible.

Singapore, Singapore uses all-in-one transit stations, and an all-city pass for ease of access to public transportation as well as for collecting data.


Spokane, Washington

Spokane’s Current Transportation Problem
Looking at the surface conditions, the car dominates the built environment: its wide streets, some up to 9 lanes across, make walking and biking difficult, the downtown’s surface connectivity is disrupted by parking lots and main arterials, and the public transportation system is poorly integrated.


Current Surface Condition
The surface condition of Spokane is busy. Car’s dominate the roads, forcing the buses to run inefficiently. There is also the terrain of the South Hill that makes roads in the winter dangerous.


Looking in Section
However, if we look at Spokane spatially, we have all this space above the chaotic surface. Giving us the opportunity to move the transportation network up.


Possible Surface Condition
​When implemented, an urban gondola system streamlines transport by lifting off the chaotic surface, providing the users to have a consistent and efficient means of travel through the city. As we lift the mass movement of people off the ground, we free the surface for the buses to run more efficiently, and the people and bicyclists to ride safer.


Spokane’s current transportation hierarchy.


Proposed transportation hierarchy for Spokane.

Combining Traditional and Technological Infrastructure 
We are proposing an urban gondola system as the consistent backbone for our transit network. By itself, this is traditional old school infrastructure. But, with smart technological infrastructure and a mobile app we are able to make everything more efficient.

Residential, Low Density
Residential, Low Density

Residential, low density

Mid-rise Economic

Mid-rise Economic

Bus Metro Station

Bus Metro Station

Park And Go

Park and Go

Downtown, High Density Integrated Station

Downtown, high density integrated station

Station Types
​Each of our stations have the capability to collect all these types of data for future use by the city.  Each station is equipped with city ride share bikes and most stations have integrated bus rapid transit.

Gondola Station Placement
​The line begins at 28th and Grand and moves north on Grand to Manito Park where it splits in two directions. The west portion goes to Shriners Children’s Hospital, while the east portion goes to Providence Hospital. After Providence Hospital the line splits again heading north on Division street and east on Sprague where the line deviates and heads north to Hamilton.

Walk, Bike, Bus, and Gondola Integration
The white circles represent a 1/2 mile walking radius around each station. The green circles represent an additional 1/2 mile radius for biking. Then the bus rapid transit network is applied to each station, running east to west – represented by the green lines. Considering an additional 1/2 mile radius at each bus stop, the car can be eliminated.

Predicted Infill Density
We can also anticipate the kind of density that will appear around each station. A high density radius, that mimics the previous walking radius, is represented in dark green. The medium density, mimicking the biking radius, is represented in a slightly lighter green. The low density areas, served by the bus network, are the next shade lighter.


Smart Transit Anytime

Smart Phone Application
Among these kind of integration effects we begin to think about how walking, biking, and the bus lines all start to work together. This is paramount, in the sense of being more effectively done by adding our app. Smart Transit Anytime


Sprague St. Station render


The Gondola Line Traversing Interstate 90.


Spokane’s Future Development Opportunities

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