The first District line train out of Upminster in the morning is the first train anywhere on the underground network. It leaves the depot at 4.53, the only train anywhere in the system to set out from its base before 5am ... if you catch that train, you might be tempted to say ta-dah!—except you probably wouldn't, because nobody is thinking ta-dah! at seven minutes to five in the morning; certainly nobody on this train. People look barely awake, barely even alive. They feel the same way they look; I know because, this morning, I'm one of them.John Lanchester on the experience, at once aversive and hypnotic, of catching the London Underground. Lanchester's article is an extract from his forthcoming entry in the new Penguin Lines series of tube-reading-friendly books released to commemorate the Underground's 150th anniversary. Meanwhile, the Guardian have compiled a collaborative Spotify playlist of songs that mention Tube stations, for those so inclined.
Tunneling in any dense urban environment is an expensive proposition, but the $5 billion price tag for just the first two miles of the Second Avenue subway cannot be explained by engineering difficulties. The segment runs mainly beneath a single broad avenue, unimpeded by rivers, super-tall skyscraper foundations or other subway lines. American taxpayers will shell out many times what their counterparts in developed cities in Europe and Asia would pay. In the case of the Second Avenue line and other new rail infrastructure in New York City, they may have to pay five times as much. Amtrak is just as bad. Its $151 billion master plan for basic high-speed rail service in the Northeast corridor is more expensive than Japan’s planned magnetic levitating train line between Tokyo and Osaka, most of which is to be buried deep underground, with tunnels through the Japan Alps and beneath its densest cities. - U.S. Taxpayers Are Gouged on Mass Transit Costs
What does a day's worth of activity look like for Boston's transportation system? Via bostonography, which has been featured previously.
Church and 30th St. San Francisco MUNI Construction is a 12 minute time lapse film showing 3.5 days of construction crews replacing MUNI tracks in San Francisco. "This is a time-lapse video showing the replacement of the MUNI tracks in front of my house. Demolition began on the evening of Friday, October 8, and work continued around the clock until early in the morning of Tuesday, October 12. The MUNI folks were nice enough to distribute earplugs to those of us in the immediate vicinity."
A LOVE LETTER FOR YOU is a series of 29 murals visible along the westbound El in Philadelphia. [more inside]
"L" Train Won't Run on Weekends. Although the true hardcore won't be bothered -- because they never leave Brooklyn on the weekends -- this might cramp the style of the rest.
Fabulous images of the Moscow Metro underground, also known as "the people's palaces". Click "M"s on the entry map to view gorgeous (often architecturally surreal) panoramic images, and visit the picture gallery for sweet details. Via Jorgen at Viewropa.
Intelligent Grouping Design is... a new idea in public transportation. With many vans out and about town, a passenger can be quickly picked up wherever he happens to be and just as quickly conveyed to his desired destination. Via the cell-phone, people call into the central computer with their current location as well as their destination. The computer finds the nearest van whose route is also the most closest to the passenger's destination. The computer then modifies the route slightly to accommodate the new passenger's pickup and dropoff locations. The drivers don't have to exert themselves mentally on figuring out each route change as the vans equipped with satellite guidance technology.
Woo, trams to return to London At last it looks as though there may finally be real progress in tackling the transport problems of one of the world's most congested cities. I wonder whether other nations should take note, or is it all just a pipe dream?