Subway Reads: Free E-Books, Timed for Your Commute [The New York Times] “On Sunday, Subway Reads started delivering novellas, short stories or excerpts from full-length books to passengers’ cellphones or tablets. The idea is for riders to download a short story or a chapter and read it on the train. Subway Reads will even let riders choose what to read based on how long they will be on the subway — a 10-page selection for a 10-minute ride, a 20-page selection for a 20-minute excursion, a 30-page selection for a 30-minute trip. Delays not included.”
Joining such cities and Berlin, Copenhagen, and — of course — New York, London inaugurates 24-hour Tube service (weekends only, limited lines).
What Works: The Train That Saved Denver - "How Denver overcame regional factionalism to build a rail system that is a model for 21st century growth... it all happened, Hickenlooper and others note, because Coloradans across the base of the Front Range were willing to set aside crippling rivalries and make some big collective investments in themselves." (viz. Spain, cf. California & Florida; via) [more inside]
China has created a Transit Elevated Bus or "straddle bus" and just unveiled a working prototype in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province. Be sure to scroll down for the video of it in action.
Reducing car dependence in the heart of Europe: lessons from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (pdf)
SF BART's twitter account admits that their infrastructure is failing and delves into the details: "We have 3 hours a night to do maintenance on a system built to serve 100k per week that now serves 430k per day." [more inside]
"Three weeks later, his administration released a revealing map showing how the money for road upgrades would be allocated around the state. Not only did the governor’s map show no money for Baltimore City. It did not show the city at all. By some Freudian slip, the city of 620,000 people had mistakenly been swallowed up by the Chesapeake Bay. Disappeared."
"Coming from a background in Political Science, I find the rapid changes in social structure unique to this country an abundant source for creating pictures that stand as visually and historically interesting." [more inside]
The SFMTA is weighing an appeal that would dismantle the private commuter shuttle program, after the program was approved last November. Yesterday the board approved changes that would keep the program going for another year. [more inside]
US transit projects are way more expensive than those in similar countries. Addressing the reasons why could help us build more transit.
The Frankenburb: Retrofitting most suburbs is less likely than having a few successful ones remain as they are while many more simply fail outright.
Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks. Here is an engaging yet fairly thorough and technical explanation of the signal system(s) used in the NYC Subway (SLAtlantic) [more inside]
Thanks to a Freedom of Information request, Transport for London have released a geogrphically-accurate map of the tube. [PDF] [more inside]
New Uber Service Sounds Suspiciously Like a Bus — New Uber "Smart Routes" feature offers passengers fare discounts in exchange for pick-ups along predetermined high-ridership routes. Rather than trying to compete with public transit, FiveThirtyEight points out that Uber and public transit can complement each other. Meanwhile, the yellow cab industry is trying to fight back against Uber with an Uber-like smartphone app for NYC passengers.
Axonometric diagrams of every London Underground station Glorious, glorious tube station diagrams (not to scale) from Transport for London that will make fans of David Macaulay, Stephen Biesty, or Kate Ascher swoon. From the rather simple Bethnal Green to the much more complex Bank/Monument, enjoy a perspective of stations quite different from the daily commuter's view. (Previously from the same website.)
Why do busses always seem to bunch together? It's because they actually do. Finally, there's a web game to help you understand why. More intellectually stimulating than Desert Bus, but not much more gameplay. CityLab has more.
New Balance Bought Its Own Commuter Rail Station [The Atlantic]
If you were in a generous mood, you might call the public transportation system here troubled. Otherwise, you’d call it an ancient, broke, disorganized, mess. The MBTA owes $9 billion in debt. Trains are old. They often can’t run in the snow, which is problematic in a city that got 109 inches last winter. Still, the city of Boston is growing as Millennials and Boomers alike look for walkable, dense places to live. Boston needs more transit, but the state can’t help much: Governor Charlie Baker has proposed cutting $26 million from the state Department of Transportation and $14 million of MBTA funding. So when athletic company New Balance decided to expand its headquarters and build retail, a hotel, a track, and skating rink in one Boston neighborhood not served by public transit, it didn’t wait for the city to agree to build new train stations or add bus routes, which could have taken years. Instead, it decided to build a commuter rail station itself.
How we saved Baltimore $600,000 in one day.
"This subreddit is exclusively for pictures of infrastructure. Paved roads and other public transit, agriculture, freight, waste management, and water systems are all things we could live without but we really don't want to (and they look cool too)" [more inside]
Seattle's unbelievable transportation megaproject fustercluck — "In short: There is no plan to resolve the dispute over cost overruns, which are ubiquitous on projects like this; at $4.2 billion, it's the most expensive transportation project in state history. The tunnel will have no exits - no ingress or egress - throughout the entire downtown core (which makes the support of downtown businesses all the more mystifying). It won't allow transit, only cars. It will be tolled, highly enough, by the state's own estimates, to drive nearly half its traffic onto the aforementioned side streets. It will be a precarious engineering feat, the widest deep-bore tunnel in history, digging right between a) Puget Sound and b) the oldest part of Seattle, with vulnerable buildings and God-knows-what buried infrastructure. Also: Pollution. Climate change. It's the 21st f'ing century. On and on. People said all this and more, in real time, to no avail." [more inside]
You Are Here maps out neat things like the best mode of transportation in your city, incidences of illness at New York City hospitals, permanent US visa applications and street greenery.
Holding Pattern is a Tumblr of some images of airports from Google maps.
Victor Vasquez knows NYC commuting can be depressing. As he says, “Standing under someone’s armpit, you just want to get home.” The MTA conductor livens things up with his unscripted announcements on the 1 train.
ATL24 - A day in the life of the world's busiest airport. A collaborative photo and video essay of Atlanta airport, by reporters from CNN. [more inside]
Inspired by the Massimo Vignelli NYC subway map and the upcoming Super Bowl at the Meadowlands, NJ Transit unveils a new Regional Transit Diagram (pdf) to help people take public transit between New York and New Jersey. [more inside]
"Replace the paint of your car and accessories with reflective material" is the first of several suggestions from TriMore, a brilliant parody of the "Be Seen, Be Safe" campaign from TriMet, provider of public transit for Portland, OR. [more inside]
NY Magazine picks the 22 Ingenious Ways to Improve the Subway from this tumblr list (some more practical than others).
"On an average weekday the TTC collects 1,582,000 fares. 180 are collected at Bessarian Station": Finding Bessarion, a short film about exploring the unknown (subway station).thanks to AM for the link
Transit Maps. Designer Cameron Booth's blog and review of transit maps, diagrams, design and artwork from all over the world. [more inside]
Dan Grover and Mike Belfrage have mapped transit inequality in the Bay Area after reading a New Yorker piece on the New York City subway (previously). The ways in which a widening income gap are changing the demography of San Francisco have been widely reported of late (previously, previously). The project's code is available if you'd like to try mapping your own city.
As part of a public-private partnership intended to defray badly-needed capital improvements, the Chicago Transit Authority will peddle predatory debit cards to its riders.
Lee Crooks, from the Milwaukee burbs, is the voice of the Chicago Transit Authority's buses and trains. Here's his personal site, with samples (a CTA sample is included in the "Narration" section of his audio demos.) A Tribune piece from when he was more reticent about his identity. [more inside]
See the big picture of how suburban developments are changing the country's landscape, with aerial photos and an architect's commentary
Doesn't your cat also deserve a personal cat transit system? And a custom-designed armoire? [more inside]
American public transportation commercials? Boring. Belgian De Lijn commercials? Amusing. Danish? Exciting!
If you've spent any time in Washington, DC during the past few years, you're probably familiar with Capital Bikeshare; the region's immensely popular bikesharing program. The system's big red bikes are designed for casual use, and are built like tanks to avoid damage, vandalism, and theft. This past weekend, one Falls Church, VA resident undocked one of the 40lb bikes, and rode it to the finish line of the Nations' Triathlon. [more inside]
Transit etiquette of yesteryear (courtesy of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and blogto.com). We may no longer think that shoppers - inevitably depicted as women - have no place on the rush hour streetcar, but some things never change. Move to the back of the car, please!
If you've ever wanted to know the history of each of Toronto's streetcar lines, how to identify different TTC subway trains, the chronology of Toronto's Christmas-painted buses, or really anything else you can think of (and more) about Toronto's transit system: Transit Toronto is an unofficial but fantastically detailed site about the TTC. [more inside]
Stunning video of the transit of Venus by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Gary Webster is the general manager for the Toronto Transit Commission. Last year, Mayor Rob Ford (previously), after cancelling the Transit City light rail expansion in favour of a subway into Toronto's east end (also previously), asked Webster to prepare a report on the viability of such a subway line. Webster did so, and gave his honest opinion, which was that the Sheppard subway was not economically viable. Ford buried the report, and after the Toronto Star discovered its existence, Ford then requested that Webster speak to City Council about the pros and cons of subways and light rail. Webster advised against subways as City Council overruled Ford and reinstated a light rail-based transit plan. Ford's allies on the Toronto Transit Commission then petitioned for a special meeting to fire Webster (despite severance clauses that could cost the city more than a million dollars). They voted 5-4 to fire Gary Webster this afternoon. (Torontoist's liveblog of the meeting.)
Seattle is only one of five cities in the United States with a trackless electric trolley bus system. King County Metro operates 159 trolley buses on 14 routes that ply over 70 miles of trolley wire, and travel 2,906,297 miles annually. Last year, Metro found that operating new electric trolleys offered a superior financial scenario to new diesel buses. This is even before considering how much better a trolley performs on Seattle's steep hills, or how much less pollution it creates, being supplied by hydroelectric power. If you want to know a little more about how the system works, see some of the photos posted by a King County bus operator known as VeloBusDriver. Some of these photo sets explain the controls of an ETB, the innards of an ETB—so much cleaner than a diesel but so much more dangerous to poke around in—and aspects of how the trolley wire itself works, including the "special work" necessary for tasks such switching routes or traversing a drawbridge.