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.
An analysis of urban planning and investment, or lack thereof, with Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area as examples A to Zed.
What does a day's worth of activity look like for Boston's transportation system? Via bostonography, which has been featured previously.
The 1950s Called, and They Want Their Transportation Bill Back. "While the bill’s summary lists few specific programs that would be cut, Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) announced in a press conference Thursday that the bill will eliminate funding for several bicycle, pedestrian and transit programs, including Transportation Enhancements, the Recreational Trails Program and Safe Routes to School." League of American Cyclists: "James Inhofe (R-OK), the lead Republican negotiator on the transportation bill, declared that one of his top three priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate ‘frivolous spending for bike trails.’ " [more inside]
As a public transit geek, I really enjoyed this story. We've talked about taking public transit on unlikely routes previously, and I read the original blog post giving the directions on how to get from SF to LA using only public transit. But the article from SF Weekly's In Transit blogger, Joe Eskanazi, really brings the trip to life.
-Only an 'energy internet' can ward off disaster
-We must electrify the transport sector [more inside]
-We must electrify the transport sector [more inside]
Moving Beyond the Automobile is a series of ten short videos by Streetfilms that highlights new directions in urban transportation. It shows how cities in the U.S. are encouraging a shift away from car dependency and making it easier and more pleasant to get around by other means. [more inside]
Despite the federal election focus on BC ridings, Vancouverites are having a hard time looking past the municipal. Things are quite dramatic in the urban planning scene. The city's regional growth plan was recently paralyzed by disagreement from Coquitlam. TransLink announced permanent cuts to bus service during Earth Week, describing it as "service optimization," highlighting its own chronic funding issues. The city successfully stopped a "megacasino" project after community backlash, but the $3 billion freeway Gateway Project continues despite ongoing protests. As the city struggles to find its way to the goal of Greenest City 2020, it's a good time to look at the paths not taken, via this excellent podcast on Vancouver's relationship with roadways. Part of a series called "Moving Through" from the Museum of Vancouver. [more inside]
Inspired by Harry Beck's London Underground maps, Daniel Huffman designed a series of stylized river maps for Michigan, North and Central California, Southwest New England, The Colorado River, Columbia River, and The Mississippi River. He also writes about the process he used in creating them.
New Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (previously and previously) announced today that he is canceling the Transit City LRT construction plan so the city can concentrate on building subways. The fact that millions of dollars have already been spent and that new subway lines might not be finished until 2020 is apparently beside the point. What matters, according to Ford, is that “The war on the car is over.”
Want to get to that town in the next state on the cheap? Sure, there's Greyhound, but it's hardly a bargain at $32 for a journey from Seattle to Portland. When you really need to save the cash, use Epic Transit Journeys wiki to plot your route entirely on local transit carriers, allowing you to get to Stumptown for only $11.50 and a paltry five transfers. For a truly epic journey, cross international borders for the trip to Vancouver, BC, which includes a lovely 2.9 mi stroll across the border. Oran Viriyincy's travelogue of this trip includes lots of photos of buses and trains, and the border official's shocked reaction.
Despite an exploding department store that resulted in nearly two decades of Federal tunneling bans, non-existent local funding, and the tenaciousness of Beverly Hills residents, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has selected a route for the Purple Line Subway Extension. [more inside]
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