robertogreco + trains   112

Beware the ethical car - macwright.org
"On Tuesday, Lyft released a dataset for self-driving car development, along with a blog post. Here’s a snippet:
Avoidable collisions, single-occupant commuters, and vehicle emissions are choking our cities, while infrastructure strains under rapid urban growth.

And that translates to an efficient ecosystem of connected transit, bikes, scooters, and shared rides from drivers as well as self-driving cars. Solving the autonomous vehicle challenge is not just an option — it’s a necessity.

And then the CEO’s quote:
Not only can self-driving tech save two lives every single minute, it is essential to combat climate change by allowing people to ditch their cars for shared electric transportation. Lyft is committed to leading this transportation revolution.

Here’s what’s they’re doing: by co-opting the language of climate change, companies are going to try and make cars ethical.

Evidence so far

We should be wary. First, because ridesharing has already claimed to reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and has done the opposite.

See, Lyft claimed in 2015 that their service harmonized with public transit, rather than competed with it. That didn’t work out. Not only have they stolen trips from public transit, they’ve reduced support for transit and replaced walking & biking trips, too. They’ve increased traffic deaths by 2-3%, while increasing the number of cars on the streets.

Improved cars are a suspiciously convenient change agenda

California, eager to top its subsidy of mansions as blindingly regressive policy, decided to subsidize electric cars to the tune of $7,500 each, in the form of a tax credit. Tax credits, of course, are wealth transfer from some taxpayers to others: and in this case, we’re transferring our money to the deserving buyers of $90,000 sports cars.

That isn’t enough: we also allowed electric cars to drive in HOV lanes for years, until too many did so, traffic built up again, and the perk was removed.

While we subsidize the rich, we subsidize public transit less than almost everywhere else and make a grisly show of cracking down on fare evasion.

Space and selfishness

Lyft links to two articles in their blog post - one to a Washington Post ‘brand studio’ (sponsored, ghostwritten) article, and the other to The Atlantic. The Washington Post article is there to substantiate the climate change claim and here’s the crux of its argument:
Fulton’s analysis found little societal or environmental benefit from driverless vehicles unless they are both electric and shared.

Which brings us to the question of self-driving technology: will it be used for shared, communal transit like public transit works today, or will it be a way for rich people to have private luxury rooms?

All current signs point to the worse scenario. Here’s the carpooling, from the Washington Post article:
Carpooling peaked during the 1970s energy crisis, then dropped to 9 percent in 2014 from 20 percent in 1980.

Here’s what Elon Musk thinks of public transit.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”

Would Musk encourage people to carpool in their self-driving Teslas? Do serial killers own Teslas? This hasn’t been an issue so far, because Tesla owners can drive by themselves in carpool lanes.

Or consider how people reacted to increasing vehicle efficiency, and were given the choice: save the environment, or bigger cars?
The global S.U.V. boom is a roadblock in the march toward cleaner cars that has been aided by advances in fuel-saving technology and hybrid or electric vehicles. Compared to smaller cars, S.U.V.s are less efficient, generally by about 30 percent.

*******

Cars are a broken format. We shouldn’t give them a lifeline, or a new coat of paint, and society shouldn’t find a way to assuage the guilt that surrounds them.

Sure, cars should be electric. There are a lot of places in the world where transportation infrastructure isn’t sufficient and cars are the native transportation medium. Maybe they should be self-driving too, if the technology is safer than human drivers. Right now, it isn’t.

But to a large extent this is a zero-sum problem. Ridesharing already has substantially hurt public transit. The blue sky dream of self-driving cars is spawning galaxy-brain reckons like replacing the subway with underground highways, or replacing the subway with tunnels. These dreams are built around selfishness: they always offer private pods flying through space. Hyperloop promotional material portrays it as an alternative to being on the surface, with all those other people.

Avoiding climate catastrophe is obviously necessary, and we should consider all the options. But it’s hard to believe in car-centric solutions that don’t come with a vision of social and cultural change."
cars  carpooling  carsharing  lyft  uber  elonmusk  electriccars  transportation  transit  publictransit  climatechange  technology  technosolutionism  space  selfishness  society  globalwarming  ethics  ridesharing  california  subsidies  policy  highspeedrail  trains  hovlanes  suvs  emissions  hyperloop  tommacwright 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Amtrak Facing Rural Backlash Over Proposal to Cut Long-Distance Routes
"Amtrak’s proposals for altering or eliminating some of its long-distance train routes, in favor of more frequent service where the population is growing, is facing opposition among those who fear rural America would suffer. WSJ’s Jason Bellini reports."
amtrak  trains  us  policy  acela  rural  2019  funding 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Why The US Has No High-Speed Rail - YouTube
"China has the world’s fastest and largest high-speed rail network — more than 19,000 miles, the vast majority of which was built in the past decade.

Japan’s bullet trains can reach nearly 200 miles per hour and date to the 1960s. They have moved more than 9 billion people without a single passenger causality. casualty

France began service of the high-speed TGV train in 1981 and the rest of Europe quickly followed.

But the U.S. has no true high-speed trains, aside from sections of Amtrak’s Acela line in the Northeast Corridor. The Acela can reach 150 mph for only 34 miles of its 457-mile span. Its average speed between New York and Boston is about 65 mph.

California’s high-speed rail system is under construction, but whether it will ever get completed as intended is uncertain.

Watch the video to see why the U.S. continues to fail with high-speed trains, and some companies that are trying to fix that."
rails  trains  us  history  transportation  highspeedrail  2019  cars  lobbying  aviation  politics  policy  airlines  ideology  infrastructure  highspeed  rail 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Laurel Schwulst, "Blogging in Motion" - YouTube
"This video was originally published as part of peer-to-peer-web.com's NYC lecture series on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at the at the School for Poetic Computation.

It has been posted here for ease of access.

You can find many other great talks on the site:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com

And specifically more from the NYC series:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com/nyc "

[See also:
https://www.are.na/laurel-schwulst/blogging-in-motion ]
laurelschwulst  2019  decentralization  p2p  web  webdesign  blogging  movement  travel  listening  attention  self-reflection  howwewrite  writing  walking  nyc  beakerbrowser  creativity  pokemon  pokemonmoon  online  offline  internet  decentralizedweb  dat  p2ppublishing  p2pweb  distributed  webdev  stillness  infooverload  ubiquitous  computing  internetofthings  casygollan  calm  calmtechnology  zoominginandout  electricity  technology  copying  slow  small  johnseelybrown  markweiser  xeroxparc  sharing  oulipo  constraints  reflection  play  ritual  artleisure  leisurearts  leisure  blogs  trains  kylemock  correspondence  caseygollan  apatternlanguage  intimacy  dweb 
may 2019 by robertogreco
A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - YouTube
"What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like? The Intercept presents a film narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple.

Set a couple of decades from now, the film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This film flips the script. It’s about how, in the nick of time, a critical mass of humanity in the largest economy on earth came to believe that we were actually worth saving. Because, as Ocasio-Cortez says in the film, our future has not been written yet and “we can be whatever we have the courage to see.”"

[See also:
https://theintercept.com/2019/04/17/green-new-deal-short-film-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/

"The question was: How do we tell the story of something that hasn’t happened yet?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This skepticism is understandable. The idea that societies could collectively decide to embrace rapid foundational changes to transportation, housing, energy, agriculture, forestry, and more — precisely what is needed to avert climate breakdown — is not something for which most of us have any living reference. We have grown up bombarded with the message that there is no alternative to the crappy system that is destabilizing the planet and hoarding vast wealth at the top. From most economists, we hear that we are fundamentally selfish, gratification-seeking units. From historians, we learn that social change has always been the work of singular great men.

Science fiction hasn’t been much help either. Almost every vision of the future that we get from best-selling novels and big-budget Hollywood films takes some kind of ecological and social apocalypse for granted. It’s almost as if we have collectively stopped believing that the future is going to happen, let alone that it could be better, in many ways, than the present.

The media debates that paint the Green New Deal as either impossibly impractical or a recipe for tyranny just reinforce the sense of futility. But here’s the good news: The old New Deal faced almost precisely the same kinds of opposition — and it didn’t stop it for a minute."]
alexandriaocasio-cortez  2019  mollycrabapple  greennewdeal  speculativefiction  politics  policy  future  climatechange  globalwarming  1988  us  oil  petroleum  fossilfuels  environment  sustainability  puertorico  crisis  change  food  transportation  economics  capitalism  inequality  medicareforall  livingwages  labor  work  infrastructure  trains  masstransit  publictransit  americorps  unions  indigenous  indigeneity  childcare  care  caring  teaching  domesticwork  universalrights  healthcare  humanism  humanity  avilewis  naomiklein  skepticism  imagination  newdeal  fdr  wpa  greatdepression  moonshots  art  artists  collectivism  society 
april 2019 by robertogreco
There Is No Reason to Cross the U.S. by Train. But I Did It Anyway. - The New York Times
"Amtrak clings to the hope that someday people will view its service not as something that sucks and that they hate, but as something that is actually nice and that they don’t hate. There’s a whole separate Amtrak website dedicated to this dream (AmtrakVacations.com), where Amtrak does things like describe Los Angeles to people who have never heard of it. “The ‘City of Angels’ is one of the premier attractions in sunny Southern California.” But the other selling point of a cross-country train trip is a chance to look behind the American scrim: to learn where the nation makes and stores the hidden parts that run it, to find new places you wish you had been born, to spy on backyards and high school football fields whose possible existence had never occurred to you. Or me. Why not me? My boyfriend and I were planning a short vacation out West anyway. I could just leave a few days before him and get there after he arrived."



"The most unifying characteristic of my fellow passengers was not age (although, as a rule, the sleeping cars skewed retired), race (very mixed), income (while sleepers are astronomically priced, coach seats can be downright economical for shorter segments) or even fear of flying (no one I spoke to had it); it was their relaxed, easygoing, train-lulled contentment. To opt to travel long distance via Amtrak — a method deemed “on time” just 71.2 percent of the time by its own generous metric — is to say: As long as I get there eventually, I’m satisfied.

Train people are content to stare out the window for hours, like indoor cats. The trouble with the Lake Shore Limited is that the amount of enjoyment it is possible to derive from staring out the window of a train is inversely proportional to the population density of the land you are traversing. People need things, and unfortunately most of those things are ugly to look at. Many of them are gray. Views picked up considerably when, after a five-hour layover in Chicago, I transferred onto the Southwest Chief, a double-decker “Superliner” with many of its coach seats, sleeping quarters and lounges on the top level. Sightseer Lounges are the crown jewels of Amtrak’s long-distance trains: entire cars of retro-futuristic curved floor-to-ceiling windows where passengers can sit at tables or outward-facing upholstered chairs and watch the scenery streak by. Shortly into its route, the Chief passes the single best thing in the United States: a silo in Mendota, Ill., with an 80-by-20-foot ear of corn painted on one side.

Train people are also individuals for whom small talk is as invigorating as a rail of cocaine. For them, every meal on board Amtrak (communal seating like a Benihana, reservations only, included with the price of a sleeping-car ticket, check in with the dining-car attendant) is a rager. A white middle-aged man in motorcycle gear discussed leukemia treatment with a swish black grandmother. Another man, while gathering up armfuls of research books from a table, bid farewell to a farmer and suggested that he might run into him on the same train next year. I was seated at dinner with an Amish couple traveling to Arizona for a construction job, and by the time our Amtrak Signature Steaks with optional Béarnaise sauce arrived (the food is on a par with the fourth-best airplane meal you could ever imagine), we were deep in a conversation about one of my favorite topics, which is myself. I offered a tip I’d learned about cleaning up glitter using dryer sheets, and they laughed as they tried to envision a situation in which this information could ever be useful."
trains  us  travel  amtrak  slow  2019  caityweaver 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Is Gavin Newsom Right to Slow Down California’s High-Speed Train? | The New Yorker
"There is currently a direct train between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, called the Coast Starlight—the ride takes about twelve hours and costs around a hundred dollars. It is also possible to fly between the two cities, hourly throughout the day; the trip is around fifty minutes in the air, and a ticket can be less than a hundred dollars. In reasonable traffic, a car can expect to make the journey, which is roughly the distance from New York City to Brunswick, Maine, in six hours. There are direct buses, too. An S.F.-to-L.A. trip on the high-speed rail would fit amid these options. It is also supposed to cost around a hundred dollars one way and to take two hours and forty minutes, a comfortable length for people wanting to go from downtown to downtown on a schedule, without detouring through the airport—in other words, for business people travelling between the state’s two growing centers of money and power. The High-Speed Rail Authority has produced varying ridership estimates; the highest, a hundred million a year, matches the usage of the Bay Area’s most sprawling regional rail system, bart, which is busy with people making daily metropolitan commutes to work or to school. It’s easy to imagine a San Franciscan family of four with two small kids preferring, over other possibilities, a three-hour train ride on Friday to visit Grandma in L.A. (Cost: something like seven hundred bucks round-trip, assuming there’s a reduced child fare.) But it’s hard to imagine middle-class families making a commuter habit of such trips, especially given the not horribly longer journey possible for just the cost of a full gas tank. In practice, the S.F.-to-L.A. route would operate chiefly as a business train, for inter-city meeting-makers, executives bouncing between offices, multiple-home owners, and unmoored media types. (Disclosure: I would personally love this train.) It’s an alternative connection for already well-connected people.

Smart advocates of the plan, of which there are many, point to the success of high-speed rail elsewhere: in China, in Europe. It’s worth noting, however, where such admirable trains actually go: on suburban and exurban routes, mostly, not metropolitan ones, the trains doing what air travel cannot. By trimming the high-speed rail of its upscale ends (for now), Newsom focussed the rail plan on the communities most underserved by current transit infrastructure—a narrower-use case, but probably one that is more generous to the inland region. Largely agricultural and truly middle-class, the cities between Merced and Bakersfield make up a part of California that risks losing, rather than gaining, steam, especially as some conditions that support the agricultural economy fall away. A major infrastructure project would bring a fresh wave of middle-class workers to these affordable cities. Being the custodians of the state’s most advanced transit, too, would keep those cities on the map and weave an often-atomized agricultural community together. A high-speed train connected to the prospering coast, in contrast, would bind Valley workers to a thriving ecosystem of jobs and bring coastal industry inland—to what end? In a 2000 survey of the topic, Ted Bradshaw, a now-deceased professor at the University of California, Davis, who studied these inland communities, projected social bifurcation. “Underskilled workers fail to find a place in the new economy and are increasingly bypassed, while workers from the high-technology urban centers are encouraged to relocate to the Valley,” he wrote. “While the potential for development is real and the possible benefits are great, these industries face stiff competition from the coastal regions in California.”

To the extent that California has challenges around inequality (and it does), they have tended to come from élite workers compounding their advantage, attracting similarly élite labor from elsewhere, and building a local economy that crowds out anyone who is not affluent or who has obstacles to opportunity access. Few people would really want Bakersfield or Fresno to be the new frontiers of cost refugees—metropolitan workers who can’t afford the cities or just want more bang for their buck. Even fewer would want these inland destinations themselves to become a true extension of the coast—ever more a zone of wealth and the enduring worm-jar competition of an élite class. Purely upscale cities, we are starting to realize, are tedious and sad.

A high-speed rail tying the Valley to the coast will create a new channel for these business-class powers, and it won’t be cheap. According to an analysis by the World Bank, the per-mile cost of building such a system in California is twice the comparable expense in Europe and three times the cost in China: we are paying top dollar for the privilege of emulation. Neither will it come soon. The rail connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles is expected be finished in 2033. By that point, autonomous vehicles, green in both power source and roadway efficiency, are expected to be in commercial use—not everywhere, one assumes, but almost certainly on the stretch of highway separating the headquarters of Uber, in San Francisco, and Space X, in L.A. Because autonomous cars are more predictable and more controlled—in short, more train-like—there will be another costly push to streamline existing roadways to their habits. (They can use narrower lanes, for instance.) They also have the virtue, especially in spread-out California, of carrying passengers door to door. The United States is overdue for high-speed rail: it represents the standard we are trailing. But in zooming toward the future it’s important to remember whom we’re taking with us and who is being left behind."
highspeedrail  trains  gavinnewsom  nathanheller  2019  transportation  california  bakersfield  merced  centralvalley  losangeles  sanfrancisco  inequality  cities  urban  urbanism  highspeed  rail 
february 2019 by robertogreco
The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps. - YouTube
"Japan’s Shinkansen doesn’t look like your typical train. With its long and pointed nose, it can reach top speeds up to 150–200 miles per hour.

It didn’t always look like this. Earlier models were rounder and louder, often suffering from the phenomenon of "tunnel boom," where deafening compressed air would rush out of a tunnel after a train rushed in. But a moment of inspiration from engineer and birdwatcher Eiji Nakatsu led the system to be redesigned based on the aerodynamics of three species of birds.

Nakatsu’s case is a fascinating example of biomimicry, the design movement pioneered by biologist and writer Janine Benyus. She's a co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit encouraging creators to discover how big challenges in design, engineering, and sustainability have often already been solved through 3.8 billion years of evolution on earth. We just have to go out and find them."
biomimicry  design  classideas  janinebenyus  biology  nature  trains  shinkansen  japan  birds  sustainability  biomimetics  form  process  plants  animals  2017  circulareconomy  ecosystems  systemsthinking  upcycling  cities  urban  urbanism 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Transit Agencies Must Sell Freedom – Remix
"Some of you may have watched the recent Winter Olympic Games, during which, Toyota ran several ads highlighting individual mobility. The core message: celebrate the notion of freedom. Yet, absent from these commercials were actual vehicles.

Vehicle manufacturers have long sold themselves as purveyors of freedom. For decades in America, the purchase of a vehicle was not just a financial transaction, but the key to personal freedom. Through their commercial, Toyota was similarly connecting the notion of athletic freedoms to the personal freedoms granted by their vehicles.

[image]

On the other hand, public transportation is often portrayed as an alternative to driving, or the option you use when driving is too expensive or unavailable to you. But at its core, there is no difference between the function of a private vehicle and a public transportation vehicle. Both are used to get you from wherever you are to where you want to be.

The Freedom Frame

Willful motion is a basic characteristic of life. Being able to move when you want and go where you want is a core element of personal freedom. In my work as a transit planner, I’ve found that when I am able to describe my work in the context of personal freedom, people engage. I believe that more transit agencies should use this “Freedom Frame” to plan, promote, and communicate their services to showcase the benefit they bring to their communities.

Using such a ‘Freedom Frame’ to talk about our work has several advantages.

1. It keeps the focus on what matters most to people — their ability to access destinations quickly and affordably.[1]

2. It allows you to transform beyond the individual experience and plan for a type of collective freedom.

3. It allows you to tap into the broader transportation market.

Fortunately, there are more and more tools becoming available to transit planners to measure transit freedom. These tools are known as transit accessibility analysis, isochrone analysis, or in the Remix world, Jane. Using Jane to estimate the accessibility for different demographics, such as low-income, minority, youth or seniors, has allowed me to make the transit Freedom Frame relevant to diverse audiences, and gain broad-based support for potential service changes.

[images]

Freedom is Greater Than Efficiency

Too often, our conversations about transportation and transit are focused on operational details or efficiency metrics — roadway capacity, vehicle delay, passengers per hour, vehicle loads, etc. But it turns out, that no one really cares about efficiency for efficiency’s sake. In my experience, people care about efficiency only to the extent that it allows them to do something they otherwise would not be able to do. In other words, if we cannot explain our efficiency enhancements in terms of expanded freedom, they will continue to be undervalued or actively resisted.

This reality has implications for both transit planning and marketing. As an example, transfers are essential for an efficient network. However, it’s very difficult for a rider to accept this trade-off and they often resist adding new transfers to a network. You can reduce some of this resistance by illustrating and quantifying the number of new places riders can get to with the new transfer. Mapping one’s transit freedom immediately encourages the public to to imagine new trips they could make rather than focusing on the inconvenience of the transfer.

Freedom as a Business Bottom Line

When marketing to local employers, quantifying the size of the workforce that is accessible to them because of transit speaks to them in terms of their bottom lines. If they can move their workforce on transit, they can rethink their parking strategies and needs. If employers have commute trip reduction goals or targets, for example, marketing transit to their employees starts to be in their own self-interest. In the case of a small business owner, illustrating the number of people who could potentially arrive at their doorstep because of the bus stop could change their perspective. They come to see the bus stop as a virtual on-street parking space that turns over much more frequently than an actual parking spot. Through this lens, they too, have an interest in supporting people using transit.

[images]

Collective Freedoms Enhance Individual Freedoms

Another significant challenge in transportation planning is that we tend to think about travel from our personal experience, which leads to individually optimized solutions. In transit we experience this, when certain customer groups approach us to ask what special service, or route, we can provide for them. Invariably the request stems from the desire to get a certain group or type of person to a specific type of destination to do a specific type of activity. Common examples include seniors getting to the grocery store, youth to a recreational center after school, a certain employer’s employees to their office building, or even concertgoers to a venue.

Approaching transportation from the perspective of the individual requires agencies to know a lot about each individual — where they live, where they’re they going, and when they’re going. Developing highly tailored services around individual trip patterns results in networks that are brittle (fragile to changes in the community) and less efficient. Further, optimizing for an individual will make the network less attractive to everyone but that individual.

To counter this trend, transit agencies need to pivot toward a collective approach. Begin by refocusing on freedom. At the core of each of those individual trips is the same desire, to get from where one is to where one wants to be. Connecting more people to more places more often will result in more seniors, more youth, and more employees reaching their destinations.

If we optimize a network for collective mobility, rather than individual trips, we will have a network that will enhance the individual freedoms for the greatest number of people. Not to mention, the network itself will be more resilient to change, more efficient, and require less specific knowledge about individual trips.

A Willingness to Pay for Freedom

The promise of freedom in transit is primarily sabotaged by its operating budget. The Freedom Frame however, has encouraged me to dramatically expand my vision beyond the limitations of an existing operating budget. We typically think about our current operating budget as the starting point for people’s willingness to pay for transit. For most small and even middle-sized transit agencies, this funding level is insufficient to provide freedom to the general population let alone our current passengers. This lens artificially limits transit’s potential.

I would challenge transit agencies to consider a “Freedom Frame” approach to funding. This changes the question from “How much should we spend on transit?” to “How much should we pay for the freedom to move?” As the automobile industry and Toyota have confirmed, people are willing to pay a lot of money for their personal freedom. Much more, in fact, than any transit agency’s operating budget.

For example, the two-county area surrounding Boise, Idaho, known as the Treasure Valley, is home to over 600,000 people. Residents of the Treasure Valley pay an estimated $1.5 billion per year on operating their own vehicles. By comparison, the transit operating budget for the Treasure Valley (including paratransit and demand response options) is $15 million — or one percent.

[images]

This single statistic explains:

1. Why transit currently provides little freedom in the Treasure Valley

2. The remaining market share of what transit could provide

Today, asking people to take transit in the Treasure Valley is like asking them to step out of a world of $1.5 billion of freedom and into a world of only $15 million of freedom. Our residents experience this loss of freedom in terms of the bus not coming often enough, not coming on the days they need, or not taking them to their needed destinations. Understandably, few people, compared to the entire population, choose transit[1].

Catch the Freedom Train

If people are willing to spend $1.5 billion on their own freedom, why are we limiting ourselves to incremental transit expansion programs? Could transit provide more freedom to more people with less money than the current arrangement?

Of course it can! So, why isn’t that our target? Why aren’t we telling this story in terms of freedom rather than in terms of transportation needs assessments, alternatives, efficiencies, or environmental impacts?

Transit is about providing more freedom to more people at a lower cost. And those costs are not only out-of-pocket financial costs but also lower social costs, lower land requirements, and lower environmental costs. These concepts of transit freedom are not new, but have been elevated through new technology that transit planners now have at their fingertips.

There is truth in Toyota’s advertising: when people are free to move, anything is possible. Whether looking at the past and the tunnels cut by hand through the Rocky Mountains, or the ribbons of asphalt and concrete that crisscross our country, or looking to the future with investments in automated vehicles, Hyperloops, etc., it is clear that anything is possible when you provide people the freedom to move. Transit agencies will be much more likely to realize the investments they need to remain relevant if they are able to tap into people’s desire to move freely."
transmobility  2018  transportation  transit  publictransit  freedom  efficiency  mobility  collectivism  fundign  government  trains  buses  stephenhunt 
may 2018 by robertogreco
How to make the Bay Area's tangle of public transit options less chaotic - San Francisco Business Times
"Have you ever tried to transfer from BART to Muni downtown, entering and exiting separate gates after you walk up and down two sets of stairs? Or made the same maneuver transferring from Caltrain to BART in Millbrae? The transfer takes minutes when it should take seconds — and that’s just one way the Bay Area’s transit system can bewilder riders.

SPUR, the region’s urban policy think-tank, just released a hulking 51-page report on how to make the Bay Area’s transit systems less chaotic. Much of the conversation surrounding public transit woes centers on funding shortfalls and overcrowding.

But there's another issue: when there are 27 different Bay Area transit systems, it's difficult for people to use them. The sheer number of intersecting systems makes the Bay Area arguably the most complex public transit network in the country, the report notes. “The Big 7” agencies — Muni, BART, AC Transit, Caltrain, VTA, SamTrans and Golden Gate Transit — each have more than 9 million riders a year.

“I ran into these problems when my family visits. They learned how to use BART but nothing else,” Ratna Amin, SPUR’s transit policy director, said at a panel discussion on Tuesday announcing the report. “While we like transit, we don’t use it because it’s too uncertain.”

It’s not just her family, of course.

There’s been a 14 percent drop in public transit usage per capita in the Bay Area since 1991. Aside from Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, that's biggest decrease among large metro areas. That’s bad company to be in if you care about transit-oriented development, traffic, the environment and making life better for 29 percent of Bay Area commuters who pass a county boundary to get to work every day.

The report notes that the region’s “divergent maps, schedules and fares to uncoordinated capital planning and investment” plays a big role. Part of that decline is because “having so many different transit systems makes it harder for riders to understand and use the services available to them,” SPUR notes.

How can policymakers ease the tension?

The report doesn’t just call for all-out consolidation among agencies because that could be onerous. It does call on state legislators to think of ways to provide financial incentives for just that. SPUR’s interviews found “some apathy among stakeholders about” solving the problem because “state and federal transit funding programs have not emphasized integration.”

SPUR mostly lays out a mixture of small and ambitious steps. They include designing new signage and a region-wide map to be more like New York and London’s signature looks; improving revenue-sharing between agencies; standardizing fares; and using bus fleets more efficiently by letting them provide more service across counties.

The shining example of Bay Area transit agencies working together was the creation of the Clipper Card in 2010. The service allows riders to use one re-loadable card across bus and rail systems. But that system has a major flaw: it includes several different fare structures, penalizing people who switch transit operators. Fixing this would require improved revenue sharing, the report notes.

The group also calls out the Metropolitan Transit Commission, the state-authorized transit coordinator in the region, for stopping short of requiring transit operators to change routes and business rules. For example, there are still no timed transfers from BART to feeder buses, the report said.

SPUR found in interviews that MTC also has strained relationships with its operators.

Planning easier transfers for riders is also important because major transit hubs will soon come online. Those hubs include the Valley Transit Authority’s BART-Silicon Valley Extension to San Jose, Caltrain’s Downtown Extension in San Francisco and the Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway.

“We have shortcomings to identify — interagency disputes, transit lines that stop at one boundary,” State Senator Jim Beall said Tuesday morning at the panel. “if we were starting from scratch, no one would invent the transit system we have in the Bay Area.”"
bayarea  transportation  transit  publictransit  sanfrancisco  bart  muni  trains  2017  sanjose  marin  vta  smart  oakland  caltrain  publictransportation  marincounty 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Solving the Bay Area's Fragmented Transit Dilemma
"The last time I wrote about Bay Area public transportation, my final conclusion was that the region needed to consolidate all of its disparate operators into a single agency, much like the MTA in New York or New Jersey Transit in the entire state. I have since significantly revised my stance on this subject, but before I get into that, I want to first direct you to an interesting statistic compiled by the MTC, the Bay Area’s metropolitan planning organization:

[chart: "The Bay Area is the only metro area in the country without a primary transit operator."]

So even in America’s famous preference for local and decentralized government, the Bay Area stands outs. There is no primary transit operator here who has managed to capture a majority of the region’s transit riders. There is only a hopelessly disjointed patchwork of more than two-dozen local agencies (click here for map) an arrangement that is failing to provide a seamless transit service that would be expected of a world-class region. Back in 2009, the MTC noted this problem in its Annual Report:
“We have multiple layers of decision-making and service delivery -- 28 separate transit agencies, each with its own board, staff and operating team, that confound efforts to deliver a regional system passengers can understand and effectively navigate, and that can keep pace with changes in demand. And at times we … have made decisions to invest in system expansion when reinvesting in the existing system might have been the wiser choice.”


And they have since failed to do anything meaningful about it. The status quo is supported by band-aid fixes and duct tape and disappoints on multiple fronts, but these three are the most significant:

First of all, there is no standardized visual guideline that determines what station signage, vehicle design, nomenclature, and maps look like. Each agency has different names for the same thing (e.g. Limited, Rapid), uncoordinated schedules, dissimilar visual guidelines (colors, fonts, logos), and most perplexing of all, there is a procession of maps of all shapes, sizes, and colors that confound earnest attempts from tourists and locals alike to navigate the system. Just designing and displaying a unified map that realistically displays every route and different levels of service would go a long way to facilitate wayfinding."



[continues]
edmundxu  bayarea  transit  transportation  trains  2017  bart  sanfrancisco  sanjose  marin  vta  smart  oakland  caltrain  publictransit  publictransportation  marincounty 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Bay Area transit fails to put riders first - San Francisco Chronicle
"The northern terminus of SMART, the new passenger-rail system in the North Bay, is the Sonoma County Airport Station in Santa Rosa. But after my 8-year-old son and I flew in, we learned the airport is more than a mile from the train.

There is as yet no dedicated shuttle from plane to train. My son wasn’t up for walking. A public bus that would get us nearer to the train wouldn’t show up for hours. Uber wasn’t picking up, and my Lyft app kept crashing. The four cabbies outside the airport refused to take us on such a short, cheap trip.

The Bay Area is our richest large metropolitan region because it skillfully connects the world. But if you need to make transit connections in the Bay Area, good luck.

Lured by this summer’s preview rides on SMART, I recently spent three days navigating the Bay Area sans car. I enjoyed trains, ferries and buses. But I was bewildered by the failure of a place famous for integrating culture and technology to integrate its own infrastructure and transportation.

The SMART train is eventually supposed to reach the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, a 35-minute boat ride from San Francisco. But the first segment ends 2 miles short of the ferry. There’s a bike path to the terminal, and a bus station in San Rafael that can get you to the ferry, but that bus ride would take 26 minutes. We opted for an Uber and got there in eight minutes.

We shouldn’t have hurried: The ferry left 10 minutes late. But on a clear day, we enjoyed views of the Golden Gate Bridge. At the Ferry Building, I bought my son ice cream at Gott’s.

After meetings in San Francisco, we went to BART’s Embarcadero Station, heading for Oakland Airport and a flight home. But the first six trains were too full to board. BART is a system built for 60,000 riders that moves more than 400,000 daily. The system badly needs more cars, better maintenance, governance that isn’t dominated by unions and a second tunnel under the bay.

When the seventh train arrived, we pushed our way in. “That’s rude,” said one rider.

“We’re from L.A.,” I replied.

We made the flight, but the day produced sticker shock. The four-station ride from San Francisco to Oakland’s Coliseum Station, from which a tram takes you into the airport, cost $10.20 each. Add that to my $11.50 ferry ticket (my son’s was $5.75), the $9 Uber ride to the ferry, the $11.50 one-way fare on SMART (kids are half-price), and $10 for the airport cab ride, and our journey was pushing $70. In L.A., a Metro ride is just $1.75, with free transfers.

A few days later, I was back in San Francisco, contending with delays on the local Muni system, when I needed to get to San Jose, a city BART doesn’t quite reach yet. That meant riding Caltrain. BART and Caltrain share a station in Millbrae, but the schedules aren’t synchronized, meaning possible delay. So I walked 25 minutes from BART’s Powell Street Station to the Caltrain at Fourth and King.

In San Jose, I disembarked at Diridon Station, which may have a bright future as the northern end of high-speed rail. But for now, it is just another setting for connection frustration, as I waited a half-hour for a train on Santa Clara County’s VTA system.

The next day, to get to San Jose Airport, I took Caltrain to the Santa Clara Station, which offers a VTA bus shuttle. But the bus driver refused to open the bus door for 15 minutes, even during a brief rain. And the shuttle took a meandering route with a stop at a soccer stadium.

If the Bay Area is ever going to be the design-savvy ecotopia of its dreams, it must combine transit systems and put the rider’s needs first. Right now, using transit there makes you feel powerless. And that should be unacceptable in California’s most powerful region."
bayarea  transit  transportation  trains  2017  bart  sanfrancisco  sanjose  marin  vta  smart  oakland  caltrain  joematthews  publictransit  publictransportation  marincounty 
november 2017 by robertogreco
New Muni Train Tracker
"LRV4 Tracker
Siemens S200
Muni has begun adding the new LRV4 trains into the fleet alongside the existing Breda LRVs.

Want to find out whether they're in service and where? The map on the right shows the locations of the new trains and the lines that they're operating on.

This map auto-updates,
no need to refresh!"
sanfrancisco  muni  trains  maps  mapping  classideas 
november 2017 by robertogreco
@debcha en Instagram: “I'm not really a souvenir person, but I did come home with some @transportforlondon swag—I think those are real line status magnets…”
"I'm not really a souvenir person, but I did come home with some @transportforlondon swag—I think those are real line status magnets, together with the ubiquitous hazard sign. The print amused me because I recently learned that the reason why the Tube is so hot in the summer is because a century and a half of dumping waste heat, particularly from braking, has raised the temperature of the clay surrounding the tunnels from a cool 15C to a toasty 25C, which makes it much harder to cool now."
debchachra  2017  london  trains  heat  clay  materials  science  subways  transportation  souvenirs  signs 
august 2017 by robertogreco
A map of San Francisco's subway system that almost was
"The original 1956 plan for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system was way more complex on paper than it is in reality. Designer Jake Coolidge has imagined a universe in which this full plan was implemented. And even though it doesn't involve filling in the Bay or underground rocket trains or pyramids, it does complement world-building for any tales about an alternate reality San Francisco rather nicely."
maps  mapping  bart  history  sanfrancisco  bayarea  1956  jakecoolidge  trains  transit  publictransit  classideas 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Bay Area 2050: the BART Metro Map
"Introduction
The BART Metro Map consolidates the Bay Area’s existing transit — currently spread over two dozen different transit agencies — and aggregates proposed, planned, and under-construction projects. The map envisions a “best-case scenario,” in which every proposal currently under consideration around the Bay has been funded and constructed (wishful thinking, of course). As we trudge down Geary on the 38, jam ourselves into rush hour BART, or as CalTrain experiences yet another delay, this map imagines an integrated, reliable, and truly regional transit future.

Purpose
The Bay Area has over two dozen different transit agencies. The lack of coordination and the competition for funds costs our region economically both in terms of inefficient government spending on poorly planned routes, and lost productivity due to poor service for commuters. In addition, as the population in nearly every city around the Bay grows, it is clear that our current infrastructure is inadequate to handle future growth, much less the recent tech boom. Although proposals and plans have sprung up left and right to augment transit capacity and service in the 9 counties, in isolation it can be difficult to visualize how these different projects would improve transportation in the Bay.

I’ve created this map to help people understand what is being considered and what our transit future could look like with more funding and more commitment from local governments. You can also take a look at SPUR’s hypothetical unified Bay Area rail map and CalUrbanist’s map of current regional rail.

Jump below for a comprehensive list of the projects referenced in this map, as well as an explanation of the style."

[See also: http://sf.curbed.com/2016/6/23/12017204/bart-metro-map-bay-area-future-plans

Another project: http://www.jakecoolidgecartography.com/regional-rapid-transit-bay-area.html

And more: http://www.jakecoolidgecartography.com/regional-rapid-transit-bay-area.html
]
maps  mapping  bart  muni  sanfrancisco  bayarea  trains  transit  publictransit  2050  future  adamsusaneck  spur  caltrain  classideas 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Why Are BART Trains So Loud? | Bay Curious | News Fix | KQED News
"Also, Kolesar says BART’s banshee wail is not a mistake. It isn’t the result of some design mishap. It came from a conscious engineering choice.

Engineers had to make a trade-off back when they started building BART more than 50 years ago. They decided to make the wheels solid axle — or connected — so that they rotate at the same rate. Kolesar says that makes the trains quiet on the straightaways, which constitute a majority of BART’s tracks. But because of the design, one of the wheels ends up getting dragged against the rail on turns, which causes that high-pitched squeal.

“So one wheel has to be sliding while the other is rolling,” Kolesar says. “Or they both have to be slightly sliding, because they are turning at different speeds going around that bend. It just makes noise.”

Now there is a plan to make BART quieter. New train cars will have tapered wheels that drag less on the rail. That will help a little. But there’s a bigger change coming with the new cars.

Kolesar says the “the doors are the key.” No matter what you do, the wheels will always squeal a little. The current doors let in lots of that sound, but the new trains will have better insulated doors that could make the trains two or three times as quiet.

Again, we’ve got to wait a few years to enjoy that kind of relative quiet. All the old squealing cars won’t be replaced until around 2021."
classideas  bart  sanfrancisco  transportation  transit  trains  2016  noise 
march 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: Stunning Views on the Train to Tahoe - The New York Times
"The Zephyr, which began in 1949, departs from Emeryville once daily in the morning and continues all the way to Chicago. It hugs the shores of the San Pablo and Suisun Bays, before heading across the checkerboard farmland of the Central Valley toward Sacramento.

From there, it moves into the Sierra foothills, through Auburn and the heart of Gold Rush country. Cinematic views of snowy peaks, lakes and forest unfold as it climbs to the highest point of the journey near Donner Pass (about 7,000 feet above sea level), skirting Lake Donner below.

Finally, a series of descending plateaus leads to the Truckee depot.

The trip takes about five and half hours, a couple of hours longer than it would by car (depending on traffic). Seats run from $46 to $88, and a dining car sells meals, coffee and wine."
rtuckee  amtrak  california  californiazephyr  auburn  2016  trains  travel  sierranevada 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Los Angeles Future Rail & BRT | Transit Maps by CalUrbanist
"Transporting the masses has always been a zero-sum game in Los Angeles. L.A. was built by streetcars; then modern L.A. was built around the car. Only recently have Angelenos begun to realize that any metropolis of 16 million*, no matter how lowrise, cannot live on roads alone. The long-term project to rebuild the Red Car network got underway in the ’80s, but 2008 was a turning point. That’s when voters approved Measure R, a 30-year tax to, among other things, build multiple Metro Rail lines. This fall, voters will get an opportunity to double down on Measure R by raising the tax, making it permanent, and building more lines. The map below is based on that proposition, Measure M. It also includes a couple of unrelated projects that are largely funded and likely to happen. Stylistically, the diagram draws on clean and simple Central European examples. (* Depending on how you measure it, there are somewhere between 13 and 19 million people in Greater Los Angeles.)"
losangeles  transportation  future  transit  publictransit  trains  measurer  measurem  maps  mapping  lightrail  metro 
august 2016 by robertogreco
San Francisco has become one huge metaphor for economic inequality in America — Quartz
"With the average house in San Francisco costing over $1.25 million and median condo prices over $1.11 million, the minimum qualifying income to purchase a house has increased to $254,000, as estimated by the the California Association of Realtors. Considering that the median household income in the city currently stands around $80,000, it is not an exaggeration to say that the dream of home ownership is now beyond the grasp of the vast majority of today’s renters.

For generations, the stability and prosperity of the American middle class has been anchored by home ownership. Studies have consistently shown that the value of land has outpaced overall income growth, thus providing a huge advantage to property owners as a vehicle of wealth building. When home prices soar above the reach of most households, the gap between the haves and the have nots dramatically increases.

If causal factors leading to housing unaffordability are not resolved over multiple generations, the social stratification will start to resemble countries like Russia, where a small elite control a vast share of the country’s total wealth.

The result? A society where the threat of class warfare would loom large. According to a 2010 study conducted by the University of Warwick, a society’s level of happiness is tied less to measures of quantitative wealth and more to ties of qualitative wealth. This means that how a person judges their wellbeing in comparison to their neighbors has more of an impact on their happiness than their objective standard of living. At the same time, when a system no longer provides opportunities for the majority to partake in wealth building, it not only robs those who are excluded of opportunities, but also of their dignity.



Our impending housing crisis forces the uncomfortable question of what type of society we would like to be. Will it be one where elites command the vast bulk of wealth and regional culture is defined by a cutthroat business world? We were recently treated to a taste of the latter, when local tech employee Justin Keller wrote an open letter to the city complaining about having to see homeless people on his way to work.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But solutions need to be implemented now, before angry mobs grow from nuisance to serious concern. It may take less than you might think. There are only so many housing reform community meetings one can sit through.

Ultimately, the solutions to our housing crisis are fairly clear. We need to increase the density of housing units. We need to use existing technology to shorten travel times and break the geographical bottleneck.

There is a way to solve complex social and economic problems without abandoning social responsibility. This is the Bay Area’s opportunity to prove that it can innovate more than just technology."
housing  inequality  sanfrancisco  bayarea  us  cities  wealth  wealthinequality  transportation  trains  2016  affordability  density  society  technology  geography  frederickkuo  economics  policy  development 
june 2016 by robertogreco
How Washington Derailed Amtrak - NationalJournal.com
"WHO'S TO BLAME for this sad state of affairs? It depends whom you ask. To conservatives, America has a second-rate train system because the government is running it. Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida, a longtime Amtrak skeptic, told me it was both a "Soviet-style" and "third-world" passenger service. If by "Soviet-style," he meant that labor costs are out of whack, it's true that a 2009 report by the Amtrak Office of Inspector General found the company's infrastructure workers to be 2.3 times more expensive annually than their European counterparts. And if by "third-world," he meant that Amtrak is often bumbling and incompetent, it's true that Acela's cars were originally built four inches too wide, preventing them from handling curves with any deftness. (The problem was eventually solved.)

To liberals, however, the problem is that the government hasn't invested nearly enough. After all, countries that boast more advanced systems support their trains with public subsidies that Amtrak could only dream of. (Britain's private rail network, for instance, received roughly $8 billion from the government last year.)

In November 2011, Robert Dove, a managing director at the Carlyle Group, the D.C.-based asset-management firm, delivered a presentation to the annual meeting of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association (USHSR), a lobbying-cum-cheerleading group formed shortly after Obama's election. Dove began his slide show with the usual embarrassing stats about America's high-speed-rail ineptitude (290 million annual high-speed-rail passengers in Japan; 3 million in America). He went on to estimate that for the Northeast Corridor alone to facilitate legitimate bullet-train travel, up to $117 billion in improvements were necessary. (Amtrak itself, in a 2012 plan that will probably never come to fruition—New York to Boston in 94 minutes!—put the number at $151 billion.) "You will not find the private sector willing to come in at the construction stage or the development stage," he warned. For that, the government would have to pick up the tab. Only at that point would you "find people like me very, very willing to come in and buy it." In other words, to get to the conservative dream of a privatized Amtrak, you would first have to pursue the liberal path of spending a massive amount of public money.

Dove's plan might be more realistic if we conceived of Amtrak as a piece of infrastructure—like a bridge or a tunnel—rather than as a for-profit corporation that can't quite turn a profit. "This is a public service," argues Andy Kunz, president of USHSR. "Our highways don't make a profit. Our airports don't make a profit. It's all paid for by the government." (Together, the Highway Trust Fund and the Federal Aviation Administration receive about 45 times what Amtrak does, through subsidies and gas taxes.)

That line of thinking isn't persuasive to everyone, evidently. In 2008, the last time a major Amtrak reauthorization was passed, Congress introduced a game-changing new rail policy: The law stipulated that, on all routes except for long-distance and Northeast Corridor trains, the states had to pay for trains' operating costs, while the feds would still handle the bulk of any needed investments. In theory, this was a good idea. Not only did it get more potential funders and political partners involved, but it was probably more fair. "Otherwise," as Railway Age contributing editor and Amtrak maven Frank Wilner puts it, "the federal government is robbing St. Petersburg to pay St. Paul, extracting a handling fee as the money flows through Washington.""
trains  us  amtrak  2015  transportation  transit  rail  highspeedrail  highspeed 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Beautifully Blurred Photos Taken from a Moving Train – Flavorwire
"London-based artist Rolf Sachs, who we discovered on Photojojo, traveled across Switzerland along the World Heritage Rhaetian Albula/Bernina Railway line taking photos from the moving train. Camera in Motion – From Chur to Tirano, supported by Leica Camera, explores the landscape through blurred impressions that at turns resemble watercolor paintings and glitch art.

“Having grown up and gone to school in the Engadin valley, I regularly travelled on the Albula/Bernina Railway line and developed a great appreciation for the natural beauty and diversity of the surrounding Alpine landscape,” Sachs writes on his website. “The scenery continuously surprises me as I discover new details with every journey. I wanted to experiment with combining the motion of the train with these remarkable views. The photographic results are intriguing and have gone beyond our expectations, as the camera manages to capture images that the human eye could not begin to perceive.” Take a closer look in our gallery, and watch a video of Sachs discussing the long-term project."

[video: https://vimeo.com/76620447 ]
photography  trains  roldsachs  movement  motion  blur  2015 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Yamanote Eki-Melo
"The Yamanote Line is the most famous and well-travelled train line in Tokyo. Each station on the Yamanote plays a song (eki-melo, "train melody", 発車メロディ or "hassha melody") when trains are about to depart, differing by platform, direction and station.

Click any post to listen to that station's eki-melo!"

[via: https://twitter.com/debcha/status/553661667439935488 ]
japan  sounds  sound  trains  chimes  yamanote  eki-melo  tokyo 
january 2015 by robertogreco
ISLAND of DHARMA on Vimeo
"Photography & editing | Piotr Wancerz timelapsemedia.com Music | Tony Anderson "The Prophecy" tonyandersonmusic.com

Shot entirely on Panasonic LX100

Locations: Anuradhapura, Colombo, Dambulla, Ella, Haputale, Kandy, Negombo, Sigiriya, Tangalle, Udawalawe"
indianocean  srilanka  ceylon  timelapse  colombo  kandy  trains  negombo  tangalle  sigiriya  video  anuradhapura  dambulla  ella  haputale  udawalawe 
january 2015 by robertogreco
» President Perón’s locomotive “Argentina”
"“Argentina” was had a striking streamlined external appearance inspired by locomotives built in USA, UK and France. It remains one of the most efficient steam railway locomotives of all time.’Argentina’ was painted in the colours of the Argentine flag – white and sky blue. Unusually for a steam locomotive the bulk of the machine was painted white with one broad blue band and two narrower ones low down on each side.

“Peron lost power in 1955 after which the locomotive lost all the ‘Presidente Perón’ nameplates. At this point the locomotive gained two more ‘Argentina’ plates and remained with these until withdrawn.”"
argentina  trains  perón  juanperón 
august 2014 by robertogreco
MTA.ME
"Project summary

At www.mta.me, Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA’s actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 diagram.

Subway Details

The piece follows some rules. Every minute, it checks for new trains launched from their end stations. The train then moves towards the end of the line, with its speed set by the schedule’s estimated trip duration. Some decisions were made for musical, aesthetic, and technical reasons, such as fading out routes over time, the gradual time acceleration, and limiting the number of concurrent trains. Also, I used the weekday schedule. Some of these limitations result in subtle variations, as different trains are chosen during each 24-hour loop.

The system has changed since 1972, and some lines no longer exist. For example, the 8 train, or the Third Ave El, was shut down in 1973. The former K train was merged into other routes. I decided to run these ghost trains between 12am-2am.

Developer Details

mta.me is built in HTML5/Javascript. It pulls from the MTA’s public API, which provides a detailed schedule of stops and departure times. (The MTA does not currently track trains’ live positions via GPS.) The design was created in Illustrator, then exported via SVG coordinates into HTML5 Canvas. I built a version with layered HTML5 audio, but ran into many limitations and bugs when layering multi-shot samples. (See this post for details.) so the audio is being triggered by Flash in the background, communicating with JS Sound Manager.

I originally wrote the physical string plucking code for the still-in-progress Crayong project. The strings can be grabbed and pulled at various distances along its length. It’s a little engine I plan to use for a lot of future projects. Planning a detailed post and video on how it works.

Music

Length determines pitch, with longer strings playing lower notes. When a string is in the middle of being drawn by a subway car, its pitch is continually shifting. The sounds are cello pizzicato from the wonderful freesound.org, a set recorded by corsica_s. A complete chromatic scale was too dissonant. Ultimately I settled on a simple major C scale but with the lowest note as a raised third E, which keeps it from ever feeling fully resolved."

[See also: http://blog.chenalexander.com/2011/conductor-mta/ ]
mta  nyc  art  audio  music  visualization  html5  trains  subways  maps  mapping  sound  via:caseygollan 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Google cars versus public transit: the US’s problem with public goods | ... My heart’s in Accra
"There’s something very odd about a world in which it’s easier to imagine a futuristic technology that doesn’t exist outside of lab tests than to envision expansion of a technology that’s in wide use around the world. How did we reach a state in America where highly speculative technologies, backed by private companies, are seen as a plausible future while routine, ordinary technologies backed by governments are seen as unrealistic and impossible?

The irony of the Google car for my circumstances is that it would be inferior in every way to a train. A semi-autonomous car might let me read or relax behind the wheel, but it would be little faster than my existing commute and as sensitive to traffic, which is the main factor that makes some trips 2.5 hours and some 4 hours. Even if my Google car is a gas-sipping Prius or a plug-in hybrid, it will be less energy efficient than a train, which achieves giant economies of scale in fuel usage even at higher speeds than individual vehicles. It keeps me sealed in my private compartment, rather than giving me an opportunity to see friends who make the same trip or meet new people.

There’s a logical response to my whiny demands for an easier commute: if there were a market for such a service, surely such a thing would exist. And if train service can’t be profitably provided between Pittsfield and Boston, why should Massachusetts taxpayers foot the bill for making my life marginally easier?

This line of reasoning became popular in the US during the Reagan/Thatcher revolution and has remained influential ever since. What government services can be privatized should be, and government dollars should go only towards services, like defense, that we can’t pay for in private markets. As the US postal service has reminded us recently, they remain open during the government shutdown because they are mandated by Congress to be revenue neutral. Ditto for Amtrak, which subsidizes money-losing long distance routes with profitable New England services and covers 88% of expenses through revenue, not through government support. Our obsession with privatization is so thorough in the US that we had no meaningful debate in the US about single payer healthcare, a system that would likely be far cheaper and more efficient than the commercial health insurance mandated under the Affordable Care Act – even when governments provide services more efficiently than private markets, the current orthodoxy dictates that private market solutions are the way to go.

The problem with private market solutions is that they often achieve a lower level of efficiency than public solutions. Medicare has tremendous power to negotiate with drug manufacturers, which brings down healthcare costs. Private insurers have less leverage, and we all pay higher prices for drugs as a result, especially those whose healthcare isn’t paid for my a government or private organization and who have no negotiating power. The current system works very well for drug companies, but poorly for anyone who needs and uses healthcare (which is to say, for virtually everyone.)"



"This unwillingness to consider the creation of new public goods restricts the solution space we consider. We look for solutions to the crisis in journalism but aren’t willing to consider national license models like the one that supports the BBC, or strong, funded national broadcasters like NHK or Deutsche Welle. We build markets to match consumers with health insurance but won’t consider expanding Medicare into a single-payer health system. We look towards MOOCs and underpaid lecturers rather than considering fundamental reforms to the structure of state universities. We consider a narrow range of options and complain when we find only lousy solutions."
government  infrastructure  politics  rail  transportation  ethanzuckerman  trains  googlecars  cars  self-drivingcras  2013  publicgoods  commuting  privatization  crowdfunding 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The Quiet Ones - NYTimes.com
"In his recent treatise on this subject (its title regrettably unprintable here), the philosopher Aaron James posits that people with this personality type are so infuriating — even when the inconvenience they cause us is negligible — because they refuse to recognize the moral reality of those around them. (James’s thesis that this obliviousness correlates to a sense of special entitlement is corroborated by my own observation that the crowd on Amtrak, where airline-level fares act as a de facto class barrier, is generally louder and more inconsiderate than the supposed riffraff on the bus.) It’s a pathology that seems increasingly common, I suspect in part because people now spend so much time in the solipsist’s paradise of the Internet that they carry its illusion of invisible (and inaudible) omniscience back with them out into the real world."

"It’s impossible to be heard when your whole position is quiet now that all public discourse has become a shouting match."
publicspaces  sharedspace  consideration  society  attention  davidfosterwallace  listening  distraction  2012  trains  noise  etiquette  publicspace  amtrak  quietcar  slow  quiet  timkreider  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
amtrak pacific surfliner - a set on Flickr
"views from the train, waiting in the stations, looking at the route. a few more photos.

train windows have a yellowish or purplish tint, and i like that.

these photos are arranged in geographical order, beginning with los angeles union station and heading northbound just past goleta."
photography  brittagustafson  trains  pacificsurfliner  amtrak  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
Flickr: Transport Timetables and Ticket SCANS.
"A group for people interested in railroad, bus and airline timetables and tickets. Extracts from historic and current schedules from North America, Australia and worldwide. Discuss urban and long distance rail and bus timetables. Shipping and ferry timetables are included.

SCANS of transport tickets and timetables are sort. Please do NOT post photos of people holding a ticket or timetable."
masstransit  publictransit  transit  transportation  tickets  flickr  airlines  global  world  australia  us  canada  northamerica  schedules  rail  trains  buses  timetables  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Embark | Mass Transit Made Simple
"We make mass transit simple. Embark provides an accurate, reliable, and interactive transit experience that helps you get where you want to go."
navigation  mapping  maps  longisland  newjersey  philadelphia  dc  washingtondc  sanfrancisco  london  chicago  boston  nyc  applications  trains  transportation  transport  guidebooks  iphone  android  ios  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
An HSR Country is a Centralized Country | Pedestrian Observations
An interesting read on high speed rail and the development it spurs. "What this suggests is that HSR does not create centralization so much as reinforces it when it already exists. The Shinkansen made the rest of Japan more dependent on Tokyo, and the TGV has made most of France more dependent on Paris." The author considers the US, but surely the UK would go the way of France and Japan also.
development  railways  highspeedrail  france  japan  us  polycentricity  via:blech  trains  rail  paris  tokyo  centralization  shinkansen  highspeed 
december 2011 by robertogreco
The Time Machine - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Personal - The Atlantic
"The train, in all aspects, was a superior experience. The first thing was the feeling of everything melting away, of someone else taking control. When flying there are generally so many rules to be obeyed, and times when specific things can happen that I generally feel like, as a passenger, I'm actually a co-pilot. Lights tell you when you can and can't move. Announcements indicate (because I use a lap-top and iPad) when it's safe to read, write or listen to your music. Food and drink are administered at precise times. All of this within a confined space.

But there was a freedom on the train that you may need to be taller than six feet to really understand. You could walk as you needed to. You could sit in the cafe car and watch the scenery. You could fall into your book. Or you could just sleep, something I can't really do on airplanes. 

Finally there is the fact that, as much as possible, I should avoid supporting airline travel in its current American iteration…"

[See also: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/09/when-you-buy-a-plane-ticket-the-terrorists-win/245009/ ]
ta-nehisicoates  flight  us  tsa  trains  amtrak  privacy  comfort  stress  2011  travel  policy  convenience  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
Gorgeous Travel Planner Shows Times, Rather Than Distances | Co. Design
"Kill your maps. They’re useless. What you need, says Vincent Meertens, a recent graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, are time maps. “Everybody thinks in time rather than distance,” he tells Co.Design in an email. “That is what TimeMaps is about: putting time in a map and letting go of the distance.”

It might sound counterintuitive at first--a map that’s unconcerned with actual geography?--but think about the last time you had to get somewhere quickly in a foreign country or even your own city. Here in New York, my apartment is 20 miles away from JFK airport. Which must mean it takes about 20 minutes to get there, right? Wrong. On the subway during the day without delays, it might take an hour. At night with delays, it might take as long as 2 1/2 hours. That's the only information I need and care about."
maps  mapping  time  visualization  netherlands  travel  vincentmeertens  trains  geography  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
New Phantom v1610 Camera Can Shoot a Staggering 1,000,000fps
"Shooting 4.5 million frames per second of molecules using an x-ray flash is impressive, but can non-scientific cameras come anywhere close? The answer is yes: Vision Research has a new Phantom high speed camera called the v1610 that can capture footage at a whopping 1,000,000fps. Granted, the resolution needs to be a paltry 128×16 for that fps, but at a full 1280×800 it still shoots at 16,000fps. To give you an idea of what 1 million fps is like, consider this: 1 second of the footage will provide you with 9.25 hours of uber-slow motion 30fps video."
cameras  atemporality  via:bopuc  video  slowmotion  highspeed  2011  highspeedrail  rail  trains  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Carmageddon #flightvsbike challenge: How a team of cyclists beat a Jet Blue flight from Burbank to Long Beach. - By Tom Vanderbilt - Slate Magazine
"But the moment of folly seemed to provide an aperture for new thinking. In the face of this fanciful idea (a traffic-busting flight!) it became possible to demonstrate that cycling, often taken as a non-serious or marginal or even annoying (to some drivers) form of transportation in the United States, could seem eminently reasonable: not only the cheapest form of transportation, not merely the one with the smallest carbon footprint, not only the one most beneficial to the health of its user, but the fastest.…

But the race today wasn't only about the cyclists. Gary Kavanagh*, who had reacted enthusiastically to my initial daydreaming about a "Tour de Carmageddon," was the day's dark horse, revealing the secret efficacy—and perhaps, for some remote Twitter spectators, the existence—of Los Angeles' oft-derided subway system. (When I thought of a cyclist racing a jet, I admittedly wasn't even aware one could take mass transit between BUR and LGB)…"
losangeles  bikes  biking  masstransit  highspeed  rail  buses  carmageddon  2011  transportation  airtravel  airplanes  efficiency  speed  contests  highspeedrail  trains  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
PLoS ONE: Self-Organization Leads to Supraoptimal Performance in Public Transportation Systems
"The performance of public transportation systems affects a large part of the population. Current theory assumes that passengers are served optimally when vehicles arrive at stations with regular intervals. In this paper, it is shown that self-organization can improve the performance of public transportation systems beyond the theoretical optimum by responding adaptively to local conditions. This is possible because of a “slower-is-faster” effect, where passengers wait more time at stations but total travel times are reduced. The proposed self-organizing method uses “antipheromones” to regulate headways, which are inspired by the stigmergy (communication via environment) of some ant colonies."
self-organization  transportation  systems  anarchy  publictransit  performance  mobility  transmobility  urbanism  buses  trains  anarchism  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Are We There Yet? Passage of the transportation reauthorization bill would finally shift us toward more environmentally sustainable communities.
"Environmentalists' interest in the transportation bill is clear. Transportation accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's oil use and about 25 percent of its carbon-dioxide emissions…Americans will be hooked on oil until they have workable alternatives to the automobile. Investing in urban light rail & regional high-speed rail networks; boosting funds for bus systems; constructing bike lanes; & focusing on repairing existing roads instead of building news ones are a first step in changing, at a fundamental level, how we move around. If we want Americans to ditch their cars, that will require giving them choices, and that means creating a mass-transit system that makes the car -- and not the bus -- look like a pain…

Reducing the reliance on our cars, of course, also serves U.S. national-security interests."
us  transportation  policy  infrastructure  masstransit  buses  lightrail  rail  highspeed  trains  density  publictransit  2011  environment  cities  cars  carfree  sustainability  politics  peakoil  oil  energy  highspeedrail  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Railspeak should be terminated | Media | The Guardian
"If anyone from Network Rail or the Misassociation of Train Operating Companies is reading this, I simply ask if it is beyond them to devise a clear, simple system of announcements, in plain English, restricted to essential information rather than the incessant outpouring of all this aural ordure. I am happy to volunteer my services and willing to undercut whatever was paid to the tin-eared idiots responsible for the development of train and station announcements over the last 20 years or so.<br />
<br />
Meanwhile, someone should tell the announcer at Waterloo station that the ever-lengthening list of things we can't do – smoke, run, cycle, skateboard, find a rubbish bin, find a seat – does not, so far, extend to playing boules or yodelling. Is this an oversight?"
language  communication  transportation  english  wordchoice  via:preoccupations  uk  trains  2011  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Schienenzeppelin - Wikipedia
"The Schienenzeppelin or rail zeppelin was an experimental railcar which resembles a zeppelin airship in appearance. It was designed and developed by the German aircraft engineer Franz Kruckenberg in 1929. Propulsion was by means of a propeller located at the rear, it accelerated the railcar to 230.2 km/h (143.0 mph) setting the land speed record for a petrol powered rail vehicle. Only a single example was ever built, which due to safety concerns remained out of service and was finally dismantled in 1939."
trains  germany  history  streamlining  streamlined  schienenzeppelin  zeppelins  transportation  retrofuture  rail  railways  propellers  airships  railcars  design  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Glory of the Rails by Tony Judt | The New York Review of Books
"The conquest of space led inexorably to the reorganization of time. Even the modest speeds of early trains—btwn twenty & thirty-five miles per hour—were beyond the wildest imaginings of all but a handful of engineers. Most travelers & observers reasonably assumed not only that the railway had revolutionized spatial relations & the possibilities of communication, but also that—moving at unprecedented velocity & with no impediments to heed their advance—trains were extraordinarily dangerous. As indeed they were. Signaling, communication, and braking systems were always one step behind the steady increase in power & speed of the engines: until well into the later twentieth century trains were better at moving than stopping. This being so, it was vital to keep them at a safe distance from one another & to know at all times where they were. And thus—from technical considerations & for reasons of safety as much as commerce, convenience, or publicity—was born the railway timetable."
trains  transportation  history  technology  art  time  space  classideas  stations  trainsstations  railways  us  society  change  gamechanging  speed  distance  architecture  design  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
My Country, My Train, My K-Hole by Hugh Ryan - The Morning News
"There are plenty of good reasons to ride a train cross-country, but for HUGH RYAN and his attention index, hitting the rails has one purpose: to escape the merciless internet."
internet  travel  attention  escape  culture  add  adhd  hughryan  trains  amtrak  slow  connectivity  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Cars (again) - Charlie's Diary
"By around 2050, I'm fairly sure that the human-driven automobile will be a specialised race-track toy for gear-heads, much as horse-drawn carriages in the developed world are a quaint hobby or a deliberate affectation demanded by certain cultural groups (I'm thinking Amish here). Privately owned cars will exist, but will function more like a chauffeur-driven limo. They won't even need to be parked by your house; whistle and it'll come when you need it. Poor folks won't have their own car, they'll just have fractional reserve part-ownership of a vehicle — after all, even at peak rush hour, 95% of the UK vehicle fleet is parked up; we don't need one car per person, we just need available wheels whenever we want to go somewhere. By 2110, I figure driving a manually-controlled car around will be looked on the way we'd look on someone carrying a sword in public; at best it's a weird and archaic affectation, and at worst — call the police!"
cars  future  travel  robots  technology  cities  trains  transportation  transit  driving  2050  2010  charliestross  predictions  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Snailr Project
"One journey of almost 7000 miles, six new cities, eight trains, fifteen days, and every vignette, observation and fractured bitty-bit of the travelogue broken up and sent as status messages the old way. By postcard. To a bunch of random people who asked for one. Because travelling slowly is nice. And so is leaving a trail to see where we have been."
papernet  travel  snailr  slow  slowtravel  postcards  glvo  amtrak  trains  us  sanfrancisco  losangeles  seattle  memphis  neworleans  chicago  portland  nola  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Transportation Nation
"Transportation Nation combines the work of public radio newsrooms and their listeners as the way we build, rebuild and get around the nation changes. Listen and stay tuned for more. Learn more about some of the reporters on the project."

[See also: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/projects/project_display.php?proj_identifier=2010/05/27/transportation-nation ]
transportation  us  urban  design  transport  publictransit  buses  trains  airplanes  airports  cargo  freight  busrapidtransit  cars  sustainability  cities  economics  highspeed  pedestrians  privatization  taxis  subways  technology  transit  tricks  trucking  planning  journalism  highspeedrail  rail  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Media Surfaces: The Journey – Blog – BERG
"These little inventions have hopefully got you to your train (Arthur, remember?) on time, and in a more of a relaxed state of mind…

In one of our concept sketches below we’re exploring that first case – could your ticket be the missing jigsaw piece to the reservation stub?

A bit Willy Wonka magic ticket!…

We know that we’re going to be passing certain places at certain times, to some accuracy, during our journey.

The burgeoning amount of geo-located data about our environment means we could look to provide snippets from Wikipedia perhaps, with timings based on how they intersect with your predicted journey time – alerting you to interesting sights just as they pass by your window.

These tiny, personalised, collectable paper-spimes provide a kind of papernet augmented-reality – giving a routine journey an extra layer of wonder and interest."
berg  berglondon  papernet  paper  trains  augmentedreality  2010  displays  everyware  spimes  design  information  future  ubicomp  mediasurfaces  dentsu  transport  surfaces  mattwebb  timoarnall  jackschulze  ar  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Real-time Muni and BART predictions for iPhone - Routesy Bay Area
"Have another coffee. The train is still 15 minutes away.

Real-time predictions for San Francisco Muni and BART
Bookmarks for quick access to your favorite stops
GPS-enabled to help you find the nearest stop
Fully compatible with iOS 4.0"
applications  bayarea  sanfrancisco  transit  transportation  bart  muni  buses  trains  iphone  tcsnmy  ios  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Don't Run for Trains
"Snub your destiny. I have taught myself to resist running to keep on schedule. This may seem a very small piece of advice, but it registered. In refusing to run to catch trains, I have felt the true value of elegance and aesthetics in behaviour, a sense of being in control of my time, my schedule, and my life. Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.

You stand above the rat race and the pecking order, not outside of it, if you do so by choice.

[two more quotes]

In Black Swan terms, this means that you are exposed to the improbable only if you let it control you. You always control what you do; so make this your end."

[from the closing pages of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan]
nassimtaleb  ratrace  autonomy  yearoff  selfdetermination  schedules  success  measurement  choice  control  cv  authority  peckingorder  hierarchy  trains  stress  blackswans 
july 2010 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Friday 21st May, Turin to Milan [Nice trip summary from Dan Hill. Just a clip here.]
"Italy is a complex place. Even the construction of the country itself is complex. Joseph had earlier related the recent ban on journalists reporting on court cases in progress, a law that many allege is created by Berlusconi to protect Berlusconi. This may be the least of it, however, as the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy seems likely to be marked not just with a half-hearted whimper instead of a joyous bang, but with serious doubts being expressed as to its long term viability. There is a chance that the north may split from the south. Currently slim, but growing. And then, what of Italy?
danhill  cityofsound  milan  turin  2010  trains  rail  transportation  design  domus  cities 
july 2010 by robertogreco
YouTube - The train that never stops at a station
"No time is wasted. The bullet train is moving all the time. If there are 30 stations between Beijing and Guangzhou, just stopping and accelerating again at each station will waste both energy and time.
transportation  trains 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Five Things You Need To Know About High-Speed Rail | Planetizen
"To inaugurate the launch of our new website with exclusive coverage of high-speed rail, we asked David J. Carol, Market Leader of High-Speed Rail at Parsons Brinkerhoff to tell us what we need to know about the U.S.'s exciting new endeavor."
highspeed  rail  news  transportation  trains  highspeedrail 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Superfast Bullet Trains Are Finally Coming to the U.S. | Magazine | Wired.com
"Getting California’s train up and running will be expensive. But doing nothing would cost two to three times more. Why? Currently, gridlocked lanes waste $20 billion in fuel and productivity annually. And it’s only going to get worse. The Golden State is growing — quickly. By 2030, another 12 million people could be calling it home. Without an infrastructure overhaul, drivers can expect a 10 percent congestion increase every year. To accommodate the billion trips between cities that residents and visitors will make annually, the state would need to build 3,000 more miles of freeway lanes, five more commercial airport runways, and 90 more airline departure gates. The price: at least $100 billion. Oh, and all that construction wouldn’t alleviate traffic; it would simply keep pace with it."
transportation  travel  technology  trains  rail  california  highspeed  sandiego  sanfrancisco  losangeles  cities  highspeedrail 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Why Portland’s Mass Transit Rocks | Autopia | Wired.com
"There’s no end to the things that make the system, called TriMet, awesome. Its customer interaction system is amazingly useful and includes a real live person to help plan trips if you call during business hours. Its iPhone app should be widely duplicated. The Fareless Square, which allows people to ride for free downtown or just across the Willamette River, lets people move quickly and easy around downtown. The Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) rail system seamlessly transitions from inter-city streetcar to intra-city commuter rail and remains best method of transport anywhere. And the system actively looks for ways to improve, regularly handing out surveys to get feedback from riders."
portland  oregon  transit  masstransit  transportation  infrastructure  trains  buses  lightrail 
december 2009 by robertogreco
NIMBY Won’t Stop California High-Speed Rail | Autopia | Wired.com
"The California resistance comes from communities that voted heavily in favor of Prop. 1A, the 2008 ballot initiative that allowed the state to issue bonds worth about $10 billion, or roughly one-quarter the total cost of the project. The measure passed with 52 percent of the vote. Gov. Schwarzenegger has sought another $4.7 billion of the $8 billion set aside in the stimulus package. Forty states are pitching projects — some 272 applications in all — totaling $105 billion."
highspeed  rail  trains  california  nimbyism  transportation  highspeedrail  nimbys 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Federal aid eyed for rail projects
"A long-running effort to improve the region's busiest stretch of railway is picking up steam.

The San Diego Association of Governments, the county's long-range planning agency, is seeking $377 million in federal stimulus money to revamp the coastal track between San Clemente and downtown San Diego.

Hoping to spur the economy, federal officials are preparing to give out $8 billion to expand high-speed and intercity rail systems nationwide. SANDAG believes it can make a strong argument for a chunk of it.

Jack Dale, chairman of the agency's transportation panel, said the improvements would bolster rail service and take more cars off Interstate 5."
sandiego  trains  rail  money  government  infrastructure  transportation  orangecounty  socal  amtrak  delmar  sanclemente  surfliner 
september 2009 by robertogreco
sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy: Brutalism, friend of the Pedestrian
"While for Banham the autopia of LA was Progressive, we can't be so sure. Signified in the UK by the point in the '70s related in Joe Moran's On Roads when, to the horror of the motoring lobby, the InterCity trains surpassed the motorways in speed, the car is no longer 'progressive'. In any sensible society it would be all but obsolete, a privatised mode of motion which not only carries rates of death in its wake that would never be accepted on any other kind of transport, but which carries in its train a landscape of endless sheds, retail parks and malls which, for all its cold fascination, is not one which even its defenders can be bothered to make a serious case for. Brutalism's most retrograde element, its attempt to 'recreate' a city for the pedestrian, must now strike us as its most progressive aspect - especially as it is precisely in these pedestrian spaces that Brutalism created a genuinely new space, a new way of moving around the city."
via:cityofsound  brutalism  trains  cars  transportation  cities  urban  urbanism  progress  mobility  transit  pedestrians 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Train Detroit - The Atlantic (July/August 2009)
"Instead of scattering nickels and dimes across dozens of states, a better idea would be to increase the train fund at least tenfold so America can have at least one legitimate high-speed rail line like Spain’s Madrid-to-Seville train, which runs at 186 mph (Amtrak averages only 79 nationwide). And let this man-on-the-moon project start in Detroit. ... Of course, railroads helping to rescue Detroit would be sweet irony. It was General Motors, after all—in cahoots with a number of other companies—that set out to cripple mass transit in America, including the electric streetcars that once trundled through Detroit and Flint."
trains  us  rail  government  manufacturing  detroit  autoindustry  transportation  amtrak  highspeed  via:cityofsound  highspeedrail 
july 2009 by robertogreco
MichaelMoore.com : Goodbye, GM ...by Michael Moore
"But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company! I know, I know -- who on earth wants to run a car company? Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM? Let's be clear about this: The only way to save GM is to kill GM. Saving our precious industrial infrastructure, though, is another matter and must be a top priority. If we allow the shutting down and tearing down of our auto plants, we will sorely wish we still had them when we realize that those factories could have built the alternative energy systems we now desperately need. And when we realize that the best way to transport ourselves is on light rail and bullet trains and cleaner buses, how will we do this if we've allowed our industrial capacity and its skilled workforce to disappear?"
gm  michaelmoore  detroit  economics  recession  bankruptcy  cleanenergy  retoolinggm  us  future  energy  oil  generalmotors  environment  transportation  trains  industry  transformation  gamechanging 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Why trains run slower now than they did in the 1920s. - By Tom Vanderbilt - Slate Magazine [via: http://www.good.is/post/trains-getting-slower-all-the-time/]
"Hovering over all of these causal factors is a widespread societal shift that occurred, one that saw the streamliners of the 1930s eclipsed by the glamour of the jet age, as well as the postwar automobile boom and the building of the Interstate Highway System. Passenger trains lost their priority to freight, and there simply wasn't the same cultural imperative for speed and luxury on the trains (a condition rather unintentionally satirized in the schlock 1979 TV series Supertrain—the conveyance in question was atom-powered—whose magnate decried "the pitiful state of rail passenger travel in this country today"). Where the Twentieth Century Limited had once touted its trains as having a "barber, fresh and salt water baths, valet, ladies' maid, manicurist, stock and market reports, telephone at terminal [and] stenographer," Amtrak is now scrambling to simply equip itself with Wi-Fi—a technology already available on the bare-bones Bolt bus."
trains  us  transportation  speed  regression 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Amtrak California - Kids 'n Trains 2008-2009
"Kids 'n Trains is an exciting program available only on Amtrak California which enables schools and other youth groups such as boy scouts, girl scouts, church groups, etc., and their leaders and chaperones, to experience train travel at significantly reduced fares. Your group can explore California and its rich history while visiting exciting and educational destinations along the way. This special program is made available by the California Department of Transportation in partnership with Amtrak®."
trains  amtrak  tcsnmy  sandiego  losangeles  santabarbara  offcampustrips  classideas 
april 2009 by robertogreco
High-Speed Trains: Can the U.S. Catch Up?: Faster Trains on Track? - BusinessWeek
"The U.S. has long lagged behind the rest of the world in the development of high-speed trains. Countries like Japan & France have had extensive super-fast railroads for decades, providing travelers with convenient alternatives to planes and cars. China has a high-speed line, using maglev technology, in Shanghai with many more planned. Taiwan & South Korea have built high-speed train networks, too. Meanwhile, the US has nothing outside of the Northeast corridor. That may change soon. President Obama's stimulus plan...includes $8 billion to fund high-speed train projects. It’s unclear, though, how much the Obama administration is willing to spend on new rail lines. The cost of rail projects can be expensive. One example: Upgrading 322 kilometers of track between New York and Boston for Amtrak’s Acela train cost $1.6 billion a decade ago. Here's a look at high-speed train projects around the world—and some of the places in the U.S. that are hoping to get in on the action, too."
trains  us  amtrak  highspeed  rail  highspeedrail 
march 2009 by robertogreco
The Train in Spain Replaces the Plane | Autopia from Wired.com
"The trains in Spain are doing better than planes as a growing web of high-speed lines carrying sleek bullet trains steal hundreds of thousands of passengers from airlines and cut emissions in the process.
trains  rail  spain  españa  travel  environment  transport 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Pasta&Vinegar » Blog Archive » Others in public transports
"Before the development of buses, railroads, and trams in the nineteenth century, people had never been in a position of having to look at one another for long minutes or even hours without speaking to one another.“
socialization  society  cities  masstransit  buses  trains  trams  interaction  people  etiquette  urbanism  history  change  behavior 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Is green U.S. mass transit a big myth?
"There is a bit of a paradox within these numbers. In spite of them, it is always the green move for any individual to take existing mass transit over their car. That's because the transit is running anyway, so the incremental cost of carrying one more passenger is indeed less than just about any private vehicle. It is similarly green to carpool in somebody else's car that's going your way.
transit  energy  sustainability  climatechange  transportation  efficiency  policy  trains  green  cars  environment  us  via:tomc 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Jim Kunstler : Zombie Economics
"We're heading into a hard work economy in which people derive their pleasures and gratification more traditionally -- mainly through the company of their fellow human beings (which is saying a lot, for those of you who have forgotten what that's about). Our current investments in "education" -- i.e. training people to become marketing executives for chain stores -- will delude Americans for a while about what kind of work is really available. But before long, the younger adults will realize that there are enormous opportunities for them in a new and very different economy. We will still have commerce -- even if it's not the K-Mart blue-light-special variety -- and the coming generation will have to rebuild all the local, multi-layered networks of commercial inter-dependency that were destroyed by the rise of the chain stores. In short, get ready for local business. It will surely be part-and-parcel of our local food-growing and manufacturing activities."
jameshowardkunstler  future  local  economics  crisis  greatdepression  relocalizing  gamechanging  finance  education  training  relationships  peakoil  us  politics  trains  oil  meltdown  disruption  inflation  zombies 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Doctor Yellow - Wikipedia
"Jump to: navigation, search JR Central's class 923 Doctor Yellow set T4 Doctor Yellow (ドクターイエロー) is the nickname for the high-speed test trains that are used on the Japanese Shinkansen ("Bullet Train") dedicated express passenger train routes. The trains have special equipment on board to monitor the condition of the track and overhead wire, including special instrumented bogies and observation blisters. The 'Doctor' part of the name is obvious from their test and diagnostic function, and the 'Yellow' part comes from the bright yellow color they are all painted. Some have a blue waistline stripe, some a green one. The original color scheme of yellow with a blue stripe (applied to the Class 921 track-recording cars) was created by reversing the colors (blue with yellow stripe) used on narrow-gauge track-recording cars."
via:russelldavies  trains  japan  shinkansen  yellow  doctoryellow  names  naming 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Uncle Sam Opens Wallet for Amtrak | Autopia from Wired.com
"Bush plans to sign legislation that will double Amtrak funding to $13 billion over five years. It's an about-face for an administration that's been committed to whittling down Amtrak's budget and replacing it with "private sector funding," W's answer to everything but defense spending and Wall Street bailouts. Democrats aren't fans of this idea, and the Senate passed the funding bill — which also requires Amtrak and other rail companies to adopt collision avoidance technology — by a 74-24 vote. "
amtrak  rail  trains  us  transportation 
october 2008 by robertogreco
GOOD Magazine | Goodmagazine - Train in Vain
"Europe and Asia have figured it out, so why is the American rail system still so unspeakably awful? GOOD hops aboard a transcontinental train to find out."
rail  trains  us  transportation  goodmagazine  amtrak  travel  energy  infrastructure  environment  peakoil  policy  politics  economics  masstransit  transit  transport 
july 2008 by robertogreco
California High-Speed Rail
"By linking all major cities in California with a state-of-the-art new transportation choice, high-speed trains will move people and products across our state like never before."
sanfrancisco  transit  transportation  california  rail  trains  losangeles  future  transport  sandiego 
july 2008 by robertogreco
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