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initiald Oct 17, 2014 4:14 PM

The transit systems of the Triangle area of North Carolina have started working together for marketing and branding purposes. They are dropping their former transit system names (DART, CAT, C-Tran, etc) and will be GO Raleigh, GO Durham, GO Cary, GO Chapel Hill, and GO Triangle (which is intercity bus system for the two metro areas.)

All the buses are being repainted with new liveries; same design but the transit systems are color coded:


Are there a lot of other metro areas that work together like this? Here more info.

Swede Oct 20, 2014 10:12 AM

^That's an interesting take on making transit more integrated in an area without a single transit agency. I like it.

Busy Bee Oct 20, 2014 1:31 PM

Yep. Good stuff. As a graphic designer this reminds so much of my senior information design project in college.

Leo the Dog Oct 20, 2014 3:17 PM

Love how the colors correlate to the schools.
Chapel hill - Carolina Blue
Durham - Duke Blue
Raleigh - NC State Red

M II A II R II K Oct 22, 2014 11:38 PM

Bullet Trains Aren't Magic

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Forget the ideological arguments about cars versus mass transit, sprawl versus density: These cities are getting to the point where it is lot less physically possible to move more people around without putting in dedicated bus lanes or more rail.

- Maglevs -- which run along a dedicated transitway using high-powered magnets that keep them levitating above the guides, rather than being attached with wheels to a track -- have a lot to recommend them over high-speed rail. They are more expensive to build than conventional rail, but their frictionless movement allows for higher speeds and much lower maintenance costs.

- On the other hand, they also have drawbacks, such as the fact that you can’t run other trains on those tracks. This is one reason Maglevs are faster -- they don't share tracks with poky freight and commuter trains. The drawback is that your new infrastructure project only increases your downtown-to-downtown capacity; it doesn’t do anything to enhance intracity or city-to-suburb transport.

- To see why this matters, consider one issue facing California’s high-speed rail system: how to get people to the train. People making comparisons between air travel and the promised three-hour Los Angeles-to-San Francisco commute include the time to get to the airport and clear security in their calculations of the time required for an air journey.

- That makes train travel look competitive. But, of course, you should also add in the time needed to get to the train station. And in L.A., that time may be longer than it takes to get to an airport, because the sprawling metro area has multiple major airports (Burbank, LAX, Long Beach), allowing people to fly in and out without spending too much time on the dreaded 405.

- A single high-speed rail station in downtown Los Angeles would divert some trips, but when you add in a long drive, it would be decidedly inferior to air travel for anyone who was planning to be elsewhere in the city. This is markedly different from Northeast Corridor's Acela rail service, to which flying is superior only for the relatively small number of people who happen to live near an airport.

- If you just add intercity mass transit without increasing the number of people you can move around a city, one of two things happens: Ridership will stay far below expectations, or you’ll dump more people into your overloaded streets, making local congestion worse. This is why there’s a good argument for high-speed rail over Maglev -- when you’re not running high-speed trains, you can move some commuters point to point.

- For that matter, there’s a good argument for not building the Maglev at all and instead investing the money in better commuter rail. But that doesn’t get us any closer to the really important goal, which is letting me ride a Maglev.


aquablue Oct 23, 2014 6:47 AM

The fact that Americans have shunned HSR as a people is appalling - i'm talking votes at the polls and budget allocation.

In Europe, one can travel from Paris to Milan in 7 hours. It takes 6 hours to get from DC to Boston. That's ridiculous. The airports are clogging up. There is no room for expansion in NYC, the airports will be full up by 2050 as no expansion can take place due to Nimbies. If HSR isn't possible on the NEC, then nowhere should be doing it. Might as well give up now. NEC is the perfect place. However, california is doing it... a place where it makes less sense as the cities are incredibly sprawling.

It's time for the American people to all travel to Europe and see what they are missing out on. I guarantee you that rail friendly politicians would be winning more votes.

M II A II R II K Oct 24, 2014 6:28 PM

What France Can Teach U.S. Cities About Transit Design

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American light rail systems have had modest success and modern streetcar lines have questionable transit value, France operates 57 tram lines in 33 cities that together carry some 3 million passengers a day and create a fantastic balance of mobility options for urban and suburban residents alike—all built in the last 30 years.

- "We have little streetcars here that carry a thousand people a day. They have lines that carry a hundred thousand people a day," says Gregory Thompson, chair of the light rail committee for the Transportation Research Board and retired urban planning scholar at Florida State. "What's the difference?" --- The difference largely comes down to what the French call "insertion," but what Americans would simply see as street design.

- French cities typically install (insert, if you will) tram tracks onto public right-of-ways—streets, alleys, plazas and the like—even if that means removing car lanes or street-parking spaces to do so. To accommodate trams, streets are often redesigned in full to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists and other potential transit riders. For the most part, trams get exclusive lanes that cars can't use; it's not that the French don't drive, it's that cars don't automatically monopolize city streets.

In a presentation at the Rail-Volution meeting this September, Thompson and colleagues Tom Larwin and Tom Parkinson outlined five principles that French trams embrace:

• They tie cities together. French tram lines typically extend from urban fringe to urban fringe via the city center.

• They require high-performance transit vehicles. That means large capacities, all-door entry, train-style off-board fare payment, level boarding, and signal priority.

• They have widely spaced stops. Tram stops are spaced far enough apart to improve travel times, but they're placed at critical transfer points with feeder buses or other major lines.

• They reach major destinations. That's a given for good transit, of course, but French tram lines emphasize access to college campuses, office complexes, health centers, and malls, in addition to major suburbs and downtowns.

• They form the core of a larger transit network. Bus lines are reconfigured to serve major tram stops, and fare programs encourage easy transfers from mode to mode.

- None of these lessons are especially innovative. But that's the point. The French "art of insertion" isn't some unattainable initiative that American cities can't understand (name aside). Rather, it's more like a blend of America's existing complete streets movement with some core principles of strong surface transit. That's the "main lesson" of the French method, in Thompson's mind.

- "You want to figure out where you want to locate lines to serve major destinations, then you want to use the road system to get from here to there," he says. "Streets are a resource. They're a right-of-way that goes from building façade to building façade. You should not think of them as entirely just infrastructure for moving automobiles. There's lots of different claimants on the use of that space, and a major transit line can be one of those claimants. And it can be made not to be some intrusive monster but to function along with the urban fabric."

- To be sure, these are differences between French and U.S. cities that complicate the international exchange of tram insertion. The French government is generally more supportive of public transportation; the country's 1996 clean air act, in particular, encourages transit development at the expensive of car travel. The public good often trumps NIMBY interests in France, preventing long battles that end with building costly transit tunnels. (The one new French tram that does run underground, in Rouen, is often seen as a mistake.) Critically, French localities have dedicated transit funding in the form of a payroll tax.


M II A II R II K Oct 30, 2014 4:35 PM

Henning Larsen Architects to design train station for new Danish town

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Danish studio Henning Larssen has won an architecture competition to design an S-train station that will form the main transport hub in the centre of Vinge, the 350-hectare future city that will be built in the Frederikssund region, north of Copenhagen.

- The train station will connect the new city with neighbouring regional areas, as well as Copenhagen, and is expected to be built by 2017 ahead of the city's completion in 2033. Henning Larsen Architects had already created the master plan for the town, which will be the largest urban development project in Denmark to date and home to over 20, 000 inhabitants.

- "The easy accessibility to Vinge through public transport will increase its overall attractiveness, motivating businesses to establish in either the city centre or in the business area just north of the centre," said Henning Larsen Architects in a statement.

- Buildings of varying heights situated along the tracks are intended to integrate the station into the larger city infrastructure. "From the high-density environment of the city centre, the architecture gradually transitions to lower, more open building typologies, scaling down the building stock towards the surrounding open landscape," said the architects.


M II A II R II K Nov 8, 2014 6:56 PM

The difficulty people have in getting to jobs makes unemployment unnecessarily high

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IN THE OECD, a club mostly of rich countries, nearly 45m people are unemployed. Of these, 16m have been seeking work for over a year. Many put this apparently intractable scourge down to workers’ inadequate skills or overgenerous welfare states. But might geography also play a role?

- In a paper* published in 1965, John Kain, an economist at Harvard University, proposed what came to be known as the “spatial-mismatch hypothesis”. Kain had noticed that while the unemployment rate in America as a whole was below 5%, it was 40% in many black, inner-city communities. He suggested that high and persistent urban joblessness was due to a movement of jobs away from the inner city, coupled with the inability of those living there to move closer to the places where jobs had gone, due to racial discrimination in housing. --- Employers might also discriminate against those that came from “bad” neighbourhoods. As a result, finding work was tough for many inner-city types, especially if public transport was poor and they did not own a car.

- Others, like Edward Glaeser, another Harvard economist, suggest that spatial mismatch is overblown. There may indeed be a correlation between where people live and their chances of finding a job. But the connection may not be causal: people may live in bad areas because they have been shunned by employers, either for lack of skills or because of racial discrimination.

- Researchers could calculate the distance between homes and job opportunities but struggled to estimate how much time it would take to get from one to the other by car or public transport. And the research was marred by small samples, often all from a single city.

- A new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, avoids these pitfalls. It looks at the job searches of nearly 250,000 poor Americans living in nine cities in the Midwest. These places contain pockets of penury: unemployment in inner Chicago, for instance, is twice the average for the remainder of the city. Even more impressive than the size of the sample is the richness of the data.

- They are longitudinal, not cross-sectional: the authors have repeated observations over a number of years (in this case, six). That helps them to separate cause and effect. Most importantly, the paper looks only at workers who lost their jobs during “mass lay-offs”, in which at least 30% of a company’s workforce was let go. That means the sample is less likely to include people who may live in a certain area, and be looking for work, for reasons other than plain bad luck.

- For each worker the authors build an index of accessibility, which measures how far a jobseeker is from the available jobs, adjusted for how many other people are likely to be competing for them. The authors use rush-hour travel times to estimate how long a jobseeker would need to get to a particular job.

- If a spatial mismatch exists, then accessibility should influence how long it takes to find a job. That is indeed what the authors find: jobs are often located where poorer people cannot afford to live. Those at the 25th percentile of the authors’ index take 7% longer to find a job that replaces at least 90% of their previous earnings than those at the 75th percentile. Those who commuted a long way to their old job find a new one faster, possibly because they are used to a long trek.

- Some suggest that governments should encourage companies to set up shop in areas with high unemployment. That is a tall order: firms that hire unskilled workers often need to be near customers or suppliers. A better approach would be to help workers either to move to areas with lots of jobs, or at least to commute to them.

- That would involve scrapping zoning laws that discourage cheaper housing, and improving public transport. The typical American city dweller can reach just 30% of jobs in their city within 90 minutes on public transport. That is a recipe for unemployment.


M II A II R II K Nov 14, 2014 7:57 PM

Where We Should and Shouldn’t Build Roads in the Future

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Roads are great for agriculture and industry, but they can also be a huge problem for the environment. And more roads are coming, especially to the developing world, where the needs for economic growth and environmental justice are most at odds.

To balance these tensions, a team of geographers made a global map they hope will act as a “large-scale zoning plan” for new roads. They’ve got their work cut out for them. According to a 2013 study by the International Energy Agency, humans are going to pave 15.5 million miles of road by 2050. Ninety percent of this is expected to take place in developing countries.

The researchers approached the problem initially by making two base maps. The first rated the world’s environmental value pixel by pixel taking into consideration things like biodiversity and proximity to protected areas. Using similar estimations they made another map that showed economic value of future roads based on the agricultural value of the lands they connected.


The top map shows environmental value; the bottom economic value. W. Lawrance et al./Global Road Map

Eightball Nov 18, 2014 8:47 PM

Two car homes will become less common in the future

Imagine the typical American family.

Odds are your vision includes a home with two kids, as well as two or more cars.

But according to a new study by KPMG, that image is becoming a less common reality. As a growing number of consumers participate in car sharing, wait longer to buy their first vehicle and move to the suburbs, KPMG predicts that in about 25 years, fewer than half of U.S. households will own more than one vehicle.

"We think that the two-car family, over time, it is not going to go down to zero, but a significant amount of people are going to reduce that number," said Gary Silberg, a partner at KPMG who conducted the study...

M II A II R II K Nov 20, 2014 5:32 PM

'World's longest railway' links Madrid and China

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China launched an 82-wagon cargo train on Tuesday which will take 21 days to travel 10,000km (6,200 miles) and pass through six other countries as it moves goods from the industrial city of Yiwu to the Spanish capital, Madrid.

The train, named "Yixinou", left Yiwu, 300km south of Shanghai, and will cross Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before arriving in Spain in December.

The total distance covered by the new rail route is greater than that of the world's longest train service, the 9,259km Moscow-Vladivostok Rossinya 002, and five times as long as the route of the famous Orient Express.

But unlike on the Russian train, goods on the Yiwu-Madrid route will have to be shifted onto different wagons at three points due to incompatible track gauges in different countries, including between France and Spain.


M II A II R II K Nov 22, 2014 9:48 PM

How Super-Small, European-Style Delivery Vehicles Could Make U.S. Streets Safer

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Lately Paul Supawanich, an urban planner at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates in San Francisco, has been noticing ads for commercial delivery vehicles in popular magazines. That's strange enough, in a way, but what's even odder is that these aren't your typical 30-foot trucks. He's seen ads for the Chevy City Express, a 15-foot cargo van, and the Nissan NV Cargo series, with 15- and 20-foot models. At half the size of their bulky predecessors, these new options seem perfectly suited for tight city streets.

- To Supawanich, that seemingly wonky difference in vehicle size could lead to major benefits for pedestrian safety. Whereas big trucks need gigantic intersections to take a turn, going from outside lane to outside lane, smaller cargo vans can hug a corner using much less space. Such a fleet shift could help city street designers implement any number of pedestrian-friendly elements: shorter crosswalks and more median islands, for instance, or curb-extenders that slow down the speed of traffic.

- "If a 15-foot van becomes the norm in cities, it really does change things," says Supawanich. "It allows the city to say, yeah, we can accommodate our deliveries, but we can make streets safer for the people walking in them."

- Smaller is "definitely a trend" in delivery vehicles, says Peter Bedrosian, Senior Manager of Product Planning for Nissan Light Commercial Vehicles. The 15-foot NV200, for instance, began as a compact delivery option to handle the narrow streets of Europe and Japan. Around 2006, says Bedrosian, Nissan began wondering if businesses in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major American cities might have a similar need, and tested for demand.

- The company found two main groups of interested customers. One consisted of small business owners who'd been doing deliveries out of a minivan or a sedan—awkwardly folding down the seats to make room—because they lacked an affordable cargo option. The other consisted of big cargo fleet owners who found it cost-effective to swap out some of their standard 30- or 40-foot trucks for nimble cargo vehicles capable of responding to a small, quick client request.

- Michael Bunce, Vice President of Nissan Commercial Vehicles, believes these smaller cargo vans may sell upwards of 75,000 units in the United States this year. "We're getting to the point where we're going to be more successful in the U.S. than in Europe," he says. And of course Nissan isn't the only downsized delivery vehicle in its class: along with the Chevy City Express, there's the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Ford Transit, to name a couple.

- The trend toward smaller cargo vans hasn't gone unrecognized by planners like Supawanich. The Federal Highway Administration suggests having traditional 30-foot trucks in mind when designing residential and local city streets and intersections. But in its latest design guide, the National Association of City Transportation Officials recommended preparing for a 23-foot vehicle in such situations. The City of Chicago has followed suit; its latest street guide (with Nelson\Nygaard as lead consultant) also introduced a 23-foot delivery van for neighborhood streets.


Hatman Nov 23, 2014 3:22 AM

That's awesome how this one trend is already influencing design standards for intersections! Curb extensions make a world of difference to pedestrians.The only thing I can think of that is better is adding in cycle lanes in the 'Dutchi design:
Maybe that's too much to ask for...

M II A II R II K Nov 29, 2014 10:44 PM


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Reimagining transportation hubs, like the new Nørreport Station, are part of the COBE's repertoire. But can they pull off a 225-meter-long pedestrian bridge in Køge?

- Transportation hubs familiar to the landscape in outer Copenhagen are known for the space-age design. Flintholm Station by PLH Arkitekter, for example, who were also shortlisted for the redesign of Nørreport Station that is currently underway. The winners of that project were COBE, who have also designed a masterplan for Aarhus central station area.

- Their latest challenge is to take that familiarity of super modernity and apply it to functionality – in Køge no less. They have teamed with DISSING+WEITLING, who were highly praised for their recent project the 'Cykelslangen', and which therefore seem like an appropriate match for the 32,000-square-meter park and associated park-and-ride facility.

- The Køge North Station is expected serve 90,000 people daily and act as a “new gateway to Copenhagen”. Through a massive tunnel-like structure, the wormhole like complex is planned to be completed in 2018. Crossing Denmark's most trafficked freeway, the enclosed walking bridge offers views to the north side and is equipped with built-in furniture towards the south edge.


M II A II R II K Dec 3, 2014 6:28 PM

China plans to bid again for Mexico high-speed rail project

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China plans to tender again for Mexico's $3.75 billion high-speed rail project after the Latin American nation abruptly canceled its earlier win, one of the firms in a Chinese-led consortium that had bid and a source close to the bid said.

- The Latin American nation said it would re-run the tender in late November under the same terms. Local media also later reported that one of the Mexican firms in the consortium, Grupo Higa, owned a $7 million house that the Mexican president's wife was in the process of acquiring. Mexico's first lady said she would give up the house. --- "Whether we will continue to bid with CRCC, that's a definite yes," said the official from CSR's publicity department, who only wanted to be identified by his surname Xu, on Friday.


M II A II R II K Dec 6, 2014 10:22 PM

Trains may soon come equipped with debris-zapping lasers

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According to NewScientist, Holland's chief transportation service is testing a unique new way to clear the rails of fallen leaves and other small debris: by mounting lasers on the fronts of locomotives. The lasers will cause the leaves, which produce a condition commonly referred to as "slippery rail" in the fall and winter months, to vanish in a puff of air.

- Most transit agencies, including New York's Long Island Railroad, use power washers to clear the tracks of debris. While effective, the method has the drawback of "[damaging] the rails and the substrate below," according to the NewScientist article. What's more, power washers aren't nearly as awesome as lasers. --- While impressive, the method is not without its own drawbacks. According to NewScientist, the lasers will automatically deactivate when their required precise focus is interrupted by the train's vibrations. Such vibrations were what caused a similar program in the UK to abandon the laser idea in 1999.


Video Link

M II A II R II K Dec 7, 2014 9:40 PM

Bus Rapid Transit Nearly Quadruples Over Ten Years

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Interactive Map:


Bus rapid transit has grown by 383 percent in the last ten years, according to new data released by ITDP. As cities around the world discover the benefits and cost effectiveness of BRT, they have built hundreds of systems across dozens of countries that qualify as true BRT. A new interactive map shows a comprehesive list of BRT systems globally, based on in depth data of systems scored in 2013 and 2014.

“Cities around the world are seeing their populations surge, and existing transportation systems are struggling to keep up, resulting in unprecedented congestion and pollution. For developing cities to compete globally, they urgently need high quality public transportation,” says Jacob Mason, Transport Research and Evaluation Manager for ITDP, “Fortunately, governments around the world are increasingly turning to BRT as a cost-effective solution that can be implemented quickly. We’re seeing that when it’s done well, BRT attracts large ridership and can provide similar levels of speed, capacity, and comfort as metro and light rail transit options.”

While growth has been strongest in rapidly urbanizing parts of the world such as China, Brazil, and Indonesia, there has also been substantial growth in the United States and France. China is the global leader in BRT, having added 538 kilometers of BRT in the last ten years, dramatically up from only one system of 14 km in 2004. Costs vary across nations, but BRT capital costs are generally less than ten percent of the cost of metro, and 30-60 percent of the cost of light rail. BRT can also be implemented much more quickly that rail-based transit, allowing systems to be created and expanded quickly to meet ever growing needs.

“As fast as BRT has grown in the last ten years, we fully expect this trend to continue over the next ten years, as more and more cities and countries discover the benefits of BRT, ” says Mason, “China, India, and Central and Southeast Asia all have multiple new systems in development, and we’re really excited about the potential of Africa, the most rapidly urbanizing continent, where work on BRT systems is progressing in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt.”

Similar to the LEED designation for green buildings, BRT corridors may achieve a basic BRT, bronze, silver or gold designation. A committee of the world’s foremost experts in bus rapid transit design has worked together to fully score 98 corridors in 62 cities using The BRT Standard. The data is endorsed by Rockefeller Foundation, Barr Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, GIZ, ICCT, UNEP, and UN Habitat.


Nouvellecosse Dec 7, 2014 11:06 PM

^ Interesting graphic, but I spotted an error in the commentary. Where it says, "BRT systems are growing rapidly, bringing comfortable, fast, and high quality transport to millions of people..." that should actually read, "BRT systems are growing rapidly, bringing inexpensive, quickly built, and low quality transport to millions of people..."

BRT may have its advantages, but let's not kid ourselves here.

GlassCity Dec 7, 2014 11:12 PM


Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse (Post 6834821)
^ Interesting graphic, but I spotted an error in the commentary. Where it says, "BRT systems are growing rapidly, bringing comfortable, fast, and high quality transport to millions of people..." that should actually read, "BRT systems are growing rapidly, bringing inexpensive, quickly built, and low quality transport to millions of people..."

BRT may have its advantages, but let's not kid ourselves here.

Have you taken it before? I haven't and I'd be curious to hear about what about it is low quality. Sounds like it'd be pretty good on paper. My only concern with it is just how much space it takes up. Especially at stations, the station houses themselves, travel lanes and bypass lanes takes up the same amount of space as a small freeway. Not to mention the fact that there are often car lanes along the corridor as well:
I wonder why Winnipeg's BRT isn't ranked as their one line is high quality. Way too short I guess.

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