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M II A II R II K Oct 4, 2015 4:47 PM

Early Planning for New Hudson Rail Tunnel Is Underway, U.S. Transportation Secretary Says

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The federal transportation secretary said on Thursday that officials were taking important initial steps to accelerate long-stalled plans to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

Speaking at a business breakfast in Manhattan, the secretary, Anthony Foxx, said that New Jersey Transit had agreed to lead the project’s environmental study and that Amtrak would oversee engineering work. Mr. Foxx said federal officials would shorten the timeline for approving permits and would discuss federal grants and other financing options with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that could be designated to oversee the project.

The steps, while modest, represent the most substantive movement on the project in years. They follow a political breakthrough last month when Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, and Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, sent a letter to the White House saying their states would line up funding for half of the project’s cost, estimated to be as much as $20 billion.

In an interview on Thursday morning, Mr. Foxx said that he wanted to move as quickly as possible on preliminary work because of the deteriorating condition of the current tunnel, which is a century old. “I think it unleashes the Port Authority and New Jersey Transit and other stakeholders in the region to begin work with confidence that the governors are going to support it,” Mr. Foxx said of the governors’ letter.

On Thursday, New Jersey Transit confirmed that the agency was expected to lead the environmental study, but said the decision still required approval by the agency’s board of directors. Its role came as a result of a meeting between Mr. Christie and Mr. Foxx in August, said Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman for the agency.

The environmental review could take two to three years, Ms. Snyder said, and include public hearings and the study of air quality and other environmental impacts. New Jersey’s transportation commissioner, Jamie Fox, said on Thursday that New Jersey Transit was “prepared to do its part and looks forward to working with Amtrak and the other agencies as the project advances.”


M II A II R II K Oct 5, 2015 5:15 PM

Your Next Fare Card Won't Fit in Your Wallet

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Key fobs

- A key fob may not prevent you from having to dig through your bag, but it has a distinctive feel and is easy to grab. In Austin, key fobs are only available to those with difficulty navigating public transit, such as the elderly or disabled, since they eliminate the added hassle of having to swipe a card. But cities like D.C. are also considering it among their plans to improve to their current transit systems.


- Many tech companies have already developed wristbands that serve as wearable payment devices, but again, using them on U.S. subways or buses is only common among those with special transportation needs. In London, however, the city has welcomed the use of wearable technology, and has even banned the use of cash when buying a bus or train ticket. --- Some London commuters have swapped their Oyster smart cards for other forms of contactless payment, such as the bPay band from Barclaycard (shown above). This wristband can be pre-loaded with money from your bank account, so you’re not forced to refill it at one of those crowded kiosks.


- One of the newest innovations in transit tech—just launched last week—is a sleek ring designed by London-based company Kerv. Founder Philip Campbell said that he envisioned it as an alternative to “wearable payment devices [that] are either eye-wateringly expensive or thoroughly unattractive.” --- The ring is waterproof and never runs out of charge. It’s currently being funded on Kickstarter. When produced, the commuter-friendly gadget can be used to enter the Underground or London buses.


M II A II R II K Oct 10, 2015 7:00 PM

Shared space, where the streets have no rules

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The future of urban roads may be one where motorists, pedestrians and cyclists act as one. Spaces where these usually segregated members of the population live -- or move -- by the same rules. Most importantly, these rules would be social, not formal, to befit the increasingly popular trend of 'shared space'.

"Shared space breaks the principle of segregation," says Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a street designer who coined the term with the late Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman and brought these spaces to the U.K., which now hosts more than any other country. --- "It defines a public space where movement is subject to social protocol and informal regulation, not traffic rules." Monderman pioneered the idea in the Netherlands claiming if traffic rules are taken away, people behave more carefully.

Road signs, traffic signals, roundabouts, crossing points and curbs are done away with and replaced by flat, smooth roads without markings, on which cars and people interact regularly. They may feel confused, but that's exactly the point. --- "Introducing ambiguity is central to shared space," explains Hamilton-Baillie. "If people feel unsafe that's good because they will then be cautious as they interact with traffic". Hamilton-Baillie argues that drivers become more aware of their surroundings and respond to human interaction, just like people do in everyday life. "It civilizes and humanizes a city center," he argues.

Take the example of Exhibition Road, in the museums district of South Kensington in London, U.K.. As a cultural mecca hosting three of the biggest cultural venues in the country as well as educational institutions such as Imperial College London, this road attracts over 11 million visitors each year. Walking along it once involved by-passing hundreds of school children and families, countless students and tourists queuing at entrances or dawdling lost and confused, all upon a narrow pavement that couldn't contain them all.


M II A II R II K Oct 20, 2015 7:47 PM

Fantasy subway map for Grand Rapids

M II A II R II K Oct 21, 2015 6:25 PM

Cities kick out smartphone app threatening parking ticket revenue

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Fixed, a popular smartphone app that fights customers’ traffic tickets for them, has been forced to cease its parking ticket services in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles recently, after facing significant obstruction from agency officials in the three California cities. Municipal authorities have never had a friendly relationship with the innovative start-up founded in 2013, whose attorneys have successfully dismissed over 10,000 traffic citations.

With Fixed, users scan their traffic tickets onto their phones, prompting a Fixed agent to review the ticket against a list of common errors that might render it invalid, before sending a customized letter to the city on the user’s behalf. The app even utilizes Google Streetview to check whether authorities have posted the requisite signage and warnings in the area to ensure the parking ticket is legitimate. Fixed offers its users access to affordable attorneys who will fight the ticket for them so they never had to step inside a court room.

“Over 50% of tickets have an issue or error that makes them invalid,” Fixed co-founder David Hegarty told TechCrunch. “But we get frustrated because the SFMTA [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] doesn’t play by the rules of what’s valid versus invalid. They’re a complete stickler for the rules when issuing the ticket…but they have a very lax interpretation of the rules when it comes to arbitrating disputes.”

Rather than address the issue by instructing officers and parking attendants to write legally valid tickets, the cities have been uncooperative. In San Francisco, where Fixed is headquartered, the city government offers no way to submit ticket contests online. --- “San Francisco doesn’t have a way to submit a contest electronically, they insist that you mail it in,” Hegarty told TechCrunch. “After one or two contests got ‘lost in the mail’ we started faxing our submissions so we’d have an electronic record of delivery.”

However, when Fixed started faxing their ticket challenges last year, SFMTA wrote an email to the company demanding that they stop faxing in letters to contest parking tickets. This is despite the fact that the Californian Vehicle Code allows for the submission of ticket contests via fax. When the company explained that what it was doing was perfectly legal, the city shut off its fax machine.



M II A II R II K Oct 24, 2015 8:01 PM

Should Hong Kong Scrap Its Iconic Tramway?

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The 111-year-old tramway, affectionately called “Ding Ding” by locals, runs east-west through some the city’s busiest neighborhoods on Hong Kong Island. The double-deckers cruise unhurriedly alongside cars and buses, which means a trip that might take only 15 minutes by subway, or the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), could take far longer by tram. Yet, at 30 cents a ride, the 200,000 passengers—both old and young—who use it each day don’t seem to mind at all.

- “It’s not like an antique that we just put in a museum; it’s actually working as another public transport option,” says Simon Ng at the Civic Exchange, a public-policy think tank in Hong Kong. “This is part of people’s lives and memories, so I think that’s why a lot of people have a strong connection with the tram.” --- This Friday, however, Hong Kong’s Town Planning Board will decide on a proposal submitted in August by former government town planner Sit Kwok-Keung to scrap part of the historic tramways to ease congestion in one of the city’s busiest districts.*

- Sit, a private consultant at Intellects Consultancy Limited, called for the government to slowly phase out trams in the Central District, arguing that the MTR’s Island Line, which runs parallel to the tramway, has replaced much of the tram’s function. He also maintained that getting rid of the tram tracks and cars would free up nearly a third of the roadway, reports Hong Kong Free Press. If approved, the plan could affect 1,400 tram trips a day and more than 300 tram drivers and maintenance workers.

- Public protest to the proposal has been vocal, with public comments and petition signatures pouring in by the thousands. Many call the idea “backward,” noting that removing trams will only increase traffic. "The world's cities are moving toward using more mass transit systems running on electricity to reduce the number of cars and tailpipe emissions on the road,” one South China Morning Post reader wrote to the Hong Kong newspaper. “What kind of consultancy advises to remove mass transit vehicles to accommodate more cars?”

- Private cars, many of which are often illegally parked on the side of the road, take up 70 percent of roadways while trams occupy only 6 percent, according to China Daily. In the same article, Hung Wing-tat, a professor of civil and structural engineering at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said that if anything, trams ease congestion by “shouldering a proportion of public transport users on a daily basis.” And since the tramway runs on electricity, it also helps ease Hong Kong’s alarmingly poor air quality. “I don’t think the tram is the culprit,” Ng says. “They are one of the victims just like pedestrians.”

- Tramway passengers aren’t looking for speed, he adds. But the tram might actually be faster than the MTR for short distances. “You have to consider the time [it takes] to take the elevator or escalator and then navigate through the crowd to get to the [MTR] platform,” he tells CityLab. “For those who just want to hop on and off, the tram is actually a good alternative.” --- Perhaps more importantly, the trams are a symbol of Hong Kong’s heritage. First built in the 1901 by the British, some antique cars are still intact (and operational upon special request). “The key counter argument is that the tram is iconic and part of Hong Kong’s history,” says Ng, “and so there’s value in keeping them.”


Busy Bee Oct 24, 2015 8:54 PM

^Don't "fix" what isn't broken.

mrsmartman Oct 25, 2015 3:04 PM

^ The government does not intend to remove the tram. Most people do not ask for such removal.

M II A II R II K Oct 31, 2015 5:20 PM

If you fly between Chicago and L.A. you might be a drug dealer, according to the DEA

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In April of this year, two Drug Enforcement Administration task force members stopped a man named Issa Serieh at Los Angeles International Airport, asked him some questions, and seized $30,750 in cash off of him. They sent him on his way without charging him with a crime.

- The task force members "were in a LAX terminal gate monitoring passengers arriving on American Airlines flight number 2220 which had traveled from Chicago," according to a complaint filed last month at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. And why were they monitoring that particular gate? Because "Chicago is a known consumer city for narcotics and Los Angeles is a known source city where narcotics can be purchased," the complaint explains.

- The episode illustrates the broad types of behaviors that drug cops base their suspicions on. The Chicago to Los Angeles air route is the fourth-busiest in the United States, serving roughly 3 million passengers per year. But Los Angeles, you see, is part of a federally-designated "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area." So is Chicago. So are New York, D.C., Houston and pretty much every major city in the U.S. Overall, nearly two-thirds of the nation's residents live in one of these "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas."


M II A II R II K Oct 31, 2015 7:26 PM

How to Make One of Hong Kong's Busiest Streets Car-Free

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Des Voeux Road Central sits in the central business district of Hong Kong Island, where a mix of office buildings, small shops, pedestrians, and vehicular traffic crowd the streets every day. Not surprisingly, it also has the highest level of air pollution in the city, with a concentration of air pollutants near 55 micrograms per cubic meter, according to a recent report from Civic Exchange and Hong Kong University.

- To make the air a little more breathable, a coalition of architects, environmentalists, and nonprofits like Civic Exchange* has proposed a plan to redesign Des Voeux Road Central so that—except for emergency cases—the only vehicles allowed there would be trams, which run on electricity. Buses and cars would be rerouted to the adjacent Connaught Road near the waterfront, and to the Central-Wan Chai bypass, to be completed in 2017. An upcoming subway line connecting Hong Kong Island to the mainland will also help ease traffic. As part of the plan, walking space would also be widened, and much of the concrete could get replaced with grass.


M II A II R II K Nov 15, 2015 9:12 PM

Suburban Ride-Sharing Is Mathematically Impossible

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• You have 10,000 people working in downtown Palo Alto.

• A zipcode in nearby Redwood City with a population of 31,500 residents is home to the largest share of commuters who work in downtown Palo Alto: 500.

• If 10 percent of these commuters were willing to carpool to work, as per national averages, then the demand for a ride-share service is at most 50 people a day. (And that’s a generous assumption, since the vast majority of carpoolers are family members or coworkers, as opposed to complete strangers.)

• If all 50 of these workers keep normal hours with standard morning commutes—again, a generous assumption—then they would all head to the office in a two-hour window. But since not everyone leaves for work at the same time, that window should be broken up into segments.

• The six segments turn Redwood City’s 50 potential ride-share users into groups of about eight. In other words, eight out of 31,500 people in Redwood
City might be matched for a carpool into downtown Palo Alto on any given morning.

• If there are even just two competing ride-share services, that number halves to four out of 31,500.

• Four into 31,500 rounds down to roughly 0 percent of the population being eligible for a morning ride-share carpool service.


M II A II R II K Nov 17, 2015 6:17 PM

Northern Virginia Eyes Light Rail Or Major Bus System For Rt. 7 Corridor

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The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission is studying whether to build a light rail or bus rapid transit system on a 14-mile stretch of Rt. 7 from Tysons Corner to Alexandria, one of the busiest in terms of traffic and development in the region.

- In a video presentation posted at the commission’s website, a bus or light rail line promises to move people in “half the time it takes now” along the congested corridor. “More and more people will need to travel Route 7 as the number of new jobs and residents is projected to grow by more than a third over the next 25 years,” the video says. “The Tysons business district, which is booming today, is expected to transform into a city the size of present day Seattle or Houston by 2040.”

- Northern Virginia has seen a number of major transportation projects in recent years that have moved away from the old practice of simple expanding existing highways with free lanes to cope with traffic congestion. Since late 2012 the following projects have been completed: the Express Lanes on I-495 and I-95, the Silver Line Metrorail to Tysons Corner and Reston, and express Metrobus service between Crystal City and Potomac Yard. On I-66, Virginia is preparing to build express toll lanes from D.C. to Haymarket. Tolls on the inside-the-Beltway portion of the corridor will be charged starting in 2017.


M II A II R II K Nov 22, 2015 4:36 PM

Video Link

M II A II R II K Nov 30, 2015 5:02 PM

Think tank calls for 'total transport authorities'

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New cross-boundary 'total transport authorities' (TTAs) should be set up in towns and rural areas to provide integrated delivery solutions and take control of devolved powers and funding, a leading economic think tank has urged.

Building on work already started within local government under the 'total transport' pilot schemes, the Institute for Public Policy Research has recommended the initiative be taken even further in light of cuts to local services. --- 'We believe that there is a compelling case for the creation in towns and rural areas of new ‘total transport authorities’ that would bring together decision-making on bus services and other sustainable, public transport in travel-to-work areas,' the report states.

'These bodies should be empowered to take on regulatory powers to franchise bus routes in their area, bring together all public funding for buses and other sustainable public transport – initially from local authorities but, in time, from other public bodies – in their region, and encourage innovation and cooperation by bus operators.' --- The reforms could encourage the delivery of bus services by a much wider range of providers, including social enterprises, community investment companies and municipal companies, IPPR suggests, as the TTAs would 'pool capacity and expertise rather than creating new bureaucracy'.


Swede Dec 4, 2015 9:25 AM

The new map for rail transit in Vancouver:

What's so interesting for SSP? it is designed by Dylan's sister! :)

M II A II R II K Dec 7, 2015 3:49 PM

Austria: Linz scraps gay pedestrian crossing lights

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The red and green signals, depicting same-sex couples holding hands, were first introduced in Vienna to coincide with the the Eurovision Song Contest in May. Their popularity meant Salzburg and Linz later followed suit. But while the signals have become a permanent feature in the capital, they've now been removed from the streets of Linz, the Kurier website reports.

"Traffic lights are for traffic and should not be misused to impart advice on how to live your life," says councillor Markus Hein of the right-wing Freedom Party, who is responsible for traffic issues. Mr Hein, who opposed the initiative from the start, says that gay rights are already advanced, making the lights "completely unnecessary". --- The move has been described as "shameful" by Severin Mayr, a local Green Party lawmaker who supported the measure. Mr Mayr says that while "elsewhere signs are put up to promote openness and peaceful coexistence", in Linz the council has put things into reverse.


M II A II R II K Dec 7, 2015 4:05 PM

Mexico City hopes floating gondolas will beat its appalling traffic

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The city’s science, technology and innovation department, known as Seciti, on Nov. 26 unveiled a prototype of an aerial transportation system that would float over the sea of cars, potholes and street protests that regularly disrupt life in the enormous metropolis.

- The city has the worst traffic in the world after Istanbul, according to the TomTom Traffic Index, which measures the extra time it takes to get somewhere due to congestion. In Mexico City, trips end up taking 55% longer than if the streets were clear. In Paris that figure is 35% and New York it’s 31%. The solution is a kind of elevated monorail, with gondolas that run on a horizontal track, and it could really help unload the city’s crowded streets, officials say. A 5km (3 mile) line could move 37 million people a year—and up to 200 million if it were extended another 10 km.

- The system in Mexico city is not strictly a cable car because it runs on a track and each cabin is equipped with its own autonomous system. Still, officials estimate the price tag for a kilometer of line would be between $9 million and $19 million, compared with $190 million for a kilometer of subway. Running and maintaining the gondolas would also be 40% cheaper than the metro and the city’s rapid bus lines, which run on their own dedicated road lanes. Now all that’s needed is the money. Officials said during a press conference that both public and private investors will need to pitch in.


Video Link

Busy Bee Dec 7, 2015 6:37 PM


Originally Posted by M II A II R II K (Post 7260645)

A ridiculous story no matter what ones' personal gay advocacy or lackthereof may be. Public [taxpayer funded] infrastructure, especially critical safety infrastructure, should not be used to promote or demote personal lifestyle identities. It's the reason why even as I view myself as liberal and am pro gay rights I don't really see or agree it's the function of a city to fly rainbow flags or install themed and branded streetscaping in gay districts.

BrennanW Dec 7, 2015 9:08 PM


Originally Posted by M II A II R II K (Post 7260669)
Mexico City hopes floating gondolas will beat its appalling traffic

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Video Link

Its like a poorly designed PRT system. I think it never sees the light of day... Better ways to beat traffic issues than cheap gadget transit.

M II A II R II K Dec 12, 2015 12:11 AM

Seoul's Subway User Friendliness

You don't need to buy a separate ticket if you download the subway app. It saves a lot of time.

But if you want to buy tickets and don't have change, you can use this to get singles. it saves you from carrying change.

The stations are full of big, widely touted subway maps.

These screen doors prevent people from falling onto the tracks. It saves a lot of people from getting injured.

These screens show where the train is in real time. It gives you an idea of how much more you need to wait on the platform.

There were tons of screens all over the station. Lots of opportunities to sell ad space.

Vending machines were pretty common. Some stations had convenience stores on the platform.

The train's finally here! See anything strange?

Screens in the subway show the exact time and distance left to get to your next stop.

The shows on the screen kept me entertained ...

And of course, the Wi-Fi connection was solid.

Corner seats are left empty, even when the train is packed, so seniors or pregnant women can find them.

Full-wall screen that ran ads 24/7.

There was also this moving walkway for slow walkers.

The escalators don't move until someone steps on them. That saves a lot in energy costs.

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