Greater City Providence

News & Notes

From Here to There: A Creative Guide to Making Public Transport the Way to Go [Embarq]

Major automobile companies spend billions of dollars annually to advertise their products to customers. In 2009, General Motors alone spent $3.2 billion on advertising campaigns and overall marketing efforts for their products. Major auto companies collectively spent $21 billion worldwide and it looks like their investments are working. The number of private vehicles in Brazil more than doubled in less than a decade — 1.2 million in 2001 to 2.6 million in 2010. India experienced a 20-fold increase in the number of private motor vehicles in the last decade.

Such overwhelming statistics in favor of private vehicles, backed by billion dollar investments in advertising campaigns, point to the urgency with which public transport must catch-up in this competitive marketplace. Often times, so much energy is focused on the technical and financial aspects of getting public transit projects off the ground that branding and marketing become an afterthought.

In an attempt to give public transport a competitive edge, EMBARQ released a report on marketing and branding public transport.

Great places: smart density as part of economic flourishing [Grist]

Done right, density can be an engine of prosperity. Business executives should love great places just as much as hippies like me do.

Here’s the basic idea: When smart, skilled people start to gather in a place, the process becomes self-perpetuating. More smart, skilled people show up to be near the others. And the more smart, skilled people you get close together, the more you reduce transaction costs and increase “knowledge spillover,” which leads to commerce and innovation.

Re: Pawlenty’s Pledge: ‘Change… for the Better’ [National Review]

[Former Minnesota Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Tim] Pawlenty’s first order of business should be to explain to the American public what he learned from the collapse of the I-35W bridge into the Mississippi in 2007. The bridge fell down at the end of Pawlenty’s first four years as the ultimate person in charge of the state’s infrastructure.

House Republicans Want to Break Up Amtrak [AltTransport]

Apparently Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairmen of the House subcommittee on rail, argued in a hearing last week that Congress should strip Amtrak of its control over the Northeast Corridor. And since the rest of the system is subsidized by a combination of Northeast Corridor revenues and taxpayer dollars, such a move would basically gut Amtrak and force the government to sell the system’s various track, rolling stock and right-of-way to a series of private investors or regional private-public partnerships. House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) explained how this would work in the Northeast Corridor.

Is it over for suburban corporate campuses? [Switchboard]

In the late 1990s, when Don Chen, Matt Raimi and I were researching our book, Once There Were Greenfields, we lamented the flight of business from America’s central cities to increasingly outer suburbs and farmland. In that book we frequently turned for data to metropolitan Chicago where, for example, Ameritech had built a half-mile-long “landscraper” near O’Hare Airport far from the Loop, Motorola had set up camp in Schaumberg, and Sears had fled the iconic Sears tower for Hoffman Estates.

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