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News & Notes

Snowy evening in Helsinki

Snowy evening in Helsinki, image (cc) Niklas Sjöblom

The Guardian: Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years

The Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point “mobility on demand” system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car.

Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.


Old Urbanist: Going Driverless, or Not

A heated debate over the significance of Google’s so-called driverless car has been raging over the past several weeks. On one side of the aisle are those hailing it as a “revolutionary” technology that will dramatically alter personal mobility to the point of eliminating private car ownership. On the other side are those who reject the premise that the technology represents a groundbreaking shift, instead characterizing it as merely a “slightly different variation” on current transportation modes that is “so incremental that it epitomizes our national short-sightedness, and failure of imagination, when it comes to improving mobility in America.”

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RIPTA to relocate buses out of Kennedy Plaza to accommodate construction starting July 12, 2014

ripta-map-k-plaza

From RIPTA:


RIPTA to Temporarily Relocate Bus Stops Out of Kennedy Plaza to Accommodate City of Providence Construction

All Routes Detoured Out of Kennedy Plaza Beginning Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will temporarily relocate all bus stops out of Kennedy Plaza beginning Saturday, July 12, 2014 to accommodate City of Providence renovations of the Plaza. These renovations will create a large civic space, reorganize bus berth locations and improve pedestrian connections to and from the plaza. The work is expected to be complete Fall 2014. All routes will be slightly detoured to avoid entering Kennedy Plaza. Bus stops will be relocated to Exchange Terrace, Sabin Street, Exchange Street, Fountain Street and Steeple Street. Park N’ Ride service will be relocated from Exchange Terrace to Sabin St. but will continue to pick up passengers at other downtown locations. Peter Pan and Greyhound passengers will continue to load and unload at their current stop in front of the Kennedy Plaza Terminal.

Ticketing and other passenger amenities will remain open inside the Kennedy Plaza Terminal during the construction period. RIPTA’s Kennedy Plaza sales and information outlet will remain open during construction. Customers are advised to enter through the side door on the Fulton Street side, near City Hall.

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Video: Bikes, Buses, Streetcars, and Automobiles

This video shows the Broadway Corridor of Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar project.

In five auto lane widths of roadway you can see room for a separated cycle track, automobile traffic, bus and streetcar traffic, dedicated turn lanes, and it looks like maybe some parking (plus ample sidewalks with trees). It really shows how you can pack a lot of transportation modality into a not too big roadway. Of course Providence is a place where we have a lot of not too big roadways.

What roads in Providence could you see done up in a similar fashion?


Via: Greater Greater Washington

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News & Notes

Transportation Act Projects announcement

Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown announces improvement to Marc train Red Line by Brian K. Slack at Baltimore, MD. Photo (cc) Maryland Gov Pics.

The Baltimore Sun: O’Malley to announce $1.5 billion for Baltimore-area transportation projects

Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to announce $1.5 billion in new state funding for the Baltimore Red Line and more than a dozen other transportation projects in the area Wednesday, officials said, outlining for the first time how the state’s gas tax increase will be tapped to improve local infrastructure and mass transit here.

O’Malley also plans to discuss the state’s interest in attracting public-private partnerships to help fund the Red Line project, and a Dec. 7 start date for weekend MARC train service between Baltimore and Washington, which has never been offered before.

[Baltmore Mayor Stephanie] Rawlings-Blake said the new funding “says that the state is serious about being a partner with Baltimore” to improve connections between transportation options.

“They’re putting their money where their mouth is,” she said. “They’re recognizing that for the state to be strong, Baltimore has to be strong, and it has to be strong as a connected city.”


The Boston Globe: Menino pushes plan to boost housing

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is proposing to reach his ambitious goal of building 30,000 homes in Boston by allowing taller structures with smaller units, selling public land to developers at a discount, and using subsidies to spur development of more affordable housing, according to a blueprint to be released Monday.

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Worcester opens new bus hub

worcester-bus-hub

Photo from Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Worcester, Mass. has opened their new bus hub at the city’s Union Station. The hub connects local WRTA buses to intercity buses, Amtrak, and MBTA commuter rail and features real time electronic bus information, covered bike parking, and charging stations for the agency’s new electric buses.

See more information on the USDOT Fast Lane blog and in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (includes video).

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News & Notes

Human Transit: Countering The “Empty Buses” Myth — With Video!

The Pinellas County, Florida transit agency has done this video to help counter the impressions people get from seeing empty buses around the area. Seeing empty buses often causes people to complain that the buses are too big, are obviously not needed, should be replaced with smaller ones, etc.


Next City: That Tree on the Corner May Be Worth More Than Your Houses

Given the city’s annual expenditures of $850,000 on street tree planting and maintenance, Tree Pittsburgh concluded that the city received $3 in benefits for every dollar it invested in street trees. That math helped convince the city that upfront investment in trees was worthwhile, and so last summer Pittsburgh released a detailed master plan for maintaining and expanding its urban forest over the next two decades.

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News & Notes

The New York Times: A Michigan City Bets on Food for Its Growth

The idea of building a year-round public market to tie the city’s skilled chefs to the region’s big complement of young farmers had already attained an air of inevitability by the time this Midwestern city held its first Restaurant Week three summers ago.

Next year, just in time for the fourth annual Restaurant Week, Grand Rapids is scheduled to open the $30 million, 130,000-square-foot Downtown Market, a destination that is expected to attract 500,000 visitors a year. The three-story brick and glass building, under construction in a neighborhood of vacant turn-of-the-20th century warehouses, is intended by its developers to be a state-of-the art center of commerce for the culinary arts and fresh local foods.

It is also seen as having the potential to accomplish much more.

My SimCity version of Providence in my head has a Public Market building on the parking lot next to Ri Ra, with through access from Burnside Park to Waterplace Park.


The Atlantic Cities: 5 Models for Cheaper, Greener Housing for Veterans

Earlier this year, I wrote about a terrific project providing apartments, supportive services and job training for veterans in central Milwaukee. On the green side, Veterans Manor earned a 92 out of a possible 100 points on a local “Green Built” standard, while enjoying a transit-accessible location with a Walk Score of 72. The building has a commercial kitchen that services both the residents and local schools while providing job training and experience.

When we discussed the statewide ballot questions the cost of the Veterans Home came up, $94 million bond. My other reservation about the Veterans Home was its location.

The WalkScore for the existing Veterans Home in Bristol is, “42 Car-Dependant.” A Veterans Home is populated by many elderly and disabled people, which is why they need a home, most of those people cannot drive. Additionally, services are provided for homeless Veterans who obviously cannot afford a car and need access to public transit and jobs.

If they were in a town center or near a bus line at least, they would have opportunity to leave the home and interact with members of the community, keeping them active and vital. Being stuck in a home on Metacom Avenue in Bristol is not the best we can do for our Veterans.


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News & Notes

Some people get wicked excited to take the bus…

Via Human Transit.


Biking in Heels: Watching the Pedestrians

My theory is that when pedestrians feel that the rules aren’t fair to them, or create unnecessary hardship for them, they ignore the rules and do what is simplest and easiest for them. By making things clear and easy for pedestrians, Cambridge has created a place where pedestrians are happy to obey the “rules” and generally don’t interfere with other modes’ right of way. In Boston, where pedestrians are forced to wait too long for their “turn,” are given signals that don’t seem to make sense, and aren’t given enough legal places to cross, they take the law into their own hands.


USA Today: City living will feel like a blast from the past

In the next American metropolis, people will live in smaller homes, relax in smaller yards, park their smaller cars in smaller spots. They will be closer to work, to play and, above all, to one another.

Global warming will be a fait accompli in 30 years, and so these urban Americans will raise their own food, in fields and on rooftops, and build structures to withstand everything from hurricane winds to Formosan termites.

They will walk and ride more and drive less. And they will like it.

This is the future envisioned by Andres Duany, architect, town planner, teacher and polemicist. And the future, he will tell you, is his business.


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News & Notes

The Atlantic Cities: What Real Respect for Bicyclists Looks Like

Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians all compete for space and safety on the streets and roads of the world’s cities and suburbs. It’s a contentious and sometimes ugly coexistence, which is why so many government agencies and advocacy groups periodically mount public-awareness campaigns with messages like “share the road” or “don’t be a jerk” or “respect other road users.”

In the end, those are just words. The ultimate form of respect for any road user is properly designed infrastructure that allows that a person to travel with comfort and safety using their preferred mode. In the United States, it’s clear who gets real respect (and infrastructure spending) on a regular basis. That would be the people driving cars.


The Hill: GOP platform: Cut Amtrak, privatize airport security and focus highway money on roads

The platform approved by Republicans on Tuesday calls for the elimination of funding for Amtrak passenger rail service, private airport security screening and stopping the use of money earmarked for highway construction for other purposes.

The more than 30,000-word document was approved on the first full day of the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. It includes many provisions that were pushed by Republicans in the House during recent negotiations over the new $105 billion transportation bill that was approved by lawmakers in June.

Among them are reducing environmental regulations to expedite construction projects and using more money that is earmarked for transportation for road and highway projects, rather than other forms of transportation such as public transit or bicycling and pedestrian programs.


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News & Notes

The New York Times: Commuters Pedal to Work on Their Very Own Superhighway

Picture 11 miles of smoothly paved bike path meandering through the countryside. Largely uninterrupted by roads or intersections, it passes fields, backyards, chirping birds, a lake, some ducks and, at every mile, an air pump.

For some Danes, this is the morning commute.


Pedestrian Observations: Northeast Corridor HSR, 90% Cheaper

Amtrak’s latest Next-Generation High-Speed Rail plan is now up to $151 billion, from a prior cost of $117 billion. This is partially a small cost escalation, but mostly including Master Plan upgrades to the legacy line. Per kilometer of route length, this means the project has now crossed the $200 million/km mark, a higher cost than 60%-underground Chuo Shinkansen maglev. The primary cause of the high cost of Amtrak’s project is the heavy amount of deep-cavern urban tunneling: nearly a tenth of the cost is the Gateway Tunnel, a rebranded bundling of ARC into the project, and a similar amount is a similar project in Philadelphia. At least this time they’re serving Rhode Island with a stop in or near Providence rather than Woonsocket.


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News & Notes

Salon: It’s time to love the bus

Making people like the bus when not liking the bus is practically an American pastime essentially means making the bus act and feel more like a train. Trains show up roughly when they’re supposed to. Buses take forever, then arrive two at a time. Trains boast better design, speed, shelters, schedules and easier-to-follow routes. When people say they don’t like the bus but they do like the train, what they really mean is they like those perks the train offers. But there’s no reason bus systems can’t simply incorporate most of them.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Mayor Sam Adams: Portland’s streetcar makes vital change

Atlanta has just broken ground on a streetcar line. As the mayor of Portland, a city in the midst of a streetcar revival, I remember that feeling.

You’re probably wondering what comes next. You can look forward to a noticeable change in your city. Investing local, state and federal dollars to leverage private funds has reinvigorated our city, created jobs and given Portlanders a healthy, more sustainable transportation choice.


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RIPTA Community Meeting on Elmwood Avenue service improvements – February 28, 2012

RIPTA

Photo (cc) Trisha Crabb

From RIPTA:

RIPTA and Senator Juan M. Pichardo to hold community meeting on Tuesday, February 28, 2012

RIPTA and Senator Juan M. Pichardo (District 2) will hold a community meeting to present suggested improvements to bus stop service along Elmwood Avenue. The Route 20/Elmwood Avenue Optimization Project is part of RIPTA’s Key Bus Route Improvement Program. These proposed improvements are scheduled to be completed by October 2013. The meeting is scheduled for 6pm on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 in the RIPTA Conference Room, located at 269 Melrose Street in Providence. For more information on this project, email Amy Pettine at apettine@ripta.com.

Also, don’t forget RIDOT is holding a meeting on proposed MBTA service cuts and fare increases on Monday the 27th.

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News & Notes

Streetcar Shuffle

Seattle Streetcar, photo (cc) kcl_in_pdx

Pedestrian Observations: Improving the MBTA

The MBTA has a problem. And I say this coming from New York, whose standards for good regional transit aren’t all that high, but now Metro-North looks like something to look up to from the MBTA. Ridership on the system is rising, but not very quickly; the MBTA moreover has no plans to modernize. Most of what I’m going to suggest will involve commuter rail, not because it’s the most important portion of Boston’s public transportation but because it’s the part I’m most familiar with and also the part that seems most direly in need of improvements. Put another way, I’m necessarily going to talk about the MBTA as perceived from Providence, rather than from within Boston.


Fast Lane: American streetcar projects creating jobs today, livable communities and economic development tomorrow

Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on streetcars:

Today, streetcars in New Orleans and Tucson are under construction. Dallas, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City are currently designing their own streetcars. Tampa extended its popular TECO Line Streetcar System, which has already created billions of dollars in economic development. And Cincinnati will break ground very soon on the Queen’s City’s unique streetcar project.

It’s simple: this streetcar revival means greater mobility and more American jobs. DOT will continue to improve public transit services by supporting these critical projects that create jobs today and livable communities and economic redevelopment tomorrow.


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News & Notes

Chicago Holga-ish

A city bus in Downtown Chicago. Photo (cc) CameliaTWU

News & Notes Will Rahm Emanuel Show America What BRT Can Do? [Streetsblog]

With impressive urgency, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spent his first months in office retooling and reconfiguring how the “City That Works” works. Emanuel’s energy is evident in changes from beat-cop deployment to the push for a longer school day, but perhaps the mayor’s most tangible efforts can be seen in his ambitious transportation agenda.

With Chicago DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein at his side, Emanuel has already implemented the city’s first protected bike lanes as part of a plan to add 100 miles of bike lanes within four years, announced a $1 billion upgrade to the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line, and passed a $2 “congestion fee” on downtown parking garages that will go towards the creation of a CTA Green Line stop that serves McCormick Place – the nation’s largest convention center – and a downtown circulator bus route being billed as bus rapid transit.


Top cities stories of 2011 [The Grist]

It’s that time of year again: When public schools everywhere cast about desperately for a holiday celebration that doesn’t involve Jesus or a dude in a red suit; when families gather from thither and yon to spend a few days remembering why they’ve scattered thither and yon in the first place; and yes, it’s time to take stock of the year past, and look ahead to the one coming up. As the guy charged with keeping an eye on all things urban around here, I curled up with my laptop on a winter’s night that was definitely not as cold as they used to be, dug through the archives, and now offer this, my most humble (and totally non-denominational) retrospective of 2011.


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Like: Chicago’s bus tracker at stops

Chicago bus stop bus tracker

Real time bus tracker at bus stop in Chicago. Photo from @CDOTNews on Twitter via Grid Chicago.

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Director of the Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein (pictured, center with CTA President Forrest Claypool at left), announced today the installation of real-time tracking of buses at bus stops in that city.

It just goes without saying that I like this, right?

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