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News & Notes

A Distant Mirror: 40 Years of Urbanism in Vancouver [Raise the Hammer]

We owe it to ourselves to examine other cities that seem to have done most things right. By all accounts, Vancouver is one of the few North American cities that has.

I don’t necessarily want to live in Vancouver, but I would like to live in a better Hamilton. This article includes an historical overview of urban development in Vancouver over the past few decades and a photo essay showing what Vancouver is doing today.


The Picturesque Moodna Viaduct [I Ride The Harlem Line]

Have we ever linked to I Ride The Harlem Line here before? I don’t remember. Anyway, it is one of our daily reads (or whenever it is updated reads), and is run by Cat Girl who as the title says, rides the MetroNorth Harlem Line and is full of terrific current and historic photos of stations, rail infrastructure, and other great railfan stuff.

Check out Cat Girl’s stunning photos of the Moodna Viaduct. I want to go to there now.


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That Mad Men train video…


Mad Men On Trains from Rich Sommer

This video has been all over the interwebs today, so it should be here too. Two characters from the Mad Men series discuss the idea of advertising high speed trains (in 1965).

“I think you can relax on this whole thing. I read a piece that said that in 40 years gas is going to be almost a dollar a gallon,” says Harry. “Look cities are getting bigger. Trains are the most efficient, economical, best investment. It’s obvious. We do not need to sell trains.” “I suppose you’re right again,” says Pete. “I know I’m right,” says Harry, “Now are you going to fix me a drink? I’ve got a long drive home.”

Via: America2050

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News & Notes

The war on trains [History Eraser Button]

What the hell is going on? Opposition to trains is not some kind of Tea Party platform. You aren’t hearing anybody talk about it on Fox News or AM radio. There’s little if any populist rage against trains. Rail improvements have bipartisan support at the federal level. Trains make sense and have a proven record of helping boost local economies; they’re pork projects in the best sense of the word. [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie, especially, serves a constituency in New Jersey that depends on trains to get around every day. Additionally, in my experience, state politicians are deeply reluctant to kill projects that divert federal funds to local construction companies. And even if trains aren’t your favorite thing, and even if you think they require too much taxpayer money, they’re certainly cheaper than highways.

Miles Not Gallons Could Be Key to Road Upkeep [Miller-McCune]

“Tying the funding of our transportation system to a tax levied on a commodity, the consumption of which we’re trying to discourage, is probably not the best way to go,” said [Jeff] Shane, a partner at the Hogan Lovells law firm in Washington and a former undersecretary for policy at the Department of Transportation.

Select Bus Service Debuts on Manhattan’s Busiest Bus Route [StreetsBlog]

Transit Mode Share Trends Looking Steady; Rail Appears to Encourage Non-Automobile Commutes [The TransportPolitic]

As Suburban Poverty Grows, U.S. Fails to Respond Adequately [Next American City]

Over the last ten years, more than two-thirds of poverty growth in the nation’s metro areas occurred in the suburbs, and there are now 1.6 million more poor people living in the suburbs than in center cities. Since 2000, there has been a general increase in the nation’s poverty rate, but it has been far worse in the suburbs than in the cities—a 37.4% increase versus 16.7%. Though the poverty rate remains higher in central cities, the number of poor suburbanites is growing quickly.

Transit providers have been hit hard, too, but the fact is that the suburbs are not ready for the spread of the poor to the suburbs. That’s because areas of lower density are difficult to serve by buses and trains without expenses going through the roof and low ridership. Many new construction projects are for big expansions of the rail network downtown, where efficiencies of scale ensure actual use of these lines. In big metropolitan areas, the lack of fast transit has increased travel to work times significantly, making life harder for those who live far from their jobs—a frequent issue for those who live in the suburbs. Because for these people there frequently is no choice but to rely on the car, this means that there is no option but to reduce the number of trips taken, which is apparently what is happening to many households. But that is equivalent to less mobility for the people who arguably need it the most!

The High Cost of Electric Cars [Next American City]

“Am I the only one who sees GoogleCars as an improved means to an unimproved, even catastrophic end? Ice caps are melting: have a robot car!” So wrote Alex Steffen of Worldchanging on Twitter earlier this week. To reply: Alex, you’re not the only one.

I sent a similar Tweet from the Better World by Design conference when the keynote featured a slide about “Sustainable Urbanism” that showed a single family detached McMansion with an electric car in the garage. Neither sustainable nor urban in my opinion. The next speaker, from Better Place then went on about the virtues of electric cars and smart grids.

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