The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History
> In 1994, Cesare Marchetti, an Italian physicist, described an idea that has come to be known as the Marchetti Constant. In general, he declared, people have always been willing to commute for about a half-hour, one way, from their homes each day. This principle has profound implications for urban life. The value of land is governed by its accessibility—which is to say, by the reasonable speed of transport to reach it.
> But the endurance of the Marchetti Constant has profound implications for urban life. It means that the average speed of our transportation technologies does more than anything to shape the physical structure of our cities. To see how, let’s travel back in time by more than 2,000 years, and move towards the present.
BART slows rollout of new trains as it contends with more repairs than expected
> One example is the “D” cars, which have a cab where the operator sits. The agency expects them to run 6,000 hours before hitting any kind of equipment failure that causes a delay of five minutes or more. They’re hovering at 1,000 hours.
How OS/2 Powered the NYC Subway
> Vintage technology has powered the innards of the NYC subway system for decades—and sometimes, it surfaces in interesting ways. This one’s for you, OS/2 fans.
Motorbikes in Taiwan. 3:27.
The Man in Seat 61
> This site explains how to travel comfortably & affordably by train or ferry where you might think air was now the only option.
Elon Musk’s first Boring Company tunnel opens, but the roller-coaster ride has just begun
> For Elon Musk’s very difficult year, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
> Specifically, it’s a 1.14-mile tunnel the inventor and beleaguered CEO of Tesla Motors says is a first step in solving “soul-destroying” urban traffic. In 2016, Musk — already busy running two high-profile companies — founded a construction firm called the Boring Company to tackle gridlock by drilling underground. Some thought it was a joke. Two years of big promises and $40 million later, his just-in-time innovation machine delivered a functioning test tunnel late Tuesday.
> What’s it like to ride through Elon’s tunnel? Bumpy, but that’s all part of the ride on a Musk enterprise.
Why We Can’t Have Nice Things–Elon Musk and the Subways
> Billionaires are undermining your home. And democracy! Grab your pitchforks! Yet dig a little deeper underneath the lurid headline and the actual complaints are–dare I say it–boring.
Counting All Cars
> Pondering the evolution of electronic tolling, the system that doesn’t slow you down even as it charges you to use it. It has roots in the theremin—sorta.
RFID from the great seal bug to your windshield.
Philadelphia Fights Gridlock With Ticket Blitz
> Traffic crawls along downtown’s Chestnut Street, horns honking as cars block the intersection. Up ahead, construction claims one of three lanes, and a Canada Dry delivery truck is parked in the bus lane, forcing city buses to squeeze by.
> On a recent weekday, a police officer wrote a $76 ticket to the Canada Dry truck on Chestnut Street—its fifth parking citation in one morning. “Where else would we park?” delivery worker Parrish Deale said, unfazed by the stack of tickets on the truck’s dashboard. “We’ve got to make these deliveries.”
Hong Kong-Zhuhai bridge: World's longest sea bridge in pictures
> The 55km bridge and tunnel linking Hong Kong to mainland China via Macau has opened, years late.
There are pictures.
Treasure Hunter Searches Rhine River—for a Steam Engine
> Horst Müller likes trains. It makes sense. As a child he lived with his family on the top floor of Cochem station. He once celebrated Christmas dinner in the cab of a steam engine with his father, a driver. He’s collected model trains, devoured train books and photographed trains since he was 12, and eventually became a driver himself. For the past 30 years he has moved beyond “like” to obsession. His fixation: Find a 19th-century cast-iron steam engine lost in the Rhine river before it even took its first journey.
> “If it’s not the locomotive,” said Mr. Forkmann, “it can only be the Nibelung hoard”—the fabulous “Rhine gold” of Germanic folklore. For Mr. Müller, that would be a great disappointment.
Mystery of the cargo ships that sink when their cargo suddenly liquefies
> When a solid bulk cargo liquefies, it can shift or slosh inside a ship’s hold, making the vessel less stable. A liquefied cargo can shift completely to one side of the hold. If it regains its strength and reverts to a solid state, the cargo will remain in the shifted position, causing the ship to permanently tilt or “list” in the water. The cargo can then liquefy again and shift further, increasing the angle of list.
What's in those mysterious cabinets?
> Thanks to the Wonders of the Internet, it didn’t take long to figure out what it is for. It is a controller for the traffic lights at the intersection.
Pothole Vigilantes Fill the Streets, Plugging Gaps Left by City Workers
> Ms. Cool and the rest of the self-proclaimed Marigny Muckrakers told the city that they planned to fix the pothole after their requests for help over the past year went unanswered. The city said neighbors needed a $250 permit to temporarily close the street. “We were like, ‘We’re not paying you so we can get this job done,’ ” Ms. Cool said.
Monday Is the Last Day You Can Buy Tokens at SEPTA Stations
> It’s the end of an era — finally.
There was something pleasantly archaic about using tokens, provided you had one ready and weren’t in a scramble to find it.
Electric scooters might revolutionize urban transport — if it wasn’t for stupid humans
A sweeping new bill targets California’s housing crisis
> As long as supply is artificially constrained and demand continues growing, affordable housing subsidies will never be able to keep up. As long as localities can’t or won’t build dense housing near train stations and bus stops, transit investments won’t pay off like they could.
The Subway Is Next Door. Should New Yorkers Pay Extra for That?
Plaintiff’s Location-Based Privacy Claim Against BART Reporting App Fails
> BART, in cooperation with its police department and Elerts (a developer), created the “BART Watch” mobile application. The application allowed users to report suspicious activity by “sending pictures, text messages, and locations of suspicious people of activities.” However, the app periodically transmitted the user’s clientid and location information to the app’s servers. The app did not require a user to enter their mobile telephone number but left it optional. The app also had a mandatory click-through mechanism for contract formation. The terms mention location information sharing when a consumer filed a “report” but did not advise that the app allegedly tracked location information on a persistent basis:
The Case for the Subway
> It built the city. Now, no matter the cost — at least $100 billion — the city must rebuild it to survive.
> It was the arrival of the subway that transformed a seedy neighborhood called Longacre Square into Times Square, that helped turn a single square mile surrounding the Wall Street station into the center of global finance, that made Coney Island an amusement park for the masses. It was the subway that fueled the astonishing economic growth that built the city’s iconic skyscrapers. Other cities had subways, but none threaded through nearly as many neighborhoods as New York’s, enabling it to move large numbers of workers between Manhattan and the middle-class boroughs — a cycle that repeated itself every day, generating ever more wealth and drawing in ever more people.
> We will run 8,477 one-way trips over the course of a day. We hope to have 8,477 on-time trains. We’re not going to do it today.
Some cool photos, too.