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Transportation Systems

This tag is associated with 16 posts

The Detroit Woodward Light Rail Transit Rap

Two involved peeps Joel Batterman and Elias Schewel have produced a video on YouTube outlining all the reasons why the centre lane Light Rail Transit option is the way to go. For anyone who cares about mass transit, or likes to see LEGO figures rapping, this video is a must see!

It’s time for Detroit to reclaim the mantle of transportation innovation. This music video argues that a light rail line running down the middle of Woodward Avenue, “Mainline Option A,” will be faster, safer, and more reliable than the side-running alternative, “Mainline Option B.” Let’s bring the trains down the middle! Tell it to the feds by March 14: take a moment to submit a comment to woodwardlightrail@detroitmi.gov. See TransportMichigan.org for more information.

The New New York City Taxi

In 2007 the Taxi and Limousine Commission of New York City brought together a group of stakeholders involved in the taxi industry in New York City. Including; taxi drivers, owner and passengers and the goal was simple, create a set of goals for the future of the taxi in New York City. A project that was aptly named “The Taxi of Tomorrow.” In 2009 the Taxi and Limousine commission issued a request for proposals to the automobile industry to design the next official taxi for the city. At present the primary vehicle in the city’s fleet is the Ford Crown Victoria. The Crown Victoria was officially discontinued by the Ford Motor Company this past spring (S) and this presents an opportunity for the city to change to a vehicle designed specifically for use as a Taxi, and through this change come up with a Taxi that is both iconic and more environmentally friendly.

The City of New York has already attempted to legislate that the city’s taxi fleet must be entirely electric or hybrid by 2012, but an federal judge overturned the legislation attempt after a suit by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represented the owners of 29 fleets that control 3,500 yellow cabs, about a quarter of the fleet — said that the hybrid vehicles, which are more fuel-efficient, were not designed to withstand the heavy wear and tear that cabs must endure. S An interesting factoid about Taxis in New York City and in fact most of the rest of the world is that none of the 16 different vehicle models in the city’s 13,200 strong fleet were originally designed to be used as a taxi. All of the vehicles have been specially outfitted to be used as a taxi which will usually drive about 70,000 miles per year and see its back doors slammed around 21,000 times in the course of a year. S

“Although the city has long set standards for our taxis, we have never before worked with the auto industry to design a taxicab especially for  New York City — that is, until now,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has culled three semi finalists from the competition; Karsan, Nissan, and Ford. Its a lucrative contract for whoever wins since “the TLC intends to select the best proposal and award an exclusive contract to sell and service taxicabs in New York for the next decade.” Take a look at the concept images and tell both us and the Taxi and Limousine Commission which one you prefer! What is in it for you? Well the prize is worth free cab rides for a year so you could be a winner!

Neighbourhood News September 13th: Urban Water and Bridges

Metropolis magazine calls for a new type of water infrastructure since most of it needs to be replaced anyway.

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation closes a deal to create Rivergate Park.

On the subject of Cleveland the city commissions architect Miguel Rosales to build three pedestrian bridges.

Minneapolis St Paul unveils the I35W memorial garden.


The 9 Day Traffic Jam

In testimony to the fact that china can truly make anything bigger and better comes the 100km long and 9 days running traffic jam on the road from Beijing to Huai’an in the southeast. S

A spokesman for the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau has reportedly released a statement to China’s ‘Global Times’ newspaper that the traffic jam has come about as a result of “insufficient traffic capacity… caused by maintenance construction.”  According to reports the traffic jam started on the 14th of August and could last for a while. Evidently there was another traffic jam in July that lasted for almost a month.

So next time you get frustrated because traffic delays for an hour or two, consider yourself lucky that you haven’t been stuck in a traffic jam for days!

Hopefully this encourages more people in China to leave the car at home and support public transit.  The people who  did, surprisingly enough made it to their destinations on schedule.

Read the CBC news article…

Under the Expressway

A view towards the underside of the Autoroute Jean Lesage after the Echangeur Turcot. Taken as part of a photo survey for a project I worked on to redevelop the Turcot Yards, that included a redesign of the Turcot Interchange and Highways 720 and 15.

Magic Highway USA (HQ)

An excerpt from the 1958 Disneyland TV Show episode entitled Magic Highway USA. In this last part of the show, an exploration into possible future Transportation technologies is made. It’s hard to believe how little we’ve accomplished on this front since 1958, and how limited the scope for imagining such future technologies has become. Witness an artifact from a time where the future was greeted with optimism. Note the striking animation style here, achieved with fairly limited animation and spectacular layouts.

It makes it easier to understand why people decided that the highways were such a great thing, I mean come on it was the 50s and this looks and sounds so great!

The 'Living Bridge' Over the Thames

(c) Antoine Grumbach

Would you buy property on a bridge? The city of London is examining the idea of building a new crossing to the east of Tower Bridge, which is not to be confused with London Bridge which was at one point a habitable bridge.

The idea of building a habitable bridge over the River Thames is not a new idea, the plans were originally drawn up back in the nineties, however after the Labour government came into power in 1997 the planes for this bridge were dropped. However the current mayor of London, Boris Johnson is giving the project another look. The mayor has been saying for a while now that the city needs another crossing east of the tower bridge and the habitable bridge proposal is under consideration as a link between Greenwich and Silvertown in the Royal Docks.  Part of what what is giving this proposal a more serious look is that the £80 million price tag for the bridge could theoretically be recouped from the sale of properties located on it. The original design had the bridge suspended from a pair of 35 story towers on the north side that would combine flats and residential properties.

If the bridge is built it would be the first time in 178 years that a bridge with residential and commercial properties existed in the city. The last being London Bridge before its buildings were leveled to reduce congestion on the crossing.

Engraving of London Bridge Circa 1616 by Claes Van Visscher

Would you buy property on a bridge? I have to admit its a novel idea and there is no doubt that the view would be stellar. Not to mention that you wouldn’t have to worry about another condo development springing up in front to steal your view. I think that that only thing that might concern me would be if someone else came along and decided that the properties needed to go for the sake of reducing congestion, though with this design, seeing as the apartments are in the support structure that is a little less likely. When it comes to development the sale of properties is pretty much a sure fire way to raise capital and I have no doubt that apartements in a location like this would have a pretty hefty premium for the wow factor so they might just be on to something.

Neighbourhood News March 30th 2009

Critical looks at the future of city building.

The Washington Post

In Va., Vision of Suburbia at a Crossroads

Targeting Cul-de-Sacs, Rules Now Require Through Streets in New Subdivisions

cul-de-sac-2Virginia is taking aim at one of the most enduring symbols of suburbia: the cul-de-sac.

The state has decided that all new subdivisions must have through streets linking them with neighboring subdivisions, schools and shopping areas. State officials say the new regulations will improve safety and accessibility and save money: No more single entrances and exits onto clogged secondary roads. Quicker responses by emergency vehicles. Lower road maintenance costs for governments.

Although cul-de-sacs will remain part of the suburban landscape for years to come, the Virginia regulations attack what the cul-de-sac has come to represent: quasi-private standalone developments around the country that are missing only a fence and a sign that says “Keep Out.”

Homeowners choose cul-de-sacs because, they say, they offer safety, security and a sense of community.

“Cul-de-sacs are the safest places in America to live,” said Mike Toalson, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Virginia, which opposes the new rules. “The first lots sold are often on the cul-de-sacs because they are safe.” As for developments with single entrances and exits, Toalson said, such configurations ensure that all traffic is local, neighbors watch out for each other and speeds are kept down. “Crooks look for multiple exits.”

Prince William County residents Brian and Donna Goff chose to raise their children in a cul-de-sac life. They live on Vixen Court, one of seven cul-de-sacs in Bridlewood Manor, a subdivision in Bristow. “You’ve got a family atmosphere. It stays quiet here,” said Brian Goff, 42. The couple, who have two young children, have lived in the cul-de-sac for nine years.

The changes come as cash-strapped states and localities can no longer afford the inexorable widening of secondary roads that are overburdened with traffic from the subdivisions, strip malls, schools and office buildings that feed into them. The system forces drivers to enter these traffic-choked roads to go even 50 yards or so to the neighborhood coffeehouse or elementary school. North Carolina and Portland, Ore., are moving on similar fronts.  Read More.


Reinventing America’s Cities: The Time Is Now

future-of-citiesTHE country has fallen on hard times, but those of us who love cities know we have been living in the dark ages for a while now. We know that turning things around will take more than just pouring money into shovel-ready projects, regardless of how they might boost the economy. Windmills won’t do it either. We long for a bold urban vision.

With their crowded neighborhoods and web of public services, cities are not only invaluable cultural incubators; they are also vastly more efficient than suburbs. But for years they have been neglected, and in many cases forcibly harmed, by policies that favored sprawl over density and conformity over difference.

Such policies have caused many of our urban centers to devolve into generic theme parks and others, like Detroit, to decay into ghost towns. They have also sparked the rise of ecologically unsustainable gated communities and reinforced economic disparities by building walls between racial, ethnic and class groups.

Correcting this imbalance will require a radical adjustment in how we think of cities and government’s role in them. At times it will mean destruction rather than repair. And it demands listening to people who have spent the last decade imagining and in many cases planning for more sustainable, livable and socially just cities. Read More

The Oldest Subway Tunnel in the World

Photo by adam (Citynoise)

Photo by adam (Citynoise)

How often do you think about the layers of the city? Just this evening on my way home from work I was thinking about how the sidewalks and the pavement that I was walking on were likely only a couple generations old, it really wasn’t that long ago that our cities were paved with dirt when you consider the scale of history. So what’s under all this pavement, what do you get when you peel back a couple layers of tar and asphalt? In some cases you find things that have long been forgotten, well I suppose that in most cases you are going to find things that have been forgotten. For those of you who are into abandonments, we bring this post from Citynoise.org about the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel.

The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel is officially the world’s oldest subway tunnel, built in 1844 by the cut-and-cover method under a City of Brooklyn Street. It is a half-mile long and accommodated two standard gauge tracks. The tunnel was built in only seven months, using only hand tools and primitive (by today’s standards) equipment. It was built to provide grade separation for early Long Island Rail Road trains that lacked brakes good enough to operate on city streets, and to eliminate vehicular and pedestrian traffic conflicts and delays. This route allowed through trains to travel quickly between Brooklyn and Boston (via ferry service to Connecticut).

The tunnel was supposedly filled in 1861 in a fraud scheme that apparently just sealed off the ends. Bob Diamond rediscovered the long forgotten Atlantic Avenue Tunnel in 1980. The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA) was formed in 1982 to restore the historic tunnel. BHRA successfully filed and received designation for the tunnel on the National Register of Historic Places.

Oldest Subway Tunnel in the World – Brooklyn, NY : citynoise.org.

Photo by adam (citynoise)

Photo by adam (citynoise)

The Demotorisation of Japan


Lately we have been hearing a lot about how important it is for our cities and for the planet that a lot of us get out of our cars and start using public and active transportation. The urban form will be improved, quality of life will get better and so on.

Today I was involved in a discussion about how at the turn of the century mobility was largely restricted by physical transportation and that the shape of cities responded to those networks based on what was available. Walking, horses, wagons, these all kept the spheres of the average citizen’s life relatively compact, and contained.  As technology increased tramways, street cars and urban railways extended these spheres, with each technological innovation mobility increases with the automobile and private vehicle ownership  bringing us to the form we have now. However an interesting aspect that I hadn’t considered before was that things like telephones, fax machines, the Internet, and e-mail are all related to personal mobility and inter-connectivity, which to some extent is the whole point, technology allows us to ‘meet’ with someone  across great distances by  removing the need for us to use transportation to be there to relay our messages ourselves.

It adds an extra dimension the article posted in thestar.com about how for the first time in decades, car ownership is in decline in Japan.  It’s not just that cars are expensive, the economy is in recession, and all the other reasons that spring to mind in current climate, it’s also because of a shift in the way that Japanese young  people think about cars.

To get around the city, Yutaka Makino hops on his skateboard or rides commuter trains. Does he dream of the day when he has his own car? Not a chance.

Like many Japanese of his generation, the 28-year-old musician and part-time maintenance worker says owning a car is more trouble than it’s worth, especially in a congested city where monthly parking runs as much as 30,000 yen, or US$330, and gas costs $3.50 a gallon – or 92 cents US a litre.S


It’s basically a bicycle activist’s dream come true, Japanese young people have stopped seeing cars as a status symbol and view them as just another tool.  The youth are shifting more towards cell phones and personal computers that allow the electronic mobility without the hassles of trying to navigate in a country where the roads are very congested, but the trains are efficient and frequent. The younger generation has seen through the sports car idealizing culture of the older generation.

“Young people’s interest is shifting from cars to communication tools like personal computers, mobile phones and services,” said Yoichiro Ichimaru, who oversees domestic sales at Toyota. “The changes in individuals’ values on cars came cumulatively over time,” said Nissan chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga. “The change in young people’s attitude toward cars didn’t happen overnight. So we have to keep convincing them cars are great.”

The phenomenon is interesting because of needing shape of things to come, while Japan is much better equipped with public transportation it’s an example of how it’s not quite so inconceivable for people to get out of their cars can make use of other forms of transportation, be they public or electronic.

However the article also illustrates another interesting aspect that is often ignored when we discuss transportation, but is an important reality of de-motorization. The manufacturing industry makes up a fifth of the Japanese economy, and the automobile industry is no small part of that.  A slowdown in manufacturing sector we have some very significant effects, very few of which are positive, on the Japanese economy.  If our recent economic troubles here in North America have shown us anything it’s that the automobile industry also makes up a significant portion of our economy too, and reductions in the automobile manufacturing sector have serious implications for the North American economy.  The challenge for countries in dealing with de-motorization, a trend that is both a little inevitable and a lot desirable, is how to replace the economic capacity of the automobile industry with another economic engine. It is important to get everyone out of their cars, but it would be nice if we could avoid ruining the economy while we do it.

Click Here to read The Star article.

Car sharing just got a whole lot bigger


Car sharing is becoming a much more popular way of having a car in the city. People are trading in the maintenance and costs of being an occasional driver for the convenience of having access to a car when they need it and letting someone else or some other company worry about it when they don’t.

“Carsharing is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. They are attractive to customers who make only occasional use of a vehicle, as well as others who would like occasional access to a vehicle of a different type than they use day-to-day.” From Wiki

There have been a couple companies that have offered this service till now; Zipcar, Autoshare, CommunAuto, StattAuto, and others. Up until this point Car sharing has been considered a bit of a fringe industry with most people turning up their noses at the idea of ‘sharing a car.’ That is likely to change as a number of major car companies have started eyeing car sharing as a way to find profit in times that have been less then kind to the Car companies.

The Hertz Corporation which is considered to be the worlds largest general use rental company recently announced that it has decided to get into the car sharing business as a method of increasing revenue and activity at its non airport locations in particular.  The company has termed the new division ‘Connect by Hertz ‘ and will be the first global car sharing organisation. You could join in Toronto but still have access to a car share in Atlanta.

“Hertz’s vision is to offer total mobility solutions and car sharing is a logical step for the Company. In line with Hertz’s long term growth plans, Connect by Hertz supports Hertz’s diversified business model by providing best-in-class transportation solutions across the spectrum of customer needs,” commented Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Hertz Corporation. “In addition to being environmentally friendly, Connect by Hertz cars can save members thousands of dollars a year in vehicle ownership costs and, by leveraging Hertz’s established infrastructure, we’re the first major car rental company to be able to offer members the first global car sharing program. With aggressive plans for expansion, Connect by Hertz has all the elements to become a successful and profitable part of Hertz.” S

No matter what your opinion on Hertz,  the company’s entry into an industry that has up till now  been dominated by small environmentally conscious co-ops and independent operators signals that the car sharing business is moving from a fringe service to the mainstream.

Proposals for the next generation Routemaster double decker


Foster & Partners and Aston Martin

Two blue chippers Aston Martin and Foster + Partners raked in a not-much-needed $38,000 (£25,000) and a first-prize award along with Capoco Design for re-jiggering London’s famous double decker bus, the Routemaster. Read More…

The Design By Capoco

The Design By Capoco

Cross Section of Interior Configuration

Cross Section of Interior Configuration

A new-generation eco-friendly driver-and-conductor Routemaster, which could make a return to regular service. The new bus, which would be emission-free and have a hydrogen-fuelled engine, was backed in 2007 by Boris Johnson. S

A Transport Development Analysis of the Toronto Transit Commission

The Toronto Transit Commission currently operates the largest public transit system in Canada.  For the time being it is the most comprehensive rapid transit system in the country. The Toronto system saw the majority of its growth in the late seventies through the early nineties(Transit Toronto 2008). The Subway is run by the Toronto Transit Commission and is one of Canada’s oldest rapid transit systems. The first train left the platform in 1954 when the Young Line opened along a former streetcar route that ran south down Younge Street from Eglinton Avenue to Front Street before making a turn into a station that was then called Bay Street but later renamed Union due to its proximity to the city’s main railway terminus Union Station. (more…)

Toronto does something right! The Red Rocket

There has always been something unique about the huge lumbering giants on the streets of Toronto, the slow, meandering backbone of the transportation system, the street cars. Somehow, for some reason, most other major cities in the west (and many in Asia) retired their street cars in favour of buses. Many argued that the cables made the cities ugly, or that building new rails wasn’t cost effective. Buses were the answer.

The Red Rocket

The Red Rocket

Not any more.

American cities are looking at the Europeans (again) for the answer. Many European cities have been developing LRT or tram systems for years, now the Americans are following them. Read more

A better way to wait


I came across an entry on a guerrilla art installation in London where Industrial Designer Bruno Taylor installed a Swing Set in a public bus shelter. Taylor believes that its time we reclaimed our streets and remembered our childhood. The Bus Stop Swing Set gives commuters the opportunity to get a little enjoyment out of the daily commute. Usually waiting at the bus stop is a dreary and relatively boring part of the morning commute that is hard to enjoy.

“71% of adults used to play on the streets when they were young. 21% of children do so now. Are we designing children and play out of the public realm?

This project is a study into different ways of bringing play back into public space. It focuses on ways of incorporating incidental play in the public realm by not so much as having separate play equipment that dictates the users but by using existing furniture and architectural elements that indicate playful behaviour for all.

It asks us to question the current framework for public space and whether it is sufficient while also giving permission for young people to play in public.

Play as you go…” Bruno Taylor.

bouncing-benchTaylor has recently finished a Masters in Industrial Design and his thesis exhibition is currently going on at Central Saint Martin and has a number of suggestions about how we can get some enjoyment out of our public spaces. Not only does he have the swing there is also a bouncing bench. He also asks what happened to us. When we were children the majority of us played out on our streets and in public spaces (sometimes spooky private spaces too,)  However these days most children are confined to their yards and homes. Taylor would like to bring play back into public spaces a first step is getting adults to remember how much fun it is. I would love to see a couple of these here in Montreal. Waiting for the Metro would be so much more fun if I could have a swing while waiting for it to pull into the station.

There are however likely to be some health and safty issues with installing the swing in particular next to high traffic areas, most bus stops are a little too close to the road for the arc of a good swing. However that isn’t to say that widened pedestrain sidewalks couldn’t take a few of these, and the bouncy bench, well that could go anywhere.

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The contact address attached to the video: bigbrudesign@gmail.com