STUCK: Public transit's moment arrives just as public spending disappears

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More Americans are riding public transit than ever before, and not a moment too soon, because between oil's direct and indirect costs, climate change, the expense of roadworks, and the scaling problems of private cars, the increasingly urbanized nation needs something to keep its cities from imploding under the logistical challenge of getting everyone everywhere. Read the rest

Atheist ad on a bus in Madison, Wisconsin

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The Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics (AHA!) group at the University of Wisconsin at Madison has bought these rather good ads on the local city buses, inviting people for whom "religion has stopped making sense" to come by for a chat. (via Skepchick) Read the rest

Commie bus stops were awesome

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Wired has a nice article up today about bus stops built in the Soviet Union, as photographed by Chris Herwig. Some of them look beautiful, some of them look like dead robots, and some look positively dangerous to be under.

Photographer Christopher Herwig first discovered the unusual architecture of Soviet-era bus stops during a 2002 long-distance bike ride from London to St. Petersburg. Challenging himself to take one good photograph every hour, Herwig began to notice surprisingly designed bus stops on otherwise deserted stretches of road. Twelve years later, Herwig had covered more than 18,000 miles in 14 countries of the former Soviet Union, traveling by car, bike, bus and taxi to hunt down and document these bus stops.

The local bus stop proved to be fertile ground for local artistic experimentation in the Soviet period, and was built seemingly without design restrictions or budgetary concerns. The result is an astonishing variety of styles and types across the region, from the strictest Brutalism to exuberant whimsy.

The book, Soviet Bus Stops, is available from Amazon and elsewhere.

Read the rest

Mini Metro: fun game simulates planning and running public transit system

Mini Metro is a video-game from New Zealand's Dinosaur Polo Club in which you create public transit systems in order to improve the lives of virtual citizens of an imaginary town. It does a really clever job of simulating the efficacy of your trains and the way that influences commuter behaviors. The game is in early alpha and is a free download for GNU/Linux, Mac OS and Windows. Read the rest

Performance artist frosts and shares cake on NYC subway

Performance artist Bettina Banayan has conducted a number of interventions on the NYC subway, but this one, in which she frosts, decorates, and shares a cake with her fellow commuters, is my favorite. Unlike the other performances, which largely revolve around making people uncomfortable (or at least discomfited), the punchline of "Subway Cake Performance 02/11/14" is a subway car full of happy people whose life in the city has been made sweeter and friendlier.

Performance - Bettina Banayan (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Spooky Hungarian tram-terminus

This spooky photo appears to depict the 1970s-era Tram 58 terminus in Zugliget, Budapest, Hungary. The original source isn't clear to me (if you know it, please note it in the comments so I can re-attribute the image, which appears all over the net without attribution). There's a plan underway to renovate the tumbledown terminus and turn it into a shopping mall.

Budapest Trolley Station (via Disquieting Metamorphasis) Read the rest

City buses across America now covertly recording passengers' conversations

City buses across America increasingly have hidden microphones that track and record the conversations that take place on them. It's easy to see the reasoning behind this: once it's acceptable to video-record everything and everyone on a bus because some crime, somewhere was thus thwarted, then why not add audio? If all you need to justify an intrusion into privacy is to show that some bad thing, somewhere, can be so prevented, then why not? After all, "If you've got nothing to hide..."

According to the product pamphlet for the RoadRecorder 7000 system made by SafetyVision (.pdf), “Remote connectivity to the RoadRecorder 7000 NVR can be established via the Gigabit Ethernet port or the built-in 3G modem. A robust software ecosystem including LiveTrax vehicle tracking and video streaming service combined with SafetyNet central management system allows authorized users to check health status, create custom alerts, track vehicles, automate event downloads and much more.”

The systems use cables or WiFi to pair audio conversations with camera images in order to produce synchronous recordings. Audio and video can be monitored in real-time, but are also stored onboard in blackbox-like devices, generally for 30 days, for later retrieval. Four to six cameras with mics are generally installed throughout a bus, including one near the driver and one on the exterior of the bus.

Cities that have installed the systems or have taken steps to procure them include San Francisco, California; Eugene, Oregon; Traverse City, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore Maryland; Hartford, Connecticut; and Athens, Georgia.

Read the rest

Prank signs for the London Underground

An anonymous -- but inspired -- prankster has affixed some helpful addenda to the usual London Underground official signage on various tube-trains, as are documented in this Imgur photoset.

London Underground prank stickers Read the rest

Yarn bomb transit protest in Edinburgh

An unknown yarn-bomber has taken to the streets of Edinburgh with a political message, opposing the tramway expansion underway there. Yarnivore Rose says, "Actual political speech in yarnbomb form, rather than 'mere' decoration! BRING IT!"

More from The Scotsman:

Grant McKeenan, who owns the Copymade Shop on West Maitland Street and who has started his own anti-tram poster campaign, said he thought the protest was “excellent”, adding: “Anything speaking out against the trams is good in my book, and clearly someone’s gone to a lot of 
trouble.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader confirmed that the council had removed the colourful protest.

“When unofficial banners are put up it’s normally the process that they are removed, in case they come loose and flap into the face of a pedestrian or into the path of a cyclist.

“It did look like nice crochet work though, someone had clearly spent a lot of time on it.”

The city council added that the blanket was still in their possession if the owner wished to claim it, no questions asked.

Mystery knitter vents Edinburgh trams fury in ‘yarn-bombing’ blanket protest

(Thanks, Rose!)

(Image: a downsized, cropped thumbnail of "The embroidered tram work protest which was attached to the fence on Princes Street," a photo by Mary Gordon) Read the rest

Radio circuit board laid out like the London tube map

Yuri Suzuki's "London Underground Circuit Maps" is being shown at the London Design Museum until next January. It was developed through the museum's Artist-in-Residence programme.

responding to 'thrift' as a theme, suzuki's work explores communication systems in consumer electronics. a printed circuit board (PCB) is used as a precedent for developing a electrical circuit influenced by harry beck's iconic london underground map diagrams. by strategically positioning certain speaker, resistor and battery components throughout the map, users can visually understand the complex networks associated with electricity and how power is generated within a radio.

Cue humourless, robotic legal threat from Transport for London in 5, 4, 3...

yuri suzuki: london underground circuit map radio (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

History of subway accidents in NYC

Kyle Chayka offers a history of deaths and injuries in the NYC subway system, from Victorian tunnel collapses to gang warfare and commuter-pushing psychopaths. [Animal] Read the rest

Implanting a London Oyster card transponder in a ring

Dhani Sutanto removed the transponder from a Transport for London Oyster card (a RFID-based stored value card used to pay for rides on public transit) and implanted it in a ring, making a lovely bit of snitchy jewelry that gets him on the bus.

Oyster Ring (Thanks, Phoebe!) Read the rest

Exciting boring video

This video from Herrenknecht AG shows the operation of the enormous tunnel boring machine that will conduct the deep tunnelling for San Francisco's new subway lines. The machine obviates the necessity of tearing up city streets for subway construction, and somehow manages to be gentle enough to avoid shaking the buildings above it. There's a much older version of this monster on display at the fabulous London Transport Museum in Covent Garden that is truly awesome to behold.

A TBM consists of a rotating cutterhead within a cylindrical steel shell that is pushed forward along the axis of the tunnel while excavating the ground through the cutterhead. The steel shield supports the excavated ground as required until the final tunnel lining is built in the rear of the shield. The shield is propelled using hydraulic jacks that thrust against the erected tunnel lining system. The TBM is used in conjunction with a prefabricated ground support system, which consists of pre-cast concrete segments that are bolted and gasketed to form a watertight lining.

Pressure-face TBMs that are capable of exerting a balancing pressure against the tunnel face are used to control excavation rates and groundwater inflow, as well as to maintain stability of the tunnel face.

After completion of TBM excavation and installation of the lining, the temporary rail and conveyor system are removed, the invert is cleaned, and a flat invert for the permanent rail fixation and a raised walkway are constructed as reinforced, cast-in-place concrete. The invert contains embedded pipes and inlets for track drainage.

Read the rest

FCC seeks comment on who should be allowed to shut down cellular service and when

Concerned by the San Francisco BART system's decision to suspend cellular service to frustrate coordination among protesters angered by the fatal transit police shooting of an unarmed passenger, the FCC is holding a public inquiry seeking comment on who should be allowed to order cellular service shutoffs, and when. Here's the notice, with instructions for replying. Ars Technica's Megan Geuss writes:

But the FCC's public notice also states that law enforcement personnel have raised concerns that, "wireless service could be used to trigger the detonation of an explosive device or to organize the activities of a violent flash mob," suggesting local government authorities like BART should be allowed to retain some autonomy over service in its stations.

The FCC's decision will most likely set a clear precedent for other local government agencies. So far, two electronic public comments have been posted (the FCC lets you post comments online or send them in by mail), both in favor of more severe restrictions on who can turn off cell phone service and when. "The only time it should be legal to shut down a wireless network is when it is necessary to do so to repair a defect, or when it is necessary to prevent an attack that is compromising the ability of the network to function." said one commenter, "the government and government agencies are not wise enough to judge any other scenario in which one might think about shutting down a network."

Who can shut down cell phone service? FCC seeks public comment Read the rest

Sack Boris campaign's Oyster card sleeves help Londoners express their support for public transit with each ride

The Sack Boris campaign, which seeks the ouster of London Mayor Boris Johnson, has a nice line of brightly coloured Oyster-card sleeves that can be yours for a mere £3 donation. The mayor has increased bus-fares by 44% since he took office in 2008, and he is up for re-election in 2012.

Sack Boris Read the rest

Wedway PeopleMover: Disney's retrofuturistic transit system

The Disney Parks blog is featuring some fine opening-year 1975 photos of the Wedway PeopleMover, a "mass transit system"-cum-ride in Tomorrowland that is affectionately called the "PeopleCrusher" after its propensity for squishing ill-advised riders who try to hop into oncoming cars. I've always loved the PeopleCrusher, and these photos do a great job of capturing its curvy, groovy, 1970s futuristic glory.

Vintage Walt Disney World: Head Back to 1975 Aboard the PeopleMover Read the rest

NYC subway rider with rat and spaghetti

This video highlights the colorful experiences to be had as a NYC subway commuter: in this case, it's an eccentric gentleman who rambles incoherently while eating spaghetti and petting a tame rat on his lap.

Rat on New York City Subway. 2 (via Digg)  Viral NYC subway flasher caught - Dickflash.com mourns? - Boing Boing Super Awesome NYC Subway Hero Wesley Autrey Boing Boing Demographics of NYC's subway in the morning, hour-by-hour - Boing ... Citizen's guide to refusing NYC subway-searches - Boing Boing New NYC subway map comes out next month - Boing Boing Photos from NYC subways in the 1980s - Boing Boing Boing Boing: NYC ban on subway photos Read the rest

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