The elite belief in Uberized, Muskized cities is at odds with fundamental, irrefutable facts of geometry

The appropriately named Jarrett Walker is the author of Human Transit, a seminal text on transportation and cities that draws on his decades of experience in urban planning; he has the distinction of being called "an idiot" by Elon Musk on Twitter, when he pointed out that Musk's Boring Company tunnel proposals could not possibly work due to their low capacity. Read the rest

This "book-lined" Beijing subway car is an audiobook library

Beijing's subway system now includes some experimental cars decorated to look like fanciful, book-lined rooms; scan the QR codes and you get free audiobook downloads for popular Chinese novels. Read the rest

The London Underground thinks it can sell travelers' attention and wifi data for £322m

Since late 2016, the Transport for London has been running a pilot scheme, providing wifi to passengers while logging and retaining all the wifi traffic coming in and out of its access points, compiling a massive dossier on every tube-rider who had wifi turned on for their devices, whether or not they ever accessed the wifi service. Read the rest

British Columbia government forces Vancouver dad to end his kids' free-range city bus rides to school

For the past two years, Adrian Crook's four eldest kids (aged 7-11) have ridden Vancouver's public transit to school together, traveling as a group from the bus stop in front of his condo to the bus stop in front of their school. Read the rest

Oakland elementary school students resist Caltrans' insistence on taking copyright to their mural

Rogue archivist Rick Prelinger writes, "Oakland students planned to paint a mural on a dark freeway underpass in their city. The project is stalled because Caltrans asserts copyright to murals on its property. The details are a bit sketchy, but there's a petition here. Read the rest

Ransomware creep accidentally hijacks San Francisco Muni, won't give it back

A ransomware criminal's self-reproducing malicious software spread through a critical network used by the San Francisco light rail system, AKA the Muni, and shut it down; the anonymous criminal -- cryptom27@yandex.com -- says they won't give it back until they get paid. Read the rest

Patent fighters attack the crown jewels of three of America's worst patent trolls

Unified Patents raises money from companies that are the target of patent-trolling and then uses it to challenge the most widely used patents in each of its members' sectors: now it's going for the gold. Read the rest

Hidden "anti-crime" mics are proliferating on US public transit, recording riders' conversations

New Jersey public transit was forced to remove the bugs it had installed on its light rail system after a public outcry, but Baltimore's buses and subways remain resolutely under audio surveillance, while in Oakland, the cops hid mics around bus-shelters near the courthouses to capture audio of defendants and their lawyers discussing their cases. Read the rest

New Yorkers *just* missing the subway

Three minutes of heartbreak from Gothamist: train a deep-learning facial recognition system on the expression of these New Yorkers as the subway doors slam in their faces and you will plumb the very depths of the human soul. (via Metafilter) Read the rest

Straddling buses would only work if they were made out of rubber

Chinese engineer Song Youzhou has been trying to get traction for his straddling bus, a huge elevated bus that goes over, rather than through, traffic, since 2010. Read the rest

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

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

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

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.

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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.

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