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THE THINKBELT: THE UNIVERSITY THAT NEVER WAS | Discover Society
"In this commentary, I revisit an article from New Society which evokes a moment in the development of British higher education in the post-war period but also, I argue, could still illuminate thinking on debates about the roles and responsibilities of universities within their wider social settings. The Potteries Thinkbelt piece, published in 1966, proposes an unbuilt project that today serves as a parable of what higher education did not become, of a path not taken. To contemporary eyes, aspects of the Thinkbelt proposal may seem fantastical; yet, if we can enable what Coleridge named ‘that willing suspension of disbelief’, it could offer us lessons about the relationship between universities and the cities or regions that host them.

The author of the Thinkbelt was Cedric Price, an architect with relatively few realized projects but who, through his teaching roles, writings and published drawings, has nonetheless exerted a deep influence on how leading members of a generation of architects think about architecture, and how their buildings sit within their wider social settings. In the Thinkbelt, Price outlined an ambitious project for a centre of higher education amongst the coal fields of Staffordshire. These pits originally served ceramics factories throughout the region but, by the early 1960s, had fallen into disuse – de-industrialisation came early to the Potteries. The landscape Price wished to regenerate spanned approximately 100 square miles, was triangular in shape, and stretched from Pitts Hill in the North, Madeley at its Western point and Meir to the East, with Stoke and Newcastle-Under-Lyme located at its heart.

The Thinkbelt would connect to outside rail, road and air networks via transfer areas at the points of the triangle. Industrial units at these points offered campus sites that could be reconfigured according to differing uses – so, in addition to public learning spaces, these units would also offer accommodation for visiting students and staff. The transfer sites would be connected together by continuously running railbuses using the disused railway network that previously had connected the pits with the potteries; Price was interested in enhancing the efficacy of the already there. Furthermore, the railbuses themselves could be reconfigured as learning spaces so that teaching might be carried out en route, with fold-out deck units offering more space for larger lectures and talks.

Price envisaged the Thinkbelt as offering education for 20,000 students, following mostly applied curricula in engineering and science subjects. Indeed, the Thinkbelt was an industrial undertaking in large part; its remit included working with regional industries as research and design centres, as well as offering re-training in new industries for local residents whose work in the pits and potteries had disappeared. The Thinkbelt was designed for 20,000 students, but with provision for 40,000 residential units that were flexible in form and adaptable to possible relocation and aggregation; Price wished to see student housing combined with local council tenancies. The four different forms of residential units were crudely named as sprawl, capsule, crate and battery housing, using terminology specifically intended to irritate professional designers.

The Thinkbelt rejected previous and contemporaneous ideas about appropriate university architecture, with Price’s aesthetic citing industrial forms such as the container, rather than what he perceived to be the pretensions of twentieth century university buildings. Typically, he viewed contemporaneous campus designs as aspiring to the medieval form of the castle (ivory towers included), making defensive spaces removed from the rest of their towns. Price made a virtue of his avoidance of the design principles that characterised the university movement in both pre-war and post-war periods. ‘While students’, he wrote in 1970, ‘are at present one of the most mobile social groups of technologically advanced societies the nature of their own particular production plants – schools, colleges and universities, is static, intro-spective, parochial, inflexible and not very useful’ (1).

If Price cared little for university architecture, he cared even less for the principles of university education, taking care to avoid the use of the word in his scheme. Certainly his scheme for such a large cohort of students by contemporaneous standards worked against the exclusivity typical of the sector at that time; his preference for science and engineering spoke to the idea that education should be seen as serving wider societal uses, rather than purely for the fulfilment of individuals from elite social groupings. The Thinkbelt sought to correct an imbalance in the esteem paid to ‘applied’ rather than ‘pure’ knowledge, through an architecture which was functional, flexible and impermanent rather than ornamental, fixed in purpose and inert.

The Thinkbelt was to be a site of learning premised on patterns of mobility, at individual, collective and even infrastructural scales. This mobility, embedded within the physical buildings themselves, spoke to a wider understanding of the word in debates about meritocracy and the opening out of higher education to a part of the population hitherto under-represented. Price’s project was far-sighted in its emphasis on flexibility within the curriculum, planning for access through life-long and part-time learning and hence alive to the needs of student groups that, as Paul Stanistreet has suggested, are often overlooked in contemporary debates. Certainly the Thinkbelt anticipates debates about whom and what higher education is for, pre-dating current arguments about the value of a university degree in terms of the ‘employability’ agenda for the individual learner and the value of an educated workforce for national industries. Price’s analysis of the social value of higher education more generally is incisive; towards the conclusion of the New Society piece he makes the case for student loans to become salaries, arguing that where ‘people are doing a job society wants them to do, they must be paid for it’.

Moreover, the Thinkbelt prompts consideration of the disjuncture that can arise between the places where we work and where we live. The combination of student residences with local council tenancies sought to integrate the student experience with that of the wider population, disrupting preconceived ideas about the housing of students on campus accommodation away from residents of the towns and cities that give universities their names. Indeed, the Thinkbelt was written in the shadow of early tensions, noted in the article itself, between managers and students at Keele, and the University’s apparent disregard for the surrounding region. In this magazine, Mary Stuart has questioned how alive universities are to their civic missions – the Thinkbelt, for all its hypothetical aspects, gives us a benchmark for thinking through such issues. Are our universities supplementary to the cities and regions that give them their names and that sustain them economically? How do academics and students engage with each other? And how do we interact with our neighbouring populations?

The Thinkbelt is an experiment in conceiving of a different type of learning environment; think about the dynamics of a lecture in a moving rail carriage, and how it might bring staff and students into contact in a way that we can all too easily avoid in the stratified spaces we build into our campus lives. The Thinkbelt is premised on a different social and political settlement for higher education to that which we labour under today; in its own time, it did not attract the attention of policy makers, falling as it did by the margins of planning for the University of the Air – later to become the Open University. Yet its focus on place remains of interest. In returning to the Thinkbelt here, my argument is not that Price’s proposal offers us answers to our debates about the public role of universities today – there are too many questions around the complexities of academic freedom, architectural design and political context to claim that. Nonetheless, as Samantha Hardingham reflects, ‘if there is a use for presenting this material again, here and now, it may be to ask whether we are looking at something we already know, or looking for something we still cannot see yet’ (2).

Whether Price’s proposal can offer clues about a future we cannot yet see is interesting for a number of reasons, not least in raising the question of why we find it difficult to imagine our futures in quite the same ways, with quite the same optimism as he did. At the beginning of this commentary, I suggested that adopting a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ might be useful in approaching the Thinkbelt; for Coleridge, the suspension of disbelief is necessary to enable what he understood as ‘poetic faith’. Poetry and faith – it strikes me that these are qualities too often missing from thinking about higher education, and its planning; by these I mean a belief in the potential of universities to actively shape socially just economies and societies (rather than accelerating the reproduction of inequalities, as Stephen McKay and Karen Rowlingson argue), and the lyrical licence to imagine how they might do this."
darylmartin  2014  thinkbelt  cedricprice  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  architecture  education  rail  transportation  unschooling  deschooling  cities  urban  urbanism  disbelief  transcontextualism 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Why The US Has No High-Speed Rail - YouTube
"China has the world’s fastest and largest high-speed rail network — more than 19,000 miles, the vast majority of which was built in the past decade.

Japan’s bullet trains can reach nearly 200 miles per hour and date to the 1960s. They have moved more than 9 billion people without a single passenger causality. casualty

France began service of the high-speed TGV train in 1981 and the rest of Europe quickly followed.

But the U.S. has no true high-speed trains, aside from sections of Amtrak’s Acela line in the Northeast Corridor. The Acela can reach 150 mph for only 34 miles of its 457-mile span. Its average speed between New York and Boston is about 65 mph.

California’s high-speed rail system is under construction, but whether it will ever get completed as intended is uncertain.

Watch the video to see why the U.S. continues to fail with high-speed trains, and some companies that are trying to fix that."
rails  trains  us  history  transportation  highspeedrail  2019  cars  lobbying  aviation  politics  policy  airlines  ideology  infrastructure  highspeed  rail 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Is Gavin Newsom Right to Slow Down California’s High-Speed Train? | The New Yorker
"There is currently a direct train between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, called the Coast Starlight—the ride takes about twelve hours and costs around a hundred dollars. It is also possible to fly between the two cities, hourly throughout the day; the trip is around fifty minutes in the air, and a ticket can be less than a hundred dollars. In reasonable traffic, a car can expect to make the journey, which is roughly the distance from New York City to Brunswick, Maine, in six hours. There are direct buses, too. An S.F.-to-L.A. trip on the high-speed rail would fit amid these options. It is also supposed to cost around a hundred dollars one way and to take two hours and forty minutes, a comfortable length for people wanting to go from downtown to downtown on a schedule, without detouring through the airport—in other words, for business people travelling between the state’s two growing centers of money and power. The High-Speed Rail Authority has produced varying ridership estimates; the highest, a hundred million a year, matches the usage of the Bay Area’s most sprawling regional rail system, bart, which is busy with people making daily metropolitan commutes to work or to school. It’s easy to imagine a San Franciscan family of four with two small kids preferring, over other possibilities, a three-hour train ride on Friday to visit Grandma in L.A. (Cost: something like seven hundred bucks round-trip, assuming there’s a reduced child fare.) But it’s hard to imagine middle-class families making a commuter habit of such trips, especially given the not horribly longer journey possible for just the cost of a full gas tank. In practice, the S.F.-to-L.A. route would operate chiefly as a business train, for inter-city meeting-makers, executives bouncing between offices, multiple-home owners, and unmoored media types. (Disclosure: I would personally love this train.) It’s an alternative connection for already well-connected people.

Smart advocates of the plan, of which there are many, point to the success of high-speed rail elsewhere: in China, in Europe. It’s worth noting, however, where such admirable trains actually go: on suburban and exurban routes, mostly, not metropolitan ones, the trains doing what air travel cannot. By trimming the high-speed rail of its upscale ends (for now), Newsom focussed the rail plan on the communities most underserved by current transit infrastructure—a narrower-use case, but probably one that is more generous to the inland region. Largely agricultural and truly middle-class, the cities between Merced and Bakersfield make up a part of California that risks losing, rather than gaining, steam, especially as some conditions that support the agricultural economy fall away. A major infrastructure project would bring a fresh wave of middle-class workers to these affordable cities. Being the custodians of the state’s most advanced transit, too, would keep those cities on the map and weave an often-atomized agricultural community together. A high-speed train connected to the prospering coast, in contrast, would bind Valley workers to a thriving ecosystem of jobs and bring coastal industry inland—to what end? In a 2000 survey of the topic, Ted Bradshaw, a now-deceased professor at the University of California, Davis, who studied these inland communities, projected social bifurcation. “Underskilled workers fail to find a place in the new economy and are increasingly bypassed, while workers from the high-technology urban centers are encouraged to relocate to the Valley,” he wrote. “While the potential for development is real and the possible benefits are great, these industries face stiff competition from the coastal regions in California.”

To the extent that California has challenges around inequality (and it does), they have tended to come from élite workers compounding their advantage, attracting similarly élite labor from elsewhere, and building a local economy that crowds out anyone who is not affluent or who has obstacles to opportunity access. Few people would really want Bakersfield or Fresno to be the new frontiers of cost refugees—metropolitan workers who can’t afford the cities or just want more bang for their buck. Even fewer would want these inland destinations themselves to become a true extension of the coast—ever more a zone of wealth and the enduring worm-jar competition of an élite class. Purely upscale cities, we are starting to realize, are tedious and sad.

A high-speed rail tying the Valley to the coast will create a new channel for these business-class powers, and it won’t be cheap. According to an analysis by the World Bank, the per-mile cost of building such a system in California is twice the comparable expense in Europe and three times the cost in China: we are paying top dollar for the privilege of emulation. Neither will it come soon. The rail connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles is expected be finished in 2033. By that point, autonomous vehicles, green in both power source and roadway efficiency, are expected to be in commercial use—not everywhere, one assumes, but almost certainly on the stretch of highway separating the headquarters of Uber, in San Francisco, and Space X, in L.A. Because autonomous cars are more predictable and more controlled—in short, more train-like—there will be another costly push to streamline existing roadways to their habits. (They can use narrower lanes, for instance.) They also have the virtue, especially in spread-out California, of carrying passengers door to door. The United States is overdue for high-speed rail: it represents the standard we are trailing. But in zooming toward the future it’s important to remember whom we’re taking with us and who is being left behind."
highspeedrail  trains  gavinnewsom  nathanheller  2019  transportation  california  bakersfield  merced  centralvalley  losangeles  sanfrancisco  inequality  cities  urban  urbanism  highspeed  rail 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure - Washington Post
"The maps you are about to see show the massive scope of America’s infrastructure using data from OpenStreetMap and various government sources. They provide a glimpse into where that half-trillion dollars may be invested."
maps  mapping  infrastructure  us  visualization  2016  electricgrid  electricity  energy  coal  naturalgas  hydropower  wind  windenergy  bridges  pipelines  rail  railroads  airports  ports  waterways  osm  openstreetmap 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
"What accounts for these anomalous and unpredicted trends? The first explanation many people cite is the decline of the Rust Belt, and certainly that played a role."



"Another conventional explanation is that the decline of Heartland cities reflects the growing importance of high-end services and rarified consumption."



"Another explanation for the increase in regional inequality is that it reflects the growing demand for “innovation.” A prominent example of this line of thinking comes from the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, whose 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs, explains the increase in regional inequality as the result of two new supposed mega-trends: markets offering far higher rewards to “innovation,” and innovative people increasingly needing and preferring each other’s company."



"What, then, is the missing piece? A major factor that has not received sufficient attention is the role of public policy. Throughout most of the country’s history, American government at all levels has pursued policies designed to preserve local control of businesses and to check the tendency of a few dominant cities to monopolize power over the rest of the country. These efforts moved to the federal level beginning in the late 19th century and reached a climax of enforcement in the 1960s and ’70s. Yet starting shortly thereafter, each of these policy levers were flipped, one after the other, in the opposite direction, usually in the guise of “deregulation.” Understanding this history, largely forgotten today, is essential to turning the problem of inequality around.

Starting with the country’s founding, government policy worked to ensure that specific towns, cities, and regions would not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage. The very structure of the U.S. Senate reflects a compromise among the Founders meant to balance the power of densely and sparsely populated states. Similarly, the Founders, understanding that private enterprise would not by itself provide broadly distributed postal service (because of the high cost of delivering mail to smaller towns and far-flung cities), wrote into the Constitution that a government monopoly would take on the challenge of providing the necessary cross-subsidization.

Throughout most of the 19th century and much of the 20th, generations of Americans similarly struggled with how to keep railroads from engaging in price discrimination against specific areas or otherwise favoring one town or region over another. Many states set up their own bureaucracies to regulate railroad fares—“to the end,” as the head of the Texas Railroad Commission put it, “that our producers, manufacturers, and merchants may be placed on an equal footing with their rivals in other states.” In 1887, the federal government took over the task of regulating railroad rates with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railroads came to be regulated much as telegraph, telephone, and power companies would be—as natural monopolies that were allowed to remain in private hands and earn a profit, but only if they did not engage in pricing or service patterns that would add significantly to the competitive advantage of some regions over others.

Passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 was another watershed moment in the use of public policy to limit regional inequality. The antitrust movement that sprung up during the Populist and Progressive era was very much about checking regional concentrations of wealth and power. Across the Midwest, hard-pressed farmers formed the “Granger” movement and demanded protection from eastern monopolists controlling railroads, wholesale-grain distribution, and the country’s manufacturing base. The South in this era was also, in the words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, in a “revolt against the East” and its attempts to impose a “colonial economy.”"



"By the 1960s, antitrust enforcement grew to proportions never seen before, while at the same time the broad middle class grew and prospered, overall levels of inequality fell dramatically, and midsize metro areas across the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast achieved a standard of living that converged with that of America’s historically richest cites in the East. Of course, antitrust was not the only cause of the increase in regional equality, but it played a much larger role than most people realize today.

To get a flavor of how thoroughly the federal government managed competition throughout the economy in the 1960s, consider the case of Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, in which the Supreme Court blocked a merger that would have given a single distributor a mere 2 percent share of the national shoe market.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that the Court was following a clear and long-established desire by Congress to keep many forms of business small and local: “We cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business. Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization. We must give effect to that decision.”

In 1964, the historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter would observe that an “antitrust movement” no longer existed, but only because regulators were managing competition with such effectiveness that monopoly no longer appeared to be a realistic threat. “Today, anybody who knows anything about the conduct of American business,” Hofstadter observed, “knows that the managers of the large corporations do their business with one eye constantly cast over their shoulders at the antitrust division.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court blocked a merger of two supermarket chains in Los Angeles that, had they been allowed to combine, would have controlled just 7.5 percent of the local market. (Today, by contrast there are nearly 40 metro areas in the U.S where Walmart controls half or more of all grocery sales.) Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the long opposition of Congress and the Court to business combinations that restrained competition “by driving out of business the small dealers and worthy men.”

During this era, other policy levers, large and small, were also pulled in the same direction—such as bank regulation, for example. Since the Great Recession, America has relearned the history of how New Deal legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act served to contain the risks of financial contagion. Less well remembered is how New Deal-era and subsequent banking regulation long served to contain the growth of banks that were “too big to fail” by pushing power in the banking system out to the hinterland. Into the early 1990s, federal laws severely limited banks headquartered in one state from setting up branches in any other state. State and federal law fostered a dense web of small-scale community banks and locally operated thrifts and credit unions.

Meanwhile, bank mergers, along with mergers of all kinds, faced tough regulatory barriers that included close scrutiny of their effects on the social fabric and political economy of local communities. Lawmakers realized that levels of civic engagement and community trust tended to decline in towns that came under the control of outside ownership, and they resolved not to let that happen in their time.

In other realms, too, federal policy during the New Deal and for several decades afterward pushed strongly to spread regional equality. For example, New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration dramatically improved the infrastructure of the South and West. During and after World War II, federal spending on the military and the space program also tilted heavily in the Sunbelt’s favor.

The government’s role in regulating prices and levels of service in transportation was also a huge factor in promoting regional equality. In 1952, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a 10-percent reduction in railroad freight rates for southern shippers, a political decision that played a substantial role in enabling the South’s economic ascent after the war. The ICC and state governments also ordered railroads to run money-losing long-distance and commuter passenger trains to ensure that far-flung towns and villages remained connected to the national economy.

Into the 1970s, the ICC also closely regulated trucking routes and prices so they did not tilt in favor of any one region. Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board made sure that passengers flying to and from small and midsize cities paid roughly the same price per mile as those flying to and from the largest cities. It also required airlines to offer service to less populous areas even when such routes were unprofitable.

Meanwhile, massive public investments in the interstate-highway system and other arterial roads added enormously to regional equality. First, it vastly increased the connectivity of rural areas to major population centers. Second, it facilitated the growth of reasonably priced suburban housing around high-wage metro areas such as New York and Los Angeles, thus making it much more possible than it is now for working-class people to move to or remain in those areas.

Beginning in the late 1970s, however, nearly all the policy levers that had been used to push for greater regional income equality suddenly reversed direction. The first major changes came during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Fearful of inflation, and under the spell of policy entrepreneurs such as Alfred Kahn, Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. This abolished the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had worked to offer rough regional parity in airfares and levels of service since 1938… [more]
us  cities  policy  economics  history  inequality  via:robinsonmeyer  2016  philliplongman  regulation  deregulation  capitalism  trusts  antitrustlaw  mergers  competition  markets  banks  finance  ronaldreagan  corporatization  intellectualproperty  patents  law  legal  equality  politics  government  rentseeking  innovation  acquisitions  antitrustenforcement  income  detroit  nyc  siliconvalley  technology  banking  peterganong  danielshoag  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  greatdepression  horacegreely  chicago  denver  cleveland  seattle  atlanta  houston  saltlakecity  stlouis  enricomoretti  shermanantitrustact  1890  cvannwoodward  woodrowwilson  1912  claytonantitrustact  louisbrandeis  federalreserve  minneapolis  kansascity  robinson-patmanact  1920s  1930s  miller-tydingsact  fdr  celler-kefauveract  emanuelceller  huberhumphrey  earlwarren  richardhofstadter  harryblackmun  newdeal  interstatecommercecommission  jimmycarter  alfredkahn  airlinederegulationact  1978  memphis  cincinnati  losangeles  airlines  transportation  rail  railroads  1980  texas  florida  1976  amazon  walmart  r 
march 2016 by robertogreco
How Washington Derailed Amtrak - NationalJournal.com
"WHO'S TO BLAME for this sad state of affairs? It depends whom you ask. To conservatives, America has a second-rate train system because the government is running it. Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida, a longtime Amtrak skeptic, told me it was both a "Soviet-style" and "third-world" passenger service. If by "Soviet-style," he meant that labor costs are out of whack, it's true that a 2009 report by the Amtrak Office of Inspector General found the company's infrastructure workers to be 2.3 times more expensive annually than their European counterparts. And if by "third-world," he meant that Amtrak is often bumbling and incompetent, it's true that Acela's cars were originally built four inches too wide, preventing them from handling curves with any deftness. (The problem was eventually solved.)

To liberals, however, the problem is that the government hasn't invested nearly enough. After all, countries that boast more advanced systems support their trains with public subsidies that Amtrak could only dream of. (Britain's private rail network, for instance, received roughly $8 billion from the government last year.)

In November 2011, Robert Dove, a managing director at the Carlyle Group, the D.C.-based asset-management firm, delivered a presentation to the annual meeting of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association (USHSR), a lobbying-cum-cheerleading group formed shortly after Obama's election. Dove began his slide show with the usual embarrassing stats about America's high-speed-rail ineptitude (290 million annual high-speed-rail passengers in Japan; 3 million in America). He went on to estimate that for the Northeast Corridor alone to facilitate legitimate bullet-train travel, up to $117 billion in improvements were necessary. (Amtrak itself, in a 2012 plan that will probably never come to fruition—New York to Boston in 94 minutes!—put the number at $151 billion.) "You will not find the private sector willing to come in at the construction stage or the development stage," he warned. For that, the government would have to pick up the tab. Only at that point would you "find people like me very, very willing to come in and buy it." In other words, to get to the conservative dream of a privatized Amtrak, you would first have to pursue the liberal path of spending a massive amount of public money.

Dove's plan might be more realistic if we conceived of Amtrak as a piece of infrastructure—like a bridge or a tunnel—rather than as a for-profit corporation that can't quite turn a profit. "This is a public service," argues Andy Kunz, president of USHSR. "Our highways don't make a profit. Our airports don't make a profit. It's all paid for by the government." (Together, the Highway Trust Fund and the Federal Aviation Administration receive about 45 times what Amtrak does, through subsidies and gas taxes.)

That line of thinking isn't persuasive to everyone, evidently. In 2008, the last time a major Amtrak reauthorization was passed, Congress introduced a game-changing new rail policy: The law stipulated that, on all routes except for long-distance and Northeast Corridor trains, the states had to pay for trains' operating costs, while the feds would still handle the bulk of any needed investments. In theory, this was a good idea. Not only did it get more potential funders and political partners involved, but it was probably more fair. "Otherwise," as Railway Age contributing editor and Amtrak maven Frank Wilner puts it, "the federal government is robbing St. Petersburg to pay St. Paul, extracting a handling fee as the money flows through Washington.""
trains  us  amtrak  2015  transportation  transit  rail  highspeedrail  highspeed 
april 2015 by robertogreco
LA’s getting a huge new rail line and here’s how much it’s going to cost you to rent a 1-bedroom near the new train stops | RadPad Blog: In the News and Making Moves
"A few days ago, USA Today announced that last year Americans rode the subway a staggering 10.8 billion times, yes that’s billion with a B.

While it’s fair to say that most of those rides did not happen in Los Angeles, the city known to have the absolute worst traffic in the world, that might not be the case in the coming years.

LA Metro is on a mission to change how Angelenos get around the city, and we’re not talking Uber. Within the next year, there will be upwards of 30 new light rail stations (those are stops that’ll allow you to board a train) to get you around Los Angeles. In what would typically take 90-minutes by car during rush hour, from downtown LA to Santa Monica, the new blue line will take just 25-minutes. That’s insane!

Since most of LA, like the majority of our team, probably has no idea where the new stations are going up, we decided to map out the new rail-lines and overlay current (March 2015) rent prices of 1-bedroom apartments."
losangeles  maps  mapping  publictransit  publictransportation  housing  2015  transportation  masstransit  rail 
april 2015 by robertogreco
SEFT-1 Abandoned Railways Exploration Probe: Modern Ruins 1:220 | www.furtherfield.org
"Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene (Los Ferronautas) built their striking silver road-rail SEFT-1 vehicle to explore the abandoned passenger railways of Mexico and Ecuador, capturing their journeys in videos, photographs and collected objects. In their first London exhibition, SEFT-1 Abandoned Railways Exploration Probe - Modern Ruins 1:220, commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and presented in partnership with Furtherfield in their gallery space in the heart of Finsbury Park, the artists explore how the ideology of progress is imprinted onto historic landscapes and reflect on the two poles of the social experience of technology - use and obsolescence."

[See also:
http://www.seft1.net/
http://www.artscatalyst.org/projects/detail/ferronautas/
http://hyperallergic.com/133636/a-homemade-artist-train-runs-on-the-abandoned-rails-of-mexico/
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27929846
http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/06/modern-ruins-an-artist-homemade-vehicle-traverses-the-abandoned-railways-of-mexico/
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/jun/11/ruins-hunters-mexico-car-railway-derelict
https://vimeo.com/74649097
https://vimeo.com/99226389 ]
mexico  ivanpuig  andréspadilladomene  rail  railways  migration  art  seft-1  obsolescence  landscape  losferronautas  exploration  ecuador  2014  technology  progress  travel 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Google cars versus public transit: the US’s problem with public goods | ... My heart’s in Accra
"There’s something very odd about a world in which it’s easier to imagine a futuristic technology that doesn’t exist outside of lab tests than to envision expansion of a technology that’s in wide use around the world. How did we reach a state in America where highly speculative technologies, backed by private companies, are seen as a plausible future while routine, ordinary technologies backed by governments are seen as unrealistic and impossible?

The irony of the Google car for my circumstances is that it would be inferior in every way to a train. A semi-autonomous car might let me read or relax behind the wheel, but it would be little faster than my existing commute and as sensitive to traffic, which is the main factor that makes some trips 2.5 hours and some 4 hours. Even if my Google car is a gas-sipping Prius or a plug-in hybrid, it will be less energy efficient than a train, which achieves giant economies of scale in fuel usage even at higher speeds than individual vehicles. It keeps me sealed in my private compartment, rather than giving me an opportunity to see friends who make the same trip or meet new people.

There’s a logical response to my whiny demands for an easier commute: if there were a market for such a service, surely such a thing would exist. And if train service can’t be profitably provided between Pittsfield and Boston, why should Massachusetts taxpayers foot the bill for making my life marginally easier?

This line of reasoning became popular in the US during the Reagan/Thatcher revolution and has remained influential ever since. What government services can be privatized should be, and government dollars should go only towards services, like defense, that we can’t pay for in private markets. As the US postal service has reminded us recently, they remain open during the government shutdown because they are mandated by Congress to be revenue neutral. Ditto for Amtrak, which subsidizes money-losing long distance routes with profitable New England services and covers 88% of expenses through revenue, not through government support. Our obsession with privatization is so thorough in the US that we had no meaningful debate in the US about single payer healthcare, a system that would likely be far cheaper and more efficient than the commercial health insurance mandated under the Affordable Care Act – even when governments provide services more efficiently than private markets, the current orthodoxy dictates that private market solutions are the way to go.

The problem with private market solutions is that they often achieve a lower level of efficiency than public solutions. Medicare has tremendous power to negotiate with drug manufacturers, which brings down healthcare costs. Private insurers have less leverage, and we all pay higher prices for drugs as a result, especially those whose healthcare isn’t paid for my a government or private organization and who have no negotiating power. The current system works very well for drug companies, but poorly for anyone who needs and uses healthcare (which is to say, for virtually everyone.)"



"This unwillingness to consider the creation of new public goods restricts the solution space we consider. We look for solutions to the crisis in journalism but aren’t willing to consider national license models like the one that supports the BBC, or strong, funded national broadcasters like NHK or Deutsche Welle. We build markets to match consumers with health insurance but won’t consider expanding Medicare into a single-payer health system. We look towards MOOCs and underpaid lecturers rather than considering fundamental reforms to the structure of state universities. We consider a narrow range of options and complain when we find only lousy solutions."
government  infrastructure  politics  rail  transportation  ethanzuckerman  trains  googlecars  cars  self-drivingcras  2013  publicgoods  commuting  privatization  crowdfunding 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Flickr: Transport Timetables and Ticket SCANS.
"A group for people interested in railroad, bus and airline timetables and tickets. Extracts from historic and current schedules from North America, Australia and worldwide. Discuss urban and long distance rail and bus timetables. Shipping and ferry timetables are included.

SCANS of transport tickets and timetables are sort. Please do NOT post photos of people holding a ticket or timetable."
masstransit  publictransit  transit  transportation  tickets  flickr  airlines  global  world  australia  us  canada  northamerica  schedules  rail  trains  buses  timetables 
may 2012 by robertogreco
An HSR Country is a Centralized Country | Pedestrian Observations
An interesting read on high speed rail and the development it spurs. "What this suggests is that HSR does not create centralization so much as reinforces it when it already exists. The Shinkansen made the rest of Japan more dependent on Tokyo, and the TGV has made most of France more dependent on Paris." The author considers the US, but surely the UK would go the way of France and Japan also.
development  railways  highspeedrail  france  japan  us  polycentricity  via:blech  trains  rail  paris  tokyo  centralization  shinkansen  highspeed 
december 2011 by robertogreco
New Phantom v1610 Camera Can Shoot a Staggering 1,000,000fps
"Shooting 4.5 million frames per second of molecules using an x-ray flash is impressive, but can non-scientific cameras come anywhere close? The answer is yes: Vision Research has a new Phantom high speed camera called the v1610 that can capture footage at a whopping 1,000,000fps. Granted, the resolution needs to be a paltry 128×16 for that fps, but at a full 1280×800 it still shoots at 16,000fps. To give you an idea of what 1 million fps is like, consider this: 1 second of the footage will provide you with 9.25 hours of uber-slow motion 30fps video."
cameras  atemporality  via:bopuc  video  slowmotion  highspeed  2011  highspeedrail  rail  trains 
august 2011 by robertogreco
scar tissue (tecznotes)
"This is a piece of San Francisco healing around now-gone railroad tracks:"
architecture  history  cities  sanfrancisco  scars  cityscars  rail  scartissue  repurposing  landuse  2006  michalmigurski 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Carmageddon #flightvsbike challenge: How a team of cyclists beat a Jet Blue flight from Burbank to Long Beach. - By Tom Vanderbilt - Slate Magazine
"But the moment of folly seemed to provide an aperture for new thinking. In the face of this fanciful idea (a traffic-busting flight!) it became possible to demonstrate that cycling, often taken as a non-serious or marginal or even annoying (to some drivers) form of transportation in the United States, could seem eminently reasonable: not only the cheapest form of transportation, not merely the one with the smallest carbon footprint, not only the one most beneficial to the health of its user, but the fastest.…

But the race today wasn't only about the cyclists. Gary Kavanagh*, who had reacted enthusiastically to my initial daydreaming about a "Tour de Carmageddon," was the day's dark horse, revealing the secret efficacy—and perhaps, for some remote Twitter spectators, the existence—of Los Angeles' oft-derided subway system. (When I thought of a cyclist racing a jet, I admittedly wasn't even aware one could take mass transit between BUR and LGB)…"
losangeles  bikes  biking  masstransit  highspeed  rail  buses  carmageddon  2011  transportation  airtravel  airplanes  efficiency  speed  contests  highspeedrail  trains 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Are We There Yet? Passage of the transportation reauthorization bill would finally shift us toward more environmentally sustainable communities.
"Environmentalists' interest in the transportation bill is clear. Transportation accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's oil use and about 25 percent of its carbon-dioxide emissions…Americans will be hooked on oil until they have workable alternatives to the automobile. Investing in urban light rail & regional high-speed rail networks; boosting funds for bus systems; constructing bike lanes; & focusing on repairing existing roads instead of building news ones are a first step in changing, at a fundamental level, how we move around. If we want Americans to ditch their cars, that will require giving them choices, and that means creating a mass-transit system that makes the car -- and not the bus -- look like a pain…

Reducing the reliance on our cars, of course, also serves U.S. national-security interests."
us  transportation  policy  infrastructure  masstransit  buses  lightrail  rail  highspeed  trains  density  publictransit  2011  environment  cities  cars  carfree  sustainability  politics  peakoil  oil  energy  highspeedrail 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Schienenzeppelin - Wikipedia
"The Schienenzeppelin or rail zeppelin was an experimental railcar which resembles a zeppelin airship in appearance. It was designed and developed by the German aircraft engineer Franz Kruckenberg in 1929. Propulsion was by means of a propeller located at the rear, it accelerated the railcar to 230.2 km/h (143.0 mph) setting the land speed record for a petrol powered rail vehicle. Only a single example was ever built, which due to safety concerns remained out of service and was finally dismantled in 1939."
trains  germany  history  streamlining  streamlined  schienenzeppelin  zeppelins  transportation  retrofuture  rail  railways  propellers  airships  railcars  design 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Salottobuono > projects > DREAMING MILANO
"…Thinking about the internal boundaries of the city, about its “inner front”, means to catch the opportunity of an expansion different from the peripheral one: with other relationships between open spaces and built masses, a different density, a different intensity, proper typologies.<br />
It means also to reflect on the natural environment, not as a landscape fragment romantically survived to urbanization anymore, but as a “productive graft”, structuring space and metropolitan luxury. Cultivated place instead of social diaphragm.

The deep differences between the metropolitan boundaries and the agricultural land could exacerbate, rather than recompose in a homogeneous tissue.

On the inner edge of the contemporary city, high-speed drifting fragments of frenetic urbanity float free from intrinsic relations with the traditional organization of the built environment…"
milano  milan  cities  innerfront  landscape  architecture  planning  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  expansion  endlesscities  growth  monocentriccities  italia  italy  illustration  rail  railways  publicspace  parks  boundaries  environment  urbanization 
march 2011 by robertogreco
jagnefalt milton: a rolling master plan
"swedish architecture firm jagnefalt milton has been awarded third prize for 'a rolling master plan', their proposed development for the idea competition of andalsnes in norway.

the design utilizing new and existing train tracks to create a diverse system where buildings roll through the city on rails, providing an opportunity to reorganize programmatic requirements in relation to the urban space. the mobile flexibility allows the city to adjust for uses such as concerts, festivals, markets, and seasonal changes.

the integration of mobile structures - including a rolling hotel, public bath and concert hall - has the potential to transform the city into a dense, integrated and continually changing scenography. the temporary, small-scale structures sets the 'city in motion', providing an important connection between the land and the sea."

[See also: http://www.jagnefaltmilton.se/page4.html ]
design  architecture  urban  planning  mobile  mobility  nomads  neo-nomads  jagnefaltmilton  sweden  norway  rail 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Transportation Nation
"Transportation Nation combines the work of public radio newsrooms and their listeners as the way we build, rebuild and get around the nation changes. Listen and stay tuned for more. Learn more about some of the reporters on the project."

[See also: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/projects/project_display.php?proj_identifier=2010/05/27/transportation-nation ]
transportation  us  urban  design  transport  publictransit  buses  trains  airplanes  airports  cargo  freight  busrapidtransit  cars  sustainability  cities  economics  highspeed  pedestrians  privatization  taxis  subways  technology  transit  tricks  trucking  planning  journalism  highspeedrail  rail 
november 2010 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Friday 21st May, Turin to Milan [Nice trip summary from Dan Hill. Just a clip here.]
"Italy is a complex place. Even the construction of the country itself is complex. Joseph had earlier related the recent ban on journalists reporting on court cases in progress, a law that many allege is created by Berlusconi to protect Berlusconi. This may be the least of it, however, as the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy seems likely to be marked not just with a half-hearted whimper instead of a joyous bang, but with serious doubts being expressed as to its long term viability. There is a chance that the north may split from the south. Currently slim, but growing. And then, what of Italy?
danhill  cityofsound  milan  turin  2010  trains  rail  transportation  design  domus  cities 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Five Things You Need To Know About High-Speed Rail | Planetizen
"To inaugurate the launch of our new website with exclusive coverage of high-speed rail, we asked David J. Carol, Market Leader of High-Speed Rail at Parsons Brinkerhoff to tell us what we need to know about the U.S.'s exciting new endeavor."
highspeed  rail  news  transportation  trains  highspeedrail 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Superfast Bullet Trains Are Finally Coming to the U.S. | Magazine | Wired.com
"Getting California’s train up and running will be expensive. But doing nothing would cost two to three times more. Why? Currently, gridlocked lanes waste $20 billion in fuel and productivity annually. And it’s only going to get worse. The Golden State is growing — quickly. By 2030, another 12 million people could be calling it home. Without an infrastructure overhaul, drivers can expect a 10 percent congestion increase every year. To accommodate the billion trips between cities that residents and visitors will make annually, the state would need to build 3,000 more miles of freeway lanes, five more commercial airport runways, and 90 more airline departure gates. The price: at least $100 billion. Oh, and all that construction wouldn’t alleviate traffic; it would simply keep pace with it."
transportation  travel  technology  trains  rail  california  highspeed  sandiego  sanfrancisco  losangeles  cities  highspeedrail 
february 2010 by robertogreco
NIMBY Won’t Stop California High-Speed Rail | Autopia | Wired.com
"The California resistance comes from communities that voted heavily in favor of Prop. 1A, the 2008 ballot initiative that allowed the state to issue bonds worth about $10 billion, or roughly one-quarter the total cost of the project. The measure passed with 52 percent of the vote. Gov. Schwarzenegger has sought another $4.7 billion of the $8 billion set aside in the stimulus package. Forty states are pitching projects — some 272 applications in all — totaling $105 billion."
highspeed  rail  trains  california  nimbyism  transportation  highspeedrail  nimbys 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Federal aid eyed for rail projects
"A long-running effort to improve the region's busiest stretch of railway is picking up steam.

The San Diego Association of Governments, the county's long-range planning agency, is seeking $377 million in federal stimulus money to revamp the coastal track between San Clemente and downtown San Diego.

Hoping to spur the economy, federal officials are preparing to give out $8 billion to expand high-speed and intercity rail systems nationwide. SANDAG believes it can make a strong argument for a chunk of it.

Jack Dale, chairman of the agency's transportation panel, said the improvements would bolster rail service and take more cars off Interstate 5."
sandiego  trains  rail  money  government  infrastructure  transportation  orangecounty  socal  amtrak  delmar  sanclemente  surfliner 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Train Detroit - The Atlantic (July/August 2009)
"Instead of scattering nickels and dimes across dozens of states, a better idea would be to increase the train fund at least tenfold so America can have at least one legitimate high-speed rail line like Spain’s Madrid-to-Seville train, which runs at 186 mph (Amtrak averages only 79 nationwide). And let this man-on-the-moon project start in Detroit. ... Of course, railroads helping to rescue Detroit would be sweet irony. It was General Motors, after all—in cahoots with a number of other companies—that set out to cripple mass transit in America, including the electric streetcars that once trundled through Detroit and Flint."
trains  us  rail  government  manufacturing  detroit  autoindustry  transportation  amtrak  highspeed  via:cityofsound  highspeedrail 
july 2009 by robertogreco
High-Speed Trains: Can the U.S. Catch Up?: Faster Trains on Track? - BusinessWeek
"The U.S. has long lagged behind the rest of the world in the development of high-speed trains. Countries like Japan & France have had extensive super-fast railroads for decades, providing travelers with convenient alternatives to planes and cars. China has a high-speed line, using maglev technology, in Shanghai with many more planned. Taiwan & South Korea have built high-speed train networks, too. Meanwhile, the US has nothing outside of the Northeast corridor. That may change soon. President Obama's stimulus plan...includes $8 billion to fund high-speed train projects. It’s unclear, though, how much the Obama administration is willing to spend on new rail lines. The cost of rail projects can be expensive. One example: Upgrading 322 kilometers of track between New York and Boston for Amtrak’s Acela train cost $1.6 billion a decade ago. Here's a look at high-speed train projects around the world—and some of the places in the U.S. that are hoping to get in on the action, too."
trains  us  amtrak  highspeed  rail  highspeedrail 
march 2009 by robertogreco
The Train in Spain Replaces the Plane | Autopia from Wired.com
"The trains in Spain are doing better than planes as a growing web of high-speed lines carrying sleek bullet trains steal hundreds of thousands of passengers from airlines and cut emissions in the process.
trains  rail  spain  españa  travel  environment  transport 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Uncle Sam Opens Wallet for Amtrak | Autopia from Wired.com
"Bush plans to sign legislation that will double Amtrak funding to $13 billion over five years. It's an about-face for an administration that's been committed to whittling down Amtrak's budget and replacing it with "private sector funding," W's answer to everything but defense spending and Wall Street bailouts. Democrats aren't fans of this idea, and the Senate passed the funding bill — which also requires Amtrak and other rail companies to adopt collision avoidance technology — by a 74-24 vote. "
amtrak  rail  trains  us  transportation 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Next American City » Magazine » A New Era for Train Travel?
"Amtrak’s corridor and state-supported train services will undoubtedly grow, and its long-distance trains will connect those corridors. Amtrak will probably refurbish cars that are currently out of service and will work with some states to design and buy new ones. It may add a few new routes and increase trip frequency. But without a huge influx of federal dollars and a new national rail transportation policy — something akin to the political will and vision behind the construction of the interstate highway system — the peculiarities and penury of America’s passenger system will continue."
infrastructure  rail  amtrak  us  transportation  travel 
september 2008 by robertogreco
LAist: LAistory: The 1925 "Hollywood Subway"
"LA's first subterranean transit system was a short stretch of tunneling dubbed the "Hollywood Subway," which moved its first passengers under the city in 1925 via electric interurban rail cars."
losangeles  maps  transportation  subways  rail  urban  history 
july 2008 by robertogreco
GOOD Magazine | Goodmagazine - Train in Vain
"Europe and Asia have figured it out, so why is the American rail system still so unspeakably awful? GOOD hops aboard a transcontinental train to find out."
rail  trains  us  transportation  goodmagazine  amtrak  travel  energy  infrastructure  environment  peakoil  policy  politics  economics  masstransit  transit  transport 
july 2008 by robertogreco
California High-Speed Rail
"By linking all major cities in California with a state-of-the-art new transportation choice, high-speed trains will move people and products across our state like never before."
sanfrancisco  transit  transportation  california  rail  trains  losangeles  future  transport  sandiego 
july 2008 by robertogreco
California Finalizes High-Speed Train Route - MarketWatch
"Approval of Environmental Impact Report on Bay Area Route Clears Way for Voters to Determine Fate of Train in California"
rail  trains  california  future  losangeles  sanfrancisco  sandiego 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Streetsblog » Obama Calls for Investment in Regional Intercity Rail
"Now comes word that the Illinois Senator is going public with his support for a regional rail network linking midwestern cities, an idea he had floated quietly during the Democratic primary campaign."
trains  transportation  elections  rail  barackobama  energy  sustainability  us 
june 2008 by robertogreco
An Amtrak comeback? | csmonitor.com
"House overwhelmingly approved nearly $15 billion for the national passenger railroad Wednesday, more than doubling its funding, just as ridership is at the highest point in its 37-history...311-104, a wide enough majority to override veto that White Hous
amtrak  trains  us  transportation  future  rail 
june 2008 by robertogreco
San Diego MTS Daytripper Program + Bay Ferry Youth Program + Amtrak California "Kids N' Trains"
"To book a field trip, we need at least 14 business days to plan your trip. Call the hotline and leave a detailed message about the trip. The coordinator will call back within two working days. Only confirmed trips are eligible for the Classroom Day Pass
sandiego  transit  transportation  lajolla  buses  rail  classideas  teaching  learning  trains  amtrak  ferry  boats  offcampustrips  tcsnmy  mts  fieldtrips 
may 2008 by robertogreco
SDMTS - Fares and Day Passes: Classroom Day Pass
"$1.50-For students & youth groups. Unlimited rides on all MTS, North County Transit District Bus & Trolley routes. Upgrades available for COASTER & Bay Ferry. Good for day designated on pass during non-peak hours. Advance ticketing required."
sandiego  transit  transportation  lajolla  buses  rail  classideas  teaching  learning 
may 2008 by robertogreco
SDMTS - San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
see also - tokens, day passes, monthly passes, "Family Weekends: Every Sat-Sun, 2 children<12 ride free w/ paying passenger 18+." "Friends Ride Free: On the following Holidays"
sandiego  transit  transportation  lajolla  buses  rail 
may 2008 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Transport informatics
"quick survey of new informational approaches to transport, hinging on individual behaviour and engagement via public data. We'll travel from wifi on buses to designs for timetables embedded in the fabric of stations, stopping off at trams in Google Maps
cities  transportation  bikes  cars  rail  trains  helsinki  data  information  public  visualization  cityofsound  mapping  maps  design  carsharing  zipcar  walking  buses  transport  transit  urban  urbanism  urbancomputing 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Speed train from Disneyland to Vegas? - Gadling
"300 mph speed train that would whisk tourists from Disneyland to Vegas -- i.e., from one amusement park to the next. What would be the nation's first magnetically levitating train needs approval from Congress to get off the drawing board, and now it has
trains  transportation  rail  losangeles  lasvegas  travel  maglev 
february 2008 by robertogreco
The Daily Breeze - Maglev vs. subway
"As L.A. looks for transit solutions, it must focus on the innovations of the future. We need more maglev, and less subway to the sea."
losangeles  maglev  transit  underground  urban  subways  rail  public  transportation  via:cityofsound 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Pedal vehicle for traversing abandoned monorailway - Boing Boing
"In 2002, Vincent Lamouroux built this Pentacycle to travel along the abandoned Aérotrain hovercraft monorailway built in the 1970s."
bikes  transportation  rail  trains  monorails 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Train : urban structure for aesthetic personal transportation
"By proposing different real installations which would work within active or abandoned public transport structures and a series of conceptual designs a dialogue should be raised that engages in questions about the reality and "real fiction" of traffic. "
art  cities  design  transportation  rail  urbanism  trains  europe  traffic  concepts  urban 
january 2007 by robertogreco
The Man in Seat Sixty-One...
"this website will tell you how to travel overland comfortably & affordably where you might think that air was now the only option."
transportation  travel  trains  europe  us  asia  americas  latinamerica  reference  rail 
november 2006 by robertogreco

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