Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fun transit stuff

1.  I am definitely into maps and other travel ephemera, especially in how it communicates about the development of the automobility system.  (I use the example of creating this system when I discuss how sustainable mobility, especially biking, needs to be supported in an equivalent way.)

Right now I am in the midst of a "long term" project of collecting maps, postcards and related materials that illustrate how the "Recreational Auto Era" was developed through the creation of a support system (motels, service stations, maps, connected routes such as turnpikes, tourist information, etc.) for driving medium and long distances, and the transition from this period to what Muller calls the Metropolitan City as well as the Interstate Highway system.

Unrelated to that project, there is a website called Obsessionistas about people and their collections, and they have a great feature on designer Kate Farley, and her collection of UK maps, London Transport especially.

2.  In the last week, I've scored 1942, 1950, and 1962 maps of the Capital Transit system/DC Transit system.  (I already have 1954 and 1960ish maps.)  Even looking at them briefly, they've provided some insight into testimony I hope to submit with regard to NCPC's draft Visitor and Commemoration Element.  (Public comments due by 3/15/2013.)

3.  Speaking of visitor transportation systems, for the National Park Service visitor transportation study conducted starting around 2003, the Volpe Transportation Center did a report for NPS on visitor transportation systems in Boston, Orlando, London, Philadelphia, and Savannah.  This is also worth looking at in relation to NCPC's draft Visitor and Commemoration Element.

4.  CNN has a feature on the best Metro systems in the world, "What are the world's best metro systems?."

5.  ... and the best Metro stations in Europe ("Europe's most beautiful metro stations: From minimalist to ornate, innovative to wacky, these subterranean gems invite commuters to linger").  Although the Daily Telegraph has its own list as well, "The most impressive underground railway stations in Europe."

6.  Plus this year is the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.  See "Going Underground" and "The London Underground celebrates 100 years" from the Daily Telegraph.  (There are links to other articles within each piece.)

There are many great books on the London Transport system and UK railroads and the development of their pathbreaking marketing and design programs. One such book is London Transport Posters: A Century of Art and Design, which has a great set of chapters and lots of cites to older publications (which someday I hope to get around to reading).

7.  The American Public Transportation Association picked SEPTA of Greater Philadelphia as the best public transit system in 2012 and the Philadelphia Inquirer has a good article about the transformation of the system over the past 10 years, "How Philadelphia's Transit System Became the Best."

8.  Governing Magazine has some good stories, "When Will the U.S. Build Another Subway?," "Top Reasons People Stop Using Public Transit" and "Seoul's Transit System Serves as a Model for America."

9.  I already mentioned that this month is the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Station.

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At 6:43 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

The New Delhi system was built for amount the same amount that MWAA wasted on their airport project and little subway out to the terminals.

Yes, labor is cheaper. But the equipment cost the same, and the land costs a lot more.

The study on what riders want does not sound good for streetcars.

That being said technolgy is the form of nextbus etc can make a huge difference. Imagine an app that tells you to get out of the bus and walk (or bike) to make your next connection rather than being stuck in traffic.

Even something as basic as having someone press a button to light up a bus stop on the street so the driver can see from 1000' whether to stop.

Blocking and Tackling. We don't teach it anymore.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

it's hard to keep that kind of creativity and mental suppleness alive.

E.g., in 6th grade, I was nonplussed by a question on a test, asking what the first thing Greeks did in Troy, after entering via the Trojan Horse.

My answer, "they got out of the horse," was termed incorrect.

But yes, the light idea is simple but great.

(This morning around 5ish I had an amazing idea about Union Station, maybe it will become public at some point...)

At 9:13 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Well, that is what D.A. and the GGW does best; given 95% of it is junk and 5% genius. That is the nature of the beast.

BTW, I finally used your site as intended; I am now interested in alleys and a quick search gave me a very good base to work off.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Alex B. said...


If you want to point to the bloat of US infrastructure costs, look to comparable environments like Europe, not New Delhi.

In Europe, they have stringent regs to deal with and high labor costs. They are also building infrastructure in more comparable environments. They are a much better comparable than India.

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

@AlexB; I just happen to know the New Delhi numbers. Yes, as I said labor costs are different. However, equipment costs the same and land acquisition is more expensive.

In fact, if I remember the New delhi presentation their costs were not that out of line of Metro Madrid. That is from memory, and perhaps just a subset of costs. That is roughly in line with the 4x-5x figured cited.

Biggest difference is the engineering talent in the agency which doesn't allow contractors to bilk 10x what they should be spending.


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