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Entries tagged transportation

Hyperloop Hype

Posted July 16, 2013

If you’re new to this, like me, here’s the amazing thing we’re talking about:

ET3’s Hyperloop-like project already has a number of schematics and plans already in place. They claim an automobile-sized, six-passenger capsule constructed for “outer space” travel conditions could easily reach speeds of 4,000 miles per hour on longer journeys across the country or across continents. In theory, this elevated tube system could be built for a tenth of the cost of high-speed rail and a quarter the cost of a freeway. The projected cost for a passenger to travel from Los Angeles to New York is $100.

This means 45 minutes from NY to LA or 2 hours to Beijing. It’s insane. Granted, there are a lot of bureaucratic hurdles before this can happen, but it seems way more awesome than high speed trains.

Now the actual Hyperloop project is being spearheaded by Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX fame. He’s planning to release his open-source plans on 8/12. Expect to hear more about it from me.

Tokyo Compression

Michael Wolf photographed Tokyo subway riders pushed up against the door of a crowded train. Looking at their faces, it feels like my ride yesterday morning. While running to make it through closing doors, my bag got caught outside while I was inside. Instead of opening the doors quickly so I could bring in my bag, the conductor did nothing. For 60 seconds. While everyone stared at me. I survived, but I had wished there was a solid wall between me and the steely eyes of my fellow passengers.

Fast Motion in Slow Motion

Graeme Taylor captures the world using a high-speed video camera on a fast-moving train. The results are really striking. It reminds of my favorite scene from Megamind where Metro Man moves so fast through the city that time seemingly stops. For this ability alone, I would seriously consider lightning speed as my super power.

Graeme explains his own super power:

In all my slow-motion work so far, I’ve used a static camera to capture a high-speed event. But, I wondered, what would happen if the camera was the fast-moving object? For instance, if you use a 210fps camera at 35mph, on playback at 30fps it’ll seem to the observer that they’re moving at walking pace- but everything observed will be operating at 1/7th speed.

Mobile Libations

Edible Geography looks at what people drink on mass transit. The post is based on a NYT article that focuses on Metro-North and LI Railroad, but the blog post covers air travel as well, reminding us that Ginger Ale sells a lot better at 30k feet up. [via Bobulate]

I Cut the Line

Posted October 17, 2010

I will admit, I can be impatient. I hate going to the DMV, waiting thirty extra minutes for my doctor, and standing at the end of a Friday night Shake Shack line. You’d be smart to assume that this is why I wait until the last possible minute to merge into the exit lane, and you’d be partly right.

If that drives you nuts, you’re in good company. At the beginning of the month, New York Times’ City Room blog published a screed deriding line-cutters. Alice Dubois, the writer, basically called me scum.

The line-cutter is the most enraging species of self-entitled driver, with those using the breakdown lane representing an even more despicable subspecies. These impatient hooligans seem to be convinced that lines are for chumps, that they are too important to be inconvenienced by basic concepts of fairness like “waiting your turn.” I resent people who think nothing of avoiding irritation for themselves by making it worse for others. Their behavior demonstrates a sense of entitlement and egotism that makes my blood boil.

Many of the City Room readers agreed with Alice, but one of them linked to a study I’ve been looking for over the last few months. This study shows that “the [zipper] method speeds traffic by 20 percent and slashes the length of traffic back-ups by 35 percent.” This, my friends, is why I cut the line. I do hate waiting, but waiting actually makes things worse. It’s also why this comment from a reader makes me nuts.

This same applies for those lovely subway riders who seem to think that the train will pull away before they are able to run over the mass of poor suckers trying to get off.

I hate those guys too, but we are not the same! While I don’t have any studies to reference (except Jason’s subway rules), it’s clear that this gums up the works. In fact, henceforth this is my motto — “Try not to gum up the works.” This seems like a good rule to live by, even if your virtuous actions may occasionally frustrate onlookers.

Now, if you told me that the zipper method caused a greater delay to those not waiting to exit, I don’t think I’d stop cutting the line when I want to get onto the Brooklyn Bridge from the FDR. That line is just plain ridiculous.

How I Saved A 747 From Crashing

It’s good to be reminded that most of the folks in a cockpit know what they’re doing.

The four of us proceeded to take the cockpit operating manual, which is a red manual that we have in the cockpit designed to cover all of the emergencies that you would think that you might expect to encounter. This was not in the manual.

20100812mannersposters.jpg Vintage Tokyo Subway Manner Posters

Man, these are gold. This one is about taking up too much space (they explain all of them). [via @nickbilton]

Designing a Better Subway Map

Eddie Jabbour, the author of the KickMap, explains (in great detail) the story of its creation. There is a lot of content here, but I especially like when he dives into the details of execution (e.g., straightening out roads, clarifying subway line crossings). [via Gil]

20100804bus.png Straddling Bus

China is developing a bus that would straddle two lanes of traffic and run on a rail system. Passengers would enter on the second level and it would be 10% of the cost of an equivalent subway system and reduce traffic by up to 30%. Also, it looks pretty Jetsons. [via Jalopnik]

20100405cabs.png Tracking Taxi Flow Across the City

This an interactive heat-map visualization of cab pickups throughout NYC over the course of a week. Be sure not to miss the accompanying article, as its chock full of goodness.

Last May, in the entire month, about 554,000 yellow taxis picked up passengers in the East Village; in Inwood at the northern end of Manhattan, pickups numbered only 860, according to the data compiled by Sense Networks.

Sense Networks produces CabSense, an iPhone app that “analyzes tens of millions of GPS data points from NYC taxis to help you find the best corner to catch a cab”.

I want to know if there is an app geared towards cabbies that would tell them where the most lucrative cab rides begin. They could probably charge a lot for that data.

Commuting to Work

Posted February 19, 2010


This graphic from Martha Kang McGill shows how people in 8 cities get to work. There are no major surprises (lots of driving in LA and Houston, very little in NYC, DC and SF), but it certainly looks nice. I am curious about why biking was grouped with working at home instead of walking — seems odd. I also wonder why there is relatively little carpooling in New York. If I had to guess, it’d be that people prone to carpooling just take public transport.

I also wish I could find out more about the artist, but Googling didn’t help much. I found the site via David and the via link ends here. I authorize you to Google on my behalf.

Digging a Tunnel Below NYC

Posted January 29, 2010


The MTA has been building a tunnel to bring the LIRR into Grand Central. They're expecting it to be complete by 2016. The photo above is from a slideshow on showing some of the images of the dig. Ron Cohen, who is pictured, has been a foreman on this project for a year. If sees it to fruition, he will have worked underground for 9 years. That's insane.

Also worth noting, the workers have a choice of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks coffee. According to the caption (Image #4), the workers prefer Dunkin Donuts.


Slideshow via Sean and you can read more about this on Gothamist

Subway psychology, and the "no justification" condition

"The more you justify why you're saying no, the less a person accepts no." Sidenote: I'd be curious to see the results broken down by different demographics (age, gender, race, etc.). I've heard a variety of claims about what type of person is most apt to stand up.

Keep Track of Transportation Expenses with MetroCost

The iPhone app lets you track all of your rides and see if unlimited or pay-per-ride cards are more cost effective. There are other tools like it that are free, but actually tracking your rides makes this worth the $2.

Exit Strategy: The Mobile App I've Been Dying For

In fact, I almost created it. This app shows you which subway car will be closest to the exit at your destination. They had something similar in the Tokyo subway system and I lurved it.

Bloomberg to Close Broadway Around Times and Herald Squares

Surprisingly, the city believes this will improve traffic flow around Times Square. And while it helps that I'm in favor of giving pedestrians and cyclists more power, I'm loving how the defeat of the congestion pricing bill has resulted in our mayor taking things into his own hands.

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