Ah, the joy of New York City's rush-hour subway commute. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you know the thrill in stepping off one crowded, dirty subway car into a wall of people to push your way onto the next crowded subway car. You turn up your music, or that riveting Podcast with that guy from that thing, and you power through it. While you might be accustomed to it, the daily commute has plenty of room for improvement. Two new approaches to ease crowding on public transit systems show how some easy adjustments could make big-city commutes considerably less hellish. A group called the Efficient Passenger Project recently posted signs on New York City subway platforms telling straphangers which section of a train to board to efficiently make their future transfer. But only days after the signs went up, the city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority tore them down. “These signs have the potential to cause crowding conditions in certain platform areas and will create uneven loading in that some train cars will be overcrowded while others will be under-utilized,” said an MTA spokesperson. Despite the swift removal of the signs, the guerrilla campaign, part of a trend known as Tactical Urbanism, isn't dead just yet. The anonymous individual behind EPP told New York Magazine, “I'm really going for it. I'm ready for them. My plan is to eventually convince the MTA that this is a plan worth allowing. I want to beat them with the numbers—just keep putting them up." But, as of early March, even the group's website had been taken down. Over in Santiago, Chile, a more official plan to place a small gate on a crowded platform has already seen remarkable success in easing congestion. The gate, which separates exiting passengers from transferring passengers, has reduced crowding, boosted passenger capacity and increased train frequency. The plan, though, does take some adjusting to—passengers must learn where to board a train to make sure they end up on their preferred side of the gate. A project like this shows that dramatic improvements to public transit don’t always require big investments; they require ingenuity and a willingness to try. We don’t know if the Efficient Passenger Project would have seen similar success because it wasn’t given that chance to succeed—or fail—on its own accord.
Posts tagged with "Transit":
Chicago’s Divvy bikesharing program wants your help placing new bicycle rental stations throughout the city. The Divvy Siting Team will consider your suggestions at suggest.divvybikes.com—they’ve already mapped many public suggestions alongside the 300 existing stations. Last month the program announced its intent to become North America’s largest bikesharing system. Divvy will add 175 stations by the end of 2014 and, pending state and federal funding, bring another 75 online after that, raising the total to 550 stations. As it expands, Divvy could address previous criticisms about equal access. Though it started by focusing on the Loop and other high-density downtown areas, the program has expanded into many neighborhoods. Still, many are unserved—Uptown is the northern terminus, while much of the West, Southwest, and South Sides have no stations.
In what the Cincinnati Enquirer called “a meeting filled with fire and suspense,” City Council voted 5-4 to halt construction on its $133 million streetcar project. The Enquirer has a breakdown of how and why, in their own words, each council member voted:
“We don’t want to waste money,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray, who voted with the majority. “This is really hard. (But) I don’t feel confident of the numbers I have.”Councilwoman Yvette Simpson nearly salvaged the plan with a proposal to keep going with $35,000 per day of streetcar construction while an independent analysis was done. Vice Mayor David Mann was ultimately unmoved by that bid. The project was a focal point in Mayor Mark Mallory's State of the City address last year, which came shortly after the 18-stop line broke ground. The route was to run from the river front through downtown and past Findley Market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Before work began, however, Ohio Governor John Kasich moved to strip the project’s funding. Cincinnati voters ultimately voted down a ballot measure that would have banned rail funding in 2011, and the light rail line was back on track. Streetcar supporters will “regroup” on potential legal action to keep the streetcar project alive.
“This thing is real,” architect Craig Hodgetts said in an email about the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s proposal for a high-speed transit system somewhere between a train and a human-scale pneumatique. Hodgetts would know: next year, he’ll direct a studio on the urban implications of the technology for SUPRASTUDIO, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s Master of Architecture II program. The partnership between SUPRASTUDIO, part of UCLA’s IDEAS laboratory, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the startup company formed to make Musk’s concept a reality, is part of a strategy to crowd-source much of the research and development behind the Hyperloop. For a full year beginning in the summer of 2014, post-professional students admitted to Hodgetts’s studio will research the social and spatial potential of the Hyperloop, in close cooperation with the engineers at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. The physics of the system, Hodgetts said, are relatively straightforward. For him, the more interesting questions have to do with the passenger experience—with normalizing a new type of travel and counteracting the claustrophobic effects of the tightly-configured, windowless cars. Then there is the impact the Hyperloop will have on the cities it connects. In his studio, Hodgetts said, students will “start looking at new urban networks, at different priorities in terms of urban design. These are really exciting ideas from an urban design and architectural point of view.” Hodgetts, who is a principal at Hodgetts + Fung in Culver City, is no stranger to revolutionary ideas about urban transit. In 1969 he and Lester Walker introduced the Landliner, a straddle-bus that promised to turn sprawling metropolitan regions into continuous “Strip Cities.” Then, in 1978, Hodgetts produced drawings for an unmade movie version of the novel Ecotopia in which the primary form of transport was a network of mag-lev trains. (Like Musk’s Hyperloop, Hodgetts’s Ecotopia trains were propelled forward by pulses of solar-generated electricity.) Today, he’s not afraid to express his enthusiasm for the Hyperloop. After describing the basic principles of the system, he said, “I trust [Musk] totally on that, because we have a Tesla and it’s pretty much anything anybody said about it.” Hodgetts sees in the Hyperloop an “absolutely profound level of change.” It may do for transit, he said, what social media has done for communication. “The main thing that’s exciting to me is that one of the things that has made the biggest social changes is the relative lack of any friction whatsoever in social media...To have something in the physical world that leans in that direction is what I think is really profound.”
We hope you’ve stretched your hamstrings—there have been a lot of developments in U.S. bike sharing programs lately, and we’re taking another whirl through them now. Although not without hang-ups, New York’s Citi Bike has at least not killed anyone yet. People love to joke about clueless tourists riding on the sidewalk, or on heavy-traffic avenues, or “salmoning” the wrong way down one-way streets — that’s true in Chicago as well as New York — but the fact that no bikeshare has so far produced little to no traffic carnage should come as no surprise, writes Charles Komanoff for Streetsblog. Crunching the numbers, Komanoff points out “for each day in 2012, all NYC cyclists racked up 16 times as many miles as have Citi Bikers on each day to date.” So while Citi Bike ridership has exceeded expectations, it’s still only a small bump in the city’s total bike ridership. The bikes themselves could be a contributing factor, too — they aren’t racing bikes, and crowds of bikers further leaden their slow pace. The naturally lower car speeds in popular Citi Bike areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn may also play a role. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a proposed bikeshare system was stymied by existing restrictions on street furniture advertising. Smaller systems may move forward in some of L.A.’s municipal fiefdoms — Long Beach and Fullerton are apparently moving ahead, while West Hollywood and Santa Monica are conducting reviews. For now, though, what was once proposed as the nation's second biggest bike sharing program seems to have hit the brakes. Instead Chicago’s Divvy bike share is poised to become the largest such program in North America after announcing the addition of another 75 stations. Divvy already has 300 stations, with plans to add 100 more in 2014 (the additional 75 brings it to a total of 475). Federal funding enabled the $3 million expansion. CDOT also announced that it has applied for $3 million in state money to fund another 75 stations, which would bring the grand total to 550 stations. “As Divvy expands into more neighborhoods, and we build a 650-mile bikeway network throughout our communities, Chicago is quickly becoming the best biking city in North America,” said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein in a press release. It will be one of Klein’s last as Chicago’s transportation commissioner — he announced his resignation effective at the end of the month. Klein oversaw Divvy’s development and implementation, and was known for riding his bike to work. Sustainable transportation advocates told Streetsblog Klein’s successor will have big shoes to fill.
TransformKC is underway in Kansas City, and the dozens of projects on display are provoking discussion on topics from public transit to energy infrastructure. A joint effort between the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance (KCRTA) and the American Institute of Architects Kansas City (AIA KC) Young Architects Forum (YAF), TransformKC curated built and unbuilt work around the topic of “regional mobility” in an attempt to “inspire the public’s imagination.” Explore all of the submissions here. Categories include architecture, infrastructure, planning, transit stations and urban design. The exhibition is on display in the East Hall of Kansas City, Missouri’s Union Station through October 25. Some work is local, like BNIM’s Better Block KC. Part of the 2011 Grand Boulevard Streetscape Plan, Better Block KC “envisions a safe, livable and walkable downtown” that uses complete street concepts. Disclosure: The Architect’s Newspaper is a media sponsor, and AN contributor Gunnar Hand served as the exhibition’s co-chair. Here are a few of the high-profile projects from outside Kansas City: BIG: Loop City Bjarke Ingels Group looks to a new light rail loop connecting 20 development zones around the 4-square-mile inner city of Copenhagen. They propose tying energy and water infrastructure into the rail line, creating “an artery of true urbanity pumping life into the heart of the suburbs.” KPF: Hudson Yards See AN's coverage of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Hudson Yards towers here. SOM: Denver Union Station Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's plan calls for turning the historic Denver station into a multi-modal transportation network. John Gendall looked into the project for AN's feature on master planning.
Navigating Boston's subway system, known as "The T," will soon be a cinch with the help of a new map designed by Mikheil Kvrivishvili. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) named the Moscow-based interactive/graphic designer the winner of its "New Perspectives Map Re-design Competition" after receiving 6,837 out of the 17,045 votes cast by the public. A panel of experts—composed of MBTA officials, academics, urban planners, and cartographers—selected six finalists from a pool of dozens of applicants. Members of the public then voted online for their favorite design. The contest called for ideas that fit within the "Classic Tier" or the "Open Tier." The former required a more traditional approach to the MBTA rapid transit or "spider" map, whereas the latter welcomed interpretations leaning on the creative side. Kvrivishvili's map, according to the MBTA, fulfilled a four point criteria: "creativity, aesthetic quality, readability/visual clarity, and informative quality." This redesign comes at a critical time when the city is planning on allocating $13 billion in infrastructure, and while MassDOT is undergoing a rapid expansion with several new stations and a new rail line on the docket. The winning map will be updated to include the changes in the system as they are made. “We are entering an exciting period of growth and change in our system and I’m pleased that we were able to work with the public to help usher in some exciting new developments,” said MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott in a statement. “As we continue to grow and improve our system, the new map will be a great symbol of the changes and updates were working on as a whole.” The maps will start popping up in new stations as soon as early 2014.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is dedicating millions in funding to revive an inactive rail line, known as Track 61, to shuttle Bostonians between the bustling neighborhoods of Back Bay and the Seaport District. In the last decade, Mayor Menino has helped to transform Boston’s waterfront into a tech hub—accompanied by an influx of mixed-use developments—dubbed the Innovation District, which is now in need of better transit options to support this surge in activity. The city anticipates that the rail line will be up and running in roughly two years.
Waiting for the bus was getting just a bit too pleasant, so it’s a good thing the 46th Ward removed benches from at least three locations in Uptown—an anonymous tipster told StreetsBlog that Alderman James Cappelman’s office apparently relieved several bus stops of their benches to prevent loitering. That’s the same Cappelman accused earlier this year of waging a “war on the poor” for pressuring the Salvation Army to stop feeding the poor in his ward. But look at who’s tugging at his ear. A married couple of lawyers just tried to sue Cappelman and the Chicago Department of Transportation for besmirching the sidewalk in front of their condo with a Divvy bikeshare station. A judge dismissed their request to yank the station immediately, but they’re up for a hearing at the end of September. Another month of these blue beacons for bikers? Just think of the loiterers!
Although it gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s main rail hub remains little more than a waypoint for most people—a bustling transit station buried beneath an often empty Beaux Arts volume. The Metropolitan Planning Council wants to change that. Their new placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, calls on architects, landscape architects, planners and designers of all stripes to submit ideas for a design-build program that will enliven the underused West Loop hub. Two winners will receive $5,000 each to make their ideas happen at any of three Union Station hotspots between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2: the Headhouse, located west of Canal Street; the east-facing arcade on Canal Street; and the Plaza of Fifth Third Center, along the Chicago River. The nation’s third-busiest rail hub, accommodating more than 120,000 Amtrak and Metra passengers every day, Union Station already recognized the need to invite people to stop and stay in its 2011 Master Plan, as they do in D.C. and Philadelphia. Entries are due July 24 at 5:00 p.m. to activateunionstation.com.
During the discussion that followed the announcement of 2013’s Burnham Prize winners, much was made of the difference between “gold-standard” bus rapid transit and watered-down “express bus” service. The key difference is that the real thing not only runs more smoothly, but that it feels like a special experience. So it was for the honorees of the prize ceremony, which this year included three winners, three honorable mentions, and three citations. Their prompt, “Next Stop,” asked them to design stations for Chicago's burgeoning network of bus rapid transit systems. WINNERS FIRST PRIZE: Project Title: Form vs. Uniform Team: Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash Winning entry Form vs. Uniform came from a husband-and-wife team who moved to Chicago from Toronto four months ago. They started with a ceiling of concentric wood rings, pulled down at various points to meet the ground. At those points steel supports would bolster the wrap-around glass that enclosed each station. The graceful iterations would “unify and differentiate at the same time” the system’s stops. Its rounded corners and glassy clarity made for a remarkably open feel — a tribute to the city’s modernist mythology, its architects said — but insulated riders from the weather. SECOND PRIZE: Project Title: Enthalpy Team: Aetheric Studio (Goi Artetxe and Elise Renwick) The thin, tubular design of Enthalpy appears ready to vanish in its elegance, with LEDs, heat lamps and glass seemingly draped over a steel frame and guarded by a meadow mesh exterior. “We wanted the architecture to float and be open,” said entrant Elise Renwick. Its “chandelier-like” sleekness was eye-catching, though some jurors worried it would be too fragile. THIRD PRIZE: Project Title: BTA: Bus Transit Authority Team: Aneesha Dharwadker and Conor O’Shea Designed by Chicago natives, bta pays homage to the CTA farecard itself, arching in and out of the pavement in a slender ribbon to shield commuters from the weather, with separate shelters united graphically by the CTA farecard’s off-center black stripe. Jurors cheered its modular design and bright LCD screens, which the architects suggested could be used to display artwork Tweeted by local Chicago Public Schools students, but were skeptical that the relatively small shelters would provide ample protection. HONORABLE MENTION Project title: Torqued Spine Team: HDR Engineering (Janet Gonzalez Jeff Fahs, Lance Thies) Project Title: Halo Team: RTKL Associates Inc., Willoughby Engineering , Halvorson Partners Project Title: Kinesis Team: LC Architects (Ermis Chalvatzis and Natassa Lianou) CITATION Project Title: BuRT Team: Perkins+Will (Branded Environments and Urban Design) Project Title: Plug & Play Team: Francesc Montosa and Marc Torrellas (with Mark Pique and Meritxell Arderiux) Project Title: Hurry Up AND Slow Down Team: Ann Lui and Craig Reschke The 42 entries came from 14 countries. Watch the awards ceremony here:
Snøhetta has been selected to design the Qasr Al Hukum Downtown Metro Station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which will operate as a transfer point between two metro lines and a bus network. The Norwegian architecture firm's design covers the station with a large stainless steel bowl, distinguishing it from the metropolitan framework, providing shade, and conducting light deep underground with its reflective surface through a central oculus. At night, light from retail shops and the subway platform shimmers across the metal's surface. A garden occupies the center of the main pedestrian circulation area, which includes concourses and escalators that connect the lower platforms to the street. This oasis is an effort to convey the value of natural resources in the country’s desert environment. The station stands prominently above ground with distinct entrances at the center of the bowl and at the Eid Mosque to the southwest. These aspects are connected materially and spatially by palm trees and irrigation channels running toward Mecca. Zaha Hadid is also taking part in the Qasr Al Hukum Downtown Metro Station development and is designing the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) metro line. The Riyadh Public Transportation network is the world's largest urban transport program in development.