Posts tagged with "Transportation":

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R.I.P. Z Train

As if last night's hearing about the MTA's "austerity budget" wasn't scary enough, the Straphangers Campaign held a mock funeral today for the Z Train to drive the point home, complete with a memorial wreath and a bagpiper playing taps below Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan. The transit advocacy group chose the line especially because it meant many commuters on the J Line would see their commutes rise upwards of an hour. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to ask Governor David Paterson and state legislative leaders to spare the Z Line from extinction by voting new state aid for the transit system,” Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the group, said by way of eulogy.  “It’s curtains for the Z unless Albany comes to the rescue.  If not, the Z will buried.” Though the Z may be most emblematic of the severe cutbacks the MTA is proposing, it is certainly not the only line affected. Service on the G Line will be cut short, the R Train will skip three stations at night, and like the Z, the W will cease to be. Additionally, four bus lines will close and 11 others will cease night service, as well as longer waits for buses and trains at night and reduced staffing at stations. The MTA is currently holding hearings on the new budget, which would take affect in July if a new funding stream cannot be established, such as congestion pricing or East River Bridge Tolls. There are seven more hearings planned in the coming weeks. Russianoff was joined at the funeral by two of the three borough presidents affected by the changes, Scott Stringer of Manhattan and Marty Markowitz of Brooklyn. "The demise of the Z Train is a somber matter--and not only to namesake rapper Jay-Z--but also because it represents a more serious problem," Stringer said. Not to be outdone, Markowitz cracked wise his most beloved borough. "Friends, New Yorkers, straphangers, I come to praise the Z train, not to bury it," he quipped. "Though the Z begins in Queens and ends in Manhattan, it is--like the J--Brooklyn to the core. When trains like the Z die, our city’s economy dies with them. This is why we grieve at this mock funeral today. Let’s hope these are not the Z’s last rights. Long live the Z!" But the high--or low, depending on your reverence--point of the whole affair was Russianoff's recital of a Z-centric version of Psalm 23:
“The MTA is my conductor; the Z Train shall not want … (hopefully). Transit officials maketh the J and Z skip-stop during rush hours, providing faster trips. They leadeth the J and Z quickly in the path from Jamaica, Queens to lower Manhattan. But now the MTA sayeth it is very broke and must still the Z, and addeth an hour more a week commuting time for many riders.” “Yea, though the Z walks through the valley of the shadow of death, it will fear no MTA plan: For thou art with the Z, Governor David Paterson. Thy leadership and thy budget staff, they comfort Z riders. Thou preparest new revenue proposals to stop the death of the Z; thou annointest the Z’s wheels with oil; the Z’s subway cars runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow the Z in all its days and the Z will dwell in the house of MTA subway tracks forever.”
And, lo, I could hearth yon groaning over mine Wifi.
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Your Chance To Fix LA's Transit Mess!!!!

What do Thom Mayne, Eric Owen Moss, Neil Denari, LA Planning director Gail Goldberg, and Aspet Davidian,  engineering director at the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority have in common? They're all on the jury for The Architect's Newspaper and SCI-Arc's new competition, A NEW INFRASTRUCTURE: Innovative Transit Solutions for Los Angeles. Launching today, the competition takes advantage of LA County's Measure R, which  will provide up to $40 billion for transit-related projects across the city over the next 30 years. It asks  architects, engineers, urban planners, and students to propose new ideas that use design to dramatically rethink the relationships between transit systems, public space and urban redevelopment.  Entries will focus on specific rail extension projects and also take a look at larger-scale, inter-related transit planning challenges. Potential competitors can download the competition outline and registration here. Entries are due March 15, and winners will be announced on March 21.
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Bus Stopped

Architects don’t have a great track record designing vehicles that make it to the marketplace. LeCorbusier, Gropius, Zaha, and, of course, Buckminster Fuller have all tried "streamlining" their buildings and putting wheels on them but their efforts never made it past the prototype stage. Now you can add Future Systems to the list of those who have tried and failed.

Last month, we featured the winning entry from Lord Norman Foster and Capoco Design, as well as some of the runners up. Given that there were over 700 entries, some never caught the attention of the wider public, even if they should have. Case in point: Future Systems' out-of-this-world proposal. More UFO than bus, it turned up today on BD. And while Transport for London might not have liked FS's design, it certainly is exemplary of their other blobtacular work. Maybe London's loss can be New York's gain: Start petitioning City Sights immediately.

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London Sees Red

Two blue chippers Aston Martin and Foster + Partners raked in a not-much-needed  $38,000 (£25,000) and a first-prize award along with Capoco Design for re-jiggering London’s famous double decker bus, the Routemaster. Sharing the award with Capoco Design, who specializes in bus and truck designs, Foster went the bulbous route without going too retro-Airstream as did many of the other 700 entries into the competition put on by Transport for London.  Runners-up (but no more cash prizes) included Héctor Serrano Studio from the UK, Miñarro García, Javier Esteban from Spain, and Jamie Martin, from London.  Of the Aston Martin/Foster design, Judges said they “particularly liked the overall styling package, especially the rear end” and such throwback detailing as wood flooring; LED ads and solar panels on the roof add a little more latter-day relevancy. A prototype is due by 2011.

Hooked on Biking

Speaking of biking in the city, the Forum for Urban Design held an exhibition and party last night for its first-ever competition. Entitled Reimage Red Hook, the competition sought to make the pioneering, cobblestone neighborhood the premier cycling spot in the city. Red Hook is notoriously inaccessible, with only one distant subway station and two bus lines. More than the jobs or cheap furniture it brought, the opening of the new IKEA was most celebrated by locals for the free water taxi and shuttle bus services it brought to the neighborhood. Which is why Lisa Chamberlain, the group's executive director, said it decided to set the competition where it did. "Red Hook has a serious transportation problem," she said. "We didn't want to take a nice neighborhood and make it nicer. We wanted to take a neighborhood where it could actually have a real economic impact." At the exhibition, hosted at the Beard Street Warehouse adjacent Fairway, six finalists were displayed, along with ten honorable mentions. Jonathan Marvel, principal of Rogers Marvel Architects and one of the jurors, made brief remarks about the six finalist, before Chamberlain announced the winners. The four runners-up were Heather Aman Design, Route Peddlers, H3 Hardy Collaborative + EWT, and Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture. She then called the remaining two teams up, HOK Sport and Jonathan Rule, had them say a few words about their projects, before announcing the upset winner, Rule, who also happened to be the only individual entrant. A recent grad from GSD, Rule has actually been working in Spain for morcillo + pallares the past few years, though he is a native son of Brooklyn. His father, a fellow architect who was beaming after the winners were announced, said Jonathan had almost not flown over because of the $1,000 ticket. Thanks to the $10,000 prize, though, the elder Rule joked, "He should have no problem covering that now." Asked by AN if he might be swinging by Disneyland, or at least Euro Disney, with the remains of his prize money, Jonathan paused before admitting to the unsexy truth. "No," he said. "This is going to pay back Harvard." As for his triumphant return to the borough of his youth, Rule acknowledged that is was familiar territory, having written his thesis on the Gowanus Canal. He also said it was gratifying to beat out such big names as HOK Sport and Hugh Hardy. On a more somber note, Rule said his entry was dedicated to Sam Hindy, a childhood friend and son of Brooklyn Brewery founder Stephen Hindy, who died in a cycling accident last year. "It's been on my mind ever since," Rule said. "How can you educate motorists and make the city safe for bicyclists." Here's hoping, through Rule's hard work, that we're one step closer. Be sure to check out the Forum's special competition page for videos, renderings, and explanations of all 16 projects. Chamberlain said the group is still deciding the best way to further these designs, though she also pointed out that representatives of both the city planning and transportation departments were on the jury. "Hopefully they absorbed some of our ideas," she said.
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Columntrava

This week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) and Santiago Calatrava released renderings of the scaled back World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Gone is the sweeping column-free span, originally envisioned by the Spanish architect known for his expressionistic structures. Tapered columns have been added, which the Port Authority and the architect argue will speed along construction and reduce the amount of steel needed to complete the project. The skylights, which were to bring natural light into the mezzanine, have also been eliminated. This is only the latest compromise at the WTC site. As Alec Appelbaum wrote on October 2, a new report from the PA laid out plans for a revised timeline and simplified construction, including at the hub. When the report was released, the PA pledged to open the memorial in time for the tenth anniversary of the attacks. By Tuesday, Christopher Ward, executive director of the PA, speaking at a City Council hearing, pushed back the schedule for the public opening of the memorial to 2012. Calatrava has often said the new hub would rival Grand Central Terminal as one of New York's grandest public spaces. As his vision has steadily been eroded, it's time to ask if the space will be closer to the underground interior of Pennsylvania Station.
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Anti Sprawl/ Pro Transit... in California??!!

After weeks of waiting, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger finally passed anti-sprawl bill SB 375 into law today, reports the LA Times. Among other things the measure will reward sustainable, dense, and transit-oriented communities with more state funds and will also discourage development on valuable untouched land. It will also call for state agencies to study new developments' effects on transit patterns and on greenhouse gas emissions. Next up: Measure R, which will be on California's November 4 ballot. The measure seeks expansion and improvement of local rail and bus systems, street improvements, and traffic reduction in the Los Angeles area. That could include expansions of LA subway and light rail lines in all directions, new HOV lanes for highways, better traffic monitoring, and even reduced fares for bus riders. This is a big one, so don't forget to vote!