How to Launch a Comet

“Nobody cheers for an acronym,” says Dr. Bob Schneider on why his transit agency, The COMET, just got its third name in a little over a decade. He cites the flagship state university, one of the bigger trip generators in Columbia. “People here love USC, but they cheer for the Gamecocks. We didn’t want to be just another abbreviation,” such as the previous name, the CMRTA, for Central Midlands...

June 27th, 2014
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Modal Magnetism

“There is but no machine so attractive in its operation and handsome in its form to make us forget our convenience and abandon our purpose of travel.  For if it were the city would be composed only of the wheel and the train track and movement would be our only intention.” Abernathy McAllister Hallendale III This is how I imagine Hallendale (a character from my first novel) would describe the...

July 2nd, 2013
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GO by bike

Go Transit bike shelter. Photo by Barry Wallace Bicycle parking at transit stations takes a lot less room that car parking so anything that supports bicycling is a plus for a transit agency and covered bike parking is easy and inexpensive to provide.  I just came across this bike station at a GO transit rail station in Toronto and wanted to share.  I mentioned GO in an earlier post on branding because...

June 19th, 2013
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NTD’s new modes

While you were sleeping the National Transportation Database (NTD), the nation’s repository for transit data, added a few categories of vehicle types: Commuter Bus (CB), Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the combined Monorail/Automated Guideway (AG), Hybrid Rail (YR, basically light rail that acts like commuter rail), and Streetcar (SR).  I can’t find a date for when this happened but 2011 is the first...

May 21st, 2013
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Tampa Amenitizing Again

My first reaction to seeing a news story on Tampa getting an advanced bike sharing program was, “Here they go again.”  I recently wrote a piece about the amenitization of America, this trend where cities attempt to get people to come downtown (as opposed to live downtown) or attract tourists with gimicky activities or investments like children’s museums (aka science centers), toy...

March 12th, 2013
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Old is New

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here are 2,000.  I have written much about streetcars and why making them fast and efficient is ∞ better than purposefully making them slow and inefficient.  These two images, separated by nearly 100 years, show that the problems may not change, so our reactions to them must. Having rail vehicles stuck in traffic may fulfill the desire to have “kinetic...

March 8th, 2013
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Most Honored Beach Bus Campaign

  Beach Bus Signs. Photo and materials by Bow Stearn. There are three things to love about this simple and effective campaign for the Beach Bus, a service offered by Panama City Beach in the great northwest of Florida that we can all learn from.  The first two are important on the public side, the third from the perspective of the transit agency itself. The Wrap - Bow Stearn (rhymes with Cow...

February 25th, 2013
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Cut Off

For a little Friday fun this is from the wonderful comics website the Oatmeal.  There really is something about being wrapped in platic and steel that makes us behave just a little bit nutty.         These images are from Minor Differences. Click here to view the full comic.
February 22nd, 2013
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Bungalow Love

The view of Warren Ave looking toward Love Street. From the roof of his craftsman cottage at 113 South Love Street in Thomasville, Georgia, Brad Sheffield could easily see the illicit retail going on in his neighbors’ back yards and even right out on the street.  “I got really good at recognizing the signs of a drug deal or a prostitute working,” he says with a laugh.  “I called the police...

February 18th, 2013
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The Pedestrian Accelerator

I came to transit on foot, I like to say.  Of course one always accesses transit on foot, that is as a pedestrian, but I also mean I got into the transit business because I enjoy walking so much, especially in places that make walking a pleasure.  I used transit occasionally growing up in Tampa where transit service was occasional and walking was torture; much more often as an embassy guard in Seoul,...

February 15th, 2013
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Measuring up the free-child policy

Transit is almost universally the best mechanized transportation value for individuals but for families—multiple people traveling from a single household—paying multiple fares can erode some of the value of buses and trains and make owning an more attractive even for people living at the margins.  The free fare for young children can help a struggling parent and has been widely adopted by the...

February 13th, 2013
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Where Trolleys Fly: The French Tram Experience

Tom Parkinson is the coathor of this photo essay which is an excerpt of a presentation given to the TRB Rail Transit Committee in January 2013.  Click images to enlarge.   Look mom, no wires. The French word for placing trams in context sensitive locations, as in this historic street in Orleans, is insertion. The French decided to get rid of traditional trams in the 1930s.  The last traditional...

February 11th, 2013
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Lean on Me

  In case you have not read NPR’s and the New York Times’ exhaustive coverage, sitting is now considered bad for your health.  From these breathless news accounts (We are all sitting, we are all fat, we are going to die!) we are also learning that early office workers were more likely to lean against cabinets to read and write and that only slackers sat.   Now companies are...

December 7th, 2012
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Amenitization of America

You have probably been to the McWane Science Center in the heart of downtown Birmingham even if you have never been to Alabama.  You might know it as Mobius Kids if you visited in Spokane, Fernbank in Atlanta, CuriOdyssey in San Mateo, Amazement Square in Lynchburg, the Imaginarium in Anchorage, the Zeum in San Francisco, or in Albuquerque the plainly descriptive Defense Nuclear Weapons School.  They...

November 1st, 2012
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Horror Style: Why Second Empire Scares You

Edward Hopper's lonley House by the Railroad (1925) A sunset walk in the 5th District of Budapest, just a couple streets away from Heroes’ Square and the National Museum, is an awfully pleasant way to spend a fall evening, so I was surprised when my delight at the 19th century streetscape turned decidedly to the creeps.  The silence around me was not the eerie, too-quiet kind.  In fact, it...

October 30th, 2012
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