An urban design and transportation engineering team from Santiago came up for a visit to MIT last week. Next fall, a joint MIT-PUC workshop will be focused on BRT corridor planning in the Boston area and for Transantiago. In anticipation, here are some photos from my visit to Santiago last summer:
The US missile that struck al-Majalah in 2009 reportedly killed 41 people, more than half of them children. If the US government and public are so willing to gloss over this collateral and, by denying and concealing it, essentially label children terrorists, who in Yemen is safe? Perhaps this is the most straightforward interpretation of his statement: if even children can be targets, nobody is innocent enough to be safe. The family of the eight year-old boy killed at the Marathon finish line, and many others in Boston, now know this fear all too well.
Because of the United States’ racially tinged “global war on terror,” people around the world face such fear daily:
Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. (Living Under Drones)
As Farea Al-Muslimi testified to a Senate Committee last week after a drone attack on his village in Yemen: “This fear permeates our country and it is shared by the youngest and oldest Yeminis. A middle age man from Rada’a, in central Yemen, said in an interview recently: “In the past, mothers used to tell their kids to go to bed or I will call your father. Now, they say, ‘Go to bed or I will call the planes.’”
The man grieves his community’s losses. While his tone was not threatening, anger is a natural part of the grieving process. His statement raises the concern that the US government’s continued killing of children and innocent civilians will create anger that ferments into hate, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of terrorism.
Take it from a Stanford/NYU study: “The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%.
OC Transpo, the transit provider for Canada’s capital city, has a fleet of just over 1,000 buses. The agency’s service area was home to just over 800,000 people in 2010, while average weekday boardings reached 384,000. While the OC Transpo does provide limited diesel multiple unit (DMU) rail service, the majority of its riders use the Transitway bus network. Inaugurated in 1983, this system of exclusive bus infrastructure speeds transit passengers from outlying suburban areas to downtown, with buses operating at their 56 mph speed limit along most of the route. The Transitway has undergone continuous expansion, and now it handles 10,500 passengers per direction per hour in the morning peak. But with buses passing in each direction every 20 seconds downtown, the downtown bus lanes are approaching saturation and will soon be replaced by an underground light rail link.
Pictures from a recent visit are below. OC Transpo’s Flickr photostream also has an excellent collection of historical photos.
Six years after its opening, the Metro Orange Line in Los Angeles remains one of the few true BRT corridors in the United States. Right of way is almost entirely an exclusive busway, and buses receive well-enforced signal priority against cross traffic.
The 14 stations along the 14 mile route currently see approximately 24,000 weekday boardings. A second branch, from Canoga Station in the west north to Chatsworth, will be opening in June 2012. Though only one service currently operates along the route (serving all stops between Warner Center and North Hollywood), the extension will lead Metro to consider other services, such as north-south between Chatsworth and Warner Center. A limited-stop service to the North Hollywood Red Line station might also make sense, given that there are passing lanes at stations and peak headways, currently at 4 minutes, will be high enough to support such service after the extension opens. Though given Metro’s propensity for simplifying service patterns, like the elimination of Metro Rapid Express 920, this seems unlikely. Pictures from a January ride are included below, as is a Measure R construction update on the extension.
Though the Orange Line is not grade separated from cross traffic, it does receive numerous priority treatments.
Wide doors, level boarding, and fare prepayment allow for minimal dwell times.
The Orange Line’s western terminus, Warner Center, offers few passenger amenities.
The eastern terminus, North Hollywood, is visually distinct.
Wayfinding for the Orange Line is good within the North Hollywood Red Line station, but…
Passengers must cross a busy street to transfer between the Orange and Red lines.
Bike lockers are available for rent at most Orange Line stations.
Bicycles are prevalent both onboard the Orange Line and along the parallel bike path.
Construction for the extension to Chatsworth near Canoga Station
Former Mayor of Curitiba and Governor of Paraná Jaime Lerner gave the keynote address at Transforming Transportation 2012. He highlighted the use of “urban acupuncture” and “focal interventions,” used in conjunction with the planning process, to catalyze urban improvements. He also cautioned against unsuccessful and disorganized implementations of bus rapid transit, especially those that do not integrate well with the “concept of a city.” Highlights of his dynamic and comedic speech, and the complete set of slides he used, are both embedded below.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (front) and three former Secretaries of Transportation express their sentiments about the likelihood of a comprehensive transportation bill passing Congress this year
Last week at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, the current and former Secretaries of Transportation were asked whether they were optimistic or pessimistic about a federal transportation reauthorization bill finally passing Congress this year. Current Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood gave a fairly pessimistic response:
Given the politics, the number of days that remain, the differences between what the Senate and House are looking at — I think its very unlikely we will have a surface transportation bill during this year of Congress.
The last surface transportation act expired in 2009 (see the counter below). Continued political posturing, like Speaker Boehner’s weekend announcement that he will try to force the Keystone Pipeline as a rider to the highway bill, has kept transportation funding up in the air, inhibiting rational transportation planning and employment gains through meaningful infrastructure investment. Similarly, failure to reauthorize the FAA over the last four years has exacerbated the consequences of the nation’s aging air traffic control infrastructure, as detailed in this New York Observer article:
The most frequent complaint heard from carriers to air traffic controllers is that Congress must act. It must implement the NextGen air traffic control system, a GPS-driven system in the works since the 1980s and still not due for full implementation until 2025. In the meantime, most cellphones now come equipped with the technology, and it will probably be implanted into our brains by the time NextGen is realized. This is the same Congress that has refused to fully reauthorize the FAA since 2007, passing 22 short-term extensions instead.
The nation’s infrastructure is failing while Congress continues its myopic maneuvering. The Secretary’s doleful expression seems justified indeed.
My poster, entitled “School Bus Migrations – Repurposing and Replacing Transit Vehicles in the Global South,” tied for third place in the Economics, Finance, Policy and Land Use Category at the 2011 MIT Transportation showcase.
Muñoz, J. C. & Gschwender, A. (2008). Transantiago: A tale of two cities. Research in Transportation Economics 22, 45-53.
Schalekamp, H. & Behrens, R. (2010). Engaging paratransit on public transport reform initiatives in South Africa: A critique of policy and an investigation of appropriate engagement approaches. Research in Transportation Economics 29, 371-378.
wa Mungai, M. & Samper, D. A. (2006). “No Mercy, No Remorse”: Personal Experience Narratives about Public Passenger Transportation in Nairobi, Kenya. Africa Today 52, 51-81.
Santiago Cardoso, A.C. (2011). Da ideia à cidade, do plano ao projeto: gênese do processo de transformação urbana em Curitiba a partir do plano preliminar de urbanismo. Dissertation, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná.
Rizzo, M. (2011). ‘Life is War’: Informal transport workers and neoliberalism in Tanzania 1998 – 2009.
Müller-Schwarze, N. (2009). Diablos Rojos: Painted Buses and Panamanian Identities. Visual Anthropology 22, 435-456.