Public Transit

Overheard on Transit: 30 Days of Eavesdropping

Posted on Updated on

[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab, published on December 4, 2013]

image

Above, Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Alfred Hitchcock on the set of the 1954 film Rear Window (photographer unknown)

Riding the bus, train, or metro isn’t exactly a communal experience but, unlike driving, isn’t a solitary one either. Even if you’re commuting alone, you’re never really alone.

Overheard conversations by one’s fellow passengers can be one of the mildly voyeuristic satisfactions of public transit. A snippet of conversation is a brief glimpse into another person’s life and a chance, like Alfred Hitchcock’s protagonist in Rear Window, to invent a backstory for that random fellow passenger based on a momentary exposure to him.

Here is a selection of dialogue fragments overheard during my last 30 days of mass-transit ridership. Some strange, some humorous, and some timely. In no particular order. Which is your favorite?

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Pop-Up Buses, Cell-Phone Data are Big Winners at Transit Tech Competition

Posted on Updated on

[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab, published on June 25, 2013]

image

Above, Josephine Kressner and Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton

One might expect the future of transportation to involve teleportation machines, but, at the recent “Outside the Box” competition, presenters were less “Back to the Future”-style flying skateboards than real-world innovations that could be actually implemented to solve transportation problems.

The George Mason School of Public Policy hosted the event for students and young professionals in the field of transportation policy. Thirty-eight proposals were submitted in February and narrowed down to three finalists who presented their transportation innovations June 12 at George Mason Founder’s Hall in Arlington, Virginia.

The first-place, $10,000 winner of the competition was Josephine Kressner, a Ph.D. student from Georgia Tech whose entry involved innovative use of targeted marketing and cell-phone data as a replacement for Household Travel Surveys. The existing surveys are periodically performed by federal and regional transportation officials at great cost and could be replaced, according to Kressner’s concept, by existing cell-phone records and marketing data for a fraction of the cost. (Editor’s note: There might be shortcomings such as capturing data for number of people in each vehicle and trip purposes, but there could also be a lot of positives, including capturing bicycle and pedestrian data.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Location, Location, Location… So Long as that Location is Near Transit

Posted on Updated on

[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab, published on April 3, 2013]

image

We’re all familiar with the saying that the three most important factors in real estate are “location, location, location.” This rule no longer just refers to the importance of quality schools and neighborhood amenities in close proximity to residential properties.

A new study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in partnership with the National Association of Realtors, adds a new criterion: location near transit.

Real-estate professionals and planners have known for some time that consumers will pay a premium for residential properties that are designed in the “new-urbanist” philosophy, defined in the APTA report as neighborhoods that are “walkable, higher density, and have a mix of uses as well as access to jobs and amenities such as transit.” Studies have shown that consumers will pay 4 percent to 15 percent higher prices for residential properties designed in the new-urbanist vein.

Read the rest of this entry »

London Shows that Every City Could Use an Olympics

Posted on Updated on

[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab, published on March 5, 2013]

Artist rendering of development in support of London Olympics

The Summer Olympics serve as a chance for host cities to showcase their architectural prowess. Who can forget the fabulous flyover views in 2008 of Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium?

But now nearly five years later, the Bird’s Nest remains largely vacant, and its future unclear. Even one of its creators, Chinese dissident artist Ai Waiwei, has divorced himself from the project, citing in his litany of complaints his opinion that the building is “not integrated with the city’s life.”

Done correctly, though, an Olympics can both demonstrate national pride through architectural grandiosity, as in China, and economically and socially revitalize an ailing part of a city. This is the case in London, where planners have seized on opportunities provided in their successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics in order to rehabilitate a derelict post-industrial part of East London.

Read the rest of this entry »