Infrastructure
February 18, 2021

SkyTrain for LA?

When SkyTrain opened for Expo in 1985, it was hoped it could become a popular alternative for rapid transit.   Other than in a handful of cities, like Kuala Lumpur, it hasn’t.   But maybe a technology of the 80s, like music and fashion, is coming back.

Consider the global impact if a SkyTrain-like transit alternative happened in a trend centre like Los Angeles.

They don’t call it SkyTrain, of course.  When they see an elevated train, Americans think of monorail (cue The Simpsons).  One of the two bidders for the project calls it LA SkyRail Express .  The technology may be different but the scale and purpose is the same.  (The other bidder is for more conventional light-rail rapid transit.

Read more »

Broadcaster Sonari Glinton and podcaster Mike Pesca discuss GM’s recent proclamation to go electric by 2035.  (Full podcast here.)

Pesca: A couple of months ago, the state of California announced no new gas vehicles, they were going electric and they put a time stamp on it of 2035. The UK then ups the ante and announces no diesel or gasoline or as they say, petrol, cars and vans will be sold in that country starting in 2030. And then GM and their CEO, Mary Barra, announce, OK, GM sees that and we too will no longer make gas and diesel powered vehicles by 2035. I guess they figured if California won’t be buying them, what’s the use of making them?

Glinton: … what’s happening now for some people is that America is not in the driver’s seat.  When it comes to electrification, it is not even in the driver’s seat when it comes to the auto industry anymore. What our vehicles, our regulatory regime, even the styling is increasingly led by what China wants. That is where the industry is making the money. That is where the future is: Brazil, Russia, India and China. And I would throw in Africa for the long game.

Pesca: is it plausible that China can go gasoline free with their cars within the same kind of time frame we’re talking about with these Western countries and companies?

Read more »

As we’ve noted for the last few weeks on Instagram @gordonpriceyvr, the transformation of Richards Street is remarkable.  Once a four-lane high-speed arterial, it’s now down to one lane for moving vehicles on some blocks.

The northern blocks in blue below are now open, and construction is well underway to the south:

 

It’s been transformative, and not just for transportation.  The feel and look of the street is now tamed and dignified.

There will up to five rows of trees in a 75-foot cross-section – a street experience unlike any I can think of, including Paris.

Read more »

Have you noticed that there are a few songs about walking, but not very much about waiting at crosswalks with the pedestrian countdown?

Michael Nguyen a computer science student at the University of Georgia was “intrigued by the monotonous-yet-catchy voice of a crosswalk indicator outside the school’s cafeteria, and thought it’d be fun to put it to music.”

You can listen to that song above. As well, we thought we’d ask Price Tag Readers what songs they’d put up for songs about walking.

There’s  Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”  and the Proclaimers singing  “I’m Gonna Be 500 miles”.

Read more »

An insightful survey from Slate:

The prevailing sense of doom comes from a dawning awareness that the old workday travel patterns are not going to snap back into place when the pandemic subsides.

(In San Francisco, the Salesforce) software company’s “chief people officer” outlined new work policies. “The 9-to-5 workday is dead,” he wrote. Most employees will be in the office between one and three days a week. Twitter, another San Francisco tech employer, has announced an indefinite work-from-home policy. The situation looks similar in New York, D.C., Chicago, and other major U.S. cities.

Last month, the transportation scholar David Levinson asked: What if downtowns never come back? In Sydney, where Levinson teaches, the virus is contained. Car traffic has returned to normal, but transit use is down about 40 percent from last year. …

Asking a transit agency to operate without rush hour is like asking a restaurant to operate without dinner service. Most systems are built to serve a downtown core and managed to serve peak demand. And it was during that peak that transit agencies collected most of their fares.

Rush-hour travel to a concentrated area is also the scenario in which transit best rivals driving on cost and convenience, thanks to jam-packed roads and expensive parking rates …

Peak-hour transit is a blessing and a curse.

Read more »