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Mass transit

  • According to Aftenposten, lower speed limits and inner-city vehicle restrictions have sharply curbed the number of pedestrian and vehicle-related deaths since 1975. In fact, in 2019 there was no children killed in traffic accidents (translated to English from Norwegian):

    […] no children aged 0-15 are killed in traffic in Norway in 2019, according to recent figures from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

    And, there was was only a single road-related death:

    Graph sourced from Aftenposten

    Pretty remarkable decline in road deaths. The USA statistics for 2019 road-related deaths don’t exist yet, but in 2018, there is a pretty big shocking comparison. There was a total of 36,560 driving-related deaths according to The Department of Transportation (PDF).

  • Jim Shaughnessy, “Central Vermont local freight switches cars in wintry scene, Bethel, Vermont” (1955) (source: the artist and Thames & Hudson)

    Allison Meier at Hyperallergic:

    “Always restless, even daring when he had to be, Shaughnessy worked hard to get in and around the railroad, in all conditions, in all settings,” writes Kevin P. Keefe, former editor-in-chief of Trains magazine, in a book essay. “If the life of a crossing watchman was important, then Shaughnessy shuddered through a subzero night until the perfect moment when his subject dashed back into the warmth of a shanty. If the guts of a steam locomotive were interesting, then he’d insert himself into the depths of roundhouses and sidle up next to the hostlers in order to record the oily intricacies of valve gear and side rods.”

    Born in Troy, New York, in 1933, Shaughnessy published his first photograph in Trains in 1952. While the detailed captions in Essential Witness are those of a true rail enthusiast (the “Pennsylvania Railroad 11-class 2-10-0” is identified as chugging over an elevated bridge), his images have a broader appreciation for how people exist with the railroads in North America, and how these systems altered the landscape. The silhouette of a tunnel in Canaan, New York, in 1989 reveals its jagged edges, framing the train with this rock that was blasted through for progress. Sometimes the trains are tiny against the mountains or waterfalls, sometimes the focus is elsewhere, like a 1953 photograph that concentrates on the cows in a Vermont pasture, unperturbed by the freight train zooming behind.

    Jim Shaughnessy, “Pennsylvania Railroad operator hoops up train orders to crew of a northbound coal train, Trout Run, Pennsylvania” (1956) (source: the artist and Thames & Hudson)

    I love this photo. Train orders, are largely obsolete here in North America. But sometimes, it still happens. Traditionally orders get hooped to the conductor at the front, and the operator(s) at the caboose. Nowadays, operations are radioed or even downloaded.

    Locomotive transport is and continues to be one of the most important means of transporting goods across land. It’s fun to look back and understand where we’ve come from, and to see where we’re headed.

  • John Surico for CityLab writes:

    The big magnet to the Westchester County town is its Metro-North Railroad commuter rail station, which provides a 45-minute connection to midtown Manhattan. Although Harrison has had a steady population increase since 2010, Belmont is thinking about the future: namely, a younger generation that prefers the bustle of urban life to the quiet of suburbia. The community needs more to make them stick around, he believes. “What I’m trying to do is attract Millennials, so eventually they want to buy here in Harrison,” he said.

    That is what inspired Harrison’s Halstead Avenue project, a $76.8 million mixed-use real estate development built in collaboration between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which oversees the Metro-North, and developer AvalonBay Communities. It is the first time ever that the Metro-North will sell a parcel of its land for transit-oriented development (TOD); in this case: 143 apartments, 27,000 square feet of retail space, two pedestrian plazas, and a 598-space parking garage, most of which is reserved for the public and commuters.

    That is kind of mind-blowing. Metro-North/MTA is selling a parcel of land to a real-estate development company at the benefit of Harrison residents. Harrison, for residents outside of New York, is a Long Island Sound shore-town in Westchester just north of New York City.

    Essentially, the Transit Authority has taken on additional duties as a real-estate developer. The soon-to-be built apartments however convenient to the residents, are likely to be mostly luxury apartment units. Only seven of the apartments are earmarked for affordable status. I’m sure this will be fantastic in the long-run but, I have the feeling that only reason this is really kicking off, is because it ensures the certainty of Harrison’s nearby real estate valuations as impending tumultuous financial times loom. The lack of affordable housing aside, it’s interesting to see the MTA dipping their toes into real-estate development. Not sure that is the best idea, but it is literally a slide taken directly from the MTA’s latest plan to maximize use of commuter rail capacity.