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TheCityFix Picks, February 11: Taxi Takeover of BRT, Smoggy Euro Cities, BusTime for New York
Bike culture is growing in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Photo by Robert Mann.

Bike culture is growing in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Photo by Robert Mann.

Welcome back to TheCityFix Picks, our series highlighting the newsy and noteworthy of the past week. Each Friday, we’ll run down the headlines falling under TheCityFix’s five themes: mobility, quality of life, environment, public space, and technology and innovation.

Mobility

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden earlier this week announced plans to pump $53 billion into high-speed rail over the next six years, with the goal of  giving 80% of Americans access to fast trains in the next 25 years.

In another first for Rea Vaya, Johannesburg’s BRT system, the Taxi Operators Investment Companies, owned by more than 300 taxi operators, formally took control of bus operations.

Two car passengers beat up a driver from the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Ahmedabad, India, leading to a the first “flash strike” by BRTS drivers. The two alleged assaulters were later arrested.

Santa Monica, Calif. ran out of its Big Blue Bus Seniors pass because of high demand. Seniors will have to wait weeks to purchse the new pass.

Domestic car sales are up by 26 percent in India for the month of January compared to the same time last year.

Our friends at Streetsblog are launching a new 10-part video series, “Moving Beyond The Car,” that will premier each Tuesday over the next 10 weeks.

Quality of Life

Copenhagenize features a video on how Slovenia is promoting cycling, showing that biking is fun and parking is burdensome.

Chennai City Connect, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable urban development, hosted an “unconference” open to Chennaiites to identify problems and discuss solutions for the city’s transport system.

Streetcars would be good for Los Angeles’ downtown economy, according to a new study, because they would spur downtown revitalization of unused properties, commercial development and new visitors.

A new report from the Cycle to Work Alliance shows that 87 percent of survey respondents say their health has improved as a result of the Cycle to Work scheme, a U.K. government annual tax exemption initiative.

Environment

Dubai Municipality announced on Sunday that the transport sector contributes to 42 percent of air pollution in the Emirate city.

Air pollution was so bad in Madrid this week that the mayor, for the first time, asked commuters to leave their cars at home and take public transport to work.

Likewise, in parts of Western Switzerland, heavy air pollution prompted authorities to reduce the price of public transit in an attempt to encourage people to ditch their cars and cut tailpipe emissions.

Public Space

Thousands of government employees in Dubai left their cars at home for the city’s second annual Car Free Day.

In Cleveland, Ohio, Mayor Frank Jackson’s Group Plan Commission made recommendations on how to prioritize pedestrians in the city’s downtown public spaces—areas that have long been catered to cars.

Boston City Councilors this week proposed a ban for smoking in parks and beaches to improve public health, but the potential restrictions have stirred debate about how far government should go in limiting personal choices.

Technology and Innovation

New York City’s MTA released data for a third bus route, as part of a pilot project called BusTime, an open platform for cell phone and internet users, as well as external developers, that uses GPS and wireless technology to provide riders with real-time information on bus locations.

A Swedish team developed technology that may halve fuel consumption by using energy from compressed air generated through vehicle braking.

San Francisco’s 1.3 million square-foot Transbay Transit Center, a bus and rail depot, is expected to open in 2017 with a LEED Gold rating and feature a 5-acre rooftop park.

Aimed to curb misuse of government vehicles, Zhejiang’s Songyang County in China plans to install GPS in official cars to monitor the use of the county’s 439 cars.


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