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TheCityFix Picks, October 15: Select Bus Service Debuts in NYC, Aussies Walk the Most, Alt Fuels Celebrated
Australians walk the most on a daily basis, according to a survey of pedestrians worldwide. Photo by Chris Freeland.

Australians walk the most on a daily basis, according to a survey of pedestrians worldwide. Photo by Chris Freeland.

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

Prominent U.S. politicians including Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood gathered to build support for the privately funded Desert Xpress high-speed rail project connecting Southern California to Las Vegas.

Turkey and China have agreed to work together in the construction of 7,000 kilometers of rail lines to form a high-speed train network across Turkey.

The U.S. National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak, reported record ridership and revenues for this fiscal year.

New York City’s Select Bus Service debuted Sunday but not without its share of kinks and glitches. The biggest issue had to do with ticket receipts passengers must obtain from a kiosk at the bus stop prior to boarding.

The Toronto Transit Commission showed off the new Red Rocket subway trains, which will hold at least 120 more passengers per car than current trains and be completely open without walls between rail cars. The new trains will start running in 2011.

Quality of Life

In 2009, 21,500 people lost their lives on rural roads across Europe. France, Luxembourg and Portugal had the highest annual reductions in road deaths on rural roads since 2001, according to the Road Safety Performance Index released by the European Transport Safety Council.

Americans need to hit the pavement if they are going to catch up with the rest of the world. The Australians and Swiss top the list with more than 9,600 daily steps taken on average while Americans average just over 5,100 steps.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development will award $100 million in grants to “support metropolitan and multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that incorporate housing, land use, economic development, transportation, and infrastructure.”

Environment

Proponents of updating the U.S. federal gasoline tax are pushing to make drivers pay an 8.4% tax on a gallon of gas instead of the current 18.4-cent tax. As gas prices rise, as is expected, the change could potentially raise $43 billion over six years to help pay for infrastructure repairs.

Today is Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day! The event, established in 2002, seeks to educate people about fuels other than gasoline to power their automobiles, such as biofuel, veggie oil, hydrogen and algal fuel.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has upped the approved ethanol content limit in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Public Space

If the city council in Zurich, Switzerland has its way, house builders no longer will be obliged to provide car parking spaces in residential developments.

Suburbs designed to be walkable and livable “provide their sprawling, spread-out siblings with a model for renewal,” says Richard Florida, profiling the United States’ walkable suburbs in The Wall Street Journal.

The creator of India’s first social networking website for cyclists, Cyclists.in, believes that if cities like Mumbai improve public spaces to be more cycle-friendly, more people would choose to travel by bike.

Technology and Innovation

As car manufacturers begin to roll out all-electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, experts grapple with the issue of how to rate fuel economy.

Will mass-produced alternative vehicles work in the long-run for everyday drivers? NPR investigates this question in the first part of a three-part series on mainstreaming electric cars.

Transport companies and agencies continue to add their routes to Google Transit. Recently new transit directions have been added from Belgium, Spain, Los Angeles and Toronto.

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