Transporting Transportation

The Cape Town World Cup Stadium glimmered in the afternoon sunshine, and the breeze from the ocean whipped the nearby neighborhood. Indeed, it was another perfect day in South Africa’s second-most populous city – yet there was almost no one to be seen. And there was no one on the new MyCiTi bus rapid transit (BRT) network at the stadium station, either. While this may seem like not a big deal, transportation infrastructure says a lot about the health of a city. So on second thought, it wasn’t another perfect day. In fact, it was far from it.

Cape Town is a sprawled city, largely due to Apartheid policies that separated racial groups by highways and railroads, so as to ironically immobilize through infrastructure that’s meant to bring mobility. Townships, where the majority of “black African” city residents live, are actually the densest areas of the city and are the farthest from the jobs and opportunities of the central business district (CBD). The stadium is near the CBD and “white African” areas, and far from shacks, so that FIFA viewers did not have to see shacks on the TV, and so that stadium-goers did not have to deal with fears of violence. But now the stadium has no permanent tenant (it is on public land), and it’s far from the people who need it most. The government wanted it built in townships, but FIFA protested. Now, the government is paying a lot to maintain this largely unused structure.

Train Station and ‘Un-Infilled’ Surrounding Township Land 

(Un)luckily enough, a BRT network was built alongside the stadium, modeled after the first BRT system in the world in Curitiba, Brazil. If you are unfamiliar with BRT, it’s not just a fast bus. They are popular systems amongst developing countries, where most people don’t own cars, and where buses are not stigmatized as they are in the U.S. (which would rather implement more expensive and less adaptable light rail systems). But BRT is similar to light rail: it is supposed to have designated lanes, and pre-board payment systems so that time is not wasted boarding the bus. The problem in Cape Town, however, is that time is not what is being wasted: instead – you guessed it – it’s desperately needed money.

Curitiba (pronounced Curichiba) is a dense city, and their network was cheap and efficient. Cape Town’s system is clean, comfortable, reliable, and safe. But it is not necessarily needed in its present form. Two or three people board at most stops, and the major trunk route goes through an industrial area with few people walking around in the first place. While the city hopes to expand the network into townships and replace existing “normal” subsidized and contracted Golden Arrow buses with this new system, it hasn’t yet. This is because of violently opposed minibus associations in the townships. The route that has been completed goes through a relatively affluent area, where there were few minibus associations and few Golden Arrow buses, both of which were bought out along the completed route.

Isolated BRT Trunk Route

Most Capetonians take the delayed, overcrowded, and crime-ridden trains, or they take informal, black-owned, competitive and privatized minibuses. For a sprawled city, minibuses work well – they drop you off all over the city, and they pick you up all over as well. But they have been historically unsafe due to a lack of oversight and a lack of regulation, as well as a need to compete and drive fast to pick up the next passenger. They also can be inefficient because they will wait at taxi depots until they are full before leaving, keeping some waiting for even an hour. Still, the government has subsidized new and safe vans (minibuses) for some drivers, and people would rather have the comfort of the minibus over the trains, if they can afford it. The trains also may not stop nearby (the city is so sprawled), but the flexible and adaptable minibuses are literally everywhere.

If MyCiTi were to succeed in townships (mainly in the ‘Cape Flats’ neighborhoods), then it would be if it buys out the minibus owners and provides them with opportunities with MyCiTi. This is controversial because the minibuses are one of the few black-owned enterprise operations in the city. Nonetheless, at least they aren’t building a light rail instead of a BRT, like many American cities do. Light rail is more expensive because it requires track, and it only pays off if there is enough demand for it (which is true sometimes), seeing as more people can ride a single, rail-guided trainset than a bus. Also, most American cities that are old enough to not be entirely car-oriented and car-designed have rapid transit systems with their own complex histories already.

Minibus Hub in Downtown Cape Town

But even still, BRT is meant for dense cities, and Cape Town will need to continue to work on infill and transit-oriented development so as to connect these new BRT trunk and feeder routes in an accessible and efficient manner. The empty land along railroads and highways, which was once used to separate groups, could be transformed via public-private partnerships (which theoretically combine the efficiency of the private sector with subsidies and government regulations that mandate a certain level of service) into hubs of dense transit-oriented civic, residential, and economic space. Mixed-use developments could be built with the proper incentives, and social capital, jobs, opportunities, affordable housing, public space, and so much more could be accessible not only through these environmentally-friendly hubs but AT these hubs themselves. Feeder routes could empty here and the BRT trunk routes along highways (and the trains along the railroads) could pick up the passengers, if they don’t want to stay at the “local downtown” area. Maybe the remaining minibus drivers would also drive people here, and these areas would become the new taxi depots. Formal and informal uses would develop, perhaps with green roofs and vertical farms.

Highway Separates Wooden Shacks (See Fences)

Most importantly, these hubs will end up bridging the gap between the communities on the opposite sides of the track (literally and symbolically), in the same space that was once used to keep people away from each other. Mobility would be returned and the legacies of Apartheid — the social, economic, emotional, political, and physical wounds and holes in the city — would be alleviated and infilled. Instead of accepting the status quo of a sprawled Cape Town, and emphasizing minibuses as the permanent solution, the city can fight for it’s right to develop differently. And just maybe, in a future World Cup, FIFA would be fine with locating the stadium in the townships. People could get there easily, and they would also want to go there, because the hubs will become destinations in themselves.

The “Un-Infilled” Walk to the Train Station (Red Building in Background) in Langa Township 

It’s possible, and if completed, Cape Town will have a sleek new system in order to help brand itself in a global economy. But it will continue to require a lot of money that could otherwise be used to simply fix up the profitable minibuses with GPS and card-based payments, among other fixes. It also would require the government to deal with corruption and actually follow through on its enforcement of the public-private partnerships, so that the project can increase revenue for the transportation agency while also providing services in historically neglected areas. It can combine the best of neoliberalism with the regulations of the public sector. The city is working on infill and transit-oriented development, but it takes a long time.

Back to the point: transportation methods which worked in Curitiba may not work in Cape Town. It’s not just Curitiba and Cape Town, either. Transportation cannot be ‘transported’; context is extremely important. Transportation infrastructure is planned in accordance with many powers, identities, and ideologies. Various man-made and natural social, economic, political, and environmental factors not only contribute to how infrastructure is designed, but also to how it can be positively enhanced. There is a reason behind every round-a-bout (or traffic light), and behind every diesel locomotive (or electric locomotive, hybrid locomotive, or EMU). This doesn’t mean that people should start from scratch everywhere. Ideas are obviously shared around the world. But they need to be translated; they can’t be simply transported. BRT could work in a future Cape Town, but it would not be the same system that a dense Brazilian city like Sao Paulo could build (which has the third highest density of buildings in the world). 

Largest and Fastest Growing (Sprawling) Township in South Africa (Khayelitsha, Cape Town) 

Informal Township in Johannesburg Periphery

In essence, smart transportation policy and planning can help to solve the core issues behind many urban problems through transit-oriented community development. But what is smart? What is community? What is transportation? What is a problem? For whom is it a problem? These are basic questions but they still get forgotten. I can tell you that the problems in the U.S. are not the same problems found in developing countries; in fact, some of those countries may even want to build the way the U.S. has built, even though the U.S. now faces problems itself.

Simultaneously decreasing sprawl and combatting suburban car congestion – while creating attractive and accessible post-industrial urban destinations – are the goals of many U.S. municipalities. Transportation hubs with substantial air rights as well as civic and retail space (which gives real estate revenue to the agency) are being (re)constructed to serve this goal.

Examples in New York include the new over-budget PATH hub for the Port Authority’s World Trade Center site and the new East Side Access terminal for the Long Island Rail Road in Grand Central Terminal, which is leased out by the MTA from a real estate firm as part of a history of the decline of Penn Central and its remaining landmarked real estate assets. Moreover, there have also been plans for the revitalization of Penn Station. Penn is owned by Amtrak ever since bankrupt Penn Central became part of a Conrail a few years after demolishing the old station and selling the real estate so as to build Penn Plaza (which is similar to the Pan Am/MetLife building above Grand Central). There’s also the new Fulton Center (st)hub in the heart of Lower Manhattan, which is a “stub of a hub” (as I call it) because it does not take advantage of its valuable prime real estate location by building towards the sky and including more commercial space. The MTA is also receiving funds from air rights for the Atlantic Yards and the Hudson Yards. Other examples include the Transbay Center in San Francisco, among so many others all across the world. Cape Town can look into hub development in the townships as well, as discussed earlier.

Historic La Luz Commuter Rail Station Hub in Sao Paulo; Center Platform Exit-Only 

In Sao Paulo (which has the same number of people as the entire continent of Australia) another World Cup stadium rises. But unlike Cape Town, this stadium is being built in the periphery, next to favelas (which generally refer to slum settlements on un-bought public and private land). Even though this stadium will be owned by a popular club, the Corinthians, and even though it is being built in the periphery where impoverished people will benefit with increased jobs and opportunities, there are still problems. To repeat: this project is doing the opposite thing that Cape Town did, and there are still issues, including the removal of many favela residents. However, unlike Cape Town’s BRT connection, Sao Paulo does not have a BRT network. There are some designated lanes, but they don’t extend far, and there is no pre-board payment. It’s just never been done, even though there have been many proposals (think of the Second Avenue Subway in NYC). The government is corrupt and bureaucratic, the auto-industry has a lot of power in the city, and the road network was not planned well, if at all.

Sao Paulo World Cup Stadium (Metro Station in Foreground)

However, the city does have a Metro, commuter rail lines, and buses – all of which are the most crowded that I’ve ever seen. They’re definitely more crowded than New York’s, and even Beijing’s and Delhi’s. During rush hour, there can be a thirty minute wait just to pass through the turnstiles into the station, and then another three or so trains stop without being able to fit everyone on the platform. Eventually, you are pushed by the police onto the train.

In Sao Paulo, as in many Brazilian cities, the highway network has not been developed to the extent as it has been in the United States, so suburbanization has not really taken hold. Traffic is also extremely congested, so rich people prefer to live in the center of the city. The periphery is considered as a place for poor people in favelas, and rich residents prefer gated condominiums and helipads, so that they can be separated and secure. In Cape Town, rich (white) people also live relatively nearby the center of the city or in gated suburbs, because Apartheid-era townships were placed in the periphery. Race and class, of course, are intertwined with inequality in both of these cities. In more equal and homogeneous places (such as Hanoi), these are not concerns, so it is important to remember that context is paramount.

NORMAL Rush Hour in Sao Paulo Metro (Line to Enter Turnstile at La Luz Station)

Waiting for the Metro… and Waiting Again… and Again… 

Corinthians-Itaquera is a major intermodal hub connecting the new World Cup stadium with the Metro, commuter rail, and public-private partnership feeder bus lines. The station also contains a mall and a multitude of government agencies and their offices. All of this real estate helps to provide revenue for the agency, similar to how the MTR in Hong Kong operates as one of the world’s few profitable public transportation authorities, and similar to the other hubs mentioned earlier in the article. Still, while this is a great transit-oriented development, it could be better with affordable homes for the favela residents.

Corinthians-Itaquera Hub (Government Agencies & Mall to the Left; Transit to the Right)

Every country, every city, every neighborhood, and every street need to be contextualized, because human beings are different. It’s really simple, but then again, it’s not, because otherwise we wouldn’t be dealing with so many planning issues. For instance, in general terms, biking is seen as a solution in Europe and North America, but in East Asia, it’s seen as a symbol of poverty and immobility. In Hanoi, Vietnam, people generally want more cars or motorcycles, even when there’s no space to park them and no subway (yet) to decrease congestion. The inter-city railway of Vietnam has been rebuilt since the U.S. bombings of the 1970s, but it does not really stop in the city itself. Highways and helicopter pads are being built, neither of which are accessible to most people (motorcycles cannot go on the highway). They are also building an elevated rapid transit network, which will not be done for a while. Moreover, the history of white flight, suburbanization, and the decline of railroads also does not apply to this city, among other social, economic, and political differences, which work together to create different situations on formal and informal networks. Some are capital cities, some are industrial cities, some are post-industrial, post-colonial, spiritual, old, new, ‘global’, ‘green’, or all of the above. The list goes on and on and your frames of reference need to be adjusted for every city.

Inter-City Railroad in Hanoi, Vietnam (& Rapidly Urbanized Villages)

Again, the point being that what works somewhere may not work a year later in that city, and probably won’t work at all somewhere else, depending on your qualitative and quantitative definitions of it working. There are going to be naysayers for every project, and if you think that their opinions do not have value, then you simply don’t know how to think in their shoes. Even the best idea will have problems, so it is important to take a middle-way and open-minded approach. It’s universally grey and that’s the paradox of transporting transportation.

Even still, be it Sao Paulo, Cape Town, Hanoi, or New York and New Orleans, the peripheries seem to universally have unequal transportation accessibility and mobility. Sao Paulo “favelas” deal with no Metro access and slow, bumpy, gang-affiliated public-private bus operators. Cape Town “townships” are the densest parts of the city and the farthest from the jobs. Hanoi “rural areas” deal with immense and chaotic traffic on the way into the city. New York and New Orleans “inner cities” like East New York and the Lower Ninth Ward also face unequal obstacles.  At the same time, highways are sprouting up (namely in Sao Paulo and Hanoi), which do have some positive benefits, but American cities have seen what happens when they are too-heavily relied upon, and when public transit is ignored.

Bus Terminal in Favela (Northern Sao Paulo)

Mobility Difficulties in Northern Sao Paulo Favela (Among Other Difficulties…)

Motorcycles and Smog in Hanoi

Meanwhile… Helipads and Highways in Hanoi

This peripheral problem impacts the economy, environment, health, and culture of a city, among so many other factors. If it’s physically hard to get to your job or your school (or both) then it will be hard to be socioeconomically mobile, let alone physically mobile. Nearly everyone I talked to in Sao Paulo said that transportation was their main problem with the city, and that they spend hours on their commutes. In Cape Town, mobility is tied to race and to deep emotions regarding the legacies of Apartheid, as many non-Whites were not even legally allowed to enter the CBD decades ago without a work permit. In rapidly urbanizing and industrializing Hanoi, almost everyone seems to own a motorcycle, and smog is a constant problem.

From the differences in wild plant and animal species suitable to domestication to Western Europe’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, geography matters, location matters, space matters, and environments and climates matter. Geography creates social, economic, political, and physical regions. So even though cities may face similar peripheral problems in a general sense, under closer inspection, they are different problems. They are caused by different reasons. And, guess what? They require different solutions in order to bridge the gap.

Doha, Qatar Airport Montage (Culture & Context in Design) (Riel, 2013)

Amish Horse & Buggy Lanes in Pennsylvania (Riel, 2012)


Rayn Riel is a student at Tufts University studying international urban development, his self-crafted major. Interested in transportation, he is the founder of Tufts’ only undergraduate urban development student organization and was an intern at the NYC Department of City Planning in Brooklyn in order to work on transportation accessibility and mobility in East New York. A writer on PlanYourCity, he has had planning work and research experience in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. This post is a result of his completion of a comparative urban planning study abroad program, which traveled to New Orleans, Sao Paulo, Cape Town, and Hanoi.

(All photos are taken by Rayn)

Additional photos…

New York City (Riel, 2014)

New Orleans (Riel, 2014)

Second Line in New Orleans (Riel, 2014)

Second Line in New Orleans (Riel, 2014)

Trolleys in New Orleans (Riel, 2014)

Receding Mississippi River (Riel, 2014)

Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans (Riel, 2014)

Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans (Riel, 2014)

Bus Lanes in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Metro Crowds in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Favela Fire in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Yacht in Mall in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Tagging in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)


La Luz Station in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Squatting in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)


Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)


Taggers in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Dense Favela in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Public Health Concerns in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Football Stadium Fan Barricades in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Car-Free Avenue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Transportation Hub in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Riel, 2014)

Bo Kaap in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Terminal in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Walking to Train Station in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Gated Mall in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Gated Community in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Gated Community in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Public Housing in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Penguins in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Aquaponics in Gated Shopping Center in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Broken, Inaccessible, Unsafe Bathrooms in Township in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Butchering Pigs in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Public Housing in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Public Housing in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Eid Celebrations in Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Traffic in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

New Developments in Cape Town, South Africa (Riel, 2014)

Slum in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Night Market in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Chinese Influence in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

French Influence in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Railroad Bridge in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Red Signal on Railroad in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Terminal in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Placeless Mega Mall in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Smog in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Fishing Village in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Light Rail Construction at Busy Intersection in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Highways, Motorcycles, and Development in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Light Rail Construction in Hanoi, Vietnam (Riel, 2014)

Shopping at World’s Top-Rated Airport: Incheon International Airport, South Korea (Riel, 2014)

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58 Comments on “Transporting Transportation”

  1. Eugene M. Riel III January 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Very cogent, well-researched report! Great photo illustrations of your topic! Informative as well as enjoyable to read!


  2. Rayn Riel May 22, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    Thank you very much!


  3. Ben May 11, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    In order to not “transport transportation”, we need to be humble, respectful, listen.
    Not just go into communities knowing solutions without knowing the context.
    Building capacity, bottom-up, not top-down.
    We know what happens through top-down planning: Brasilia, a planned city that is entirely wind-swept because, from the ground, everything is so far away… it looks good from a plan, though…

    And then there are THEME parks, which are really PLANNED CITIES!'s_Cross_to_Hogsmeade,_Florida


    Over all, good report! Talk soon


  4. Rayn Riel May 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm #


  5. Fred June 27, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    Most of Sao Paulo’s buses are privately operated.
    They also have turnstiles inside of them, in the center of the bus, so that people can board without clogging the door to pay… but, then they need another employee to collect fare at the turnstile which raises costs… rather silly. Could just do tap on/off at all doors.


    • Loki August 24, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

      Yes, the turnstiles within the buses decrease capacity.

      And it is crazy how people need to wait for 4 or 5 trains before boarding, so crowded, the line to enter through the turnstile and then wait for the subway can be 30 minutes long, alone, then another few hours to commute! No time for family… Bad quality of life… Such an unequal country.

      The US is lucky. For such a diverse country, we’re relatively equal, compared to other diverse countries.

      Mexico City has even more people in the metro area than Sao Paulo, but their metro is more built up.


      In the movie Arrival, one woman goes against everybody telling the other thing, but she was right, the one right voice. Right ideas always start out as small ideas…

      We learn about language, how words can mean so many different things, different contexts, social cues, time, science, health, evolution, human nature… all related. Why we wear clothes, why we have different countries and aren’t united as one, we spend so much on military throughout the world, rather than LIVING, LOVING, as one people! Imagine the sensation, of peace on earth, forever, seeing forever, no more need for secrets, diseases, monitoring, but being ALIVE, until your dying words, LOVING your life and all those around you… unlocking secrets never felt before, for your loves, living as one, sharing, together


  6. Fred June 27, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

    Americans are so lucky and they don’t even take it for granted. Relatively low unemployment compared to the rest of the world. So diverse and yet people really try hard to include everyone and be respectful and united, at least, compared to most places on the planet. Hot, clean water, stable electricity, so much food and creativity, politicians are not killing each other routinely. People are free to express themselves without fear of being murdered, there are so many opinions and that’s OK!

    Thus your public spaces are all the more powerful. In Pakistan, there can be no LGBT rallies in public squares. People would be sent to jail if they were gay due to Sharia law. In China, there can be no political protests, and anyone trying will be seen immediately on CCTV cameras and sent to jail.

    Public spaces are all the more important now than ever, with rising inequality and gated communities.

    Do not listen to Trump. Do not build your walls. Be vulnerable, connected, open up yourself to learning and growth, America


  7. John June 30, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    This is great. The spaces used to keep people apart can be used now to bring them together, new transit hubs, LEED, with community space for all… Maybe a rooftop farm, a school, bike parking… community bulletin boards… endless opportunities

    • The link between housing production and outward expansion is unmistakable: cities that expand more produce proportionally more new housing.
    • Throughout the country, housing production is skewed towards low density areas.
    • Densification has slowed down across the board, and especially in expensive cities, undermining their ability to compensate for less outward expansion.
    • Unless they enact fundamental changes that allow for substantially more densification, cities confronting growth pressure face a tradeoff between accommodating growth through outward expansion, or accepting the social implications of failing to build enough new housing.


  8. John July 6, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    re: slums
    addresses provide a right to the city (eg political participation), but on the other hand become a right to be billed (for power and water and such).


  9. Greg79 July 7, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    Crime in these favelas and townships, very similar to inner city crime in the US. Which has a lot to do with urban planning — tearing up the fabric of communities to build highways and projects, separated from the street… Yes, the projects are relatively car-free, more quiet, but there is no retail on those blocks, it’s just monotonous housing. Black-owned businesses were demolished for these buildings which were often not maintained (just like subways), and mothers only got money if the father was absent. With crime, folks don’t want to go out at night, meaning less business for any remaining retailers. It makes public space more scary. They need more lighting, more windows on the street…

    ALSO, white America shipped factory jobs overseas that once gave employment to young African Americans in the inner cities. Without jobs and a future, many African American families in the inner cities deteriorated with young men growing up without fathers and turned to criminal behavior (drugs), rather than obtaining an education, to support themselves. African American violence on each other within many of these inner cities became epidemic, i.e., Chicago. African American leaders and politicians have been reluctant to hold black America in the inner cities responsible for their behavior, especially in terms of constructing stable families in where children can thrive, get an education, and have a future. White politicians mostly ignore the African American communities and only pay them lip service during elections. Add America’s love affair with guns and making them easily available for purchase, especially in the South, hand guns became ubiquitous on our inner city streets making police work very dangerous. Because many law enforcement personnel deal with African American violence within these inner cities on a daily basis, they have become conditioned to expect the worse and sadly harbor fear and/or contempt of African Americans. And this fear and/or contempt has spread throughout the law enforcement community resulting in these senseless tragedies.


    • Greg79 July 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

      Why are Americans more religious than Europeans? Maybe because we have fewer public benefits so we rely on each other and our tax-free churches.

      From Humans of New York:

      “The Korean American community is very tight-knit. From the outside it can sometimes look like inwardness or selfishness, but it’s primarily based on survival. When you’re an immigrant, feeding your children and paying your rent comes before integrating with society. And the support to do those things normally comes from within the community. For Korean Americans, the community mainly revolves around the church. Korean immigrants will go to church even if they aren’t religious. Because that’s where the community is. It’s where people speak their language. It’s where they can find information, and a network, and jobs, and people to cook them meals when they’re sick. It can sometimes seem like an unwillingness to integrate. But the closeness of the community is really about trying to survive.”


    • John July 7, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

      guns off the street in America? good luck


    • Fred August 24, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

      US inner city is like favelas. Yes.
      In brasil, highways have not really been built well, so after the periphery, there are not suburbs for middle class. Middle class lives in center of city, where there is clean water, electricity, etc.
      Unless they are very rich and they can afford a mansion outside the city.

      In US, now, rich are moving back to center of cities, post industrial and clean now


  10. John July 14, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

    transit benchmarking:


    • Bobby July 21, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

      trump is so bad – no values. a thief, liar, demagogue. hillary is not much better; she can’t swipe her metrocard. (making America “late” again). but compared to problems in these countries, quite a stable place…


      • 7linearmyny July 27, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

        Trump has no self-control or restraint, he does not follow rules, he constantly lies, he is ignorant, coarse, boastful, deceptive. He is greedy, and a bully. He sympathizes with dictators and he attacks, villifies, and suppresses opposition. He disrespects women, disabled, ethnic and religious minorities. He has no governing experience. He has no principles but to elevate himself, at any cost. He will elect crazies to the Supreme Court. This is how democracy will end. He speaks his mind, but his mind is full of garbage.

        Does not believe in abortion or climate change. Takes joy from firing people yet pretends to care about middle class.

        Bloomberg: “Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television; this is reality.” Trump builds up walls, he is not going to be creating compromises. Republicans blame immigrants and government, and Democrats blame businesses. He is going to blame everybody. Not solve problems, work together, come together… Trump wants to pay legal fees for people to attack protesters!

        Trump will bring us to wars, fear. Only cares about himself. Hypocrite. His business is terrible, so many bankruptcies. No consensus. No trust. No international treaties, ethnic minorities, decency. No supporting NATO.

        Obama – yes, we can
        Trump – yes, I can!


      • 7linearmyny July 27, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

        My Fellow Americans:

        Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Michael Bloomberg. I have been a Democrat, a Republican and an Independent. I have been Mayor of New York City for three terms.

        Before I was Mayor, I was a businessman. I started a financial information service that grew into a full-blown news service. When I started it, no one gave me a chance. There were already three major news services (UPI, Reuters and AP) that covered the globe and all the important news.

        I have worked hard, had a great team of people working with me, and I have been very successful financially. Unlike Donald Trump, I was not handed $1 million by my father (incidentally, $1 million then is the same as being handed $6 million in today’s money). Nor did I know that I would inherit anything, much less the $40-200 million that Donald Trump knew he would inherit.

        Unlike Donald Trump, I have not been involved in 3,500 lawsuits, I do not have small businesses that I have cheated out of money, I have not defrauded vulnerable people of their life savings with phony get-rich-quick schemes, I have not left investors stranded while I drained millions of dollars from the failing businesses they funded.

        I have never said horrible things about groups of people defined by their gender, sexual orientation, skin color or heritage. Nor have I attacked people with childish nicknames when they did not agree with me.

        Donald Trump did all those things.

        He is still doing them.

        Nonetheless, my net worth is about 10 times greater than Donald Trump’s The only reason I even mention it is that Donald Trump has told the American people that his net worth — that he exaggerates — somehow proves he has the wisdom and knowledge and judgment to lead our great nation.

        Well, if that is true, than my wisdom, knowledge and judgment must be 10 times better than his. [Donald Trump has sued people for alleging his net worth was lower than he said. But, those were uneven matches. I dare him to sue me over this statement. C’mon, Donald. Let’s see how tough you really are].

        Let me be the first to tell you that great wealth does not make you wise or knowledgeable or capable. Running a government, as I have in New York City, does benefit somewhat from having business experience, but not ones like Donald Trump’s, in which he schemed, tricked, conned and bullied people, is based on selling a brand-name, and has a long string of failures. [ Hint: You can tell how much of a con it is when he will not release 10 years of his tax returns so you can judge for yourselves. Did Trump, for example, receive amnesty for offshore abusive tax shelters? If someone will not show you, you ought to be very careful about believing anything he tells you].

        Being wealthy does not enable someone to address problems he knows nothing about, as Donald Trump has shown again and again in this campaign.

        And, remember, I am 10 times wealthier than Donald Trump. So, if you use his standards, you can take it with 10 times more certainty from me that Donald J Trump would be a clear-and-present danger to this country and this world if he somehow were able to con and lie his way into the White House.

        He will, in a word, be a disaster.

        Do not let it happen.


      • 7linearmyny July 27, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

        actual speech

        Kasim, thank you for that kind introduction. Let me thank all of you for welcoming an outsider here to deliver what will be an unconventional convention speech.

        Now, I’m not here as a member of any party, or to endorse any party platform. I am here for one reason, and one reason only: to explain why I believe it is my imperative that we elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States. And to ask you to join with me in supporting her this November.

        When the Founding Fathers arrived here in Philadelphia to forge a new nation, they didn’t come as Democrats or Republicans, or to nominate a presidential candidate. They came as patriots who feared party politics. I know how they felt. I’ve been a Democrat, I’ve been a Republican, and I eventually became an independent because I don’t believe either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership.

        When I enter the voting booth each time, I look at the candidate, not the party label. I have supported elected officials from both sides of the aisle. Probably not many people in this room can say that, but I know there are many watching at home who can. And now, they are carefully weighing their choices. I understand their dilemma.

        I know what it’s like to have neither party fully represent my views or values. Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence. Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction.

        There are times when I disagree with Hillary. But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must united around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.

        I believe it’s the duty of all American citizens to make our voices heard by voting in this election. And, if you’re not yet registered to vote, go online. Do it now. It’s just too important to sit this out.

        Now, we’ve heard a lot of talk in this campaign about needing a leader who understands business. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve built a business and I didn’t start it with a million-dollar check from my father. Because of my success in the private sector, I had the chance to run America’s largest city for 12 years, governing in the wake of its greatest tragedy.

        Today, as an independent, an entrepreneur, and a former mayor, I believe we need a president who is a problem solver, not a bomb thrower. Someone who can bring members of Congress together, to get things done. And I know Hillary Clinton can do that because I saw it firsthand.

        I was elected mayor two months after 9/11, as a Republican — and I saw how Hillary Clinton worked with Republicans in Washington to ensure that New York got the help it needed to recover and rebuild. Throughout her time in the Senate, we didn’t always agree
        — but she always listened. And that’s the kind of approach we need in Washington today, and it just has to start in the White House.

        Given my background, I’ve often encouraged business leaders to run for office because many of them share that same pragmatic approach to building consensus, but not all. Most of us who have created a business know that we’re only as good as the way our employees, clients, and partners view us. Most of us don’t pretend that we’re smart enough to make every big decision by ourselves. And most of us who have our names on the door know that we’re only as good as our word. But not Donald Trump.

        Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders, and contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us.

        I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one! Trump says he’ll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the US visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them. What’d I miss here?!

        Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy. He wants you to believe that we can solve our biggest problems by deporting Mexicans and shutting out Muslims. He wants you to believe that erecting trade barriers will bring back good jobs. He’s wrong on both counts.

        We can only solve our biggest problems if we come together and embrace the freedoms that our Founding Fathers established right here in Philadelphia, which permitted our ancestors to create the great American exceptionalism that all of us now enjoy. Donald Trump doesn’t understand that. Hillary Clinton does. And we can only create good jobs if we make smarter investments in infrastructure and do more to support small businesses. Not stiff them. Donald Trump doesn’t understand that. Hillary Clinton does.

        I understand the appeal of a businessman president. But Trump’s business plan is a disaster in the making. He would make it harder for small businesses to compete, do great damage to our economy, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe.

        The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice. And we can’t afford to make that choice.

        Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless; no candidate is. But she is the right choice — and the responsible choice — in this election. No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television; this is reality. She understands the job of president. It involves finding solutions, not pointing fingers, and offering hope, not stoking fear.

        Over the course of our country’s proud history, we have faced our share of grave challenges, but we have never retreated in fear. Never. Not here in Philadelphia in 1996, not at Gettysburg in 1863, not through two World Wars and a Great Depression, not at Selma or Stonewall, and not after 9/11 — and we must not start now.

        America is the greatest country on Earth — and when people vote with their feet, they come here. The presidency of the United States is the most powerful office in the world, and so I say to my fellow independents: Your vote matters now. Your vote will determine the future of your job, your business, and our future together as a country.

        To me, this election is not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It’s a choice about who is better to lead our country right now: better for our economy, better for our security, better for our freedom, and better for our future.

        There is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is the right choice this November. So tonight, as an independent, I am asking you to join with me — not out of party loyalty but out of love of country. And together, let’s elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the greatest country in the world, the United States of America.

        ……. bravo! meanwhile trump likes north korea and russia, wants to be a dictator LOL


  11. 7linearmyny July 28, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

    We are lucky to live in NY, despite all its problems. No huge informal squatting slums. Rivers are relatively clean. People are hooked up to clean, running water. Sewage treatment. Many slums around the world just live on sewage rivers.

    Like in Rio, where the world elite will come to play while those in the favelas stand to benefit from jobs/opportunities.

    a trickle


  12. Alex August 2, 2016 at 8:17 pm #

    Meanwhile NYC has slooow buses, unreliable, in traffic… and the demand for them. What a disconnect.


  13. Alex August 6, 2016 at 1:10 pm #


  14. Sammy August 23, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

    We need to think outside the box! Connect fields – agriculture, environment, public health, education, urban planning… For instance, South African townships are so sprawled out, away from jobs and opportunities, few own vehicles… Meanwhile, monocultures nearby drain out biodiversity, dry up the land, lack of nutrition and food access… Build an urban farm! Clean energy with biogas, compost, organic fertilizers… Or, a green roof, if weight can be supported, to collect rainwater, conserve energy, have community space and food access and nutrition… jobs, income…

    Also, how can you educate yourself if you are sick, if your pedagogy is bad, if unemployed…If paid to stay sick/unemployed and incentives are messed up…

    here they write that the stigma prevents people from getting help, they sell/steal drugs for money, paid to stay sick and unemployed, and townships are away from jobs… plus, a lack of education, distrust of western medicine/condoms/culture, rape violence… whole system, not silos… can urban planning help?

    Each township has access to clinics, home-based care, medical services, and growing sex education programs. So why do poor public health and numerous cases of HIV/AIDS continue to plague the townships? Physical infrastructure alone cannot fix issues such as alcoholism, drug abuse, a lack of education and awareness, gender inequality, violence, grant abuse, fear, a fatalistic attitude, destructive cultural beliefs and practices, and, perhaps the facilitator of all of these negatives, poverty. We believe extensive and consistent policy can address these complexities. Successful policy requires collaboration and a shared burden for both responsibility and accountability. Donor nations, multilateral institutions, and international NGO’s have a moral responsibility to provide proactive public health infrastructure in the form of accessible medicine, clinics, and medical services. On the receiving end, South African governments, NGO’s and citizens must take responsibility and establish accountability to utilize funds within productive, localized systems. Human and financial capital must be invested in helpful, incentivizing, and non-patronizing solutions. Data plays a huge role in accountability and highlights specific needs. Once needs are identified, policy makers need to effectively create incentives for proactive behavior. People must have reasons to change their behaviors, otherwise they will continue living within a dismal status quo. It is our hope that policy makers both abroad and in South Africa will adopt some of our proposals for proactive policy. The international community is financially committed and South Africa should no longer tolerate needlesss uffering

    USA is so lucky, gay marriage, abortion, so much freedom… electricity, water, heat…

    We need to build capacity, not dependence. Don’t give your service, but help them with your specialty, and train locals to do it, so they can have jobs, and not rely on your labor… Give them the independence and self-respect to thrive in their context… or else, any work you do will immediately vanish when you’re gone… no one will know how to repair, maintain, etc… look at all the post-colonial countries and their problems.


    • heteropolitan trans authority August 29, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

      yes, and what if your subway is bad, you are late to school. you miss a day, you learn less… economy suffers… or if your public health infrastructure is bad, you get sick, miss a day of work…

      we live in clusters. cbd is a cluster, to bring people together efficiently, a hug of business… and, neighborhoods are clusters. people know each other in the community. hasidic jews will rent out to each other, it is in their network, they have kosher restaurants nearby, etc.

      the subway connects us all, and sometimes, gives us a laugh…


      • Yokoinu September 12, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

        this is not funny, he should be sued, he probably did not get consent to make it so dirty, and did not clean it up… so more OT for the hourly cleaners.


  15. Bigg August 23, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    maintenance is not sexy! but you need the staff for it, you need shops/yards/structures/tracks in good condition, you need good data to document deficiencies, categorize severity, formal procedures, coordination, especially given just how large the system is – 216 power substations, mechanical equipment, hvac, elevators, signals, communications, buses, cars, traction power, stations, line structures, track (broken rails, corroded, ties, etc), third rail, paint…

    to solve large, multi-dimensional problems, collaboration and communication are important, especially on a legacy system with old technology… ideas must be shared from around the world, coordinated, especially after hurricane sandy… data, data, data


  16. Kalino August 24, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    All about capacity, time of day, conditions…

    And regarding conditions… the NYC subway stations are filthy. But I think it is mainly conditions. If you get rid of the leaks, the paint stops chipping, the tiles stop falling off, the tracks stop filling with disgusting water that easily collects trash and makes it harder to pick up, the third rail doesn’t arc as much…


  17. Kalino August 24, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    Some airplanes don’t have a 13th row… Not lucky.. let’s not transport that idea. I like #13!
    And I love double decker airplanes, with multiple entrances, front, back, 1st and 2nd level…


  18. Kalino August 24, 2016 at 2:14 pm #



  19. Loki August 24, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

    Gridlock Comes to Kuala Lumpur

    The ostrich is as tall as the cars around it, and running at a fair pace in the fast lane of the Federal Highway, which links Kuala Lumpur’s city center to Petaling Jaya, its largest satellite town. As the video of the surreal incident — the result of a tame ostrich’s escaping from captivity — circulated on social media in June, what struck many observers was that the giant bird was able to run so freely along the busiest of the capital’s many traffic-clogged highways. An hour or two later and the adventurous ostrich would have been hemmed in by gridlocked traffic, just like the rest of us.

    Traffic dominates the daily lives of those who live and work in Kuala Lumpur and the network of smaller but still populous cities that surround it, collectively known as the Klang Valley. Conversations between friends often begin with comparisons of recent experiences of traffic jams. (My current gripe: an hour to drive six and a half miles from Damansara Heights to Taman Megah, which Google tells me should take 15 minutes.) People become accustomed to their dinner guests’ arriving an hour late; parents wake their children earlier than ever to ensure they get to school on time.

    As Malaysia navigates its way from developing country to middle-class-nation status, the battle of its capital city against worsening traffic will play a crucial role in shaping the country’s 21st-century identity. Next to its regional neighbors, will it be a choking urban sprawl (think Jakarta) or a hyper-efficient, sustainable metropolis (think Singapore)?

    A large part of Kuala Lumpur’s traffic nightmare is caused by its love affair with the automobile — as elsewhere, a key symbol of wealth. According to the consumer data company Nielsen, car ownership in Malaysia is among the highest in the world — a staggering 93 percent of households own at least one car. And Malaysian motorists are hungry for more: In the Nielsen survey, seven out of 10 respondents said they hoped to purchase a new vehicle in the next two years.

    Car ownership expresses social aspiration, too: Nearly two-thirds of respondents in the survey saw their cars as status symbols. And 88 percent of Malaysians intended to upgrade their car as soon as finances allow. In Kuala Lumpur alone, about 1,000 new cars are registered every day.

    Getting these newly middle-class drivers out of their status symbols and onto public transportation is a monumental task, further complicated by the sprawling nature of the suburbs and the network of smaller conurbations that make up greater Kuala Lumpur. In any case, a severe lack of options in mass transit — with especially poor rail connections outside the metropolitan area — makes traveling by private car the only choice for many journeys. Only 20 percent of trips in the capital are made by public transportation.

    The Klang Valley’s principal bus operator, Rapid KL, complains of a chronic shortage of bus drivers to cover its 160 routes, resulting in erratic schedules and low ridership — the daily passenger total numbers only about 280,000 out of the Klang Valley’s total population of seven million. The city’s two main train lines — the Light Rail Transit and Monorail — are efficient and affordable but operate just two routes each.

    At present, only one 3.5-mile stretch of bicycle lane exists, and Malaysia’s year-round stifling heat makes even the shortest cycle commute uncomfortable. For many residents, the cheap and plentiful taxis are the main alternative; the recent arrival of Uber has provided a further option. But these cars add to, rather than relieve, congestion on the roads.

    With Kuala Lumpur’s traffic crisis getting worse every year, City Hall has come up with a series of projects to mitigate the problem. The most ambitious, announced to great fanfare in 2010, is the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit, a rail line that circles the capital, with further lines connecting the loop to the city center. The first stage, linking several densely populated suburban areas, should be completed by the end of the year. Plans to charge motorists entering the city center, like similar operations in Singapore and London, should come into effect next year, once the first stage of the new transit system is running.

    At stake is not just the daily grumbling of Kuala Lumpur’s motorists, but the city’s future as a competitive, livable city. A 2015 World Bank report found that Kuala Lumpur’s population wastes up to 500 million hours of work a year idling in traffic, burning up to 1.2 billion liters (about 315 million gallons) of fuel; these losses are estimated to exceed 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Simply put, the amount of time commuters here spend every year doing nothing in their cars costs the equivalent of more than a month’s average wages.

    The success of the new rail system is crucial to the ambitions of a city hoping to strengthen its image as one of the world’s friendliest places to do business. It’s also essential to the continued stability of one of Asia’s most racially diverse cities. With sizable ethnic Chinese and Indian communities living alongside the Malay-Muslim majority, the linking of areas traditionally populated by one group or another is key to enabling the city to function as a rich cultural melting pot.

    As for the ostrich, a young female named Chickaboo, all ended happily. After a brief chase, she was recaptured and safely returned to the farm where she was born. Her escapade was a hit in Kuala Lumpur, personifying what many of us feel: better to take your chances on foot than get caught in rush hour.


  20. Jinxor September 10, 2016 at 11:14 am #

    GPS is the answer to informal transit. Make these operators use it, to enforce them to not speed… Uber is fair. You are never going to be over charged by a sleek driver.


  21. Iona September 21, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    South African informal taxis are a lot more formal than those in most African countries… They have set places to pick up and drop off to various locations, even if you need to wait for the vans to be full. They are like van taxis. They make money after a certain amount is given to whoever owns the vehicle. So the incentive is to go FAST!


  22. Felix September 25, 2016 at 3:29 pm #

    Autonomous vehicles are going to change the world. Suburban bus welfare agencies will no longer be needed as governments can subsidize poor people with these car sharing services. Parking spaces will be no longer necessary because vehicles will pick you up, drop you off, and go to the next customer. Roads will be privately maintained by the few AV companies. You will be able to get picked up and pooled with your friends or matched with people similar to you because companies will know you. Most Avs will be very small and efficient, and people won’t need to buy SUVs just for the few times they are going to WalMart. If they need to go to Home Depot or whatever, they can hail an SUV AV. But these vehicles will not be idle 90 percent of the time so will need to be replaced quickly. But they will divert congestion, all be controlled and routed the most efficient way. If someone dirties it, it is sent back to the shop to be cleaned. This will be the new feeder system to mass transit, and it will help people get to daycare, job, or nutritious food, help deliveries, less traffic, less pollution… This is the future.


    • Ramma October 9, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

      Yes, and imagine the autonomous emergency vehicles. They can communicate with the other vehicles, and they can move out of the way. Until then, perhaps traffic signals can be changed automatically when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Similar to transit signal priority.

      Soon these will be seen as the dark ages, where people actually got into car accidents, or cars crashed into bikes. We’ll have GPS on our Citibikes, so cars know to avoid them. Those Citibikes have lights that are all powered by wheel rotation, their docks are powered by solar panels, etc.

      Excited for the future. Even now, citibike stations have solar panels, and antennas to connect the payment info/machines into the wireless “cloud”…

      nice new public space design — trees, canopy, street furniture, pavement styles, lighting…

      bike lanes and public spaces


  23. Gor September 26, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    Ann Babe

    Ann Babe
    Sep 26, 2016

    A mother and father stand in the doorway of their Khayelitsha home, looking on as their two young children goof around on the small patch of dirt outside. It’s something like a front yard, only that — flanked on one side by the family’s corrugated tin shack and on the other by a public portable toilet balanced precariously on a slope — it’s a stinky and unsanitary one.

    On this clear May day, though, the kids are focused on the play, not the bright, plastic porta-potty that looms over them.

    In Khayelitsha, the densely packed, sprawling slum in southeastern Cape Town, this scene is nothing out of the ordinary. Chemical toilets — toilets that are not connected to a sewage system but instead store waste in small tanks that use chemicals to control the odor until they can be emptied — were designed to be short-term solutions. In the U.S., they are most often found on construction sites or festival grounds, but in Cape Town they have become permanent fixtures, accounting for more than 75 percent of the bathroom facilities available in some parts of the densely populated settlement. And with each toilet shared by five to 20 households, many of them large and multigenerational, the chemicals are far from effective.

    The one I’m eyeing has serviced this family for five years. Others have been in use for more than a decade. They pepper the township in unsightly bursts of blue. Their odor is inescapable. And perhaps worse than the sight and smell is what they signify. Residents say the chemical toilets mean they can’t even undertake basic human functions with dignity. Each trip to the bathroom is dehumanizing.

    With such limited access to decent restroom facilities, sanitation is a constant challenge in Khayelitsha. The seeming impossibility of overcoming it weighs heavily on the people, who say they struggle with sanitation every single day, which makes them feel like second-class citizens in their own country.

    A 35-minute drive west of Khayelitsha is Cape Town’s richest neighborhood, Clifton. The posh bayside area brims with bungalows, luxe shops and fine dining spots where a hearty meal often costs more than an entire month’s earnings for many Khayelitsha families, whose median income is 20,000 South African Rand (about $1,400 U.S.) a year. One glance from Clifton to Khayelitsha, and it’s clear why there is such social strife in South Africa. While the post-Apartheid nation heralds a world-class constitution that guarantees basic human rights for everyone, nearly one-quarter of Cape Town’s population lives in informal settlements — which are overwhelmingly black — where accessing these rights is difficult, if not impossible.

    Khayelitsha is the biggest and fastest growing of the slums, larger than many midsize American cities. It clings to the outskirts of the Mother City, as Cape Town is known, like a forgotten child at a dress hem. Residents feel disconnected from the city, they say, with many of them unaware of what services they can reasonably expect or what laws say they can expect them. “We are in a community where we don’t know our rights,” says Nosiphelele Msesiwe, a Khayelitsha resident. “We don’t know that it’s our right to get better service delivery.”

    Msesiwe, who is 33, moved to Khayelitsha’s Enkanini subsection in 2006 with her son Oyama. For seven years, she endured the inadequate sanitation, talking to her neighbors about the problem, but uncertain of how to go about changing it. Then she heard about a group of residents called the Social Justice Coalition that were asking questions about toilets — and a lot of them.

    Msesiwe joined right away. “Since then, I’ve never turned back,” she says.

    Established in Khayelitsha in 2008, the SJC is a member-based social movement, 2,500 strong, that aims to increase the people’s awareness of their rights so they can make informed demands of government.

    A key part of this education is to vigorously, and systematically, compare what the township dwellers expect based on the city budget with what they actually experience, and then relay those disparities to the public officials with the power to address them. The process reviews official records of government-reported expenditures to determine whether that spending matches up with delivery on the ground.

    This is a practice of participatory democracy known as the social audit — and now it is at the heart of two lawsuits against the city of Cape Town.

    – it is possible to be gay and christian.
    – it’s also possible to believe in god and science.
    – it is possible to be pro-choice and anti-abortion.
    – it is equally possible to be a feminist and love and respect men.
    – it’s possible to have privilege and be discriminated against, to be poor and have a rich life, to not have a job and still have money.
    – it is possible to believe in sensible gun control legislation and still believe in one’s right to defend one’s self, family, and property.
    – it’s possible to be anti-war and pro-military.
    – it is possible to love thy neighbor and despise his actions.
    – it is possible to advocate black lives matter and still be pro police.
    – it is possible to not have an education and be brilliant.
    – it is possible to be muslim and also suffer at the hands of terrorists.
    – it is possible to be a non-american fighting for the american dream.
    – it is possible to be different and the same.
    we are all walking contradictions of what “normal” looks like.
    let humanity and love win.


  24. Yuni October 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    This is a great article:

    Cities grow in three directions: in by crowding, up into multi-story buildings, or out toward the periphery. Although cities everywhere have developed in each of these ways at various times, nowhere in Europe do urban settlements sprawl as much as in the United States. Less than a quarter of the U.S. population lived in suburbia in 1930. Now well over half does. Why have most European cities remained compact compared to the hyperextended American metropolis?

    At first glance, the answer seems elementary. The urban centers of Europe are older, and the populations of their countries did not increase as rapidly in the postwar period. In addition, stringent national land-use laws slowed exurban development, whereas the disjointed jurisdictions ill U.S. metropolitan regions encouraged it.

    But on closer inspection, this conventional wisdom does not suffice. It is true that the contours of most major urban areas in the United States were formed to a great extent by economic and demographic expansion after the Second World War. But the same was true in much of Europe, where entire cities were reduced to rubble by the war and had to be rebuilt from ground zero.

    Consider Germany, whose cities were carpet bombed. Many German cities today are old in name only, and though the country’s population as a whole grew less quickly than America’s after 1950, West German cities experienced formidable economic growth and in-migrations. Yet the metropolitan population density of the United States is still about one-fourth that of Germany. New York, our densest city, has approximately one-third the number of inhabitants per square mile as Frankfurt.

    Sprawl has continued apace even in places where the American population has grown little or not at all in recent decades. From 1970 to 1990, the Chicago area’s population rose by only 4 percent, but the region’s built-up land increased 46 percent. Metropolitan Cleveland’s population actually declined by 8 percent, yet 33 percent more of the area’s territory was developed.

    The fragmented jurisdictional structure in U.S. metropolitan areas, wherein every suburban town or county has control over the use of land, does not adequately explain sprawl either. Since 1950, about half of America’s central cities at least doubled their territory by annexing new suburbs. Houston covered 160 square miles in 1950. By 1980, exercising broad powers to annex its environs, it incorporated 556 square miles. In the same 30-year period, Jacksonville went from being a town of 30 square miles to a regional government enveloping 841 square miles-two-thirds the size of Rhode Island. True, the tri-state region of New York contains some 780 separate localities, some with zoning ordinances that permit only low—density subdivisions. But the urban region of Paris-Ile de France-comprises 1,300 municipalities, all of which have considerable discretion in the consignment of land for development.

    To be sure, European central governments presumably oversee these local decisions through nationwide land-use statutes. But is this a telling distinction? The relationship of U.S. state governments to their local communities is roughly analogous to that of Europe’s unitary regimes to their respective local entities. Not only are the governments of some of our states behemoths (New York State’s annual expenditures, for example, approximate Sweden’s entire national budget) but at significant number have enacted territorial planning legislation reminiscent of European guidelines. Indeed, from a legal standpoint, local governments in this country are mere “creatures” of the states, which can direct, modify, or even abolish their localities at will. Many European municipalities, with their ancient independent charters, are less subordinated.

    The enforcement of land-use plans varies considerably in Europe. In Germany, as in America, some Lii (1er (or states) are more restrictive than others. The Scandinavians, Dutch, and British take planning more seriously than, say, the Italians. The late Antonio Cederna, an astute journalist, wrote volumes about the egregious violations of building and development codes in and around Italy’s historic centers. Critics who assume that land regulators in the United States are chronically permissive, whereas Europe’s growth managers are always scrupulous and “smart,” ought to contemplate, say, the unsightly new suburbs stretching across the northwestern plain of Florence toward Prato, and then visit Long Island’s East End, where it is practically impossible to obtain a building permit along many miles of pristine coastline.

    Big, fast, and violent The more important contrasts in urban development between America and Europe lie elsewhere. With three and half million square miles of territory, the United States has had much more space over which to spread its settlements. And on this vast expanse, decentralizing technologies took root and spread decades earlier than in other industrial countries. In 1928, for example, 78 percent of all the motor vehicles in the world were located in the United States. With incomes rising rapidly, and the costs of producing vehicles declining, 56 percent of American families owned an automobile by that time. No European country reached a comparable level of automobile ownership until well after the Second World War. America’s motorized multitudes were able to begin commuting between suburban residences and workplaces decades before such an arrangement was imaginable in any other advanced nation.

    A more perverse but also distinctive cause of urban sprawl in the United States has been the country’s comparatively high level of violent crime. Why a person is ten times more likely to be murdered in America than in Japan, seven times more likely to be raped than in France, or almost four times more likely to be robbed at gun point than in the United Kingdom, is a complex question. But three things are known.

    First, although criminal violence has declined markedly here in the past few years, America’s cities have remained dangerous bv international standards. New York’s murder rate dropped by two-thirds between 1991 and 1997, yet there were still 767 homicides committed that year. London, a megacity of about the same size, had less thani 130. Second, the rates of personal victimization, including murder, rape, assault, robbery, and personal theft, tend to be much higher within U.S. central cities than in their surroundings. In 1997, incidents of violent crime inside Washington, D.C., for instance, were six times more frequent than in the city’s suburbs. Third, there is a strong correlation between city crime rates and the flight of households and businesses to safer jurisdictions. According to economists Julie Berry Cullen of the University of Michigan and Steven D. Levitt of the University of Chicago, between 1976. and 1993, a city typically lost one resident for every additional crime committed within it.

    Opinion surveys regularly rank public safety as a leading consideration in the selection of residential locations. In 1992, when New Yorkers were asked to name “the most important reason” for moving out of town, the most common answer was “crime, lack of safety” (47.2 percent). All other reasons-including “high cost of living” (9.3 percent) and “not enough affordable housing” (5.3 percent)-lagged far behind. Two years ago, when the American Assembly weighed the main obstacles to business investments in the inner cities, it learned that businessmen identified lack of security as the principal impediment. In short, crime in America has further depopulated the cores of metropolitan areas, scattering their inhabitants and businesses.

    The not-so-invisible hand In addition to these fundamental differences, the public agendas here and in major European countries have been miles apart. The important distinctions, moreover, have less to do with differing “urban” programs than with other national policies, the consequences of which are less understood.

    For example, lavish agricultural subsidies in Europe have kept more farmers in business and dissuaded them from selling their land to developers. Per hectare of farmland, agricultural subventions are 12 times more generous in France than in the United States, a divergence that surely helps explain why small farms still surround Paris but not New York City.

    Thanks to scant taxation of gasoline, the price of automotive fuel in the United States is almost a quarter of what it is in Italy. Is it any surprise that Italians would live closer to their urban centers, where they can more easily walk to work or rely on public transportation? On a per capita basis, residents of Milan make an average of 350 trips a year on public transportation; people in San Diego make an average of 17.

    Gasoline is not the only form of energy that is much cheaper in the United States than in Europe. Rates for electric power and furnace fuels are too. The expense of heating the equivalent of an average detached U.S. suburban home, and of operating the gigantic home appliances (such as refrigerators and freezers) that substitute for neighborhood stores in many American residential communities, would be daunting to most households in large parts of Europe.

    Systems of taxation make a profound difference. European tax structures penalize consumption. Why don’t most of the Dutch and Danes vacate their compact towns and cities where many commuters ride bicycles, rather than drive sport-utility vehicles, to work? The sales tax on a new, medium-sized car in the Netherlands is approximately nine times higher than in the United States; in Denmark, 37 times higher. The U.S. tax code favors spending over saving (the latter is effectively taxed twice) and provides inducements to purchase particular goods—most notably houses, since the mortgage interest is deductible. The effect of such provisions is to lead most American families into the suburbs, where spacious dwellings are available and absorb much of the nation’s personal savings pool.

    Tax policy is not the only factor promoting home ownership in the United States. Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration mortgage guarantees financed more than a quarter of the suburban single-family homes built in the immediate postwar period. In Europe, the housing stocks of many countries were decimated by the war. Governments responded to the emergency by erecting apartment buildings and extending rental subsidies to large segments of the population. America also built a good deal of publicly subsidized rental housing in the postwar years, but chiefly to accommodate the most impoverished city-dwellers. Unlike the mixed—income housing complexes scattered around London or Paris, U.S. public housing projects further concentrated the urban poor in the inner cities, turning the likes of Chicago’s South Side into breeding grounds of social degradation and violence. Middle-class city-dwellers fled from these places to less perilous locations in the metropolitan fringe.

    Few decisions are more consequential for the shape of cities than a society’s investments in transportation infrastructure. Government at all levels in the United States has committed hundreds of billions to the construction and maintenance of highways, passenger railroads, and transit systems. What counts, however, is not just the magnitude of the commitment but the distribution of the public expenditures among modes of transportation. In the United States, where the share claimed by roads has dwarfed that of alternatives by about six to one, an unrelenting increase in automobile travel and a steady decline in transit usage-however heavily subsidized—was inevitable.

    Dense cities dissipate without relatively intensive use of mass transit. In 1945, transit accounted for approximately 35 percent of urban passenger miles traveled in the United States. By 1994, the figure had dwindled to less than 3 percent-or roughly one-fifth the average in Western Europe. If early on, American transportation planners had followed the British or French budgetary practice of allocating between 40 and GO percent of their transport outlays to passenger railroads and mass transit systems, instead of nearly 85 percent for highways, there is little question that many U.S. cities would be more compressed today.

    Dense cities also require a vibrant economy of neighborhood shops and services. (Why live in town if performing life’s simplest everyday functions, like picking up fresh groceries for supper, requires driving to distant vendors?) But local shopkeepers cannot compete with the regional megastores that are proliferating in America’s metropolitan shopping centers and strip malls. Multiple restrictions on the penetration and predatory pricing practices of large retailers in various European countries protect small urban businesses. The costs to consumers are high, but the convenience and intimacy of London’s “high streets” or of the corner markets in virtually every Parisian arrondissement are preserved.

    “Shift and shaft” federalism Europe’s cities retain their merchants and inhabitants for yet another reason: European municipalities typically do not face the same fiscal liabilities as U.S. cities. Local governments in Germany derive less than one-third of their income from local revenues; higher levels of government transfer the rest. For a wide range of basic functions-including educational institutions, hospitals, prisons, courts, utilities, and so on-the national treasury funds as much as 80 percent of the expense incurred by England’s local councils. Localities in Italy and the Netherlands raise only about 10 percent of their budgets locally. In contrast, U.S. urban governments must largely support themselves: They collect two-thirds of their revenues from local sources.

    In principle, self-sufficiency is a virtue; municipal taxpayers ought to pay directly for the essential services they use. But in practice, these taxpayers are also being asked to finance plenty of other costly projects, many of which are mandated, but underfunded, by the federal government. Affluent jurisdictions may be able to absorb this added burden, but communities strapped for revenues often cannot. To satisfy the federal government’s paternalistic commands, many old cities have been forced to raise taxes and cut the services that local residents need or value most. In response, businesses and middle-class households flee to the suburbs.

    America’s public schools are perhaps the clearest example of a crucial local service that is tottering under the weight of unfunded federal directives. Few nations, if any, devote as large a share of their total public education expenditures to nonteaching personnel. There may be several excuses for this lopsided administrative overhead, but one explanation is almost certainly the growth of government regulation and the armies of academic administrators needed to handle the red tape.

    Schools are required, among other things, to test drinking water, remove asbestos, perform recycling, insure “gender equity,” and provide something called “special education.” The latter program alone forces local authorities to set aside upwards of $30 billion a year to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

    Meanwhile, according to a 199G report by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the federal government reimburses a paltry 8 percent of the expense. Compliance costs for urban school districts, where the concentrations of learning-disabled pupils are high and the means to support them low, can be particularly onerous. Out of a total $850 million of local funds budgeted for 77,000 students in the District of Columbia, for instance, $170 million has been earmarked for approximately 8,000 students receiving “special education.”

    Wretched schools are among the reasons why most American families have fled the cities for greener pastures. It is hard enough for distressed school systems like the District’s, which struggle to impart even rudimentary literacy, to compete with their wealthier suburban counterparts. The difficulty is compounded by federal laws that, without adequate recompense, divert scarce educational resources from serving the overwhelming majority of students.

    Schools are but one of many municipal services straining to defray centrally dictated expenses. Consider the plight of urban mass transit in the United States. Its empty seats and colossal operating deficits are no secret. Less acknowledged are the significant financial obligations imposed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and subsequent legislation. To comply with the Department of Transportation’s rules for retrofitting public buses and subways, New York City estimated in 1980 that it would need to spend more than $1 billion in capital improvements on top of $50 million in recurring annual operating costs. As the city’s mayor, Edward I. Koch, said at the time, “It would be cheaper for us to provide every severely disabled person with taxi service than make 255 of our subway stations accessible.”

    Although the Reagan administration later lowered these costs, passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 led to a new round of pricey special accommodations in New York and other cities with established transit systems. Never mind that the Washington Metro is the nation’s most modern and well-designed subway system. It has been ordered to tear up 45 stations and install bumpy tiles along platform edges to accommodate the sight impaired, a multi-million dollar effort. At issue here, as in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is not whether provisions for the handicapped are desirable and just. Rather, the puzzle is how Congress can sincerely claim to champion these causes if it scarcely appropriates the money to advance them.

    Nearly two decades ago, Mayor Koch detailed in The Public Interest what he called the “millstone” of some 47 unfunded mandates.(1) The tally of national statutes encumbering U.S. local governments since then has surpassed at least one hundred. And this does not count the hundreds of federal court orders and agency rulings that micromanage, and often drain, local resources. By 1994, Los Angeles estimated that federally mandated programs were costing the city approximately $840 million a year. Erasing that debit from the city’s revenue requirements, either by meeting it with federal and state aid or by substantial recisions, would be tantamount to reducing city taxes as much as 20 percent. A windfall that large could do more to reclaim the city’s slums, and halt the hollowing out of core communities, than would all of the region’s planned “empowerment zones,” “smart growth” initiatives, and “livability” bond issues.

    Follow Europe? To conclude that greater fiscal burden sharing and a wide range of other public policies help sustain Europe’s concentrated cities is not to say, of course, that all those policies have enhanced the welfare of Europeans-and hence, that the United States ought to emulate them. The central governments of Western Europe may assume more financial responsibilities instead of bucking them down to the local level, but these top-heavy regimes also levy much higher taxes. Fully funding all of Washington’s many social mandates with national tax dollars would mean, as in much of Europe, a more centralized and bloated welfare state.

    Most households are not better off when farmers are heavily subsidized, or when anticompetitive practices protect microbusinesses at the expense of larger, more efficient firms. Nor would most consumers gain greater satisfaction from housing strategies that encourage renter occupancy but not homeownership, or from gas taxes and transportation policies that force people out of their cars and onto buses, trains, or bicycles.

    In fact, these sorts of public biases have exacted an economic toll in various Western European countries, and certainly in Japan, while the United States has prospered in part because its economy is less regulated, and its metropolitan areas have been allowed to decompress. So suffocating is the extreme concentration of people and functions in the Tokyo area that government planners now view decentralization as a top economic priority. Parts of the British economy, too, seem squeezed by development controls. A recent report by McKinsey and Company attributes lagging productivity in key sectors to Britain’s land-use restrictions that hinder entry and expansion of the most productive firms.

    The densely settled cities of Europe teem with small shops. But the magnetic small-business presence reflects, at least in part, a heavily regulated labor market that stifles entrepreneurs who wish to expand and thus employ more workers. As the Economist noted in a review of the Italian economy, “Italy’s plethora of small firms is as much an indictment of its economy as a triumph: many seem to lack either the will or the capital to keep growing.” The lack of will is not surprising; moving from small to midsize or large means taking on employees who are nearly impossible to lay off when times turn bad, and it means saddling a company with costly mandated payroll benefits. Italy may have succeeded in conserving clusters of small businesses in its old cities and towns, but perhaps at the price of abetting double-digit unemployment in its economy as a whole.

    Striking a balance America’s strewn-out cities are not without their own inefficiencies. The sprawling conurbations demand, for one thing, virtually complete reliance on automotive travel, thereby raising per capita consumption of motor fuel to four times the average of cities in Europe. That extraordinary level of fossil—fuel combustion complicates U.S. efforts to lower this country’s considerable contribution to the buildup of greenhouse gases. Our seemingly unbounded suburbanization has also blighted central cities that possess irreplaceable architectural and historic assets. A form of metropolitan growth that displaces only bleak and obsolescent urban relics, increasingly discarded by almost everyone, may actually be welfare-enhancing. A growth process that also blights and abandons a nation’s important civic and cultural centers, however, is rightfully grounds for concern.

    Still, proposals to reconfigure urban development in the United States need to shed several misconceptions. As research by Helen Ladd of Duke University has shown, the costs of delivering services in high-density settlements frequently increase, not decrease. Traffic congestion at central nodes also tends to worsen with density, and more people may be exposed to hazardous levels of soot and smog. (The inhabitants of Manhattan drive fewer vehicle miles per capita than persons who inhabit New York’s low-density suburbs. Nevertheless, Manhattan’s air is often less healthy because the borough’s traffic is unremittingly thick and seldom free-flowing, and more people live amid the fumes.) Growth boundaries, such as those circumscribing Portland, Oregon, raise real estate values, so housing inside the boundaries becomes less, not more, “affordable.” Even the preservation of farmland, a high priority of managed growth plans, should be placed in proper perspective. The United States is the world’s most productive agricultural producer, with ample capacity to spare. Propping up marginal farms in urbanizing areas may not put this acreage to uses most valued by society.

    In sum, the diffuse pattern of urban growth in the United States is partly a consequence of particular geographic conditions, cultural characteristics, and raw market forces, but also an accidental outcome of certain government policies. Several of these formative influences differ fundamentally from those that have shaped European cities. Critics of the low-density American cityscape may admire the European model, but they would do well to recognize the full breadth of hard policy choices, and tough tradeoffs, that would have to be made before the constraints on sprawl in this country could even faintly begin to resemble Europe’s.


    • Yuni October 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm #


      Between the 1920s and 1960s, policies adapting cities to car travel in the United States served as a role model for much of Western Europe. But by the late 1960s, many European cities started refocusing their policies to curb car use by promoting walking, cycling, and public transportation. For the last two decades, in the face of car-dependence, suburban sprawl, and an increasingly unsustainable transportation system, U.S. planners have been looking to Western Europe.

      The numbers show the need for change. In 2010, Americans drove for 85 percent of their daily trips, compared to car trip shares of 50 to 65 percent in Europe. Longer trip distances only partially explain the difference. Roughly 30 percent of daily trips are shorter than a mile on either side of the Atlantic. But of those under one-mile trips, Americans drove almost 70 percent of the time, while Europeans made 70 percent of their short trips by bicycle, foot, or public transportation.

      The statistics don’t reveal the sources of this disparity, but there are nine main reasons American metro areas have ended up so much more car-dependent than cities in Western Europe.

      Mass motorization. Mass motorization occurred earlier in the United States than in Europe, mainly facilitated by assembly line production that brought down cost. By the mid-1930s there was already one registered automobile for every two U.S. households, while car ownership in Europe was mostly limited to wealthy elites. Moreover, greater personal wealth in the U.S. allowed households to more readily afford cars than comparatively poorer European households, particularly in the years immediately after World War II.

      Road standards. As a result of early mass motorization, American cities were first to adapt to the car at a large scale. U.S. planners and engineers developed initial standards for roadways, bridges, tunnels, intersections, traffic signals, freeways, and car parking. Successful innovations quickly spread elsewhere, often in the form of standards. Europeans also experimented with automobile infrastructure—Stockholm opened a large inner city clover-leaf interchange in the 1930s—but European cities adapted to cars much more slowly than U.S. metros did, especially before World War II.

      Vehicle taxes. Taxation of car ownership and use has traditionally been higher in Europe and helped curb car travel demand. Today a gallon of gasoline is more than twice as expensive in Europe than in the United States. Moreover, in Europe gas tax revenue typically contributes to the general fund, meaning roadway expenditures compete with other government expenditures. In many U.S. states and at the federal level, large parts of the gas tax revenue are earmarked for roadway construction, assuring a steady flow of non-competitive funds for roads.

      Interstate system. In the 1950s, the U.S. federal government offered a 90 percent match to build the Interstate Highway System that soon crisscrossed most U.S. urban areas. Combined with urban renewal and slum clearance programs, interstates destroyed and cut-off entire urban neighborhoods and facilitated suburban sprawl (itself subsidized through mortgage policies). European national governments also provided subsidies for roadways, but typically at a lower level or for shorter periods of time. Moreover, European highways, such as Germany’s high speed Autobahn system, typically link cities rather than penetrate them.

      Government subsidies. Over the last 40 years, gas taxes, tolls, and registration fees have covered only about 60 or 70 percent of roadway expenditures across all levels of U.S. government. The remainder has been paid using property, income, and other taxes not related to transportation. These subsidies for driving reduce its cost and increase driving demand in the United States. In European countries, meanwhile, drivers typically pay more in taxes and fees than governments spend on roadways.

      American cities were first to adapt to the car at a large scale.
      Technological focus. Policy responses to problems of U.S. car travel have focused on technological changes rather than altering behavior. For example, responses to air pollution or traffic safety consisted of technological fixes — such as catalytic converters, reformulated cleaner fuels, seat belts, and air bags — that let people keep driving as usual. European countries implemented these technological requirements as well, but also more aggressively reduced speed limits in entire neighborhoods, created car free zones, reduced car parking, and implemented other policies that encourage behavioral shifts.

      Public transit. Sustained government support helped European transit systems to weather the rise of the car more successfully. Particularly after World War II, privately owned U.S. transit systems increased fares, cut services, lost ridership, and either went out of business or were saved by public ownership — with help from U.S. governments often coming too late. For instance, many cities saw their trolley systems disappear entirely in the 1950s and ’60s, though there has been a streetcar reemergence of late.

      Walking and cycling. Only a few U.S. cities, such as Davis, California, have a tradition of implementing pedestrian and bicyclist amenities since the 1970s. By contrast, many European cities, led by Muenster, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen, have implemented entire networks of bike lanes, separated cycle tracks, off-street bicycle paths, and traffic calmed neighborhood streets — allowing easy travel by bicycle between any origin and destination in a city or region. European cities also have a longer history of providing networks of sidewalks, crosswalks, and car free zones in city centers. Additionally, European traffic laws protect pedestrians and cyclists, often putting the responsibility for a crash on the driver, while U.S. traffic laws, police, and court juries often fail to prosecute or punish drivers who kill pedestrians or cyclists.

      Zoning laws. There are many differences between land-use planning systems in the United States and Europe. Europeans tend to allow a greater mix of uses in their residential zones, thus keeping trip distances shorter. For example, in Germany, a residential zone can include doctors’ offices, cafes, corner stores, or apartment buildings. By contrast, single family residential zones in the United States typically forbid those uses. Zoning in Germany also occurs for smaller land areas—almost at the block level—facilitating shorter trips than in U.S. cities, where zones tend to be much larger. And while most U.S. zoning codes still require a minimum number of parking spots, many European countries operate with maximum numbers to limit parking.


      • amtrakagain? December 12, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

        The NEC is still not as fast as European rail corridors. Why? Well, Germany, for instance, has high gas taxes and excessive land use regulations in order to preserve farmland. So, there’s less sprawl, and once the train leaves the city, it’s in farmland. Easier to have straight track there, than it would be along the sprawling NEC to raze existing structures in order to straighten track. NEC has a lot of curves, few straight tracks, so they’re straightening where they can, and purchasing new trains that tilt at high speeds.

        The Acela Express (/əˈsɛlə/ ə-sel-ə; colloquially abbreviated to Acela) is Amtrak’s flagship service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in the Northeast United States between Washington DC and Boston via 14 intermediate stops including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. The route contains segments of high-speed rail, and Acela Express trains are the fastest trainsets in the Americas; the highest speed they attain is 150 mph (240 km/h) in revenue service.[8] Acela trains use tilting technology, which helps control lateral centrifugal forces, allowing the train to travel at higher speeds on the sharply curved NEC without disturbing passengers.[9]
        Acela operates along routes that are also used by freight and slower regional passenger traffic, and only reaches the maximum allowed speed of the tracks along some sections, with the fastest peak speed along segments between Mansfield, Massachusetts and Richmond, Rhode Island. The high-speed operation occurs mostly along the 226-mile (364 km) route from New York’s Penn Station to Washington DC’s Union Station, with a fastest scheduled time of 2 hours and 45 minutes and an average speed of 82 mph (132 km/h), including time spent at intermediate stops. Over this route, Acela has been extremely successful, capturing, combined with the Northeast Regional line, a 75% share of air/train commuters between New York and Washington in 2011, up from 37% in 2000.[10] Due to this competition, one airline canceled service between Washington and New York.[11]
        On other portions Acela is limited by both traffic and infrastructure. On the 231-mile (372 km) section from Boston’s South Station to New York’s Penn Station, the scheduled time is 3 hours and 40 minutes,[10] or an average speed of 63 miles per hour (101 km/h). Along this section, Acela has still captured 54% share of the combined train and air market.[12][13][14] The entire 457-mile (735 km) route from Boston to Washington takes 7 hours,[2] at an average of around 65 miles per hour (105 km/h).
        Acela carried more than 3.4 million passengers in fiscal year 2015;[1] second only to the slower and cheaper Northeast Regional, which had over 8 million passengers in FY 2015.[1] Its 2015 revenue of $585 million[1] was 25% of Amtrak’s total. (Another 25% came from Northeast Regional traffic, and roughly 25% each for long-distance trains and state-supported corridor services throughout the rest of the country).[1][15]
        The present Acela Express equipment will be replaced by new Avelia Liberty trainsets beginning in 2021, with all current trains to retire by the end of 2022. The new trainsets, manufactured by Alstom, will have 30% higher seating capacity than the current trains. The new fleet will have 28 trains versus the current 20, allowing for hourly New York-Boston service all day and half-hourly New York-Washington service at peak hours.[16]

        On August 26, 2016, U.S. passenger rail operator Amtrak and Alstom announced that the Avelia Liberty trainset had been chosen to replace the existing Bombardier-Alstom Acela Express trainsets on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington via New York.[1][2] The new trainsets, along with track and signaling improvements, will allow for an initial improvement in maximum regular service speed to 160 miles per hour (257 km/h) on some portions of the route. with a maximum possible speed of 186 miles per hour (299 km/h) – 220 miles per hour (350 km/h)[3] if future investments in track and signaling upgrades are made.[1] Amtrak will acquire 28 trainsets to replace the existing 20 units, allowing for more frequent service on the route, including half-hourly peak service between New York and Washington; in addition, the new trains will have approximately one-third greater passenger capacity. “Tiltronix” active tilt technology will allow higher speeds on curved portions of the corridor track, which are common in New England.
        The initial formation of the new trains will have two power cars and nine passenger trailers. The trains will feature articulated coaches, and an additional three vehicles can be added if demand grows. The power cars, one at each end, include an Alstom Crash Energy Management system to help meet FRA standards while allowing a 30% reduction in train weight.[4]
        U.S. assembly of the trainsets will take place at Alstom’s plants in Hornell and Rochester, New York. A prototype trainset is scheduled to be completed in 2019 to allow for test running. The trains are scheduled to enter service beginning in 2021, with final delivery of all 28 trainsets to be completed in 2022, at which point Amtrak will retire the previous Acela fleet.


  25. ConfederateCity November 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

    Amtrak is a blessing compared to SA’s Prasa.


  26. Solaris November 4, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    The US is not much different from S. Africa. It was built on colonization, enslavement, and terrorism of indigenous peoples. Blacks here could not drive across the country on the freeways, they could not get gas or food or sleep at any of the rest stops, even streets in cities were different names though the same streets to separate white and black people and have a different address. Disgusting.



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