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Parsing the data on how people use The Porch at 30th Street Station

The Porch already feels like a local fixture after only a couple years in existence. University City District, lovers of data, have made an effort to examine how exactly people use the space -- there are infographics!

"But there are choices," says Seth Budick, the policy and research manager for the University City District. "There are a lot of choices people can make. They can decide to sit in the sun or in the shade, they can decide to sit on any one of three or four different seating elements, they can decide how to move through the space. And that’s really what we’re looking at, that’s the interesting question about a lot of urban design: What factors in the environment impact people's choices?"

Here's one example of what they learned:

Noise levels measured closer to busy Market Street were 10 times louder than those along Little Market Street immediately adjacent to the station – a partial explanation for why people tended not to linger there. The louder noise (70-75 decibels) was akin to a vacuum cleaner in your living room, the quieter sound (60 decibels) more like a conversation at close range... Instead, UCD is learning that a farmer's market doesn't quite work here, but a food truck rally does. Bistro chairs are nice, but Luxembourg chairs are even better. Also, no wants to relax right in the middle of a pedestrian highway.

Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the whole story and check out all the infographics here.
 
 

Philly named fourth best biking city in the country

In celebration of a Bike to Work Week and National Bike Month, Walk Score has named Philadelphia the number four biking city in the country. Only Portland, San Francisco and Denver topped the City of Brotherly Love.

Via The Philly Post.

Original source: Walk Score
Read the complete list here.

Amtrak unveils new trains for Keystone route

Amtrak recently rolled out three (of 70) new trains in an effort to modernize its fleet. The locomotives will operate on the Northeast corridor, as well as the Keystone route between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

The engines are being paid for with a $532 million loan from the Federal Railroad Administration, money that Amtrak said it would recoup with ticket revenue from the Northeast corridor. The company also estimates that the new locomotives will save it more than $300 million in energy costs.

Amtrak said the new engines would also help improve the railroad’s on-time performance. Additionally, Amtrak and federal transportation officials said that areas where the trains were manufactured and assembled would see economic benefits in the form of jobs.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

PA among states that must pony up for Amtrak routes

As federal subsidies dry up, Amtrak looks to states to pick up the slack. Pennsylvania must pay to maintain its more rural routes.

But after years of financial losses on the route for Amtrak, Pennsylvania was faced with either picking up the tab or losing it altogether by Oct. 1. Under pressure from Congress to reduce its dependence on federal subsidies, Amtrak is looking at either closing 28 short-haul routes or getting 19 states to cover the costs. Most of the states have already agreed to pick up the costs...

Pennsylvania and Virginia are among the states that have already agreed to pay for service, citing the need to ease road congestion, spur economic development and remain connected to the Northeast line. But other states, like Indiana, are still debating what to do. In most cases, the routes run at a loss, say state officials, who view them more as an infrastructure investment like a highway.

 
Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here

'Saturday Night Live' ribs Philly Traffic Mimes

On this week's Saturday Night Live, Weekend Update anchor Scott Meyers mentioned the Philly Streets Department's recent April Fools joke -- they enlisted mimes and clowns to direct traffic. Check out the joke here, and then stay tuned for the awesome Peter Dinklage cameo.

Original source: Saturday Night Live

Philly airport lures New York-based travelers

PHL has become an attractive departure point for New Yorkers, drawn by the low prices and the presence of Southwest Airlines.

Airfares have been dropping faster in Philadelphia than in any other big city, fueling a boom in traffic at the congested airport there. Despite its reputation for delays and baggage difficulties, Philadelphia International is now attracting more passengers for domestic flights than any of New York's three major airports - La Guardia, Kennedy International or Newark Liberty International.

Transportation officials say they do not know how many of those travelers are being lured away by lower fares, but they concede that New Yorkers are not immune to what is known in the travel industry as the Southwest effect. When Southwest Airlines, the king of the low-fare carriers, arrives in a new city, it drives down airfares and adds traffic.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the original story here.

High speed rail is great fit for Philly and its neighboring cities

A recent conversation about the potential of high speed rail led a Slate writer to argue that converting a few key corridors would be more efficient than a nationwide system. The northeast corridor (and Philadelphia) made his list.

Corridors that couldn’t attract sufficient numbers of riders would likely detract from the potential economic and environmental benefits gained from the more sensible routes. “If newly built high-speed rail services do not attract projected ridership over time, they will not only fail to deliver their promised benefits but they may waste energy, resources, and require excessive operating subsidies,” the America 2050 report concluded.
 
Experts who study light rail often mention a “sweet spot” of between 100 and 600 miles for high-speed rail corridor trips. Shorter than 100 miles, and a rider is more likely to want to take a conventional train, a car, or a bus. Longer than 600 miles and a rider is better off flying.

Original source: Slate
Read the complete story here.

Olney's Bilenky Cycle Works profiled in short film

Bilenky Cycle Works, the legendary Olney custom bike builders headed up by Steve Bilenky (and his beard), is the subject of a wonderful short film by Bicycling magazine, directed by Andrew David Watson.

Long before the resurgence of "handmade everything" Stephen Bilenky started a career as a custom bicycle builder. 30 years later, Stephen is still creating works of art in his gritty north philadelphia workshop.

Original source: Bicycling magazine
Click here to watch the mini-documentary.


US Airways/American Airlines merger means changes at PHL

With US Airways merging with (and becoming) American Airlines, Philadelphia International Airport will have new largest carrier. Chances are, bags will still be lost -- but will fares be higher?

During the past five years, the airline industry has seen the combinations of Delta with Northwest, United with Continental and Southwest Airlines Co. with AirTran. Further consolidation is likely to raise airfares. The price of a domestic round-trip flight has climbed more than 11 percent since 2009, when adjusted for inflation, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The merger will give a combined American and US Airways Group Inc. the ability to increase fares. United, Delta and Southwest would be likely to follow. Although it could also pave the way for further expansion by discount airlines such as Spirit Airlines Inc. and Allegiant Travel Co.


Original source: NBC News
Read the original story here.

SEPTA holds meetings on Norristown high-speed rail extension

SEPTA is weighing an extension of the Norristown regional rail line, which could potentially provide commuter access to King of Prussia and Valley Forge by train. They are holding public information sessions on the recently launched extension study which should be completed in 2014.

The extension would provide "a much needed public transportation alternative for thousands of people who regularly travel between Philadelphia, Main Line communities and King of Prussia, the largest suburban employment and retail center in the region," said Eric Goldstein, executive director of the King of Prussia Business Improvement District.

Original source: Progressive Railroading
Read the full story here.


Local company Momentum Dynamics develops vital electric car tool

Malvern-based Momentum Dynamics has developed a wireless charging pad for the Chevy Volt. The 10-person startup is helping revolutionize charging technology for electric vehicles. The Daily News chatted with the company's founder.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for wireless charging?
A: I was working on a project to deliver solar power to troops during the Iraq war, which led me to a safe, short-distance method of transmitting power wirelessly. The clear application was electric vehicles. The challenge was not the vehicle or battery but the charging connection to the grid.


Original source: The Daily News
Read the full story here.


The Atlantic Cities compiles the year's best #cityreads

The Atlantic's urban site puts together a list of the best writing on urban issues from 2012. Topics include transportation, energy and architecture.

It's not just your lousy memory: the end of 2012 was much busier than the beginning. Just since July, we've seen a U.S. presidential election, a once-in-four-centuries hurricane, four horrific mass shootings, riots and warfare across the Middle East. Our #Cityreads of the year follow the news cycle -- into a high-rise housing project after Sandy and the Republican party's relationship with cities -- but they also veer off course, into the weirder corners of rail construction, charter cities, and more.

Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the full list here.

Glimpsing forgotten Philadelphia by train

The New York Times Magazine takes a ride on Amtrak along the northeast corridor and surveys the ghosts of our industrial past.

As anyone who rides Amtrak between New York and Washington knows, the trip can be a dissonant experience. Inside the train, it’s all tidy and digital, everybody absorbed in laptops and iPhones, while outside the windows an entirely different world glides by. Traveling south is like moving through a curated exhibit of urban and industrial decay. There’s Newark and Trenton and the heroic wreckage in parts of Philadelphia, block after block of hulking edifices covered in graffiti, the boarded-up ghost neighborhoods of Baltimore made familiar by “The Wire” — all on the line that connects America’s financial center and its booming capital city.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.


Rendell, Daschle call for high-speed rail in Northeast

Ed Rendell and Tom Daschle co-author an op-ed in Politico that maintains the Northeast is best-positioned for high-speed rail, which would make possible travel from Washington D.C. to New York City in less than an hour, as the Eighth World Congress on High-Speed Rail was held in Philadelphia last week.
 
Imagine what these trains would do for the Northeast corridor. Traveling from Washington to New York City (or Baltimore, Philadelphia or Wilmington) in less than an hour, downtown to downtown, would revolutionize business travel, making it easy to travel for a full day of meetings — and still have dinner at home.
 
In fact, the Northeast corridor is the only region of the U.S. with the ideal conditions for the SCMAGLEV system: high density, a number of large urban areas in relatively close proximity and demonstrated high demand for business, as well as personal, travel.
 
Original source: Politico
Read the full story here
 

After Philly launch, on-demand car service Uber eyes San Diego

After launching its on-demand car service in Philadelphia last month, Uber continues its expansion spree by launching in San Diego on Friday, reports TechCrunch.
 
With 1.3 million people in the city and 3.1 million in San Diego County, there’s a pretty big population for Uber to go after. And the population there is pretty well off, with about 30 percent of households having an annual income of $30,000 or more. That means plenty of potential riders with cash to spend on a premium car service.
 
Original source: TechCrunch
Read the full story here.
 
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