Author Archives: Adam Rubenfire

USDOT Reports High Demand For TIGER Funding

ARRA_sign_Baker_CAThe U.S. Department of Transportation says that the amount of stimulus money requested for transportation projects in 2014 far exceeded what the department has to give.

Applications for the sixth round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program totaled $9.5 billion. That is 15 times more than the $600 million that has been allocated for grants.

The DOT received 797 applications — 36 percent more than officials received in 2013.

The TIGER program was launched in 2009, which is the same year Congress voted to bail out the auto industry. Funded granted by the program are generally used for road, rail, transit or port projects. As we explain in the Curbing Cars e-book, new streetcar systems have been a very visible benefactor of TIGER funding. Continue reading

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Filed under economy, infrastructure, laws, public transportation

In Detroit, An Entrepreneurial Company Takes on Transit


“Lochness” is DBC’s 24-passenger school bus. (Courtesy of DBC)

When you think of transit, you probably think of public transportation, subsidized by the government in some way or another. The Detroit Bus Company is a little different.

The city of Detroit has a public bus system, but it’s not in the best shape. It also has an automated people mover system, but it only goes in one direction around a portion of downtown.



“Silver Bullet” is the company’s largest bus. (Courtesy of DBC)

That’s where the Detroit Bus Company comes in. Andy Didorosi, the company’s president and founder, wants to fill
the holes that exist in the city’s transit services while also working to bring more people into the city. And he’s doing that using tricked-out, bio-fuled buses. Continue reading

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Filed under cities, public transportation, Uncategorized

Beyond The Bar Car: 5 Ideas In Themed Rail Cars

The Metro-North Bar Car

The Metro-North Bar Car (Taken by Twitter user @jzaslav)

There’s been a lot of buzz about the end of bar cars on the New Haven line of New York’s Metro-North railroad. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs NYC’s public transit systems, discontinued the booze cruisers last week to make way for newer trains.

Though the idea of the bar car may seem novel, it’s not the first time a train has been re-purposed for commuter activities. Here are five other ways riders and transit operators have switched up their commute:

1. The Singles-Only Car

In hopes of helping Czechs find love in the big city, Prague transportation officials announced a program last summer that would dedicate one car per train for singles in hopes of facilitating some mass transit matchmaking, according to The Atlantic Cities. A spokesman told a reporter that the program would give commuters the time and place to find love amid their busy careers. Continue reading

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Filed under cities, public transportation, Rail

Bixi May Have Bad News, But Check Out These 4 Promising Bike Share Projects

The Bixi Logo

The Bixi Logo

With the bankruptcy filing of the Public Bike System Company, more commonly known as Bixi, bike sharing has been getting some stinky press as of late.

Bixi, which is based in Montreal, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year after it was unable to make payments to suppliers and several municipalities, including New York, Chicago, and its hometown of Montreal. The implementation of bike share systems in Vancouver and Portland has been delayed because of the Bixi blunder, according to reports.

The future may seem gloomy in light of recent events, but mobility nuts shouldn’t fear: there are still several promising bike share systems that are expected to pop up across the U.S.:

1. Arborbike – Ann Arbor, Mich.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 2.46.11 PM

A rendering of what the Arborbikes will look like.
(Courtesy of Clean Energy Coalition)

This system is arguably long overdue. Ann Arbor is known for being an environmentally-friendly town, and its large concentration of college students makes it attractive place for a system. The Ann Arbor News reports that The Clean Energy Coalition, a local non-profit, expects to launch 14 stations in June at various locations throughout downtown and near the campus of the University of Michigan. The University has pledged to help fund the program, in addition to support from the city and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. Hardware for the program supplied by Wisconsin-based B-Cycle

The CEC is hoping that area businesses will purchase memberships for their employees or patrons, and they’ve also expressed interest in allowing property owners or developers to underwrite stations around town. Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing, public transportation, Uncategorized

Which U.S. City Is Really The Best For Getting Around? Hint: Not LA

Detroit doesn't always show up on Best Cities lists. But it does on one of these.

Detroit doesn’t always show up on Best Cities lists. But it does on one of these.

It seems like every other day there’s a new “top cities” list. There are the top cities for foodies, the happiest cities, the best cities for families, and even the weirdest cities. And of course, we care most about the best cities for transit — walking, biking, public transportation, and traffic flow.

While it’s hard to compare lists, we thought it might be useful to see if there are any notable similarities or differences on these “best cities” lists.

Here are five lists from the past few years. Let’s see how they compare.

Livability’s Top 10 Best Downtowns
Livability ranks America’s best places to live, work and visit, based on a wide array of criteria. This particular list, created in 2014, looks at cities; downtowns, based on population growth, the ratio of residents to jobs, income growth, home vacancy rates, affordability of housing, and the vacancy rates of retail and office spaces. We like this list because it is includes some lesser-known cities in lieu of the major U.S. cities seen on most lists.

  1. Fort Worth, Texas
  2. Providence, R.I.
  3. Indianapolis
  4. Provo, Utah
  5. Alexandria, Va.
  6. Frederick, Md.
  7. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  8. Bellingham, Wash.
  9. Eugene, Ore.
  10. Birmingham, Ala.

Top 10 Best American Downtowns, ranked by Top Tenz
Top Tenz, a site solely dedicated to top 10 lists, included the usual favorites in this list from 2012. But this list deviates from the norm with its inclusion of Detroit and Milwaukee, both of which appear do not appear on any of the other lists we looked at for this post.

Detroit in particular is a noteworthy choice — it seems to wind up on more “worst cities” lists than those that rank the best. But Top Tenz calls Detroit’s downtown “one of the most architecturally impressive in the country” and notes that the city has been revitalized in the recent years following intensive development.

  1. New York City
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Chicago
  4. San Francisco
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Miami
  7. Boston
  8. Seattle
  9. Detroit
  10. Milwaukee

Continue reading

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Filed under advice, bicycling, cars, cities, urban planning, walking