Nearly a year ago I wrote about a deal that was supposed to bring Wi-Fi access to all 277 underground subway stations in the NYC subway system. This weekend, the London Underground Transport for London management group announced that they are soliciting companies for a RFP for wi-fi internet access at about 120 London tube stations. The plan is to have the stations wired up before the Olympics arrive in June 2012.
From the TFL, “A contract will be awarded to the chosen bidder by the end of 2011, which could mean that passengers will be able to log on to the internet from their laptops or mobile devices at stations before the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
“The first phase of wider wi-fi provision on the Tube would be to make available the service currently used by London Underground (LU) staff at 16 stations for passenger use, and then to work to expand this service to other Underground stations”
“Research from Charing Cross Tube station found that over half of LU passengers surveyed felt that access to wi-fi would make their experience of using the Tube better.” This is interesting, I wonder what the feedback will be like when people are talking on their phones to no end while waiting on a super hot tube platform in the summer.
Here’s the key statement from the announcement, “As well as improving journeys for passengers, wi-fi services are a potential future revenue source for LU. “
Check out the video below – it’s from the Copenhagen Metro and features a flash mob. Watch how the passengers smile when the music begins to play. One of the things I’ve noticed as I travel on public transportation systems around the U.S. and Europe is that most people always seem so unhappy. What if light classical music was playing in the background? Would that help people to enjoy their trip a bit more and maybe instead of thinking about whatever is making them unhappy, they would focus on the music?
My friend Keran sent me a link today that is frankly awesome if you are into transit or into maps. It’s a video created by Chris McDowall which shows you the Auckland, New Zealand public transportation system in real-time (you can watch the video below). Chris notes, “The animation begins at 3am on a typical Monday morning. A pair of blue squiggles depict the Airport buses shuttling late night travellers between the Downtown Ferry Terminal and Auckland International. From 5am, a skeleton service of local buses begins making trips from the outer suburbs to the inner city and the first ferry departs for Waiheke Island. Over the next few hours the volume and frequency of vehicles steadily increases until we reach peak morning rush hour.”
It’s really neat to watch the video below in HD and full-screen. It’s easy to see where Auckland’s downtown business core is located just based on the weight of the movement during the day. It’s also interesting that there seems to be a lot of routes still operating at midnight. Keran says it’s also easy to see where the service gaps are around the city.
By now most of us have seen the “flash mobs” that gather in the subways and train stations around the world. In NYC, we have seen the pants off mobs and in Sydney we saw a Riverdance flash mob gather and dance to the Riverdance tunes.
But this is the first time I’ve ever seen a NYC subway train turned into a fine dining restaurant. The conversion took place on the L subway line which runs from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Melena Ryzik has the story of the train headed for Brooklyn that offered fine foods including: caviar, foie gras and filet mignon, and for dessert and chocolate panna cotta wrapped in gold leaf.
A number of supper clubs participated in the event and boarded the train and different stations along the route that crosses Manhattan on 14th Street.
The “event” brought in just over $1,600 and tickets were priced at $100 per “seat”. Sure beats the bag of McDonalds you usually see someone eating on the subway.
Ok, here’s another one from the “uhm wtf?” file. A bus operator for Greyhound buses crashed into a wooded area –but get this, the bus operator forgot to set the parking brake after she parked the bus at a travel center in North Carolina.
The bus traveled backwards across Highway 61 and somehow wasn’t hit by cars traveling on the highway. The bus came to rest in the wooded area on the other side of the highway.
Fox8 news in Greensboro, NC has the details on the incident. Can you imagine the shock the bus driver must have received? She parks the bus, heads into the travel center, grabs some food, maybe a scratchoff, uses the restroom, comes outside and finds her bus traveling backwards across the highway.
Maybe Greyhound should play the same (very annoying) announcement you hear in the San Francisco airport when you take the airtrain. As it pulls into the station, we hear “we are entering the station, set luggage cart brake to on”.
Last year I wrote about a snakes on a bus “wrap” where the German bus looked like it had huge snakes wrapped around it. The bus wrap was created to promote the Berlin zoo.
Today I’ve learned about a man who carried a ton of snakes onto a bus in Argentina. The man, called a trafficker, was caught on the bus with 40 live snakes plus boxes of additional snakes and reptiles in the luggage hold below the seating area.
Joe Raedle from AFP notes, “The trafficker had loaded them with 444 boas, vipers and other snakes; 186 endangered tortoises; 40 lizards, and an armadillo.” Now that’s a lot of reptiles!
I wonder which is worse…a snake jumping on you while riding on a bus, or a rat jumping on you while sleeping on the subway?
Just about a month ago, I wrote about the San Francisco transit agency BART and how they are looking for riders to give them feedback about new seating options in the manufacture of their new trains. I noted, “I don’t know about you but I often wonder just what might be stewing under the fabric seats the subway cars use. They often look “stained” and sometimes there are some interesting smells also coming from the seat region.”
Today the New York Times has a long article (don’t read it if you just ate) about the condition of the seats on BART. You see BART trains use fabric seats (why I don’t know) and they apparently hold germs better than a running back carrying the football.
Some notes from the NYT post:
“Fecal and skin-borne bacteria resistant to antibiotics were found in a seat on a train headed from Daly City to Dublin/Pleasanton. Further testing on the skin-borne bacteria showed characteristics of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the drug-resistant bacterium that causes potentially lethal infections…”
“High concentrations of at least nine bacteria strains and several types of mold were found on the seat. Even after Ms. Franklin cleaned the cushion with an alcohol wipe, potentially harmful bacteria were found growing in the fabric.”
Just think about it – if that nasty bacteria transfers to your backside of your pants, you could be carrying that nasty crap on your ass all day.
With all of the heavy budget cuts hitting transit agencies across the U.S., it seems there are also less transit cleaners which may make for even dirtier trains in the future.
Earlier this week I posted a video of a man in a Big Wheel challenging a NYC city bus to a race. At the end of the race, the text on the screen indicated that the bus moved at a speed of 3.8 miles per hour.
Can you imagine a bus traveling at over 150 miles per hour (250km/h)? Developed by Wubbo Ockels in the Netherlands, the Superbus can travel at these speeds. The “bus” (looks more like a huge racecar) can carry 23 passengers in what appears to be first-class comfort.
The Superbus will cost 1 million euros per bus and cost 14 million euros to develop. The narrator in the video below notes that most of the cost of development was paid for by Dutch taxpayers. I still prefer rail any day over this Superbus.
Everytime I visit San Francisco, I take the BART subway system from either the San Francisco or Oakland Airports. The system seems pretty reliable, is never that crowded and there are typically escalators and/elevators which help with luggage. I wish the system offered air conditioning but I guess most of the year it’s not needed in SF. I don’t know about you but I often wonder just what might be stewing under the fabric seats the subway cars use. They often look “stained” and sometimes there are some interesting smells also coming from the seat region.
Well it appears we will now be able to provide feedback to the BART officials as to what type of seating should be used in the next generation of subway cars that BART will purchase.
BART web producer Melissa Jordan has a post detailing how BART will allow customers (aka passengers/riders) to test out a variety of different seating choices and options to see which makes their ass as comfy as possible for their daily travels. Personally I prefer the NYC hard plastic style to the current BART fabric style. I also prefer bench seating versus the custom molded seating currently found on BART.
Jordan notes, “…there’s seat height, pitch and hip-to-knee space — considerations not always front of mind for riders.” Interestingly, BART has a very low seat height compared to other U.S. subway systems and now that I think about it – it’s always a chore to get up out of a BART seat vs. Washington or NYC.
BART seats are wider than other systems – and frankly for $8+ to get from SFO to downtown SF, they should offer me a beverage and a napkin.
If I rand BART, the first thing I would do is get some friendly, willing-to-help agents in the booths at the train stations. Otherwise I find the system to be well run.
So SF residents, get ready – the first prototype of the new train will be ready for action in 2014.
Another new year, another No Pants Subway Ride coming to NYC! We wrote about the No Pants Subway Ride last year and this year looks like it will be an even bigger event. You can find all of the details for this year’s No Pants here. This year, the event will take place globally on January 9, 2011 and groups will start from locations in each of the five boroughs and converge on Union Square. RSVP to the event on Facebook – so far nearly 6,000 people have registered.
If you aren’t in NYC, check out all of the cities that will be participating around the world. U.S. cities include: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, El Paso, San Diego, San Francisco and a dozen more. International cities include: Zurich, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam and several others.
The rules include, “As soon as the doors shut at the stop before yours, stand up and take your pants off and put them in your backpack. If you’d like to use a briefcase, purse, grocery bag, or whatever instead of a backpack that’s fine too. If anyone asks you why you’ve removed your pants, tell them that they were “getting uncomfortable” (or something along those lines.) Exit the train at your assigned stop and stand on the platform, pantless. You will wait on the platform for the next train to arrive. Stay in the exact same place on the platform so you enter the next train in the same car as you exited the last train.”
The requirements for participation are:
1) Willing to take pants off on subway
2) Able to keep a straight face about it