Estonia will soon offer free public transportation

June 8, 2018 by  
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Estonia started providing free public transportation for local residents in 2013 in the capital city, Tallinn, but now  CityLab has reported that the nation has set its sights even higher: it plans to offer free state-run bus travel around the country starting on July 1. According to HuffPost, this move will be the biggest national free public transportation plan in the entire world. The plan doesn’t mean Estonians won’t ever have to buy bus tickets again, but rather that state-run bus travel in rural municipalities will be free. Citizens will also have to pay for  train travel, but tickets for the state-owned rail network will be less expensive thanks to enhanced subsidies. Tallinn’s free public transit policies — there city residents can ride buses, trains, trolleys, and trams fare-free — will not extend to other cities, and the offer will only be good for Estonians, not tourists. The Estonian government will devote around $15 million in taxpayer money to the bus system. Related: Cities in Germany to offer free public transit in fight against pollution The move could offer democratization of mobility for people in Estonia. Tallinn European Union office head Allan Alaküla told HuffPost that free public transportation enables low-income groups “to look for and take jobs in a wider area than they would be able to access by walking.” Delft University of Technology assistant professor of transport and planning Oded Cats studied Tallinn’s fareless plan in its first year. His study uncovered mixed evidence of free trips helping low-income locals. Those people did become more mobile, but the study didn’t find an indication job opportunities improved. The study uncovered a 14 percent increase in public transit use and a 10 percent drop in car trips , although the average distance traveled in a car went up. The study discovered the increase in public transportation use was mainly due to extra trips from people who were already riding the system or people who walked in the past. Alaküla told HuffPost, “We hope it gives people a reason to use their car less, or not use their car at all on working days. In Tallinn we have taken several measures to reduce car usage along with free public transport — special bus lanes, more bike racks to encourage cycling , and we have also raised on-street parking fees and reduced parking places.” Via CityLab and HuffPost Images via Depositphotos

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TransCanada natural gas pipeline explodes in West Virginia

June 8, 2018 by  
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An explosion rocked a TransCanada pipeline in Moundsville, West Virginia and the surrounding community yesterday. Locals said it felt like a tornado and sounded like a freight train, and they could see flames from around 20 miles away, EcoWatch reported. TransCanada said in a statement they do not yet know the cause of the explosion. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Early alarm this morningOn trebble run on fish creek Posted by Ruby Mason on Thursday, June 7, 2018 A natural gas pipeline exploded in West Virginia’s Marshall County, located right in the midst of the huge Utica and Marcellus shale formations, Reuters said . No employees were at the site when the pipeline ruptured around 4:15 a.m. EST, and the fire was at least a mile away from the closest home, Marshall County director of emergency management Tom Hart told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . BREAKING: More pictures from a viewer of the explosion. Viewers are calling in and telling us it felt like a tornado hit their house when this happened @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/akYwSgED7j — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought The pipeline, called Leach XPress, was placed into service at the start of this year . At that time, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling referred to it as “truly a best-in-class pipeline” and said the company looked forward “to many years to safe, reliable and efficient operation on behalf of our customers.” @MarshallCoWVOEM sent me this picture. This is the site of the pipeline rupture as it was burning off @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/VINnMiq44G — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 TransCanada said after the event, which they referred to as the Nixon Ridge Pipeline Incident, “emergency response procedures were enacted and the segment of impacted pipeline was isolated. The fire was fully extinguished by approximately 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. There were no injuries involved with this incident.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said officials from the U.S. Forestry Service and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection were on the site. This picture sent to me from a viewer in Short Creek, WV. Perspective: this is 20 MILES or more away, over a half hour drive! @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/yAmFJUnKmO — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 Hart told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette other companies were on the scene too — some operate pipelines just a few hundred feet away from the ruptured pipeline. He said some of those companies turned off the flow in their own pipelines, and that natural gas well operators shut down wells close by. This is drone footage from @MarshallCoWVOEM Director Tom Hart says this is at the end of Nixon Ridge near Fish Creek. The explosion left a crater. The DEP estimates 10 acres are affected @WTRF7News pic.twitter.com/QXTOsWBvNg — Tessa DiTirro (@TDiTirroWTRF) June 7, 2018 The event could impact around 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas service — Reuters reported that one billion cubic feet of gas could power around five million American homes. Via EcoWatch , the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  and Reuters Image via Depositphotos

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TransCanada natural gas pipeline explodes in West Virginia

Chernobyl’s abandoned dogs create their own exclusion zone community

February 6, 2018 by  
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If you ever happen to visit Chernobyl , you might run across one of the around 300 stray dogs that reside there. After the 1986 disaster, residents weren’t allowed to bring their pets away with them, and many dogs were left behind. Today, their descendants still roam the area, and while their life isn’t easy, The Guardian reports they are “a playful example of global kindness and cooperation.” Around 300 stray dogs reside in the 2,600 square kilometer – or around 1,004 square mile – exclusion zone at Chernobyl in Ukraine . The Chernobyl Prayer, an oral history of the time, talks about “dogs howling, trying to get on the buses. Mongrels, alsatians. The soldiers were pushing them out again, kicking them. They ran after the buses for ages.” Soldiers went in to shoot the abandoned animals ; The Guardian reports some heartbroken families pinned notes on their doors asking the squads not to kill their pets. Related: China is building a giant solar plant at Chernobyl Some dogs did survive, and it’s their descendants who live there today. Their lives are short and hard – with “increased levels of radiation in their fur” and a diminished life expectancy. Many of the animals don’t live past six years old, according to The Guardian. But here’s where the hope comes in: guards have created small huts for dogs residing near checkpoints. United States nonprofit organization Clean Futures Fund put up three veterinary clinics nearby – one is inside the plant. They’re vaccinating and neutering the dogs, and handle emergencies. You can read more about their work and donate here . Chernobyl tour company Solo East Travel guide Nadezhda Starodub told The Guardian visitors love the animals, and she does, too. There are no rules against touching them, and she just asks visitors to use the same common sense they would around strays. The dogs have come to serve as unofficial Chernobyl mascots. Via The Guardian Images courtesy of Solo East Travel

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All 16,000 of this Chinese megacity’s bus fleet will be electric by year’s end

December 18, 2017 by  
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Shenzhen , China – home to more than 11 million people – rolled out a pilot of electric buses all the way back in 2011. Despite being ahead of the electric curve, they had thousands of buses running on diesel until recently. But that will change by the end of 2017, when the megacity’s entire fleet of buses will be electrictrified . Shenzhen’s fleet includes 16,000 buses. They’re going completely electric – and will be the first city in the world to attain that goal, according to Fast Company . They had to install a network of thousands of charging stations and ports, and figure out how to handle the expense of replacing all those diesel buses. Related: Shenzhen, China Launches the World’s Largest Electric Vehicle Fleet Fast Company pointed out the scale of the transition makes it all the more remarkable. Shenzhen has more buses than the United States’ top five bus fleets combined: in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey, and King County, Washington, where Seattle is located. The local and national governments played a role in the transition; both offered subsidies to bring the cost of electric buses in line with traditional ones. Falling lithium-ion battery costs have also helped. The buses are cheaper to operate and maintain than diesel-powered ones. Shenzhen-based automobile manufacturer BYD produced 80 percent of the new buses in the megacity. The company sells its cars in 50 countries, and even surpassed Tesla in 2016 as the biggest electric vehicle manufacturer in the world. The electric buses are one component of an effort to clean up the megacity’s air. Around 10 years ago, Shenzhen spent around half the days in a year covered in smog. That figure fell to 27 days in 2016. The electricity to power the buses isn’t completely clean yet; some comes from coal. Even so the buses are anticipated to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 48 percent compared against diesel ones. Shenzhen also aims to have all of its taxis be electric by 2020. Via Fast Company Images via BYD Company Ltd. on YouTube and Wikimedia Commons

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Simba Snoozeliner night bus will let passengers sleep on their way home

December 15, 2017 by  
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We doze off on public transportation 27 times a year, according to James Cox, CEO of the UK -based sleep brand Simba . So they came up with a more comfortable alternative: the Simba Snoozeliner, a bus with 14 sleep pods outfitted with Simba mattresses, noise-canceling headphones, and liver-cleansing milk thistle. A steward would even be on hand to wake people up at their stop. Shift workers or late night partiers could hitch a ride and take a nap on the double decker Simba Snoozeliner, designed in collaboration with Andersson-Wood Architects . Each sleeping pod on the night bus would be equipped with a Simba Hybrid Mattress, a duvet and pillow, and eye mask. Travelers could really get cozy after taking off shoes and coats – there’s storage aboard for those, as well as valuables. Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel Other amenities seem to be targeted at those who may have had a tad too much alcohol, including free mineral water and revitalizer kits with milk thistle and vitamin C. Scent infusions aimed at inducing sleep or busting hangovers are also available in each booth, and travelers can buy smoothies or coffee. Living walls with peace lilies, Boston ferns, and snake plants inside the bus will also lend to a tranquil atmosphere. All this might sound like a dream come true, but Timeout London pointed out a few downsides: for one, there might not really be enough time between embarking and disembarking for travelers to really get a good sleep. They also wonder what would stop the Snoozeliner from becoming a big party bus. Simba pointed out in their press release many people are nervous about riding on public transportation at night: three in five worry about encountering antisocial or drunken behavior, and two in five are afraid they’ll be the victim of a crime. There’s the question of if the buses will ever really hit the roads at all. Cox said in the statement, “We know that there will be lots of red tape to wade through, but are looking forward to firming up meetings with local authorities in the New Year.” Simba aims to launch their service in fall of next year, offering trips starting at £8.50, or around $11, and want the buses to run on eight routes in four cities across the UK. + Simba + Andersson-Wood Architects Images courtesy of Simba

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Tesla-powered trolley spotted charging in Minnesota

October 26, 2017 by  
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Tesla vehicles are the only ones that can charge via a Supercharger , at least at this time. So the sight of what looked like a custom-built orange electric bus charging up at the Oakdale Supercharger station in Minnesota raised a few eyebrows. A battery monitor seemed to show the electric bus actually charging up. Tesla reportedly has talked with other carmakers about utilizing their charging network, but as of this point non-Teslas can’t partake of electricity at Supercharger stations. So the sight of an orange bus charging naturally drew interest. The bus had a Tesla logo on the front, and was equipped with a battery monitor that showed the vehicle drawing power from the Supercharger. Related: Tesla announces plan for world domination: includes trucks, buses, and solar power Electrek said the bus could be equipped with a Tesla powertrain. Internet user Ingineer commented on the Electrek article, saying they did electronics and integration for the bus. Ingineer said the bus is a 1968 Westcoaster “originally built as an EV, but with a 15 mph top speed and lead-acid batteries.” They said now the bus is equipped with a “Tesla pack and drive unit, and a 15,000BTU heat pump.” They said the bus belongs to Minneapolis craft brewery tour company Hoppy Trolley , which shared a picture of the orange bus on their Twitter and Facebook accounts a couple days ago, with the caption, “Teslafied trolley supercharged!” Ingineer said in a comment the orange bus won’t typically utilize Superchargers, and the pictures captured a test. In another comment, they said, “The drive mechanical was done by Concept Motorsports in Grass Valley, California. Tesla component installation, electrical, and software was done in at Ingineerix in Berkeley, California. The final mechanical and Tesla pack installation are being finished by PZ Global Auto in Lino Lakes.” They said the plan was for a large rooftop solar array to generate electricity to help power the trolley. Via Electrek Images via Hoppy Trolley on Twitter and screenshot

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Tesla-powered trolley spotted charging in Minnesota

Dunkirk, France offers free public transit to all

October 26, 2017 by  
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The small coastal city of Dunkirk in northern France is perhaps most famous, at the moment, for its portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s eponymous 2017 film, but it also deserves special attention for its decision to offer free public transit to all. In a move designed to reinforce economic fairness and establish Dunkirk as a sustainable, low-carbon community, Mayor Patrice Vergriete established the city’s inclusive transit policy, which will expand free public transit service to seven days a week starting in September 2018. The policy change, paid for with money that was originally allocated for the construction of a sports stadium, has been successful in increasing and diversifying ridership and could prove to be a powerful model for other cities looking to improve their quality of life and decrease their carbon footprint. When Vergriete first ran for mayor in 2014, he articulated his vision of a diverse, inclusive city that welcomes young people and families, supports the mobility of the elderly, and empowers people with limited economic means , according to CityLab . “I wanted to give back purchasing power to the families,” explained Vergriete on his initial motive. After launching free weekend services, ridership soared, up 30 percent on Saturday and 80 percent on Sunday. When free public transit is fully expanding to an all-week schedule, Dunkirk will be the largest city in France, though not the first, to offer this service. Related: Singapore is banning all new private vehicles from its roads Although the public transit services in Dunkirk may be free to riders, it is not a free ride for the local government, which must fund the service . Vergriete has observed that some are skeptical of the city’s ability to deliver these services without burdening taxpayers. “They think it’s like magic,” said Vergriete. “They think it’s not possible, that you are a liar. You cannot pay the salaries of the drivers, for the buses, with free transport.” In fact, only 10 percent of the public transit’s funding in Dunkirk was paid for with fares, a model that is similarly used in cities around the world , writes CityLab. Since rider fares are already such a small slice of the pie, “mayors should think about making it free,” said Vergriete. “It’s really a choice that we are making to charge.” In addition to support from the regional government’s general budget, the free transit service is primarily funded by a special transit tax on businesses, which was originally raised by Vergriete’s predecessor to pay for an expansion to a local sports arena. “It is a question of political priority ,” said Vergriete, whose administration chose to use that money set aside for a stadium to fund inclusive public transit instead. Via CityLab Images via  Vincent Desjardins/Flickr , Marco Chiesa/Flickr and Depositphotos

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London mayor halts orders for Thomas Heatherwick’s double-decker buses

January 5, 2017 by  
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Orders for the much-anticipated redesigned double-decker buses that hit the streets of London in 2011 will be discontinued under Mayor Sadiq Khan. In a money-saving gambit, Transport for London (TfL) stopped orders for the New Routemasters designed by Thomas Heatherwick , on the grounds that they are too expensive. During his campaign, Khan suggested the modern buses manufactured by Wrightbus be discontinued to free up money to freeze fares for four years. Transport for London just confirmed that suggestion in Khan’s first Business Plan : “New capital investment will be reduced significantly as we discontinue purchases of New Routemaster buses. We will carry on investing in the fleet however, by retrofitting 3,000 vehicles with Euro VI standard emission technology by 2020.” Related: London mayor announces plan for two new bike superhighways The New Routemasters were greeted with excitement when they were unveiled in 2010 ; people praised Heatherwick for bestowing a “London look” on the buses. The vehicles boast three doors and two staircases, and succeeded the iconic old Routemaster buses. As the buses jaunted more frequently through the city, Heatherwick said he was glad the bus became “part of London’s landscape and personality.” Passengers did grumble that the buses were too hot, so TfL added windows that could open. Former mayor Boris Johnson bought the first 600 buses for £354,000 each in 2012, and 200 more in 2014 for £325,000 apiece. The New Routemaster buses are hybrid diesel-electric vehicles, but many people now think electric batteries have overtaken the older technology. A spokesperson for the mayor told The Guardian TfL would invest in “a new generation of buses” designed to benefit London’s air quality. The business plan says “a significant number of new green buses will be unveiled” in 2020 or 2021. Via Dezeen and The Guardian Images via Heatherwick Studio

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Singapore aims for 50% electric vehicles by 2050

July 8, 2016 by  
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Singapore is aiming to increase usage of electric vehicles to help meet emission reduction targets agreed to at the Paris climate talks last December. According to a new electro-mobility roadmap study, the island city-state in Southeast Asia could achieve its goal of 50 percent electric vehicles by 2050 with the right policies in place. The Land Transport Authority-led study carried out by the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University found that increasing the use of electric vehicles to half of all cars on the road by 2050 would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 30 percent compared to a business as usual scenario. As part of the Paris climate agreement, Singapore pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The study, commissioned by the National Climate Change Secretariat and National Research Foundation, states that electrification of vehicles should start with taxis and public buses because taxis get the most mileage per vehicle and buses emit the highest amount of carbon pollution per vehicle. The report notes the importance of integrating renewable energy into the project. According to the National Climate Change Secretariat, by 2030 renewable energy could potentially contribute up to eight percent of Singapore’s peak electricity demand. Related: Japan has more electric vehicle chargers than gas stations The country is launching  an electric vehicle car-sharing program in 2017 with an initial roll-out of 125 EVs and 250 charging stations. The car-sharing program will be developed and operated by BlueSG, a subsidiary of French firm Bollore Group. By 2020, a total of 1,000 electric cars will be available as well as 500 BlueSG stations and 2,000 charging points. Singapore offers carbon rebates for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids that pass tests on CO2 emissions for the electricity generated to charge the cars. “We encourage the use of vehicles that are more environmentally-friendly, including electric cars,” said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament last May when he announced that Singapore will install 2,000 charging points for its electric vehicle car-sharing program. Via Climate Action News Images via Wikimedia and Wikipedia

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What Happened to Los Angeles’ Streetcars?

February 26, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of What Happened to Los Angeles’ Streetcars? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: buses , diesel buses , electric street railway , electric streetcar , end of the streetcar era , expo line , firestone tire , general motors , gold line extension , los angeles metropolitan transit authority , los angeles railway , los angeles streetcar system , low-density land use patterns , metro blue line , metro gold line , metro green line , metro red line , modern streetcar , national city lines , pacific city lines , pacific electric railway , pacific electric red car trolley , personal car ownership , red cars , resurrection of streetcars , standard oil , suburbanization , traffic congestion , westside subway extension , yellow cars        

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