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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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

June 1, 2018 by  
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Even as the U.S. turns away from clean energy, California continues to charge ahead. Empowering the largest investment in the U.S.  by the electric industry to transform a transportation system, the California Public Utilities Commission has approved a collective budget of $738 million for four utility companies to “accelerate widespread transportation electrification.” This move, required by a 2015 clean energy law in California, marks an important step toward developing comprehensive infrastructure to switch transportation from fossil fuels to clean electric power. The unprecedented investment follows the recent approval of 15 pilot programs that, with a collective budget of $43 million, aim to electrify transit buses , school buses, cranes, agricultural trucks, delivery trucks, airport equipment and other vehicles. The pilot programs will run over the course of a year, while the major initiative will unfold over several years. These programs specifically look to benefit communities that have historically suffered under hazardous levels of air pollution, a public health threat that the widespread adoption of electric vehicles will alleviate. The initiative will fund, among other things, new charging stations, related infrastructure and services for installing new charging stations in homes. Related: Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires These new initiatives in California have received broad support from stakeholders in the state, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, General Motors and the Sierra Club. Although the link between transportation and utility companies may traditionally seem weak, the Commission under California state law determined that the electric vehicle programs serve the utility customer’s interests by offering more reliable, less expensive service. With its most recent investment in the future of transportation, California seems poised to be a leader in clean energy for many years to come. Via NRDC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

June 1, 2018 by  
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Hong Kong is the biggest trading hub for shark fins in the world. Although they’ve taken steps to halt illegal trading, conservation group Sea Shepherd recently uncovered a shipment with fins from endangered sharks that arrived via a Singapore Airlines flight for a Hong Kong dried seafood company. Sea Shepherd said the fins came from whale sharks and possibly oceanic whitetip sharks. Endangered shark fins arrived in a 2,150-pound shipment marked ‘Dry Seafood’ for Win Lee Fung Ltd . The shipment came from Colombo, Sri Lanka by way of Singapore. Singapore Airlines bans shark fin cargo and said they’d sent a reminder to all stations to administer sampling checks on shipments with such a label. They also said they blacklisted the shipper. Sea Shepherd Asia director Gary Stokes told Reuters , “This is another case of misleading and deceiving. The shipment came declared as ‘dried seafood’ so [it] didn’t flag any alarms.” Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Shark fins can be imported in Hong Kong, but for species listed by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), there must be a permit. The species discovered in the shipment were CITES Appendix 2 species and were concealed among legal fins. Sea Shepherd said smugglers operate by utilizing a vague description — and as Hong Kong Customs is barely able to check 1 percent of containers arriving in the territory, a shipment with a label like ‘Dry Seafood’ could easily escape notice. “Sea Shepherd Global have asked the Hong Kong Government for a mandatory use of the international Harmonized Shipping Codes for all wildlife products at time of booking for any goods destined to Hong Kong,” Sea Shepherd said in its statement. “Only then would Hong Kong Customs and [Agricultural, Fishers & Conservation Department] stand a fighting chance to have more effective inspections on containers when they know the contents before they arrive.” As of now, shark fin smugglers only have to declare what was in a shipment 14 days after it has arrived in Hong Kong or pay a penalty of around $10. The World Wildlife Fund said around 100 million sharks could be killed every year, and they’re frequently targeted for their fins. + Sea Shepherd Via Reuters Images courtesy of Sea Shepherd Global

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Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

May 11, 2018 by  
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Another day, another genius marketing idea from Elon Musk . In an Instagram post , Musk announced that he plans to offer free rides in The Boring Company’s first tunnel — which he described as “almost done.” Musk went on to say: “As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians and cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket.” First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done! Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months. Super huge thanks to everyone that helped with this project. Strong support from public, elected officials & regulators is critical to success. As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket. A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 10, 2018 at 6:49pm PDT The Boring Company will offer rides in the tunnel under the Los Angeles , California area “pending final regulatory approvals” in a few months. Elon Musk thanked people who have been involved in the project, and said “Strong support from public, elected officials and regulators is critical to success.” As he often does, Musk answered a few questions about the project on Twitter. He said the company has already started working on a route between New York and Washington, D.C., and that they hope to start work on a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2019. Musk explained that one would be a true Hyperloop with “pressurized pods in near vacuum tunnels,” and that passengers on that route would be able to travel faster than if they were on a jetliner. Related: Boring Company confirms plans to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing bricks When one Twitter user requested a stop near Vandenburg, an Air Force base in Santa Barbara County from which SpaceX launches rockets, Musk responded , “A cool thing about the design is that’s easy to incorporate branch loops to serve small to mid-size cities without slowing down the main loop at all.” The Boring Company’s frequently asked questions page says the initial test tunnel is in Hawthorne, California. According to the Los Angeles Times , in April the City Council’s public works committee unanimously approved an environmental review exemption for a 2.7-mile tunnel. The Boring Company Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk’s first tunnel is almost complete and he’s offering free rides

New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo

May 9, 2018 by  
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The deadly virus Ebola has returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A new outbreak of Ebola stuck the northwest town of Bikoro with 21 suspected cases of the virus. Out of five samples sent to the DRC’s National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) , only two were positive for Ebola. In 1976, the first case of Ebola was documented in the DRC, and there has been nine outbreaks of the virus since then. The unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 infected 28,000, killed 11,000 and shocked the world. However, the virus ‘s latest reemergence in the DRC is no reason to panic. Previous outbreaks in the DRC have been contained thanks in part to the country’s vast, largely inaccessible land area, which inhibits travel and trade between towns. The DRC’s last Ebola outbreak occurred in the village of Likati in 2017, however the virus was contained within forty-two days. Related: Ebola mutated to become even deadlier during recent outbreak Led by Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, the first scientist to document Ebola, the INRB is experienced in responding to Ebola outbreaks. “We’re advanced in public health ,” an epidemiologist at the INRB told the Atlantic . “If you compare us with Europe or the U.S., eh, but here in Africa, we are high. We have experience.” Early monitoring and reporting is key to success. “We have a surveillance system that works,” Kinshasa School of Public Health leader Emile Okitolonda said. “Here, nurses know that if they see a suspected case, they report it.” The INRB will also receive expert assistance from the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières in responding to Ebola. The primary challenge in the DRC is a lack of resources – a problem that may be exacerbated by President Trump ‘s recent request to cut $252 million in funding for international Ebola relief. Congress must decide within 45 days whether to act on Trump’s request. If they do nothing, as they are wont to do, the funding will remain in place. + INRB Via The Atlantic Images via Wikimedia Commons and Depositphotos

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Escapods rugged Topo trailer lets you go off-road in style

May 9, 2018 by  
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Taking your adventure off-road—and even off-grid —is now easier than ever thanks to the all-terrain Topo trailer. Escapod recently launched the off-road-specific teardrop trailer, which clocks in at 1,200 pounds dry weight and is crafted from the ground up in Warship, Utah. The Topo features a minimalist and stylish weatherproof build with a hand-welded, powder-coated steel tube frame and lightweight aluminum cladding. Built to last, the four-season Topo is constructed from a durable pressure-treated frame with 1.5-inch insulation . The trailer is elevated on 17-inch Mickey Thompson wheels with Goodyear Wrangler Trailrunner AT Tires, resulting in a standard ground clearance of 18 inches. To tackle even the most technical of terrain, the trailer also comes with independent suspension rated to 3,500 pounds. For extra functionality, Rhino Rack crossbars and a Sunseeker Awning are installed on top. In contrast with the rugged exterior, the interior is a warm cocoon of pre-finished birch ply , equipped with four cabinets, three cubbies, and a closed compartment behind the sleeping space, which is furnished with a 5-inch memory-foam queen mattress. Despite its compact quarters, the Topo feels expansive thanks to a 9-by-41-inch stargazer window and the two glazed doors on either side. There’s also room for food prep with counter space in the rear. The LEDs , USB ports, 3-speed fan, and optional water pump run off a 12v series 27 deep-cycle RV battery. The Escapod Topo starts at $13,800 and can easily be customized with tempting add-ons—like the solar array or shower—or with special request equipment. Interested buyers not quite ready to take the plunge will also be pleased to know that the team will soon offer rentals in Utah, with more details to be revealed on their website . + Escapod Via New Atlas

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Escapods rugged Topo trailer lets you go off-road in style

Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

May 4, 2018 by  
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Tesla’s made headlines with its electric Semi truck — but Anheuser-Busch is betting big on their competitor, the Nikola Motor Company . The beer company placed an order for as many as 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks just days after Nikola sued Tesla for patent infringement. Nikola says their zero emissions trucks boast a 500- to 1,200-mile range – plenty to haul Anheuser-Busch’s beer around the country. Anheuser-Busch’s goal is to convert its dedicated long-haul fleet over to renewably-powered vehicles by 2025. 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks could help them reach that goal. Nikola said their trucks could be integrated into the brewing company’s fleet in 2020. Features of the truck include the ability to refuel in around 20 minutes, and a surround viewing system for improved safety. Nikola could charge around $400,000 on average for their trucks, which are as yet in the prototype phase, according to Reuters . Related: Self-driving semi-truck makes the first ever autonomous beer run The trucks could help the beer company attain sustainability goals; Nikola said, “Once fully implemented, the carbon reductions gained from these 800 trucks will reduce the brewer’s carbon emissions from logistics by more than 18 percent — equivalent to taking more than 13,000 passenger vehicles off the road annually.” Nikola says on their website they plan to create the world’s largest hydrogen network, and CEO Trevor Milton said they’re excited to partner with Anheuser-Busch to bring this network to the United States. He said in the statement, “By 2028, we anticipate having over 700 hydrogen stations across the USA and Canada. With nearly nine billion dollars in pre-order reservations, we are building to order, not speculation, and are very excited for what’s to come.” Reuters described that last statement as a not-so-veiled jab at Tesla — people have questioned the Tesla Semi’s cost, range, and payload. The expected base prices for Tesla’s Semi are $150,000 for a 300-mile-range truck or $180,000 for a 500-mile-range truck. Anheuser-Busch did place 40 reservations for the Tesla Semi. Although Nikola and Tesla are both named after inventor Nikola Tesla, the companies aren’t exactly on good terms — Nikola recently sued Tesla over design patent infringements. Elon Musk referred to the allegation as a “laughable lawsuit.” + Nikola Motor Company Via Reuters and Mashable Images via Nikola Motor Company

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Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-electric semi trucks from Tesla competitor Nikola

Lyft launches self-driving cars on the Las Vegas strip

May 4, 2018 by  
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For the first time ever, after you’re done partying on the strip, you’ll be able to hail an autonomous ride with Lyft. The ride sharing company is bringing thirty self-driving cars to the streets of Las Vegas in partnership with developer Aptiv . The new initiative will offer the public the option of hailing a self-driving car using Lyft’s app. For those concerned about the interaction between robot and human drivers, trials show that the Aptiv-designed vehicles are more than capable of maneuvering the often chaotic traffic of Las Vegas. This move follows Lyft’s test run of its self-driving cars at the Computer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year, which was limited to a relatively small number of people. Lyft’s Vegas self-driving fleet will most likely consist of Aptiv-augmented BMWs that use nine LiDARs , 10 radars, a trifocal camera, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and advanced GPS to safely navigate the roads. However, the vehicles will be limited to specific routes on which they may drive, at least initially. Each vehicle will also be operated by highly-trained safety drivers. More testing and data collection is needed before Lyft, or any other company, can operate a fully functional self-driving vehicle system on public roads. Related: Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service Aptiv and Lyft have agreed to a multiyear collaboration, which both companies agree is a major step forward for their businesses. “With Aptiv’s autonomous driving technology deployed throughout Las Vegas and broadly accessible through the Lyft app, a wide range of consumers will be able to share the experience of autonomous vehicles in a complex urban environment,” said Aptiv president and CEO Kevin Clark in a statement . “More importantly, the resulting knowledge and data will allow us to further refine our autonomous driving capabilities and strengthen our portfolio of industry-leading active safety solutions.” Via Engadget Images via Lyft and John F. Martin /Aptiv

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Lyft launches self-driving cars on the Las Vegas strip

This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson

May 4, 2018 by  
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Much like the Guggenheim Museums around the world, a new art gallery founded by the great-grandson of Peggy Guggenheim is a true architectural showstopper. Santiago Rumney Guggenheim commissioned designer Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel to create IK LAB , a stunning arts gallery that opened late last month in Tulum, Mexico. Topped with a curved timber canopy, the nature-inspired space is located within the eco-friendly Azulik resort. Upon entering, visitors are asked to slip off their shoes and “to interact with the floor as a living organism,” made from woven jungle vines that seamlessly flow into walls and ceilings made with smooth curved concrete and locally sourced wood. No trees were cut in the process of building and the organic structure is lifted off the ground to minimize site impact. Natural light filters into the building through spaced-out timber elements and large openings in the walls reinforced by transparent fiberglass . In addition to framed views of the jungle outside, plants grow inside the art gallery as well. Related: World’s first porcelain courtyard opens at London’s V&A Museum “This majestic space redefines the traditional white-cube, gallery-visiting experience, instead fortifying the organic relationship between art and its physical surroundings,” IK LAB said in a statement. The inaugural exhibition, curated by Santiago R. Guggenheim, is titled “Alignments.” It features works by Tatiana Trouvé, Artur Lescher and Margo Trushina. + IK LAB Via Dezeen Images by Fernando Artigas

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This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson

This all-weather bicycle highway could fulfill the dreams of bike commuters everywhere

April 30, 2018 by  
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Architect Richard Moreta just unveiled the MINILOOP, an enclosed cycleway that could be a dream come true for bicycle commuters. Envisioned as the “ideal zero-emission transportation system,” the MINILOOP is designed to harness renewable energy and supply excess power to the local city grid. Geared to satisfy even the most fair-weather cyclists, the cycleway would be enclosed in a weather-resistant elevated pipeline and it’s designed to cater to bicycles and e-bikes . Inspired by the Hyperloop , the MINILOOP is designed for easy, world-wide reproduction and it can be modified to suit different climates – from an open-air design for temperate climates to a more insulated design for places with extreme weather. “MINILOOP helps create less traffic and pollution simultaneously; by both taking more conventional motor vehicles off the road and giving more vertical space to grow plants to further filter the air,” the architects wrote. “It also minimizes traffic and cycling incidents, creating safer environments for families and commuters.” Related: Shanghai flying car tower to clean the air with a 50,000-plant vertical forest The designers also included an optional additional circuit for small electric vehicles as part of their vision for moving cities toward a lower carbon footprint . To encourage surrounding communities to adopt greener transportation options, each MINILOOP would also be equipped with electric bicycle and vehicle charging stations, as well as electric bicycle rentals. + Richard’s Architecture + Design

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This all-weather bicycle highway could fulfill the dreams of bike commuters everywhere

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