Thursday, 11 November 2021

by-way or the highway

Albeit not on quite the same scale, these extreme commutes executed without an automobile and via slower, more deliberative modes of transportation really speak to me as I have undertaken similar excursions myself, only out of curious necessity, though the office is only ten kilometres away in most cases and not through dangerous terrain however through places not designed for pedestrians or flรขnuers (see also) to explore, fascinated by such transit-zones and will regularly make an afternoon’s errands out of something that would be quickly dispatched by car and a few extra stops.

Monday, 16 August 2021

mind the gap

Featured on Open Culture, we quite enjoyed this audio-sampler of departure and arrivals announcements and assorted warnings, jingles beeps and chimes of mass-transit systems from around the world. While I am grateful for the luxury of choice, I am not quite yet comfortable to go back to taking public transportation regularly but am looking forward riding the bus again and leaving the driving in more capable, punctual hands. Passing by the Bahnhof pretty regularly, I’m often within earshot of the familiar, reassuring bing-boom (I am looking for a single ideophone that embraces all of these automated audio signals) of the train doors closing. Much more at the link up top.  What is your local onomatopoeia?

Thursday, 24 June 2021

8x8

autobus park № 7: explore Kyiv’s derelict modernist transportation hippodrome—via Things Magazine  

blue: listen to rediscovered demos and outtakes from Joni Mitchell’s album on its fiftieth anniversary 

i’m chasing martian: excellent auditory illusion illustrated—see previously—from chanting fans  

dark matter, dark fish: the overwhelming biomass of Earth’s ecosystem is essentially undetectable for us (see also) yet we claim the right to rubbish it  

warriors of the zenith, warriors of the nadir: a 1904 ethnograph of Zuni ritual masks  

work-life balance: Japanese government proposes four-day work-week  

shareware: a look at the App Store’s predecessor, Software Labs  

private viewing: the collectors who saved modernist Soviet masterpieces


Saturday, 5 September 2020

galleria stradale del san gottardo

Holding the title of world’s longest road tunnel for two decades before being overtaken by the Lรฆrdalstunnelen in Vestland, the Gotthard Road Tunnel between the cantons of Ticino and Uri, linking the highlands to southern Switzerland beneath the namesake massif opened to traffic on this day in 1980.
After taking more than a decade to construct and given the high monetary cost and the nineteen fatalities of workers, the public balked at the fact there was no supplemental toll for it (the tunnel being covered by the mandatory vignettes for use of Swiss motorways), sighing that “The Italians built it, the Germans use it and the Swiss pay for it.” The inaugural vehicle was a school bus.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

sustine bona

Fans and aficionados of London Underground services have taken to masking up in style with facial coverings that keep themselves and their fellow travellers safer with protective coverings inspired by the durable and enduring moquette and upholstery (see previously here and here) that adorns their usual and preferred form of public conveyance. Much more to explore at the Londonist at the link up top.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

7x7

what would you like to eat: bats mostly squabble about what’s for dinner

it’s a duck blur: television intros recreated scene-for-scene with stock footage

east-enders: five decades of photographic portraiture from Tex Ajetunmobi that illustrate the harmony and diversity of the London neighbourhood

ebussy: a modular electric vehicle that can transform into several different types of autos

fine hypertext products: Pudding launches its “Winning the Internet” newsletter—via Waxy

du har satt din sista potatis: useful Swedish phrases for venting steam

the garifuna collective: enjoy the calls and songs of threatened birds set to electronic music

Thursday, 31 October 2019

u-bahn

Via the always resourceful Kottke, we are directed to a speciality site called Metrobits curating the branding, routes, technology and fare-schemes of public transit systems from major cities around the world. In addition to the expertly annotated legend and key to the icons, there’s also an extensive gallery of metro stations (see also) that are sacred celebrations of public infrastructure.

Friday, 4 October 2019

rolling stock

Via Nag on the Lake, we are directed towards an installation, Kirkby Design’s submission for the recently concluded London Design Festival, that rehabilitates and revamps the interior dรฉcor of a vintage subway carriage. The new palette is informed by the dreadful-excellence of traditional moquette (previously) that was meant to durable, aesthetic and invisible all at the same time. I think it would be fun to transform our foyer (or at least the entryway of my little apartment) into something like this and pass through each morning.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

hov lane

Via Design Boom, we learn about a simple but effective intervention that the city of Utrecht has instigated to create sanctuaries—bees stops (Bijstopt), for urban insects by planting grasses and wildflowers on top of bus shelters, some three hundred of them throughout the city. This is a step we could all encourage where we live. Much more to explore at the link above.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

on diversion

Via the always excellent Nag on the Lake, we are treated to the brilliant still life photographic compositions informed by the upholstery found on board bus lines in London (previously and see also here and here) of Emilia Cocking. Her extensive portfolio focuses on built environments and recognising and appreciating those intersectional coincidences of finding art in the everyday. Much more to explore at the links above.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

5x5

villa göth: six introductory videos on the architectural style of Brutalism (previously)

underdogs: a funny Apple advertisement manages to cover its entire suite of devices

murder she drew: an interview with talented, veteran courtroom artist (see also) Marilyn Church, via Boing Boing

no conclusion: Trump is now vacillating on releasing the Mueller Report to the public

xarabank: Malta’s unique and colourful fleet of buses recently retired make a comeback fully electrified 

Monday, 18 March 2019

hail to the bus driver

Though the scope and scale of public celebrations looks to be limited (though just taking the bus, subway or tram is a good way of keeping this tradition), today—18 March—has been designated since 2009 as Transit Driver Appreciation Day.
This particular date was selected in deference to one of the last great contributions of author and engineer Blaise Pascal (previously) for the inaugural circuit coaches with a fare of five sou (Carrosses ร  Cinq Sols) launched in Paris on this day in 1662, against the express wishes of the king and parliament who didn’t want the rabble crowding their boulevards and impeding their passage through the city. The enterprise—the first public transport in modern times—was well received and the king relented and allowed the eight-occupant carriages to make their appointed rounds—the first line going from Porte Saint-Antoine to Rue Dauphine via Pont Neuf.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

muster and moquette

CityLab made a quite wonderful and inspired appeal with their international, publically-jured round-up of mass-transit upholstery (previously here and here) sourced from trains, busses and metro-lines in service all over the world.

A few that I’m acquainted with can be reviewed here and I can completely relate to the feeling of pride and affection that passengers develop for these dreadfully excellent and challenging creations in textile that need not only to be practicable and identifiable (like this specimen of priority-seating for ScotRail) but have to also remain fresh, colourfast and rebuff graffiti for quite some time. Do share the distinctive seat-covers from your local public transport—and support them with your ridership and patronage. Much more to explore at the link above.

Monday, 25 February 2019

8x8

actuation: robots will construct a new robotics science museum in Seoul—via Nag on the Lake

the way of flowers: an expanded look at the aesthetics of ikebana (previously)—the traditional art of Japanese flower arrangement

go transit: the vehicle just gets you there


high-intensity incidental physical activity: studies suggest that the most impactful forms of exercise aren’t exercise at all

gambay: an interactive map of Australia’s aboriginal languages—via Maps Mania

just want your extra time ... and your gif: a collection of officially-endorsed Prince animations

osborne bulls: the backstory of those iconic silhouettes that dot the Spanish countryside along freeways

beat of a different drum: a marching band with “robotic” music 

Friday, 1 February 2019

lozenge moquette

Thanks to City Lab, we are invited to revisit the plush and pile of mass-transit upholstery through the industrial textile designs of Enid Marx and other samples archived by the London Transportation Museum. By turns both extravagant and practical, both overlooked and omnipresent, the exhibit offers a retrospective look at the power of the intentionality in design, underscored perfectly by something that often retreats into the background yet (if not itself the subject of passing derision) so much part of a shared ridership experience.

Monday, 15 October 2018

transportation authority

For several weeks now with no intentions of looking back—even I hope when the weather turns a bit wintry since that’s an incentive in itself to not have to fret about icy roads—I’ve been riding the bus to and from work and foregoing the car altogether during the week. Granted, I realise that it ought to make me a bit self-conscious in mentioning this, sort of like on Absolutely Fabulous when Edina says to Patsy, “Yes, but Sweetie, I will not have my daughter thinking she’s so great because she can use public transport.”
And to Saffron, “Anybody can use public transport, Darling!” To which Saffron replies, “I know. That’s the point.” I wonder, however, why it took me so long to realise exactly how convenient it is with even the bear minimum of planning, discipline or pocket-change.
Intrigued by these campaigns to make buses and metro lines free and eliminate fares (we were not part of the trials) and have so far avoided going for less expensive ticketing alternatives to support a service that might be at the liminal reach for others, I wonder how many more passengers we might be able to recruit by offering the same sweep discounts—which are still very, very affordable considering the dividends that one is getting in return.
What do you think? One needs to be willing, I think, to make some outlays to rescue us from ourselves.  I don’t know that I’d have bothered with trying the bus out of a stubborn perception that happily never had the chance to bear out of inconvenience but if the routes and schedules didn’t suit, I guess the alternative to taking the car (which I can report is one the streets fully six to eight times fewer per week) would be less than optimal. I think that the element of synchronicity must be sold (buses need better PR agents since they are vehicles of change far more important than individual electric cars, though our fleet is electric as well) before we can talk about cheaper fares. These images are of upholstery patterns on buses that I’ve recently took.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

maintain eye contact

Acknowledging the challenges that autonomous vehicles pose for pedestrians and how to signal intent and yield right-of-way, we learn via Curbed that UK automobile manufacturer Jaguar-Land Rover is testing a concept to engage passers-by with big emotive googly eyes installed on their driverless carriages where the headlights ought to be.
Knowing how I hesitate and shuffle back and forth at the kerb and cross-walk, I’m sure I’ll cause a dread miscalculation one of these days.  What do you think?  Following the idea that it’s second nature to lock eyes with a driver before crossing the street, researchers hope that this exchange of mutual recognition will be enough to instil confidence in the safety of the new technology.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

kleptocracy

This thoughtful essay from economist Susan Crawford on the inherently paradoxical nature of good governance—how the most vital and integral public services are the most vulnerable to being dismantled by oligarchs by dint of their invisibility—initially reminded us of a parallel phenomena that we encountered a few weeks ago that spoke to how we perceive laisse-faire attitudes and confidence in market-corrections: a search void.

The result of unequal passion for forwarding a particular agenda or product over a scientifically sound and accepted truth that needs no advocacy, search engines answer enquiries with a paucity of authoritative answers in favour of amplifying and propagating rumour and falsehoods—not because of some malfeasance in programming or bias to serve up what sells (though spamdexing does happen and that is a real problem too), but because there is a concerted effort boost the worldview of a particular party. It’s not a majority perspective but can appear so. In the same way those sturdy and staid institutions of government, the museums, schools, hospitals and regulatory bodies, get far less attention and fewer champions (seemingly) than those who would call for their privatization or outright obliteration. Here’s hoping that we won’t have to loose these protections to realise what we have and what’s at stake.

Monday, 21 May 2018

leave the driving to us

Informed via Slashdot that Estonia from 1 July on will make its public mass-transit services essentially fare-free throughout the country—following similar though not encompassing schemes in Paris and Wales—I was relieved to learn that others, even politicians and city-planners, also realise that the future of driver-less, chauffeured transportation has always been with us, even if collective solutions are not as sleek and smug as reinventing the wheel.
Tallinn too has been addressing last-mile conundrums with automated mini-buses to supplement its network as well. Implementation is surprisingly inexpensive, even factoring in on the lost revenue (which might for a time be recouped from tourists), whose blow is dulled by the fact that one can eliminate the administrative cost of managing ticket sales and inspections—not to mention reduced air-pollution, less congestion and increased mobility and self-determination for an ageing rural population.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

transit authority

Though this fare strike on routes in Okayama is not the first example of a social picketing without disruption to services, it was certainly a new and novel concept to us.
Bus drivers threw blankets over the ticket machines and refused to accept payments from riders in order to protest their wage situation and rate hikes that leave drivers worried that they might be undercut by competing lines. The first mention of this sort of demonstration dates back to 1944 when streetcar workers in Cleveland, Ohio stopped collecting fares to leverage better wages and working conditions. Generally such strikes have positive outcomes since passengers are not inconvenienced but quite the opposite and the gesture fosters a sense of solidarity. What do you think? I wonder what sort of analogues there are for this type of protest in other sectors.