This month, Moscow is offering free subway rides to passengers who can do 30 squats. It’s part Olympic fever, part healthy-lifestyle promotion, via the Wall Street Journal (and be sure to check out the pictures):
Moscow city officials are now offering free rides on the subway to any passenger who does 30 squats before crossing the ticket barrier to enter the metro in an effort to promote physical fitness and sports, according to Russian state media reports.
Each squat will be counted by a special machine marked with the Olympic logo that will be placed next to electronic ticket vending machines.
“We wanted to show that the Olympic Games is not just an international competition that people watch on TV, but that it is also about getting everyone involved in a sporting lifestyle,” Alexander Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, was quoted by state-run news wire RIA-Novosti as saying.
A major rationale — perhaps the major rationale — touted by supporters of mass transit is that by reducing our output of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, transit can help save the environment. The proposition seems intuitive and even obvious: by no longer encasing each traveler in thousands of pounds of difficult-to-move metal, surely transit is more energy-efficient. Plenty of analyses prove this. But then again, Aristotle, who was revered as the infallible font of truth for more than 1,000 years, proved that heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones and that women have fewer teeth than men. Might studies that demonstrate transit is greener be similarly wrong?
They might. The reason is that many studies of energy efficiency by mode often make questionable and — depending on the author’s point of view — self-serving assumptions. The main trick is to look at autos with but one passenger and compare them to transit vehicles in which every seat is full. (For example, see this.)
But in the real world, this is emphatically not the case. Read More »
New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying a counterintuitive approach to cleaning up the subway by removing trash cans from some of its dirtiest stations. According to the New York Times, a subway stop in Queens and another in Greenwich Village have been entirely without trashcans for the last two weeks:
The idea is to reduce the load on the authority’s overtaxed garbage crew, which is struggling to complete its daily rounds of clearing out 40 tons of trash from the system.
But it also offers a novel experiment: will New Yorkers stop throwing things away in the subway if there is no place to put them?
Results have so far been mixed. While one bin-less station appeared relatively clean to a Times reporter, the experiment is obviously having some knock-on effects. Read More »
This past weekend, I was waiting for the subway when an old, 1920s-era train pulled to a stop on the express line. My first thought was that it was one of those worker trains you sometimes see (especially on weekends) that ferry MTA crews along the line as they make repairs. But passengers were getting on. Guys in MTA gear hauled open the manually sliding doors and did an old-fashioned call-out: Downtown express train. Next stop 72nd Street. Getting on seemed the obvious thing to do. It helped that neither I nor my wife had seen the news that HBO paid the MTA $150,000 to run a 1920s-era vintage subway train up and down the express line, as a way to promote the second season of Boardwalk Empire.
So the effect was as they’d intended: stupefaction, followed by slow realization, followed by total bemused wonderment. It felt like being at an amusement park. I was amazed at how fast it went, how comfortable the seats were (compared to the current plastic ones), and how loud it was with the windows down. Here’s a video: Read More »
Leave it to the Dutch to turn a playground feature into public-transit innovation. Next time you’re tripping down a set of dirty, crowded subway stairs in your city, just remember that there’s a better way. The Dutch are calling it a “transit accelerator.” Read More »
A report by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority seems to prove that hopping a subway turnstile is worth the risk of getting caught and fined. The MTA estimates that riders entered the subway without paying 18.5 million times in 2009 (an average of 50,684 a day) while the police issued just 120,000 summonses, or 1 for every 154 jumps.
The report figures that a regular turnstile jumper has a chance of getting caught only once every 6 to 13 weeks. At $100 per fine, this works out to be cheaper than a $27 weekly unlimited Metrocard that would cost $162 over six weeks. So the fare-skipper who gets nabbed only once in that period still comes out ahead by $62. And that was in 2009. While the price for a weekly pass has since increased to $29, the cost of the fine has not, so in 2011 it pays even more to hop the turnstile.
From the Daily News:
Read More »
“This basic street economics might explain observed evasion behaviors,” the authors of the report wrote, arguing stiffer penalties might cut down on scofflaws. “Higher fines or arrests may have better deterrent effects.”