6sqft has marveled at the 1951 proposal by Goodyear Tires for a giant conveyor belt to carry people between Times Square and Grand Central and Alfred Ely Beach’s underground pneumatic tube system. The New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) fills in the blanks on an early idea for an elevated rail system that was ahead of its time. In 1870, Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science and Art introduced an article with a lament about the state of New York City public transportation that sounds uncannily familiar even in the 21st century: “the present means of travel are not only inadequate in extent, but are far too slow and cumbersome.” The anonymous author then tells of the futuristic vision of one Rufus Henry Gilbert, a New York-born surgeon, Civil War veteran and inventor.
The Bay Ridge Avenue train station that was once a dark and dreary stop along the R line has completed its six-month renovations, the MTA announced Friday. The 102-year-old station was closed in April so the agency could bring it into the modern age with countdown clocks at all three entrances, Wi-Fi, digital displays, USB ports and an enhanced security system.
A self-driving vehicle, photo via GM
General Motors will bring a fleet of self-driving cars to a 5-square-mile section of lower Manhattan early next year, becoming the first company to deploy autonomous cars in New York City. As the Wall Street Journal learned, in partnership with driverless-car developer Cruise Automation, GM’s testing will include an engineer in the driver’s seat to monitor the performance and a second person in the passenger seat. In May, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state began accepting applications from companies interested in autonomous technologies in New York. GM and Cruise’s planned testing will become the first time Level 4 autonomous vehicles will be tested in NYC, getting a head start on making the Big Apple a hub for self-driving cars.
6sqft recently covered a report released by the city’s Independent Budget Office that analyzed the impact of a growing number of subway delays and found that subway downtime could be costing the city up to $389 million annually in lost wages and productivity for businesses. According to the New York Times, the problem is getting worse, and it’s affecting everyone’s earnings. The cost of subway delays on a typical workday morning translates to $864,000 a day in lost work time for intra-city commuters, $257,000 for commuters who live beyond city borders and $109,000 for subway riders traveling for reasons other than work. The total daily cost: about $1.23 million. Multiplied by 250 working weekdays a year, that adds up to about $307 million that New Yorkers lose in work time every year.
Grand Central Terminal, photo via NYC & Company
At Grand Central Terminal, it’s in with the new, out with the old. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will replace stores that have served the busy terminal’s commuters for over two decades–Junior’s, Two Boots Pizza, Grand Harvest Wines–with more upscale shops. As the New York Post reported, new stores include Art Bird & Whiskey Bar, run by Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, Art Smith, and Tartinery, an open-face sandwich vendor. The restaurant refashioning process is expected to run through 2018.
TodWhen the city first got a look inside the new Second Avenue Subway stations ahead of the line’s New Year’s Day 2017 opening, one of the shiniest, most colorful elements was the collection of newsstands. Ten months later, however, the kiosks still sit empty, decked out in the signature marketing of rainbow polka dots. According to the New York Times, the MTA says it’s selected an operator for the newsstands, and though they won’t reveal who, claim that they’ll open soon. But is the fact that Q train riders seem overwhelmingly unaware and unaffected by the lack of newsstands a sign that they’re not actually wanted or needed in a time when newspapers and magazines have been replaced by tablets and iPhones and candy and sodas with organic oatmeal and Juice Press?
Image courtesy of NYC Train Sign via Instagram
New York City life got easier when we could see live data on when the next subway train would arrive via signs on platforms, in stations and on our mobile phones. Now a Brooklyn-based startup called NYC Train Sign has created a way to display that data in our homes and businesses (h/t Curbed). In an interesting evolution of the wall clock, the company’s flagship product is an artfully-designed countdown clock that displays real-time MTA data for trains in both directions for any train stop you choose. You can add a customized text slide, logo and real-time weather updates, too.
Subway booth at the Columbus Circle station, via Wiki Commons
Fresh off their announcement that they’ve begun the testing phase of a mobile device scanning and payment system to replace the MetroCard, the MTA has revealed that they’re also considering doing away with the ye-olde subway booth worker. According to the Daily News, the latest attempt at modernization will replace the workers with “customer service ambassadors” who will roam stations to provide real-time travel info and answer questions.
Image: Phil Hollenback via Flickr.
With the goal of eventually phasing out the use of MetroCards in the New York City subway system, the MTA has begun the testing phase of a mobile device scanning and payment system. Untapped Cities reports that the first trials of a new mobile fare system are being installed at points where Metro-North commuters transfer to the subway, as an expansion of the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road’s eTix app. At specific stations, riders can make the transfer with turnstiles fitted with scanners that allow them to swipe their phones. The new turnstiles have already been installed in the Bowling Green and Wall Street Stations in lower Manhattan for a test run; the expansion is a pilot for the eventual phasing out of MetroCards altogether.
City Airbus. Image: Airbus
If you’re stuck in city traffic, you’ll appreciate this news: Airbus helicopters has just announced that it has completed its first full-scale testing on the propulsion system of the company’s CityAirbus demonstrator, Designboom reports. The vehicle in question is a a multi-passenger, self-piloted electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle made for urban air mobility–in essence, a flying taxi.