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From xkcd

Recently posted to Minneapolis, the Venice of the Upper Midwest .

Blues tones copy

March 32, 2012

You may have heard recently of the decision of the

Metoopolitan Council to name all of the rail and express bus lines after colors. Not wanting to leave out the local bus routes, they made a decision to rename the bus lines after colors as well.

Therefore, bus routes that intersect with the newly named Blue line LRT will be named after shades of Blue. Some of the new routes are listed below:

  • Route 2 will now be referred to as the Sailor's Delight line

  • Route 3 as Birds of a Feather

  • Route 5 as Midnight Clearing

  • Route 7 as Bluesday Afternoon

Similarly, all of the bus routes that feed the new Green Line LRT will be named after shades of Green.

These include the following changes:

  • Route 16 will now be referred to as Mr. Pistachio
  • Route 62 as Ribbet!
  • Route 65 as Lemony Lime
  • Route 87 as Cricket Hop Green

The Director of Interior Design at the Metoopolitan Council, Dr. Ronald "Dutch" Buoy, suggested that the system will aid navigability and reduce complexity associated with using buses. He also said that each bus will be repainted to indicate which line it will serve. He advised "Just look for the color of the bus that is going to your destination." He further suggested "People don't like numbers, Math is Hard!"

Critic of the decision, former Metoopolian Council Chair bell peters declared it was "Too Matchy-Matchy".

Any routes that don't intersect the LRT system will be discontinued once this system is deployed. And lines that intersect more than one LRT route will also be discontinued. "We aim to build a tree upon which the Twin Cities transit users can travel." stated Metoopolitan Council director of Network Services Name Redacted. "It will also be easier to model, since there will be only one transfer point."

We wish to learn the lesson of Transantiago and concentrate as much traffic on as few vehicles as possible. "Our plan is to just do this one day without notice, so as not to needlessly worry our customers." the Metoopolitan Director of Public Relations suggested. People inconvenienced by the system are advised to change jobs to somewhere in downtown Minneapolis.

The press release did not include the full list of route changes. If you, my loyal Transportationistas, uncover any others, please post them to the comments section.

Ethical Ethanol

The Meetopolitan Council. Saint Paul. April 1, 2012

The Meetopolitan Council announced today the conversion of its entire bus and rail fleet to 100 percent pure Ethical Ethanol(™). Ethical Ethanol(™) is a type of ethanol that is carbon negative. All Ethical Ethanol is derived from plant stocks, usually corn, grown within 32.6 miles of its use.

The corn stalks are hand harvested by US citizens and wheel-barrowed to the nearest grain elevator. The wheel-barrows are made in northern Minnesota by indigenous wheel-barrow crafts-persons, using methods developed 600 years ago prior to the European colonization.

All corn is allowed to range free, no factory farms are admitted into the program. The corn is fed only locally-grown organic pork and beef waste, but is not permitted to be fertilized with waste products of older corn. This is intended to avoid Mad Corn Disease.

The advantages of Ethical Ethanol(™) are several. First it reduces electrical pollution resulting from electric vehicles and electric power generation. Second it guarantees Minnesota will not be subject to the vagaries of the international energy trade market.

To finance this conversion, an Ethical Ethanol(™) surcharge is being placed on all vehicle-vehicle transfers. This surcharge, a mere $4/transfer, is intended to help finance the conversion. Meeto Transit is also applying for a US Department of Energy grant to help pay for the conversion. "We are happy not to have to raise rates", Council Chair Firebottom stated.

All vehicles which cannot be converted to Ethical Ethanol will instead be converted to fertilizer, as shown in the attached picture.


Image shows unconverted transit vehicles being converted to Ethical Ethanol fertilizer.

Finance and Commerce teases me: High-speed link between Rochester, Twin Cities could pay for itself, report claims  - Finance & Commerce:

"A high-speed rail line between Rochester and the Twin Cities would more than pay for itself with the extra economic benefits and tax dollars generated, according to a report released Monday by economic development officials in southern Minnesota. The report from Rochester Area Economic Development says a rail line would generate $27.54 billion in economic benefits, including ..."

Alas, I don't subscribe to Finance and Commerce, so I will have to make up the ellipsis

(1) $1 billion in added noise benefits. Since noise reduces property values, renters and new owners will be able to buy land for cheap.

(2) $10 billion in opportunity costs avoided. Since the HSR line will result in other bad construction projects avoided, and since we can't afford everything, there is clearly a benefit here.

(3) $5 billion in added profits for the operators of the line. The line will cost billions to operate over time, so that must be a benefit to those paid to operate it.

(4) $3 billion in construction benefits. We are paying people to build the line, they benefit. Therefore all construction costs are benefits.

(5) $9 billion in development. There will be new development in Rochester and the Twin Cities. All of that can be attributed to the HSR.

(6) $.5 billion. There will be development taking place in Rochester that would otherwise take place in Mankato. That is another benefit.

(7) $35 billion. The Mayo Clinic won't move to Phoenix.

Was I right?




Inspired by the state named roadways in Washington DC, a solution to the DC representation problem presents itself. Rather than DC being a state of itself (it is smallish, certainly in size, but also in population), which clearly raises the ire of Republicans who would be loathe to create 2 Democratic Senate seats, or being functionally retroceded to Maryland (which gets Maryland one more representative, but diminishes each Marylander's vote for Senate and creates new demands on taxpayers), we could divide the District into 50 districts, and assign each to one of the fifty states. The districts should be approximately equal in size (~12000) people and area (~1.2 square miles).

The elegance of this is that everyone in Washington would get a federal vote, some people in Minnesota, some in Florida, and so on. Every Senator and 50 representatives would all have some interest in the District of Columbia, as a good number of their constituents live there. Washington would no longer be "there", but instead be part of all of the United States. Incumbents in Congress should vote for it, since they have an advantage in campaigning in this not inconsequential district of the District compared to rivals.

We could tie each district to the state avenues, so, for instance, Minnesota would get a chunk of DC that is along Minnesota Avenue, say around the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station. Florida's chunk would be in part coterminous with Florida Avenue, and so on. We could further encourage Senators and the Representative to stay in the part of DC that is in their Congressional district. This would disperse at least 50 Representatives and 100 Senators who have a nasty habit of co-habitating to no good end, and this would further their feel for the city.

The link below illustrates the concept for Minnesota Avenue.

View Minnesota section of DC regional scale

Light rail gets a name, new logo

| 1 Comment

MPR reports that Light rail gets a name, new logo :

"St. Paul, Minn. — The Twin Cities light rail system is getting a new name.

Under a plan the Metropolitan Council approved Wednesday, the light rail and rapid transit lines will be known as "Metro" once the Central Corridor line opens in 2014

The system will feature a "T" logo instead of an "M," said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.

The decision was made after brand testing a variety of logos.

"The qualities that people associated with the "T" logo are really solid ones that we really want to build the system around," Lamb said. "That's reliability [and] the system approach toward transit."

Lamb says the Hiawatha light rail line will become the blue line and the Central Corridor will be the green line.


Readers of this blog of course know the real name they stuck with a "T", it was so they would not have to change all the Bus Stop signs. One only hopes they thought about buses when choosing the name, since you know, buses carry some 90% of transit users in the region.

Alternatives names were considered but rejected. These include:

  • Hennepin-Ramsey Transit (HeRT)
  • Ramsey-Hennepin Transit (RaHT)
  • METRO - Moving Everyone (without a car) Through the Region On-grade
  • MeToo - Minnesotans Emulating Transit names of Other Organizations

Linklist: October 3, 2011

AFP at Google News London on war footing for Olympic transport battle "The eye-watering size of the transport budget for the Olympics speaks volumes about the size of the task -- it is £6.5 billion (7.5 billion euros, $10 billion), compared with a budget for the Games of around £9.3 billion, not including transport."

Kurzweil: Nissan teams up with EPFL for BMI-assisted driving "The car of tomorrow will scan your thought patterns and predict your next, says Nissan, which is collaborating with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland (EPFL). Brain machine interface (BMI) systems developed by scientists at EPFL already allow disabled users to maneuver their wheelchairs by thought alone. “The idea is to blend driver and vehicle intelligence together in such a way that eliminates conflicts between them, leading to a safer motoring environment,” said Professor José del R. Millán, project leader."

CNET: Ig Nobels honor study of horny beetles, why we sigh "And of course there are the tongue-in-cheek awards, including the public safety prize for experiments in which someone tries to drive on a highway with the sun visor flapping down over his face, blinding him. The mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, Arturas Zuokas, got the peace prize for "demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored truck," according to the Ig Nobel statement." hat tip: David A. King's blog

Bloomberg via Strib: As cancellations take off, fliers have fewer options : "United Continental Holdings, Delta Air Lines and other large carriers have scrubbed nearly 104,000 flights this year through Sept. 21, or 2.36 percent of the scheduled total. A full-year rate at that level would be the highest since 2001, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics."

Cap'n Transit posts: Cap'n Transit Rides Again: Schumer calls for horse "no ride" list in wake of terror plot

Schumer calls for horse "no ride" list in wake of terror plot

Sen. Charles Schumer called today for the creation of a "No Ride List" for American horses to prevent suspected terrorists from targeting the US equine system.


Photo: John Haeger, Oneida Daily Dispatch

The move follows reports from intelligence gathered at Osama bin Laden's compound that showed the Arabian Horse Association was considering attacks on US horses.

In a press conference at his New York City office, Schumer said he will begin pushing congressional appropriators to increase funding for rectal inspections of commuter and passenger horse systems, as well as heightened monitoring and support for security at local horse stables throughout the country.

The Democratic senator said he also asked the Department of Homeland Security to expand its Secure Flight program to stables, which would essentially create a "No Ride List" to prevent suspected terrorists from mounting horses.

Intelligence analysts who examined the documents seized from bin Laden's compound in Pakistan concluded that al Qaeda was considering attacks on high-profile dates, including the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the conclusion of the State of the Union address and high traffic holidays such as Christmas and New Year's Day, Schumer said.

"We must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves from future terror attacks, and when intelligence emerges that provides insight into potential vulnerabilities, we must act with speed," Schumer said.

Under the current program for airlines, travelers' names and other identifying information are cross-checked with the terror watch list to select passengers for enhanced screening and prevent possible terrorists from boarding planes.

Schumer wants that program to be applied to stables when passengers purchase their passage before mounting the horse.

Schumer noted that the nation's horse system transported 90,000 passengers in 2010 and carries 90,000 passengers every day on 90,000 different horses.

Not all horseback riders were enamored of the plan. "Sounds like a big load of horseshit to me," said noted equestrian 'Cap'n' Ignatius R. Transit. "Like something you'd read in the Post."

(Via Schneier on Security.)

It's Transportational



The verb "transport" means "to carry across", its noun form means the "act of transporting". The root "-ation" is one of those vague Latinisms, meaning an action or process, and so Transportation is therefore "the act of the act of carrying across", a needless redundancy, it says the same thing more than once. We do not "transportate", why do we have "transportation"?

According to Google, the word "Transportation" yields about 423,000,000 results while the word "Transport" yields About 698,000,000 results. Like the Metric System this is one area the US trails the world in efficiency. The Chinese require only two characters 交通 (Jiaotong) where the US requires 14 to convey the same idea. The figures on the right illustrate the usage worldwide, and in American and British English respectively. This excess "ation" is costing Google alone more than 2 Gigabytes, assuming only one excess "ation" per page.

Another way of thinking about is if this were printed, This would be a library of 4230 books just containing the word "ation", which would occupy a large room in The Library of Babel

Surely the word "transportation" is uttered more 423,000,000 times per year (which is only 1.5 times per year per American). If these words were spoken at 0.5 seconds per excess "ation", it would take one speaker (let's say Ray LaHood) 6.7 years of non-stop talking (24//7/365) just to utter this excess language, at 2000 hours per year, it would take nearly 30 work years for this individual, in other words, a career. At an average salary of $196,700 per year for Mr. LaHood, he is costing society almost in excess of $6,000,000.

We can provide more than three meals a day, according to some charities, for a dollar a day

For $6 million dollars we could feed 6 million children for a day, or more than 300 children for 18 years. Think of the starving children next time you utter that excess "ation".

The excess "ation" is only slowing us down, and is emblematic of the transportation problems we have in the US. Transport is Faster, twice as fast, with only two syllables doing the work of the four syllables in "transportation". By dropping those five letters, transport pronunciation speeds will double. Our work will be twice as fast on three-sixths as much paper. Meetings will be 17 minutes shorter. In these times of government cut-backs, it is essential the transport community contribute by sacrificing, this reduction of transportation to transport is a 35% letter savings, a much greater savings than can be achieved with an ordinary signal retiming.

Commentations are welcome.

xkcd: Long Light

From xkcd: Long Light

Linked to in comments in an article in Slashdot: "Traffic-Flow Algorithm can reduce fuel consumption

Highway Engineer Pranks

Highway Engineer Pranks

(from XKCD)

Always mind the bollards

Video from Manchester Evening News: Always mind the bollards!

A nice visualization of the lastest traffic management technology in Europe. Clearly not fool-proof.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

Access to Destinations

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Financing Transportation Networks

View David Levinson's profile on LinkedIn

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