underground

While my JVC vibrates the concrete

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I have itemized data for a single line in New York (Second Avenue Subway Phase 1) and a single line in Paris (Metro Line 1 extension), from which I have the following costs:

Tunneling: about $150 million per km vs. $90 million, a factor of 1.7

Stations: about $750 million per station vs. $110 million, a factor of 6.5

Systems: about $110 million per km vs. $35 million, a factor of 3.2

Overheads and design: 27% of total cost vs. 15%, which works out to a factor of about 11 per km or a factor of 7 per station

[…]

In Paris, as well as Athens, Madrid, Mexico City, Caracas, Santiago, Copenhagen, Budapest, and I imagine other cities for which I can’t find this information, metro stations are built cut-and-cover. While the tunnels between stations are bored, at higher cost than opening up the entire street, the stations themselves are dug top-down. This allows transporting construction materials from the top of the dig, right where they are needed, as well as easier access by the workers and removal of dirt and rock. There is extensive street disruption, for about 18 months in the case of Paris, but the merchants and residents get a subway station at the end of the works.

In contrast, in New York, to prevent street disruption, Second Avenue Subway did not use any cut-and-cover. The tunnels between stations were bored, as in nearly all other cities in the world that build subways, and the stations were mined from within the bore, with just small vertical shafts for access. The result was a disaster: the costs exploded, as can be seen in the above comparison, and instead of 18 months of station box-size disruption, there were 5 years of city block-size disruption, narrowing sidewalks to just 2 meters (7′ to be exact).

{ Pedestrian Observations | Continue reading }

pencil, ink, and enamel on tracing paper { Elena Asins, Scale, 1982-1983 }

Take me out, tonight

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Before leaving his girlfriend’s apartment in Crown Heights, on the morning of his nineteenth arrest for impersonating and performing the functions of New York City Transit Authority employees, Darius McCollum put on an NYCTA subway conductor’s uniform and reflector vest. […]

Six weeks earlier, Darius had been paroled from the Elmira Correctional Facility, near Binghamton, New York, where he had served two years for attempted grand larceny—”attempted” because he had signed out NYCTA vehicles for surface use (extinguishing track fires, supervising maintenance projects) and then signed them back in according to procedure. Darius has never worked for the NYCTA; he has never held a steady job. He is thirty-seven and has spent a third of his adult life in prison for victim-less offenses related to transit systems. […]

His obsession with the subway manifested itself as soon as he began riding trains with his mother, at age three. […] Darius spent hundreds of hours watching trains at 179th Street. He estimated the angle of every track intersection in the yard. By the time he was eight, he could visualize the entire New York City subway system. (Later he memorized the architecture of the stations.) Family and friends with subway questions began calling the McCollum household and asking for Darius. In small notebooks he recorded arrival and departure times at various stations, and documented whatever he observed: the shrill, keyed-up atmosphere an emergency stop instantly creates on a platform, the presence of transit police, mechanical problems (“E-train to Canal st 0015 L.C. Delay of train leaving Parson’s Blvd Door Trouble”), passengers riding between cars (“A-train to 81st L.C. 4112—Girl riding in between cars approx. 17 Brown Coat Blue Pants Brown Shoes”). He hasn’t abandoned this note-taking. […]

Darius’s apprenticeship began with a motorman he called Uncle Craft, who drove the first train Darius took regularly. When Craft began working at the 179th Street yard, he taught Darius to drive along the generous stretch of track between the yard and the last F stop. Darius learned how to ease a train into a station, aligning it with the markers that match its length, how to read signals while simultaneously observing the track connections the signals predict (he was taught never to assume the infallibility of signals), and how to understand the timers that govern the signals. Darius was an exceptional, methodical student: he learned quickly and thoroughly, building on each skill he acquired and instantly memorizing terminology. Soon he was doing yard maneuvers and taking trains into passenger service, as both a train operator and a conductor. (By the time of his first arrest, he had driven trains dozens of times.) […]

A prison psychiatrist, after a cursory evaluation, noted that a neurological disorder called Asperger’s Syndrome might explain Darius’s behavior.

{ Harper’s/Long Reads | Continue reading }

image { New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual }

Sadness has no end, happiness does

CL > new york > queens > all personals > missed connections
Seen on the N Train to Queensboro…..did we have something? - w4m - 26 (queens)
Posted: 2013-08-08, 9:22PM EDT

I got on at Union Square, you were already seated on the train. Actually, you were kind of sprawled halfway under one of the seats, sort of lying on the floor. I liked your style. Most people just sit on the seats. I can tell you see things differently.

Me, wearing a flared denim vintage skirt, white blouse, glasses. Small red pillbox hat. You, smooth-looking skin, distant stare. Kind of pale grey complexion. I kept trying to catch your eye over my copy of Damien Hirst’s biography, but you were preoccupied with something else.

You seemed like you had such faraway eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. What’s behind those eyes? I’d love to find out. I like the Discovery Channel, romantic movies, bicycles, picnics in the park, and deep-sea fishing. I got off at Queensboro, but I’m still wishing I’d said hello. Can we go for sushi sometime? Drop me a line.

{ craigslist | Continue reading }

background reading { Early on Aug. 8 ,2013 in New York the conductor aboard a Ditmars-bound N train at Queensboro Plaza reported a shark aboard the train in car }

Magdalen asylum. I am the secretary.

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{ Deep in the belly of New York’s subway system, a beautiful untouched station resides that has been forgotten for years with only a limited few knowing of its existence. | Travelette | full story | Related: The Underbelly Project has turned it into a kind of art gallery. }

With manners transposed the teatray down to an upturned lithia crate, safe from eyes, low

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A study of the world’s largest subway networks has revealed that they are remarkably mathematically similar.

The layouts seem to converge over time to a similar structure regardless of where or over how long they were built.

The study, in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, analysed 14 subway networks around the world.

It found common distributions of stations within the networks, as well as common proportions of the numbers of lines, stations, and total distances.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

Some scientists think that subway networks are an emergent phenomenon of large cities; each network is the product of hundreds of rational but uncoordinated decisions that take place over many years. And whereas small cities rarely have subway networks, 25 percent of medium-sized cities (with populations between one million and two million) do have them. And all the world’s megacities—those with populations of 10 million or more—have subway systems.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }