Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 5

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Today’s Zocalo Public Square profile of a Metro rider: A welcome umbrella at the bus stop, Third Street to Hollywood Boulevard

Survey: 100 million people bike each year in U.S. but few make it a habit (Streetsblog) 

As this post notes, it’s often hard to come by solid information about Americans’ biking habits. In short, the survey found that while many Americans own a bike, many also fail to use them frequently because of fears of traffic and getting hit by a motor vehicle.

I don’t think those results are hugely surprising, but it’s good to see them quantified. I also think it’s a reminder that skeptical cyclists probably aren’t going to use bike lanes that they don’t believe protects them from traffic.

Meanwhile, KPCC has an article that includes statistics from 2012 on the top reasons behind car-bike collisions according to the CHP. The numbers indicate that cyclists are more often at fault for accidents that motorists and that riding on the wrong side of the road is the top reason for biker-caused accidents (as the article states, many cyclists were taught or believe that this is a good way to avoid getting hit from behind). The top reason for motorist caused accidents is failure to yield right-of-way.

Interesting…and I think another good reason to provide safe places for cyclists to get around our region and not just their neighborhoods.

Fool for the city: how we’re overhyping America’s urban comeback (The Week)

A critique of the recent study and ensuing articles that jobs are shifting back toward urban cores. This article says a closer read of the study shows that while on average jobs moved toward cities, in 20 of 41 metro areas, job creation was equal or greater in the ‘burbs and that many cities, in fact, lost jobs during the years covered in the study.

Writer Jacob Anbinder writes that job growth in cities is really best studied on a case-by-case basis and that trend stories tend to blur facts and what may be working and what’s not.

Only five metro areas in the study showed stronger core growth both before and during the recession. Two of them, New York and San Francisco, are known for their excellent mass transit, high population density, and walkable neighborhoods. Two more, Indianapolis and Nashville, are famous for their commitment to regional decision-makingthat doesn’t pit cities against suburbs.

Does all this mean cities aren’t on the rebound? I don’t think so. I think there’s another issue that tends to get blurred: even in cities that may not be seeing downtown job growth, there may be neighborhoods that are being revived. Which strikes me as a good thing.

Your credit card is now your fare card on the Mumbai Metro (CityLab and Times of India) 

The CityLab article explains it better; the story was first reported by the Times. The debit card actually includes two separate accounts — the debit card account and a fare card account. When the fare card account gets too low, it automatically reloads using money from the debit card. From CityLab:

The use of bank cards at transit turnstiles should get noticeably easier this fall. The credit card industry has set an October 2015 deadline for U.S. banks and merchants to adopt the so-called EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) card standard, lest they remain liable for fraud. A shift to chip-based EMV cards marks a huge security upgrade from current magnetic-strip technology and could further encourage U.S. transit agencies to blur the lines between bank and fare cards.

“That’s going to make a big difference in the way the cards function,” says Brown. “You’ll be able to tap that card on the turnstile and go.”

Of course, transit agencies will still have to decide whether to adopt that technology. In the U.S. these days, many large agencies are using reloadable fare cards similar to Metro’s TAP cards.


Things to read on transit: Metro serves plenty of local high schools, colleges and universities (with more to come–I’m talking to you, Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University). And so I thought our mathematically inclined riders would enjoy this article from Cornell University that uses some advanced math to calculate zombie dispersal across the U.S. should such an outbreak occur. Bottom line: big cities such as Los Angeles are certainly not a great place to be but some smaller cities such as Bakersfield are even more at risk due to being close to many larger cities. And, of course, this reminder to zombies: no eating on board our buses and trains, please. There are likely plenty of food opportunities after reaching your destination!

Things to listen to on transit: I recently had one of those very unpleasant online experiences that reminded me of this recent episode on This American Life about the lack of civility (to put it lightly) on the internet. The title: If you don’t have anything nice to say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS. It’s a great listen with some valuable insight about the ways we use the internet, but the show also includes some very adult language and situations. If easily offended, don’t listen.

6 replies

  1. Most EMV cards that are being issued by the banks in the US for the October 2015 EMV liability shift deadline are NOT capable of handling contactless. Contactless cards are required by the card networks to have a symbol that looks like WiFi somewhere on their cards, like this:

    If there is no such symbol on the card on the front or back, the card is incapable of contactless. And one can simply check it themselves by downloading a contactless card reader app on Google Play with an Android NFC capable device.

    EMV in the US is primarily a CONTACT chip, where the chip that is visible on the card must be PHYSICALLY INSERTED (dipped) into a slot on the terminal, like this:

    Citibank actually has a good video that explains how this works:

    And by far, the vast majority of US EMV cards are Chip-and-Signature, yet another useless form of authentication just because the US wants to do things differently than the more proven, effective Chip-and-PIN standard that is used widely across the world.

  2. In most countries in Asia, the fare card itself can also be used to buy goods like drinks from vending machines and is even an accepted payment at most convenience stores.

    In Hong Kong for example, the Octopus Card allows the person to not only use it to pay rides on the HKMRT, it can also be used to pay for goods at convenience stores and local fast food eateries.

    7-Elevens in Hong Kong for example, have contactless card readers for Octopus Cards so they can be used to pay for stuff, like these:

    It’s even accepted as a payment method for the gift store onboard the Hong Kong-Macau ferry.

    It’s a win-win agreement to both the transit agencies and the businesses that accept it. VISA and MC takes in 3% of the transaction as a fee for processing the payment. The transit agency can compete directly against VISA and MC by having their own transit cards accepted as a payment for a much lower rate, like 1%. The transit operator itself acting like a bank/financial institution and the business will favor adopting the Octopus Card because it only charges 1% compared to the 3% VISA and MC charges. This way, the transit operator can also bring in additional income through transaction charges at a lot more favorable rate than the terms set by VISA or MC.

    There’s a lot of things the US can learn from Asia. Metro should think about expanding TAP to allow purchases of goods at vending machines, and convenience stores too. For every transaction done via the TAP card, Metro gets 1%. Since it’s a more favorable rate than VISA or MC, many businesses all across the Southland will sign up and TAP will be used more like an universal regional fare and payments card.

    If Metro is willing to open up their ideas a little more wider and look at what other countries around the world are doing, they’ll find that there are alternatives to taxes and fare increases to keep them in operation.

  3. EMV is both contactless payment (via an onboard chip) and a security scheme. The secure aspect is why it’s popular in Europe and rolling out soon in the U.S. However, non-EMV contactless, onboard-chip credit/debit payment is fairly common in the U.S. Here in Chicago, you can already pay your fare with your own contactless credit/debit card, bypassing the Chicago Transit Authority’s branded “Ventra” tap cards. However, the system poses problems. When CTA rolled Ventra out two years ago, within weeks it had to mount a campaign to warn riders to make sure they didn’t hold their wallets or purses near Ventra tap targets on turnstiles and buses. That’s because the targets were double-charging riders Ventra cards and their contactless debit/credit cards as they entered the system or boarded buses–and even charging (and multiply charging) the contactless debit/credit cards of people simply standing too close to the farebox on buses. The targets simply charged whatever contactless card was placed near them, with no technical workaround. The result is that boardings aren’t as fast as they could be under Ventra, because CTA riders have to take whatever card they want to use out of their wallet/purse and physically hold it next to the tap target. CTA’s original marketing which included the idea that you could leave your card in your wallet or bag and just wave that in front of the target pretty much went out the window, and no one at CTA saw it coming. It was fodder for weeks of bad press for the agency.

  4. What has happened to ridership statistics on the Metro web site. They are still showing December, although the next month is usually posted by the 15th of the following month.

    • I’ve been wondering the same thing for the past couple weeks. I’m a ridership geek, and I need my monthly fix!
      I wonder if Metro is embarrassed to release the latest results because the ridership trend is falling so fast. It is possible that the January stats show that ridership has fallen to the lowest daily average in the last ten years. This would be an embarrassment for Metro, as they promote the expansion of their rail network. However, I’m convinced that the recent ridership dip is a temporary blip on the radar caused by the rapid drop in fuel prices during the previous few months. Now that the fracking boom is ending, plus the refinery fire and the oil companies opportunistic response, I expect transit ridership to slowly climb back to previous high levels.