Every day at The Overhead Wire, we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
Rethinking commuter rail service post-pandemic: It’s unknown whether commuters will return to offices at the same level as before the pandemic, but whether they do or don’t, it gives transit agencies the ability to rethink regional rail for trips outside the commute. Some agencies such as MBTA and SEPTA are already looking at opportunities to operate more like rapid transit. (Jake Blumgart | Governing)
What will happen to all the dead batteries?: As electric vehicles become more common, scientists are ringing the alarm and pushing for a robust recycling system for used batteries. Recycling batteries is being supported by car makers as a way to use rare materials, but it’s also logistically challenging. The issue includes labor costs and the dangers of disassembling with health and safety in mind. (Emma Woollacott | BBC)
Saving cities from super gentrification: Associate Professor Jenny Stuber writes in her new book about how Aspen Colorado has created a parallel affordable housing market at a time when the median home price is around $4 million. She also discusses how a building moratorium to quell super gentrification resulted in height limits and requirements on spaces where people could congregate and operate normal businesses. (Phineas Rueckert | Next City)
How the Greyhound bus connects America: The intercity bus industry in the United States provided service for 16 million riders in 2019. However, during the pandemic, the industry laid off or furloughed 80% of it’s workforce. If we lost the bus industry, we might lose a democratic connection between a cross section of American people. (Sonam Vashi | National Geographic)
Cities could see work from home spending drop: University of Chicago researchers believe that spending in cities will drop between 5-10% as more people work from home. The changes don’t bode well for businesses that depend on downtown workers, and foretell an uneven economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ben Winck | Business Insider)
Quote of the Week
“You see these stations that are 80 years old, and they’ve got stunning tiling. They’ve got chandeliers! You think of the extra initial cost of those tiles, and light fittings. And then you say, every day, maybe 200,000 people see them. Times 365 times 80: that’s value, the emotion that has given people.”
English designer Thomas Heatherwick in the Guardian on investing in places that make people want to come together after a pandemic.
This week on the podcast, former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn joins the show to talk about the MUTCD.