February: Cold air, high pressure, big plans

MOTCOP is grinding the old gears about public transportation, specifically gondolas:

Not more than two years ago, the country announced three new cable car lines with a total distance of around [7.5 miles] spread across 11 stations. Those three lines were all operational by the end of last year. This new announcement will add an additional [13 miles] of lines distributed over 23 stations — all of which, presumably, will be built in the same speedy manner.

When completed, the system as a whole will offer a level of capacity beyond that of the average North American tram or streetcar, as well as wait times of seconds between vehicles — at a fraction of the price of other standard modes. (Steven Dale, Creative Urban Projects)

If the community welcomes the necessary zoning, and Pittsburghers embrace their root engineering inclinations, urban gondolas could be the next driver of economic growth. Mayor Bill Peduto might want to have quick talk with the Pittsburgh Land Bank, once there is one.

Meanwhile, alert scribe Brian O’Neill observes we are still flinging poop in our rivers when it rains, and we seem no closer to designing a sewer system capitalizing upon source-control or “green” methods, nor any closer to financing the old grey-centric design, nor the EPA any closer to forcing our hand in court. For we are under a consent decree to comply with regulations about sewage overflows, and must cower before the might of our federal nanny-state overlords.

Our air quality is still crummy, but ain’t that America? Pittsburgh is exponentially better off than it was in Olden Times, but we are still an American city — we drive lots of cars in dense corridors without meaningful environmental regulations. Real estate is still being gobbled up. The lure is strong.

Back to public transportation, a wicked task amidst these ravines: the fresh thinking seems to have run dry back when the Dynamic Duo floated musings about a “circulator”. And the conversation for a “Bus Rapid Transit” project from Downtown to Oakland continues in its dissonance; there are now even-money odds whether it will get funded before the Bridge to Terabithia betwixt Downtown and the Hill.

Of course there will be a new POTUS soon, and our new Governor Wolf is a peach. Who knows what seeds may be sewn?

In the sphere of public safety, a reasonable facsimile of everybody rallied behind a framework for rebooting police-community relations. Bureau management also threw its weight into reforming the old Pittsburgh Initiative Against Crime, launching PIRC 2.0: Electric Pedutalo.

At the Citizen’s “Police Academy”, a new group of classmates and I are learning that:

  • The Pittsburgh bureau is one of the oldest American police outfits dating back to 1857 or 1830.
  • A lot of thought and energy go into vehicle fleet maintenance and specialty police units.
  • Recently retired Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson was the only “Deputy Chief” in recent memory.
  • Most officers carry pistols, though some carry revolvers.
  • Telescoping police batons can accomplish just about everything the old blackjack could, only better.

In popular news, we have an online Snow Plow Tracker! Shockingly, it didn’t catch the plow operator who repeatedly salted a private lot and thoroughfare — that was Target 11. See also the PostGazette. The Comet takes its fishy salt liberally with vinegar. This episode should definitely be investigated by OMI, and given at least a cursory review by the District Attorney.

Speaking of the dregs, we must revisit the Pedgerald vs. Wagnerstahl rock opera….

For the past week, County Controller Chelsa Wagner had been absorbing witheringly dismissive admonishment from the Fitzgerald administration. I don’t know if that means she has anything to worry about from her challenger, but it does mean she is up against a rock and a hard place in terms of moulding the status quo from that perch, though her subpoenas have been duly delivered.

It is our County row officer’s thesis that County authorities, agencies and police are worthy targets to ferret out critical misspending and misdoing, owing to their immense powers and relative distance and opacity from scrutiny. If that is so, the coordination and cover-up of such malign mismanagement must be a greatly demanding chore. It often falls to heroic dissidents or insurgents to expose and then to showcase the machinations of certain typically intergovernmental political mis-managers, should any exist. Failing that, one must be inspirational.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 4.54.11 AMPROGRAMMING NOTES: We are laboring with the intensity of a thousand suns over our Pittsburgh Public Schools Primer, or PPSP. Don’t be surprised to get a call soon, for we plan to unleash it online as Saturday Night’s Main Event.

And brace yourselves: branding is coming. AVcasts are coming. Plenty and more is coming. Trap year.

TANGENTIAL ERRATA: Pittsburghers are notoriously fond of Pittsburgh, and so are many others. If City revenues are a problem, why not sell merchandise? I would order an official Pittsburgh jacket, a T-shirt, four big glass cups and several Frisbees from the online store. Cut down on overhead, while marketing to all of Steeler Nation. Items should be quality as well as cost-controlled. Made in the USA should be preferred. In terms of graphic designs, I am given to understand we have many great local artists.

HEALTH CARE REMINDER: Heavens to Betsy, get onto Obamacare if you have no health care! You have three days remaining in the 2015 window. Get hype for peace of mind, and satisfying higher-level needs. Cupid favors such tranquility. The website will guide you through UPMC, Highmark’s and many others’ many plans with tables indexed by cost and by ratings, ranks and provisions. If you qualify for a subsidy, you will have one.

And as Medicare expands, there will be peace.

Healthcare.gov: Choose your health insurer like plane tickets and a hotel reservation, with a potentially generous Groupon through Travelocity. Customize your search, and see what is available. Advertisements and water-cooler conversation can be taken with grains of salt.

4 thoughts on “February: Cold air, high pressure, big plans

  1. Brian Tucker-Hill

    As a long time proponent of the technology’s potential in Pittsburgh, it is great to see gondolas getting serious mentions. It really is remarkable how useful it has proven in cities that have given it a try, and the speed of installation means we could get a starter line up and running way faster than any other form of rapid transit.

      1. Brian Tucker-Hill

        Yep. Another project to keep an eye on is the first Mexicable project in Ecatepec:


        It is apparently costing them about 228 million pesos for 4.8 km and 7 stations, which translates to about $15.3 million for 3 miles (and of course 7 stations). They are projecting a peak of around 3000 passengers per hour, and 26,000 passengers per day, and it will cut travel time along the route from almost an hour to 17 minutes. It looks like construction is on track to take well under 2 years.

        Those numbers at that price is truly astonishing. And it is no wonder they are already looking at expanding it by another 13.1 km (about 8 miles).

      2. Brian Tucker-Hill

        Oops–I’ve seen the 228M pesos number in various English sources, but using Google translate and Spanish sources, the number might actually be 1,288M pesos, or about $86.5M. That actually makes a lot more sense, and it still counts as extraordinarly low for 3 miles of new dedicated transit infrastructure.

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