Philadelphia’s air pollution grew significantly last month. More cars were on the highways during a local transit strike that idled buses, trolleys and subways. Local transit usually provides 900,000 rides a day.
The Transport Workers Union Local 234 failed to reach a contract agreement with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. The union’s 4,700 workers started the strike on Tuesday, November 1. The strike ended six days later on Monday, November 7.
The Philadelphia Department of Health reported that “at its peak, during morning rush hours, levels of fine particles known as PM2.5 were four times higher during the strike than before.”
PM2.5 is an air pollutant that can travel deeply into the lungs. Fine particle exposure can affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Scientific studies have linked increases in daily PM2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths.
( philly.com, usatoday.com, washingtonpost.com, photo from phillymag.com)
CarTube: Underground & Driverless
A London-based architect introduced a bold solution to traffic congestion earlier this month. Lars Hesselgren and his firm, PLP, has unveiled its concept design for a new transport solution using autonomous vehicles in underground tunnels.
PLP describes itself as “architects, designers and thinkers who value the transformative role of ideas and the capacity for architecture to inspire.”
Their CarTube concept combines driverless electric cars and mass public transit into a single, seamless road system below ground.
PLP envisions a network of underground tubes with massive conveyor belts that move vehicles from one place to another. They propose eliminating above-ground roads altogether, freeing up space for parks and recreation.
“Moving high-speed car traffic below ground will revolutionize our concept of the city, allowing our urban spaces to be designed not for cars, but for people,” said Hesselgren, PLP’s director of research.
Hesselgren acknowledges the obstacles, but says CarTube is a research proposal for the far future. He wants to know what parts could work and what rightfully should be scrutinized. “It’s a challenge for people to think,” he says, “not just react.”
This is an idea we could be hearing more about.
(citylab.com, newcivilengineer.com, nytimes.com, inhabitat.com, architectsjournal.co.uk)
BWAT Raises CNG Price Due to New Tax
Blue Water Area Transit will raise the price of Compressed Natural Gas at its four public fueling stations on January 1, due to the start of Michigan’s new CNG fuel tax. The price for CNG will go up from $2.30 to $2.57 per Gasoline Gallon Equivalent.
One GGE is equal to 5.66 pounds of CNG, which has the same energy content as one gallon of gasoline.
BWAT operates a CNG fueling station at its headquarters at 2021 Lapeer Avenue in Port Huron, Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.–7 p.m. The agency also operates three CNG fueling stations that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A Marine City station is located at 516 S Parker Street (M-29) in front of the Department of Public Works. A Capac station is located at 15041 Downey Road (Old M -21) near Capac Road and Allenton Collision. A Port Huron station is located at 1520 Hancock Street near Cawood Auto.
The State of Michigan has certified all four of BWAT’s public stations. BWAT accepts Discover, Master Card and VISA at all four locations.
BWAT has produced CNG since 1996. It is Michigan’s largest producer of compressed natural gas, with the largest fleet of cng fuel buses in the state. After upgrading its system in 2013, the agency compresses natural gas at the rate of 1500 cubic feet per minute and produces 40,000 gallons of CNG per month.
Michigan has 15 public CNG stations, out of a total of 960 in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
BWAT will be closed for Christmas (Sunday and Monday, December 25 and 26) and for New Years (Sunday and Monday, January 1 and 2).
Jim Wilson, BWAT General Manager