This week in civic transportation and other improvements



Just a couple things of note:

1. Fran Spielman asks: Can cab sharing work here? It looks like a good plan, and I hope so. I spent awhile in Havana, and they have a tiered cab system that I appreciated: more expensive official cabs that are yours as soon as you get in them, and cheap jitney cabs that have the right to stop and pick up someone else. This system is a bit more organized, for better or worse, and surely won't feature midcentury classic American cars, but it's a start.

Worth noting, though, the best Cuban innovation in terms of city usability: el ultimo. Instead of having to stand in an actual line, Cubans (generally) sort of mill around. When you get to the crowd, you ask who's last, so you know when it's your turn. When the next person comes, then they're last. The structure of the line is maintained by the integrity of the crowd.

Not only are these relatively efficient solutions, I think they make people a bit friendlier and a bit more patient. It shifts the responsibility from these systems away from fixed rules and structures towards more socially-determined outcomes.

2. One of my favorite blogs, Where, has a nice post on O'Hare as "aerotropolis."  Nothing terribly specific going on, but it's a nice term to have in your head.

3.  The old post office is getting auctioned off, and this caught my eye: "Raphael Dawson, principal at Walton Street, said extremely tight credit markets have confounded redevelopment efforts. His company has invested a substantial sum in plans for the building and in getting city zoning and a pledge for a public subsidy...."

If by that he means a TIF, that's something Ben Joravsky wrote about in 2007 (in the context of Dawson), and he thinks it's better than your average TIF:

"Normally I’d be howling about the diversion of taxes to developers to build a bunch of condos—as if Chicago needs any more of those. But in this case it’s not so much a diversion as a conversion: the federally owned post office pays no property taxes to begin with. If the handout enables Walton to put formerly tax-exempt land on the property tax rolls, it’s a gain for the public."

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