Linklist: December 28, 2011

Sam Staley: Is It Time to Bury Roads? [yes, Air rights are a good thing]

USATODAY: Airports court fliers with rewards programs [how many rewards programs can we track?]

David Leonhardt at NYTimes; The Lives They Lived : “In the 1950s, a longtime trucking executive named Malcom McLean decided there had to be a better way, and he turned to Keith W. Tantlinger, an engineer at a truck-trailer manufacturer in Spokane, Wash., to solve the problem. Tantlinger developed a lock that connected to the corners of containers and that crane operators could mechanically open and close from their seats.”

The Independent (UK): The hunt for Britain’s ghost trains: “The Gerrards Cross ghost train is one of several ethereal services that wend their eerie way around Britain’s rail network, almost unknown to the public and running mostly empty, since they operate at deliberately inconvenient times – often offering their passengers no prospect of getting home again.
Yet these zombie services have a very real existence in the minds of the bureaucrats who control our rail system, since they help to maintain a fiction that a railway line is still open, when it has effectively been abandoned.
For the price of an occasional train service with a clapped-out diesel, or in some cases even a bus, the train operators are able to duck the long and costly consultation, accompanied by inevitable howls of public protest, that the law stipulates when a railway line is to be closed. For these reasons the ghost trains are sometimes known as “parliamentary trains”.”

[On the last, this would be useful for rail-to-trails when there is some desire to return to rails, which takes years to get approvals. Montgomery County’s “Purple Line” is an example, where if they only kept the trains running on the Georgetown Branch, it would be much easier to convert to LRT than to have abandoned it for train service and restore.]

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