The Day The Earth Stood Still


Lucky for us, the Earth's not going to stop spinning anytime soon. So cross that off the list of apocalypses we need to fret about (though I've got a long list handy if anyone needs a few). But what if it did stop spinning? Witold Fraczek of ESRI decided to model what the planet would look like in the absence of all that centrifugal force. The Earth's gravity would shift and the oceans would rush up to the poles. No more Canada, Europe, or Russia:

Well, that and our days and nights would be all screwed up...

As part of our State of Metropolitan America project, we reported last week on the increase in public transit commuters from 2000–2008. While this increase is small (less than 1 percent), it’s the first time that’s happened in 40 years. As the map below shows, most transit commuters are concentrated on the coasts.

But what type of transit saw upticks? One would assume that light rail or commuter rail would be responsible for the increases since system mileage increased by 67 and 40 percent, respectively, over the period. Nope. In the 100 largest metro areas, only about 12 percent of the increase (about 163,000 workers) came from light rail and commuter rail. About half a million more commuters report that they get to work mostly by subway or “heavy” rail but, still, this only explains 36 percent of the increase.

By far, bus riders made up the largest share of the increase in transit commuters from 2000 to 2008—about 700,000 more people. And these are pretty much the large places you’d expect: New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, and Seattle alone are responsible for half of those new bus riders.

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