Hubble On The Bus

By cjohnson | May 4, 2006 1:26 pm

This is not a Physics Blog, in my humble opinion. I can’t find anything about that in the about page. It is a blog that happens to be written by physicists. Some physicists are interested in things beyond physics. Those who don’t like that can stop whining and simply use the categories under which we classify our posts to look for what they want, and filter out what -and who- they don’t want. Or they can just go away.

‘Nuff said.

So. On I go with the irrelevant. Time for an update on Public Transport issues, which as everyone knows is not just about my own travel choices and eccentric lifestyle. It is about environment, health, and the future of our planet, just to name a few things. You’ll recall my delight in the new, bigger, generally excellent buses that were introduced on my route earlier this year. See this post. Well, about a month afterwards, they put flat screen tvs on the buses. Three or four in each bus! I was all prepared to be huffy and hissy about this. Can’t people be left alone to read a book or have a conversation with their neighbour without now having to deal with the noise of tvs advertising stuff at them? C’mon MTA people, I’m grading homeworks, writing film scripts and midterms here – this is my office – do you mind?!

Well, sure, there is advertising (not as much as I would have thought), but there’s actual news -even international news- and weather updates, and they do not have the volume up very high at all. I grudgingly admitted that it was not so bad.

Well, imagine my surprise one day when they started showing educational material! I looked up, and there were pictures of galaxies from the Hubble Space Telescope. Another day they had something on extrasolar planets…. wow! If people insist on staring at moving images on a screen instead of talking or reading a book, why not put something educational on the screen? I’d like to shake the hand of the person who thought this up and made it happen.

This morning I snapped a shot for you to see:

hubble on the bus

[Update: Just to be clear on what I’m saying about this, I drop in part of a comment I made to a reader:

What I am saying is that it is indeed an evil, but given the way they chose to implement it right now it is not nearly as bad as it can be; someone had the idea of at least trying to make the “evil” do something good, and not just be blaring advertisements. Just trying to see the positive side here. Frankly I’m still shocked to see Hubble pictures on a public bus anywhere. On my way back just now there was another -different- program showing lots of nebulae of various sorts (from supernova remnants to stellar nurseries), and showing their names. There were so many I’d never seen or heard of before…and all so beautiful of course. Might capture the imagination of some kid…or a parent who would tell their kid. Or just a random member of the public. Goodness knows where that could lead.


In other transport news: Recall my post on the Expo Line, which starts construction this year? If not, see this post for information, and also information on the existing public transport infrastructure (which exists, is excellent in places, but overall is not used as much as it ought to be because people conveniently cling to the myth that you can only get around by car in this city). Well, some of the neighbourhoods through which the line will run are getting excited. They are getting together and planning how things ought to look near the stations. Discussions about schools, restaurants, supermarkets, pedestrian walkways (and hopefully bikeways?) are taking place in the community. One such community meeting, arranged by the community near the La Brea station, is tonight at the Dorsey High School auditorium. Details can be found at this link if you’d like to go. There’s other related news at that site too. See also the website of the Transit Coalition for lots of information.

And further news: I’ve been seeing more cyclists on the streets, and from a wider demographic. Some of them are even using the proper equipment – lights back and front and helmets. Hurrah! There’s really no better way to get to know your city than cycling (see here, here and here). Give it a try.

The same can be said about the buses and trains around the city. More riders and wider demographic. Not just poor people of colour are using the public transport systems now, even away from rush hour. It is not my imagination. The MTA have reported this increased ridership, in correlation with increased gas prices.

This is excellent news. If this is the only way to get people to figure out that public transport and cycling are better choices to make, and that it is not just for the poor, then I say “Hurrah For High Gas Prices!”, since it will ultimately get people to demand much more public transportation infrastructure far and wide.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Miscellany, Personal

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