February 1: NTSB releasing Amtrak derailment docs | University City sneckdowns | Density without height

Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will release a trove of documents related to the Amtrak Train 188 derailment today, reports Jonathan Tamari. “Those interviews could provide the most detailed view yet of Brandon Bostian, the engineer running the train in May when it sped to 106 m.p.h. – more than twice the speed limit for an approaching curve – before hurtling off the tracks in Frankford Junction, killing eight and injuring more than 200.”

Some scary news for the city budget from Claudia Vargas, as fiscal year 2015, which ended in June 2015, “finished with a return of only .8 percent: $37.4 million. It had originally assumed a return of 7.8 percent, earning $365 million.”

Nate Hommel tells Marielle Segarra about how University City District used “sneckdowns”–snow patterns that reveal the street space vehicles don’t use–in redesigning the intersection at 48th and Baltimore. 

Alon Levy thinks one reason Los Angeles punches above its weight in the competition for federal subway dollars is their attention to cost control. “The difference is that Los Angeles builds subways at $400-450 million per km in the city core (less in future phases of the Wilshire subway), whereas in most of the US, lines are either more expensive or more peripheral.” Michael Noda at Sic Transit Philadelphia has made the case that Philadelphia would benefit by positioning itself similarly.

Can you guess when the Broad and Washington snow pile will melt?

Alex Marshall explains how some Vancouver neighborhoods are achieving higher residential density without additional height, including “laneway houses” in alleys, accessory dwelllings, and shared parking. 

How do economists think about homeownership vs. renting? Tyler Cowen of George Mason University makes the case that homeownership is overrated as a policy priority. “There is no good reason to bias people away from renting and towards buying.”

Eillie Anzilotti has a brief history of the 24-hour convenience store. “This is the path to all-night retail that is most clear-cut: a series of happy accidents, capitalized upon by one company. But more sordid 24-hour operations existed elsewhere before 7-Elevens touched down in Sin City.”

Ashlie Stevens compiles the tips and tricks of car-free urban families. “Being without a car pushes me to think up alternatives to a lot of little trips I’d have made otherwise,” says Carrie Kirby, author of the Car-Free Mom blog.

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