8 cities around the world with the most innovative public transportation


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In cities across the globe, urbanites rely on public transportation to get around. More than 55% of the global population lives in urban areas, a number that is expected to increase to nearly 70% by 2050, according to the UN. As our cities grow, so must public transportation capacity while also addressing the mounting impacts of climate change and the role of our fossil fuel powered transportation system.

A few cities and countries are already accommodating the needs of their occupants and our climate by building innovative systems of transport.

1. Luxembourg

If you’re planning a journey to Luxembourg, scratch “book rental car” off of your to-do list. In March 2020, this small European country became the first to offer free public transportation to its citizens and visitors.

The free access to buses, trains, and trams for all 630,000 Luxembourgers makes it possible to explore the entire Rhode-Island-sized country without a car. Bike paths and hiking trails stretch between the stations, and riders can travel to neighboring countries at a reduced price.

Luxembourg, a country with many job opportunities and a high GDP, is infamous for congestion issues, with 681 cars per 1,000 people.

Dany Frank of the Ministry of Mobility and Public Works cites environmental benefits and reduced traffic as major motivations for the change, reports CNN. 

2. Switzerland

Home to the Alps and the Jura Mountains, Switzerland boasts stunning alpine views and picture-perfect destinations – if you can get to them. Its windy mountain passes are often difficult to traverse by car, especially in adverse weather conditions.

For decades, the Swiss have avoided this conundrum with their iconic car trains. Personal vehicles and buses alike can drive right onto one of six trains (two of which travel to Italy) and enjoy the ride from the comfort of their car or a passenger sitting area as they travel through tunnels and mountain passes. During busy hours, some trains run as often as every 15 minutes, making this form of transport a viable option for travel while cutting down on emissions and overall transportation time. 

3. Shanghai, China

While standing on the train platform in Shanghai, you won’t hear the deafening racket expected of most trains; the levitating Maglev train arrives quickly and quietly.

Maglev trains – whose name is an abbreviation of “magnetic levitation” – employ magnetic technology to levitate the frictionless, wheel-less trains over the tracks. The trains utilize the concept of electromagnetic propulsion, by which superconducting magnets repel one another and suspend the train over the guideway. 

Powered entirely with electricity, these trains are both environmentally friendly and extremely fast. In 2015, one Maglev train broke the all-time speed record for trail vehicles, hitting 603 kph (375 mph). The Shanghai line running between the Longyang Road Station and Pudong International Airport stretches 19 miles (30 km), and the trip takes only seven and a half minutes from end to end. If Maglev technology were used to build high-speed trains in the U.S., travelers leaving New York City could expect to reach Los Angeles in seven hours. 

The network of Maglev lines in China is still small but spreading. A line connecting Shanghai and Hangzhou is under construction, reports CNN, with another between Chengdu and Chongqing. Maglev trains also run in Japan and South Korea, and a new line is expected to link Tokyo and Nagoya by the year 2027 with a total travel time of only forty minutes.

4. Hamburg, Germany

Hochban, the transit authority that runs much of the public transportation in Hamburg, is replacing its entire fleet of 1,100 diesel buses with zero-emission vehicles by 2030. The e-buses create 75% fewer emissions than their diesel counterparts and a total fleet-wide conversion would reduce CO2 emissions by 65,000 tons every year (the equivalent of 32500 gasoline-powered cars driving for one year). 

The transition to carbon-neutral transportation is made possible in part by the recharging stations for buses located in the city.

The interoperability of the system is the real innovation and allows buses – regardless of their manufacturer – to pull into a charging station and refuel in only six minutes: enough for an entire day on their route. This means the city can source buses from different suppliers moving forward and still function with their existing charging technology.  

5. Trondheim, Norway

While not exactly a large-scale public transportation system, this Norwegian city is transforming bicycle commutes for its citizens. 

Trondheim is famous for the Trampe Bicycle Lift, invented and installed by Jarle Wanwik in 1993, who was tired of biking up a huge hill every morning on his way to work. The lift is, basically, an escalator for all self-propelled vehicles, like scooters, strollers, skateboards, and, of course, bikes. Rides place one foot on a small, moving platform that travels up the track, pulling the cyclist up with it.

Since its original installation, the Trampe has been upgraded by the French company SKIRAIL and can carry five people up the hill at once. 

Trampe Bicycle Lift in Norway

6. Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, is the fifth most populous in the country at 1.3 million inhabitants and home to the brilliant green, solar-powered Tindo buses

Tindo – the Aboriginal word for “sun” – doesn’t have a combustion engine and is the first 100% solar-powered electric bus in the world. Unlike other solar-fueled vehicles that sport solar panels on their bodies, these buses are charged with solar power at bus stations and can travel up to 200 kilometers between charges. These buses were commissioned from New Zealand’s Designline International and are run by the city council as a part of the Adelaide Connector Bus service. 

They produce no emissions, can transport up to 40 people, and cost nothing for the traveler. The buses are also cheaper for the city, and cost 50% less per kilometer to operate than diesel vehicles. They also employ a regenerative braking system, which reduces energy consumption by 30%. 

7. Amsterdam, Netherlands

You’ve seen self-driving cars, but what about a self-driving boat?

The Roboat (pun intended) was designed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions. Two full-scale Roboats were launched in 2021 to traverse the 100 kilometers of waterways in Amsterdam, capable of transporting up to five people, carrying goods, and collecting waste. These totally autonomous, wirelessly charged boats are powered by propellers and thrusters, and are monitored on shore from a central location that can oversee dozens of boats at once. 

The self-driving technology uses a GPS and sensors referred to as “perception kits,” which can detect unknown objects and categorize them for future encounters. While not yet used for transporting the public, these innovative boats are making cleaner, water-based urban travel a greater possibility for Netherlanders and the world. 

8. Medellín, Colombia

This city of two and a half million stretches up the slopes of the Andes, along which floating gondolas travel up and down. 

Instead of bringing people up and down ski slopes, the Metrocable connects isolated areas of the city, allowing people who live in the informal dwellings on the hillsides to reach the city center. Buses were once the only way to reach the city below, requiring multiple fees and nearly two hours, while the cable cars take as little as 30 minutes on one of four lines. 

Medellín was once the world’s most dangerous city, but these gondolas are credited with the massive transformation of the area, giving its citizens greater access to work, education, and health care. City tour guide Pablo Alvarez Correa calls the cable cars “an innovative solution to the problems of geographic and economic exclusion,” reports Business Insider. 

This article originally appeared on Ecowatch.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Abandoned places in the US that will send a shiver up your spine

Abandoned places in the US that will send a shiver up your spine

While some historical sites in America are well preserved, The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 19 million buildings have been abandoned across the county. Every day they are fading away into oblivion and taking history with them.

Before these places, and their stories, are completely forgotten, Urban Explorer bloggers and photographers capture our country’s history and preserve it. 

Artists like The Explorographer chronicle these Abandonscapes and leave nothing behind but footprints. Escape into 32 of his Hauntingly Beautiful Photographs of Abandoned Places.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Opened in 1919, The Grossinger Resort in Liberty, New York, grew from 100 acres to 1200 acres in the 1950s.  In its heyday, it sported two Olympic-sized swimming pools, several cottages and hotels, eight tennis courts, a skating rink, a ski slope and lodge, an 18 hole golf course, and its own post office and airport. 

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

The Grossinger Resort had it all and, in its heyday, was one of the largest resorts in the Catskills. The indoor pool featured a beauty salon with a view to a kill.  A large 5 foot by 4-foot plate glass window where you could watch swimmers dive by while getting your hair and nails done. Most of the resort buildings were demolished in 2018 after decades of abandonment and overgrowth. 

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Jackson Sanatorium is located in upstate New York and looks more like a scene from The Shining than a health resort. Known now as the place that invented Granola.  This simple breakfast alternative was invented by Dr. Caleb Jackson of Dansville, New York, in 1863 and, at the time, was known as Granula. Made from dense bran nuggets, they had to be soaked overnight to be chewable enough to eat.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Though several vain attempts at restoring the property and its accompanying cottages were made over the years, the cottages were burned down by vandals. Additionally, much of the building has collapsed, losing this valuable piece of history forever.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

The Allegany County Home (originally called a poorhouse) was located near Angelica, New York, and was the crossroads to modern asylums.  The staff often used music to soothe residents and teach them social skills. 

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Poorhouses were established in the United States to assist the uneducated and unemployed. Unfortunately, and quite often, residents were flogged, bound, and chained, often naked in tiny rooms with nothing but a straw mat on the floor.

Once audits of these poorhouses began and the atrocities within were discovered, they were reorganized, or the residents were dispersed to other locations. These “new” poorhouses were labeled “asylums.” 

Many believe it was to ease the minds of these dispersed residents, whereas today, we think of them as a place to protect the world from its residents rather than the other way around. 

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Centralia, located in central Pennsylvania in the heart of Coal Country, was founded in 1866.  Victim of an underground coal fire in the early 60’s most of its residents were paid to leave the area due to “dangerous fumes.” 

Over the years, the town has gone from a ghost town to a barren wasteland as one by one, the last of the residents’ homes have strangely burnt down. Early imagery of this town showed steam still rising out of its cracked streets from the still-burning underground coal fire.

This eery steam coupled with this ghostly church looming over the small town has inspired the creator of the video game “Silent Hill.”

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

The largest vein of blue coal in the U.S. runs right through the center of Pennsylvania. Also known as Anthracite, blue coal is highly sought after because it yields the highest energy density of all coal.  Since strip mining near residential areas is forbidden by law, mining coal in and around Centralia has been controversial over the years.  

The dump fire that conveniently spread to being a mine fire that the government used to try and empty the small town of its residents has also been at the forefront of that controversy.

Over the years, an argument has been made on both sides that the fire could have or have not been put out and the death of Centralia and its residents avoided.  

Today, though the mining industry has mostly collapsed and clean-up in and around the area continues, several creeks, rivers, and lakes are full of milky orange water. 

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron is located in a field in the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin. Noted only by a couple of billboards on secondary roads, this amazing look into the incredible mind of Sculptor and inventor Thomas Every is not to be overlooked. 

Recently passed, Dr. Evermor has created a sci-fi lover’s wet dream that beckons every hitchhiker in the galaxy.  Massive sculptures of wondrous machines and creatures dot this small art park, now curated by his surviving wife and daughter. Thomas called it “Amythic Obsession,” and if you ever get to visit it, it will be yours as well.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Being an industrial demo specialist over the years took its toll on Dr. Evermor.  One day he just decided he was tired of destroying things and wanted to start making things.  All of the salvage he had done over the years, from NASA space parts to millions of truck and car parts, would go into making up his fantastical Forevertron.

Like all great artists, Tom Every had a rule.  His rule was never to bend, break or cut a single part.  Yes, that’s correct. Every creation he made was from parts as they were manufactured. He would put them together in such a way as they would become a whole new machine or creature. Genius!

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Located in a tiny town in western Maryland is the last standing completely intact Silk Mill.  One man, Herb Crawford, had preserved this mill for years on his own.  

Supported by hundreds of visiting photographers worldwide,  he fought off auction houses, vandals, and mother nature. Unfortunately, in 2019 Herb passed away, and now the future of the mill is unknown.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Lonaconing Silk Mill shuttered its factory on a Friday in 1957, and everything was left exactly as it was on that fateful day.  A moment is frozen in time, soon to be lost forever.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Bannack State Park is home to the ghost town of Bannack, Montana, a well-preserved and constantly maintained authentic ghost town. In 2017 a neighbor visited a rummage sale across the road from their home in Montour Falls, New York.  

While there, they were told there were more items in the home’s basement, and they were free to pick through whatever they wanted. 

One small item that was found was a diary and some letters written on copper paper. They were from a woman who made the trek from upstate New York to eastern Montana during the 1860’s gold rush. 

That diary and the letters have been returned to the park as part of the town’s history. Oh, the person that found the artifacts?  The mother-in-law of the author of this article.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Bannack and neighboring Virginia City were rough and virtually lawless western towns.  Gunfights, robberies, murders happened not only on the roads between the two towns but in the towns themselves. Even the elected “Sheriff” was suspected to be the leader of one of the largest gangs in the area.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Located on Route 66 near the Mohave National Preserve, you find the tiny “mostly” abandoned town of Amboy, California.  Easily, the most famous location in Amboy is Roy’s Motel Cafe. 

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

While at Roy’s, you can get gas and snacks at the “cafe” if you like. But, the actual “hotel” has been turned into unique art displays.  And by unique, I really mean beam me up, Scottie!

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Just up Route 66 from Amboy lies the remains of the Road Runner’s Retreat Restaurant. Just imagine answering the phone every day at this place.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Or at least it used to be.  In 2019 the owners were considering repainting and relighting the sign out front of the RRRR. But 2020 had other ideas, as the 1960s restaurant fell victim to arson.

While the sign out front and neighboring service station is still intact, the restaurant was gutted. Interestingly enough, this mural survived! They are attempting to rebuild.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Keys Ranch is located deep inside Joshua Tree National Park and only viewable by special tours during certain times of the year. William F. Keys and his family built this homestead and surrounding buildings from 1910 until Keys death in 1969. The site is a testament to those rugged individuals that chose to settle in the Mojave Desert.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Along with the sheds, mining equipment, and wagons are several old cars.  The stories behind these vehicles just out here randomly scattered in the desert are as interesting as they are odd.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Deep in the Pocono Mountains is the sweeping Penn Hills Resort.  The site was first opened as a Tavern in 1944. It grew to a full 500-acre resort with over 100 rooms in the 1960s.  It closed in 2009, just two months after its 102-year-old owner passed away.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

With its round beds, heart-shaped whirlpool tubs, and mirrored ceilings, Penn Hills was billed as a “Paradise of Pocono Pleasure” and a place of “Unbridled Passion.” It was well known as the swinging ’60s place to be. A reputation that grew right up until its closing. 

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York are the remnants of the Glen Springs Resort.  Originally opened as a health resort in 1872 to take advantage of the local mineral springs. The only remaining intact building is this old gymnasium with its floor wrinkled and damaged from water damage over the years.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

In addition to the full basketball court, performance stage, the gymnasium at Glen Springs also included a movie theater.  The projectors remain to this day, ready for their next double feature.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Located outside the central Pennsylvania coal town of Mahanoy City, The Irish Giant was the largest anthracite coal breaker in the world. It was called St. Nicholas, and it was massive. 

Large chunks of mined anthracite coal were hoisted up 10 floors by a conveyor belt before being dumped into a series of grinders on consecutive floors below. Then, finally, the coal would make its way to the ground floor, where coal cars would be waiting to haul the perfect fuel-sized pieces off for consumption.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

10,000 cubic yards of concrete, 3,800 cubic yards of steel, 20 miles of pipes, and half a village relocated to build it. The St. Nicholas coal breaker could process 12,500 tons of coal per day. 

Opened in 1931 and described as sounding like rolling thunder when in operation, the hulk went silent as the last coal dropped in 1965.  Miners work clothes, boots, machinery, all of it, left to rot.  

In 2018, the last remains of the breaker were broken by a controlled explosion. Saved only by the memories of the surviving workers and photographers who visited before its demise.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Built in 1858 and designed by Isaac G. Perry, the New York State Inebriate Asylum in Binghamton, New York sat empty and unused since 1993.  Many promises have been made to rehab and reuse the building, but no formal plans have been announced.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

The ornate staircase at the asylum’s first-floor entrance is just a hint at the beauty within. Sad to think that, for the most part, the site cannot be enjoyed in person due to its decaying condition and standing HIPAA laws regarding patient privacy.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Sharon Spring’s New York was well known for its mineral springs and spa baths. Built in 1929 by owner Louis Adler for $250,000, the 150 room hotel operated by Adler until 1950.  The hotel was purchased in 1972 for a mere $75,000 and operated as Yarkony’s Adler Hotel until 2004.

After the spa business “dried” up, the derelict hotel was purchased in a package deal with other properties in town by a Korean Firm that promised a renovation. Unfortunately, the building still stands vacant to this day.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Fancy a stay?  Well, you can’t. The property is now monitored and off-limits to all.  Who can blame them with styles like these? I think Stephen King called, and he wants his hotel back.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Wells Falls is located just off the main drag in the Finger Lakes region city of Ithaca, New York.

Fairly hidden from a local nearby park, this gem features a beautiful waterfall cradled by an old abandoned hydropower plant.  Old and crumbling from the seasons, this old building’s saving grace is the water itself. Thus, blocking any human entry to the site and thus saving it from the excavator.

A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

Another “feature” of Well’s Falls granted by its secrecy is that it has become quite the spot for skinny dippers during the hot months of the summer.  

You’ll also find poets, musicians, artists, and even businesspeople having a bite to eat.  So much so over the years, the falls have earned the name “Businessman’s Lunch Falls.” If you think all of this seems strange to you, then you have never been to Ithaca.

A multi-award-winning travel photographer specializing in visiting strange and unique places, photographing, and writing about them, A.D. Wheeler has been featured nationally on PBS Television as well as Nevada and F11 Magazines.


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A.D. Wheeler / The Explorographer

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