Tag Archives: public transportation

Beijing’s Simple Yet Effective Idea to Get People to Recycle (Video)

China has become notorious in recent years for its high levels of air pollution. This, however, is only one of many issues facing China as the country’s middle class continues to grow.

Beijing, China’s capital city, is home to around 20 million people. As a result, the city produces a lot of trash.

On a number of occasions, academics have attempted to estimate just how much trash Beijing produces. They have all failed, due in large part to the fact that the massive trash collection industry in China is extremely unorganized.

So back in 2012, the government of Beijing came up with an innovative solution to their trash problem: reverse vending machines that reward people who recycle with credits that can be applied to phone cards or public transit costs.

A woman uses one of the new kiosks in a Beijing subway station (Courtesy of CCTV)

The machines are equipped with scanners that can identify what type of bottle you are recycling to determine its value. More valuable bottles get you more credit.

Beijing has contracted Incom, the company building the kiosks, to build 100 of the machines across the city (Incom thinks the number will eventually be in the thousands).

34 kiosks have been built so far. Check out the video below to see one of the machines in action and hear how local people are responding to them:

(h/t Pangea Today, The Guardian)

Oh, Just A Busy Intersection In Ethiopia… With NO Traffic Lights (Video)

This video shows the busy intersection at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Cars, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians all move simultaneously through the square with no help from any kind of traffic signals or signs.

Don’t let the whimsical music fool you: Ethiopia’s traffic problem is a serious one.

In 2010, when Ethiopia launched the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), the country’s vehicle mortality rate was around 100 deaths per 10,000 vehicles.

The GTP’s stated goal was to reduce traffic-related mortality by 80% in 5 years. However, this rate has only dropped to about 72 per 10,000 since the GTP was enacted.

To compare, Kenya has 19 deaths per 10,000 vehicles and the UK has just 2 per 10,000. Traffic accidents cost Ethiopia an estimated $65 million every year.

Read more from Zegabi East Africa News here and the Sudan Tribune here.

Japan Offers to Loan US Half the Cost of DC-Baltimore Maglev Train

A maglev (magnetic-levitation) train from Washington DC to Baltimore would take only 15 minutes, compared to the hour it takes by conventional rail right now.

Back in November, a group of American businessmen hoping to make the project a reality visited Japan to see the trains (which travel upwards of 300mph) first-hand and hear the Japanese pitch.

The Japanese government has now gone a step further, offering to loan half of the estimated $8billion cost to the US if they accept the project.

According to Central Japan Railway Co., the US is interested:

“The national government has shown interest…But a number of the states in the north-east corridor — such as Maryland — are particularly keen for faster rail links and more advanced technology.”

Read the full story here.

For more on the US-Japan maglev discussions as well as more on the technology itself, check out the original Higher Learning story from the November meetings.

Japan Pitches Super-Speed Maglev Trains to Americans

If you haven’t heard of them before, maglev trains are trains that use magnets to hover just above the track, reducing friction to zero and allowing the trains to achieve a much higher speed while using much less energy than a classic train. Here’s a diagram which shows the basics behind the design.

Maglev Train Diagram

Recently, a group of Americans from the advisory board of The Northeast Maglev (a company aiming to build a maglev line between Washington DC and New York) visited Japan to see the maglev firsthand. The train travels at 315mph and would be able to make the trip from Washington DC to New York (currently a 3-hour affair) in just under an hour. Here’s a video about testing of the Japanese maglev.

Construction on the full system of trains in Japan (which will eventually connect all of Japan via the cities of Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo) is set to begin next year. To read more, check out the full story here.