Friday, January 25, 2008

Urban News Vol. 3

I had planned on covering a couple pieces of urban news today and still will, though in less detail. Having not brought a lunch with me to work, I decided to step out of the box a little and take RGRTA's 18/19 University Bus downtown for some Brooklyn style pizza. As a result this entry could be called Urban Experience Vol. 1.

Pizza Stop is one the holdouts still doing decent business in Midtown Plaza, one of my pet causes that will require its own lengthy entry. They serve up the best New York Style Pizza I've found since I used to eat Antonio's on high school lunch breaks. I work in the 1600 'block' of University Ave 2.66 miles from Midtown, too far to walk within a lunch hour, especially on a day with 11 degree wind chill. Bent on proving a car wouldn't be necessary to make this journey, I consulted the RGRTA website and found a bus leaving the corner of Blossom and University (.38 miles West, a 6-7 minute walk) at 11:50. I also noted return buses leaving Midtown at 12:25 and 1:05.

Deciding that I would check out the progress on the Manhattan Square Park ice skating rink while downtown, I made up my mind to deal with time constraints later. The ride was great and only cost $1.25 in each direction, good value if downtown is your final destination. I used to have a poor opinion of the city bus system until very recently when I spent some time doing the 'Circle Game' referenced in Divorce Your Car. Despite its hub and spoke design, it can be used to your advantage if you are diligent enough in researching the schedule. I now am planning a condensed guide to the Rochester bus system in a future post.

Along University is some very interesting architecture that you might miss if your eyes are glues to the road. Pictured to the right is the Memorial Art Gallery. Other neat buildings to keep an eye out for are the converted Fire and Police Stations near Merriman St. One is now an artist studio and the other a writing workshop where I took a screenplay writing class. Also the original portion of the City School District's School of the Arts (not the annex!) with its iron gated courtyard is a fine example of quality architecture from the early 1900's.

Arriving at Midtown a little after noon gave me enough time to get two slices of cheese pizza at a packed food court (despite suburbanites' claims that Midtown is dangerous and desolate) and a Vitamin Water from Midtown Tobacco. Forgetting momentarily that the most recognizable clock in town was right behind me, I wondered if I had already missed the 12:25 bus. When I figured out that it was 12:20, I decided to just get back to work rather than try to kill 40 minutes surveying an incomplete ice rink. The bus let me off within easy walking distance of work between 12:35 and 12:40 which was very reasonable. The other option would have been 1:15 which wouldn't be the end of the world either.

All in all I spent $6.05 on food and $2.50 on transit. I consider part of it a blog related expense. All kidding aside, I did manage to do something semi-interesting with my lunch hour and once the skating rink opens, I am likely to use the bus to get to that as well rather than worry about parking near Manhattan Square.

Onto the real news (nobody wants to digg personal experiences) in shortened form. The first story is uniquely appropriate for today and the second hits on the city from Wednesday's case study.

State Aid Decreases for RGRTA
by Mike Hedeen -

Article Key Points:

  • $3 Million decrease in State aid or 10%
  • Buffalo to receive 13% INCREASE
  • CEO Mark Aesch says our riders subsidizing Buffalo, Syracuse not acceptable
  • RGRTA plans to lobby Albany before determining possible rate hike/route cut

Energy Crisis Looms in Maryland
by Mike Hellgren -WJZ-TV

Article Key Points:

  • New electricity rate increases mark an 85% increase since deregulation
  • Cost of energy not unique to Baltimore, a global problem. Few options other than conservation
  • Demand increased 16 percent between 1999 and 2005

I'll end today with an update on the city condo search, we were able to see another property exactly one mile away from work on the same street. This went much better than 419 Broadway and we are scheduled to check out something in the South Wedge on Monday. And while I'm not sure Global Warming is completely in our control, here's a list of things that you can do to conserve if for no other reason than to make sure its there later on (though be aware that a big factor leading up to this impending recession is price of transportation of goods, economics says low demand lowers price, but hey, being able to drive your trash to the dumpster, which actually happens in my current townhouse development, is way more important than the health of the country).

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