What We’re Following
New Year, New MTA: If anyone needs a New Year’s resolution, it’s the New York City subway system. With delays galore and platforms that turn into waterfalls on rainy days, the century-old urban rail network has a steep decline—and a $60 billion maintenance backlog—that it has to sort out. That sounds like a lot of money, and it is. But New York isn’t exactly broke, either.
With a gross metropolitan product of $1.7 trillion last year, the city just needs to find more creative ways to tap into its wealth to get its subway into better shape. That might include congestion pricing, rezoning, station sponsorships, and yes, clever taxes. Today on CityLab, John Surico runs through how the most robust economy in the world could scrounge up the cash to fix its transit system—plus some reasons why it has refused to implement them on a wide scale. Read his story: New York City Needs to Fix Its Subway. Here’s How to Pay For It.
More on CityLab
Turn a New Leaf
How many trees are in your city? It might seem like a straightforward question, but finding the answer can be a monumental task. New York City took nearly two years to complete its count of the 666,134 trees in its 2015-2016 tree census. Seattle’s won’t be done until at least 2024.
Such counts aren’t done in vain; in the short term, they help better maintain urban trees, and in the long run, they lay the foundation for addressing everything from climate change to public health. So a team of cartographers and applied scientists at geospatial analytics startup Descartes Labs is teaching a machine learning model to map trees from satellite imagery, revealing a green thumbprint of each city—like the map above of Baltimore and its surrounding leafy suburbs. CityLab’s Linda Poon has the story: Mapping City Trees With Artificial Intelligence
What We’re Reading
Chicago tried to dig its way out of urban flooding decades ago. Did it pick the wrong solution? (Slate)
In high-tech cities, no more potholes. But what about privacy? (New York Times)
Mod squad: The world’s most beautiful art deco buildings (The Guardian)
In shutdown, national parks turn into the Wild West (Washington Post)
The minimum wage is rising in 20 states and several cities (NPR)