New York approves surcharge for Uber and Lyft rides in Manhattan

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As part of the budget that New York lawmakers passed last Friday, ride-hailing services and taxis face a new fee if they drive in Manhattan. These aren't nickel-and-dime increases, either: Uber, Lyft and the like face a $ 2.75 charge for each ride, ta…
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Drivers May Soon Have to Pay to Drive in Traffic-Choked Manhattan. Other Cities May Be Next.

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Honking. Pollution. Stunted economic growth.

Traffic sucks. It hinders every major metropolitan center worldwide. Now New York City, the planet’s second-most-congested city, might have a solution. If they do it right, it might catch on.

The idea is simple: congestion pricing. Want to drive in a busy part of the city? Pay a fee.

This is a win-win. It would discourage tight-fisted drivers from going there  or maybe from driving at all — which would reduce emissions. For drivers that do pay, the city can spend the money it collects on projects that reduce congestion. In New York, for example, that would mean using the funds to improve the city’s subway and bus systems, which, let me tell you, are in dire need of a cash injection.

There are a few cities worldwide that already have congestion pricing systems in place. But it hasn’t caught on yet in the U.S., in part because it’s not all that appealing to the average voter.

“It is almost universally acknowledged among transportation planners that congestion pricing is the best way, and perhaps the only way, to significantly reduce urban traffic congestion,” wrote a team of urban planners from UCLA in a 2016 issue of Access Magazine. “Politically, however, congestion pricing has always been a tough sell. Most drivers don’t want to pay for roads that are currently free, and most elected officials—aware that drivers are voters—don’t support congestion pricing.”

In NYC, the idea has been around for more than a decade. In 2007, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the idea of congestion pricing in New York. His proposal never made it past the state assembly. Last summer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revisited the concept, telling The New York Times it was “an idea whose time has come.”

In October 2017, Cuomo assembled a state task force, Fix NYC, to draft a proposal on how congestion pricing would best work in New York. In that proposal, the group suggested charging vehicles a set price to enter busy areas of Manhattan depending on the vehicle’s size and intended use: $ 11.52 for passenger cars, $ 25.34 for trucks, and $ 2 to $ 5 per ride for taxis and for-hire vehicles.

According to the Fix NYC proposal, the city could implement the fee for taxis and for-hire vehicles within a year, with truck and car fees following in 2020.

Fix NYC delivered the proposal to state lawmakers in January. Those lawmakers are currently working to deliver the state’s new budget by April 1, and they could decide to include congestion pricing within it.

congestion pricing
Image Credit: Assy / Pixabay

If it doesn’t happen in NYC, other cities in the U.S. may give congestion pricing a go. Portland, Oregon, is also exploring congestion pricing, and a group in Los Angeles is promoting the idea as well (San Francisco tried, and failed, to pass its own congestion pricing system in 2010).

If New York does decide to take a chance on congestion pricing, it could start a domino effect across the nation.

It seems as though the biggest hurdle will be simply implementing the system. That’s at least what happened in Stockholm. “The closer you get to implementation, the more the drawbacks stand out,” Stockhold transportation director Jonas Eliasson told StreetBlog NYC. “If you survive this valley of political death, and people actually see the benefits, and also realize that, in addition to the benefits, it’s actually not as bad as you thought — it’s not so hard adapting to this — then support starts going up again.”

His advice to New York? Just do it.


The post Drivers May Soon Have to Pay to Drive in Traffic-Choked Manhattan. Other Cities May Be Next. appeared first on Futurism.


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Ancient city’s LiDAR scans reveal as many buildings as Manhattan

When researchers surveyed the ruins of a Purépecha Empire city in Mexico the old-fashioned way a decade ago, it took them two seasons to explore two square kilometres. Good thing they decided to use LiDAR, because the city called Angamuco turn…
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NYPD Rolls Out iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Handsets to Manhattan Officers, Replacing Windows Phones

The New York Police Department is making good on a promise made last year to dole out iPhone handsets to its officers, replacing around 36,000 Windows Phones as part of a new hardware upgrade strategy, reports the New York Daily News.

The NYPD has been rolling out hundreds of the phones since Christmas to Manhattan cops, who can choose between iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models. The platform switch comes at no cost to the police department because the handsets are filed as upgrades under the agency’s contract with AT&T.

Image via New York Daily News

“We’ve been giving out about 600 phones a day,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Information and Technology Jessica Tisch. “We’re seeing a lot of excitement.”

Police in the Bronx and Staten Island have already received their new phones, with officers in the Queens and Brooklyn boroughs next in line to make the switch to iOS.

Armed with Apple’s smartphones, the NYPD has seen its response times to critical crimes in progress drop by 14 percent, according to Tisch. The iPhones also allow cops to get videos and surveillance pictures of wanted suspects within minutes of a crime.

“I truly feel like it’s the ultimate tool to have as a patrol cop,” said Police Officer Christopher Clampitt. “We get to the location a lot quicker,” he said. “By the time the dispatcher puts out the job (on the radio) we’re already there.”

Before the rollout, NYPD’s smartphones of choice were Nokia’s Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL, released in October 2014 and March 2015 respectively. The discontinued devices run Windows Phone 8.1, which Microsoft ended support for in July 2017 to focus on its newer Windows 10 Mobile platform and cloud-based services.

In October 2014, New York City officials announced plans to roll out handheld devices to every NYPD officer for the first time ever, along with tablets for every patrol car. The $160 million initiative was part of a plan to bring the department into the 21st century.

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NYPD begins rolling out 36,000 iPhone 7, 7 Plus handsets to Manhattan cops

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As part of a planned switch away from Microsoft’s defunct Windows Phone platform, the New York Police Department recently began issuing officers their choice of iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus handsets, devices some cops are already lauding as the "ultimate tool" to fight crime.
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Scientists from Project Manhattan Wanted to Land on Saturn by 1970

“Mars by 1965, Saturn by 1970”

In the 1960s, the US government’s top secret Project Orion had its eyes on a target far further away than NASA’s lunar goal. Twenty people would land on the surface of Saturn in 1970, after taking a casual detour on Mars on the way. They would be propelled there by riding the blast-waves of nuclear explosions the spacecraft dropped out of its stern (this is called nuclear pulse propulsion).

Using many of the minds who were part of the Manhattan Project (to build the atomic bomb), the ship would have been a little taller than the leaning tower of Pisa at 60 meters (196.85 feet), about forty times as heavy as a blue whale at 3628.739 metric tons (4,000 tons), have its hull built “built like a submarine, not an airplane,” according to project member Freeman Dyson and — to top it all off — was designed to be a reusable, multi-use platform.

While this sounds as outlandish as science fiction, Washington took the proposal so seriously that they spent the equivalent of US$ 85 million in today’s money on development. Russia had just caused upheaval in America by launching Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. This caused the US to invest millions into various aspects of space exploration in order to be the first to the next frontier.

Orion fell apart, though, due to three main factors: First, it could not be used as a weapon by the country, which was a prerogative for much of the innovative technologies of the Cold War. Second, NASA’s public image concerns and the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty forbade the testing almost all nuclear explosions — Orion, with 20 people in it, was not the type of rocket you wanted to send off without testing. Third, organizations were running low on funds, and when NASA was pressed for a decision over contribution, they placed Apollo and Saturn V on the list of priorities above Orion.

An Unfulfilled Prophecy

Project Orion seems like a clunky and crude solution to space travel — but its premise is so sound that NASA recently announced that using small-scale nuclear fusion rockets may be the step forward the space world needs. Space travel has strangely come full circle.

Both Project Orion and NASA’s latest gambit aim to combat the inefficiency of the traditional chemical method of propelling spacecraft into the cosmos. Chemical rockets are ineffective on two fronts. First, the amount of power they derive from the fuel is small. Second, and because of this, they need to carry a large amount of fuel, which increases their mass and therefore the amount of energy it takes for them to achieve liftoff.

Nuclear powered spacecraft are not the only solutions to this problem, though: modern cosmic engineers have tried to develop other ways to overcome their inadequacy. Paul Allen has built the world’s largest plane to ferry spacecraft to the upper atmosphere to decrease the amount of fuel they need.

The reusable rocket business — a key aspect of Project Orion — is being spearheaded by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin. To compensate for the weight of the fuel needed to take off and penetrate the atmosphere, a significant proportion of a traditional rocket’s parts have been shed during ascension — and are destroyed in the process.

The reusable method decreases financial inefficiency by having most of the rocket survive both takeoff and landing, and by building rockets smaller and lighter, which means they need less activation energy from the fuel. Both companies completed successful landings — Blue Origin in November and SpaceX in December 2015 — but only SpaceX’s venture has managed to relaunch.

Project Orion was a radical new idea that would have rendered Sputnik and the moon landings obsolete if it had ever been realized. What is perhaps most unfortunate is that it was abandoned due to political considerations rather than purely practical ones — as Dyson stated at the time, “a major expansion of human technology has been suppressed for political reasons.”

The post Scientists from Project Manhattan Wanted to Land on Saturn by 1970 appeared first on Futurism.


What to do when 20,000 bees unexpectedly swarm your Manhattan skyscraper

There is something inherently insect-like about the New York City commute: swarms of people crammed together into subway cars, piling into elevators, buzzing around the streets. To make the metaphor literal, 20,000 European honeybees joined the commute this morning, blocking the entrance to Vox Media’s headquarters in downtown Manhattan.

Passersby stopped to marvel at the scene, phones in hand, snapping pictures. “Oh my gosh!” a woman shrieked. “New York City!” someone else yelled. “Yeah! Save the bees!” shouted a young woman with short, blond hair and colorful tights.

Hovering around the scene was beekeeper Katherine Morris, wearing a white hazmat suit and army green All Stars. She was waiting for another beekeeper to arrive — Andrew…

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