How Would You Improve The New York Subway?

Louis Brickman, Wikimedia Commons

The New York Subway is considered by many to be the best mass transit system in the world, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Randy Gregory, a student at the School of Visual Arts and frequent Subway rider, is putting his design skills to the test by exploring some possible improvements on his Tumblr, 100 Improvements. Since he’s a designer, many of his suggestions have to do with better signage, branding and advertisements, but other ideas include physical improvements to the areas inside and outside of Subway cars and stations.

Below, we handpicked 10 of our favorite innovations on Gregory’s blog. Whether it’s likely they’ll be implemented is debatable – but boy, wouldn’t it be nice?

Digital train marker: “‘Where are we?’ A common question I hear uttered on the train, especially on the weekends. A digital map, with a marker showing where your train is would help.”Designated directions on stairs: “At first glance, this could be seen as a hopeless gesture. But in countries like Japan, this works. People see the arrows, and follow accordingly, minus rush hour. A man can dream, right?”

Antimicrobial benches: “Currently, the benches in many stations are old, usually made out of wood, which isn’t easily cleaned. New benches, made out of antimicrobial material, would be easily to clean, and could become opportunities for cleaning brands to sponsor, like Lysol.

Gym-style flooring: “A soft gym style flooring could relieve our feet from the strain of standing. Not too soft, and not too hard.”

Subway door timers: “Start them at 30 seconds, and countdown. At zero, doors close. This way, if someone sees the train with 5 seconds left, and they’re 20 seconds away, they’ll second guess about trying to run for the doors.

Cardinal directions: “Wouldn’t it be great to step out of a train, look slightly down, and see what direction you’re in? Stations can be very disorienting, especially after a long trip. Simple cardinal directions alleviate this problem.”

Drains in subway cars: “A constant nuisance in the New York Subway system are spilled drinks… So why not install drains at both sides of the cars, in order to catch theses liquids?”

USB power stations: “With newer trains, the subway will utilize the kinetic energy created by braking. USB power stations can borrow some of this energy, so that riders with low batteries can charge up for 50 cents, all by tapping your RFID Metrocard.”

Textured grip: “Currently, we have to hold onto metal railings in the cars. It’s really easy to loose your grip though, and when the train stops hard, you could end up loosing your grip, hurting yourself or others. If the metal bars in the train had rubberized grips, this issue could be solved.

Car density tracking: “It’s a real pain when you’re standing on the platform, and the car you always get on is full… And sometimes, you miss the train, causing even more tension & anger. Live tracking, based on the weight of the cars, could determine this info. When you get to the platform, you can check the screen, and figure out where to stand. This results in better distribution of riders.”

Have a design idea to add? Let us know in the comments below.

[via Gizmodo]

Photo Of The Day: Monks, Monkeys And A Snake Charmer

photo of the day

This Photo of the Day, titled “Monkeys, Monks, and a Snake Charmer is Today’s Virtualvacay #srilanka,” comes from Gadling Flickr pool member and travel photographer Jen Pollack Bianco.

On Flickr as MyLifesATrip, and hosting a website of the same name, Bianco has also graced the pages of Gadling with some helpful tips on travel photography.

This photo is timely right now as Sinhala Ravaya, a Sinhalese Buddhist pressure group, staged a march this week to protest the repeated attacks against Buddhist monks in Tamil Nadu. Here, we see a different scene depicted. Bianco’s work depicts snake charming, the practice of pretending to hypnotize a snake by playing an instrument.

In addition to the Gadling pool, this photo appears in an interesting Flickr set called A Picture Per Day, which we see others mimic on Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram and other photo-sharing venues too.

It’s a way of sharing our lives with, literally, a snapshot of what is going on with us at any given point in time; what we see or do that can bring us closer to friends and family that may be far away.

Sound like a good idea? Your photos don’t have to be of some iconic destination. After all, how many of us are able to do that day in and day out?

My best friend has been doing this for a couple years now. Including photos of a beautiful sunset while stuck in traffic on the way home from work, a flower blooming in her front yard or some other image she captures going about a day.

Some share these with the world or include only family and friends.

Want to be featured? Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as a Photo of the Day.

Tips for being featured: add a caption describing the image and (better yet) your personal experience when capturing it, details of the photography gear used and any tips you might have for others wanting to emulate your work.

Now, you can also submit photos through Instagram; just mention @GadlingTravel and use the hashtag #gadling when posting your images.

[Photo Credits Flickr user MyLifesATrip]

Solo Spring Break Options Not As Depressing As You Might Imagine

spring breakTraveling solo for spring break sounds kind of depressing. All alone during a time when others you know are kicking it up in the fun and sun someplace does not sound like a spring break memory in the making at all – or does it? If the idea is to actually get a “break” from school, work and/or the people you might be with 24/7 otherwise, maybe going it on your own is not such a bad idea after all.

Do Something Amazing
I know, it sounds like a stab at an awesome advice photo from Pinterest or Tumblr but there is something relaxing and refreshing about what we feel in the aftermath of stepping outside of our comfort zone. The better news is that if you try and fail miserably (and that bothers you), your friends will not be around to laugh.

Find Other Solo Travelers
Cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts are obvious choices but some are better than others. A short three-day cruise will have more singles, party people and spring break fun. Adding on days also adds maturity; four or five days will still have singles but more young families. That holds true for up to seven-day voyages. Sailings of eight or more days are the cattle call for cougars and seniors, many of which may be solo travelers themselves, if you’re into that sort of thing.Do Something Good Or Watch Others Doing Something Good On TV
As part of an alternative Spring Break, MTV and the United Way along with mtvU are bringing 50 college students from around the country to the New York/New Jersey area to help rebuild communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Spring break icon Perez Hilton reports the cast of Jersey Shore (Snooki, JWOWW, Vinny, Sammi, Ronnie and Deena) will be on hand to help.

Check The Internet
Odds are, other solo travelers are too, and not just Online Booty Call either. Wall Street Oasis has some ideas as does Cheap Flights. If your singularity is more of a permanent state, travel agencies that specialize in just that include Singles Travel International, Best Singles Travel and for the adventure traveler, aptly-named Adventures For Singles.

No, there is absolutely nothing we can’t find on the Internet, including spring break ideas for solo travelers and tips on getting in shape for it all as we see in this video:


Secret Cruise Ships Named, Construction Begins

cruise shipsIt has been almost two years since Gadling published “The Secret Is Out: Royal Caribbean To Build New Class Of Ships.” Details were few at the time, only that the mysterious new class of cruise ships would be referred to as code name “Project Sunshine” during development, which had already been underway for a year. This week, Royal Caribbean released a few details about the two new ships set to debut in 2014 and 2015.

This week, the first piece of steel was cut for Quantum of the Seas at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, where both ships will be built. Quantum of the Seas will debut in the fall of 2014 and sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in the spring of 2015.

“After three years of design and advance planning this is the first step of the construction of the ship and I look forward to seeing it all come together in the coming months,” said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International in a press release.

Short on details about the two new “Quantum-class” ships, Royal Caribbean reminded fans of their rich history of being first with unique ship features like rock-climbing walls, ice skating rinks, zip lines across decks and more. Expect more of the same wow-factor features on new Quantum and Anthem of the Seas.”The new ship will be such a leap forward in terms of vessel design and guest experiences that we thought the name Quantum of the Seas was perfectly appropriate,” added Goldstein.

Royal Caribbean plans to release details of the ships over time, typical of most cruise lines constructing new vessels. Unique to Royal Caribbean’s rollout of all things Quantum-class, the line will release details first on its new Tumblr page.

The 158,000-ton Quantum-Class ships will be smaller than giant Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, carrying just over 4,100 passengers based on double occupancy. Oasis-class ships are 225,000 tons and over 5,400 passengers.

Here’s more about the steel-cutting in Germany and a (very) few details about the ships:




[Photo credit – Flickr user LinksmanJD]

Travel meets journalism at Roads and Kingdoms

travel journalismLast month, writers Nathan Thornburgh (a contributing editor to TIME and recent guest of Fox News) and Matt Goulding (food & culture writer and author behind the Eat This, Not That! book series) launched a new website with the intriguing tagline: “Journalism, travel, food, murder, music. First stop: Burma.” Combining on-the-spot reporting on current events and politics with in-depth cultural observations, rich photography, and engrossing narratives, Roads and Kingdoms feels like a travel blog we all want to write: a bit daring, occasionally foolhardy, and often inspiring. Fresh home from their first major trip and recovering from Burma belly, Gadling talked to co-founder Nathan about Roads and Kingdoms.

How would you describe your blog in one sentence?
Travel meets journalism.

How did it come about? How has your background in news helped (or hindered) your travels?
Matt and I felt like our work – he writes about food, I’m a foreign correspondent – actually had a lot in common. As writers on assignment, we found that the best parts of being on the road – the amazing meal on the street corner, the back-alley bar with the great live jams, the sweaty tuk tuk ride through the outskirts of the city – are left out of the final product. It’s those parts that we want to provide a home for. It’s a different kind of travel mindset, whether you’re going to London or Lagos. Journalism is all about being curious, which is a quality great travelers have as well.

It’s not meant to remain a blog: we’ll be launching our full site soon, which won’t just be our travels, but a variety of dispatches in the Roads and Kingdoms style, from writers and photographers and videographers around the world.
Why did you choose Burma as a first destination?
First off, we think Burma is going to be a huge tourist destination in the years to come, if the country continues to open up. It’s an amazingly vivid and warm country, and has a lot of the traditional rhythms of life that Thailand, for example, has lost.

Burma also had the perfect combination of stories for us to launch Roads and Kingdoms with. We were able to report on the killer hiphop scene in the south, up-and-coming graffiti artists in Rangoon, and of course, the amazing (and all but undiscovered) Burmese cuisine. Then Matt went to Bagan, this breathtaking valley of temples that will become a big part of Burma’s tourist boom. While he took in the temples, I visited the heart of the war-torn north, where I was able to hang out with gold miners and Kachin refugees and see a part of Burma that not a lot of people get to see.

What do you hope to inspire in readers?
We’d love to inspire readers to travel the way we do: with a sense of wonder and a big appetite, with curiosity and an awareness of the backstory behind the destinations.

Flashback, Burma Day One: Bad Crab from Roads and Kingdoms on Vimeo.

Roads and Kingdoms did not get detained in Myanmar for being journalists entering on a tourist visa. But Nathan still hit an unexpected roadblock on the first day in Burma: a plate of chili-slathered, rancid crab.

What are the challenges in blogging somewhere like Burma?

We were fortunate that our trip coincided with Hillary Clinton’s historic visit to Burma. The government didn’t want to create any problems that week, so we were incredibly free as journalists there; much more so than I could have ever imagined the first time I went in 2003. I was followed and watched when I visited the north, but they didn’t interfere with my work. However: Internet access still sucks. You can’t blog if you can’t connect, and that’s a huge problem in Burma.

How is social media adding to the blog?
Social media is huge for us. We’re starting out as a Tumblr, for example, not just because it’s great for articles/photos/videos, but because it’s so shareable. We want people to get involved, not just as passive consumers, but as advisers and compañeros along the way.

Where are you going next?
We have a short list, and we actually want readers to help us decide. London? Moscow? Lima? It’s a big world out there!

Follow the adventures at RoadsandKingdoms.com and connect with Nathan and Matt (and assorted interns) on Twitter @RoadsKingdoms and Facebook.