Laura Bliss is a staff writer at CityLab, covering transportation and technology. She also authors MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Los Angeles magazine, and beyond.
A roundup of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the last seven days.
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"The Sao Paulo Commute: Walk, Bus, Train, Train, Train, Bus, Walk. Repeat," Vincent Bevins, The Los Angeles Times
It's 6:30 a.m., and the sun is already painfully bright as Nilda Oliveira steels herself to board her third train of the morning.
"I never sit down. I never try. I don't have the courage," the 48-year-old says, stepping back as the train arrives and men and women push urgently into a space that is much too small to contain them all, bumping haphazardly against the train and one another, rushing to the seats.
"To try to sit, you have to rush in, shoving people aside. There's a fight almost every day."
She waits just long enough, then expertly slides into a small open space she spots from afar. To her right, a boy in a Quiksilver hoodie slumps to the floor, brings his knees to his chest to fit into a corner and rests his head on his knees, looking down.
Oliveira has already been on the move for an hour and a half. About 5 a.m., she left her house and walked 15 minutes to a bus stop and caught a bus to the Guaianazes train station.
The station seems to be the only structure in the neighborhood to have been built professionally; the low-slung houses behind a fence across from the tracks are a jumble of bricks and concrete. A futuristic staircase to a highway overpass spirals up into the dark sky, one of the many scenes on Oliveira's 2 1/2-hour commute that give this megalopolis its reputation as a subtropical "Blade Runner-esque" city, partly inspired by the mega-rich who buzz above in helicopters, preferring to buy their way out of the crime and traffic on the streets below.
"How A Traveling Consultant Helps America Hide The Homeless," Arthur Delaney, The Huffington Post
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Robert Marbut hadn't shaved, and he looked terrible. His bushy brown hair, normally parted neatly, stuck out at odd angles. His clothes stank of beer. Standing in line for lunch at the Halifax Urban Ministries building downtown last spring, Marbut looked much like the hundreds of homeless people who assemble there daily for a free hot meal.
"He just blended right in with the homeless in line," said Michael Pastore, 60, a local activist who works with the homeless. "He was disheveled and had his hair messed up and was wearing dirty clothes, but I recognized him."
The difference between Marbut and the others was that he was a welcome guest in the city. Daytona Beach has been trying to rid its streets of homeless people for years. Finding the problem insurmountable, however, the Daytona Beach City Commission decided last year to bring in an expert. They're paying Marbut six figures to investigate the city’s homelessness problem and devise a solution.
"The School House," Jonetta Rose Barras, Washington City Paper