Getty Images/Madison McVeigh

Also today: America is losing its edge for startups, and when neighborhood diversity means white anxiety.

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What We’re Following

Driving ourselves crazy: When American cities compare the quality of local transit to their international counterparts, they’re full of excuses. Gas prices, suburban sprawl, and car culture catch the blame in the U.S. The reality is a lot simpler than that, according to a new piece by urban planning scholar Jonathan English: Other global regions provide better service.

That also means there are good, workable models of transit systems around the world that attract riders while remaining financially viable. Americans might realize their cities have more in common with some of these places than one might expect. English follows up on his previous story about why America gave up on public transit with some sound advice from around the globe on how to make it better. Today on CityLab: Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

America Is Losing Its Edge for Startups

It used to be that 95 percent of global startup and venture-capital activity happened in the U.S. Today, it’s just over one-half.

Richard Florida

When Neighborhood Diversity Meets White Anxiety

The perception of demographic change can be more powerful than the reality of it, according to new research on how white residents can feel threatened by racial and ethnic shifts.

Tanvi Misra

This Basketball Will Be Your Father

A court in New York City breeds a family of fathers, brothers, and sons, out of people unconnected by blood.

Michael Klawans

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

A gathering of designers talk about the art of creating political brands in 2018.

Sarah Holder

The High Line Gets an Opera

One of the architects behind the elevated park now has an ambitious, 6-day event that draws on music, immersive performance, and community engagement to convey one hour of life in the big city.

Laura Feinstein


Corner Stamp

(Derek Saffe/The New Food Economy)

In Washington Heights, there’s a busy store called P&L Deli Grocery that Dominican-born New Yorker Porfirio Mejia has run for six years. About a year ago, Mejia’s informal IOU system for customers who were behind on receiving their food stamp benefits triggered an algorithm designed to prevent fraud in the federal government’s food aid program. It has disqualified him from accepting the benefits as payment ever since, reports The New Food Economy, in partnership with The Intercept. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Mejia is hardly alone. Last year, the USDA disqualified more than 1,600 retailers across the country from receiving SNAP payments. Over 90 percent of those businesses are convenience stores or small groceries. And while some of them almost certainly engaged in the cash-for-food-stamps fraud that the system is designed to detect, many of them, like P&L, were probably unjustly caught in the crosshairs.

CityLab context: Grocery shopping in America while poor and SNAP doesn’t cover the cost of food in nearly every U.S. county.


What We’re Reading

Lyft hires former Obama transportation secretary Anthony Foxx (CNN)

Housing assistance needs a basic-income approach (Fast Company)

The MTA seeks high-tech solutions for its bus and subway crisis (The Verge)

8 rural races where Democrats could reap the benefits of Trump’s trade war (Mother Jones)

Satellites are replacing a lot of Census workers for 2020 (Wall Street Journal)


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