Also: WeWork’s “smart cities” play, and a “Latino High Line” promises change for San Antonio.

What We’re Following

Hitch in the plan: When Bob Lowe wants to take a train ride, he doesn’t book a ticket for a seat. Instead, he asks Amtrak to hitch his own private railcars to one of their passenger trains. He is one of about 80 people in the United States who not only own their own railroad cars but are certified to operate them on Amtrak routes across the country. Traveling in these cars—relics of the pre-Amtrak era of passenger rail—is “almost like riding in a time capsule,” he says.

Madison McVeigh/CityLab/Shutterstock

It’s never made a lot of practical sense to be a private railcar owner, and these passionate hobbyists are now wondering whether their pricey pursuit is reaching the end of the line. A year ago, Amtrak announced cuts to its private railcar-hauling service, in an effort to boost efficiency and improve its bottom line. “There’s no real villain in this tale, other than the increasingly ruthless economics of American passenger rail,” Andrew Zaleski writes. Today on CityLab: Let’s Buy a Train.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

WeWork Wants to Build the ‘Future of Cities.’ What Does That Mean?

The co-working startup plans to use its giant trove of member data to reimagine urban problems—and get into the “smart city” business.

Laura Bliss

A ‘Latino High Line’ Promises Change for San Antonio

The San Pedro Creek Culture Park stands to be a transformative project for nearby neighborhoods. To fight displacement, the city is creating a risk mitigation fund.

Kriston Capps

America’s Management of Urban Forests Has Room for Improvement

A new survey finds that urban forests could benefit from better data on climate change and pests—and a focus on social equity.

Amanda Kolson Hurley

What Happens If Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce State Gun-Control Laws?

Second Amendment sanctuary counties are coming to liberal states, like New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.

Brianna Provenzano

How #Trashtag Inspired People to Clean Up Their Parks

A social media challenge had people across the globe cleaning up beaches, parks, rivers—and urging their friends to get in on the action.

Linda Poon



What We’re Reading

One year after Uber’s fatal self-driving crash, pedestrians aren’t any safer (Curbed)

The race to be the world’s largest city, over 500 years (The Guardian)

Copenhagen wants to show how cities can fight climate change (New York Times)

Detroit’s drivers spend up to 36 percent of their income on car insurance (Jalopnik)


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