Also today: In Switzerland, everyone’s an urban planner. And the right way to regulate electric scooters.

What We’re Following

All is fare: What happens when a city tries to replace public transit with Uber? In 2017, the Toronto exurb of Innisfil, Ontario, took a chance on subsidizing rides instead of running a traditional bus service, offering riders a flat fare or discounts through the ride-hailing app. The plan worked, perhaps a little too well, at least at increasing ridership. To keep up with demand, the “Innisfil Transit” plan has raised fares and added a 30-ride monthly cap to the system. For traditional public transit, raising transit fares when ridership is growing is backwards logic—rides are supposed to get cheaper and more frequent as more people ride. But the cost of providing backseat rides doesn’t scale like a publicly funded bus.

City officials still say the choice is more cost-effective than running a traditional bus system. But Innisfil may be a good example of the risks of using ride-hailing apps as a quick fix for mobility service gaps. “I would never get on a bus in Toronto and hear the driver say, ‘Sorry, but you’ve hit your cap,’” said one resident frustrated by the changes. “Uber was supposed to be our bus.” CityLab’s Laura Bliss has the story: When A Town Takes Uber Instead of Public Transit

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

In Switzerland, Everyone’s an Urban Planner

To reimagine its largest public space, the Swiss city of Lausanne organized a citywide consultation and workshop that asked: Just who is the public?

Feargus O'Sullivan

How Water-Smart City Planning Could Help the West

As Western states grapple with drought, Westminster, Colorado, has become a model for its integration of water data into the planning process.

Jason Plautz

The Right Way to Regulate Electric Scooters

As dockless shared-mobility devices spread nationwide, so do the risks of accident and injury. Here’s why more federal safety oversight is needed.

Jesse Halfon

Why Neon Is the Ultimate Symbol of the 20th Century

The once-ubiquitous form of lighting was novel when it first emerged in the early 1900s, though it has since come to represent decline.

Sarah Archer

A French Theme Park's Dark Message: 'You Have Made the Earth Sick'

DefiPlanet, a nature-themed family attraction in France, has a surprisingly harsh lesson for visitors.

Hallie Golden


Around the World in 80 Years

Rosalie Fairbanks, a guide for the New York World's Fair, points to the symbols of the exposition, the Trylon and Perisphere. (AP)

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the opening of the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, held on a 1,216-acre site in Flushing Meadows, Queens, that still retains some of the fair’s original street grid and parks. The fair’s committee worked closely with New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses to plan the exposition, which featured speeches from President Franklin Roosevelt and Albert Einstein. With a new dedicated subway unveiled by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, and a Futurama exhibit that modeled an automated highway system, the 1939 World’s Fair offered an optimistic look at the future of cities as well as “the world of tomorrow” just before the start of World War II.

CityLab context: The necessity of a pessimistic World’s Fair and the architectural relics of World’s Fairs


What We’re Reading

Is buying a house overrated? (NPR)

Uber and Lyft have stopped hiring drivers in New York City (Politico)

WeWork claims it benefits neighborhoods. Does it? (Curbed)

Minneapolis bans “warrior-style” training for police officers (Next City)

There were nearly a million black farmers in 1920. Why have they disappeared? (The Guardian)


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