A derailed Amtrak 501 is pictured.
Steve Dipaola/Reuters

The Amtrak that crashed in Washington had a “positive train control” system, but it wasn’t activated, NTSB says.

Good afternoon! You have been randomly selected to receive a preview of our new and improved daily newsletter as we test a new format. We'll highlight the most significant developments and ideas in cities each day, without wasting your time. In the second section, you’ll find the same list of stories from our traditional newsletter. This is a work in progress, and we want you to help us make it better. Send us your feedback and ideas at hello@citylab.com.

***

Train derailment: Speed seems to be a factor in Monday’s crash of Amtrak 501 outside Tacoma, Washington. The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday night that the train was traveling at 80 miles per hour in a curve zoned for 30 miles per hour, leading to the crash that killed at least three people.

President Trump was quick to tie the incident to his wish-listed infrastructure plan, but as ABC notes, this train wasn’t crumbling. In fact, the Cascades line had just had a multimillion dollar upgrade to allow for faster service, and this was its inaugural run. The locomotives were even equipped with “positive train control,” a modern safety system would automatically brake during dangerous situations like excessive speed, though it was not yet activated. Federal law requires all railroads to have the safety feature by the end of 2018. We’re tracking this story. Send tips to hello@citylab.com.

Lend us your ears: The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts has been criticized for its “size and opulence,” as well its isolation from the rest of D.C. Now a major expansion will add more public spaces and a connection to the nearby Potomac waterfront. Listen in as CityLab contributing editor Amanda Kolson Hurley gives the Washington City Paper podcast a tour and architectural review.


More on CityLab

Teaching Civility in the Age of Trump: As bias incidents at American schools surge, one Maryland high school requires all freshman to take a new course designed to encourage open minds and civil dialogue.  

What’s Missing From Amazon's HQ2 Search: Amazon made no mention of climate change in its request for proposals, and most of the public city bids don’t address it, either.

The Great Retail Retrofit: The “retail apocalypse” affords a unique opportunity to turn retail stores and malls into more productive community spaces.

Berlin's Upcoming Bike Revolution: A new law could see the city’s cycling infrastructure completely transformed.

The Backlash Against Piped Music: This holiday season, groups in Michigan and the U.K. are asking for fewer jingle bells, more silent nights in public spaces.

The Hidden Rooms Within New York's Public Housing: A new study from New York’s Independent Budget Office reveals that nearly a third of public housing units are under-occupied, often by older residents living alone. But can the city find a humane fix?


Eyes on the Tweets

Who’s claiming State and Local Tax deductions? The map below breaks it down by congressional district.

Tweet from @richardcauxier

At the state level, SALT deductions follow along partisan lines. In 2014, the average deduction claimed in blue states such as California ($17,100) and New York ($21,000) dwarfed claims in red states such as Texas ($7,600) or Tennessee ($5,300).


What We’re Reading

Urban planning has a sexism problem (Next City)

Is Google Street View the next Census tool? (Fast Company)

Cities with Uber have lower rates of ambulance usage (NPR)

The software engineer who spoke out against sexual harassment at Uber (Financial Times)

Obama’s clemency recipients, one year later (The Marshall Project)

Dockless bikeshare will be messy—and worth it (Slate)


What’s going on in your neighborhood? Send stories, tips, and feedback to hello@citylab.com.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    The Automotive Liberation of Paris

    The city has waged a remarkably successful effort to get cars off its streets and reclaim walkable space. But it didn’t happen overnight.

  2. Transportation

    How Toronto Turned an Airport Rail Failure Into a Commuter Asset

    The Union Pearson Express launched with expensive rides and low ridership. Now, with fares slashed in half and a light rail connection in the works, it’s a legitimate transit alternative for workers.

  3. A man sits in a room alone.
    Equity

    The World's First Minister of Loneliness

    Britain just created an entirely new ministry to tackle this serious public health concern.

  4. Life

    The (Legal) Case Against Bidding Wars Like Amazon's

    The race to win Amazon’s second headquarters has reignited a conversation dating back to the late ‘90s: Should economic incentives be curbed by the federal government? Can they be?

  5. A dockless bikeshare bike on the streets of D.C.
    Transportation

    What People Mean When They Call Dockless Bikeshare a 'Nuisance'

    In Washington, D.C., some residents are not enthusiastic about the free-range rent-a-bikes.