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Bruce Cahan

"Speaking through maps and numbers are more robust
ways for the "social Web" to argue environmental
and other social justice causes."

- Bruce Cahan


Thinking Spatially
SubEx Undergrond Freight


Much of Urban Logic’s research and implementation for the federal government involves ways to "think spatially."

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Pushing Urban Small Package Freight into Subways

Each day you drive and walk to work. A FedEx, DHL, Airborne, UPS, US Mail or other parcel service truck is dutifully driving to their rounds of drop offs, delivering small envelopes and packages in time for the pre-lunch work day so you’ll have it in time for the next big deal or fashion sensation pictured in their glossy ads.

Ever stop to think how much traffic congestion is snarled by parcel delivery vans? What about the extra exhaust and tire particulate pollution added to Summer city days?

What if all those small envelopes were shuttled into the central business and residential districts of America’s cities using a different route? What if they took the subway, just like their future recipients do?

Many of America’s largest cities were built along water routes, where ferries brought mail and packages from far away to within a few blocks of their office, home or store destination. As riverfront real estate became more valuable, wharves were converted to office and residential towers congesting the very streets formerly reserved for passenger, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Cities with subway tunnels have an underutilized resource. Ridership rarely pays the full cost of public transportation. Throughout the past 100 years, subways have seen little innovation as new forms of transit using the same rail, tunnel and station infrastructure.

Urban Logic is researching a new approach: SubEx, an underground route for envelopes and small packages.

Using SubEx, major parcel services could collaborate to route their small packages and envelopes into specially-designed subway cars attached to the backs of passenger cars. SubEx cars would remove existing small package and envelope freight off of congested streets.

Aside from the obvious congestion and traffic mitigation benefits, SubEx would create a revenue and capital base for renovating accessible subway stations and elevators to serve handicapped and other passengers with better lit and monitored facilities.

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