Gary the Intern Tightens His Grip Over ratpag; Discusses Google Now and Berkeley Study


Greetings ratpaggers!  No, you didn’t misread the title – “we” here at ratpag have mentioned someone by name!  My name is Gary and I’m the “unpaid graduate student” who took over ratpag yesterday.  Well, “took over” may be a bit strong, as all other ratpag employees have simply stopped showing up (having gotten the idea from San Francisco Muni’s “sickout”).

As acting editor-in-chief and COO of ratpag I have deemed it prudent to break Rule 5, Section VIII(ix) of ratpag’s charter by being the first person to intentionally mention his name on the site.  Moreover, if any prospective employers – particularly those who pay – wish to contact me please do so here, through the site, or at, so ratpag can see what a valuable asset they have.

So today I, Gary, want to talk about this fun little feature that Google has added to all of our smartphones (assuming you have the Google app, which you do).  We all know that Google has figured out where your home is and has attempted to figure out where you work (assuming you work, which you probably do not) so now Google has put it all together and figured out where you are in between!  And, if this in between involves you and public transportation, Google Now will then “sometimes show you when and where you need to get off and offer to set an alarm that’ll go off when you get near your stop.”  Just one step closer to complete and total reliance on our smartphones!

“We” here at ratpag are big fans of this because it seems possible that it could make public transit more accessible (in that you don’t even have to look up a route schedule or location) and, well, that’s what ratpag’s all about.  The next big step ratpag wants to see is this feature providing details on foreign or unfamiliar transit systems when someone travels away from their hometown systems (which they should know by heart).  Imagine landing at an overseas airport and having instructions by Google on how to travel via transit to your hotel in the center of town – this is something we’ve been talking a lot at Purdue (I AM AN AMERICAN!!  HAIL PURDUE!!!!!!)

Our next topic gets a bit deep – just how we like it.  Daniel G. Chatman and Robert B. Noland of UC Berkeley, which is a pretty good school if you can’t go to school in Indiana, have studied and made the definitive conclusion that

Cities may become more productive when they expand their public transportation networks, if public transport investment lead to larger employment clusters and encourage metropolitan population growth.

This is the kind of studying that ratpag likes to see – enough with flatology or the study of soggy cornflakes.  The two explain their methodology and concerns regarding causality and came to find that

an increase in public transport leads to a 19 percent increase in central city employment density, as well as higher wages that can be measured in the million or billions overall for metropolitan areas.

So what we have here is more useful information supporting ratpag’s long-standing belief that public transit see a significant infusion of funding and investment.  It’s high time the rest of the world caught up (with ratpag and Gary).

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