Boston’s Parking System is Corrupt and Residents Demand Action

bostonParking fines keep rising in Boston throughout the last few years, if not decades. For those who commute to work in town, it comes with a price.

 

Locals who live in the city are starting to have to pay for parking by their own houses.

 

City councils are calling it a “broken neighborhood system.”

 

Antonio Planas, a Boston Herald reporter, says that Boston city councils are trying to find a solution to this system.

 

Residents are being charged for getting parking stickers to be able to park in their own neighborhood. If they do not have the required permit parking, they will get fined each time they park in the neighborhood.

 

What’s worse is that the city is actually limiting the number of permits that are being bought or handed out to residents, meanwhile, parking enforcers are giving residents or others more tickets every day for not having the permits.

 

At Boston’s Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation, city officials are trying their best to fix this problem, since it really has become a big problem for Boston residents.

 

Those city officials have been frustrated with the fact that the city is giving out an unlimited amount of the residential parking permits and is not charging people for those permits. The problem is that certain neighborhoods do not have a lot of parking spaces available which makes it hard for the ones living in those areas to park their cars when they return home.

 

Councilors are thinking of pricing the permits $100.

 

Parking spots might take up to an hour to be found, which is not going to work for people either.

 

Mayor Marty Walsh does not agree with the price for the permits. He states, “this would impact residents who can’t afford to pay for their permit, meaning a police like this could directly penalize those who make the least and may have few reasonable and affordable alternatives to travel.”

 

It’s true. The city should to put an end to this and find a reasonable solution to fix the parking problem in Boston to help its low-income residents.

 

There is talk about finding alternatives, like some sort of satellite tracking parking system or giving people incentives to park somewhere else.

 

Residents, commuters, and visitors of Boston should not be punished for owning vehicles but instead given some sort of an incentive.

 

The City of Boston Expanding Driverless Car Testing Project

boston driverless carsSelf-driving cars have returned to the roads of Boston after a brief shutdown to review safety standards following the death of a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz., and the city of Boston will expand its testing project.

The city has been working with self-driving car company nuTonomy, which has been testing autonomous vehicles in the Seaport since January 2017 under the supervision of Boston officials, after initially trying out the cars within the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Industrial Park.

The testing will be citywide from now on, the officials say.

It’s important to mention that in March, Massachusetts officials have delayed a plan to expand testing in the region.

NuTonomy Inc. and Optimus Ride, two Boston-based companies testing the technology in the Seaport District, took a break at the request of city officials, who sought to better understand the companies’ safety procedures after the Uber crash.

Since the accident, Uber has kept its self-driving cars off the road in Arizona, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and California. After that, Arizona, which has loudly championed a low-regulation environment for driverless companies, ordered Uber to keep its program halted in the wake of the death. Uber has also said it will not seek to extend its permit to test in California after it expires.

But in Boston, NuTonomy and Optimus Ride got the green light to resume operations from city officials the following Tuesday. The companies began testing the technology here last year, and nuTonomy offers a ride to some members of the public through a partnership with the ride-hailing firm Lyft. Neither company has reported any incidents from their Boston tests.

“We have met with our partners, nuTonomy, and Optimus Ride, to review the testing policies and procedures that are mandatory components of the City of Boston’s program. With this safety review complete, Boston will allow autonomous-vehicle testing to resume,” said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina Fiandaca.

NuTonomy declined to comment beyond confirming resumption of its testing. Optimus Ride did not return requests for comment.

Meanwhile, state officials were originally scheduled to sign a new agreement with a coalition of several Boston suburbs that would allow companies to apply to test self-driving vehicles on their streets. The deal hasn’t been sealed until at least late April.

Among other standards, the Boston tests require a driver to be seated in the front seat at all times to take control of the car as needed.

Arizona allowed companies to conduct tests without a so-called safety driver. But in the Tempe incident, a driver was in the front seat when the car hit the pedestrian.

 

Robots Are The New Chefs At Spyce In Boston

robotsRobots are slowly taking over human jobs and this restaurant is ahead in the game. Spyce, a new restaurant in downtown Boston has replaced the regular human cook with robots. The idea was started by Chef Daniel Boulud, who partnered up with a few Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers.

The restaurant has seven automated cooking pots that prepare the food. The bots only take 3 minutes to prepare each meal, sometimes even less! Michael Farid, a co-founder of Spyce, explains how the system of their kitchen works with the robots. He states, “We have an ingredient delivery system that collects from the fridge.” He also explains how everything is equally portioned and sent to the robots to be cooked. Once the food is done, the robots place the food in a bowl and it is ready to be served.

Spyce might just be the first restaurant to have robots as chefs that cook meals faster than any other dining place. When customers enter the restaurant, they first create their meals. They use touch-screens to place their order. Every bowl contains lots of veggies and grains. The menu also includes the number of calories each bowl has and a variety of cuisines from all around the world.
As people wait for their meals to be finished, their name appears electronically displayed on their bot chef with the list of their order. Before the bots place the food into the bowl, they get rinsed with hot water to get cleaned. The robots are visible to the customers. They wanted people to have a different experience and have fun while waiting for their food.

However, Spyce does have human employees. They have a person who greets customers at the entrance who is also there to assist with placing orders and answering questions. They have people who prepare the food at night for the next day. The restaurant also has employees who add final touches to the meals, like bits of cheese, seeds or cilantro before it is ready to be served.

The team of Spyce believes that these robots make the dining experience better. The restaurant’s motto is “culinary excellence elevated by technology.” While human-made meals are delicious and great to have, this experience is one of a kind and a must try.

Lyft is Bringing Back Self-Driving Cars in Boston

Lyft is Bringing Back Self-Driving Cars in Boston

Self-driving Cars

Self-driving cars are back on the road again!

Recently, Boston city officials gave permission to companies, Optimus Ride and NuTonomy to resume the testing of self-driving cars.

Lyft actually partnered up with the Boston-based company, NuTonomy. This will give Lyft’s clients the option to choose a self-driving car in the near future.

NuTonomy is not the first self-driving car company that Lyft has partnered up with. They have also partnered up with other self-driving auto companies, such as Waymo, Drive.ai, Ford, and GM.

Drive.ai is helping Lyft create self-driving taxis to be used in San Francisco. Lyft paired up with GM to develop the self-driving Chevy Bolts.

Both co-founders of Lyft plan to have the majority of their cars be autonomous by 2021.

These self-driving cars have been testing in Boston since the start of 2018, mainly in the Seaport District.

One thing all of these companies have in common with each other is to make driving easier and safer with no human-caused errors to deal with.

Although there were a few bad incidents involving autonomous cars, the mayor met with Optimus Ride and NuTonomy, and reviewed their procedures. He trusts that these cars are safe to continue test driving.

He even believes these companies will have a positive impact and will make a huge difference in the future.

The rule is that all autonomous cars must have a driver on the wheel at all times.

As for expanding to other parts of the city to test these vehicles, it is being delayed until further notice from the state.

If these autonomous cars can survive the streets and weather conditions of Boston, then they will be much easier to drive in other cities with easier road systems.

 

 

Amazon About To Expand in Boston

Amazon BostonAccording to the Boston Globe, which cited Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the e-commerce giant is in talks to lease 430,000 square feet in a planned 18-story building in the city, potentially hiring 2,000 or more workers to fill it.

“It’s not HQ2. But it is great news for Boston,” Walsh reportedly said in a meeting with Boston business leaders on Tuesday.

The building would be part of a planned development in Boston’s Seaport District that’s expected to be ready by 2021. The deal is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. Amazon will seek $5 million in tax breaks from the city.

Amazon has the option to expand the lease to a million square feet and 4,000 employees by 2025 by expanding into the building next door, which is also in the planning phases.

The future jobs available at Amazon in Boston are expected to be in the tech-heavy fields of robotics, cloud computing, and voice-activated systems.

“Amazon is considering additional options for expansion in the Boston area to meet the demand of our growing employee base and as part of our ongoing hiring efforts,” the statement reads. “This is independent of the company’s search for HQ2, a second headquarters in North America.”

Boston is seen as desirable for the company due to the quality of its nearby schools that focus on tech, like MIT.

The new office is a significant size, but what’s interesting is the option on the lease for a million square feet — that would be a good start for a company that’s looking to build a new headquarters with several million square feet of space.

Amazon says the new headquarters will have 50,000 employees and $5 billion in investment over 10 years.

Of course, the fact that it’s just an option on the lease and not a done deal means it could just be there in the case Amazon were to decide on Boston. And the fact that the land is being leased — and not purchased by the company — is another potential hole in the theory.

While Fortune notes that the search for office space in Boston started before Amazon announced its search for HQ2, if the company is going ahead with leases in candidate cities, it could mean that internally, it has decided Boston is not the frontrunner. Also, Amazon would most likely lease two buildings in a city long-term, then build another headquarters somewhere else in the city.

Amazon has not shied away from opening new offices in HQ2 candidate cities since the announcement of its search for HQ2. Amazon announced in September that it will open a 360,000-square-foot office in New York City, another potential HQ2 city.

Heavy Storm in the US to Bring Record-breaking Low Temperatures

Heavy Storm in the US to Bring Record-breaking Low Temperatures

As the weather is getting cold parts of US and Canada, temperatures are expected to fall below -20F (-29C), said the National Weather Service. In Canada, high winds have knocked out power for tens of thousands of residents in Nova Scotia.

Giant waves caused by the storm saw freezing floodwaters inundate parts of the New England coast.

According to reports, the extreme weather has already left 19 people dead in the US and two more in Canada.

Four deaths were reported due to traffic accidents in North and South Carolina. Further accidents occurred in Wisconsin, Kentucky and Texas.

In Philadelphia, a car was unable to stop at the bottom of a steep hill and was hit by a commuter train, killing a passenger in the vehicle.

In Virginia, a girl was fatally struck by a car while sliding, and a 75-year-old man was killed after being hit by a snow plow.

With the snowfall ending, temperatures are forecast to continue plummeting into the weekend as frigid air lingering over the North Pole prowls towards the US mid-Atlantic region.

The National Weather Service said on Friday: “An arctic outbreak will keep temperatures 20F to 30F degrees below average across the north-eastern US.

Experts say the so-called bomb cyclone storm drew moisture and strength from as far south as the Caribbean Sea.

More than 1,200 flights were canceled on Friday, a day after 4,000 others were grounded.

New Hampshire’s Mt Washington, which boasts of having the “world’s worst weather”, is expected to see a record low of -95F (70C) on Friday night. There are mass power shutdowns in Canada.
Atlantic and central Canada are being hit by the winter storm.

The provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are both under winter storm and blizzard warnings.

In the morning Jan. 5, Nova Scotia Power said some 125,000 customers were still without power after 140km/h (87mph) wind gusts hit parts of the maritime province.

Outages have also been also reported in New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Also, Ontario and Quebec were both under extreme cold warnings.

In Massachusetts, Boston received over 1ft (30cm) of snowfall.

 

Boston Weather

Utility companies in eastern North America are advising residents to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere if they experience problems heating their properties.

The storm has so far forced hundreds of schools and businesses to close in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, the Carolinas, Maryland and Virginia.

Panicked New York City residents rushed to shops before the snow came, clearing shelves of milk, eggs, and kale, the New York Times reported.

The weather pattern has already brought snow to the US South as far down as Florida, where the cold snap has caused iguanas to lose their grip and fall from trees.

Natural gas prices in the US northeast have risen, driven by demand for heating fuel.

 

Boston City Council Considers Plastic Bag Ban

Boston CityThe Boston City Council is set to consider a proposal banning single-use plastic bags and instituting a 5-cent fee.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the 13-member body, a vote on the proposal is expected to occur. City Council President Michelle Wu backs the proposal.

The proposed ordinance, which would affect pharmacies, restaurants and convenience stores across the city, aims to reduce street litter and says plastic bags “contribute to a significant burden on the City’s solid waste disposal and single-stream recycling systems.”

What the proposal would do:

 

  1. The retail store providing the check-out bag can charge 5 cents for the bag, and the store will keep the money it collects.
  2. Any retail establishment providing a check-out bag – a carry-out bag with handles — to customers must ensure the bag is a reusable bag or a compostable plastic bag, or a recyclable paper bag.
  3. A second offense and all subsequent offenses would come with a $100 fine.
  4. Enforcement of the ban falls to the Boston mayor’s office of energy, environment, and open space. The first time of a violation of the ban would draw a warning, and a second violation within one year would lead to a $50 fine.
  5. Retail establishments can ask the office of energy, environment and open space for an “undue hardship” exemption.

 

The lead sponsor, City Councilor Matt O’Malley, represents West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, as well as parts of Roslindale and Roxbury.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said he is open to considering the plastic bag ban.

Cambridge and Somerville are on the list of nearby communities that have restricted the use of plastic bags in recent years.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles are among those US cities that have banned plastic bags.

 

NuTonomy: Self-Driving Cars Carrying Passengers in Boston?

NuTonomy: Self-Driving Cars Carrying Passengers in Boston?

Boston authorities have approved a plan by self-driving car organization nuTonomy to carry passengers in the Seaport, a service that could start in a matter of weeks.

 

The proposal comes as nuTonomy reported it has agreed to be obtained by auto part provider Delphi.

 

Prior this year, nuTonomy and ride-hailing company Lyft said they would partner on a passenger service in Boston. Both companies said yesterday the program would continue despite nuTonomy’s acquisition, but declined to comment on when they would be available.

 

Like the test autos already driving on city lanes, the passenger cars will have security drivers, prepared to take the wheel if necessary, and will be limited to the Seaport district.

 

Under the terms of the deal amongst Boston and nuTonomy, the company agreed to an initial beta trial of its passenger service, open to a select group of 40 riders. No less than six of those, according to the agreement, will be passengers who experience difficulty getting around, including seniors and those with mobility or vision impairments.

 

“NuTonomy wants to understand how the system works for everybody, and the city has a desire to make sure whatever the future of transportation looks like, we are providing it to everybody,” Carter said.

 

After the pilot, passenger service will be opened to people in general.

 

Recently, British auto parts provider Delphi said it would buy nuTonomy for as much as $450 million.

 

NuTonomy will stay in Boston, working as an independent entity.

 

The company, spun out of MIT, has rebuffed numerous other suitors, according to board member Bob Davis, but decided to sell to Delphi because of the large market opportunity the British outfit has as a provider of parts to auto manufacturers.

 

NuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma said Delphi’s current associations with automakers give it a strong position in an increasingly competitive industry.

 

“It’s not at all clear to me an upstart startup or even a tech company will be able to address that market,” Iagnemma said. “They can sell to every (manufacturer) globally if they’ve got the technology and relationships.”

 

The acquisition of nuTonomy will roughly double Delphi’s autonomous driving team to about 200.

 

Revolutionizing the Trucking Industry

Uber is seeking self-driving trucks through Otto, and the project is at the center of accusation filed by Google’s sister company, Waymo for self-driving cars and trucks. The project’s start-up was achieved on August.

 

Otto has a goal to create trucks that could self-drive 24/7 by that allowing drivers sleep on the road. Lior Ron, Otto co-founder, have said it last July. He also added that in this case, trucks would be more efficient as they would not waste fuel on braking as continuously while driving long hours.

 

This conception aims to solve more environmentally – compromising problems. However, the accusation filed by Waymo will be seen, whether the concept survives or not.

 

While Uber and Waymo are having a battle about this concept, the Alphabet – owned company is also seeing a self – driving trucks. It is seeking the self – driving vehicles to decrease the number of deaths caused by truck accidents per year.

 

Now, Waymo is one of the leaders in the self – driving car manufacturing. It is already picking up passengers in its self – driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans, as a part of a pilot in Phoenix, AZ. The company is now working on the sensors on large trucks. After the work, it will start the road tests in Arizona this year. A Waymo spokesperson told that self – driving cars and trucks can transport passengers more safely and will reduce the thousands of deaths caused by car crashes.

 

In 2015, the number of deaths caused by crashes, involving large trucks, is 4,067.

 

Starsky Robotics has already tested a self – driving trucks to transport carriage for 120 miles on highways. Starsky is designing concept that will give more autonomous capabilities. The goal of Starsky is to allow drivers to work near their homes. Unlike Otto, Starsky’s concept foresees the future. The drivers are not going to be sitting behind the wheel, instead, they will have a special remote control to drive the truck from a highway exit.

 

Another concept, the Peloton, plans to use truck platooning. Peloton, a trucking startup by Volvo and UPS, is creating a driver – assistance technology. The truck will automatically notify the driver about another Peloton truck being around, with which it can platoon. And if both select to platoon by pressing the corresponding button, one of them will start to follow another truck. As a result, if the leading truck brakes, the truck, driving behind it will automatically brake.

Revolutionizing Trucks

 

Daimler, Mercedes’s parent company, intended to use autonomous trucks to make the driving process stress-free for the drivers. It tests its self – driving truck on a public highway in 2015. The aim is to use Highway Pilot: a regular truck with cameras and sensors, which will be safer while keeping a driver behind the wheel. This concept will hit the market as early as 2020.