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Struggling streetcars, housing hoggers and the death of romance

Our weekly round-up of city stories we’ve enjoyed elsewhere.

  • This piece from CityLab offers a reminder that, when it comes to public transport, the US and Europe occupy entirely different worlds:

One of the big knocks on modern streetcars is that they exist primarily for tourists and not for everyday transit riders or commuters

…which would be a surprise to the residents of Paris, Berlin, Manchester, or any of the other dozens of European cities in which the tram network offers a key part of the public transport system, but okay.

The article takes as a hook one writer’s frustratingly slow experience of the new streetcar in Atlanta, and then offers a fascinating argument for why so many US cities have struggled to make trolleys work as commuter vehicles. To make them economic, the new networks tend to initially focus on city centres. But that means more obstacles, which slows them down, which makes them unpopular, which makes them incredibly difficult to expand beyond that first stage. Vicious circle.

  • Ampp3d’s Federica Cocco has come up with one of the more depressing data stories you’ll see today: “Britain’s housing crisis in 6 charts and 8 worrying facts”.

 It’s a familiar litany: building rates have tumbled, government building rates have collapsed, prices have gone haywire. But some of the facts the story contains remain alarming, no matter how often you hear them:

Indeed the number of young home owners has inexorably declined. In 1991, 67% of those aged 25-34 were homeowners. By 2011/12, it was 43%.

By contrast, home ownership for those aged 45-65 has increased from 60% in 1981 to 75% in 2011/12.

The story also quotes Savill’s property expert Neal Hudson as saying “our consumption of housing has increased – more people own second homes”. So that’s just great. As is this chart:

  • The website’s parent title the Mirror also published an article headed “Renting in London: What different amounts of rent get you across the country compared to the capital”.

    You can probably guess where that goes, to be honest. The main things we took away from it were

1) there are a surprisingly high number of dormitories on offer in London, and

2) wow, indentured servitude is still a thing?

  • And finally, Next City has a fascinating piece about how dating apps are changing our perceptions of cities – and whether abandoning serendipitous meetings in favour of something more structured is actually an improvement.

…Describing a bus ride in Manhattan last summer in which she looked up from Tinder long enough to fruitlessly make eyes at another rider too engrossed in the app himself, she says, “it was just so depressing to think that a few years ago, there would at least be a chance that you could look around and make eye contact with someone. But now we were both obsessed with looking for guys or girls on the app that we didn’t notice who was around us.”

You can read the rest here.
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