National Transit Database site updated with February 2018 data

Detroit People Mover 2016 Financial Data

The National Transit Database site has been updated with February 2018 data. In looking at most cities in Michigan, transit ridership continued to decline. For instance, February ridership in Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Kalamazoo all declined by over 8%. Ann Arbor saw a decline of about 2%, and Lansing saw an increase of just over 1%.

The Detroit Free Press also ran a story today, using my NTD site, and pointed out that the Detroit People Mover costs over $25 million to operate (and consequently loses nearly $10 per rider).

The Mackinac Center has been running a series of stories, using my site and its data.

Oh, and the Detroit People Mover’s ridership declined about 40% in February. Interestingly, the Detroit People Mover’s average trip length is 1.4 miles. The average cost to taxpayers of each trip is $9.95. How much is a 1.4 mile uber ride?

Federal judge releases DNA software source code that was used by New York City’s crime lab

A federal judge unsealed the source code for a software program that was used to compare DNA samples in New York City’s crime lab.

In July 2016, Judge Valerie Caproni of the Southern District of New York determined in U.S. v. Johnson that the source code of the Forensic Statistical Tool, a genotyping software, “is ‘relevant … [and] admissible’” at least during a Daubert hearing—a pretrial hearing where the admissibility of expert testimony is challenged. Caproni provided a protective order at that time.

This week, Caproni lifted that order after the investigative journalism organization ProPublica filed a motion arguing that there was a public interest in the code. ProPublica has since posted the code to the website GitHub.

Read the full story . . .

U.S. Senate panel puts self-driving cars in fast lane

A U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday unanimously gave the green light to a bill aimed at speeding the use of self-driving cars without human controls, a measure that also bars states from imposing regulatory road blocks.

The bill still must clear a Senate vote, but it appears on track to passage. This should rev up profits for automakers, technology companies and ride service providers, hastening the day when their robot cars can carry passengers on the same U.S. roads as cars driven by people.

Read the full story . . .

Zoning regulations are problematic for tiny-house buyers

Tiny-house buyers have to cope not only with the challenges of living in a smaller space. There are also zoning regulations that make it difficult to find a spot for the homes.

In densely populated areas and most other areas, zoning regulations typically don’t allow full-time living in temporary structures such as RVs or movable tiny houses, the New York Times reports. The zoning laws also may specify a minimum lot size that it too expensive for a tiny-house buyer.

Some municipalities—including Fresno, California, and Nantucket, Massachusetts—have changed their zoning laws to accommodate homes that share land with existing homes. In another nod to the tiny house movement, the International Code Council has adopted a model code for such structures.

Read the full story . . .

Supreme Court adds 11 cases to 2017 docket

The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari in 11 cases [order list, PDF] on Thursday.

Dalmazzi v. United States [cert. petition, PDF] Cox v. United States [docket], and Ortiz v. United States[cert. petition, PDF] are three cases that will be consolidated and will be given one hour each for oral argument. These cases deal with whether active-duty military officers can serve on the Court of Military Commissions Review (CMCR). The petitioners were members of the Air Force who were convicted [SCOTUSblog report] of different crimes in a military court. They are appealing their convictions on the grounds that only members of the military can preside over a military court, and the judges in the petitioners’ cases were civilians because of their CMCR position.

Read the full story . . .