Starmobile, QUARTA at odds as QUARTA bans car sales advertisments on buses, trains, QUARTA property

QUENTINSBURGH, FREEDEMIA: Freedemia’s biggest transit system and their biggest car manufacturer are at odds today, as the Quentinsburgh Urban Area Rapid Transit Authority (QUARTA) bans all advertisements for car sales in stations, at stops, and on the sides of buses and trains. Starmobile-Jazzalini had been attempting to purchase New Years’ ads across the system when QUARTA announced the decision.

Advertisements aren’t nonexistant in the QUARTA system by any means. While an effort is made to limit the trainside/busside ads to certain spots, non-intrusive ads can be found all throughout the system, especially inside trains and buses and at stops and stations. Recent improvements to QLine trains have even made it possible to have ads that change as the train ride continues, acting similarly to a billboard, announcing different businesses as the train gets closer to certain stops.

QUARTA’s decision comes around the same time that QUARTA and the cities in the Quentinsburgh metropolitan area changed their signage ordinances to direct retail signage to pedestrians and transit riders. As the area has attempted to move away from car reliance, QUARTA and the cities have attempted to shift the paradigm of residents to transit, walking, and biking as the defaults and driving as secondary.

The decision to ban advertisements for car sales was an attempt to move further towards that goal, according to QUARTA CEO Kellen Hyrper. “Car advertisements try to present auto driving as the “Freedemian Dream”, a luxury, a convenience, something to aim for. There’s nothing wrong with having a car to use in moderation, but it shouldn’t be viewed as the goal to get away from using transit. And it would be counterproductive to promote this in our transit system.”

Starmobile has split stakes here, and different divisions seem to have different responses. Starmobility, the bus/train/industrial truck manufacturing division of Starmobile, actually makes a large majority of QUARTA’s buses, and they’ve been partners for many years, with QUARTA being their largest client. Starmobility is very much against making this a big deal as they and QUARTA benefit mutually from their partnership. On the other hand, Starmobile-Jazzalini’s primary car sales divisions have sometimes relied on the advertising and the mentality of “Cars are cool!”, even in a country like Freedemia where transit isn’t seen as second class.

 

Advertisements

QUARTA launching study for proposed Jackson Blvd/Stanley Rd Line 16 BRT, other long term corridor studies announced

QUENTINSBURGH, FREEDEMIAQUARTA, releasing their new 2030-2050 plans, has announced several major corridor studies, starting with a short term study they are launching now for a Line 16 BRT to serve the Jackson Blvd/Stanley Rd corridor, building on the success of the Line 15 BRT serving the islands off the coast that opened in 2016.

Currently, bus route 33C provides frequent (usually about every 6 minutes) reliable local bus service to Jackson Blvd and Stanley Road, and the ALink and BLink select bus service lines, remnants of an early failed attempt at BRT, run along Stanley Rd, providing some limited stop service to the corridor. However, this new plan would call for the construction of a complete busway along Jackson Blvd and Stanley Road, similar to the existing Line 15 BRT running between Shelton Beach, Terrapin Park, Quentins Point Beach, and Hayes Island. Stations will require pre-boarding payment at turnstiles like the rest of the QLine metro system, and though mostly at grade, similar to a light rail, the BRT would run separate from traffic.

Line 16 BRT Corridor Study

One major question the city faces is design. The arrangement of the lanes, especially around major difficult junctions such as Quentinsburgh/Capitol East (serving the Emmerly/Capitol/Quentinsburgh Transit Center) and in southern Shelton Beach (where it would end with the Line 15 BRT) needs to be figured out, and elements like flyovers would likely need to be restrained to the most necessary locations to keep costs down. However, this is a relatively short term project, with the environmental study planned to conclude by the end of 2018, and if the study makes it clear this project will work and demand exists, QUARTA hopes to have it completed by 2023-2025, depending on the amount of added construction of flyovers and stations that would be required.

QUARTA also announced several longer term corridor studies;

  • West Mathersburgh Blvd Corridor, likely BRT or a branch of line 5 from Mathersboro to Haroldsburgh
  • Bond Extension to Kettingdon Heights, proposed extension of line 2
  • Hinespoint Rd Corridor, likely BRT or an extension of line 12; will not happen until demand increases
  • Putnam & Grentens Corridors, likely BRT providing an E-W connection thru N Central Quentinsburgh
  • Greendale Meadow/Greencreek Corridor, likely BRT, a branch of line 4, or a new line branching off line 3 to Gillepsie

Current QLine Corridor Studies (1)

The city of Gillepsie was especially happy about the Greendale Meadows/Greencreek Corridor Study, which would be the first project to try to extend the metro system, whether by subway or BRT, to connect Downtown Gillepsie with Downtown Quentinsburgh.

“We’ve managed to do okay in spite of it, but we’re the only major suburb in the area with no 1-seat metro ride to downtown Quentinsburgh,” Gillepsie Mayor Regina Thompson explains. “Other cities like Northcross, Highfield, Caroll Hill and Franklin Hill, and even far out areas like Haroldsburgh, Mathersburgh, and Horizon Springs have been given direct access to downtown. Why haven’t we? We’ve been well established for years and still isolated. They’ve talked about extending the 10 a couple extra stops to connect us to downtown when it’s finished, but even then, a local only train that runs through all of North and West Quentinsburgh before getting to downtown is barely more convenient than what we have now, and would be even longer than our current two-seat ride on the 11 and 7x.”

While routes haven’t been decided yet, the Gillepsie extension corridor has three alternative modes planned as options right now.

Option A would simply create a BRT line connecting Gillepsie with the Emmerly/Capitol/Quentinsburgh transit center, and is the cheapest alternative. There is a version (Option A2) that would have the BRT also run nonstop from Emmerly/Capitol/Quentinsburgh to Quentinsburgh Union Station, adding the extra service that would connect Gillepsie to downtown Quentinsburgh.

Option B would create a new elevated branch of line 4X that would run to Gillepsie, and the idea of how that would work and how it would affect existing routing is somewhat fuzzy. The QUARTA system doesn’t currently have any branching metro or BRT lines, so they don’t have any clear examples within the system to look to.

Option C, preferred among Gillepsians, would create a new elevated metro line, likely line 17, that would run with Line 3 from the terminus at Quentinsburgh Beach through Downtown Quentinsburgh and the Emmerly/Capitol/Quentinsburgh Transit Center and then branch off around Greencreek to run to Downtown Gillepsie, likely terminating alongside line 11. This alternative would provide local and express service to Gillepsie, but would also be the most expensive of the three. But Gillepsie residents say it’s worth it. And it would likely take pressure off of Line 4 as well, making it significantly preferable to the Line 4 branch alternative.

Many Kettingdon Heights residents are very hopeful about the line 2 extension. Similarly to Gillepsie, the neighborhood has a history of not having adequate metro connections to downtown Quentinsburgh.

“We’re living in one of the poorest parts of the city”, explained Jules Randolph, a father with 5 kids living in Kettingdon Heights. “And sometimes it can be difficult to get where I need to for work. I finally got a good paying job closer to downtown, but the subway doesn’t reach all the way out here so I have to take the local bus all the way in. Don’t get me wrong, the bus isn’t terrible, but it’s pretty slow and inconvenient. Our neighborhood has been a bit neglected, especially considering early plans from three decades ago showed lines running to Wally Cleaver and Kettingdon. They could have given us the service we needed with just a few extra stops built on, but they chose not to. But at least it looks like they might finally do it.”

 

FIB, Quentinsburgh Police, QUARTA, investigating after death threats toward President Rosenthal broadcasted over the loudspeakers and displays of a Line 3 train

BREAKING NEWS

QUENTINSBURGH, FREEDEMIA- 4:10am: The Freedemian Investigation Bureau (FIB) and the Quentinsburgh Metro Police Department (QMPS) are investigating an incident on a QUARTA train yesterday evening, after the displays and loudspeakers on a Line 3 QLine Metro train began broadcasting threats and warnings towards President Angela Rosenthal as it pulled into the Capitol Mall/National Court station, the closest station to the Executive Residence.

Reports from police and witnesses say that around 10:26pm, as the local 3 train was pulling into the station, the loudspeaker began crackling and the displays on the front, sides, and insides of the train glitched and turned bright orange as if rebooting. After that came about five minutes of cryptic text, including the phrases “hope you enjoyed your reelection, it’s your last term anyhow” and “here today Angela, but soon with the angels”.

Trains were backed up for around a half-hour during the initial confusion, but QUARTA rerouted all Line 3 and Capitol Shuttle trains onto the express tracks and announced that trains would be skipping the stop until around 6:00pm Saturday evening to give the police and the FIB the chance to fully investigate to make sure that there’s no threat to the safety of the riders.

“So far it appears the displays were somehow hacked from the outside. No one operating the train or its displays/loudspeaker were responsible for the incident”, Police Chief Henriette Martina explained to reporters. “But this is going to require a pretty thorough investigation.”

“We’ve had incidents where displays have been glitchy before, and even one or two dumb pranks like the incident last baseball season when some kid made the display of a Capitol Shuttle say ‘Qburgh Quails are looserss heh get rekt noob subscribe to my TubeMe’, but never anything like this before,” Lenny Grent, with the technology support and IT division of QUARTA, explains. “It’s only happened with someone editing what the displays say like twice since we created the newer systems 10 years ago, and usually things so minor that it wasn’t worth investigating too deeply. We honestly didn’t expect something this serious to come up. I believe we fixed the initial glitch and vulnerability on most newer displays, but this was a renovated Q500 train and I think it’s using one of the early display systems, which might be part of the problem.”

President Rosenthal was recently reelected, and still maintains a near-record approval rating of around 80%. The seeming lack of enemies or disapproval makes the incident even more odd in the eyes of many. But security will be high near the Capitol Mall in the coming weeks as the investigation continues.

Vice President Patrick Houser and Vice President-Elect Katherine Nelzer are expected to give a joint speech later today addressing the cybersecurity state of Freedemia and what they’re getting ready to do to address it. While the whole plan is still in progress, currently there are plans to send a bill to the legislature by February that completely overhauls the military to include major cyber security provisions and departments instead of a focus on land/sea/air combat.

QUARTA, QDOT announce beautification project for the “Rail Wall” near Hayes University, taking suggestions

QUENTINSBURGH, FREEDEMIAQUARTA and the Quentinsburgh Department of Transportation announced today that the “Rail Wall”, a commonly cited eyesore in the Hayes neighborhood in south central Quentinsburgh, will be undergoing a beautification project within the next 2 years, and that they are taking suggestions for ways to make the area special.

The section of track “affectionately” known as the “Rail Wall” stretches from Freeman Square Mall in downtown to Hayes University’s campus, and is mostly next to Freeman Road around QMedCtr Warren and Railroad Street (named after the railway, who’da thunk it) just south and west of the main part of Hayes University.

Sketch of the Rail Wall (2)
Location of the “Rail Wall” in Quentinsburgh, generally defined by the area where the tracks for the 4, 4x, and CS are directly above the tracks for the 7, 7x, 14, 14x, AX and the freight/commuter tracks.

Below grade in a sort of ditch along most of the rail wall are FreedemiRail and freight tracks, making most of the roads passing by bridges over the ditch. These tracks had been there before the QLine subway was built.

The wall part is an interesting aspect that comes from the metro, not the freight tracks- there are two very large elevated structures for the QUARTA QLine Metro immediately above the freight/FreedemiRail tracks, as QUARTA used the existing tracks’ right of way.

The first structure, built one level above street level and two levels above the freight tracks, today houses lines 7, 7x, 14, 14x, and the AX (Airport Express). It was originally built for the second branch of the then QUARTA Red Line Subway back in the early 1950s. It being such an old structure, one of the oldest metal elevated structures in the system, it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as many later structures, though some locals have some affection for the rustic burgundy steel.

The second structure, built one level above the tracks for the 7, 14, and AX, houses lines 4, 4x, and the Capitol Shuttle. Constructed in 2015 as a pre-Pancontinental Games extension of the 4 and 4x was completed, it was controversial at the time of building, and in many ways still is.

The decision to extend the 4 and 4x was made back in 2005, originally just planned as an extension running roughly under 9th Street connecting to the Freeman Square station (7)(7x)(14)(14x). However, demand from Hayes University students who wanted a better connection to the 2, 4, and 5, pushed for the extension to reach all the way to campus. This forced QUARTA to build a section of track essentially parallel to the existing tracks because the capacity of one set of tracks was roughly three major lines. Eventually, the Capitol Shuttle would also be extended to the campus, and both lines would share the new structure and terminate at Thurman/Hayes University (4)(4x)(7)(7x)(14)(14x)(CS)(AX).

With the new structure being nearly brand new, more design and decorative thought went into it and it is generally seen as more aesthetically pleasing than the older structure below, and renovations to the stations on the older platform have made them fit with the historical architecture of the neighboring campus . However, the two structures together still make up a 3-4 story wall of train structures- which most living in the area consider an eyesore.

Sketch of the Rail Wall
A sketch of the “Rail Wall” near the Hayes University campus. The multiple structures and levels are visible here.

A couple ideas have come in so far. One suggestion included murals of the Hayes University campus and the Hawks mascot and other artwork. Another was just to do cosmetic work to the structure and build a shell that fits the campus and neighborhood’s architecture better. A third one suggested plant walls on both sides of the tracks.

Whatever designs are chosen, the design will be split into two spaces with differing themes, one to reflect the Hayes University campus, and the other to reflect the Warrens Square neighborhood. QUARTA and QDOT will continue to take suggestions through the end of the year.

Franklin’s Supermarket announces closure of all international locations, but All-n-One locations will not be affected

QUENTINSBURGH, FREEDEMIA: Franklin’s LLC’s  CEO Kenn Franklin III announced today that the company will be shutting down all international locations of Franklin’s Supermarket, citing attempts to take the supermarket model international a near universal failure compared to the success of sister hypermarket All-n-One.

“Our All-n-One stores have been nearly universally successful, even competing against major mainstays in other countries, similar to how Mariana’s Gigante competes with All-n-One in Freedemia. And the All-n-One stores are still expanding. All-n-One has been a bigger success than we ever would have imagined when we experimented with the original All-mart back in 1983.”

“Franklin’s… hasn’t seen the same success. On any scale. The only country Franklin’s has been truly successful in is Freedemia. Several countries have had all locations shut down, and at this point we’re left with like two or three locations in Khaiwoon. It’s economically pointless to keep going down this path when it’s clear that the Franklin’s model has internationally been a giant failure.”

As of January 2018, all Franklin’s locations outside of Freedemia will be closed down, and no future locations will be opened outside of Freedemia.

All-n-One will continue to maintain all existing international locations and take opportunities to expand internationally, with part of the hope being that the Urban Market and Community Market formats may help reach areas that the Franklin’s model originally targeted (and failed to succeed in).

“We hope that as All-n-One’s smaller models like All-n-One Urban Market become more mainstream worldwide, that maybe we’ll see more success with All-n-One expanding to certain target areas than we have with Franklin’s.”

 

After a close election, President Rosenthal reelected Freedemian president by a landslide in runoff, Nelzer takes VP seat

QUENTINSBURGH- After what had proven to be a very close general election, President Angela Rosenthal officially keeps her place as the president of Freedemia through 2022 with an overwhelming win over former Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer in the runoff election.

Rosenthal got a whopping 68.1% of the vote, over Katherine Nelzer’s 31.9%. These are numbers rarely seen in runoff elections between two popular candidates. In her last runoff against Tom Morganson, Rosenthal had only won 49.9% to 49.3%.

2018 Runoff Election (1)
The official results of the runoff election. Incumbent President (and President-Elect) Angela Rosenthal won with over 2/3rds of the vote, an overwhelming win. Nelzer got second place and will serve as Rosenthal’s new vice president come January.
2018InitialElection
Original general election results. Nelzer had barely edged out Rosenthal in the general, but lost by a landslide to her in the runoff. This is common in Freedemia- Rosenthal’s own election in 2014 saw her jumping from a 2nd place finish in the general to a 1st place finish and the presidency in the runoff.

Nelzer was happy with the results. “I highly respect President Rosenthal, and I greatly look forward to working with her. This was never about kicking her out of her office, it’s just about building on her amazing progress with fresh ideas to move Freedemia forward, and I believe I’ll be able to do that as your next vice president.”

Rosenthal’s reelection isn’t exactly surprising- she received the highest approval rating of any president in the nation’s history back in August 2015 with a 95% approval rating, and has consistently hovered around 80-90% approval through her term.

Due to Nelzer winning 2nd place, current Vice President Patrick Houser will serve one of the shortest vice presidencies in Freedemian history, having only gotten elected in very late 2015 to fill a vacant vice presidency seat. He is actually largely popular among Freedemians, with roughly a 79% approval rating, but wasn’t able to beat out the wave of popularity that pushed Nelzer forward during the campaign.

“I wasn’t able to make it into the top two. It’s disappointing, but I’m just glad I had a chance to serve. Besides, Nelzer shares a lot of the plans and ambitions I had to begin with, so I’m confident it will work out.” Houser also stated he plans to “eventually run for something” back in his home city Franklinsburgh.

Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer, Incumbent President Angela Rosenthal, take 1st, 2nd place in 2018 Freedemian Presidential Election

QUENTINSBURGH- The official results of Monday’s election for 2018 Freedemian President have come in after a complete hand vote to check against the digital vote was completed.

Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer came in first place with 31.8% of the vote, with incumbent Angela Rosenthal coming in second place with 29.9% of the vote. The two will have a runoff election on Saturday, November 4th to see which “winning candidate” gets the role of president and which candidate becomes the vice president.

2018InitialElection
Results of the 2018 Freedemian Presidential Election. Nelzer and Rosenthal move on to a runoff election for the President seat (runner up becomes vice president).

Incumbent Vice President Patrick Houser had a strong showing, with 23.4% of the vote, and Vandover Mayor Lily Mae Clarington’s controversial campaign did quite well considering, raking in 13.8% of the vote in a very difficult field of candidates. Economist Derrick Barson, despite having dropped out, got about 0.8% of the votes, with Actor Craig Schulderman (who had also dropped out) snatched up 0.1% of the vote.

Some of the remaining 0.1% or so of votes were scattered among many, including a couple familiar names like temporary security committee leader Marco Nelson and Graham State Executive Diane Wooten-Whitaker, both of whom ran for the vice presidential seat in 2016.

Runoff for the “top of the ticket”- Possibly a very tight race

Even just looking at the numbers at face value, it already looks like a close race. Nelzer won 1st place with only 1.9% more of the vote than Rosenthal received.

However, there’s also another factor that makes this even more open to change- with the runoffs, the voters who voted for someone other than Rosenthal or Nelzer will have to choose between the two. With the exception of Barson’s 0.8% that would likely go to Nelzer, there’s about 38% of the votes cast that acts as a near tossup.

Complicating matters further, earlier polls and exit polls imply VP Houser took a massive amount of votes from Rosenthal, considering he presented himself as the other experienced candidate as the current Vice President, and those votes could be enough to sway the election in Rosenthal’s favor. Add onto that the fact that polls showed among all voters 89% strongly trusted Rosenthal’s leadership and 92% believed the country was moving forward under her lead, and Nelzer could be facing a perfect storm.

Rosenthal and Nelzer are both widely popular, and it’s going to be extremely close. With that many votes up for grabs, there is no guarantee that Nelzer will retain her narrow lead.

Meet the last 2 candidates one last time:

Incumbent Angela Rosenthal is currently one of the highest esteemed presidents in Freedemian history, and was the favorite for reelection early in the campaign. Her moves to make citizenship easier to obtain for law-abiding individuals and families; her spending reallocation act transferring money from military spending and elections to healthcare, infrastructure, and education; and her pushes for Freedemia to take its stand on the global stage in technology, innovation, and tourism have been huge steps forward for the country. Rosenthal is actually the reason for the shorter campaign period, as she pushed for election reform earlier in her term including a drastic reduction in funding for campaigns.

Katherine Nelzer has become a familiar household name. Founder and CEO of the social media site TweetBook, Nelzer has become more politically outspoken in recent years, especially pertaining to the growing global cyber-security threat. Nelzer believes that Freedemia is one of the most likely worldwide to be a victim of a large cyber-attack, due to its large and growing global footprint, minimal military action, and lackluster national cyber-security protections. “A pacifist society can still be a secure one. Cyber warfare is a thing, and we need to be prepared.”

Nelzer also believes that in this changing society technology is key. She supports Houser’s pushes for things like nationwide wifi and data, and, like Barson, believes incentivizing the tech industry could be one of the most important moves to help make Freedemia even more of a world leader. She cites Stepstone Technology and BuyGolly.com as two of the successes she hopes to see repeat in tech innovations nationwide, and hopes, like Houser, to see Freedemia become a champion of smart cities as a global example. Nelzer is open to the concept of public-private partnerships to fulfill the infrastructure and technology plans, with the goal of shrinking the government and further growing the economy.

Both candidates have announced plans to move forward with ideas proposed by Patrick Houser, including large investments in green infrastructure and modern solutions for renewable energy such as wind turbines, water turbines off the coast, solar farms, more desalination plants, and lining motorways with solar panels and wind turbines.