New York gets new subway

For New York, the new year brings a new subway line. The much-awaited Second Avenue subway opened Jan. 1 at noon, and includes three brand-new stations that cost $4.5 billion. It is the transit system’s first major expansion project in half a century. The new stations are located at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets, and provide an extension of the Q line that will now connect the Upper East Side in Manhattan directly with Brooklyn and Coney Island. There are three more phases planned for the project. Upper East Side residents can now reach Times Square without swapping trains. The debut of the new stations has been hailed for the unconventional design of the stations. They’re spacious, airy, with high ceilings, an expansive mezzanine level, and ambitious public art installations.

Washington Post

More comfort in the air

Jets that are coming online in the next few years will create a more comfortable cabin atmosphere with more humidity. Passengers can experience the more comfortable conditions on some newer planes already in use, such as the Boeing 787. The new composite materials used to build the plane frames accounts for the change. To reduce the stress on the traditional metal frame, airlines now pressurize the cabin to be closer to the pressure outside. In a plane cruising at 36,000 feet above sea level, the atmosphere inside the cabin feels like its 8,000 feet above sea level. For passengers, that can cause shortness of breath and fatigue. With new fuselages made of carbon-reinforced plastic composites, the plane can withstand more stress, allowing airlines to increase the inside pressure to a more comfortable atmosphere that feels like 6,000 feet above sea level. More resistant to corrosion, the new material also can withstand more humidity in the cabin.

Los Angeles Times

Best in Snow Awards

Liftopia, the largest online marketplace for lift tickets and other mountain activities, unveiled the winners of its first-ever Best in Snow Awards, honoring North America’s most beloved ski areas. Michigan’s Crystal Mountain ranked No. 2 in the Top Ski Areas in North America category, keeping company with better-known resorts in Western states. Within the Midwest area, other winners included Buck Hill in Burnsville, which ranked No. 2 for beginners. Wild Mountain, near Taylors Falls, Minn., was noted in three categories: snow consistency and quality, family-friendly and most challenging. Lutsen Mountains, near Tofte, Minn., also was noted for being challenging. The awards were based on more than 10,000 responses from consumers of every skill level. To see the list of winners, go to bestinsnow.liftopia.com

Kerri Westenberg

Rising tide of river cruises

River cruising is on the rise. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, there were 18 new river cruise ships in 2016, which is an increase of more than 10 percent over previous years. “River cruises allow passengers to see Europe the way Europeans do,” said John F. Krieger, president of CTC Travel. Ronda Zeneri, a land and cruise specialist with Cruise Planners, said that she thinks river cruising was so hot in 2016 because there are so many baby boomers that are ready to see something other than the same old Caribbean cruise.“[These clients] enjoy traveling with smaller groups and on private tours. River cruising is perfect for these types of travelers.”

Travel Pulse