State’s bullet train estimated to cost $98 billion to build (Los Angeles Times)
The revised estimate is, uh, a little higher than the previous $43 billion estimate that has been on the table the past couple of years. The Times got a hold of the business plan expected to be unveiled today by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the agency charged with building the San Francisco-to-Anaheim project. One reason for the increase: inflation due to the Authority stretching construction until 2033 — 13 years beyond its previous completion date. The big question is obviously how to pay for the line: the Authority has access to about $9 billion in state bonds and $3 billion in federal money, leaving it $85 billion shy of what’s needed. Does any of this surprise yours truly? Nope. With some light rail projects costing $100 million or more per mile, it never quite rang true that 400-plus miles of completely grade-separated high-speed rail could be built for $43 billion.
Q&A with Gail Goldberg (The Architect’s Newspaper)
Good back-and-forth with the former planning chief in the city of Los Angeles. Key quote from Gail:
Every city has its own culture. LA for a large city doesn’t have a long history of planning. This is not a city where people sit down and really think about what the downtown or our communities ultimately should be. What we’re good at is transactions and big projects. We probably can do those better and maybe more creatively than other cities. As a result we often get some great projects in LA. But we don’t always bring them together to make a great neighborhood or community. Changing the culture of a city is very hard. It takes almost constant vigilance. There’s a tendency for the system to keep producing what it has always produced.
Chicago Transit Authority joins Twitter and Facebook (Chicago Tribune)
I was a little surprised to read that one of the nation’s largest transit agencies didn’t already have Twitter and Facebook accounts. They’re doing it now because, says a spokesperson, “it’s time to join the conversation.” I don’t think Twitter and Facebook are the end-all-be-all, but they’re certainly nice tools for conversing with the public. Here’s Metro’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.
Curbside intercity buses have higher crash and fatality rates (Washington Post)
Long-distance buses that pick passengers up at curbside are about five times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than traditional carriers such as Greyhound, according to the NTSB. That said, the buses — which have come into vogue especially on the East Coast — are still safer than driving a car.
The United Nations says there are seven billion people on Earth at the moment. It’s an estimate, of course, and not everyone agrees — but the announcement will certainly get a lot of attention. NPR talks to experts who foresee more people and more consumption of everything, including cars and gasoline. Others say there are also opportunities to do things more efficiently: such as building cities with efficient, modular homes.