Transportation headlines, Thursday, Nov. 3

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Survey: Southern California voters want more transit, balk at more highways (L.A. Streetsblog)

Streetsblog editor Damien Newton dug into the results of a transportation survey commissioned by Move L.A., the American Lung Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Two-thirds of those surveyed responded that public transit investment should be the region’s top transportation priority, versus only 29% who said they wanted more highways.

Why is this so important right now? Newton notes, “the survey was released just days before [the Southern California Association of Governments] is scheduled to vote on the region’s Long Range Transportation Plan this Thursday.” As The Source wrote in August, the plan will guide how billions of dollars are spent throughout the six-county SCAG region.

Move L.A. — big backers of Measure R and America Fast Forward — have peeked at the plan and finds that it calls for “significantly more transit and more walkable, bikeable neighborhoods near transit” and for “[shifting] growth and density away from outlying areas and into downtowns and around transit stations.” The question now is whether or not SCAG’s governing body will approve this plan. Stay tuned to Streetsblog for an update later today.

High costs threaten California’s high-speed rail project, but the wider context must be understood (Transport Politic)

The always level-headed Yonah Freemark sticks his neck into the fray to argue that “the project’s per-mile costs — even with the cost increase — are not hugely different from those in other developed countries for rail systems offering speeds of up to 220 mph.” Furthermore, Freemark points out that the state, via CalTrans, would likely have to spend about $300 billion on mostly highway projects over the next two decades if the status quo were maintained. And that, according to Freemark, would do nothing to improve mobility options, reduce pollution or California’s dependence on oil — though in his view high-speed rail would.

A hard road for the poor in need of cars (L.A. Times)

The Times wraps up its excellent coverage of Buy Here, Pay Here used car lots by examining the toll that being careless takes on the working poor. While car ownership itself can be very expensive, national surveys suggest that having a car can be a very effective tool for lifting people out of poverty, because it provides greater access to employment, healthcare and education. That strikes me as a rebuke of the way we’ve built cities in the U.S., such that one needs to own a car in order to have full access to economic and social opportunities.