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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.
Why losing Google Maps on the iPhone is a good thing (Atlantic Cities)
The argument here is that Google Maps were far from perfect (true enough) and that the loss of transit directions on the new Apple Maps will spur great transit apps from developers. Hope so!
In Long Beach, some lights rest unless drivers follow speed limits (L.A. Streetsblog)
If sensors sense that a motorist is going too fast on Wardlow Road, the lights will flip to red. Conversely, if motorists follow the 45 mph speed limit, they'll get a green. Sounds sensible enough. Of course, there's another way to slow down motorists: do like Pasadena does and time traffic signals so poorly that no one — cars, cyclists, buses — can go more than a few blocks without hitting a red light even when there's no cross-traffic. Everyone travels slower, bus trips are excruciatingly long, cyclists lose momentum and all those idling cars help provide more work for our friends in the oil and air pollution monitoring industries!
Gov. Brown OKs free toll lane access for clean cars (Sacramento Bee)
The bill by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfeld (D-Los Angeles) will give the next generation of clean cars — zero emission cars and plug-in hybrids — free access to carpool lanes that are converted to toll lanes. The state just phased out access to carpool lanes for single drivers of hybrid vehicles because someone realized that carpool lanes are intended to promote carpooling, not reward consumer choices. And cluttering up carpool lanes with hybrids occupied by a single person actually punishes carpoolers by depriving them of freeway space.
The entire point of HOT lanes is to try to better ration a finite amount of space on freeways. Here's how Metro's ExpressLanes will work on the 110 and 10 freeways: Carpoolers and transit get first priority to that space and travel for free. Any space remaining that allows traffic to keep moving at 45 mph is then sold — via tolls — to single motorists who otherwise would be restricted to the general traffic lanes. This has two functions: it should help better spread traffic among all the lanes. And the tolls help fund transit in the corridor, which hopefully will lure at least some people from their cars.
In this new bill, Metro fought for an exemption until March 1, 2014. Good. I absolutely believe government should provide incentives to get more people into cleaner cars — i.e. tax credits. But I also believe this undercuts the very premise of HOV or HOT lanes. Giving free rides to single motorists doesn't help raise money for transit, nor does it promote carpooling — which helps remove an entire vehicle or more from the road. And there's also a big fairness issue here. Zero emission and plug-in vehicles are very expensive. What if a consumer sells their gas guzzler and gets one of the many more affordable vehicles on the market that gets very good gas mileage? So now they have to pay to use the HOT lane while the zero emission vehicle owner doesn't?
Actually those in zero emission vehicles get a double free ride. They're not contributing to the gas tax, meaning they're not contributing to the funds that help pay for roads and transit. Hmm.