Transportation headlines, Wednesday, November 20

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ART OF TRANSIT: Any turkey can ride the Metro, eh? And, btw, Go Metro to the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in downtown Los Angeles. Click above for details.

ART OF TRANSIT: Any turkey can ride the Metro, eh? And, btw, Go Metro to the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in downtown Los Angeles. Click above for details. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro. 

Proposed state ballot measure would more than double California’s car tax (Sacramento Bee) 

Transportation California and the California Alliance for Jobs have filed papers to possibly pursue a ballot measure in 2014 that would increase the vehicle license fee by one percent — it’s currently .65 percent of a vehicle’s market value. The groups say it could raise $3 billion for transportation needs across the state at a time when gas tax receipts are declining. My three cents: it’s probably (and predictably) a tough sell to state motorists given high gas prices and the license fee increase between 2009 and 2011.

Fear and loathing and cycling in L.A.: tales of a bike commuter (L.A. Times)

Nice profile of Jennifer Klausner, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Yes, she has a car but she still bikes often from Brentwood to pretty much anywhere, often in the wee hours. A few nice tips about getting around on the Westside and Jennifer offers a polite wag of the finger to Beverly Hills for its lack of bike infrastructure.

The U.S. cities where cycling is growing the fastest (L.A. Streetsblog)

The numbers are through 2012; Los Angeles is not in the top 10. The numbers for most cities are still small; one reason is that the Census Bureau only tracks commuting by bicycle — thereby missing a lot of bike trips. Portland remains the big kahuna, with 6.1 percent of commuting trips done by bike.

High-speed rail costs near $600 million even before construction starts (Fresno Bee) 

That’s a lot of money, for sure. But the article is incomplete and somewhat unfair; it should have mentioned that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is a very small agency, thus the reason that environmental and engineering work is contracted out. Attention reporters: there is probably a larger national story here about the rising costs of contracting out for this kind of work and who the major players are. The environmental review process has become enormously complicated and many agencies, including Metro, have to contract with firms that specialize in the work.

2 replies

  1. Of course a vehicle license fee will be a hard sell. It should be. However, people like Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Association, actually make the case for the increase when he says, “A better approach, would be to increase taxes on vehicle fuel, since that would correlate to how much someone drove.” That, of course, is the crux of the problem. As people buy more fuel-efficient cars and electric vehicles, the amount of fuel they buy has less and less relation to the amount of miles they drive, but those miles continue to impact road quality. At least a vehicle license fee makes the direct correlation that Mr. Mass calls for.

  2. It is sad that a country that built the transcontinental railroad in less than 4 years back in the 1860s is now taking forever and millions in wasted taxpayer money even before a shovel is put to ground, all in the while China goes from blueprint to startup in four years.