Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 5

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Obama’s budget is a populist wish list and an election blueprint (New York Times) 

The $3.9-trillion budget for fiscal year 2015 is designed to draw contrasts with Republicans and gets rid of comprises the President made last year, the Times reports. More than half the budget would go to mandatory spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the federal debt) and about $1.2 billion is spending directly controlled by the President and Congress. Excerpt:

Mr. Obama again proposed to overhaul the corporate tax code, by ending various business tax breaks and using the savings to reduce the maximum 35 percent tax rate for corporations. With about $150 billion in additional one-time revenues that businesses would pay in the transition from one tax system to another, Mr. Obama would finance half of a $302 billion, four-year plan for work on highway, bridge, rail and mass transit projects, as he first suggested last summer.

The budget, as we posted yesterday, also includes $100 million apiece in New Starts funding for the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector projects.

And some Twitter commentary from Yonah Freemark of the excellent Transport Politic blog:

Recent trends in bus and rail ridership (Transport Politic) 

Speaking of Yonah, here’s an interesting post about bus service and rail service — and which may contribute more to overall ridership gains by transit agencies around the country. As the post explains, there are limitations to the data, but some number-crunching indicates that rail seems to have a better chance of building ridership than does bus service. “Riders respond when they’re offered better service!,” writes Yonah, who also points out that we don’t know how bus rapid transit would attract more riders because there aren’t that many BRT projects in place.

I think there’s one other issue here: rail is pretty easy for new riders to figure out. Bus service in many metro areas — including ours — can be complicated with dozens of bus lines, each running on multiple streets, with different service frequencies and sometimes different fares and line names that seem to be random numbers. It’s not intuitive, yet overhauling bus service in many areas is a massive chore likely to upset as many riders as attract new ones.

Apple’s CarPlay: the smart car wars are getting serious (Washington Post)

Apple’s operating system will be running the mapping-texting-music playing systems in Volvos, Mercedes and Ferraris — and the hardware/software giant has agreements with other vehicle manufacturers. “Cars have long been pegged as the next major battleground for consumer tech companies looking to bring their smart technologies to more parts of consumers’ lives,” the Post says. Hmm. I remember the Days of Yore when I was excited to get a Subaru with a jack for my iPod.

5 replies

  1. Ok here’s our chance to get in to the 21st century.
    Mag-lev rail:
    – down the middle of the 405 from Disneyland connecting John Wayne and LAX to the I5 connector in Sylmar
    – down the middle of the 5 from Dsneyland to Magic Mountain Pkwy
    – down the middle of the 101 from Union Station to The Thousand Oaks Mall
    – down the middle of the 110 Chinatown/Broadway ped bridge to Ports-O-Call hotel/shopping area

    Then connect with local and express buses and muni electric lines down the middle of major through ways like Van Nuys, Sepulveda, White Oak, Reseda, Lankershim, Victory, Sherman Way, Burbank, Roscoe, Nordhoff, Topanga, Winnetka, Tampa, etc

    Why is this such a mystery? If there’s traffic it need a 21st century PT solution.

  2. Why don’t they really impress us by using technology to develop a car that folds up to the size of a briefcase that you can take on transit with you?

  3. Ho-hum.

    Majority of the grant money will be wasted on things like emergency multi-million dollar mobile homes, artwork, funding pensions for public employee unions, pay raises for bureaucrats, never-ending meetings, litigation, and more useless government studies.