Transportation headlines, Day of Earth, April 22

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Happy Earth Day! Photo: NASA.gov.

Happy Earth Day! Photo: NASA.gov.

Linking the Los Angeles airport (New York Times)

The NYT takes a look at Metro’s Airport Metro Connector project, which seeks to connect the LAX terminals to Metro Rail via a people mover or light rail. The featured photo shows the junction where a Green Line spur was supposed to turn north toward the airport — a spur, as you know, that was never built.

Excerpt:

But just how the connection is made is where the politics lie.

There are two options drawing the most consideration. One is an underground rail line that would offer more direct access to the airport, at a cost of about $2 billion more, but it would do little to ease airport congestion. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, board has placed the proposal on the back burner.

The other option, backed by Mayor Garcetti, is centered on what Mr. Bonin, the councilman, describes as building a new front door to the airport, about a mile and a half away. Ideally, it would be not only a transit hub, but also a place where cars could be parked and luggage checked before passengers took an automated people mover that circulated through the nine terminals.

“The people mover scenario makes the most sense,” said Juan Matute, the associate director of U.C.L.A.’s Institute of Transportation Studies. “There’s a lot of land available to build a world-class arrival center. Then from there, running a people mover will allow a higher capacity of people to enter the airport.”

The article concludes with a note of skepticism anything will happen. I’m not so sure — in my time here it seems there is currently more interest than ever in getting something done and certainly having the Crenshaw/LAX Line under construction is part of that. The big unanswered question, as with most projects, involves funding, namely will there be funds available to build some of the more expensive options.

Riding transit is the best way to celebrate Earth Day (Huffington Post)

The president of a transit workers union — in partnership with the Sierra Club, btw — offers a collection of statistics demonstrating that transit is more sustainable than driving alone. Obviously he has skin in the game, but federal and academic studies back him up. Here’s a page from a 2010 Federal Transit Administration report:

PublicTransportationsRoleInRespondingToClimateChange2010

Here’s how the media is getting the whole cities & millennials story wrong (Grist)  

Bed Adler writes that the New York Times and other similar media are over-stating the migration of millennials back to cities from the ‘burbs – and the media is under-stating the reason why young sprouts are coming back to cities. It’s not entirely for art and culture, says Grist. It’s for ease of transportation that cities provide.

Interesting issue and I tend to agree with Ben. I’m writing this today from Cincinnati, Ohio (family business), where gentrification of downtown’s Over the Rhine area is underway, including a new streetcar line that is under construction. I grew up here and the number of old buildings that have been rehabbed is very noticeable and it’s hard not to interpret the gentrification as a direct response to the relentless march of sprawl and suburbs to the north. Cincinnati and Dayton were once two distinct metro areas. No more as their ‘burbs have merged.

Of course, many of us equate the ‘burbs with driving and cities with other transportation choices. But it’s not quite that easy. Almost all of the rehabbed buildings of Over the Rhine included parking and those lots were filled with some pretty pricey vehicles, Range Rovers included. I suppose the counter-argument is that city life probably reduces the need for all vehicles — including the fuel hogs — to be used.

Gentrification in Cincinnati includes parking. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Gentrification in downtown Cincinnati includes parking. Photo by Steve Hymon.

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 32

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Some awesomeness from the Toronto Transit Commission from last April 1.

Why raise Metro fares when giving away free parking? (LA Streetsblog) 

Joe Linton argues that according to his back-of-the-napkin calculations Metro is squandering $3.5 million in a year in potential revenues if it charged $3 for parking at its lots. As he notes, most parking at Metro lots is currently free. Of course, $3.5 million doesn’t cover the projected budget shortfalls that Metro is projecting and using to justify the fare increases (the shortfalls begin at $36 million in FY 2016 and then rise).

Still, revenue is revenue. There are certainly Metro lots where parking is tight and I think one key public policy question is whether free parking is an incentive to get people out of their cars and onto transit. That said, another important piece of context: most lots were built and opened at a time when gas was far cheaper than now. Thoughts, readers?

Cobalts were seen as lemons from the start (New York Times) 

The evidence grows that General Motors knew there were serious — and potentially deadly — problems with the Cobalt as far back as 2005 when consumers were demanding their money back. The company has already linked an ignition issue with 13 deaths. The chief of General Motors will tell Congress today that she doesn’t know why the carmaker didn’t publicly announce the safety defect with the cars until recently. The answer is pretty obvious: there must have been an internal culture at G.M. in which telling the truth and delivering bad news to customers was seen as less important than covering one’s own backside. There’s nothing on the GM home page, btw, except for some boasting of the craftmanship of the Escalade SUV. The two-wheel drive version of that SUV gets 17 mpg in case you’re interested.

Panel’s warning on climate risk: worst is yet to come (New York Times) 

The latest report from the U.N. is perhaps its bleakest yet. Excerpt:

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said. And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said in the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty.

The report focuses in particular on resource shortages — especially food and water — that may accompany climate change. Such shortages, says the UN, will likely exacerbate political instability in places where millions could go hungry or thirsty.

Although transit is certainly not a panacea for climate change, studies have found that transit is a more efficient way of moving people around when it comes to using electricity and fossil fuels — especially when compared to driving alone.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, February 12

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How to pass time on the train (Imgur) 

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By turning people in Ewoks if you’re Twitter user October Jones. And Spiderman. And Waldo. Check out the entire series at the link above.

LADOT announces first demonstration of mobile ticketing in Southern California (LADOT news release)

Riders on DASH and Commuter Express buses will be able to purchase fares — including single rides — directly from their mobile phones with the new app made by GlobeSherpa. The demonstration program is scheduled to begin this summer.

Metrolink to Bob Hope Airport gains steam (Santa Clarita Signal)

A station on the Antelope Valley Line broke ground last year and heavy construction is expected to start “within the next few months,” according to the Signal. The new platform is expected to make its service debut next year, with buses shuttling rail passengers to the airport terminals.

The end of snow? (New York Times) 

A good look at the impact of climate change on alpine sports, specifically skiing. Excerpt:

The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100.

The same could happen in the United States, where in the Northeast, more than half of the 103 ski resorts may no longer be viable in 30 years because of warmer winters. As far for the Western part of the country, it will lose an estimated 25 to 100 percent of its snowpack by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed — reducing the snowpack in Park City, Utah, to zero and relegating skiing to the top quarter of Ajax Mountain in Aspen.

The facts are straightforward: The planet is getting hotter. Snow melts above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The Alps are warming two to three times faster than the worldwide average, possibly because of global circulation patterns. Since 1970, the rate of winter warming per decade in the United States has been triple the rate of the previous 75 years, with the strongest trends in the Northern regions of the country. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000, and this winter is already looking to be one of the driest on record — with California at just 12 percent of its average snowpack in January, and the Pacific Northwest at around 50 percent.

A storm this weekend brought three to five feet of snow to Mammoth Mountain and the resorts at Lake Tahoe, all of which had been lacking snow big-time. It was a reprieve of sorts, as President’s Day is usually one of the busiest ski weekends of the year.

Concerned about climate change? You can help reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking, taking transit, using less electricity at home and encouraging your local utility to use more renewable sources of power, in particular solar and wind.

Here’s a look at Half Dome at 7:51 a.m. thanks to one of Yosemite’s webcams:

sentinel

Ice blankets south as thousands lose power (New York Times)

About 2,200 canceled flights at Atlanta’s airport thus far, the most in recent memory, says a spokesperson. A rough winter continues in the Eastern U.S., while the Western U.S. is still dealing with drought, even with recent snow in the Sierra and Rockies.

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, January 13

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Photos by Steve Hymon.

Photos by Steve Hymon.

ART OF TRANSIT: Those are the abutments to the former Pacific Electric streetcar bridge over the Los Angeles River, just south of the Hyperion Bridge. I took a walk along the river on Saturday afternoon and also finally saw one of the river’s infamous fish — in this case, a carp being caught by a cormorant (click to see larger). Don’t see that everyday!

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NFL pays to advertise on New York MetroCards (Village Voice)

super-bowl-metrocards

The New York MTA is working to retire their MetroCard fare cards that are used on the subway. In the meantime, the NFL paid 25 cents to 45 cents per card for one million commemorative Super Bowl cards to be printed and distributed through ticket machines — meaning the MTA received $250,000 to $450,000.

The Super Bowl is being played at the Meadowlands in New Jersey on Feb. 2. My pre-season pick was Bengals over 49ers. I’ve since amended to 49ers over Patriots.

U.S. energy related CO2 emissions expected to be two percent higher in 2012 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

chart2

Keep in mind the headline is keyed to energy consumption and the increase in 2013 is tied to more use of coal power to generate electricity. Check out this chart to see where California ranks in terms of energy consumption compared to other states — we’re 47th, owing to the state’s often mild weather.

Also, if you’re concerned about climate change and lowering your own carbon footprint, taking transit can help. Click here for more info.

Maybe sprawl doesn’t cause obesity after all (The Atlantic Cities) 

It’s been fashionable in both research and media circles for the past decade to write that sprawl causes obesity. Too much driving in the ‘burbs leads to less walking and exercise and people gain weight as a result.

A new MIT study says that idea, along with food deserts in urban areas (i.e. areas with few good food choices) probably have little to do with obesity and that there’s just not enough information out there to draw any kind of good conclusions. As the study points out, lifetime expectancies have increased throughout the age of motorization and that a little extra walking or stair-climbing as a result of better urban design probably won’t supply enough exercise to impact the weight of most people.

I seem to recall writing one of those trendy “the-’burbs-are-making-you-fat” stories in my former life as a newspaper reporter. Perhaps a little more skepticism was in order, eh?

This Audi can predict when a parking space will open up (Wired) 

The computer in the new car can tap into data generated by cities that have embedded sensors in parking spots (Los Angeles and San Francisco have some). The data is available via smart phone, but Audi has figured out how to display it on a car’s NAV system screen. Supporters say it’s an environmentally-friendly way to cut down on endless circling/driving/polluting while trying to find parking. I say it’s yet another way to distract drivers.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, November 5

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ART OF TRANSIT: You don't see too many AMC Pacers around anymore; I saw this one parked on a local street with an ad in the window offering it for film shoots. Smart! I took the photo with my iPhone and used Snapseed's Retrolux feature to make it look like something shot in the 1970s.

ART OF TRANSIT: You don’t see too many AMC Pacers around anymore; the car debuted in 1975 and was popular for a few years. I saw this one parked on a local street with an ad in the window offering it for film shoots. Smart! I took the photo with my iPhone and used Snapseed’s Retrolux feature to make it look like something shot on cheap film in the 1970s.

And speaking of 1975, and because the week is already feeling long, here’s Linda Ronstadt with a song that climbed the charts early that year:

7th Street bike lane update (LADOT Bike Blog) 

A test spin on the new portion of the 7th Street bike lane in DTLA. Photo: LADOT Bike Blog.

A test spin on the new portion of the 7th Street bike lane in DTLA. Photo: LADOT Bike Blog.

The new bike lanes on busy 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles between Figueroa and Main street have been painted and signage is going up. I’m guessing the new lanes will be useful for cyclists coming and going from the busy 7th/Metro Center station that serves the Red, Purple, Blue and Expo lines.

Not really related: Brooke Shields dressed as a New York CitiBike for Halloween.

Councilman Huizar: downtown Los Angeles streetcar moving forward despite cost controversy (KPCC)

At a community meeting last night, Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar and streetcar officials said that recent city cost estimates were a worst case scenario and better numbers should be available by year’s end. They said the cost of the streetcar line would likely be between $153 million and $162 million — more than the $125 million originally touted and less than the $300 million number used by the city if utility relocations are extensive. As we’ve mentioned here before, this project will live-or-die depending on how much money the federal government is willing to spend.

Is it too late to prepare for climate change? (New Yorker) 

A new United Nations report leaked over the weekend; the report, relying on previously published scientific reports, lists the ongoing and likely impacts of climate change. Excerpt from the New Yorker’s excellent Elizabeth Kolbert:

Promoting “preparedness” is doubtless a good idea. As the executive order notes, climate impacts—which include, but are not limited to, heat waves, heavier downpours, and an increase in the number and intensity of wildfires—are “already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the Nation.” However, one of the dangers of this enterprise is that it tends to presuppose, in a Boy Scout-ish sort of way, that “preparedness” is possible.

As we merrily roll along, radically altering the planet, we are, as the leaked I.P.C.C. report makes clear, increasingly in danger of committing ourselves to outcomes that will simply overwhelm societies’ ability to adapt. Certainly they will overwhelm the abilities of frogs and trees and birds to adapt. Thus, any genuine “preparedness” strategy must include averting those eventualities for which preparation is impossible. This is not something that the President can do by executive order, but it’s something he ought to be pursuing with every other tool. As Obama himself put it in a speech this past spring, “Those of us in positions of responsibility, we’ll need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of posterity. Because you and your children, and your children’s children, will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.

For those interested in reducing their carbon footprint, please consider taking transit instead of driving alone or biking or walking. More on that subject is on the Federal Transit Administration’s website, including this document. On The Source: New UCLA study finds Gold Line and Orange Line produce less smog and greenhouse gas emissions in near- and far-term.

Related: President Obama on Friday issued an Executive Order on increasing preparations for climate change. As part of that, the President created a new task force that includes Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Gov. Jerry Brown. The 26-member task force will be looking to improve cooperation between the federal government and communities when it comes to preparing for and mitigating against climate change impacts.

Los Angeles: neighborhood stereotypes (Mapurbane) 

Perhaps not the most politically correct map of all time. I like how Venice has been redubbed “weird people” and Malibu as “expensive traffic accidents.”

Portland’s multi-modal nexus, with a giant bike valet (Streetfilms) 

Wow! I visited the neighborhood in 2009 when it was still emerging and pretty quiet. Looks like it’s getting better and better.

Transportation headlines, Friday, October 4

em>Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison!

ART OF TRANSIT: The Blue Line in Long Beach, from our Instagram stream.

Shutdown victims tribute (Flickr blog)

Nice rundown of parks and other lovely areas that are closed due to the ongoing government shutdown. On a similar note, some weddings planned for National Park Service sites have had to be postponed because the parks are closed. See what Stephen Colbert did about it (warning: adult humor).

Our democracy is at stake (New York Times)

Thomas Friedman’s column earlier this week makes the case that majority rule should still matter in the United States but changes in campaign finance laws, the media and redistricting mean that a narrow minority may be calling the shots for the foreseeable future.

Lost in the denialsophere: climate change and Obamacare (New Yorker)

Scientists across the globe last week released a 2,216-page report on climate change that concluded (again) that the Earth is getting warmer. Excerpt from Elizabeth Kolbert’s commentary:

This brings us back to climate change, which is really an issue of how we generate and use energy. Tuesday, just as the “Closed” signs were being posted on the steps of the National Gallery, Ron Binz, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, announced that he was withdrawing his name from consideration. Binz, who served on Colorado’s public-utilities commission for several years, is a strong advocate of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, which, as any schoolchild can tell you, is a critical part of any plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. As far as Senate Republicans and also some Democrats were concerned, holding such rational and forward-thinking views disqualified Binz from service. “Mr. Binz’s record shows he strongly favors renewable over other energy sources,” Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said, and, remarkably enough, he meant this as an insult.

L.A. can get you revved up even without a car (USA Today)

A visitor and former resident now says it’s sort of possible to get around L.A. without a car.

California Transportation Agency joins Caltrans and Air Resources Board in supporting new sustainable transportation research

Sustainable transportation: it’s super important, especially when it comes to mitigating the negative effects of climate change such as more frequent and intense flooding (hello, Colorado) and heat waves (the Southland just a few weeks ago).

One of the easiest ways to lighten your carbon footprint is by taking public transit. And Metro is seeking ways to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions too. But as cars and roads still play a large part in everyday transportation, it’s necessary to find ways to make them more sustainable and environmentally friendly as well.

With that in mind, here’s the release from the California State Transportation Agency:

The California State Transportation Agency today joined the California Air Resources Board and California Department of Transportation in announcing support for a new national research program to support sustainable transportation.

“The California Transportation Agency is taking action to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation,” California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly said. “Caltrans is already reducing emissions by at least 160,000 tons annually—the equivalent of removing 31,000 cars off the road—while the high-speed rail system prepares to bring environmental benefits for years to come. This research program will help find even more way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while preparing for the extreme weather events from climate change.”

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation at University of California Davis will receive $5.6 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $5.6 million in matching funds from state, regional and local agencies to support its research.

Examples of some research goals include: improving the durability of construction materials, improving mobility with new traffic control devices, and supporting the transition toward zero-emission vehicles and new fuel technology. In addition, the National Center for Sustainable Transportation at UC Davis will:

- Support technology and innovation that helps fight climate change and boost sustainability in transportation;

- Develop research that helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts; and

- Work with Caltrans and other state and local partners to deliver new transportation technology and innovation to help fight climate change.

Caltrans is also working with the UC Pavement Research Center, which is focused on improving the longevity and sustainability of construction materials. These innovations include new pavements that can be mixed at lower temperatures, reducing emissions and fuel usage. Caltrans has implemented many concrete and pavement strategies that are cutting statewide emissions by more than 108,000 tons of CO2 equivalent annually.

Caltrans is also cutting greenhouse gas emissions by reducing traffic congestion, expanding active transportation and embracing new technology in construction materials, alternative fuels, efficient lighting and renewable energy. Installing efficient roadway lighting and using alternative fuels and vehicles in the state fleet cut greenhouse gases by 41,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

“To prepare for climate change and adapt to its effects, Caltrans is focused on preserving our state’s existing transportation infrastructure while continually innovating to find better solutions,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty in a letter introducing a 114-page report from 2013 documenting Caltrans activities to fight climate change. “Caltrans is also working with our other partners to cut greenhouse gas emissions by continually working to reduce traffic congestion, expand active transportation such as walking and biking, and also embrace new technology in construction materials, alternative fuels, efficient lighting and renewable energy,” Dougherty added.

Caltrans was one of the first state agencies to successfully certify its greenhouse gas emissions inventory with the California Climate Action Registry, a program committed to fighting climate change through accounting and emissions reductions.

Caltrans also engages in its own cutting-edge transportation testing and research through the California Transportation Laboratory (TransLab). TransLab conducts specialized laboratory and field testing, provides inspections, and gives expert advice on all phases of transportation engineering involving materials and manufactured products. TransLab engineers and technicians have earned a worldwide reputation as leaders in the field of materials engineering, seismic safety, and environmental analysis.

For more information on the new research program visit the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies http://www.its.ucdavis.edu/?post_type=slide-show&p=17078

For more information on Caltrans efforts to fight climate change: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/orip/climate_change/documents/Caltrans_ClimateChangeRprt-Final_April_2013.pdf#zoom=75

For more information on the Caltrans Transportation Laboratory visit: http://www.dot.ca.gov/ctjournal/CTJ_2009_Is1_translab.html

Transportation headlines, Thursday, September 12

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed. Have a transportation-related article you want included in headlines? Drop me an email!

And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison!

Bill expanding carpool lanes on 210 and 134 freeways heads to Governor’s desk (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

The bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) would allow vehicles with just one occupant to use the lanes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at night and all weekends — although the exact times will be determined by Caltrans.

It’s a 10-month trial project that Caltrans can choose to end or expand. There was only one vote against in the entire Legislature, indicating that this is an extremely easy thing to do from a political standpoint while generating some pleasant PR.

Whether it accomplishes anything remains to be seen. It could, hypothetically, better spread out traffic during non-peak hours. Or it could just ensure that all freeway lanes are clogged no matter the hour. Thoughts, readers?

The President and the pipeline (New Yorker) 

Map: TransCanada.

Map: TransCanada.

Great article about President Obama and the impending decision on whether to approve the Keystone pipeline to bring oil from Alberta’s oil fields to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Most importantly, the article ponders the question of whether the pipeline really will have an impact one way or the other on climate change.

San Diego pilots mobile ticketing (Transit Wire) 

mTicket-3-passes_001

Those riding the San Diego Trolley (a light rail line) can now buy day passes with their phone and skip waiting in line at ticket machines. It’s just a pilot program and only in effect during Chargers and San Diego State football games and other special events. One thing to note: there are no turnstiles on the trolley system — it’s an honor system. More info on the MTS website.

Beijing subway installs plastic recycling machines (cctv.com)

Photo cctv.com.

Photo cctv.com.

Users can have their recyclables crushed and get a little money that is applied to their transit fares. Brilliant! If this existed here, I could have an entirely Diet Coke-powered commute.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, August 14

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

Editorial: Obama official needs to free up transit money (Sacramento Bee)

More on the ongoing dispute between the federal government and the state of California which could result in Metro losing more than two billion in federal grants. Why? U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says that California’s pension reform law violates the collective bargaining rights of transit workers, thereby disqualifying the state from federal transit funds.

One possible solution: a bill exempting transit workers from the pension reform bill. Here’s what the Bee has to say about that:

If transit workers win exemption from California’s new pension reform laws, police will demand exemptions as well, then firefighters, then nurses and teachers and clerks at theDepartment of Motor Vehicles. The law itself will be eviscerated. Neither the state nor local governments can afford to let that happen.

[snip]

If federal labor officials are unwilling to let states protect their finances by enacting pension reforms, it’s time for Brown and members of Congress – including U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento – to ask President Barack Obama to intervene. California’s pension reform law was hardly far-reaching. If the federal government won’t let states adopt even modest reforms, it won’t be long until there is a national backlash against collective bargaining on all levels of government.

What does California’s high-speed train mean for farmers? (KCRW)

Nice piece on some of the proponents and opponents of California’s high-speed rail project, which will be routed through the farm lands western San Joaquin Valley. My favorite bit: the factoid that cows in France have adjusted to high-speed rail there, one reason to expect that California cows will do the same.

Public transit is worth way more to a city than you think (Atlantic Cities) 

New research puts some numbers behind the notion that transit tends to clump people together in city centers and where people clump, economies tend to grow. Sounds about right. Good article.

Climate change may be speeding sequoia, redwood growth (L.A. Times)

Giant sequoias in Kings Canyon National Park. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Giant sequoias in Kings Canyon National Park. Photo by Steve Hymon.

No one is certain exactly why but redwoods and giant sequoias in California (the trees are related) seem to be growing faster in recent decades according to growth records dating back to the year 328. Researchers think one possible explanation is that the growing season for the trees is larger because of warmer temperatures. There are other possible explanations, including changing fire behavior and reduced air pollution from lumber mills near redwood groves in Northern California.

Bear hair study in Banff proves animal crossings work (High Country News) 

Wildlife overpasses or underpasses over busy roads tend to be mocked — and therefore are hard to get funde. Except there’s this: they also work. In this case, a study shows that black bears and grizzly bears are using a wildlife bridge over the Trans Canada Highway. No one knows for sure how much wildlife is killed each year by cars, but some estimates range that it’s about one million animals each day

Climate change in California; state summarizes the ongoing impacts

Click above to see larger.

Click above to see larger.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment last week released its latest report on the impact of climate change on the Golden State. As the above chart shows, the state is convinced that temperatures are rising and evidence now exists of their impacts.

This is a topic I try to harp on. Why? There has been several noteworthy reports that have found that one way to reduce your greenhouse gas footprint is to take transit. The gist of it: buses or trains carrying a lot of people at one time are more efficient than most cars carrying one or two passengers (hybrids and electric cars are only four percent of the vehicles on the road in the U.S.).

Here are two reports worth reading:

New UCLA study finds Gold Line and Orange Line produce less smog and fewer greenhouse gases in near- and far-term

Public transportation’s role in responding to climate change (FTA)

While polls indicate a majority of Americans believe the Earth is warming, the same polls also show that far fewer Americans believe it’s a serious problem. Perhaps that’s one reason that transit agencies in the U.S. have failed to use climate change as an argument for taking buses and trains — although many agencies, such as Metro, are actively seeking to reduce their own greenhouse gases.

What do you think? Is that a missed opportunity or is it best for transit agencies to steer clear of the climate change issue at least in their marketing efforts? Comment please.