Transportation headlines, Thursday, Nov. 12

h1A few of the headlines hoovered up by the Metro library that caught my eye this morning:

The Wilson Quarterly has a good article about bullet trains and the lack of them in the United States. An excerpt:

This gap only widens in the rest of Amtrak’s 22,000-mile nationwide network. Outside of the Northeast Corridor, there are only four routes where Amtrak trains can run faster than 79 m.p.h.:  Los Angeles-San Diego, New York City-Albany, Philadelphia-Harrisburg, and a 100-mile segment in Michigan.

Elsewhere, trains are restricted to 79 m.p.h. because locomotives and track are not equipped with signal systems that prevent collisions. After accounting for speed-restricted curves, snail-like crawls through junctions, stops for opposing trains, and other obstacles thrown in their path, Amtrak trains average no better than 50 m.p.h. between terminals—and much less if unscheduled delays are counted.

The result is that train service is slower today than it was in the 1940s, when “streamliners” touted for their speed—such as the Super Chief, 20th Century Limited, Denver Zephyr, and Hiawatha—routinely topped 90 to 100 m.p.h. between station stops. While the rest of the world has advanced, America’s passenger rail has stalled, if not reversed direction.

The public opening of the Gold Line Eastside Extension is just three days away and Curbed LA has a smart post, via some info from the L.A. Business Journal, that notes that new developments haven’t exactly been springing up along the line. Financing has been a problem. Curbed LA also links back to one of its earlier posts on L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar saying he’s not interested in large-scale developments along the Gold Line’s six-mile route.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune has an editorial praising the Metro Board for voting to operate the Foothill Extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa if it’s finished being constructed by 2013. The newspaper also says the Gold Line, if built to Montclair and perhaps Ontario Airport, will “remove many commuters from cars, put them into trains and thereby relieve congestion on the traffic-choked Foothill (210) Freeway.”

I don’t think that wording is very sharp. Caltrans data generally shows there are more cars on area freeways these days than in 1990 when Metro first began operating rail. I tend to think mass transit is a great way to provide an alternative to congestion, I’m not sure that it relieves it — although I do think it’s fair to say that it can take the edge off gridlock or prevent it from growing worse.

The rest of today’s headlines:

Ain’t No Party Like An Eastside Party
LA Eastside

Bullet Trains For America?: The Obama Administration Has Revived The Dream Of Building High-Speed Rail Lines To Rival Those Of Japan And Europe, But The Tracks Are Littered With Political And Financial Obstacles
Wilson Quarterly

DASH Restructuring – Part 1: East And Northeast L.A.
MetroRider LA

Do Cameras Make Intersections More Dangerous?

DOT Stimulus Spending Nears $5 Billion
Journal Of Commerce

Exclusive: California Transit Association Tackles Trasit Challenges
Metro Magazine

Gold Line Developments Still A Glimmer In Metro’s Eye
LA Curbed

Group Seeks Pedestrian-Friendly Roads

High-Speed Debate: Old-School And New-School Boosters Of High-Speed Rail Duke It Out Over Best Way To Use Stimulus Funds
Mother Nature Network

How To Be A Car-Free Family
Shareable: Life & Art

Is Car Sharing Good For Cities?
Transport Politic

LADOT Values Capacity Over Community On Route 2 Glendale Blvd., Drags Metro Along For The Ride
LA StreetsBlog

A One Of A Kind Line
(Gold Line Eastside Extension architectural preview)
Architect’s Newspaper
Accompanying photos from author’s blog

One-Seat Train Ride From Pasadena To East LA Debuts Sunday
Pasadena Star-News

Opinion: Revolutionary Road (interstate corridors for rail and energy transportation)
New York Times

Our View: MTA Finally Thinking About Valley, Future
San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Parties And More Planned Around Metro Gold Line Extension’s Opening

Planned Interstate 10 Offramp Concerns San Bernardino Residents
Riverside Press-Enterprise

West Coast Ports Band Together To Fight Global Competition
Oregon Live