Transportation headlines, Friday, Feb. 26

Credit: Martin Aircraft Company

Hate traffic? There’s a new 200-horsepower, $35,000 jetpack coming to market via the Martin Aircraft Company of New Zealand. The new jetpacks weigh less than 254 pounds, can travel at 60 miles per hour and do not even require a pilot’s license, according to the Telegraph. It’s also possible to reach altitudes over 7,000 feet. The company’s website said that to try to fly without proper company training is “extremely foolhardy.” But the big question is will everyone be using these to commute to work? Says the company website:

Some people will use these for work; most of us will not be able to do this for some time.  The automobile has too many advantages for most people, some still ride motorcycles, but the majority prefer the comfort of a car.  In addition, with the current air traffic control system commuting would not be possible. The US FAA is currently developing a “highways in the sky” technology; basically 3D highways based on automated GPS tracks. Initial tests have been positive but the full system is not likely to be implemented for at least 10 years.

Thus the main use for Jetpacks will initially be recreational. This is similar to current ATV, snowmobile, jet ski, and ultralight use.

Metro just poured a lot of resources into revamping its website. But Government Technology asks: Are the days of big government websites numbered? According to some experts, many web users would rather the information comes to them via social media sites such as Facebook rather than they go and try to find the information on web sites that can be big and tricky to navigate. Metro does have a presence on good ol’ FB and several of the rail projects — most prominently the Westside Subway Extension — are using FB as a way to get the word out.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas rails against Metro’s grade-crossing policy in an op-ed published by the Los Angeles Business Journal, using some decisions made along the future Expo Line as an example. Excerpt:
Coincidentally, the intersections with the most car traffic – and those set to get grade-separated crossings – tend also to be in more well-off neighborhoods. Those areas tend to have vibrant commercial centers, which in turn generate car traffic. In the low-income neighborhoods in which apartment dwellers will look straight out their front windows to see speeding trains, and where retail stores already lead a fragile existence, the rail line could become a development death sentence.
It’s a thoughtful piece and certainly an issue worthy of debate. Of course, a change to the grade-crossing policy could allow a section of the Crenshaw Line in Ridley-Thomas’ district to be placed underground — which is something he supports.

The rest of today’s transportation headlines, compiled by the Metro library, are after the jump.
70 Years Ago: Digging Completed For Figueroa’s First Street Cut
Blog Downtown

Approval Of Light Rail Concerns Neighbors
Santa Monica College Corsair

Decongesting Rail Traffic Is A Major Step To Raise Fuel Efficiency
New York Times

Driving Green: L.A. Flush With Freeway Cap Park Proposals (Putting roofs over sections of freeway and building a park on top? There are currently four cap parks in the works in Los Angeles)
Architects Newspaper

Eng Proposes Selling Caltrans Homes Along 710 Route
Pasadena Star-News

Fights On Public Transit: Oakland Bus Fracas Is Latest Flash Point (A fight aboard a city bus is latest incident to be captured on video and disseminated on YouTube, heightening concern about the safety of public transportation)
Christian Science Monitor

Flying Into The Future: New Zealand Company To Make Personal Jet Packs (reaching heights of up to 1.5 miles and 60 MPH)
Telegraph (U.K.)

HSR And Economic Expansion
California High Speed Rail Blog

HUD’s Shelley Poticha Discusses Sustainable Development (Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities director on land use, transit patterns, economic recovery, and a healthier built environment)

Mexico City Launches Ecobici Bike-Sharing Program
The City Fix

MTA Votes For Audit Of Agency’s Legal Costs
Los Angeles Daily News

Obama’s Partnership For Sustainable Communities Will Put The Feds’ Weight Behind Smart Growth

OCTA Backs Off Same-Time Railroad Work, Mayor Says
Orange County Register

Op-Ed: Heavy Impact Of Light Rail – Metro’s Expo Line Plan Will Hurt Businesses And Neighborhoods In L.A.’s South-Central And Westside
Los Angeles Business Journal

Raise My Taxes, Please! Financing High Quality Public Transit Service Saves Me Money Overall

Ridley-Thomas: Expo Line Dooms South L.A. To Second Class Status
LA StreetsBlog

Senate Passes Jobs Bill With Transport Funds
Journal Of Commerce

Shadow Elite: If You Believe That, I’ve Got A Bridge To Sell You… (Facing enormous budget shortfalls, mayors and governors are increasingly turning to the sale of public assets, including in Los Angeles)
Huffington Post

State Departments Of Transportation Lead The Way Using New Media
(round up of state DOTs use of social media tools to reach the public)
State Department Of Transportation Twitter And Facebook Sites (list by state)

Transportation Chief Says Bikes, Buses Are Way To Go in D.C. (Talking in-depth with Gabe Klein, D.C.’s innovative, entrepreneurial, pro-bike and pro-transit director of transportation)
Washington Post

Transportation Panel Okays Increased Speed Limit On Riverside Drive

What The County Bike Plan Is And Is Not

Will Facebook Replace Traditional Government Web Sites? (“For a certain demographic, Facebook is the only way for entering into a conversation with the rest of the world.”)
Government Technology