Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 5

Here’s a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog. Don’t forget you can also follow the Metro Library on Facebook and Twitter.

Expectations for High-Speed Rail Coming Down to Earth (Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

After a lot of excitement, pretty maps and visions of an America connected by an network of European style high speed rail trains – oh and billions doled out to get things started – high speed rail advocates are starting to look at the challenges they face with more pragmatism. One of the biggest concerns is that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is not dedicated to the cause and fit to handle the job. Another concern is that local transit connections and transit oriented development in high speed rail cities – Orland and Tampa are cited frequently in this case – are not robust enough to ensure high speed rail’s utility.

Government to Spend $775 Million to Upgrade Nonexistent Buses (Infrastructurist)

The Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) is giving $775 million to transit agencies across the nation for maintenance and repair of their bus fleets. Sounds great right? But the caveat is that the nation’s transit agencies are currently in a financial crisis that is forcing them to cut service and raise fares – and that $755 million would be better spent on operations costs rather than maintenance. Of course, federal rules prevent the funds from being used on day to day operational costs.

TOD in LA Often Means “Transit Oriented Districts” (Streetsblog Los Angeles)

This Streetsblog piece looks at a study that finds that housing and transportation costs around many neighborhoods along Metro Rail are actually below the national average. These neighborhoods – like Downtown and Koreatown – are places where it’s possible to live without a car, not only because of their proximity to rail and bus connections, but also because they tend to have a denser concentration of jobs, shops, services and residential units. In other words, many neighborhoods along Metro rail are already “transit oriented” without any fancy (and often surprisingly auto oriented) Transit Oriented Development projects. The conclusion is that simply adding more bicycle and pedestrian amenities to existing neighborhoods can make them more attractive and encourage more people to move there and give up their cars. No luxury condos with complimentary valet parking necessary.