Transportation headlines, Friday, July 2

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.

Some Beverly Hills homeowners oppose subway tunneling (Beverly Hills Courier)

Metro officials planning the Westside Subway Extension have been trying to find the best location for a station in Century City — and in response to numerous public comments have been studying putting that station in the heart of Century City instead of along its edge. But that would mean that train tunnels would have to go under some homes and at least some of those homeowners aren’t happy about it, despite Metro officials who say tunneling is safe and there have been zero noise and vibration complaints from those who live and work above the current 17 miles of subway in L.A. The homeowners say they support the project but want the subway tunnels to remain under Santa Monica Boulevard.

Are transit cuts driving people back to their cars? (The Guardian)

Interesting opinion piece. The writer points out that at the same time that Americans are reading daily updates on the historic oil spill in the Gulf — and America’s dependency on foreign oil — many American transit agencies are cutting service because of budget woes. That part of the article, I think, is good. The article assumes that many transit riders, as a result, are being forced back to their cars. While that seems a safe assumption, the article doesn’t have any data to back it up and the truth is that it’s hard to say how people impacted by transit agency cuts are getting around or if they’re getting around. I suspect that many impacted don’t have cars to jump back into.

Study challenges high-speed rail ridership forecasts (L.A. Times)

France hasn't had problems attracting riders to its TGV bullet train--seen in action here in 1984. Photo by Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden, via Flickr. Click above to see the photo on Flickr.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority says that if 800 miles of the system are built, ridership will be between 88 million and 117 million in 2030. A new study by UC Berkeley now says that’s way too high — and bullet train revenues could suffer, putting taxpayers on the hook if the train can’t pay for its own operations. Here’s what I can tell you: I’ve been writing about transportation for a while now and I’ve yet to find anyone who can reliably project ridership on transit projects. In this case, the Rail Authority defends its estimates, which it has said are in line with ridership on other bullet train systems elsewhere. From its website:

In Japan, the 343-mile Tokaido high-speed train line connecting Tokyo to Osaka currently carries over 145 million passengers annually. The entire Japanese high-speed train network (1,350 miles) currently carries over 335 million passengers a year. In France the TGV network, consisting of over 1,160 miles of new interconnected high-speed lines, carries over 100 million passengers each year.