Transportation headlines, Monday, July 26

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.

What does transit do for traffic congestion? (Human Transit)

Not all that much. And politicians should be smart enough to avoid saying so, writes Jarrett Walker, who is one of our favorite bloggers. So why build more transit? Walker says that it encourages economic activity, it allows people without cars to get around, transit is usually more environmentally friendly and it’s essential to have in place for congestion pricing to work (which, Walker says, can have an impact on congestion). The other reason to invest in transit, as we like to point out here, is that it’s a pretty good alternative to sitting on a clogged freeway for hours on end.

Metro Rail, according to readers (L.A. Times Talkback blog)

With Metro recently celebrating the 20th anniversary of its rail program, the Times ran a story last week that alleged the rail program was too costly, hasn’t garnered enough new riders and hasn’t decreased car traffic. Two long-standing critics of rail were quoted, but there were no comments from transit riders, advocates or Metro officials (The story says none were made available, but the Metro Board of Directors met Thursday morning — the day before the story was published — and no Times reporters were present). That said, many of the points raised were certainly fair, but I think a look at the pros and cons of rail is worthy of a more nuanced discussion. For example, the article said nothing about the speed and/or comfort of rail, its lower greenhouse gas emissions and the considerable investment Metro has made in its bus system while also building rail. Comments left by readers reveal the many conflicting views people here still have about trying to rebuild rail in a region that once had a lot of it.

We’re gonna be sorry (New York Times)

Columnist Thomas Friedman excoriates Congress for failing to pass a climate and energy bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Excerpt:

We’ve basically decided to keep pumping greenhouse gases into Mother Nature’s operating system and take our chances that the results will be benign — even though a vast majority of scientists warn that this will not be so. Fasten your seat belts. As the environmentalist Rob Watson likes to say: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.” You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000,” says Watson. Do not mess with Mother Nature. But that is just what we’re doing.

If you’re curious about your vehicle’s greenhouse gas emissions, the federal EPA’s website has all the info.