Transportation headlines, Friday, August 6

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Feds offer 50% match for Portland light rail project (Portland TriMet news release)

Why’s that important? In the past, the federal New Starts program — which funds big rail transit projects — had usually ponied up 60% of the cost of light rail projects in Portland. The feds say they don’t want to fund more than 50% of the cost of projects that cost more than a million, that demand on the New Starts program is high, domestic spending isn’t rising and there is still no transportation spending bill in place. Metro is currently negotiating for New Starts funding for the Westside Subway Extension and the Downtown Regional Connector. The two projects combined are expected to cost more than $5 bilion.

Government subsidies often go to fossil fuels over renewables (New York Times Dot Earth blog)

A new survey has found that subsidies for fossil fuels in recent years have been about 10 times more than what governments will spend on renewable energy. And the amount of fossil fuel subsidies has gone up recently, too. The transportation sector, of course, is a big-time consumer of fossil fuels, although more electric cars seem poised to hit the market. It’s also worth noting that renewable and clean energy powers subways and light rail trains.

As things stand, Chevy Volt doesn’t qualify for rebate or HOV lanes (National Public Radio)

On the subject of electric cars, the upcoming Chevy Volt has the ability to travel 40 miles on its battery alone without having to engage a small gasoline engine. Yet, because the gasoline engine isn’t of the “uber-clean” sort, the Volt can’t be used in carpool lanes by single drivers — even if it’s running only on electricity. And because it’s not an all-electric car, it also doesn’t qualify for a state $5,000 tax rebate. This segment offers a good explanation and the rules could still change.