Transportation headlines, Monday, April 25

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.

View from a Barcelona streetcar — in 1908 (Pattern Cities)

Excerpt from the text with this wonderful video:

But surely the streets of the 1900′s were not entirely crash-free, or as romantic as this film and its whimsical music make them out to be. Yet, the inherent complexity– the organized chaos of streetcars, pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages, and yes, motorists all mixing together–is instructive and should make any urbanist long for a time when the tyranny of the automobile didn’t dominate the project of city building.

More MTA = Less CO2 (New York MTA)

A fascinating and short report about the New York MTA’s work to reduce its energy needs and, therefore, the greenhouse gases associated with creating that energy. One example: more rapid bus lines that allow buses to use less CNG. Another: updating monitor systems so that the third rail on the subway doesn’t have to be heated constantly when temperatures are chilly. New Yorkers already use about one-quarter the energy of the average American because they rely on the MTA and drive less.

High-speed rail hopes are off the tracks (L.A. Times)

This opinion piece written by USC professor James Moore — a long-time critic of many rail plans — says that the latest budget deal likely means that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is not going to get federal money it needs to build a San Francisco-to-Anaheim bullet train. Nor, Moore writes, may it even receive money already committed by the feds to the project. “Even if we were prepared to further bankrupt ourselves doing so, we would accomplish nothing that cannot be accomplished much more cheaply by expanding airports, better maintaining and managing roads, and using conventional technology to burn gasoline and jet fuel even more cleanly,” Moore writes.

Also, in Sunday’s New York Times, Stanford professor Richard White in an opinion piece criticizes spending on high-speed rail, saying such projects will only drain government coffers over time because they will have to be chronically subsidized.


4 replies

  1. I want to drive, Taiwan’s HSR service is turning an operating profit. The government subsidization was because the HSR project used expensive private funding and couldn’t meet its interest payments and depreciation costs.

    Taiwan didn’t go broke because it built a useless train. In fact, it’s an example of the inherent risk of infrastructure finance and trying to cultivate a market for its own sake.

  2. @I want to drive
    Then why not drive to the train station? Or take a cab when you get off? People don’t seem to understand that true high speed rail would be more like going to an airport and getting on or off than a local mass transit station. So while connections are very important the lack of them does not kill the systems usefulness. People rarely talk about local mass transit being necessary with airports but for some reason with HSR which drops you off in the city center anyway, there is always this argument that it needs to connect with mass transit (again not that it shouldn’t), but it should not be a deal breaker. For example with California HSR doesn’t it make sense to drive to your nearest HSR station rather than drive all the way to San Francisco because your are cutting your trip more than in half? Its the same way you drive to LAX or Burbank to cut your trip by 2/3s. The point is HSR is more for longer distance trips more similar to aviation than say commuter rail.

  3. HSR is never a good idea. People are hoping that HSR will be operated as the ones in Europe and Asia. People are hoping by building HSR, people have different alternative other than airports. People fail to see that there is better bus/rail connections in Europe and Asia. This makes sense. People can get out off stations taking subway/buses/taxi to different stations. Except SF, other places are (will) not equipped with better public transportation. People still have to go to car rental agencies. This defeats the purpose.
    About profitability, the government will have to subsidize anyone.
    Many people in Taiwan take HSR to various places in Taiwan. Still, it is losing business that government in Taiwan has to subsidize the operation
    Please improve the public transportation system instead of following other countries’ models. It is hard to tell whether more people will take HSR than Amtrak? HSR will definitely runs faster than Amtrak, but the fare will be even higher.
    Is HSR going to be another tourist attraction or transportation? Most likely, it will be another tourist attraction

    • Thanks for the comment. To be fair though, the government heavily subsidizes every mode of transportation, whether it’s maintaining city streets, building highways or operating airports. High speed rail would not be unique in requiring subsidies, although many high speed lines globally — including the Northeast’s Acela — pay for their operations entirely with fares.

      Carter Rubin
      Contributing Writer, The Source