Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 3

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.

Happy 72nd birthday Union Station and 40th birthday Amtrak (Primary Resources and USDOT Fast Lane Blog)

There are two big transportation birthdays to celebrate this week! On May 2, 1939 large crowds gathered around Union Station to witness the unveiling of Los Angeles’ gateway to the rest of the country. Metro’s Primary Resource’s blog traces the station’s history — from drawing board concept to regional multi-modal hub — and has some interesting historical photos.

And it was 40 years ago yesterday that Amtrak took over the bulk of intercity passenger rail service in the United States. US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has a tribute at his agency’s blog. LaHood notes that 2010 was a record year for the agency — 2011 is looking good too — with 29 million trips taken from 500 stations across the country.

Chart: Even more proof we can’t drill our way to lower gas prices (GOOD)

GOOD Magazine takes a minute to debunk a claim that the United States could lower gas prices at home by increasing domestic oil drilling. Writer Ben Jervey notes that the prices of gasoline in Canada very closely parallels the prices of gas in the U.S., despite the fact that Canada is a net exporter of oil and the U.S. is a large importer of oil. The point? The price of oil is set on the international marketplace and increasing supplies in the U.S. would only make a tiny dent in gas prices here.

High-speed rail: Two-track alternative picks up steam in the Bay Area (San Jose Mercury News)

In a move that could trim $4 billion in costs and possibly allay concerns of some San Francisco Peninsula residents, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is studying whether to have bullet trains share tracks with commuter rail between San Jose and San Francisco. The Authority originally wanted to build two new tracks next to the current Caltrain tracks — which would mean tearing down some homes and extra expenses — but may settle for the two-track option and having slower and less frequent high-speed trains. One potential hitch is that the state bond measure, Proposition 1A, requires some high-speed trains to make the LA-SF trip in as little as 2 hours and 40 minutes.