Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 18

Proposed Inland Empire train would connect San Bernardino and Redlands (KCET)

A plan is afoot in San Bernardino County to link two of its larger cities, Redlands and San Bernardino, using existing rail tracks and refurbished Metrolink trains. On either end of the nine-mile corridor are the planned Intermodal Transit Center & Transit Village in San Bernardino and the University of Redlands. The San Bernardino Association of Governments (SanBAG) is heading up the $150-million project, which is expected to run at half-hour headways during rush hour and one-hour headways at other times. Additional phases of the project could eventually link it to the rest of the Metrolink system.

Amtrak chugs deeper into the red (Wall Street Journal)

Despite 18 consecutive months of increased ridership, the national rail line still requires assistance from the federal government — 16 percent of operating costs — to balance its books. That sounds like a bargain to me for all its mobility benefits. But many in Congress are looking to cut spending and Amtrak appears to be fair game. An interesting point, however, is that Amtrak’s commuter-oriented service tends to break even or come very close. The Acela in the Northeast Corridor makes a profit; the Capitol Corridor from Sacramento to San Jose comes close, as does the Pacific Surfliner from San Luis Obispo to San Diego via L.A. It’s the long distance lines that require the deepest subsidy, but they often serve rural areas with few alternatives to the train.

Yellow hybrid stickers for carpool lanes set to expire (L.A. Times)

A program that aimed to spur hybrid sales with the carrot of a solo ride in the carpool lane will come to an end on July 1, after a six-year run. The program seemed to serve its intended effect, boosting hybrid sales from 85,000 statewide in 2004 to over 350,000 in 2007. With gas prices now nearing all-time highs, it seems like a good time to wean the state off the perk. However, the Times notes that several hybrid owners — who have come to depend on the yellow sticker for their long commutes — are scrambling to figure out a way to stay in the carpool lane. Go Metro?