Transportation headlines, Thursday, September 15

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.

Is now really the time for high-speed rail? (Huffington Post)

Columnist Joel Epstein argues that given the cost and the relatively few dollars available for transportation projects, it would be better to spend the money now on building urban transit projects that will be used by tens of thousands of people every day. Joel likes the high-speed rail project, but like many people, has raised questions about its cost — currently estimated by the state at $43 billion between Anaheim and San Francisco. Smart column and I’m hearing more and more people say similar things.

Committee approves modified parking requirements (L.A. Streetsblog)

The L.A. City Council’s planning committee approved a “modified parking ordinance” that may allow some communities to relax the parking requirements that often stifle new development. The problem, in short: the city of L.A. often requires so much new parking with any kind of new building that developers simply won’t build anything. The other public policy issue: how much space do we really want to have taken up by new parking? Sure, some developers and future tenants can afford the cost of building underground parking, but others can’t. Of course, some residents will argue that allowing little parking just leads to a big parking mess and more traffic as people cruise for spaces. Maybe. But less parking may also induce more people to take transit and encourage the kind of communities in which people don’t have to drive everywhere.

Spokane: a very clear transit map (Human Transit)

Blogger and transit planner Jarrett Walker really likes the new Spokane transit map, which he says clearly shows frequent bus routes, basic bus routes and express routes. Check it out above and read Walker’s post — he explains the map’s nuances better than I did.

Life in the slow lane (The Economist)

Thorough and depressing article on the state of America’s infrastructure. Excerpt:

All this is puzzling. America’s economy remains the world’s largest; its citizens are among the world’s richest. The government is not constitutionally opposed to grand public works. The country stitched its continental expanse together through two centuries of ambitious earthmoving. Almost from the beginning of the republic the federal government encouraged the building of critical canals and roadways. In the 19th century Congress provided funding for a transcontinental railway linking the east and west coasts. And between 1956 and 1992 America constructed the interstate system, among the largest public-works projects in history, which criss-crossed the continent with nearly 50,000 miles of motorways.

In the views of many, America has gotten stingy on the transpo front. Declining government revenues haven’t helped. Perhaps more user fees would.


2 replies

  1. While we’re at it, has anyone else besides me noticed how the parking allocation in the structure at Union Station is incredibly inefficiently utilized, with a strange excess of unused spaces perpetually reserved for MTA, Catellus, and Homeland Security? It’s embarrassing.

    I fully support multimodal transportation options in Los Angeles, including (pay) park and ride lots. Los Angeles is a land of many different lifestyles, family sizes, and far-flung neighborhoods. Not everyone has the ability to bike or walk to
    the station. Until the City of Los Angeles develops a bike network separate from traffic – similar to Amsterdam – it is completely unreasonable to expect the elderly or elementary school kids to bike to the station. Look at who rides a bike in traffic in Los Angeles. It is overwhelmingly young adult males. Not every demographic feels comfortable with “taking the lane” in 40 mph traffic.

  2. I agree LA needs to cut back on parking space non-sense, it only makes things worse.

    Just look at the precious real estate that’s being used up at our park-and-ride lots of our light rail stations. Those parking spaces don’t add to any extra revenue.

    They might as well convert most of them to parking spaces for smaller stuff like bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds. You can fit three, maybe even four of them on the same area that is used for one single car.

    The rest of the land that is used as parking lots can be better off used to expand the train station proper with rental spaces for retailers and merchants.