Transportation headlines, Thursday, November 10

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.

Metro chooses six teams to submit master plan visions for Union Station (Blogdowntown)

Metro staff have recommended to the board of directors that six design firms should be selected to compete for the creation of a Union Station master plan. The next step would be for firms to provide visions for new commercial business opportunities at Union Station, improved transportation infrastructure and better connections to its surrounding neighborhoods. Here’s a Metro staff memo [PDF] to the Executive Management Committee that has more information on the project scope and the short-listed firms. Props to Eric Richardson for keeping close tabs on this story.

Has the world already passed “peak oil”? (National Geographic)

Peak oil is a pretty simple concept with world-shaping implications. In short, the world’s supply of conventional crude oil is finite, so at some point the production of oil will hit a peak and then it’s all downhill from there. The Austria-based International Energy Agency (IEA) announced Tuesday that in all likelihood we actually hit that peak back in 2006, when the world was churning out 70 million barrels of oil per day. With conventional oil reserves drying up, the IEA predicts that oil producers will ramp up production from unconventional oil sources like the Canadian tar sands. That process, however, is a profoundly environmentally destructive and pricey way to get oil.

This ex-forest is now the site of tar sands oil production. Photo by National Geographic/Peter Essick.

Senate committee passes highway bill, infrastructure groups split on reactions (Transportation Nation)

As we noted yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee unanimously approved a new surface transportation bill. Local advocates cheered the expansion of TIFIA, one of the key programs in Metro’s push to build 30 year’s worth of Measure R projects in just 10 years. That said, some transportation advocacy groups felt that the bill “fell short,” as TN notes in its roundup of early impressions.

Athenians take to bicycles to ride out crisis (NPR)

NPR correspondent Joanna Kakissis has discovered the secret formula for spurring urban cycling: painful gas prices, daily public transportation strikes and frustrating traffic. Well, hopefully we can skip those en route to making a Los Angeles a great cycling region. This article is a great reminder of how versatile and resilient bike transportation is: All you need are your two legs.