Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Nov. 23

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.

Republicans trying to take back California’s high-speed rail funds (L.A. Times)

The effort is being led by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield). They say the project is deeply flawed and want the $3.3 billion back that the federal government had previously committed to the project — Denham would like to see the money pumped into highway projects. The money is needed to begin construction next year of the Chowchilla to Bakersfield segment in the San Joaquin Valley. It will likely be an uphill battle: President Obama wants to preserve what’s left of his push for a national high-speed rail network.

Lessons in transit innovation, part 2 (New York Times)

A long follow-up on the Times’ Opinionator blog with some fascinating statistics and links. There’s a ton of interesting stuff here, such as:

What can we learn by comparing ourselves with Europe? A recent paper by Ralph Buehler and John Pucher in the journal Transport Policy looks at Germany, where the public transit systems have five times the market share compared to the United States, and have increased ridership while becoming more financially self-sustaining. Germany did not accomplish this by expanding its system, but by improving it. Between 1990 and 2007 Germany decreased its miles of service and nearly doubled fares, but ridership rose by 22 percent and riders paid for 77 percent of the cost of the service. The United States, by contrast, increased its service miles by 20 percent, and ridership remained flat when population growth was taken into account. The system became less sustainable: Passenger fares paid for 37 percent of the cost of service in 1992 but less than 33 percent in 2007.  During this period German transit agencies lured in more riders by increasing quality: They upgraded passenger facilities, tightly coordinated schedules, started a program that allows riders to rent bikes when they exit the train, and made monthly passes too attractive to pass up. (A host of other government policies “pushed” riders onto transit by  making car travel more expensive, slower, and less convenient.) Many of these strategies could work in densely populated parts of the United States, but the authors caution that some changes may be socially unsustainable. “There are concerns of inequitable burdens on labor, since many of the cost reduction measures involved reducing wages or benefits of workers.”


More headlines after the jump!

Boyle Heights bike lanes go green (Mis Neighbors)

The new Spring Street bike lane in downtown L.A. isn’t the only one getting the green paint treatment from the LADOT. The lane on 1st Street in Boyle Heights also has been painted green to highlight areas where bikes may conflict with cars.

San Francisco may charge businesses for free parking spots (San Francisco Examiner)

There are 30,000 free parking spots in the city at businesses — a powerful incentive for people to drive and direct competition for city meters. The San Francisco MTA is considering charging businesses $1,000 for each free parking space, which would raise $30 million annually for the cash-strapped agency. Businesses are extremely unthrilled at this prospect, which I’m guessing will be facing a very uphill battle.

A map of American road casaulties (Guardian)

Grim map, for sure, produced by ITO World of each of the 369,629 deaths that occurred on American roads between 2001 and 2009, including pedestrians and cyclists. When you begin zooming in, there’s a discernable and unsurprising pattern: a map of deaths looks a lot like a map of our national interstate system.

A portion of the map by ITO World showing the Southeast U.S.


2 replies

  1. A great incentive to take transit in Germany is the $4 per gallon taxes on gasoline that raises the cost of unleaded over $8 per gallon. Personal automobile costs in the USA are heavily subsidized.

  2. The Times’ headline sounds like another good reason to support high-speed rail.

    First of all, it sounds like all of the anti-rail politicians are distracted by HSR and not paying attention to the light rail and subway construction going on.
    Without HSR, all of their efforts would be aimed at zeroing out rail transit.

    Secondly, it’s obvious from the article that their goal is to move funding to highways, not transit projects.
    Killing HSR won’t help rail transit.