•BULLET TRAIN — TO BUILD OR NOT TO BUILD: I think it will take a lot more political courage at this point to build the $98.5-billion train between Anaheim and San Francisco than to kill the project.
It’s always easier to say ‘no’ than attempt something that is hard and controversial and will likely have setbacks — i.e. the very definition of a large infrastructure project. Conversely, it will take a lot more political chutzpah for someone — anyone at this point — to stand up and say “if you want it, you’re going to have to pay for it and here’s how.”
Until this happens, the media is going to continue to treat the project like the political pinata that it has become owing to its $85-billion budget shortfall. Case in point: this week’s round of media stories on the latest poll showing that voters would no longer vote to approve the $9.95-billion bond package to supply seed money for the train.
Some news for the news media: The people barely voted to approve the bonds in the first place in 2008. Prop 1A won 52.7 percent of the vote. And, as the L.A. Times reported, there was already a poll done earlier this year saying much the same thing.
•RETURN OF THE SUVS?: I recently attended an Ontario Reign hockey game, played in a refrigerator of an arena in the 909 Territories. After the game, I couldn’t help but notice: A) a man urinating on his own car, and; B) the majority of vehicles in the parking lot were SUVs.
My first thought was: how many of these SUVs were paid for by equity pulled out out of homes. My second thought: how many people still had the SUVs but lost the house? Not a nice thought perhaps…but fair game considering the foreclosure crisis in the Inland Empire.
Perhaps my observation wasn’t a coincidence. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that SUV sales are up as consumers gain more confidence, gas prices remain under $4 and SUVs are becoming more fuel efficient.
I don’t blame anyone for wanting space in their car. I have a 2007 Subaru Outback to ferry around dogs, camping gear, hockey equipment, etc. But if big cars are going to make a comeback, I think America needs them to be hybrids or electric vehicles — otherwise it’s one more barrier to overcoming our fossil fuel addiction.
Semi-related thought: I saw “Margin Call” at the Laemmle’s in Pasadena the other night (near the Gold Line Lake Avenue station and the 780 Rapid). Pretty good, albeit fictional, tale about how those “toxic assets” escaped from one financial firm to infect the market. Good cast, with a particularly excellent performance from Kevin Spacey, in an Annakin Skywalker type of role.
Semi-related thought #2: The number of times that the Reign and their opponents dropped the gloves to fight was almost comical. I hope before their next round of combat, Reign players take the time to read the New York Time’s excellent three-part series on the death of enforcer Derek Boogard, who at 28 had already suffered considerable brain damage, likely from being hit in the head over and over again.
•TAKING TRANSIT ONE DAY A WEEK: Over the years I’ve heard a lot of politicians say it would be great if people would just take transit one day a week. The pols are dead right: If one in five motorists decided to hop on a bus or train each day, traffic likely wouldn’t be nearly as bad as it is here and elsewhere.
So the pols have the messaging right. What I’m still waiting to hear is some kind of idea for a cheapie transit pass that would incentivize motorists to leave their cars at home one day a week. It’s election season (okay, when is it not?), so let’s some ideas from area pols. Note: Highly intelligent Source readers should feel free to provide hints.
•WILSHIRE BUS LANES: It’s always important that government let taxpayers know when projects are expected to be complete. No one likes project delays and they happen for a myriad of reasons.
On that note, a hat tip to L.A. Streetsblog for breaking the news that the city of Los Angeles is saying it may not finish the Wilshire bus lane project until 2015 and not 2013, as we had been reporting.
•HEARD ON TRANSIT: I listened to the Black Keys’ new album, El Camino, on the Gold Line this morning (at respectably low volumes on the headphones, you’re welcome) and I think it lives up to the media hype and is very good. Sounds like something that would have hit the airwaves in the ’70s, and I mean that in a good way.