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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.
The American bus revival (BBC News Magazine)
Since voters, Congress and state legislatures can’t seem to get behind high-speed rail, someone has to pick up the demand for long distance and regional transportation. Into the void has stepped Greyhound and low-cost startups like Bolt Bus, which runs buses with fares starting at $1 between New York and Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In September, when traveling between New York and Philadelphia, I opted for Bolt, which offers free wifi, over Amtrak’s Acela. The trip cost me $13 while Amtrak would have been $105. It didn’t take me long to do the math.
Looks like all systems go for Central subway (San Francisco Chronicle)
If all goes as planned, San Francisco will have a major new piece of transit infrastructure when the Central Subway is completed in 2018. The 1.7-mile project will link San Francisco’s commuter rail station to Chinatown, with key transfers to both the muni rail and BART that run under Market Street in downtown. The project is expected to cost $1.6 billion and earlier this month the Obama Administration recommended it receive $150 million in federal funds from the New Starts program — the project is expected to receive $942.2 million in funds overall in the coming years. The agency was also recently approved by the feds to buy two tunnel-boring machines and to build the starting point for the tunneling scheduled to begin in January. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is a major backer of the project, which will bring a rail project into the heart of San Francisco and Chinatown. The subway will also connect with San Francisco’s new T-Third Line which runs at grade south to Bayview and Candlestick Park.
Highway bill outlook bleak, Ray LaHood says (Politico)
Increasingly blunt and critical U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is saying that he does not believe Congress will be able to pass a comprehensive transportation bill before the March 31 deadline. In this piece in Politico, LaHood is quoted as saying, “I’m going to use past as prologue. We’ve gone 3½ years beyond the last bill. I served in Congress for 14 years — I don’t see Congress passing a bill before this one runs out, before this extension runs out.” There have been eight extensions spanning 880 days since the last long-term bill ran out.
As someone who has never bought a new car, I am obviously not Detroit’s demographic. Still, with gas prices over $4 a gallon in much of the country, it is surprising to me how many Americans are again shopping for a shiny new Ford or Chevy. Just three years after the American auto industry almost went under, sales of cars and trucks could exceed 14 million this year, above last year’s 12.8 million. And it is not just fuel efficient and electric cars that are selling well. In 2011, Americans bought 1.8 million pickups, an 11 percent increase over 2010. Selling has been so brisk that Detroit can barely keep up.
In another sign that New York City is showering love on the growing number of bike riders and pedestrians in the Big Apple, the New York City Department of Transportation has proposed remaking the dangerous Prospect Park Loop in Brooklyn. The proposed changes would reduce the space for cars to a single lane and create two dedicated lanes, one for pedestrians and one for bike riders. An estimated 10 million people visit Prospect Park each year — it’s basically that borough’s version of Central Park. Also in the New York Times is an interesting Room for Debate feature entitled, Making Cities Safer for Cyclists and Pedestrians.