Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 27

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.

Times Square IRT Station (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Rio + 20: what if transportation is an afterthought? (Next American City)

With the Rio 2012 Earth Summit approaching, sustainability experts are poring over a 19-page document that outlines ideas for the world’s commitment to sustainability. The document dedicates a good deal of space to the green economy and to the importance of local governance in creating sustainable communities. What it doesn’t do however, is talk much about transportation. This oversight has some in the sustainable transportation community expressing grave concern. Excerpt:

“The importance of sustainable public transportation in cities cannot be overstated. It is the backbone of any sustainable city. Without it, all of our cities are doomed to inefficiency, and to fail at their other goals of livability, economic prosperity and social justice. We need transportation to get to jobs, to schools, to access any number of opportunities within our cities.”


Leaving his footprints on the city (New York Times)

In a feat that would do Alfred Kazin, author of “A Walker in the City” proud, a former civil engineer, has set out to walk every street in every borough of New York City.  Thanks to a lot of couch surfing at the home of friends around the city, Matt Green, age 31, is spending only around $15 a day to make his estimated 8,000-mile trek. Green, who previously spent five months walking from Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, to Rockaway Beach, Oregon, began December 31 on what he expects to be an over two year full-time undertaking. The article contains a nice video clip of Green doing “a really normal thing for a really long period of time.”

Boehner, Reid talks may end U.S. transport bill standoff (Chicago Tribune)

House Republicans have balked at approving a new multi-year transportation spending bill. As a result, the current one — passed in 2005 — has to be extended again. Naturally, House members are now arguing over the length of the extension. Democrats don’t want to give House Republicans too much time to write another spending bill loaded with provisions (more oil drilling, for example) that they find unacceptable. Meanwhile, the Senate did manage to pass a two-year bill that includes parts of Metro’s America Fast Forward program to ramp up transportation project funding.

As young lose interest in cars, G.M. turns to MTV for help (New York Times)

In an acknowledgement that young people are not as interested in cars as they used to be, General Motors has turned to MTV Scratch, a unit of Viacom that consults with brands about connecting with consumers. With the days when the car occupied center stage in the lives of many young people a thing of the past, GM is working to convince these consumers that cars — and not just the internet — remain the road to freedom and independence.

Acknowledging the challenge, MTV Scratch’s Executive vice president put it this way “They think of a car as a giant bummer. Think about your dashboard. It’s filled with nothing but bad news.”

As the article concludes, it is unlikely that G.M. will adopt some of Scratch’s advice such as a recommendation that salespeople abandon the hard sell and that the traditional system, based on commissions, be reimagined. As Scratch has learned, it is hard convincing those in the showroom to think like the Apple store where no one is pushing products.

High Line may mix past with Koons’s vision (New York Times)

The High Line is New York’s popular park built along an abandoned elevated freight line in lower Manhattan. Now, the founders of the group that helped create the park are in talks with the artist Jeff Koons about adding a sculpture of a full-size replica of a 1943 steam locomotive dangling from a crane above the park. For some time, LACMA has also been exploring displaying the sculpture which has an estimated cost of over $25 million. It’s audacious but pricey, especially at a time when High Line advocates are seeking to extend the park northward.