Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 17

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.

Beijing subway — while Congress bickers, China builds to meet its transportation needs (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Keeping L.A.’s 30/10 plan on track (Los Angeles Times)

In an op ed in the Los Angeles Times, USC professor Lisa Schweitzer considers the future of the 30/10 Initiative now that Congress has kicked tough decisions about federal transportation spending down the road another 90 days. Schweitzer’s piece explores three funding options that do not depend on Washington:

1) chopping 30/10 up, prioritizing its most critical projects like the subway extension and the regional connnector and pitching the projects to the AAA-rated California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank,

2) looking to the European Investment Bank which has as its mission fostering infrastructure projects that support EU goals, among them slowing global warming (as transit projects do), and

3) seeking loans from the private global capital markets. Measure R which produced a half-cent transportation sales tax is viewed as the sort of low risk revenue stream the capital markets require.

Aging transit systems grapple with repair backlog (Businessweek)

With common sense, higher gas prices and economic concerns driving more people to ride buses and trains, transit officials are expressing concern about an estimated $80 billion maintenance backlog that threatens service now that we need it more than ever. Ridership is expected to set a new record this Spring, exceeding the 10.3 bullion trips over a year set in December 2008. The concern is that decades of deferred repairs and modernization projects have many transit agencies scrambling to keep trains and buses in operation. In some cities, workers are reportedly searching the Internet for spare parts that are no longer manufactured while in Philadelphia and elsewhere trains are operating using equipment that was designed in the horse-and-buggy era. The article relates sobering accounts of BART employees scouring “eBay and other websites in search of after-market dealers who might stock the parts [BART needs]… When they find a dealer, they buy every useable part.”

Out of cash (Next American City)

Josh Stephens does a service to policy wonks from Sacramento to UCLA with a treatise on the life and death of the CRA in California. Capturing the absurdity of the expanded meaning many California cities gave to the term “blight” to win CRA support, Stephens’ piece examines the lack of scrutiny some cities’ applications were subjected to. As Peter Detwiler, the recently retired chief consultant to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee told Stephens, “No other state… spent $1.25 billion per year on local economic development with almost no state strings attached.” The piece closes with the anecdote that CRA slayer Jerry Brown’s own apartment is “in a converted loft apartment, in a building developed with — you guessed it — redevelopment funds.”

The Californians (SNL)

Saturday Night Live presents a less than flattering portrait of Angelenos and their obsession with finding the best way to get from point A to point B on and off our congested freeways. Though the actors get an F in navigation and Metro and Metrolink go unmentioned, their lines about driving on the 405, the 10, the 101 and Mulholland Drive get some well-deserved yuks.

1 reply

  1. Of course, BART choose a non-standard gauge back when it was designed and that has made it more expensive to maintain compared to other similar commuter rail (or even Metro) services around the world. Now that decision is coming home to roost.