Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 16

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House passes five-month transportation funding extension (Reuters)

Money for highway and rail projects from the federal government will continue to flow — at least until December — after Congress passed another short-term funding extension. The hope is that a long-term spending bill would be passed, enabling transportation agencies to better anticipate funding scenarios for long-term projects. But with little prospect of a long-term bill being written (let alone passed) before the previous funding extension expired at the end of the month, it appears Congress extended funding in the short-term to buy more time.

Uber should be suspended in California and fined $7.3 million; judge says (L.A. Times)

Chapter 128 (or thereabouts, anyway) in the Uber vs. regulation saga. This time it’s a ruling that requires the embattled ride-share company to pay a fine and suspend their operations in its home state. Surprising no one, they plan to appeal. The issue:

In her decision, chief administrative law judge Karen V. Clopton of the California Public Utilities Commission [CPUC] contended that Uber has not complied with state laws designed to ensure that drivers are doling out rides fairly to all passengers, regardless of where they live or who they are. She said Uber’s months-long refusal to provide such data is in violation of the 2013 law that legalized ride-hailing firms.

The article says that ridership data provided to the CPUC was not specific enough and in cases involving ride requests requiring special accommodations, no hard numbers were provided at all. Though a $7.3 million fine is a drop in the bucket for a company worth billions, experts say that Uber is forced to take this ruling much more seriously because it occurred in their home market.

Angels Flight supporters circulate petition calling for reopening historic downtown L.A. railway (L.A. Daily News) 

Two local historians have started a petition to reopen the troubled Angels Flight funicular in downtown L.A.  The 315-foot century-old railway that carried passengers up and down Bunker Hill in downtown was closed two years ago after one of its two cars derailed. In another incident a decade prior, one person was killed and seven injured.

“It’s a unique part of our heritage, it is functional…it’s one of the city’s great assets and it should be running again.”

According to the article, the safety issues that closed Angels Flight in 2013 have been addressed, though a walkway still needs to be installed adjacent to the railway. The petition currently has 400 signatures but other challenges facing the historic attraction are funding and no clear leadership.

Long Beach sues Caltrans, OCTA over 405 freeway widening project (Press-Telegram)

The city of Long Beach is suing the Orange County Transportation Authority over the environmental documents on the transit agency’s $1.7 billion widening project because it fails to mitigate impacts for the residents of Long Beach. The project, slated to begin construction next year, will add four lanes on I-405 in Orange County to  just past the city limits of Long Beach. The city’s issue with the environmental report is that the five intersection improvements related to the widening work in Long Beach would require the city to foot the majority of the bill.

10 reasons why now is the best time to live in Los Angeles (Huffington Post)

You know it, I know it, but sometimes you gotta read about it. Numbers two and three are particularly relevant here.

Millennials will live in cities unlike anything we’ve seen before (Gizmodo)

Only quasi-transit related, but an interesting read. One reason the above article didn’t have in its top 10: affordable housing. Because let’s face it, living in L.A. is expensive.

In this article, Gizmodo’s Alissa Walker cites Bloomberg’s “Millennial Housing Affordability Index” that listed L.A. among thirteen of the least affordable cities in the U.S.

Because of this and other lifestyle preferences as they get older, some investors are betting that millennials are not completely eschewing the suburbs, but only  delaying their move to it. And when they do, they’re “bringing the urban experience with them.” Walker explores some of the ways developers are catering to millennials by building “urban burbs” and she talks to millennials choosing to live in smaller, affordable cities where newcomers have more opportunity to create the culture, not just be a part of it.

L.A. is very interesting, surprising and beautiful (Zocalo Public Square)

Stephan Guillaume. Photo: Zocalo Public Square

Stephan Guillaume. Photo: Zocalo Public Square

The latest installment of Zocalo’s Metro rider series.

Joe can be found on Twitter @joseph_lem

7 replies

  1. “But someone who keeps using incandescent and halogen lights, keeps their computer on 24/7, and keeps all the plugs connected gets pays less in electricity. ”

    I agree that the clueless CPUC has royally screwed people who don’t use much energy. IMO there should be three tiers where the high usage tier subsidizes the low tier and the middle tier pays “market rates” (unfortunately set by greenie mandates).

    High usage customers are most likely to be businesses who can write off investment in renewable energy sources (photovoltaic panels, etc) whereas most residential usage of solar panels IS NOT YET ECONOMICALLY JUSTIFIABLE! Grow UP Greenies, do the math and stop pushing punitive mandates.

    BTW leaving your (home) computer on is a bad example. Mini PCs for some use cases are becoming available and use less than five watts – literally very cool! My newer computer is used 6+ hours per day but it only uses ~30 watts – 20 for the system unit and 10 for the LCD monitor.

    Banning incandescent lights was a classic premature eco-wacko mandate. Most task lighting (say desk lamps) can use the somewhat dim CFL bulbs, but I still need high luminance, ceiling mounted incandescents for only an hour a month so I can properly clean house. LED bulbs aren’t worth the price and aren’t ‘bright’ enough yet but are getting there.

    • “LED bulbs aren’t worth the price and aren’t ‘bright’ enough yet but are getting there.”

      Brightness part, they’ve already gotten that covered. 60W, 75W, 100W equivalent LED light bulbs are already sold on the market, and by that, I don’t mean specialty stores, but at places like your local Home Depot or Lowes.

      You’re correct about the price part, though. Give it enough time of mass production and within a few years LED bulbs will be affordable. It’s already down to the price point of $20 per bulb at your local Home Depot when these things used to be 3-4 times that easily and only sold at specialty stores.

      I doubt any home owner will pay close to $95 for a 5 pack of light bulbs, but I can see how some family restaurants may want to change their fancy light fixtures to these as a great way to reduce their electricity bill.

      “Grow UP Greenies, do the math and stop pushing punitive mandates.”

      I don’t like these pseudo-liberal “pretend I’m for tolerance but only if you agree with me” hypocrites either. They made eggs cost more at the supermarket by forcing down “free range chicken” to farmers, which then get passed along to us, the consumers. Thanks alot!

    • “BTW leaving your (home) computer on is a bad example. Mini PCs for some use cases are becoming available and use less than five watts – literally very cool! My newer computer is used 6+ hours per day but it only uses ~30 watts – 20 for the system unit and 10 for the LCD monitor.”

      Depends. You average jane or joe Millennial who is on their MacBook Air or watching Youtube videos on their tablets aren’t big electricity users even if they are online for over 10 hours a day. But Millennials have their own hobbies too.

      For example, hardcore PC gamers. They use custom built computers, go to extremes like overclocking CPUs, liquid cooling, use the top-of-the graphics boards and sound boards, multi-monitors, and have home servers running 24/7, which eat up a lot of juice.

      Home PC audiophiles, music creators, digital artists are also big users of electricity. They will have lots of musical, video, rendering, and interactive pen displays equipment hooked up to their PCs.

      Millennials love their computers and their hobbies have also become computerized. And so, they will be a lot more heavy users of PCs and their equipment for their hobbies.

  2. Regarding Angel’s Flight. Personally, I think there have been so many problems with it that I can not see how these vehicles can be made safe to run again. So much money and time have been spent on transportation of a bye gone era that I feel that spending more money and time to get these vehicles running again is good money being thrown after bad. Speaking for myself, even if they do get them up and running again; after all the accidents that they have had, I would not feel safe riding them again.

    • “I think there have been so many problems with it that I can not see how these vehicles can be made safe to run again.”

      They’re completely safe, it’s just that we suck at running these things. Here’s two examples, one from Europe, another from Asia (because we need to be fair that examples should not just be Euro-centric):

      The Swiss are able to operate a furnicular with a gradient of 106% (the steepest in the world) with a track length of 3373 ft for 89 years

      Hong Kong can keep a 127 year old tram with a track length of over 4500 feet running that takes people up to one of the top tourist attractions in Hong Kong

      In contrast, Angel’s Flight is “only” 114 years old and it only runs for 500 feet. So what is it about us that when Europeans and Asians can keep continue to run decades, some over a century year old trams, yet we can’t do the same?

    • You didn’t even need to read the article to see that the cars are already fixed. And there was only 1 accident. When the Angels flight did run, it was a popular service for people working on bunker hill for lunch breaks at grand central market. And the cost is so minuscule that it’s hardly worth talking about. Are you worried that your tax dollars are paying for it? Because I garuntee you that it will cost you less than a thousandth of a percent in taxes.

  3. Uber article quote:

    “Michael Pachter, managing director of equities research at Wedbush Securities, said Uber should start complying now.

    “No amount of bluster is going to get the CPUC off their case,” Pachter said. “You don’t pick a fight with someone who can kick your butt. Uber needs to restrain its hubris.””

    I disagree 100% with Mr. Pachter. The people actually side with Uber, not with the CPUC. Push comes to shove, the people will start writing letters to their elected officials in Sacramento for lessening bogus regulations against these startups. Push them too far, Uber will leave CA and likely move their headquarters to TX. Great job, CA, keep up the good work in making jobs and great ideas leave CA!

    It’s already known that the CPUC is nothing more than being a corrupt state agency who is over-regulating CA for their own selfish benefit. The CPUC should take care of their own problems first, like not wasting tax dollars in holding $250 per plate dinner parties, bullying transit startups into bankruptcy that would’ve benefit everyone, or passing an electric rate hike to people who use LESS electricity (that’s right, they want people who uses LESS electricity to pay more, while giving breaks to those that waste electricity!).

    These are my sources to show that the CPUC is not the people’s friend and that everyone should start writing to their legislators in Sacramento that the CPUC is the problem:
    “A $250-a-plate dinner is being held in San Francisco to honor former California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, who is currently the target of a corruption investigation by the state attorney general.”
    “The Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a plan that raises rates on more efficient users while giving a break to big energy users.”

    The last one should be an outrage to everyone.

    You do your part to help conserve energy like switching to energy efficient appliances, switching off the computer, disconnecting the plug when not in use, and changing light bulbs to LEDs and such, the CPUC ends up charging you more because you’re using less of it. But someone who keeps using incandescent and halogen lights, keeps their computer on 24/7, and keeps all the plugs connected gets pays less in electricity.

    What a crock of BS.