Art of Transit:
ARTS bus in Pasadena morphs into Pasadena Transit (Pasadena Independent)
Goodbye Pasadena Area Rapid Transit System (ARTS). Hello Pasadena Transit. Pasadena officials yesterday made official the new name and branding for the city’s transit agency at an unveiling event. The agency moves 1.5 million passengers annually on six bus lines throughout the city. Pasadena mayor Terry Tarnek said that the rebranding is partially due to the old name confusing some residents, leading them to believe buses only served area museums.
The cost to ride a Pasadena Transit bus will remain the same — 35 cents for seniors, 50 cents for students and 75 cents for regular fare. The buses also help connect residents with the city’s six Gold Line stations.
Streetsblog takes a first peek on a pending $300 billion five-year federal transportation spending bill. If it passes, it will be the first long-term transportation bill in more than a decade. Perhaps hinting at their first impressions of the 1,300 page bill, the photo accompanying the Streetsblog article is a package of the lactase supplement Lactaid Fast Act.
Jokes aside, the bill in its current form will reserve $48 billion for transit projects and $205 billion for highways until 2020. According to Stephen Lee Davis of Transportation for America, it’s an allocation that appears to be a continuation of the transportation policy of the past 10 years with a slight spending increase and adjustment for inflation.
The bill also includes $70 billion in subsidies to the troubled Highway Trust Fund. Excerpt:
Because no one in Washington is willing to raise the gax tax, the bill includes $70 billion in subsidies for the Highway Trust Fund from other sources. The subsidy could have been bigger, but late in the game, lawmakers backed off the idea of a six-year bill that would have reportedly cost $100 billion over and above what the gas tax brings in.
Davis called the funding mechanisms “an accounting exercise” to avoid the appearance of deficit spending, even though that’s essentially what the bill does. In other words, highway subsidies are going to keep on climbing higher.
Looking beyond the ongoing technical challenges and moral dilemmas that driverless technology presents, this LAT opinion piece looks at how driverless technology may be poised to transform parking in our region. With an estimated 18.5 million parking spots in L.A. County and more than 81 percent of space in downtown L.A. devoted to parking according to a new study, the automated efficiency of self-driving cars could decrease the need for parking spaces by being able to utilize existing space much more efficiently.
In addition, automated or semi-automated parking assist features could reduce the amount of time cars spend roaming streets or parking lots for an open parking space, which studies suggest is another cause of surface street traffic. Naturally, there is some resistance to this idea:
These changes won’t come easily. Generally wary of giving up the wheel, American drivers are even more skeptical of the idea of automated parking. Thirty-nine percent would prefer not to have an automatic parking system in their next car, despite ample evidence that such systems outperform humans. But, given the low speeds involved, parking is one of the safest and simplest behaviors to automate
If you’ve followed discussions about the potential benefits of driverless technology, the ideas aren’t anything new, but it’s interesting to see them being explored in such a wide-reaching publication like the Times.
Your aviation-related transit article de la semaine looks at new research that shows air travel has become more energy efficient over the past four decades.
Michael Sivak, a transportation researcher at the University of Michigan, has found that from 1970 to 2010, the amount of energy consumed per mile, per passenger, on an average domestic flight dropped 74 percent. From 1968 to 2014, the fuel efficiency of new airplanes improved 45 percent, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).
A few of the reasons for the increased fuel efficiency are the airlines obsession with cost savings. Improving fuel efficiency saves airlines money. The ways increased efficiency is achieved are not only through more efficient jet engines, but also more aerodynamic and lightweight aircraft design features like wingtip fins, sharkskin-inspired paint, and composite materials. Oh, and here’s another reason you probably noticed: planes today are more full with more people stuffed into the same amount of space thanks to smaller seats.
Today the average domestic flight takes off with 84 percent of its seats filled, up from 70 percent in 2002, according to federal data. (The number of people flying has been on a steady incline since bottoming out after 9/11 and dipping again following the 2008 recession.) Add up these and other factors and, according to Sivak’s research, you’ll find that flying uses 52 percent less energy than driving does to move one person one mile.
The article notes there a handful of caveats with these findings, particularly when comparing the efficiency of air travel with cars, or buses (which is still the most fuel efficient way to travel). For example, due to the amount of fuel expended during takeoff and landing — about 25 percent of the fuel for a flight — air travel really only becomes more efficient relative to the same trip via a car on much longer trips. A short, connecting flight of 300 – 500 miles then is still inefficient in comparison.
There’s still hope for green — or at least greener — air travel though, as other advancements appear to be not far off. These include bio-fuels and a new type of engine that will reduce weight and allow more air to flow around it for more efficient propulsion.
Recent How We Rolls:
Dec. 2: Monrovia considers loaning 1.5 million to restore Gold Line adjacent historic train depot
Dec. 1: what can you do about climate change?
Nov. 30: Does too much cheap or free parking in L.A. County doom transit? And a futurist looks back at L.A.’s transpo past.
Nov. 25: How to talk about traffic with your family, transit chief resigns in Phoenix amid allegations of inflated travel expenses.
Nov. 24: California has work to do as world environmental leader, shifting money from trains to water
Joe is on Twitter @joseph_lem.
Categories: Transportation Headlines