Things to listen to whilst transiting: Fun episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour on four movies so bad that they’re good. I won’t give away the list, other than to praise the selection of a certain film about a weather phenomenon closely identified with the Midwest. #cow
System overload (New Yorker)
Essential reading for anyone interested who drives, flies or takes public transit or long-distance trains in the United States, not to mention those who like to find store shelves stocked with goods of all sorts. The three takeaways:
•”Today, we spend significantly less, as a share of G.D.P., on infrastructure than we did fifty years ago—less, even, than fifteen years ago. As the economist Larry Summers has pointed out, once you adjust for depreciation, the U.S. makes no net investment in public infrastructure.”
•As the op-ed notes, infrastructure spending has historically enjoyed bipartisan support and it continues to poll well with voters.
•”Again, there are political reasons that maintenance gets scanted. It’s handled mainly by state and local communities, which, because many of them can’t run fiscal deficits, operate under budgetary pressures.”
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of that last bullet point. This is why transit agencies such as Metro pursue local funding through sales taxes — the money literally is not coming from anywhere else.
The piece by economic writer James Surowiecki looks at infrastructure though the lens of Washington Metro, which is facing prolonged closures on some of its rail lines for maintenance. When the Metro opened in the nation’s capitol in 1976, it was held up as a sign of progress and modernity.
If you don’t feel like reading, here (again) is John Oliver’s awesome segment on infrastructure from his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.” Warning: adult language of the R-rated variety. Examples of other infrastructure in our region:
A look at the public meeting held by Metro in El Monte on Thursday to discuss the agency’s potential ballot measure and the draft spending plan. About 40 people attended and Metro CEO Phil Washington was there to discuss the plan and ask that
voters consider it as a long-term investment in the region. Excerpt:
In a straw poll conducted among attendees Thursday using handheld clickers, 77 percent said they would support the tax if the election were held today, while 89 percent supported a 50-year tax if more projects would be built and completed sooner.
If the Metro Board puts the issue to voters (the Board will decide in June), two-thirds approval would be needed for it to pass.
Two clarifications: the Sepulveda Pass project would connect the Westside to the San Fernando Valley and the High Desert Corridor is a project to build a new freeway between Lancaster/Palmdale and SR-18 in San Bernardino County. The project is being designed to include a high-speed rail corridor if the Las Vegas to Antelope Valley bullet train ever materializes.
Smart piece although I’m quibble with the “easy” part about implementing congestion pricing across all lanes of major highways at peak times to better distribute traffic throughout the day. The other three fixes: converting carpool lanes to truck lanes (again, not easy), getting more kids to walk to school (less bus traffic) and persuading employers to allow more employees to work at home and/or change their work hours so there’s less overall eight-to-fivers.
As for that last one, good luck. Managers like to see their employees too much. Besides, if people worked at home and turned off email, productivity across the United States would reach new all-time highs and managers would have little to do, other than take credit for it 🙂
A look at the Union Station Master Plan and efforts to bring more people into the station outside rush hours. Most notably, there will be a concert series coming soon to the courtyard next to the station and Laura Nelson reports that Metro says the retaurant/bar planned for the old Fred Harvey space could open within a year.
A lease for the gastropub was approved by the Metro Board in the fall of 2014. It’s a big task — an entirely new kitchen needs to be installed along with other important upgrades. Still, can’t wait. Should be a great Happy Hour and evening space that will be very easy to reach.
Categories: Transportation Headlines