Public Transit


Texas HSR Could Face Same Challenges as California HSR

By Robert Cruickshank

In recent days there’s been a spate of posts and articles touting the Texas high speed rail project as a better approach than the California project. Some of this is undoubtedly the California-Texas rivalry at work, but it’s also fueled by the routine misunderstanding in the media about the nature of California HSR’s problems. Those problems exist solely because opponents of California HSR found powerful allies in the Congressional Republicans, and have been able to block future funding and create a cascading set of problems that stem from that denial.

Car Dependent Californians

By Alan Kandel

First, some statistics.

There are 22 million Californians driving, according to Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters. Golden State population numbering an approximate 38 million people strong, that roughly 58 percent of us drive is one thing. But having 27.5 million motor vehicles at our disposal with which to do this – what is this saying?! What it says is: for every driver there exist 1.25 cars or five automobiles for every four motorists. Do we Californians love our cars or what?!

Fight Over Google Buses Shows Need For Statewide Rail Funding Plan

By Robert Cruickshank

A battle that has been simmering for years finally exploded into the open Monday in San Francisco, where protestors blocked one of Google’s private buses that carries workers from their homes in the Mission to Google HQ in Mountain View. Protestors charged that Google was contributing to a two-tier transportation system in the Bay Area, where tech workers get free express bus service whereas everyone else has to make do with transit systems like Muni, BART and Caltrain that are increasingly struggling to meet soaring demand.

Commuters Can Save Money And Cut Pollution

By Rob Perks

Natural Resources Defense Council

All across the country, a shift is taking place. Increasingly, Americans are choosing to live in walkable communities with convenient housing, offering more transportation choices that allow them to live closer to their jobs, and shops and schools, rather than stuck in traffic. Along with the personal freedom these communities provide, it’s exactly the kind of growth our country needs to cut pollution, save money and create a vibrant quality of life.

But for many Americans, whether they live near or far from metropolitan areas, commuting for work is costing them time and money.

California HSR Clears Last Regulatory Hurdle, Groundbreaking Set for This Summer

By Robert Cruickshank

Congressional Republicans and others opposed to the California high speed rail project had been hoping the Surface Transportation Board would give them a big win and block construction of the HSR project this summer. But that won’t be happening. Instead the STB has ruled in favor of the California HSR project, granting the section from Merced to Fresno an exemption from STB approval rules.

Twenty-Five Ideas for Mayor Garcetti

Peter DreierBy Peter Dreier

Eric Garcetti has enormous potential to be one of L.A.'s great mayors. He is young (just 42), full of energy, experienced in politics and government, passionate about L.A., brimming with policy ideas, compassionate toward the disadvantaged and a great communicator and explainer. I saw many of these traits up-close when I co-taught a course with him at Occidental College in 2000, and have watched him blossom as he joined the City Council and served as its president.

Now he faces the daunting challenges of running America's second-biggest, and most diverse, city.

Ray LaHood: HSR is Obama's Crowning Glory

By Robert Cruickshank

Ray LaHood gave some parting remarks this week as he wraps up his tenure as U.S. Transportation Secretary. He was full of praise for President Barack Obama, but high speed rail was at the top of the list.

High Speed Rail: Relief for California's "Mega-Commuters"

By Robert Cruickshank

New data from the US Census Bureau has found that Northern California has the largest proportion of "mega-commuters" in the country - defined as morning commutes of at least 50 miles and 90 minutes. The numbers aren't huge - 2% of workers in the Bay Area core are mega-commuters - but it is a clear sign that something is not working in Northern California.

What Would Ideal CEQA Reform Look Like?

By Robert Cruickshank

There's been a lot of discussion in recent weeks about various proposals to reform the California Environmental Quality Act. But the most interesting proposals are those that have been around the longest.

I first delved into CEQA back in 2009 when covering an article that argued CEQA could be the biggest obstacle to California high speed rail. At the time, I touted a 2006 study by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association - SPUR - titled Fixing the California Environmental Quality Act. SPUR's approach was to follow the successful model of Oregon, where for over 40 years sprawl has been effectively if not totally limited in favor of light rail and infill development. SPUR's goal was to promote greater urban density through smart, holistic planning processes. CEQA is primarily designed as a tool to block bad projects but does nothing to encourage good projects, which is what we need.

How Economists Routinely Get It Wrong on High Speed Rail

By Robert Cruickshank

The main purpose of any transportation project is to help people get to where they want to go. Cost should be a subsidiary factor in the planning of any transportation project. Unfortunately, in the 30 years since right-wing ideology became politically ascendant, keeping costs down so that rich people didn't have to pay higher taxes started taking precedence over building effective transportation projects. This may have been tenable as long as oil prices remained low. But once prices began rising again, it was clear that building electric passenger trains was a top priority for modern societies.