Transportation


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?!

The Importance of Maintaining Long Distance Passenger Rail

By Robert Cruickshank

Another year, another Congressional Republican attack on Amtrak’s popular long distance rail service.

This time California Republican Jeff Denham is among those seeking to shut down the high ridership service:

In a May hearing, Rep. Jeff Denham, a California Republican and chairman of the railroads subcommittee in the House of Representatives, noted that Amtrak’s long-distance routes lost a combined $600 million in 2012.

“We simply cannot afford to continue these levels of subsidized losses year after year,” Denham said.

California Must Foster the Takeoff of Electric Vehicles

Assemblymember Phil TingBy Assemblymember Phil Ting

Editors note: On September 28th, 2013 Governor Brown signed into law the bills mentioned in this post.

Green living is the future. But the power of our everyday actions to aid the environment can only be unleashed when green choices become a bigger part of our lives.

Building Transportation Infrastructure in a Broken Political System

By Robert Cruickshank

Over at his blog, Alon Levy has an interesting post calling for more democracy in the planning and authorization of transportation infrastructure. Levy points to Switzerland as an example of a political system where transportation projects are routinely put to a referendum and the results are generally positive. He contrasts that with the California high speed rail project, which he argues was the product of a flawed political process:

I've begun to believe that California's original sin with its HSR project is that it refused to do the same. Prop 1A was a referendum for what was billed as one third of the cost, $10 billion. In reality it was $9 billion and $1 billion in extra funds for connecting local transit; in year of expenditure dollars the estimated budget then was $43 billion, so barely a fifth of the project's cost was voted on. The HSR Authority planned on getting the rest of the money from federal funding and private-sector funding. Prop 1A even required a 1:1 match from an external source, so confident the Authority was that it would get extra money.

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.

An Alternative to Austerity? Thousands Say "Tax Wall Street"

By Chuck Idelson
National Nurses United

They came, they danced, they marched, 2,000 people spirited and strong, Robin Hood's merry band of men and women, through the streets of Washington April 20.

Ending up astride a prominent government building, christened with a new name and a naming ceremony. No more U.S. Treasury, now, the banner declared, "The U.S. Treasury. A Citigroup Subsidiary. Jack Lew, Inc., CEO."

"We could end AIDS, reverse climate change, fund jobs and health care. Who do you work for Secretary Lew?" asked Jennifer Flynn, managing director of Health GAP (Global Action Project). "You work for the people, not Wall Street."

CHSRA Board Approves Blended Plan, Bond Sales

By Robert Cruickshank

The California High Speed Rail Authority board met Monday and took action on two rather significant items.

First, the board voted to approve the Memorandum of Understanding with Caltrain that allows the "blended plan" to move forward. Approval had been delayed earlier this month when Lynn Schenk voiced her concern that the "blended plan" wasn't workable and fell short of the Prop 1A guidelines. Other longtime HSR supporters welcomed the MOU and the "blended plan":

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.

Darrell Steinberg to Unveil CEQA Reform Bill

By Robert Cruickshank

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Thursday that he intends to propose a bill today that would reform the California Environmental Quality Act.

The proposal is co-authored by Senator Michael Rubio, but it has also been shaped by the blue-green alliance of unions and environmentalists who have joined forces to oppose bad reform:

"There will be an outline of a bill with detail intent," Steinberg said in an interview with The Chronicle editorial board Thursday. Or, as his press secretary Rhys Williams explained, what comes out Friday "will signal the intent of where the law wants to go."

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.