Thoughts on High-speed Rail and Buses

I’m back from a California trip – beautiful state, beautiful weather, completely dysfunctional government.  For example, even with massive fiscal problems it’s still trying to build a vastly expensive high-speed rail line from San Francisco to San Diego. On a related note, a private group is exploring building a Houston-Dallas HSR line with no subsidies of any kind. I’m totally okay with private efforts.  read more »

Los Angeles Metro Bus System Compares Favorably With its Peer Group

As the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) prepared for its most recent round of major bus operations reductions, Metro CEO Art Leahy has been quoted:

"(T)oo many bus lines with excessive service has led to regular budget deficits1."  read more »

High Speed Rail Subsidies in Iowa: Nothing for Something

The Federal government is again offering money it does not have to entice a state (Iowa) to spend money that it does not have on something it does not need. The state of Iowa is being asked to provide funds to match federal funding for a so-called "high speed rail" line from Chicago to Iowa City. The new rail line would simply duplicate service that is already available.  read more »

Bus Versus Train: A Dying Debate

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s cutbacks on its bus line, eliminating about 12% bus service, illuminate the problems of mass transit in LA, specifically the relative inefficiency of trains in the city. This 12% is a further reduction after the 4% cutbacks six months ago, sparking anger from the Bus Riders Union.  read more »

Brookings Economist Decries Transit Subsidies, Calls For Privatization

In his new book, Last Exit: Privatization and Deregulation of the U.S. Transportation System, Brookings Institution economist Clifford Winston contends that transit subsidies are largely the result of labor productivity losses, inefficient operations and counterproductive federal regulations.  read more »

Commuter Rail Brings Slower Transit in Austin

Commuter rail is often sold to the public as a faster means of travel than buses. This can be true if the drive to the park and ride lot is short and your destination is within walking distance of a station. However, it is apparently not true in Austin.  read more »

Transit in Los Angeles: Celebrating the Wrong Thing

Los Angeles area transit officials celebrated 20 years of urban rail at a Staples Center event on July 23. Over the past 20 years, Los Angeles has opened 2 metro (subway) lines, 4 light rail lines and two exclusive busways (though apparently busways aren't worth celebrating). Surely, there is no question but that Los Angeles has been successful in opening a lot of new transit infrastructure.  read more »

BRT is ERP (or, Bus Rapid Transit is Enlightened Responsible Planning)

Robert Sullivan’s recent article in New York magazine, “Subway on the Street”, marks a welcome addition to transportation discussions in New York City. New Yorkers are currently faced with seemingly paradoxical transportation plans that call for subway and bus service cuts, while relatively short and exceedingly expensive underground subways are being built (Sullivan discusses both).  read more »