The draft reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program (highway and transit) in the House of Representatives is filled with initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, often by seeking to encourage compact development (smart growth) policies. Dr. Ronald D. Utt of the Heritage Foundation discovered an interesting definition in the draft: “sustainable modes of transportation” means public transit, walking, and bicycling” (Section 333(P)7, page 219, accessed November 18, 2009). read more »
The Los Angeles Times reports progress toward completion of the Long Beach Freeway (I-710) gap between Valley Boulevard in East Los Angeles and Pasadena, with a geologic study finding a tunnel alignment to be feasible. Real progress is overdue. My great aunt and great uncle were forced out of their house in the early 1960s in South Pasadena by the California Highway Department, in anticipation of building the freeway. I suspect the house is still there. read more »
China Daily reports that car (light vehicle) sales reached 10.9 million units in the first 10 months of 2009, surpassing sales in the United States by 2.2 million. This was a 38% increase over the same period last year. Part of the increase is attributed to government programs to stimulate automobile sales. read more »
California High Speed Rail Commission member Rod Diridon is chafing at all of the competition that has been created by the billions committed by the federal government to high speed rail. read more »
Set aside for a minute whether high-speed rail (HSR) makes sense or not on a cost-benefit basis. Regardless of whether it does or not (and some smart people are arguing not), I'd like to make the argument that federal funding has no place in HSR. Instead, it should be left to individual states or regional state coalitions.
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According to Railway Technology, Taiwan’s struggling high speed rail line, the only fully private and commercial high speed rail system in the world, will be taken over by the government his week. The line has been plagued by disappointing ridership levels totaling approximately one-third projected levels. The company has generated insufficient revenues to meet its debt obligations and had previously renegotiated its bank credit to substantially lower interest rates. read more »
Not every local official is smitten with the romance of high-speed rail. Graphic evidence of this was provided by Springfield, Illinois mayor Tim Davlin, who expressed his concern that the proposed rail overpasses would slice the city in half. Davlin told the State Journal Register that the “Whole city would look like crap.” This is a problem faced not only by historic Springfield, the state’s capital and location of many Abraham Lincoln sites. read more »
I want to pass along this Wall Street Journal op-ed on some of crazy transportation goals starting to get traction in Congress. The main excerpt:
Messrs. Rockefeller and Lautenberg aim to "reduce per capita motor vehicle miles traveled on an annual basis." Mr. Oberstar wants to establish a federal "Office of Livability" to ensure that "States and metropolitan areas achieve progress towards national transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals." read more »
Running a little behind this week, so I just wanted to pass along this story from USA Today on domestic airports adding rail service. People love the service, of course, and many airports are doing it, but later in the article they get to the economic irrationality of it in America's decentralized car-centric cities (as opposed to Europe and Asia). read more »
Further demonstrating the ability of technology to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Mitsubishi has announced development of a lithium battery driven car, to be sold within two years. The car, the "MIEV Plug-In Electric First Drive" would travel as much as 100 miles (160 kilometers) between charges.
United States Data and Comparisons: GHG Emissions per Passenger Mile/Passenger KM are indicated below (From power plants – variation is due to mix of fuel sources used in producing electricity)
Average United States: 61 grams/37 grams read more »