Transportation

She’s No Alexander Hamilton

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The Antiplanner might be behind the times, but has anyone else noticed that it is the Democrats who are playing the role of Alexander Hamilton — the conservative who wanted to centralize government and concentrate power in New York banks — while the Republicans are playing the role of Thomas Jefferson — the civil libertarian who wanted to keep economic and political power decentralized?  read more »

This Train Won’t Leave the Station

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Governor Gavin Newsom has canceled the bulk of the state’s long-proposed high-speed line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, leaving only a tail of the once-grand project—a connection between the Central Valley’s Merced and Bakersfield, not exactly major metropolitan areas. “Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”  read more »

Pulling the Plug on HS2 (London-Birmingham High Speed Rail)?

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High speed rail may be proposed as a climate change panacea here and elsewhere, but the results on the ground are less than promising. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week that the California high speed rail project would be scaled back to the route between Bakersfield and Merced, in the San Joaquin Valley (which the state has enough money for). In his “state of the state” speech the Governor said “…let’s be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”  read more »

Transit: The Long Commute

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The headline trumpeted “Report: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others,” in a 2000 edition of The Onion, the leading national satirical newspaper. The spoof suggested a national transit promotional campaign with the slogan “Take The Bus… I'll Be Glad You Did,” and quoted a Los Angeles 80 mile daily commuter “Expanding mass transit isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity… My drive to work is unbelievable.  read more »

Lyfting Herself Up From Her Bootstraps

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I occasionally find myself in an Uber or Lyft. I like to hear about the lives of the people who do the driving. They’re overwhelmingly from the distant suburbs and drive in to the city to collect fares. An hour away is the most typical distance. I ask why they don’t just drive near where they live. The numbers don’t add up. Not enough volume. The distances are too far and the empty round trips burn up miles with no income. And the price they get for each trip is geographically sensitive based on supply and demand.  read more »

Can High-Speed Rail Make Housing Affordable?

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UCLA management professor Jerry Nickerson thinks he has found a solution to California’s housing affordability problems: high-speed rail. Based on years of data, he has concluded that some Japanese who work in Tokyo and other expensive cities make long commutes on high-speed trains to more affordable cities elsewhere in the country.  read more »

The New "Micro-Mode" of Travel: E-Scooters

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From public forums to mobility conferences to office watercoolers, dockless electric scooters (“e-scooters”) are a hot topic these days. Travelers are turning to e-scooters to shave precious time off their commutes and experience urban environments in fun new ways. City officials, meanwhile, are asking difficult questions about their safety and impacts on sidewalk use and transit.  read more »

Will Seattle light rail extended to Snohomish County create intolerable crowding on peak period trains in King County?

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Starting in the 1980s, the central Puget Sound region committed itself to a network of four-car light-rail trains having less passenger capacity than the eight-car heavy-rail subway rejected by King County voters in 1968 and 1970, a service territory that included Seattle and Bellevue. The plan back then did not include tracks into Snohomish County to the north and Pierce County to the south. Those two jurisdictions were added to the voter-approved Sound Transit plans beginning in 1996.  read more »

Reinventing the Rust Belt in Kokomo

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I’ve written about Kokomo, Indiana before and also posted a podcast with its mayor. It’s a small manufacturing city in Indiana, far from glamorous and with its own set of challenges, that has been seeking to reinvent itself for the 21st century. My latest City Journal article is a look at Kokomo and what it’s been up to.  read more »

By Law, California High Speed Rail May Be Doomed To Fail

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It has been 10 years since passage of California Proposition 1A the High-Speed Rail Act that approved the $9.95 billion bond, a down payment on a high-speed rail project that was optimistically estimated by proponents at that time to cost $40 billion. Today, the California high-speed rail cost may approach $100 billion. Public enthusiasm is obviously dwindling.  read more »