Ooh…transportation news on a Friday. No better way to end a week.
- Demand for Transit Rises, and Service May Shrink. Really? Gas prices dropping. Unemployment rising. And still Americans rode subways, buses and commuter railroads in record numbers in the third quarter of this year in record numbers. According to Bob Gibbons of Metro Transit, Twin Cities ridership over the past four years is up about 17 percent, but has only been about a 2.5 percent increase in routes and service on light rail and buses. So it’s harder to find a seat, and the system is getting strained. There’s not doubt that our region’s bus system is facing a similar strain. Despite strong public opposition, the cost of riding a Metro Transit regular-route bus and the Hiawatha Light Rail went up 25 cents starting on October 1, 2008. Our fares were already much higher than fares in our peer regions, and the Metropolitan Council is considering another 50 cent fare increase in 2009. Why? The Metropolitan Council projects an $80-90 million deficit in its two year transit operating budget. Uh-oh…
- David Brooks: What is Up With Obama’s Infrastructure Plan? David Brooks of the New York Times poses an interesting question: where is the creativity in Obama’s infrastructure plan? We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. We can either do transportation right, or as Brooks says, “[unless the stimulus package is] designed with care, its main effect will be to prop up the drying husks of the [economic] fall.” Transit for Livable Communities is participating in the Transportation for America campaign to ensure that America’s transportation is built for 21st century needs. Learn more at www.t4america.org.
Bicycling and Walking
- Safe Routes to School reports. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership recently released a report that focuses on reducing pollutants and carbon emissions by increasing bicycling and walking habits. The report concludes that changing the habits of 20 percent of the children living within two miles of school to get them to walk or bicycle to and from school instead of being driven would be the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road each year, preventing the emission of over 350,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 21,500 tons of other pollutants.
- Bicycles of the future? Yamaha recently unveiled their new PAS City-C hybrid electric bicycle which uses an electric motor to provide assistance while accelerating, climbing a hill, riding in the wind, or carrying heavy loads. Yamaha’s model is similar to other increasingly popular electric bicycles being sold in select Twin-Cities bike shops. Another recently unveiled electric bicycle dubbed “The Grasshopper” has a compact foldable frame and rechargeable battery that stores energy generated by pedaling and regenerative braking.
- Crime on the Midtown Greenway? Eh, Just Stay Off It at Night, Says Minneapolis Police Force. Recent incidents of crime on the Midtown Greenway have led to the Minneapolis Police Department advising cyclists to “avoid the greenway after dark, if that’s possible.” We couldn’t help but wonder…are there many (any?) examples of a police force asking drivers to avoid a major road at night because of crime? Aren’t there other solutions to combatting crime?
- Optimism undaunted on rail line to Duluth. Despite an estimated price tag of $500 million and no guarantee that federal funding will cover 80 percent of the project, officials remain optimistic about the Northern Lights Express’ future. Plans for the high-speed 150-mile line are receiving growing attention due to promising opportunities for job creation and economic development.
- Could high-speed rail run from here to Chicago? Ridership on the Empire Builder, Amtrak’s most-popular long distance route, grew nearly 10 percent in the 2008 fiscal year, which ended in September. Increasing ridership levels over the past six consecutive years are prompting advocates and legislators to reexamine the important role passenger rail could play in a 21st century transportation system. In 2002, estimates showed that a high-speed rail line linking St. Paul and Chicago would cost $1.86 billion to construct, with Minnesota financing $400 million. In addition to Amtrak’s growing popularity, interest in the project stems from Congressman Jim Oberstar’s influence as chairman of the U.S. House Transportation Committee and President-elect Barack Obama’s declared support for passenger rail and infrastructure investments.
Roads and Transit
- New ridership record shows U.S. still lured to mass transit (Washington Post)
- Gas spike over, metro riders still hopping on bus, train (Star Tribune)
- Mass transit numbers soar, but service updates fall behind (City Pages)
- Transit ridership soars 6.5 percent in 3rd quarter (kare 11)
- Governor details results of 2003 transportation spending package (Minn Post)
- New Hwy. 41 bridge route between Chaska and Shakopee chosen (Star Tribune)
- The mysteries of taking the bus (Star Tribune)
- Take a ride on the yellow line (Twin Cities Streets for People)
- Michael Moore: Make Detroit build trains and buses (Grist)
- U of MN program examines transportation workforce (Finance and Commerce)
- St. Louis Park works hard to remake major intersection (Star Tribune)
- Energy-generating floors to power Tokyo subways (Inhabitat)
Bicycling and Walking
- Safe Routes to Schools reports (Twin Cities Streets for People)
- St. Paul bicycle shelter competition (Twin Cities Streets for People)
- Stuck in that congestion? I got one suggestion: Use a bike rack! (Twin Cities Streets for People)
- Boulder goes bike platinum (Streets Blog)
- More Portland cyclists mean safer Portland streets (Streets Blog)
- Transforming traffic analysis (San Francisco Bay Guardian)
- Yamaha’s suave hybrid electric City-C bike (Inhabitat)
- Grasshopper folding bike generates pedal power (Inhabitat)
- Police to increase presence on Midtown Greenway (Star Tribune)
- Optimism undaunted on rail line to Duluth (Star Tribune)
- Could high-speed rail run from here to Chicago? (Star Tribune)
- $5.2 billion rail project in Washington, D.C. a sign of the times (Tree Hugger)
- How to write the next transportation bill? (National Journal)
- Opinion: Now is the perfect time for a dollar-a-gallon gasoline tax (Mercury News)
- Investment in infrastructure must create new transportation patterns (New York Times)
- Obama pledges public works on a vast scale (New York Times)
- Istanbul’s public transit plans: 12 million people, almost as many ideas for moving them around (Tree Hugger)