So, rather than firing off one of my usual unsupported assertions on the blog, I spent way too much time yesterday trying to figure out how much carbon and other nasty stuff is emitted by the locomotive currently dragging me to work.
Regrettably, I can only say at this point that it’s a diesel electric, which means that it’s a ginormous diesel engine that doesn’t actually turn the gears that turn the wheels, like in a regular car, but turns a generator that powers an electric motor that makes the wheels turn. I have calls in to the EPA and several other entities, but the blogosphere waits not for laggards in pursuit of the truth. I’ll delay no further, and update when I (or one of you smart people) locate the data.
My assertion, in theory, was that I had done what Gov. Schwarzenegger had done, but with sweat instead of cash.
As many of you no doubt know, our green governor was called to account for jetting around the world to promote his anti-global warming campaign. To atone for his oversized carbon footprint, he paid indulgences to a Read the rest of this entry »
NOTE: “Goodbye to the Key Route System” Video provided by Bob Franklin, BART director and music video director. Vocals by Mel Leroy, lyrics by Judith Offer with Joyce Whitelaw on piano and Lynn Parker on drums.
A week ago, I prompted people to wax nostalgic about the Key System on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its death. I still find it curious in this day of controversial transit subsidies that a private urban transit system could survive for the first half the last century. Maybe it’s because it was built and operated by a developer and, as transit and smart-growth devotees now preach, housing, business and transit need to be compatible.
Some of you wanted to talk about just that: The kind of housing density that helps transit work, starting with apartments and condominiums. Looking back at development pre-World War II, when the Key System was thriving, it tended to be much denser. Then the GIs came home with spending money, bought cars and the era of the white- Read the rest of this entry »
Ok, if a black man can be nominated for president, maybe California can build high-speed rail.
It’s starting to look like the wind is behind this thing, what with college students campaigning for it all over the state from now until November, when voters will have to decide whether they like the $10 billion bullet train bond measure or not.
I’m still waiting to see what sort of borrowing plan Sacramento will cook up to get us through the current budget crunch. I get the sense, however, that even that won’t stop the bullet train measure from going before voters.
Tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., students on UC Berkeley’s famous Sproul Plaza will be riding tricycles, jumping on pogo sticks and walking on stilts while wearing “I’d rather be riding high-speed rail” t-shirts.
These students, sold on the idea that the bullet train is public transportation’s answer to the Prius and a major way of fighting global warming, have been pulling off stunts like this up and down the state. While the students’ enthusiasm at first blush might evoke comparisons to Barack Obama’s youthful appeal, I see it a bit differently.
The states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho have reduced their gasoline usage to about a gallon lower than the national average, according to a study I found in my inbox this morning:
Measured per capita, gasoline consumption in
the Pacifi c Northwest states has fallen to its lowest level since 1966. Per-person gas consumption in the region has declined in seven of the last eight years; and climate-warming CO2 emissions from gasoline have fallen by six-tenths of a ton per capita in the region since 1999. That decline in per capita gasoline consumption—11 percent, overall—is the equivalent of every driver in the Northwest taking a Read the rest of this entry »
Today I received an advisory announcing that on Friday, AC Transit would be celebrating the demise of its predecessor, the Key System.
Ok, they’re not cheering the end of “one of the most efficient transportation systems in the world, which also marked the beginning of AC Transit (insert superlative here), but they are drawing a rather odd comparison:
More than commemorate the passing of the Key Route era, they will assert the need to go “Back-to-the-Future” with the kind of Read the rest of this entry »
Far from protecting the environment, most rail transit lines use more energy per passenger mile, and many generate more greenhouse gases, than the average passenger automobile. Rail transit provides no guarantee that a city will save energy or meet greenhouse gas targets.
While most rail transit uses less energy than buses, rail transit does not operate in a vacuum: transit agencies supplement it with extensive feeder bus operations. Those feeder buses tend to have low ridership, so they have high energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile. The result is that, when new rail transit lines open, the transit systems as a whole can end up consuming more energy, per passenger mile, than they did before.
This will be some comfort to regular readers of this blog, at least those who believe that rail transit, commuter rail in particular, is on par, if you will, with whites-only Read the rest of this entry »
You knew it would happen. After all the arm-in-arm campaigning for Prop 1B by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senate leader Don Perata and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, you knew that with $19.9 billion on the table, all that caring and sharing would have to come to an end.
In talking to the folks back in 2006, when that transportation bond measure was on the ballot and I was just stumbling my way around my beat, they all said they’d work in harmony to get the money spent.
If they didn’t, the pols insisted, the voters would see that it was just another cynical money grab and the next time one of these measures went on the ballot, they’d Read the rest of this entry »
No sooner than I said “make ‘em pay” about SUVs, some state legislator comes up with legislation to do just that.
Only this, reported by Riverside Press Enterprise Sacramento correspondent Jim Miller, isn’t what I had in mind:
Legislation by state Sen. Jim Battin, R-La Quinta, to open the state’s carpool lanes to motorists who buy carbon offset credits had about as much chance Tuesday as the owner of a gas-guzzling 1972 Lincoln Continental scoring a coveted “clean-air vehicle” sticker.
Battin, tongue firmly in cheek, said he was disappointed that the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee had blocked his attempt to reduce global warming.
I can’t bear to see the Golden Gate Bridge steal all the attention, what with Tibet backers unfurling banners in preparation for the Olympic Torch sputtering through town Wednesday, from the really exciting news about the Bay Bridge.
I heard today that on Friday there will be a ribbon-cutting on the West Approach in San Francisco. I already wrote about how the project would be finished seven months early. But my initial report said middle of this month, and now it looks like it’s going to be Saturday, April 12.
As I’ve noted, it’s difficult to pronounce the word “infra- structure” these days without putting “crum- bling” before it. Our recent story on the Dumbarton rail bridge is yet another example of that not-at-all retorical reality.
That in turn raises the question of how to pay for keeping up our highways, rail lines and ferry terminals, to say nothing of expanding those systems after we gulp down the $20-billion Prop 1b approved by voters in 2006.
Lucky for us, someone did a study about this.
Asha Agrawal, a research associate at the Mineta Trans- portation Institute at San Jose State University, and her colleagues had noticed that various members of the legislature had proposed various iterations of environmentally indexed fees for driving.
Silicon Valley Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, for example, authored AB 2791, which would basically penalize you if your 2011 GMC Sierra pickup upset the Read the rest of this entry »