Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘transportation’ Category

We have seen the future, and it is Chinese

Posted by Charles II on April 27, 2011

Personally, I don’t like this design (my first thought is “dwarven lowrider”), but when there are hundreds of millions of potential consumers at stake, their tastes tend to influence what happens.

Buick Envision SUV
(from Future Transportation)

Via Patty Waldmeir, FT, in which we learn that China is the world’s largest car market. The really depressing part is that design is increasingly being done in China, meaning more good paying jobs are going overseas. And China is pressuring auto companies to launch indigenous brands, i.e. force them to accept half-ownership with local joint venture partners to keep the profits in China.

Waldmeir notes that the front of the car forms a smile. A predatory one, I would say.

Added: Michael Pettis has a good article, in which he notes that Chinese consumption is incredibly low. This keeps interest rates worldwide low, as well as keeps commodity prices from exploding, but of course means misery for the average Chinese. Situations liike this remind me of the end of Animal Farm.

Posted in China, industry, transportation | Comments Off on We have seen the future, and it is Chinese

Scott Walker Does 180, Suddenly Backs Federal Money for High-Speed Rail

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 30, 2011

I think the English translation of this article is “Scott Walker fears getting his ass recalled next January”:

Less than four months after losing nearly all of an $810 million grant, Wisconsin is again seeking federal high-speed rail money – this time to upgrade the existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago passenger line.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration will announce Tuesday that the state will seek at least $150 million to add equipment and facilities for Amtrak’s Hiawatha line.

The upgrades apparently would not increase the speed of the 79-mph line but could provide the capacity to increase the Hiawatha’s frequency from the current seven round trips daily.

In a bizarre twist, some of the money that Walker is now seeking originally was allocated for the Milwaukee-to-Madison route he previously turned down. That money is available because a fellow Republican governor rejected it, as well.

Too little too late, Dropout.

Posted in Republicans, rightwing moral cripples, transportation | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Light Rail Discussions

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 21, 2010

Conrad deFiebre, writing in response to former Strib colleague Mike Meyers’ trashing of light rail, mentions the following:

“Buses surely are a more democratic form of mass transit than is light rail,” [Meyers] writes. “We’re still waiting to hear about plans for a light-rail line through the neighborhoods of north Minneapolis, which have more than their share of poor and minorities.”

News flash for Meyers: Months ago, Hennepin County officials selected from among four alternatives for the planned Southwest Transitway, the only route that does serve north Minneapolis. The Metropolitan Council is expected to ratify that choice later this month. Another proposed transitway high on the Met Council’s priority list, the Bottineau, would ply the heart of the North Side, West Broadway.

Since we’re talking about poor neighborhoods: One thing that Meyers and deFiebre ignore is that the planned route of the next phase of the light rail system, the Central Corridor, is along University Avenue, which goes through the economically-depressed Midway and Rondo neighborhoods — and which has been resisted tooth and nail by many anti-LRT activists. But I guess these gents are both too Minneapolis-centric to notice the existence of that funny little burg across the river from them.

DeFiebre also mentions that one of Meyers’ talking points — that light rail currently carries “only” one in eight public-transit users — is actually a point in light rail’s favor: With over 200 bus routes in the Twin Cities and only one light rail line, the Hiawatha Line, that means that the single light-rail line is carrying the equivalent of thirty (30) bus routes!

Another thing: The fact that LRT routes can’t be changed as readily and as cheaply as bus routes is a big point in their favor. Developers know that they can count on the line to still exist when they finish their office park or apartment block, and use it as a selling point. Development takes place along light rail routes, much as towns sprung up alongside train tracks in the early days of railroading.

Posted in Minnesota, transportation | Comments Off on Light Rail Discussions

People In Minnesota Love Them Some Mass Transit

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 15, 2010

Just as the ridership numbers for the Hiawatha light-rail line far exceeded initial expectations, the ridership numbers for the North Star commuter rail service managed to be slightly higher than projected despite two trips having to be cancelled due to mechanical glitches.

Thanks go to Jesse Ventura for pushing this through over the objections of then-House leader Tim Pawlenty (who amazingly switched to being a “supporter” of the line once it was a done deal). Thank you, Jesse!

Posted in transportation, when government is a good thing | Tagged: | Comments Off on People In Minnesota Love Them Some Mass Transit

Haaretz: Israeli Security Firm Failed To Spot Would-Be Underpants Bomber

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 11, 2010

One of the recurring themes we hear in the wake of any airline-related terrorism is that it would never have happened in Israel, because they’re too good at spotting potential terrorists to allow any onto planes.

That bit of conventional wisdom might need a touch of revising:

The Israeli firm ICTS International (not to be confused with ICTS Europe, which is a different company), and two of its subsidiaries are at the crux of an international investigation in recent days, as experts try to pinpoint the reasons for the security failure that enabled Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest flight 253 and attempt to set alight explosives hidden in his underwear.

A Haaretz investigation has learned that the security officers and their supervisor should have suspected the passenger, even without having early intelligence available to them.

There’s more at the Haaretz link.

Posted in israel, terrorism, transportation, TSA | Comments Off on Haaretz: Israeli Security Firm Failed To Spot Would-Be Underpants Bomber

Solar Roadways: Paving The Way To Energy Freedom?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 27, 2009

Remember when I mentioned the Solar Roadways concept? Imagine — instead of giving up giant sections of our countryside to solar arrays, we could make solar arrays out of already-paved land, namely roads.

It’s getting closer to reality:

Solar Roadways today announced that it has been awarded a DOT contract that will enable them to prototype the first ever Solar Road Panel.

The Solar Roadways will collect solar energy to power businesses and homes via structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon, to be placed in parking lots and roadways in lieu of petroleum-based asphalt surfaces.

The Solar Road Panels will contain embedded LEDs which “paint” the road lines from beneath to provide safer nighttime driving, as well as to give up to the minute instructions (via the road) to drivers (i.e. “detour ahead”). The road will be able to sense wildlife on the road and can warn drivers to “slow down”. There will also be embedded heating elements in the surface to prevent snow and ice buildup, providing for safer winter driving. This feature packed system will become an intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels.

Replacing asphalt roads and parking lots with Solar Roadway panels will be a major step toward halting climate change. Fully electric vehicles will be able to recharge along the roadway and in parking lots, finally making electric cars practical for long trips.

It is estimated that is will take roughly five billion (a stimulus package in itself) 12′ by 12′ Solar Road Panels to cover the asphalt surfaces in the U.S. alone, allowing us to produce three times more power than we’ve ever used as a nation – almost enough to power the entire world.

This is just so fabulous I can hardly wrap my mind around it.

Posted in economy, energy, environment, solar, sustainability, transportation | 8 Comments »


Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 12, 2009

Because this beastie doesn’t vrooooom.

Posted in saving the earth, sustainability, transportation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

A Really Stupid Idea

Posted by MEC on February 20, 2009

That’s my kneejerk reaction to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s idea to tax motorists based on how many miles they drive.

There’s the privacy concern, certainly, and the sheer magnitude of the task of installing a GPS chip in everybody’s car that tracks their every movement, just for the purpose of counting up the miles driven.

But my first thought was that between the job losses and housing crisis, many people must be taking jobs far away from their residences because there are no jobs closer, and they can’t move closer to work because of the difficulty of getting a mortgage and selling a house in a glutted market. There are also people in rural areas who are driving into urban areas for work, because that’s where the jobs are. And people who live a long distance from work because housing closer to where the jobs are is just too expensive for the average wage earner. And people who live in urban areas that don’t have public transportation worth considering.

So yeah sure, let’s punish people who are doing what they have to do to keep paying the bills. And while we’re at it, let’s discourage people from going to restaurants, theaters, shops, and other places where they’d spend money that keeps the businesses open and the employees employed and the economy going.

I recognize the need to raise revenue for road maintenance and repair, but a mileage tax would do far more harm than good.

I say that as someone who drives a mere 13 miles each way to work. I’d take the bus, but I’d burn almost as much gasoline getting to the nearest bus stop as I do driving all the way to work. Instead of thinking of ways of penalizing drivers who can’t choose not to drive long distances, maybe Mr. LaHood could spend some time working on providing adequate public transportation that would reduce oil consumption and the wear and tear on our roads.

(H/T Barbara Morrill in Daily Kos)

[Edit] White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says, “It is not and will not be the policy of the Obama administration.”

Posted in transportation | 3 Comments »

Stupid And Evil, That’s Our Boehner!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 15, 2009

If anybody’s thinking of running against John Boehner next year, here’s some lovely oppo for ya!

Boehner recently uttered this slam against passenger rail spending in the stimulus package:

“Tell me how spending $8 billion in this bill to have a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is going to help the construction worker in my district.”

Turns out that 1) there is no line from LA to Vegas and 2) Ohio stands to benefit mightily from high-speed rail.

Posted in 111th Congress, infrastructure, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, transportation, WTF? | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Is It About The Wires?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 5, 2009

The Twin Cities is buzzing over Minnesota Public Radio chief Bill Kling’s efforts to hold up the Saint Paul end of the Central Corridor light rail project unless it’s rerouted at great expense. His stated reason: The LRT trains allegedly excessive noise and vibration would render MPR’s studios useless.

Among the people skeptical of this is Adam Platt:

In Chicago, the “L” runs next to and under WLS-TV and radio’s studios on State Street, from which various newscasts and live radio broadcasts emanate all day. I work in a building adjacent to the Hiawatha LRT line; I can see it from my desk. Its horn and bell are faint indeed, and I am on the fifth floor next to a window, not in a soundproofed studio or private office. I am struck by the lingering sense that this is less about vibrations and unmitigateable damage than it is about an organization accustomed to being catered to and insisting on its way.

Could it be that MPR just doesn’t want the bother of trains running outside its front door? It strains credulity that sound impacts from Central Corridor could not be mitigated for a fraction of the cost of realigning the route and delaying construction, scheduled for 2010. Is MPR merely laying the groundwork for a big check from the taxpayers?

As for the science of all of it, I’d be more willing to trust MPR and its consultants’ word if it was more of a transparent organization. MPR’s decades-long shielding of how it compensates its executives through webs of side ventures is one example of an organization that is simply not willing to offer the kind of public accountability incumbent on non-profits that solicit and accept public and member funding. So I’m skeptical this is what they say it is.

A commenter to this article had this to say:

Dear Folks,

The issue is not vibration for recording & broadcasting, you are being fooled.

The big flap at MPR is the overhead wires obstucting the view of the Capitol from Kling’s office – that’s all it is . . .

So then what are you going to do?

I know what I’m going to do. If Bill Kling keeps trying to hold LRT hostage, he can forget about seeing any more coin from my household.

(UPDATE: In case you thought the commenter was making it up, check out this MinnPost story from last June, complete with picture of what the track would look like and Kling’s own words decrying the icky aesthetics of overhead wires.)

Posted in abuse of power, Minnesota, transportation, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: