Friday, May 30, 2008

"Live free or drive"

Portland, Oregon, a rare U.S. city which provides a tantalizing reminder of what car-free living can be, is hosting a car-free conference:

The Towards Carfree Cities conference series brings together people from around the world who work to promote practical alternatives to car dependence. The conference attracts professionals, advocates, and community leaders who focus on the creation of sustainable transportation systems and on the transformation of cities, towns, and villages into human-scaled environments rich in public space and community life. -- read more at CarFreePortland

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Miami, Florida - Free transit proposed

From Transit Miami:

...a couple of Miami-Dade County Commissioners (Bruno Barriero and Barbara Jordan) are proposing an additional ½ penny sales tax hike which would eliminate all MDT fares for all riders. The sales tax hike would require a public vote in November....

National Public Radio actually discusses it...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Auto dependency unfair to poor people

....The main$tream media describe the automobile as an instrument of personal freedom. For the lower middle class, the automobile is an (expletive deleted) albatross. In addition to car payments, gasoline and insurance are burdens that amount to a sizeable percentage of a below-average paycheck. To add injury to insult, insurance premiums tend to be inversely proportional to the ability to pay, thanks to redlining and "credlining...." - Lorraine Lee

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gasoline still cheap in U.S.

Recent rises in the price of gasoline and diesel fuel are exposing the unsustainable transport system in the United States.

The carbon-auto industry will scream for more subsidy:
  • more war for control of crude oil sources
  • more tariffs [fares] to restrict public transit use
  • more direct subsidies to keep prices down
  • more tax money for system repairs
They face an uphill fight:
  • international competition for crude is getting stronger
  • commuters are turning to public transit
  • voters are not falling for direct subsidy gimmicks
  • taxpayers cannot afford to repair the roads and bridges

If they can't win oil on the battlefield, or steal subsidy from the treasury, they will have to raise prices. They are locked into their fixed capital investments in refining, tankers, and pipelines.

They do not have a choice, we do: Free public transit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Phila streetcars - 900M passengers/year

In Philadelphia, PA - USA: Over 900 Million passengers per year ride the streetcar system. This is great news. So great that we waited only 88 years to post it on this blog.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Take Action - Portland, Oregon

The Columbia River Crossing (CRC) is a $4.2 billion proposed freeway expansion project along a five mile stretch of Interstate 5 between between North Portland and Vancouver, WA. As conceived, the project will increase global warming pollution, harm people’s health, and undermine our region’s vision of a sustainable economy. The CRC will leave us unprepared for the future, while draining $4 billion + of our limited public resources from other important transportation projects.

- Coalition for a Livable Future

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cyclone 'is a sign of things to come'

photo from flickr grantthai

..."The victims of these cyclones are climate change victims and their plight should remind the rich world that it is doing too little to contain its greenhouse gas emissions."... Ms Narain said lifestyles in rich nations "are now spelling doom for countries like (Burma) and Bangladesh - and the big polluters of the world, such as the US, cannot escape their responsibility and their role in the 'dance of death' of tropical cyclones like Nargis."...

--The Australian May 9, 2008

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Take Action - Atlanta, GA

For two years TRU, members of ATU Local 732, and Concerned Paratransit Riders (now CTREA) have worked to analyze the current transit system and proposed expansions and develop our own vision for accountable, affordable, and accessible regional transit. The Plan.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Commerce, CA - Has free public transit

Determined to avoid the higher property taxes annexation to any neighboring city might bring, a hardy band of residents and business leaders set out in 1959 to incorporate the City of Commerce as the 67th city in Los Angeles County. On the low hills to the east of downtown Los Angeles, these volunteers proclaimed their intention to establish a "Model City" with unique advantages for industry and residents alike.
Residents who wanted a swimming pool saw the two-pool, all-year Aquatorium facility (now the Rosewood Park Community Center and Aquatorium) rise at Rosewood Park. Citizens who had worried that the county library branch would close saw four municipal libraries open. Residents who had to clear their own first baseball field attended games featuring professional players, college teams, and even astronauts, at the new Veterans Park Stadium. And they could ride there on the city's free buses — the nation's first free municipal transportation system.
Business people found a low-tax, pro-business environment with no municipal property tax and no utility tax. A high level of fire and police service continued (and continues today) provided by agencies under contract.
Today, (four decades after incorporation) Commerce is a dynamic city, which has effectively recycled old heavy industrial sites with high technology, office, warehouse and retail use. The city has exceptional recreation and social service programs and provides superior-quality public safety, transportation, and community development services to all residents and businesses located in the city while cultivating a unique small town ambiance enjoyed by all of its citizens.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Carbon capture a scam

Greenpeace Report:

...The report exposes CCS technology’s woeful inadequacy on numerous points. CCS wastes energy, for one thing, as it uses between 10 and 40% of the plant’s power output just to function. It is also expensive, and could possibly double the cost of constructing a coal-fired power plant, which in turn could lead to the raising of electricity costs for consumers. And despite its exorbitant cost, there is actually no guarantee that storing carbon underground is totally safe or effective – even a very low leakage rate could completely undermine the benefits of CCS. But most importantly, CCS simply can’t deliver on a large scale until 2030, ....

Unfortunately, Greenpeace, bold and brave as can be, is forced to observe the blackout on serious discussion of public transporation as a solution to energy/climate problems. No large organization or high-profile individual will be able to take on the carbon-auto lobby. The lobby is too strong and can be opposed effectively only by a mass movement of millions of people.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

San Francisco - What happened to free Muni idea?

The consultants estimate that free Muni would increase ridership by 35-40%. With around 700,000 boardings in an average day, that would mean something like 250,000 more trips. Think about that. Thousands and thousands of people getting out of their cars. Thousands and thousands more people going places in the City they couldn't afford to get to before. Less traffic congestion, less pollution, more people out and about enjoying themselves and probably spending money in SF businesses. How horrible! - from Marc Norton Online

Friday, May 2, 2008

Transit fares are not for revenue

Why do public transit systems collect fares from the passengers? In most cases, the direct cost of collecting the fare is almost as much as the fare. If you add in the indirect costs, collecting fares costs more than not collecting fares. So why do it? Simple. To discourage use of public transit.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

"Smart" Growth respects pub-trans blackout

The carbon-auto lobby must contain the threat of public transit. They have been successful in maintaining a blackout, a gag-order, on serious discussion of public transportation outside of the transit advocacy community. We have provided examples of this blackout here and will provide more. Here is one. SmartGrowthAmerica - you would expect them to be all about public transportation... but read this quote from their website:

“Curbing emissions from cars depends on a three-legged stool: improved vehicle efficiency, cleaner fuels, and a reduction in driving,” said lead author Reid Ewing, Research Professor at the National Center for Smart Growth, University of Maryland. “The research shows that one of the best ways to reduce vehicle travel is to build places where people can accomplish more with less driving.”

Imagine laying out the main ways to curb auto emissions and NOT mentioning public transit. It takes a lot of education to be able to ignore the obvious.