Monday, June 30, 2008

Transit funds stolen --- again!

Two weeks ago, the state Office of Policy and Management transferred $6.7 million out of mass transit line items in the DOT budget for use elsewhere. This underscores the short-sighted and uncoordinated nature of transportation policy development in Connecticut. It is a bad decision.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Stimulus checks - more autosprawl subsidy

The U.S. carbon-auto industry is trapped. They have trillions invested in the autosprawl system. But their oil wars have not gone well and they can't control the price of crude oil. They are looting the U.S. Treasury - note the recent "stimulus check" scam:

A consumer group that favors increased funding for mass transit thinks it knows how a lot of households spent the economic-stimulus checks being mailed out by the federal government: putting higher-priced gasoline in their cars.

Meanwhile the public and other businesses absorb the costs of autosprawl, while the carbon-auto industry profits:

The Puget Sound region is one of the most congested areas in the country and the economic, environmental and social costs of congestion are great. Traffic congestion costs the Puget Sound Region $844 million annually, or $465 per person each year in wasted time and fuel.
Traffic congestion is not just a Puget Sound problem. Congestion costs the Portland-Vancouver area $757 million per year, 62 million gallons of excess fuel, and an average of 24 hours per person a year. Even in a small urban area like Spokane, congestion cost businesses and individuals approximately $30 million a year, 2 million gallons in excess fuel, and an average of five hours per person a year. WashPirg
We need to STOP the autosprawl subsidies. Join your local transit advocacy group.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Northern Ireland - Free transit for over 60's

Free public transport is to be made available in Northern Ireland for anyone over the age of 60 from 2008.
...It was also announced that preparation work would begin on plans for two rapid transit systems for Belfast.
Currently anyone aged over 65 can travel free on public transport throughout Ireland.
The All Ireland Free Travel Scheme was introduced in April. BBCNews

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rising fuel prices good for China

Gas prices are not nearly as important to the typical Chinese citizen, who doesn't even own a vehicle, let alone drive a gas-guzzling SUV. Most people walk, ride a bike or scooter that gets 100 MPG, or use public transportation (buses, rail, or subway) to get around. -- Money and Markets

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scotland - Free Public Transport Campaign

As fuel prices soar and the cost of transport continues to increase, the time has never been better to introduce free public transport across Scotland. At a stroke, thousands will benefit by saving hundreds of pounds a year in transport costs, and thousands more will be given the incentive to cut car journeys and help reduce pollution. Roads will be safer, with communities less isolated, ....
At a cost of £1billion per year, you may think this is too expensive. But road accidents alone cost £1.4billion per year, and it is estimated that traffic congestion costs £15-£20billion a year. Free fares will also increase the spending power of over a million workers by between £40 and £100 a month. It will be the biggest single pro-environmental policy enacted by any government anywhere on the planet.

ScottishSocialist Party

Friday, June 20, 2008

Niles, Illinois - Free bus successful

Forward thinking local government in Niles, Illinois has put their population in good position for coming high gasoline prices. Niles is not big, you can do this in your town, too.

from the

...Niles Village Manager George Van Geem said the free bus served more than 100,000 riders in the first four months of 2008 -- a 3-percent increase from last year.

"The free bus started 35 years ago to reduce congestion," he said. "We have three routes and it is (available) about half a mile from virtually every resident in Niles."

...Niles resident Helen Sparkes said she takes the free bus almost every day to get around town and save on gas.

"I go to Golf Mill, the Oak Mill mall, the senior center," she said. "Thank God for it. It would kill my very soul if they stopped running it."

Van Geem said the village had no intention of discontinuing the service.

"Public transportation is answer to this problem," he said, referring to high gas prices and environmental pollution. "It's got to be a good thing to have 100,000 less cars on the road."

The Niles free bus runs continually from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays, and from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekends.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Maine - Free Public Transit Fridays

"Through the months of July and August, citylink and ADA complementary paratransit service will be FREE on Fridays. Governor Baldacci is asking people across the state to "declare their energy independence" by riding public transit. As an incentive to ride public transit for the first time or to maybe start riding again, transit systems across the state will be FREE on Fridays through the month of July. Auburn and Lewiston are taking it a step further by extending the FREE Fare Friday program though the end of August." Lewiston/Auburn Transit

Free Public Transit in Mandarin - [click here]

To read this blog in Chinese - simplified Mandarin - click here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Road-pricing hook baited with transit funds

The U.S. carbon-auto industry, through it's puppets in federal government, is tying transit funding to road-pricing. The taxpayer will pay for toll-booths, and then the roads will be sold to private companies who will then ration access to highways and special "lexus" lanes.

Folks, congestion is NOT the problem. It is a symptom of the problem. The problem is that taxpayers have paid trillions to support the unsustainable auto-and-sprawl system. Much private profit has been made and now the bill is coming due. The system is literally falling down.

Some smart California politicians are not taking the bait SGVTribune:

WEST COVINA - ....Congressional members, state, and local leaders expressed serious doubts about the toll plan, which they said would allow wealthy commuters to use the lanes at the expense of the working poor.

....The project proposed by MTA would convert existing HOV lanes on the 10 and 210 freeways into toll lanes that would charge drivers for using them.

....If the plan is approved, MTA would receive $214 million in federal money, which it could use to spend on additional bus and van service to use the lanes....

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bill coming due on "free" CO2 dumping

AP Photo - Iowans pay the price for years of the wasteful autosprawl system.

The carbon-auto industry has made profits for years on an auto-and-sprawl economy heavily subsidized by the taxpayer. They have their profits and now the bill for the free dumping of CO2 is coming due. Although it is late, we should STOP the subsidy now. The most harmful subsidy is the tariff levied on our public investment - urban transit fares.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kigali, Rwanda - "Nationalize the Buses"

...Here is the challenge. How can the congested roads be made less clogged? Here is a simple solution. Increase public transport....
...Kigali is only going to became more congested; unless city authorities do something drastic, traffic will slow down to a crawl.... Newtimes

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The high cost of free CO2 emissions

The 118 reported deaths are significantly more than the death count seen in recent years. The 2008 tornado season is the deadliest in a decade and on pace to be the deadliest ever recorded in the United States.
This could be a harbinger of things to come. Some scientists have warned that global warming will create conditions that make violent tornadoes more frequent. There is
greater consensus that global warming will, at the least, produce more extreme weather events. thedailygreen

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day off from the dismal science

We are taking a day off from economics to look at the hopeful side of car-free life.... so to join us, click: Less car, more life

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Congestion pricing and the Lexus Lane

The U.S. government has the job of building and maintaining the highway system with taxpayer money to keep the oil and auto profits flowing. This is a giant taxpayer subsidy to the private companies that profit from this otherwise economically unsustainable system.

Now the taxpayer is running out of money. So what to do? Privatize the road system. That is why you are hearing more about "congestion pricing" aka "road pricing". States will have to agree to road-price to get a few pathetic crumbs for public transit.

The well-off will speed along the private ["Lexus"] lanes and the rest of us will sit in jams. Of course, there still will be no place to park when you get there. The Washington Post documented this privatization campaign coming straight from the top:

...They and other political appointees have spent the latter part of President Bush's two terms laboring behind the scenes to shrink the federal role in road-building and public transportation. They have also sought to turn highways into commodities that can be sold or leased to private firms and used by motorists for a price....

...For Gribbin, Duvall and Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, the goal is not just to combat congestion but to upend the traditional way transportation projects are funded in this country. They believe that tolls paid by motorists, not tax dollars, should be used to construct and maintain roads....


Monday, June 9, 2008

Malaysia - transport promises broken

The carbon-auto industry does not want public transit to work. They do all they can to make it fail: uneven funding, mismanagement, negative press, hired spokesmen, and internet trolls. Here a writer in a Malaysian paper begs and cajoles for sensible transport investment...

Unreliable buses and trains, sardine-packed LRTs, delayed buses because of traffic jams, safety concerns and a host of other negative issues make public transport hardly desirable as an alternative to private cars....

...All the above initiatives and problems have been recognised, considered and studied. Announcements are regularly made of moves to improve the system. Yet this comment still has to be written in such a tone. There may ultimately just be one paramount suggestion – don’t just talk, please get things moving! TheStar Online

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Finland SDP: Children should ride free

The new leader of Finland's Social Democratic Party, Jutta Urpilainen, held her first public address Saturday focusing on climate change, education and the welfare state. Speaking to a gathering in the open-air marketplace in Hämeenlinna, Urpilainen said that her election to the top SDP post was an indication of the party's capacity for self-renewal. She continued with a call to the nation's other political parties to meet the challenges faced by the welfare state in a globalizing world. As a concrete example, Urpilainen proposed that public transport be made free of charge for all under-16 year olds. As a long term goal, she noted the provision of free child daycare. YLE

Friday, June 6, 2008

Barbados stepping in the right direction

THE CONGRESS of Public Transport Associations has given the thumbs up to Prime Minister David Thompson's proposal for thousands of school children and low-income workers to travel free on buses.
...He said the proposal would also help to make a significant impact on the country's fuel bill and reduce traffic congestion when motorists opt to leave their vehicle at home and ride on a more organised transportation system.... --

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Australia - Fix Transport

Political action group Getup - Action for Australia starts campaign for public transport... ( - are you listening?)
Fix Transport
Our leaders need to tackle climate change with real transport solutions. Instead they are arguing about rising petrol prices without addressing rising greenhouse pollution.
We're sick of waiting for the bus, train, tram or ferry while our politicians fail to solve these problems. It's time to inject some sanity into the debate.
  • We’re really worried that the debate on petrol prices is ignoring climate change and the need to transition Australia away from oil
  • It is time to take national action to fix Australia’s transport system for the long term
  • The federal government needs to start funding public transport, since it is now a national priority: it must invest ¼ of the Building Australia Fund – $5 billion – in public transport, followed by at least 1% of GDP every year from now on
[letters to MP's:]
.... We need to see climate change and transport as related challenges, not as two separate issues for two separate ministers. We can’t afford to throw money at unsustainable solutions like petrol subsidies, we need serious investment in public transport infrastructure if we’re to keep our cities and nation moving in an age of expensive fuel... Letter from Sam Clifford - elicited by Getup campaign

[see also the new blog: Fare-Free Australia]

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

U.S. carbon-auto industry cornered and vicious

In the U.S. the carbon auto industry has USD trillions in fixed capital. Tankers, refineries, pipelines, gas stations, roads and highways. They have the mind-share upper hand and control and frame the "debate" over the transportation of people.

But three major things are not going their way.
  • their crude oil sources are shrinking
  • the U.S. treasury can no longer maintain their subsidies
  • people are using public transportation more
This is where we come in. Public transportation is our greatest hope in improving our quality of life, stopping the waste of energy, and preserving the biosphere. Public transportation is also the greatest threat to the carbon-auto industry. Here are some ways they will fight us.
  • promoting agrofuels
  • cutting transit projects
  • raising transit fares
  • creating "green" autos
  • trashing pro-transit political candidates
  • mismanaging transit authorities
It is up to us to fight back by support pro-transit projects and candidates. Only a mass grass-roots movement will do it. Join your local bus/transit/advocacy group.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Melbourne - "freeze the fares"

Mr Bowen said the Government should even consider a "fare-increase freeze" to encourage more public transport use. "All this money is pouring in from increased patronage; maybe they don't need an increase," he said.

More about Public Transport Users Association - Victoria, Australia

[see also the new blog: Fare-Free Australia]

Monday, June 2, 2008

Balanced Transportation Analyzer - WEBCAST

from Streetsblog [New York]

June 3rd, Charles Komanoff, the lead creator of the Balanced Transportation Analyzer, or BTA, will present an illuminating tour through this newly developed computer model that estimates the traffic impacts and calculates the benefits and costs of transportation policy alternatives.

....The BTA was employed in the development of the recently released "Kheel Report" and is available along with the report at Participants in the June 3rd Brown Bag Special Presentation are encouraged to download and familiarize themselves with the BTA in preparation for Charles's talk.

WEBCAST: Tuesday June 3rd, 12:00 noon [New York time] - click here [NYSDOT webcasts. More detail in this PDF.