Thursday, July 31, 2008

Throwing Exxon under the bus

The U.S. carbon-auto industry fears, above all, public transportation. To them it is kryptonite, the one thing that can take away their powers. They have used their political power for many years to keep their profits flowing, while the taxpayer maintains the auto-sprawl system and cleans up the mess. Now the treasury is empty, the oil wars not going well, and a huge environmental debt is due. People are turning to mass transit... and other business interests are starting to think about throwing their carbon-auto rivals under the bus. Here is an example...

Redirect public funding from roads to mass transit
Posted: July 30, 2008
Our position: Public is ahead of elected leaders in changing their views on transportation.
Jolted by high gas prices, Hoosiers have done what would have been unthinkable a year ago: They're now among the nation's leaders in leaving their automobiles in the garage....
Clearly the public mind-set has shifted....
Yet, state and local political leaders don't seem to be on the same track....
Functional bus systems? Light rail? High-speed connectors to other cities and states? The state's top leaders have shown little interest. -

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Buses more loved than baseball?

What urbanites like about the cities where they live - Worldwide, respondents cited the following when asked what they like most about the city where they live: Public transportation systems (36 percent), sports and cultural activities (35 percent), economic and cultural dynamism (30 and 29 percent, respectively), entertainment possibilities (26 percent), and diversity (23 percent).

BusinessWire -

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Environmental group violates the gag order!

Things are happening too fast for the U.S. carbon-auto industry. They have lost control of global crude oil prices. They can't keep gasoline prices down and people are turning to public transportation. They have loosed their dogs of disinformation, saying that high fuel prices means that public transit must cut service and raise fares. At the same time their friends in the "environmentalist" movement are pushing for "better" cars and unplugging the waffle iron!

But now they are in danger of losing the environmentalists. Bill McKibben came out in favor of free transit and the Kheel plan. The PIRG's started pushing transit. Now, the New England Conservation Law Foundation is putting public transportation at the top of their solutions list!

  • End the era of highway expansion and shift to a new paradigm in which the region invests at least 75 percent of transportation funds on public transportation and compact, transit-oriented development.
  • Invest $1 billion in new energy efficiency resources, drawing on multiple sources of revenue, including emerging carbon auctions and new markets and incentives for energy efficiency.
  • Build 2,000 megawatts of new wind power, including at least two major offshore wind projects and multiple inland wind farms in New England.
  • Shut down at least two regional coal-fired power plants or convert them to cleaner fuels.
  • Pass legislation in every New England state to mandate meaningful emissions reductions and require consideration of climate impacts in all state permitting and infrastructure decisions.
  • SouthCoastToday

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Cost of autosprawl

    Who will pay for free public transit? That is a frequent question. The answer is simple. Stop the subsidies to the carbon-auto industry. The carbon-auto industry profits from a system that emits excessive cabon dioxide into the atmosphere. The result is climate disruption. The taxpayer pays the cost of the effects this disruption. These costs are not accounted-for in the balance sheets of the carbon and auto industries. That constitutes a subsidy. If someone burned a tree in your yard against your will and made a profit in the process, would you expect them to pay for it? Just a small reduction in this subsidy would easily pay for free public transit. Here is another of the many examples:

    With active wildfires in 10 states this weekend burning a total of nearly 687,000 acres — an area larger than the state of Rhode Island — the escalating cost of fighting fires is a rising concern....
    All told, 2008 has seen nearly 3.5 million acres burned, or an area the size of Connecticut....
    The cost to federal taxpayers has gone up dramatically,...
    .... scientists tell us that global warming is producing conditions that make the West more susceptible to fire: Less mountain snow produces less runoff; higher temperatures increase evaporation; and more frequent and intense storms produce more lightning that sparks new flames. - the daily green

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Malthusian Economics

    For a live map of carbon emissions and population numbers: breathing earth
    What swells must contract. Growth will end. Will humans manage this end? Will it be humane?

    "...13 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance." SkyNews

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Wilmington, NC - Day of Free Public Transit

    Saturday, everyone will be encouraged to ride public transportation to see many attractions in the area and enjoy a Wilmington Sharks baseball game.
    In addition to waiving fares for the day, Wave Transit has joined with the Wilmington Sharks Baseball Club and Independence Mall to assist in sponsoring Alternative Transportation Night. WECT6

    Wales - Cheap transport call to help poor

    Free and cheaper public transport should be more widely available in Welsh rural areas to combat poverty, says a report by assembly members. -BBC

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Zipcar - National Low-Car Diet

    Each zipcar replaces 15 private autos

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Zipcar, the world's largest provider of cars on demand by the hour or day, launched the first-ever national Low-Car Diet. Beginning today, more than 300 participants will hand over the keys to their personal cars and commit to living one month without the use of their vehicle. Instead, they will utilize public transportation, increase walking and biking, and be given a Zipcar membership to access the vehicles when necessary. prnewswire

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Environmentalist discovers public transit!

    Bill McKibben, noted environmentalist, writer, and founder of the Step-it-Up campaign against global climate disruption, has stumbled upon public transportation and embraced the Kheel Plan. Welcome aboard, Bill!

    In Kheel’s report, the city would raise taxi fares by 25 percent, with all extra money going to support public transit. With less congested streets, the analysis calculates, the average cabbie would make 37 runs a shift instead of 31. Transaction-free bus rides could result in a 20 percent reduction of route time, leading to an effective 25 percent growth of each fleet because drivers could make more runs per shift. The city would also triple the price of streetside parking in Manhattan south of 96th Street, making it about the same as the private parking garages. “There are parts of the city where a quarter or more of drivers are simply looking for a parking spot,” says Komanoff. [from Bill's article in Plenty magazine.]

    Saturday, July 19, 2008

    Gas taxes don't cover road costs

    According to a new report by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), not a single road in Texas “pays for itself” with the current taxation system. “For example,” says the report, “in Houston, the 15 miles of SH 99 from I-10 to US 290 will cost $1 billion to build and maintain over its lifetime, while only generating $162 million in state and federal gas taxes. That gives a tax gap ratio of .16, which means that the real gas tax rate people would need to pay on this segment of road to completely pay for it would be $2.22 per gallon.”

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Reykjavík, Iceland - Mayor Wants Free Buses

    “I hold the opinion that we should investigate the benefits of making buses free for everyone. The change in attitude involved in increasing the number of passengers on buses and thereby decreasing the number of cars on the streets of the city is invaluable,” Magnússon told 24 Stundir.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Hamilton, ON - Free transit proposed

    Hamiton Transit Users Group

    In a press release today, Councillor Sam Merulla (Ward 4) called on the federal and provincial governments to "show leadership" and invest in a pilot program to implement free transit on Hamilton buses....

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Estonia - Reaction to attack on transit

    “I call the idea to save money on the expense of public transport to be the most idiotic thing someone could come up with in the middle of a fuel crisis,” said the chairman of the trade union, Peep Peterson according to

    He added that elsewhere public transport is strongly supported in order to limit the use of fuel and by that make the price shock a bit more bearable.

    “Estonian government, however, seems to want to tie all national funds together with a pink ribbon and offer them as a sacrifice to the oil kings in Siberia....

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Carbon-auto trolls busy as panic sets in

    Can you imagine someone with a master's degree seriously proposing that transit fares be raised at a time like this? Yesterday Dennis Byrne did exactly that in the

    People are turning to public transportation in the face of high fuel prices. The U.S. carbon-auto industry is fearful and desperate. They can no longer control the price of crude. International competition is heating up and military solutions are not working well.

    The U.S. treasury is tapped out. People are tired of oil wars. People are tired of traffic delays, parking problems. People are worried about global climate disruption.

    The U.S. carbon-auto industry is turning loose its trolls and wannabe trolls with orders to propagandize that public transit is "subsidized" [it is not], that service must be cut, taxes raised, or fares raised.

    We need to be bold and take this campaign head on. Public transit is a public investment. Fares are restraint of trade tariffs that hurt other business and consumers in favor of the carbon-auto industry. An industry that has enjoyed trillions in subsidies as taxpayers have paid for their externalities and still have a climate mess left to be addressed.

    Join your local transit advocacy group today. We need massive political involvement.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Alberta - Public transit is a GHG fix

    In the U.S. there is a embargo on serious discussion of public transit as a solution for global climate disruption. Transit advocates occasionally mention it, but "environmentalists" and politicians fear the wrath of the carbon-auto lobby and are observing a blackout on serious discussion of mass transit as a way of reducing green house gas emissions. Apparently, in Alberta, Canada there is a modicum of free speech on the subject. The province of Alberta is planning to spend an additional $2B on public transit explicity as an emission reduction plan. Read more ...

    CALGARY, July 8 /CNW/
    The Alberta government is surging ahead on itsclimate change action plan ... to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions equal to taking more than a million cars off the road each year... a second $2-billion fund will propel energy-saving public transit in Alberta.

    ....What types of projects would qualify for funding? The program will focus on initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions and the number of vehicles on Alberta roads. Some examples of eligible projects include:

    • purchase of transit vehicles (hybrids, diesel, natural gas, fuel cells, etc.);
    • transit systems that provide service to regional communities and reduce commuter traffic;
    • Light Rail Transit (LRT) and inter-city commuter rail systems;
    • new public transit projects such as LRT extensions;
    • planning for and acquisition of transit or commuter rail corridors;
    • park and ride facilities to enhance public transit;
    • planning and design of transit-oriented developments in new residential areas;
    • construction of regional transit terminals and facilities.

    Is this funding a part of the federal Public Transit Trust Fund? This new funding is separate and in addition to the Public Transit Trust Fund established earlier this year by the federal government....

    Friday, July 4, 2008

    Australia - Free public transport gaining mindshare

    Major cities in Australia have considered and re-considered free public transport. Polls continually show public support. The main opposition is that the systems are not comprehensive enough. But that is putting the cart before the horse. First, make it free. As ridership increases the political base will grow for investment in service expansion.

    Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says the ACT Government might consider making bus travel free in Canberra...

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

    Thursday, July 3, 2008

    Fuel market skewed by subsidies

    The carbon-auto industry is heavily subsidized. Many governments around the world keep transport fuel costs artificially low with subsidies. They could instead use that money to invest in free public transport. From the

    HALF of the world's population enjoys fuel subsidies. This estimate, from Morgan Stanley, implies that almost a quarter of the world's petrol is sold at less than the market price. The cheapest petrol is in Venezuela, at 5 cents per litre.
    ...In theory, rising crude-oil prices should reduce global demand. But if domestic prices are capped, then emerging economies will continue to guzzle oil, pushing world prices still higher. Emerging economies accounted for more than the whole increase in world oil consumption last year—because demand in the rich economies fell. But recent price increases will make little difference to global consumption unless China and India follow suit.
    ....An IMF study of five emerging economies found that the richest 20% of households received, on average, 42% of total fuel subsidies; the bottom 20% received less than 10%....

    Wednesday, July 2, 2008

    Dubai - Free buses for six months

    By Adel Arafah, Staff reporter KHALEEJ TIMES.ABU DHABI — The Transport Department of Abu Dhabi will launch free public bus service within the emirate today. Initially, 60 buses would ply on four major routes. (Photo - Ramesh Menon) team1dubai.

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008

    Rudd gets it, U.S. "environmentalists" not permitted

    Public transit is the quickest and most effective way to reduce the energy waste and carbon emissions of the auto and sprawl. But in the U.S., the carbon-auto lobby is so powerful that even established "environmental" groups have to observe a blackout on serious discussion of mass public transportation. If you don't believe this, search their websites. Apparently the influence of the carbon-auto industry is not as strong in Australia -- This from the

    PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has hinted at a new frontier for tackling climate change: a national overhaul of public transport.
    The introduction of emissions trading is dominating the climate change debate, with a major report to be handed down by government adviser Ross Garnaut on Friday.
    But Mr Rudd said he also had other fish to fry on global warming policy.
    He said it was "time to act" on public transport, and signalled the federal government would get involved."
    Ask yourself this question, how much do people waste each week sitting in unnecessary traffic queues?" he said."
    And how much ... do they put into the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions because we have yet to evolve a large, long-term investment into urban public transport systems, with the national government playing its role as well?
    "I think it is time to act."

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