Tag: transport

Aug 15

Sunday Train: The Texas Wishbone Regional High Speed Rail

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Back in the 90’s, Texas tried to get an Express HSR system off the ground (that is, a bullet train system somewhere in the 125mph to 220mph range) with the “Texas Triangle” project. It was to be an entirely privately funded project. Not surprisingly, competing against the heavily  publicly subsidized interstate highway and air travel systems, it did not get off the ground.

More recently, the Texas T-Bone was proposed, based on the Dallas to San Antonio leg of the Triangle and a route from Houston to Temple, then running north to Dallas with connections south to Austin and San Antonio.

While the Texas T-Bone seems to be the current plan of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, this is more of an advocacy group than an official HSR Commission or Rail Development Commission.

Given that we are in between periods of substantial federal funding for High Speed Rail, I thought this might be a good time to take a look at the prospects for Regional HSR, in some of the existing rail corridors within the “Texas Triangle” region … and so arrived at the Texas Wishbone.

Aug 08

Sunday Train: Pushing for a Rapid Rail HSR Station in Ravenna, Ohio

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

OK, now, thanks to John Kasich, we are not going to get started on that Rapid Rail HSR network before 2015. Indeed, Democrats would probably have to take back one of the two Chambers of the State Legislature to be able to hit the ground running on getting that Rapid Rail HSR network going in 2015.

On the other hand, if you never lay the foundation, you always end up with an outcome you don’t like.

And I don’t like the way that the Ohio Hub connects to Summit and Portage Counties, so I want to work on how to get a station in Ravenna added to the Ohio Hub.

The reason its on the Sunday Train is threefold: maybe somebody can give me a great tip; maybe somebody can get an idea for something they can work on where they live; and its about making more sustainable transport options available to a medium city and a variety of inner and outer suburban landscapes.

Jul 18

Sunday Train: Republican Great Train Robberies

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Freedom

Two stories over the last week underlined the determination of the radical right wing that dominates the Republican Party to sabotage America’s future and betray our national security and the interests of our children and grandchildren:

Jun 20

Sunday Train: Chairman Mica aims to block equipment Amtrak needs to expand

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

The headline spin on House Chairman of the Transport Committee is that he is proposing to privatize the NEC to allow HSR to be built in this decade.

However, if you follow the money trail, while he proposes a process to do that, there is no funding proposed to do that. And without a funding stream for the federal share of anywhere from $40b to $100b to bring the NEC up to a state of good repair and then to make the improvements required, under current FRA regulations, to meet Mica’s modest speed targets … that part of it is not a real proposal yet.

The real proposal is to have talking points to use to object to any funding that gets out of the Senate to allow Amtrak to buy more equipment so it can expand the capacity and frequency to meet the steady increase in demand for its services.

Jun 13

Sunday Train: Fighting Economic Sabotage

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

There was shocking news early this June about May economic performance: GDP growth in May was about the same as the average for the first quarter of 2011, and so employment growth was virtually stagnant, and indeed fell behind growth of the labor force.

What was shocking, of course, was that this was news to anybody. For anyone with the basics on how the economy works, it was obvious that economic growth would be sluggish.

Of course, the Republicans in Congress and the White House, both for their own reasons, completely missed the boat ~ the White House arguing if we ease off the accelerate and tap the brakes, but do it intelligently, that will eventually speed up the economy, and the Republicans insisting that, no, we have to slam on the brakes to fix things.

With such a broken political discussion, what can be done?

Jun 05

Sunday Train: A Brawny Recovery or Consumption-Led Growth?

… reprinted from about two years ago ~ June 2009 …



Burning the Midnight Oil for a Brawny Recovery

On Agent Orange, bonddad writes:

Among the most important of the rules Rosie laid down, in my opinion, is #12: Get the US consumer right and everything else will take care of itself.  The reason is fairly simple:  The U.S. consumer has the biggest balance sheet on the planet.  The U.S. consumer represents 70 percent of our GDP and about 18 percent of global GDP.

This is, however, following the entrenched habits of thought that got us into this mess in the first place. My reply, below the fold.

May 30

Sunday Train: Why We Fight

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

“Why We Fight” is a common feature of propaganda in support of a war. Here, tonight, it is a double entendre. On tonight’s Sunday Train, in honor of Memorial Day tomorrow, with two wars launched in the past decade and still ongoing (though in one, “combat operations” by US forces have finished, so any fighting and dying is of the support and training type of fighting and dying), and another recently started up, what it means when we notice that “why we fight” has a simple answer: oil.

And also, politically, why we fight for Living Energy Independence, here on the Sunday Train.

May 23

Sunday Train: Fighting FUD on the first California HSR segment

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Last week, I looked at the California Legislative Analyst Office promoting a policy of raiding the California High Speed Rail funds to build commuter rail systems in LA and San Francisco by issuing what at first blush seemed to be simply a grossly incompetent analysis of the risks of building the HSR project.

This week, I step back and take a broader view of why it would be idiotic to accept the LAO’s advice, as well as why it matters to people across the country, and not just the people of California who risk ongoing oil addiction of their intercity transport between Northern and Southern California.

May 15

Sunday Train: Legislative Analyst to Fresno: Screw You AND Your High Speed Rail

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

The big news on the High Speed Rail front this week is the effort by the California Legislative Analyst to prevent the High Speed Rail project in California from breaking ground. This is in two of their recommendations:

Fund Only Needed Administrative Tasks for Now. … only appropriate at this time the $7 million in funding requested for state administration of the project by HSRA.

Seek Flexibility on Use of Federal Funds. We propose that the Legislature direct HSRA to renegotiate the terms of the federal funding awarded to the state by the Federal Rail Administration (FRA). …

Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida also “sought flexibility” as part of the process of rejecting the Federal funding. Combine that with denying the California HSR Authority the funding to allow it to break ground to meet the requirements of the funding, and this report is a frontal assault on the second of the two Express HSR projects funded by the Administration HSR policy.

Lose this fight, and the California HSR could lose its $3b+ in funding and fail to break ground. Win this fight, win approval to break ground, and the California HSR becomes much harder to kill off.

May 09

Sunday Train: States Rights to Living Transport

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Cap’n Transit Rides Again wrote about “Getting People Out of their Cars by Not Subsidizing Roads], which perplexed Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic, which draw a response from Cap’n Transit asking whether we want to be serious, or right.

Boiling them down well beyond the point of oversimplification, Yonah argues that transit advocates must go along to get along, and Cap’n Transit argues that if you aint anti-car, you aint doing it right.

The same debate we get anytime the maximum that is politically possible is less than the minimum our society needs for survival. How do we break on through to the other side, where the minimum we must do lies within the maximum that we can do?

Apr 18

Sunday Train: HSR, Express and Locals Done Right

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

After the outcry when the Caltrain system between San Francisco and San Jose (and once in a while beyond) faced a scare that it would drop from 86 trains per day down to a peak-commute-only 48 trains per day …

… Caltrain was able to scrape together a 76 train per day schedule.

Clem at the Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog ran the schedule through his commute service index, which weights 70% the average trip time, 30% the best trip time, 20% the average wait between trains, and 15% the maximum service gap.

So giving the original 86 train schedule a benchmark score of 100, how far did the 76 train schedule drop?

It rose to 104. On Clem’s metric, the 76 train per day schedule is an improvement.

? What gives?

Apr 11

Sunday Train: Oil Addiction is a Political Choice, not a Necessity

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

We can tell that an energy policy is not aimed at ending our nation’s oil addiction in time when the speech presenting it follows up:

The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security on a resource that will eventually run out, and even before it runs out will get more and more expensive to extract from the ground. …

with

I set this goal knowing that we’re still going to have to import some oil. It will remain an important part of our energy portfolio for quite some time, until we’ve gotten alternative energy strategies fully in force.

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