Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Can we take a leap of faith....

Today I briefly attended the public hearing in Mountain View for the California High Speed Rail initiative. It was really heartening in that it was an overflow crowd. People really were interested both pro and con. It's rare that people get excited about transit. I personally am not sure where I stand on the issue. An interesting point made was that HSR is meant to connect cities, while mass transit is meant to service within cities. A big distinction. A lot of the motivation for HSR comes from projections of population in California and needing to service that growth. Freeways or rails. I honestly don't know how much inter city transit there is, but based on ridership it seem plausible (assuming the numbers are trustworthy and/or accurate).

The big challenge for HSR is despite the bond initiative passing, it only covers a part of the total expense of the system. So the debate at hand is how to spend the money effectively to show the efficacy of HSR. Build at the start poorly and all trust is loss. Hard decisions.

What is clear is that automobiles cannot dominate. Over the weekend Tom Friedman had a nice column It starts on the theme of traffic and continues on with the issue of energy sufficiency on an increasingly crowded planet. We definitely cannot use the same model going forward.

Something to blow the mind.....

MIT News has a story on Eran Ben-Joseph's new book on parking lots. This particular passage gave me pause:

No one knows how many parking spaces exist in the country: Past estimates have ranged from about 100 million to 2 billion. The first figure seems far too low, since the nation has about 255 million registered passenger cars. Further estimates suggest that on average, three non-residential parking spaces exist for every car in the United States. That would yield almost 800 million parking spaces, comprising a total area larger than Puerto Rico.

That's mindblowing....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

if you are not worried, you should be.

Business Insider has this post about the per capita car count per person of China relative to the U.S. and it puts them where the U.S. was in 1910 (if I could capitalize numbers I would for emphasis). An amazing statistic is that there 850 cars per 1000 people here.

I just got back from one of the most delightfully walkable cities in the world Dublin, Ireland. There is a certain joy in being able to move about on your own two feet to explore a place. Even if we do find an alternative to fossil fuels, we won't solve the congestion issues.