Infrastructure in the News: August 16, 2012
New York Times: Frustrations of Air Travel Push Passengers to Amtrak
Between New York and Washington, Amtrak said, 75 percent of travelers go by train, a huge share that has been building steadily since the Acela was introduced in 2000 and airport security was tightened after 2001. Before that, Amtrak had just over a third of the business between New York and Washington. In the same period, Amtrak said, its market share between New York and Boston grew to 54 percent from 20 percent. Nationally, Amtrak ridership is at a record 30 million people; the Northeast accounts for more than a third of that and is virtually the only portion of Amtrak’s system that makes money.
The Hill: Romney vows to end Amtrak funding
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said in an interview published this week that he would eliminate federal funding for Amtrak if he is elected in November. In an interview with CNN's Fortune Magazine, the presumptive GOP nominee identified the national passenger rail service as a program that would be on the chopping block in a Romney administration.
DC Streetsblog: There’s a Lot Riding on U.S. DOT’s Definition of “Congestion”
Congress has done its job, such as it is, and passed a transportation bill. Now it’s handed off the policymaking to U.S. DOT, which must issue a raft of rules, definitions, and guidance to accompany the new law, known as MAP-21. According to sources with intimate knowledge of this process, much depends on how DOT decides to measure congestion. New performance measures for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program (CMAQ) — and quite possibly for the entire national highway system (depending how they define “roadway performance”) — require a working definition of congestion.
CNET: Google Maps charts 1M public transit stops worldwide
Google announced today that its Maps feature now has public transit schedules for more than 1 million bus, train, subway, and tram stops around the world -- encompassing nearly 500 cities. In addition to reaching 1 million public transport schedules, Google also launched an update to its Google Maps for Android app. With this update, users can pick what type of transit they want to ride on, see a more specific layout of station pages, and save their places and location history.
Environmental Leader: Let it Flow – The Case for Dam Removal
Although in the past dams were viewed as being almost entirely beneficial, today’s view of dams is more balanced, recognizing both the positive and negative effects. Impounding and diverting water for upstream users modifies local habitats, affects plants and animals, and influences the lives of those who live downstream. Dams can also present safety and economic risks due to the possibility of dam failure. While the risks associated with aging dams are typically of low probability, the consequences are high. Although dam failures are infrequent, the risk of failure increases with the age of the dam.
Atlanta Journal Constitution: DOT moving on from sales tax vote
Georgia's transportation department has officially moved on from metro Atlanta's rejection of a $7 billion transportation sales tax referendum, turning instead to three other regions that voted yes to pay for improved local roads and highways. State officials for the first time Wednesday held an industry briefing on the hundreds of projects that will be funded by the sales tax in Augusta, Columbus and a collection of counties in south-central Georgia. Those communities were the only three of 12 regions across the state that passed the one-cent sales tax in the July 31 primary.
Progressive Railroading: Chicago Transit Authority posts 16 consecutive months of ridership growth
Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) ridership grew 4.3 percent during the first six months of 2012, with June marking the 16th consecutive month of increases. Recorded rides on the agency’s rail system rose 6.2 percent during the first half compared with the same period a year ago, CTA officials and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced yesterday. Through June, CTA rail ridership had increased for 51 straight months. Combined rail and bus ridership was up 4 percent in the first half, with nearly 10.5 million more rides than in the same 2011 period.
Philadelphia Inquirer: New rail stations, tunnel to airport eyed for Philadelphia
If bullet trains someday race up and down the East Coast, they may not stop at 30th Street Station. Amtrak and city officials envision a new high-speed rail station on Market Street east of City Hall, linked by a 10-mile tunnel to Philadelphia International Airport, where a second new station would be built. The neoclassical 30th Street Station, opened in 1933 by the Pennsylvania Railroad and touted by Trains Magazine last year as "America's Finest Railroad Station," would become a hub for slower intercity trains and commuter service.
Post and Courier: Charleston judge rejects amending Savannah River dredging lawsuit
A federal judge in Charleston ruled Tuesday that both the Georgia Ports Authority and South Carolina’s Savannah River Maritime Commission may take part in a lawsuit challenging the $650 million deepening of the river shipping channel. But U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel denied a motion to expand the lawsuit to rule on what South Carolina environmental laws pertain to the project. So the suit will now center solely on the issue of whether the work needs a South Carolina pollution permit.
California High Speed Rail Blog: Will Private Sector Build Texas High Speed Rail?
A private company has announced its intention to build a Texas high speed rail system, beginning with a line connecting Dallas and Houston. That’s a pretty ambitious project – not only getting this built by 2020, but doing it with entirely private sources of funding. They’re looking at raising at least tens of billions of dollars, and typically that’s more risk than the private sector can typically afford to pay. Governments can borrow at cheaper rates – record low rates these days – than the private sector because government’s risk is lower.
Rolling blackouts and electrical grid inefficiencies cost an estimated $80 billion a year.