Today’s Headlines

  • What New Yorkers Want From the Stimulus (NYT)
  • Enviro Groups: Stimulus Draft a Failure on Green Transportation (TPM)
  • Did Obama Team, Reid and Pelosi Shortchange Transit? (Grist)
  • Oberstar Pins It on Outgoing U.S. DOT Staff (Open Left)
  • Why Hire Construction Workers If You’re Firing Bus Drivers? (StarTrib)
  • NYT Suggests Subsidizing Hybrid Purchases, Ignores Carbon Tax
  • Why Albany Needs Term Limits (MTR)
  • DC Mayor: Pedicabs the ‘Official Vehicle’ of Inauguration (AustinBikeBlog via
  • The Inauguration as Car-Free Experiment (Obamathon Man)
  • Ride the B or Q From Brooklyn to Manhattan to See the Restored ‘Masstransiscope’ (NY1)

Have a good Martin Luther King Jr. Day everyone. We’ll be offline the rest of today and posting lightly tomorrow.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “NYT Suggests Subsidizing Hybrid Purchases, Ignores Carbon Tax.”

    Which is to say that the New York Times prefers to have the govenment hand out goodies and make future genrations pay, rather than have people today — including older generations — pay right now to make things better tomorrow.

    Given that Republicans are the party most responsible for selling out the nation’s future over the past 25 years or so, with the Democrats merely going along so the generation’s greed wouldn’t vote them out entirely, I had hoped a shift in power would bring about a shift in priorities.

    Perhaps not, if the “liberal” NY Times editorial board is a guide.

  • I’ve posted some constructive criticism of Aaron’s comments to the Times about BRT.

    You know that I’m all for bus improvements, and I appreciate Streetsblog’s extensive coverage of them. I can understand settling for the “BRT” label when what you really want is light rail. But I don’t understand why the alternative transportation leadership (Streetsblog, TSTC, T.A.) is leading the charge for BRT instead of asking for better and settling.

    I would really like to see a response – or at least an acknowledgment – of the solid criticism of the BRT concept that’s been made for years.

  • Cap’n: Good stuff. Will try to get you a response soon.

  • Larry Littlefield

    This is rich: government proposes giving cash grants to owners of gas guzzlers in exchance for taking them off the road, rather than higher taxes to induce those gas guzzler owners to do it themselves.

    “Under legislation introduced Wednesday in both the House and Senate and called the “Cash for Clunkers” program, drivers could get vouchers of up to $4,500 when they turn in their old fuel-inefficient vehicles for scrapping and buy vehicles that get good gas mileage.”

    Let the next generation of people who will be lucky enough to be able to afford bicycles pay to subsdize those who bought SUVs.

  • Larry: I feel as you do (your comment #4). A question: What would be your position re a deal in which the federal government gave cash grants to SUV owners who scrapped them AND also taxed gasoline? (While this is obviously second-best to simply taxing gas, it might be the kind of compromise required to move a gas tax.) Might you possibly support such a deal? If so, how high would the gas tax need to be?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “What would be your position re a deal in which the federal government gave cash grants to SUV owners who scrapped them AND also taxed gasoline?”

    That might be a reasonable compromise.

    My preferred federal energy policy, as I’ve written on Room 8, is a tax that keeps the cost of all fossil fuels high enough to encourage both conservation via lifestyle and technological changes and alternative sources, in addition to (as a transition) domestic fossil fuel supplies.

    There is a desperate attempt to return auto sales to 15 million per year. That is far more than we need even if no one changes their lifestyle.

  • I think an adjustable gas tax that _at least_ makes sure it can’t fall under $3 a gallon (adjusted every X years for inflation) is a good idea. I left for France when gas prices were in the upper 3s and then my friend told me a while ago they were $1.50. This obviously needs to be coupled with relief for the poor in regions where there really is no public transportation.

    I don’t know if Americans will go for higher taxes on gas, but, maybe something like “for every highway you build with Federal money within 50 miles of a ‘population zone’ of $100,000 or more you must build commuter rail/metro/light rail of the same distance.

  • Thanks, Aaron! Just to clarify: I don’t think this is an argument about what “should” be built. I think we all agree that if we had infinite money and political backing we’d build subways and light rail, and that in the absence of such money and political backing bus improvements are a good idea. My criticism is focused on the political marketing and framing inherent in the concept of “BRT” and what that could lead to down the road.

  • That masstransiscope thing looks really neat – I may have to make a special trip on the Q to see it.