Today’s Headlines

  • Schumer Holds Presser at Grand Central to Call for Bigger Transit Stimulus (NY1)
  • Without Operating Assistance, DC Metro Service Will Shrink as System Expands (WaPo via Yglesias)
  • Senate Republicans Make a Push for More Highway Spending in Stimulus (Streetsblog SF)
  • $2 Billion for High Speed Rail in Senate Stim Bill (Transport Politic via
  • Metropolis Rethinks the Interstate
  • Schumer Also Behind ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Proposal to Subsidize Fuel-Efficient Car Sales (Bloomberg)
  • Starting in 2010, Fashion Week Won’t Keep the Hoi Polloi Out of Bryant Park (NYT)
  • MTA and Related Cos. Delay Final Deal for Hudson Yards (NYT)
  • Record Crowds Turning Out for MTA Fare Hike Hearings (News)
  • City Planning Commission to Consider Bike Zoning Amendment Tomorrow (MTR)
  • Larry Littlefield

    Big picture — the “thrill is gone” from auto ownership in the West according to the Financial Times.

    The change in generational, with younger people looking at an automobile as a way to get from A to B, not as a big part of their self-image. That makes it seems expensive. So they are keeping cars longer, having fewer, living without them, directing money elsewhere. (Same choices my family has made, basically).

    “Even as consumers in China, India and other emerging economies proudly take delivery of their first vehicle, many Americans, Europeans and Japanese are coming to the conclusion either that they no longer want or need a car or that they can hold on to their existing model for longer.”

    “Disturbingly for the industry, there are signs of deeper shifts in consumer attitudes towards cars, notably among the younger people on which its future rests. Some studies show they will be less willing to spend on them than their parents – one by Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, concluded recently that in the US ‘frugalism is the new cool,’ according to Bob Carter, brand head in the country.”

    Problem — the older generations, with their assumptions, are still in charge of public policy — and if we won’t buy cars, damn it, they’ll make us do it by borrowing money for the auto companies and making younger generations pay it back. Those of us older who bucked the trend need to get louder.

    We’ll need to spend less on something, if one is to believe the column for this business person, who sees the same mega-trends as I do but is fare more gloomy.

  • Otis

    Anybody interested in testifying Wednesday, Feb 4 at 10 AM should come down to City Planning at 22 Reade Street. I have heard that there will be groups/people testifying for and against the proposal. If you think it is a good idea to require indoor bike parking in new buildings in NYC (or if you have other ideas about the text amendment) then let the City Planning Commission know before they vote on it in 3-5 weeks. It would be great to get more pros than cons at the hearing.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Man, I just read the article about massive federal subsidies for people to buy new cars, being pushed by Schumer.

    I’ll say it again, the best thing the Fed can do is nothing on these issues. The last thing we need is for the generations that got us into this mess, and the parts of the country where the auto is king, to lock in our way of life by sucking money out of our future.

  • Rhywun

    RE: Metropolis Rethinks the Interstate

    “Obviously, the interstate, with its generous rights-of-way, is a prime spot for new rail lines, both high-speed intercity trains and commuter rail.”

    Obviously. Except for the fact that interstates deliberately avoid population centers, and “edge cities” aren’t going to turn themselves into population centers suitable for rail any time soon. This is the kind of “grand thinking” that gave us the mess we’re currently in. What’s so wrong with working with what we’ve got? Thousands of miles of underused (and abandoned) railroads serving thousands of square miles of de-populated former population centers (i.e. cities) sit there just waiting to be revitalized. But I guess that’s not pie-in-the-sky enough (hybrids! smart grids!).

  • Metropolis article:

    We would have to think about the effects of such a system on land use patterns. Specifically, HSR train along interstate corridors across vast stretches of the West would be a sprawl inducer. If dense, urban centers were developed around the train stations, along with strict growth boundaries, this could be avoided to a certain extent. However, it is extremely difficult to create the proper amount of urbanism around huge dividing barriers such as interstates. I tend to think that older land-use patterns and older forms of urbanism are more successful, but that’s my bias.

  • Larry Littlefield

    RE: the Metropolis article.

    Take a look at a map of the interstates in the City of Detroit, and the massive excess capacity funneling into what is now a near-empty Downtown, surrounded by increasingly empty neighborhoods.

    I we are going to create a new urban form, we are going to have to do some of it in places like this. Among other things, the City of Detroit has water, something much less likely to be taken for granted in coming decades.

  • Rhywun

    On second thought… (very) high-speed rail along interstates *might* be useful–largely because the ROW’s already exist–but only in addition to (and following the restoration of) the existing network of interurban rail. And instead of this edge-city nonsense, the HSR would have to feed into the regular network somewhere near actual large population centers. I still think we’re many, many years away from such a system.