Today’s Headlines

  • Larry Littlefield

    (AUTO SALES: $2.5 billion to makes sales tax on paid on new car purchases tax deductible.)

    If more people decide to try bicycle commuting next year, they may find it impossible to buy the bikes, because most come from China and trade finance has frozen up.

    The federal government could have done something about that, and chose not to. That’s what I call making a non-decision. If this scenario happens, just remember isn’t something that just happens, it’s a non-decision that was made.

  • “Mr. Lituma…told the police that *he saw cars ahead of him swerving,* but believed they were trying to avoid a pothole.”

    Um, do tell this to your children, folks: if you see a body lying in the road, and no emergency responders on the scene, do stop and see if you can help or call for help.

    Apparently, and insanely, that needs to be said.

  • The proportion dedicated exclusively to “high speed rail” (whatever that phrase means to this particular legislation) is ridiculous.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Well Doc, what it means is faster than 150 MPH. It is sort of a “whose dick is biggest” standard by which to initiate a new start. That and “shovel ready”, which means that trains that run from Timbuktwo to Timbukthree and have few neighbors or freights to contend with. 120 MPH from say NYC to Albany would be too slow regardless of how many riders it would generate or however efficiently it could operate. Meanwhile MTA, SEPTA, NJT and MBTA are basically put on one more dollar diet from the Federal Government until the next Transportation Bill is authorized.

    HSR has a lot of cache with the exurban congresspeople and they and their fictional riders, riding their fantasy trains appear to count a whole lot more than actual public transit commuters.

    It is somewhat a relief that AMTRAK got a little breathing space here but all in all this bill took a pass at URBAN transit riders. And so did our Congresspeople who apparently are holding their fire until the Transportation Re-authorization upcoming in the summer and fall 2009. Don’t hold your breath.

  • You think the legislation will dare to be precise? If the money can only be spent towards 220 kph railroads (come on, 150 mph is higher even than the euro definition!) it’s not going to produce a single line of functional transportation. It’s more likely the allocation will leave some wiggle room for declaring victory at a more attainable speed. Which is annoying, in terms of playing games with catchphrases, but at least some good could come out of it. And despite the odd juxtaposition of X funds for HSR and Y funds for Amtrak, in the case of MWHSR advocacy it’s the same thing (their “Improving Amtrak Incrementally” slogan puts California’s railroad separatist initiative into sharp relief). If New York plays the HSR-BS game right we might just get the upstate upgrades you allude to.

    Or not. It’s clear from “$8 billion for HSR! $1.3 billion for ‘Amtrak’!” fiesta going on that cool (or even mildly informed) heads are not prevailing, as usual.

  • Hilary Kitasei

    Ah, Minneapolis.. And the bicyclists will have all those miles of scenic byways with greenways to use them on.