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Sunday Train: A Streetcar for Broadway (LA)

by: BruceMcF

Sun Dec 11, 2011 at 19:23:22 PM EST

Nearly a month ago, Yonah Freemark had a post at The Transport Politic entitled, Los Angeles' Streetcar Plans: Too Duplicative of Existing Services?. He wrote:
Los Angeles has big hopes for its downtown, and, like most of the country's major cities, it has seen significant population growth in the inner core over the past ten years. Now, to extend this renaissance, the city - also like many others - is planning a streetcar line that would traverse the district from north to south. Last month, it applied for $37.5 million in U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant dollars, which it hopes to supplement with local and private funds to complete an initial route of between 3 and 5 one-way track miles at a cost of between $106 and $138 million.

Despite the fact that planning for the L.A. streetcar goes back for more than a decade thanks to the work of a public-private local advocacy group, the city will have plenty of competition in its effort to win federal funds. Requests for the third round of TIGER funding outnumbered actual funding available by 27 to 1. With so many projects up for consideration, anything funded by Washington ought to be valuable. But L.A.'s project could benefit from significant improvement.

And then ... well, join me over the fold.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1721 words in story)

Sunday Train: Putting Pop in the Jobs Bill with a $0.01/gallon Oil Tariff

by: BruceMcF

Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 16:53:03 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Yeah, OK, its not Sunday, but I got called on Saturday morning after a Friday night class to substitute for a colleague, and that threw me off completely. Fortunately for the Sunday Train, I am massively underemployed, so there is Monday afternoon available to finish composing what I been thinking about this week.

As I discussed in Whether and How to Sell the Jobs Policy, there is not a whole lot of "pop" in the jobs bill, but there is some. The EPI analysis suggests 1m in jobs "created or saved", but of course "jobs saved" is an increase compared to a counterfactual, and not an actual increase. Over half of those are "job saved", so the "pop" is under half a million jobs.

If spread evenly across a calendar year, "just under half a million new jobs" would be 40,000 new jobs per month. If 150,000 new jobs per month is needed to bring unemployment down, that is relying on our stuttering economy to create 110,000 or more ~ close to what we have often been achieving, but there is substantial concern that we might not keep it up, after a month with about 0 (zero, zilch, nada) new private jobs created.

So the aim here is to look for something that can add some more "pop". And having read the title, you know that a 1 penny Oil Tariff is involved. Hopefully raising the question in our mind: "uhmmm, where's the 'pop' in that?"

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1921 words in story)

Whether and How to Sell the Jobs Policy

by: BruceMcF

Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 11:11:00 AM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Progressive Populism

First off, the thing to do with the BS about gutting the safety net on the excuse that the Take Everything Away Party wants to kill it is to take the idea of gutting the safety programs behind the farmhouse to the mint bed and apply a sharp ax.

How to do that, I don't know.

But if it can be done, then there's still the question of whether and how to sell the "Jobs Policy"

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 547 words in story)

Sunday Train: Four Transport Alternatives to Canadian Tar Sands

by: BruceMcF

Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 19:21:24 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independent

There has recently been a flurry of activism regarding regulatory approval of the "XL Pipeline" in support of bitumen production from Canadian Tar Sands. This is an issue that has attracted substantial attention from a variety of bloggers ~ the XL Pipeline tag alone at dkos has 64 entries ~ and since Tar Sands are billed as a Crude Oil substitute, and about 70% of US Petroleum consumption goes to transport, I thought it was time for the Sunday Train to look at the issue.

As the proponents of bitumen production from Tar Sands are selling it as a Crude Oil Substitute, I thought that what I would do would be to see what alternatives there are out there.

But the XL Pipeline itself is a bit small of a target to aim at, so the question I am looking at is, what alternatives would there be to entire potential output of Canadian Tar Sands bitumen? Hence, four transport alternatives to Canadian Tar Sands.

Note: this is a slightly modified version of the essay, after a commentator at Daily Kos pointed out that I had misread the source on the Tar Sands Energy Return on Investment

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 1220 words in story)

Sunday Train: A Streetcar Named BRT

by: BruceMcF

Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 22:13:51 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Yonah Freemark at his site The Transport Politic discusses Chicago "BRT" proposals. "BRT" is the transit professional and transit blogger three letter abbreviation for "Bus Rapid Transit.

See, sometimes spelling out the abbreviation doesn't do that much good on its own. The idea of "Bus Rapid Transit" is to implement a range of features we normally associate with rail based "rapid transit" for specific bus routes, which then can offer some of the benefits of rapid transit that is not normally available to bus riders.

The BRT category is a fuzzy one, ranging from slapping a paint job on the buses and installing bus stops with better seating and "next bus" indicators to dedicated lanes, signal priority, and purchase of tickets at the stop. What the Chicago Transit Authority has proposed is three routes on the "BRT-lite" side, but as Yonah covers, the business leaders on the Metropolitan Planning Council have proposed a much more expansive system (see map).

While the My-Mode-Uber-Alles types will line up for or against the BRT proposal based on whether buses are "their" mode or "a rival mode", in the real world there is no fundamental conflict between BRT and streetcars. Indeed, it makes much more sense for streetcars to share a lane with BRT than for streetcars to run mixed in traffic with automobiles.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 2272 words in story)

Sunday Train: The Texas Wishbone Regional High Speed Rail

by: BruceMcF

Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 17:14:18 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Back in the 90's, Texas tried to get an Express HSR system off the ground (that is, a bullet train system somewhere in the 125mph to 220mph range) with the "Texas Triangle" project. It was to be an entirely privately funded project. Not surprisingly, competing against the heavily  publicly subsidized interstate highway and air travel systems, it did not get off the ground.

More recently, the Texas T-Bone was proposed, based on the Dallas to San Antonio leg of the Triangle and a route from Houston to Temple, then running north to Dallas with connections south to Austin and San Antonio.

While the Texas T-Bone seems to be the current plan of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, this is more of an advocacy group than an official HSR Commission or Rail Development Commission.

Given that we are in between periods of substantial federal funding for High Speed Rail, I thought this might be a good time to take a look at the prospects for Regional HSR, in some of the existing rail corridors within the "Texas Triangle" region ... and so arrived at the Texas Wishbone.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 1544 words in story)

Geithner reveals exactly what is wrong with his view of the Economy

by: BruceMcF

Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 15:43:50 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Economics of Freedom

Quoted by digby:

TIM GEITHNER: Well, let's start with what this deal does. The most important thing is it creates more room for the private sector to grow because although it locks in some very substantial long term savings, the near term cuts are very modest. So that-- that was the really critical thing in making sure that this economy continue to grow and recover. Now, it locks in a very big down payment and it sets in motion what we think is going to be a very effective process for forcing congress to come together...

Now, for the ordinary person reading this carefully, the only reasonable response is, WTF?. However, as your insider correspondent from the quite bizarre Economist Tribe, my response is, "oh, yeah, that bullshit again."

Ah, well, economics is not the only science {*} where analyzing scat is a necessary research tool. Join me after the fold.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1216 words in story)

Sunday Train: Fighting Economic Sabotage

by: BruceMcF

Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 17:33:25 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

There was shocking news early this June about May economic performance: GDP growth in May was about the same as the average for the first quarter of 2011, and so employment growth was virtually stagnant, and indeed fell behind growth of the labor force.

What was shocking, of course, was that this was news to anybody. For anyone with the basics on how the economy works, it was obvious that economic growth would be sluggish.

Of course, the Republicans in Congress and the White House, both for their own reasons, completely missed the boat ~ the White House arguing if we ease off the accelerate and tap the brakes, but do it intelligently, that will eventually speed up the economy, and the Republicans insisting that, no, we have to slam on the brakes to fix things.

With such a broken political discussion, what can be done?

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1918 words in story)

If the College Educated hit 16% unemployment, would it be different?

by: BruceMcF

Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 18:36:16 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Progressive Populism

Also at Agent Orange

While Matthew Yglesias tends to be susceptible to patently absurd conventional wisdom economics, he does have his moments, as back in February when he observed:

The people in all the key jobs-not just the members of congress and cabinet secretaries and FOMC members and newspaper editors, but the bulk of the people who staff those people-are virtually all college graduates. And the way America works in 2010 those people are overwhelmingly going to have friends, neighbors, and acquaintances who are also college graduates. And while the labor market outlook for college graduates is bad by the standards of recent history, it's really not catastrophic. Things look very different for people with high school diplomas.

The figures are stark, and starker when plotted as a graph:

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 629 words in story)

Sunday Train: Heritage Opposes Freedom to Choose High Speed Rail

by: BruceMcF

Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 16:43:55 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

I'm shocked, shocked I say, that a belief tank partly funded by Big Oil and Union Busters would issue a piece attacking High Speed Rail. But they did, claiming that there is a "Coming High Speed Rail Financial Disaster".

Less shocking is that the argument in the piece is tissue-thin, relying on shell games and appeal to stereotype in lieu of evidence.

Of course, just because its an empty argument does not mean its a pointless one. When you are trying to prevent solutions to problems, FUD ... Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt ... can sometimes be as effective as genuine argument.

Well, I hope someone out there is able to frame great counter-arguments that are useful in cracking into Dr. Utt's (Economics) target audience of those with short attention spans and limited access to information. What I can offer here is raw material for those counter-arguments.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 2289 words in story)

Sunday Train: Going to Disneyland, Disneyworld, and Other Adventures

by: BruceMcF

Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 19:13:54 PM EST

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Huh, seems me that whatever the state of my various concerns, the agenda of the Sunday Train has been taken over by the White House ... funny how announcing the recipients of a total of $8b will do that.

The Transport Politic (aka Yonah Freeman and the TTP commentariat) has a very complete rundown. The allotments over $200m are:

  • California, $2,344m
  • Florida: $1,250m
  • Illinois: $1,236m
  • Wisconsin: $822m
  • Washington: $590m
  • North Carolina: $545m  
  • Ohio: $400m

So, what's the money for? Join me below the fold.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1641 words in story)
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