Saturday, March 29, 2008

Awww...CARB wants to make Jeffrey sad…

The California Air Resources Board voted last week to reduce the PZEV (Pure Zero Emissions Vehicle) requirement by 90%, but raised the requirement for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Their reasoning is that the development and production costs of PZEV’s – battery or fuel cell cars – is still prohibitively high, while Low and Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles are here today. There are reasonable arguments on all sides, but I must say that the very fact that we don’t have a clear winner in the race to solve the emissions problem indicates a need to encourage innovation and experimentation which CARB’s decision will tend rather to stifle. Not that I don’t smile to think of all the new hordes of “Prii” deliberately driving exactly 55 in front of Jeffrey…

Listen to NPR’s story on CARB’s vote here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

San Fransisco Bike Lanes

Click here for full story

San Fransisco will be adding 34 miles of new bike lanes and getting rid of on street parking in some areas to do so. SF claims that it will be a new bike friendly city with these revisions. But let's be serious unless they get rid of those hills, I will not be riding my bike to work anytime soon.

Seattle Transportation Fund

The Washington Herald just reported Gov. Chris Gregoire has drastically revised the Transportation budget. It can be read here.

Here is a brief look at the budget changes.

U.S. 2: $10 million for safety projects between Gold Bar and Monroe; $4 million in county and federal money included for centerline rumble strips between Monroe and Sultan; six state troopers assigned to patrol the highway.

Ferries: $85 million for three vessels with up to 100-car capacity to replace Steel Electric-class on Keystone-Port Townsend route; $283 million for up to three 144-car vessels; $15 million to refurbish the ferry Hyak; $355,000 for added summer runs on Keystone-Port Townsend route.

Old boats: By July 1, the Department of Transportation must prepare a plan for disposing or selling off four Steel Electric-class vessels.

Ferry terminals: Unspecified amounts available to remove Unocal pier at Edmonds and lease land for added car waiting area at Mukilteo.

Barriers: $26.9 million to install concrete median barriers in place of existing cable barriers on I-5 between Marysville and Arlington.

Trains: $100,000 to study the potential of commuter service between Snohomish and Redmond.

UW Bothell: $47 million to build offramp from Highway 522 to the campus this year.

Other items: $18.5 million for higher fuel costs; $3.25 million to cover increased snow and ice removal expenses; $19.7 million to remove barriers for fish passage into streams.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Charlie Hales discussing public transportation at City of Ventura

Professor Kodama notified us about Charlie Hales coming to speak at the City of Ventura.

City of Ventura will let national expert Charlie Hales discuss public transportation systems and viable options for Ventura's public transit.

Thursday - March 27, 2008 - 7pm - Free Admission

Community Meeting Room
Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli Street

The Issue With Earmarks

Professor Kodama sent an article from the Republic Washington Bureau about the effects of pork barreling in politics, using Arizona as a prime example.

Ariz. last in pork-barrel cash, lawmakers say it's a waste
Key lawmakers say earmark process wastes taxpayer money

Diana Marrero
Republic Washington Bureau
Mar. 22, 2008 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Arizona has some powerful lawmakers in Washington, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

But when it comes to pork-barrel spending, otherwise known as earmarks, the state isn't very powerful. In fact, it ranks last.

That's mostly because three of the state's 10 lawmakers in Washington, McCain and House Republicans Jeff Flake and John Shadegg, refuse to ask for any federal money for local projects. Another Arizona Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl, strictly limits his earmark requests. They all say the earmark process wastes taxpayer money and desperately needs reform. But other Arizona lawmakers counter that their colleagues' stance hurts the state.

Click Here

Arizona, one of the fastest growing states in the nation, will receive $18.70 per capita in federal earmarks this fiscal year. By comparison, Alaska, with roughly a 10th of Arizona's population, is set to receive $506.34 per capita, the highest in the nation, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that tracks earmarks.

Alaska receives about three times as much as Arizona in actual dollars, $346 million to $119 million. That means Arizona gets less money for water projects, bridge repairs, road construction and rural clinics.

"When you have reformers and purists, you end up not getting a reasonable share of money coming out, which hurts the state," said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. "When you're holier than thou, you don't get much of the money."

Much of the work done by lawmakers in Washington centers on how to spend about $3 trillion in taxpayer money each year. For many members of Congress, securing money for projects back home can be the most tangible product of the complicated budget process.

But earmarks have gotten a bad name after public corruption scandals involving former high-profile lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., who went to prison for accepting millions in bribes from defense contractors to steer government money their way.

Lawmakers still secured about $18.3 billion for nearly 13,000 projects last year. Only 18 lawmakers declined to seek any earmarks. They often work together on earmarks that can benefit multiple states or districts. But the bulk of their requests is for projects in their home districts or states.

Efforts to place a one-year moratorium on earmarks have failed in both chambers, but a growing number of House Republicans have signed a pledge to abstain from seeking them.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, helped secure about $29.2 million worth of earmarks last year but has vowed not to ask for any special-project money this year. Franks' recent pledge would mean that only half of the state's congressional delegation plans to actively seek earmarks.

"We have members of our delegation who feel their job is not to bring equitable resources back to the state," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson. "The fact remains we are shortchanging our taxpayers by not bringing more resources into the state."
Political power counts

Alaska is home to Sen. Ted Stevens, a senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which largely controls how money is doled out in Washington. Arizona has just one appropriator in the House, Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Phoenix, where rank-and-file members have less clout than do members in the Senate.

"It's one of the illustrations of what's wrong with the system," said Ryan Alexander, president of the taxpayer group. "Earmark dollars are not distributed based on need or merit or anything else as far as we can tell other than by power."

Shadegg, one of the Arizona lawmakers who rejects earmarks, agrees.

"I would argue that if all of us sought earmarks, Arizona would still get shortchanged," the Phoenix lawmaker said.

That doesn't mean they're shortchanged in the overall federal budget. The state receives more federal funding than state taxpayers put in, according to the Northeast-Midwest Institute, which found that Arizona got $1.19 for every dollar taxpayers spent in 2005.

Others say that earmarks increase government spending at a time when the national debt continues to climb.

"We simply can't afford it in the country," said Flake, of Mesa. "I just can't, in good conscience, just play the game."

Kyl, who helped secure about $92.7 million in earmarks last year, does not think lawmakers should eliminate them altogether. But he argues that the system should be more transparent and that funding be distributed based on the merits of projects.
Earmark disclosure

Recent reforms have forced lawmakers to disclose the earmarks they secure but don't make them identify all their requests. So far, only three Arizona lawmakers, Kyl and freshmen Democratic Reps. Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords, have vowed to disclose all their requests.

"I'm willing to defend what I ask for because I ask for so little," Kyl said.

Pastor won't release all his requests because he says it would violate the privacy of groups asking for money. But he defends all the projects he supports and notes that earmarks make up 1 percent of the federal budget. If it doesn't get spent on Arizona projects, the funding will be spent elsewhere, he said.

"All the money Arizona doesn't take goes to Alaska," said Pastor, who secured more earmark funding than any other member of the state's delegation: $57.7 million.

Pastor also teamed with Mitchell, D-Tempe, to get nearly $700,000 for a restoration project for the Salt River, which sometimes floods, washing out roads. The project is a big priority for Mesa, which is represented by Mitchell and Flake.

India Monorail System

Once again from Professor Kodama.

Bombardier shortlisted for major India project

A consortium led by Bombardier of Canada is one of three groups that have been short-listed to supply a $1.6 billion, four-corridor monorail system for Mumbai, India, a city of about 15 million. The other bidders on the list include India’s Larsen & Toubro, with Malaysian partner Sconi Engineering, and Japan’s Hitachi Group. What’s at stake is 30-year build-operate-transfer contract, with final bids due in May and construction scheduled to start in June and be completed by mid-2010.

5 Ways to Get a Job

Article Professor Kodama sent forth about how to get the job as a college graduate at a career fair.

Click here to read it

Don Shoup and Parking in DC

Professor Kodama has found some interesting stories from DC and how they are using parking funds to make the streets more livable now that there is a new baseball stadium being built.

It can be read about here

These parking techniques come from Donald Shoup, and you can learn more about his ideas here, on another streets blog entry.

This entry shows Don Shoup explaining parking with matchbox cars.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'd rather be sitting in traffic than...

Okay, it's cutting it a little close to the wire--But here's my news story of interest today:
A new study commissioned by AAA has reported that the cost of car accidents exceeds that of congestion. I'm kind of curious about the rhetoric in this story, because it implies that there is some sort of either/or. Are they implying that there are fewer accidents when there is more congestion? That would make this study another piece of evidence of why congestion is a good thing...

Here's the story

Crashes: What's the Cost to Society?

Today AAA released a report (click here to read) detailing the cost of crashes to American society. The study reported that crashes cost American society 164.2 billion dollars a year, more than 2.5x than the cost of congestion, which is $67.2 billion.

In Southern California alone the cost of crashes is estimated to be 11 billion while the cost of congestion is 9.3 billion.

The report proves that there is a cause to be concerned about traffic safety and the emphasis that needs to be put on the issue for congress and the upcoming presidential race.

The report is over 56 pages long, and state newspapers everywhere are reporting about the impact traffic crashes have on their states or cities.

Midterm Study Guide

Click Here for Study Guide

Professor Kodama has posted our study guide for the midterm.