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Archive for September, 2010

Stuttgart Nimbys

With SF Bay Peninsula cities in open revolt over plans to build high-speed tracks through downtowns, it is worth comparing to a similar project in Germany:

That image is from Stuttgart, where mass protests have attempted to block construction of a new high-speed rail line through the downtown.

Arguments over the Stuttgart project brings up many issues familiar to Peninsula residents. Proponents say the grade separation would re-join neighborhoods. Detractors say the cost estimates are unrealistic, and the project will be disruptive and unnecessary. One key difference, however: the Stuttgart line would be underground. Which just goes to show that even tunneling may not panacea some Peninsula residents would believe.

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As widely reported in the media, US traffic fatalities declined to a record low:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today released updated 2009 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 33,808 for the year, the lowest number since 1950. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even while estimated vehicle miles traveled in 2009 increased by 0.2 percent over 2008 levels. In addition, 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded: 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008.

To put in perspective, here is where the US ranks in comparison to other industrialized nations:

Road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009:

Malaysia – 23.8
Argentina – 18.4
Greece – 13.8
Cambodia – 12.6
Korea – 12.0
Poland – 12.0
US – 11.1
Lithuania – 11.0
New Zealand – 8.9
Belgium – 8.9
Czech Rep – 8.6
Slovenia – 8.4
Hungary – 8.2
Portugal – 7.9
Italy – 7.9
Austria – 7.6
Luxembourg – 7.2
Australia – 6.9
France – 6.9
Canada – 6.3
Spain – 5.9
Denmark – 5.5
Ireland – 5.4
Iceland – 5.3
Finland – 5.3
Germany – 5.1
Japan – 4.5
Switzerland – 4.5
Norway – 4.4
Israel – 4.2
Sweden – 3.9
Netherlands – 3.9
UK – 3.8

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Muni’s Awsome New Faregates

Muni’s $30 million faregate FAIL.

The faregates never passed the cost-effectiveness test. Turns out, they don’t pass the giggle test either.

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Confirmation from MTC Executive Director that when it comes to reliable, on-time transit service, some riders are more equal than others:

The Oakland Airport Connector was designed with a very special class of transit rider in mind, which is air passengers. Air passengers pride reliability. You pay a premium to get that reliability.

Aside from the offensive notion that (predominantly white) airport travelers are in a “very special class”, it should be noted that Airport PeopleMovers are notoriously unreliable.

When an airport shuttle bus breaks down, it is no big deal because another one will along in the next few minutes. But when an airport PeopleMover has a system failure, it can be disastrous.

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