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Oh, Canada

Saskatoon City Council gives in to NIMBYs, and removes a cycletrack from downtown:

City crews are already hard at work removing bike lanes from Fourth Avenue N in Saskatoon. In April, city council voted to remove the protected bike lanes from the street after members of the public complained.

The dedicated bike lanes were added to the city’s downtown two years ago as a way to keep cyclists safe and a way to promote cycling in the downtown. Detractors were concerned about the lanes limiting parking spaces and creating an unsafe, confusing situation for drivers.

Previously, council had wanted to begin expanding the city’s bike lane network by 2021, but that plan’s timeline now seems to be up in the air.

This was a parking-protected cycletrack, so the complaints about loss of parking is bizarre. And just for giggles, here is the Saskatoon Climate Action Plan.

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Other than some vague references to some Green New Deal, Presidential candidates have avoided talking about transportation policy — with one exception. Sen. Mike Gravel has published a 21st Century Transportation Vision to his campaign web page. For a candidate considered quixotic and unserious, he certainly knows his stuff when it comes to transportation policy.

At a cost of over $30,000 per space, parking garages are the most expensive way for passengers to reach a BART station. BART also gives that parking away at below-market cost. The most vocal advocate for parking garages is BART Director Debora Allen. Allen also opposed the BART-housing bill. So it is strange to see the SF Chronicle describe her as a fiscal conservative:

Director Debora Allen, the board’s fiscal conservative, also hailed the appointment as a major improvement for the transit agency. She was heavily involved in the search for candidates.

“While some colleagues and staff began the selection process with some trepidation—uncertain that the IG [Inspector-General] position was necessary and concerned it had been forced upon BART — the process of developing the job description and listening to highly qualified inspector general candidates from across the country helped them understand the potential operational improvements an inspector general could bring to the agency,” Allen said. “The selection process brought us together to focus on what always should be front and center: the continuous improvement of the transit services we provide.”

Indeed, the job of the IG is to reduce costs at the transit agency. But what are the chances the IG recommends changes to car-centric BART stations, which consume huge operating subsidies?

 

 

After a 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, the NTSB issued the following safety recommendation. This recommendation was repeated for a 2017 Washington State derailment (where a Talgo went flying off a bridge):

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Next thing you know they will be recommending air bags and crash helmets.

The disabled community is not happy with this new faregate design:

On April 5th, the Santiago Metro ridership was an impressive 2,932,210 trips — a new record. The coming years will greater ridership as three new lines are added, bringing network length to 300km. Some excerpts from an interview with Louis de Grange, who manages the system:

Its been a good year. We beat the record of passengers transported, with 2.9 million users in one day. In addition, the failure rate of the rolling stock was among the lowest since there are records and we have a very good valuation of the service among the users. The company is in a very good condition. I think that the announcements of lines 8 and 9 were an accolade and great news for seven million people. Thus, I believe that the new transport system will be based on Metro, which is a significant turning point for the city and for the vision that exists in this area.

Metro covers, with the revenues coming from the technical tariff, its operational costs and, in addition, finances 30% of the new projects. The remaining 70% of the works is financed with state resources. The company also requires a flow of resources for current projects and therefore must go out to borrow with bonds to the market, both in Chile and abroad. That’s clear. This company has an extraordinary risk rating. It must be clearly stated that the cost per kilometer of each route amounts to around US $ 100 million.

Could a service be concessioned?

Metro projects are cheaper if we do them, because of the experience we have for decades. We are more efficient than any other private building. The expertise we have allows us to build and operate at a lower cost. Therefore, we do not think of a concession for this type of initiatives.

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When Democrats took control of Congress, some naively expected a change in spending priorities. But that isn’t the case at all. In fact, Democrats are proposing to spend $733 billion per year for defense, an increase of 2.6%. That is slightly less than the $750 billion in the Trump administration budget.

To put in perspective, the 2015 budget spent $586 billion on military spending. In real dollar terms, that is an increase of over $100 billion per year — money that could be invested in infrastructure, education, health care, or any number of domestic programs.  

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