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Archive for April, 2019

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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US military budget increased yet again

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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The idea of extending BART from Diridon to the Santa Clara Caltrain station never made any sense, as it merely duplicates the existing Caltrain service. But it makes even less sense if San Jose has no plans to upzone the surrounding neighborhood:

Santa Clara University — along with Bellarmine College Preparatory and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School — wants to build a 290-unit apartment complex to house faculty and staff along with a tech business incubator.

While the university owns the land on Campbell Avenue where the proposed development would be built, it’s zoned for industrial use. And even as it wants to add more affordable housing, San Jose is grappling with a notorious jobs-housing imbalance and trying to preserve shrinking industrial land.

This week, the city’s planning department shocked the trio of schools by suggesting the City Council deny their request to have the space — close to a Caltrain station and a BART station slated to open in the future — rezoned for transit-oriented residential use.

The Planning Commission did vote to override staff objections. City Council will take up the matter next month.

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Step 1. Spend tens of millions of dollars on parking facilities at college campuses.

Step 2. Allow students sleep there overnight in their cars:

The bill, AB 302, would require community colleges to grant overnight access to campus parking facilities.

Before the vote, members of the Assembly committee heard from homeless students and their allies who voiced their support, but both legislators and community college representatives also raised concerns over costs and logistics.

Community college students make up nearly two-thirds of California’s undergraduates, and a recent survey found almost 1 in 5 have been homeless in the last year.

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SF Muni fixes seat height

As noted earlier, seats in the new BART trains are uncomfortably high. SF Muni made the same mistake with their new light-rail trains, but at least they have now corrected the problem:

Design changes will come to the next batch of trains based on passenger feedback Muni has received since the arrival of the new trains. The transit agency plans to lower the seats by two inches, including on trains that have already arrived, and also provide different lengths of hand straps and an archway handhold in the middle of the train.

BART really needs to fix this as well.

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Tuition at SJSU has been soaring. 13% of students experienced homelessness over the past year. And yet the highest priority for San Jose State is…a multi-level parking garage:

A historic track where two of San Jose State’s most famous Olympians trained will soon be no more. The university said Bud Winter Field on the South Campus will be turned into a new parking garage.

“Yes, there were plans to see if a new track could be installed,” said San Jose State Athletics Media Relations Director Lawrence Fan. “But the greater need for San Jose State and San Jose State Athletics is a multi-level parking structure.”

The new garage is 1.25 miles south of the main campus, so it won’t be all that useful for commuters attending class.

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