In 2021, Congress directed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to study potential restored and new “long-distance” routes. The High Speed Rail Alliance is a member of the stakeholder group providing input into study. Last week, the FRA presented a proposed list of routes to be studied, as well as, some initial thoughts about governance. The initial proposal would add 15 long-distance routes, serving 61 additional metropolitan areas to create a true national network. They are seeking public input by Friday, March 8.
Airline pilots won pay raises worth billions of dollars in new labor deals last year. Flight attendants are now pushing for similar improvements. Flight attendants from United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and others picketed Tuesday at dozens of airports around the U.S., demanding higher wages and a better quality of life. “We have been in a period of austerity for 20 years, and it’s time the industry paid up,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents cabin crews at United, Spirit, Frontier and others. The demonstrations mark the first mass pickets jointly held by the labor unions, which represent more than 100,000 flight attendants at U.S. airlines between them.
When you complain that transit doesn’t start where you want it to start, doesn’t end where you want it to end, and doesn’t go all the time, you’re describing inadequate public transit. With adequate funding and in the context of good city planning, public transit can do all of these things for vast numbers of people, though not for everyone and possibly not for Elon Musk. But Musk’s other point is fundamental. Public transit does expose us to a bunch of random strangers, and this is its superpower. In the most effective public transit, different people with different purposes and destinations find the same vehicle useful at the same time. At its most successful, a transit system’s ridership is as diverse as the city or community it serves.
By day, Mingwei Samuel works as a software developer. Also by day — together with urbanist and writer Darrell Owens — he builds and installs benches at bus stops around Berkeley and Oakland that have no seating. It’s a tale as old as social media: In November, Owens tweeted a photo of his 64-year-old neighbor sitting on the curb at a bus stop to draw attention to the lack of seating for bus riders. “Which stop?” replied Samuel. “I can put a bench there.” A month later, he had placed a wooden bench, built based on a template from the Public Bench Project, at the bus stop in downtown Berkeley.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has published new research which shows the need for a strong reduction of air traffic in order to halt the ongoing climate crisis. In a move likely to shock other airport companies, Schiphol proposes the ‘polluter pays’ principle, with measures such as a worldwide kerosene tax and a tax for business class and private flights. Schiphol’s research showed that at least a 30% CO² reduction (when compared to 2019) is needed for Schiphol and European aviation to be on track in 2030. That’s more than the current Dutch goal of a 9% reduction. The Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and research institute CE Delft were commissioned by Schiphol to investigate what is needed in order to bring Schiphol’s CO² emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.
In May, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and LA Metro launched the biggest Universal Basic Mobility experiment ever attempted in the U.S., giving 1,000 South Los Angeles residents a “mobility wallet” — a debit card with $150 per month to spend on transportation. The catch? Funds can be used to take the bus, ride the train, rent a shared e-scooter, take micro-transit, rent a car-share, take an Uber or Lyft, or even purchase an e-bike — but they can’t be spent on the cost of owning or operating a car. The year-long pilot, ending in April, has the dual goals of increasing mobility for low-income residents and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Following another incident involving a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, a known Boeing whistleblower is sounding the alarm over the multinational corporation’s requests for “safety exemptions.” The Associated Press reported that “a fuselage panel blew out on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 seven minutes after takeoff from Portland, Oregon.” “The rapid loss of cabin pressure pulled the clothes off a child and caused oxygen masks to drop from the ceiling, but miraculously none of the 171 passengers and six members were injured. Pilots made a safe emergency landing,” AP added.
There’s a wide spectrum of cyclists who take to the streets each week with the Evanston Bicycle Club. Newer, lower-speed riders mostly stay inside Evanston and surrounding suburbs, taking advantage of barrier-protected bike lanes and quieter residential streets. Cyclists with a bit more energy and experience go for longer rides up to Wilmette or Glencoe. But only the more advanced groups venture into the city of Chicago, said Al Cubbage, who last month ended a two-year stint as president of the club, which organizes multiple rides per week. Taking Clark Street down through Rogers Park means “taking your life into your own hands,” said Cubbage, a retiree who considers himself an intermediate rider.
When I was growing up, I could walk from my parents’ place to the Greyhound station in East Lansing, Michigan. There was another one ten minutes’ drive from there in downtown Lansing. At either station, I could buy an inexpensive ticket on the spot and wait inside until my bus came to take me to, for example, visit my sister in Oberlin, Ohio. Neither East Lansing nor Oberlin are anything you could possibly call a “hub,” but it didn’t matter. The Greyhound went everywhere. That’s becoming less and less true. As of the last time I was in Michigan before my parents moved, the East Lansing station was long gone. The Lansing one was still there — at least for the moment.
Albuquerque, New Mexico - It’s happening: The city of Albuquerque is permanently eliminating public bus fares, becoming the largest U.S. city to embrace this critical step toward racial and economic equity. A coalition headed by Together for Brothers — a community organizing and power-building group led by and for young men of color — made the victory possible. In an interview with Inequality.org, the group’s Co-Founder and Executive Director, Christopher Ramirez, explained that it all started in 2017 when Together for Brothers applied for a Health Impact Assessment grant. “When we were applying for the grant, we had a couple sessions with the young men of color we were working with,” Ramirez said.
Paris will plant an “urban forest” at Place de Catalogne, a busy roundabout with close proximity to the Gare Montparnasse railway station. The city will add nearly 500 trees to the roundabout. The new urban forest project will help with cooling to combat the urban heat island effect as well as contribute to an overall plan for improving air quality and reducing emissions that contribute to global warming. “The temperatures one could feel in this little forest will be 4 degrees lower compared to what we could have outside it and so, it will be very pleasant,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said, as reported by Reuters.
In 1775, the first battles of the American Revolution began in Massachusetts at Lexington and Concord with what is now known as the “shot heard ’round the world.” Three miles away, at an airport known as Hanscom Field, climate activists are launching what might be the newest shot to ring across a warming planet: No new private jet infrastructure. Located 14 miles outside Boston, Hanscom is New England’s largest private jet port. Private jets are the epitome of private excess at public and planetary expense. They pollute between 10 and 20 times more per passenger than commercial flights.
Turns out, wider lanes don’t make for safer streets. In a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a team of researchers found that the opposite is actually true: Narrowing lanes at certain speeds could save lives. The study came from a simple observation, says lead researcher Shima Hamidi, a transportation planner and Hopkins assistant professor of American health. She noticed that the traffic lanes in U.S. cities were much wider than their counterparts in other countries. Without existing data, traffic engineers assumed that wider lanes — which left more room for driver error — would be safer.
Bradley Haynes and his colleagues were the last chance Union Pacific had to stop an unsafe train from leaving one of its railyards. Skilled in spotting hidden dangers, the inspectors in Kansas City, Missouri, wrote up so-called “bad orders” to pull defective cars out of assembled trains and send them for repairs. But on Sept. 18, 2019, the area’s director of maintenance, Andrew Letcher, scolded them for hampering the yard’s ability to move trains on time. “We’re a transportation company, right? We get paid to move freight. We don’t get paid to work on cars,” he said. “The first thing that I’m getting questioned about right now, every day, is why we’re over 200 bad orders."
When Norfolk Southern first proposed to buy Cincinnati’s publicly-owned 336-mile stretch of railroad for nearly one billion dollars in July 2021, it probably seemed like an easy and lucrative deal for both the corporation and city officials — a deal that got even sweeter as the price was eventually upped to $1.6 billion. Under the offer, the company would gain total control of a crucial link in the rail network stretching between Chicago and Atlanta. And the city would get a big chunk of cash for infrastructure and other spending. But as Cincinnati residents prepare to vote on a Nov. 7 referendum necessary to complete the deal, as required by the state constitution, it’s becoming clear that the railroad behemoth and city leaders may not get their way.