A strike by transit workers in Loudoun County is now in its third week with no clear end in sight. A county spokesperson said service for Loudoun County Transit began being affected by the strike on January 11. As of Friday, commuter buses that travel between various parts of Loudoun County and D.C. and Arlington, Va. had not been running for more than two weeks. “We have prioritized transit services to optimize any available drivers daily, prioritizing paratransit services, local bus routes serving the Leesburg and Sterling areas, and Silver Line bus routes ahead of commuter bus service at this time,” Loudoun County spokesperson Glen Barbour wrote in an email to 7News. “The impact to bus routes and transit services continues to be updated regularly on our website at www.loudoun.gov/buschanges. Subscribers to our notifications are also receiving the updates directly (sign up at loudoun.gov/busbiz).”
Designing A US Transit System With Smaller, Fewer Cars Could Cut Lithium Demand And Mining Harms Of EV
One of the less sustainable aspects of the drive to transition from gas to electric vehicles (EVs) is that building them requires metals and minerals that must be mined from the Earth, an activity that raises both ecological and environmental justice concerns. In fact, a new report from the Climate and Community Project and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), found that, if current trends for EV demand hold through 2050, the U.S. alone will require three times the amount of lithium that is now available on the market globally. However, replacing every gas-powered car with an EV isn’t the only way to decarbonize transit. Alternative steps including designing a less car-intensive transportation system, reducing the size of EV batteries and encouraging lithium recycling could reduce lithium demand by up to 92 percent from the worst-case scenario, according to The Guardian.
Washington, D.C. - Washington, D.C., is on the verge of eliminating bus fares for city residents, joining other U.S. cities that are working to make metro bus and rail systems free to ride. Already, Boston, San Francisco and Denver are experimenting with zero fare. In late 2019, Kansas City, Missouri, became the first major U.S. city to approve a fare-free public transit system. The “zero-fare” movement has garnered support among business groups, environmental advocates, Democratic leaders and others who say that public transit boosts local economies, mitigates climate change and is a basic necessity for many individuals. The idea gained traction during the pandemic, which underscored the critical role public transit plays for essential workers who don’t have the luxury of working from home. But despite the zero-fare movement’s growing popularity, it has drawn political pushback in some areas where the policy doesn’t easily fit in with budgets or local laws.
Loudoun County, Virginia - Around 130 workers who operate, fix, and dispatch buses in Loudoun County, Virginia, went on strike Wednesday morning. They’re up against Keolis, a French multinational and one of the largest private operators of public transit systems in the U.S. The company has challenged the union’s right to strike, its right to a contract, and even its existence. The Loudoun County workers join a movement of bus operators, mechanics, dispatchers, and call center operators striking around greater Washington, D.C. It’s the eighth transit job action in the region in just over three years. Hundreds of strikers have faced down major private contractors—not only Keolis but also Transdev, MV Transportation, and RATP Dev. For Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, these fights are not just over bad behavior from this or that private operator, they’re about whether buses should be a public service or a source of private profit.
For America’s rich and powerful, the new year is beginning in a most inauspicious fashion. Millions of Americans are once again fuming at the greed and grasping of our deepest pockets. That fuming — from would-be passengers of Southwest Airlines and their families — filled airports throughout this past holiday week. For good reason. At the height of the travel-heavy holidays, Southwest was canceling 60 percent of the airline’s daily flights. Over 15,000 Southwest planes never lifted off. Late December’s heavy dose of stormy weather certainly did set the stage for Southwest’s holiday meltdown. But Southwest can’t put the blame for the airline’s massive melt on the cold, wind, and snow. Other airlines delivered, amid the same winter weather, far better service.
Youngstown, Ohio - From protecting the planet to serving the public of entire cities with accessible and affordable transportation options, the missions of bike share services across the country and around the world are often broad. They’re intended to serve large swaths of a population, yet people of color, low-income folks, and others from marginalized communities are often left out as services bend toward wealthier and whiter neighborhoods and urban centers. Most bike shares also rely on corporate sponsorships for their existence. When this critical financial support evaporates at the whims of said corporation, as has recently happened in the Twin Cities, the service itself is jeopardized. In Youngstown, Ohio, a local family is looking to do things differently in their hometown.
Ottawa, Canada - Ottawa’s light-rail transit system has made headlines in the last years — but not for any good reasons. Trains don’t work in the cold. There are frequent delays caused by technical problems. And a derailment once led to all the trains being taken out of service for weeks. On top of all of this, Ottawa’s city council voted to increase fares. But as these events unfolded, a grassroots group was beginning to fight for better transit. Free Transit Ottawa (FTO) had its first meeting in February 2020, bringing together transit users and workers, union members, students, and climate activists. Their goal, at the time, was to get people to sign a petition supporting both free transit and adding members of the public to the board of the OC Transpo transit agency. That’s when COVID-19 hit.
Comprising over 4,000 miles of road, the strategic road network, consisting of England’s motorways and major roads, carries around a third of all motor vehicle traffic in England. Those responsible for looking after this important road network, the National Highways workforce, are tasked with ensuring our major roads are dependable, durable, and—most importantly—safe. Lisa Marshall, a PCS union rep and Highways worker in Yorkshire, joined the profession in 2016. With a substantial rise in the number of cars on the road, she says it’s an incredibly important job. ‘Traffic officers are normally the first on scene in the event of emergency, prior to the police and ambulance getting there,’ she explains. ‘They assess the situation and try and make it safe.’
A new report by the Green Alliance published under the banner Sharing the load: the potential of e-cargo bikes has found that it is lack of suitable infrastructure deterring drivers of vans from making a consideration for cargo bikes in their next fleet vehicle choice. To bring about a change in how businesses move goods the report writes that “All road infrastructure changes should consider e-cargo bikes, as some existing cycling provision is still inaccessible to them. Concerns around accessibility and safety were highlighted by our focus groups. Improvements needed include cycle lane widening and junction upgrades. Suitable parking will also reduce these concerns, so councils should delineate specific cargo bike parking spaces.”
It's fun, it's green and it's becoming more popular by the day. Barcelona's bike bus, or "bicibus", as the scheme is known locally, allows hundreds of children to cycle safely to school in a convoy, taking over entire streets in Spain's second largest city. The citizen-led project, supported by Barcelona City Council, began in March 2021 with one route in the Sarria neighbourhood. It now has 15 routes and has inspired similar schemes in the Scottish city of Glasgow and in Portland in the United States. Eight-year-old Lena Xirinacs joins the Eixemple route every Friday with her father, who is one of the volunteers ensuring that the children are safe on the road. "She wakes up with joy. I could use it as an excuse every day so that she jumps out of bed," Pablo Xirinacs said.
Detroit, Michigan - You may find yourself driving on an EV charging road in the near future. In Detroit, inductive charging technology is being added to two short roads, a project that will be the first wireless electric road system (ERS) in the U.S. The roads will be capable of charging electric vehicles that install a special receiver while they drive. The roadway will be fully functional by 2023. For the project, roads are embedded with coils that transfer magnetic energy to receivers mounted under EVs. That energy is then used to charge the vehicle battery, whether it is stationary or on the go. “We’re the auto capital. We continue to push technology advancements,” said Michele Mueller, a senior project manager at Michigan Department of Transportation, as reported by Fast Company.
Over 500 Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace Netherlands activists have stopped private jets from taking off at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport this afternoon. Activists cycled around the area where private jets are parked and blocked the aircraft. The protesters are concerned about the climate crisis and local residents whose lives are affected by the noise from Schiphol Airport. “We are immensely proud of everyone who took part in this peaceful action today against Schiphol Airport’s immense pollution and unnecessary luxury flights by private aircraft. This protest shows that people are no longer willing to put up with the unbridled growth of the aviation industry.
Ontario, Canada - On Friday, November 4, the 55,000 education workers represented by CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) went on strike in defiance of the Ford Government’s Bill 28, an unprecedented piece of legislation which makes it illegal for CUPE members to strike, imposing a contract on them while suspending their fundamental rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a five-year term. Ontario labour organizations are denouncing the legislation for what it is: an egregious and unprecedented violation of the most basic rights of workers and Canadians. Worker dissent is mounting, and so is a spirit of solidarity among workers and unions in Ontario.
Scotland is world famous for its breathtaking beauty, rich history, and impossibly cute cows. It’s also known for its community spirit, evidenced by a new government initiative: a combined rent freeze and eviction moratorium, designed to help people through the current cost of living crisis. First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said the legislation is a response to the “humanitarian emergency” caused by skyrocketing energy prices, among other factors, Sky News reports. The program will remain in effect until at least March 31, 2023. “This Program for Government is published in the context of the most severe cost crisis in many of our lifetimes. It is a crisis pushing millions into poverty and poses a genuine danger, not just to livelihoods, but to lives,” Sturgeon said in a press release.
In response to more than a decade of declining rail service in the United States, the cross-craft rail workers group Railroad Workers United (RWU) has called for public ownership of the railroad system. First discussed at the Third Convention of the group in Chicago a decade ago, on October 6th, the Steering Committee voted unanimously to approve a Resolution to this effect. According to RWU Steering Committee member and freight locomotive engineer Paul Lindsey, "The rail industry is alone as the sole means of conveyance that is held privately. Highways, inland waterways, seaports and airports are all in public hands. Given the industry's inability to grow and expand and to adequately meet the needs of shippers, communities, passengers, commuters and workers, it is time that it too become a public entity."