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Planes, trains and automobiles.  It’s a famous movie, but what really has the attention of politicians everywhere is this very same concept.  Planes, trains and automobiles.  Specifically, “how do we get fewer automobiles and more trains?”.  Everywhere people are requesting and demanding that we expand our mass transit system.  Part of it is a pander to the people who are best served at the expense of the rest of us.  Lately, though, we have begun to see the Global Warming crowd clamor that we need to implement more transit in order to reduce the number of carbon producing cars.  Still others claim that we have reached peak oil and going forward, we need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

In each case, the supporters are wrong, blind or both.  But nobody is as wrong as often or as blind as California.  Check this out via Reason:

For three years, Veronique Selgado took BART from the East Bay to her job working for an airline at San Francisco International Airport. But she recently switched to driving because BART raised fares and upped its SFO round-trip surcharge from $3 to $8, boosting her daily trip cost to nearly $20.

“It’s outrageous,” Selgado said. “At what point do they stop raising the prices, when it’s $50 a day to go round-trip to work? At what point does BART stand back and say, ‘People can’t pay that much to commute’?”

Millbrae resident Robert Smith, 63, had taken BART and Golden Gate Transit to his job in Sausalito because his employer provided transit vouchers, but eventually he threw up his hands, bought a Honda Civic and started driving.

It took him 21/2 hours each way by train and bus, turning his nine-hour workday into a 14-hour endeavor. Now he drives, and it takes him 45 minutes each way, which he said is well worth the extra gas and toll bridge costs.

Rick Mann loves public transit but hates the two hours and 15 minutes it takes him to walk from his Milpitas home to a transit station, catch a train, transfer to another train and then walk to his job as a software engineer in Sunnyvale.

The point is this: “Mass transit doesn’t work”.  We aren’t dense enough to make it work.  People live too far from where they work.  Transfers are common.  Further, because this is the government, making upgrades to the system is seen as an expense, not an investment.  As such, expenses are minimized meaning fewer trains and busses and fewer stops.  This raises the time of the commute and reduces riders.  But we have to continue to meet the costs.  And that means higher fares and higher taxes.

And soon, gentle reader, that means I am going to be taxed here in North Carolina so that someone in San Francisco can ride a bus that they don’t wanna ride.

In a sign that the shine is wearing off I am beginning to see a change of tone in the selection of stories on some major news outlets.  For about 2 years, the only things we saw on such leftist sites as msnbc were stories that painted the liberal agenda.

However, in the last few months I have started to see more stories that are less than complimentary of the left.  This one included:

Automakers are promising that affordable plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be available in the next couple of years, but a new report contends that it will be decades before the fuel savings and lower emissions make up for the high cost of batteries.

In their eternal quest to regulate, the left continually misses the boat on larger picture issues.

I mean, how do you miss the obvious:

The per-mile cost of running an electric vehicle has been estimated at about a quarter of the equivalent cost for gasoline, which has led some experts and consumers to see plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, as the cure for what ails America’s energy economy.

The research council’s report, however, estimates that it could be 2028 or later before the fuel savings outweigh the additional up-front cost for plug-in vehicles.

When it comes to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, the report said regular hybrid vehicles such as the present-day Prius might well be more environmentally friendly — unless power companies start phasing out the use of coal and other fossil fuels for electricity generation.

Slow down.  Take your time.  Get it right.

I think that I’m gonna keep a running tally of the crap that’s going on in California.  It is possible, very likely, that the State is going to have to go bankrupt or beg for and receive a bailout from the Federal Government.

Part I:

California is known for its car culture. But it turns out those wheels are rolling over some of the worst roads in the nation. A recent study ranked California 49th out of the 50 states for the quality of its pavement. New Jersey came in last. But California has the distinction of having the nation’s worst roads in urban areas.

I should be happy that NPR is saying anything negative on the darling of the left.  But then again, not one single reference as to why the roads are so bad.  Not one mention as to the shrinking revenues, the mounting debt and the tendency of California to drive out both business and the wealthy.

A guy can dream?

I live out in the county of Wake county.  There are a lot of old windy country roads.  Many of them are heavily wooded and would cause a person to think, “I would LOVE to ride bike through these roads”.  But the fact remains that these roads are barely, BARELY, two lane roads.  There is NO shoulder to speak of; the white line delineating the edge of the lane to the right side almost all of the time has 2-4 inches before giving way to grass, rocks or a ditch.  And we constantly have bikers riding these roads.

These raos are roads where cars are moving at speeds of 45-65 miles per hour.  Sure, most of that is speeding, but even at 45 MPH, the bike has no chance when facing a car.  Further, these bikers don’t just ride single file and give way to traffic, they often ride in groups; small or large.  Each of which presents it’s own problems.

I really don’t think that the roads here in Wake county are meant for bike riders.  There is not enough room on the side of the road and the speeds these guys are carrying is just too dangerous.  Both for the car traffic and for the bikers.

Which is why this comment reported on by the News and Observer makes me upset:

“…the N.C. Coalition for Bicycle Driving, an organization that works to educate bikers on safe ways to ride, while emphasizing that bicycles have as much right to the roadways as cars do. People often forget the high speeds that bicycles can go, Pein said.

“We’re essentially motorcyclists with an organic engine,” he said.”

No.  No they are not.  Motorcycles are capable of full speed.  They are able to keep up with traffic and not force it to change speeds.  Further, motorcycles are required to carry insurance.  Last, motorcycles have licenses, inspections and purchase gas; all of which entitles them to the use of roadways.  Bicycles have none of these.  Simply put, bicycles on roadways are “unsafe at any speed”.

Update to an earlier post.

This is exactly what I am talking about when it comes to this whole transportation thing:

Here Durham is guilty:

DATA was supposed to open its $17.6 million Durham Station Transportation Center in February. But now, the new center, located at the old Heart of Durham Hotel site on Chapel Hill Street, will not be open until the middle of March, according Ieshia Robertson, a city spokeswoman.

And to clarify any b lame:

Robertson said the actual facility will be completed on time, but N.C. Department of Transportation is requiring the city to do some work on the surrounding streets.

Look, I know that we want mass transit to succeed.  But it won’t.  Not here, not now.

amtrak1So, while this is not light rail and that whole boondoggle, this may come close?  Or not.  I’m not sure.  But while reading this I was struck by two key facts:

Local leaders drew encouragement last year from an economic study by Amtrak and the state Department of Transportation. A Hillsborough stop would boost ticket revenue enough to trim the state’s Amtrak subsidy by a projected $56,000 a year.

Now, first of all, any study done by either Amtrak or the State Department of Transportation should sound the alarms in any neutral observer.  But, okay, for the sake of the article, lets go with it.  Let’s go with 56k a year.  Then this:

To protect one potential site for a train station, the Hillsborough town board agreed last summer to pay $600,000 for 20 acres known as the Collins property, just south of downtown.

So, let me get this straight.  In order to save $56,000 year, the town of Hillsborough spent 600 large to buy the land!.  Before this is over, with building costs creating the side line for the actual railroad and the rest of what I am sure is non-trivial costs, this station is going to cost several million dollars.

To save 56k a year.  You could invest 1 million dollars and pull back 56k a year.

Am I missing something?

I was reading through the News and Observer article describing the Govna’s first day in office.  Now, I have switched jobs, taken responsibility over from someone else and even given responsibility to someone who is taking over my role.  Changes happen.  People think that they have better ideas, or fresh ideas or just, I don’t know, ideas.  I have no issue with that.  But what struck was this her quote on the Board of Transportation.  The article sets it up this way

Perdue ordered that the state Board of Transportation, criticized over the years for approving projects based on patronage and parochialism instead of need, cede its authority to approve road projects to the secretary of transportation. Such decisions would be made by the professional planners and engineers at the department, while the board acts as a planning group.

State law, however, requires that the board be consulted on any spending in districts represented by board members. Perdue acknowledged the statutory obstacle, but said the board will shift gears voluntarily.

Okay, okay, s she has some “politicking to do”.  Or, then again, maybe not:

“Because the governor of this state appoints the DOT board, we will be able to convince them very easily to delegate that authority,” she said.

Hmmm, color me naive, but that doesn’t sound right.