Ray LaHood's Expedition to Europe Bodes Well for U.S. HSR Hopes

Visits France, Germany, and Spain to see high-speed rail working first-hand

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has spent the last week in Europe, where he’s been meeting with French, German, and Spanish officials on a high-speed fact-finding tour. His conclusions — that the U.S. has a model to emulate in European very fast trains — indicates the administration’s seriousness in approaching the development of such transportation technologies in the United States. Washington, it appears, is not going to let the dream for true high-speed rail slip away.

In meetings with French and Spanish officials, Mr. LaHood could hardly restrain his excitement about his trip to Europe, telling AFP that “In America we’re just beginning what you’ve done here in Europe for such a long period of time in such a successful way. This is very impressive.” He is likely to visit Japan, the Asian model for fast trains, later

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Singapore's Circle Line Next Step for a Network of Automatic Metros

Project will be world’s longest driverless underground line when completed next year, and more lines will follow.

Yesterday, Singapore opened the first phase of its future Circle Line, which will ring the downtown core and provide easier connections among the city’s existing and future metro lines. Once completed in 2011, the circumferential route will have cost around $5 billion U.S. to construct and will run 33.3 km, making it the longest automated, fully underground rapid transit corridor in the world. The portion of the line opened yesterday, at 5.7 km, will connect the North-South (Red) and North East Lines (Purple). Singapore’s push to expand, starting with the Circle Line, will eventually double the city-state’s metro network with some of the most advanced public transportation technologies offered in the world and provide a model for other cities building such lines.

Singapore’s projects are constructed by the nation’s Continue reading Singapore's Circle Line Next Step for a Network of Automatic Metros »

After Years of Conflict, Houston's Transit System Advances

» Tom DeLay’s departure from Congress has made the project’s implementation quite a bit easier.

Houston is America’s fourth-largest city and one of the nation’s most car-dependent. That’s because for the past sixty years, the city has invested in almost nothing other than new highways. Only in 2004, with the opening of a new light rail line running 7.5 miles down the city’s Main Street, did the trend begin to reverse itself. Though the region remains committed to the construction of huge expanses of asphalt, for the first time in decades, a large transit expansion program is under way.

The biggest news came last week, when the federal government announced that of the five New Start corridors for which it would be approving construction in FY 2010, two would be in Houston, providing a guarantee of $900 million. Construction on the system’s north

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Standardizing Transit Funding

Transit capital projects should receive federal funds proportional to their merit.

There’s been a lot of talk in transportation circles recently about ensuring that the federal commitment to transit projects is as strong as that to the national highway program. Such a policy change would require a sea change in Washington, principally because it would necessitate a radical transformation of the transportation legislation, which defines how funding is distributed. In addition to more funding allocated to new corridors in general, the federal government must reform the manner in which it determines its share of total construction costs.

Highway funds are distributed with an 80% federal share of construction costs on new roads projects. Gas tax revenues go to the states based on a number of factors including population and road network length; states are required to write up five-year transportation improvement plans to quantify how that money will be spent. In truth, though,

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New Orleans Rekindles Hopes for a Desire Streetcar

» City to use FTA planning funds to consider new line downtown.

New Orleans is famous for its streetcars, but the fact is that the city has only a few lines in operation, and their service has been relatively limited since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Yet the RTA transit operator there is intent on moving ahead with increasing its offerings, and has launched a study of potential corridors in the still-vibrant French Quarter and Central Business District. The three lines under consideration — shown in the map above — are all quite short and provide service just a few blocks from where streetcars already travel. The options, in other words, aren’t particularly compelling.

RTA’s focus is on increasing the attractiveness of the city’s core by expanding access to the convention center, the city hall, and the northern areas of the French Quarter and the burgeoning Marigny neighborhood. Each line

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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