Sydney Metro Project Wavers as Light Rail Expansion Gains Supporters

» The creation of a single line would produce an underused system for decades to come; extensions of the existing network may be a better option.

Few places in the world are as reliant on their commuter rail systems as Sydney; the Australian metropolis’ CityRail attracts more than one million daily passengers. The almost 1,300 miles of track the system includes provide for the transportation needs of most of the rail transit users in the city, though a light rail line that opened in 1997 and which now has 4.5 miles of service provides some connections to the Inner West parts of the city. A monorail loop links the light rail to Market Street, midway up the CBD peninsula.

A traditional metro system has long been considered for the city, not only to relieve congestion on the CityRail network downtown but also

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High-Speed Rail Grants Announced; California, Florida, and Illinois Are Lucky Recipients

» Wisconsin, North Carolina, Washington, Ohio, and Michigan also getting big investments. But no corridor is fully funded for true high-speed service.

After months of speculation about which states will get funding from the Federal Railroad Administration to begin construction on new high-speed corridors, the news is in. As has been expected, California, Florida, and Illinois are the big winners, with more than one billion in spending proposed for each. But other states with less visible projects, including Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Washington will also get huge grants and begin offering relatively fast trains on their respective corridors within five years. The distribution of dollars is well thought-out and reasonable: it provides money to regions across the nation and prioritizes states that have made a commitment of their own to a fast train program.

President Obama and Vice President Biden will make the announcement today at an event in

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North Carolina's Triangle Questions How Best to Connect a Multipolar Region

» With several urban cores and a major research park at the center, how would fixed-guideway transit work?

North Carolina’s Triangle is known as one of the most economically vibrant areas of the country. Its cities are growing rapidly and their inhabitants, attracted by several prominent universities, are some of the smartest in the country. Decades of population expansion, however, haven’t been followed by serious efforts to concentrate growth around better transit. Indeed, the region is sprawling more than almost any other, with the vast majority of new housing growth in new low-density subdivisions on the margins of the area’s four biggest cities: Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill. Though downtowns have experienced significant regeneration over the past several years, the lack of efficient transit alternatives has handicapped hopes for further densification.

With more than one million inhabitants and increasing congestion on the area’s most-trafficked arteries,

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Dulles Airport Replaces Distinctive Mobile Lounge System with AeroTrain

» System marks airport’s advance into the 21st century, but the terminals aren’t necessarily ready.

When it opened in the early 1960s, Washington Dulles Airport was ahead of its time. Its soaring suspended concrete ceiling designed by Eero Saarinen marked a distinctive entry point for visitors arriving to the nation’s capital. Everything about the airport was constructed with the most modern ideas about air travel, including in terms of transportation to and from airplanes. Instead of having travelers descend steps from airplane doors and then walk into the building, the airport’s “mobile lounges” — buses designed to “mate” with airplanes — transported people directly from a dock on the side of the primary terminal to the airplane’s front stoop, where one could simply stroll into a jet.

Over time, the concept grew outmoded. As security measures increased and the number of commuters expanded, waiting around in the main terminal

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A Spending Freeze

» President Obama’s appeal to fiscal conservatives is likely to result in little substantial change, but it’s exactly the wrong message.

On Wednesday, President Obama will give his State of the Union address to the Congress, and next Monday he will release his proposed budget for fiscal year 2011. Late yesterday, staff aids leaked the news that the speech would include a pledge to veto any budget that didn’t freeze non-defense and non-security discretionary spending at $447 billion. The freeze would be set for three years, followed by spending increases limited by inflation. The goal would be to reduce federal spending by around $250 billion over ten years.

Discretionary spending does not affect mandatory programs like Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, which are financed through other funds.

Mr. Obama has no direct control over the budget; final decisions about the funding of federal agencies are made after months of

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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