Chicago Olympics May Depend on Better Transit – But Where’s the Commitment?

» International Olympic Committee with pick a 2016 host site in October; Chicago faces tough competition from Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio.

Last week, U.S. Department of Transportation head Ray LaHood said that the Obama Administration would do as much as possible to ensure the well-being of Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid. This pledge of support could include grants designed specifically to improve the city’s transport network, which has suffered from significant underinvestment in recent decades. President Obama said during the campaign that he would relish a Summer Olympics event in his hometown as a capstone to his potential second term in office, and indeed, a successful games there would solidify his political legacy.

But an Olympics Bid is a complicated thing, and Mr. LaHood’s pledge of support may be worth less than it seems, because it carries with it no definitive commitment to undertake any specific transport improvement project.

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U.K.'s High Speed Two Fleshed Out

With support from Tories and Labour, project construction is virtually guaranteed

The United Kingdom, despite its intense population concentration and relatively straight-shot connection between its biggest cities, has yet to invest in a major high-speed program, unlike its peers in France, Spain, and Germany. Beginning late last year, however, the Conservative Party, under leader David Cameron and shadow Transportation Minister Teresa Villiers, began pressuring the Labour-controlled government to begin planning a high-speed rail link between London and Manchester, via Birmingham, as a replacement for the planned third runway at Heathrow airport. Plans to route the line through the airport to allow easy connections to flights were incorporated into the proposal almost immediately.

Though in January Labour did approve the runway at Heathrow as a way to relieve the significant congestion there, the U.K.’s ruling party has come to see a high-speed rail program as politically advantageous –

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CAHSR May Get Federal Funds; Honolulu LRT to be Re-routed; London Transit Plans Shrink

Now that the election’s over, we can start talking about some of the consequences. The most important event Tuesday night was the decision by California voters to approve a $10 billion bond for high-speed rail in that state, and the High-Speed Rail Authority there is already beginning work. Though construction won’t begin until 2010 at the earliest, the Authority has already been allocated $40 million for the completion of the environmental studies. But the main task of the agency will have to be finding the other $22 billion that will be necessary to complete the first link, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, with an extension to Anaheim. This money is expected to come from federal and private sources.

Some of the $1.5 billion recently allocated by Congress for rail projects will probably go to California. But Democrats have previously promised a lot more funding for high-speed rail,

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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