Archive | October, 2008

Updated: Rail/Road Math

Update, 10/22/08

OK, I admit that the framing of my question was very local-centric without considering the full path of a freight trip.

But a reader passed along an interesting article that suggests that this can still be successfully managed in a sleepy little rail town called Chicago.

Original Post, 10/20/08:

Jim Young, chair of Union Pacific, was interviewed in a “Q&A” in Sunday’s Oregonian (if it’s online, I haven’t found it).

Here’s an interesting exchange on Commuter Rail:

Q: Do you see Union Pacific getting into the business of passenger rail with the new emphasis on mass transit?

A: There’s an infrastructure challenge on the highways. We are approached by city leaders who want to put commuter rail on the freight rail. That’s a complete mistake. The last thing we want to do is take freight off to make room for commuters. That freight just ends up on the highway.

For example, a load of lumber moving out of the Pacific Northwest displaces two to three trucks. Capacity is so tight, it wouldn’t be a good thing for the environment or the country. I can understand the community’s perspective. But what I have to protect is the freight business.

Is that the right way to look at the trade-off? If a freight car load of timber displaces 3 trucks, would a passenger car displace more than 3 trucks’ worth of cars? Assuming 3 cars = 1 truck for highway space, as long as a passenger rail car has more than nine passengers on it, isn’t that a win?

And wouldn’t the freight be more likely to be able to shift out of the AM and PM peak (if on trucks) than the commuters would be?

How many cars to do we have to remove to cancel the negative environmental impacts of the added trucks?

Seems like the tradeoff is a little more complex than Mr. Young paints it?

Of course, we could always invest in more rail, rather than more asphalt…

Buses Done Right

Streetfilms has a great video of the bus system in Boulder, CO. Erik is going to salivate.

I particularly like the bike storage in the luggage compartment. We could use room for six bikes on the #96, which I’ve pretty much given up on because the bike racks are always full.

Davis, Revisited

Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Fall 2008 Transportation Seminar Series

At the beginning of the Fall term, we still had a few Friday slots to be filled. Well, now they have all been filled up. Plus we have updated the seminar website, and have put the archives (by date or by subject) on separate pages. So please take a look at the website for the most up to date info:

Next Friday’s seminar:

Speaker: Ted Buehler

Topic: Bicycling in Davis, CA: Rise and Maturation of Bicycle Engineering, Advocacy and Policy from 1960s – Present

When: Oct. 24, 2008, 12:00 – 1:15p.m.

Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204.

CRC Mantra: Job Creation

I’m at the JPACT retreat this morning, where among other things the regional legislative strategy for the 2009 Oregon Legislative session is being discussed.

The Port of Portland lobbyist is inculcating a mantra of “job creation” as the top line message for the Columbia River Crossing.

I was muttering under my breath: “environmental destruction.”

“Transportation for America” Launches Today

A new national advocacy effort is being launched today:

Transportation for America (T4) is a broad coalition of housing, environmental, public health, urban planning, transportation and other organizations focused on creating a 21st Century national transportation program. T4’s goal is to build a modernized infrastructure and healthy communities where people can live, work and play by aligning national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development.