Top stories on TN:
Mica: the Northeast Corridor must be our high-speed rail priority, and Amtrak can keep it. (Link)
Lima's public transportation system is a "killing machine;" the mayor has vowed reform. (AP)
Two domestic carriers are now using biofuels on some flights. (NPR)
Chicago is installing new cars on the 'El' train. (WBEZ)
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is set to mark up a two-year highway and transit bill today. (Politico)
Why are America's roads so bad? Because the network was built to withstand cars, not heavy trucks. (Gizmodo)
DC's Capital Bikeshare is expanding. (Washington Post)
A ballot measure on tolling and light rail in Washington State is too close to call. (Seattle Times)
Durham County (NC) passed a sales tax to pay for public transit expansion. (Herald Sun)
A new study says biking can save cities billions of dollars in health costs. (Good)
Want to the see the MTA's time-lapse video of the NYC Marathon? Check it out here.
Cartographers are using Boston's real-time bus location data to depict bus speeds (image above). "As you can see, most of the MBTA system would be toast if faced with the classic Speed scenario." (Bostonography)
The Federal Trade Commission has launched a probe into whether companies, refineries, and/or traders have manipulated crude oil markets. (Wall Street Journal)
A group representing thousands of New York City taxi drivers threw its support behind legislation that would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails -- despite its intention to attend a protest of the plan Monday. (WNYC)
Chinese companies are building a 'superhighway' -- a road that's 16 lanes across in some places -- in Kenya. (NPR)
Can biofuels making flying clean and cheap? (Good)
Rhode Island's transit agency head says he has to cut bus service 10% because of an expected budget deficit. (Boston Globe)
The United Arab Emirates decided to build the world's most sustainable city...then the financial crisis hit. Whither the Masdar pod-cars? (Marketplace)
Paris to New York in 90 minutes? Paris to Tokyo in three hours? That's the promise of an experimental jet unveiled at the Paris Air Show. (NPR)
The Takeaway follows up on Saudi women agitating for their right to drive.
((Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) At the almost-end of the 2008 presidential primary season -- May, 2008 -- gasoline prices went through the roof , up to $5 a gallon in some areas of the country. The price hike prompted near-panic, along with car-pooling, more mass transit rides, more careful grocery lists (just one trip to the supermarket) -- and a very big policy debate.
As it happened, Hillary Clinton, fighting the last days of the primary, got behind a gas tax cut. Most economists dismissed the idea -- not only would the gas tax cut simply disappear in the rising price of gasoline, they argued, but it would also bankrupt the already broke highway trust fund.
Barack Obama did not get behind the gas tax cut, even though, as I trailed the two candidates through the rolling hills of Indiana, cutting the gas tax got some of the biggest whoops of any proposals during Hillary Clinton's speeches. Obama called it a gimmick.
He still thinks so, today.
"We’ve been down this road before," he told an enthusiastic audience of Georgetown University students at a speech (video here) on energy security today. "Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon. Working folks haven’t forgotten that. It hit a lot of people pretty hard. But it was also the height of political season, so you had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas – when none of it would really do anything to solve the problem. Imagine that in Washington.
"The truth is, of course, was that all these gimmicks didn’t make a bit of difference. When gas prices finally fell, it was mostly because the global recession led to less demand for oil. Now that the economy is recovering, demand is back up. Add the turmoil in the Middle East, and it’s not surprising oil prices are higher. And every time the price of a barrel of oil on the world market rises by $10, a gallon of gas goes up by about 25 cents."
Indeed, President Barack Obama has had a remarkably consistent position on energy through his campaign and his presidency, even as the political climate has dramatically shifted.
In September of 2008, I was watching Rudy Giuliani give his address to the Republican National Convention with Congressman Peter King. "Drill, Baby Drill," Giuliani said, as King cringed "we're not supposed to use the 'D-word,' we're supposed to say 'explore.'" Still - the genie was out of the bottle. The crowd roared when Giuliani said that, and when Sarah Palin picked up the refrain during her acceptance of the Vice Presidential nomination later during the Minneapolis convention.
But despite the popularity of that slogan, talking about developing solutions to climate change and oil dependency was, in those days, a much more bi-partisan issue than it has since become. Just two years later, In the elections of 2010, several Republicans won by practically spitting when mentioning Democratic support for what they called "cap and trade" legislation.
But Barack Obama? In 2008, he supported a combination of nuclear power, alternative energy, and mass transit use. Today? He supports a combination of nuclear power, alternative energy, domestic oil drilling (the "Drill,Baby, Drill) part of his policy, and mass transit use.
"Seventy percent of our petroleum use goes to transportation," he said today."Seventy percent."
His speech today (full text here) made a careful argument. We must, he posited, reduce oil consumption by a third in a decade. To get there, he proposed, first, the US must exploit its own supplies -- "as long as it's safe and responsible."
"When it comes to drilling onshore," he added, in a line of argument that might surprise some of his 2008 primary voters -- "my Administration approved more than two permits last year for every new well that the industry started to drill. So any claim that my Administration is responsible for gas prices because we’ve “shut down” oil production might make for a useful political sound bite – but it doesn’t track with reality.
And, then, in an adroit Obama-esque intellectual maneuver, he added "But let’s be honest – it’s not the long-term solution to our energy challenge. America holds only about two percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. And even if we drilled every drop of oil out of every one of those reserves, it still wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term needs."