To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pasadena Police Department Prepares for a DUI Saturation Patrol


March 21, 2013


The Pasadena Police Department will be conducting a “Zero Tolerance” DUI Saturation Patrol on Saturday, March 30, 2013. The program will begin at 8:00 P.M. and will end at 3:00 A.M. This enforcement operation will be in an effort to reduce and remove the number of impaired drivers traveling on city streets. DUI programs are a useful and effective tool for achieving the Pasadena Police Department’s goal of detecting and removing impaired drivers from our streets while improving traffic safety, saving lives and preventing injuries.

The Pasadena Police Department encourages people who are leaving home and planning on consuming alcoholic beverages, to select a designated driver prior to drinking or to simply telephone one of the many taxi cab services for a safe ride home.

In addition, it is a violation of law for any driver under the age of 21 years to operate a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. The public is encouraged to help keep our roadways safe and to ‘Report Drunk Drivers by Calling 911’ whenever you see a suspected drunk driver.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

High Collision Intersection Program


March 21, 2013


The Pasadena Police Department will be conducting traffic enforcement at high collision intersections throughout the City of Pasadena on Monday, March 25, 2013. The hours of operation will be from 7:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.

The Pasadena Police Department is committed to reducing the number of traffic collisions resulting from drivers running red lights or driving aggressively through intersections. The ultimate goal is to enforce and educate the driving public at the same time reducing serious injuries and fatal collisions.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

From Smog to Sustainability 


By Antionio Villaraigosa, March 21, 2013

 We Angelenos like to call our city the City of Angels. But when I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, it was more like Smog City.

Back then, the air quality in the LA basin would get so bad we would have the west coast version of snow days -- days that where the air was so thick with a sickly orange and brown haze that recess and P.E. classes were cancelled and we were confined to our classrooms.

Those memories have stuck with me, and I've never wanted my kids and grandkids to grow up like that. That's why environmental policy has been a centerpiece of my career as a public servant and why, when I first become Mayor of Los Angeles in 2005, I set out to make LA the cleanest, greenest big city in America.

Over the last eight years we've worked together to rewrite Los Angeles' environmental future. We have reduced our harmful greenhouse gas emissions by more than any other city in the country.

We've quadrupled our use of renewable energy. And we've cut air pollution in half at the Port of Los Angeles, once one of our region's most notorious polluters but now a model of sustainability.

We have also:
• Implemented the first big city Feed-in-Tariff Solar program
• Synchronized every traffic signal in the city
• Increased recycling rates to over 75 percent
• Opened over 650 acres of parkland and launched the 50 Parks Initiative
• Reduced water use by 20 percent
• Installed over 120 new miles of bikeways
• Made the LA River navigable
• Developed a forward-thinking Adaptation Plan
And by the end of my term, we will have:
• Replaced every traffic light with an LED bulb
• Finished installing 140,000 LEDs on our street lights
• Planted 400,000 trees
• Held 7 CicLAvias -- car-free days -- including one from downtown to the beach

I am proud to announce that we are adding a major new accomplishment to our list. Los Angeles will be the first big city in America to kick the coal habit. We are eliminating our dependence on dirty coal plants to power our city.

Getting to this historic point has been a long process. Today, two coal-fired plants provide nearly 40 percent of our city's energy. By no later than 2025, we will stop using one plant and will turn the other into a much smaller natural gas plant with renewable energy capacity.

A new era of clean power is dawning in Southern California, and we are blazing a new trail for the rest of the country to follow. When the second biggest city in America gets off coal, it leaves a footprint on the clean energy market. We're raising the bar for urban environmental politics, and we're urging every city from coast to coast to meet it.

Within twelve years, our investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and combined-cycle natural gas will provide Angelenos with a coal-free, clean, and reliable energy supply.

I'm happy to say that my kids and grandkids will be proud residents of a Los Angeles that is the capital of sustainability, not smog.

Watch new video on the changes HERE

California Highway Patrol Asks Drivers to Help Nab "Registration Scofflaws"


By Samantha Tata, March 21, 2013


CHP Asks Drivers to Help Nab "Registration Scofflaws"

Would you turn in a fellow motorist for driving on California roadways without a Golden State license plate?

The California Highway Patrol is asking drivers to be their eyes on the road to nab "registration scofflaws."

California loses millions of dollars in tax revenue from residents whose cars, trucks or motorcycles are registered in other states or countries, according to the CHP.

Drivers who don’t register their cars in state may do so to avoid California’s high taxes, because they’re unable to comply with the state’s emissions laws or because they’re simply unaware that they have to, the agency said.

But the campaign sends a message that it doesn’t matter the reason: the CHP wants to convert those plates.

Anonymous tips generated by CHEATERS (Californians Help Eliminate All The Evasive Registration Scofflaws) brought in $757,000 to the state in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.

Since its creation in 2004, CHEATERS has generated about $5 million in revenue for California.
If drivers see an out-of-state plate traveling on a California road, CHP wants them to fill out this online form.

It calls for the make, model, color and license plate number of the car, where it was seen and any identifying details such as bumper stickers or license plate frames.
If there’s enough information to prove the car’s owner is a California resident, they’ll be sent a letter telling them they have to register their car in state.

A select few drivers are exempt from registering their cars in California:
  • Active duty military personnel and their spouses (unless they’re originally from California)
  • Students paying out-of-state tuition while attending a public college or university

Drivers who do not meet those criteria have 20 days from the time they become a resident or get a job in state to re-register their vehicles.

Being registered to vote in California and paying in-state tuition at a university are among the ways to establish residency.

The cost to register a car in California is great than in most other states. To calculate how much it would cost to register your car in the Golden State, click here for the DMV’s fee calculator.

Wendy Greuel's 'throw all the spaghetti against the wall' campaign


By Mark Lacter, March 21, 2013



How do you possibly explain union enemy Richard Riordan endorsing the same person that just received the backing of the city's most powerful labor organization? Well, you really can't - other than to point out that L.A.'s mayoral campaign has captured cross-currents that defy the usual ideological agendas. Besides, at this stage of any campaign, endorsements tend to make strange bedfellows. Riordan, of course, is the guy who called for a major overhaul of the city's pension system that would involve lower benefits. Greuel is the candidate who took issue with pension changes that were supported by her opponent, Eric Garcetti (and which were strongly opposed by the unions). Why would Greuel need or even want Riordan? The basic answer is that Greuel can't win without the support of both labor and business - even though the two sides sharply differ on how to deal with L.A.'s fiscal problems. The unions feel they've done pretty much all they can on the pension front, while business interests (Greuel also has the backing of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce) believe the work is only just beginning. These issues are nearly impossible to resolve, and Greuel, along with Garcetti, have offered only the vaguest ideas for dealing with them. But of course that's been the basic strategy of the entire campaign: Say as little as possible, and line up as many constituencies as possible. In other words, throw all the spaghetti against the wall and hope for the best.


Riordan and Soboroff take (opposite) sides in the mayoral race
 Several months ago, Riordan dismissed all the candidates as a bunch of losers.


By Kevin Roderick, March 20, 2013

 Former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan signed on today as an unpaid adviser to Wendy Greuel. She vowed he would be her first hire as mayor; Greuel's chief campaign consultant, John Shallman, previously did work for Riordan. The former mayor, you may recall, backed Austin Beutner's nascent mayoral candidacy and Riordan admitted last summer he was not impressed by the Greuel- and Garcetti-led field of candidates without Beutner. He also recently tried but failed to ignite a pension reform movement at the ballot.

The Riordan news came shortly after Eric Garcetti announced he was endorsed by Steven Soboroff, the former candidate for mayor (in 2001) and civic leader who most recently helped bring the space shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center.
From the respective flackages, starting with Team Greuel:
Wendy Greuel is pleased to announce that Mayor Richard Riordan has agreed to join her team as a “Senior Adviser”. Riordan will offer advice on economic issues.
Riordan served as mayor of Los Angeles from 1993-2001. Riordan spearheaded the rebuilding of many parts of the city after the Northridge Earthquake, and he was a powerful force for the economy with the creation of the Alameda Corridor, Staples Center and Disney Hall.

During his tenure as Mayor, Riordan also improved public safety, adding police officers and cutting crime dramatically.

“Los Angeles, the city of I love, is in a crisis – we need to bring business and labor together and I know Wendy Greuel is the right candidate for the job,” said Mayor Richard Riordan.

“Mayor Riordan will be my first hire in my new administration, he has agreed to come work for me for only $1 a year. I’m honored to have the assistance of one of the few men who knows firsthand what it takes to do the job of mayor of Los Angeles,” said Greuel. “Mayor Riordan is a force in Los Angeles. As Mayor he lowered crime and pushed for reform in our local schools, and he has been a leading voice in talking about what our City must do to address its economic challenges.”
And now from Team Garcetti:
Los Angeles civic and business leader Steve Soboroff has endorsed Eric Garcetti for LA Mayor....

Soboroff, a Republican fiscal conservative and social progressive, was a mayoral candidate in 2001 after serving in Mayor Richard Riordan’s administration as a Senior Advisor and as President of the Recreation and Parks Commission and the Harbor Commission. After playing a major role in the creation of Staples Center and the Alameda Corridor, he recently acted as a Senior Advisor to the effort bringing the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center, and is Chairman of the Committee of 18 for the 2013 Maccabiah World Games in Israel.

In 2001, Soboroff ran a strong mayoral primary campaign that won him more than 106,000 votes. He won the Valley and Westside, and carried Republicans and Decline to State voters. The LA Times Exit Poll also showed Soboroff won Jewish voters, and finished in second place among Asian voters.

A graduate of Taft High School, Soboroff taped a video message announcing his endorsement of Garcetti at Balboa Park in the Valley.

“My simple message to those good folks who voted for me: vote for Eric Garcetti!" said Soboroff. "He and I believe in using scarce budget dollars in a balanced approach, and not putting 'all the eggs in one basket,' but being independent enough to deal with priorities like traffic, parks, libraries, schools, trees and street repairs, on both sides of the hill. He has proven to be a job creator and problem solver for all LA residents. Eric has led his district to be number one in job growth, while reducing crime, tripling the number of parks and ensuring an after school program for every school. My experience in business, in City Hall and in our community convinces me that Eric will be a great mayor for Los Angeles that appeals to my generation as well as the younger and hipper generation."

“I’m honored to receive this powerful endorsement from Steve Soboroff,” said Garcetti.“Steve is simply one of the most respected leaders in Los Angeles, and I know he will make a big difference in my campaign.”
Here's an unrelated but somehow timely question. Are Riordan, or Soboroff — or both? — part of Austin Beutner's group that is attempting to acquire the Los Angeles Times from Tribune Company? Both have shown interest in solving the city's media issues before, and both have played nice with Beutner and the one partner we do know about, Eli Broad. I'm told there may be as many as six principals already committed to be part of the Times deal, which reportedly would lead to the paper be operated as a non-profit. The Broad and Beutner effort was the topic of my weekly KCRW conversation on Monday.

Mixed news on transportation funding from Congress — not exactly a shocker, people


By Steve Hymon, March 21, 2013


For masochistic readers following the tortuous path of transportation funding in Congress, here are a dynamic duo of legislative updates from Metro’s government relations staff.

The first is good news: the House of Representatives restored transportation funding in the budget for the second half of this fiscal year.

The second is not so good news: the House of Representatives is hacking away at transportation funding in a budget they’re preparing for the next fiscal year.

The updates:

House Adopts Six Month Stop Gap Spending Bill

This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate-amended version of H.R. 933, a six month stop gap funding bill for the Federal Government for the balance of Federal Fiscal Year 2013.

The bill was adopted by a vote of 318 to 109. As was shared in yesterday’s Legislative Alert, the U.S. Senate passed this bill last night by a vote of 73 to 26. In a welcome development, the bill includes language that aligns the level of funding for federal transportation programs with the amounts authorized for those programs under the newly adopted surface transportation bill, MAP-21.

Under the previous stop gap funding bill that covered the first six months of Federal Fiscal Year 2013, Congress ignored MAP-21 funding levels and kept the funding for federal transportation programs at the lower level provided in Federal Fiscal Year 2012.
nitial estimates of this change in policy indicate that federal transportation programs will receive a boost of $385 million dollars of regular discretionary budget authority for the balance of Federal Fiscal Year 2013. This stop gap funding bill is subject to sequestration, which will cut funding across the board for a number of defense and domestic discretionary programs.

House Adopts Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Budget

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted its Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res 25).

The vote was sharply partisan, with 221 votes in favor of the budget and 207 opposed. The budget, crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would limit discretionary funding to $414 billion, which is less than the amount authorized under the Budget Control Act of 2011.
With respect to defense spending, the Ryan Budget would provide $552 billion, which is a figure bolstered by a proposed transfer of funding drawn from additional cuts in domestic discretionary funding.

The Ryan Budget proposes to eliminate all federal funding for High Speed Rail in the United States. A summary of the transportation provisions in the Ryan Budget, as posted on the House Committee on Budget website reads: “The mechanisms of federal highway and transit spending have become distorted, leading to imprudent, irresponsible, and often downright wasteful spending. Further, however worthy some highway projects might be, their capacity as job creators has been vastly oversold, as demonstrated by the extravagant but unfulfilled promises that accompanied the 2009 stimulus bill, particularly with regard to high-speed rail.”

House and Senate Democrats, in concert with the White House, have and continue to sharply criticize the spending cuts proposed in the Ryan Budget. Please click (link not included in the article) here to view a summary of the Ryan Budget posted on the House Committee on Budget website. The U.S. Senate is expected to adopt their Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Budget later this week.

Here’s a good Powerpoint doc on early findings of Union Station Master Plan process


By Steve Hymon, March 21, 2013


 We posted the other day about a new Metro staff report on the Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan process. The thrust of the report: making Union Station work as a transit hub is the first and foremost priority of the master plan.

The above document is a companion to the staff report and contains some interesting maps and stats. Here’s a good one: Did you know that the bus stop at Cesar Chavez and Vignes serves as many riders as the stops on Patsaouras Plaza? Or that there are two bus plazas and four perimeter bus stops serving Union Station — and 60 percent of the boardings are at the perimeter stops?

Scroll through the document — some of the most interesting stuff is toward the middle and back. Happy reading!
Infected Download Still on Metro's SR - 710 Study Facebook Page

This infected download has been on Metro's Facebook page since March 18--three days ago--even with warnings to remove it (see https://www.facebook.com/SR710Study if you are on Facebook or . http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=3371042461942741644#editor/target=post;postID=6468282283145666740.)

After being told this about the infected download, this was their reply:

 Hi All, We apologize that this link was difficult to access. Please note that we formatted the letter into a more user-friendly document posted above. The Letter can also be accessed on the metro website http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/ by clicking on the image “An Important Announcement”

This was my still unanswered comment to the above:

You still don't get it. The point is not that the link is difficult to access, but that if anyone can access it, they will be downloading malicious malware onto their computer. Not only that, what one posts on this Facebook site often appears on their Facebook page and, hence, on their newsfeed. Hence, another way that people could download the malware. I am finding it unbelievable that you would keep a link on this page that contains malicious malware. Also, anything that the person who sent you the link sends out to other people will probably contain the malware as well. I guess you just don't care or know so little about malware you are not considering it a threat--but it is a real one.

Linda Vista and San Rafael Designation as "High Fire Zones"

Letter received today from Coumcilmember Steve Madison

On Tuesday, March 26, 2013, there will be a community meeting with the Pasadena Fire Department to discuss the designation of Linda Vista and San Rafael as "high fire zones." Chief Wells will address any community concerns about this designation, which has been in effect since 2006.

March 26, 2013
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
La Casita del Arroyo
177 S. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

Questions: 626-744-4739 or the Pasadena Fire Department at 626-744-4776.

(Don't forget to trim your trees and cut off frost-bitten dead branches from bushes before your property is inspected  by the fire department sometime in April.)

Electric Car Improvement of the Day: AAA's New Mobile Charging Truck


By Henry Grabar, March 21, 2013


 Electric Car Improvement of the Day: AAA's New Mobile Charging Truck


Don't want to end up like New York Times reporter John Broder, freezing to save power in your electric car? Sign up for AAA.

The American Automobile Association has never been the most progressive organization, but they seem to be anticipating the growing market for electric vehicles. Yesterday AAA-Washington announced its first "PTO driven level-3 roadside charging unit," a truck that can deliver a fifteen-minute roadside jolt to electric car drivers in the Seattle area.

What does that jargon mean? Well, AAA already has a few mobile charging vehicles deployed in Oregon and California, but this truck, pictured above, isn't just a pick-up with a gas-powered generator in the bed. Its electric power is produced by the "power takeoff" of the truck's engine.

Ten to fifteen minutes of charge, according to the AAA press release, will allow a vehicle to drive "three to 15 miles" to a charging station (instead of being towed there). That's a pretty big range, but the Seattle region has one of the U.S.'s best power networks for EVs -- there are over a hundred in downtown Seattle alone.

Take Metrolink to Auto Club Speedway’s NASCAR race


By Anna Chen, March 21, 2013


Metrolink Board Member Richard Katz and Councilmember Jose Huizar – both of whom are also members of the Metro Board of Directors – joined Brad Keselowski, winner of last year’s Sprint Cup, and Miss Sprint Cup at Union Station today to declare Auto Club Speedway Day in L.A. and encourage NASCAR fans to ride Metrolink to this weekend’s races.

Race fans looking for a stress-free, convenient and affordable way to get to Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend can simply take Metrolink. Metrolink has again partnered with Auto Club Speedway to provide direct train service to the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 24. Check out the time tables for the Speedway trains here; the Antelope Valley Line connects with three Metro Rail lines at Union Station while the Ventura County Line connects with the Metro Orange Line at Chatsworth.

Metrolink train tickets to the Auto Club 400 are only $19 for one round-trip train ticket. Metrolink’s Speedway trains stop at a specially constructed station just off the back straight-away at the race track. From there, passengers will board a free tram that takes them to the entrance. Trains depart ACS one hour after the end of the race or checkered flag.

The Metrolink trains to Auto Club Speedway are special trains; regular Metrolink tickets and passes are not valid. The Auto Club Speedway train tickets are sold only by Auto Club Speedway and are mailed out prior to the race. To purchase race and train tickets or for information on the Auto Club Speedway train schedule, call Auto Club Speedway at (800) 944-RACE, visit the Auto Club Speedway Ticket Office or buy online.

More information from Metrolink’s official press release under the jump.

The Auto Club Speedway Metrolink Train Service is a joint demonstration project made possible in part by Clean Transportation Funding from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC). The MSRC’s mission is to fund projects that reduce air pollution to meet the region’s clean air goals. Over its 22-year history, the MSRC has assisted organizations throughout the Southland in removing as much as 8,000 tons of harmful pollutants from the air through innovative programs designed to reduce air pollution from mobile sources.

“By providing Clean Transportation Funding for this special Metrolink train service to the Auto Club 400, we are reducing congestion and air pollution and fulfilling the MSRC’s mission to reduce harmful emissions from mobile sources,” said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, member of the Metrolink Board of Directors and MSRC as an appointee from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Metrolink riders can bring food and non-alcoholic beverages on the train. Items are not permitted to be stored at the Speedway train station; however fans may utilize lightweight backpacks and soft side bags/coolers, no larger than 6x6x12 inches, that may contain race weekend essentials.  For a complete list of approved carry-in items, please visit Auto Club Speedway’s website.

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Two TAP updates and dedicated lane coming for Dodger Stadium Express


By Steve Hymon, March 21, 2013


Three quick notes from the Metro Board of Director committee meetings on Thursday morning:

•The Dodger Stadium Express will be back this season, once again offering free bus service between Los Angeles Union Station and the ballpark for those holding tickets to the game. And there's a wrinkle: in cooperation with the city of Los Angeles, there is expected to be a dedicated bus lane near the stadium this year to speed up the bus trips.

•TAP-enabled paper tickets for Metrolink are expected to show up in Metrolink ticket machines this spring. Gate latching tests with the tickets have gone very well.

•Metro will be moving TAP validators at some rail stations so they're more convenient for customers and easier to find. The first change will be the validators at the busy 7th/Metro Center station used by the Red/Purple Line subway and the Blue Line and Expo Line.


Marijuana Lingers For A Month; Zero-Tolerance DUI Would Ensnare 'Sober' Med Patients


 By Dennis Romero, March 20, 2013


Thumbnail image for cheech chong driving profile.JPG
There have been a few attempts to establish zero-tolerance DUI limits for weed smokers who get behind the wheel. The latest proposal by state Sen. Lou Correa would give you a DUI even if you had a trace of pot in your system.

The problem with that is virtually all regular medical marijuana patients would be subject to DUIs, because pot stays with your for weeks even if you're otherwise sober. That much was laid out ...

... in a recent study published in the journal Clinical Chemistry.
The research looked at 30 men who smoked weed daily. Despite cutting off the marijuana, two out of five remained positive for THC tests as many as 30 days after lighting up, according to author Marilyn A. Huestis of the National Institutes of Health.
According to a summary:
These results demonstrate, for the first time, that cannabinoids can be detected in blood of chronic daily cannabis smokers during a month of sustained abstinence.
This would make being a medical pot patient and a driver difficult if a zero-tolerance DUI law was passed in California.

The author, however, is all for cracking down on dope drivers, even if they haven't smoked in a month. The summary says the research ...
... suggests that establishment of 'per se' THC legislation might achieve a reduction in motor vehicle injuries and deaths. This same type of 'per se' alcohol legislation improved prosecution of drunk drivers and dramatically reduced alcohol-related deaths.

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on the highs, lows and legacy of his mayorship


March 21, 2013

LA Mayor Villraigosa Discusses Immigration Reform In Washington

 Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (L) listens to questions from the audiences after he addressed a National Press Club luncheon January 14, 2013 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Villaraigosa spoke on "Immigration Reform: Now is the Time."

A little more than three months remain in L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's final term in office. All this week, we've been examining what his legacy might be as he approaches the end of his eight-year tenure.

RELATED: See all of KPCC's coverage of Villaraigosa's legacy as LA Mayor
KPCC's Patt Morrison sat down with Mayor Villaraigosa to talk about his leadership — and his love — of Los Angeles.

Interview Highlights: 

PM: How would do you think you will be graded on your time as mayor:

"I think the way this works is over time people will assess what you've done. It's hard to grade yourself, frankly, I think that's something the people get to do and I think they've done it. They reelected me once, I was voted in the first time. We've had the worst economic crisis since the '30s, so I'll let them make that assessment."

PM: On matters of substance where would you put yourself?

"We're safer than any time since 1952. There's been a 40-percent drop in violent crime since I've been Mayor. We've kept our promise and grown our police department to an all time high of 10,000 police officer.Gang crime is down markedly, and in Watts, an area that's seen it's challenges, there's been about a 48 percent drop in violent crime. i think in the area of education I had the audacity to say the Mayor should be involved in our public schools and in the last seven years we've doubled the number of schools at 800 and above in the academic performance index.

"In the area of the environment, a little-known fact, I signed on to Kyoto in July 2005 when I became Mayor. We're at 28 percent below Kyoto levels (reducing greenhouse gas level) that means that Copenhagen, London, Berlin and Toronto are ahead of L.A. We've created 650 acres of parks in the last seven years, so that you understand, in the 12 years before that we did 350 acres of parks.

We've got the most far reaching effort to clean up a port in the world, 80 percent reduction in diesel emmissions from trucks. In the area of transportation, we're on track to double the number of rail lines in our County as the result of the passage of Measure R which I spearheaded. Downtown and Hollywood are back, in  fact back to levels we haven't seen probably since the 1950s."

PM: The mayor in L.A. has a big title, but not the kind of power that mayors have in Chicago and New York. So what about that performance quality in office?

Whoever's the next mayor, I'm going to try to give them as much support as I can. Part of the challenge of leading this city [is that] we're not a city and county both. like New York. We have a  very powerful city council […] We don't run the schools the way they do in New York. And our transportation system is a county transportation not so much a city one. So it's herding cats all day long and using the bully pulpit, and not being able to push these things by edict.

I think for our future, we're going to have look at whether we shouldn't be a city and county both.
I think in order for L.A. to work better, the mayor should run the schools. Without question. Look, people defend this notion that we ought to elect school board members; we had a 14 percent turnout for this last school board election, and for the last mayor's race. I mean the fact is, the only person who has the wherewithal, if you will, to really push through these changes is a mayor.

PM: So the mayor needs more power

I really believe that. I think the mayor should run our schools. I think that we should be a city and county both. Measure J passed in the city of L.A. by more than 70 percent. But in the county, by a lower level. And so even though we had overwhelming support for Measure J, which would have accelerated our transportation program from 30 years into 10, we got 66.11 [percent of the vote] and it didn't pass.

PM: Why, in spite of all this that you've said, the shorthand sense of L.A. [is that] it's a city that's broke, that's broken. The pension system's in the red. The trees are trimmed once every 50 years. Our water system is 100 years old. Why, still, does it not function the way people think it should?

Look, I'll be honest. And I know you work for that paper. But the newspaper of record in this town doesn't cover City Hall the way that you see in most towns.You know, I was with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Corey Booker. They couldn't believe that the mayor of L.A. is almost never on the front page of this newspaper. Good or bad. The fact is, you hear a lot of talk about how bad things are; there's a lot of great things that are happening in this town, and that's one of the things that contributes to the malaise and the lack of participation. It's an abomination, an absolute abomination that we had a 14 percent turnout for mayor. When I ran, I thought it was a pathetic turnout -- I think it was 36 percent. But 14 is unacceptable.

On pension reform:

You probably don't know and you work for that newspaper of record, that… when we went from 6 percent to 11 percent [employee pension contributions], that's the most far-reaching effort in the nation. There is not another city that went for current employees from 6 percent contribution from employees to 11. We passed the most far-reaching new pension reform -- much further than what the governor did at the state level...

PM: Yet why was that necessary in the first place? There were raises in mid-2005, mid-2006. So...

Yes, I've said I wouldn't have done that if I had known that we were going to go into the worst recession. But let's correct the record here. The biggest reason that pensions are a problem — not just in the city of L.A., not just in California, but in virtually every city, every school district around the country — was that the economy went southward. And because, the truth of the matter is, they're no longer sustainable. Employees have to pay a lot more. I've had the courage to tell our employees that.

When we passed our new retirement system, there's no other city — not New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco — who have done that. Only San Diego and San Jose have tried. And everybody says that they're going to get overturned in the courts because they did it by initiative and not in the way that we did it.

PM: Why are you here right now instead of getting ready for a Senate confirmation hearing on a cabinet post? 

[Laughs] You know, can I tell you something? I really want to finish this job. I want you to understand. Your listeners can't look me in the eye the way that you can. I'm so grateful to the people of this town that gave me this job. I never thought in my wildest dreams — When I was growing up in this town, I didn't even know what was in City Hall, much less that I'd ever be the mayor of this great city. I want to finish my job.

Some people think I'm doing a good job; some people don't. But I want to finish it. I want to finish as much of what we started as we can. I want to make the tough decision to balance our budget, particularly now after the sales tax [Measure A] didn't pass. I want to be around for a number of things.

We're focused on working as hard as we can until I'm out of here. And then I'm riding into the sunset, my friend.


World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities


March 21, 2013

invisible people-cut out

That old transport paradigm, the one we are still living with today, is far too narrow in terms of the range and quality of people targeted and services offered, and in the process fails to serve what is — in fact — the transpiration majority.

The “transportation majority” is not what most people think, transportation planners and policy makers among them.  The transportation majority are all those of us who increasingly are poorly served by the mainline service arrangements that eat up most of our hard-earned taxpayer money and fail to offer them acceptable and efficient choices that mesh with their special needs and circumstances. And each year as our populations age this majority grows in numbers.

Here is a generic short-list of the people who make up this till-now all too silent, substantially under-served majority:
  1. Everyone in the city or region who does not own or have handy access to a car
  2. Everyone who suffers from some form of physical or other  impairment that makes driving or even access to traditional public transit difficult or impossible
  3. Everyone who cannot drive
  4. Everyone who should not drive, ever (for reasons of a variety of impediments such as limitations associated with age, psychological state , eye site, reactions times, , , ,)
  5. Everyone who cannot responsibly take the wheel at any given time (fatigue, distraction, nervousness, some form of intoxication. . . )
  6. All those of us who cannot afford to own and operate a car (and this is a very big number indeed)
  7. Everyone who lives in a large city and for reasons of density, public health and quality of city life needs to have access to a decent non-car mobility system
  8. All of those — a fast growing group — who would in fact, given the choice, prefer to get around by walking, cycling or some form of active or shared transport, but  who cannot safely or readily do so today — because  the money is being spent on the vehicle system which is fundamentally, and financially, incompatible with these “softer” and more healthy ways of getting around
  9.  All those of us who are isolated and unable to participate fully in the life of our communities because we simply do not have a decent way to get around.
  10. And so — don’t lose sight of this! – in a few inevitable years, you and me!
Do the numbers and you will see that this is a very sizable group, a significant and growing majority in fact, and we can know several important  things about them in the policy context. The first is that high quality public transport is one important lifeline for them

But the second is that  they represent  a highly diverse collection of individuals: they are not a “mass”  and their needs are personal and disparate.  Beyond that, it also needs to be taken into consideration that many of their needs cannot be entirely served at appropriate levels of convenience and cost by mainline public transport alone.

But the killer is that these people, their unmet  needs, are for the most part invisible. Since they are not able to get around they simply fall off the radar screen of planners and policy makers and are left, abandoned and unserved. This is neither equitable nor worthy of a democratic society.
invisible people

Fairness in a Car Dependent Society (UK perspectives)

By way of an independent  checklist of sorts, here are the seven underserved groups set out in the recent report: “Fairness in Transport – Finding an alternative to car dependency” prepared and published by the British  Sustainable Development Commission. (Copies of the full report are freely  available here – http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=1184)
These positive and negative impacts are unevenly distributed. Seven key groups have been examined:
  1. Low income;
  2. Children;
  3. Clder people;
  4. The disabled;
  5. Black,  Asian and minority ethnic groups;
  6. Rural communities;
  7. and Future generations.
The review of evidence underpinning this report revealed a number of key findings:

1    Whilst over 80% of households have a car, one in five men and one in three women do not drive.

2    The richest 10 per cent of the population effectively receive four times as much public spending on transport as the poorest 10 per cent.

3    Children of the lowest socioeconomic groups are up to 28 times more likely to be killed on the roads than those of the top socioeconomic group.

4    The most common cause of death for children aged 5-14 years is being hit by a vehicle.

5    Car owners in the lowest income quintile spend 25 per cent of total household expenditure on motoring. (By comparison spending 10 per cent of income on household energy bills is defined as ‘fuel poverty’).

6     Black and brown British people have amongst the lowest car ownership rates, while in London, for example, they are 30 per cent more likely to be injured on the road than white ethnic groups.

7     Those in the top income quintile travel two and half times as far as those in the bottom income quintile and three times as far by car. In the lowest income quintile, less than half of adults hold a driving licence and less than half of households have a car whilst half of all households in the highest income quintile have two or more cars. For those claiming income support or jobseeker’s allowance, car access figures are even lower – almost two thirds do not have access to a car and a licence to drive it.

8     Those over the age of 60 are seven times more likely to be killed if hit by a car at 30 mph and 35 per cent of all pedestrian fatalities are people over the age of 70.

9     People living in rural areas now see car ownership as a necessity and around 90 per cent of households have at least one car. The cost of motoring was found to account for 60 to 100 per cent of the additional income calculated as being required for rural dwellers to meet a minimum socially acceptable standard of living commensurate with urban dwellers.

10    55 per cent of trains in use in Great Britain have not been built to modern access standards and 41 per cent of stations do not have step free access to all platforms. 39 per cent of buses do not have accessibility certificates.

Our analysis demonstrates that existing transport patterns in the UK contribute to substantial and persistent inequalities. Some people benefit from accessing a wide range of education and employment opportunities and goods and services, whilst others are held back, unable to access the opportunities that would enable them to maximise their own wellbeing and social and economic contribution.

The inequality is two-fold. In general the people experiencing the worst access opportunities also suffer the worst effects of other people’s travel. They are both ‘less travelled’ and ‘travelled-upon’. The evidence we present in this report suggests that the central reason for this inequality is society’s dependence upon the car as its dominant mode of travel. Put simply, increasing car dependency has led to increasing unfairness.

A new approach to transport policy is badly needed – one which accommodates complexity, works intelligently with social and environmental impacts, and takes a system-wide view. We need to move away from ‘predict and provide’ for powered transport (including rail and aviation) and work instead towards policy choices that are guided by a vision of a sustainable transport system.
PS. And because it is important to put human faces on those who are badly underserved by present arrangements, we shall here present a certain number of profiles, testimonials of people who explain to us what the problem is. We definitely  need to get better at listening. And at using our eyes.

bus stop vagrant sleeping
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Will Big Highway Projects Have to Consider Climate Change?

By Tanya Snyder, March 21, 2013

Expanding NEPA to include climate impacts and adaptability won't necessarily mean a future free from this.

Since 1970, the National Environmental Protection Act has required federal agencies to consider the impacts of their projects on air, water, and soil pollution — but not on climate change.

Until recently, carbon dioxide, which causes global warning, wasn’t classified as a pollutant and so couldn’t be regulated under environmental laws. The EPA in 2009 asserted its power to regulate carbon emissions but hasn’t applied it to NEPA analyses for infrastructure – until now.

President Obama hasn’t made the announcement yet, but Bloomberg reported Friday that he “is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they should consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.”

There’s more – projects could also be evaluated according to resiliency in the face of climate change. Would the new infrastructure be destroyed if faced with flooding, drought, or other severe weather? Bloomberg reports that the White House is also “looking at” requiring these climate adaptability and resiliency reports for projects “with 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions or more per year, the equivalent of burning about 100 rail cars of coal.”

Does this mean no more highways?

The conservative National Review’s headline about the changes was, “Did Obama Just Block Keystone?” Columnist Stanley Kurtz speculated that Obama could publicly approve the Keystone XL pipeline and then let the new environmental review process rule it out.

Could the same go for highway projects?

Bloomberg reports that the prospects have businesses “freaked out,” in the words of Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Kurtz’s fear of an automatic disqualification for carbon-positive projects isn’t quite the way NEPA works, though. A finding that a project will increase pollution, including carbon emissions, would be unlikely to actually block any environmentally damaging highway projects that receive federal funding.

“NEPA requires you to do an analysis of alternatives,” said Ilana Preuss of Smart Growth America. “It doesn’t require you to make a different decision.”

Plus, an agency looking to build a highway can stack the deck so that even the alternatives examined are just as harmful. A NEPA report evaluates a proposed project’s environmental impacts against those of an alternative that would serve the same “purpose and need.” If a transportation agency says it “needs” to a build a six-lane road through a particular wetland, NEPA is just going to examine different ways of doing that. It’s not going to ask whether the agency has considered transportation options that don’t involve road-building.

Until now, NEPA has examined project impacts on air, soil, and water — and most projects do have a negative impact on those things. If a NEPA review showing negative environmental impacts was all it took to shut down a road project, we wouldn’t have any roads.

NEPA’s power is in giving communities the information they need to fight the planned project, if the report finds that it will cause more environmental damage than an alternative. Or people can ask for “mitigation” of the damage that will be inflicted. And even that approach has limits — you’ll probably only win a lawsuit if the agency hasn’t followed the required procedure. In addition, MAP-21 weakened NEPA to allow for quicker project delivery, giving communities less time to decide to litigate and punishing agencies for holding up projects.

So even a NEPA report that shows that a project will increase greenhouse gas emissions and cause other destruction may have no impact, if it doesn’t galvanize communities to stop or modify the project.

Even the “freaked out” Ross Eisenberg of NAM told Bloomberg he is really just worried about delays. “I don’t think the answer is ever going to be ‘no,’” he said, “but it can confound things.”

How to use the new rule

Still, Preuss of Smart Growth America said this expansion of NEPA could have an “enormous” impact on transportation spending, making the conditions for road expansion less favorable. But it depends on how the White House Council on Environmental Quality interprets the new rule.

“It’s all in how it gets implemented,” Preuss said. “If the alternatives that they look at, which often happens with NEPA, are either the cars idling in traffic on the road or streaming traffic because we add a lane — if those are the only options they’re looking at, they’re going to get the same answers that they were getting before, that still keep telling them to look at high flow traffic. But if the overall guidance is more comprehensive, it could really encourage folks to look at all different transportation options.”

A requirement to take a closer look at how infrastructure causes and adapts to climate change can only be a positive thing, even if it isn’t an instant game-changer. It will make transportation agencies and public officials look at projects differently, and a method with a lighter environmental footprint might be more likely to emerge as the best way to do things. It could also nudge agencies away from building in particularly vulnerable sites in coastal areas.

Attaching climate considerations to NEPA won’t be seamless. Since climate impacts are global and not necessarily at the site of the proposed project, it doesn’t work like a normal environmental impact review. “Climate impacts are not necessarily considered anywhere in any environmental rule,” said David Burwell of the Carnegie Endowment’s climate program. “So, they’re trying to attach climate impacts to something.”

It might turn out that NEPA isn’t the ideal place to do it. One can easily imagine a separate, stronger law actually tying project approval and funding to environmental goals. But in the meantime, a more comprehensive NEPA isn’t a bad thing to have.
TAP final solution in sight!


By Dana Gabbard, March 21, 2013

We are on the last lap approaching the end of my long exertions as self-appointed chief TAP (Transit Access Pass) watchdog for our region, my friends. This long troubled program has finally unequivocally turned the corner and is fast approaching victory lane. Kudos and plaudits from all quarters are raining down on David Sutton who laist recently dubbed “the guy at Metro in charge of TAP operations.” Sutton built on the yeomen effort mounted by Matt Raymond (until recently Metro’s Chief Communications Officer) who first was handed the unenviable task of fixing TAP after the TAPucrats who labored ten years and spent millions in creating TAP mishandled it in such egregious fashion that one feels as if Raymond was one day handed a broom and told to tidy up the mess left behind by the elephant herd that TAP had become. We now have an actual date for the gate latching that feels real (June 2013) AND promised expansion that will fulfill the long promised potential of the technology (from 9 agencies to 24) in the next 12 months. Who’d have thunk it?

This all of course thanks to the last piece of the puzzle recently falling into place with a solution being found for the vexing problem of how to give Metrolink riders the ability to get through locked Red/Purple Line station gates.

The report being presented at the Metro Board Executive Management Committee meeting today is mostly full of administrative tidying up about staffing and consultants but does have some juicy details worthy of excerpting:
In response to the Board adopted motion to latch Metro Rail station gates, Metro has developed a plan to begin latching in June 2013. In order to meet this deadline, preparation must be done before June 2013 to ensure that access to rail stations for all existing customers is maintained. Closed Caption Television (CCTV) cameras and telephones located by the gates are being installed. Patrons requiring assistance will be able to utilize these telephones to gain assistance from personnel located at the Rail Operations Control (ROC) through a live voice connection. ROC personnel must be trained to address all the different patron issues (i.e. gating and TAP card issues) . Gate Latching tests are currently underway, with testing of the Wilshire/Normandie, Wilshire/Western, and North Hollywood stations already completed. The results of these station tests show that the CCTV cameras and telephones have been successful in assisting customers through the gates.

TAP is expanding to include fifteen (15) additional transit operators in the next twelve months. These include: Metrolink, Torrance, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Burbank, Redondo Beach, La Mirada, County of Los Angeles, LAWA, Monterey Park, Glendale, Santa Fe Springs, Palos Verdes, Pasadena, and Whittier. TAP is nearly tripling in size, expanding from nine (9) operators to twenty-four (24) operators, to include TAP equipment in over 500 more buses throughout the region bringing us closer to providing a truly universal fare system for our customers.
Good news isn’t as exciting as bad news but as a rider I am happy that we have at last arrived at the long promised (but often hard to believe it would ever happen) happy ending!

Stretch of LA River Will Be Open to the Public This Summer


By Adrian Glick Kudler, March 21, 2013





For the first time in decades and decades, the LA River will be officially open to the public for just hanging out and doing whatever. The LA City Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve a pilot program that'll open up a natural-bottomed stretch of the river to anyone looking to walk or fish or kayak (but not bike, or walk your dog). The program will run from Memorial Day (May 27) to Labor Day (September 2) on a section of river running through Elysian Valley, south of Fletcher Drive, from Rattlesnake Park to the Los Angeles River Center just north of Downtown. According to Patch, there's "additional parking planned for boaters and others." The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority rangers will patrol the area from dusk until dawn.

On North American Streets, Space for Bikes Is Right There If You Want It


By Angie Schmitt, March 21, 2013

 The "arrogance" of car-centric engineering would assume these overly wide lanes can never be narrowed. Experience from Copenhagen shows otherwise.

Imagine how the sheer amount of space given over to cars in North American cities must look to someone from a place with real multi-modal streets. To Copenhagenize‘s Mikael Colville-Andersen, the word that comes to mind is “arrogance.” It’s arrogant not just for cars to have so much space, but to doggedly assert that cars can’t possibly make do with less.

These assumptions are demonstrably false, he says:
On so many streets I’ve looked at in North American cities, even a two-lane street can cough up enough space for a Copenhagen-style cycle track.

I tire of hearing the incessant “we don’t have space for bicycles” whine, especially in North American cities. The space is right there if you want it to be there. Removing car lanes to create cycle tracks is, of course, doable. So many cities are doing it. Not making cycle tracks for those who cycle now, but for the many who COULD be cycling if it was made safe.

However, when you live in an arrogant city, space is readily available. Often not even involving removing lanes or parking. It’s right there. If you want it.

I can hear the traffic engineers complaining already. This, of course, messes with every computer model they have. It’s not, however, about them anymore. They’ve had their century of trial and error – mostly error. We’re moving on now. We’ll redesign our cities and tell them what to do and how to help us – based on human observation, rationality and logic. They’re brilliant problem solvers. We’ll just be telling them what problems to solve.
Elsewhere on the Network today: The Political Environment reports that, in another example of blatant political hypocrisy, Wisconsin Governor Scott “No Train” Walker, a big highway spender, plans to build a new $200 million headquarters for the state’s DOT. Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space writes that Chicago’s decision to sell its on-street metered parking continues to haunt the city. And Greater Greater Washington points out that research about crosswalk safety conflicts with dominant engineering practices.

NYC Subways Deploy A Touch-Screen Network, Complete With Apps

An inside look at a bold new initiative to modernize NYC’s digital subway infrastructure.


Not so long ago, we featured a radical proposal for New York City’s payphones. The criticism we sensed was that this networked, touch-screen system--equipped with cameras and Wi-Fi--was too too sci-fi for a city of today.

But the designers behind that vision--Control Group--have been hired by New York’s MTA to bring a very similar plan to their subways. Starting this year, 90 touch-screen kiosks will make their way to thoroughfares like Grand Central Station and hip stops like Bedford Avenue. Together, they’ll make a beta network for 2 million commuters and tourists a day.

The Beginnings Of A Mega Network

“60 million people a month would be a really sizable website,” Control Group Partner Colin O’Donnell says. “If we can capture a portion of that and get them interacting, we have a real chance to do some amazing things at the urban scale.”

Each kiosk is a 47-inch touch screen, encapsulated in rugged stainless steel, with an operational temperature up to 200 degrees (which is more than durable enough to handle 120-degree summer days in the subway). They’ll be placed, mostly in pairs, outside pay areas, inside mezzanines and even right on train platforms. Control Group has skinned the hardware with a simple front end and an analytics-heavy backend, largely reminiscent of their work with Kate Spade. And the platform will even support third-party apps approved by the MTA.

At launch, the screens will feature all sorts of content, like delays, outages, and, of course, ads (which bring in $100 million in revenue for the MTA each year, but mostly in paper signage). Yet its most powerful interaction for many will likely be its map, which features a one-tap navigation system. Seriously. You look at the map, you tap your intended destination, and the map will draw your route, including any transfers along the way. It’s an interface that puts Google Maps to shame.
Into the future, this map will feature points of interest to simplify the experience for tourists. Thanks to a robust backend with heavy analytics at work, the MTA will quickly be able to prioritize which spots should be the most prominently featured by which are tapped most frequently, and these spots could even be changed by season. For instance, Rockefeller Center might be a more prominent attraction in the winter, when the tree is up and tourists are skating below Prometheus.

“We can dynamically tune the messaging to the situation,” O’Donnell says, “taking the experiences that are successful to the web and translating them to physical space.”

Thanks to an omnipresent network connection, such information could be updated in real time. Ads, which are a huge component of the rollout, could be modified according to temporal context--matched to weather, or just whether the Yankees won or lost.

The Power Of Extra Sensors

At the same time, the system’s screens could be the least interesting part of this project. The kiosks will be fitted with extra modules--video cameras, mics, and Wi-Fi--to open up a whole secondary layer of data collection and interface.

With cameras and mics, the MTA can enable two-way communication (what I imagine as emergency response messaging), and they can also pull in all sorts of automated metrics from their stations--they’d have eyes capable of counting station crowdedness or even approximate user ethnographics.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi opens the door for networking a whole platform of mobile users with Internet access and other streamed content. Given that the average person waits 5 to 10 minutes on a platform, O’Donnell sees the potential of engaging, sponsored experiences, like a networked game of Jeopardy, while people wait for the train, or streaming media content, like TV/movie clips. A tourist could, of course, do something far more practical, too, like download a city map in moments.

“We can’t provide Internet for everybody,” he says, “but we can allow interactivity on the platform.”

The Importance Of Physical Networks

Of course, a skeptic might ask, if these kiosks have Wi-Fi, why do the kiosks need to exist at all? Why not just make this MTA platform a mobile app?

“NYC serves people of all abilities, physical and financial,” O’Donnell says. “Even though as much as 60% of the population has a mobile phone, it’s really not fair to have that as a requirement to navigating the city.”

It’s also a hardwired network that can be quite powerful during emergency response. During an event like Hurricane Sandy, the city would be able to reach across the city with dynamically updated, rich information. And while that might not sound like a big deal with a mere 90 of these kiosks rolled out in the first wave of testing, it could make a major difference when NYC’s 400+ stations are equipped with reliable, relevant information and Wi-Fi.

"Sandy proved that we do need public messaging infrastructure separate from mobile devices,” O’Donnell says. “Such a large population didn’t have power or cellphones. They were literally wandering the streets. In an instant, you could change every display in town to say, ‘The subway will be down in 15 minutes,’ or ‘There’ll be another train in a minute, so don’t cram onto this one!’ Having our environment able to change in context to what’s going on is really important.”

The MTA will begin the rollout later this year.

[Update: In response to comments and tweets regarding sanitation issues, Control Group gave us the following statement: "One of the principles of our design was to minimize touch and gestures with one click navigation. Also, the DST display works with any object--finger, nail, pen, etc. And the screen is in waterproof enclosure to enable regular cleaning. And just like the thousands of Metrocard machines in the NYC subway system that feature a touchscreen, the MTA will maintain the new kiosks." I might also add, our society shared payphones for decades, and those touched our hands and our faces.]

How to cut U.S. gasoline use in half by 2030


By Brad Plumer, March 20, 2013


This week, the National Academy of Sciences put out a massive — as in, 395-page — report on how the United States can cut gasoline use in half by 2030. And, beyond that, how to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation 80 percent by mid-century.
In the future, we probably won’t be doing as much of this. 

Those are audacious goals. But if the United States ever plans to deal seriously with climate change, the transportation sector will have to change drastically. And the National Academy of Sciences report concludes that no one single policy or technology will do the trick.

Case in point: In the past few years, the Obama administration has enacted a series of ambitious corporate average fuel economy  standards that will require new cars to get around 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. (That will translate into about 35.4 miles per gallon on the road.) That sounds impressive, but the NAS study concludes that current standards aren’t enough to hit even that 2030 goal for oil use.

In fact, the report argues, it’s tough to find any single technology that can cut oil use in half by 2030 on its own. Making conventional cars more efficient won’t do it. A major push on electric vehicles won’t do it. The only things likely to work are a massive switch over to natural-gas vehicles (which would, in turn, make it much harder to hit the greenhouse-gas goals) or a combination of efficiency, electric vehicles, and advanced biofuels:
NAS on cutting oil

What the NAS is doing here is estimating the impact of each technology “if it is pursued vigorously.” And it found that each technology, on its own, has some promising upsides and some limitations. For instance:

Better efficiency: The report found that there’s enormous potential to make conventional gasoline vehicles more efficient, from engine and drivetrain improvements to lighter vehicles. Over the past few  years, automakers have started adopting many of these tactics, such as gasoline direct injection. The NAS report estimates that conventional cars could realistically average 74 miles per gallon in 2050 and hybrids 94 mpg.
That said, while improved efficiency will be necessary for big reductions in gasoline use and emissions, it’s unlikely to be sufficient on its own (as the graph above shows).

Biofuels: Corn ethanol often gets a bad rap for driving up food prices and putting pressure on farmland. The NAS report, however, looks at next-generation biofuels from cellulosic materials like switchgrass or wood waste. These advanced biofuels, the report notes, could lead to big reductions in gasoline use and emissions with little new infrastructure needed. And there appears to be enough cellulosic material lying around.
The big hitch is that “achievable production levels are still uncertain.” There are plenty of promising technologies out there, but cellulosic biofuel development has been sluggish so far.

Electric vehicles: The NAS report estimates that electric vehicles will catch on relatively slowly in the next few decades, even if battery costs drop by a factor of 5, because “limited range and long recharge time are likely to limit the use of all-electric vehicles mainly to local driving.” What’s more, it will be hard to meet long-term emissions goals through plug-in vehicles alone so long as the electric grid is still powered by fossil fuels. Still, the report notes, electric vehicles are an extremely promising way to curtail gasoline use.

Compressed natural gas vehicles: The United States is newly awash in cheap shale gas. So why not fuel our cars and trucks on homegrown natural gas instead of oil? In theory, the NAS report notes, that’s doable if costs for CNG vehicles come down and the fueling infrastructure can get built (those are big ifs). The downside? Natural gas vehicles still produce plenty of greenhouse-gas emissions, and it will be hard for the United States to meet its climate targets if we’re all driving natural-gas vehicles in 2050.

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles: A few short years ago, this was the great hope for clean vehicles — when hydrogen is used as a fuel cell, the only emission is water. Yet it’s still tough to manufacture the hydrogen in a low-carbon way, and developing the fueling infrastructure for these cars could prove enormously “difficult and expensive,” the report notes.

An interesting bit from the report: “The technical hurdles that must be surmounted to develop an all-purpose vehicle acceptable to consumers appears to be lower for [fuel cell vehicles] than for [battery-electric vehicles]. However, the infrastructure and policy barriers appear larger.” The NAS isn’t optimistic that fuel-cell vehicles will make big inroads before 2030.

Public transit and changes in urban planning: Oddly, there’s not much here. The NAS report only makes one passing mention of things like telecommuting, public transportation, better traffic management, and compact land use. Which seems surprisingly brief. Surely one way to curtail gasoline use and cut greenhouse-gas emissions would be to make it easier for people to drive less.

Anyway, here’s a second graph showing likely greenhouse-gas emission cuts by 2050 for each of these technologies. Notice that no one technology alone can get us to 80 percent cuts — even plug-in electric vehicles struggle to get that goal when paired with a low-carbon grid:
NAS emissions cuts

So, the report concludes, getting truly sharp reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation by 2050 will a variety of technologies and broad policies, from R&D to regulations to gasoline or carbon taxes.

“It is impossible to know which technologies will ultimately succeed, because all involve great uncertainty,” the NAS notes. “It is thus essential that policies be broad, robust, and adaptive.” That sort of sentiment has almost become a cliche in energy-policy discussions, but at least here there are some hard numbers attached to it.