ACCESS 28, Spring 2006

Comment: Terrorist Attacks and Transport Systems

Brian D. Taylor

Increasingly frequent and deadly bombings of public transit systems have put transportation officials around the world on edge. Buses and trains in London, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo, and dozens of other cities have been the unlucky sites for terrorist attacks in recent years. Such attacks, quite understandably, have prompted calls here in the US and overseas for increased efforts to make public transit systems safe from terrorists. Such calls assume, of course, that public transit systems, or transportation and infrastructure systems more broadly, are the focus of the problem and the appropriate venue for policy- making and action. The solution, we are told, is transit security. But are these recent bus and subway bombings a transportation problem, or something much broader?

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2017-05-30T22:18:53+00:00Categories: ACCESS 28, Spring 2006|Tags: |

Building a Boulevard

Elizabeth Macdonald

Many communities in the United Sates are taking a second look at the freeways built through and around their down- towns during the 1950s and 1960s. They see them now as barriers to neighborhoods and waterfronts. Several cities have removed stretches of urban freeways or have buried them. The city of San Francisco has taken down two elevated freeways and replaced them with surface streets. One of these new streets, Octavia Boulevard, opened in September 2005 as a multiway boulevard.

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2017-05-30T22:19:04+00:00Categories: ACCESS 28, Spring 2006|Tags: |

Must a Bridge Be Beautiful Too?

Matthew Dresden

In late 2004, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that as part of statewide budget cuts, the design of the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge would be dramatically scaled back. At the time, estimates of the new span’s cost had risen to $5.1 billion from an initial estimate of $1.3 billion. Instead of a single-tower “signature span,” Schwarzenegger proposed a towerless concrete viaduct—a slightly raised road across the water that was compared (unfavorably) to a freeway onramp. The span is being rebuilt because of longstanding concerns by Caltrans and state civil engineers about its seismic integrity. Part of the existing structure collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, and since then the bridge has been considered unstable, although it has remained open because it is indispensable to Bay Area traffic flow.

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How Privatization Became a Train Wreck

Eric A. Morris

September 15, 1830 saw the grand opening of the world's first steam intercity passenger railway. It also saw the first railway death, when William Huskisson, prominent Tory MP and railway supporter, misjudged the speed of an approaching locomotive and was run over. He was not to be the last British politician to wish he’d never had anything to do with the railways. From 1994 to 1997, John Major’s government conducted an audacious privatization of British Rail. The system was broken up into almost a hundred pieces and sold. Ten years later, disgust with the privatization and its aftermath cuts across British society. There are few stakeholders, from riders to drivers to railway executives to shareholders to regulators to politicians, who do not consider the experiment a dismal failure.

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Transit and Contracts: What’s Best for Drivers?

Songju Kim and Martin Wachs

Throughout its history, most public transit has been provided by private companies. During the second half of the twentieth century, however, things changed. Transit came gradually into public ownership as revenues from fares no longer covered costs and operators faced bankruptcy. Local, state, and federal subsidies kept transit afloat in most metropolitan areas. In reaction to steadily increasing subsidies and rising operating costs, many said transit services should be contracted out to private operators. Margaret Thatcher had made great strides toward privatizing transit in Britain, and there were calls for adopting similar strategies in the US. Proponents argued that private operation would be more efficient and less costly, while opponents said that private operators would save money simply by paying workers less than public operators and providing inferior benefits. Actual data were hard to come by, and both sides used dueling studies to prove opposite conclusions based on competing ideological commitments rather than actual data. It is still not completely clear whether privately operated transit service is more efficient than publicly run services.

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Daniel Baldwin Hess

Surplus vehicles left behind in New Orleans by evacuees are a grim reminder of the excessive number of cars in the United States, where vehicle ownership rates are greater than in any other nation on earth. After Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans on August 29, 2005, flood waters from Lake Pontchartrain and the intracoastal canals submerged an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 cars unused in the evacuation of the city. Near the 17th Street Canal, gushing water overturned cars and piled them one on top of another, and parked cars crashed through garage walls into neighboring back yards.

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2017-05-30T22:19:51+00:00Categories: ACCESS 28, Spring 2006|Tags: |