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Why Caltrain is an Orphan

When President Barack Obama finishes reforming the nation's health care system, he might want to rectify the zany and volatile way that transit operates in the Bay Area. Exhibit No. 1 is last week's announcement that the Peninsula commuter rail line, Caltrain, is going broke — short $30 million of its $97 million yearly budget. Its managers say they might cut night, midday and weekend service, including popular trains to San Francisco Giants games.

Caltrain or Not, High-Speed Rail Chugs Ahead

With or without Caltrain, the California High-Speed Rail Authority still plans to run its bullet trains between San Jose and San Francisco, state planners said Monday. Rail authority Deputy Director Jeff Barker said although there are plenty of benefits to sharing the corridor with Caltrain, the state can still build its high-speed railroad should Caltrain shut down or drastically cut its operations, as officials warned last week....For two years, Caltrain and the rail authority planned to share electrified tracks from San Francisco to San Jose, likely with two new tracks accommodating the

Costs of Driving Shift Up for 2010

It's official: Your driving costs are going up. The average cost of owning and operating a sedan in the USA rose 4.8% this year to 56.6 cents per mile, or $8,487 per year, a study out today by auto club AAA finds. Rising gas prices are primarily responsible for the increased costs and also are lowering the resale or trade-in value of cars that don't get good gas mileage.

Boosting Property Values Near BRT

Many transit advocates agree that bus rapid transit (BRT) can provide high-quality, efficient transportation at a fraction of the cost of rail. However, a common concern about BRT is that routes are not as permanent as tracks – in theory, they could be moved if land use patterns change – so BRT has a limited ability to attract transit-oriented development. But recent research shows that BRT can spur development around its lines and stations.

Self-Driving Cars Could See Like Humans

Rather than relying on expensive and error-prone technologies like radar or the Global Positioning System, the new method for robotic car steering is modeled on how real people actually see the road right in front of them...When it comes to driving, "Humans do everything with vision . . . [we] are really, really good and we're a lot smarter and more efficient than computers," said Wesley Snyder, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and co-author of a new paper describing the ongoing research. 

China Again Hopes to Drive U.S. Rail Construction

Nearly 150 years after American railroad companies imported thousands of Chinese laborers to build rail lines across the West, China is poised once again to play a role in American rail construction. But this time it would be an entirely different role: supplying the technology and engineers to build high-speed rail lines. The Chinese government has signed cooperation agreements with the state of California and General Electric to help build such lines.

Building a Green Economy

If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should — it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases...Is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying our economy?


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