Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Protesters picket Chicago Transit Authority board meeting

The demonstration was organized by NoCTACuts.org, ctariders.org and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. Protesters yelled chants demanding that the board members step down and that the layoffs and cutbacks be stopped. Seniors at the protest also stood up to demand that the free rides for seniors program remain in place, a policy that has been targeted by lawmakers for elimination. Party for Socialism and Liberation

Friday, November 13, 2009

Greenland ice melt accelerating

"It does show that the [ice loss] trend has accelerated, and the reported contribution to sea level rise also shows a significant acceleration - so if you multiply these numbers up it puts us well beyond the IPCC estimates for 2100." BBC

Monday, November 9, 2009

The cost of autosprawl: coal externalities

The subsidy of autosprawl is broad and deep. It is much more than direct taxpayer handouts, "cash for clunkers", $30 billion in road stimulus money...etc. The costs of fossil fuels, the auto, and sprawl are very high, but the prices have been kept low. The difference is externalized costs - a subsidy by force. Here are some of the costs of coal that the builders of car-only-accessible, spread-out, individually-heated-and-cooled, taxpayer-bank-bailed-out homes do not have to pay:

Tales of damaged homes, of contaminated water supplies, of divided families and communities. Accounts of severe flooding, of sludge and coal ash spills, of alarming asthma and cancer rates.
These stories represent the true costs of coal being paid by the citizens of Kentucky—indeed, by all of us gathered here, regardless of region—a price due in large part to mountaintop removal mining. Jason Howard-On the Margins

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Transit fares are a direct, regressive tax on the poor

I have been advocating free public transit for more than a decade, as one of the original organizers of Citizens Taking Action - for transit dependent riders. http://www.ctariders.org/ We have been doing a survey of transit fares in 25 major metropolitan areas for a number of years. I testified before the IL House Transportation Committee in favor of adoption of this policy for senior citizens. Chicago has always ranked as first or second for having the highest transit fares in the country.
Fare free pubic transit already exists in numerous locations in some fashion. Transit fares are a direct, regressive tax on the poor. The collection of fares is an anachronism leftover from the days when transit systems were private concerns, prior to CTA being formed in 1947, and not municipal entities. At one time CTA had, if I recollect correctly, as many as 18 different categories of riders, and it obviously got too cumbersome to administer. Some of the state legislators not only wanted to exclude the millionaires people keep complaining about, but every senior who was not penniless.
When one considers the difference between peak and off-peak transit services, a valid argument is made that seniors have been cheated over the years. A common complaint was that buses and trains sometimes had few riders, so when there is a way to correct this, everyone it seems is opposed to it.
One could also say that the rush hour riders have already paid for the system, and seniors riding in the middle of the day cost nothing.
For years I was a public librarian, and never asked a patron how much money they had in order to borrow a book.
The topic of how transit is funded is a detailed topic, and a bit more than I need to get into here. It's a little discouraging when 10x more is spent for highways, and transit goes begging.... Charles Paidock at blogs-SunTimes

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"You have to care about getting people where they're going."

Public transit has been neglected for years. Service is poor, funding is erratic, management subject to politics. Why is the public investment so neglected? The answer is: many firms profit from the auto and sprawl, they  use their influence in government to make sure that public transit does not work as a transport system. At a CTA hearing the people's anger spilled out:
    But many complained the CTA itself is a sinkhole prone to frequent fare raises and endless budget crises.  The very first speaker, a bus driver and representative of the bus drivers' union, drove home that point by noting in the last 25 years his union has given back over $220 million in wage and benefit gains and yet the CTA, which just two years ago threatened to close down, is once again in crisis.
   "You never talk to us,"  he noted.  "You never come and listen to our suggestions, how we can make this(the transit system) work for all the people.  You have to love this job.  You have to care about getting people where they're going." Examiner.com
They don't talk to you because their job is not to provide transportation, but to make sure that the CTA does not cut into auto, sprawl, or fossil-fuel profits.