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Transportation : In the News

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Middle or curbs? Woodward rail plan takes sides

Up the middle or down the sides? These are good conversations to be having about light rail along Woodward. Far better than the ifs, maybes, and "I don't knows" of the past.

(Ed. Note: As a former Portlander, I can attest to the claim that there's no way you can correlate Woodward's bi-directional boulevard with the Rose City's transit corridors. It is, indeed, comparing apples to oranges.)

Excerpt:

"Should the proposed Woodward Light Rail run down the center of the street or along the curb? It's the one issue that divides advocates for improved transportation options in metro Detroit.

The center-run alternative has vocal supporters, but Dan Gilbert stepped forward recently to offer a full-throated defense of the curbside option."

Read the rest here.



The time has come for Metro Detroit to commit to regional mass transit

Even as the rest of the country adopts regional mass transit plans to help de-emphasize a car-only culture, metro Detroit still lags behind. The Detroit Free Press offers up a spirited editorial for why Detroit and its suburbs need to create a regional bus system.

Excerpt:

"The need for transit is critical in southeast Michigan. At least 25% of Detroit households don't own vehicles. Throughout the region, many others who do have cars want alternatives, especially with gas prices exceeding $4 a gallon. Mass transit can provide them, while sparking investment, reducing congestion and improving air quality. It is essential to attracting and retaining talented young people.

Together, SMART and DDOT carry about 165,000 people a day. Roughly 40% of SMART's riders are Detroiters commuting to suburban jobs. Transit is an inherently regional issue that demands regional answers."

Read the rest of the story here.

And more on the topic here.


GM might test the future of personal mobility in Metro Detroit

The picture in CNET's story about GM's EN-V program says it all: Welcome to the future! GM is considering whether to make Detroit its testing ground for a new battery-powered, enclosed two-wheeled vehicle designed for car-clogged cities like Beijing. Is it us, or does the vehicle look like something out of Demolition Man?

Excerpt:

"EN-V, which stands for Electric Networked Vehicle, is GM's answer to improving transportation systems in congestion-choked cities such as Beijing. The EN-V was unveiled in 2010 at the Shanghai auto show. It is a battery-powered, enclosed two-wheeled vehicle that seats two, based on the two-wheeled Segway scooter. It reaches speeds of 25 mph and can drive itself and communicate wirelessly with other EN-Vs to avoid crashes."

Read the rest of the story here.

Windsor interested in Metro Detroit's transportation plans

From rail to ferries, Windsor is taking a keen interest in how Metro Detroit invests in transportation infrastructure (and vice versa), cementing the view that although an international border divides us, we're all in this together.

Excerpt:

"A passenger line to Canada would change Detroitís place in the rail system, from an end-of-the-line outpost to a crossroad for high-speed rail service from Quebec and Ontario to Chicago, and by extension, St. Louis and Kansas City.

International passenger rail from Detroit is, at least on the U.S. side, a realistic goal because the existing Amtrak route can easily connect to the rail tunnel under the Detroit River."

Read the rest of the story here.

Read about ferries from Windsor to Detroit here.




Chicago Sun-Times is on board with Michigan's high-speed rail

Metro Detroit recently received $161 million in federal funds to improve high-speed rail service on Amtrak's Wolverine line between Pontiac and Kalamazoo. The Chicago Sun-Times takes a good look at the potential of this investment and how it breaks down.

Excerpt:

About $150 million of the money awarded to Michigan will be for the section of track between Kalamazoo and Detroit. This is owned by Norfolk Southern, which wants to sell it, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Michigan may buy it with a portion of the high-speed rail money. Discussions are ongoing about how much of the funds would be for the track and how much for track improvement, Magliari said.

Track improvements would increase speeds from 79 mph to 110 mph, which would bring it in line with the track Amtrak owns from Kalamazoo to the state line.

At greater speeds, Amtrak could double the number of round trips from Chicago to Detroit from three to six, Magliari said. Ridership on this route already has increased 8 percent in the past year.

The rest of the high-speed funding would be used to improve the connection from Pontiac to the state line.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ann Arbor nationally recognized for Green Fleets program

Gas!? Who needs it? Well, OK, we do... at least for the time being. But Ann Arbor doesn't need so much of it these days. The city was nationally recognized recently for its cut backs in car juice.

Excerpt:

Those hybrid vehicles cruising around town are getting noticed.

The city of Ann Arbor's success in using alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles to keep its fleet green is the focus of a new report today.

Government-Fleet.com reports the city's Green Fleets program is the focus of this week's MotorWeek Clean Cities Success Story. It says the city, which set a goal in 2004 of reducing its fleet's petroleum usage by 10 percent by 2012, has a new goal of 30 percent by the end of 2010.

Read the entire article here.

The New Economy Initiative pumps cash into local programs

The new economy just got a nice little boost here in Southeast Michigan. The New Economy Initiative -- which is fairly self explanatory -- just pumped in nearly three-quarts of a million clams into the local programs promoting these new economy companies.

Excerpt:

The New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan has approved another round of grants totaling more than $716,000.

The largest grant of $356,250 was made to the Detroit-based Michigan Opportunities and Resources for Entrepreneurs Program to index resources for entrepreneurs and design a Web service to allow the information to be easily accessed.

The New Economy Initiative also has made two grants to expand opportunities in the defense and homeland security industries. The largest grant of $300,000 is to the Royal Oak-based Michigan Security Network and follows a $153,000 grant the initiative made last year to the Detroit Regional Chamber to support the network.

With the previous grant, the network already has made significant inroads towards establishing Michigan as a national leader in cyber security technology and training, the New Economy Initiative said in a release.

Read the entire article here.

Trails in Southeast Michigan getting bigger, bolder

While some developments and construction are jumping in the back seat because of the economic slowdown, the Metro Detroit non-motorized trail system is pushing forward.

Excerpt:

Most local and state funding has dried up for trails, but the federal government and private foundations still fund new trails in southeast Michigan, said Detroit Greenways coordinator Todd Scott with the nonprofit Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

"The feds realize they shouldn't just be funding people in cars. We need a transportation system," Scott said Wednesday.

He wants to catch up metro Detroit with towns like Seattle and Ann Arbor, where cycling and jogging paths crisscross built-up areas.

In Detroit, seven non-motorized paths are to open this summer, including 16 miles of bike lanes in Corktown and a link from riverfront trails to the Dequindre Cut path to Eastern Market, he said.

Read the entire article here.

Ann Arbor-Detroit railway is in the budget

More Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter rail talk here. But new funds have been budgeted for the service. It's not set in stone yet ... but, as it seems, it's another step closer. Eventually all these steps will turn into an actual service ... we hope.

Excerpt:

Traveling to the airport and downtown Detroit can be a nightmare for students without access to cars, but a newly proposed rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit could soon alleviate transportation frustrations.

Last month, the United States Senate budgeted $331 million for the state of Michigan, including $3.5 million for a proposed rail service between Ann Arbor and Detroit that would include stops in Ypsilanti, Dearborn, and the Detroit Metro Airport.

Carmine Palombo, director of Transportation Programs for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, said the budget for the new service is not yet set in stone. But, he said a number of aspects of the project would be completed by October 2010.

From Ann Arbor to Detroit, the service is expected to take around 50 to 55 minutes. Palombo said exact prices have yet to be determined, but the cost for a round-trip ticket will be competitive with other comparable services and will most likely range between $6 and $7.

Read the entire article here.

Transit use boom in Detroit-Livonia-Warren

Transit ridership is up in some surprising areas. And none more surprising than in Southeast Michigan. The Detroit-Livonia-Warren ridership jumped 30 percent in the last year.

Excerpt:

An analysis of the most recent transit use data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that transit use grew by up to 47% in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. from 2006-2008, with several metro regions in the South and West growing by more than 10%.

...

One of the main factors expected to have caused the increase in ridership in these areas was the increased price of gasoline. As gasoline prices increase, transit ridership is shown to increase in major U.S. cities. As Nate Berg reports, "Ridership increases around the country have been linked to the temporary jump in oil prices last year, when the price of oil peaked at more than $147 per barrel in July 2008."

Read the entire article here.

Rally around light rail

A light rail up Woodward would not just be for Detroit. And a commuter rail from Detroit to Ann Arbor wouldn't just be for those two cities. Mass transit, when done right, could coalesce and serve the entire region.

Excerpt:

"Gas prices hit $4 a gallon last year and will go up again," he said. "If we can make it so that commuter rail is faster and cheaper and you won't have to pay to park your car, then people will definitely ride."

The Detroit Department of Transportation predicts 20,000 daily riders on the Woodward line by 2030, with 11,100 roundtrips per day. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) estimates 5,800 daily riders for the Ann Arbor-Detroit line, with four round trips daily.

Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, whose district includes part of the proposed Woodward Avenue rail route, said it's important for both projects to become a reality. "They are separate plans, but they show regional cooperation."

Businesses would move close to the rail routes and the region would be "more attractive to live, work, and play," he said.

Read the entire article here.

Smaller cars (not flying) are the future

At a conference on the future of personal mobility held in Ypsilanti, the talk was smaller cars. Due to a massive jump in urbanization, density, and an aging population, cars will undoubtedly get smaller.

So, the future is still holding off on flying cars.

Excerpt:

Currently 40% of Manhattan residents donít own a car. Many can afford one, but find the cost of ownership too high when public transportation, bicycle lanes, cabs and walking are less expensive.

Car sharing is growing in many large cities. Paris two years ago launched a bicycle-sharing program that reportedly saved about 10 million kilometers of car trips. Unfortunately, more than half the original bikes were stolen or vandalized, raising the cost to replace them and to improve security.

The other factor encouraging the popularity of smaller vehicles is the desire to contain carbon dioxide emissions, the primary source of climate change.

Read the entire article here.

Development of new lightweight battery for electric cars

Developing new lightweight batteries for electric cars in Van Buren Township.

Excerpt:

Ricardo, Inc., the US subsidiary of Ricardo plc, the leading independent provider of technology, product innovation and engineering solutions to the world's automotive, defense, transport and new energy industries, has announced that the award of $2.1 million (GBP1.3m) of funding has been made by the UK Technology Strategy Board to a consortium led by advanced battery manufacturer Axeon and including Ricardo, which will develop a new lightweight battery for use in electric small city cars, improving their performance, functionality and range. The aim of the project is to develop an innovative high energy density battery system for an emission-free electric small city car. The battery, which will use new cell chemistry that offers higher energy density, will be lighter, smaller and therefore more efficient than those currently available, and will offer faster charging and a higher range.

Read the entire article here.

Is the renaissance of train travel upon us?

There's a lot of talk these days about high-speed rail throughout the United States. Unfortunately it'll take more than talk -- like a lot of money and a lot of time -- to realize such a network. But with the support of the Obama administration, the U.S. just might be on course to a train travel renaissance.

Excerpt:

Despite the controversy, the president is on board (no pun intended). During a speech back in April, Obama praised high speed rail by saying, "Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation and ending up only blocks from your destination." That does sound idyllic, though in small cities, it might not be that easy.

Thanks to suburban sprawl, many downtowns, especially in upstate NY, don't offer much in the way of public transportation. If the lines do get built, this would be an easy problem to overcome; zipcars or bike rentals are one option. There's also the possibility that the trains would create a resurgence in downtowns, bringing small business, shops, even upscale housing back to smaller cities.

Assuming some of the states who have applied for stimulus money actually receive it and are able to build the high speed lines, it will still be years before they are ready to roll. Guess only time will tell if it will be worth the investment and if we'll, once again, be a country of train-travelers.

Read the entire article here.

High-speed hydrogen rail between Grand Rapids and Detroit and learning from the 'Simpsons'

It's a bit Jetsons-y, an elevated high-speed rail that's powered by hydrogen. But, what the heck, right? Let's get a little futuristic. The trip from Grand Rapids to Detroit is expected to take 40 minutes. If it comes to fruition, it should be a nice economic bump to the city, bringing in people from Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Ann Arbor for the games and festivals Detroit has to offer.

Excerpt:

The project was proposed by the privately owned Interstate Traveler Company, located just north of Ann Arbor. Company officials are asking the state to provide free use of the right-of-way along Michigan's interstate freeway system.

The railway's cars would levitate on top of an elevated hydrogen-based track and be propelled by energy from magnets. Cars holding people, freight and vehicles would cycle at high speeds, stopping in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Local business leaders say the concept has the potential to create a new manufacturing base in Michigan and spur economic development.

"Clearly this would bring a competitive advantage to our state if we could move people and freight and cars and vehicles from Grand Rapid to Detroit, and eventually to other Midwestern states," said Jared Rodriguez, a lobbyist with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

Read the entire article here.

Additional piece from the Grand Rapids Press that links this high-rail plan to The Simpsons. Complete with hilarious clips. Check it out here.
100 Transportation Articles | Page: | Show All
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