NYC cabs don’t have to bump up fuel efficiency, judge rules

New York City cab drivers will not be forced to go green, as a federal judge on Friday smacked down a municipal plan to make all new taxis achieve at least 30 miles per gallon by 2012. U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty ruled that fuel-economy standards should be up to the feds, not cities.

Notable quotable

U.K. secretary: Economic downturn will not delay measures that could speed economy

“In order to stimulate Britain’s economic growth and support our position as a leading world economy it is essential that we make the right long-term investments in our transport infrastructure and that we plan for future growth, in a way which is consistent with reducing greenhouse gas emissions overall.”   – U.K. Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon, insisting that the economic downturn will not slow the country’s push for large-scale public-transportation projects  

China to invest $280 billion in rail network ‘as a stimulus measure’

Australian media reports: China will invest nearly $A445 billion (US$ 280 billion) in its overburdened rail system as a stimulus measure aimed at blunting the impact of the global financial crisis. The investment is part of plans to extend the country’s railway network from the current roughly 125,502km to nearly 160,900km by 2010, Shanghai’s Oriental Morning Post reported. The Beijing News quoted a rail official as saying that, while the network needed extending, the massive investment was also intended to help lift the nation’s economy as it suffers amid the global woes. “New rail investment will become a shining light …

Bill of goods

Fast Company publishes an unsparing take-down of green architect William McDonough

This month’s Fast Company has an expose on green architecture guru William McDonough. It is fairly brutal. McDonough’s come in for plenty of hero worship (no small amount of it from me), but as Danielle Sacks tells it, he’s a vainglorious name-dropper and celeb-schmoozer, prone to claiming credit beyond what he is due, devoted above all to his own mythology, with a history of grand pronouncements followed by failures of execution. His much-hyped eco-city in China is crumbling. His buildings don’t perform as well as hyped. His cradle-to-cradle syndication program has gone nowhere. Worst of all, he seems rather clumsily …

Ford Smart Gauge urges driver fuel efficiency

Trying to reduce gas consumption? Drivers of the 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids will be assisted by a Smart Gauge that screams instructions like a panicked driver’s ed teacher shows, among other things, multiplying green leaves as drivers drive more fuel-efficiently. Ford will also improve how far the cars can go on electricity alone, estimating that they could cover some 700 miles on a single tank of gas.

If you don't know where you're going, there's no point fighting over how to get there

Good policy and enduring political alliances are built around goals, not paths

In a thoroughly excellent interview with Streetsblog, Rockafeller Foundation managing director Nicholas Turner urges a pragmatic approach to transportation: … if you’re thinking about transportation … as being a tool that helps you get to a set of broader societal benefits, you want to be somewhat mode-neutral. My guess is that any attempt to move towards those social benefits would, obviously, expand public transportation, rail, bus rapid transit, walking and biking. But I think it’s important to get out of this mode-against-mode battle because otherwise you’re not really addressing the problem. Exactly right. You can find the same form of …

Britain’s eco-town plans are on shaky ground

Thanks to the shaky economy, a struggling construction industry, and strong local opposition, sources close to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s eco-town plans say that only “one or two” of the 15 shortlisted sites are likely to go forward.

Save transit, save the world

Public spending on transit is an easy call

Katharine Mieszkowski tells the sordid story: in the U.S., ridership for public transit is up, demand is up, but funding is going down and transit systems are decaying. The Washington Post says "[D.C.] Metro and 30 other transit agencies across the country may have to pay billions of dollars to large banks as years-old financing deals unravel, potentially hurting service for millions of bus and train riders." Not good. Meanwhile! Reconnecting America recently released new report: "Jumpstarting the Transit Space Race: How the New Administration Could Make America Energy-Independent, Create Jobs and Keep the Economy Strong." Is shows that demand …

Prop. 1A

KQED takes a look at California’s high-speed rail ballot measure

Great look at California’s Proposition 1A: The mind-boggling myopia it takes to call something like this an “extravagance” mystifies me. When did we get so hinky about investing in our future? I will bet anyone $100 right now that ridership on this train, if it is built, exceeds the most optimistic assessments. I’ll bet another hundred that five years after it is built, a study will be done that finds that total social return exceeds invested capital by several decimal places. Once the first American high-speed rail system is in place, other heavily populated regions are going to start wanting …

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