The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (www.citizensleague.net)

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Friday, May 24, 2002
 
Transportation and Transit. If Not LRT, Then What? Bus Rapid Transit is a cost-effective alternative to light rail that is working on the ground in a number of countries. One of the longer standing systems is in Curitiba, Parana State, Brazil. Their system has a number of features including: exclusive bus lanes, signal priority for buses, pre-boarding fare collection, level bus boarding from raised platforms in tube stations, and a readily understandble network of routes. More detail may be found on the web (cut and paste this address into your browser: http://www.fta.dot.gov/brt/issues/pt3.html). There are also a number of advanced technology buses being launched in the US including a system in Las Vegas, Nevada. (See: http://www.fta.dot.gov/brt/issues/pt2.html). (10)





Wednesday, May 22, 2002
 
During a recent trip to Sacramento, CA, I was sitting down for breakfast when a city bus drove by. On the side of the bus, written in letters larger than any of the advertisements, were the words "This bus is powered by clean natural gas". It seems that this is becoming more of a common practice around the United States for city buses. However, I have yet to see these words anywhere in the Twin Cities. (9)

Tuesday, May 21, 2002
 
Metropolitan Governance. The Association of Bay Area Governments in California has a well developed website covering the greater San Francisco Bay area. The site includes a variety of resources including training and joint purchasing. The site address is http://www.abag.ca.gov/. (You can cut and paste this address into your browser to get to the site). (8)

Monday, May 20, 2002
 
Public Services: e-Government. A recent report ranked Minnesota's state government website in the bottom third of state's websites across the country. Since the use of the web has been found to yield 15-45% savings in delivering a number of public services, this ranking should be a wake up call for the state. (The full report is on the web and required the use of Acrobat software that is free from www.adobe.com and from other download sites: http://endowment.pwcglobal.com/pdfs/JohnsonReport.pdf. You can cut and paste this address into your browser to get the report). (7)


 
Environment. In January, environmental officials in Denver, denied Bromwell Elementary School a permit to burn its homemade prairie grass garden, which was planned as a demonstration of the cycle of nature, citing the air pollution the fire would cause. The officials suggested, instead, that the 300 students take a field trip to the prairie-grass exhibit at the Denver Botanical Garden. However, according to Colorado Air Pollution Control Division estimates, one fume-spewing school bus on a field trip produces more pollution by itself than would the entire controlled burn. [Denver Post, 3-18-02] (6)

Sunday, May 19, 2002
 
Transportation and Transit. As the final day of the Minnesota 2002 Legislature dawns and the state bonding bill does not have money in it for the NorthStar Commuter Rail from Saint Cloud to the metropolitan area, it might be time to reflect on how we can getter a more coherent "game plan" for transit. What sense does it make to increase fare box costs sharply decreasing riders at the Metro Transit system as we are being asked to spend $120 million on a commuter rail line? If we are to treat public transit as a public good, we will need to reprice things like parking and transit to reflect this view. Bailing water on one end of the canoe and chopping a hole at the same time in the other end does not make sense. (5)

 
Energy. Both Michigan and Ohio Governors in the past two weeks have announced major initatives to advance research, development and commericalization in fuel cells that can be used to convert hydrogen into electricity for vehicles and other power uses. Fuel cell components are manufactured in Minnesota so an initiative along these lines would fit well here as well. (4)