The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan
Saturday, October 19, 2002
Technology Drivers: Satellite Broadband Web Access Covers Nation. In a New York Times piece "Internet by Satellite" in the Technology section on October 17, 2002 John R. Quain described two satellite systems that cover the nation with broadband access. This coverage is modestly priced and can provide needed high-speed coverage to most rural and remote areas addressing what had been a major access issue. The full story may be found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/17/technology/circuits/17basi.html. (183)
Friday, October 18, 2002
Metropolitan Growth and Development. Twin Cities Ranks Mid-Range in US Sprawl Index. Smart Growth America issued a report recently entitled: Measuring Sprawl And Its Impact -- The Character & Consequences of Metropolitan Expansion. On a composite sprawl index the Twin Cities Metropolitan area received an overall Sprawl Index Score of 95.86 with a ranking 38th most sprawling of 83 metro areas measured. The Twin Cities data page is at: http://www.smartgrowthamerica.com/sprawlindex/factsheet_minneapolis.html. The full report is at: http://www.smartgrowthamerica.com/sprawlindex/sprawlindex.html. (182).
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Energy and the Environment. Solar power uses worldwide. Solar energy worldwide is constantly increasing, especially as the cost of th technology decreases. Worldwide, 53% of the solar energy is used for grid-connected purposes, 11.4% for consumer goods, 11.4% for non-U.S. off-grid (rural areas), 4.8% U.S. off-grid residential (remote homes) and 19.4% other (i.e. telecommunications, off-shore, etc.). On a related note, Minnesota has the same solar energy potential as Tampa, Florida. However, until the price decreases it is not viable for major production. (181)
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Transportation and Transit. Bus Rapid Transit Success Story in LA. Matthew Barrows writing in the Sacramento Bee describes the recent success in Los Angeles in using bus rapid transit. Two years ago Los Angeles transit brought in a fleet of low-floor buses to reduce boarding times, gave the buses the ability to turn red lights green, eliminated two-thirds of the stops, and threw rigid bus schedules out the window. Travel times have been cut by 25% on the two corridors involved and ridership has been boosted by 40%. A third of the new riders climbing aboard every day -- about 12,000 people -- had never taken public transit before. "That's the most important part," said Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board Chairman Hal Bernson. "The fact that we can get people out of their automobiles and put them on mass transit is huge." That number is about equal half of the daily ridership of the Twin Cities Hiawatha LRT line. In Sacramento, based on the success in Los Angeles, leaders last week decided to add 24 similar lines, expanding Metro Rapid service from 42 miles to 356 miles.
Bus rapid transit has become so popular that some cities are bucking the previous trend of building light-rail lines in favor of less expensive lines that run on rubber tires. Alameda County Transit in the Bay Area is planning an 18-mile bus rapid transit route running from downtown Berkeley to downtown Oakland and then south through some of the densest neighborhoods in the East Bay. Their director Jim Cunradi said the route will have exclusive bus lanes, built-up stations and priority at intersections just like a light-rail line. What it won't have, he said, is light rail's $1 billion price tag. Building the bus line will cost about $350 million. "We think we're getting the benefits of a rail system at one-third the cost," Cunradi said.
The full story is online at: http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/4792244p-5805918c.html. (180)
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Technology Drivers: High Speed Internet Access Takes Off Globally. As reported in the September 23, 2002 issue of Business Week, a number of country's web surfers have faster Internet access than the US. In the US 17% of web surfers have high-speed access compared with 66% in Hong Kong, 45% in Germany, 43% in Sweden, 25% in Spain and 22% in Brazil. The actual number of users was not included in the information. Information on international use of the web may be found at the Nielsen Net Ratings site at: http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/hot_off_the_net_i.jsp. (179)
Monday, October 14, 2002
Energy and Environment: Web Resource. The Wisconsin Pollution Prevention Partnership has a wealth of news on policy and other issues as well as practical information on environmental protection. The site is located at: http://wip2.uwex.edu/. (178)
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Post-Secondary Education: 29% of US College Freshmen Need Remediation. John Cloud wrote in the October 14, 2002 issue of Time magazine on the level of remediation needed by entering college freshmen. More than 600,000 freshmen, or about 29% of the entering class, needed at least one remedial class in reading, writing or math. The remediation cost is about $1 billion dollars per year for remediation. Some want to abolish public support for remediation, which could adversely impact students who come from lower quality schools in the first place or new learners of English. At the same time, there is a real question of accountability: exactly what does a high school diploma mean if almost one in three students holding it need remediation before entering college? The California State University system has been taking a tough stance requiring successful remediation and working “upstream” with schools producing most of the remedial students. The full article may be found on the web at: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101021014-361725-1,00.html. (177)