Why are americans driving less? (Guess!)

Jarrett Walker, the transport planning consultant behind the Human Transit  US PIRG group cover photoblog has done all of us a favor by providing a short review on an excellent report freely available from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund Frontier Group under the title  A NEW WAY TO GO: The Transportation Apps and Vehicle-Sharing Tools that Are Giving More Americans the Freedom to Drive Less.. The PIRG report announces its colors, opening with the words . . .

Most Americans want to drive less. For some, it’s a matter of economics. Transportation is the second-largest household expenditure, after only housing, and ahead of food, clothing, education and health care. Owning, maintaining and fueling a car is a significant drain on household budgets, especially when times are tight. For others . . .

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Rent Seeking and Transportation Service Innovations

impossible - Steve Blank on Rent seekersThis double blog reposting on this important topic is worthy of our readers’ attention on several grounds. Here at World Streets we are, after all, in a very real way in the transportation service innovations business, that being a key underpinning of the transition and the “politics of transport in cities”.  We recommend you consult it in two passes: the first being to read below the full text of Dave King’s concise commentary that appeared yesterday, 26 June, in “Getting from here to there”. And from there you may wish to move on to the full piece of Steve Blank in the Berkeley blog – click here.

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SDES Master Class: June 6-8, Paris

eb-smart-7This is the third Master Class in the Sustainable Development, Economy and Society series  being given for last-year MBA students at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion in Paris from 6-8 June. This year’s Master Class is led by Eric Britton as Distinguished Visiting Professor and is supported by an extensive e-seminar website which you can freely access at  http://sustainabiltyseminar.wordpress.com/.

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Speeding to a standstill

This is an interesting and useful article. The topic is timely and important. The speeding car  mando2802.edublogs.orgapproach and methodology are interesting.  And in it  you will find a certain number of points  which I regard as timely, important and very much worth saying again and again. In a couple of instances I find their conclusions and interpretations a bit puzzling, but let me keep them to myself for now and avoid getting between you and the authors. It’s time to step aside and let them speak for themselves.

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China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society

WORLD BANK BEIJING February 27, 2012 – China should complete its transition to a market economy — through enterprise, land, labor, and financial sector reforms — strengthen its private sector, open its markets to greater competition and innovation, and ensure equality of opportunity to help achieve its goal of a new structure for economic growth.

These are some of the key findings of a joint research report by a team from the World Bank and the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, which lays out the case for a new development strategy for China to rebalance the role of government and market, private sector and society, to reach the goal of a high income country by 2030.

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Public audit and transport budget analysis: Pune India

Parisar is a civil society organization in Pune India working on lobbying and advocacy for sustainable development. Its work focuses mainly on sustainable urban transport, since it recognizes that unsustainable transport policies and systems are the foremost threat to urban environment and quality of life. This article, kindly shared with us by their blog team at http://www.parisar.org/, reports on an activity the likes of which we would like to see in every city in the world — a continuing citizen audit of the city’s budget, and in particular  those aspects that relate to transportation investments and expenditures.

Transport Budget Analysis 2011-12

Pune has for several years allocated the largest share of its budget to the transportation sector. At around 30% of the total budget, this sector gets a larger share than important sectors like health, sanitation & slum rehabilitation together.

The country has formulated a National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) and the city has commissioned a Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP). One would expect that allocation of money within the transportation sector would follow the principles of NUTP and attempt to achieve the goals laid down in the CMP. These documents have clearly mentioned their key focus as “mobility of people rather than vehicles” and keeping with this spirit, the main emphasis of CMP has been promoting public and non motorized transport in the city, and states that their modal shares should be 40% and 50% respectively by 2030.

Parisar analyzed the budgetary allocation on transportation sector in Pune’s 2011-12 budget. It emerges that more than 60% of the transport sector budget is allocated to projects which are motor vehicle friendly like building of new roads, flyovers, parking structures and re-tarring of roads. On the other hand, non-motorized friendly and public-transport friendly projects get only 9% and 18% respectively of the budget allocation in spite of including doubtful projects such as subways, skywalks, BRT (as currently implemented) and Metro (as currently planned). This clearly suggests that the city has not paid any attention to the guidelines of NUTP or the goals set by CMP while preparing its budget.

The report also presents an ‘alternative approach’, which reallocates the transport sector budget of the last two years by using all the funds budgeted for non-motorized transport (footpaths, cycle tracks) and public transport (bus augmentation, BRT, metro and mono-rail)and some of the funds allocated to motor-vehicle friendly projects and projects of doubtful utility such as pedestrian subways and skywalks, and deploying them with the explicit goal of achieving the CMP goals.

The results are startling. With the alternative funds allocation, it turns out that the city could have built around 62.5 kms of BRT (including 125 kms of cycle tracks), 612 km of footpaths, 25 km of cycle tracks (on non-BRT roads) and added about 525 buses to the PMPML fleet. Instead, over these two years, the PMC has only built 16 kms of BRT (improperly implemented), 90 km of usable footpaths, 0 kms of usable cycle tracks, and added 136 new buses under PMPML. If one compares what could have been achieved and what has been achieved to the goals set by CMP, the alternative approach would have achieved 100% of the target for footpath construction, cycle track construction, bus fleet augmentation and BRT corridor construction, while the original budget has only achieved 15%, 0%, 17% and 26% respectively.

This clearly shows that a shortage of funds is not the reason for not being able to pursue and achieve CMP goals, but a lack of vision and commitment from PMC. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the right vision and commitment from PMC, so that these goals can be achieved and Pune can get the transport solutions it needs and deserves.

* Download a copy from here.

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Thank you Parisar for reminding us that democracy starts and ends with active citizenry.

* We also would like to direct your attention to their work to develop a balanced view of BRT, and then to support informed public policy about how to get it right. Once again, active citizens ready to stand forward and do their part. Click here for more on that.

“The New Economics of Sustainable Development”

Back in 1997 James Robertson, respected British economist, monetary reformer and policy counsel to government, took a hard look at “The New Economics of Sustainable Development” in a report prepared for the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission. Today, half a generation later, this exceptionally insightful piece still brings up points to which we should be giving attention. It is unfortunate that the clock has stood still for this important part of the sustainability dialogue. No wonder we are making so very little progress in the right direction. Let’s have a close look at what James has to propose and mull it all over from a 2011 perspective.
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