MTC shows its true colors: Executive Director search process

The agenda for the October 24 Executive Director Selection Committee discloses all one needs to know about the approach being taken by the Committee. The only items on the agenda are the roll call, a mandatory opportunity for public comment, a closed session and a report-out. All the signs are there that a back-room deal is being cut for the most important hire for the future of the Bay Area. This is just the way it was done when Steve Heminger was appointed many years ago. A hire from the inside, with no national search process is what happened then…

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IPCC delivers blockbuster report–No one important acted

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, published its latest scientific consensus of projections of where climate change will take the planet. The short version: Unless we act quickly and decisively, the results will be even more catastrophic than we predicted earlier. In fact, the impacts of a 2° C increase in average temperatures, the former globally agreed-on target, are now recognized as being so concerning that the IPCC recommends restricting warming to 1.5° C. Here are selected responses to the report: ‘Incredibly grim’ prognosis on global warming also carries clarion call for global action–Los Angeles Times Opinion Piece by…

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TAM is a mediocre agency

When it comes to making the lives of Marinites better by improving their transportation, the Transportation Authority of Marin, TAM, has consistently been missing in action. Traffic has gotten worse over the decades, but you’d never know that from TAM’s self-congratulory communications. Listening to TAM’s Board of Commissioners meeting, one would never know how miserable traffic is. Part of the problem is TAM’s very narrow view of its mission. It sees itself as responsible only for for funding and delivering transportation projects. The agency is completely disconnected from any sense of responsibility for the experience of highway users. As a…

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Measure AA: TAM could care less about climate change

Climate change is sending increasingly strong messages–through catastrophic floods, droughts, and wildfires–that human societies must shift their priorities if they are to survive beyond the next few generations. Unfortunately, transportation professionals–including the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM)–still haven’t accepted the responsibility of reducing the impact of transportation on climate change. Climate change is caused primarily by the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. Motor vehicles are the biggest source of GHGs in California, in the Bay Area, and in Marin. Because driving keeps increasing, GHG emissions keep increasing, even while the State is working hard to…

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TAM can’t be trusted with a 30-year sales tax

Today’s Marin IJ carried TRANSDEF’s Marin Voice, entitled “TAM can’t be trusted with a 30-year sales tax.” Although the IJ endorsed the measure, it gave opponents the much-sought-after Sunday placement. The piece is a hard-hitting takedown of a status quo agency that is uninterested in its impacts on climate. As environmentalists, we find that stance completely unacceptable. See associated post.

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The official start of the age of carpooling

Today’s Chronicle carried a story on how Google’s Waze is rolling out carpooling on a national scale. TRANSDEF has been writing about the significance of ridematching apps for years, before Waze got interested in this market. The announcement today marks what we believe will become known as the official start of the age of carpooling. What makes the announcement so unusual is its express interest in both the public and private benefits of the venture: “We want to reduce traffic and take cars off the road,” said Josh Fried, Waze’s head of carpool.   Waze has another goal, too: prepare…

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Climate change is here!

The most direct and tangible expression of global warming has been the intensification of hurricanes and typhoons. A very striking article explains why it has been so hard for forecasters to predict the big storms: warmer ocean surface temperatures and more importantly, warmer deep ocean temperatures, have changed the energetics of storms, so they don’t follow past patterns. As climatologist and hurricane expert Greg Holland explained last year, “globally, the proportion of Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased from ~20 percent of all hurricanes to around 40 percent due to climate change over the past 60 years.”   Bottom…

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Terrestrial carbon management, not biofuels!

Science Daily reported today on a tremendously important opinion piece that demolishes the environmental credentials of biofuels as being carbon neutral. If applied by policymakers, it would result in transferring funding for the incentives for biofuel production over to the conservation and restoration of natural landscapes. U.S. national policy has strongly incentivized ethanol production, for example, due to the political power of the Corn Belt. Authors DeCicco and Schlesinger point out that biofuels create a “carbon debt” because burning them generates CO2 in the present, which isn’t sequestered by plants for decades. To reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the…

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We don’t have much time left to fix transportation

Environmentalist Ed Mainland of Novato, CA speaks out: Controversy has swirled around Marin’s Measure AA. Many proponents of Measure AA seem oblivious to TAM’s dismal track record and substantive arguments pro and con around TAM’s funding plan. Proponents point to the plan’s funding of transit, EVs, and Safe Routes to Schools. Others call the plan conventional, status quo, wedded to car culture, and lacking in real understanding of what is at stake. Several things Marinites may wish to keep in mind: 1. A local climate activist recently compared TAM’s plan to Los Angeles’ plan and found TAM’s, by comparison, to…

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Travel expectations different in Europe

After attending Innotrans, the international rail exposition in Berlin, I’ve been visiting with a colleague in a smaller German city. The plethora of transit choices is amazing. There is an extensive subway system. The tram network runs in the subway, using the stations there and then exiting to run on surface streets, often in medians reserved for transit. The even more extensive bus system has signal preemption, giving buses priority at difficult intersections. Germany is famous in transit circles for its S-bahns. Over a hundred years ago, it was recognized that trains needed to be separated from street traffic. Far-sighted…

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