Moving It Along

Today’s lunchtime news chum (the first in 2012) brings a collection of items all related to transit or transportation:

  • The Cost of Commuting. Alas, this first item directly affects my pocketbook. It appears that Congress didn’t act, and hasn’t extended the transit/commuting benefit. This was the rules that permitted employers to provide pre-tax reimbursement to employees for the cost of parking or the cost of transit/vanpooling up to $230/month. Without the extension (i.e., now), that $230 number (which is moving up to $240) applies only to the reimbursement for the cost of parking. Those who actually rideshare (i.e., those who care about the environment or can’t afford a car) will now only be reimbursed up to $125/month. For many people, this means increased costs and/or increased taxes. [insert whine about Congressional insensitivity here]
  • The Cost of Commuting, Part II. The commuting benefit isn’t the only thing that is impacting the wallet. The cost of fuel is going up. Why? One reason is that the subsidy on Ethanol is ending, and Ethanol makes up an increasing part of the fuel supply. Now, I’m not arguing that ethanol should be used for fuel–I think it is silly to use edible food to fuel anything vehicles (I have no problem with using inedible components/waste). However, it will mean your cost at the pump will be going up.
  • Cyberattacks on Automobiles. I’ve written about this before, but the LA Times has a nice accessible treatment of the subject. The gist of this is that the increased high-tech capabilities in our automobiles is making them increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks, and it is only lately that automobile manufacturers are becoming aware of the threat.
  • Threats to our Streets. Sometimes the threat truly comes from outside: in this case, a 340-ton boulder. If you’re not following the story: The LA County Art Museum is installing an artwork called “Levitated Mass” at its facility near La Brea Pits (or if you’re feeling redundant, the La Brea Tar Pits). The only problem: the 680,000-pound rock is 16 feet wide and 21 feet tall and is in Riverside, and must be moved. This involves a circuitous path, ensuring the roadways can handle the weight, and ensuring bridges are high enough and powerpoles  can be moved. It’s complicated. Here’s an article on what is involved on getting the rock through Diamond Bar.
  • Understanding the Street Grid. I often wonder why streets are laid out as they are. The NY Times has a nice article on the Manhattan street grid: how it was laid out, and how the development of the grid had a significant effect on the city’s development.
  • Under the Streets. Lastly, an article from TransportatioNation that explores the lost NY Subway System. By this I refer to the uncompleted or abandoned subway routes and stations in New York City.

Music: Country Pickin’ (Chet Atkins): Wabash Cannon Ball