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  • The high-tech, high-price systems are supposed to help inattentive drivers stay in their own lanes, not stray disastrously into nearby cars. But vehicles with the systems showed increased, not decreased, crashes in a study being released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group for insurers. The unexpected finding that lane-departure setups increased crashes as much as 10% is inexplicable, IIHS says.

    USA Today
  • The 599-page bill reduces the number of highway programs by two thirds. The controversial coal ash and Keystone XL provisions House Republicans pushed for were dropped, but the streamlining provisions they wanted made it in, including exempting from environmental review certain emergency infrastructure replacements and programs that receive less than $5 million in federal funds. The cuts aren't as deep as many conservatives wanted and the concessions went too far for some Democrats.

    National Journal
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    Most cars can carry at least four passengers, but the average auto occupancy rate for all trips in the US is only 1.6 persons. Because all the empty seats in cars represent our greatest source of untapped transportation capacity, promoting ridesharing is of considerable interest. 

    ACCESS Magazine
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    Without high patronage, new rail investments incur large deficits and fail to deliver promised environmental and social benefits....Comparing the costs and the number of passenger-miles traveled for 54 American rail transit investments since 1970, we found wide variation in cost-effectiveness. The worst-performing system costs nearly 50 times more per passenger-mile than the best-performing. What factors distinguish the most successful transit investments?

    ACCESS Magazine
  • The path to a flying car is one step closer to becoming reality. That may sound like a stretch, since the flying car has been “just around the corner” for decades. But Terrafugia just completed its first phase of flight testing for its production-conforming prototype Transition “roadable aircraft” and is firmly on the path to completing the development and delivering to customers....With a top speed of just 115 miles per hour in the air, the two-seat Transition is not the fastest airplane in its class, but Terrafugia is hoping the combination of fly and drive will attract customers who see the value in the long-held dream of a flying car.

    Wired
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    To hear automakers and environmentalists tell it, electric vehicles (EVs) are the greenest and cleanest solution to personal mobility. But in his book Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism, author Ozzie Zehner argues that EVs are more symbolism and marketing than environmental and fossil-fuel saviors. And in many cases, EVs are actually worse for the environment than traditional gas-powered vehicles. To prove this, Zehner, a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, points to what he views as the fuel-inefficient process of manufacturing EVs, and claims that they don’t make a big difference in greenhouse-gas emissions. 

    Wired
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    Consumer interest is growing in safety features such as backup cameras, blind-spot warning systems and pedestrian alerts, according to a survey released this week by Harris Interactive....Harris says that in its survey such features beat out the appeal of entertainment technologies such as satellite radio and voice-activated infotainment and communication controls.

    USA Today
  • Despite the passage of a congressional amendment to strip future federal funds from San Francisco’s Central Subway project, Muni is moving forward with the plan as scheduled.

    SF Examiner
  • The Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday approved an amended version of Senate Bill 878 that would order the California Transportation Commission to examine whether an inspector general should be established to oversee state transportation agencies....Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord said the inspector general approach came largely in response to a series of Bee investigations about California Department of Transportation tests of California bridges.

    Sacramento Bee
  • California's dream of a bullet train has changed significantly, leading to cost cuts, a management changeover and a scaled-back vision of its operations. But it still remains a needed and essential part of the state's future. That's why it is essential that the Legislature end the delays and hand-wringing and vote this week. 

    SF Chronicle