Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CalTrain's cuts to Silicon Valley services are off the rails

Train travel in San Francisco is an awkward experience for a European and there are plenty of them in town this week for the Global Green Cities conference. California is the perfect place to come to discuss topics such as "liveable, compact, transit-oriented cities" as there is much work to be done here and transport authorities want to make further cuts to services.

A few weeks ago, I took the CalTrain that serves Silicon Valley to interview an entrepreneur. I'm going to ignore the fact that it took me 2.5 hours in total to get there. I enjoyed the hour from the city centre to Palo Alto on the impressive, two-deck diesel trains. It was clean, punctual and cheap. And it was a rare opportunity to sit and read a newspaper, plan my day and sit quietly and think…

Transport part one: California's aversion to mass transit turns bus drivers into heroes

Monday, February 21, 2011

California's aversion to "mass transit" turns bus drivers into heroes

Bus drivers who operate the service through Spencer Avenue bus pad, the stop nearest my home in Sausalito, must have one of the best jobs in the world. The expression of pure gratitude and joy on my face as they open the doors must be a reward for drivers who service the route over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. The trip over one of the world's most famous landmarks is hardly the downside of a job with Golden Gate Transit, which compensates for its infrequency with punctuality and friendly drivers.

Spencer Avenue bus pad is on Highway 101, the main artery north of San Francisco that floods with traffic day and night. If you were to follow what the Spanish called El Camino Real, you'd end up in Canada, via Oregon and Washington states.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lisa Jackson faces down Republican fire at energy committee hearing

Lisa Jackson was called today to justify the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Fred Upton set the scene for where this shambles of democracy was heading by arguing that his party’s draft Energy Tax Prevention Act 2011 made "fossil fuels most affordable choice" for energy supply in the US. This would remove the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

The EPA's regulations made fossil fuels more expensive and the bill would address Barack Obama’s failure to mention affordable energy in his State of the Union address, he said, adding that the Chinese government and others have no plans to raise costs. Presumably, Upton’s bill does not include the level of spending the Chinese shower on its green economy given the Republican's Spending Reduction Act of 2011.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

California wins SunShot dollars while GOP trains sights on clean energy

Californian companies did exceptionally well out of Steven Chu’s “SunShot” announcement on Friday to award $27m to nine companies in the US to drive down the cost of solar. And as Vice President Joe Biden announces $53bn for high speed rail today, it looks like Barack Obama is following through with his clean energy commitments made in his "Sputnik" state of the union.

The US energy secretary announced details of the Department of Energy's SunShot initiative to reduce the cost of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75% by 2020, to $1 a watt.

SunShot will focus on four areas:
  • Technologies for solar cells and arrays that convert sunlight to energy;
  • Electronics that optimize the performance of the installation;
  • Improvements in the efficiency of solar manufacturing processes;
  • Installation, design and permitting for solar energy systems.