|This section focuses on a unique overseas website related to civil engineering
IT. This issue features "LightRailNow!h operated by Light Rail Now
Project, based in Austin, Texas in the United States, with its aim of promoting
light rail transit (LRT).
Public Transport Investment to Attract Attention in a 21st-Century gNew Dealh
The gUSA faces massive financial collapse and economic crisish, and gboth the incoming administration and the US Congress are now seriously considering various alternatives for economic stimulus and stabilization.h
One of the gTOP STORIESh on the top page of the website, gToward a 21st-Century eNew Dealf for Public Transporth mentions the background to the situation that LRT receives attention anew in the USA, where expressway systems have been highly developed. According to the story, support is mounting for a major public works initiative - a 21st-century version of the 1930s-era gNew Dealh, which puts particular emphasis on addressing the critical situation of important infrastructure including bridges, urban utilities, railways, public transit, electrified transportation and others. A view is shown to claim that such a program can bring jobs and economic uplift as well as providing crucial alternatives to petroleum dependency, adding that it must ginclude public transportation investment as its coreh.
The website describes the advantages of LRT as attraction to the public, its lower cost, and versatility; how projects of establishing and extending LRT are accepted by the local residents is partly shown in the gResults of 10 Rail Ballot Initiatives in 2008 Electionh included in the same gTop Storiesh as of December 2008. According to the summary of the results of the ten major rail passenger transportation ballot initiatives conducted in November 2008, in Honolulu, Hawaii, a plan for newly constructing a rapid rail system passed with 52.6% of voters approving, and 47.4% opposing. In Kansas City, Kansas, a light rail project funded by sales tax failed with 44% of voters approving and 56% opposing. Besides, a streetcar project in Sacrament, California passed, and extensions to link the light rail system in Seattle, Washington passed as well. These outcomes are presented with their project outlines.
Supporting to Develop and Improve LRT within North America and in the Whole World by Providing Correct Information
The Light Rail Now Project is a charitable educational enterprise aiming to support efforts both within North America and worldwide to develop and improve LRT and other rail transit and mass transportation systems. Through the website of Light Rail Now!, it plays a role to provide information and materials to the public concerning the benefit and advantages of rail transit systems.
The Project has an idea that presenting facts, reliable information, and well-supported arguments serves to correct misinformation and misunderstanding about mass transit or LRT, enabling planner, decision makers, and public to make truly informed decisions with respect to LRT as versatile, attractive, and cost-effective mode of transportation technology. The Project and the website are sponsored by the Texas Association for Public Transportation in collaboration with Light Rail Progress.
Cases of LRT in Europe, Australia, and Japan Accumulated
gFEATURESh picks up in-depth articles on various themes. One of them, for example, gDespite Critics and Federal Opposition, Light Rail Transit Chalks Up Major Successes in 2007h (Light Rail Now Project Team, December 2007), says that LRT in the US, including modern streetcars, interurban or semi-metro-type trolleys, and heritage streetcars made tremendous progress in 2007, though there had been incorrect information in excessive support of highway transport as well as opposition from the Bush administration. It concluded, gLRT consistently exhibited the highest percentage of ridership increase among all transit modes.h Cities where outstanding successes were made are listed, such as San Francisco, Tampa, Portland, Denver, San Diego, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Houston, and Seattle. LRT has been implemented with remarkable successes also in the world over, especially in European countries such as France and Spain, in Australia, and in Japan. In particular, European and Australian experience has provided valuable models and inspiration for Americafs light rail renaissance, according to the article.
gFACTSh supports what LRT really is, through statistics, charts, and other reliable data. The fifth article in a series of Electrification 101, gTransport Energy Debate: How Many BTUs on the Head of a Pin? ...er...Power Line?h focuses on the view that today when the global supply of petroleum appears to be peaking and the concern is growing over the problems of Global Warming and CO2 emissions, electrified public transport can be an effective tool for helping them. However, as there are those who are skeptical of its energy efficiency or cost effectiveness, the article tries to prove its effect and superiority using various facts and figures.
On the other hand, opinions opposing to the introduction of LRT include those with no grounds, like ghardly anybody use LRT in the cityh, or so-called gUrban Legends.h These are reviewed one by one to clear up misconception in gMYTHSh page. The article of September 18, 2007, for instance, introduces a remark made in a radio program broadcasted in Minneapolis, which suggests that the LRT in the city is a useless work and that gthe money should have been used to rebuild (i-35W) bridgesh that had collapsed and save lives. The website regards this as a claim based on misconception, disproving it by showing the actual ridership increase of the LRT and other evidence.
Moreover, LRT-related news is found on gNEWSh, and announcements of conferences etc. on gEVENTSh. In addition, lots of information such as LRT success stories in every place, or data for monorail, heritage trolleys, and new LRT systems planned can be obtained from the website intensively.
This article is written based on the above website with permission from LightRailNow!