Talking Headways: A Streetsblog Podcast
Episode 42: I'm Not a Scientist

Do you ever think about the ecology of the city you live in? Not just the parks and the smog. Scientists are starting to examine urban ecosystems more holistically: the trees and the concrete, natural gas lines and soil, water pipes and rivers. The natural and the synthetic feed off each other in surprising ways. We're not scientists, but we found it interesting.

Then we move from the ecosystem to the highway system -- specifically, the argument made by Evan Jenkins in The Week to abolish the National Highway System. Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns thinks it's a good idea (which should be a surprise to nobody). Jeff and I aren't so sure. Could rail really pick up the slack? Would states make better decisions? What funding source would replace the federal gas tax? 

Enjoy this, our 42nd episode of Talking Headways. Find us on the Twitters already. And oh yeah, also on iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed.

Direct download: final_mix_podcast_111414_2930.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT

Has the stupor worn off yet? Election Day was last Tuesday, and we'll be living with the results for years. But Beth Osborne, a former Hill staffer and U.S. DOT official now at Transportation for America, says the changes on the Hill are no big deal: Nothing was getting done anyway.

So Beth, Jeff, and I examine the prospects for a new transportation bill. One is due in May, and it's a Republican House and a Republican Senate that will preside over it. Will lawmakers raise the specter of devolution of transportation funding to the states? Will they suggest that the Highway Trust Fund should just be used for highways? Of course they will! But the conversation won't end there. 

Even the short-term extensions aren't as easy as they used to be, and that could make the politics of a long-term bill a little easier to manage. Some people blame the end of earmarks for the difficulty passing a bill, but Beth makes the point that you can't very well turn a transportation bill into a Christmas tree for every member of Congress when there's absolutely no money.

We don't have a crystal ball, but here's everything you need to know to make an educated guess about how the next six months will play out -- this, and our coverage of the ballot initiativesgovernors' racesSenate leadership shakeup, and the new top transportation Democrat in the House.

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Direct download: podcast_final_mix_beth_osborne_post_elex_110714.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 11:12am EDT

Episode 40: Uber and the Case of the Hidden Gas Tax

Uber is celebrating. DC passed an Uber-legalization law that Uber thinks cities the world over should follow. The problem is, most cities have much more tightly regulated taxi industries than DC, with a far higher cost of entry. In those cases, letting Uber get away with providing taxi services while complying with none of the rules is unfair. The taxi companies have been screaming about this for a while now. Uber's response is something like, "Catch me if you can, old geezer." DC's contribution to that conversation strengthens Uber's position.

In other news, a front group for the oil industry is trying to cause panic among California drivers about a "hidden gas tax" that's going to hit come January. What they're really talking about is California's landmark cap-and-trade law to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which will start including transportation fuels at the beginning of the year. Jeff and I called up Melanie Curry of Streetsblog LA to explain to us a campaign that didn't seem to really make any sense and she assured us that we're not crazy; it really doesn't make any sense.

Stay tuned; our election recap edition will be coming out shortly.

We want to hear what you think in the comments.

You can find this podcast on iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed, or wherever cool kids gather.

Direct download: podcast_103014_3051_final_mix_melanie.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 12:42pm EDT

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