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Los Angeles has never been known for its public transit but in recent years its bus ridership has been falling as Angelenos are–among other factors–capitalizing on a stronger economy by buying cars in record numbers. As the LA Times reported, experts also point to several other factors putting pressure on bus systems, including falling immigration rates, rising rents that have pushed low-income families to more remote areas, and a law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to apply for driver’s licenses. Moreover, LA voters continue to vote for higher taxes to expand public transportation but aren’t actually taking it themselves.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses, which carry most of the county’s bus riders, have lost nearly 95 million trips over a decade, according to federal data. The 25% drop is the steepest among the busiest transit systems in the United States and accounted for the majority of California’s transit ridership decline.
What’s Being Done: To reverse the slump, Metro is preparing to redesign its network of 165 lines and 14,000 stops for the first time in a generation. A study launched two years ago is examining where people go and what can be done to make the bus more competitive with driving. The Metro Board of Directors has also recently approved the expansion of light rail and bus rapid transit lines (BRT), but LA Mayor Eric Garcetti joked of BRT lines that they are only “slightly less controversial than congestion pricing, once your street gets announced.”
Why This Matters: Reducing single-occupancy vehicle use is a key goal for the state of California and its biggest cities to achieve as part of a broader plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help curb climate change. Transportation is currently the state’s largest source of emissions accounting for 41% of total GHG emissions and if LA is to meet its voluntary agreement to reduce emissions 50% below 1990 levels by 2025, or California’s state law of 40% reduction in emissions from 2020 to 2030 then more people need to turn to low-emission public transit. Full city buses are some of the most efficient means of transit yet people will only turn to them as a means of last resort unless they’re clean, efficient, and on-time.
Wind power has overtaken coal as a proportion of Texas’s power for the first time and promises to continue growing. In 2020, wind power made up almost a quarter of Texas’s total power, compared to just 18% from coal.
Why This Matters: Texas is the nation’s largest producer of both wind energy and fossil fuel energy.
The sale of oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was supposed to bring in upwards of $1 billion, but in the end, the first of the auctions mandated by Congress at the urging of President Trump brought in only $14M.
Why This Matters: Banks won’t underwrite Arctic drilling, so it is unclear those ANWR leases will be drilled ever.
When 2020 began, even with oil prices relatively strong, many industry analysts were predicting it was the beginning of the end for oil and gas. And then the pandemic hit and the Saudis and Russians decided to take advantage of the downturn. With supplies still high and demand declining, the industry may never be the same again.
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