by Kaid Benfield, via NRDC’s Switchboard
Which are the best US cities for those who need or prefer to use public transportation? New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia ? in that order ? according to the terrific organization Walk Score, whose range of services offered to the public just keeps getting better and better.
Today, Walk Score is releasing its first ranking of city transit systems, revealing which, by their calculations, offer residents the best access to public transportation. The rankings are based on the organization?s Transit Score, a GIS-based set of calculations that is a companion service to the organization?s flagship walkability rankings. Transit Score, according to the organization in a press release, ?measures how well a location is served by public transportation, and is based on data released in a standard open format by public transit agencies.?
Here are the top 25 cities, listed with the Transit Score for each:
(1) New York (Transit Score: 81)
(2) San Francisco (Transit Score: 80)
(3) Boston (Transit Score: 74)
(4) Washington, DC (Transit Score: 69)
(5) Philadelphia (Transit Score: 68)
(6) Chicago (Transit Score: 65)
(7) Seattle (Transit Score: 59)
(8) Miami (Transit Score: 57)
(9) Baltimore (Transit Score: 57)
(10) Portland (Transit Score: 50)
(11) Los Angeles (Transit Score: 49)
(12) Milwaukee (Transit Score: 49)
(13) Denver (Transit Score: 47)
(14) Cleveland (Transit Score: 45)
(15) San Jose (Transit Score; 40)
(16) Dallas (Transit Score: 39)
(17) Houston (Transit Score: 36)
(18) San Diego (Transit Score: 36)
(19) San Antonio (Transit Score: 35)
(20) Kansas City (Transit Score: 34)
(21) Austin (Transit Score: 33)
(22) Sacramento (Transit Score: 32)
(23) Las Vegas (Transit Score: 32)
(24) Columbus (Transit Score: 29)
(25) Raleigh (Transit Score: 23)
Note the very wide range. Only ten cities score 50 or above, which may partially explain why Americans use public transportation less than citizens of almost every other country.
In calculating a Transit Score for a particular location, a “usefulness” value is assigned to nearby transit routes based on frequency of service, type of route, and distance to the nearest stop on the route. City scores are then calculated by applying the Transit Score algorithm block-by-block throughout the city and weighting the scores by population density. Walk Score?s web site contains a detailed description of the methodology used in the transit ratings.
I?ve been following the evolution of Walk Score?s services from the beginning, and I am continually impressed not just by the services they offer but by the continual improvement the staff puts into them.
There is little question that, with rising fuel prices and shifts in consumer preferences, demand for convenient access to public transit is growing. This seems particularly true for the Millennial generation (those born roughly between 1980 and 2000), which is driving significantly less than their predecessors. According to a study conducted by The Frontier Group, a research and policy analysis firm, for the USPIRG Education Fund and released earlier this month, the average annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita–a drop of 23 percent–from 2001 to 2009. Overall, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year in 2011 than in 2004.
Meanwhile, according to the same report, the average annual number of miles traveled by 16 to 34 year olds on public transit, such as trains and buses, increased by 40 percent during that period. The American Public Transportation Association reports that Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation in 2011, and that riding public transportation saves individuals an average of over $10,000 per year.
Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment. For more posts, see his blog’s home page. This post was originally published at NRDC’s Switchboard and was re-printed with permission.
For those of us who have read Wendell Berry for decades, who know him as that Henry County farmer with a way with words, it's easy to forget the man is a national treasure.
The National Endowment for the Humanities chose the Kentucky farmer, poet, essayist, novelist, activist and philosopher to give the 2012 Jefferson Lecture at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It is the federal government's highest honor for scholarly contributions to the humanities.
Berry, 77, delivered a searing indictment of corporate domination and the industrial economy, saying it has abused the land and people and threatens our survival. You can - and should - watch the video of Berry's lecture and read the full text of his essay, titled "It All Turns on Affection." Both are online at NEH.gov.
"Now the two great aims of industrialism - replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth in the hands of a small plutocracy - seem close to fulfillment," Berry said. "At the same time the failures of industrialism have become too great and too dangerous to deny."
Even the term economy has lost its original meaning, which had to do with household management and husbandry, he said. Most economists now "never ask, in their professional oblivion, why we are willing to do permanent ecological and cultural damage 'to strengthen the economy.'"
Corporate industrialism, he said, "has failed to sustain the health and stability of human society. Among its characteristic signs are destroyed communities, neighborhoods, families, small businesses and small farms. It has failed just as conspicuously and more dangerously to conserve the wealth and health of nature."
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteThis is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.Find the past "On This Day in History" here.Click on images to enlarge April 29 is the 119th day of the[...]
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Round-up by Infidel753; tips to mbru [at] crooksandliars [dot] com.
Here we go again. A caller to Sean Hannity's radio show suggested that voters can't identify with Mitt Romney because he's never gone to bed hungry, and that most Americans have. Hannity, as you might imagine, sharply disagreed. Though he acknowledged that 47 million Americans are in poverty, he continued:
That does not mean they're going to bed hungry. If you look at some of the poorest people in the country?I went through these stats last week?most people have refrigerators and freezers and air conditioners and televisions and DVRs or, I'm sorry, DVDs or something, and stereos and cars. They just don't have the best and the latest and they don't live in the nicest neighborhoods.We start, in other words, with the "American poor people aren't poor because they have televisions" canard, a favorite of conservatives denying the reality of poverty. There are so many problems with this, but let's just pick two out of the grab bag: Refrigerators and televisions are luxury goods these days? I'm sorry, just no. More than that, lots of people have things that they got during a period of relative affluence. Or they have hand-me-down electronics, or things bought used or otherwise obtained in ways that don't mean they have enough money day to day. And food is something that requires having money every single day. Hannity continued:
Most Americans, even in poverty, have a basic level of living, a standard of living that is decent. [...]
You can get things?for example, I have friends of mine that eat rice and beans all the time. Beans?protein; rice?inexpensive. You can make a big pot of this for a week for relatively negligible amounts of money for your whole family and feed your family, not the ... look, you should have vegetables and fruit in there as well, but if you need to survive you can survive off it. It's not ideal, you know, you get some cheap meat, too, and throw in there as well for protein. There are ways to live really really cheaply.Note the slippage in Hannity's ideas about food. You can live on rice and beans for a negligible amount of money! Well, yes ... you should have fruits and vegetables and meats and cheeses in with that rice and beans, but it's still cheap!
Negligible for whom, Sean? And how much exactly would all these fruits and vegetables and meats and cheeses you want to throw into the pot add to that "negligible" cost? Healthy, low-calorie foods are astronomically more expensive than junk food, and the prices are more likely to increase sharply. So Hannity's afterthoughts, casually tossed into the pot with rice and beans, add up quickly. And the search for cheap meat is what leads us to ground beef filled with pink slime and a host of equally unappealing additives.
Here are some facts: 14.5 percent of households experienced food insecurity at some point in 2010. That's 48.8 million people. For most of those households, that doesn't necessarily mean going to bed hungry; instead, it means "using a variety of coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in Federal food assistance programs, or getting emergency food from community food pantries." But I think we can agree that just as Mitt Romney has never gone to bed hungry, he's never had to face the choice between eating rice and beans every night or going to bed hungry, or going to a food pantry or going to bed hungry, and that those choices are less than ideal. On top of that, at least 11.3 million adults experienced "very low food security" during 2010, meaning that they did have to reduce food intake?literally go to bed hungry. But if you're food insecure, even if you're not going to bed hungry, that doesn't mean you're doing well if it's because you've filled up on cheap, calorie-dense foods. Doing that has enormous health costs for people forced to eat cheaply (and for our health care system).
So, you know, I'd love to see Sean Hannity?a man who apparently doesn't even like to do his own damn grocery shopping?eat rice and beans for a good long time, unseasoned, because spices are expensive, and with no hope of anything better or even different in the immediate future, and then return to a discussion of just what hunger means and how American poverty is a "decent" standard of living in which hunger doesn't exist.
All that said, where I differ from the caller is that I don't think you have to go all the way to saying people can't identify with Mitt Romney because he doesn't know what it is to go to bed hungry. I've never gone to bed hungry for economic reasons, but I still can't identify with Romney?because I've also never gone to bed thinking about getting a car elevator.
Or you could watch the Villagers. [...]
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Visual source: Newseum
Sara Murray at The Wall Street Journal:
Mitt Romney may be conceding ? the likability battle, that is.The Associated Press:
Eric Fehrnstrom and Peter Flaherty, senior advisers to the Romney campaign, acknowledged in the starkest terms yet that instead of trying to win the likability race against President Barack Obama, they?ll focus on their candidate?s credentials. [...] Mr. Romney made the point in his own words in campaign stops Friday as he encouraged young people to judge candidates on their records ? not the ?brilliance of their words.? [...]
It?s a risky gamble. In presidential elections voters tend to opt for the candidate they like the best. And because of that the Romney campaign has dabbled in strategies to make Mr. Romney more relatable. They brought back more revealing town hall events, the candidate?s body man launched a blog to help humanize Mr. Romney and Ann Romney (the more personable half of the couple) is making more appearances on the stump.
Now that Mitt Romney has emerged as the likely GOP presidential nominee, congressional Republicans increasingly are taking their cues from him even if it causes heartburn and grumbling among conservatives unhappy about having to beat a tactical retreat.Charles Babington at The Associated Press:
That dynamic was on full display last week as House Speaker John Boehner coped with the dust-up generated by President Obama over student loans and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell sidestepped Democratic attempts to brand Republicans as soft on the issue of violence against women.
It's a defensive game for Republicans, determined to avoid their stumbles last year when they lost the political battle over renewing Obama's payroll tax cut.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is making campaign promises that could produce an economic miracle ? or a more predictable list of broken vows.Ann McFeatters at The Dickinson Press:
Romney says he wants to put the nation on a path to a balanced budget while also cutting an array of taxes, building up the Navy and Air Force and adding 100,000 active-duty military personnel. He says he would slash domestic spending and reduce tax loopholes but has offered few details.
His comments raise eyebrows in Congress, long accustomed to easier-said-than-done promises. And even some conservatives have their doubts.
And now we have the great loosening-up campaign.Jules Whitcover at The Chicago Tribune:
The problem? Nobody can really imagine living next door to Mitt Romney, let alone exchanging house keys with him in case of emergency. That is how Howard Baker, the Republican former senator from Tennessee and all-around good guy, once described a hypothetical perfect presidential candidate.
So now that Romney has locked in the GOP nomination, his staff is trying desperately to make him seem more normal. It will be many moons before this capitalist wears a tie again.
It was going to happen anyway, but Mitt Romney's wealth and history as a healer of troubled corporations doubly assures that this year's presidential campaign will see a return in spades to good old "class warfare." [...]Frank Bruni in The New York Times:
Whether class warfare is the rich taking advantage of the poor, as the Democrats paint the issue, or the poor enviously blaming the hard-working rich, as the Republican like to define it, the stage is set for another rerun of the debate that has fueled both parties at least since the days of FDR's New Deal.
Well before then, the progressive notions of Republican President Theodore Roosevelt and his trust-busting campaign against "malefactors of great wealth" cast the rich as persecutors of the working man. Indeed, TR also preached that the greedy rich industrialists imperiled the very existence of the country in which they practiced their selfish creed.
Decades later, however, the Democrats laid claim with a vengeance to the class warfare argument. In the midst of the Great Depression, as Wall Street fat cats took one-way leaps out the windows of Manhattan skycrapers and the jobless formed breadlines in the streets below, warfare between the classes became a staple of American politics.
FOR a long time and for a lot of us, ?college? was more or less a synonym for success. We had only to go. We had only to graduate. And if we did, according to parents and high-school guidance counselors and everything we heard and everything we read, we could pretty much count on a career, just about depend on a decent income and more or less expect security. A diploma wasn?t a piece of paper. It was an amulet.
And it was broadly accessible, or at least it was spoken of that way. With the right mix of intelligence, moxie and various kinds of aid, a motivated person could supposedly get there. College was seen as a glittering centerpiece of the American dream, a reliable engine of social mobility.
I?m not sure things were ever that simple, but they?re definitely more complicated now. And that was an unacknowledged backdrop for the pitched debate last week about federal student loan rates and whether they would be kept at 3.4 percent or allowed to return to 6.8 percent. That was one reason, among many, that it stirred up so much anxiety and got so much attention.
On Sunday Remarks by Former Official Fuel Israeli Discord on Iran? By JODI RUDOREN The recently retired chief of Israel's internal security agency accused the government of "misleading the public" about the likely effectiveness of an aerial strike on[...]
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