2.5.06

*** News Flash ***

Gas prices affect the economy first, and our lifestyle choices run a distant second. That said, if prices continue to climb (and they will), transit ridership will go up, fuel effeciency will go up, and the cost of living will go up for those who commute a long distance. All of this adds up to environmentally sustainable cities -- in the very long term.

For more rapid change, consult your local ballot box.

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And here's a Wall Street Journal article about the effects of gas price on transit. What fun to quote from a source that actually quotes the American Petroleum Institute. (Have you seen Thank You for Smoking?)

Even Americans who want to slash their gasoline use will find it hard to do so in a society built on cheap energy, where far-flung suburbs and powerful cars are the rule. "If you've got to drive to work every day, you've got to drive to work every day," says John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's Washington-based trade group.

The limits of mass transit add to the difficulty of cutting fuel consumption. Though nationwide figures aren't yet available, many systems around the country are reporting significant increases in passengers, says William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association. In Washington, where his group is based, the Metrorail transit system reports that three of the 14 busiest days in its history occurred the third week in April. The problem: Public transit isn't available in much of the U.S. and doesn't match the commutes of many Americans in places where it exists.

Research suggests it takes years for higher gas prices to meaningfully damp consumption. Opinions differ, but many experts say that, in the short term, the "price elasticity" of U.S. gasoline use is as low as 0.1. That means gas prices have to rise 10% to produce an initial 1% drop in demand.

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And here's yesterday's Star Tribune bit about transportation costs for outer-ring 'burbs.

A new study of the Twin Cities area commissioned by the Brookings Institution shows that transportation costs -- including the need for more cars -- can be twice as high in outer-ring suburban communities than in the city, where buses and light rail are available.

For example, researchers placed a typical Farmington family's monthly transportation costs at $941. That compares to $715 in Fridley and $446 in the Longfellow and Seward areas of Minneapolis.


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And here's a link to last week's MPR Midmorning show on redistricting. Election reform is the most important kind of reform, though Minnesota is nowhere near the list of least-competitively redistricted states

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And, from today's Strib, more news on this De La Salle field business. Apparently the stadium opponents (no, not those stadium opponents) are getting quite a quorum together. It's going to be a traditional Minneapolis connection-off, pitting wealthy historical preservationsists against Catholic soccer moms. Who do you think has the moral high ground?

Keillor is scheduled to headline a star-filled fundraiser May 21 for opponents of the planned football field. For their part, DeLaSalle supporters are now sending Keillor e-mails and pondering whether to picket the debut of the movie based on his radio show.

Keillor, who lives in St. Paul, became involved at the behest of singer Prudence Johnson, who lives on the island in Minneapolis and said she asked for his help, but now expresses some regret about pulling her friend into the fray.

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