FROM Geoff Wardle
Expo Line and Hyperloop The long-awaited Expo Line extension to Santa Monica opens this weekend. It’s the culmination of 20 years of work by activists, legislators and transportation planners and engineers, and promises a 45-minute ride between downtown LA and downtown Santa Monica. But what’s the next step once you get to station? Santa Monica’s Mobility Manager explains. While many Angelenos are revving up for the first train to the beach in over 60 years, some transit dreamers are working on a vehicle that would leave light rail in the dust. Last week the LA company Hyperloop One conducted a test of the concept for rapid travel initiated by Tesla founder Elon Musk. It involves propelling passengers in pods through a vacuum tube at a speed of about 600 miles per hour and would cut travel time between LA and San Francisco to a half hour. So while we’re celebrating the extension of the Expo Line, should we be focused on newer transit technology? Is the future of a travel a marriage of the public and private sector?
Fast Train, Budget Drain More than five years ago, voters in California overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to approve selling bonds for a groundbreaking high-speed rail project. Legal woes have stalled funding for the train, and now the governor wants to help pay for it with proceeds from the state's cap-and-trade law. However, not everybody’s on board. Support for a bullet train has waned, to the point that more people now want the project halted, than to go on.
Will China Define the Cars of This Century? 20 years ago, almost nobody drove a car in China. Now it is the world’s biggest car market, and is turning itself into the biggest manufacturer of homespun cars. Build Your Dreams is a China-U.S. company that started life a few years ago as a manufacturer of batteries, for cell phones and flashlights, and then for cars. You won’t find its electric E6 at your local showroom; instead BYD will sell its cars and shuttle buses in fleets to companies like Hertz where they can install their charging stations. Eventually, the company may manufacture cars and batteries in the U.S. but meanwhile has opened an office of around 20 people in downtown Los Angeles. As director of Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center College Of Design in Pasadena, Geoff Wardle has been tracking the Chinese car industry. He explains that even though China is quickly acquiring technology, to get design savvy they still have to venture overseas. China’s future auto industry is actually being shaped in Art Center's transportation design studio. Frances speaks with Chao Feng, a 26-year-old Beijing native and the first student from Mainland China to attend Art Center's Department of Automotive Design. He explains how China became so car-crazed and why some Chinese schools are now starting their own auto design departments. Build Your Dreams EBus concept being used in a Hertz fleet An Acura concept car that Chao Feng is designing at Art Center's transportation design department Sketches and models for a car concept Chao Feng was asked to design for the Chinese government The car Feng designed was inspired by the yin yang symbol, prevalent in Chinese culture
Accusations of lying fly between James Comey and White House During his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey accused President Trump and other White House officials of lying when they said the FBI was in disarray and its staff had lost confidence in him. President Trump’s lawyer said Comey was wrong -- that the president never asked for his loyalty, and never asked him to back off the investigation into former NSA director Michael Flynn.
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.