The new digital clocks that inform riders of the next train are a big plus. Other cities have had this for a long time. The importance of the clocks is that now there is a face to the on-time train and the late train. What changes like this bring is a sense of accountability. Our city may never have the cleanliness of Canadian subways, but New Yorkers want to be on time - we’re a city on the go at all hours.
Another good strategy that the MTA is using more often is advertising on the outside of the train, through skins that attach to the exterior. A giant Clairol ad rolling by might not be the definition of class, but if it’s clean and new and saves a little money…good enough.
I say that I like these improvements, even after the Metrocard system ripped me off this weekend. For a holiday weekend, I got to where I had to – even though I paid $5 per ride. This system has to work for us, especially now with gas prices being what they are.
Energy and States
I ride commuter buses, as well as drive a total of three hours each day. Gas prices are sky high, and although I feel the pinch, I would not say that Barack Obama will absorb much of the blame. People in politics who think that this issue will hurt Obama are counting on the public seeing him as responsible, they way they blamed Bush the last time this happened. No president wants gas prices to go up. It hurts the economy that they oversee. But where we go from here is what will make all the difference.
Why are all of our new cars not hybrid vehicles? Even now, there are brand new cars that are strictly gasoline. If we are waiting for prices to drop, we are delusional. Even if they drop, we are susceptible to OPEC changing the game whenever it wishes. Aren’t we tired of this? When do we hit back economically?
Why doesn’t a state like New York take up the issue and say that every new car that gets registered in this state, starting in 2020, absolutely has to be a hybrid car? Just one state doing this would push the American automakers to innovate.
We can mix diesel and biodiesel into a blend to make a cleaner-burning, homegrown fuel. If that diesel engine was then combined with a battery, there would be three energy sources that move our cars; biodiesel, diesel, and battery. Battery operated cars are primarily charged with coal, but that can change with solar charging. If this happens, the price of gasoline will drop with the lower demand for it, and we can at least claim a bigger piece of our future.
The Japanese car companies might be making better hybrids right now, but they are not making the triple-threat type of car with biofuels and batteries. This is the time for Detroit to step it up.
Will He Run?
I have never been caught up in the idea that Michael Bloomberg was seriously considering a run for the presidency. One of the reasons to doubt a run by the mayor is simple, he loves being in New York. Washington is an entirely different universe. Bloomberg loves his universe so much that he continues to live in his own townhouse. Now, however, there is a real feeling that he might be thinking about a run.
Remember that if the mayor runs for president he would most likely run as an independent, Ross Perot style. That is the kind of campaign that would fit his politics. It is one thing for Bloomberg to align himself with the Republican Party in New York City. It is an entirely different thing to run as a national GOPer, which he would just not do.
As an independent, and heavily financed with his own money, he could jump into the race a little later than the others. No obsessing over Iowa and telling farmers how much he loves corn. Nope, this would be the independent campaign that could afford to not jump through those hoops.
What Perot had that Bloomberg does not is a national push. There were people in every state that were excited about Perot; Bloomberg does not have that mechanism in place. Perot gained national exposure to the masses through the Phil Donohue Show, where he occasionally made appearances. Bloomberg, however, could appeal to a wider base than Perot.
Where Perot capitalized on frustrated conservatives and centrist Democrats that were concerned about the economy, Bloomberg would get some of that population as well as environmental voters. Bloomberg has a track record of taking on interests in education, the environment, and in paying down debt. The anxiety about Perot was that he never held office. Bloomberg has managed the city for nine years.
I still say the smart money is on Mike Bloomberg staying in New York and being the most popular Red Sox fan in the city, but if the climate changes for the president, those odds will change. Bloomberg can wait a long time to see where Obama is in the next year with our economy. Obama is still the odds-on favorite to win in 2012, regardless of gas prices and Libya. But things change fast at the national level, and Bloomberg can turn around and jump in with a team in place and change everything.