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Voices from the Rail~Volution (2010)

Streetfilms was out in Portland at this year's Rail~Volution 2010 trying to get a pulse on the transportation world by talking to a healthy dose of this year's attendees which includes advocates, bloggers, transportation planners, industry spokespeople and members transportation agencies across the country.  Among those we heard from was Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who helped push Rail~Volution - now in its 20th year - to national prominence in 1995.  Well over a thousand folks attended the four-day event.

In addition, almost 500 of them came to Portland's famous Bagdad Theater to watch a program of short films on the big screen, eight of which were Streetfilms!  Our fan base and influence continues to grow as Streetfilms is looked to as an inspiration and educational tool among our peers.  It's a great feeling.


Tanya Snyder:  [00:13] Hi, I’m Tanya Snyder, the Capitol Hill Editor of Streetsblog, and I’m here at Rail-Volution in Portland, Oregon.  We’re talking to some of the movers and shakers of the sustainable transportation movements that are coming up with some of the most innovative ideas about liveable cities, walkable, bikeable communities.  We are going to be talking to Congressman Earl Blumenauer and we’re also going to talk to some people that you may not have heard of before, like Seattle’s Bus Chick that writes a blog about riding the bus. 


Rep. Earl Blumenauer:  [00:41] This is the 20th time we’ve brought people together to think about how they revitalise their communities, how they work together, sharing the ideas that they’ve generated, developing new techniques, and getting inspiration from one another. 


Mary Simon:  [00:54] Rail-Volution is not just about one kind of transit, it’s about buses, it’s about streetcars, it’s about pedestrian issues, it’s about bicycles, it’s about figuring out how all these modes fit together.  We have something like 21 mobile workshops.  We’ve had three all day sharrettes, four big broad general sessions that kind of set the big ideas, 60 individual sessions.  And we have, you know, the hallways where people really do all their work. 


Jeff Wood:  [01:18] What’s going on in the United States is pretty exciting.  Places like Salt Lake City and Denver, who have actually passed massive funding measures, I’m calling it the transit space race.  Basically all these folks are competing against each other to build the next biggest system.  But it’s also a challenge because they’re also looking at the same funding pot, which is fairly limited from the Federal Government and locally as well.


Circe Torruellas:  [01:38] Right now in DC we feel that there’s been a lot of changes, just a lot of excitement in terms of transportation, there’s a lot of new services.  We have the DC Circulator, the Capital Bike Share Programme and just projects that we have in the city such as the DC Streetcars. 


Carlos Babcock:  [01:53] In San Jose we’ve got Diridon Station that’s going to get a high speed rail, BART extension, electrification of Caltrain, all coming together in Downtown San Jose.  So we’re trying to make it more bike friendly.  So this has been a great, great opportunity to see what’s out there. 


Chris Smith:  [02:08] Well I think we’re in an era when folks are seeing that, you know, the economy is in a different place than it’s been for a long time.  We have to make different choices, transit and a low car lifestyle, so a much more affordable choice for a lot of people.  So we’re seeing people migrate to transit, to bikes, to alternative forms where they either can own one less car or they can run their car less, put less gas in the tank.


Carla Saulter:  [02:30] We always talk about transit as a [unintelligible 02:31] subsidy and yet we have subsidised this car system for the last 50 years and I would love to see the Federal Government step up and start encouraging and developing a system that is as extensive as the highway system for transit, so in cities and then between cities. 


Jeff Wood:  [02:46] There’s some pretty exciting stuff going on like in Los Angeles with Mayor Villaraigosa’s 3010 Programme where he’s asking the Federal Government to help them out to build stuff faster. 


Rep. Earl Blumenauer:  [02:56] It is important for us to change the Federal partnership so that the Federal Government works with us more efficiently and we can extract that value and be able to do things quicker and more targeted.  The Federal Government is already moving in this direction with the Obama Administration, but I, I would like to see us get the legislation passed so it gives us a six year framework. 


Lynne Goldsmith:  [03:18] We realise we needed to reduce our fuel consumption.  We realise we’ve got an air quality problem.  We realise that people need more exercise.  So we’re incorporating all benefits, air quality, health, transportation, and we’re looking at different ways of doing things.


Carla Saulter:  [03:39] What’s kind of great about being in Portland is just how easy it is to get on a streetcar, look at the map, know where you’re going.  A lot of bus systems, a lot of cities don’t have that kind of funding to have streetcars and dedicated rails, but what can we do to make bus systems as useable, how can we think about maps and stops, pre-paying, things that make the ride faster and easier. 


Michelle Dibblee:  [04:00] It seems to me that if we’re looking 50/150 years ahead that anybody, regardless of what party they belong to, needs to be looking ahead and investment and there are existing infrastructure and are looking at infrastructure that actually will work for the long haul and help us to not move backwards to the 1950s, but move ahead to the 2050s. 


Jeff Wood:  [04:18] We’re going to have to look for new sources of funding, maybe that’s through value capture, through real estate funding or maybe it’s through asking for gas tax increases or changing to percentages or whatever, but I think that’s something that we’re going to have to think about if we’re going to go forward.


Rep. Earl Blumenauer:  [04:30] All across America, when people understand what’s at stake, they approve local initiatives by a three to one margin.  And the combination of that willingness to invest coupled with the ability to spend what we’ve got more wisely makes me believe that we can do this right.   

Transcript Divas Transcription Canada

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • http://crankmychain.com Dan Kaufman (CrankMyChain.tv)

    Wow, Clarence when did you have time to put this all together so fast. Nice work on an important subject and conference. Thanks Railvolution and Streetfilms for coming back to Portland.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/edpino Ed Pino

    Again great work. Could you send this link to the NY Post who wrote a terrible op ed piece on the new bike path in Bklyn. More people need to see what the rest of the country and world are doing 

  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

    Rock Out! Good job. You can get lots more moolah for health care, education... and sustainable transport if you get your govt. to stop spending so much on the military! One new jet fighter costs the same as about 30 three-section LRTs, etc...

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-epstein Joel Epstein

    Great film. Helped me feel like I was there. Appreciated hearing the good, informed voices from all over.