New Buses for Managua

I had the opportunity to view some of the bid documents and specifications for this bus acquisition in my meeting at IRTRAMMA. They were quite technical (e.g. finite element analysis of different bus components), and it seems like the government is satisfied that DINA, a Mexican manufacturer, will meet their requirements. Translated from “Buses nuevos vendrán en cinco meses,” published February 3rd on El 19 Digital, an online news source for President Ortega’s government:

By the middle of this year the first lot of buses coming from Mexico will enter the country, and by next October it is expected that all of the 350 units will be circulating in the capital to benefit some 350,000 Nicaraguans. The announcement was made by the director of Managua’s Municipal Transport Regulator (IRTRAMMA), comrade Francisco Alvarado, after signing the manufacturing contract with Mr. Martín Meléndez, representative of the Mexican company DINA Trucks Ltd.

These buses will have a capacity for 70 people (40 seated) and will be acquired by different urban transport cooperatives of the capital, whose representatives seemed satisfied with the entire bidding process, which concluded this Thursday with the signing of a contract equivalent to approximately $24 million, money financed by the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (BCIE) and managed by the government of President Daniel Ortega Saavedra.

“For DINA Trucks and for Mexico as a whole it is a pride to participate in this purchase of buses for the people of Nicaragua,” said Meléndez, the representative of the Mexican company.

He said that these new buses will be fabricated with the climactic and topographic conditions of Nicaragua in mind and “that all the citizens of Managua and Nicaragua should have the confidence that they can count on buses of the first world, of extraordinary quality, and that they will benefit.” Ten percent of all of the buses will be manufactured with a system of special lifts for people who use wheelchairs.

“By the end of this year Managua will totally transform its fleet and with that its model of municipal transit,” assured Alvarado.

Luis Jiménez, a bus owner, said that improving and transforming the system of buses in Managua could only happen under the direction of a Sandinista Government.

“The strength which the revolutionary government has used in these negotiations is excellent. We have ordered a bus that will have excellent technical features and at the right price, and that will benefit the people foremost,” said Jiménez.

The political overtones of this article make more sense when one considers that Nicaragua’s next presidential elections are scheduled for November. With an election looming, I am confident that most or all of the buses will actually be operating by October. This means the demand for US school buses in Nicaragua will have declined significantly by then. It also means that IRTRAMMA should consider changing its logo, which currently features a yellow school bus complete with a stop sign:

IRTRAMMA logo

IRTRAMMA logo

Fear, Inc.

Excerpt from a great post at TomDispatch:

Since September 11th, terror in the US has rated above fatalities from shark attacks and not much else. Since the economic meltdown of 2008, it has, in fact, been left in the shade by violent deaths that stem from reactions to job loss, foreclosure, inability to pay the rent, and so on.

This is seldom highlighted in a country perversely convulsed by, and that can’t seem to get enough of, fantasies about being besieged by terrorists. [Read the full post here]

Rep. Campbell and the Whackos

Thomas on CNN

My friend Thomas, who works for Facebook, was on CNN! He’s about one minute into the video above.

President Obama!

20090120_104

I didn’t end up making it to DC for today’s historic inauguration, but watching with 250 fellow students here at Swarthmore ended up being pretty exhilirating (and much warmer).  Former Vice President Cheney looked absolutely neutered in his wheelchair, and his injuries provoked some cheers from the crowd.  Luckily, the shots of President Bush only provoked one thrown shoe.

Obama Letdown

Santa Ana Freeway

The Santa Ana Freeway - Will LaHood work for mass transit alternatives or expansion and induced demand?

I was well aware that President-elect Obama wouldn’t be able to live up to the high expectations that many people, including myself, had of him.  This week, however, has been a particularly rough one.  Monday’s announcement of his “Green Team” was lacking a Transportation Secretary.  As Streetsblog reports,

“Obama still hasn’t made the transportation – land use – climate connection,” Petra Todorovich, director of Regional Plan Association’s America 2050 program said. “It’s clear he’s thinking about these things in separate categories.”

When he did fill the spot, public transportation and livable streets advocates were not particularly pleased.  Most sources report LaHood to be pretty cozy with the highway lobby.  It’s disappointing to have such a valuable spot in the cabinet go to a politician who is not very progressive.  Again, from the Streetsblog report:

“This sends the message that the transportation secretary is a throw-away political appointment who doesn’t matter,’ said a city transportation official who, like others, asked to remain anonymous to preserve their relationship with the U.S. DOT. “This is the slot for the token Republican. It’s the bottom of the barrel. A bone you can throw.”

And to top it all off, it comes out that Rick Warren will be given the honor of giving the inauguration’s invocation.  I apologize on behalf of Orange County, but at least the conversations behind the decision have been made public.

Bush Christmas Video

I’m unhappy that my tax dollars are going to fund this vomit-inducing video.  I’m even more unhappy that Barney Laura decided not to include my favorite ornament in the decorations.  Apparently the sentiment that “America cannot regain its moral leadership in the world if America cannot hold its leaders accountable for their actions at home” is not patriotic enough for “A Red, White, and Blue Christmas.”

An Eroding Mission at EPA | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/07/2008

An Eroding Mission at EPA

The Bush administration has weakened the agency charged with safeguarding health and the environment.

An Eroding Mission at EPA | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/07/2008.