Researchers at CMU continue to make the case for small battery hybrids and plug-ins as a smarter way to reduce pollution and oil dependence, and incentivizing large battery EVs is the wrong policy. The 10kWh batteries on Lighting Motorcycles are now solar-charged and winning races. These stories and lots of photos this week.
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IT'S PERSONAL: Amtrak V Air Travel

America’s Amtrak passenger train service isn’t the TGV in France or the Shinkansen in Japan, but it has one thing going for it: for many short-length trips, it’s a lot more convenient and hassle-free than airline travel. That’s what rising passenger numbers and plans to increase cars per train are proving. Ridership across the nationwide system set new records in the first half of 2012.

Reasons cited include access to WiFi on the train, the ability to use your cellphone, and far fewer hassles actually getting on and off the train. At 90 mph trains may be slower than a 500 mph jetliner, but the far more relaxed atmosphere of train travel and city-center to city-center convenience can, and for increasing numbers of passengers does, outweigh the longer travel time, especially if you can actually be productive during that time.

That’s what I’ve discovered the handful of times I’ve ridden Amtrak on the East Coast; between New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. and once up to Providence, RI with my wife for our 40th wedding anniversary. The contrast between spacious passenger cars -- at least in the business section -- and cramped airliners is profound. Given the choice and considering the distance, I’ll take the train over the plane any day.


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