We're currently arguing in suburban DC (Maryland) over whether to have light rail or rapid-transit bus from Montgomery County to Prince George's county. Light rail is winning. I favor light rail too.
Light rail is less flexible, and that is a good thing. Transit authorities can't dismantle the routes when it suits them. Rapid-bus transit makes areas a lot less walkable with all the additional lanes. My area is walkable and highly congested, and it would do better to but light rail underground, not add lanes to already overcrowded residential streets. BRT seems more suitable for sprawling western cities, not highly dense northeastern cities.
How can we stop the Collins and Nelson in the future from hijacking perfectly good bills? When we get Franken it will help - that will give us 58 votes (sans Nelson). I think Olympia Snowe would have voted for the house version of the bill without the stupid Collins-Nelson amendment. That's 59. That leaves us with Specter and newly-minted senator Newman. Now, I doubt Specter would have voted for the House bill, but he might have with a few small concessions. I have no idea what Newman will do. She might be the second coming of Olympia Snowe. If she is, we may be able to stop the Senate centrists.
The Democrats are much too wimpy for this. I'd also like the size of the House of Representatives to be increased. Congressmen have such large and populous districts that they inevitable have to represent such diverse constituencies that they have to walk a narrow line. What this means in practice is that incumbents are kept in office with corporate cash, instead of having to represent an a impossible to represent district. If you make districts smaller, the influence of lobbyists will be diminished, and gerrymandering will be made more difficult.
Pennsylvania has 12 Democrats and 7 Republicans. We will lose one seat after the 2010 census. That seat will probably come from the western part of the state. We might be able to get rid of Tim Murphy, but that would be dangerous. Murtha and Altmire would not be able to hang on forever. One intriguing idea would be to give Tim Murphy the conservative portions of PA-03, and give the Democrat Dahlkemper liberal Centre county.
In the east it will be a cinch to redistrict Republican Gerlach out of Congress. Give the most conservative portions of rural western Chester county (keeping Phoenixville and Coatesville) to Joe Pitts in PA-16, leaving Gerlach with an unwinnable district. Sestak and Murphy will be probably be OK with minor changes, but it might be necessary to open up the hyper-Democratic Philly districts for a little buffer.
Carney in PA-10, and Kanjorski in PA-11 are on their own. Their districts can't be made more Democratic. Republican Charlie Dent in PA-15 just needs a decent challenger.
I'm in Pennsylvania. My sleeper races are Mark McCracken in an open seat in PA-05, and Sam Bennett in PA-15. PA-05 is on no one's radar right now, but internal polls show that McCracken is tied with Glenn Thompson. It's a conservative mountain district that covers north-central Pennsylvania and includes the main Penn State campus. I think it's the second-largest district east of the Mississippi. Mountain districts like this are more favorable to Democrats then the lowland-exurban districts in Pennsylvania and has a decent number of local Democratic officials. I have no doubt that the Penn State students will come out for Obama, but I'm not sure if they will fill out the entirety of their ballots.
Sam Bennett is running in a district Kerry won in the Lehigh Valley. The Lehigh Valley is a swing region. She's raised about 50% of what the incumbent has raised. I think Obama might drag her over the line - Biden and Obama are popular in the district. I suspect the huge leads we see in Pennsylvania polls have a lot to do with Obama's improvement in the historically Democratic, but Republican-trending Lehigh Valley.