Streams

Houston Contemplating Natural Gas-Powered Buses

Thursday, March 31, 2011

(Houston--Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) Over the last 10-15 years or so, transit agencies across the country have been switching to natural gas technology to fuel their bus fleets. Many cite the rising price of oil as an incentive for the shift. In Los Angeles, nearly 100 percent of the bus fleet runs on natural gas-powered vehicles. Transit officials there estimate that ditching diesel-fueled buses has slashed nearly 300,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per day. Other major cities, such as Chicago, are also considering adding CNG buses to their systems. Now, Houston's jumping on the bandwagon. . . well, maybe.

Houston's Metro has just launched a study into the viability of natural gas-fueled buses. Right now, Metro operates around 1250 buses, more than a quarter of  which are diesel-electric hybrids. The question is whether it would make sense to diversify the fleet with other kinds of alternative technologies. “One thing that’s happened is, all these technologies have come closer together in terms of their environmental impact," said Metro president and CEO George Greanias at today's board meeting. "They all work better in terms of keeping the environment as pristine as possible.”

The study will help determine what the overall cost will be for operating and maintaining a bus that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). Greanias notes that cost factors, such as the price of CNG, are some of the big questions the study will address. "Can we control the cost factor better with a CNG vehicle?" he wonders. "But on the other side of the coin, there’s also significant infrastructure up front that you have to use with CNG technology.”

Metro tested natural gas buses a decade ago, but found it was too costly for the agency. Back then, the fleet had four CNG buses. They were converted into diesel-electric hybrids in 2002. But the technology has advanced a lot since then, which why METRO is taking another look.

Greanias says, in addition to cost, Metro will have to weigh the environmental benefits of CNG against other fuels, such as the hybrid technology that the agency has already adopted. Metro will also have to decide if it would be best to use the same technology across the entire fleet, or if it would work to mix it up a bit. “Right now we've been moving in a single direction," he says, referencing the diesel-electric hybrids. "As we go forward, will we want to expand that and have one or two or three different options?[That raises] operational questions and maintenance questions.”

Metro board member Christof Spieler stresses that it's important the agency not rush into anything. "When we’re buying a new bus it’s not like buying a new car; this is a 12 year commitment. We want to keep these buses on the road. So when we’re making a decision now it’s going to have ramifications for a long time to come.”

METRO expects to have the results of the natural gas study by autumn.

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NY Congressman Mocks Himself on Parking Ticket Debt

Thursday, March 31, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) NY Congressman Anthony Weiner is seen as "a contenda" in New York's next Mayoral election (okay, in 2013, but people need something to talk about while we're waiting for spring).

The youngish outer-borough congressmember got lots of airtime (and kudos from the kind of people who vote in Democratic primaries for Mayor)  for supporting a public option in health care reform.

But he has been in hot water in some communities for telling the New York Times that he said at a Mayoral dinner: "When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing? I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your (expletive) bike lanes.”  (He later tweeted that he was "joking.")

Then, Roll Call found he owed $2,180 in DC parking tickets -- an embarrassment since he's been particularly vocal about United Nations diplomats failing to pay their parking tickets.   He jokes about it in this video at the Congressional Correspondents Dinner.

Rehabilitating himself?

Via Azi, in the New York Observer Politicker

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The K Train Rides Again -- If Only In the Roll Sign

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The K train lives on -- if only on the roll sign (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) When I first began riding the rails in New York City, riders could take the K train from 168th Street to the World Trade Center. But because it duplicated existing lines (the C and the E), the MTA took the route out of service in the 1980s.

But this morning I saw an out-of-service train roll by me on the 81st Street B/C station this morning -- flashing the K sign. Was it a test? Is the MTA planning on bringing the K back?

In a word: no. Unlike, say, Adam Ant's comeback tour, the K train is not slated to roll again this decade. An MTA spokesman told me that even if a line is eliminated, it lives on in the car's roll sign. So what I saw was nothing more than a 80s flashback.

____________________________________________________

How might a revamped K train work? Check out this conversation at NYC Transit Forums.

And want to buy a vintage roll sign of your very own? The MTA's got them.

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What's Up With Those Inter-City Bus Investigations? The Latest Here

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alex Goldmark and Soterios Johnson discuss the lastest on the ever-growing list of investigations into the safety of the burgeoning long-haul bus industry. Listen here.

Bonus: hear Senator Frank Lautenberg read the news bulletin.

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TN Moving Stories: Philadelphia Planning Center City Bike Lanes, NYS Passes Budget, and Will Atlantans Vote Together as a Region...For Transit?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two north-south bike lanes are being planned for Philadelphia's Center City. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

New York State's just-passed budget allots $8.5 billion for transportation spending. (Albany Times-Union)

Members of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) named Montana/Wyoming's Beartooth Highway their top scenic route. (Cody Enterprise)

Motorcycles on the Beartooth Highway (Kate Skegg/Flickr)

The head of the 34th Street Partnership supports the NYC Department of Transportation's plan for revamping the street. (NY1)

A Straphangers survey found that announcements on New York City subways are mostly clear and accurate - except when there's unexpected trouble on the line. (NY Daily News)

Ohio can use private dollars to help pay for public road and other infrastructure projects, thanks to the $6.8 billion transportation bill that Gov. John Kasich signed into law during a public ceremony yesterday. (Columbus Dispatch)

The Atlanta region has put together a wish list of transportation projects that could change the region on a large scale, linking formerly isolated suburbs in Gwinnett and Cobb counties to MARTA with rail lines.  To get there, though, voters in the region’s 10 counties and 68 cities will have to do something they’ve never done before: vote together as a region. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

California wants all of the $2.43 billion in federal high-speed rail funds recently rejected Florida’s governor. (Los Angeles Times)

A Florida air traffic controller supervisor has been suspended after officials said he compromised the safety of passengers by letting two planes fly too close to each other, officials said. (ABC News)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: KALW's Casey Miner talked about her personal car-sharing experience on The Takeaway. President Obama talked about energy security -- and the gas tax.  Tougher DUI bills edge closer to becoming Montana law. And the federal DOT took the Super Luxury Tours bus company out of business.

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WEDNESDAY: Personal Car-Sharing on the Takeaway

Thursday, March 31, 2011

http://www.flickr.com/photos/randychiu/3503567616/sizes/m/in/photostream/

When you really think about it, you probably don't use your car all that much.  You drive to work – then leave your car in the lot all day while you’re inside. Or you leave town for a few days – then don’t use your car for the next three weeks. Meanwhile, plenty of other people don’t have cars, but sometimes need them.

Three new companies in the San Francisco Bay Area – Getaround, RelayRides, and Spride Share – are trying to match those idle cars with people who want to drive them. Each model is a little different, but the basic idea is the same: when you’re not using your car, you can rent it out to anyone who needs it. And if you need a car? You can rent anything from your neighbor's station wagon to a brand-new Tesla Roadster.

Transportation Nation's Casey Miner will be on The Takeaway this  morning to talk about personal car-sharing-- listen below! And catch her full story later that day on KALW News.

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Roundup: Bus Safety in the Senate, FMCSA Takes Super Luxury Out of Service

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The Senate Commerce Committee held a wide-ranging hearing on motor coach safety Wednesday. You can watch an archived webcast here.

During the hearing New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg announced the company that operated one of the buses involved in this month's deadly crashes was taken out of service. National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman also updated the committee on federal investigations, including a mention that calls one driver's version of events into doubt.  Read the full story at WNYC.

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News Analysis: As Political Climate Shifts, Obama Energy Policy Holds

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

((Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)   At the almost-end of the 2008 presidential primary season -- May, 2008 -- gasoline prices went through the roof , up to $5 a gallon in some areas of the country.  The price hike prompted near-panic, along with car-pooling, more mass transit rides, more careful grocery lists (just one trip to the supermarket) -- and a very big policy debate.

As it happened,  Hillary Clinton, fighting the last days of the primary, got behind a gas tax cut.  Most economists dismissed the idea -- not only would the gas tax cut simply disappear in the rising price of gasoline, they argued, but it would also bankrupt the already broke highway trust fund.

Barack Obama did not get behind the gas tax cut, even though, as I trailed the two candidates through the rolling hills of Indiana, cutting the gas tax got some of the biggest whoops of any proposals during Hillary Clinton's speeches.  Obama called it a gimmick.

He still thinks so, today.

"We’ve been down this road before," he told an enthusiastic audience of Georgetown University students at a speech (video here) on energy security today. "Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon. Working folks haven’t forgotten that. It hit a lot of people pretty hard. But it was also the height of political season, so you had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas – when none of it would really do anything to solve the problem. Imagine that in Washington.

"The truth is, of course, was that all these gimmicks didn’t make a bit of difference. When gas prices finally fell, it was mostly because the global recession led to less demand for oil. Now that the economy is recovering, demand is back up. Add the turmoil in the Middle East, and it’s not surprising oil prices are higher. And every time the price of a barrel of oil on the world market rises by $10, a gallon of gas goes up by about 25 cents."

Indeed, President Barack Obama has had a remarkably consistent position on energy through his campaign and his presidency, even as the political climate has dramatically shifted.

In September of 2008, I was watching Rudy Giuliani give his address to the Republican National Convention with Congressman Peter King.  "Drill, Baby Drill," Giuliani said, as King cringed "we're not supposed to use the 'D-word,' we're supposed to say 'explore.'"  Still - the genie was out of the bottle. The crowd roared when Giuliani said that, and when Sarah Palin picked up the refrain during her acceptance of the Vice Presidential nomination later during the Minneapolis convention.

But despite the popularity of that slogan, talking about developing solutions to climate change and oil dependency was, in those days, a much more bi-partisan issue than it has since become.   Just two years later, In the elections of 2010, several Republicans won by practically spitting when mentioning Democratic support for what they called "cap and trade" legislation.

But Barack Obama?  In 2008, he supported a combination of nuclear power, alternative energy, and mass transit use.  Today?  He supports a combination of nuclear power, alternative energy, domestic oil drilling (the "Drill,Baby, Drill) part of his policy, and mass transit use.

"Seventy percent of our petroleum use goes to transportation," he said today."Seventy percent."

His speech today (full text here) made a careful argument.  We must, he posited, reduce oil consumption by a third in a decade.  To get there, he proposed, first, the US must exploit its own supplies -- "as long as it's safe and responsible."

"When it comes to drilling onshore,"  he added, in a line of argument that might surprise some of his 2008 primary voters -- "my Administration approved more than two permits last year for every new well that the industry started to drill.  So any claim that my Administration is responsible for gas prices because we’ve “shut down” oil production might make for a useful political sound bite – but it doesn’t track with reality.

And, then, in an adroit Obama-esque intellectual maneuver, he added "But let’s be honest – it’s not the long-term solution to our energy challenge.  America holds only about two percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.  And even if we drilled every drop of oil out of every one of those reserves, it still wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term needs."

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Tougher DUI Bills In MT Closer To Becoming Law

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(Helena, MT-Jackie Yamanaka, YPR) – A bill that would close a loophole in Montana law that allows suspected drunken drivers avoid taking a breath/blood test is one step closer to becoming law.

The Montana House of Representatives gave final approval to Senate Bill 42 after making a few changes. If the Montana Senate agrees, the final stop for the bill is Governor Brian Schweitzer’s desk.

The bill is part of a package of bills aimed at addressing DUI in Montana.

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Breaking: DOT Takes Super Luxury Tour Bus Company Out of Service

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This just in. The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking out of service one of the two so-called Chinatown bus companies involved in deadly crashes earlier this month.

Here's the statement from DOT:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Places Super Luxury Tours Bus Company Out-of-Service for Violating Federal Safety Regulations

FMCSA’s Investigation of Bus Company’s Involvement in Fatal New Jersey Crash Ongoing

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today placed Pennsylvania-based passenger bus company Super Luxury Tours out-of-service and suspended the company’s U.S. Department of Transportation operating authority for violating insurance requirements for commercial motor carriers. Under the out-of-service order, Super Luxury Tours is prohibited from operating in interstate transportation services.

“Safety is our number one priority,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro.  “FMCSA will use every available resource to pursue and shut down passenger bus companies that evade federal safety regulations and put motorists at risk.”

On March 14, 2011, Super Luxury Tours was involved in a fatal New Jersey Turnpike crash that killed two people. FMCSA’s investigation of the bus company’s involvement in the crash is ongoing.

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New Bi-Partisan Smart Tech Transportation Bill Introduced In House

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(Houston--Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, R-MI, and Russ Carnahan, D-MO, have introduced a new smart transportation technology bill (H.R. 995) into the House that would give six cities the opportunity to share in $1.2 billion dollars—as long as the money is used to fund innovative transportation technologies.

Cities would have to compete for the grants, which would be paid out over five years. “For far too long these great ideas about intelligent transportation have been sitting on the shelf, but have not been actually implemented into our national transportation strategy,” said Carnahan. “This, I think, is a very big step to get these technologies off the shelf and into American communities so we can really show their value.”

The SMART Technologies for Communities Act, which was discussed during today’s House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, would establish pilot programs in selected cities, where innovative tech solutions would be deployed and tested, such as electronic toll collection, vehicle to vehicle communication systems, and real-time traffic information applications. The goal would be to see whether these intelligent transportation systems (ITS) save money, reduce congestion and traffic collisions, and improve the overall quality of the city’s transportation system.

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Obama: Cut Oil Imports by a Third in the Next Decade

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(File Photo: Getty Images)

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) President Obama is vowing the U.S. will cut oil consumption by a third in the next decade.  Speaking before a group at Georgetown University, Obama said:  "So today, I’m setting a new goal: one that is reasonable, achievable, and necessary. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third."

To achieve this, Obama said, he would take several measures:  continue to expand domestic drilling, pursuing increased natural gas drilling while ensuring it didn't endanger oil supplies, and, as he put it, keeping nuclear power "on the table," because he said, nuclear power doesn't produce carbon.  But he said that must be done safely.

His biggest proposals, however, were on the consumption side. By 2015, he said, all federal cars purchased will be hybrid or electric.

"The fleet of cars and trucks we use in the federal government is one of the largest in the country.  That’s why we’ve already doubled the number of alternative vehicles in the federal fleet, and that’s why, today, I am directing agencies to purchase 100% alternative fuel, hybrid, or electric vehicles by 2015.  And going forward, we’ll partner with private companies that want to upgrade their large fleets."

Obama noted that even if the US were to drill "every drop" of U.S. oil, US oil only accounts for 2 percent of the world supply, while the US consumes 25 percent of the oil.  He also pointed out that 70 percent of US petroleum consumption comes from the transportation sector.

Most of the oil consumption part of the speech focused on alternative-fueled personal and commercial vehicles, but he did make reference to increasing mass transit options: " We’ve also made historic investments in high-speed rail and mass transit, because part of making our transportation sector cleaner and more efficient involves offering Americans – urban, suburban, and rural – the choice to be mobile without having to get in a car and pay for gas."

The administration has invested about $11 billion in high speed rail, and wants to spend more than $50 billion more.

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Report: One in Nine Bridges in America "Structurally Deficient, Potentially Dangerous"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Almost 70,000 bridges and overpasses in America are in need of serious maintenance or they could become dangerous according to a report released Wednesday by Transportation for America.

The transportation reform coalition study, The Fix We're in For: The State of the Nation's Bridges, found that "despite billions of dollars in annual federal, state and local funds directed toward the maintenance of existing bridges, 69,223 bridges – representing more than 11 percent of total highway bridges in the U.S. – are classified as “structurally deficient,” according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA)."

Structurally deficient bridges require significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement and can be subject to speed and weight restrictions, but they are not unsafe. President-Elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Andy Herman, pointed out, "the nation has a very efficient bridge inspection system ... every bridge is inspected every two years." Unsafe bridges are shut down or emergency repairs are immediately ordered.

But the slew of structurally deficient bridges pose a major financial burden on federal and state governments, and will increase in need as time goes on. The study points to the age of America's infrastructure: the average age of an American bridge is 42 years-old. "I think we all know that America's infrastructure is decidedly middle aged," said James Corless, Director of Transportation for America, in a press conference Wednesday. "Most, when they were built, were built for about a lifespan of 50." Many bridges are already older than that. Corless says, that suggests the problem will grow in the years ahead "if we don't address this soon."

The report looked at FHA data on the nation's nearly 600,000 bridges and overpasses. Transportation for America cites FHA statistics estimating $70.9 billion needed to address the backlog of deficient bridges, "far more than what we are currently spending," according to Corless.

Herman added, "right now we're just not spending enough on our bridges. If you look at the current budget that is actually being spent, it's about $10.5 billion per year on our bridges." He cited FHA estimates that call for about $17 billion in annual bridge maintenance spending.

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Obama: Time To Secure Energy Future

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Text Of President Barack Obama's Obama's Speech at Georgetown University:

We meet here at a tumultuous time for the world.  In a matter of months, we’ve seen regimes toppled and democracy take root across North Africa and the Middle East.  We’ve witnessed a terrible earthquake, catastrophic tsunami and nuclear emergency batter a strong ally and the world’s third largest economy.  And we’ve led an international effort in Libya to prevent a massacre and maintain stability throughout the broader region.

As Americans, we are heartbroken by the lives that have been lost as a result of these events. We are moved by the thirst for freedom in many nations, as well as the strength and perseverance of the Japanese people. And of course, it’s natural to feel anxious about what all this means for us.

One area of particular concern has been the cost and security of our energy.  In an economy that relies on oil, rising prices at the pump affect everybody – workers and farmers; truck drivers and restaurant owners.  Businesses see it hurt their bottom line.  Families feel the pinch when they fill up their tank.  For Americans already struggling to get by, it makes life that much harder

But here’s the thing – we’ve been down this road before.  Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon.  Working folks haven’t forgotten that.  It hit a lot of people pretty hard.  But it was also the height of political season, so you had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas – when none of it would really do anything to solve the problem.  Imagine that in Washington.

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TN Moving Stories: President to Speak About Energy Security, NY's MTA May Put Welfare Recipients To Work Cleaning Subways, and Birmingham Bus Cuts Held Off -- F

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President Obama will be speaking about energy security this morning at 11:20 am -- and TN will be live tweeting the speech. Follow along here. (And you can watch the president's speech here.)

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Atlanta's mayor and its City Council are at odds over transportation funding. (Atlanta Journal Constitution).

Bicycle shops on Manhattan's Upper West Side say they're losing customers because cyclists are avoiding Central Park due to the ticket blitz. (DNAinfo)

Speaking of tickets: Rep. Anthony Weiner, who's made himself a top New York parking scold by complaining about UN diplomats who fail to pay parking tickets, racked up a whopping $2,180 in violations himself in Washington, according to a report. (New York Post)

New York's cash-strapped MTA may soon put welfare recipients to work scrubbing and cleaning the subways. (NY Daily News)

Critics of San Francisco's $1.58 billion Central Subway have called it expensive and unnecessary; now they're calling it inefficient and unsafe. (San Francisco Examiner)

Vermont wants Florida's rejected high-speed rail money, bringing the total of states competing for it to at least 33. (Vermont Public Radio)

The Birmingham City Council today approved $1.8 million for mass transit, deferring a slashing of that city's bus service--at least for now. (The Birmingham News)

NPR looks at the how the Canadian oil bottleneck in Cushing, Oklahoma, affects gas prices.

And here's your bizarre car picture for the day.

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Houston Policy Makers Maintain Funding for Bike/Ped, But Give Rest to Roads

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) For the past month, local policy makers have been ruminating on whether it would be a good idea to renege on a promise to give $12.8 million dollars to certain bike and pedestrian-oriented projects. The money is part of a $345 million dollar pot of discretionary funding. Some goes to bike/ped projects, some to road/freight rail projects. The proposal to take that $12 million and put it toward road and freight rail project stemmed from the stark reality that resources for transportation projects in the Houston region are dwindling, and the view by many members of the Transportation Policy Council (TPC) that the funds would be better spent on highway improvements.

But the plan wasn’t received well by bike advocates who came out in large numbers to sign petitions and voice concerns during last month’s TPC meeting. So, after hearing from the public,  the proposal was shelved to allow time for more deliberation on how to split up the funds. That time ran out at this month's meeting where the issue finally came to a vote.

Listen the full story here.

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Ruth SoRelle and her husband Paul rode their bikes to the meeting. They joined dozens of other cycling advocates to hear how the TPC would vote. Before the meeting I asked Ruth SoRelle what she hoped the outcome would be. “We are not asking for extra money," she said, "we are asking for them to maintain the funding we have. We need to develop alternate ways of transportation. So if we develop bikeways and pedestrian walkways then we’ll accomplish that goal.”

In the end, the SoRelles got their wish. The TPC decided to preserve the money for bike/ped initiatives. But despite the seeming victory,

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NJ Gov Shames Bridge Commissioners Into Giving Up Free E-Z Pass

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Hope - Lamberville Toll Bridge over The Delaware River (Photo by: silatix / flckr creative commons)

(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Pay up.

That's what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in a September letter to about 300 state employees who'd been allowed to breeze through tolls for free on seven bridges spanning the Delaware River. The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which is an independent entity and didn't have to make the move, nevertheless voted yesterday to abide by the governor's wishes and eliminate free E-Z Pass privileges for non-work related crossings of the bridges.

The change, which the governor's office says will save $32,000 a year, is scheduled to take affect on May 2.

A statement from Christie says the move will also remove a source of populist resentment: “The granting of free passage to authority Commissioners, officers, employees or retirees, simply by virtue of their current or former employment, sends the wrong message to the toll paying public and represents yet another type of abuse common in New Jersey’s ‘shadow government.’"

The bridge commission joins five other state agencies, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in dropping the perks. The Port Authority announced in November that it would save $1.5 million a year by pulling free passes from its commissioners, retirees and non-union employees hired after 9/11. The Authority said no one from those three groups will have free passes after 2014, when it plans to move into a rebuilt World Trade Center.

The stricter rules come at a time of budget-tightening and after an outcry in 2008 at the widespread use of free passes at transportation agencies in New Jersey and New York.

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NYC Subway Map Becomes Digital Work of Musical Art

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York City Subway map

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) WNYC's Gallerina interviewed Alexander Chen, the musician/graphic designer who turned a 1972 version of the New York City subway map into a digital work of musical art.

"Each time two trains intersect, you hear the sound of a note being plucked on a cello -- turning the visuals into an abstract musical improvisation."

Read the story -- and watch the composition unfold -- over at WNYC.

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New App to Crowd-Source NYC Subway Delay Information

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Using the NYC MTA's information page, or any of the apps based on it can be an exercise in imagined bliss. On the one hand, it's thrilling to get information on subway status, and whether a line is running before setting out for a subway stop. On the other hand, the information can come late, or be insufficiently detailed.

Here at Transportation Nation, we've often asked ourselves why subway information isn't crowdsourced. If the A train is delayed, hundreds or thousands of riders know it before the MTA relays that information. Now Roadify, the Brooklyn-based app outfit that started crowdsourcing arrival data for the B-67 bus, is adding all NYC subways lines to its crowdsourcing system.

True, the subways aren't wired.  But Roadify's Dylan Goelz says the hope is that a combination of information coming in from above-ground riders, riders leaving the subway, and riders entering stations will create a more complete and immediate picture than the MTA's own info page.

Tell us how it's working!

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TN Moving Stories: Transit Cuts May Hit Minneapolis, DC, Following Canadian Oil's Tension-Filled Trek South, and Will Poetry Return to NY's Subways?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Will "Poetry in Motion" placards make a return to NYC's subway cars? Signs point to maybe. (New York Times)

If Congress cuts $150 million from DC's Metro, the agency's general manager says "the customers will really bear the burden...They will see the system deteriorating at a more rapid rate.” (Washington Post)

Twenty years from now, Canada may be supplying one-fourth of the US's oil needs. Which means more megaloads in Montana now. (NPR)

But Canadian drivers have their own problems: "In a new survey of major world cities by the Toronto Board of Trade, Toronto and Montreal have the worst commute times, worse even than London or New York City...Canadians need real options, and that means more public transit." (Globe and Mail)

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece takes President Obama's high-speed rail plan -- and Amtrak -- to task. "With Amtrak now the key to the President's rail program, a review of Amtrak's recent performance reveals that this "transformational" event will take place upon a foundation of epic failure, gross mismanagement, and union featherbedding."

Two freshman Republican representatives from upstate New York want to derail plans for high-speed trains across the state, leading to a new division in the state delegation. (The Buffalo News)

But a few hundred miles away, the Southeast High Speed Rail Association is holding an event called "The Conservative Case for Intercity & Higher Speed Passenger Rail” in Richmond. “Not every conservative — not even every libertarian — believes America’s unofficial motto should be ‘drive or die,’ ”the center's website reads. “There is a long conservative tradition of not wanting to see America reduced to nothing but strip malls, gas stations and pavement.” (The Hill)

The Minnesota House voted to trim the state budget deficit by reducing spending on Twin Cities transit, a strategy that could trigger fare hikes and service cuts. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Clinton Hill (Manhattan) residents say that the intra-city bus company, Megabus, has made the area of 9th Avenue in the lower 30s a "circus." (DNAinfo)

FastCompany passes along an infographic that shows, by state, what percent of commuters use bikes -- and then breaks down the 10 most popular bike cities.

The latest installment of WBEZ's "Dear Chicago" series interviews a bike advocate who wants the city's transportation infrastructure to pay more attention to pedestrians and bicyclists:

And finally:  a plot synopsis of a new movie about a killer tire. "Rubber is the story of Robert, an inanimate tire that has been abandoned in the desert, and suddenly and inexplicably comes to life....Leaving a swath of destruction across the desert landscape, Robert becomes a chaotic force to be reckoned with, and truly a movie villain for the ages." Metaphor alert!

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: New York City’s effort to create a fuel-efficient taxi fleet is getting a new legislative boost. Demand for fuel-efficient cars is "sluggish" -- despite high gas prices. And recent fatal bus crashes have led to a disagreement between the drivers' union and management.

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