Streams

As Massive Bus Cuts Loom, Long Islanders Get Emotional At Hearing

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Long Island Bus (photo from mta.info)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) An emotional NYC MTA hearing went well into the night last night in Hempstead. The transit authority is considering cutting service for some 16,000 Long Island Bus riders beginning this summer. And the financially troubled Nassau County government says it wants to privatize all bus service.

Alfonso Castillo covers transportation for Newsday.  He was at the hearings at Hofstra University, and he spoke with WNYC's Amy Eddings about what happened at the hearing, what the cuts would mean for some Long Islanders, and what the next steps are.

You can listen to the interview here.

Read more about the hearing here. For more about Nassau County's troubled finances, go here and here.

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Deputy Mayor: We're "Foursquare Behind" Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Speaking on  WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show today, deputy mayor Howard Wolfson gave New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration's most full-throated endorsement in recent months of the city's policy of expanding bike lanes and pedestrian plazas.

"The Mayor is foursquare behind the commissioner," Wolfson said. "He believes this is the right thing. At the end of the day, when you take away all the overwrought rhetoric, it's about providing choices to New Yorkers."

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Wolfson was also asked to respond to anti-Prospect Park West bike lane attorney Jim Walden's charge, made yesterday on the Brian Lehrer Show, that the Quinnipiac poll showing 54 percent of New Yorkers think bike lanes are "a good thing" means "a very, very significant minority do not, and you can feel the pulse around the city and people are largely extraordinarily upset that the administration has been so fast and loose with the data, promised a robust study, and failed to deliver."

Wolfson said: (about a minute in) "If you had a political candidate who won by fifteen points in an election, you'd call it a landslide. And so fifteen points is a significant margin, especially considering some of the adverse press that bike lanes have gotten.  And you do have a minority of people who don't like bike lanes  -- and they're certainly entitled to that.  In this instance they've hired an outstanding attorney with a very, very prestigious law firm to engage in legal process and that's fine too, people are entitled to do that.

"We have thousands of lawsuits filed against the city every year.  If we let lawsuits or the threat of  lawsuits deter us from heeding the will of the people, the vast majority of the people, in making positive change, we'd never get anything done in the city...In this instance the DOT did nothing wrong and I am quite confident of the outcome of the legal process that the minority of people opposed to this bike lane have chosen to engage in."

(Note: Walden and his firm, Gibson Dunn and Crutcher, are working pro bono.)

Brian also Wolfson whether it's "a coordinated strategy from city hall to have the NYPD enforce" traffic laws for cyclists in Central Park and elsewhere.

Wolfson: (about 9 minutes in) "We have a strategy of providing greater transportation choices for New Yorkers, that certainly includes bike lanes, and we have a strategy of insuring our laws are obeyed on the roads."

You can listen to the interview below.

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DC's Metro Tables Contract Extension After Lobbying Reports

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU)  Metro is delaying the extension of a nearly $500 million contract after reports that the contractor may have hired one of Metro's former top executives to lobby on its behalf.

Disabled  Metro Riders Face Fare Hike MetroAccess is operated by the private company MV Transportation, which is one of Emeka Moneme's clients at the lobbying firm where he now works. Moneme is a former senior Metro executive turned lobbyist.

Metro's board of directors was scheduled Thursday to grant a two-year contract extension to the company MV Transportation, which operates MetroAccess, Metro’s paratransit service for people with disabilities. According to several sources within Metro, the extension was almost a formality.

But now, the board has removed the extension from its agenda for Thursday after reports that MV hired Moneme.

WAMU obtained a private email from Moneme's office in which he requests an in-person meeting with an advisor to Metro's Board to discuss the company and the MetroAccess program.

A spokesperson with MV Transportation says it hired Moneme to do "community outreach," not lobbying. Moneme refuses to comment.

Cathy Hudgins, the chair of the Metro board, says she wants answers about exactly what Moneme did and who instructed him to do it.

Listen to the story below. And read TN's previous coverage of this issue here.

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Confusing Signs Removed After Cyclists Ticketed, Police Apologize via House Call

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit responsible for caring for New York's Central Park, is removing the confusing signs that led Police to ticket nine cyclists improperly for speeding Tuesday. What's more, the NYPD took the unusual step of making house calls to apologize for the erroneous citations.

While the speed limit is actually 25 mph, decades-old signs wrongly posted that the speed limit is 15 mph.    Police said they had followed those old signs.

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Early Tuesday morning, police set up a radar speed trap in Central Park.  They snagged 10 cyclists for going over the posted speed limit for bicycles of 15 m.p.h. during the car free hours of the park. David Regen was one of them. He was surprised to get pulled over just after one of the park's biggest hills.

"I've been riding in Central Park probably for 25 years and I've never been stopped by a police officer for anything before," he said. What was more unusual though, was what happened 13 hours later around dinnertime when police showed up at his door and told him he was treated unfairly and withdrew the ticket.

"I thought it was extraordinary that they came, physically to my door, that two officers came to my door to tell me this," he said.

Listen to an interview with Regen:

NYPD took the proactive step of personally visiting the cited cyclists to withdraw the tickets after they realized the summonses were issued as motor vehicle violations under the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) when they should have been summonses for violating park regulations.

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Deputy Mayor on BL Show To Talk NYC Bike Lane Program

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Yesterday, it was attorney Jim Walden's turn; today, it's Howard Wolfson's. The New York City deputy mayor will be on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show this morning at (about) 10:25am to talk about the city's bike lane program. In the New York area, you can find the program on AM820 and FM 93.9; it also streams live on wnyc.org.

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TN Moving Stories: MTA May Halve LI Bus Service, LaHood Orders Air Traffic Controller Staffing Review, and Regional Bike Share Being Explored in Boston Area

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Columbus Avenue bike lane being installed last year (photo by Kate Hinds)

NYC deputy mayor Howard Wolfson goes on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning at around 10:25 (give or take a few minuites) to counter charges that the city has gone too far with its bike lane program.

Long Island Bus may put the brakes on 27 of their 48 lines this summer because, according to MTA chairman Jay Walder, Nassau County is not paying enough toward the service's $134 million annual budget. Walder said 16,000 people may lose bus service and 200 workers will be laid off. (WNYC)

After two planes landed without being able to reach an air traffic controller at Reagan National Airport, DOT head Ray LaHood ordered an additional controller to staff the overnight shift (Washington Post) -- and a study of air traffic controller staffing at airports around the country. (AP via BusinessWeek)

Towns in the Boston area are exploring a regional bike share program. (Boston Globe)

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Accused of raiding local transit money, a Republican-led Minnesota House committee  dropped a provision from a major state transportation bill that would have shifted money from new rail projects to existing bus operations. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The Queensboro Bridge will soon be known as the Ed Koch Bridge. (WNYC)

Vice President Joe Biden chastised Gov. Rick Scott in Tampa, saying he cost Florida thousands of jobs and cutting-edge infrastructure improvements by rejecting $2.4 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail. “Your governor, God bless him — I don’t know him — but I don’t get it,” Biden said at a private fundraising reception for Sen. Bill Nelson. (Miami Herald)

Changing Gear's Micki Maynard looks at Detroit's decline. "Sixty years ago...people in all parts of the city could walk to work, or take a streetcar or bus. Some of them chose to drive, because they earned enough to afford to vehicles they were making (something their parents and grandparents might not have been able to do)."

A day in the life of Manhattan parking court -- real life, in-person court, not the newfangled online court. (NY Times)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The Central Park Conservancy is removing the confusing signs that led the NYPD to ticket nine cyclists improperly for speeding. What’s more, the NYPD took the unusual step of making house calls to apologize for the erroneous citations.  Speaking of Central Park: a NYC council member has introduced legislation that would ban cars from both Central and Prospect Parks. The attorney litigating the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. And: a new transportation advocacy group grows in Houston.

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New Transportation Advocacy Group Forms In Houston

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

(Houston--Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) As Texas lawmakers struggle to trim the budget, transportation advocates are hoping the legislators keep their scissors away from the dwindling pot of transportation dollars. A new organization called the Transportation Advocacy Group - Houston Region (TAG) is calling on politicians to find more ways to finance highway and transit projects.

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TAG has around 50 members so far. Most are business leaders in the Houston region: engineers, attorneys, contractors, property managers, etc. Wayne Klotz helped start the group. He’s been a civil engineer in Houston for more than thirty years. He says with money for road and transit projects drying up, lawmakers need to come up with other solutions to the region’s transportation problems. “We’ve got all these things floating around but no ability to pay for them," says Klotz. "And if there is no way to pay for them they won’t get built."


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Parks Are For People, Not Cars, Says City Councilwoman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Central Park (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) A New York City Council member is pushing to ban cars from the loop drives in Central Park and Prospect Park.

Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, said this isn't the first time the idea's been floated. In 2006, the City Council held a hearing on this issue, but the legislation was withdrawn after Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned cars in the parks for much of the day.

Which, Brewer said, made the parks even more popular.

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"Parks are supposed to be livable, and you're supposed to be able to do exercise, and you're supposed to be able to breathe," Brewer said. "I think that cars do not have a place in these two parks...That’s why I’m introducing this legislation – to just have the people, not the cars."

Read the full story at WNYC.

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BlackBerry Will Remove Apps That Help Drunk Drivers Evade Police

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This in from Senator Frank Lautenberg's Office:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Tom Udall (D-NM) announced that, in response to their request, Research In Motion (RIM), manufacturer of Blackberry smartphones, will remove from their online store applications that help drunk drivers evade police.  Yesterday the senators sent a letter to smartphone companies, including RIM, asking them to remove the dangerous applications or alter them to remove the DUI/DWI checkpoint functionality.

The applications pinpoint police enforcement zones through user-submitted information that connects to GPS data, providing drivers with the ability to evade DUI checkpoints, speed traps, and red light cameras. The applications are free to download from application stores.   The senators lauded RIM’s decision and renewed their call for other smartphone manufactures to follow suit.

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Lawyer Suing City on Bike Lane Discusses Bike Lane Popularity, and Why He's Doing Case Pro-Bono

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Jim Walden, the lawyer representing groups who are suing New York City to remove a two-way bike lane that runs along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West, was on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show today (listen here or below) to discuss the lawsuit.  Much of what he said dedicated readers of this blog have heard before, but here are a few interesting parts.

About 15 minutes in, Brian asked Walden about the survey conducted by Brad Lander showing some three-quarters of residents surveyed support the bike lanes as is:

Walden:  (About 14:50 in) "As I've said to Brad directly,  I'm concerned about the position he's taking.  They keep trumpeting this study, as if safety was a popularity contest. What they don't talk about, and it mystifies me how they would do this - there are significant number of people who responded who said they felt less safe.  Now clearly the majority of the people felt more safe but it was more than 30 percent.

"I wonder if he conducted the survey again, and if he conducted the survey in person, and not over the internet so people could pad the numbers, and if he conducted it with senior citizens who access the park and disabled people who access the park what those numbers would say. "

(Michael Freedman-Schnapp, Lander's policy director, had called into the program, and he responded that some of the surveys had been conducted in person, and that all told eight percent of all residents living between Prospect Park West and Eighth Avenue -- a block away -- had responded to the survey. )

Brian Lehrer: (about 17:40 in) " Why are you doing this pro-bono? Isn't that usually reserved for indigent clients, not politically connected neighborhood groups?"

Walden: "No,  but I'm glad you asked me that question.  It's clearly been a source of great interest."

BL: "Right, I mean people say you're trying to suck up to Senator Schumer and get a job from him, because his wife is part of this group."

Walden: "She's not part of the group. He turned me down for the only job I ever applied so I promise you its not for any of those reasons. My pro bono work largely falls into two categories, part of it is a lot of work for indigent people and a lot of it is good government litigation.  I was part of the term limits team, attacking the mayor's decision to sidestep term limits, property tax rebates -- when they tried to double the expansion of a prison in a residential area.  These good government suits largely have big groups of the community, some of them rich, some of them middle class, some of them poor. None of them should have to pay to get their government to work."

[Just to clarify the above, when we'd initially reported on this, Walden told us he'd been introduced to the plaintiffs by Randy Mastro, a former deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani.  Mastro has working closely with both Senator Schumer and his wife, the city's former transportation commissioner, Iris Weinshall.  While it's accurate to say that neither Senator Schumer nor his wife are plaintiffs, both have made their anti-Prospect Park West bike lane position clear, in a wide array of forums. Both joined a Facebook group in favor of removing the bike lane, and Weinshall co-signed a  letter to the New York Times. ]

Brian then asked about last week's Quinnipiac poll, showing that New Yorkers think bike lanes are "a good thing" by a 54 to 39 percent margin.

Walden: "If 54 percent support, that means a very, very significant minority do not, and you can feel the pulse around the city and people are largely extraordinarily upset that the administration has been so fast and loose with the data, promised a robust study, and failed to deliver."

Note: New York City deputy mayor, Howard Wolfson, will be on the Brian Lehrer Show on Thursday morning (at about 10:25am) to talk about bike lanes from the city's point of view.

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Anti-PPW Bike Lane Attorney on BL Show Today; Tomorrow, The City Gets Its Chance

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Prospect Park West Bike Lane (photo: Andrea Bernstein)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) If you follow two-wheeled news (and even if you don't), you probably know about the lawsuit to remove the bike lane along Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

On this morning's Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC), Jim Walden (the attorney representing the group suing the city) will be talking about why he thinks the lane should be removed. Tune in this morning around 11:30am --in NY, that's AM820, FM 93.9 -- or listen live on the internet at wnyc.org.

On tomorrow's Brian Lehrer Show, the city will air its point of view when New York City Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson (who recently wrote a memo defending the bike lanes), comes on the show.

Read more about the lawsuit here.

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TN Moving Stories: Decline in Auto Manufacturing Costs Detroit 25% of its Population, and Where Does Manhattan's West Side Really End?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Detroit viewed through a window on the People Mover (Gehad83/Flickr)

The Takeaway looks at how the disaster in Japan is affecting car manufacturing in the US.

And here's how the decline in car manufacturing is affecting the Motor City: New census numbers reveal that one in four Detroiters have moved out. "With 713,777 people, the city reached its lowest count in 100 years, though officials will contest it." (Detroit Free Press)

Seattle City Council is considering a one-year experiment to limit disabled parking in 14 blocks of downtown Seattle. The goal is to create more turnover of parking spaces and minimize disabled parking placard abuse. (Seattle Times)

North Carolina transportation officials announced an agreement that will free up $461 million in federal money to begin modernizing the state’s rail system. (Greensboro News & Record)

Confusion in Manhattan over exactly where the East Side begins and the West Side ends. (Or vice versa.) Surprise: the west side of Fifth Avenue is, technically, the West Side. Even if you're walking along Central Park. (NYT)

"Horrible" transit cuts (15% reduction in service, 29 bus lines eliminated) begin in Pittsburgh this Sunday. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

A NYC councilwoman is introducing a bill today that would restrict vehicles from traveling along the main, 6-mile loop in Central Park and inside Brooklyn's Prospect Park. (NY Post)

The attorney handling the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit will be on the Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC) this morning.

Ray LaHood is in Honolulu to report on that city's transit expansion. (KHON)

Watch the NY MTA's monthly board meeting here, starting at 9:15am.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Safety problems are widespread on New York's inter-city bus companies. New York's bridges receive their worst grade ever, and California's aren't too great, either. Airlines carried more passengers in 2010 than they did in 2009, but have yet to fully rebound from the recession. And transit riders love their technology -- at least until someone looks over their shoulder.

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Safety Problems Widespread on NY's Inter-City Buses

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One of many discount buses that pick up passengers at the curb. (Photo by Naomi A. / Flckr Creative Commons)

(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) A review of federal data shows inspectors issued a safety alert for about a third of all inter-city bus companies in New York State in the past month. The alerts are applied when a company rates in the bottom half nationwide of a safety category.

Among those cited were two of three companies whose buses have crashed in the Northeast in the last month. The third company also had a problematic record.

World Wide Travel, the operator whose bus skidded into a pole in the Bronx and killed fifteen people, has an safety alert for Fatigued Driving. The company, which runs buses labeled "World Wide Tours," also rated in the bottom half of all bus operators for vehicle maintenance.

Super Luxury Tours had a crash in New Jersey last week that killed two. It has three alerts: for Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness and Unsafe Driving--where it scores in the bottom one percent nationwide.

Queens-based Big Boy Coach saw 23 of its passengers injured on Monday when one of its buses tipped over on a New Hampshire highway. Inspectors found its drivers to be unfit at nearly three times the national average. It has no alerts as of now because it's a small company and hasn't been inspected enough to determine whether it warrants them.

Large carriers like Greyhound, Peter Pan, Bolt Bus and Megabus have no alerts and show relatively high safety ratings. Popular Boston-based carrier Fung Wah, on the other hand, has three alerts for Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness and Vehicle Maintenance.

The U.S. Department of Transportation rates carriers in seven safety categories based on roadside inspections of drivers and vehicles, infractions like speeding and crash data.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is asking the New York state commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct a full audit of all drivers licenses of tour bus drivers, saying that an earlier audit would've prevented the fatal crash in the Bronx.

Sixteen out of 26 coach buses stopped in Manhattan by Governor Cuomo's stepped-up enforcement effort were pulled out of service last weekend  for vehicle or driver violations or both. At checkpoints outside the city, violations were found in 25 of 138 coach buses stopped. The unannounced inspections by state Department of Transportation investigators and local police were made Friday night through Sunday.

Mayor Bloomberg said that though scores of inter-city buses operate out of New York, local government is not charged with overseeing them. "It' federal and state regulations that deal with them," he said. "Clearly somebody should have stopped--if we were able to predict the future--the bus driver in the terrible accident that killed fifteen people. Whether any regulation would've stopped it, I just don't know. It's not something the city does."

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American Society of Civil Engineers Gives New York Worst Grade Ever

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

State of DisrepairThe American Society of Civil Engineers gives New York its worst report card ever:  42 percent of bridges are structurally deficient, drinking water needs a $15 billion investment, and nearly half of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

WXXI of Rochester's Bob Smith spoke to Transportation Nation Director Andrea Bernstein about how it has come to this...and why negative political campaigning has created a populace skeptical of government spending of all forms...including infrastructure spending.

You can listen to the program here -- part of New York State Public Radio's series State of Disrepair -- Transportation Nation

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Report: California's Bridges Crumbling -- and San Francisco's Are the Worst

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

(San Francisco – Casey Miner, KALW News) A new report by transit advocacy group Transportation for America provides a sobering assessment of the condition of California's bridges: in short, not good.The report finds that one in eight bridges are structurally deficient in some way. In the Bay Area, that number rises to one in five; in San Francisco, it's more than one in three.

County Number of bridges Number of structurally deficient bridges Percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient Average annual daily traffic on structurally deficient bridges
San Francisco 116 40 34.5% 2,569,899
Alameda 601 130 21.6% 5,608,117
San Mateo 344 74 21.5% 3,064,075
Sonoma 601 121 20.1% 737,485
Santa Clara 939 182 19.4% 5,804,761
Contra Costa 560 105 18.8% 3,241,193
Marin 199 31 15.6% 1,117,587
Napa 150 23 15.3% 80,153

A bridge is considered "structurally deficient" when one of three bridge components – deck, superstructure, or substructure – receives a poor grade on a federal scale. The worst bridges receive low grades across the board. Of the 40 San Francisco bridges deemed structurally deficient, city officials oversee only five; four of those are currently slated for repair. Caltrans and other agencies are responsible for the rest.  The bridges that received the lowest rankings were by the Caltrain station at 22nd and 23rd Streets; the most highly-traveled structurally deficient bridge was the 5th St./Hwy 101 bridge.

The report did not assess the state's biggest, most iconic bridges – neither the Bay Bridge nor the Golden Gate bridge were included. Instead, it looked at the thousands of workaday bridges that most motorists hardly think of: the highway on-ramps and overpasses that connect freeways and surface streets. These bridges are, on average, just over 44 years old – slightly older than the national average of 42 years. Most bridges are designed to last roughly 50 years.

The report notes that though California's bridges rank in the bottom third nationally, the state has used up all available federal funding to try and address the problem, even going so far as to shift funds designated for other purposes. The state spent $907 million on bridge repair in 2008. The report notes that across the country, repair needs far outstrip available funds: while funding has increased by $650 million over the past several years, the need has increased by $22.8 billion.

Read the full report here.

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DOT: Airline Passengers Rise in 2010, Not as High as Pre-Recession

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Airlines carried 2.1% more passengers in 2010 than the previous year, according to the US Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which released 2010 data today. But passenger totals still remained 3.2 percent below 2008's level of 812.3 million.

2010's top airline was Delta. Following its merger with Northwest, the Atlanta-based airline carried over 110 million passengers last year.  More total system passengers boarded planes in 2010 at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International than at any other U.S. airport; and more international passengers boarded planes at New York John F. Kennedy than at any other U.S. airport.

You can read the full report here.

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On The Grid -- For 200 Years

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Manhattan in 1847 (via Wikimedia Commons)

On this morning's Brian Lehrer Show: Happy 200th anniversary, Manhattan street grid! Tune in around 11:40am to hear Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons The New School for Design, talk about the anniversary of the grid layout of streets in Manhattan. (For the NYC area, that's AM820 and FM 93.9. For everyone else, the show streams online at wnyc.org.)

For more on how the grid was built -- way back when Houston Street was called North Street -- listen here to a WNYC interview with New York University professor Hilary Ballon, who's curating an upcoming exhibit on the street design.

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Transit Riders Love Their Technology – Until Someone's Looking Over Their Shoulder

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

(photo by Gubatron/Flickr)

(San Francisco – Casey Miner, KALW News) More and more people are using iPads, laptops or smart phones when they travel  on public transportation – but that number might drop off as trains, planes and buses become more crowded.  New findings by the researchers at DePaul University show that use of technology on public transit grew at record rates last year. But public transit remains, well, public – and that means not everyone’s comfortable digging into personal emails or commenting liberally on Facebook.

The researchers measured how people's behavior changed as their surroundings grew more crowded, basing their findings on observations of more than 16,000 passengers on 215 bus, rail, and plane rides. "On the largest buses, seating about 80, technology use falls by more than a third when more than 40 people are on board," said Joe Schweiterman, one of the researchers on the study. The effects were similar on airplanes. In particular, people were much less likely to use devices with large screens, or to make cell phone calls, than they were when they felt their surroundings were private. "We hear endless complaints that the coach cabins of airplanes have become awful places to use technology," said Schweiterman.

Technology use remains most prevalent on the Acela trains in the Northeast corridor, which, at 42 inches each, has by far the roomiest seats. On those trains and on intercity buses, it was common for more than half of passengers to be glued to their devices. But when conditions get crowded, tech use goes down significantly. So as more people take, say, long-distance bus rides, will their own hangups keep them offline?

“Crowding is the enemy of those techno travelers who like to use multiple devices at once, such as working on laptops and placing cell phone calls," said Schweiterman. "In crowds, they abandoned this type of behavior.”

MEDIA ADVISORY: EMBARGOED UNTIL 3/22/2011

One in Five Bay Area Bridges Deemed Structurally Deficient
Federal Funds Fall Short as Need Increases

Contact: Seth Goddard, sethg@transformca.org, 415.272.7384 cell, 510.740.3150x310

A new report to be released Tuesday morning on the state of California’s bridges is eye opening, especially considering the destruction just witnessed in Japan: one in five Bay Area bridges is structurally deficient and this figure will continue to rise as an entire generation of bridges approaches their 50-year life expectancy.

Structurally deficient bridges are identified by the federal government as high priority for monitoring and repair, because of significant wear and tear or other defects to at least one part of the bridge.  These bridges will continue to deteriorate over time and may be closed or restricted due to safety concerns if the structurally deficiency is not addressed.

In recent years, California has spent all available federal funds for bridge repair, even putting additional flexible funds towards this purpose.  But the need far exceeds available funding.  Federal transportation policy continues to be heavily weighted towards building new roads rather than fixing existing bridges, roads, and public transportation systems.  Congress is currently reviewing these policies with the intention of passing a new federal transportation bill later this year.

Given the economic crisis and current Congressional budget debates, prioritizing funding for repairs and maintenance first makes good sense.  Deferring maintenance of bridges and highways can cost three times as much as preventative repairs[1].  Repair work on roads and bridges generates 16% more jobs than new bridge and road construction, too[2].

The report from Transportation For America, which includes a statewide review of bridge safety in California, is based on analysis of the Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory Data.  While the report is embargoed until Tuesday, advanced copies of the report will be provided upon request.

WHAT: Release of Transportation For America’s report, “The Fix We’re In For: The State of California’s Bridges.”

WHEN: Report officially released Tuesday, March 22, 2011.  Statewide Telebriefing at 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Telebriefing  - Tuesday March 22nd, 2011 at 11:00am

  • Call-in number: 424-203-8075, Code: 576981#
  • Speakers can be made available for additional questions after the call

WHO:

  • Marnie Primmer, Executive Director, Mobility 21
  • Engineer, Caltrans, TBD
  • Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director, Southern California Association of Governments
  • Joe Cruz, Director of Transportation Policy, California Alliance for Jobs
  • Jean Quan, Mayor, Oakland, (invited)

VISUAL: Iconic bridges in the Bay Area as a backdrop for relevant speakers (elected officials, agency staff, TransForm staff) who will comment on the findings.  Reporters may contact us beforehand for specific locations for planning purposes and to schedule times with speakers.

Key findings for the Bay Area include:

County Number of bridges Number of structurally deficient bridges Percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient Average annual daily traffic on structurally deficient bridges
San Francisco 116 40 34.5% 2,569,899
Alameda 601 130 21.6% 5,608,117
San Mateo 344 74 21.5% 3,064,075
Sonoma 601 121 20.1% 737,485
Santa Clara 939 182 19.4% 5,804,761
Contra Costa 560 105 18.8% 3,241,193
Marin 199 31 15.6% 1,117,587
Napa 150 23 15.3% 80,153

“It’s clear: our transportation infrastructure is in crisis,” says Stuart Cohen, TransForm’s executive director.  “The era of building new highways is over.  Federal transportation funding needs to focus on fixing what we already have and then expanding only in ways that reduce our dependence on oil, like better public transportation, biking, and walking options.”

The national average for deficient bridges is 11.5%, while the Bay Area’s average is 20%.

#  #  #


[1]American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.  Bridging the Gap: Restoring and Rebuilding the Nation’s Bridges. July 2008.  http://roughroads.transportation.org/
[2]Smart Growth for America.  The Best Stimulus for The Money. www.smartgrowthamerica.org/stimulus.html

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TN Moving Stories: Taking Down Freeways Goes Mainstream, Bay Area Floats Transit-Oriented Development Plan, and Massachusetts Picks New Commuter Rail Line Route

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Image from the "One Bay Area" presentation of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

San Francisco's regional transportation and housing agencies (One Bay Area) are floating a 25 year-plan to prepare for a future in which the Bay Area has 2 million more people and 902,000 housing units -- and most of it built near rail stations, bus lines, walking paths or bike lanes. (Contra Costa Times)

Half a century after cities put up freeways, many of those roads are reaching the end of their useful lives. But instead of replacing them, a growing number of cities are thinking it makes more sense just to tear them down. (NPR)  You can see our earlier coverage of this issue here, on Marketplace.

Massachusetts transportation officials hoping to build a new commuter rail line have decided on a preferred route to connect Boston to New Bedford and Fall River. The state hopes to have the line built by 2017 -- but the funding has not been secured yet. (Boston Globe)

New Yorkers can now contest parking tickets online. (WNYC)

The Federal Highway Administration launched new standards for bridge inspections (The Hill), which Ray LaHood says will allow the FHWA to more clearly and easily identify bridge issues in each state.

United Auto Workers made concessions in 2008, when the American auto industry was limping. Now, Detroit car manufacturers are newly profitable -- and UAW officials are meeting today to map out strategy in advance of labor contract talks. (Marketplace)

Google has become the first customer for a new wireless EV charging station. The inductive charging system requires only proximity to the charging unit -- no plug or outlet necessary. (Wired/Autopia)

Some fuel-efficient cars can take years to reach the break-even point.  (KUHF)

Georgia's DeKalb County is expected today to approve a $2.7 billion wish list of transportation upgrades, but county officials are still reluctant to support asking residents to pay more in sales tax. And it sounds like no one thinks there's enough local control of the money. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A Foursquare add-on will give users real-time transit schedules when they check in near a transit stop. (Mashable)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: NY's City Hall goes on a bike lane offensive, and Mayor Bloomberg speaks -- diplomatically -- about Iris Weinshall, who's not a bike lane fan. The Chinese demand for coal is pushing some American freight lines to the max. A former Metro executive is now working for a transportation lobbying firm. Watch a visualization of London's bike share system on the day of a tube strike. And: happy 200th anniversary, Manhattan street grid.

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Mayor Bloomberg on Iris Weinshall

Monday, March 21, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his first public remarks on his former Transportation Commissioner, Iris Weinshall, today, in answer to a question about whether her opposition to the Prospect Park Bike lane is about defending her tenure as Transpo Commissioner.

Bloomberg said "I've known Iris for twelve years she was a commissioner in our administration for eight. She did a very good job. I was sorry she chose to leave, I tried to convince her to stay. I read about her position on bike lanes I think I'm probably on the other side of it. It's probably not fair to ascribe motives to Iris for trying to stop a bicycle lane other than she doesn't think there should be a bicycle lane there."

His comments came at a question-and-answer session after a press conference announcing New Yorkers can now pay parking tickets online.

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