Streams

Senate Begins Actual Debate on Aviation Transpo Bill

Friday, February 04, 2011

(Washington, D.C. -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) The U.S. Senate has spent the week debating a major aviation policy bill. Though you wouldn’t know it from watching most of the floor speeches.

Lawmakers began debating a major reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration at the beginning of the week. But Republicans didn’t exactly have airports and flight delays on their minds. Instead, the GOP used the FAA bill as a vehicle for their efforts to repeal President Barack Obama’s health reform bill. Those efforts failed, and now the Senate is actually using the FAA bill to debate air travel policy.

The fate of the bill is far from certain. Tensions between rural, urban, and hub airports, as well as fights between private and commercial aviation interests, have helped relegate the FAA bill to temporary extension--as opposed to full reauthorization funding--no less than 15 times. Oh, and don’t forget about the labor disputes.

This crack at an FAA bill is largely focused on spreading NextGen global positioning navigation and tracking systems to more US airports. Supporters say, NextGen is an improvement over radar for air traffic control that would let planes safely land in closer succession than they do now, thus increasing the capacity of runways, among other benefits. The FAA bill calls for new funding and scrutiny on NextGen systems at major commercial airports. Officials hope NextGen will improve scheduling efficiency and help quell air traffic delays.

Lawmakers approved an amendment Thursday making it a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an airplane. Only one senator, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), voted against the measure, saying such prosecutions can be handled by the states.

But only a day or two into earnest debate over aviation policy in the Senate, and the familiar labor fights are starting to flare. Paul is at the center of that fight, too.

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Report: Stimulus Transit Projects Create Nearly Double the Work of Road Projects

Friday, February 04, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  A new report from Smart Growth America analyzes data released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and finds that for every billion dollars spend under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act -- the stimulus bill -- on roads, 2.4 million job-hours were created.  But for every billion spent on transit, 4.2 million job hours were created, a seventy percent increase.

The report defines "job-hour" in a footnote as an hour worked, which it says is a more meaningful figure than "a job" since the latter gives no indication of the duration of the job.

It's one of an expected flood of reports on all sides as partisans prepare to do battle on the next reauthorization bill, set to be introduced in the near future.

The Obama Administration is increasingly positioning to discuss the transportation bill as a jobs bill.

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TN Moving Stories: MTA Prepares To Go Beyond MetroCard, JetBlue Goes NextGen, and House Transpo Committee Announces ReAuth Road Trip

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A bill will be introduced in Albany today that would give NYC more authority to regulate discount, intercity buses (think BoltBus). State Senator Daniel Squadron told the New York Times that the scramble for curbside space and shifting loading zones, with their potential to confuse customers, had produced an atmosphere akin to the Wild West.

A Bolt Bus boards on New York's 33rd Street (Alex Goldmark)

The Toronto Transit Commission has approved a scaled-down plan to cut weekend and late-night service on some bus routes. (CBC News)

The Los Angeles Times has an editorial about the bus lane drama unfolding in that city. "Ever wonder why L.A.'s public transit system seems haphazard, with rail lines that don't go where they're most needed and inadequate bus service? A political battle over bus-only lanes on Wilshire Boulevard serves as an instructive example of the ways the best-designed plans of transit engineers are often thwarted."

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz says the city's cycling policy stigmatizes car owners. From his State of the Borough address: "For the majority of New Yorkers, it is simply not feasible to make bicycles their primary mode of transport. And unfortunately, that's the direction I believe the city's policy is heading. They are trying to stigmatize car owners and get them to abandon their cars, when the fact is, even many bicyclists also own cars. Cycling is no substitute for mass transit. And there are still tens of thousands of Brooklynites who live far from public transportation and who rely on a car to reach their jobs and live their lives." (NY1; video)

In the most extensive effort of its kind in the California Bay Area, the Valley Transportation Authority on Thursday approved a plan to give qualified homeless people in Santa Clara County free bus and light rail rides beginning in April. (Mercury News)

JetBlue goes NextGen: the carrier has signed an agreement to equip as many as 35 planes with satellite-based technology that allows air traffic controllers to see the planes at all times. (Wall Street Journal)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced locations (but not final dates) for a series of national field hearings and public forums on the reauthorization bill.  First stop: February 14 in West Virginia. "At least a dozen other sessions across numerous states are currently planned for February 17-25."  A list of cities can be found here.

The MTA is preparing for the next generation of MetroCard--or, as Second Avenue Sagas puts it, "the death clock for the MetroCard moves another second toward midnight."

According to the MTA (and the commuter railroad industry), a train that arrives within five minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival time is not late. But an official advisory council says the MTA should set a higher standard than that. (Gothamist)

The residents of a new urbanist village built around planned light rail (or bus rapid transit) have decided that they don’t actually want the transit their community was designed for.  (NRDC/Switchboard)

Did you abandon your car along Lake Shore Drive in this week's blizzard? The city of Chicago is using the web to reunite you with your relocated vehicle.  (Jalopnik)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Virginia scales back HOT lanes after lawsuit; Karsan unveils a prototype for NY's Taxi of Tomorrow, and Staten Islanders will get real time bus info by the end of this year.

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Staten Island To Get Real Time Bus Info By End of the Year

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Placard Advertising Bus Info on Brooklyn Bus

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  It's hard to think about next Christmas before Valentine's day, but the MTA says Staten Islanders will get a Christmas present in 2011 -- real time bus information on all 900 of their buses by the end of 2011.

The MTA is currently piloting such a program on its B63 bus. in Brooklyn. (For details on that pilot, including where to get the information, check out Transportation Nation's story on the program here.)  Small field tests of that pilot show the information to be accurate, though right now, you either have to know the code or go to the website mta.info/bustime, enter B63, choose a direction, and then find your stop.  In the near future, the MTA says, placards at each stop will give text number codes riders can enter.

Real time information enables riders to plan trips, to stay inside in inclement weather until shortly before a bus arrives, or to make decisions about whether to take a bus, walk, or pursue another mode of transit.  It's improved customer satisfaction -- even in a time of service cuts and fare hikes -- in Boston, Chicago, and other cities.

The MTA says once all of Staten Island is outfitted, it shouldn't be too long before the rest of the city's 6000-bus fleet gets buses, but it isn't giving an exact date for the other four boroughs.

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BREAKING: Virginia Alters Major Highway Plan After County Refuses To Drop Lawsuit

Thursday, February 03, 2011

(Washington, D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) Sean Connaughton, Virginia's Secretary of Transportation, announced this morning that the state is scaling back a project to add High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes to one of its most congested highways.

The state had planned to build HOT lanes along I-95, from far-exurban Stafford County all the way to the state line along the Potomac River. But the project ran into a snag when Arlington County sued the state in federal court. Arlington claimed the HOT lanes project unfairly received a federal environmental exemption in the waning days of the Bush administration, and also that it would violate the civil rights of the minority residents who live near the highway.

This morning, Connaughton announced a major change to the HOT lanes project: the lanes will still begin in Stafford County, but they will now terminate at the Beltway in Fairfax County, well before the Arlington County line.

Connaughton says, with congestion getting worse and worse on I-95 in Northern Virginia, and with a major traffic nightmare expected to crop up later this year when the Army moves thousands of its employees to a transit-inaccessible location near the highway, Virginia couldn't wait any longer to move forward with the HOT lanes project.

Check back in with WAMU News later today and tomorrow for more on this story.

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A Look at a Contender For NYC's Taxi of Tomorrow

Thursday, February 03, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Karsan unveiled its prototype for New York's Taxi of Tomorrow. Built-in wheelchair ramp, doors that open to 90 degrees, 40 inches of legroom...plus a glass roof. What do you think, readers? Is Karsan taking an early lead?

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TN Moving Stories: Honolulu's Rail Imperiled by Lawsuit Over Burial Grounds, DIY Bike Lane Installation in Guadalajara, and US Airfares Rise 11%

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

NY Rep. Michael Grimm's quest to have a light-rail link be part of the renovated Bayonne Bridge led to a "very heated" discussion with a top Port Authority official this week, Grimm said. (Staten Island Advance)

Congestion pricing is proposed for two Bay Area bridges. (San Francisco Chronicle)

A lawsuit over possible ancient Hawaiian burials along Honolulu's proposed rail transit route could put the brakes on the $5.5 billion project. (Honolulu Star Advertiser)

Metro-North Railroad will institute a reduced New Haven line schedule that will cut service by 10% during the morning and afternoon peak due to a faltering fleet of rail cars damaged by harsh winter conditions. (CTPost.com)

Check out this video of a DIY bike lane installation in Guadalajara, Mexico--where no bike lanes previously existed. The technique of the man painting the lines is not to be missed. (via AltTransport)

A gym in Maryland is using exercise bikes to generate electricity. (Savage-Guilford Patch)

Some passengers on MARC, Maryland's suburban commuter rail line, have started a secret, BYOB happy hour. (Well, it was secret until WAMU reported on it.)

A Colorado Republican has backed off his plan to strip funding from that state's transit and bicycle lanes in favor of highways and bridges. (Bloomberg)

U.S. domestic air fares rose 11% in the third quarter versus last year, as carriers continued to seize on increased demand for flying. "In the third quarter, New Jersey was home to the airports with both the highest and the lowest average fare: Newark Liberty, at $469, and Atlantic City, at $153." (Dow Jones via WSJ)

Walmart opponents cite the possibility of 32% more traffic as a reason one should not be built in East New York. (New York Daily News)

Will math improve bike sharing programs? Two Tel Aviv engineering professors have developed a mathematical model to predict which bike stations should be refilled, and when. (Wired - Autopia)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: New York's East River will get all-day commuter ferry service starting in June. Bay Area riders brainstorm ways to save Caltrain. And New York's MTA is "very early in the process" of considering sliding barriers for subway platforms.

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NY MTA Criticized for Considering Anti-Suicide Platform Barriers

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Paris Metro Platform with Glass Barrier. (Getty Images)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Should New York subway platforms get barriers to protect people from falling onto the tracks or littering on them?

The Daily News reported yesterday that the MTA is seeking proposals from third parties to build sliding-door barriers like those already in place in some stations in London, Paris and Tokyo. Today, the MTA is taking heat for the idea.

Kevin Ortiz of the MTA told the Daily News, "We are very early in the process of looking at the possibility of installing platform doors that would go a long way toward enhancing passenger safety and station appearance."

Today, one State Senator is criticizing the idea in a sharply worded statement and letter to MTA Chairman Jay Walder. Senator Diane Savino points out, a mere ninety passengers out of the system's 1.6 billion annual riders fall onto the tracks. Only .00005% of the subway riding public.

“Much to my surprise the MTA found the notion [of platform barriers] intriguing.  To even contemplate this nonsense is self-evidently a waste of time, effort, energy and yes - money; money the MTA does not have.  The cost to install the barriers would be astronomical. The cost to maintain the doors in good operating condition would be even higher,” Savino said.

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NY East River to Get Regular Commuter Ferry Service

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New Yorkers who commute between Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens will have another transportation option this June. The city's Economic Development Corporation has awarded a contract that charts a course  for all-day, year-round East River ferry service.

The ferries will be operated by the BillyBey Ferry Company, a division of New York Waterway. They'll run every 20 minutes in both directions and make seven stops between Long Island City and the Fulton Ferry Landing. Two additional seasonal stops — to Atlantic Avenue and Governors Island— are also in the works.

Paul Goodman, CEO of  BillyBey, is confident that the reliability of the service — coupled with the convenience — will help the ferries build a following.

“When you ride along the waterfront, there are lots of areas where we are simply going to be the more convenient option,” he said. “And with the assistance of the city, in terms of the subsidy they're providing, this is going to be priced very attractively as well.”

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SF and Points South: What Will Happen to Caltrain?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) We reported a few months back on the grassroots effort by riders to try and save Caltrain, the Bay Area’s commuter train system. It’s the only one of the Bay’s 28 (!) different transit agencies that doesn’t have a dedicated funding source; it’s facing a $30 million deficit and considering cutting train service by nearly half.

Luckily for Caltrain, it’s also the only Bay Area transit agency whose riders care so much that they’re willing to dedicate their weekends to figuring out how to save it. Last Saturday, citizen group Friends of Caltrain organized an all-day brainstorming summit whose attendees included everyone from workaday commuters to elected officials. Panels and breakout groups explored funding strategies—levying a gas tax, charging more for parking, adding onboard WiFi, and improving connectivity to other transit were among the suggestions. And they also talked about messaging: how to sell the idea of Caltrain to people who don’t ride it, and how to convince policymakers that the rail is worth saving.

SF Streetsblog has more.

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Interstate of the Union

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) This was the second year in a row that high-speed rail got a prominent place in the State of the Union -- but it got tepid applause. Is America finally ready to support it? Or is it still too politically controversial? Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein talked about this on today's Brian Lehrer Show. Listen below!

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It's Official: TxDOT Takes On Houston's Grand Parkway Project

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

(Houston - Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) Last month Harris County commissioners voted in favor of letting the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) build a portion of the Grand Parkway.  The state has accepted the job and says it will construct three segments of the 180-mile ring road which will loop around Greater Houston. Harris County stepped back from the project after learning that TxDOT expects to have $425 million dollars available for the road this year. TxDOT spokesperson Karen Amacker says it’s now up to the department to" deliver the transportation system the state needs and we believe that the Grand Parkway is an important part of that system."

Grand Parkway Segment Map

TxDOT will be developing all of the segments located in Harris County – three out of the proposed toll road’s eleven segments. Amacker says Segment E, which would connect Interstate 10 with 290, is likely to move forward first because “it’s the most shovel-ready.”  She says it’s also one of the more “financially robust” segments of the Grand Parkway. The 14-mile section would run through the Katy Prairie and is expected to cost around $400 million dollars.

“It is certainly possible that the commission could identify funding for Segment E before the end of this year," says Amacker.  "As for the other segments of the Grand Parkway, it will be a challenge, as it is with funding any transportation project in this challenging environment.”

Amacker says money for the Grand Parkway will come from a number of sources, including the State Highway Fund and bond proceeds. But the state is running low on money for new construction projects, so it’s unlikely funding for the other segments will be available anytime soon. As for Segment E, Harris County has yet to obtain a federal permit that would allow wetlands to be filled in for the construction of the highway. And without it, Segment E can’t be built.

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TN Moving Stories: Cuomo's Budget Hits Transit With $100 Million Cut, NYC To Begin Year-Round East River Ferry Service, and Right Now Is a Good Time To Be In th

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget cuts transit by $100 million. (WNYC)

Right now is a good time to be in the road salt business. (WBUR)

Rock salt in Chelsea, MA (David Boeri/WBUR)

Year-round ferry service will begin on the East River this June. "The service is an attempt by the Bloomberg administration and the City Council to create a robust and viable mass transit alternative for a growing waterfront population that has struggled with clogged subway lines and bus routes that have been truncated or eliminated altogether." (New York Times)

Toyota's sales jumped 17% last month. Pretty good -- but not as good as Ford. (CNBC)

A new report says that President Obama's goal of putting 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road within four years is unlikely, because automakers aren't planning to make enough cars due to uncertain consumer demand. (Washington Post)

...And this is illustrated by Jalopnik, which says that Chevy sold 312 Volts last month. And 28,172 Silverado pickups.

Chicago's Metra commuter line gets a new director. (Chicago Tribune)

Transportation Nation director Andrea Bernstein will be on today's Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC). Topic? "The Interstate of the Union."

San Francisco has cut school buses by 50 percent while increasing transit fares; one Bay Area politician wants to help students out by making the system free to students for the rest of the school year. (Bay Citizen)

And you shall know them by their bikes: Good says that the graphic Bikes of San Francisco "makes (a) compelling case for the bike as the marker of neighborhood identity, and does so with uncanny accuracy."

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following:  Real-time bus information finally comes...to one line in Brooklyn.  House Republicans want to dump the federal urban transit program "New Starts," which could imperil a number of projects -- including Houston's light rail expansion.  Red light cameras save lives--and engender controversy.  And: as reported above, Governor Cuomo's budget hits NY's mass transit with another $100 million cut.

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NYC Mass Transit Facing Another $100 Million Cut

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) The MTA says New York

The NYC MTA is facing a sharp cut to an already tight budget.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's call for a $100 million cut from its already squeezed budget will be painful. But the authority insists it can be done without additional fare hikes or service cuts. Still, riders might see dirtier buses and trains.

Bill Henderson of the Permanent Citizens Advisory

Committee to the MTA says all of the low-hanging fruit has been plucked from the authority's budget. Last year the MTA cut two trains, dozens of bus routes, added several minutes to most commute times, halved the cleaning schedule for trains, and laid off hundreds of workers. Henderson says he worried the new round of cuts could mean longer waits for riders, postponed maintenance and less frequent cleaning of stations, trains and buses.

"That's a lot of money and until I see where the money is coming from that doesn't have an impact on the riders, I'm going to be nervous about impacts on the riders," he said.

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Charlotte Gets Dems, Tampa Gets GOP

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Department of FWIW -- The 2012 Democratic National Convention goes to Charlotte NC, which voted under a Republican mayor to tax itself for a light rail system (it now has a Democratic Mayor).  The 2012 Republican National Convention goes to Tampa, which under a Democratic mayor was part of a county-wide vote to REJECT a transit tax.  Got all that?

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Brooklyn Gets Real-Time Bus Info

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

(New York, NY --John Keefe, WNYC) Brooklynites, now you may know: Your bus cometh.

You may know, that is, if you have a mobile phone and ride the B63, which rolls from Cobble Hill to Bay Ridge through Park Slope and Sunset Park.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced today that real-time data from GPS transmitters on B63 buses is available to the public. Riders can get the info in a few ways:

  • On a Google map.
  • Via a  text version of the entire route, locating the buses with bold text
  • You can get the info by texting a number that corresponds to your stop. A full list of stops and codes is here. For example, If you're  at Fourth Avenue and Atlantic, you'd text "MTA 308536" to 41411 and you'll get latest info texted back. Eventually, the proper code will be posted at each stop.
  • There will also be QR codes at every stop, so if your phone has a camera and a QR reader, you can shoot the pattern and jump online to the bus status for that location.  No word yet from the MTA when those codes will be posted.  As of today, there were blank boxes at many stops.

You won't see countdown signs like those new ones in the subway. At least not yet. But the MTA says it's developing ways for merchants on the route to have their own signs, kind of like what's been done in Boston.

It's also not really an app, and none of the methods above seem able to locate you with your GPS as you stand at a bus stop.

Massachusetts overcame those problems by making all the data available, in real time, to the private sector, and letting private software developers add the bells and whistles -- and as a result, all sorts of apps were created -- including one that will set off a alarm so you can leave your home or place of business when a bus approaches.  Massachustts' philosophy is that they're a transit agency, not software developers -- a fact that the MTA has seemed to partially acknowledge by teaming up with the non-profit group Open Plans to develop "bustime."

UPDATED Feb. 2, 2011: The MTA has also made data for B63 available to the public in this way. Using an API, or application programming interface, you can expect independent programmers will build applications and services using the live information.

In Boston, to get such applications, bus riders need to pay a small fee, usually about $0.99 or $1.99. The current NYC texting and web info is free.

The B63 joins two earlier pilot projects on the M16 and M34 in Manhattan.  Those projects were entirely paid for by the MTA.  The Authority isn't immediately saying how much it has spent on the B63 pilot.

Oh yes. So far as a field test could tell, the information seems to be entirely accurate.


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Red Light Cameras: Money Makers -- AND Life Savers

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

(Photo by FringeHog/Flickr)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a study today that says traffic cameras save lives -- despite the fact that many cities have deemed them too politically divisive to use.

To quote from the study: "Red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities...Had cameras been operating during that period in all large cities, a total of 815 deaths would have been prevented."

So why isn't the technology more widely adopted--particularly at a time when so many cash-strapped localities are slashing traffic-enforcement budgets?  Because opponents say cities are motivated by earning ticket revenues, not preventing accidents.

That sentiment was the driving force behind a Houston ballot measure last year, in which residents voted down that city's use of the cameras.  “They believed it wasn’t about safety, they believed it was about money, and they stood with us and they voted it,” said one man who helped organize the petition to put the issue on the ballot.  (That same man also said he felt like a "patriot" when he ran a red light.)

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Houston's Light Rail Expansion Could Be On Chopping Block

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

(Houston - Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives want to dump a thirty-five year old federal urban transit program, called New Starts. The program,  governed by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), doles out $2 billion dollars a year to mass transit projects across the country. The House Republican Study Committee has proposed to ax the program to trim back federal spending. Transit projects all over the U.S. could be in jeopardy if the committee's recommendation is heeded - and Houston's light rail expansion program is one of them.

Paul Magaziner, a vocal opponent of METRO’s light rail system, thinks the program should be cancelled. “Like it or not, the 112th Congress will decide the fate of METRO," he told board members at this week's meeting. "The jury is out. Cease and desist until you know what Congress and the FTA will choose to do and be able to approve.”

METRO is currently waiting on at least $900 million dollars from the FTA’s New Starts program for use on the Southeast and North rail lines. The authority has already begun work on the lines under the assumption it will be reimbursed through the federal grants. But Magaziner says METRO should halt all rail construction until it has every penny in the bank to fund the program in its entirety.

But METRO president and CEO George Greanias says stopping now isn't logical. “I understand that we’re all wondering what the new Congress is going to do," he said. "And there’s certainly a lot of statements being made about what the proper course for the country is. I don’t see many businesses in this country, I don’t see many folks just sort of shutting down and saying, ‘We’ll wait for a year or two while the Congress decides which way their going to jump.’”

Greanias says he’s confident METRO will receive the much-needed funds from the FTA. He points out that the FTA sent METRO a $50 million dollar advance on the grant last month and also issued pre-approval letters allowing the authority to commence work on the lines without delay. Greanias says calls to stop Houston’s light rail expansion are imprudent. “To simply shut the program down would cost several hundreds of millions of dollars and you’d have nothing to show for it,” he argued.

Plus, he says, construction is already underway. Roads have been torn up so the project can’t just be abandoned. The METRO board more than doubled this year’s budget for the light rail program, increasing it from $143 million dollars to $345 million.

Board member Christof Spieler says canceling the program due to speculation on the political future of Congress would "go against the will of the voters," who voted in favor of the light rail program in 2003.

The proposal could come to a vote in the House by the middle of February.

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NYC MTA: Budget Cuts Will NOT Mean Service Cuts or Fare Hikes This Year

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

New York's transit cuts (photo by Azi Paybarah/WNYC)

From the NYC MTA:

"We understand that the State’s fiscal crisis requires sacrifice from every area funded by the State, including the MTA. Because the MTA has already taken unprecedented measures to reduce costs, finding an additional $100 million in 2011 will be very painful, especially with sizable deficits still projected for 2012 and 2014. As we continue cost-cutting, further reductions become harder and harder to achieve.

"But we must fill this gap, and we will fill it without resorting to fare and toll increases or service cuts, because our riders have already been hit with these painful measures over the past year. Instead, we will work to find additional cost-savings through efficiencies and improved productivity throughout our company. We are hopeful that this year we can work with our labor unions to find productivity improvements that protect jobs even as we reduce costs.

"Making these cuts will be painful, but we can only spend as much money as we have. Given the financial pressures facing the State, local governments, and every New Yorker, our only choice is to manage the MTA so that every dollar counts."

And the Straphangers Campaign sends this along:

"Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed state budget has mostly good news for New York City-area transit riders in these tough economic times.

"It's true that the 2011-2012 State budget proposed to diverts a net of $100 million from funds originally passed for and dedicated to the MTA. In the view of the Straphangers Campaign and many other groups, those funds should be used to meet transit needs.

"However, the MTA says it will not have to turn to service cuts or fare increases to make up the shortfall. That's very welcome after an unprecedented three years in a row of higher fares – as well as last year's service cuts, the worst in memory.

"The MTA says that it will have to take "painful" actions. The Straphangers Campaign and other groups will monitor the agency's response closely to see that the transit system has adequate resources to provide safe, reliable, well-maintained, secure and clean service."

More analysis on the way.

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NY Governor Cuomo Proposes Using $165 Million in Transit Operating funds to Pay Debt Service

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A deep freeze in Albany as Cuomo prepares to unveil budget. Photo: Azi Paybarah/WNYC

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo releases his budget today -- slashing doesn't even begin to describe it.  Here's what his press release says about transportation (remember, this is his office's spin -- the most positive interpretation possible.)  Working on getting reaction:

"Despite the current fiscal crisis, Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget continues prior year funding levels for the core transportation capital programs supported by the Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund, providing $501 million for highway and bridge construction, $363.1 million for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and $39.7 million for the Marchiselli program for local governments, and $16.9 million for Amtrak service subsidies and additional rail capital investments.

"The Executive Budget also provides a modest increase in cash operating support for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of $43 million, bringing total cash operating support to $3.8 billion, and for other transit systems of $2 million, bringing their combined total to $401 million.

"Although the budget also provides $100 million to the MTA's capital program from redirected economic development funds, it also proposes using $165 million of Metropolitan Mass Transportation Operating Assistance Account funds to pay debt services on State bonds previously issued for the MTA capital program that otherwise would be paid from the General Fund and transferring $35 million in MMTOA funds to the General Fund."

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