Streams

How to Cross a 7-Lane Highway: Go Under, Not Over

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Billings cyclists participate in a ribbon cutting to christen a new bike/pedestrian tunnel that connects bike trails under Montana's busiest highway (Jackie Yamanaka)

(Billings - Jackie Yamanaka, Yellowstone Public Radio)  Overcast skies and a few snowflakes didn't deter a group of cyclists, runners, government officials and others from christening a newly completed tunnel under Montana's busiest highway.

Darlene Tussing is the Alternative Modes Coordinator for the City of Billings. "It's seven lanes of traffic," she says. "And it's not someplace you'd like to take your family on a bike ride."

Until now.

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TN Moving Stories: Chicago Wants To Sell Naming Rights to L Stops, NJ Transit Says There is Life After ARC, and Montreal Unveils Bus Shelters of the Future

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A just-released 300 page audit shows that DC Metro failed to keep up with escalator maintenance in its subway stations (WAMU)--and knew that its escalator brakes were faulty a month before an incident that left six people injured.

The cash-strapped Chicago Transit Authority wants to sell naming rights to its L stops, lines, and bus routes. (Chicago Sun Times)

NJ Transit's "quiet cars" pilot program is such a hit, they're expanding it to additional lines. (Star-Ledger)

One thing NJ Transit does want to trumpet in a loud voice:  "You can see, we really are about more than just one big project — no matter how big that project is," said exec director Jim Weinstein, at the first post-ARC NJ Transit meeting. (Star-Ledger)

Now everyone is joining in the "save HSR in my state" fray on Ray LaHood's Facebook page.

Behold: scenes from inside the Chevy Volt Factory.

Montreal unveils its "bus shelters of the 21st century," complete with solar panels, STM network maps, signs showing bus schedules and routes, and motion-sensors that turn up lighting when people enter.

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Ask a board member: AC Transit riders take their worries to the top

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Protestors mourn the "death" of AC Transit. Photo by Casey Miner.

(San Francisco – Casey Miner, KALW News) A little more than a week ago, beleaguered East Bay bus company AC Transit cut more than seven percent of its service. The cuts came on Halloween: boo. And they came on top of the 7.5 percent the agency already cut back in March. Boo, again. There is some good news: more cuts had been planned for December, but officials announced late yesterday that they wouldn’t have to make them, thanks to a new agreement with their drivers union. But don’t breathe that sigh of relief just yet – even more cuts might be on the way next year.

A situation this bad makes room for animosity ­– riders feel like they’re being ignored, while officials say they have no choice but to make these cuts. KALW’S Casey Miner tries to bridge the communication gap in this report.

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SERIES: How Viable is High Speed Rail in California

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The proposed California rail plan, courtesy of the California High Speed Rail Authority

If high-speed rail is going to happen anywhere on a bigger scale than the current Northeast Acela service, it's going to be in California. In 2008, voters approved a $10 billion bond measure to fund a train that can zip people from L.A. to San Francisco in just two-and-a-half hours.

But the train would also be noisy, and to some residents, and unwanted eyesore. Palo Alto and two other cities are suing the state to stop California's plan. It's by no means a sure thing.  KALW's Casey Miner examines the real prospects of the biggest rail project in the country. Listen to the full story here on Marketplace.

And you can see the whole Marketplace series on the Future of Transportation here.

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Stand By Your Lane: Do Cyclists Have Hope to Cling To?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

City Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito holding 2,500 petitions in support of extending the East Side bike lanes (Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) “No bike lanes to nowhere” was the message today from bicycle advocates, who were rallying on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to deliver about 2,500 handwritten letters to Mayor Bloomberg. They want the city to follow through on a proposed plan to build protected bike lanes along Manhattan’s First and Second Avenues, from Houston Street to East 125th Street. The lanes were initially endorsed by the city—but construction has stopped at 34th Street, with no plans to move northward at this time.

The rally, which was sponsored by Transportation Alternatives, drew about 50 people, including elected officials State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Jose Serrano, and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito.

Viverito, who represents East Harlem, said that extending the lanes to 125th Street was only fair. “We're also talking about equity for our neighborhoods,” she said. “Why should only Midtown get the benefit of having these protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands?”

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Feds to NJ Transit: You Owe Us $271 Million for ARC Work. NJT: Not So Fast

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Monday, the Federal Transit Administration sent this letter to NJ Transit requesting immediate repayment of $271 million in federal money spent on preliminary work for the ARC tunnel project killed by Governor Chris Christie on October 27th.

The federal government had obligated $350 million already for the initial phase of planning and construction. Of that, New Jersey has spent just over $271 million and the feds want it back. NJ Transit, for its part, is saying not so fast. Their response is below the FTA letter.

ARC Repayment Letter

NJ Transit issued Transportation Nation this response:

"NJ TRANSIT received the FTA request for repayment on November 8, 2010.  At this time, we are reviewing the request, and are assessing our options.  NJ TRANSIT does not agree that the issues are as clear cut as portrayed in the FTA letter."

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Christie Skeptical of Global Warming

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Governor Chris Christie, who recently killed the nation's largest transit project, the ARC tunnel, says "more science" is needed to convince him that humans cause global warming.  The Huffington Post has the full transcript of his remarks, and an update from Christie's press office.  Christie has become a darling of  Republicans this fall, winning the Tea Party straw poll for President, though he recently told "Meet the Press, there is "absolutely" no chance he'll run for President in 2012, but as for 2016 "I''ll need a job, you know"? -- Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation

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ProPublica: Obama Stimulus Claims "Half True:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Obama on 60 Minutes: Photo: 60 Minutes

Propublica fact-checks Obama's 60 Minutes Interview:

Obama says:

"One of the interesting things about the Recovery Act was most of the projects came in under budget, faster than expected, because there's just not a lot of work there."

Says ProPublica:

"Obama makes a valid point about this being a good time to get deals on infrastructure projects. The recession has created desperate workers willing to work cheaper, and the cost of materials is still relatively low. Obama's point that this was borne out by the stimulus projects is on target. But he stretched the facts -- at least what is actually known -- when he claimed most projects have come in under budget and faster than expected. And so we rate his claim Half True."

But whether the work is done faster and cheaper than expected, that may not address the concerns of many Americans:  did it create enough jobs?   For Obama's thoughts on that, continue reading.

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SERIES: Could HSR Kill Short Hop Flights?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shinkansen 300 Series Train (Caribb/Flickr)

Last month, the U.S. government pledged another $2.5 billion for high speed rail. That money will go toward building train lines between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Chicago and Detroit--the kind of short trip a business traveler right now takes to the skies for. So what will happen to airlines when trains will get us to a place almost as fast? Listen to the story here.

And you can see the whole Marketplace series on the Future of Transportation here.

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NYC Taxis, Ready for A Makeover

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

(Felix Morgner, Flickr)

An iconic symbol is facing a makeover: NYC is holding an international design competition to redesign the yellow cab. The winner will have the exclusive right to make taxis for the next decade.

Currently 16 different vehicles are approved for use as taxis. But the city is looking for a single model that will be used by all: one that is safe, comfortable, fuel efficient, affordable and accessible.  One taxi to rule them all!

Read the story at WNYC.

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TN Moving Stories: Unintended Consequences of the Tarmac Rule, NJ Transit Not Eager to Repay $271 Million, and Cabbies Help Tweak GPS

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wisconsin gov-elect Scott Walker's response to Ray LaHood: fix roads before you build rail. Also, some friendly advice: "All across the country, in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, the voters chose new governors who are opposed to diverting transportation funding to passenger rail. I believe it would be unwise for the Obama administration to ignore the will of the voters." (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

New Jersey is not exactly whipping out its checkbook to repay $271 million to the Federal Transit Administration for the canceled ARC tunnel project, because "NJ Transit does not agree that the issues are as clear cut as portrayed in the FTA letter." (Asbury Park Press)

US airlines are stranding less passengers--but canceling more flights. Unintended consequences of the tarmac rule? (Bloomberg via MPR)

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 41% of drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point. (Los Angeles Times)

How can you improve GPS directions? Ask a cabbie. (Good)

Lansing wants to dip its toes into bus rapid transit. (Lansing State Journal)

Czech transport minister loses his license for 6 months for driving without valid license plates. (Czech Happenings)

Good Magazine wants to know: What is the best bus route in America?

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SERIES: Is Bus Rapid Transit The Solution to Transit's Fiscal Woes?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The HealthLine rapid transit bus in Cleveland.

Demand for public transportation is rising, but transit authorities across the nation are facing budget cuts. Many cities are testing rapid transit buses, which are hundreds of millions of dollars cheaper than rail lines. Reporter Dan Bobkoff takes a ride on Cleveland's HealthLine Rapid Transit Bus.  The story is here.

And you can see and hear the whole Marketplace series on the Future of Transportation here.

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CEO of Houston's Metro: Gaining the People's Trust is Our Biggest Challenge

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF) With Houston well on its way to becoming the third largest city in the nation, providing sufficient public transportation should be a top priority, says Metro president and CEO George Greanias. But the agency has a lot of past mistakes it has to overcome first. Greanias delivered the State of Metro address to stakeholders in Houston’s business community today to discuss what he called the second biggest issue the city is facing, after education: mobility. Translation? The entire Houston region (eight counties worth) needs solutions to its traffic woes, in the form of both roads improvements and transit services.

According to recent polls and surveys, the majority of Houstonians want more transportation dollars to go toward public transit than roads, but at the same time, people don't trust the Houston transit agency to get things done. Greanias says one of the agency’s biggest challenges is restoring faith and trust in Metro– something that was lost during the previous administration. But Metro is still having a hard time getting it back and keeps running into major funding hurdles.

Hear the rest of the story over at KUHF - Houston Public Radio.

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Facebook Support for High Speed Rail in NY has Ray LaHood Wondering

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) In his latest blog post, Ray LaHood talks about an "explosion of notes from people urging Department of Transportation support for high-speed rail in New York State."

Ever since governor-elect Andrew Cuomo wrote to LaHood last week to say New York would be happy to take federal money for high-speed rail that other states turned down, people have taken to LaHood's Facebook page to post variations on the theme "I support HSR for NY!"

"I don't know who started it," LaHood writes, "but (it) sure got my attention!" He goes on to say "I hope other states will join the engaged New Yorkers who have reached out to me this week by saying a resounding, 'Yes' to high-speed rail.

Do you know?  Post a comment, or send us an email at transponation@gmail.com

Meantime, LaHood isn't saying if NY will get more money.

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Public Transit, Personal Economy

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

(T. Rivkin/Flickr)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Each month, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) releases a monthly transit savings report, in which it calculates the cost savings that residents in 20 different cities (with the highest transit ridership) would realize if they dumped their cars and relied upon public transit.

In theory, you know that untethering yourself from insurance payments and gas prices will save you money. And yet perhaps you will be unprepared to read this month that you might save $13,962 annually if you dumped your car, which is what APTA estimates car-owning New Yorkers would save.

APTA is a public transit advocacy organization -- one of my colleagues refers to it as "the Chamber of Commerce for transit agencies"--so bear that in mind. However, $13,962 is a large enough number to make most people want to read the fine print.  The average cost savings  for these 20 cities was $9,515.

Here's how APTA explains their methodology. (I roughly interpret their equation as "the price of your monthly transit pass - cost of car ownership [gas, insurance, parking]=savings.)

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Bad Week for Clipper Card

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

(San Francisco – Casey Miner, KALW News) Clipper, the Bay Area's new one-size-fits-all transit card, is having, um, kind of a bad week: The San Francisco Examiner points out that a chip in the card stores data on each customer's daily itinerary, which state senator Joe Simitian called "literally a road map to your personal life."

But all that technology can't keep people from gaming the system: Matthew Roth at StreetsblogSF reports that customers can use cards purchased at Clipper vending machines to ride BART all over the Bay for the bargain price of $2. A BART spokesman called the scam Clipper's "dirty little secret. Of course, it's not so secret now.

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SERIES: Houston Mayor Wants to Prod residents into EV's AND Cars that Talk

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF)   Houston is best known as the capital of Big Oil.  But Mayor Annise Parker says alternative energy is on the way:   She tells us:    "We're a sprawling city that's built around the automobile. If we can convince Houstonians that electric vehicles are the way to go, then it can work anywhere."  That city struggles to provide enough chargers to meet demand. Full story, on Marketplace.

AND:  In ten years, driving will be nothing like it is today -- cars will "talk" to each other and stop signs, making it harder to crash -- and easier to shop. But can you deal with a car that bosses you around?  Andrea Bernstein's story is here.

And you can see the whole Marketplace series on the Future of Transportation here.

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Stargazing at Grand Central Terminal

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New Yorker Hatmane Gacevic looking at the new lights at Grand Central Terminal (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The iconic constellations on the roof of Grand Central Terminal are shining again after new LED lights were installed yesterday. Read the story--and see more photographs--over at WNYC.

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TN Moving Stories: A Birds-Eye View of the Marathon, LaHood Threatens to Pull WI Stimulus $, and FTA To NJ: Where's Our $271 Million?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ray LaHood's "congratulatory" phone call to Wisconsin's governor-elect, Scott Walker, involved threatening to yank $810 million in stimulus money if Mr. Walker doesn't soften his opposition to a high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison (Wall Street Journal). Don't worry, Wisconsin--Illinois will take that federal money off your hands.  (But hey! New York already called dibs on that cash!)

Speaking of money, the Federal Transit Administration sent New Jersey a bill for $271 million for the canceled ARC tunnel, plus the promise of an audit. (AP via WSJ)

Illinois senator Dick Durbin wants the EPA to investigate complaints that toxic diesel pollution is inundating commuter rail cars and Chicago's two major rail stations. (Chicago Tribune)

Last night's Community Board 7 meeting about the new Columbus Avenue bike lane focused on complaints from business owners about parking--and an admission from the DOT that the actual number of spaces taken was 67, not the 55 that was originally projected. (DNA Info)

New York's MTA put together a birds-eye view of Sunday's marathon, weaving together footage from its traffic cameras.

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Wisconsin Governor Doyle Explains Why He's Shut Down Rail Project He Supports

Monday, November 08, 2010

Last week Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, an adamant rail supporter,  suddenly stopped all work on his state's high speed rail projects. He did it because Governor-elect Scott Walker has said he plans to kill the $800+ million dollar project citing cost concerns.

Here's Governor Doyle's explanation for shutting down the rail projects he fought so hard for. It's as bittersweet as you can get in a press release.   (Double click on the image and you should be able to see it full size)

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