Streams

Transportation Budget Responses 3: American Public Transportation Assocation

Monday, February 14, 2011

The American Public Transportation Association is pleased with transportation spending levels in the budget, which, if it passes unchanged, would mean a 60 percent increase over last year. The APTA also likes Obama's proposal of a $30 billion infrastructure bank.

President Obama released his proposed budget for 2012 this morning. We are collecting responses and parsing through everything transportation and infrastructure related in the $3.7 trillion dollars of spending.

We’ll be posting various responses and a round-up at the end of the day.

From the APTA statement:

“We applaud President Obama for his leadership and vision in making public transportation and high-speed rail programs a high national priority,” said APTA President William Millar. “Given the difficult federal budget environment and the need to grow jobs and the economy, the President’s proposal recognizes the difference between spending and investment.”

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Transportation Budget Responses 2: US DOT, Sec. Ray LaHood

Monday, February 14, 2011

President Obama released his proposed budget for 2012 this morning. We are collecting responses and parsing through everything transportation and infrastructure related in the $3.7 trillion dollars of spending.

We’ll be posting various responses and a round-up at the end of the day.

Here's the official response from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Not surprisingly, Secretary of Transportation supports his boss' budget noting that the $129 billion budget for the Department of Transportation is part of a six-year plan to help "win the future," the emerging slogan of the Obama administration introduced in his State of the Union speech.

A 52 page summary of the DOT budget is online here if you have the printer ink for it.

From the DOT Statement:

“President Obama’s budget for the Department of Transportation is a targeted investment in America’s economic success,” said Secretary LaHood.  “If we’re going to win the future, we have to out-compete the rest of the world by moving people, goods, and information more quickly and reliably than ever before.  President Obama’s investments in rebuilding our crumbling roadways and runways, and modernizing our railways and bus systems will help us do just that.”

Nationwide, our transportation systems are already congested and overburdened.  With the United States’ population expected to grow from more than 300 million in 2010 to more than 400 million by 2050, rebuilding and expanding the capacity of our roads, airports and transit systems is a strategic necessity for long-term economic growth.  The transportation investments proposed in President Obama’s FY12 budget will put Americans to work repairing the bridges and repaving the roads we have now, while supporting the development of the new electric buses and high-speed rail lines of America’s future.

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Transportation Budget Responses 1: from Transportation for America

Monday, February 14, 2011

President Obama released his proposed budget for 2012 this morning. We are collecting responses and parsing through everything transportation and infrastructure related in the $3.7 trillion dollars of spending.

We'll be posting various responses and a round-up at the end of the day.

Transportation For America, a transportation reform group that wants to see more investment in infrastructure likes the budget. 

James Corless, director of Transportation for America, issued this statement (excerpted below):

“The President’s proposed budget delivers on his recent promises to ensure we have the 21st century infrastructure necessary to support a revitalized American economy. While we believe the President is right to pursue a front-loaded investment in this budget that will boost employment in everything from construction to manufacturing, we are most excited by the bold proposals to ensure that the money is spent wisely and accountably.

“The Administration’s visionary reforms recognize where we are at this moment in history: Having built the world’s best highway and bridge network, we have to focus on preserving those aging assets while we build the missing pieces of a modern system that allows people and goods to get where they’re going cheaply, conveniently and safely. The Administration is right then, to propose a “fix it first” policy that will ensure that transportation agencies stop siphoning off money intended to rehabilitate bridges and highways. Equally smart are proposals to reward innovation through competitive grants that emphasize greater efficiency, broader and more affordable options and reduced dependency on foreign oil."

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Who Was Plessy? What does Transportation Have to Do with Civil Rights?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nancy Solomon and Andrea Bernstein discuss how Jim Crow laws started (hint: it had to do with a train), how the civil rights movement got underway in earnest (hint: it had to do with a bus) and where its all going (hint: it has to do with transit expansions).

Listen to their segment on the Brian Lehrer Show here.  Listen to the documentary on transportation and civil rights here.

Or listen on WNYC AM&FM this Wednesday at 8 pm, or on KUOW Seattle tonight at 8.

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Love Can Happen Anywhere - Even on the NY Subway

Monday, February 14, 2011

Be mine. (Photo by Ed Yourdon / Flckr Creative Commons)

(New York -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) You’d think Cupid, being a Roman god, wouldn't hang out in the subway. But he does. We put the word out for couples who met on mass transit and heard back from so many that we concluded the God of Desire has an unlimited Metrocard.

It was November 2009 and Daniel Espinosa, in town from Connecticut, had wrapped up a business meeting and was waiting for the downtown 6 train at 33rd street. He sensed a woman standing behind him. He turned and saw Rebecca Stepler. It was 6:30 on a Thursday evening. She was headed home to Brooklyn from work.

"I asked her if she knew of a good place to go for a drink," he recalled. "You know, I was playing a little dumb."

He may have been an out-of-towner but he knew where the bars were. In fact, he had plans to meet friends at a bar in a couple of hours.

Rebecca rattled off a list of establishments. Daniel listened politely, without really listening. When she finished, he got to the point. "Will you join me?" he asked. She thought to herself, "I'm not that kind of person." Then she thought: "What the hell. It's only a drink."

They took the train, got off at 14th Street, and walked a couple of blocks to Nevada Smith's. Over beers, the strangers warmed to each other. "She thought I was genuine, I guess," Daniel said. Rebecca said their conversation was unusual for two people who'd just met because it was "so natural."

Two hours later, Daniel reluctantly left to join his friends. Except that's not where he was going. Rebecca says, "He actually had a couple of hours to kill because he had a date."

A date?

"Yeah," said Rebecca. "I'm the one who usually tells that part of the story."

They laugh about it now because after that chance encounter on the platform, they began spending weekends together. Four months later, he moved into her apartment in Downtown Brooklyn. In March 2010 they married.

We heard the same story arc, with varying details, from others.

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Rail, Transpo Projects Face GOP Ax in Spending Bill

Monday, February 14, 2011

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Transportation projects are set to take a massive, immediate hit under a spending bill headed for the floor of the House of Representatives this week.

Republicans are aiming to cut nearly $15.5 billion from the section of the budget carrying transportation and housing funding. The money comes out of highway projects, infrastructure investments, and particularly high-speed rail.

The bill, what’s known in Washington as a continuing resolution, funds the government from March 4 through the end of September, 2011. Overall it contains around $63 billion in immediate cuts from current spending levels across the government. It’s all part of Republicans' pledge to reduce immediately reduce spending, and it could go even further by the time the bill is done being amended on the floor.

It’s also prelude to a broader budget fight hitting Washington this week. President Obama unveils his Fiscal 2012 budget plan Monday morning. That covers spending beginning October 1, 2011, and its big transportation highlight--$53 billion in high-speed rail funding—is already attracting Republican derision.

“We’re broke,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning. He repeated the refrain all week as Democrats, and even some Republicans, complained about the pain such immediate cuts could cause.

Before we look at specifics, keep in mind: After passing the House, this bill still needs to get through the Senate, where Democrats have a majority and lawmakers overall are considerably less enthusiastic about immediate discretionary spending cuts than are their House colleagues.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a conservative member of the Appropriations Committee and a spending hawk, acknowledged late last week that the aim of the deep-cutting House bill was two-fold: To fulfill Republicans campaign promises and to go into negotiations with the Senate “with as big a number as possible.”

A good chunk of that big number will come out of high-speed rail, if the House GOP gets its way. The continuing resolution hitting the House floor this week goes after $2.475 billion in funding already sent out to rail projects under stimulus and from other sources. It also seeks to hold back another $2.5 billion in high-speed rail funding yet to go out the door.

But rail isn’t alone. The bill cuts $600 million in general “national infrastructure investments," and takes another $600 million-plus from Federal Aviation Administration. Highways take a major hit as well, with $650 million slated for cuts to the Federal Highway Administration’s general fund and another $293 million in cuts to “surface transportation priorities”.

Democrats are predictably incensed at the GOP package. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused Republicans of taking a “meat axe” to the federal budget. House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), responded to the GOP proposals by backing a quick, and ultimately failed floor attempt to renew “Build America Bonds” for infrastructure funding.

“When you say they want to cut transportation, we know right away that’s a false economy,” Pelosi said to an organized labor crowd including members of the United Steel Workers on Thursday.

But the House’s cuts in general, and high-speed rail cuts in particular, are music to the ears of many Senate Republicans, at least publicly. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee said Thursday that high-speed rail projects were not efficient at stoking economic growth and should be killed.

The continuing resolution is set to hit the House floor Tuesday for at least two days of debate and amendments, possibly more. Conservative lawmakers are promising attempts to cut even more from federal spending right away. According to Boehner, if successful amendments lead to even deeper immediate cuts this week, “that’s fine.”

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TN Moving Stories: Canadian Oil Keeps Midwest Gas Prices Lower Than The Coasts, Republican Budget To Hit NY's MTA, and Americans Like Transportation, They Just

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Rockefeller Foundation survey says Americans support road upkeep and transit systems --  but they don't want to pay for them. (Washington Post).  (A storyline we've been following:  check out these stories from September 20, 2010: "Election Report:  Give Us Transportation, Just Don't Make Us Pay For It," and this one from November 1, 2010;  "Wariness about Spending on Transportation and Infrastructure Accompanies Voters To the Polls."

Gas prices are rising faster on the coasts than they are in the Midwest, thanks to bargain-priced oil coming in from Canada. (NPR)

New York's MTA would lose $73 million in federal aid under the House Republicans’ budget plan to be voted on this week, according to a study released yesterday by Rep. Anthony Weiner. (AM New York)

All five candidates in Tampa's mayoral race support light rail and improved transit -- as well as high-speed rail in Florida. (Tampa Tribune)

A light rail system that would stretch from Detroit's downtown to one of its business districts and then several miles further to the border with its northern suburbs was the topic of a hearing this weekend. Some fear that even if the project advances beyond its initial 3.4-mile stage and links the riverfront to the Eight Mile Road city limits, it will not stretch far enough. "Where's it going to go from there?" said one resident. "Ain't no jobs in this city. It needs to go into the suburbs, not just stop at Eight Mile Road." (Chicago Tribune)

NPR says the U.S. is in a streetcar boom, and more than a dozen cities either have them or are actively planning for their development, according to Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

The NY Daily News rejects one local politician's idea to make platforms safer -- but says the MTA "has a responsibility to do something when a train hits someone on average once every four days. It should test platform doors in a pilot program and not be rattled by critics."

Colin Beavan (remember No-Impact Man?) says bring on the bike lanes. "The fact of the matter is that it would be safer for New York as a whole if we had more bike lanes. And not just the people who travel along the streets, but the people, like you and me, who live on them

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Transportation projects are set to take a massive, immediate hit under a spending bill headed for the floor of the House of Representatives this week. One city in France is considering an 18 mph speed limit. We test drive the MTA's real time bus info. And there's a new lawsuit for Indiana's I-69 highway project.

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National Documentary on Transit and Civil Rights Airing This Weekend, Next Week

Saturday, February 12, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein) If you've been wondering what that logo is to your right, it leads you to the website for "Back of the Bus," our national documentary on transit and civil rights (Go ahead, click!)

Here's a description, and at the bottom of the post, there are several local listings.  You can check your local station, and as we gather more, we'll let you know.    Or you can download the audio from the website.

"(New York, NY - February 7, 2011) -  Equal access to transportation was once a central issue of the civil rights movement, which, in 1955, galvanized African Americans including a young Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and most famously, Rosa Parks, during the Montgomery bus boycott. But soon after, civil rights workers turned their attention to desegregating schools, lunch counters, and voting booths, and U.S. transportation policy began encouraging suburban growth. Many African American neighborhoods were razed for highway construction, and cities were left with sub-standard transit systems.

On Saturday, February 12, WNYC and Transportation Nation will debut “BACK OF THE BUS: Mass Transit, Race and Inequality,” a one-hour radio documentary exploring the fight for equal rights on America’s roads and transit lines. The story of “BACK OF THE BUS” will be told through archival footage of ROSA PARKS, along with tape and interviews with top U.S. officials and transit and civil rights experts, including HUD Secretary SHAUN DONOVAN; Federal Transit Administrator PETER ROGOFF; and former U.S. Transportation Secretary FEDERICO PEÑA.

Produced, edited and reported by WNYC’S ANDREA BERNSTEIN, Director of WNYC’s Transportation Nation project, and NANCY SOLOMON, a Peabody Award-winning documentary producer, this collaborative reporting project visits communities across the nation to show how transit and race relations are inextricably bound – past, present, and future.

BACK OF THE BUS” will journey to five different cities:

ST. PAUL, where the neighborhood is being bisected – just as it was in the 1960s, resulting in the loss of 700 businesses – this time by a light rail line that was planned to go through the neighborhood – but not stop in it;

OAKLAND, where local riders are losing bus service, but $500 million is being spent on a connector from Oakland Airport to downtown;

ATLANTA, where the transit system has long been seen as something only poor minorities use, reinforcing segregation and creating some of the worst suburban sprawl and traffic in the nation;

WASHINGTON D.C., where, as a result of an extensive 35-year old commuter rail system, land values have skyrocketed in downtown neighborhoods that whites once fled;

… and DENVER, a city that’s currently undergoing the largest transit expansion in the nation, and  wary officials and non-profits are struggling to keep land along the new rail stations affordable – and accessible – to the city’s minority population.

The full audio, a timeline of important dates for mass transit and civil rights, data regarding how mass transit affects property values and a slideshow of people and places featured in the hour are available at http://transportationnation.org/backofthebus.

Airs on WNYC February 12 at 6AM on 93.9 FM and 2PM on AM820, February 13 at 8PM on AM 820, and February 16 at 8PM on AM 820 and 93.9 FM

Airs Friday, February 18, 2011 at 8:00 PM on 90.3 WCPN,

Airs Monday, February 14 on KUOW Seattle 94.9

Airs Monday, February 21, on KALW San Francisco Bay Area 91.7

Airs Wednesday, February 23 on Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana and Wyoming.

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French City Considers 18 mph Speed Limit

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Strasbourg Downtown Square (Flickr user ChristinaT)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The city of Strasbourg in northeastern France has announced a plan to reduce vehicle speed limits throughout the city to 30 km per hour, or just 18 m.p.h.

Treehugger reports the city, the capital of Alsace, is already one of the most bike-friendly cities in France, and much of the city already operates on an 18 mp.h. limit. One goal of the measure is to reduce crashes, particularly those involving pedestrians and bikes, but the stated reasoning according to the mayor is a city of shared streets.

Mayor Roland Ries said in a statement translated on Treehugger, "The public roads no longer belong to automobiles alone. They must be re-imagined to be redistributed in a fairer manner between all forms of transportation. The protection of the most vulnerable is thus reinforced in zones in which all users have access but in which the pedestrian is king."

The historic city center is a "pedestrian priority" zone using the "filtered permeability" planning philosophy, which promotes travel by foot or pedal power by reducing the number of through streets for cars while increasing them for pedestrians and bikes. There's also a pretty futuristic looking tram criss-crossing the downtown. For a sense of just how transit-oriented the town is, here's a diagram of the public transport in the city center.

The general public will vote on the speed limit reduction in May.

Full story at Treehugger.

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Red Tape or a Green Vine? A New Lawsuit Against I-69

Friday, February 11, 2011

(Matt Dellinger - Transportation Nation) In Indiana, another battle has begun in the war over Interstate 69.

Wednesday, the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) and the Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads (CARR) filed a complaint (pdf) asking the U.S. District Court to invalidate an Army Corps of Engineers permit issued for the I-69 Evansville-to-Indianapolis highway project.

"The suit alleges that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers never conducted a thorough, independent, and objective review of the permit application or analyzed alternative routes before issuing the permit," a press release says. "One of these alternatives, a route following U.S. 41 and I-70, would save Indiana taxpayers over a billion dollars and reduce the project’s destruction of wetlands, streams, forests and farmland by 60 percent."

The members of both HEC and CARR have been fighting the state highway department over its plans for the “NAFTA Highway” for twenty years, objecting not as NIMBYs but on more universal social, economic, and environmental grounds. Both groups were party to a 2007 lawsuit, also filed in District Court, that argued more generally that Indiana’s new-terrain route had been chosen unlawfully. The decision (pdf) by Judge David Hamilton, upheld the state’s actions, but left the door open to future lawsuits such as the one filed Wednesday.

The initial hearing in the case probably won’t be for a few weeks, but meanwhile the conversation about the relative importance of environmental concerns and highway construction will continue, in a different way, nearby.

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Mapquest Joins HopStop, Google, Offers Transit Directions

Friday, February 11, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Mapquest now includes transit directions for many U.S. cities. HopStop began the same service in New York in 2005. Google Maps also has a transit feature.

One tricky element of transit mapping directions has been the walking portion of a trip, specifically distinguishing which roads are best for pedestrians when that differs from driving directions.

Mapquest said in a statement that their new transit and pedestrian options allow "walking travelers to be routed down one-way streets, pedestrian malls, through parks and along designated paths" and " provides train departure and arrival information, helpful hints to alert train passengers, and station search information in designated cities."

The transit feature works in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Boston. MapQuest worked with San Francisco-based, geospatial data and mapping company, Urban Mapping, to develop its transit option, and additional city content is planned for 2011.

HopStop works in 27 cities and metro regions.

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NYC MTA Posts Bus Stop Numbers, Now You Can Text for Live Bus Information

Friday, February 11, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  If you've been wanting to try out the MTA's real time bus information pilot along the B63 line in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Park Slope, and downtown Brooklyn, so far as we can tell, the placards with the numbers to text have now been posted.

So, if you're at a stop, you text TO number 41411 the message MTA, and your stop number.

I tried:  MTA 308207

I got back:  B63 3 stops away, B63  2.0 miles away, B63 2.4 miles away, etc. (down to B63 5.2 miles away (at terminal).

Seems to be working just fine -- though for now you have to send a text to check on the bus's progress, and it took a few of us a few tries to get all the spacing right.  (If you put in MTA308207 with no spaces, for example, you get an error message).  Have you tried it? What do you think?

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TN Moving Stories: Worst January In 6 Years for NJ Transit, DC Metro Haunted By Bad Decisions, and Columbus Shelves Streetcar, Light Rail Plans

Friday, February 11, 2011

January snowstorms dealt NJ Transit’s its worst month for train delays in six years. "Trains were late six or more minutes 8.8 percent of the time last month, the worst showing since January 2005, when the number was 11.1 percent. Last year, only 4.1 percent of trains were tardy for the same month." (The Star-Ledger)

Pennsylvania counties try to coordinate public transportation for senior citizens and disabled people. (The Patriot News)

Will private plane info become public? Most private plane owners would no longer be able to prevent the public from tracking their flights in real time under a new policy being considered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. (ProPublica)

DC's Metro recently underwent a change in leadership -- but some of the financial decisions it made in the past are still haunting the organization. (WAMU)

A survey showed that 31% of New Yorkers dislike Taxi TV. And the Taxi and Limousine commissioner feels their pain. (NY Times)

Columbus shelves its streetcar and light rail plans. (Columbus Dispatch)

But, elsewhere in Ohio: a bipartisan group of northern Ohio congress members met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss building a high speed rail line along Lake Erie that would link Cleveland with Chicago, Detroit, Toledo and Buffalo. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

The NY MTA is trying to appease local businesses disrupted by the building of the 2nd Avenue subway with better-designed construction barriers and fencing -- and a sign that reads, "Shop 2nd Ave."(NY Post)

Own your own ferry: a former Staten Island ferry boat, named the Gov. Herbert H. Lehman, is being sold on eBay at a starting bid of $500,000. (NY Daily News)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following:  Climate change is threatening -- among other things -- New York's transit infrastructure. Amtrak sets ridership records. And Nancy Pelosi says we have a several trillion dollar deficit in our infrastructure in America.

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Sea Level Rise From Climate Change Could Turn New York Into Venice

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Malcolm Bowman (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Malcolm Bowman, an oceanography professor from Stony Brook University in Long Island, stood at the snow-covered edge of the Williamsburg waterfront and pointed toward the Midtown skyline. "Looking at the city, with the setting sun behind the Williamsburg Bridge, it's a sea of tranquility," he said. "It's hard to imagine the dangers lying ahead."

But that's his job.

He said that as climate change brings higher temperatures and more violent storms, flooding in parts of the city could become as routine as the heavy snows of this winter. We could even have "flood days," the way we now have snow days. Bowman and other experts say the only way to avoid that fate and keep the city dry is to follow the lead of the Dutch and build moveable modern dykes. Either that or retreat from the shoreline.

The city got a glimpse of such destructiveness with the December nor'easter of 1992, when massive flooding shut down the PATH train and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Again, in the summer of 2007, a flash storm dumped so much rain so quickly that the subways were paralyzed. Afterward, the MTA removed 16,000 pounds of debris from its tracks and spent weeks repairing electrical equipment.

For the rest of the story,  maps and other images showing New York's vulnerability to extreme storms in an age of climate change, go to wnyc.org.

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Amtrak Sets Ridership Records

Thursday, February 10, 2011

(photo by Steven Vance/Flickr)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Amtrak said today it had the best January ever. This follows 15 months of steady ridership increases. Officials say the rail service is being helped by the improving economy, sustained high gas prices, and the addition of Wi-Fi internet to the Acela.

And-- as President Obama said in his State of the Union -- riding the rails doesn't require a pat-down.

This news comes on the heels of the Republican's announcement yesterday that they want to cut Amtrak’s budget by $224 million, and slash funding for high-speed rail by $1 billion. And they're not exactly happy about the president's plan to spend $53 billion on high-speed rail over the next five years.

You can read Amtrak's release below.

Amtrak_ATK-11-019a_Amtrak_Sets_15_Month_Ridership_Record-1

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Pelosi: We Have A Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Deficit

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi with San Francisco Mayor Lee, construction workers hired with Recovery Act funds, and their children on the site of the Tenderloin YMCA housing development in San Francisco in January 2011. Photo: Pelosi's Office

Transportation Nation's Todd Zwillich was on hand Today when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held what he describes as "a rousing press conference" with Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and other groups, urging Congress to pass the renewal of Build America Bonds that expired last December.

She said the bill would accelerate private and public construction, echoing the president’s State of the Union call to “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”

Democratic Reps. Gerry Connolly, Va., Loretta Sanchez, Calif., and John Carney, Del., also spoke in support of the resolution.  You can listen to an excerpt of Pelosi's speech here, or read the transcript below.

______________________________

Just to put this in perspective, Mr. Connolly of Virginia talked about the leveraging of dollars. My colleague, Congresswoman Sanchez, talked about the need for these jobs and the urgency of creating them now. Mr. Carney brought his knowledge and expertise on bonding to support this legislation--it will make a tremendous difference.

When we heard last week from the Society of Civil Engineers, they told us we have a several trillion dollar deficit in our infrastructure in America. It’s not only dangerous in terms of the conditions of our roads – which get about a ‘D’ – there are roads and bridges that get D, D-, C-, like that where we don’t have any good grades. It’s a matter of water systems – so this it’s a health issue– some of our water systems are made of brick and wood – imagine how ancient those are – it’s about future, broadband, that takes us into the future and helps us communicate. It’s about dredging our ports. We talk about trade and the rest – we can’t get all the profit from our trade unless you have the biggest draft on those ships to carry the biggest load of American products out of our country. And that’s not just about coastal America—it’s about what comes down the Mississippi, and what crosses our roads to get product to market. Infrastructure is important to every aspect of our economy – from international trade to lightbulbs for our homes, as we place an emphasis on doing this in a green way. You know, they say if someone would come back to our country from a hundred years ago they’d see so much different. But if Thomas Edison came back, everything would look about the same. You are making the difference in all of that!

We’re very determined to renew Build America Bonds, we know it’s urgent at any time, because of the infrastructure needs we have in our country…but at this time of such great unemployment, it’s absolutely essential. So we extend a hand of friendship to our Republican friends and say ‘let’s do this.’ It’s about public-private partnerships, it’s about leveraging the public dollars in a way that would have great scrutiny and is urgent right now.

Are we ready to create jobs right now?  Are we ready to build America with Build America Bonds? (Cheering)

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Airlines' On-Time Performance Holds Steady in 2010

Thursday, February 10, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Airlines had essentially the same on-time performance in 2010 as they did in 2009 -- just shy of 80 percent, according to numbers released today by the DOT. See the DOT's full release below, which also contains info about tarmac delays, mishandled baggage, and discrimination complaints.

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TN Moving Stories: Guerilla Urban Planner Plants R.I. Stop Signs, and Obama's Infrastructure Bank

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Obama administration's budget proposal (due out next week) will call for creation of a national infrastructure bank -- a system that could take some spending decisions out of Congress' hands, said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. (Wall Street Journal)

(photo by COCOEN via Flickr)

An anonymous guerrilla urban planner has planted nearly 600 "undocumented stop signs" in the town of Cranston, RI--and a special town government committee has elected to keep almost all of them in place. (BoingBoing)

Portfolio Magazine looks at how Democrats are pushing infrastructure and high speed rail, while  Republican are targeting transportation funding.  "Both sides should expect to get derailed." The Wall Street Journal has a similar view.

Two taxi medallions in New York City are being sold for a record $950,000 each. (NY Daily News)

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood is trying to broker peace between Chicago's Mayor Daley and the CEOs of American and United Airlines, who are feuding over a proposed expansion of O'Hare Airport. (Chicago Sun-Times)

The Hill writes about Congressman John Mica. "Like President Obama, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman is a backer of high-speed rail. But House Republican leaders, to put it simply, are not as enamored of the idea."

Is there a chance the City of Milwaukee would be willing to share at least part of almost $55 million in federal transit funding – money currently designated for the planned Downtown Streetcar Circulator – with Milwaukee County to help fund its bus system?  That was an idea floated by the campaign of Chris Abele, a Milwaukee philanthropist and candidate for Milwaukee County executive, earlier this week. (Milwaukee Magazine)

Two bills intended to reduce distracted driving are heading to the Virginia House of Delegates. (WAMU)

And, just in time for Valentine's Day, a little transit romance. New Yorkers: have you ever had a missed connection on public transit? The NY Transit Museum is hosting a "love in transit party for all would-be romantics" on Valentine's Day.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following:

  • Should EV owners pay a gas tax anyway?
  • NJ Transit gets in the real-time transit info game
  • The Republican budget would slash transportation funding
  • A group of businesspeople and retired military leaders say the goal of the US's transportation policy should be to reduce oil consumption

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Should EV Owners Pay a Gas Tax Anyway?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Washington State is looking to levy a special tax on eco-conscious car owners. Road maintenance is typically funded by a gas tax, both federal and local. So the prospect of a growing number of electric cars that wouldn't use gas at all is putting a little worry in the Washington state legislature.

The proposed tax would be $100 a year per electric car. According to The Seattle Times, Mary Margaret Haugen, the lead sponsor of the plan, said, "Electric cars will be driving on the highways right along with all the other cars. One of our biggest issues is preservation and maintenance of our existing highways. We believe they should be paying their fair share."

At an average of $12,000 miles per year and average fuel efficiency, The Times calculates that the average gas-consuming driver pays about $200 a year in gas tax.

Is this just fairness in public finance? Or disincentive for purchasing cleaner cars?

(Via Inhabitat.)

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City Streets Riddled With Potholes

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

(photo by Karly Domb Sadof)

(Brian Zumhagen, WNYC) It's a holey mess out there.

The unrelenting winter weather has taken a toll on New York City streets, leaving deep potholes throughout the five boroughs and in some cases creating perilous conditions for drivers and pedestrians.

The city has filled 60,000 potholes since the beginning of the year, a 20 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the Department of Transportation. But because of budget cuts, every road repair worker furloughed on five days spread out over the winter. It now takes crews an average of just under four days to fill a pothole.

Last year, it took about two days.

Fayyaz Ahmed, a cabbie, blew out a tire and had to pay $150 on repairs.

"You have to be very careful when you're driving on the road," he said. "I've never seen the city like this before in 18 years!"

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said conditions aren't bad considering how much abuse the streets have taken from the snow, the plows and the fluctuating temperatures.

"They're probably doing a very good job of keeping up with it," he said. "Do we have enough resources? No. And unless we can get some help from Albany in reducing some of the mandates, the future is going to mean even more sacrifice."

And people driving over the Brooklyn Bridge tonight will be experiencing that sacrifice. Here's the NYC DOT's Facebook status: Due to the effects of winter storms on Brooklyn Bridge roads, urgent resurfacing work begins this weekend. 11 PM-6AM Wed & Thurs, and 12AM to 6PM Sat, all Manhattan-bound traffic will be detoured. Contraflow will be in effect, and all BK-bound traffic will travel on the north roadway. In 2 locations on the FDR Drive + the BQE, closures will begin 30-60 min earlier to allow work crews to set up.

To see a slideshow of New York's pothole-ridden streets, visit WNYC.

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