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TN Moving Stories: MTA Defends Performance During Blizzard, and Disconnect Over Transit Btw. Candidates and Voters in Chicago Mayoral Race

Monday, January 17, 2011

MTA officials went before the New York City Council to defend their handling of the recent blizzard.  Speaker Quinn: "It really left me not feeling any greater level of confidence that the MTA can handle the next storm." (Wall Street Journal)

The Chicago Tribune says that transit is a sleeper issue in that city's upcoming mayoral race--and highlights a big disconnect between candidates and voters. "Transportation issues are not raised on the candidates' campaign Web pages, and no one has put together a position paper.  But a new public-opinion poll on mass-transit issues found that the Chicago electorate cares greatly about CTA service, extending even to individuals who don't ride the system."

Are drivers just eminently distractible? USA Today looks at federal distracted driving efforts and wonders if the focus on phones and texting is misplaced.  One hospital researcher says that cellphones are "yet another thing that's distracting people," but a "flood of new distractions are being built into vehicles."

Edmonton, the only city in Canada that doesn’t allow alcohol advertisements on its buses and rail, wants to overturn a long-standing ban on transit ads for liquor. (Edmonton Journal)

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: The new GOP chief is not a fan of high speed rail.  One study says that biking infrastructures create more jobs than road-based ones. And Governor Cuomo appointed a state DOT commissioner.

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New GOP Party Chief Not a High Speed Rail Fan

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reince Priebus, Newly Elected RNC Chairman (Getty Images)

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  The new head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus,  is no fan of high speed rail.  Priebus, who's been serving as Chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party, worked strenuously for the election of Governor Scott Walker of of Wisconsin, who recently returned some $810 million in high speed rail stimulus funding to the federal government. U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood redistributed the money to other projects -- mostly to California and Florida, who are actively working on rail systems.

Scott was the most vehement foe of high speed rail in the 2010 election cycle, setting up a anti-high speed rail website, notrain.com, and mocking rail investment in an "our roads" versus "their rail" television commercial.

Priebus wasn't as vocal in his opposition, but he did mock the project in this July tweet:

"Wis Dems & WH are pushing an unpopular high-speed rail that the state can't afford before Republicans can stop it. http://bit.ly/bpm21I"

National Republicans are showing little appetite for spending on big projects.  In addition to Walker, NJ Governor Chris Christie recently killed a $9 billion commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River, and Florida Governor Rick Scott expressed queasiness over spending any state money on a Tampa to Orlando high speed rail line, now backed with $3 billion in federal funds.

But Priebus hasn't exactly made opposition to high speed rail a central issue, and it remains to be seen whether such opposition finds its way into national GOP politics.

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Wanted: More Conversation on the Subway

Friday, January 14, 2011

Urbanist, Alex Marshall has a proposition for New York City Transit: add a conversation car to subway trains. In his gentle modest proposal published in the Daily News, Marshall waxes nostalgic for a day before iPods and kindles invaded the frenetic but friendly subway.

"Subway cars now resemble libraries or monasteries. That's why the recent altercation over New Jersey Transit's Quiet Commute program, with commuters arguing over the precise definition of what constitutes "quiet," is especially silly. With a pair of earbuds, we can all have as much solitude as we'd like.

"But what about someone who wants to engage in an activity that used to be normal: talking to the stranger next to him or her? What if, instead of treating your morning commute like a yoga retreat, you actually wanted to take a (wholesome, noncreepy) interest in one or two of the several thousand human beings around you. Where's the car for that? Where, on your bus or train, do you go for decent conversation?"

Have we lost a social space in the subways? What do you think?

Read the rest of his argument here.

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Study: Biking Infrastructure Creates More Jobs Than Auto-Based Road Projects

Friday, January 14, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  This study comes to us via Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary.  It's brief -- but by giving it the imprimatur of his blog, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is forcing us to pay attention.

Workers install bike lane. Photo: Marianne McCune, WNYC

The Political Economy Research Institute, a University of Massachusetts, Amherst-linked public policy group, looked at 2008 data from Baltimore, and found that while road projects created about 7 jobs per million dollars spent, bike projects created 11-14 jobs per million, and pedestrian projects, 11.

The report says  this is because bicycling and pedestrian projects have a high ratio of engineers to construction workers, and that engineering jobs are both more labor intensive and have a great "multiplier" effect -- meaning each engineering job creates more demand for labor in supporting positions, like clerical jobs.

We are fascinated that LaHood is calling this to our attention, particularly at a time when road builders are giving a bit of a sneer to the Obama livability agenda.

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Cuomo Appoints Joan McDonald as NY State DOT Commish

Friday, January 14, 2011

This just in from New York Governor's office. We'll have reporting on this later, but for now here is the full text of the press release:

Governor Cuomo Announces Appointments and Nominations

ALBANY, NY (01/14/2011)(readMedia)-- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the following appointments and nominations to senior positions within the state government.

Joan McDonald will be nominated to serve as Commissioner of the State Department of Transportation. Ms. McDonald is currently serving as the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. In May, 2008, she was appointed Chair of Connecticut Innovations, an authority providing development capital to emerging businesses. From 2003-2007, she was the Senior Vice President of Transportation for the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Prior to joining the NYCEDC, she spent five years as the Vice President of Jacobs Engineering. Ms. McDonald was Deputy Commissioner for Planning & Traffic Operations for the New York City Department of Transportation from 1995-1998 and served as the Director of Capital and Long Range Planning for the MTA Metro-North Railroad for the three years prior to that. She served as Special Assistant to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly from 1991-1992. She began her career in public service with the New York State Assembly in 1978, serving in various capacities on the Ways and Means and House Operations Committees, including Deputy Budget Director and Assistant Director of Research.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said, "Commissioner McDonald is a talented and hardworking individual, dedicated to helping create new jobs and engaging Connecticut's business community. I've enjoyed my working relationship with her, and we're sorry to see her go, but I know that her work ethic, her experience and her dedication to the job will be of great service to the people of New York State."

Denise Richardson, Managing Director of the General Contractors Association of New York, said, "Joan McDonald's broad range of expertise dealing with transportation and infrastructure contract, budgeting and project delivery issues in both the public and private sectors will be an asset to Governor's Cuomo's goals to create jobs and streamline government. Joan is an excellent choice to lead DOT and we look forward to working with her to ensure that the state's transportation infrastructure needs are met."

Yomika S. Bennett will serve as Assistant Secretary of Transportation. Ms. Bennett currently serves as the Director of State and Local Relations at the New York State Department of Transportation. Prior to joining the NYSDOT in 2007, Ms. Bennett served as Executive Director for the office of Assemblyman David Gantt. From 2001-2005, Ms. Bennett was the Senior Legislative Budget Analyst for the New York State Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. In 2000, she worked at Schenectady County Community College as the Coordinator of Institutional Research and Grants Support.

Assemblyman David Gantt, who serves as Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said, "Yomika Bennett is well known for her expertise, leadership and dedication to the State of New York, and particularly for the field of transportation. She is exactly what is needed to help develop a new vision for meeting the challenging transportation needs before us. Her integrity, intelligence and comprehension of the big picture, synthesizes issues and develop cogent responses will serve Governor Cuomo and his team well in their quest to preserve and rebuild our State's transportation program. I commend the Governor on his choice."

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TN Moving Stories: Florida Gov Lifts Freeze on Transpo Contracts; DC Metro Considering Selling Station Names, and LaHood Tells Bike/Ped Advocates That Now Is Th

Friday, January 14, 2011

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: NYC MTA raids show evidence of ongoing faked subway signal inspections.  DC's Metro is eliminating phone booths, and New Jersey Transit's website was briefly derailed when they failed to renew their domain name. And in other news:

DC Metro's budget has a $72 million gap (Washington Post). Metro now considering selling naming rates to stations (WAMU).

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has approved 71 transportation contracts worth nearly $90 million--a day after the state Senate's Democratic leader complained that the new Republican governor's 90-day freeze on state contracts is delaying job-creation. (AP via Bloomberg)

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood blogs about a new report that says "on-street bike lanes and pedestrian measures created more direct jobs, more indirect jobs, and more induced jobs per dollar than either road upgrades or road resurfacing." LaHood writes: "Now is the time for advocates of cycling and walking to get into gear once again."

Drivers entering San Francisco during the morning rush hour have shaved four minutes off their commute, says a new report about the Bay Bridge's congestion toll pricing. (San Jose Mercury News)

Southeast Queensland (Australia) public transportation will be free for a week in the wake of flooding. “Making the network free for a week will keep unnecessary cars off the road, help people do some shopping and get around to help others if needed," says the region's premier. (Brisbane Times)

Orange County transportation officials are seeking to change their funding guidelines to resolve whether a mega transit center planned for Anaheim can receive almost $100 million in sales tax revenue that has been earmarked for the project. (Los Angeles Times)

Calgary Transit is looking for passenger love stories.

Hmmm...How to put a positive spin on this? Let's see: the New York Daily News reports that one subway passenger was awakened by the furry caress of a rat crawling on his face. (Warning: if you find rats upsetting, avoid the video):
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Bay Area Transpo: New Years Resolutions

Friday, January 14, 2011

Photo from the Facebook group, "Make BART Trains Run 24 Hours”

(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) We've got a new weekly segment on the show looking at what's going on with transportation around the Bay. Have a listen over at KALW News.

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NYC MTA Raids Show Evidence of Ongoing Faked Inspections

Thursday, January 13, 2011

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) A pair of raids at MTA locker rooms in the past week have turned up evidence that subway workers are continuing the widespread practice of faking signal inspections.

Criminal charges may be next.

Last Thursday, authorities opened a locker in a crew room at the Times Square subway station and found hundreds of photo-copied bar codes from subway signals. A signal inspector can scan bar code copies with a hand-held device to falsely report that inspections have been done throughout the system--without ever going out into the field. A 2005 report by the MTA Inspector General said some workers claimed to be walking the rails and inspecting signals when, in fact, they'd been on vacation.

A second raid on Monday turned up dozens of copied bar codes lying around a crew room in plain sight. A city worker with knowledge of the raids said binders with copied bar codes "were on top of lockers, in common areas. They could be used by anyone in the room, like a kind of shared set of codes." It is illegal for signal inspectors and maintainers to be in possession of copied bar codes.

Michael Boxer, a spokesman for the MTA Inspector General, said the copies, and where they were seized, "raise issues of discipline, issues of possible criminality." A staff member for an elected official who'd been briefed on the raids said MTA supervisors who encouraged or knowingly signed off on the false inspections may be charged with criminal conspiracy.

Last week's raid, which was first reported by The Daily News, was conducted by investigators from the offices of the MTA Inspector General and the Manhattan District Attorney. It occurred as NYC Transit president Thomas Prendergast was giving testimony to the City Council Transportation Committee about how his agency was trying to get a handle on the problem. "This is a senior management failure," he said. "It's a cultural failure. We're going to take severe action."

Officials from Prendergast's division conducted Monday's raid.

The MTA has known for years that up to 90 percent of signal inspections are faked. A 2000 report by the agency's Inspector General first identified the problem. The report further said that the signal system's archaic technology did not allow investigators to figure out who was lying. In response, MTA managers put bar codes on the signals to insure, they thought, an inspector couldn't claim to have checked a signal without having been physically present to scan a specific code.

But workers took photos of the bar codes on the signals, printed those photos and then photocopied them for scanning. Once that happened, rampant fakery could occur--and did, according to yet another report by the Inspector General, this one in 2005.

When City Councilman James Vacca asked NYC Transit officials, including Prendergast, at last week's hearing why no action had been taken on that report, the MTA managers said they didn't know because the abuses had largely occured before their tenure. Prendergast became NYC Transit president in November 2009.

"The MTA is out of excuses," Vacca replied. "It's time to take action."

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the raids represent just that. “This has been a problem for quite some time now," he said. "This is essentially the first administration of the MTA that has taken solid, concrete and immediate action to put an end to [falsifying signal inspections]. We're working on a change of culture, communicating to employees that record falsification will not be tolerated.”

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Sorry Superman, Can't Change Here: D.C. Metro To Eliminate Phone Booths

Thursday, January 13, 2011

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) D.C.'s Metro announced this morning it will eliminate almost all of the 1,074 pay phones in its train stations.

The reason why shouldn't be surprising to anyone who has ever seen someone who appeared to be talking loudly to themselves but was actually using one of those tiny Bluetooth thingies in their ear: cell phones are pretty prevalent nowadays. It seems like everyone has one. Yes, everyone.

Long, long ago, you had to find a phone booth (and a quarter) to make a phone call. Now, if you have a cell phone, you just have to find something to say - and even that's not always necessary.

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Bill Seeks To Close Loophole in Montana Traffic Law On Hit and Run Accidents

Thursday, January 13, 2011

(Helena, Montana--Jackie Yamanaka, Yellowstone Public Radio) Montana lawmakers are considering a bill aimed at closing a loophole a state law involving traffic accidents where the alleged perpetrator flees the scene.

Senate Bill 68 would clarify that a driver has a duty to remain at the scene of an accident involving death, personal injury, or damage to a vehicle.

The law is currently a Catch-22, says Montana Department of Justice prosecutor Ole Olson.

He told the Senate Judiciary Committee a driver is required to stop only if he knows he’s injured or killed a pedestrian, for example.  But the driver won’t know that, says Olson, unless he has stopped.

“And what happens is someone who doesn’t want to talk to the police, doesn’t want to be involved because they’ve been drinking has every incentive to close their eyes and continue down the road,” Olson says.

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NJ Transit's Website Briefly Derailed

Thursday, January 13, 2011

(robotbrainz/Flickr)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  Transportation Nation received a tip this morning from a reader:

Is it possible that NJ Transit did not renew their domain name for the website?  http://www.njtransit.com/ Sure looks that way...
This makes it difficult to find schedules, to say the least.  Thought it might be worth looking into.

And it was.

"For a brief time this morning, the domain name lapsed and needed to be renewed,"  agency spokesman Dan Stessel told Transportation Nation, who also said that it was dealt with promptly. "It was quickly detected--an hour from detection to resolution."

Stessel said while 80% of people trying to access the website never noticed an issue, there were still some users who were being directed to a holding page. "We believe it affected one in five users between 7am and 9am today," he said.  He said that customers who had signed up for the agency's My Transit bus and rail service alerts continued to receive text messages throughout the morning.

Network Solutions, the company that hosts NJ Transit's website, said that the website actually expired on January 7th and the agency renewed it this morning.

NJ Transit seemed to have been caught by surprise. "We don’t have any record of notification, which is unfortunate," Stessel said. "We’re looking into it further. Our domain name provider says 'we sent emails' -- but they did not seem to be received."

Stessel wanted to reassure customers that this wouldn't happen again anytime soon -- or at least for the next two decades, because "we’ve renewed the domain name for 20 years."  For the cost of $279.80--less than price of a monthly rail pass between New Brunswick and New York Penn Station.

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TN Moving Stories: The Auto Industry Looks Into the Future; NJ Transit Studies Light Rail Over Bayonne Bridge, and Will BART Operate 24 Hours A Day?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BART station (Jason Schlachet/Flickr)

New Jersey Transit is considering a future expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail over the Bayonne Bridge into Staten Island; a Port Authority spokesman said it's far too early to say whether it's a realistic proposition. (Jersey Journal) (More on the upcoming Bayonne Bridge work can be found here.)

Missouri approves new rules for speeding and red light cameras on state roads. The key phrase: "regulate," not "eliminate." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KALW takes a look at BART's new year resolutions--and previews what transportation changes will be coming in 2011 for the Bay Area.  Will BART operate 24 hours a day? Stay tuned...

Want to know what the auto industry will look like in five years? The Detroit Free Press reads the tea leaves at this week's Auto Show.

A state panel votes to replace Texas Transportation Commission with a single chief. "I see this as being an almost Cabinet-level-like appointment," says the panel's vice chair. (Dallas Morning News)

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require bicycles to have license plates; bike advocates are not amused. So far, no one else has signed on to the bill. (NorthJersey.com)

Do London's bike superhighways boost cycling? Streetsblog says yes.

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: it snowed -- and New York City didn't grind to a halt. One weapon in the war against snow: GPS devices on snowplows.  Meanwhile, in Houston, a state vs. county battle is brewing over who will build the Grand Parkway -- a 180-mile ring around the city that will traverse seven counties. And: author Tony Hiss talks about his new book, In Motion: The Experience of Travel.

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State vs County: Who Will Build Giant Ring Road Around Houston?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Grand Parkway Segment E

(Houston, TX -- Pat Hernandez and Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) A state-county debate over who will build a ring road around Houston is picking up steam and heading toward resolution this week, but that doesn't mean everyone is happy with the progress.

Harris County handed over responsibility to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Tuesday for building a segment of the Grand Parkway, a proposed 180-mile ring road that will cross seven counties around Greater Houston.

Fifteen months ago, Harris County took control of the project under the assumption TxDOT didn't have the money to build the road and the two planned to come to an agreement on how tolls would be collected and distributed. More recently, Harris County Commissioners challenged TxDOT to build a 15-mile segment from Interstate -10 to Highway 290 after the state said it has $425-million to spend on the project.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett was happy with Tuesday's vote to waive the county's right to build the Grand Parkway, also known as state highway 99. He says it means the Grand Parkway could be built sooner. "It will also then let us focus on other parts of our own toll road system. For example widening South Belt, looking at new projects, like Hempstead, and it'll allow us to focus on other transportation projects. And let the state build State Highway 99, which is the Grand Parkway."

Emmett says they have an advanced funding agreement with TxDOT, which includes reimbursement for the design and money already spent on the project. The Grand Parkway is expected to cost in excess of $5 billion when completed.

For him it’s a win-win: The state will begin construction on part of the Grand Parkway, and the county will be able to direct its energies on other transportation projects that could help ease traffic congestion. This is good news, says Robin Holzer, Chairwoman of Citizens’ Transportation Coalition.

“By all accounts the 290 corridor is the most congested transportation corridor in the entire Houston region. So if letting the Grand Parkway go gets the county to focus our tax dollars on a project that will make a difference – like the Hempstead managed lanes, or perhaps a rail project in the northwest corridor – that’s a good thing.”

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Bloomberg: GPS Devices Will Be Installed on All Plows

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Saying his pilot project installing GPS devices -- essentially low-cost walkie talkies-- on snowplows was a success, NYC Mayor Bloomberg says all plows will get them.

From today's Mayoral snow debrief: "One of the GPS -equipped plows got stuck, and the driver was just able to touch a button and alert his garage and also talk to the other snowplow drivers who were in the neighborhood."

Sanitation Commissioner Doherty says the devices, costing $40 a piece,  should be in all 1700  trucks and plows by winter's end. No word from City Hall on whether the public will be able to see the data in real time.

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More Than Getting from Here to There: Author Tony Hiss on the Passenger Experience

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Many planners, architects, and urbanists keep a copy of The Experience of Place, Tony Hiss's classic meditation on how we react to our surroundings, close at hand. Transportation planners and designers may find themselves equally enthralled by Hiss' latest, In Motion: The Experience of Travel, which similarly describes in enlightening detail what it feels like to be on the move, and why. Transportation Nation's Matt Dellinger recently spoke with Hiss in his Greenwich Village apartment about his observations and the potential for improvement in our lives as passengers and pilots.

Author Tony Hiss (MPR image/Euan Kerr)

Matt Dellinger: Your latest book, In Motion: The Experience of Travel, describes the existence and importance of a mental state you call “deep travel.” What is deep travel, and is it difficult to attain?

Tony Hiss: I think we're all deep travelers, but most of us are a little rusty at it. Deep travel to me means that state when everything around seems fresh and vivid and memorable and ready to be explored. It feels almost like waking up while you're already awake.

I contrast deep travel to the other two principle states of mind that we're endowed with and that we know a great deal about, daydreaming and focused attention. Both of them are highly valuable tools, but both of them operate by excluding the world. With daydreaming, our mind floats free, but we're not paying attention to anything around us. And with focused attention we deliberately shut out the wider world. Deep travel operates by welcoming the world. It's the “un-filter,” if you will. Sensation just floods into us and yet we're able to keep track of multiple variables. No matter how much of a hurry we're in, when we're in this state of deep travel we seem to have enough time to take everything in and not be rushed by it.

Matt: You write that a friend of yours compares it to the feeling we have when we're lost, and looking for a clue in every little thing.

Tony: That's absolutely true. Of course, that's not the most exhilarating part of deep travel but it is the state of mind that we're immediately projected into when we have lost our bearings—because we need to find immediately some thread that leads us back to some kind of grid where we know what's going on.

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NYC Doesn't Grind to a Halt in Storm

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Jersey Transit riders disembarking at Penn Station during Northeast Snowpocalypse 2.

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Joyce and Bob Fliegel decided last night that the snowstorm would not keep them from getting to the city from their home in Merrick, Long Island. They’re due on a Caribbean-bound cruise ship departing from a Manhattan pier at 4 p.m. today. Taking no chances on missing it because of a snow-stranded train, they left yesterday and spent the night in Penn Station.

“We spent it with a lot of homeless people,” Bob Fliegel said with the good cheer of a man leaning on a suitcase full of sunscreen and Hawaiian shirts. He and his wife napped on chairs in the Long Island Railroad waiting room until station cleaners kicked them out at 3 in the morning. They then bought train tickets to Newark, which was the cheapest way to gain access to the all-night Amtrak waiting area.

“It was pretty creative,” he said.

Airline passengers were not so lucky. Read more on WNYC.org.

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Changing The Way We Look at Left Turns

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Superstreet (photo courtesy of Dr. Joe Hummer, NCSU)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  What kind of traffic design "results in significantly faster travel times, and leads to a drastic reduction in automobile collisions and injuries?"

According to a new study by North Carolina State University, the answer is...a *Superstreet.

These roads, which are also more dryly known as  "restricted crossing U-turns," are streets in which drivers have to make right turns in order to go left (although some do allow direct left turns, like in the photo above).  Doesn't that seem counter intuitive to the "faster travel times" claim? But the NCSU press release addresses this:  "While this may seem time-consuming, the study shows that it actually results in a significant time savings since drivers are not stuck waiting to make left-hand turns or for traffic from cross-streets to go across the thoroughfare."

More importantly: one of the academics behind the study, NCSU civil engineering professor Dr. Joseph Hummer, says: "We also found that superstreet intersections experience an average of 46 percent fewer reported automobile collisions – and 63 percent fewer collisions that result in personal injury.”

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TN Moving Stories: LA Retires Last Diesel Bus, Why Taxis Are Scarce in NYC at 5pm, and Snowstorm Disrupts Travel -- but Newark Is Prepared

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Giant amoeba-shaped" snowstorm blankets northeast, snarls flights, causes some transit disruptions. (New York Times)

Get your NYC winter storm travel advisories here.

Senator John Kerry warns that partisan fighting threatens US's global standing, urges colleagues to invest the hundreds of billions to repair the nation’s decaying transportation infrastructure and build a renewable-energy technology sector. (The Hill)

Wondering how Newark prepared for today's snowstorm? Wait no more!

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority retires its last diesel bus today, becomes first (and only) major transit agency in the nation with a fleet that is totally equipped with alternative-fuel technologies. (Los Angeles Times)

Ever feel like you can't get a taxi on a NYC street at 5pm? You're right, because data proves cabs disappear by the hundreds between 4pm and 5pm. (New York Times)

Chicago's Metra commuter rail introduces a quiet-car program, providing a haven for passengers who don't want to "hear about every medical malady in the world." (Chicago Tribune)

A federal audit sharply criticizes Miami-Dade Transit for shoddy financial management and weak internal controls -- including improper accounting for bus fare boxes and a failure to document how federal grant money has been spent. No word yet on when federal transit dollars will flow to Miami again. (Miami Herald)

TheCityFix takes a look at how transit systems worldwide use symbols to help you find your way.

The Takeaway looks at hybrids vs. electric cars at the Detroit Auto Show; listen below!

New York Daily News cartoonist Bill Bramhall neatly combines Mayor Bloomberg's apparent flight from Bermuda during the 12/26 blizzard with his attempts at improving city snowplows.

Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News

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NYC Declares Weather Emergency: Don't Drive. Don't Get Stuck.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

11-01

Tuesday, January 11, 2010

WEATHER EMERGENCY DECLARATION

At the direction of the Mayor, the public is hereby advised that significant snowfall has been forecast for tonight.

  1. The public is urged to avoid all unnecessary driving during the duration of the storm and until further directed, and to use public transportation wherever possible.  If you must drive, use extreme caution.  Information about any service changes to public transportation is available on the MTA website at http://www.mta.info/.
  1. Any vehicle found to be blocking roadways or impeding the ability to plow streets shall be subject to towing at the owner’s expense.
  1. Effective immediately, alternate side parking, payment at parking meters and garbage collections are suspended citywide until further notice.
  1. The Emergency Management, Fire, Police, Sanitation, and Transportation Commissioners will be taking all appropriate and necessary steps to preserve public safety and to render all required and available assistance to protect the security, well-being and health of the residents of the City.
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NYC MTA Chair: "If You Don't Need to Travel (In Blizzard), Don't"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MTA Chairman Jay Walder meets the press to talk blizzard.

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) MTA Chairman Jay Walder held a press conference this afternoon to outline transit preparations for the blizzard bearing down on New York. In opening remarks, he said: "Service during a winter storm is always fraught with difficulty. If you don't need to travel tomorrow morning please don't."

Walder then talked about lessons learned from his agency's poor performance during the late December blizzard and detailed operational upgrades now in place to prevent stranding hundreds of buses in the streets and passengers on trains.

But his statement implies the agency is anticipating serious service disruptions throughout the region tomorrow on subways, buses and trains.

Transportation Nation is seeking clarification on the strength of the recommendation that non-essential workers in the New York area stay home during Snowpocalypse II and avoid mass transit.

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