Streams

Take That, Non-Levitating Bicycle Thieves

Monday, November 29, 2010

Enter into the creative process as a group attempts to build a prototype of a bike lock that secures your bike against a post -- then raises it up.

Yes, the video is entirely in German, but I think we can all agree that the desire to build a better bike lock is universal.

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TN Moving Stories: Reconnecting What the BQE Severed, Mass Transit Expanding in L.A., and Looking Ahead to Intelligent Flight Paths

Monday, November 29, 2010

New York City ponders how to reconnect two neighborhoods that were severed years ago by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. (WNYC)

Second Avenue Sagas talks budget woes with the MTA's Jay Walder.

The Guardian is providing live updates from the U.N. climate change summit, which opens today in Cancún. Last year's summit was described as an "unmitigated disaster" or a "moral outrage," so it's probably fair to say that expectations for consensus on reducing carbon emissions is low.

A proposed high-speed rail link between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities is the topic of two public meetings, with the first one scheduled for today in St. Paul. (Minnesota Public Radio)

The TSA says Thanksgiving travel went smoothly (Washington Post). But it might go even more smoothly in the future, when the FAA overhauls its air traffic control systems and institutes intelligent flight paths. (Smart Planet)

Mass transit is expanding in Los Angeles. “The whole old-school L.A. thinking that people don’t ride subways, that’s a thing of the past.”(New York Times)

Bicycle commuting has tripled in big cities over the past two decades."It's almost like a snowball effect...People see other people cycling and they say, 'Wow!' (NPR)

Your parking history lesson for the day: Think vertical parking lots are futuristic? Check out this Chicago lot, circa 1930.

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Norm Mineta, Former Sec. of Transportation, "Roads and Highways" top Transpo Priority, Defends Earmarks, Questions Some Defense Spending

Friday, November 26, 2010

Norm Mineta in 2001. Image: Alex Plummer / FEMA

Norm Mineta served as Secretary of the Department of Transportation in both the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations. Lately Mineta's been teaming up with Republicans and Democratic DOT secretaries in the hopes of convincing Congress to make major new transportation investments, including a $50 billion infrastructure bill championed by President Obama.

The trouble is that in these days of giant debt and political polarization, Congress is in little mood to listen. Transportation Nation's Todd Zwillich recently sat down with Mineta at his current office in at the Washington lobbying firm of Hill & Knowlton to ask about Washington's attitude toward roads and highways, high speed rail, and the prospects for bipartisan agreement in an era of political warfare.

[MP3]http://audio.wnyc.org/news/news20101123_minetta_zwillich.mp3[/MP3]

"I was hoping that we'd be able to see something around the infrastructure bank being considered in the past during the lame duck session....I haven't seen anything to confirm any kind of activity that would connote action during the lame duck."

TZ: You joined the president and bi-partisan past transportation secretaries in the WH rose garden a few weeks ago pushing for the president's proposal for an immediate 50 billion investment in infrastructure and transportation. What are you hearing around Washington about the prospects of that money being approved in the near term...?

Norm Minetta: I was hoping that we'd be able to see something around the infrastructure bank being considered in the past during the lame duck session. In fact that's what we were hoping would be the result of former Secretary Sam Skinner and I meeting with Pres Obama and Secretary Geithner and Secretary LaHood, but I haven't seen anything to confirm any kind of activity that would connote action during the lame duck. And I did see secretary LaHood maybe about a week, ten days or a week after that session and it didn't seem like anything was happening.  So I guess we'll have to wait until after the start of the new 112th congress.

TZ: ...You've called for a transformational investment in infrastructure. Can we get it in this 112th congress? Where do you think we're heading given this political environment?

NM: Well, I think those of us who are proponents of transportation spending, really haven't done a good job of justifying what that spending is all about. When we think about everything we eat, wear, consume, whether as individuals or a business, it just seems to me what we're not seeing is that everything we have in terms of food, clothing, whatever you want to talk about, got to a store, got to a distribution center got to our house by something on wheels, and we really haven't done a very good job of relating that spending. When I hear these folks talk about look at that pork. Well that pork  is really economic activity and it just seems to me then we just  haven't done a good job at explaining. The mere fact that spending money, is not pork. That there is substance to that spending. And the other thing to is besides spending from tax revenues, there's also a great deal that is accumulating in the private sector that's available for expenditures in infrastructure, what I call pipeline -- private investment in public enterprises. So it seems to me what we ought to be doing is utilizing this whole public/private partnership in order to advance spending and not just tax revenue.

"When I hear these folks talk about look at that pork. Well that pork  is really economic activity and it just seems to me then we just  haven't done a good job at explaining. The mere fact that spending money, is not pork. That there is substance to that spending."

TZ: As you know the reality of our political environment right now suggests that any increased spending ... might be pretty unlikely and a lot of people in Washington are limping along with what are called continuing resolutions--staying with current funding levels. ...Now if that happens, and we just go along with any continuing resolutions for the next 2 or 3 year, what are the consequences of that in practical terms?

NM: Well, just in the transportation field, in the past we've has T-21: the transportation efficiency act for the 21st century. That was a $230 billion expenditure over a six year period.  SAFETEA-LU was a successor and that was $270 billion over a 6 year period. Chairman Oberstar put in the surface transportation assistance act and he called for $450 billion, but to the extent that the surface transportation assistance act never got enacted, we're now working on the $270 billion that's now been replaced since 2003. So here we are in 2010, and we're still working on a $270 billion authorized level. Now in the meantime, there's been a tremendous increase in the cost of doing business. And when you think about the highway trust fund, 87% of that highway trust fund, is going to maintaining what we have already built. So that means that 14% is available for new but again with the cost increases, we're really getting 20% less for what we have to spend. So it is costing us all very dearly. And the problem is that today, given that we're working on a global economic marketplace, we're going to be impacting on our own productivity, impacting on our own congestion and have a economic disadvantage competing against Germany, China, India, Japan, all the other countries in the economy who are making tremendous investments in their own transportation infrastructure.

TZ: In the short term, over the next year, the new chair Mr. Mica from Florida, starts to work on a transportation bill, do you see any prospects of the kind of bipartisan agreements that can make the kind of investments you're talking about?

NM: I think given the fact that that gasoline tax generates about 300 billion, instead of a $450 billion bill, maybe we should just stay with a $300 billion bill and work on that for the time being.

TZ: That's a lot of maintenance then and not much new. You gave a matrix before of maintenance versus new. Scaling back to $300 billion sounds like a lot of maintenance for the next few years.

NM: But it's still an increase from the present $270 billion, so to that extent, it is an increase, but it's not ... you figure it's a 20% increase in cost, that means we should probably be at minimum $330 billion, and that is to an extent, a reduction if we stay with $300 billion. But it seems to me, $300 billion is a better place to me to be working on these extensions, that we have right now. I think we're working on our 11th extension right now. and that ends on Dec. 31. So during the lame duck session, we're going to have to extend that Dec. 31st date to June, sometime in that time period.

TZ: What do you think is the future of high speed rail? Will it survive this political environment? And if a couple of states stick with their high speed rail, but most don't, will it take the wind out of the sails for high speed rail and this push that the stimulus act tried to make for it.

NM: I think high speed rail was always considered to be a regional kind of a program: There was Portland-Seattle-Vancouver. California had LA to San Francisco, Texas, Florida, the Northeast corridor and the Midwest. So there's been really, regional high speed rail. The $8 billion that was in the stimulus program went to something like 120 areas. I think Chairman-designate Mica  coming in the 112th congress is supportive of high speed rail, but thinks that there ought to be criteria by which we measure projects that are going to be funded, so that we are speaking on the  high speed rail and not higher speed rail. I think congressmen Mica is supportive of high speed rail, but doesn't like the sort of the spreading out of the money to 120 or so projects and would rather have had that money concentrated in ...

TZ: let's say - Florida.

NM: Florida has an Atlanta to Tampa route. That's a 110-mile-route. California is probably the longest at 150 miles. Portland, Seattle, Vancouver is probably 100, maybe 200 miles. Of course Texas is such a big state, it has a potentially big one.

TZ: This method of 120 locations, regions that you describe, is the classic formula that congress uses to get by in from as many members as possible, we have something to gain or nothing to lose if it's not funded. Mr. Mica is talking about something much more streamlined. Do you agree with that approach or would it jeopardize the support you can get with that kind of funding if the benefit only goes to a couple of places, instead of being spread around?

We "ought to really be getting to an effective high speed rail... greater than 200 mph... Even if  we have only five places in the country that have real high speed rail that we would be better off than having short segments of 90 mph trains."

NM: Well when the Europeans and Asians talk about high speed rail, they're talking about 220 miles per hour. Japan is going to a maglev that goes to 300 miles per hour. When we talk about high speed rail, we're talking about 120, 150 to 220 mph.  Right now a lot of these projects, trains are going 85 mph and we're going to go to maybe 97 mph. Well, I think if I read Congressman Mica correctly what he's saying, we ought not to be doing this kind of high speed rail. But ought to really be getting to an effective high speed rail based on what others think of, and that is at least 220 mph- 200 mph,  greater than 200 mph... Even if  we have only five places in the country that have real high speed rail that we would be better off than having short segments of 90 mph trains.

TZ: You've dealt with Congress. You've had experience in both Democratic and Republican administrations. High speed rail in five regions. Is that something you can get the rank and file go along with? And is that something in the Midwest or people in places that don't get the direct benefit, don't necessarily want to sign up for if it's just Florida, California and New York that benefits?

NM: Well, I think it has to be done, in conjunction with something else the Miller Report talks about and that is a budget reform. And you have actually two budgets: a capital budget and an operating budget. And the train systems under a bifurcated budget system like this will get no operating subsidies, in that they will have to be cost recovery based on the fare box.

TZ: In other words, the federal government can invest in building, but operating costs will be in fares, with no transfer of funds, let's say from tax payers in Kansas to commuters in New York City.

NM: Europeans and Asians, you look at those high speed rail systems--TGV in France, Shinkansen in Japan--get no operating subsidies from the government. They are totally dependent on their efficiency of operation, their fares, and their fare box, for the operation of the system. Yet the Japanese Federal Government helps in the construction of the capital arena.

"I can cite examples of Halliburton or KBR or Blackwater spending billions and what we have nothing really to show for it. So it seems to me, again, that if they are going to say spending needs to be looked at then, it seems to me we have to look at spending all across the board."

TZ: In the environment that we have ... can Washington produce any kind of transformational transportation and infrastructure policy over the next two years or, honestly, are we going to have to just limp along until 2012 in terms of transportation?

NM: If the conservative groups are willing to say all defense spending is good and we ought to keep spending there and we don't apply and standards of efficiency or lets say an internal rate of return or return on investment. Then that seems to be to be foolish. I can cite examples of Halliburton or KBR or Blackwater spending billions and what we have nothing really to show for it. So it seems to me, again, that if they are going to say spending needs to be looked at then, it seems to me we have to look at spending all across the board.

Why is the Chamber of Commerce promoting their ATM, their Americans for Transportation Mobility? Because it is important in terms of economic engine, as job builder. So to me this is not just a business issue, its also personal in terms of quality of life. Am I going to be caught up in congestion and not able to get home to have dinner with my family, or can I be home in time to be with Johnny for his soccer match. To me congestion is part of that economic equation of what happens in life. And we ought to be working on relieving congestion, and this is going to require spending. so we have to make sure that the money we spend is being spent efficiently, and there is a return on that dollar. So we can make a differentiation on the types of spending that goes on.

TZ: What is the single greatest area of transportation infrastructure?

NM: Roads and highway conditions, is to me critical. The interstate highway system after WWII created the largest increase in economic development in the country. That was not just by accident. That great growth of our economy is directly attributable to the interstate highway system  and its expansion. And at the same time it gave mobility to people to move about as freely as they want. So to me the roads and highways still need a great deal of improvement and what we have already built requires maintenance, and it would be foolish not to do the maintenance given all of the money that has been used on constructing the highway system.

TZ: Former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, thanks for joining us.

NM: Thanks for having me on board Todd.

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DC Metro Governance: What Does It Mean? (And Why Should I Care?)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) I know, I know -- the makeup of a local transit authority's board of directors is not exactly the sexiest topic, especially not at a time when most people are thinking of turkey, football or some weird combination of the two.

But while this may seem like something only a wonk could love, there's actually a sneaky political power play in the works here that could shift the balance of influence in the D.C. region and fundamentally alter the way Metro operates.

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Remainders: Traffic EVERYWHERE

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's the busiest traffic day of the year, whaddya expect?   But if you're a glutton for punishment, you can check NYC traffic conditions via live cam here.  Here's the CalTrans link, Houston is here.  Doesn't look so bad in Washington.  Downtown Minneapolis? NotSoGood.  But hey, you can buy your way out of congestion in the Twin Cities.  Or, if you're stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel, trying to get out to New Jersey, you can dream about a  new train under the Hudson.    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! -- Transportation Nation

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Is Your Flight Delayed?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The FAA has this cool new map to check airport delays.  The live link is here.

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Texas Approves Rail Plan But Passenger Rail Still A Long Ways Off

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) The Obama Administration recently gave out $2.4 billion dollars for passenger rail. Some states are desperately vying for federal funding, while others are sending the money back to Washington. The newly elected governors in Wisconsin and Ohio are rejecting their grants because they believe rail will be a burden on tax payers. California, on the other hand, is hoping it can secure enough money for its ambitious plans. Meanwhile, Texas is still trying to position itself to even qualify for major funding.

Texas got $5.6 million out of that last round of rail funding to study a possible line from Oklahoma City to South Texas. The grant isn’t much considering it was just one quarter of one percent of the total funding doled out to states. But the recent approval of the Texas Rail Plan, may help the state's chances of getting a bigger slice of funding in the future. The plan passed unanimously, but it’s only a start.

Listen to the full KUHF story on this:

[MP3]http://transportationnation.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Rail-Plan-Finall.mp3[/MP3]

Karen Amacker, spokesperson with the Texas Department of Transportation, admits

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Best Bus Route in America Contest Winners Announced

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Image: Arthur Cherry via GOOD

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation)  GOOD magazine has announced the winners of their hunt for the "Best Bus Route in America." The Midwest swept the final awards, winning both the judges vote and the people's choice.

The top prize goes to Green Line Rapid Transit in Kansas City, Missouri. (Pictured above) Nominated by Arthur Cherry: "The brand new Green Line rapid transit route features green technologies: hybrid electric buses, rain gardens, and a pervious concrete park and ride."

The people's choice goes to the #29 in Chicago. Reader Alex Burchard submitted a river view photo with flanking skyscrapers to make his case for the #29.   "CTA Bus Route #29 overlooking the Chicago River (West facing) as it crosses on State St. More reliable than the CTA Red line in my experience."

I'd like to nominate this submission for an honorable mention: the Circle Isle Rt 52 in Honolulu submitted by John Nouchi, "The Bus’ Circle Isle Rt 52 travels 92 miles from urban jungle to famous North Shore where pineapples, surf, turtles/seals await!" Scenic photo here.

See the fifteen finalists here, each with photo, some of the bus, others on it, and more than one of a smiling bus driver.

And kicking yourself for not nominating your own bus ride?  Comments and photos, positive or negative, are welcome!  Or email them to transponation@gmail.com.

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Spirit Employees Probably Not In A Holiday Mood

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  Spirit Airlines' computer system has crashed. A visit to their website this morning at 11:13am revealed this image:

According to CNN, the crash is creating long lines at airports, because the airline has  been "going back to old pencil and paper system - checking people in manually. Instead of checking people in on a first come, first serve basis, agents have been taking people into groups and checking them in based on their departing times. That has led to agents being unable to give passengers approximate wait times."

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TN Moving Stories: Transpo Contractors Investigated Over Minority Hires, DC Metro Shakeup Coming, and Monetizing Old Car Batteries

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Arrive early and bring your patience: It's the biggest travel day of the year!

And it's snowing in the cities of Transportation Nation partners Minnesota Public Radio (Minneapolis) and Yellowstone Public Radio (Billings.) Could start snowing soon at WDET (Detroit).

In other news...

Did two of New York's largest construction companies finesse minority hiring requirements in order to win contracts? Federal authorities are investigating Schiavone and the U.S. unit of Swedish construction company Skanska AB. Skanska is working on a number of transit projects, including the Brooklyn Bridge rehabilitation, the 2nd Avenue Subway, and the PATH terminal at the World Trade Center site. (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Daily News)

DC Metro shakeup in the works? The governors of Maryland and Virginia and the incoming D.C. mayor directed their top transportation officials to come up with a detailed plan for carrying out broad changes in how Metro is run. (Washington Post)

After your Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt dies, what will happen to its lithium-ion battery?  Automakers are trying to find ways to monetize old batteries. (Wired)

Riders at NYC's Union Square subway station might wonder: does this train go to Hogwarts? (New York Daily News).

The number of bicyclists in Portland continues to rise--8% increase over 2009. 190% increase (yes, 190%) since 2000. (KPTV)

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Scanned or Patted Down? Share Your Airport Stories with The Takeaway

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Traveling this holiday? Our partner, The Takeaway, wants your travel stories.  From their website:

Have you gotten scanned or patted down?

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) volunteer demonstrates a full-body scanner at O'Hare International Airport

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) volunteer demonstrates a full-body scanner at O'Hare International Airport (Getty Images)

If you're one of the estimated 24 million people flying over the Thanksgiving holiday period, there's a chance you may get to experience the TSA's new security measures. If you encounter the full-body scanners or receive the "enhanced" pat-down, we want to hear from you.

Text your airport story to 69866 with the word SCAN in the message. And if you have an iPhone, snap a photo for us with our app.

There are 358 full-body scanners at 68 U.S. airports (list here). You only get the pat-down if you opt out of the scanning machine or if you set off the metal detector. The pat-downs take longer (one to two minutes compared to five seconds for the body scans), which is why some people against the scans are calling for people to cause disruptions by opting out.

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NY Deputy Mayor: Bike Share Isn't about More Bike Lanes, High Rises Could Pay for Transit, and Other Ideas...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Installing the First Avenue Bike Lane photo: Marianne McCune

(Andrea Bernstein) WNYC's Brian Lehrer asked his listeners today for suggestions to help New York City Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith raise money for New York City.  Two ideas were suggested by BL callers: 1) make business improvement districts contribute to the MTA, based on the theory that high rises directly profit from all the transit riders the subways bring to their doorsteps and 2) charge cycling licensing fees.  Here's Goldsmith's answer, and a back-and-forth on bike lanes and bike share.

(You can listen to the segment here, the transit discussion starts about 15 minutes in and the answers excerpted below begin at 16:45.)

BL:  And the buildings with proximity to transit?

SG: You have a great show, these ideas are great.  So there is for new development a kind of a concept that you have transit-aided development, so if you have a subway stop in a place, it's going to create value for the buildings that are around it.  It does create value.  Without that stop, the buildings have less value.  And it's legitimate then to create a district to take part of that increment into generally the capital budget of that project.  Whether you could do that on the operating side is an interesting one, particularly with

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Lautenberg Enters the Secaucus 7 Fray

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg sent a letter to Governor Christie today.  "The No. 7 Subway proposal...merits serious consideration," he writes, urging the governor to begin a dialogue about it with the various partners.  Read it below.

Letter to Governor Re 7 Subway 11-23-10

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Comments on Bike Share: Cost Effective? Safe?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interesting web conversation going on at our sister site, WNYC.org on bike share.    You'll see both the questions -- isn't it too expensive?  What about the helmets? Will I really use it?  and the listener-generated answers.  Check it out. -- TN

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Janette Sadik-Khan on NYC's Proposed Bike Share Program

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NYC transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan spoke with WNYC's Richard Hake this morning about the city's plans to operate a bike share program. (The RFP can be found here.) You can listen to the interview here; the transcript is below.

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Richard Hake: New York City today takes the first step toward launching the largest bike-share program in the country.  New Yorkers will be able to rent bikes one-way for short term rides all over Manhattan.  The idea is that the program will  be entirely privately run, but the city will share the revenues.  Joining us now is the city's transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan.

Tell me how this program would work. If I get off work today, I'm here on Varick Street and I want to take a bike up to Union Square, would that be possible?

Janette Sadik-Khan: The system would be similar to the bike share format we've seen in Paris and London and Washington where heavy-duty bikes would be located at docking stations every few blocks throughout the system, and they can be ridden and dropped off at any other docking station in the system. So we're asking for companies to come in and give us their ideas where the best place would be to site a bike share system.

RH: So where would these docking stations be? Would they be in major sections like Union Square? Would there be one in Times Square? Have you investigated how that would work?

JSK: Well, the RFP does not specify the number of bicycles or the precise geographic area to be covered. But we do have preliminary research that says south of 60th Street in Manhattan in the central business district would be an ideal match for New York's geography because we've got high density and a growing bike infrastructure there.

RH: Now are you looking at this more for tourists, for people who just want to leisurely go around the city or could this be done for people who want to go to work and get some errands done?

JSK: We expect it to serve bothgroups. Bike share would give New Yorkers many more transportation choices as the city's population continues to grow and as traffic congestion increases. And it would be privately funded, so taxpayers will not be on the hook for coming up with dollars to support this, but they would share in any profits. And we think this is really the best deal in town for on-demand travel and a nice complement to our transit system.

RH: So when you say privately run, does that mean, there would be different companies or maybe one large company would actually purchase the bikes, maintain those bikes and actually rent the bikes out to people that want them?

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TN Moving Stories: Christie Likes #7 Extension Idea, and London's Double Decker Bus Gets Revamped

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NJ Governor Christie says extending the #7 subway across the Hudson is “a much better idea” than the ARC tunnel, but he hasn't yet spoken to Mayor Bloomberg about it. (AP via New York Times)

Traffic fatalities in NYC are at an all-time low, but pedestrians make up the majority of those killed. (NY1)

NYC transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is one of Esquire Magazine's "15 Genuises Who Give Us Hope."

Talk about paving roads with good intentions: as BART extends to San Jose, "construction crews plan to use at least 250,000 old tires, ground up into 3-inch chunks and laid under large sections of the tracks, to act as shock absorbers, reducing vibration and noise along the route." (San Jose Mercury News)

London's iconic bus--the Routemaster--is getting updated. "The new bus has three doors: joining the single rear entrance are a front and a side door. There are also two staircases, solving a major congestion problem, and a source of missed stops on full buses." (Wired - Autopia)

Do electric cars spell cash or calamity for utility companies? "Plugged into a socket, the Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts can draw as much energy from the grid as a small house." (The Takeaway)

NYC deputy mayor Steven Goldsmith is on today's Brian Lehrer Show.

With all the news about new TSA screening procedures, the Washington Post has assembled a good, sober guide of what to actually expect at the airport.  This Saturday Night Live video takes a more...whimsical approach:

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New York City to Issue Bike Share Request for Proposals

Monday, November 22, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  New York City's Department of Transportation is about to issue a request for proposals for the largest bike-share program in the U.S., following Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC -- all of which have installed large scale bike share programs.

With greater density than any of those cities, New York believes it can make a profit.

New York City's transportation commissioner wouldn't comment on the details of the request for proposals, to be released Wednesday morning.  But Janette Sadik-Khan frequently speaks at conferences promoting the idea of bike share.

“We’re ideal for it," Sadik-Khan says. "We have the density. We’re flat.  Eighty one percent of people in the central business district of Manhattan don’t own a car.  In this age of  transit cuts, this is an ideal way to add to New York's transportation system."

The city is looking to set up a twenty-four hour network of around 10,000 bikes, with the entire bill footed by the private sector, but with the city sharing in any revenues.  In other cities with bike shares, sponsorships and advertising help pay for the bikes.  Earlier generations of bike share in many European cities required subsidies, but the city believes that wireless technology, gps, and solar-powered bike stations, a system in New York can be run far more efficiently.

"New York is made for bike share," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives,"  so this announcement is very exciting. The characteristics that make bicycling an everyday form of transportation, New York has in spades: density, flat terrain, temperate climate, lots of short trips and an on the go lifestyle. This nimble and inexpensive way to get around will fit easily into New Yorkers’ constantly shifting errands and schedules."

The city hopes for the system to be running in 2012.  In the past year Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC have launched bike shares, and Boston is preparing to start one soon.  Montreal was the first North American City to have bike share, which is up and running in dozens of European cities.

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350 Tickets Per Day Protect NYC's Bus Rapid Transit Route

Monday, November 22, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Starting today, cameras are helping to police New York's bus rapid transit route. The Department of Transportation announced five cameras are watching out for drivers that illegally enter the bus lanes on the new Select Bus Service on Manhattan's East Side.

In case you were wondering, the New York Police Department has issued 13,833 summonses for violating the lanes—that's without the use of any camera assistance.

The figure is current, according to NYPD, as of November 17.  That means the NYPD has been issuing about 350 tickets every day since the SBS lanes launched on October 10. Each ticket for driving in the bus lanes is at least $115.

Here's the math: NY's Finest have served about $1.6 million in summonses in protection of speedier East Side bus service so far.

We'll follow up to see if the pace of ticketing tapers off as drivers learn more about the lanes and awareness of the rules and enforcement increase. We'll also try to find out if the pace of the buses picks up with this traffic enforcement.

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One-Way Car Sharing to Airports Launches in NYC--Makes Practice More Like Bike Share or Taxi

Monday, November 22, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) New York has been slowly encouraging more and more car sharing, with re-zoning, reserving cars for city use, and promoting extra parking for the collectively used vehicles. All of those initiatives presume you check out a car and return it to the same location. Hertz Connect, the car sharing arm of Hertz rental cars, announced they are launching what they call an industry first: one-way car sharing. You can now check out a car in Manhattan and drop it off at any area airport, paying by the hour for the rental.

That makes checking out a car a lot more like a bike share than a traditional car rental, and, Hertz hopes, it might make the concept competitive with taxis in certain circumstances.

The initial roll out will let drivers rent a Hertz Connect car from one location in Manhattan, West 55th street, and drop it off at LaGuardia, JFK or Newark Liberty airports or vice versa. Soon, Hertz Connect will expand the locations to other classic Hertz rental car posts.

Most bike shares permit, in fact, are designed to encourage one-way rides. Finding an empty slot on a communal bike rack at the end of your trip is the only obstacle to that kind of plan (no small hassle during peak times as Parisians will tell you). Coordinating the space for cars to flow according to the one-way whims of NYC car sharers is a more challenging task.  So to make this work Hertz would have to ensure that they have the space to accommodate drop-offs at enough locations so drivers can count on low hassle at the other end of a car share trip.

Hertz called this an industry first in an email to Transportation Nation even though,  for now, it's just to and from airports. If they are able to harness their significant stock of cars—4oo Hertz Connect cars in the NYC area—and their 175 locations around the NYC metro area this could expand the pool of potentially interested car sharers.

We're looking into the details now, like wait times, drop-off hassle at the airport, and how this compares with alternatives.
Check back for more soon.

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Governor Rendell on Transportation's Future, and His Own

Monday, November 22, 2010

Governor Edward Rendell in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in November 2009. (TED VAN PELT/Creative Commons via Flickr)

To transportation watchers, Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania is a familiar face—and an unmistakeable voice. His raspy enthusiasm for the un-sexy world of infrastructure has been consistent and contagious. Two years ago, Rendell co-founded, with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Building America's Future, a bipartisan coalition of elected officials dedicated to "bringing about a new era of U.S. investment in infrastructure that enhances our nation's prosperity and quality of life."

In his eight years as Governor, Rendell showed a remarkably open mind when it came to financing infrastructure. He has repeatedly advocated for the indexing of the gas tax and recently suggested a profit tax on oil companies to pay for transportation. In 2007, he unsuccessfully sought permission from his state legislature to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private operators. When the legislature declined, Rendell sought approval from the USDOT to add tolls to his state's stretch of Interstate 80. The federal government denied that plan—twice—because the applicable pilot program restricts the use of toll revenues to the tolled facility itself, and Rendell had a statewide investment program in mind.

Though he is a Democrat, Rendell's eagerness to promote privatization and the tolling of sacrosanct Interstates put him in step with unpopular stances taken by Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters during the Bush Administration. Those ideas remain alive under President Obama, and several former Rendell associates now occupy high places in the USDOT:  his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Roy Kienitz, is now Undersecretary for Policy; and Polly Trottenberg, the former executive director of Building America's Future, is now Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy.

Transportation Nation's Matt Dellinger interviewed Governor Rendell last week, and asked about the new political atmosphere in Washington, how it could affect transportation policy, and where Rendell is headed after he leaves his post in January.

Matt Dellinger: Since you're one of the most outspoken advocates for transportation investment, I wanted to get your thoughts on where we are as far as federal re-authorization.

Governor Ed Rendell : Well, it's difficult to say exactly with the change in Congress. I think the chances of a megabill like Congressman Oberstar had proposed are probably pretty remote, and

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