Streams

Illegal Streets: Off the Map, Not Off the Grid

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  In his press conference yesterday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was asked a question about how long it would take the city to plow every street. His response generated some curiosity.

"I don't know that you ever get everything plowed, because there are always streets that---there are streets that aren't even mapped on the map, there are illegal streets."

We called the Mayor's office for clarification of the term "illegal streets;" we've received no response yet. In the meantime, we turned to the The New York City Department of Transportation, which avoided the word "illegal" and said that there are two criteria: streets that are mapped, and streets that aren't.

The City doesn't own all the streets it turns out. According to Montgomery Dean, a DOT spokesperson, streets not titled to the city are classified as unmapped. The City doesn't maintain (pave, plow, or impose/enforce alternate side parking rules) them. These would also be known as "private streets."

Each borough president's office maintains a topographical unit, so we began calling around. Staten Island leads the list, with 638 private streets. A spokesperson for Brooklyn borough president's office said that Brooklyn has about 100. The Bronx has far fewer; while a spokesperson couldn't given an exact amount, she said there were "not many." The Manhattan borough president's office said that they had never heard the term "illegal streets."

So who maintains these streets? The residents, many of whom are happy to foot maintenance bills in order to keep parking there—residents can require permit parking only. A New York Daily News article quotes one Brooklyn resident as saying "it's like having your own garage." Of course, there can be a flip side: a Brooklyn Eagle article describes a dozen residents of one Bay Ridge block who lost heat and hot water in January after a pipe burst--and had to come up with $10,000 for repairs.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comments [1]

Mapping NYC's Unplowed Streets

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

As New York City continues to dig out of the big blizzard, many residents are crying foul, saying snow on their streets hasn't been cleared fast enough. This refrain has been especially common in the outer boroughs.

Hard data on cleared streets is hard to come by because the Department of Sanitation—the agency responsible for snow removal— does not keep records of cleared streets. The agency only monitors which roads have been "salted" or "plowed," not which ones may have been covered in snow after plows came through.

Transportation Nation partner, WNYC has put a call out to listeners for reports of still-uncleared streets. To add yours to the map, text PLOW to 30644.

Head over to WNYC to read, and listen to tales of snow woe and see a gallery of local pictures.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comment

NYC Subways Edge Closer to Normal; Not There Yet

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

#SubSnow: The scene at Cortelyou Rd (B, Q) as Track Workers &... on Twitpic

The scene at Cortelyou Rd (B, Q) as Track Workers & Maintainers dug out the tracks yesterday (TwitPic)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Earlier today, the MTA reported that service on the B and Q lines had been restored.  The N train and the Franklin Avenue Shuttle still have outages. Click the above photo for more NYC MTA pics of workers clearing snow from subway lines, or go here.

Want to see a video of what the subways looked like pre-snow removal? PLOG writes: "Sparks fly as the subway passes between Parkside Avenue and Prospect Park stations last night at 9:00 pm.Shortly thereafter subway service was suspended on the Q and B lines and has remained frozen since."

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comment

TN Moving Stories: NYC Snow Recovery Continues, Moscow Misspent $8 Billion in Transpo Money, and $5 a Gallon Gas - Coming in 2012?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Bolt Bus boards on West 33rd Street, NY (Alex Goldmark)

New York City's transit system still hasn't fully recovered from the storm, with many bus routes not operating at all (New York Daily News). Things are slightly better across the Hudson, where NJ Transit is closer to normal (AP via Newsday), and Newark Mayor Cory Booker is responding to people's tweets for help--sometimes by personally excavating cars from snowbanks. (WNYC).

Area airports are open today, but the ripple effect caused by trying to move many stranded travelers will take days to resolve. (Wall Street Journal)

The Boston Globe praises MBTA for letting private app developers have real-time data on the movements of its vehicles. "Just by putting more information in (passengers') hands, the T has removed one of the major barriers to transit ridership — unpredictability."

Moscow misspent almost $8 billion that was earmarked for the development of the city's transportation infrastructure. (Bloomberg News)

Apparently, when the economy goes down, it's a good time to embark upon a new career as a truck driver. (Marketplace)

The former president of Shell Oil predicts that gas will hit $5 a gallon by 2012 (NPR).

Paper tickets reach the end of the line on Friday, when the Bay Area's AC Transit stops accepting them in favor of electronic Clipper cards. (Contra Costa Times)

The City Fix takes a look at their favorite new additions to transit systems in 2010. Lima's BRT system, South Africa's Gautrain, Dubai's Metro, the Capital Bikeshare--all in there!

Read More

Comment

Tips for Biking in Winter

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

(Image Brian Hughes, Toronto Star)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) To all the brave cycling souls itching to get back out there on two wheels, Brian Hughes made this great graphic tips list of how to bike in winter. Let us know if you learned anything you didn't know already.

A more detailed list of riding tips is at The Toronto Star where this graphic originally appeared.

(via GOOD)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comments [1]

TN Moving Stories: Aftermath of the Storm, "Reserving" Parking Spaces in Boston, and Does Urban Biking Have a Diversity Problem?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More on the storm's aftermath: mass transit in NYC will be limping along today. "As of late yesterday, every line that was operating had delays." (New York Daily News)  Nationally, stranded travelers are still having great difficulty getting home. (AP)

Here's a good round up of local (to the NYC area) service updates from WNYC.

Did budget cuts hamper NYC's cleanup efforts? (Wall Street Journal)

Meanwhile, Boston residents engage in the time-honored post-snowstorm tradition of trying to stake out parking spaces. The thinking seems to be "if I shoveled it, I own it." (Boston Globe)

Want to see Brooklyn dig out? Check out this video:

Light rail to South Phoenix is under consideration, but the wheels of that area's Metro agency turn slowly. (Arizona Daily Star)

Speaking of light rail: officials struggle to keep LA's light rail lines safe. "Responding to accidents on the track...has become a regular part of patrolling the 22-mile Blue Line." (AP via Mercury News)

Good Magazine has a two-part article about diversity and urban biking. (Part I is here.)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comments [1]

Tolls and Transit Fares Rising in NYC — A Primer

Monday, December 27, 2010

(New York -- Jim O'Grady) A fare increase will make almost every form of transit in the New York area more expensive starting Thursday. Subway and bus fares are going up, along with tolls on seven bridges and two tunnels. Prices will also rise on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains.

The base fare for subways and buses remains $2.25. But a monthly unlimited ride will jump from $89 to $104. Seven-day unlimited rides on subways and buses increase from $27 to $29 -- on express buses, from $45 to $50.

Falling to the axe are 14-Day passes and 1-Day Fun Passes. Moral: there will be no more fun in the transit system, even if you could pay for it. Bonuses and discounts on many kinds of tickets will shrink or disappear. For example, the Pay-per-ride bonus is dropping from 15 to 7 percent.

It takes a lot of words and numbers to explain the MTA fare increases. (Photo by Jim O'Grady)

Get ready for more percentages, all of them upward. On the Long Island Rail Road,

Read More

Comment

Can We Ever Be Safe From Terrorism on Mass Transit?

Monday, December 27, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The main thing keeping us safe from terrorist attacks on mass transit systems is lack of terrorist effort. That's the conclusion of a sobering review of government data by USA Today.

The newspaper writes:

"The nation's vast network of more than 3,200 stations and more than 20,000 miles of track combined with the impracticality and cost of screening every passenger leave U.S. subways and rails exposed to the type of terrorist attacks 22 other nations have experienced the last five years.

"Having a secure network ultimately is the responsibility of the TSA, which is in the Department of Homeland Security. While the agency has imposed stringent screening of air passengers at the nation's 450 commercial airports, it says it has no similar plans for rail passengers.

For their analysis, USA Today reviewed the National Counterterrorism Center's incident database and interviewed officials from Congress, federal security agencies, transit authorities, rail operators, independent security experts and passengers.

They got this straight talk from Clark Kent Ervin of the Department of Homeland Security's former inspector general. "Mass transit systems are much less secure than the aviation sector or certain key government buildings."

Read more at USA Today.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comment

FTA Awards Transit Funding; Second Avenue Subway & LIRR Big Winners

Monday, December 27, 2010

Second Avenue Subway (NYC MTA)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  The Federal Transit Administration awarded a round of grants today for transit projects currently underway -- see details from the FTA's press release below.

FTA Announces $182.4 Million in Funds for Seven Major Transit Projects Underway Across U.S.

Projects Include Subway, Light Rail, Commuter Rail

WASHINGTON – The Federal Transit Administration today announced that is advancing a total of $182.4 million in New Starts funding for seven transit projects already under construction in New York, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Northern Virginia.

“By making these payments now, we’re not only fulfilling the federal government’s commitment to these projects sooner, but we’re also giving a well-timed boost to communities that have made an important investment in their transportation infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We want to keep the projects moving and people working with these early investments, which will save these cities money over the long haul.”

The grants being awarded today will not increase the federal government’s overall share in the projects. Rather, a portion of the federal share for each project is being paid earlier than expected because of unallocated funds in FTA’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget for new construction.

“The advance payments being announced today will free up local funds that can now be used for other transit projects that will make it easier for families to get to work, to school, and to other important destinations,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “These advances will also result in the savings of financing costs that local sponsors would have otherwise incurred.”

Read More

Comment

Boxing Day Blizzard Takes on Transportation Systems

Monday, December 27, 2010

Plows and Salt Spreaders in New York City. (Submitted by WNYC listener.)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) From the Carolinas up to Maine, severe winter weather shut down airports, slowed roads and stalled transit systems Sunday night and Monday morning.

All New York area airports were closed, as was Philadelphia International. Boston's Logan Airport remained open, but few flights left or landed. Amtrak canceled service from New York to Maine. Intercity bus service wasn't much better.

Local transit systems all along the east coast struggled to keep citizens moving, leaving a smattering of stalled buses and stuck taxis on city streets. There was one notable report of an A train stranded for six hours in New York with over 500 passengers on board after ice prevented the third rail from functioning properly.

To give you an idea of what it takes to keep the roads open after 20+ inches of snow, the New York City Sanitation Department dispatched 1600 plows (most affixed to garbage trucks as pictured above) and 365 salt spreaders with sanitation workers manning the machines on 12 hour split-shifts. Edward Yanis told WNYC from his plow that "it's a job that we have to do, you know, and I'm proud of doing it. We keep the city clean from the snow and that's a priority for us."

WNYC is also reporting the Department of Sanitation asked the public for help clearing snow and ice from New York City streets. The department hired licensed operators of heavy machinery with equipment including front end loaders, bobcats and excavators. The Department also put out a call for licensed operators of dump trucks, tractor trailers, and roll-on roll-off trucks. It takes a village to clear a metropolis in times of blizzard.

WNYC is collecting photos from around New York. Worth a few clicks if you want to see a bustling city coated in quiet white.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comment

TN Moving Stories: Snowtorious Storm Smacks Northeast, and Cycling on a Roll in DC

Monday, December 27, 2010

Abandoned taxi, NYC (Alex Goldmark)

Blizzard slows down travel in the Northeast (WNYC): in New York City, airports and rail shuts down, but other transit gamely presses on (NY1) --with the exception of an A train stuck in Queens where passengers overnighted without food or water.

How you know it's a Snowpocalypse in NYC: John Hockenberry tweet: "Still wild white caps and snow mountains in Red Hook. @FairwayMarket NOT open!" I repeat: Fairway is NOT open!

In other news: USA Today says that there are gaping holes in subway and rail security that "leave travelers more vulnerable on the more than 4 billion trips they take by subway and rail each year than in the sky, where airlines carried fewer than 700 million passengers from U.S. airports last year." And, apparently, cargo that flies over (but not to) the U.S. doesn't get screened to federal standards. (Washington Post)

Cycling is on a roll in the nation's capitol. "The District has 50 miles of bike lanes on its 1,200 miles of streets. It has created 47 of the 50 miles in the past nine years." (Washington Post)

A Boston nonprofit is teaching bicycle mechanics to inner city kids, and shipping out nearly 6,000 abandoned bikes a year--some to South America and Africa. (WBUR - Here and Now)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter .

Read More

Comment

NYC Subway Video from 1949 -- Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Here's a video from 1949 of the NYC subway. Enjoy the vintage ride.

Happy Holidays from the Transportation Nation crew.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter for more stories.

Read More

Comment

TN Moving Stories: Build Your Own Bamboo Bike, and Combatting Beijing Traffic

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fast rail, slow build out: "Only 20 miles of track on the 284-mile Amtrak route between Chicago and St. Louis will be upgraded to handle 110-mph trains by 2012, state officials said Thursday." (Chicago Tribune)

Want to build your own bamboo bike?  You can, in Brooklyn. Video below! (via ABC News)

Turning solar energy into fuel: a new technique involves the element Cerium. (NPR)

An explosion of drivers in China has led to some hasty transportation planning in Beijing: The future will bring: "280,000 new parking spaces; 1,000 share-a-bike stations; 348 miles of new subway track; 125 miles of new downtown streets; 23 miles of tunnels; 9 new transportation hubs; 3 congestion zones; and 1 cure-all, “the use of modern technology.” (New York Times)

Toyota to launch family of Priuses. (Or is the plural Prii? Hmmm.) (AltTransport)

A new app helps you find on-street parking, of which Wired says: "Having access to real-time parking information could be the difference between finding a space and circling the wrong block endlessly, or seeing that parking is at a premium and deciding to leave the car at home."

Read More

Comment

Seeing Roads As Rails—A Clever Cartographic Experiment

Friday, December 24, 2010

Detail of Interstates as Subways Diagram, by Cameron Booth


(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation)  Transportation geeks with empty walls (and graphic design fans with wanderlust) have just one week to procure themselves a poster of Cameron Booth’s clever and fascinating “Interstates as Subway Diagram.” Booth, a Senior Graphic Designer at Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Portland office and the father of a newborn, has decided to quit selling the prints, which met with some success.

“It was a fun design exercise for me: to come up with a set of rules for the diagram (a design brief, if you will) and to see what came out,” Booth said by email. “Secondly, I see it as a way of playing with perceptions. I took one kind of network, one that's almost always shown with absolute geographical accuracy (a road map) and substituted the simplified iconography and colored route lines of a subway diagram instead.”

Separating the road network from its context and creating “stops” for major exits produced some interesting results, Booth says. “Concentrating on route intersections instead of city population makes Teaneck, NJ look more important than New York City on my diagram, and Pittsburgh (which sits BETWEEN three different Interstates, but doesn't actually lie on any of them) doesn't appear at all.”

Booth’s fresh take on the Interstate map comes in part from the fact that he’s an Australian by birth. He moved to the United States just a few years ago, in pursuit of the woman who is now his wife. “The U.S. is definitely in love with the automobile. And while I love a good road trip as much as anyone, the state of passenger rail here is sad to see,” Booth wrote. He’s ridden the TGV from Paris to Nimes—around 450 miles in three hours—and he’s suffered the five-plus-hour Amtrak ride along the 170 miles between Portland and Seattle. (Booth has also created an Amtrak-as-subway diagram.)

Booth’s glad to see things gradually changing, he says, although “a lot of effort seems to be required to simply rebuild what existed before the car took over (witness the "new" Streetcar project in LA).” His job, he says, gives him ample chance to imagine the future: he makes maps, diagrams and graphs in support of proposals that Parsons Brinckerhoff produces up and down the West Coast. “We’re definitely at the forefront of a lot of the new metro/transit work and transit-oriented development around, so it's great to be a part of that.”

Matt Dellinger is the author of the book Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway. You can follow him on Twitter.


<a title="Twitter plug" rel="http://twitter.com/transportnation" href="http://twitter.com/transportnation" target="_blank"><img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-10491" title="twitter15" src="http://transportationnation.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/twitter15.jpg" alt="" width="15" height="15" /></a><strong>Follow Transportation Nation on <a href="http://twitter.com/transportnation" target="_blank">Twitter</a> for more stories.</strong>

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comment

Heading Out of Town? Check Out the Traffic

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holland Tunnel traffic on Varick Street (photo by Alex Goldmark)

We reported yesterday on the coming holiday travel—and traffic—surge. From our window out of WNYC it looks like it's already underway as of 4:45 p.m. EST.   --Transportation Nation

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comment

Shake-Up Continues In Washington Metro's Leadership

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Marcell Solomon will no longer serve on Metro's board of directors. The board has been facing a series of changes to its membership.  (Courtesy of: WMATA, photo by Larry Levine)(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) Washington, D.C. area Metro's board of directors is undergoing major changes, with several members resigning or being removed in the past few weeks.

Marcell Solomon, a lawyer from Prince George's County, Md., will no longer serve on Metro's board. The new executive of Prince George's County, Rushern Baker, has reportedly informed Solomon that his services are no longer needed.

An investigation by the Washington Examiner found Solomon had the worst attendance record on the board, despite being paid a nearly $40,000 annual salary. He was appointed by Baker's predecessor, Jack Johnson, who is currently under indictment on federal bribery charges.

Solomon is the fourth Metro board member to leave -- or be asked to leave -- in the past two weeks, and the shake-up is expected to continue in the near future.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter for more stories.

Read More

Comment

Weinshall, Steisel: DOT Brooklyn Bike Lane Data is Wrong

Thursday, December 23, 2010

We missed this yesterday, but since we've published DOT's data, we thought we should bring you this letter to the editor of the NY Times, in response to an editorial about how cyclists should be more law-abiding. In it, Iris Weinshall, the former NYC DOT commissioner (Janette Sadik-Khan's predecessor) makes a pretty strong public statement against the Prospect Park West bike lane.  Weinshall, BTW, is a resident of Prospect Park West, where resistance to the new lane is strongest, and the wife of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. --Transportation Nation

To the Editor:

Your editorial about the problems caused by law-evading bicyclists mentions data released by the New York City Department of Transportation that purport to show that the 50 miles of bike lanes it is adding each year “calm” traffic and cut down on fatalities.

But as the rest of your editorial suggests, the connection between encouraging biking — which we also strongly support — and making our streets safer and more pleasant for all users is far from established.

Read More

Comments [5]

100,000 Caddies Recalled

Thursday, December 23, 2010

(Detroit -- Jerome Vaughn, WDET) General Motors is recalling nearly 100,000 Cadillacs for a possible problem with the airbag system.

The recall affects the Cadillac CTS from the 2005 through 2007 model years.

The automaker says the sensor that detects when a passenger is in the front seat could fold or develop a kink when the seat is in use. The issue can prevent proper signals from being sent to the airbag system and might keep the airbag from deploying during a severe crash. That could increase the risk of passenger injury.

Read More

Comment

DC Streetcar...or National Monument View? Reason #4,080 Why D.C. Is Not Like Any Other City

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A prototype of D.C.'s new streetcar

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) So let's say you're a city. You want to build a big public works project, like a school or a fire house - or let's say a $1.5 billion, 37-mile streetcar network.

First you formulate a design for the project, then you find the money to pay for it and then you get local politicians to sign off. (Not necessarily in that order) In most cities, with most projects, that's how it works.

Not in the District of Columbia. In Washington D.C., you also have to make sure the project you're working on doesn't impinge on any of the august, historic symbols that populate the Nation's Capital.

Read More

Comment

TN Moving Stories: 100th Countdown Clock in NYC Subways, India's Railways Prioritize Onions, and Spain Now Leads Europe in HSR

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A countdown clock on the 110th Street 1 train platform (Kate Hinds)

NYC's subways have their 100th countdown clock -- exceeding the MTA's original goal to get 75 stations online by the end of the year.

You can still buy tickets for American Airlines flights online--but not on Orbitz, because the airline wants to cut out that electronic middleman.  (USA Today)

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board levied the first fine in its 14 year history---$250,000 against the Canadian National Railway Company for failure to report blockages at its Chicago-area street crossings.  (Chicago Sun-Times)

India's railways will prioritize the delivery of onions throughout the country. The country's staple vegetable has grown scarce due to heavy rains in growing areas, and prices are spiraling upwards. (Daily News and Analysis)

Spain is now the European high-speed rail leader. (New York Times)

Everyone may finally be on board with Indiana's new, comprehensive transit plan, which includes tripling buses, establishing BRT, and building commuter rail. (Indianapolis Star)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says that his priority is a new subway line. And only subways. "There’s no more above ground,” he said. “No, everything’s going underground. I want to do subways." (The Globe and Mail)

Could high oil prices hurt the economy's recovery in the new year? (Marketplace)

NPR's series on ethanol concludes with a look at the industry's response to critics -- and its partnership with NASCAR.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter for more stories.

Read More

Comment