(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Senator John Kerry's spokeswoman, Whitney Smith, emails the following in response to our query about including transportation emissions caps in the new senate energy and climate bill:
"Majority Leader Reid will bring a final comprehensive energy and climate package to the floor this July, but the final details of what will be included in that package have not been determined.
Politico is reporting that Democrats have agreed "to scale back their ambitious plans to cap greenhouse gases across multiple sectors of the economy," but says President Obama is holding firm on setting a "price for greenhouse gases." In a Q&A with reporters, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) didn't specify whether setting caps in the transportation sector would remain part of the bill. More soon. (And don't forget to read Todd Zwillich's full post on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering.)
(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Nearly a quarter of the United States Senate is expected at the White House this morning to meet with President Obama on energy and climate legislation, though the form that legislation will take--and whether it will have the votes to pass--is very much in doubt.
Twenty-three senators from both parties, as well as Independents, are due to meet with Obama shortly before 11 AM. While broad energy legislation is the main topic, the fate of global warming legislation in the form of carbon regulation hangs in the balance. That balance may include no direct attempts to control carbon emissions in the transportation sector.
Guilty plea expected in JFK Airport bomb plot case (New York Times).
The Guardian asks: If the BP oil spill causes Americans to reconsider driving, how will they do that when many states are slashing public transportation? (The Guardian)
Shuttering two subway lines wasn't enough: New York's MTA plans to sell $600 million in bonds to close $800 million spending gap. (Business Week)
And in Atlanta, the MARTA board votes to kill 40 bus lines, 29 station bathrooms, and shuttles to Braves games. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Kalamazoo ponders why bus ridership is down for the 5th consecutive month. (Grand Rapids Press)
Oh, if only: one Berlin subway station (helped by Volkswagen) offered its commuters a choice: walk down a flight of stairs -- or slide down. (The Infrastructurist, video)
Once hot, now not: the last Chrysler PT Cruiser will roll off the line in July. (Detroit Free Press)
Domestic planes are now prohibited from languishing on runways. So when a Virgin Atlantic flight recently sat for four hours on the tarmac--without working air conditioning--it wasn't breaking any rules. Legislation including foreign carriers is in the works. (New York Times)
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Governors Island lies in New York harbor a short ferry ride from Brooklyn and Manhattan, within spitting distance of the Statue of Liberty. It's one of the jewels in the crown of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New York, a shared public space accessible only by (free) boat, one you can get around only on foot, bike, or tram. A space filled with public art, free hammocks, and award-winning street vendor food.
But yesterday, thanks to the Prince of England, that vision of a plebian park paradise collided with, well, royalty.
(Matthew Schuerman, WNYC) Tens of thousands of New Yorkers faced longer and more inconvenient commutes this morning as a result of the MTA’s bus and service cuts. They were most poignantly felt, however, by immigrants who had no idea that the changes were coming because they don’t speak or read English well or at all. (More here)
(Houston, TX - Wendy Siegle, KUHF News Lab) Houston's traffic has been ranked sixth-worse in the nation this year. So residents getting a park & ride, say in the Pearland area, may be pretty happy to know that cars could be coming off roads. But if you live near the 12-acre parcel of land where that park and ride may go, there's another debate around you. One concerned with more traffic on your main street, crime and property values.
Great benefactor to West Virginia leaves behind Robert C. Byrd Freeway, Robert C. Byrd Highway, Robert C. Byrd Appalachian Highway System, Byrd Locks (Charleston Gazette)
Tony Tesla Motors increases number of IPO shares by 20 percent. Will be first by a U.S. automaker in a half-century. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
VP Biden in Louisville today, looking for "green publicity" at appliance plant, political distractions for White House. (Wave3)
71-year old subway newspaper vendor explains himself. (SF Chronicle)
1940s-era video game-like LA freeway gets redesign, new name. (LA Times)
(Matthew Schuerman, WNYC) : Beginning Sunday, 38 bus routes will be cut entirely, while another 76 will run shorter routes or shorter hours. Off-peak subway service will be reduced on 11 subway lines starting Sunday, while two others will be eliminated as of Monday. Along with reductions on commuter railroads, the cuts are expected to save the MTA $93 million annually. The MTA is facing a $750 million budget deficit this year.
The majority of bus routes will remain the same, however, and every subway station will continue be served, though some of them less frequently.
On air, we've used a somewhat vaguer number. Our count here includes express buses and routes in the MTA Bus Company. Also, we consider a route eliminated when its number is retired, even if service is improved on a neighboring route to pick up some passengers.
MTA TRIP PLANNER WEBSITE is here.
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT INFORMATION LINE: (6 am- 10 pm) 718-330-1234. Ask for "customer service" when you get a prompt.
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) There's not a transit system in the nation that isn't under water. MARTA in Atlanta is looking a cutting a quarter of its service. The board of the Caltrain, through Silicon Valley, is reserving the option of ceasing to exist entirely. But why is the NYC MTA, the nation's marqee transit system, facing an $800 million budget gap?
Virgin pilot says U.S. Customs threatened to arrest passengers if he let them get off in Hartford. Diverted Trans-Atlantic flight spent four hours on tarmac, with passengers fainting. (AP)
Say hello to "AT&T Station" in South Philly. Transit agency will make more than $3 million for naming rights deal, which wipes name of former governor Pattison off the SEPTA map. (Philadelphia Enquirer)
U.S. DOT dropping proposed ban on peanuts on airplanes. Turns out they don't have the authority to do it. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Hey, where’s MY bike share? Minneapolis’ program has been up and running less than two weeks. But people who don't have bike share stations in their neighborhood are already feeling left out. (MPR News)
The perils of drinking and floating laid bare, as man rescued one mile out into Gulf, on pool float. (St. Petersburg Times)
"Is mass transit good for the Jews?" L.A. publication wonders, debates.
(New York, NY – Lisa Chow, WNYC) This week presented a turning point for a New York industry that has operated largely underground. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky want private commuter vans, also known as dollar vans, to start picking up passengers along bus routes that will be eliminated this weekend because of the MTA’s financial woes.
The commuter van industry has thrived in the shadows for a number of reasons. (Listen to Lisa Chow's audio segment here.)
There’s strong demand. People are constantly looking for easier ways to get around the city, and unlike the public transit system, private vans can respond quickly to that demand. Heavy government regulation of passenger vehicles like commuter vans has pushed the industry underground, but light enforcement of that regulation means doing business underground is often less costly than following the rules.
“It's like the Wild Wild West,” says Juan Perez, CEO of Highbrid Outdoor, a company that sells advertising in the vans.
(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) The nation's truckers aren’t likely to start pumping biodiesel any time soon, by the looks of the United States Senate. That’s because the resurrection of a big biodiesel tax credit is poised to fall victim to a larger tax and jobs bill, which failed tonight on the Senate floor.
The credit is worth $868 million over ten years to refiners who blend biofuel from soybeans, animal fats, restaurant waste oil and other sources into traditional, petroleum-based diesel. Refiners get a one-dollar tax credit for every gallon they blend, and the savings generally go to making biodiesel more competitive with standard diesel at the pump.
Congress has extended the credit for the last few years, and it still enjoys strong support from both parties. But partisan disagreement over a broader package of tax provisions and unemployment benefits ended the credit. At least for the time being.
(Houston, TX - Melissa Galvez, KUHF NewsLab) Regional transportation planners here are looking at less money for road projects in the coming years. Knowing that commuters will face crowded highways and bumpy roads longer, they're connecting with motorists to ask where the money should go. To where the people are? Where the congestion is? Here's more: read, listen:
A new advisory committee aims to help the Federal Transit Administration in developing national safety standards for rail. The movement to "federalize safety oversight of rail transit" was spurred by last year's DC Metro crash. (Washington Post)
But how much to tie up to the hitching post? Plans for free shuttles and parking at Kentucky's upcoming World Equestrian Games have been ditched. Now parking will be at least $20 a car--and could be as much as $100. (Lexington Herald-Leader)
A bike-pedestrian option for NH's Memorial Bridge is looking less likely; equally unlikely is the bridge's replacement with a bus transit system. What looks likely: car traffic. (Portsmouth Herald)
Goodbye, X13: Staten Islanders gird themselves for a commute with less express bus service and more confusion. (Staten Island Advance)
Paris tried bike sharing. Now, the city is aiming to start a similar program of a more four-wheeled kind. Bienvenue, electric car sharing! (New York Times)
First, they came for the FDR Drive: The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy's exhibition, Our Cities, Ourselves, opens today in New York. But will the Highline play in Guangzhou? (WNYC)
(Nathanael Johnson, KALW) Streetsblog and the Bay Citizen are reporting that in California's Bay Area, BART has a tentative plan to take money from local agencies to realize its plans to build a train to the Oakland Airport. BART would use this money to replace the funding revoked by the federal government when Washington learned that the project was not in compliance with the Civil Rights Act.
But if the project doesn’t comply with a federal law, further federal funding is in doubt. And it's unusual for local goverments to invest funds with no hope of federal money. And funding plan drinks the milkshake of other transportation projects, while putting taxpayers on the hook for millions more in taxes and debt.
(David Schultz, WAMU News) Metro, Washington D.C.'s embattled transit authority, has changed drastically in the past 12 months - ever since two of its trains crashed into each other a year ago this week, killing eight passengers and a train operator.
The change felt most viscerally by passengers has to do with how Metro's trains operate. Because its automatic train control system was thought to be at fault, Metro switched its trains to manual control. This has not only hurt the trains' on-time performance, it's made them more herky jerky - especially when coming to a stop at a platform. As a result, motion sickness has become a real hazard for many Metro riders.
But the legacy of the Metro train crash goes beyond some queasy train passengers.
Denver passes new zoning rules; first overhaul since 1956 (Denver Post)
Judge blocks moratorium on deep water drilling; Obama administration to appeal (The Takeaway)
The Maryland Transit Administration apologizes to passengers stranded on sweltering train, opens probe (WAMU)
Massachusetts lawmakers agree to ban texting while driving (Boston Globe)
Jump-starting new technology: car companies form partnerships to deal with high costs of new energy technology (Detroit News)
The US Department of Transportation backs off from plan to ban peanuts on airlines; Georgia's peanut industry exhales (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
A bipartisan group of senators are pushing a new round of incentives and cash designed to speed development of long-range batteries and plug-in stations that could finally start to push the US transportation fleet away from fossil fuels.
No one expects it to happen quickly. Most lawmakers and experts expect it will take decades before a significant proportion of Americans are driving plug-in hybrids or electric cars.
The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010 throws $1.5 billion in research and development grants to high-tech battery firms.