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TN Moving Stories

Monday, June 28, 2010

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)

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What's getting cut in NYC: A guide

Friday, June 25, 2010

(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.

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Why is Transit in Such a Fiscal Hole?

Friday, June 25, 2010

(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?

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TN Moving Stories

Friday, June 25, 2010

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.

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Up from Underground: Demand Drives Dollar Van Industry

Friday, June 25, 2010

(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.)

A dollar van on Bushwick Avenue

A dollar van on Bushwick Avenue (Photo by Stephen Nessen)

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.

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Senate May Drop Key Tax Credit For Biodiesel Industry

Thursday, June 24, 2010

(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.

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How Should Houston Spend Its Road Money?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

(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:

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TN Moving Stories: Sharing electric cars in Paris, and check out transit in the cities of the future

Thursday, June 24, 2010

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)

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BART Oakland Airport connector roars back to life

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This proposed walkway to new train has been cut from plans, which now call for riders to walk across these lanes of traffic.

(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.

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Legacy of D.C. Metro Crash Could Be Felt Nationwide

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

(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.

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TN Moving Stories: Yes, peanut, you're cleared for takeoff, and Denver overhauls zoning laws

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

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)

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Senators Now Crossing the Aisle for Electric Car

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Lawmakers are hoping for a chance to give the electric car a jolt in the Senate’s upcoming energy bill.

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.

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One Year After Crash, Is Metro Safer?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rescue workers respond to the site of two Red Line Metrorail trains that collided with one another last June in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Washington, DC - David Schultz, WAMU News)  One year ago today, a Washington, DC Metro train slammed into the back of a stopped train.  Nine people died and dozens were injured in the deadliest crash in the capital system's history.  Since then, Metro has made changes, but it's not clear what is making the ride for passengers safer.  In a series of reports on the year since the crash, David Schultz looks at whether Metro is safer than it was one year ago.  Earlier, WAMU News reported on the debate over federal regulation of transit started by this crash and the feelings of Capital residents, some of whom see little signs of change.

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TN Moving Stories: Don't eat off the floor of the M train, and AZ drivers exhale

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

LA subway got 50% bump in ridership from Lakers parade yesterday.  (LA Daily News)

Mmmm! Only 50% of New York's subway cars are rated clean. Just so you know, "clean" means "light dirt." (WNYC)

Meanwhile, across the river, New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund will run out of money in a year. (Star Ledger)

Arizona will reopen 5 rest areas shut during budget cuts. Drivers rejoice, begin ingesting fluids again. (Arizona Daily Star)

They didn't pave paradise: Forty years later, one MN wetland is still roadless. (Minnesota Public Radio)

Wilmington, NC, is experiencing a bicycle infrastructure boom. No mean feat during a recession. (Star News)

England to sell its first high-speed rail line to raise money. (BBC)

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Facing Big Bus Cuts, New York City to Expand Van Network

Monday, June 21, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Facing system-wide cuts in mass transit this weekend, WNYC has learned New York City is looking to vastly expand it private commuter van network. So-called dollar vans, which actually cost $2.00, operate throughout the city, picking up passengers who flag them down and dropping them off along specified routes. The vans, which are privately operated, are regulated by the city Taxi and Limosine commission, or TLC. According to those with direct knowledge of the situation, the TLC has been quietly meeting with dollar van operators to expand their routes to pick up much of the slack left by bus line cuts. Those cuts go into effect on Sunday, though the expansion of dollar van routes isn’t expected to take place that quickly.

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Talking, Texting and Bumping Into Things

Monday, June 21, 2010

(Collin Campbell, Transportation Nation) We've tried to keep up with the federal government's push to get drivers off of their cell phones.  The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has added a few data points to that debate now.  Among the new survey's findings:

  • Overall, 44% of adults say they have been passengers of drivers who used the cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.
  • Adults are just as likely as teens to have texted while driving and are substantially more likely to have talked on the phone while driving.
  • Almost half of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages on their cell phone.

The survey is a short and interesting read.  But there's a nugget inside it that may be the most foreboding:

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TN Moving Stories

Monday, June 21, 2010

Automakers, airlines among big winners as China lets its currency appreciate (Reuters)

Pew survey finds adult drivers text, talk on phone as much as teens.  (Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project)

Less parking, more parks as Baltimore rewrites zoning for first time since Nixon era.  (WAMU News)

Everything from Governor's future to state's finances ride on Boston commuter rail extension.  (Globe)

New York's MTA considering more cuts to subway, buses even as service cuts come down this week.  (NYTimes)

Lakers victory parade promises traffic nightmare in downtown LA.  Will Angelenos take transit to get there?  (Southern California Public Radio/KPCC)

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New York Deal Steps up Bus Lane Enforcement

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bus(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Since New York began experimenting with select  bus service, there's  been one giant obstacle:  New Yorkers tend to view painted bus lanes (and bike lanes for that matter), as optional.  The city's been stymied in its efforts to suggest otherwise by lack of authority to install cameras which could help police the lane.  But now a few simple words in a legislative deal reached today: "establishes a bus rapid transit demonstration program to restrict the use of bus lanes by means of bus lane photo devices (Part II)" could change on that.  The language still needs a vote, but if passed, the city can begin installing cameras which give the terra cotta lanes some, er, teeth.

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Minnesota Says It's Making Progress With Bridge Inspections

Friday, June 18, 2010

(St. Paul, Minnesota - Dan Olson, MPR News)  The Winona Bridge underscores Minnesota's aging transportation infrastructure.  State bridge inspectors on a routine inspection last week spotted  spreading corrosion, made a repair and slapped on some weight restrictions. The rust illustrates the problems associated with that 69-year-old structure and dozens of other spans around the state.

The 2007 collapse of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis put bridge safety at the top of the state's transportation agenda. In 2008, a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor found problems with the Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge inspection system.  The Auditor's report cited untimely bridge inspections, with only 85 percent of bridges inspected within the federal 24-month standard. MnDoT had too few inspectors and documentation of maintenance performed following bridge inspections was inadequate.  State officials say they're making progress responding to bridge inspection shortcomings.

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LaHood: States Should Spend Faster

Friday, June 18, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  President Barack Obama travels to Columbus , Ohio today to cut the ribbon on the 10,000th Recovery Act highway project.   The move, clearly timed to emit some good news in the cloud of BP spill-related bad news, was heralded Thursday in a conference call by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Biden's Chief Economist, Jared Bernstein.

LaHood said the news could be even better.  "The problem is getting the governors to enter into contracts through their Departments of Transportation to get these contracts awarded so people can be hired."

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