Streams

Nj Transit riders get a 25 percent hike

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

(April 14, Matthew Schuerman, WNYC)

Do the math. If you pay $600 a month now for transit, you'll pay $750 beginning May 1, or $1800 more a year. That's the biggest hike (by percent) in almost three decades.

Succumbing to crushing fiscal realities faced by transit systems across the nation, the third large transit system in America voted unanimously today to approve higher fares and service cuts. The vote was 6-0.

Most express bus and commuter rail fares into New York will go up 25 percent. Off-peak train fares will rise by almost 50 percent because off-peak discounts will be eliminated.

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Houston revisits parking ordinance

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

(KUHF, Houston, April 14) The city of Houston has long held the assumption that driving drives business, and businesses must provide for drivers. But as that city begins to look at denser development, business owners wonder whether minimum parking requirements are good public policy. Wendy Siegle at KUHF has more.

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LaHood: Safe Digging!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

(April 14, Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) From LaHood this morning: April is National Safe Digging Month. Turns out EVERYONE is supposed to call 811 before digging. Who knew?

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Brooklyn Borough President Responds to Bike Lane Brouhaha

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, WNYC, April 13) Lot's of response to the interview which aired on WNYC with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, on his opposition to a bike lane along Prospect Park West, including one from Markowitz himself.

In the interview, Markowitz recommended cyclists could ride on little-used sidewalks. In an email, he clarifies that recommendation.

"Like our DOT Commissioner, whose professionalism I respect, I too support cycling in this city

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Taxi Talk: 50 Cent Transit Tax Hurts Tips

Monday, April 12, 2010

New York City cabbies are iconic as the Statue of Liberty but you can hear their voices about as often as as you do the torch-bearing lady's. So it was enlightening when about 100 packed into WNYC's Greene Space performance hall to tell their stories, answer a few questions, and gripe to the new commissioner, David Yassky, who also attended.

We'll be posting the full audio and some pix of the WNYC News forum "Out from Behind the Wheel," soon, but here were a few highlights:

*Many many taxi drivers have been doing this for 15,20,30 years. Who knew?
*Many feel affronted by the question "where are you from"? Some say they've lost fares when passengers don't like the answer.
*They are REALLY upset by the 50 cent transit tax assessed on each trip as part of last year's transit bailout package. In the most emotional moment of a pretty charged forum, they said it directly cut into their tips.
One of my favorite moments, a Brooklyn-born woman hack said, when asked where she's form, she says "Where are YOU from?"

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In D.C., Costs of Transit for Disabled Spiral Out of Control

Monday, April 12, 2010

Courtesy WMATA.com

Courtesy WMATA.com

I’m not terribly adept at math, so I double checked this on my calculator to make sure it was right: when something increases by 300 percent, that means it quadruples.

I needed to know this for a story I was doing on transit services for people with disabilities. In the D.C. region, the costs of providing transportation to people who are physically unable to ride trains or buses have increased by 300 percent over the past decade. They have quadrupled.

The bearer of these costs is Metro, Washington D.C.’s public transit agency. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires all transit agencies to provide people with disabilities a para-transit service. Metro calls its service MetroAccess.

The bearer of these costs is Metro, Washington D.C.'s public transit agency. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires all transit agencies to provide people with disabilities a para-transit service. Metro calls its service MetroAccess. 

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The Bike Lanes Wars, in Brooklyn

Monday, April 12, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, WNYC, New York) Park Slope in Brooklyn is one of those urban neighborhoods where people compost, drive Priuses (when they drive), and hang their laundry to dry. It's home to the oldest food co-operative in the United States. So it's perhaps an unlikely place to find a skirmish in the bike lane wars, but there it is, reorganizing street space is rarely controversy-free, in any neighborhood.

On the one hand cyclists, the City DOT, and the local Community Board are in favor of eliminating a lane of traffic along Frederick Law Olmstead's crown jewel, Prospect Park, to install a two-way, protected bike lane. They say slowing traffic and creating more space for cyclists will improve everyone's safety.

But the borough president, Marty Markowitz, (the kind of guy who puts "leaving Brooklyn, fuggedabout it!" on highway signs) thinks it will create insufferable congestion for motorists.

It's the stated policy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reduce automobile use in New York, to cut the city's carbon footprint. Many cities are eying whether parking policy can be used to drive people out of their cars and onto bikes, transit, or into carpools. But as Andrea Bernstein's interview with Borough President Markowitz shows, sparks fly when social goals rub motorists the wrong way.

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Shannon Trice Will Stop You, Distracted Drivers

Thursday, April 08, 2010

P1010077-1

(Syracuse, NY - Transportation Nation) On the window sill next to Captain Shannon Trice's desk, there's a toy cop car. Instead of the badge of the Syracuse Police Department, where he's worked for the last 20 years, it has the logo of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Trice is a traffic nerd.  He's worked on a bunch of federal-state-local programs, reads the studies.  The toy car is one of a few awards he's won for traffic safety programs.  He's a modest man, but you can almost get him to brag about how many tickets he's written as part of New York State's "Click It or Ticket" program -- something he does for an hour now and then just to get out of the office.  He has served long enough to see the difference his work has made.

But Trice and the Syracuse PD are now taking on a new challenge.

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The Phantom Token Booth: Life Without New York's Station Agents

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An MTA station agent helps a subway rider read the service map.  (Photo: Stephen Nessen)

(New York - WNYC)  The Metropolitan Transportation Authority here is letting go of 450 station agents this spring because of its budget crisis. There are many New Yorkers who wonder what these people were supposed to be doing anyway, considering that they stopped selling tokens years ago and ticket vending machines were installed instead.

An unstaffed booth, like many more to come.  (Photo: Stephen Nessen)

An unstaffed booth, like many more to come. (Photo: Stephen Nessen)

But they are invaluable for parents who want to take their strollers through service gates, for tourists who need directions, and for subway riders who don’t want to use their credit cards in machines.

The people that station agents now serve are outliers who need a human touch in an increasingly mechanized transit system. But in a city of 8 million, it turns out there are a lot of outliers. They are slowly learning to adapt—but they aren’t happy about it. WNYC brings us a report from Matthew Schuerman and a photo essay from Stephen Nessen.

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Drive Until You Qualify For a Mortgage

Monday, March 29, 2010

(Houston - KUHF News Lab)  We reported last month on Houston's high ratings as an affordable place to live.  But what goes into an equation like that, from housing prices to work salaries to taxes, is fluid.  A new group is challenging traditional views of those ratings, and adding transportation costs to the mix.  From the KUHF NewsLab, Melissa Galvez reports.

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D.C.'s Metro Gets Mixed Messages From Its Riders

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Metro Bus map, showing service to SE Washington

The Metro Bus map, showing service to SE Washington

(Washington, DC - WAMU) Metro is the affectionate nickname for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. It operates the network of buses and subways that course throughout the District of Columbia and its environs. If you've ever lived in or visited the nation's capital, you're probably a Metro rider.

It would be an understatement to say that Metro is undergoing a difficult episode in its nearly 40-year history. In June of last year, two of its trains collided during rush hour, killing eight passengers and the operator of one of the trains. In the nine months since, there have been a handful of high-profile accidents, several of which resulted in the deaths of Metro employees. Metro riders' confidence in the system as a whole is not terribly high right now.

That makes this a horrible time to propose a laundry list of fare increases and service cuts. But Metro, like other transit systems across the country, was hit hard by the recession. To balance its budget for the fiscal year starting in July, Metro must shrink by nearly $200 million dollars.  So propose it did.

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When a bridge dies: life on the infrastructure frontier

Thursday, March 25, 2010

 


(Collin Campbell)

(Chimney Rock, VT - Transportation Nation) - Many people who live around Lake Champlain remember where they were when they got the news.

 

For Tim Kayhart, it was 2 p.m. on October 16th.  He was chopping corn in a field next to the Champlain Bridge in Addison, Vermont. A neighbor pulled over, walked up to him in the field and told him the span had just been closed for good; scheduled for demolition.  "It felt like a brick wall," Kayhart said.

 

Tim Kayhart and his brother have 1,7000 acres split between New York and Vermont. The livestock, feed and fertilizer they once shuttled over the bridge will now have to go by ferry across Lake Champlain.

Kayhart’s mother and father bought the dairy farm that he and his brother now work on in 1979.  Their collection of cows and a handful of red barns sits about half a mile from where a bridge used to be. As the business grew, the Kayharts shopped for more space in New York. The land was cheaper, the soil was better and they settled on a property four miles away, across the lake. The two farms came to work so well together that they trucked manure from the cows in Vermont to fertilize fields in New York.

 

On October 16, the New York State Department of Transportation said a recent inspection of piers that supported the bridge found they were no longer structurally sound.  The bridge would be closed immediately.  In that instant, the distance between Kayhart's farms went from four miles to 150 miles, via a long drive around the southern end of the lake. 

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Silent and Stress Free: Park and Ride Woos Houstonians

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

(Houston - KUHF News Lab)  Houston's traffic is stuck in the top 10 worst metro areas.  In the search for alternatives, eleven thousand commuters have been drawn out of cars and into a Park and Ride bus system.  It's a quiet, cheap ride that has those using it asking for more buses and weekend service.  KUHF's Wendy Siegle steps aboard a service in high-demand.

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NYC to Cabbies: Oops!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A taxi driver gives change to a customer on 7th Avenue at Penn Station.  (Getty Images)

A taxi driver gives change to a customer on 7th Avenue at Penn Station. (Getty Images)

(New York - WNYC) -- WNYC's Kathleen Horan has been reporting on NYC taxi drivers and their reaction to the assertion almost all of them stole from customers: disbelief, anger, wounded pride.  Now it turns out the city's accusations may have way overreached. Outgoing Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus is acknowledging "significant" errors in the data, and saying the city doesn't yet know how many (or how few) cabbies actually overcharged customers. Turns out the TLC had data "it didn't know existed" that may exonerate many cabbies.

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Deputy HUD Secretary: Live Smaller, Denser

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

(The Takeaway) Think tanks have been getting more and more vocal of late when it comes to "affordable housing," arguing that term sua sponte hides costs by making people forget about transportation costs -- which can easily add to to more than a mortgage. In a thought-provoking interview, Deputy HUD Secretary Ronald Sims tells Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein that the far-off dream house in a far-flung community is no longer sustainable. His recommendation: move closer in, live in a smaller home, choose a denser community. Hear the Takeaway segment and interview here.

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Probing Bike-Friendly Houston

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

(Houston - KUHF) - Triple-digit temperatures and summer storms make biking tough in Houston.  But the city is still pressing forward with a decades-long plan for bike trails and roadside amenities to encourage car-loving Texans to consider other ways to get around.  With Google Maps expanding its popular online directions to bike routes, KUHF's Melissa Galvez took to two wheels on her way to work, and took a microphone along for the ride.

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The Third Rail: Why Scaling Back Public Transit Is So Hard To Do

Friday, March 19, 2010

(Washington, DC - WAMU) In the political parlance of our times, a contentious public policy problem is called a "third rail" issue. Like a railway's electrified third rail, if you dare touch these issues, you're going to get hurt. Think abortion, Social Security, health care, et. al.

But this metaphor takes on new meaning when talking about public transit, perhaps the ultimate third rail issue.

Dozens of people rallied against DC Metro's proposed budget cuts and fare hikes at a church in Capitol Heights, MD.  (Photo: David Schultz, WAMU)

Dozens of people rallied against DC Metro's proposed budget cuts and fare hikes at a church in Capitol Heights, MD. (Photo: David Schultz, WAMU)

At this moment, cities and states across the country are having to make painful decisions about the future of their trains, buses and trolleys. A cursory Google search of the words "transit budget cuts" shows how widespread the pain is: the very first page of search results includes news stories from California, Texas, Washington state, Chicago, New Jersey and New York. (And that's just the first page!)

Washington D.C.'s vaunted Metro transit system is certainly not immune. It's staring down a $189 million budget gap. Barring an unprecedented grant from the federal government or an accounting gimmick that almost no one thinks is a good idea, there are only two ways the system can close that gap: through fare increases and/or service cuts.  Metro's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 contains lots of that: fare hikes of up to 29 percent and reductions in services that could make transit in the nation's capital nearly unrecognizable.

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Houston plans for future gridlock

Friday, March 19, 2010

Houston traffic-roads(Houston - KUHF News Lab) In the next 30 years, Houston is expected to add 3.5 million people.  It's a planning challenge on all levels, especially transportation.  How will Houston bill ways to get to work that encourage people to reconsider roads?  That's the subject of a year-long study now underway, as city officials get ready for the newcomers.  KUHF's Wendy Siegle reports on what planners will be looking at and how the public is giving its input.

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Engineers, wind and a crumbling bridge: how 500 pounds of metal ends up on a roadway

Thursday, March 18, 2010

(San Francisco - KALW) In October 2009, a temporary device engineers made to hold the San Francisco Bay Bridge together broke.  Hundreds of pounds of metal fell onto the lanes of Interstate 80, and one of the busiest crossings in the Bay Area.  No one was injured, but it was terrifying for commuters to realize that the engineers whom they count on to keep the bridge safe had made a mistake.  KALW Transportation Reporter Nathanael Johnson looks into how the event happened, who was responsible, and what was being done to prevent future errors.  He's interviewed by KALW host Hana Baba:

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NYC Taxi Drivers Object to Being Labeled Crooks

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kathleen Horan, WNYC

Kathleen Horan, WNYC

(WNYC) -- The City of New York has revealed that it believes the majority of licensed taxi drivers have been involved in a scheme to overcharge passengers. More than 35,000 drivers are accused of charging in-town passengers an out-of-town rate.  But taxi drivers are crying foul, saying they've been tarred with too broad a brush.  WNYC's Kathleen Horan visited with the Big Apple's heralded "hacks."

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