Streams

Boston Bike Share Postponed

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein Transportation Nation) Boston's bike share was supposed to start this summer, but it's been pushed off at least until April, 2010. Nicole Freedman, Director of Bicycle Programs for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, explains "we felt like we need more time to ensure we could get the operations correct." Each city's structure for bike share is different. Montreal has contracted out operations to Bixi, Washington's DDOT has hired Alta Bike Share to run the system, and Denver and Minneapolis have non-profits setting up theirs.

But Boston is still working out the details of how its system will be run. Freedman says Boston might have been ready by early fall, but setting up a system so close to Boston's notorious winters didn't seem wise.

The news comes on the heels of announcement by New York that a major expansion of protected bike lanes, seen as a prerequisite for bike share, was being postponed.

But cheer up bike share enthusiasts. As MPR reports, Minnesota's bike share starts tomorrow. And DC's now has a name.

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Why Don't More Women Bike to Work?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Female biker's feet in heels

Rachel Bents, St. Paul consultant, now bikes to work after to give up her leased car a few weeks ago. (MPR Photo/Dan Olson)

(Minneapolis, MN - Dan Olson, MPR News) - The folks who organize national Bike and Walk to Work Week here are making an effort to address cycling's gender imbalance.  Surveys continue to show that more than two out of three bicyclists in this country are male.

Different cities are taking different approaches to try bring some balance to the equation.  Organizers in Minnesota are sponsoring rides specifically for women, in an effort to introduce and orient new riders on city streets.  Participants will get bright red T-shirts, urging women to wear red to show their commitment to women's health.

Still, a significant determinant in bike commuting - for women or men - is where you choose to live.  More enthusiastic bike commuters say they live where they know they can bike.  More.


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TN Moving Stories: Worldwide baggage fees? World Cup "trans-sport-tation." Biking, yes biking, illegal in CO town

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

South African transportation minister: "the World Cup is not just about sport, it is more about transport."  Says nation is ready for the rush.  (AP)

Judge rules NYC must re-open and restaff subway station booths.  (WNYC)  Meanwhile, BRT-like plan for East Side comes with more transit cops.  (Daily News)

Airlines asked to set international standards for baggage fees.  (WSJ)

Burbank (Bob Hope) Airport to put $18 million into center for passenger trains, shuttles, buses and taxis.  (LA Times)

Ride your bike on some streets in Black Hawk, Colorado, get a $68 ticket. (7 News Denver)

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New, Bigger Bike Share Has a Name in DC

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"Capital Bikeshare" it is, rolling toward 100 stations in Washington and 14 in Arlington.  DC's DOT reports that the name beat out George, GoBike, Capital Bixi and ShareCycle.  DC's SmartBike was the first big city bike share pilot, launching with a small number of bikes in 2008.  Capital Bikeshare promises more than 1,000 bikes and hopes to big biggest in the nation.  Launch date still a murky "later this year."

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Passenger Rail Is Booming In Virginia

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

(David Schultz, WAMU) Late last year, Amtrak began running trains daily between Washington D.C. and Virginia's Shenandoah Valley - the locale of cities and towns like Lynchburg, Culpeper and Charlottesville, home to the venerable University of Virginia.

This new train service was meant to be a pilot program, funded by Virginia's Department of Transportation (VDOT). It estimated that - eventually, with a slow and steady growth - ridership might reach levels that could make this service viable.

They were right, except for that "slow and steady" part. Ridership on the Virginia-to-D.C. line has grown exponentially since it began.

VDOT estimated the new rail service would eventually carry 51,000 riders a month. In little more than half a year, monthly ridership has grown to 55,000 per month and it shows no signs of leveling off. This new service has been so successful, Amtrak may actually make a profit off it.

Now plans to expand passenger rail service elsewhere in Virginia are moving forward.

For more on those plans, and to hear from a rider who uses the new train service, check out this story from WAMU in Washington.

(Hat tip to The Hook in Charlottesville)

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From High-Speed Rail to Red Ink: Where California's Governor Wannabes Stand

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

California Attorney General and democratic candidate for governor Jerry Brown (L) shakes hands with a voter as his campaign manager Steven Glazer looks on this morning in Oakland, California. California. Voters are heading to the polls to vote in the primary elections for governor, U.S. Senate and other statewide and local races. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Nathanael Johnson, KALW News) - Californians go to the polls today to pick their party nominees for governor.  It's a tough job -- facing the nation's highest budget deficit, and succeeding the meandering political mantle of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So how do the candidates come down on transportation issues, and the Golden State's crumbling bus systems, rusty rails, ruby red budgets and push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?  The leading pols haven’t said much about transit issues (and did not respond when this reporter asked them directly). Still, we can piece together some idea of how each potential governor would alter California’s transportation environment.

Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner are racing for the Republican nomination. Jerry Brown (barring a last minute scandal) has the Democratic nomination wrapped up. Here’s where they stand:

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TN Moving Stories: SUV sales are up--but you won't need one to get to the polls today in Montana

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Who says Americans don't have long memories?  Gas prices are holding steady -- so sales of SUVs are up.  (The Takeaway)

Full-body scans about to become routine at BWI Airport.  (WAMU)

Who should finance transportation: Washington, or local states?  Making the case for a "General Fund."  (The Transport Politic)

Back to square one for the Circle plan:  Indianapolis backs off plan to close iconic central plaza to traffic.  (Indianapolis Star)

Twin Cities community groups get money to study health impacts of light-rail line. (MPR)

Army Corps of Engineers says no to new toll booth in Maine; praises local opposition to toll plaza. (Portsmouth Herald)

Everything old is new again: Texas rep wants to restore--and use--35-year old streetcars. (El Paso Times)

Montana to provide free bus rides today to encourage primary voting.  (Great Falls Tribune).

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Do Truncated East Side Bike Lanes Threaten a New York Bike Share?

Monday, June 07, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) On March 3, New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told WNYC's Brian Lehrer "we can't do bike share until we have safe bike lanes." (Transcript and audio below.)   That was when the city planned to build, this year, 160 new blocks of protected bike lanes along First and Second Avenues, from the Battery to 125th Street.  Those lanes would have helped fill a gaping hole in the city's bike lane map.  From the Flatiron district to Central Park and stretching east from Broadway,  bike lanes are virtually non-existent.  That's a  distance of forty blocks, north to south, and about a mile east to west.

Now, plans to fill in that network on the east side of Manhattan with miles of protected bike lanes have been significantly curtailed.  The city says construction deadlines mean it can only build up to 34th Street this year; it isn't offering a timetable for the build-out.

New York City's announcement comes as Boston and Minneapolis are ready to implement major bike share programs this month; Denver's bike share was launched April 22, and Washington DC is poised to launch a 1200-bike program this fall.  And as Los Angeles, freeway city, is investing $230 million dollars in bike lanes, plus bike stations, showers, and other infrastructure.   As we reported back in February, bike share fever is sweeping urban planners around the U.S.

New York City has taken steps towards implementing a bike share; it has issued a request for expressions of interest, and analyzed -- largely favorably -- opportunities for bike sharing in New York.

Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, widely viewed as a national leader in promoting biking in cities, has organized bike sharing demonstrations at her summer-streets festivals, where she closes some Manhattan streets to cars.   She's brought in her friend, musician David Byrne, to publicize bike sharing demos in Union Square.

But she's also said biking needs to be safe in midtown before New York can begin a bike share, and her plan to "double the citywide total [of bike lanes] in just one year" is on hold, for 2010, at least.  DOT isn't offering a timetable for construction of the First and Second Avenue protected bike lanes, or bike share in New York.  When asked, DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow emailed "As I'm sure you're aware, we continue to explore the feasibility of bike share."

Click here for the audio link to Brian Lehrer's March 3 interview the relevant portion begins at 9:55.

Here's the transcript:

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From Peoria to Washington, and Back Again: LaHood Listens To Rural America's Transportation Needs

Monday, June 07, 2010

(Collin Campbell, Transportation Nation) - Before becoming the nation's Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood lived his entire life in Western Illinois.  He was born in Peoria, went to college there, taught school there, and eventually became the Congressman for the state's 18th District.

As U.S. Transportation Secretary Secretary, LaHood is working on high-speed rail projects linking big cities, transit-oriented development and bike lanes.  But how that vision plays out in rural America is a question LaHood must keep his eye on.    He answered that question on a visit to North Dakota, a spread-out state that gets more from the highway trust fund than it puts in with gas tax.  LaHood held a town hall meeting there with Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the all-powerful Senate Budget Committee, and Earl Pomeroy, the lightly populated state's only Congressman. 

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MPR: Minneapolis Bus Ridership Up, Still Tiny

Monday, June 07, 2010

(Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio) Bus ridership is higher than at any point since right after World War II in the Twin Cities   But car commuting still dwarfs transit.    More here.

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Bike Lanes Scaled Back on First and Second Avenues -- at Least for Now

Monday, June 07, 2010

Rendering Courtesy of NYC DOT

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) In announcing construction will get underway shortly on the First and Second Avenue Select Bus Service lanes, the city is acknowledging publicly that bike lanes, once planned to run from the Battery to Harlem, will now only go as far north as 34th Street. City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says it will be "impossible" to get the routes extended to Harlem in this year's construction season, but that she hopes to build the full bikeway in the future.

Even before the announcement was made public, it was causing consternation among city cycling advocates, who were once so thrilled with the designs for First and Second Avenue they were dubbed "bike rapid transit."

The name is a riff on Bus Rapid Transit, the technical forbear for the city's select bus service. The First and Second Avenue bus routes will include many of the features of Bus Rapid Transit: there will be dedicated lanes, fewer stops, and passengers will pay of- board. Officials say that will save passengers about twenty percent on their travel times.

But BRT experts are disappointed the city hasn't fully segregated the bus lanes, as cities like Milan, Bogota, and Mexico City have done, and won't build dedicated stations, which give BRT stops more of a "train-like" feel. Sadik-Khan has said those cities have the luxury of much wider boulevards than Manhattan.  (To listen to WNYC's full series on BRT, click here.)

Still, the city's plans are seen as significant advance over current buses, and are being cheered by transit advocates as relief for east side commuters, who have been waiting half a century for the Second Avenue subway. (With additional reporting by Matthew Schuerman)

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TN Moving Stories: Will Republicans Debate Energy? Swearing at BP, Do-It-Yourself Potholes

Monday, June 07, 2010

Will Republicans start the bipartisan dealing on energy reform?  Early hints.  (The Takeaway)

WSJ editorial writers take on "the artist formerly known as the climate bill."  Fear one-sided, by any means necessary effort.  (WSJ)

MTV Movie Awards feature host's gesture-filled shot at BP.  (Huffington Post)

LA's plans to spend $230 million on bike lanes are part of worldwide movement by cities to do what national government's won't: (BusinessWeek)

Bus rapid transit plans announced for New York City's clogged First and Second Avenues.  (NYT)

City struggling to key up, pay overtime.  So Omaha man patches potholes in his own street.  (Omaha World-Herald)

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Analyst: SUV Sales Growth "Absolute Proof" of Short Attention Spans

Friday, June 04, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) SUV sales are up, as we reported below. Preliminary data shows some of the fastest car sale growth in May of 2010 over a year ago, May 2009, was in the light truck division.  Toyota reported a drop in May sales in its car division, but light trucks sales, driven by the RAV4 and Highlander SUVs, were up 14 percent. Unlike domestic automakers, Toyota's sales are more reliant on the consumer market than on the business, or fleet market, says analyst Bill Visnic.

Overall, according to data supplied to WNYC by Autodata Corportation, light trucks have 48 percent of the market share, up from 43 percent two years ago.

"This is absolute proof we have the shortest attention spans on the planet," says Bill Visnic, Senior Editor at Edmunds AutoObserver.com. "Just two summers ago, you couldn't give away an SUV."  Then, gasoline was approaching $5.00 a gallon.  The economy was tanking, and by the fall of 2008, a decades-long steep rise in vehicle miles traveled had screeched to a halt.

But now -- compared to a year ago, Visnic says, gas is a relatively cheap $3,00 a gallon, and even with the BP oil spill in thee gulf, consumers are still being signaled that prices will stay low over the summer.  Interest rates are low, there's pent up demand, and "people like big vehicles," Visnic says.  "Given the opportunity, they will buy them."

Visnic says there are other factors:  dealers have offered incentives for SUV purchases, as economic fears ease,  and many companies have added to their fleets after months or even years of putting off purchases.   And it's unclear whether this trend will continue. "A lot of things are swirling around to create this moment in time," Visnic says. "If one thing goes wrong in the formula, the bottom drops out."

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NYC MTA relocates falcon chicks

Friday, June 04, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) As deep service cuts approach, the NYC MTA continues its charm offensive this week.  First smart cards, then an announcement of eco-friendly solar-powered subway train washing facilities.

Now they're relocating peregrine falcon chicks (once an endangered species) to the MTA-operated Verrazano Narrows bridge because, according to the press release "urban falcons like to nest atop bridges, church steeples and high-rise buildings because they provide an excellent vantage point for hunting prey."

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NY City: Women Bridge Painters who Couldn't Get Work Not Entitled to $$

Friday, June 04, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) From 1996 to 2001, the New York City Department of Transportation employed about 40 bridge painters; none were female.  In 2007, the United States District Attorney filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city, stating that "the DOT has never hired, extended an offer to hire, or employed a single woman as a Bridge Painter."  In May a Manhattan federal judge found that the City of New York and the Department of Transportation were guilty of, in the judge’s words, “unvarnished sex discrimination...the net result was to exclude qualified and impressive women from pursuing the careers they desired with the City of New York.”  The city says it disagrees with the judge's opinion, it continues to oppose his view.

At issue now is whether four of the women named as plaintiffs will receive back pay; whether three of them will be offered positions as city bridge painters (one woman has said she would not accept it if offered), and what the new procedures governing the hiring of bridge painters should be. The court held a conference on June 1st to discuss these issues.  While no decisions were made and further discussion was scheduled for June 18th, the city contended that the women should not now be appointed to the positions they sought because they haven’t been employed as bridge painters for five of the last ten years.  A rough transcript of the June 1st conference is below.

You can read the judge's decision here.  (PDF)

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6/1/2010 conference at US District Court, Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street, part 11D

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Preliminary Data: SUV Sales Inching Back Up

Friday, June 04, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) For a long time, light truck sales, including SUV's, were about half the retail vehicle market share. In May of 2008, as gas approached $5.00 a gallon in some markets, sales plummeted to 43 percent. But now, according to figures provided to WNYC by Autodata Corporation, they're inching back up, to more than 48 percent of the market share, compared to 47.3 percent in May 2009.

Sales of the tiny Chevy Aveo were up 88 percent from May of 2009 to 2010. But the giant Suburban moved off the lot even faster - 100 percent faster. Sales of the Chevy Equinox were up even more -- from 3,689 in May of 2009 to 13,134 in May of 2010. That's a 256 percent increase.

Toyota didn't fare as well as American automakers, but its Prius sold well -- 41 percent better than this time a year ago. Sales of the The Toyota 4Runner, a large SUV, almost tripled.

Now these numbers are raw, and unadjusted. But they point to an interesting phenomenon. As WNYC Economics Editor Charles Herman reports, Americans are feeling a bit better now then they were in the spring of 2009. The pain of the recession is receding a bit. And so, apparently, is the memory of how much it can cost to fill up the tank of a large SUV.

We'll continue to digest these numbers over the next week.

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TN Moving Stories: a Hot July Senate Energy Debate? CA high-speed rail chief speaks, 3,000 will move for NY tunnel

Friday, June 04, 2010

Harry Reid says Senate will take up an energy bill in July.  (Fire Dog Lake)

Ugly air delays down.  Hawaiian, Alaska and US Airways top on-time ratings as airlines try to get ahead of new federal penalties.  (USA Today)

3,000 people get letters telling them they will have to move to accommodate new tunnel across Hudson River in Manhattan.  (NY Times)

In first public comments, head of California high-speed rail says he will reconsider some of that project's assumptions.  Funding is first, surprise surprise.  (SF Chronicle)

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Caltrain Closes in on Cuts, Fare Hikes

Friday, June 04, 2010

Caltrain, the commuter rail line linking San Francisco and San Jose, is now officially in a fiscal emergency.  It has a budget gap that amounts to more than a third of its $100 million annual operations.  The unanimous declaration of a fiscal emergency by Caltrain's board last night allows it to move ahead with service cuts and fare hikes.

The San Mateo County Times reports that those cuts could include all weekend service (sending 18,000 riders somewhere else), four midday trains, and/or early and late day trains.  It could also raise fares by 25 cents overall, or 25 cents for each "zone" of travel.  That's not the worst part: "the board also discussed Thursday the possibility of the railroad shutting down in 2012 if they can't resolve its budget problems."  Much of this is not new -- and KALW's Nathaneal Johnson has reported on some of the implications for funding structures, and California's high-speed rail plans.

As a Bay Area native and former full-time Caltrain commuter, this is a sad process to watch.  What's worse, things like the San Francisco Giants' new ballpark, and large swaths of new downtown development were built with CalTrain in mind as a commuting artery.  No weekend service means no easy and car-free fun at this ballpark by the Bay.  The cuts could start as early as October, when the Giants could be in the World Series.  -- Collin Campbell

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How much of the work on the Brooklyn Bridge will go to minorities and women?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

(Kate Hinds, WNYC) Earlier this week we wrote about Brooklyn Bridge contractor Skanska and how, at one point in the bidding process, their bid did not meet the city’s 14% disadvantaged business enterprise goal. The city expressed concern—but wound up awarding them the contract anyway.

Yesterday we got to ask NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan about the number of minority and women-owned businesses being employed on the job as subcontractors. You can listen to it here and read the transcript below.

Reporter: How is DBE compliance going to be made public?

JSK: I believe that it will be included on the tracking information that’s out there.

Reporter: It’s not now. (Crosstalk)

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Painting Gets Underway on Brooklyn's Prospect Park West Bike Lane

Thursday, June 03, 2010

DOT workers say it will be a month until work is complete.  Here are some photo's from this morning. (And here's the Marty Markowitz interview from earlier this spring.)

Cars were moved away from the lane next to the curb -- where the bike lane will be

View looking north

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