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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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Souvlaki VS a Spot, on New York City's Streets

Friday, June 18, 2010

The "Treat Truck" food truck parking in Manhattan(New York, NY - Kate Hinds, WNYC)  Food trucks are a fixture of New York City's corners.  From halal chicken and rice to fancy desserts, they offer a curbside piece of the city's culinary fabric.

But they also take up parking spots.  And they get used to the streets they serve.  “There is a vendor on 86th and Lex. who thinks that he owns the northeast corner," says New York City Councilmember Jessica Lappin.  "I don’t think it’s right.”

Lappin has introduced a bill that would keep truck operators from getting too attached to their turf.  It would also penalize those who get multiple parking tickets by taking away their permits.

Shaban Azab runs the food truck that drew Lappin's ire.  "This is going to happen to every car, or only me? Only the food truck? What do you want me to do?” he said.  More.

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TN Moving Stories

Friday, June 18, 2010

Obama, LaHood to Ohio to mark start of the 10,000th road project launched under recovery act.  (Columbus Dispatch)

Boston commuter rail link to South Coast takes step forward with purchase of frieght tracks.  (Boston Globe)

Toyota resumes building Mississippi facility, promising 2,000 jobs.  UAW accuses company of skirting union shops.  (AP)

Seattle jaywalking spot becomes YouTube sensation, police concern.  (Seattle Times)

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Breaking: New York Reaches Transit Card Deal

Thursday, June 17, 2010

(Matthew Schuerman, WNYC). School systems have been under pressure around the nation to cut transportation costs. Minneapolis plans to cut bus service for students who elect not to go to their district schools. Douglas County, Colorado, will start charging school kids to ride the yellow bus. But some 300,000 New York school kids will get to keep their free Metrocards to ride the bus or subway to get to school, under a tentative deal worked out in Albany.

Sources in Albany tell WNYC that New York Governor David Paterson will submit a transportation budget bill tomorrow that would give the Metropolitan Transportation Authority 25 million dollars to save the program. That's not as much as the MTA has wanted. But the bill would include other provisions that the MTA had sought, such as an increase in the debt limit for its capital program.

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Detroit Means Top-Quality Cars, For First Time in Decades

Thursday, June 17, 2010

(New York, NY - Charlie Herman, WNYC)  For the first time in a nearly a quarter of a century, the U.S. auto industry beat out its foreign competitors in the quality of new cars and trucks.

The Initial Quality Study conducted by J. D. Power & Associates measures problems with new vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership.   It finds that significant improvements from Ford and General Motors led domestic manufacturers to the first place finish.  In particular, Ford received the highest initial quality rating for all non-luxury brands, and rose to fifth place in overall rankings.  Last year, the Detroit automaker was eighth.

“Domestic automakers have made impressive strides in steadily improving vehicle quality, particularly since 2007,” said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates.

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TN Moving Stories

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How do you translate "rumble strip?" Colorado nonprofit teaches English-language road skills to refugees. (Greeley Tribune)

Prepare for takeoff: Spirit Airlines, pilots reach agreement, flights to start tomorrow. (Miami Herald)

If you teach them, they will share the road: Boise police try education, not ticket writing, in an effort to make roads safer for cyclists. (Idaho Statesman)

Light rail versus bus rapid transit: it's a wedge issue in Maryland's gubernatorial race. (Baltimore Sun)

The 2010 census could cost Green Bay Metro roughly $1 million in federal funding . Which doesn't sound like a lot -- except the transit agency's total annual budget is $8 million. (Green Bay Press Gazette)

And how will you be celebrating the fifth annual "Dump the Pump" day? Advocates hope you'll do it on public transit.

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Federal Report: Biking, Walking up, Still Tiny Percent of all trips

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Via Ray Lahood's blog, the federal highway administration today releases the "National Walking and Biking Study: ...

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New York's Second Avenue Starts Turning Green

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

(Marianne McCune, WNYC) Painting on the protected Second Avenue bike lane got underway overnight.   The lane, which will go north to 34th Street, is part of the city DOT's plan to extend its bike lane network -- though more slowly than promised.

The photo is of the block between 5th and 6th street.

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TN Moving Stories

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cast your mind back to when Oakland's Madison Square Park was a thriving neighborhood. And then BART came. (KALW)

Yes, you too can solve transportation problems: Slate asks its readers to help create Nimble Cities. (Slate)

Rats! Lower Manhattan subway lines are infested! (WNYC)

Hartford considers repealing skateboard ban -- and maybe even establishing an official skate park. (Hartford Courant)

President Obama, in his first use of the Oval Office to speak to the nation, calls for a new energy policy (New York Times). Meanwhile, new government estimates say BP's blown well in the Gulf of Mexico may be spitting out 60,000 barrels of oil every day. (NPR)

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Senate Energy Bill Would Have "Modest Impact" on Consumers, Says EPA

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation)  Gasoline prices are likely to rise under the energy and climate change bill the Senate is planning to tee up in July, according to an Environmental Protection Agency Analysis released today.

EPA predicts gas prices will hover around $5 per gallon in 2050 under the American Power Act (APA), the main legislative vehicle getting set for Senate debate. That’s about 20% higher than the $4-per-gallon estimate predicted if Congress does nothing.

The agency says gas prices would rise slightly under the APA starting in 2015, with about a 25-cent per-gallon premium on fuel by 2030. Prices will continue to accelerate under the act until reaching the roughly dollar-per-gallon increase by 2050, according EPA’s analysis.

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Oil Execs on the Hill, But Not Much on Gas Prices, Energy Policy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lamar McKay, Chairman and President of BP America sits in today's House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. (Getty Images)

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) You didn’t really think oil CEO’s were going to get a grilling on gas prices, did you?

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