Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

Google Maps to Provide Real Time Transit Info in Six Cities

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

(Transportation Nation)  Google announced this morning it would provide real-time transit information for mobile apps and desktops in six cities.  Which is to say, not when your bus or train is supposed to arrive, but when it is actually going to arrive, based on where it actually is.

From a Google press release this morning:

"Starting now, Google Maps for mobile and desktop can tell you when your ride is actually going to arrive with new live transit updates. We partnered with transit agencies to integrate live transit data in four U.S. cities and two European cities: Boston, Portland, Ore., San Diego, San Francisco, Madrid and Turin."

We'll have more, plus a test run in SF, coming soon.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Anthony Weiner and the Politics of...Bike Lanes?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

FROM THE ARCHIVES -- I wrote this two years ago, as Anthony Weiner's political career was unraveling (but before he'd resigned.) But as he's making moves to get into the race again, seemed like a good time to surface it.  

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Video: Ray Lahood Bikes To Work [UPDATED]

Monday, June 06, 2011


Ray LaHood Bikes to Work from Jay Mallin on Vimeo.

[UPDATED to add Video - AG]

The DOT just pointed us toward this video of Transpo Secretary Ray LaHood biking to work. He just oozes Washington, D.C. pride, calling the area "one of the most livable communities in America."

And, in response to an off camera question, he says "everybody has a right to the roadways, and certainly cyclists."

Original post:

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Bikes To Work (Photo: US DOT)

As promised, U.S. Secretary of Transportation rode a bike to work today. Heres' how he describes it on his blog: "This morning I biked to work with a group of DOT commuters from the Washington Monument to our headquarters building. The route was safe and well-marked; we enjoyed some exercise; and we didn't burn a drop of gas--which saved us some money.

That's what I call a successful commute."

Comments, folks?

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Obama in Jeep Plant as Auto Jobs Drop

Friday, June 03, 2011

(Transportation Nation) It can't be quite the punctuation the President wanted at the end of a week of full-court press on the auto-industry rebound. Manufacturers cut 5,000 jobs  in the last month, including a drop of 3,400 jobs in the automobile sector.

If you check the White House chart from earlier in the week, you'll see that, basically since the bailouts, auto jobs have been on a steady march upwards.  The White House has been all over that news this week -- V.P. Joe Biden gave the weekly address about it (the President was in Europe), the White House issued a report, and today the President was in Toledo.

So they can't be happy that today's jobs report shows auto numbers down, even though analysts are attributing that mainly to Japanese tsunami-related disruptions, and an economy stumbling as gas prices rise.

And yet, the President, fortifed by chili dogs, continued undaunted at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly complex.  Here's the pool report from Toledo, followed by the Presidents' remarks.   You can also check out the Republican National Committee Video on the bailout, essentially scoffing at the President's suggestion that Americans got their money back from the auto bailout.

"POTUS arrived from Rudy’s at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly complex at about 12:45 pm and toured the line for assembling the 2011 Jeep Wrangler, making several stops to watch mechanized assemblage of the Jeep’s front grill and its instrument panel. He was greeted respectfully rather than enthusiastically by the workers demonstrating for him, many wearing red-and-white company T-shirts. When he got to the end of his tour, he approached a woman in a red-and-white shirt that instead said “President OBAMA” next to another woman in a black Obama ’08 campaign T-shirt. “Those are nice shirts,” POTUS told them. The woman in the red “President OBAMA” shirt spun around to show the words on the back: “THANK YOU.” He wrapped her in a big hug.

"As he was leaving, a couple people asked to pose with him for a photo. Immediately, the other workers were hustling from the other points on the floor and pretty soon there was a group shot of at least two dozen people surrounding POTUS.

"Then he was off to the waiting audience about 100’ away for his open remarks."

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Please have a seat.

It is good to be back in Toledo.  (Applause.)  It is good to be with all of you.  Now, for those of you who I’ve met up close, I just want you to know that I stopped by Rudy’s -- (laughter) -- had two hot dogs, two chili dogs with onions.  So I’ve been looking for a mint backstage.  (Laughter.)  It tasted pretty good going down though.

It is wonderful to see you.  We’ve got some outstanding public servants who are here who’ve been working hard on behalf of working Americans their entire careers.  One of the finest senators that I know of, Senator Sherrod Brown, is in the house.  (Applause.)  Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is in the house.  (Applause.)  Your mayor is in the house.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I just took a short tour of the plant and watched some of you putting the finishing touches on the Wrangler.  Now, as somebody reminded, I need to call it the “iconic” Wrangler.  (Laughter.)  And that’s appropriate because when you think about what Wrangler has always symbolized.  It symbolized freedom, adventure, hitting the open road, never looking back -- which is why Malia and Sasha will never buy one.  (Laughter.)  Until maybe they’re 35.  (Laughter.)  I don’t want any adventure for them.

I want to thank Jill for the kind introduction.  Somebody on my staff asked Jill to describe herself in three words or less, and she said “hard working.”  Hard working.  And her entire family agreed.  So she’s with the right team here at this plant because I know there are a lot of hard-working people here.  And I am -- (applause) -- I’m proud of all of you.  Jill was born and raised right here in Toledo.  Her mother retired from this plant.  Her stepfather retired from this plant.  Her uncle still works at this plant.  She met her husband at this plant.  Now they have two children of their own, and her three-year-old wants to work at this plant.  (Laughter.)

I don’t think her story is unique.  I’m sure there are a lot of you who have similar stories of previous generations working for Chrysler.  And this plant, or the earlier plant that used to -- that I guess is still right down the road, this is the economic rock of the community.  You depend on it, and so do thousands of Americans.  The Wrangler you build here directly supports 3,000 other jobs, with parts manufactured all across America.  Doors from Michigan.  Axles from Kentucky.  Tires from Tennessee.  And this plant indirectly supports hundreds of other jobs right here in Toledo.  After all, without you, who’d eat at Chet’s or Inky’s or Rudy’s?  Or who’d buy all those cold ones at Zinger’s?  (Laughter and applause.)  This guy right here?  That’s the Zinger crew right there.  (Laughter.)  All right.  What would be life like here in Toledo if you didn’t make these cars?

Now, two years ago, we came pretty close to finding out.  We were still near the bottom of a vicious recession -- the worst that we’ve seen in our lifetimes -- and ultimately, that recession cost 8 million jobs.  And it hit this industry particularly hard.  So in the year before I took office, this industry lost more than 400,000 jobs.  In the span of a few months, one in five American autoworkers got a pink slip.  And two great American companies, Chrysler and GM, stood on the brink of liquidation.

Now, we had a few options.  We could have followed the status quo and kept the automakers on life support by just giving them tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money, but never really dealing with the structural issues at these plants. But that would have just kicked the problem down the road.

Or we could have done what a lot of folks in Washington thought we should do, and that is nothing.  We could have just let U.S. automakers go into an uncontrolled freefall.  And that would have triggered a cascade of damage all across the country.  If we let Chrysler and GM fail, plants like this would have shut down, then dealers and suppliers across the country would have shriveled up, then Ford and other automakers could have failed, too, because they wouldn’t have had the suppliers that they needed.  And by the time the dominos stopped falling, more than a million jobs, and countless communities, and a proud industry that helped build America’s middle class for generations wouldn’t have been around anymore.

So in the middle of a deep recession, that would have been a brutal and irreversible shock to the entire economy and to the future of millions of Americans.  So we refused to let that happen.

I didn’t run for President to get into the auto business –- I’ve got more than enough to do.  I ran for President because too many Americans felt their dreams slipping away from them.  That core idea of America –- that if you work hard, if you do right, if you’re responsible, that you can lead a better life and most importantly pass on a better life to your kids -- that American Dream felt like it was getting further and further out of reach.

Folks were working harder for less.  Wages were flat while the cost of everything from health care to groceries kept on going up.  And as if things weren’t hard enough, the bottom fell out of the economy in the closing weeks of that campaign back in 2008, so life got that much harder.

So I want everybody to understand, our task hasn’t just been to recover from the recession.  Our task has been to rebuild the future on a stronger foundation than we had before to make sure that you can see your incomes and your savings rise again.  And you can retire with security and respect again.  And you can open doors of opportunity for your kids again.  And we can live out the American Dream again.  That's what we’re fighting for.  (Applause.)  That's what we’re fighting for.

So that’s what drives me every day as I step into the Oval Office.  That’s why we stood by the American auto industry.  It was about you -- your families, your jobs, your lives, your dreams -– making sure that we were doing everything possible to keep them within reach.

So we decided to do more than just rescue the industry from crisis.  We decided to retool it for a new age.   We said that if everyone involved was willing to take the tough steps and make the painful sacrifices that were needed to become competitive, then we’d invest in your future and the future of communities like Toledo; that we’d have your back.

So I placed my bet on you.  I put my faith in the American worker.  And I’ll tell you what -- I’m going to do that every day of the week, because what you’ve done vindicates my faith.

Today, all three American automakers are turning a profit.  That hasn’t happened since 2004.  Today, all three American automakers are gaining market share.  That hasn’t happened since 1995.  And today, I’m proud to announce the government has been completely repaid for the investments we made under my watch by Chrysler because of the outstanding work that you guys did.  (Applause.)  Because of you.  (Applause.)

Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes the American taxpayer from the investment we made during my watch.  And by the way, you guys repaid it six years ahead of schedule.  (Applause.)  And last night, we reached an agreement to sell the government’s remaining interest in the company.  So, soon, Chrysler will be 100 percent in private hands.  Early.  Faster than anybody believed.  (Applause.)

So I couldn’t be prouder of what you’ve done.  And what's most important, all three American automakers are now adding shifts and creating jobs at the strongest rate since the 1990s.  So far the auto industry has added 113,000 jobs over the past two years.  In Detroit, Chrysler added a second shift at its Jefferson North plant.  GM is adding a third shift at its Hamtramck plant for the first time ever.  In Indiana, Chrysler is investing more than $1.3 billion in its Kokomo facilities.  And across the country, GM plans to hire back every single one of its laid-off workers by the end of the year -- every single one.

And that makes a difference for everyone who depends on this industry.  Companies like a small precision tooling manufacturer in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, have brought back many of the employees they had laid off two years ago.  Manufacturers from Michigan to Massachusetts are looking for new engineers to build advanced batteries for American-made electric cars.  And obviously, Chet’s and Inky’s and Zinger’s, they’ll all have your business for some time to come -- especially those guys over there.  (Laughter.)

So this industry is back on its feet, repaying its debts, gaining ground.  Because of you, we can once again say that the best cars in the world are built right here in the U.S. of A., right here in Ohio, right here in the Midwest.  (Applause.)  And each day when you clock in, you’re doing more than earning your pay by churning out cars.  You’re standing up for this company.  You’re sticking up for this way of life.  You’re scoring one for the home team and showing the world that American manufacturing and American industry is back.

Now, I don’t want to pretend like everything is solved.  We’ve still got a long way to go not just in this industry, but in our economy; for all our friends, all our neighbors who are still feeling the sting of recession.  There’s nobody here who doesn’t know someone who is looking for work and hasn’t found something yet.  Even though the economy is growing, even though it’s created more than 2 million jobs over the past 15 months, we still face some tough times.  We still face some challenges.  This economy took a big hit.  You know, it’s just like if you had a bad illness, if you got hit by a truck, it’s going to take a while for you to mend.  And that’s what’s happened to our economy.  It’s taking a while to mend.

And there are still some headwinds that are coming at us.  Lately, it’s been high gas prices that have caused a lot of hardship for a lot of working families.  And then you had the economic disruptions following the tragedy in Japan.  You got the instability in the Middle East, which makes folks uncertain.  There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery.  We’re going to pass through some rough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a hard time with.  We know that.


THE PRESIDENT:  A Wrangler can go over anything, huh?  (Laughter.)

But you know what, we know what’s happened here.  We know what’s possible when we invest in what works.  And just as we succeeded in retooling this industry for a new age, we’ve got to rebuild this whole economy for a new age, so that the middle class doesn’t just survive, but it also thrives.

These are tight fiscal times.  You guys have all heard about the deficit and the debt, and that demands that we spend wisely, cut everywhere that we can.  We’ve got to live within our means.  Everybody’s got to do their part.  Middle-class workers like you, though, shouldn’t be bearing all the burden.  You work too hard for someone to ask you to pay more so that somebody who’s making millions or billions of dollars can pay less.  That’s not right.  (Applause.)

And even though we’re in tough times, there are still some things that we’ve got to keep on doing if we’re going to win the future.  We can’t just sit back and stop.  We got business we got to do.  We got to make sure that our schools are educating our kids so that they can succeed.  I was looking at all the gizmos and gadgets you got in this plant here -- it’s a lot more complicated working on a plant than it used to be.  Kids have to know math and science.

We got to have a transportation and communications network that allows our businesses to compete.  We used to have the best roads, the best bridges, the best airports.  In a lot of places we don’t have that anymore.  If you go to China, Beijing, they’ve got a fancier airport.  You go to Europe, they got fancier trains, better roads.  We can’t let our infrastructure just crumble and fall apart.  We’re American.  We’ve got to make that investment.  (Applause.)

We’ve got to invest in innovation that will pave the way for future prosperity.  We invented stuff that the world now uses and the world now makes.  We’ve got to keep on inventing stuff and make sure it’s made right here in America.  And that requires investments.  (Applause.)  That requires investments in basic research and basic science.

So these are all things that will help America out-innovate, out-educate, out-compete, out-hustle everybody else in the world.  I want America to win the future, and I want our future to be big and optimistic, not small and fearful.

So we’ve got a lot of hard work that’s left to do, Ohio.  We’ve got a lot of work to do.  But we’re going to get there.  And if anybody tells you otherwise, I want you to remember the improbable turnaround that’s taken place here at Chrysler.  I want you to remember all those folks who were -- all those voices who were saying no -- saying no, we can’t.  Because, Toledo, you showed that this was a good investment, betting on America’s workers.

What we see here is a proud reminder that in difficult times, Americans, they dig deep, they recapture the toughness that makes us who we are –- builders and doers who never stop imagining a better future.  What I see here is a reminder of the character that makes us great –- that we’re a people who will forge a better future because that's what we do.  What I see here is an America that is resilient, an America that understands that when we come together, nobody can stop us.

So I’ll tell you what -– I’m going to keep betting on you.  And as long as I continue to have the privilege of being the President of the United States, I’m going to keep fighting alongside you for a future that is brighter for this community, for Toledo, for Ohio, for America.  Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

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Christie to Reimburse New Jersey for Helicopter Travel

Thursday, June 02, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) This just in from Gov. Christie's office regarding his use of state aircraft to travel to his son's baseball game, along with an itemized list of flights which you can see here.

"Attached, please find a list of instances in which State Police helicopters were used for travel. The total number attributable to the Governor is 33. Another flight was by the Lieutenant Governor, and one other was for transporting support staff for consecutive press conferences in the Meadowlands and Atlantic City to announce the recommendations of the Hanson Commission. The spreadsheet lists the date and purpose of use.

"Also, though the Superintendent of the State Police noted yesterday the travel does not cost taxpayers additional dollars, the Governor understands the sensitivity about this kind of thing and believes he owes it to the public to ensure that this is not a distraction. As such, the Governor is reimbursing for the last two trips dated 5/27 and 5/31 in the amounts of $919.20 and $1232.30, respectively."

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NYC Mayor Bloomberg Touts Bus Rapid Transit, Sort Of

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Speaking at City Climate Change Summit in Sao Paolo

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Speaking from the C-40 conference on cities and climate change from Sao Paolo on The Takeaway this morning, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg  seemed to endorse the idea of more Bus Rapid Transit in New York.  It's the first time I've heard him tout BRT on a national media program.

I say sort of, because Mayor Bloomberg didn't quite say BRT, though he seemed to be reaching for those words.   You'll just have to listen. ( About 4:40 in)

Here's what he did say:

"We focus on mass transit. Other cities focus on more roads, we’re not going to have more roads in New York City. We can have better mass transit and a lot of these things, buses, much more rapid trans—buses, rapid -- buses that don’t sepnd as much time at lights and that reduce the time of getting on and off."

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg's DOT has presided over the launch of there are two s0-called "Select Bus" routes, one in the Bronx, and one in Manhattan.  The buses have some BRT-like features (like off-board payment and red-light signal priority) thought according to ITDP, New York's select buses aren't exactly BRT.

Bloomberg also noted on The Takeaway that just 20 percent of New York's pollution comes from transportation and about 80 percent from buildings, the reverse of most other cities, since New Yorker's live so densely and rely on transit far more than in any other city in the U.S.


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Did NJ Gov Christie Copter to Son's Game Because of Sprawl?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  New Jersey is a famously congested state.  Though it's got one of the most extensive transit networks in the country, it's also got more roads per square mile than any other state.

So when the famously cost cutting NJ Governor Chris Christie 'coptered over to his son's ballgame the other day, there was both outrage and a possible defense, outlined by Fairleigh Dickenson Public Mind Poll Director Peter Woolley.   "I think a good defense is that this is the sprawl state and so it's very difficult to get from one place to another, even when the roads are in good shape," Woolley told WNYC's Bob Hennelly.

But still.  Even though Christie was headed to a son's game, he may not have such an easy time playing the family card as he did last winter, when he explained an absence from the state during one of the worst winter blizzards by saying he wasn't going to apologize for vacationing with his family.

Christie may helicopter less frequently than some of his predecessors, but it's almost impossible to spin something like this well.   If you're not the President of the United States, you pretty much can't win on the optics of getting a better form of transport than your average Joe, especially if taxpayers are footing the bill.

WNYC''s Bob Hennelly has the full story on Democratic outrage over his use of the helicopter, and the state police's defense, over at our sister site, It's a Free Country.Org

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White House: Auto Industry "Resurgent"

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

White House Chart of Auto Industry Jobs Growth

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  On the second anniversary of General Motors' declaration of bankruptcy, the White House is capping a weeks' worth of activities designed to tout that fact with a report documenting what it's calling "The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry."

As we've reported, the President has gotten little credit for Detroit's crawl out of its hole. Democrats took a bath in Michigan this December, in what was, in 2008, such a desperate situation for Republicans that John McCain never fought for the state.

But this week, beginning with a radio address last week by Vice President Joe Biden (while the President was in Europe), continuing with the report, and culminating Friday with a trip to a Jeep plant, the Obama administration is trying to claim credit for the jobs created in the auto industry.

The report says the industry has added 115,000 jobs, which it says is the fastest rate of growth in over a decade.

It's part of the administration's march out of its own hole .

You can read the full report here.


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Panasonic Move to Newark: It's Because We Don't Want Employees To Drive

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Panasonic will move its corporate heaquarters a block from Newark's Penn Station.

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  When Panasonic announced it would move to Newark recently, it cited Newark's extensive transit system as a reason for picking the relatively depressed New Jersey city over say, Silicon Valley.    But NJ also has a one-of-a-kind tax incentive package for companies that locate near transit, so it paid off to be green. Full story here.

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Audio: Ilya Marritz's Take On Christie Greenhouse Gas Decision

Friday, May 27, 2011

Want to understand why NJ Governor Chris Christie exited the 10-state cap and trade program? Listen here:

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Transpo Nation's Alex Goldmark Live on Brian Lehrer

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tune in on WNYC -- 820 am or 93.9 FM in New York/New Jersey/CT, or at He'll be discussing our bike ticketing mapping project (below)  Listen here.

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Pump Prices Drive Weekend Plans Off Course

Friday, May 27, 2011

As memorial day approaches, Americans are topping off their gas tanks and getting ready for a long weekend away from home. But with gas prices creeping up across the country, American travel patterns are beginning to shift accordingly. For just over a week now, The Takeaway has been asking listeners to text us the price at their local pump. We’ve collated the information on an interactive map. In this conversation we discuss some of our findings with Andrea Bernstein, Director of the Transportation Nation project and senior correspondent for our flagship station WNYC.

Comments [1]

New NYC Transit Site Easier To Use, Unless You're Mobile

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(New York, NY -- John Keefe, WNYC -- ANALYSIS)  The MTA took a step toward giving New Yorkers fresh, crisp transit information with a revamped website yesterday.

The site is much clearer, with key information right up top: service status by line, links into train and bus pages, and a slick new version of its "Trip Planner" to guide New Yorkers from Point A to Point B.

It's also much easier to find maps and schedules. Particularly nice is the consolidation of bus schedules by borough (the previous site listed some express lines by company, which was very confusing).

The bus schedules and maps themselves, though, are still in PDF format -- literally electronic representations of the paper versions -- which are frustratingly difficult to use on mobile devices. And there are no bus schedules on the mobile version of the site, which didn't get the same revamp.

Fortunately there's now a gallery loaded with third-party apps and services that serve MTA data in more useful, mobile formats. (Full disclosure: The gallery includes two free services I built with live bus data.)

Hard to find from the revamped site are two cool MTA features: The system that proves a train delay made you late for work, and a live map of bus locations on the B63 line in Brooklyn.

Beyond the "status update" widget, real-time schedule information remains woefully lacking. Other metropolitan transit sites, such the one serving Minneapolis and St. Paul, put live bus and rail information right on the home page. Not even third-party programmers can help here until the agency makes subway and bus location information more available.

So the new site is definitely a step in the right direction. But not a leap.

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Christie Pulls Plug on Greenhouse Gas Initiative For NJ

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(New York, NY -- Ilya Marritz, WNYC) UPDATED WITH VIDEO New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is withdrawing New Jersey from a greenhouse gas emissions reduction program by the end of the year.

The cap-and-trade program — the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — requires power plants in 10 northeast states to buy emissions credits for every ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

In recent months, Christie cast doubt on the science of global warming, and eliminated the state's Office of Climate Change.

"The whole system is not working as it was intended to work," Christie said. "It is a failure."

But State Senate President Steve Sweeney said the program "has wide-spread support and its principles are largely endorsed by the people of New Jersey. Removing New Jersey from RGGI can only cause harm to our state’s environment."

The New Jersey Sierra Club called the move "an environmental disaster."

Proceeds from the program have been used to fund energy efficiency and environmental programs. Last year, Christie raided the fund to help balance the state's budget.

Here's the video from Christie's office -- note the headline, "NJ's Future is Green," is Christie's office's own spin on the announcement.

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Our Survey: As Gas Prices Rise, Americans Drive Less, Carpool More, Take Mass Transit

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Joe Guyon of Rock Hill, South Carolina says he's bundling his errands and eating locally. A listener in Augusta, GA says he "cuts off his car when I idle." Joe Manrique of North Palm Beach, Florida, says "since my daily commute is approximately 170 miles round trip, I try to walk as much as possible from my office to appointments." A contributor from Flushing New York says "I do my errands on the way home, no matter how tired I am."

Others have started carpooling, gone from being a two-car family to a one-car family, changed over from gasoline to waste vegetable oil fuel, or made sure they bundled errands, rather than driving on multiple shopping trips.

Or they are biking, working from home, going out less, or taking public transit.

Those are some of the findings of our survey with our partner The Takeaway (see map, just below) of gas prices and how they affect behavior.   And these results are bolstered by a number of  broader gauges of consumer behavior.

The American Public Transit Association is just out with a survey of traveler attitudes on public transit. APTA says some 54 percent of nearly 35,000 Americans queried said they planned to take public transit while vacationing this summer -- up from 51 percent two years ago. APTA spokesman Mantill Williams says that represents millions of travelers who will use transit in 2011 that wouldn't have in 2009.

And smaller cars began to sell more rapidly in April.  Hyundai, with its fuel-efficient fleet, reported a record 5.7 percent of the U.S. market.   All car sales are up, but for GM in particular, according to information provided to WNYC by Autodata corporation, car sales are increasing faster than truck sales. Escalade sales plummeted. Market share of the tiny Chevy (and inexpensive) Chevy Aveo soared.

In Houston in April, the number of people signing up for a carpool service tripled.

But we've seen this all before -- when gas prices spiked in 2008, and the changes in consumer behavior were sudden, and profound. Until they weren't.

As of March of this year, demand for fuel-efficient cars was still sluggish. In 2010, the Detroit Free Press reported, “hybrid car sales actually shrunk from 2.9 percent of new vehicle sales to 2.4 percent last year."

In May 2008, as gas prices in some areas topped $5.00 a gallon,  SUV’s were stuck on dealership lots. That month light truck sales -- usually about half of the U.S. market, plummeted to 43 percent of the market, according to figures provide to WNYC by Autodata.

And Americans were driving less, way less.

* In the year Ronald Reagan was elected president,  Americans were driving about 672 hundred billion miles a year.

*By 2008, we were driving five times as much. Needless to say, driving far outpaced population growth.

* But as the effects of the gas price hike sunk in, for the first time in well over a generation, Americans drove less on an annual basis –-
It’s true, Prius sales had been rising in May 2010, by about 41 percent over the year earlier. But SUV sales were up way more. The Chevy Suburban was up 100 percent over the previous year. The Chevy Equinox was up even more – by 256 percent. “This is absolute proof we have the shortest attention spans on the planet,” said Bill Visnic at the time, then a Senior Editor at Edmunds “Just two summers ago, you couldn’t give away an SUV.” Then, gasoline was approaching $5.00 a gallon. As of March of this year, demand for fuel-efficient cars was still sluggish. In 2010, the Detroit Free Press reported, “hybrid car sales actually shrunk from 2.9 percent of new vehicle sales to 29.9 ">by about 57 billion miles.

* And transit ridership jumped to 10.7 billion trips, the highest in 52 years, according to the American Public Transit Association, or APTA.  APTA put ridership increases at well over ten percent in Denver, the state of New Jersey, and Dallas.

But then. Gas prices dropped. In May 2010, gas was a relatively cheap $3.00 a gallon.  Americans began driving again. By March of 2011, we were once again driving towards the historic 2008 high -– we were back up to over 2.9 trillion miles traveled.

And SUV sales? Way up. It’s true, Prius sales had been rising in May 2010, by about 41 percent over the year earlier.  But SUV sales were up way more. The Chevy Suburban was up 100 percent over the previous year. The Chevy Equinox was up even more -– by 256 percent.

“This is absolute proof we have the shortest attention spans on the planet,” said Bill Visnic at the time, then a Senior Editor at Edmunds “Just two summers ago, you couldn’t give away an SUV.”

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Taking a Bike on the Train to Hamptons? Not So Fast

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Those headed to the Hamptons for the long weekend on Friday will be out of luck if they want to bring bikes on board the Long Island Rail Road.


Unlike Systems in SF, Denver, Bikes (Mostly) Banned from NY Commuter Rails for Friday Before Memorial Day, But OK on Subways

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) On Memorial Day weekend, bikes are allowed on the subway. In fact, they're allowed on the subway 24/7, year round, though the MTA doesn't recommend it during rush hour. But on the Long Island Railroad? Not on the Friday before memorial day weekend, so that would mean, no bikes on the commuter rail to the Hamptons tomorrow.

Bikes are okay (with a permit) on a very limited number of Metro North trains to upstate counties and Connecticut, but not in both directions, and not at peak times this holiday weekend, one of the busiest driving times of the year, according to the AAA. For the complete rules, and an explanation of why the MTA would seem to be lagging behind commuter rail systems like those in the Bay Area and Denver, which actually encourage bikes on commuter trains, look after the jump.

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How High Gas Prices Are Driving Your Behavior

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Joe Guyon of Rock Hill, South Carolina says he's bundling his errands and eating locally. A listener in Augusta, GA says he "cuts off his car when I idle." Joe Manrique of North Palm Beach, Florida, says "since my daily commute is approximately 170 miles round trip, I try to walk as much as possible from my office to appointments." A contributor from Flushing New York says "I do my errands on the way home, no matter how tired I am."

Others have started carpooling, gone from being a two-car family to a one-car family, changed over from gasoline to waste vegetable oil fuel, or made sure they bundled errands, rather than driving on multiple shopping trips.

Or they are biking, working from home, going out less, or taking public transit.

Those are some of the findings of our survey (see map, just below) of gas prices and how they affect behavior. And these results are bolstered by a number of  broader gauges of consumer behavior.

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Church Program Gives Away Bikes to the Undocumented, Poor

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

(Patchogue, NY -- Jennifer Maloney, Transportation Nation) It was early on a Saturday morning, and the gymnasium at the Congregational Church of Patchogue was filled with bicycles. The church was giving them away—no questions asked—to workers who couldn’t afford a car, or who couldn’t get a driver’s license because of their immigration status. As a team of bike mechanics made last-minute adjustments to the donated fleet, Pastor Dwight Wolter welcomed a line of people stretching out the door.

Joselyn Bishop, 38, stepped into the gym and smiled in amazement.

“You’re like a kid in a candy store, girl!” Wolter teased.

“Yes, I am,” she said, laughing.

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Long Island has the biggest commuter railroad in the country, but unless you live and work near a station, it’s tough to get around without a car—especially in Suffolk County, where bus service is limited, and on Sundays, service doesn't run at all.

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Maryland Light Rail Faces Safety Challenges

Monday, May 23, 2011

Purple Line Lpa Map 2010-04-14(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) Cost estimates for the Purple Line project, a light rail line in Maryland that would go from Bethesda to New Carrollton, are rising. But the project's planners say that's not the biggest challenge they face.

The Purple Line's light rail cars would run on the street, next to moving traffic -- in many places, along busy, six-lane roads.

The Maryland Transit Administration's Mike Madden, who's in charge of the project, says figuring out a way to design the Purple Line so it's safe for riders, drivers, and pedestrians is his most important challenge.

"We need to make sure that people standing on a platform that's in the roadway are safe, that they're not going to go out into traffic," Madden says. "We need to very much direct the pedestrian flows."

That's not to say the other major challenge for Madden and the Transit Administration -- money -- will be a piece of cake. Maryland recently hiked the estimated cost for the Purple Line for the second time in three years. It's now expected to cost almost $2 billion.

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