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°F September has started but the heat isn't leaving. Hear what this means for David the Times Square flyer guy.

Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

Christie: Cut the Popular to Fund the Necessary

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, one of the darlings of the Tea Party, had an interesting rhetorical trope in his speech today.  He said he wouldn't call for un-funded tax cuts...because that could endanger the state's transportation infrastructure.   Such an interesting series of events:  1) Kill the ARC tunnel because of fears of cost overruns. 2) Get kudos from both the Tea Party and NJ Voters for so doing 3) Re-purpose ARC money for general transportation use 4) Take a stand against unfunded tax cuts.  Got all that?

Here's what he says:  "I also last week outlined needed plans for continuing to invest in New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure— which we need to be world-class for both jobs and competitiveness. But if we are to fund these investments in the future, we have to control the costs in other programs."

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Watch Christie's State of State: 2 pm EST

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

NJ Governor Chris Christie addicts can watch his state the state live here, courtesy of our sister site, It's a Free Country.  Here's the link to the text

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NY Times: Bloomberg Flew From Bermuda Into Storm

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Looks that way, anyway.  While you were nervously in touch with your airline, a plane with Bloomberg's name on it (we speak metaphorically here) was taxi-ing out of Bermuda. (City Hall won't confirm or deny.)

Nice piece of gumshoe reporting. Story here.

And here's WNYC's story on the city council hearings on the snow response in NYC, in which the administration mea culpa-ed, again and again.

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NYC-to-Albany High-Speed Rail Route Gets Top Marks: Study

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WNYC

A high-speed rail from the Big Apple to the state's capitol would be more cost effective even than some other lines around the country that are already under construction, according to a recent study of best routes for future investment.

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Faked Inspection Reports Put Straphangers in Danger, NYC Council Says

Friday, January 07, 2011

In November, the NYC MTA's Inspector General released a report showing that the vast majority of subway signal inspection reports were falsified.  NYC transit chief Tom Prendergast says the agency still doesn't quite have a handle on the problem -- and the council says that's dangerous.  WNYC has the story. -- TN

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NJ Transportation Plan Draws Fire; Some ARC Money Goes to Roads

Friday, January 07, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's announcement yesterday that he was putting forward a "responsible transportation capital plan," drew a quick torrent of criticism from transit advocates already stung by huge fare hikes and, later, the death of the trans-Hudson passenger rail ARC tunnel.

Christie's move does seem to take NJ transportation funding back to the future -- to a time when road-building was prioritized over transit.   In the 1950's and through the end of the twentieth century, U.S. transportation policy favored road funding over transit funding at a ratio of about eighty to twenty percent.  In the last decade, everyone from urban planning graduate students to President Barack Obama have decried the sprawl such funding formulas created.

But for Christie, the ARC tunnel was an unsustainable project, getting built as NJ's Highway Trust Fund was broke and roads were falling into disrepair.   By re-purposing this funding, Christie says, he's taking the fiscally responsible route.

"Over each of the next five years the Christie Plan will increase cash contributions used to fund transportation projects while at the same time decreasing the use of borrowing.

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Sen. Lautenberg: NJ Governor Using Transit Funds "As a Fix" to Problems

Friday, January 07, 2011

WNYC

New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg accused Gov. Chris Christie of using money that would have gone to the nation's biggest transit project as "a fix for his political problems." Christie, who killed a $9 billion commuter rail project under the Hudson River last Fall, is planning to use some of the funds that had been designated for the ARC tunnel elsewhere.

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Everything Moving in NYC, More or Less

Friday, January 07, 2011

A NYC plow on the move in Northern Manhattan. Photo: John Keefe

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) It's snowing pretty hard now, but still, the streets seem fine, and the subways seem to be working about as well as they do on non-snow days.  School kids happily (more or less) trudging to school, catching flakes in their mouths.

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NYC Tries GPS to Track Snowplows

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A NYC plow working after the post-Christmas blizzard. AZI PAYBARAH/WNYC

[UPDATED WITH CITY HALL RESPONSE.]

(John Keefe, Transportation Nation) As meteorologists forecast more snow for New York City, City Hall plans to track where the streets are being cleared -- with GPS-equipped plows.

In the post-Christmas blizzard two weeks ago, cars, buses and ambulances were stranded throughout the city, and many streets remained unplowed for days. City officials and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were widely criticized for their response to the storm.

At a press conference this afternoon, Bloomberg said last time, "there was a discrepancy between information coming into and out of City Hall and what people were actually experiencing on the streets."

In a pilot project that will be tested if the snow flies tomorrow, GPS-enabled plows -- many of which are modified garbage trucks -- will roam the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Midwood, Flatbush and Ditmas Park, and also parts of Kensington.

Bloomberg said the tracking devices have become so cheap that eventually all 1,700 plows could be tracked, providing information not only on snow removal but also salting and trash pickup. Drivers of municipal vehicles in other cities, and in NYC taxi cabs, have fought such tracking systems as an invasion of their privacy.

Whether snowplow location information will be made public remains an open question. The Mayor's spokesman, Stu Loeser, said in a phone interview with TN that the city could expand the number of plows with GPS's. If it goes well tomorrow, he said, that could happen as soon as next week.  As for making the data public in real time, "we wouldn't rule it out."   In other cities, public access to real-time tracking data lets residents know when they can expect plows and buses.

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Go Ahead, Rebook that Flight

Thursday, January 06, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) There are still piles of cruddy snow crowding out the streets and sidewalks in many parts of New York City, and now there's two to six more inches coming. But not to worry! Airlines say you can rebook your flight from the Northeast this weekend now. No more airport camping! No more hanging around at your parents for an extra week while you spend hours on hold with the airlines!

Feel grateful?

It used to be  not too long ago that you could do this, free of charge, all the time. But those were the days when they used to hand out those nice playing cards on the airlines -- and didn't make you feel that they were merely suffering you when you boarded a flight.

Details on which airlines are participating here.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.


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Airlines Offer Free Rebooking on Area Flights Ahead of Storm

Thursday, January 06, 2011

WNYC

With a second snow storm looming, several airlines are inviting passengers leaving from the Northeast region to rebook this weekend's travel at no charge.

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Cuomo's State of the State: Zero Mentions of Transportation

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) If you read the prepared text of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address (prepared remarks here), you'll find a mention of transportation -- roughly what we posted earlier: "Grants will be awarded to the best and most comprehensive regional plans that coordinate sustainability efforts in housing, transportation, emissions control, energy efficiency, and create jobs..."

But if you read what he actually said here, you'll find zero mentions of transportation.  His staff tells WNYC he did not used a prepared text or teleprompter for his remarks.   And, to be fair, his delivered speech was a lot more fluid than the wonky "address" his office published as his written message to the legislature.

Other than for former Governor David Paterson, who is blind, it has been the custom for Governors to deliver a single address, that is published in booklet form beforehand.

Meantime, what do you make of his lack of mention of transportation (or infrastructure, for that matter?

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NY's New Gov Says New Grants will Encourage Sustainable Transportation

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) -- We'll have more, but here's a bullet point from Cuomo's State of the State -- full text not out yet  (you can hear the speech at WNYC)

A cleaner, greener environment: Governor Cuomo will create the “NY Cleaner, Greener Communities Program” to provide competitive grants that will encourage communities to develop regional sustainable growth strategies in housing, transportation, emissions control, energy efficiency. The program will emphasize revitalizing urban areas through smart growth, creating green jobs, building green infrastructure including roof and rain gardens, and strengthening environmental justice and protection.

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Au Revoir, Tom Robbins

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) One of the most generous reporters in journalism is leaving the Village Voice. When I wrote of Wayne Barrett's departure from the Village Voice yesterday -- I didn't know that Tom Robbins was leaving also -- in his case, voluntarily, to protest the loss of Wayne.

Tom and I collaborated on a series of reports (here and here) about New York City's former Deputy Mayor, Dan Doctoroff, and his stunning commitment to secure the 2012 Olympics even as he was in charge of rebuilding the World Trade Center Site.  As every economic decision in a broken city came before him, Doctoroff was vigorously raising funds for the Olympic committee, in many cases from the same companies that were seeking city contracts.

Working with Tom was an exhilarating experience -- his knowledge of the city was vast, his perspective refreshingly long.  But mostly, I was struck again and again by Tom's kind heart.  In a competitive profession, he has an unusual generosity of spirit.   I learned today he'd donated a kidney to a friend. No surprise -- that's the kind of man Tom is.  The Voice loses two voices -- but whoever gains Tom's will be ineffably blessed.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.


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NYC MTA Touts Toll Program on WNYC

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

(Jim O'Grady -- WNYC) The NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority is spending $13,000 to support  WNYC programming. The language of the so-called underwriting credit tells listeners:

"WNYC is supported by the MTA. This January the gates come off of E-ZPass lanes at the Henry Hudson Bridge.  Gateless tolling is the first step in an MTA pilot program to bring cashless, all-electronic toll collection to the bridge within a year.  More information at m-t-a dot info."

The NY Thruway Authority has already installed gate-less tolling on parts of NY's Thruway upstate, so cars don't have to break their 65 mph speed. Colorado and some other states also have gate-less toll collection that relies on license-plate reading to bill drivers.

Henry Hudson Bridge (photo by litherland - Flickr creative commons)

The Henry Hudson Bridge connects Manhattan and the Bronx.  The plan by the end of the year is

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Goodbye, Wayne

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  There is no reporter I learned more from than Wayne Barrett.

He writes today:

"When I was asked in recent years to blog frequently, I wouldn't do it unless I had something new to tell a reader, not just a clever regurgitation of someone else's reporting. My credo has always been that the only reason readers come back to you again and again over decades is because of what you unearth for them, and that the joy of our profession is discovery, not dissertation.

(snip)

"It was always the conduct that prodded me to write, not the person. And that is what I lived for, a chance to say something that revealed and mattered. To me, the story will always be the thing. It is all I can see."

Wayne, who was let go from the Voice today at 65 1/2, worked harder at reporting than anyone else I know -- again and again.  I was constantly startled by what he managed to unearth, even when his subject area had already been thoroughly combed through.

In 1996, the two of us were arrested together, trying to cover a George Pataki fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria.  It was my first (and only) arrest -- though for the record, Andrew Cuomo's staff once threatened to have me arrested, too.

It wasn't Wayne's first arrest.

For Wayne every closed door was just a chance to walk up a back alley.  The shoe industry owes him a lot.  If you haven't read his magnificent books,  City for Sale, Rudy!, and Grand Illusion, your life is less rich.

Goodbye, Wayne.

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Weinshall, Steisel: DOT Brooklyn Bike Lane Data is Wrong

Thursday, December 23, 2010

We missed this yesterday, but since we've published DOT's data, we thought we should bring you this letter to the editor of the NY Times, in response to an editorial about how cyclists should be more law-abiding. In it, Iris Weinshall, the former NYC DOT commissioner (Janette Sadik-Khan's predecessor) makes a pretty strong public statement against the Prospect Park West bike lane.  Weinshall, BTW, is a resident of Prospect Park West, where resistance to the new lane is strongest, and the wife of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. --Transportation Nation

To the Editor:

Your editorial about the problems caused by law-evading bicyclists mentions data released by the New York City Department of Transportation that purport to show that the 50 miles of bike lanes it is adding each year “calm” traffic and cut down on fatalities.

But as the rest of your editorial suggests, the connection between encouraging biking — which we also strongly support — and making our streets safer and more pleasant for all users is far from established.

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The Transit Strike: Five Years Later

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WNYC

It was a colder day than it is today. I’d hardly slept -- waiting, as I was, for word on whether there would be a transit strike. Negotiations went up to midnight, and then beyond.  I was quite sure there wouldn’t be a vote to strike. How could there be? And then there was. The trains and buses -- hundreds and hundreds of miles of them, had stopped. Stations were locked.

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The Record: Feds say Christie knew of risk on tunnel

Friday, December 10, 2010

From today's NJ Record:

The feds say NJ Governor Christie was aware his predecessor, Jon Corzine, had signed an  "Early System Work Agreement" to get federal funds to NJ quickly for the ARC Tunnel project -- and that such an agreement meant money would have to be returned if the project wasn't built.

Christie reaffirmed New Jersey's commitment to the project in an April 8 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that called the tunnel "critical for the transit riders of New Jersey and the region."

"Given the time constraints of current contractor bids, I look forward to an expeditious award of the second Early System Work Agreement," Christie wrote. Six days later, FTA notified NJ Transit the agreement was granted, allowing for contracts to go forward on parts of the project in North Bergen and Kearny, according to documents released Thursday by the USDOT.

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US DOT Redistributes 1.2 B in Wisconsin HS Rail Funds

Thursday, December 09, 2010

From the US DOT:  (analysis coming)

U.S. Department of Transportation Redirects $1.195 Billion in High-Speed Rail Funds

WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that $1.195 billion in high-speed rail funds originally designated for Wisconsin and Ohio will be redirected to other states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors across the United States. Wisconsin has suspended work under its existing high-speed rail agreement and the incoming Governors in Wisconsin and Ohio have both indicated that they will not move forward to use high-speed rail money received under the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As a result, $1.195 billion will be redirected to high-speed rail projects already underway in other states.

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