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Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

NYC Taxi Commish Setting Up Shared Cabs from U.S. Open

Friday, May 20, 2011

(photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC)  The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission has approved a new group taxi ride stand at the U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens this summer. Last year there was a high demand for cabs after the tennis matches but a short supply of cabs. (There were 6, 841 taxi trips to the Open in 2010).

Before the recent commissioner, David Yassky, took over in the spring of 2010, shared cabs in New York City were a no-no.

The TLC has created a new fare structure for sharing cabs back to Manhattan after the tennis matches, one of the most economically successful sporting events the city hosts.  The TLC is hoping the shared-rides will attract more taxi drivers out to the tournament. There’s also a potential cost savings for passengers to share rides.

The flat rate to Manhattan with one stop is 35 dollars…2 stops $46…3 stops $54 and 4 stops $60 dollars.

New York City has been experimenting with shared cab rides with mixed success.  It says it will keep routes from the airports and Port Authority bus terminal, but other less-frequented routes will be discontinued.

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NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission - Dollar Van Progam a Total Bust

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A dollar van on Bushwick Avenue

A dollar van on Bushwick Avenue (Photo by Stephen Nessen)

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) The NYC TLC announced with some fanfare last spring that it would use private vans to serve bus routes that had been eliminated entirely. But, it turns out, no one -- really, almost no one -- used them.

The TLC released the stats today. Along the B23 line in Brooklyn, 1580 riders used to take the bus. Two took the privately run commuter vans. The most "successful" line was along the former Q79, which had 650 riders, and about 27 customers a day.

According to the TLC "Lessons Learned:"
* Drivers won't cruise where there is no demand.
* Timing is everything.
* Local outreach/advertising is essential.

The TLC recommends the pilot "be terminated and the lessons learned from it be used to inform other projects in underserved areas."  It says the three-month lag in setting up the commuter van meant commuters found other options, and by then, drivers weren't cruising for non-existent drivers.

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Taxi Bathrooms and Disabled Transit Award Finalists

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Taxi Driver John McDonagh (Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Where do NYC cabs stop for bathroom breaks?   How are disabled riders coping with bus cuts?  WNYC's Kathleen Horan and Ailsa Chang's terrific stories on these issues were both Deadline Club Award finalists.  If you missed these stories, catch them here, you're in for a treat!

Relief in Short Supply for the  City's Taxi Drivers is here.

Disability Groups Suing MTA Over Transit Cuts is here.

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Former New York City Mayoral Candidate Ferrer Named to MTA Board

Monday, May 16, 2011

UPDATED (Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has appointed Fernando Ferrer to the Board of the New York MTA, a powerful but low-profile body that controls the New York City subways, buses, and commuter rail to Long Island, Connecticut, and five upstate counties.  Ferrer replaces Doreen Frasca, a municipal bond adviser appointed by former Governor David Paterson.

Ferrer was the Borough President of the Bronx, but is perhaps best known for running for NYC Mayor in 2001 and then in 2005. In 2001, he lost a bitter, racially-charged primary to the former Public Advocate, Mark Green, who in turn lost to Michael Bloomberg, in an upset.

Ferrer ran again in 2005 as the Democratic nominee, but lost by 19 points.  Ferrer's team was vociferous after the campaign in blaming the media for what it called biased reporting against Ferrer, and excessive infatuation with Mayor Bloomberg.

After his defeat,  Ferrer was director of a pro-urban think-tank, The Drum Major Institute for Public Affairs.  Ferrer often touted his record building housing, but was not known for his work on transit or transportation.

His day job has been as a lobbyist for Mercury Public Affairs, a lobbying and strategic planning organization founded by several strategists for former Republican NY Governor George Pataki. The firm has long had close ties to former U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato.

After losing the Senate race in 1998 to Charles Schumer,  D'Amato actively lobbied the MTA for a number of high-profile companies.

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Report: Cratering Budgets Stress Citys' Infrastructure

Monday, May 16, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) The Urban Land Institute is out with a look at city infrastructure across the country, and, as you can imagine, federal budget cuts, the end of stimulus funding, and a continued weak economy mean essential urban infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly, and the ability of cities to expand transit as gas prices go through the roof is in doubt.

From the report:

"States and local governments, which are already suffering from decreasing tax revenues, are also facing both the phase-out of federal stimulus funding and the likelihood of further declines in federal funding, the report says. (The federal government’s share of total public expenditures for transportation and infrastructure is about 30 percent.)

"The ramifications are significant: Infrastructure built with federal grants decades ago will not be repaired or replaced, due to the shortage of state and local maintenance and operational funding; local governments will scramble for what’s left of available federal capital project dollars; more states will reject federal capital funding, fearing future unfunded operating burdens; and transit system expansions in car-dependent metro areas will struggle to move forward. "

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Boston: Upwards of 1/3 of Riders Use Transit App Tools

Friday, May 13, 2011

Photo: MBTA/Next Bus

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  About a year ago, I did a story for Marketplace on how Boston is releasing the GPS data on buses to the private sector -- and how you can see where all its buses are, at any moment.  Just got this email update from Joshua Robin,  Director of Innovation and Special Projects at the MBTA:

"We finished rolling out bus data systemwide last fall (on 187 routes) launched a pilot subway data feed, and are planning to put out our pilot for commuter rail in the next few weeks.  All told there are more than 30 apps that have been built as a result of us releasing all this info.  On snowy days this winter we were seeing upwards of 1/3 of riders using the tools which is pretty amazing considering how recently we rolled out, etc."

On February 1, which Robins called the "worst day of the winter," 100,000 bus riders used the app.  He says about a third of riders continue to use the app.

More recently, we looked at Roadify's efforts to crowdsource transit and parking info.

Any other areas getting 1/3 rider usage of GPS data or crowdsourcing?  Let us know.

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Austrian Video: The Losers Are in a Traffic Jam

Friday, May 13, 2011

Remember that Austrian video we posted the other day? Here's roughly what it says, hat tip to WNYC's Brian Zumhagen for a translation: "Take your feet off the gas, we're cruising through the city like Ice Cube says: a good day. The losers are in a traffic jam, the streets are full of parked cars. We roll right by, bye bye. Beep, you ass."

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AAA: 630 Bicyclists Killed In Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2009

Friday, May 13, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) The AAA gets in on the "respect campaign," kind of a motorists counterpart to the "Don't Be A Jerk" campaign, with this story on its web page.  The "Jerk" campaign tells cyclists to follow the law (don't ride the wrong way, or on a sidewalk) using humorous ads with Mario Batali and John Leguizamo.  Now the AAA is telling drivers, more or less, not to be jerks to cyclists:

"Bicycles are a legitimate form of transportation and bicyclists are legal drivers of vehicles, with laws and regulations established for their use. Yet a major issue is that many bicyclists feel they are not respected by motorists and must fight for their place on the road. Like motorists, cyclists need space to safely operate in traffic. They need to anticipate the actions of drivers and other road users. This requires mutual respect, which can be promoted by public information, motorist education programs and legal measures.

"In 2009, 630 bicyclists were killed and an additional 51,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Bicyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities, and made up 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes during the year."

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Does Driving Make You Fat?

Friday, May 13, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) A new University of Illinois study says it does.   The language is kind of academic, but the conclusion is  "if the relationship [found in the study] holds, each 1% reduction in annual VMT [Vehicle Miles Traveled] per [licensed driver]  would be associated with a 0.8 % drop in the adult obesity rate six years later. ..For the United States as a whole, given an adult population of around 230 million...this implies that reducing daily vehicle travel by one mile per licensed driver (i.e. 365 miles per year) would lead to almost 5 million fewer adults being classified as obese after six years."

You can read the full study, including all the usual academic caveats -- i.e. this might all be a coincidence -- here.

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Brookings Report: Fifteen Top Metro Areas for Transit Are in the West

Thursday, May 12, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  The Brookings Institution is out with its major report on transit and job access.   There are a number of interesting findings, and we'll be poring through them, but here's a bullet point that jumped out at us:

Fifteen of the 20 metro areas that rank highest on a combined score of transit coverage and job access are in the West. Top performers include metro areas with noted transit systems such as New York, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, but also Salt Lake City, Tucson, Fresno, and Las Vegas. Conversely, 15 of the 20 metro areas that rank lowest are in the South.

More later.

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Emanuel's Transition Report: More Bikes, BRT, Transit, Safety

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel is out with his transition report, and it's got lots to dig into for transpo addicts:  proposals for more street safety (p 29), where pedestrian safety actually comes before street patrols (p 30), for a "world-class" bike network (p 37), more high quality public space (p 40),  and, under a section called "OUR GROWTH,"  calls to "improve and expand Chicago's transit system...develop bus rapid transit, support transit-oriented development" and " accelerate infrastructure projects that are critical to regional growth."

What do you think?

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Schumer Caught on Tape: Xanadu Mall Money Should Have Gone to ARC

Monday, May 09, 2011

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (left) and Senators Charles Schumer and Frank Lautenberg (far right) (Photo: Jim O'Grady/WNYC)

WNYC's Jim O'Grady caught this exchange on tape this morning as pols were gathering at Ray LaHood's high speed rail presser at New York's Penn Station -- (Transportation Nation)

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, NYC MTA Chair Jay Walder, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chief Chris Ward, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

Schumer: Hey, good to see you!  Mr. Walder, Mr. Secretary, how are you? Chris!

Ward: Senator!

Schumer: How we doing on the, um, Xanadu? I'm very interested in seeing (inaudible) teasing her, and I said the money should have gone to the ARC.

[Schumer was referring to NJ Governor Chris Christie's decision last week to put hundreds of million of dollars of public funding behind a private mall project -- after killing a $9 billion transit tunnel under the Hudson last fall.]

Lautenberg: Yeah well, there wasn't --

Schumer: Didn't they put state money into Xanadu?

Lautenberg:  No. (Inaudible) We're doing good and we're on a mic, so I, uh -- do not feel free to express yourself.  Our Governor is not here, I take it.

Schumer: No.

[The funding is, strictly speaking, Tax Increment Financing,  or TIF meaning sales tax revenue goes straight to finance the project. So it's accurate to say its not state funding -- on the other hand, sales tax would ordinarily go to funding all of a state's needs, just not necessarily building a private mall.]

Lautenberg: He was not invited. (Inaudible) That's why I shut the microphone down.

Lautenberg: [To LaHood, a former Republican Congress member from Peoria] You -- you're the best thing that happened. First of all -- when they said it was going to be a Republican taking this job, I thought we had a Democrat who later on thought he was a Republican.

Schumer: No, he gets along with everybody. You know who pushed for him? Rahm Emanuel.

LaHood: He did. Are we ready?

[Schumer was also recently caught chatting with aides before a conference call -- the New York Times story on that is here.]

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46 Commercial Drivers Hit in NY Safety Dragnet

Monday, May 09, 2011

From NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's Office:

"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that 46 commercial drivers, including bus drivers, have been arrested in and around New York City for fraudulently obtaining multiple driver licenses using an alias. The arrests, made possible through the state's use of facial recognition technology, were part of the Governor's ongoing crackdown on bus safety that began March 17.

"The investigation and arrests, using facial recognition technology by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), were conducted by the DMV's Division of Field Investigations, the New York City Police Department Document Fraud Squad, the New York State Division of State Police, the United States Department of State Passport Unit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Social Security Administration in cooperation with the offices of the District Attorneys in Queens, Kings, Westchester, New York, Rockland, Nassau and Bronx counties.

"Among those arrested, several were listed as "active" bus drivers, including four who are employed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Several of those arrested also had a high number of unanswered traffic tickets and others have open felony warrants, including deportation detainers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Also, 19 of those arrested have or had licenses to drive taxi cabs."

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US DOT Announces $2 Billion for High Speed Rail

Monday, May 09, 2011

Here are the details from the U.S. DOT on the Florida money, and where it's going.  More soon.

"U. S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $2 Billion for High-Speed Intercity Rail Projects to Grow Jobs, Boost U.S. Manufacturing and Transform Travel in America Unprecedented Investment in the Northeast Corridor, Expanded Service in the Midwest and New, State-of-the-Art Rail Equipment Top List of Rail Dollar Recipients

"WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $2 billion in high-speed rail awards providing an unprecedented investment to speed up trains in the Northeast Corridor, expand service in the Midwest and provide new, state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars as part of the Administration’s plan to transform travel in America.

"Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications, competing to be part of an historic investment that will create tens of thousands of jobs, improve mobility and stimulate American manufacturing.

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"Earlier this year, President Obama and I made a commitment to improve and expand America's transportation system, including the development of a modern, national high-speed rail network," said Vice President Biden. "And today, we’re announcing investments that will continue our progress toward making this vision a reality.  These projects will put thousands of Americans to work, save hundreds of thousands of hours for American travelers every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in next-generation, American-made locomotives and railcars."

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Big LaHood Annoucement on High Speed Rail

Friday, May 06, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is making a "major announcement" on high-speed rail on Monday in New York and Detroit, according to an advisory his office sent out today.  He'll be in NY's Penn Station and Detroit Station later in the day.

Yesterday, he told Transportation Nation on a conference call he'd be announcing where the $2.4 billion in money from the Florida project would be going.

Illinois officials have already announced they'll be getting some of the money.   New York, California, and Michigan, are among 24 states applying for the funds, as are Amtrak and Washington, DC.

New York's Mayor, Michael Blooomberg, has been pushing for funds for a Northeast Corridor High Speed Rail project.

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NEWS ANALYSIS: Obama Connects the Dots: from bin Laden to Hybrid Transmissions

Friday, May 06, 2011

President Obama Announces Death of Osama bin Laden (White House Photo)

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  If anyone doesn't quite see the links between international terrorism and more fuel-efficient transportation, the President is making it for them. He caps the week that begin Sunday night with a dramatic White House announcement that Osama bin Laden had been found and shot dead -- at a hybrid transmission plan in Indiana (streaming here, full text here).

Now, if you were a fan of the West Wing tv show, as I was, you know a President's day can have all kinds of randomly juxtaposed events (school children perform at the White House, Secretary of State comes by for a meeting, there's a dinner with broccoli producers), mostly a function of scheduling.

But in a week where the White House is obviously paying close attention to optics -- from the purposeful stride down to the podium in the East Wing Sunday night to a somber wreath-laying at Ground Zero to a photograph of the buzz-cut 10-year old Christopher Cannizzaro of Staten Island, N.Y, whose firefighter father died on 9/11, that looks like it walked right off a Norman  Rockwell print -- it's hard to just chalk up the Indy visit as random.

As the pool report just put it, "on our way to Allison transmission, we came across a gas station displaying $4.17 a gallon. Another down the road advertised $4.14.
A few dozen gawkers dotted the streets, some of them waving US flags and others signs "I stand with planned parenthood".  Factory in sight at 11:40.

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Just How Do Livery Cabs Make Money?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

NYC Livery Cab (Photo: Ilya Marritz/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- Ilya Marritz, WNYC) It's a quirky New York phenomenon -- there's the yellow cab world, which (unlike many cities around the world) can be hailed on the street most places in Manhattan and in small pockets of the outer boroughs, like Brooklyn Heights, a tony neighborhood just across the Brooklyn Bridge.

But then there's the world of livery cabs -- on call services, patronized by many New Yorkers who are too poor (or can't be bothered) to own a car.  New York has the lowest car ownership rates of any large city in the country.

And livery cabs tend to be run by groups of aspiring immigrants, many of them from South or Central America.

But when it comes to catching a cab, New Yorkers living outside of Manhattan often have a tough time. This year, New York Mayor  City Bloomberg proposed to allow car services, also known as liveries, to make curbside pickups. But there’s a catch – they’d have to install meters.

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Montgomery County, Maryland, Gets Closer to Having a True BRT System

Thursday, May 05, 2011

(Montgomery County, MD -- Matt Bush, WAMU)  Council members in Montgomery County, Md., received an update on plans to build Bus Rapid Transit lines in the county this week. The price tag for the plan is high, but at least one County Council member says it must be built because Montgomery County is losing the transit battle with its neighbors.

Bus Rapid Transit: 'Not Your Father's Bus' On Randolph Road, the Bus Rapid Transit route would go from the White Flint Metrorail station to the Glenmont Metrorail station. Courtesy of: Matt Bush View more images from this gallery.

The proposed bus lines aren't the traditional routes you see now. They would be rapid buses that would use county roads but have their own lanes, so stopping because of traffic would be minimal.

And the buses look different too. They're low to the ground, resembling something that looks more like a rail car, according to Michael Flood, with the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

"It's not your father's bus. It's not the bus many of us have known. It's a sleek vehicle," he says.

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LaHood to Announce Bus Safety Measures

Thursday, May 05, 2011

From the AP.  We'll have more later:

WASHINGTON (AP) - It would be harder for tour bus companies to win permission to operate and easier for the government to put rogue operators out of business under a series of bus safety steps announced Thursday by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Other proposals announced by LaHood would make it easier for the government to take away bus drivers' commercial licenses if they violate drug and alcohol laws while operating a vehicle other than a bus or if they fail to pay fines.

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Gridlock Alert: President Obama Comes To Ground Zero

Thursday, May 05, 2011

President Obama Comforts Family Members of 9/11 Victims on the The Attacks' Ninth Anniversary, in September 2010 (White House Photo)

As President Obama visits the still not-quite finished World Trade Center memorial to lay a wreath today to honor those killed in the 9/11 attacks days after the attacks' mastermind was shot and killed, most of Lower Manhattan will become a frozen zone.  Most roads in Lower Manhattan  will be closed and PATH trains to the World Trade Center Station will be halted today around midday -- but otherwise, mass transit will be the only way to get around.

The  Daily New's Gridlock Sam advises:

President Obama heads to New York City on Thursday for a four-to-five hour visit.

The President is scheduled to land at Kennedy Airport about 10:30 a.m. Thursday before taking a chopper to Wall St. About 11 a.m., the President will most likely motorcade up the FDR Drive, take the 42nd St. exit and visit with firefighters between Seventh and Eighth Aves. in the 50s. Gridlock Sam will keep you abreast of any route changes at www.twitter.com/GridlockSam.

After the firehouse, Obama will head downtown and lay a wreath at Ground Zero about 1:30 p.m. This means he will backtrack down the FDR, probably through the Battery Park Underpass and up West St. to the World Trade Center site. He'll also visit with 9/11 families before heading back to Kennedy Airport about 3 p.m.

Here are the freezes drivers face as the presidential motorcade zips around town:

- The FDR Drive below 63rd St. between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

- All avenues from Eighth to the FDR between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

- Northbound West St. below Chambers St. and the Battery Park Underpass between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

- Church St. between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

- The northbound FDR below Pearl St. between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

- Heavy delays at the Battery Tunnel and Brooklyn Bridge.

The World Trade Center PATH station will also be closed between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, and the M5 along with some express buses will be delayed and/or diverted

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