Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

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.

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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 AutoObserver.com. “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 AutoObserver.com. “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

WNYC

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.

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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

PRI
WNYC

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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Why Do People Move? Census Says It's Because of Housing

Monday, May 23, 2011

From the number crunchers (in a good way) at the U.S.  Census:

"The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that among those who moved between 2009 and 2010, more than four out of 10 (16.4 million or 43.7 percent) did so for housing-related reasons, such as the desire to live in a new or better home or apartment, according to data from Geographical Mobility: 2010.

"Among other reasons for moving, people cited family concerns (30.3 percent), such as a change in marital status, employment needs (16.4 percent) and other factors (9.5 percent).

I"n 2010, 37.5 million people 1 year and older changed residences in the U.S. within the past year. At 12.5 percent in 2010, the mover rate was not statistically different from 2009.

“Mover rates differ by characteristics, such as age, race, hispanic origin, marital status, income or even whether the housing unit is owned or rented,” said David Ihrke, survey statistician in the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division. “Tracking mobility allows us to examine shifts in demographic trends in the population for the nation, regions and metro areas as a whole.”

"In 2010, 69.3 percent of all movers stayed within the same county, 16.7 percent moved to a different county in the same state, 11.5 percent moved to a different state, and 2.5 percent moved from abroad to the U.S.

"By region, people in the Northeast were the least likely to move, with a mover rate of 8.3 percent in 2010. The Northeast was followed by the Midwest (11.8 percent), the South (13.6 percent) and the West (14.7 percent). The mover rate for each region was not significantly different between 2009 and 2010.

"Principal cities within metropolitan areas experienced a net loss of 2.3 million movers, while the suburbs experienced a net gain of 2.5 million movers.

"Other highlights:

"-    Of the civilian population 16 and older who were unemployed, 19.8 percent lived in a different residence one year earlier compared with 12.4 percent who were employed. Among those not in the labor force, 9.5 percent lived in a different residence one year earlier.

"-    Generally, people with incomes below the poverty line were more likely to move than those just above the poverty line. In 2010, 23.6 percent of people with incomes below 100 percent of the poverty line had moved within the last year as compared with 16.5 percent of
people with incomes between 100 and 149 percent of the poverty line.

"- The black alone population had the highest mover rate (16.7 percent), followed by Hispanics (15.6 percent), Asian alone (13.9 percent) and white alone not Hispanic (10.8 percent).

"These statistics come from Geographical Mobility: 2010, a series of tables that describe the movement of people in the United States. The data tables show reasons why people moved, types of moves, distance moved and the characteristics of those who moved between 2009 and 2010.

"Also released are three tables that provide state-to-state migration flow data from the American Community Survey (1-year, 3-year and 5-year estimates). These tables show interstate migration flows in addition to flows within the same state. The table package can be found at < http://www.census.gov/hhes/migration/data/acs/state-to-state.html>.

-X-

"The data are from the 2010 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which is conducted in February, March and April at about 100,000 addresses nationwide. Statistics from surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For more information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, see Appendix G at < http://www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsmar10.pdf>.

"All comparative statements in this report have undergone statistical testing, and, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons are statistically significant at the 10 percent significance level."

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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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