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Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

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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Slowest Bus in NYC Goes Slower than a Child Can Walk

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady) The M42 bus is the winner of the 9th Annual Pokey Award, given to the slowest bus in New York City. The Schleppie Award for the city’s least reliable bus goes to the Bx41.

The advocacy group Straphangers Campaign says the M42 clocked in at 3.6 miles an hour at noon on a weekday. That’s not much faster than a young person walking. The M42 is the first bus to win back-to-back Pokeys. It moves almost 13,000 riders on an average weekday along 42nd Street.

The Bx41 bus connects the North Bronx to the South Bronx. It ran bunched or with large gaps between buses almost a quarter of the time.

Straphangers spokesman Gene Russianoff wore a tuxedo and red bow tie this morning while presiding over a mock award ceremony in Midtown to present a golden snail statue to the MTA...but the MTA didn't show.

“I don’t think they would deny the basic truth," he said. "That is, buses are slow and should be made faster. They point the finger at traffic, which we do, too. But I think these days they're more hopeful that things can be done about it.”

Russianoff praised the new Bx12 Select Bus, which ran almost 25% faster than buses without a dedicated lane.

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Survey: Three Quarters favor Brooklyn Bike Lane

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)

Read the full survey here.

The two-way protected bike lane along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West has drawn controversy since before it was built.  The lane was heavily favored by the local community board, which asked the NYC DOT to come up with a plan to  slow traffic along the historic Olmstead-designed park, where more than half of all drivers routinely broke the speed limit.

Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Borough President, wrote letters, led protests, and otherwise, vocally objected to the bike lane.   The lane,  it was believed,  would inevitably cause congestion, would change the historic nature of the boulevard -- and cyclists could be perfectly well served by the a ride through the park (though only in one direction).

But the DOT installed the lane anyway, and this fall announced its results:  speeding had been reduced dramatically, and bike riding on the sidewalk -- something once done by nearly half of all cyclists -- had dwindled to almost nothing.

But unlike in other street-use battles, which tend to die down over time, after users get used to the new street design,   the normally voluble Markowitz has remained voluble, if anything stepping up his criticism.  And some residents of Prospect Park West, which borders the park have continued their loud protest.

Meantime cyclists have been equally fierce in defending the lane, extolling the safe new path to get to work or around Park Slope.

Into this roil comes City Councilmember Brad Lander, who surveyed three thousand Brooklyn residents, and found that along Prospect Park West, residents are evenly split about the lane.  But go a block away, and continue on, and there's overwhelming support:  By a margin of three to one, Park Slope residents believe in keeping the lane.

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Survey Shows Support for Park Slope Bike Lane

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

WNYC

A new survey of some 3,000 Brooklyn residents finds that, by a three to one margin, residents approve of a two-way protected bike lane along Prospect Park West. That support diminishes to just half, however, when only residents of the boulevard are surveyed.

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Do Bad Past Debt Decisions Make Voters Weary of Transit Investments?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Wonder why voters seem to be coming down against big transit projects like the ARC? Over at "It's a Free Country," our colleague Bob Hennelly tallies up what local governments have spent on big projects like stadiums and shopping malls.

Much of the state and local debt can be traced to the proliferation of so-called "special district" governments like your local "economic development” or “incinerator authority.”

These entities can be used to build critical transportation and water projects or to finance higher education.  But they also can provide the grease for the "private-public" partnerships  that builds sports stadiums and shopping malls for the politically connected.

In 1952, there were just 12,340 of them. By the start of the 21st century there were 35,359 of them. Eleven states each now have over one thousand such publicly-funded independent authorities.  Not surprisingly, Illinois tops the list with 3,145, followed by California with 2,830 and Texas with 2,245. Pennsylvania has 1,885 and New York has spawned 1,135.

Full story here. -- TN

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NJ Transit to Hire Biggest DC Lobbying and Law Firm to fight FTA

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Gov. Chris Christie

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC)

Here come the lawyers.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has hired a law firm to challenge a $271 million tab the federal government says the state owes for the canceled ARC rail tunnel. Christie says he's approved the selection of the high-powered Washington, D.C. firm of Patton Boggs.

New Jersey Transit, which oversaw the trans-Hudson tunnel project that Christie killed in October, could ratify a contract with the firm at its meeting a week from Thursday.

Christie's office said yesterday the state would challenge the federal bill for money already spent on the project, known as Access to the Region's Core, or ARC.

The November 24 bill seeks payment within 30 days.

A Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak defended the hire, saying "We're much better off using a firm like this than using our own in-house attorneys or attorneys general. Not to knock their expertise, but let's face it, that's what these attorneys [at Patton Boggs] do for a living."

Read the rest of the story here.

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Christie Hires Big DC Lobbying/Law Firm to Argue Transit Tunnel case

Thursday, December 02, 2010

From Governor Christie's Press Office (analysis coming):

Governor Chris Christie Approves Retention of Law Firm to Protect Taxpayers from Unreasonable FTA Demands

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trenton, NJ – Furthering his commitment to protect New Jersey taxpayers, Governor Chris Christie today approved New Jersey Transit’s retention of a law firm to challenge the Federal Transit Administration’s attempt to bill the state $271 million in connection with the Governor’s cancellation of the ARC Tunnel project with its billions in potential cost overruns.

In cancelling the tunnel project, Governor Christie sought to protect taxpayers from an open-ended bill for a project whose final costs were unknown and unpredictable and which left New Jersey responsible for all cost overruns.  Now, Governor Christie will extend his pledge to protect taxpayers by challenging the federal government in its demand for more money from New Jersey.

“It’s not surprising that the same federal transit agency that had no clear way to pay for cost overruns of a project already hurt by poor planning and inequitable cost sharing is relying on bureaucratic power plays to wring even more money from New Jerseyans,” Governor Christie said.  “New Jersey and its taxpayers should not be responsible for these costs, which is why our Administration is making every effort to fight the FTA’s unreasonable demands.  I simply cannot allow our state to be taken advantage of any further over this highly flawed project.”

The Governor also said he was gratified to see bi-partisan support emerging from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation in support of the move to challenge the FTA and protect New Jersey taxpayers.

The Governor has authorized New Jersey Transit to retain the Washington, D.C. law firm of Patton Boggs, LLP.  NJ Transit will consider ratifying the contract at its regular board meeting on December 9.

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Remainders: Traffic EVERYWHERE

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's the busiest traffic day of the year, whaddya expect?   But if you're a glutton for punishment, you can check NYC traffic conditions via live cam here.  Here's the CalTrans link, Houston is here.  Doesn't look so bad in Washington.  Downtown Minneapolis? NotSoGood.  But hey, you can buy your way out of congestion in the Twin Cities.  Or, if you're stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel, trying to get out to New Jersey, you can dream about a  new train under the Hudson.    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! -- Transportation Nation

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Is Your Flight Delayed?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The FAA has this cool new map to check airport delays.  The live link is here.

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NY Deputy Mayor: Bike Share Isn't about More Bike Lanes, High Rises Could Pay for Transit, and Other Ideas...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Installing the First Avenue Bike Lane photo: Marianne McCune

(Andrea Bernstein) WNYC's Brian Lehrer asked his listeners today for suggestions to help New York City Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith raise money for New York City.  Two ideas were suggested by BL callers: 1) make business improvement districts contribute to the MTA, based on the theory that high rises directly profit from all the transit riders the subways bring to their doorsteps and 2) charge cycling licensing fees.  Here's Goldsmith's answer, and a back-and-forth on bike lanes and bike share.

(You can listen to the segment here, the transit discussion starts about 15 minutes in and the answers excerpted below begin at 16:45.)

BL:  And the buildings with proximity to transit?

SG: You have a great show, these ideas are great.  So there is for new development a kind of a concept that you have transit-aided development, so if you have a subway stop in a place, it's going to create value for the buildings that are around it.  It does create value.  Without that stop, the buildings have less value.  And it's legitimate then to create a district to take part of that increment into generally the capital budget of that project.  Whether you could do that on the operating side is an interesting one, particularly with

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Comments on Bike Share: Cost Effective? Safe?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interesting web conversation going on at our sister site, WNYC.org on bike share.    You'll see both the questions -- isn't it too expensive?  What about the helmets? Will I really use it?  and the listener-generated answers.  Check it out. -- TN

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New York to Get Bike Share

Monday, November 22, 2010

WNYC

New York City is preparing to set up the largest bike share system in the nation. The city is issuing a request for proposals for one-way, short-term bike rentals, a system that has augmented the transportation network in dozens of European cities as well as in Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC.

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New York City to Issue Bike Share Request for Proposals

Monday, November 22, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  New York City's Department of Transportation is about to issue a request for proposals for the largest bike-share program in the U.S., following Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC -- all of which have installed large scale bike share programs.

With greater density than any of those cities, New York believes it can make a profit.

New York City's transportation commissioner wouldn't comment on the details of the request for proposals, to be released Wednesday morning.  But Janette Sadik-Khan frequently speaks at conferences promoting the idea of bike share.

“We’re ideal for it," Sadik-Khan says. "We have the density. We’re flat.  Eighty one percent of people in the central business district of Manhattan don’t own a car.  In this age of  transit cuts, this is an ideal way to add to New York's transportation system."

The city is looking to set up a twenty-four hour network of around 10,000 bikes, with the entire bill footed by the private sector, but with the city sharing in any revenues.  In other cities with bike shares, sponsorships and advertising help pay for the bikes.  Earlier generations of bike share in many European cities required subsidies, but the city believes that wireless technology, gps, and solar-powered bike stations, a system in New York can be run far more efficiently.

"New York is made for bike share," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives,"  so this announcement is very exciting. The characteristics that make bicycling an everyday form of transportation, New York has in spades: density, flat terrain, temperate climate, lots of short trips and an on the go lifestyle. This nimble and inexpensive way to get around will fit easily into New Yorkers’ constantly shifting errands and schedules."

The city hopes for the system to be running in 2012.  In the past year Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC have launched bike shares, and Boston is preparing to start one soon.  Montreal was the first North American City to have bike share, which is up and running in dozens of European cities.

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DOT Adds Cameras to Express Bus Service Routes

Monday, November 22, 2010

Starting Monday, cameras will be watching out for the special bus lanes on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan. Drivers will now get a $115 ticket if a camera catches them driving in the bus lane.

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NYC Health Commissioner: Urban Design is a Public Health Issue

Friday, November 19, 2010

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC)  New York City's Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, was the keynoter at the Transportation Alternatives Speeding Summit today, pledging a major new public health emphasis on urban design.

"After quitting smoking, there's probably no behavior that promotes health more than regular physical activity," Farley said. "Okay, that's great. So what are we going to do about that? To me, the answer to that is thoughtful urban design and transportation infrastructure. "

Though the NYC Health Department last summer released a report saying 25 children's lives are saved a year because fewer New York City children ride in cars than in other cities, most of New York's traffic safety campaign has rested on the shoulders of NYC DOT, and its commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan.

It's Sadik-Khan who's taken fire from protesters, like Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and more recently, some orthodox Jews in Brooklyn's Borough Park.  But Farley signaled that with a report coming out Monday on traffic injuries and urban design, he'll join Sadik-Khan in promoting public health benefits of slower driving speeds and more pedestrian-friendly environments.

Farley also said he would send staff to community board meetings to explain the safety benefits of bike lanes.

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NYC MTA To Offer Audio Tours of Grand Central Terminal

Friday, November 19, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Now going to Grand Central is going to be a little bit more like going to the Met Museum.  Beginning Tuesday, the NYC MTA will begin offering audio tours of Grand Central Terminal, put together by "an internationally experienced team," according to MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders, who noted in a release that the same group has also done the Great Wall of China and the Acropolis.

"We know there's a market" for the 45-minute tours, Anders says, "because we see people coming on big tours."  Anders noted the Grand Central Partnership and the Municipal Art Society will continue to offer free tours.

The tours, which will cost $5 and be available in three languages starting Tuesday, will point out how to find hidden features, like the "dirty patch" on the terminal sky, and contain factoids like this one: some 700,000 people travel through GCT each day, more than the entire population of San Francisco.

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NYC To Raise On-Street Parking Fees

Thursday, November 18, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  New York City's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, will phase in on-street parking increases over the next six months.  The move is part of the Mayor's so-called "budget-mod," an amendment to the existing budget to close projected shortfalls.

The city will up the rates from $2.50 to $3.00 south of Manhattan's 86th street, and north of 86th Street parking will go from $0.75 an hour to $1.00 an hour.

City hall officials are noting the city's rates are still way below market rates for parking, which can run around $20 an hour in Manhattan. The city is also looking to increase the deployment of muni-meters, which allow for differential pricing according to demand.  Officials say this isn't just about increasing revenue, but also helping retailers by ensuring greater turnover, and thus more open spots for potential customers.

Look for more so-called market flexible parking pricing in your future.

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NYC DOT to Begin Camera Enforcement of Fast Bus Lanes

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From the NYC DOT:

Immediate Release RELEASE # 10-057

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NYC DOT AND MTA/NYC TRANSIT ANNOUNCE CAMERA ENFORCEMENT OF 1ST/2ND AVENUE BUS LANES BEGINS MONDAY

Authorized by Albany, bus lane cameras will speed transit by deterring unauthorized use

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman/CEO Jay Walder today announced that bus lane camera enforcement of the new, exclusive Select Bus Service bus lanes along First and Second avenues will begin Monday to further enhance bus service and speed travel for the 54,000 daily riders of the M15.

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