Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:
Friday, June 25, 2010
Andrea Bernstein, WNYC reporter and director of the Transportation Nation blog, talks about the service cuts and helps us say goodbye to the discontinued bus and subway lines. Also, Richard Yeh, WNYC reporter, talks about what the bus cuts mean for commuters in eastern Queens.
Are you losing bus or subway service? Post your transit eulogies here!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It's 6:30 in the morning, and most New Yorkers are still in their pajamas. But it's a party on the B51 bus in downtown Brooklyn. I take a seat. Someone else's it seems.
"Miss, I don’t mean to be rude," a rider named Della tells me, "but people on this bus ...
Monday, June 21, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Facing system-wide cuts in mass transit this weekend, WNYC has learned New York City is looking to vastly expand it private commuter van network. So-called dollar vans, which actually cost $2.00, operate throughout the city, picking up passengers who flag them down and dropping them off along specified routes. The vans, which are privately operated, are regulated by the city Taxi and Limosine commission, or TLC. According to those with direct knowledge of the situation, the TLC has been quietly meeting with dollar van operators to expand their routes to pick up much of the slack left by bus line cuts. Those cuts go into effect on Sunday, though the expansion of dollar van routes isn’t expected to take place that quickly.
Friday, June 18, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Since New York began experimenting with select bus service, there's been one giant obstacle: New Yorkers tend to view painted bus lanes (and bike lanes for that matter), as optional. The city's been stymied in its efforts to suggest otherwise by lack of authority to install cameras which could help police the lane. But now a few simple words in a legislative deal reached today: "establishes a bus rapid transit demonstration program to restrict the use of bus lanes by means of bus lane photo devices (Part II)" could change on that. The language still needs a vote, but if passed, the city can begin installing cameras which give the terra cotta lanes some, er, teeth.
Friday, June 18, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) President Barack Obama travels to Columbus , Ohio today to cut the ribbon on the 10,000th Recovery Act highway project. The move, clearly timed to emit some good news in the cloud of BP spill-related bad news, was heralded Thursday in a conference call by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Biden's Chief Economist, Jared Bernstein.
LaHood said the news could be even better. "The problem is getting the governors to enter into contracts through their Departments of Transportation to get these contracts awarded so people can be hired."
Thursday, June 17, 2010
(Matthew Schuerman, WNYC). School systems have been under pressure around the nation to cut transportation costs. Minneapolis plans to cut bus service for students who elect not to go to their district schools. Douglas County, Colorado, will start charging school kids to ride the yellow bus. But some 300,000 New York school kids will get to keep their free Metrocards to ride the bus or subway to get to school, under a tentative deal worked out in Albany.
Sources in Albany tell WNYC that New York Governor David Paterson will submit a transportation budget bill tomorrow that would give the Metropolitan Transportation Authority 25 million dollars to save the program. That's not as much as the MTA has wanted. But the bill would include other provisions that the MTA had sought, such as an increase in the debt limit for its capital program.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Hunts Point, the Bronx is New York's major food distribution center. There's a fruit and vegetable wholesaler, a seafood market -- and lots of lots of trucks. The area, in the poorest congressional district in the nation (yes, it beats Mississippi, yes it beats Appalachia), also has an asthma rate that is 700 percent of the national average. Now, Down East seafoods has bought a zero emissions truck, with the help of a local development corporation and the local congressman. More, from Marketplace.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
In the last five years, New York has added hundreds of miles of bike lanes and closed parts of Broadway to cars, a re-allocation of street space that has caused no small measure of controversy. But those plans? Child's play, compared to what a group of international planners wants the city to do: tear down the lower part of the FDR drive.
Friday, June 11, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) In the last five years, New York has added hundreds of miles of bike lanes and closed parts of Broadway to cars, a re-allocation of street space that has caused no small measure of controversy. But those plans? Child's play, compared to what a group of international planners want the city to do: tear down the lower part of the FDR drive.
It’s a proposal that draws almost immediate – and intense – derision from almost anyone who hears it.
“Terrible idea,” mused Bryan Delaney, kibitzing with his wife, Ibelice, the other night on Grand Street near the FDR drive. “Ridiculous,” snorted Carmen Gund, a teacher walking three small dogs. “People are going to drive into Manhattan regardless, so why not have as many roads to drive into Manhattan as possible?”
Inside the Bloomberg administration, there’s also incredulity. “Tear down a ring road?” said one highly placed city official who didn’t want his name used because he was speaking about the plan without authorization. “That will never happen.”
But architect Michael Sorkin, who drew up blueprints for a radically different lower Manhattan, is a fervent believer in the “if you unbuild it, they won’t come,” school of thought. His plans look sort of like a Brooklyn Bridge park, but on the Manhattan side – manicured lawns, plazas, ferry terminals, restaurants, and lots and lots of open sky. For designs and the rest of the article, go to the WNYC Culture page.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein Transportation Nation) Boston's bike share was supposed to start this summer, but it's been pushed off at least until April, 2010. Nicole Freedman, Director of Bicycle Programs for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, explains "we felt like we need more time to ensure we could get the operations correct." Each city's structure for bike share is different. Montreal has contracted out operations to Bixi, Washington's DDOT has hired Alta Bike Share to run the system, and Denver and Minneapolis have non-profits setting up theirs.
But Boston is still working out the details of how its system will be run. Freedman says Boston might have been ready by early fall, but setting up a system so close to Boston's notorious winters didn't seem wise.
The news comes on the heels of announcement by New York that a major expansion of protected bike lanes, seen as a prerequisite for bike share, was being postponed.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
On March 3, New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer “we can’t do bike share until we have safe bike lanes.” (Transcript and audio below.) That was when the city planned to build, this year, 160 new blocks of protected bike lanes along First and Second ...
Monday, June 07, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) On March 3, New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told WNYC's Brian Lehrer "we can't do bike share until we have safe bike lanes." (Transcript and audio below.) That was when the city planned to build, this year, 160 new blocks of protected bike lanes along First and Second Avenues, from the Battery to 125th Street. Those lanes would have helped fill a gaping hole in the city's bike lane map. From the Flatiron district to Central Park and stretching east from Broadway, bike lanes are virtually non-existent. That's a distance of forty blocks, north to south, and about a mile east to west.
Now, plans to fill in that network on the east side of Manhattan with miles of protected bike lanes have been significantly curtailed. The city says construction deadlines mean it can only build up to 34th Street this year; it isn't offering a timetable for the build-out.
New York City's announcement comes as Boston and Minneapolis are ready to implement major bike share programs this month; Denver's bike share was launched April 22, and Washington DC is poised to launch a 1200-bike program this fall. And as Los Angeles, freeway city, is investing $230 million dollars in bike lanes, plus bike stations, showers, and other infrastructure. As we reported back in February, bike share fever is sweeping urban planners around the U.S.
Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, widely viewed as a national leader in promoting biking in cities, has organized bike sharing demonstrations at her summer-streets festivals, where she closes some Manhattan streets to cars. She's brought in her friend, musician David Byrne, to publicize bike sharing demos in Union Square.
But she's also said biking needs to be safe in midtown before New York can begin a bike share, and her plan to "double the citywide total [of bike lanes] in just one year" is on hold, for 2010, at least. DOT isn't offering a timetable for construction of the First and Second Avenue protected bike lanes, or bike share in New York. When asked, DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow emailed "As I'm sure you're aware, we continue to explore the feasibility of bike share."
Click here for the audio link to Brian Lehrer's March 3 interview the relevant portion begins at 9:55.
Here's the transcript:
Monday, June 07, 2010
(Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio) Bus ridership is higher than at any point since right after World War II in the Twin Cities But car commuting still dwarfs transit. More here.
Monday, June 07, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) In announcing construction will get underway shortly on the First and Second Avenue Select Bus Service lanes, the city is acknowledging publicly that bike lanes, once planned to run from the Battery to Harlem, will now only go as far north as 34th Street. City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says it will be "impossible" to get the routes extended to Harlem in this year's construction season, but that she hopes to build the full bikeway in the future.
Even before the announcement was made public, it was causing consternation among city cycling advocates, who were once so thrilled with the designs for First and Second Avenue they were dubbed "bike rapid transit."
The name is a riff on Bus Rapid Transit, the technical forbear for the city's select bus service. The First and Second Avenue bus routes will include many of the features of Bus Rapid Transit: there will be dedicated lanes, fewer stops, and passengers will pay of- board. Officials say that will save passengers about twenty percent on their travel times.
But BRT experts are disappointed the city hasn't fully segregated the bus lanes, as cities like Milan, Bogota, and Mexico City have done, and won't build dedicated stations, which give BRT stops more of a "train-like" feel. Sadik-Khan has said those cities have the luxury of much wider boulevards than Manhattan. (To listen to WNYC's full series on BRT, click here.)
Still, the city's plans are seen as significant advance over current buses, and are being cheered by transit advocates as relief for east side commuters, who have been waiting half a century for the Second Avenue subway. (With additional reporting by Matthew Schuerman)
Friday, June 04, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) SUV sales are up, as we reported below. Preliminary data shows some of the fastest car sale growth in May of 2010 over a year ago, May 2009, was in the light truck division. Toyota reported a drop in May sales in its car division, but light trucks sales, driven by the RAV4 and Highlander SUVs, were up 14 percent. Unlike domestic automakers, Toyota's sales are more reliant on the consumer market than on the business, or fleet market, says analyst Bill Visnic.
Overall, according to data supplied to WNYC by Autodata Corportation, light trucks have 48 percent of the market share, up from 43 percent two years ago.
"This is absolute proof we have the shortest attention spans on the planet," says Bill Visnic, 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. The economy was tanking, and by the fall of 2008, a decades-long steep rise in vehicle miles traveled had screeched to a halt.
But now -- compared to a year ago, Visnic says, gas is a relatively cheap $3,00 a gallon, and even with the BP oil spill in thee gulf, consumers are still being signaled that prices will stay low over the summer. Interest rates are low, there's pent up demand, and "people like big vehicles," Visnic says. "Given the opportunity, they will buy them."
Visnic says there are other factors: dealers have offered incentives for SUV purchases, as economic fears ease, and many companies have added to their fleets after months or even years of putting off purchases. And it's unclear whether this trend will continue. "A lot of things are swirling around to create this moment in time," Visnic says. "If one thing goes wrong in the formula, the bottom drops out."
Friday, June 04, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) As deep service cuts approach, the NYC MTA continues its charm offensive this week. First smart cards, then an announcement of eco-friendly solar-powered subway train washing facilities.
Now they're relocating peregrine falcon chicks (once an endangered species) to the MTA-operated Verrazano Narrows bridge because, according to the press release "urban falcons like to nest atop bridges, church steeples and high-rise buildings because they provide an excellent vantage point for hunting prey."
Friday, June 04, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) For a long time, light truck sales, including SUV's, were about half the retail vehicle market share. In May of 2008, as gas approached $5.00 a gallon in some markets, sales plummeted to 43 percent. But now, according to figures provided to WNYC by Autodata Corporation, they're inching back up, to more than 48 percent of the market share, compared to 47.3 percent in May 2009.
Sales of the tiny Chevy Aveo were up 88 percent from May of 2009 to 2010. But the giant Suburban moved off the lot even faster - 100 percent faster. Sales of the Chevy Equinox were up even more -- from 3,689 in May of 2009 to 13,134 in May of 2010. That's a 256 percent increase.
Toyota didn't fare as well as American automakers, but its Prius sold well -- 41 percent better than this time a year ago. Sales of the The Toyota 4Runner, a large SUV, almost tripled.
Now these numbers are raw, and unadjusted. But they point to an interesting phenomenon. As WNYC Economics Editor Charles Herman reports, Americans are feeling a bit better now then they were in the spring of 2009. The pain of the recession is receding a bit. And so, apparently, is the memory of how much it can cost to fill up the tank of a large SUV.
We'll continue to digest these numbers over the next week.