Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:
US Report: Young People Like Bike Lanes, Sidewalks and Transit, but Everyone Likes Highways and Parking
Monday, July 18, 2011
A new report by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics finds significantly more young people think sidewalks, bike lanes, and local transit are important to quality of life than do older people. But the survey on attitudes about transportation found that all Americans find "major roads or highways," and "adequate parking in the downtown or business district" the most important element of "livable communities."
Ninety-two percent of 18-34 year-olds found sidewalks important, compared to 73 percent of Americans 65 and older. The gap was equally as wide on bike lanes -- with 73.8 percent of younger Americans saying they're important, compared with 51.9 percent of senior citizens. On transit, there was a smaller but still hefty 14-point gap, 80.5 to 66.2 percent.
But 95.9 percent of younger Americans found major roads important and 91.5 percent of older Americans did, a much smaller differential.
Still, the survey findings represent a significant generational shift in attitudes about biking, walking, and transit. Last year, Ad Age magazine documented a palpable change in driving habits among young people. Ad Age showed the number of American teens with drivers licenses has dropped since 1978 from half of all 16-year-olds to just a third, and from 92 to 77 percent of 19-year-olds.
The BTS findings, which reflect a new set of questions in the BTS' Omnibus Household Survey (OHS), were derived from a sample of about 1,000 households in 2009. According to the report, "survey participants were asked to rate how important several transportation options or features were to have in their community, such as highway access, transit service, and bike lanes. "
"Livability" has come to have a certain set of meanings in the Obama administration, which include, at the top, access to more transportation choices. But in the American psyche, livability continues to mean having major roads and downtown parking. Over 94 percent of Americans ranked "major roads or highways that access and serve your community" as important, with "adequate parking in the downtown or central business district" second most important, chosen by 89 percent of those surveyed.
Nevertheless, "sidewalks, paths or other safe walking routes to shopping, work, or school," and "pedestrian-friendly streets or boulevards in the downtown or central business district" were next most important, with 85.2 and 85.0 percent of Americans, respectively, ranking those services as important. "Easy access to airport" was fifth most important, at 83.2 percent.
Generational shifts can be difficult to interpret. In general, voter attitudes tend to track age -- and people's opinions change as they get older. So, for example, older voters tend to be more fiscally conservative and more anti-crime than younger voters.
But there was a huge exception to that rule recently. On gay marriage, voters have held on to their beliefs even as they age, so that as the a startlingly higher percentage of Americans support gay marriage today than did a decade ago. New York recently voted to legalize gay marriage.
The report also found gender shifts, with women generally ranking "pedestrian friendly" streets and sidewalks more highly than men.
The BTS survey of perceptions was added to its roster of reports, which tend to include things like counts of airline employees or freight cargo weight.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The White House is stepping up talk of enacting an infrastructure bank, and may even be considering making such a bank part of any deal it makes with Congress on the debt ceiling.
An infrastructure bank, using federal seed money and private capital, would invest in large infrastructure projects that could pay back over the years through tolls or other revenues--like sales taxes that back local transit projects.
Washington sources say an infrastructure bank could be part of a deficit deal or emerge as a free-standing piece of legislation.
In the last week, the President and administration officials keep slipping the concept into the public debate. The most recent incarnation was Monday's White House press conference, when the President dropped the words "infrastructure bank" at the end of a thought on economic growth.
"I mean, the infrastructure bank that we've proposed is relatively small. But could we imagine a project where we're rebuilding roads and bridges and ports and schools and broadband lines and smart grids, and taking all those construction workers and putting them to work right now? I can imagine a very aggressive program like that that. I think the American people would rally around (it) and (it) would be good for the economy not just next year or the year after, but for the next 20 or 30 years."
The fact that the President even said the words "infrastructure bank" probably slipped by most folks, who were focusing on the President's vow not to have a short-term deal on debt. But it's a concept he's bringing to the forefront as other avenues for infrastructure spending are noticeably fading.
Stimulus spending, clearly, is out. And as we reported last week, Rep. John Mica, (R-FL), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, last week introduced a six-year, $230 billion surface transportation bill. The bill was a long way from the president's proposed $556 billion proposal, which Obama sent into the world on Valentine's Day. Even so, the Senate isn't expected to ask for much more than the House, and instead may be looking at a $109 billion, two-year bill.
Which may be why the White House is bring the infrastructure bank concept to the fore. Just a few days before the President mentioned it, Austan Goolsbee, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, pushed the concept in a television interview, as part of a number of other ideas to get the economy moving. "We ought to extend the payroll tax cut. We ought to create the infrastructure bank. We ought to pass the free trade agreements to get exports going..."
The president also talked about infrastructure in his weekly address:
"With a recovery that’s still fragile and isn’t producing all the jobs we need, the last thing we can afford is the usual partisan game-playing in Washington," President Obama said. "By getting our fiscal house in order, Congress will be in a stronger position to focus on some of the job-creating measures I’ve already proposed – like putting people to work rebuilding America’s infrastructure..."
The president has been nothing if not consistent on infrastructure. On Labor Day, he put forward a $50 billion infrastructure plan. On Columbus Day, he refined that plan after a White House meeting with mayors and governors. In his State of the Union address, he pushed making high speed rail accessible to 80 percent of Americans by 2036. On Valentines Day, his budget proposal included a $556 billion surface transportation bill.
But the administration has been noticeably lacking when it comes to ideas for financing infrastructure. Called repeatedly before Congress, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood would only say that he "looks forward" to working with them to sort out financing details.
The infrastructure bank, by contrast, is a much easier sell. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who introduced a bill in the Senate earlier this year, said it would only need $10 billion of federal seed money to start. Kerry's bill has the support of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), and Mica has said he supports an infrastructure bank.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Okay, we don't like to make unnecessary jabs for typos, because, hey, we've been known to have a few of our own. But this one is irresistible, because, as we've reported, the New York MTA board member Nancy Shevell is engaged to the former Beatle, which has got to be the highest profile engagement of any MTA board member anywhere in America.
So it caught our attention when the MTA sent out a press release with the subject line "Take Metro-North to Paul McCartnery -- yeah, yeah, yeah!"
The erstwhile teen heartthrob (is he still?) is kicking off his 2011 world tour at Yankee Stadium July 15 and 16. We wonder if his fiancée will take the train?
[As we've also reported, transit seems by far the most popular way to get to Yankee Stadium for any event -- as the garages built for the new stadium, with taxpayer subsidies, are failing.]
If you do want to take the train, here are the deets from the MTA:
Paul McCartney is launching his 2011 world tour "On the Run" at Yankee Stadium on July 15 & 16 and MTA Metro-North Railroad will provide direct service to the venue from all three lines. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Metro-North will operate a special schedule featuring direct service on the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson Lines, as well as convenient shuttle service from Grand Central Terminal and Harlem-125th Street Station, to the Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station. The concert begins at 8 p.m.
On Friday, a Yankee Clipper will depart New Haven at 4:45 p.m. and arrive at 6:20 p.m. and on the Harlem Line, a Yankee Clipper will depart Southeast at 3:58 p.m. and arrive at the venue at 5:20 p.m. On the Hudson Line, there is normal Bronx local service to the Yankees-East 153rd Street station.
On Saturday, special direct trains depart New Haven at 4:46 p.m. and 5:20 p.m. arriving at 6:24 p.m. and 6:57 p.m. respectively. There also will be an all-stop local departing Stamford at 5:45 p.m. arriving 6:43 p.m. On the Harlem Line on Saturday direct trains depart Southeast at 4:38 p.m. and 5:40 p.m. arriving at 5:52 p.m. and 6:58 p.m. respectively. On the Hudson Line on Saturday an extra concert train will depart Poughkeepsie at 5:25 p.m. and arrive at the venue at 6:42 p.m.
After the concert, trains will depart 20-to-45 minutes after the concert ends, just as they do after Yankees home games. There will be two Harlem Line direct trains and four on the New Haven Line.
For more information about the Yankees-East 153rd Street Station and service, please click here.
For information on Free/Paid Parking at stations, please click here. Please note: Backpacks and other containers are not allowed into Yankee Stadium. Check the Yankees' website for a complete list of prohibited items.
Monday, July 11, 2011
The city is in the final stages of its selection process to find a vendor to run the proposed 10,000-bike system bike share program — an announcement that could come as soon as this month, sources tell WNYC.
Monday, July 11, 2011
New York's bike share program is expected to advance this summer when the city announces its selection of a vendor to run New York's proposed 10,000-bike system. Sources say that the city is in the final stages of the selection program. An announcement could come as soon as this month.
The DOT won't comment, other than to refer reporters to its website, which projects the announcement will come in the summer of 2011.
The full program is slated to be up and running in the spring of 2012. Officials have said a pilot program to test the bikes could be in place as early as this fall.
Under the proposed bike share program, first reported by Transportation Nation last November, those paying annual or daily membership fees could pick up a bike in one of any number of locations, and drop it off at any other station. City officials expect the system will augment the city's subway system, which is particularly poor at serving riders on the far west and far east sides of Manhattan. Bike share will also allow riders traveling from east to west, who are now constrained to walk or use snail-like crosstown buses, to scoot across town.
New York's is projected to be North America's largest system. The second largest will be Montreal's, with 5,000 bikes, and then Mexico City's, which is looking to expand its 1,300-bike system to nearly 4,000. Washington, DC, Denver, and Minneapolis all have active bike shares, as do European cities including London, Paris, and Barcelona.
Bike shares have not been without problems. Early systems, like Paris's, were plagued with theft and vandalism, though operators say updated GPS technology has greatly reduced bike losses.
And government officials from cities with established bike shares, like Angel Lopez Rodriguez, Director of Mobility for Barcelona, acknowledge they underestimated the logistical challenges of making sure bikes are evenly distributed around the city. Lopez Rodriguez says that bike share stations in the hills tend to empty quickly, while those in the flatter, downhill part of Barcelona fill up so users can't find a place to dock their bikes.
But Lopez Rodriguez says he considers his program a success because it's hiking the number of Barcelona residents who regularly bike to 20 percent.
Some bikeshares, like Washington, DC's, offer riders rewards points for returning bikes to the station they checked them out from.
A much-bruited about article in the NY Times also raised questions about the financing of New York's system. But bike-share analysts say New York's system won't be like Paris's or Barcelona's, which are funded by advertising companies, or even like Montreal's, which closes up for the winter.
Instead, they point to Washington, DC's Capital Bikeshare, which has been endorsed by the US Secretary of Transportation, is largely funded through federal clean-air grants, and has some 15,000 members and more than 50,000 casual users. Alison Cohen, President of Alta Bicycle Share, which operates the DC systems, says the usage levels are surpassing expectations.
The DC program required an upfront investment of $6 million, with 80 percent of that coming from the federal government.
New York has pledged not to use any taxpayer funding for its program. The city's transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, has argued that New York's density and flatness will ensure the financial success of its bike share program.
Friday, July 08, 2011
Almost exactly two years ago, Rep John Mica (R-FL) stood at a podium with sharp words for the Obama Administration. The White House had just put a halt to expectations that it would push for a new, $500 billion, 6-year surface transportation bill.
Instead, the administration recommended an 18-month extension of the previous bill, which Rep. Mica wasn't having. It would mean transportation spending would be about half what almost everyone then wanted -- members of Congress of both parties, the highway lobby, the rail industry, transit advocates.
"We're going to do everything we can to move this bill forward, despite what the administration said yesterday," Mica said in June, 2009, calling a $500 billion transportation bill the "most critical jobs bill before Congress in the next year."
And then, with Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), then the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mica held aloft a shovel to symbolize all the construction jobs that would come with a big transportation bill.
How the worm turns.
Oberstar was voted out in November, 2010, after 36 years on the Committee. Mica is now the Chair.
In February, as part of its budget proposal, the White House asked for $556 billion for a six year transportation bill.
On Thursday, Mica said absolutely not.
Instead, Mica unveiled his own proposal (though the actual bill is still pending) for a $230 billion, 6-year bill.
"While some continue to advocate the same old tax-and-spend approach, I prefer a new direction,” Mica said, introducing the bill's outline. “This long-term plan is the only fiscally responsible proposal and will ensure the continued solvency of the Highway Trust Fund," he added.
Now, a bit of explainer for non-transit wonks. For decades, transportation has been funded through a gas tax. In the Clinton era, when Americans were driving giant SUV's, the fund was flush. But as cars became more fuel-efficient, and then, as the economy was dashed on the rocks in the fall of 2008, driving plunged, and gas tax revenues sank. A new transportation bill was supposed to be approved in 2009, amid much hand-wringing that the highway-trust fund was "broke."
In those days, a big transportation bill was still a bi-partisan priority. That buoyed hopes that there could be some new funding mechanism -- a gas tax hike, perhaps. (The last time the gas tax was raised was 1993.) Or highway tolls. Or a tax on the number of miles driven -- a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax.
But then came the aforementioned 18-month extender. In the spring of 2009, with the economy still badly teetering, that seemed a whole lot more palatable to the White House than raising a tax. And the 18-months would put them squarely beyond the 2010 elections. At the time, there was quiet cheering of Obama's political deftness.
Except that the 18-month move meant a six-year bill would now be considered right as Obama's own re-election campaign was getting underway.
But the President still believed he could get it done.
Even after everything that happened in November, the Tea Party ascension, the howls of anguish from economically-strapped voters, the Administration was still bullish on transportation. In his State of the Union, President Obama made connecting most Americans to high-speed rail a signature initiative. Less than a month later, he announced his support for the $556 transportation bill.
To be sure, the administration never said how that $556 billion would be funded. Called before Congress several times, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood would only say he "looked forward" to working out the financing with Congress.
But then came the discussions over the continuing resolution, where the House Republicans made their antipathy towards any kind of spending perfectly clear.
In this context, on Thursday, stating flatly that Congress would not support a gas tax, Mica proposed a $230 billion 6-year bill, an effective cut, by some estimates, of 30 percent over current spending. The bill drew the immediate derision of Democrats. "This flawed plan would eliminate thousands of transportation jobs and be a major setback for our country's critical network of roads, bridges, and railways," said Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, who warned nearly 500,000 jobs would be cut as a result.
Now, if this sounds like partisan positioning, remember that transportation bills used to have bi-partisan support. The bickering was over the details, not the spending levels -- at least not really.
Analysts don't give Mica's bill much chance of passage as is, and advocates are pinning their hopes on a $109 billion, 2-year bill, expected as early as the week of July 11, from Senator Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) That bill would essentially maintain funding at "current" levels (remember the real bill, not the extender, expired in 2009), plus inflation. It would rely on a small amount of money from the general fund, and finding $12 billion from "closing loopholes," such as oil company tax breaks.
But other than that, there's no talk of new revenues. There's no discussion of expanding expectations, repairing roads and bridges at an aggressive rate, or expanding transit at the rate of, say, China or even some third-world nations.
And the Democratic Senate bill is a far cry from the $500 billion that both parties once agreed needed to be spent.
That shovel that Mica held aloft? It's now buried somewhere, deep down in the earth.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Petitioners will have more time to review some document's they've foiled. The petitioners have been arguing that the bike lanes was installed with insufficient community input and data -- the city says both were given in ample supply. The case is being closely watched by planners, cyclists, and community activists. We will have complete coverage soon.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) UPDATED WITH ONE MORE LIST: When Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff yesterday mentioned a $50 billion funding gap just to maintain the top seven transit systems (representing 80 percent of all U.S. riders) at their current levels of service, I got to wondering, what are the top seven transit systems in the U.S.?
(By the way, this was the same presser where Rogoff mentioned that the age of some transit infrastructure was "spooky")
1. New York
2. Los Angeles
4. Washington, DC
5. San Francisco
Okay, and 8. Seattle
By Organization Size
1. NYC MTA
2. CTA (Chicago)
3. Metro (Los Angeles)
4. WMATA (Washington, DC)
5. MBTA (Boston)
6. SEPTA (Philadelphia)
7 NJ Transit (Yes! New Jersey!)
and... 8. MUNI (San Francisco) (Lower on the list because BART and MUNI are separate systems.)
By Operating Expense
1. New York
2. NJ Transit
5. LA Metro
Source: U.S. Federal Transit Administration
Monday, June 13, 2011
Officials say systems are shutting down, service is getting worse, transit systems are aging, and there are $78 billion worth of needs out there -- just to keep the system functioning more or less as it is today.
And all that comes as Congress and Governors are showing themselves in no mood to fund public transit.
The tension between just fixing everything that's broken -- or about to break -- and all the new transit that's needed to really give Americans mobility options was fully on display at an APTA press conference at its annual rail conference Monday.
Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff argued: "We want to provide the American public in the maximum number of communities with real transit choices, and give them the opportunity to keep more money in their wallet rather than hand it over at the gas pump, but in order to do that the transit service has to be available, it has to be safe and clean. It has to be reliable and desirable." His remarks came at a press conference at the APTA 2011 Rail Conference, (see our earlier blog posts with highlights from that).
But before thinking about making transit a real option for most, if not all Americans, Rogoff said, there's a $50 billion hole that needs filling.
In the seven largest systems, which carry 80 percent of the rail transit passenger load in the U.S. -- including New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington and Los Angeles -- there is a $50 billion backlog of major maintenance needs. Rogoff said the FTA has proposed combining funding streams to "rifle shot" resources to where they are most needed.
"Reliable transit is really the difference between getting home in time to have dinner as a family, or not; getting home in time to supervise homework, or not; or being able to pick your kid up on time from day care, all of these core quality of life issues, which are critical if we are going to entice more people on transit. But for for the millions of transit riders who do not have an automobile option these investments are critical to maintaining a viable transit system," Rogoff said.
Rogoff acknowledged that Congress must approve the above plan, as well as a proposal to allow transit systems to use federal funds to operate and not just for their capital budgets.
The seams are already splitting, said Richard Davey, General Manager of Rail and Transit for the MBTA in Boston. On the "Orange Line, we’re required to run 96 cars, and 102 in rush hour, in order to have proper headway. We’re not seeing that anymore. Our customers are waiting in platforms a little longer -- 30 seconds, maybe a minute. If we don’t invest in our vehicles, you will be standing on platforms," Davey said.
But Rogoff still questioned whether bringing systems into a state of good repair is more important than expanding transit -- which makes it more of a choice for more Americans.
"Why should we invest in expanding a footprint when we know that they they are not adequately investing in their current footprint? Rogoff asked of transit agencies across the country. (He promised to ask Boston that question soon.)
"It’s a critical and important question to ask and we don’t back away from it. We’re having that dialog now with the MUNI system in San Francisco and the central subway project where we want to see a continuing financial commitment to, at a minimum, not allowing the MUNI system to go backward when we are also investing money to expand the system that they will then be required to maintain."
"One of the challenges we have with a number of systems across America is that there was a lot of enthusiasm and political support to build out the services to communities that want and need it and far less enthusiasm for making the necessary investments to maintain them."
Monday, June 13, 2011
"There are power substation facilities serving the SEPTA [Philadelphia] system that have equipment in it dating from the 19-teens and 20’s. Thank heaven they overbuilt those systems back in the 20’s because they actually have been able to endure and serve the service.
"But it is, sometimes it is rather spooky when you see how many tens of thousands of daily commuters that are dependent on the continuing reliability of systems that are approaching 50, 60, 70 years-old in some of these cities.
"That’s why we really want to surge forward with the investment because some of those systems are going to have to be replaced you cannot keep milking them along another half century."
We've reported on aging infrastructure and underfunding on Transportation Nation regularly: aging infrastructure is bad for business; when it comes to transpo spending, those who can't, study; and bang for the buck, how states spend precious transpo dollars.
Monday, June 13, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff wants it all: to improve the U.S. transit systems sometimes woeful state of disrepair, expand buses and train service, and prevent municipalities from losing their transit systems to the downward tug of an economic whirlpool. "We are trying to deal with all those challenges at once," Rogoff tells a press conference in Boston. "Not just maintenance but also on expansion" he said. "Also to provide increased formula funds."
That's a taste of what he had to say -- a fuller report coming soon.
Friday, June 10, 2011
(Transportation Nation) You can see tons of bikes this season in the progenitor of all urban bohemian neighborhoods -- Soho, New York City. And not just on the green bike lanes that cross the neighborhood. They're in all the store windows. The uber-hip yet playful Barcelona-based shoe store Camper has one.
There's a klatch of them outside the trendy Soho Grand hotel. The high-end purse and shoe store Kate Spade has a bike in the window, part of its wedding display (white dresses, white purses, white bike). In fact, Kate Spade is selling the bike this season -- for $1,100, to go with its $500 handbags and shoes.
"Even if she’s wearing a beautiful Kate Spade dress and high heeled shoes, she’s still going to get on her bike and go across town because she loves adventure and loves exploring and that’s just her spirit," Senior Vice President Kyle Andrew explains. "I think there's something in the air, people are definitely more interested in bike riding than ever before."
People are. As Mayors in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, DC, Los Angeles and elsewhere are adding thousands of miles of bike lanes, bike commuting rates are going up. And so is the status of a bike as an icon for hipness, urbanity, environmentalism, and just coolness.
Bike lanes, as you may have noted, have come under fire in some quarters of late. Ditto rude cyclists. But Sheron Davis of the advertising firm BBDO, says that doesn't matter to marketers. People may not like cyclists, they may be outraged at dangerous behaviors. But bikes, she says, are a universal positive. "It becomes part of a bigger story of one's life," she says.
Bikes have long appeared in advertising -- frequently in connection with retirement plans, or health care, or a product that wants to convey "wholesome family life." But this is different. It's bike to sell the super-hip.
CB2, the chic younger sibling of Crate and Barrel, is also selling a bike this season, which it's calling the Abuela (women's) or Abeulo (men's). With it's charcoal-gray frame, bright leather tires, and red leather seat, the bike nicely coordinates with CB2's red plates and orange sofas."
"We live in Chicago, and on our drive in -- because we do drive in," says CB2 Brand Director Marta Calle, laughing. "We have noticed our commute is getting longer and longer because the amount of people biking in the city is incredible."
Calle said the decision to sell a bike was clinched last year while she was at the Il Salone design conference in Milan, Italy. There were bikes everywhere, she says, city bikes, Dutch bikes, commuter bikes. "It was almost as if the city was promoting biking -- but it wasn't."
"And we thought what a cool trend. It speaks to our customer because our customer is young at heart."
It would seem to speak to a lot of customers for a lot of things this year. Club Monaco is selling a bike. So are Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and Brooklyn Industries. The Gap has a bike on its display floor.
This use of bikes to sell just about everything other than bikes this season shows that these retailers have more or less come to the same conclusion: bikes can move goods. Even when customers, like retiree Marty Shultz, who was browsing CB2 the other day, have no interest in buying a bike (he was looking for kitchen stools), the bikes convey a certain sense, as he put it, of "the modern."
Having all of these bikes everywhere is about motivating people to buy products, BBDO's Davis says, don't get it wrong. But she argues that all that marketing can end up promoting biking, not just shoes or sofas.
Until next year, when all these retailers discontinue their bikes, and move on to the next big thing.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
(Transportation Nation) Google announced this morning it would provide real-time transit information for mobile apps and desktops in six cities. Which is to say, not when your bus or train is supposed to arrive, but when it is actually going to arrive, based on where it actually is.
From a Google press release this morning:
"Starting now, Google Maps for mobile and desktop can tell you when your ride is actually going to arrive with new live transit updates. We partnered with transit agencies to integrate live transit data in four U.S. cities and two European cities: Boston, Portland, Ore., San Diego, San Francisco, Madrid and Turin."
We'll have more, plus a test run in SF, coming soon.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
FROM THE ARCHIVES -- I wrote this two years ago, as Anthony Weiner's political career was unraveling (but before he'd resigned.) But as he's making moves to get into the race again, seemed like a good time to surface it.
Monday, June 06, 2011
[UPDATED to add Video - AG]
The DOT just pointed us toward this video of Transpo Secretary Ray LaHood biking to work. He just oozes Washington, D.C. pride, calling the area "one of the most livable communities in America."
And, in response to an off camera question, he says "everybody has a right to the roadways, and certainly cyclists."
As promised, U.S. Secretary of Transportation rode a bike to work today. Heres' how he describes it on his blog: "This morning I biked to work with a group of DOT commuters from the Washington Monument to our headquarters building. The route was safe and well-marked; we enjoyed some exercise; and we didn't burn a drop of gas--which saved us some money.
That's what I call a successful commute."
Friday, June 03, 2011
(Transportation Nation) It can't be quite the punctuation the President wanted at the end of a week of full-court press on the auto-industry rebound. Manufacturers cut 5,000 jobs in the last month, including a drop of 3,400 jobs in the automobile sector.
If you check the White House chart from earlier in the week, you'll see that, basically since the bailouts, auto jobs have been on a steady march upwards. The White House has been all over that news this week -- V.P. Joe Biden gave the weekly address about it (the President was in Europe), the White House issued a report, and today the President was in Toledo.
So they can't be happy that today's jobs report shows auto numbers down, even though analysts are attributing that mainly to Japanese tsunami-related disruptions, and an economy stumbling as gas prices rise.
And yet, the President, fortifed by chili dogs, continued undaunted at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly complex. Here's the pool report from Toledo, followed by the Presidents' remarks. You can also check out the Republican National Committee Video on the bailout, essentially scoffing at the President's suggestion that Americans got their money back from the auto bailout.
"POTUS arrived from Rudy’s at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly complex at about 12:45 pm and toured the line for assembling the 2011 Jeep Wrangler, making several stops to watch mechanized assemblage of the Jeep’s front grill and its instrument panel. He was greeted respectfully rather than enthusiastically by the workers demonstrating for him, many wearing red-and-white company T-shirts. When he got to the end of his tour, he approached a woman in a red-and-white shirt that instead said “President OBAMA” next to another woman in a black Obama ’08 campaign T-shirt. “Those are nice shirts,” POTUS told them. The woman in the red “President OBAMA” shirt spun around to show the words on the back: “THANK YOU.” He wrapped her in a big hug.
"As he was leaving, a couple people asked to pose with him for a photo. Immediately, the other workers were hustling from the other points on the floor and pretty soon there was a group shot of at least two dozen people surrounding POTUS.
"Then he was off to the waiting audience about 100’ away for his open remarks."
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Please have a seat.
It is good to be back in Toledo. (Applause.) It is good to be with all of you. Now, for those of you who I’ve met up close, I just want you to know that I stopped by Rudy’s -- (laughter) -- had two hot dogs, two chili dogs with onions. So I’ve been looking for a mint backstage. (Laughter.) It tasted pretty good going down though.
It is wonderful to see you. We’ve got some outstanding public servants who are here who’ve been working hard on behalf of working Americans their entire careers. One of the finest senators that I know of, Senator Sherrod Brown, is in the house. (Applause.) Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is in the house. (Applause.) Your mayor is in the house. Give him a big round of applause. (Applause.)
I just took a short tour of the plant and watched some of you putting the finishing touches on the Wrangler. Now, as somebody reminded, I need to call it the “iconic” Wrangler. (Laughter.) And that’s appropriate because when you think about what Wrangler has always symbolized. It symbolized freedom, adventure, hitting the open road, never looking back -- which is why Malia and Sasha will never buy one. (Laughter.) Until maybe they’re 35. (Laughter.) I don’t want any adventure for them.
I want to thank Jill for the kind introduction. Somebody on my staff asked Jill to describe herself in three words or less, and she said “hard working.” Hard working. And her entire family agreed. So she’s with the right team here at this plant because I know there are a lot of hard-working people here. And I am -- (applause) -- I’m proud of all of you. Jill was born and raised right here in Toledo. Her mother retired from this plant. Her stepfather retired from this plant. Her uncle still works at this plant. She met her husband at this plant. Now they have two children of their own, and her three-year-old wants to work at this plant. (Laughter.)
I don’t think her story is unique. I’m sure there are a lot of you who have similar stories of previous generations working for Chrysler. And this plant, or the earlier plant that used to -- that I guess is still right down the road, this is the economic rock of the community. You depend on it, and so do thousands of Americans. The Wrangler you build here directly supports 3,000 other jobs, with parts manufactured all across America. Doors from Michigan. Axles from Kentucky. Tires from Tennessee. And this plant indirectly supports hundreds of other jobs right here in Toledo. After all, without you, who’d eat at Chet’s or Inky’s or Rudy’s? Or who’d buy all those cold ones at Zinger’s? (Laughter and applause.) This guy right here? That’s the Zinger crew right there. (Laughter.) All right. What would be life like here in Toledo if you didn’t make these cars?
Now, two years ago, we came pretty close to finding out. We were still near the bottom of a vicious recession -- the worst that we’ve seen in our lifetimes -- and ultimately, that recession cost 8 million jobs. And it hit this industry particularly hard. So in the year before I took office, this industry lost more than 400,000 jobs. In the span of a few months, one in five American autoworkers got a pink slip. And two great American companies, Chrysler and GM, stood on the brink of liquidation.
Now, we had a few options. We could have followed the status quo and kept the automakers on life support by just giving them tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money, but never really dealing with the structural issues at these plants. But that would have just kicked the problem down the road.
Or we could have done what a lot of folks in Washington thought we should do, and that is nothing. We could have just let U.S. automakers go into an uncontrolled freefall. And that would have triggered a cascade of damage all across the country. If we let Chrysler and GM fail, plants like this would have shut down, then dealers and suppliers across the country would have shriveled up, then Ford and other automakers could have failed, too, because they wouldn’t have had the suppliers that they needed. And by the time the dominos stopped falling, more than a million jobs, and countless communities, and a proud industry that helped build America’s middle class for generations wouldn’t have been around anymore.
So in the middle of a deep recession, that would have been a brutal and irreversible shock to the entire economy and to the future of millions of Americans. So we refused to let that happen.
I didn’t run for President to get into the auto business –- I’ve got more than enough to do. I ran for President because too many Americans felt their dreams slipping away from them. That core idea of America –- that if you work hard, if you do right, if you’re responsible, that you can lead a better life and most importantly pass on a better life to your kids -- that American Dream felt like it was getting further and further out of reach.
Folks were working harder for less. Wages were flat while the cost of everything from health care to groceries kept on going up. And as if things weren’t hard enough, the bottom fell out of the economy in the closing weeks of that campaign back in 2008, so life got that much harder.
So I want everybody to understand, our task hasn’t just been to recover from the recession. Our task has been to rebuild the future on a stronger foundation than we had before to make sure that you can see your incomes and your savings rise again. And you can retire with security and respect again. And you can open doors of opportunity for your kids again. And we can live out the American Dream again. That's what we’re fighting for. (Applause.) That's what we’re fighting for.
So that’s what drives me every day as I step into the Oval Office. That’s why we stood by the American auto industry. It was about you -- your families, your jobs, your lives, your dreams -– making sure that we were doing everything possible to keep them within reach.
So we decided to do more than just rescue the industry from crisis. We decided to retool it for a new age. We said that if everyone involved was willing to take the tough steps and make the painful sacrifices that were needed to become competitive, then we’d invest in your future and the future of communities like Toledo; that we’d have your back.
So I placed my bet on you. I put my faith in the American worker. And I’ll tell you what -- I’m going to do that every day of the week, because what you’ve done vindicates my faith.
Today, all three American automakers are turning a profit. That hasn’t happened since 2004. Today, all three American automakers are gaining market share. That hasn’t happened since 1995. And today, I’m proud to announce the government has been completely repaid for the investments we made under my watch by Chrysler because of the outstanding work that you guys did. (Applause.) Because of you. (Applause.)
Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes the American taxpayer from the investment we made during my watch. And by the way, you guys repaid it six years ahead of schedule. (Applause.) And last night, we reached an agreement to sell the government’s remaining interest in the company. So, soon, Chrysler will be 100 percent in private hands. Early. Faster than anybody believed. (Applause.)
So I couldn’t be prouder of what you’ve done. And what's most important, all three American automakers are now adding shifts and creating jobs at the strongest rate since the 1990s. So far the auto industry has added 113,000 jobs over the past two years. In Detroit, Chrysler added a second shift at its Jefferson North plant. GM is adding a third shift at its Hamtramck plant for the first time ever. In Indiana, Chrysler is investing more than $1.3 billion in its Kokomo facilities. And across the country, GM plans to hire back every single one of its laid-off workers by the end of the year -- every single one.
And that makes a difference for everyone who depends on this industry. Companies like a small precision tooling manufacturer in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, have brought back many of the employees they had laid off two years ago. Manufacturers from Michigan to Massachusetts are looking for new engineers to build advanced batteries for American-made electric cars. And obviously, Chet’s and Inky’s and Zinger’s, they’ll all have your business for some time to come -- especially those guys over there. (Laughter.)
So this industry is back on its feet, repaying its debts, gaining ground. Because of you, we can once again say that the best cars in the world are built right here in the U.S. of A., right here in Ohio, right here in the Midwest. (Applause.) And each day when you clock in, you’re doing more than earning your pay by churning out cars. You’re standing up for this company. You’re sticking up for this way of life. You’re scoring one for the home team and showing the world that American manufacturing and American industry is back.
Now, I don’t want to pretend like everything is solved. We’ve still got a long way to go not just in this industry, but in our economy; for all our friends, all our neighbors who are still feeling the sting of recession. There’s nobody here who doesn’t know someone who is looking for work and hasn’t found something yet. Even though the economy is growing, even though it’s created more than 2 million jobs over the past 15 months, we still face some tough times. We still face some challenges. This economy took a big hit. You know, it’s just like if you had a bad illness, if you got hit by a truck, it’s going to take a while for you to mend. And that’s what’s happened to our economy. It’s taking a while to mend.
And there are still some headwinds that are coming at us. Lately, it’s been high gas prices that have caused a lot of hardship for a lot of working families. And then you had the economic disruptions following the tragedy in Japan. You got the instability in the Middle East, which makes folks uncertain. There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery. We’re going to pass through some rough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a hard time with. We know that.
THE PRESIDENT: A Wrangler can go over anything, huh? (Laughter.)
But you know what, we know what’s happened here. We know what’s possible when we invest in what works. And just as we succeeded in retooling this industry for a new age, we’ve got to rebuild this whole economy for a new age, so that the middle class doesn’t just survive, but it also thrives.
These are tight fiscal times. You guys have all heard about the deficit and the debt, and that demands that we spend wisely, cut everywhere that we can. We’ve got to live within our means. Everybody’s got to do their part. Middle-class workers like you, though, shouldn’t be bearing all the burden. You work too hard for someone to ask you to pay more so that somebody who’s making millions or billions of dollars can pay less. That’s not right. (Applause.)
And even though we’re in tough times, there are still some things that we’ve got to keep on doing if we’re going to win the future. We can’t just sit back and stop. We got business we got to do. We got to make sure that our schools are educating our kids so that they can succeed. I was looking at all the gizmos and gadgets you got in this plant here -- it’s a lot more complicated working on a plant than it used to be. Kids have to know math and science.
We got to have a transportation and communications network that allows our businesses to compete. We used to have the best roads, the best bridges, the best airports. In a lot of places we don’t have that anymore. If you go to China, Beijing, they’ve got a fancier airport. You go to Europe, they got fancier trains, better roads. We can’t let our infrastructure just crumble and fall apart. We’re American. We’ve got to make that investment. (Applause.)
We’ve got to invest in innovation that will pave the way for future prosperity. We invented stuff that the world now uses and the world now makes. We’ve got to keep on inventing stuff and make sure it’s made right here in America. And that requires investments. (Applause.) That requires investments in basic research and basic science.
So these are all things that will help America out-innovate, out-educate, out-compete, out-hustle everybody else in the world. I want America to win the future, and I want our future to be big and optimistic, not small and fearful.
So we’ve got a lot of hard work that’s left to do, Ohio. We’ve got a lot of work to do. But we’re going to get there. And if anybody tells you otherwise, I want you to remember the improbable turnaround that’s taken place here at Chrysler. I want you to remember all those folks who were -- all those voices who were saying no -- saying no, we can’t. Because, Toledo, you showed that this was a good investment, betting on America’s workers.
What we see here is a proud reminder that in difficult times, Americans, they dig deep, they recapture the toughness that makes us who we are –- builders and doers who never stop imagining a better future. What I see here is a reminder of the character that makes us great –- that we’re a people who will forge a better future because that's what we do. What I see here is an America that is resilient, an America that understands that when we come together, nobody can stop us.
So I’ll tell you what -– I’m going to keep betting on you. And as long as I continue to have the privilege of being the President of the United States, I’m going to keep fighting alongside you for a future that is brighter for this community, for Toledo, for Ohio, for America. Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
Thursday, June 02, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) This just in from Gov. Christie's office regarding his use of state aircraft to travel to his son's baseball game, along with an itemized list of flights which you can see here.
"Attached, please find a list of instances in which State Police helicopters were used for travel. The total number attributable to the Governor is 33. Another flight was by the Lieutenant Governor, and one other was for transporting support staff for consecutive press conferences in the Meadowlands and Atlantic City to announce the recommendations of the Hanson Commission. The spreadsheet lists the date and purpose of use.
"Also, though the Superintendent of the State Police noted yesterday the travel does not cost taxpayers additional dollars, the Governor understands the sensitivity about this kind of thing and believes he owes it to the public to ensure that this is not a distraction. As such, the Governor is reimbursing for the last two trips dated 5/27 and 5/31 in the amounts of $919.20 and $1232.30, respectively."
Thursday, June 02, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Speaking from the C-40 conference on cities and climate change from Sao Paolo on The Takeaway this morning, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed to endorse the idea of more Bus Rapid Transit in New York. It's the first time I've heard him tout BRT on a national media program.
I say sort of, because Mayor Bloomberg didn't quite say BRT, though he seemed to be reaching for those words. You'll just have to listen. ( About 4:40 in)
Here's what he did say:
"We focus on mass transit. Other cities focus on more roads, we’re not going to have more roads in New York City. We can have better mass transit and a lot of these things, buses, much more rapid trans—buses, rapid -- buses that don’t sepnd as much time at lights and that reduce the time of getting on and off."
In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg's DOT has presided over the launch of there are two s0-called "Select Bus" routes, one in the Bronx, and one in Manhattan. The buses have some BRT-like features (like off-board payment and red-light signal priority) thought according to ITDP, New York's select buses aren't exactly BRT.
Bloomberg also noted on The Takeaway that just 20 percent of New York's pollution comes from transportation and about 80 percent from buildings, the reverse of most other cities, since New Yorker's live so densely and rely on transit far more than in any other city in the U.S.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) New Jersey is a famously congested state. Though it's got one of the most extensive transit networks in the country, it's also got more roads per square mile than any other state.
So when the famously cost cutting NJ Governor Chris Christie 'coptered over to his son's ballgame the other day, there was both outrage and a possible defense, outlined by Fairleigh Dickenson Public Mind Poll Director Peter Woolley. "I think a good defense is that this is the sprawl state and so it's very difficult to get from one place to another, even when the roads are in good shape," Woolley told WNYC's Bob Hennelly.
But still. Even though Christie was headed to a son's game, he may not have such an easy time playing the family card as he did last winter, when he explained an absence from the state during one of the worst winter blizzards by saying he wasn't going to apologize for vacationing with his family.
Christie may helicopter less frequently than some of his predecessors, but it's almost impossible to spin something like this well. If you're not the President of the United States, you pretty much can't win on the optics of getting a better form of transport than your average Joe, especially if taxpayers are footing the bill.