Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:
Thursday, March 17, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Two months ago, I injured my back, making it hard for me to sit. So I stand on the subway train -- but if it's not too crowded, I put my bag on the seat to ease the strain of carrying a large purse, as well as to avoid bending up and down to put it on the floor. If I put in on the floor, I have to move it almost every stop, because it's kind of long (good for carrying radio recording equipment.) And that also stresses my back, so if it's not too crowded, I will put my bag on the seat, and stand beside it.
Today, when I boarded the train, it was pretty empty. So I put my bag on the seat, stood beside it, and proceeded to read the coverage of Japan on the NY Times op-ed page. About three stops later, a passenger got on -- a young, seemingly able-bodied man, and pointed to my bag, saying "your bag." I thought he was pointing out that the zipper was about 3 inches open, so I closed it.
Then, he said, "Move your bag!" rather brusquely. I explained it was there because I can't sit, and it was taking up the seat instead of me. He started to scream: "You're really being an asshole!"
I was uncharacteristically speechless.
A few seats down, a woman in a white coat joined in and said: "Can't you see she's injured?" He continued to yell. She got up. "Take my seat, then. It's too early in the morning. Take my seat." Which he did.
A few stops later, someone got off, and then someone got on, my bag was still on the seat. "Don't worry," the woman said. "There's room for me and your bag."
But what do you think? Is it okay for me to put my bag on the seat instead of, um, my posterior?
Monday, March 14, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) At $4 a gallon, transit systems would see almost 700 more passenger trips. At $5 a gallon -- nearly 1.5 billion. That's the conclusion of a report out this morning by the American Public Transit Association.
Using data from 2008 and other times in recent history,when gas prices have spiked, APTA is projecting that transit systems will see more riders if gasoline prices continue to rise.
But since 2008, many municipalities have severely curtailed transit services, or even eliminated them entirely. APTA says its model takes this into account.
The report says "many of the public transit systems across the country are already seeing increases in the month of February, some reaching double digits. For instance; the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority in Pompano Beach, FL increased by 10.6 percent; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority of Philadelphia, PA increased by 10 percent; The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority of Oakland, CA increased by 14 percent and the Utah Transit Authority in Salt Lake City Utah increased by 12 percent."
Sunday, March 13, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) The economic blogs are aflame with a debate prompted by a John Cassidy item in the New Yorker on why he thinks bike lanes are "a classic case of regulatory capture by a small faddist minority intent on foisting its bipedalist views on a disinterested or actively reluctant populace."
That prompted this from Reuters Felix Salmon:
"On top of that, every driver who decides to bicycle on one of the new lanes is one less driver for Cassidy to compete with in crosstown gridlock. By rights, he should be loving the way that bike lanes are reducing the number of cars on the road, rather than railing against them. But for all that he claims to be “wonky” in this post, it’s clear that he’s much more interested in coming up with any conceivable justification for his already-existing prejudices than he is in dispassionate analysis. The fact is, it’s the bicyclists who have all the data on their side. The car lobby just has inchoate rants."
And this from The Economist:
"When Mr Cassidy drives, he imposes a small congestion cost on those around him, drivers and cyclists included. Because he and others do not consider this cost, they overuse the roads, creating traffic. Mayor Michael Bloomberg had hoped to address this problem by adopting a congestion pricing programme in Manhattan, but he was unable to generate the necessary support. As a result, there are too many cars on New York's streets. From an economic perspective."
Oh, by the way, we did this story for Marketplace back in December.
So, (warning: Department of shameless self promotion!) if you want to know what everyone else will be talking about in a month, you should be reading Transportation Nation today!
And, need we remind you, we first had the interview with Marty Markowitz a year ago on this subject.
And, of course, we broke the story of the Prospect Park West bike lane law suit.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Over at our sister site, WNYC Culture, I've posted an interview I did with award-winning playwright Tony Kushner on his plays, old and new, and how they reflect back on American politics.
It's the third interview I've done with Kushner since 1995, and this time we talked about his new play, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures opening in New York later this month, Angels in America,the revival of which runs until the end of April, his work on the screenplay for Munich, and what he thinks of the The Kids are Alright.
And, yes, we did talk about buses (read to the end of this excerpt):
Here's an excerpt:
AB: Your new play is the…
TK: Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.
AB: Thank you.
TK: It’s about ten, God when was it, about 1997, my grandmother, my father’s mother, died in Louisiana where I’m from and I went down to Louisiana to help my father sort of pack up. Her husband—my grandfather—had been dead since 1984 and she died in 1997 and we went down to sort of pack up the house. They were wonderfully educated people and they had the kind of library that you’d expect very educated Jewish people of their generation to have. They had the Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition and they had the plays of Ibsen and the novels of Mark Twain, Dickens, and they had a lot of Shaw. And one of the things I found that I’d never even heard of it was this book that Shaw wrote called The Intelligent Women’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism, which I thought was just a wonderful title.
And I sort of decided,
Friday, March 11, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
This just in from the US DOT:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Makes $2.4 Billion Available for High-Speed Rail Projects Across America
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that he is making available approximately $2.4 billion, through a competitive process, to states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors across the United States.
“The Obama Administration’s bold high-speed rail plan will create jobs, reinvigorate our manufacturing sector and spur economic development for years to come,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “States across the country have been banging down our door for the opportunity to receive additional high-speed rail dollars and to deliver all of its economic benefits to their citizens.”
President Obama’s vision is to connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail within the next 25 years. To put America on track towards that goal, the Obama Administration has proposed a six-year, $53 billion plan that will provide rail access to new communities; improve the reliability, speed and frequency of existing lines; and, where it makes economic sense, build new corridors where trains will travel at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.
The Obama Administration’s investments in high-speed rail are also projected to create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in the United States. Jobs will be created both directly on manufacturing, construction and operation of rail lines, and indirectly, as the result of economic developments along rail corridors. A report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, projected that high-speed rail would create tens of thousands of jobs in cities and along rail corridors across the United States.
A one-hundred percent ‘Buy America’ requirement for high-speed rail projects also ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. And, in 2009, Secretary LaHood secured a commitment from 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the U.S. if they are selected for high-speed-rail contracts.
Friday, March 11, 2011
(Brooklyn, New York -- Kaomi Goetz, WNYC) It got heated at last night’s Community Board Six hearing on proposed changes to a bike lane along Prospect Park – literally.
But it was due to an overheated auditorium – not vitriolic words – that had nearly all of the about 400 attendees mopping their brows, including board chair Daniel Kummer.
The board was collecting comments about proposed changes to the contested two-way bike lanes on Prospect Park West and on bike lanes in general.
The audience was made up of mostly supporters, including seven-year old Ava Sonyos. "For kids to have a really safe opportunity to ride in a bike lane without riders who are speeding that a kid could hit, so a bike lane is a very good safe opportunity for a kid to ride."
Supporters outnumbered opponents on a pre-hearing sign-up sheet by about six to one.
But opponents -- many of them senior citizens -- weren't deterred. Lois Carswell was there representing Seniors for Safety. "Prospect Park West would revert to three lanes of traffic with speeds controlled like every other street in New York City, with signalization." Carswell was booed, but retorted "Please, I didn't boo you."
The board will make its own recommendation on the changes to the city DOT next week.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
A congressional delegation today met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, asking him to redirect to the Northeast Corridor the money Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected for high speed rail. The U.S. DOT will only say it will make a decision "soon."
Senator Frank Lautenberg's office issued the following press release -- TN
LAUTENBERG, CARPER, COLLEAGUES MEET WITH SECRETARY LAHOOD, URGE ADMINISTRATION TO REDIRECT REJECTED FLORIDA RAIL FUNDING TO NORTHEAST CORRIDOR
WASHINGTON— During a meeting today in Senator Lautenberg’s office, U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Coons (D-DE) asked U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to redirect the $2.4 billion in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funds rejected by the state of Florida to the Northeast Corridor.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
(Washington, DC -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan sounded like anything but an official on the defensive in a speech this morning at The League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit here.
“It is wonderful to be here with so many friends,” she began, addressing a ballroom full of cycling advocates at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. “The movement is there,” she said of pro-bike and pedestrian advocates and policy-makers. “The people are there, the projects are there—and none of this really was there just five years ago.”
Sadik-Khan has been sharply attacked of late. Some residents of Park Slope, Brooklyn, sued this week to have a bike lane along Prospect Park removed, a much-discussed profile in The New York Times called her “brusque” and worse; and a New Yorker writer described her as the head of “a small faddist minority intent on foisting its bipedalist views on a disinterested or actively reluctant populace.”
But Sadik-Khan is continuing to make the case that the economic and cultural future belongs to cities that wring transportation efficiencies out of moving more people above-ground by bus, bike and foot.
Further, she said opponents of the kind of streetscape re-engineering that shifted space from cars to bikes and pedestrians were up against a movement with momentum. “We’re starting to see real cycling systems in American cities,” she claimed. “In New York, we have added 250 miles of on-street bike lanes since 2006.”
She then launched into a list of famous streets around the U.S. that now have bike lanes and more space for pedestrians, from Market Street in Portland to Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. She praised Barcelona for throwing “infrastructure parties”—transit projects and urban upgrades completed in preparation for large events like the Olympics. And to the approval of the room, she talked up the pedestrian plaza her department created in Times Square.
“You can see this on Broadway, in my town, which is now the Great Green Way,” she said. “And more is coming. I don’t know if you heard that just last week Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles talked about plans for a 1,700-mile bike network in Los Angeles. I think that’s really extraordinary.”
All of this is proof, she said, of a global competition by cities to innovate with their transportation systems. “City leaders—mayors, certainly— understand this is an economic development strategy,” she said. “If we are going to attract the best and the brightest to our cities, we have to make these cities work.” She said that means urban planners are looking at the competition and asking: “Who can be the greenest, who’s got the next bike share program, who’s got the coolest new bus rapid transit line?”
But she said urban development is not solely competitive. Together with transportation officials around the U.S., she launched an online Urban Bikeway Design Guide that cities can use as an engineering template to construct even more bike lanes. “For too long, these basic tools have been out of the tools of local officials,” she said. The group will be lobbying the Federal Highway Administration to recognize the guidelines as national standards, she added, making it easier to install bike lanes around the country.
Monday, March 07, 2011
Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) In a rare legal action, a group of residents opposed to a two-way protected bike lane along Prospect Park in Brooklyn has filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn state court to have it removed. The city law department says it received the papers late Monday afternoon and "is reviewing them thoroughly." A pdf file of the lawsuit can be found here (NBBL vs. NYCDOT) or at the end of the post.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the group Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, which is backed by the former New York City DOT commissioner, Iris Weinshall, her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, and a group of residents, many of whom live along Prospect Park. In legal papers, the group says says the city did not perform an environmental review, did not adequately collect data, and did not accurately measure the safety of the design changes after they were implemented. It seeks removal of the bike lane, and restoration of Prospect Park West to three lanes of automobile traffic and two lanes of parking, with no bike lane.
The two-way bike lane was approved by the local community board before it was installed.
Transportation Nation first broke the story of the Brooklyn lawsuit last month.
In a statement, city DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said: “This project has clearly delivered the benefits the community asked for. Speeding is down dramatically, crashes are down, injuries are down and bike ridership has doubled on weekends and tripled on weekdays.”
DOT data has found crashes involving injuries are down 63%, speeding is down from 75% of cars to 20%, and cycling on the sidewalk down 80%. Solomonow said there has been no change in traffic volumes or travel times.
In legal papers, opponents of the bike lane suggest that data did not adequately sample crashes, and that the time period it reflects was chosen arbitrarily. They say that if the city had looked only at data immediately prior to bike lane installation, it would have shown the bike lane did not increase safety.
City Councilman Brad Lander, who represents much of the district, disputes that.
"Most neighborhood residents feel that Prospect Park West is now a calmer, safer street," said Lander. “The data shows that accidents, injuries, riding on the sidewalk, and speeding are all down. The DOT is proposing additional modifications – many suggested by community members – that will make PPW even safer. I hope that the lawsuit does not put these additional safety improvements at risk. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I believe this lawsuit disregards the opinions and jeopardizes the safety of the community."
A survey Lander did of 3000 residents found three quarters support the bike lane. Opponents said the survey is flawed.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011
More analysis later, but the US DOT tells us:
WASHINGTON – Americans drove three trillion miles in 2010, the most vehicle miles traveled since 2007 and the third-highest ever recorded, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today. The increase in traffic volume comes as the U.S. in 2009 posted its lowest number of traffic fatalities and injuries since 1950.
“More driving means more wear and tear on our nation's roads and bridges,” said Secretary LaHood. “This new data further demonstrates why we need to repair the roads and bridges that are the lifeblood of our economy."
The Secretary noted that Americans drove 0.7 percent more, or 20.5 billion additional vehicle miles traveled (VMT), in 2010 than the previous year. Travel increased by 0.6 percent, or 1.4 billion VMT, in December 2010 compared to the previous December. It is the tenth consecutive month of increased driving.
The new data, from the Federal Highway Administration’s monthly “Traffic Volume Trends” report, show the South Gulf area, a bloc of eight states ranging from Texas to Kentucky, experienced the greatest regional increase in December 2010 at 46.6 billion VMT, an increase of 624 million miles traveled compared to the previous December.
With an increase of 11.1 percent, or 156 million additional miles traveled, Nebraska led the nation with the largest single-state increase that month, and rural driving outpaced urban driving across the country.
"These data are critical to identifying and evaluating patterns of use on America’s road system, which help us to make decisions about investments in critical infrastructure,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “Repairing our nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels will help us ensure safety, strengthen the economy and build for the future.”
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
(New York, NY -- Bob Hennelly, WNYC) As we've reported, the idea of using an infrastructure bank to fund big projects is gaining steam. The most recent evidence was in the President's budget, released last month. But questions about where the tens of billions of seed money would come from remain unanswered.
Now Andy Stern, a Senior Fellow at Georgetown Public Policy Institute and the former president of the Service Employees International Union, has a possible solution. He thinks it’s wise to induce US multi-nationals to repatriate some of their foreign profits with a tax holiday. Because none of that money is getting taxed now, he said the tax rate could even be lowered to a minimum rate of 5.25 percent on overseas profits, well below the current 35 percent. He wants that new revenue to be put to work here in the United States re-building the nation's aging and dysfunctional infrastructure.
"It could be more than that — but the minimum should be at least 5.25 percent," Stern said in a telephone interview. "That would generate at least $40 to 50 billion dollars for opening equity in an infrastructure bank. That in turn could be additionally leveraged into $500 billion."
Monday, February 28, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Our sister site, It's a Free Country, just posted a video of President Obama speaking to the National Governor's Association today. (Obama starts 27:27 in, infrastructure comments about 39 minutes in.) His remarks are the first time the President has directly addressed infrastructure since Governor Rick Scott of Florida said he'd kill the high speed rail project there. (Scott is now considering reversing his decision.)
President Obama said:
"I know in some of your states, infrastructure projects have garnered controversy, and sometimes they've gotten caught up in partisan politics. This hasn't traditionally been a partisan issue. Lincoln laid the rails during the course of a civil war. Eisenhower built the interstate highway system. Both parties have always believed that America should have the best of everything. We don't have third-rate airports, third-rate bridges and third-rate highways. That's not who we are. We shouldn't start going down that path. New companies are going to seek out the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods and information, whether they're in Chicago or they're in Shanghai, and I want them to be here in the United States."
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
At least something is going right for Ray LaHood...
US DOT released the following today:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Statement on High-Speed Rail Agreement in Washington State
Washington, DC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood issued the following statement today:
“President Obama's historic investments in a national high-speed rail network will enable America to win the future by creating construction and manufacturing jobs today and laying the foundation for future economic growth. By building safe, reliable and energy-efficient passenger rail corridors we will be able to help small businesses thrive and move people and goods more quickly than ever before. I am thrilled to congratulate the State of Washington, BNSF, and Amtrak for their contributions to the agreement signed today by the Federal Railroad Administration and Washington DOT that will make $590 million available for work to begin on significant improvements to the popular Cascades corridor, which connects Eugene, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Thanks to the hard work, dedication, and flexibility of all parties involved in the negotiations, this agreement will immediately put Washingtonians to work in good paying jobs, significantly improve rail service for commuters and travelers, and preserve the world-class freight rail system America has today.”
Additional background on the agreement:
As part of the President’s long-term vision to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail in the next 25 years, this initial $590 million in funding for high-speed and intercity passenger rail will create more than 6,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Washington region. And thanks to the performance standards included in this agreement, travelers will benefit from two additional daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland, a 10 minute reduction in travel time, and reliability improvements of up to 88%. With the signing of this agreement, 5 of the 6 high-speed rail corridors that require coordination with freight railroads now have a signed agreement in place. The Department of Transportation will build on this momentum to realize President Obama’s vision of a national high-speed rail system that will allow American workers to out-build, out-innovate, and out-compete the rest of the world.
BREAKING: The Undead? LaHood Says FL Governor Scott Asked for, Was Granted, Another Week on High Speed Rail
Friday, February 25, 2011
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Statement on High-Speed Rail in Florida
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today issued the following statement on high-speed rail in Florida:
“This morning I met with Governor Rick Scott to discuss the high speed rail project that will create jobs and economic development for the entire state of Florida. He asked me for additional information about the state’s role in this project, the responsibilities of the Florida Department of Transportation, as well as how the state would be protected from liability. I have decided to give Governor Scott additional time to review the agreement crafted by local officials from Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland and Miami, and to consult with his staff at the state Department of Transportation. He has committed to making a final decision by the end of next week. I feel we owe it to the people of Florida, who have been working to bring high speed rail to their state for the last 20 years, to go the extra mile.”
Here's Senator Bill Nelson's comment:
"I am grateful the governor has agreed to receive the facts on how the state will have no financial responsibility in high-speed rail. I’m especially grateful to Secretary [ Ray ] LaHood for giving Florida at least one more week before our money goes to another state. Hopefully, this will be enough time for people of good intentions to put Florida’s interests first. There is too much at stake for us not to try everything we can. ”
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Friday, February 25, 2011
This just in from Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown:
THE HONORABLE CORRINE BROWN
THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 25th, 2011
Congresswoman Brown: Rick Scott Puts Florida Jobs on High Speed Train to California
(Washington, DC) Congresswoman Brown delivered the following statement:
"Today is a very sad day for the state of Florida. As the Ranking Member of the House Railroad subcommittee, I am more than disappointed in the Florida's governor's decision to return $2.4 billion in funding for a high speed rail system. Just yesterday, Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica and I attended a previously scheduled listening tour to obtain input from Americans nationwide on the upcoming six year Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill. The hearing, which was jointly held with Senator Barbara Boxer and attended by several Members of the California congressional delegation, was widely attended and attracted a great deal of interest in the Los Angeles area. Sadly, I must admit that many of the California delegation members thanked Congressman Mica and me profusely for the high speed rail money Florida Governor Scott is about to hand over to their state. It was extremely painful for me to hear these types of remarks, as well as to physically be, ironically, in California at the same time our governor is working hard to give away over $2 billion in high speed rail funding destined for our state.
Unfortunately, Florida's governor is much more interested in politics than in creating jobs or improving the transportation system for Florida residents. And his decision will not do anything to bring down Florida's 12% unemployment rate.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Transit systems in New York, Chicago, and many other cities were designed a hundred years ago to get people in and out of downtowns, where most of the employment was. A new report from the Center for and Urban Future in New York suggests that's outdated, and that many people now live and work in the boroughs outside Manhattan. Click here for Brian Lehrer's interview with study author David Giles.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) UPDATED WITH US DOT COMMENTS: Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott is sticking to his decision to kill the Tampa to Orlando high speed rail.
Scott's decision is a major setback to President Obama's goal, put forward in his state of the union, to link eighty percent of Americans to high speed rail within 25 years.
In an unusually sharply worded statement, U.S. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Olivia Alair said “The U.S. Department of Transportation has addressed every legitimate concern Governor Scott has raised with respect to plans to connect Florida through high-speed rail. We have repeatedly and clearly told Governor Scott and his staff that Florida would not bear financial or legal liabilities for the project, and that there is strong private sector interest in taking on the risk associated with building and operating high-speed rail in the state.”
Last week Scott abruptly announced he would be pulling the plug on the $2.7 billion rail line, the first true high speed rail in the U.S. The Tampa to Orlando line, which was also to stop at Disney World, was to have been complete in just four years -- by 2015. Scott said Florida's $280 million investment carried too much risk, and that he would return $2.4 billion to the federal government.
But a day after Scott's decision,
Thursday, February 24, 2011
For the second time in four months, a governor is returning billions of dollars to the federal government for a major infrastructure project. Like Governor Chris Christie before him, Florida Governor Rick Scott is sticking to his decision to kill the Tampa-to-Orlando high speed rail, the Mayor of Tampa said.