Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

Emanuel's Transition Report: More Bikes, BRT, Transit, Safety

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel is out with his transition report, and it's got lots to dig into for transpo addicts:  proposals for more street safety (p 29), where pedestrian safety actually comes before street patrols (p 30), for a "world-class" bike network (p 37), more high quality public space (p 40),  and, under a section called "OUR GROWTH,"  calls to "improve and expand Chicago's transit system...develop bus rapid transit, support transit-oriented development" and " accelerate infrastructure projects that are critical to regional growth."

What do you think?

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Schumer Caught on Tape: Xanadu Mall Money Should Have Gone to ARC

Monday, May 09, 2011

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (left) and Senators Charles Schumer and Frank Lautenberg (far right) (Photo: Jim O'Grady/WNYC)

WNYC's Jim O'Grady caught this exchange on tape this morning as pols were gathering at Ray LaHood's high speed rail presser at New York's Penn Station -- (Transportation Nation)

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, NYC MTA Chair Jay Walder, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chief Chris Ward, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

Schumer: Hey, good to see you!  Mr. Walder, Mr. Secretary, how are you? Chris!

Ward: Senator!

Schumer: How we doing on the, um, Xanadu? I'm very interested in seeing (inaudible) teasing her, and I said the money should have gone to the ARC.

[Schumer was referring to NJ Governor Chris Christie's decision last week to put hundreds of million of dollars of public funding behind a private mall project -- after killing a $9 billion transit tunnel under the Hudson last fall.]

Lautenberg: Yeah well, there wasn't --

Schumer: Didn't they put state money into Xanadu?

Lautenberg:  No. (Inaudible) We're doing good and we're on a mic, so I, uh -- do not feel free to express yourself.  Our Governor is not here, I take it.

Schumer: No.

[The funding is, strictly speaking, Tax Increment Financing,  or TIF meaning sales tax revenue goes straight to finance the project. So it's accurate to say its not state funding -- on the other hand, sales tax would ordinarily go to funding all of a state's needs, just not necessarily building a private mall.]

Lautenberg: He was not invited. (Inaudible) That's why I shut the microphone down.

Lautenberg: [To LaHood, a former Republican Congress member from Peoria] You -- you're the best thing that happened. First of all -- when they said it was going to be a Republican taking this job, I thought we had a Democrat who later on thought he was a Republican.

Schumer: No, he gets along with everybody. You know who pushed for him? Rahm Emanuel.

LaHood: He did. Are we ready?

[Schumer was also recently caught chatting with aides before a conference call -- the New York Times story on that is here.]

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46 Commercial Drivers Hit in NY Safety Dragnet

Monday, May 09, 2011

From NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's Office:

"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that 46 commercial drivers, including bus drivers, have been arrested in and around New York City for fraudulently obtaining multiple driver licenses using an alias. The arrests, made possible through the state's use of facial recognition technology, were part of the Governor's ongoing crackdown on bus safety that began March 17.

"The investigation and arrests, using facial recognition technology by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), were conducted by the DMV's Division of Field Investigations, the New York City Police Department Document Fraud Squad, the New York State Division of State Police, the United States Department of State Passport Unit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Social Security Administration in cooperation with the offices of the District Attorneys in Queens, Kings, Westchester, New York, Rockland, Nassau and Bronx counties.

"Among those arrested, several were listed as "active" bus drivers, including four who are employed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Several of those arrested also had a high number of unanswered traffic tickets and others have open felony warrants, including deportation detainers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Also, 19 of those arrested have or had licenses to drive taxi cabs."

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US DOT Announces $2 Billion for High Speed Rail

Monday, May 09, 2011

Here are the details from the U.S. DOT on the Florida money, and where it's going.  More soon.

"U. S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $2 Billion for High-Speed Intercity Rail Projects to Grow Jobs, Boost U.S. Manufacturing and Transform Travel in America Unprecedented Investment in the Northeast Corridor, Expanded Service in the Midwest and New, State-of-the-Art Rail Equipment Top List of Rail Dollar Recipients

"WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $2 billion in high-speed rail awards providing an unprecedented investment to speed up trains in the Northeast Corridor, expand service in the Midwest and provide new, state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars as part of the Administration’s plan to transform travel in America.

"Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications, competing to be part of an historic investment that will create tens of thousands of jobs, improve mobility and stimulate American manufacturing.

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"Earlier this year, President Obama and I made a commitment to improve and expand America's transportation system, including the development of a modern, national high-speed rail network," said Vice President Biden. "And today, we’re announcing investments that will continue our progress toward making this vision a reality.  These projects will put thousands of Americans to work, save hundreds of thousands of hours for American travelers every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in next-generation, American-made locomotives and railcars."

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Big LaHood Annoucement on High Speed Rail

Friday, May 06, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is making a "major announcement" on high-speed rail on Monday in New York and Detroit, according to an advisory his office sent out today.  He'll be in NY's Penn Station and Detroit Station later in the day.

Yesterday, he told Transportation Nation on a conference call he'd be announcing where the $2.4 billion in money from the Florida project would be going.

Illinois officials have already announced they'll be getting some of the money.   New York, California, and Michigan, are among 24 states applying for the funds, as are Amtrak and Washington, DC.

New York's Mayor, Michael Blooomberg, has been pushing for funds for a Northeast Corridor High Speed Rail project.

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NEWS ANALYSIS: Obama Connects the Dots: from bin Laden to Hybrid Transmissions

Friday, May 06, 2011

President Obama Announces Death of Osama bin Laden (White House Photo)

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  If anyone doesn't quite see the links between international terrorism and more fuel-efficient transportation, the President is making it for them. He caps the week that begin Sunday night with a dramatic White House announcement that Osama bin Laden had been found and shot dead -- at a hybrid transmission plan in Indiana (streaming here, full text here).

Now, if you were a fan of the West Wing tv show, as I was, you know a President's day can have all kinds of randomly juxtaposed events (school children perform at the White House, Secretary of State comes by for a meeting, there's a dinner with broccoli producers), mostly a function of scheduling.

But in a week where the White House is obviously paying close attention to optics -- from the purposeful stride down to the podium in the East Wing Sunday night to a somber wreath-laying at Ground Zero to a photograph of the buzz-cut 10-year old Christopher Cannizzaro of Staten Island, N.Y, whose firefighter father died on 9/11, that looks like it walked right off a Norman  Rockwell print -- it's hard to just chalk up the Indy visit as random.

As the pool report just put it, "on our way to Allison transmission, we came across a gas station displaying $4.17 a gallon. Another down the road advertised $4.14.
A few dozen gawkers dotted the streets, some of them waving US flags and others signs "I stand with planned parenthood".  Factory in sight at 11:40.

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Just How Do Livery Cabs Make Money?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

NYC Livery Cab (Photo: Ilya Marritz/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- Ilya Marritz, WNYC) It's a quirky New York phenomenon -- there's the yellow cab world, which (unlike many cities around the world) can be hailed on the street most places in Manhattan and in small pockets of the outer boroughs, like Brooklyn Heights, a tony neighborhood just across the Brooklyn Bridge.

But then there's the world of livery cabs -- on call services, patronized by many New Yorkers who are too poor (or can't be bothered) to own a car.  New York has the lowest car ownership rates of any large city in the country.

And livery cabs tend to be run by groups of aspiring immigrants, many of them from South or Central America.

But when it comes to catching a cab, New Yorkers living outside of Manhattan often have a tough time. This year, New York Mayor  City Bloomberg proposed to allow car services, also known as liveries, to make curbside pickups. But there’s a catch – they’d have to install meters.

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Montgomery County, Maryland, Gets Closer to Having a True BRT System

Thursday, May 05, 2011

(Montgomery County, MD -- Matt Bush, WAMU)  Council members in Montgomery County, Md., received an update on plans to build Bus Rapid Transit lines in the county this week. The price tag for the plan is high, but at least one County Council member says it must be built because Montgomery County is losing the transit battle with its neighbors.

Bus Rapid Transit: 'Not Your Father's Bus' On Randolph Road, the Bus Rapid Transit route would go from the White Flint Metrorail station to the Glenmont Metrorail station. Courtesy of: Matt Bush View more images from this gallery.

The proposed bus lines aren't the traditional routes you see now. They would be rapid buses that would use county roads but have their own lanes, so stopping because of traffic would be minimal.

And the buses look different too. They're low to the ground, resembling something that looks more like a rail car, according to Michael Flood, with the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

"It's not your father's bus. It's not the bus many of us have known. It's a sleek vehicle," he says.

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LaHood to Announce Bus Safety Measures

Thursday, May 05, 2011

From the AP.  We'll have more later:

WASHINGTON (AP) - It would be harder for tour bus companies to win permission to operate and easier for the government to put rogue operators out of business under a series of bus safety steps announced Thursday by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Other proposals announced by LaHood would make it easier for the government to take away bus drivers' commercial licenses if they violate drug and alcohol laws while operating a vehicle other than a bus or if they fail to pay fines.

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Gridlock Alert: President Obama Comes To Ground Zero

Thursday, May 05, 2011

President Obama Comforts Family Members of 9/11 Victims on the The Attacks' Ninth Anniversary, in September 2010 (White House Photo)

As President Obama visits the still not-quite finished World Trade Center memorial to lay a wreath today to honor those killed in the 9/11 attacks days after the attacks' mastermind was shot and killed, most of Lower Manhattan will become a frozen zone.  Most roads in Lower Manhattan  will be closed and PATH trains to the World Trade Center Station will be halted today around midday -- but otherwise, mass transit will be the only way to get around.

The  Daily New's Gridlock Sam advises:

President Obama heads to New York City on Thursday for a four-to-five hour visit.

The President is scheduled to land at Kennedy Airport about 10:30 a.m. Thursday before taking a chopper to Wall St. About 11 a.m., the President will most likely motorcade up the FDR Drive, take the 42nd St. exit and visit with firefighters between Seventh and Eighth Aves. in the 50s. Gridlock Sam will keep you abreast of any route changes at www.twitter.com/GridlockSam.

After the firehouse, Obama will head downtown and lay a wreath at Ground Zero about 1:30 p.m. This means he will backtrack down the FDR, probably through the Battery Park Underpass and up West St. to the World Trade Center site. He'll also visit with 9/11 families before heading back to Kennedy Airport about 3 p.m.

Here are the freezes drivers face as the presidential motorcade zips around town:

- The FDR Drive below 63rd St. between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

- All avenues from Eighth to the FDR between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

- Northbound West St. below Chambers St. and the Battery Park Underpass between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

- Church St. between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

- The northbound FDR below Pearl St. between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

- Heavy delays at the Battery Tunnel and Brooklyn Bridge.

The World Trade Center PATH station will also be closed between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, and the M5 along with some express buses will be delayed and/or diverted

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New U.S. Statistics: 4th Quarter Airfare Up 5.2 percent, Newark Has Highest Fares

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


The US DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics release is just out:

"Average domestic air fares rose to $337 in the fourth quarter of 2010, up 5.2 percent from the average fare of $320 in the fourth quarter of 2009 (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. Newark-Liberty, NJ, had the highest average fare, $461, while Atlantic City, NJ, had the lowest, $156.

"Fourth-quarter fares decreased 0.9 percent from the third quarter, the second consecutive quarterly decline after four increases.

"BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reports average fares based on domestic itinerary fares, round-trip or one-way for which no return is purchased. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares” or a few abnormally high reported fares.

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First-Person Dispatch: Old Enough to Read All About It

Monday, May 02, 2011

On September 11, 2001, I was two months pregnant. 

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After Bin Laden Death, New Yorkers Go to Work as Usual

Monday, May 02, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  On September 12th, 2001, New Yorkers tried to go to work.   Since so many subway lines were disrupted, that often meant taking routes WAY out of the way, and miles and miles of walking.    But, accustomed to getting around obstacles, New Yorkers shrugged and tried anyway. What else could we do?

When, a few days later, the city began offering a ferry service from Brooklyn to replace the lost subways, those ferries were packed.  I rode the first one over into Manhattan, tilting my head from side to side, trying to comprehend the Lower Manhattan skyline without the twin towers.

Later that fall, when the U.S. declared war on the Taliban, Mayor Rudy Giuliani encouraged everyone to go out, go to work, "go see "Proof" -- referring to a popular Broadway show.    The streets were packed that day, a gorgeous October Sunday,  even though New York City was more or less on red alert.

After the London Underground was bombed in July 2005, I was posted at Grand Central station.   Commuters were taken aback that I would even ask if they'd thought twice about going to work.   "What else would I do, stop my life?" was the general sentiment.   (And "No" was the answer.)

Today was no different.  Osama bin Laden was shot and killed, the government is on high alert for retaliation, and we are going to work.

WNYC's Jim O'Grady has been at Grand Central Station.  He writes:

"Checked every train, bus and light rail line on NJ Transit website and found no current delays. Boards at Grand Central still reporting good service, as is the MTA website, but for a train delayed on the Ronkonkoma line due to medical emergency.

"In a sign of normalcy, a man billing himself as Galdort Gumbo is playing a Yamaha piano in the lower concourse and singing emo versions of Billy Joel, James Taylor and "Easy" by Lionel Ritchie. America endures."

WNYC's Ailsa Chang was reporting from Times Square.  She noted any obvious increased police presence as "very minimal.  Times Square looked only slightly more policed today, but I think I only noticed because I was trying to look for police cars."

One WNYC staffer's husband said the car commute through the Lincoln Tunnel was faster than usual, but so far, most other reports are that this was a normal morning commute, and MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin says the Authority didn't note any drop in ridership.

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Space Shuttle Launch Postponed Because of "Technical Problem"

Friday, April 29, 2011

From the AP:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA says it's calling off today's launch of space shuttle Endeavour because of a technical problem. The shuttle was fueled and ready to go on its final mission. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords traveled to Florida to see the liftoff of a mission on which her husband will serve as commander.

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Governor Christie Giving Hundreds of Millions in NJ $$ to Failed Mall Project

Friday, April 29, 2011

Rendering of the now renamed -- and re-funded -- "Xanadu" mail

Our colleague Bob Hennelly over at WNYC has a story reporting that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who killed an already-in-progress $9 billion transit tunnel under the Hudson River, citing fears of cost overruns, is poised to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in New Jersey funds on a thus far failed mall project.

Also don't miss Bob's terrific, earlier investigative report (also here, co-reported with Michael Grabell of ProPublica) on the so-called "Xanadu" project, documenting how the Port Authority's Board (many of whom had links to the project) approved $200 million for a rail link to the mall.   But as Bob reports, planners expect that most people will still drive to the mall, which will have an energy-guzzling year-round indoor ski-slope, among other services.  That is, if it's completed -- the project has so far stymied four governors and more developers than you can count.

Bob writes of the current developments:

"The Christie Administration is in the final stages of closing a deal with a new developer to revive the moribund Xanadu retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands.

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Royal Wedding: How The Bride and Groom Were Transported There

Friday, April 29, 2011

In case you missed our post yesterday:

(Okay, we're hooked too!)

[The Princess] traveled "in a Rolls Royce Phantom VI, accompanied by her father. The Rolls Royce was presented to The Queen in 1978 for her Silver Jubilee by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders."

Prince William will ride in state Bentley (by S. Foskett via Wikimedia Commons)

"Prince William rode in a Bentley, accompanied by Prince Harry. The State Bentleys have been uniquely designed enabling greater use to be made of the vehicle’s interior space. The Bentleys are 6.22 metres long and, at 3.84 meters, their wheelbase is 1.3 metres longer than that of an average family sized saloon.

State cars are painted in Royal claret livery. The Rolls-Royces and Bentleys do not have registration number plates, since they are State vehicles. On processional occasions, the State cars travel at around nine miles per hour, and sometimes as slow as three miles per hour."

More information about all things Royal Wedding -- including the breeds of horses used in the procession, as well as mention of the Glass Coach -- can be found at the official wedding website.

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NY's East Side may get Bike Lanes to 57th Street -- A Diminished Plan

Thursday, April 28, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Once, NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan spoke with elation of a planned protected bikeway all the way from New York's Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan up to Harlem.  "With this one project alone which will go from lower Manhattan all the way to 125street  on First and Second Avenues, we will be putting in 160 blocks of protected bike lanes which will nearly double the citywide total in just one year," she told  WNYC's Brian Lehrer.

But first Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith -- maybe -- put the kibosh on the plan (listen to the audio and judge for yourself) above 34th street.  The official word was there wasn't time to build the lanes in 2010 because of construction schedules.  Then, later in the year, the commissioner cast doubt on whether the protected lanes would be extended in 2011.

Now comes a plan from NYC with protected bike lanes for another 15 blocks on First Avenue, and then so-called "shared bike lanes" -- not segregated from traffic, up to the East 50s.  The diminished plan comes amidst protest by a loud but significant and influential minority of New Yorkers (polls show about a third don't like the miles of  lanes installed by the city) including editorializing against the lanes in the city's boisterous tabloids, The New York Post and The New York Daily News, and a lawsuit backed by the the former city transportation director, now a private citizen living along one of the lanes (and her husband, the U.S. Senator, Charles Schumer.)

Commissioner Sadik-Khan once said the protected bike lanes were a necessary precondition for bike share in New York City, but the city is moving ahead with a bike share plan for some 10,000 bikes for 2012.

The new plan is being circulated for comment among community groups, and was first unveiled last night.  (Hat tip: Streetsblog.)

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NYC Cabbies: Economics at Root of Outer-Borough Refusals

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A taxi driver gives change to a customer on 7th Avenue at Penn Station. (Getty Images)

(New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) Complaints about taxi drivers refusing to take passengers to their desired destinations have increased by more than a third over the last year.  So the city is moving ahead with a plan to increase fines and penalties. Officials hope expensive tickets and the risk of suspended, or even a revoked license will stop drivers from saying "no" to customers.  Drivers say that while there are many reasons why they decline a trip--most agree, the overall problem is essentially a financial one.

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"Refusals stick in the craw of a lot of New Yorkers," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky. "It may be a small issue in terms of dollars and cents compared to other things, but it's a big issue in terms of how it feels."

It's not as if drivers loathe going to the outer boroughs — most live there. But to be successful, drivers said they have to focus on volume and not distance.    For the rest of the story, click here.

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Taxis of Tomorrow To Be Built in Brooklyn?

Monday, April 25, 2011

(New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) One of the the three auto maker finalists in the running to be the taxi-provider for the next decade in New York City  is stepping up the competition by vowing to build the cars in Brooklyn if selected.  New York is currently holding a competition to replace the iconic Ford Crowne Victoria, which in turn replaced the iconic checker cab.

The Turkish automaker Karsan has informed New York city officials that they'd outfit a 250, 000 square foot space at the south Brooklyn marine terminal to produce thousands of vehicles if they're selected to be the "Taxi of Tomorrow" manufacturer.

Karsan USA President Bill Wachtel [WACT-tell] says since they're planning to partner with [the American company] Chrysler for the engines, transmissions and gear boxes, it's actually a better to assemble the vehicles here.

"It makes far more sense for us to build the car in Brooklyn than it does to send all these U.S. components to Turkey and ship it back," Karsan USA President Bill Wachtel says.  he says his proposal includes a partnership with Chrysler to build engines, transmissions, and gear boxes for the taxis.

Wachtel says the project could provide 2-300 local jobs at the outset.

The other competitors in the Taxi of Tomorrow project --Ford and Nissan are staying tight lipped about Karsan's proposal but a spokesman for the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission says the agency in the process of evaluating the 3 proposals from their finalists.

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Are Transportation Apps in the Zeitgeist?

Monday, April 25, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Transportation information is knowable -- though not always to a centralized authority.    But the proliferation of both smart phones and social media means regular folks can tell each other when the bus is come as quickly as...well...they can tell you there's a revolution underway in the Middle East.  Will Roadify and other apps revolutionize the way we get around?   I take a deeper look, on Marketplace Money.

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