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Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

NYC To Expand Broadway Ped Plazas Tomorrow

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) New York City's streetscape shifts again tomorrow, with Broadway north of Union Square getting pedestrian plazas and bike lanes, the NYC DOT announces today.

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Election report: Give us Transportation, Just Don't Make Us Pay for It

Monday, September 20, 2010

(Wilkes-Barre, PA -- Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)How’s President Obama’s plan to spend $50 billion on infrastructure selling?Judging by my interaction with musician Debbie Horoschock in Luzerne County, PA last week, not too well.

“It should all be fixed,” she told me, of the president’s proposal to spend money fixing rail, roads, and airports.So she thinks that would be a good thing to spend money on?“No.But they should be fixed.”How are they going to be fixed without money? “I don't know how they are going to be fixed without money. But we need money to fix the damn roads.”

Horuschock, who had long black hair and plays in a polka band, was out shopping on a Thursday afternoon in the Wilkes-Barre farmers market (by the way, when you get out of major cities, farmers markets are a good cheap place to get vegetables, not lightening rods for the young and well-to-do.)In 2008, like the majority of this hardscrabble county, she voted for Obama for President.But everyone she knows is out of work (this area has the highest unemployment in the state), and there’s just no money to pay for anything.

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Christie Casts Further Doubt on Transit Tunnel

Monday, September 20, 2010

(WNYC News) One week into a 30-day review a new transit tunnel connecting New Jersey to Manhattan, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he's not confident that the project will come in under the budget of 8.7 billion dollars.

"I've seen estimates that take this from 2 to 5 billion over budget. Where am I going to get this money? I don't have an answer to that. So I want to know exactly what I'm biting off before I take another bite and start chewing.]

Speaking on WOR this morning, Christie suggested that the federal government should consider stepping up with more money.

NJ Transit and the Port Authority are each contributing 3 billion dollars to the project, which is among the largest stimulus-funded initiatives in the country -- about another $1 billion.

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LaHood: Distracted Driving Caused 5500 deaths in 2009

Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing in the Orlando Sentinal, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood writes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports at least 5500 deaths and 450,000 injuries in 2009 from calling or texting while driving. At least, because many local police departments still don't record this information when taking accident reports. Texting while driving, LaHood writes, is like driving "the length of a football field blindfolded."

Ending distracted driving has become a cause celebre for LaHood. Tomorrow he'll convene his second annual distracted driving summit in DC.

-- Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation

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Pennsylvania Voters Talk Midterm Elections

Monday, September 20, 2010

President Obama is in Pennsylvania today, campaigning for Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak.  

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Top of the Hour: Getting the Pulse of Voters in Pennsylvania, Morning Headlines

Monday, September 20, 2010

Two years ago, WNYC's Andrea Bernstein visited Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to find out what was on the mind of voters leading up to the presidential election. Now Bernstein returns to Wilkes-Barre to see what voters want heading into the November midterms.

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Pennsylvania Voters: Depression Where Obama Inspired Hope Two Years Ago

Monday, September 20, 2010

WNYC

Depressed. That certainly describes Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, a former coal-area that now, as one local once explained it to me, “scratches to get by. Where I’ll sell you pizza, if you buy my tires.” But it also describes the mood of the voters, who, less than two years after “Yes, We Can” swept the nation, pretty much believe, “No, We Can’t.”

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Pennsylvania Voters: Depression Where Obama Inspired Hope Two Years Ago

Monday, September 20, 2010

Depressed. That certainly describes Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, a former coal-area that now, as one local once explained it to me, “scratches to get by. Where I’ll sell you pizza, if you buy my tires.” But it also describes the mood of the voters, who, less than two years after “Yes, We Can” swept the nation, pretty much believe, “No, We Can’t.”

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Private Commuter Vans Come to Discontinued Bus Routes

Sunday, September 19, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Five bus routes that were cut last June will get private commuter vans beginning Monday. Three of the routes (the B71, B23, and B39) are in Brooklyn and two Q74 and Q79) in Queens. The private commuter vans are a bit of a gambit for the New York City Taxi and Limosine Commission, which is trying to fill part of the hole left by the bus cuts. So called "dollar vans" --which will actually cost $2 (no metrocards accepted) are privately run, and will pick up passengers at some of the cut bus stops -- and drop off anywhere along the routes. They'll help knit together some communities which otherwise can't be traversed with public transportation, or that aren't served by subways.

The NYC Transport Workers Union had initially opposed the vans, then said it would run it's own, then dropped the idea.

Dollar vans are popular in parts of the Caribbean and in third world locales that don't have public transportation.

More, and a map, from WNYC.

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Digesting Politics: New York's Post-Primary Political Landscape

Friday, September 17, 2010

WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, Andrea Bernstein, Bob Hennelly and Azi Paybarah discuss New York's volatile political landscape now that political novice Carl Paladino, a salty, self-identified Tea Party candidate, clinched the Republican nomination for governor in this week’s primary, leaving his moderate Republican rival Rick Lazio at the top of the Conservative Party ticket.

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Tornado-ed Car

Friday, September 17, 2010

(Park Slope, Brooklyn -- Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)

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Democrats for Paladino?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rick Lazio was a tough sell among New York Democrats, who never forgot his menacing approach to Hillary Clinton ten years ago in their debate for U.S. Senate. But just like Carl Paladino became a blank slate for Tea Partiers and Republicans who were frustrated with the establishment, so too can he become a palimpest for Democrats looking for an alternative to Cuomo, who wrapped up the nomination with virtually no discussion.

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Christie Owns His Role in Halting Giant Transit Tunnel; Planners Dismayed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) "People who use New Jersey Transit have to pay for New Jersey Transit." That's what Governor Chris Christie told the Star-Ledger Editorial Board last spring. NJ Transit fares hadn't been raised in years, he argued, and that wasn't responsible. But neither, a member of the board pointed out, had the gas tax. In fact, the fare had been raised three years earlier -- the gas tax, not in 21 years. "What's the difference between a gas tax hike and a fare hike -- besides who it lands on?" asked another of the journalists.

"That's the difference," Christie said. "My policy choice is that drivers have paid increased tolls two years in the last four years and I didn't think it was their turn to feel the pain." (The Tri-State Transportation Campaign fact-checks that -- they say it's actually been one raise, in seven years.)

Christie seems to making a similar policy choice today: with the highway trust fund broke, and no money to pay for roads, Christie says he's reluctant to use state funds to pay for a transit tunnel. Not when there are so many other pressing infrastructure needs. "And if I can’t pay for it, then we’ll have to consider other options," he told reporters.

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Transcript: Primary Night Live Chat

Monday, September 13, 2010

NYC To Begin Hearings on Fare Hikes

Monday, September 13, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Seems like New Yorkers have hardly gotten over the jolt of dozens of bus line cuts, service reductions, and more crowded and dirtier trains, but here it is already. Tonight the NYC MTA begins hearings on a round of proposed fare hikes that would both raise and limit the use of "unlimited" cards and make other unsavory upward adjustments.

But a coalition of groups is trying to shift the focus from the MTA to the State Legislature.

"Unless the State Legislature makes funding the transit system a real priority," the groups (Straphangers, TriState Transportation Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, and the Pratt Center) say in a statement "subway and bus riders will continue to face a world of hurt – from soaring fares to cuts in service to more unreliable trains and buses to a crumbling system."

The groups also want MTA Chair Jay Walder to release the authority's underlying data on usage of the various MTA discounts -- a test for the historically secretive agency which has pledged a new era of transparency.

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Houston Voters Back Red Light Cameras

Monday, September 13, 2010

Red light cameras have emerged as a hot button issue this election season. The cameras -- posted at intersections and designed to enforce traffic laws -- perfectly embody this election season's tensions. Proponents say they encourage safer driving, saving lives. But opponents find them intrusive and feel enraged by the fees and fines a red light camera sets off.

In Ohio, Republican Matt Brakey has gained traction by protesting the cameras.

So it's interesting find that Houston -- where drivers have an average 40 mile-commute to work, the nation's longest -- actually likes red light cameras. A 11-News/KUHF survey finds by a 11-point margin -- with just four percent undecided, Houstonians from all walks of life -- Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal -- like red light cameras.

"This is a big departure from what we’ve seen in other parts of the country, particularly just up the road in College Station, where this went up in defeat,” Prof. Bob Stein, 11 News’ political analyst, tells the station's news team.

Why is that, Houstonians? (-Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)

Full story here.

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NJ Sierra Club Thrilled Over Hudson Tunnel Moratorium

Monday, September 13, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) This just in from the Sierra Club on the ARC Tunnel:

Stopping a Runaway Train

The Sierra Club is pleased that New Jersey Transit’s Access to the Region’s Core project (ARC) has been halted. This month long hold on the project is the right course of action. This multi-billion dollar tunnel is like a runaway train that’s on track to go at least a billion dollars over budget.

This time out should be used to allow the different agencies responsible for our transit needs to get together and come up with a comprehensive transportation plan for the region that will actually work. This is important because Amtrak has decided to build its own tunnel due to the fact that the ARC tunnel does not meet any of its needs. The New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund is broke and no money is available for cost overruns. That should be incentive for New Jersey Transit to work with Amtrak to fit the ARC Tunnel in with the Amtrak Capital Plan.

The Sierra Cub thanks the Christie Administration for temporarily stopping this project. We believe this break will allow us to look at the real costs of the project, fix it so it better meets the needs of the people, and save taxpayers money.

“This time out is important for the transportation needs of the region because we can come up with a comprehensive transportation plan that works and that will save the taxpayers of New Jersey money,” New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

In a phone conversation, Tittel tells me that his group is in favor of a transit tunnel, but feels the current plan to have the tunnel terminate a long block away from the Amtrak station is ill-advised, and that it will undermine NJ Transit's ability to lure more passengers or to run through trains from Long Island to New Jersey.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a group generally in synch with the Sierra Club on environmental issues, says it's baffled by Tittel's opposition. "By getting more people out of their cars and into automobiles, this project will help the environment," spokeswoman Veronica Vanterpool says. "We wish they were for it."

The rest of the Sierra Club's release after the jump.

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Why Was the Trans-Hudson River Tunnel Halted?

Monday, September 13, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) When the Newark Star Ledger reported yesterday that NJ Transit would be suspending activity on the so-called ARC tunnel (which stands for "access to the region's core") under the Hudson river, planners sat up in alarm.

The tunnel will allow NJ transit trains to effectively double their capacity into Manhattan, making transit an option for tens of thousands of NJ drivers, and bringing a steady stream of workers to midtown Manhattan ( Thirty Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue, to be precise). There, they'll be able to take the 34th Street bus rapid transit, planned for 2012, to gain access to a major new Manhattan development site, the Hudson Yards, on the far West Side.

The $8.7 billion project is funded half the the Port Authority, half by NJ Transit (which gets a dedicated stream of funding from Garden State Parkway Tolls), and is getting $1 billion in funding from the federal stimulus bill.

It's the largest single infrastructure recipient of stimulus funds under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, or ARRA, and is seen as crucial the the New York-New Jersey region's economic development.

But -- shock of shocks -- it may go over budget, and hence, as the Ledger reported it: " The month-long suspension of all new activity - imposed by NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein in the wake of concerns by the Federal Transit Administration - will be used to re-examine the budget numbers."

In the planning community today, there's an awful lot of head-scratching.  Did this really come from the FTA, and was the FTA legitimately concerned about costs?

If so, why? Other huge Manhattan infrastructure projects, like the Second Avenue Subway, have proceeded without full funding, the theory being that a significant infusion of funds to get a project going ends up drawing down more funds in future, by creating momentum around a project.

Does this signify that NJ Governor Chris Christie is backing away from ARC, or that he'd like to see the Garden State Parkway revenue go to other projects? Christie has been an opponent of raising the gas tax, and NJ's highway trust fund, like the federal government's is broke.

We're trying to sort this out...let us know what you're hearing.

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Digesting Politics: Paladino's Mouth, Lazio's Base, and What Happened to "Yes We Can"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Find out why GOP designee for New York governor Rick Lazio could lose next week's primary election to insurgent candidate Carl Paladino, what happened to Pres. Obama's "new patriotism" and why local Democrats running for office have not been associating themselves with the president, plus the latest un the Democratic primary race for NY attorney general as WNYC's Brian Lehrer, Andrea Bernstein and Azi Paybarah talk politics over lunch.

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Montreal: City of the Future?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) I was in Montreal recently, on a family vacation. Upon arriving, I was immediately overwhelmed -- by the number of bikers. Everyone, it seemed, was riding -- families with children, young people, people in fancy suits, kids in school uniforms, hot rods in spandex. Cyclists on fancy machines with aerodynamics helmets, and hordes on the sturdy, gray-and-black Bixi bike share bikes. The two-way protected bike lanes which fill the town were full to the brim, especially around the evening commute, which is when I arrived.

Now, Montreal's outside life is a seasonal thing. The Bixi bikes are stored inside for the harsh winters, and traffic regs for bikes go out of effect November 16-March 31. But for the summers at least, Montreal seems to have achieved what many U.S. cities are after -- a division of the streets that discourages the use of personal automobiles, where cyclists are relatively safe and motorists aren't confused by looming, lawbreaking cyclists.

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