Streams

Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein appears in the following:

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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Houston to Get Bike Share

Friday, September 10, 2010

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF) The City of Houston will launch a bike share program "early next year" city Sustainability Director Laura Spanjian tells KUHF. The city was awarded $423,000 by the federal EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The city will also use the grant to increase its electric car infrastructure. The full story, here.

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Obama Plan Could Help Dems. But Not the Way You Think.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Did President Obama do his party a political favor by proposing $50 billion in new transportation infrastructure spending to a budget-weary nation right before the November midterms? Was his labor day infrastructure plan an effort to allow struggling Democrats to distance themselves?

At least one vulnerable Democrat under fire for supporting the president’s first $787 billion stimulus plan now says he’s not on board for any more. And just like that, Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) has put a little distance between himself and a White House sagging in the polls.

“I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package. Any new transportation initiatives can be funded through the Recovery Act, which still contains unused funds,” Bennett said in a statement released Wednesday.

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So, you're going to a party and you're going to have a few beers....

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) The NYC DOT wants you to designate a driver by calling him, or presumably her... um "You The Man." The city "You the Man" app will allow drunk New Yorkers to find the nearest car service in any of the city's five boroughs. Presumably, you can use it even if you don't have a car, but just happen to be out and about, needing a ride home.

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Democrats Say Obama Transpo Plan a Surprise

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Presidents Barack Obama's proposal Monday for $50 billion in new spending on highway and railroad infrastructure has players on Capitol Hill scratching their heads while at the same time predicting the money likely wont pass Congress this year.

Aides to key lawmakers in both the House and Senate said they knew little of Obama's proposal prior to his announcement Monday in front of a labor union audience in Much of what Capitol Hill knows of the White House's actual intentions it has learned from the press, several said.

"We didn't know Obama was going to make the announcement until Sunday and we didn't get any details until yesterday," one House Democratic aide told Transportation Nation. "There are a lot of questions here, a lot of gaps, as to how this is going to work, the aide said.

Obama proposed $50 billion in new spending for new railroads construction, highway installation and maintenance, and other infrastructure improvements. The president billed it as a way to further stimulate job growth, which continues to flag less than two months before the mid-term elections.

The White House has proposed funding the infrastructure bank through increased taxes on oil companies. While such a move could be popular with the public, no one on Capitol Hill who spoke to Transportation Nation was clear on how long the program would last, whether such tax increases would continue beyond a couple of years, or whether the proposed program would temporarily replace a renewal of the national transportation reauthorization bill.

That bill has stalled in Congress as lawmakers struggle to find money to pay for it. The Highway Trust fund used to fund the bill stands as much as $150 billion short of what it would need to pay for proposed infrastructure projects in the bill. The White House has rejected the idea of raising the federal gas tax to make up the gap, and lawmakers have so far failed to agree on an alternative.

Aides on both sides of the Capitol are already skeptical that Senate Republicans would give Barack Obama a legislative victory by allowing the plan to pass before the November elections.

"The White House has chosen to double-down on more of the same failed 'stimulus' spending," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement.

But Democrats aren't exactly predicting success. "I'd be surprised if we passed the infrastructure part of the plan" one Senate Leadership aide said. House and Senate aides both said they expect to be briefed on the plans details by White House or the Department of Transportation in the coming days.

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