(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Speaking at a ribbon cutting for an electric vehicle battery plant in Holland, MI, today, President Barack Obama said a major barriers to entry for EV consumers -- battery costs -- are about to drop.
From his remarks:
"For example, the workers at this plant, already slated to produce batteries for the new Chevy Volt, learned the other day that they will also be supplying batteries for the new electric Ford Focus as soon as this operation gears up. That means that by 2012, the batteries will be manufactured in Holland, Michigan, instead of South Korea. So when you buy one of these vehicles, the battery could be stamped “Made in America” – just like the car.
And here’s another benefit. Because of advances in the manufacture of these batteries, their costs are expected to come down by nearly 70 percent in the next few years, which will make electric and hybrid cars and trucks more affordable for more Americans. And that, too, will mean more jobs – not to mention less dependence on oil."
Here's the White House Report on EV Batteries and the Recovery Act.
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) There's a proposal in New York to tear down the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx, and another to get rid of the southern tip of FDR drive. The idea of ripping down an urban highway produces a range of reactions -- from scoffing dismissal to a foaming frenzy. How can all those cars NOT clog urban streets? Turns out, in cities that have lost urban highways to earthquake, neglect, or just decisions by mayors and planners, traffic volume goes down, not up. Proponents of highway teardown say it's the road to development, not congestion. The story, on Marketplace.
But starting today, California company Coulomb Technologies plans to install 300 of the stations—called ChargePoints—in the New York metropolitan area by October 2011.
Carmakers Chevrolet and Ford, as well as smart USA, distributor of the "Smart Car," plan to bring Electric Vehicles—known as EV in industry parlance—to New York City streets in the coming months.
"We want New York City to be prepared when people start buying them," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference unveiling the station today.
Motorists will be able to pay about $2 to fill an empty battery -- enough for about four hours of driving. The charging stations look like gas pumps -- but are much narrower and more elegant.
(WDET, Detroit) Detroit's public radio station wraps up its series on trucks in residential neighborhoods talking to some truckers who say they can't afford NOT to stray from established routes. Also in the series: A multi-generational fight to keep trucks off residential streets. Live in Detroit? WDET-FM is looking for your help in tracking trucks in residential neighborhoods.
Refineries, open-pit mines, and mining camps can seem like remote locations. Unless they are your father's photographic obsessions. Over at the WNYC culture page, writer Carolina Miranda muses on her engineer father's five decades of snapshots of oil refineries, open pit mines, and mining camps. At left, a view of the Caletones copper smelting project in the Andes, as captured by Felipe Miranda in 1968.
We write about oil and energy, all the time at Transportation Nation, but these photos tell the story from a whole new angle. Literally. --Andrea Bernstein
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) UPDATED POST Charlotte is getting $24 million for a streetcar, New York City has half the funding in hand -- $18 million -- for a 34th street Bus Rapid Transit line , the only true BRT planned for New York City, (NYC DOT rendering above) and Boston's bike share gets $3 million. Those are some of the grants announced in a $300 million package unveiled by the Federal Transit Administration Thursday.
The funding comes from the federal "liveability" program. The feds say localities applied for $3 billion in funding, with $300 million available.
And it comes as localities are reeling from budget cuts. New York's MTA just cut two train lines and cut or modified 76 bus lines, and the city and state budgets aren't much rosier. So the $18 million is "huge boost" says New York City DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. It will comprise half of New York's funding for the 34th street project, with the rest coming from the MTA, the city, and another funding stream.
The 34th Street busway, is envisioned as what Sadik-Khan has called "the first real Bus Rapid Transit corridor" in New York -- it will be the only place in the city where bus lanes will be fully physically segregated, end-to-end, blocking the usual NYC practice of just driving, walking, or biking, wherever you want, whenever.
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Government data out this morning shows the unemployment rate dipped to 9.5, as private sector employment ticked up. But government hiring is down. Confused? The AAA is concluding there are enough straws to grasp to give you a good enough feeling to get in your car, buy some relatively cheap gas (down from soaring highs two years ago) and drive. The Motorists' group says some 17 percent more Americans will travel this fourth of July weekend than last year, though we won't be driving farther.
(Kate Hinds, WNYC) One of the main reasons WNYC decided to monitor the renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge is that we thought following this $508-million project would provide a good test case for government transparency. We would publicly mull over questions like How does the city award contracts? Where will the materials come from? Who will get the jobs? Read on, and we'll tell you how the main bridge contractor, Skanska-Koch, got a "marginal" rating for hiring women and minorities. But first...(more)
(WNYC Newsroom). Trucks making deliveries after seven pm and before 6 am shaved an average of forty eight minutes on their routes. That's according to the results of a pilot program by the New York City Department of Transportation. City Transportation Comisssioner Janette Sadik-Khan says the off-hour delivers also resulted in fewer parking tickets, down from$1000 per truck to almost nothing. The four month pilot enlisted thirty-three companies around Manhattan, including Foot Locker, Whole Foods, and Cisco. Some businesses have expressed reluctance to schedule off-hour deliveries because it can cost more in overtime and make last-minute deliveries more difficult. And some have said it's not an option for perishables.
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation). His former Vice President, Al Gore, is known for going on about the environment, but I'm straining to remember when I ever heard Gore go on about transit. I can't ever remember hearing the current President, Barack Obama, (even as a candidate) talk about mass transit in the way you can see former President Bill Clinton speak here.
Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising. Clinton's ClimateWorks foundation has made international low-carbon transit a priority. But still, he says "bus rapid transit."
The video was screened at at gala Wednesday night for the mass-transit touting Institute for Transportation Development Policy.
Please correct me if I'm wrong: Anyone seen anything comparable from Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, former Vice President Al Gore, or anyone from the U.S. Senate?
(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation, Washington, DC) National transportation programs get a $3.7 billion dollar boost over last year in the House’s latest appropriation bill funding the Department of Transportation.
The increase includes new money for highway repairs and improvements, which have been in limbo with Congress unable to reach agreement on transportation or highway policy bills.
The House Appropriations Committee released a summary of the bill Thursday as the bill works its way through the legislative process on its way to the floor later this summer. DOT would get a total of $79.4 billion in Fiscal 2011, which begins Oct 1. That’s $3.7 billion more than the agency’s budget this year and $1.7 more than requested by President Obama.
Most of the money in the bill—$45.2 billion--goes to federal highway maintenance and construction. It’s a $3.1 billion increase designed to help fill a hole left by the stalled transportation reauthorization bill.
(David Shultz, WAMU) DC Metro will meet its funding deadline this evening. Metro needed to finalize a funding agreement between DC, Maryland. and Viginia. by the end of the day or it would default on a billion dollar contract for new rail cars. Thelma Drake, the director of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transit, tells WAMU she will sign off on the agreement later tonight - meeting the deadline by just a few hours. For more than a month, Virginia Governor McDonnell had refused to approve Metro's funding agreement.
(Charlie Herman, WNYC) Auto sales increased solidly in June from a year ago when the economy was mired in a deep recession, but fell from the previous month as worries about the economy led to car buyers to put the brakes on purchasing a new car.
Total sales increased by more than 14 percent compared to a year ago but fell nearly 11 percent from May to June. At the current sales rate, more than 11 million cars will be sold in 2010. A year ago, the sales rate was 9.7 million. Sales declined in part because automakers offered few incentives to buyers. Incentives were down over 1 percent from May to June. With few automakers offering deals going into the July 4 holiday weekend, analysts believe sales could be off to a slow start in July as consumers continue to worry about the economy and their own finances.
(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation, Washington, DC) Transit systems across the country would have to abide by a common set of safety standards under a bill that cleared a Senate panel this week.
The bill forces public transit systems receiving federal money to adopt new minimum safety standards created at the Department of Transportation. The agency could conduct ad-hoc safety reviews, and it also gets new powers to conduct safety investigations and issue subpoenas after transit accidents.
The bill was approved by the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee earlier this week. It was largely motivated by the last year’s Metro crash in Washington, DC that killed 9 people.
It’s one of several transit safety bills circulating in Congress now. Another beefs up funding and clout at the National Transportation Safety Board.
Meanwhile, the Homeland Security Department is trying to give rail safety a boost. DHS Sec.Janet Napolitano was in New York’s Penn Thursday morning launching a new safety campaign for Amtrak.The campaign is based on the “See Something, Say Something” message familiar to New York City subway riders.
(David Schultz, WAMU) The Administration of Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell has threatened to withhold funding from Metro's budget if they don't get more authority over the transit agency's operations. This is a big problem for Metro, because it just signed a multi-billion dollar contract with Kawasaki to purchase new, badly-needed rail cars. If Metro's regional funding agreement is not in place by the contract's deadline, the transit agency could default.
That deadline is tomorrow. Metro needs to have its funding agreement in place with Virginia on board and with the FTA's approval by today so it can tell Kawasaki to move forward with the cars by close-of-business tomorrow.
This morning, in a hastily-called emergency meeting, Metro's Board of Directors approved a final version of the funding agreement after reaching an 11th hour compromise with Virginia.
(Azi Paybarah, WNYC) As if Toyota needs more bad publicity.
A ring of car thieves who stole vehicles from the tri-state area and shipped them to Senegal was able to get into the automobiles using keys obtained from Toyota car dealers, authorities said.
Seventeen people in the ring -- including two employees of car dealerships -- which stole about 500 cars were arrested early this morning. That's according to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is running for Governor.
Here’s how it worked, he said: The thieves would get an “order” for a particular kind of car “down to the accessory package.”
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Senator John Kerry's spokeswoman, Whitney Smith, emails the following in response to our query about including transportation emissions caps in the new senate energy and climate bill:
"Majority Leader Reid will bring a final comprehensive energy and climate package to the floor this July, but the final details of what will be included in that package have not been determined.
Politico is reporting that Democrats have agreed "to scale back their ambitious plans to cap greenhouse gases across multiple sectors of the economy," but says President Obama is holding firm on setting a "price for greenhouse gases." In a Q&A with reporters, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) didn't specify whether setting caps in the transportation sector would remain part of the bill. More soon. (And don't forget to read Todd Zwillich's full post on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering.)
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Governors Island lies in New York harbor a short ferry ride from Brooklyn and Manhattan, within spitting distance of the Statue of Liberty. It's one of the jewels in the crown of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New York, a shared public space accessible only by (free) boat, one you can get around only on foot, bike, or tram. A space filled with public art, free hammocks, and award-winning street vendor food.
But yesterday, thanks to the Prince of England, that vision of a plebian park paradise collided with, well, royalty.