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Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

TN MOVING STORIES: Hidden Fare Hike for Commuters, the School Bus Goes Electric, and Chrysler's Big Year

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Medellin gets a mega escalator (link)
To deal with slow walkers, whip out your bike bell (link)
2011 Year in Review, Houston (link)

New Yorkers on a crowded bus (photo courtesy of Brad Lander)

Ray LaHood on new FAA, trucking rules: "Ultimately, we've given pilots and truck drivers the time to rest. Now, they must exercise the personal responsibility to use that time wisely." (USA Today)

The reduction in the federal commuter tax benefit will look like a fare hike to transit users nationwide. (Star-Ledger, San Francisco Examiner)

Baltimore Sun editorial: "If anything, transit ridership ought to be given an advantage over driving — at least the kind that doesn't involve a car pool."

Disability activists hope the transformation of the city's taxi and livery system will also lead to similar change in transportation services already provided to disabled New Yorkers. (Crain's New York)

The school bus is going electric. (Wall Street Journal; subscription req.)

2011 has been very very good to Chrysler. (NPR)

Forget face detection, this Japanese car seat can tell who's sitting in it through butt recognition. (GizMag)

 

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Medellin Gets Mega Escalator

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

(photo courtesy of the Office of the Mayor, Medellin)

The 12,000 residents of one hilly Medellin neighborhood used to climb the equivalent of 28 stories to get from the city center to their homes. But an arduous 30-minute walk has been transformed into a five-minute ride, with the installation of an urban escalator system.*

"This escalator represents a celebration for all of us as a city," said Mayor Salazar Jaramillo on Monday, when he officially opened the escalators to the public in the Comuna 13 neighborhood. "This should be a symbol of city transformation and peace for Comuna 13."

The escalator is divided into six stages and cost about US$6.7 million to construct.

The mayor said innovations like the escalator are turning the Colombian city into a showcase for leading urban planning ideas, and added that officials from Rio de Janeiro had already contacted him about doing something similar in the hillside favelas there.

Press reports call Comuna 13 one of  Medellin's poorest and most violent neighborhoods. Which makes it ripe for transformation, according to city officials.

"In these slums, we have to make an important change," said Rafael Nanclares, Medellin's secretary of transportation and transit, speaking on the phone to Transportation Nation. "We have to make opportunities for them." Earlier this week, Nanclares tweeted a photo of a banner hung on the side of a building that read: "What pride! We live in the only neighborhood in the world with public escalators."

Nanclares said the escalators would make it easier for residents to get to school and work. A major goal of the escalator is to connect Comuna 13 with the economic center of the city--both literally and figuratively. "It's a way to give presence to people who don't have a presence," he said. The ambitious project is as much statement of support to an overlooked community as it is transportation improvement as he sees it.

Carlos Pardo, a consultant for the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), pointed out that the city has been working to improve mobility for its poorest residents. "This escalator is part of a broader range of initiatives in Medellin," he said. The city has recently inaugurated a bike share program and a bus rapid transit system. Parts of the city also have a cable car-- but the necessary distance between stations made an escalator a better choice for Comuna 13.

More photos are below.

*An earlier edition of this post quoted the Medellin government as claiming this is the first urban escalator system as transit. As many readers point out, Hong Kong's has an urban escalator system, which opened in 1993.

(with reporting by Alex Goldmark)

 

(image courtesy of the Office of the Mayor, Medellin)

 (photo courtesy of the Office of the Mayor, Medellin)

(photo courtesy of the Office of the Mayor, Medellin)

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To Deal With Slow Walkers, Whip Out Your Bike Bell

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Living in New York, where the sidewalks often seem divided between native peppy steppers and slow-moving tourists, we couldn't resist passing along this approach on how to keep sidewalk traffic moving. Whereas previous solutions have been more passive -- like painting lanes -- this one takes it up a notch.

Hat tip to Felix Salmon.

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TN MOVING STORIES: MegaBus Wants Feds to Restrict BoltBus, Fracking Moves to Suburbs

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top stories from TN:
Stranded A Train Passengers Sue New York MTA (Link)
YEAR IN REVIEW FLORIDA: 2011 Rides Rails Out of the Sunshine State (Link)

Image from New Jersey red light traffic camera

Unfinished subdivisions in Arizona have led urban planners to suggest "smart decline" strategies that sometimes even dismantle existing infrastructure. (NPR)

Hydrfracking moves to the suburbs. (Marketplace)

Friends don't let friends walk drunk, because "every mile walked drunk, turns out to be eight times more dangerous than the mile driven drunk."(Freakonomics)

California's plans to use Amtrak as a fallback for high-speed rail are coming under fire -- from Amtrak. (Los Angeles Times)

Megabus wants the feds to restrict--or break up--rival BoltBus. (Bloomberg via Crain's New York)

A red-light traffic camera manufacturer made a video of New Jersey intersection crashes and near-misses. (Star-Ledger; video)

Tweet of the day, from the Detroit News's David Shepardson: Ad in @BostonGlobe: Boston-area Saab dealer offering new Saab with $17,000 discount off MSRP

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Stranded A Train Passengers Sue New York MTA

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MTA workers digging out Brooklyn's Cortelyou Road station on 12/28/10 (@NYCTSubwayScoop)

A year after being trapped on an A train for over eight hours in a blizzard, a group of passengers is suing the New York MTA.

Twenty-two stranded straphangers are named as plaintiffs in the suit, which was to be filed on Tuesday in Queens County Supreme Court. They were left without heat, food or water when the train got stuck in several feet of snow in Queens, near JFK Airport, the day after Christmas in 2010.

Earlier this month, Thomas Prendergast, the president of New York City Transit, discussed the agency's preparations for the upcoming winter at a New York City Council hearing. "We forgot about that train," he said. "That’s inexcusable.”

The MTA wouldn't comment directly on the lawsuit. It issued a statement that read: "In the aftermath of last year’s blizzard, we have implemented a series of changes to improve our performance in future storms, including the creation of protocols to suspend service in harsh conditions and assigning a rider advocate to ensure the safety and comfort of our customers."

But attorney Ayman Aboushi, whose firm has taken on the case pro bono, said that falls short of what needs to happen.

"People are going to get stuck on a train at some point, and it's going to be longer than a few hours," he said. "It happens every year at least a few times. What are you going to do when that happens? Okay, you can shut it down, but what happens when you get blindsided?"

He added: "Agreeing to shut down the system when inclement weather is on the horizon is not a policy."

In August, the MTA took the unprecedented step of shutting down the city's transit system in preparation for Tropical Storm Irene.

Aboushi said the lawsuit aims to force the MTA to put better policies in place. A dollar amount for compensation, if any, would be up to the court.

You can see the lawsuit here (pdf).

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Stranded A Train Passengers Sue MTA

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A year after being trapped on an A train for over eight hours in a blizzard, a group of passengers is suing the New York MTA.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Problems Delay Debut of LA's Expo Line, Boca Raton Rolls Out Bike Paramedics, North Dakota Oil Boom Strains Housing

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top stories on TN:
New York’s Taxi Bill’s Long and Bumpy Ride (Link)
Maryland Moves Closer to Joining D.C. and Virginia in Capital Bikeshare Program (Link)
Hispanics Overrepresented in D.C. Area Pedestrian Deaths (Link)
DC Dangles Cash to Fight Congestion (Link)

Expo Station in Los Angeles (photo courtesy of BuildExpo.com)

The opening date for Los Angeles's long-awaited Expo Line has been postponed several times, and technical problems continue to delay the light rail system's operation. (Los Angeles Times)

The New York Times test-drives possible reasons for the FAA's ban on electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Verdict: "The only reason these rules exist from the F.A.A. is because of agency inertia and paranoia.” (Link)

What started out as commuter rail will end up as bus service on highway shoulders in the Kansas City area. (Kansas City Star)

Oil towns in North Dakota have spawned a robust job market, but there aren't enough homes for all the workers. (Marketplace)

More on the intercity bus boom. (Slate)

In Madrid -- and maybe one day in the Bronx -- parks bloom where freeways once ruled. (New York Times)

Boca Raton (FL) started a bicycle paramedic program. (AP via New York Daily News)

London's subway drivers walked out over a pay dispute Monday, causing trouble for thousands of shoppers heading out for the start of Christmas sales. (BBC)

Fare hikes and service cuts are looming in 2012 as Massachusetts' transit system tries to erase a deficit. (AP via WBUR)

A Boston T employee is in hot water after programming the LED display signs in one station with the lyrics to "Deck the Halls." (Boston Globe)

The head of the New York City Council's Transportation Committee is considering a range of legislation aimed at regulating bicyclists. (New York Posts)

TN's Todd Zwillich is hosting The Takeaway this morning.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Public Transit Tax Benefit Cut, New Trucking Rules, & NYC's Taxi of Tomorrow Threatened by Livery Bill Of Today

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top stories on TN:
FAA Clears Santa’s Flight Path (Link)
DC Dangles Cash to Fight Congestion (Link)
Just How Good Are the TSA’s Body Scanners? (Link)
Tips for Infrequent Flyers: Leave the Olives at Home, and Junior’s Shoes On (Link)
Despite a Year of High-Profile Crashes, Inter City Bus Use Soars (Link)

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Commute by public transit? Your tax benefit is being reduced. Drive? You're getting a parking benefit increase. (Chicago Tribune)

Volkswagen's will limit employees' access to work email in an attempt to give them a break during non-work hours. (Marketplace)

An oil spill near the coast of Nigeria is likely the worst to hit those waters in a decade. (AP via NPR)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's requirement that NYC's entire taxi and livery fleet eventually become wheelchair-accessible is a stinging rejection of the mayor's non-accessible Taxi of Tomorrow. (Crain's New York Business)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he won't back a proposal to prohibit drivers from talking on cellphones -- giving a boost to car makers and mobile-phone companies that stand to lose if regulators impose a ban. (Wall Street Journal; subscription)

President Barack Obama’s administration maintained an 11-hour limit on truck drivers’ hours today, scaling back a proposal to give them more rest... (Bloomberg)

...But some rules for drivers have changed. Learn more about the new regulations in Politico MT.

Can Amtrak afford to leave Penn Station for its new home in Moynihan Station? (Atlantic Cities)

Take a peek inside lower Manhattan's Fulton Transit Center, which is scheduled to open in 2014. (DNAInfo)

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TN MOVING STORIES: NJ Town Battles Light Rail, London's New Bus Design, and DC Pilots 'Live Near Work' Program

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Romney: We Have to Invest In Infrastructure: Video (Link)
Actual Debate Breaks Out At NY MTA Board Meeting (Link)
Maryland To Offer Preferential Funding For Smart Growth (Link)
FAA Unveils New Pilot Fatigue Rules (Link)
What it Takes to Keep San Francisco's BART Rolling (Link)
Your TN Transportation and Infrastructure Holiday Gift Guide: California Edition (Link)

Heatherwick Studio's new London bus design (photo by Iwan Baan)

WNYC's Kathleen Horan will explain the recent NYC taxi legislation on today's Brian Lehrer Show -- tune in at 10am. (Link)

Tenafly residents say 'not in our backyard' to NJ Transit plans to bring light rail to Bergen County. (NJ.com)

DC is piloting a program that incentivizes living near work. (WAMU)

Is DC's mayor slacking off on his commitment to building new bike lanes? (Washington Post)

Inductive charging for electric vehicles will get a trial run in Berlin. (GizMag)

Nissan gained some insight into the durability of its electric car, the Leaf, when about two dozen of them were destroyed in the tsunami that ravaged Japan in March -- their batteries were intact, and none caught fire.  (New York Times)

Check out a new design for London's famed double-decker bus. (Article in Dezeen; more pictures here.)

A new GPS device uses green routing to send drivers on the most fuel-efficient route. (FastCompany)

The rise in obesity in the U.S. means that the Coast Guard has had to reduce the passenger capacity of Washington State's ferry system, the nation's largest. (AP via New York Daily News)

New York's Bridge and Thruway authorities would be folded into the Department of Transportation if the state acts on preliminary suggestions from a government efficiency task force. (Albany Times Union)

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FAA Unveils New Pilot Fatigue Rules

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

(image courtesy of U.S. DOT)

Airline pilots will fly shorter shifts and get longer rest periods under new rules issued by the  Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday.

The rules update current pilot work schedule regulations -- which largely date back to the 1960s -- to reflect studies on how much time pilots need for rest and an understanding of how travel through time zones and the human body clock's response to light and darkness can affect performance.

"This new rule gives pilots enough time to get the rest they really need to safely get passengers to their destinations,” said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta.

The new rules come nearly three years after a Colgan Air jet flown by two exhausted pilots crashed outside of Buffalo, killing 49 people -- a day U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called "one of my worst days in this job."

Carriers have two years to adapt to the new rules. The FAA estimated the cost to the industry at $297 million over 10 years.

Cargo carriers -- who do much of their flying overnight -- are exempted from the new rules. The FAA said forcing cargo carriers to reduce the number of hours their pilots can fly would be too costly compared to the safety benefits. The FAA is encouraging cargo carriers to opt into the new rule voluntarily

Congressman John Mica, who heads the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, issued a statement tepidly praising the new rules, but said: "Pilots must take personal responsibility for coming to work rested and fit for duty.  The government cannot put a chocolate on every one of their pillows and tuck them in at night.”

You can read more about the new rules on the FAA's website here.

(Additional reporting from AP)

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Your TN Transportation and Infrastructure Holiday Gift Guide: California Edition

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New York is far from the only place where transportation can be turned into gift-giving gold. Looking for a locally harvested MUNI transfer button? A belt made out of bicycle tires? A Decolonized Area Rapid Transit t-shirt? Look no further than the Bay Area.

TN contributor Julie Caine of KALW saw these bangles at Oaklandish, a shop in Oakland.

(photo by Julie Caine/KALW)

It's where you can also purchase t-shirts inspired by the BART map....

(photo by Julie Caine/KALW)

...and note cards of the Bay Bridge:

Go ahead and cross that bridge into San Francisco, where a Sunset District crafter sells pro-transit pins:

(photo by Ben Trefny/KALW)

These pins source their materials locally.

(photo by Ben Trefny/KALW)

The San Francisco Arts Commission crowdsourced a t-shirt that renames BART stops after local activists and revolutionary heroes. The artist behind it, Kenji Liu, calls it DART - or "Decolonized Area Rapid Transit."

(photo courtesy of Kenji Liu)

Want to make sure guests know where to park their bikes? FluffyCo has you covered.

Metal bike parking sign (image courtesy of FluffyCo)

And local store Urban Bazaar can make sure that your pants stay up while riding, via a belt made out of old bicycle tires:

Bike tire belt (image courtesy of Urban Bazaar)

It's been clinically proven that owning any one of these items can help combat rumors that you're not Berkeley enough.

Looking for TN's New York gift guide? Go here.

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TN MOVING STORIES: FAA to Unveil New Pilot Fatigue Rules, GOP Wants CA Bullet Train Audit, TSA Chorus Serenades LAX

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Your TN Transportation and Infrastructure Holiday Gift Guide: New York Edition (link)
Deal Reached on Controversial NYC Taxi Plan (link)
Newt Gingrich: Rail Visionary, Lover of Oil (link)
Rating Agency Says Loss of Tax Revenue Could Hurt NY MTA (link)
Cashless Tolling In NYC – Not Yet, But Moving Toward It (link)

The U.S. highway system, mapped as a transit route (image courtesy of Cameron Booth)

The Federal Aviation Administration will release new rules for addressing pilot fatigue today. (The Hill)

House Republicans are calling for a GAO audit into California's high-speed rail program. (McClatchy via Miami Herald)

Congress moves toward a tougher stance on pipeline safety, but is it enough? (ProPublica)

Now that Troy has rejected federal funds for a regional transit center, other Michigan cities are scrambling to claim it. (Detroit Free Press)

Battered by criticism and low sales, Honda will redesign its Civic -- just eight months after releasing the last version. (Changing Gears)

Reimagining highway routes as a transit map. (Cambooth.net)

The nostalgia train brought out New Yorkers' inner flappers/Southern gentlemen/vaudeville hosts. (Wall Street Journal)

Cap'nTransit asks: will Cornell's Applied Sciences campus on New York's Roosevelt Island be car-free?

TSA agents in Los Angeles are trying to get on passengers' good sides by singing holiday carols. (Marketplace; video below)

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Your TN Transportation and Infrastructure Holiday Gift Guide: New York Edition

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last year it looked like bikes had replaced owls as the go-to item at New York's craft fairs. But this year transportation is coming into its own. And the last-minute holiday shopper looking for gifts with an infrastructure bent will be amply rewarded.

The last New York City subway token was sold in 2003. But they live on at the Brooklyn Flea, where they've been re-engineered to serve as pendants.

NYC subway token necklaces by City Owl, Inc. (photo by Kate Hinds)

Seen at the Columbus Avenue GreenFlea, on Manhattan's Upper West Side: jewelry made from traffic lights.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

And then downtown at the Bust Craftacular, someone was selling jewelry and key chains made out of repurposed license plates:

(photo by Kate Hinds)

But the Craftacular also had its highbrow offerings, like sterling silver bike tie tacks.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Thirsty? The newly opened REI in SoHo is catering to the locals with a subway water bottle.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

But the Infrastructure Gift Purveyor of the Year Award goes to dishware vendor Fishs Eddy (admittedly not a craft fair) where one can purchase a ceramic parking ticket tray:

(photo by Kate Hinds)

And you can toast 2012 with glassware emblazoned with the Lincoln Tunnel mosaic that marks the New York/New Jersey state line:

(photo by Kate Hinds)

And, of course, eat your cereal out of bowls with iconic city bridges:

A bowl from the Bridge & Tunnel collection (photo by Kate Hinds)

But you might still want to get back to basics and drink your morning caffeine out of a bike mug.

Taliah Lempert-designed bicycle mug (photo by Kate Hinds)

But don't hoist the mug while wearing your Kate Spade taxi mittens (spotted at the Flatiron District Kate Spade store.)

Kate Spade window display (photo by Kate Hinds)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Troy KO's Transit Center, Palo Alto Opposes California Bullet Train, and Beijing Airport Will Soon Be World's Busiest

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Sweating Bullets: Body Scanners Can See Perspiration as a Potential Weapon (Link)
Real Time Train Arrival Info Coming to LIRR (Link)
NY Senator Schumer: Transit Tax Benefits Dying in End-of-Year Congressional Frenzy (Link)
Where Astronauts Do Their Christmas Shopping (Link)
The Ten Worst Holiday Bottlenecks in the New York Area (Link)
Straphangers Campaign Top-10 Worst (And Best) NYC Transit Moments of 2011 (Link)

Beijing Capital Airport (photo by John K via Flickr)

Troy turns down a regional transit center, passing on federal funds to build it. (Detroit News)

Who will be the next head of the FAA? Guesses abound. (Politico)

A report by the New York MTA's Inspector General takes the agency to task for mistakes during the 2010 blizzard -- but says it's better prepared for a storm now. (New York Daily News)

Beijing Capital Airport will soon be the world's busiest airport -- and China is preparing for the coming passenger influx by building airports built big and well-staffed. (Marketplace)

The Maryland Transit Administration says it has to raise Baltimore-area transit fares by 40 percent jump in order to meet state revenue goals without cutting service. (Baltimore Sun)

Virginia's governor wants to shuffle millions of dollars from public schools and health care to his top priorities of pension reform, higher education and transportation. (Washington Post)

The city of Palo Alto formally opposes California's high-speed rail project. (Mercury News)

The expedited Lake Champlain Bridge went over budget, but some say it was worth it. (Burlington Free Press)

Two rapping teachers protest cuts to California's school transportation budget. Sample lyric: I teach little children/I don't mean to cuss/but how in the @#! will kids get to school without a bus? (Good)

Want to buy the apartment of the former head of New York's MTA? (New York Times)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Payroll Tax Compromise Would Force Obama To Make Pipeline Decision; Saab Files for Bankruptcy

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Even in Austere Era, Mitt Romney Promises To Fund Roads, Bridges, and Rail (link)
Texas Transpo Officials Hope Light-Hearted Campaign Will Help Curb DWI Fatality Stats (link)
NY vs. Chicago: Whose Bike Share Is Biggest? (link)
Delta's Big New York Expansion (link)
Daytona Beach Researchers Are Transforming Air Travel (link)

CalTrain in San Francisco (photo by Todd Lappin via Flickr)

The Senate passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday with language that would force Obama to make a decision on the Keystone pipeline. (Politico, Bloomberg)

Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy, giving up a desperate struggle to stay in business after previous owner General Motors Co. blocked takeover attempts by Chinese investors. (AP via NPR)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is drawing up what some consider a “take it or leave it” compromise on a plan to let livery cabs pick up street hails. (New York Daily News)

Top three Google searches for the New York metropolitan area: (3) Hopstop (2) NJ Transit (1) MTA. (Huffington Post)

Pictorial: how public transit celebrates the holidays -- from Chicago's Holiday Train to San Francisco's candy cane-like streetcars. (Atlantic Cities)

Troy's City Council will vote on whether to approve a new transit center tonight. (Detroit Free Press)

A Defense appropriations bill comes with a parking cap, forcing the Army to reevaluate the traffic impact as it transfers workers to the DC region's Mark Center. (Washington Post)

On January 1, tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway will increase 53% and 50%, respectively. (The Star-Ledger)

New York State picked a pair of consultants to figure out how to pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge. (Times Union)

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: Transit Fare Affects School Attendance in Chicago, Singapore's Subway Snarl

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top stories on TN:

More Congressional outrage for high-speed rail. (Link)
Chicago bike share, VA toll road big TIGER III winners. (Link)
Taxi advocates plead their case to New York's governor. (Link)

Singapore's subway (photo by DDay209 via Flickr)

Chicago school officials say the cost of transit fare can discourage school attendance. (WBEZ)

Two legislators from New York and New Jersey -- steaming over recent toll hikes -- have introduced a bill that would put the Port Authority under federal oversight. (Staten Island Advance)

Cuomo's approach to the outer borough taxi bill is "the legislative equivalent of the slow-food movement." (New York Times)

The new Tappan Zee Bridge must have bus rapid transit or be obsolete from day one, says a coalition of elected officials and local groups. (Journal News)

Singapore's subway system suffered a major breakdown yesterday when four trains stalled during rush hour, trapping thousands of passengers and affecting some 127,000. (Wall Street Journal)

The number of bicyclists in and around Minneapolis has soared in the past year. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Has crime really fallen on DC's Metro? Yes...and no. (TBD)

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Chicago Bike Share, Virginia Toll Road Big TIGER III Winners

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A map of TIGER III grants (image courtesy of U.S. DOT)

Ray LaHood loves Rahm Emanuel. Chicago was a big winner in this round of TIGER grants, getting some $20 million to establish a bike share program and overhaul the Blue Line.

The state of Illinois received another $24 million, putting the Land of Lincoln at the top of the list. Other big winners were California and Virginia, which received funding for work on HOT lanes and highway projects; and St. Louis for a road project near the Arch.

In a phone call with reporters Thursday, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood touted the winners in this round of Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovering (TIGER) grants. These grants, which were created as part of President Obama's federal stimulus program, are earmarked for surface transportation projects.

The grants were handed out ahead of schedule, part of President Obama's promise to accelerate federal grant-making to create job opportunities after Congress failed to pass his American Jobs Act.

The 46 projects were selected from 828 applications.  "All told," LaHood said, "communities requested some $14.1 billion in funding, which was no match for the $511 million we had available." He called the requests a "powerful testament" for the American people's enthusiasm for transportation.

LaHood was speaking from Cincinnati, which won almost $11 million for its streetcar system. "We like streetcars," he said. "It's something that we have always felt was a good project."

The DOT was authorized to award $527 million for this round of grants, and today it formally committed $511 million. LaHood said the program cost $16 million to administer. "We have to make sure this money is spent correctly," he said. "There's a lot of administrative work."

LaHood was asked about the recent decision that pulled the plug on light rail in Detroit in favor of a bus rapid transit system. He said he was taking his cues from Michigan's governor and Detroit's mayor. "We don't try and dictate what kind of innovative approaches people want to take when it comes to transportation," he said. "We''re willing to put some significant dollars into a regional transportation, a regional transit plan in the Detroit area, because this is what the mayor and the governor would like to see."

To see a complete list of grants, go here (pdf)

 

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Taxi Advocates Plead Their Case To New York's Governor

Thursday, December 15, 2011

(photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

(Kathleen Horan -- New York, WNYC) Taxi industry insiders attended a meeting in Albany on Wednesday in a last bid attempt to resolve issues surrounding the Bloomberg administration’s outer borough taxi bill. The two-hour discussion was convened and chaired by Governor Andrew Cuomo himself -- who will spend still more time on the issue on Thursday.

Following Wednesday's summit, Cuomo said “even though government comes with the best of intentions, to redesign a system, there can be unanticipated consequences.” He said one of the main sticking points in the plan to allow livery cars to accept street hails is wheelchair accessibility — and if anyone would purchase accessible permits since the vehicles are more expensive.

"The industry says that nobody is going to buy those permits because it’s not economically feasible. They can’t afford to buy the cars given the revenue. That's a big hole in the current plan," Cuomo explained.

He added another key issue to be worked out is how the plan would be enforced.

The governor has until next week to veto or sign before the bill before it expires. If he does sign, it’ll likely to be contingent on significant changes to the bill happening through a chapter amendment.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky called the meeting a "very productive discussion." Yassky said the city will keep working to try and hash out an agreement.

If it becomes law, the plan would green-light the sale of about 2000 yellow medallions, adding about $1 billion dollars in revenue to the city's budget.

Speaking Thursday on an Albany radio station, Cuomo said that he's spending time more time on the issue this week. "There's no 'quick' on the taxi bill. It's a very complicated matter." He added that "the devil is in the details, and this is designing a new taxi and livery system for the city of New York."

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TN MOVING STORIES: California Bullet Train Time Mandate Adds to Cost Increase, Hybrid Cars Safer in Crashes, and Happy 75th Birthday, Henry Hudson Bridge

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top stories on TN:
NY & NJ Port Authority Chief Expects Transpo Building Push Once World Trade Center Is Done (Link)
NTSB Head: Distractions Behind the Wheel Have Always Existed — But Cell Phones Make It Worse (Link)
D.C. Pedicabbers Say Park Police Still Targeting Them (Link)

The Henry Hudson Bridge under construction (Photographer: Richard Averill Smith, June 19, 1936. Photo courtesy of MTA Bridges and Tunnels Special Archive.)

Part of what's complicating building California's bullet train: the fine print in the ballot measure requires the trip from San Francisco to L.A. to take no more than two hours and 40 minutes. (Los Angeles Times)

Starting today, the Chinese government says it'll levy duties on imported cars made in the United States -- which came as a big surprise to U.S. automakers. (Marketplace)

Hybrid cars are 25% better at protecting motorists from injuries in accidents than their conventional counterparts. (USA Today)

TIGER III grants will be announced today; we'll have the full story after noon today. Meanwhile, Transportation Issues Daily has a list of some of them.

The Takeaway follows up with listeners on using cell phones while driving. (Link)

Taking a bus ride across 42nd Street could take you back in time to the 1950s. (Gothamist)

The Henry Hudson Bridge, which links Manhattan to the Bronx, turns 75 today. (New York Daily News)

Tune into today's Brian Lehrer Show for a discussion about a recent court decision about selling unlimited Metrocard swipes, which ruled that it does not fit the definition of larceny. (WNYC)

Touching the hearts of bus drivers through touching ... oh, just watch the video. (Hat tip to Gothamist)

I Heart M15 from Paddle Productions on Vimeo.

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NTSB Head: Distractions Behind the Wheel Have Always Existed -- But Cell Phones Make It Worse

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman

Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, went on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show Wednesday morning to talk about the Board's recent recommendation for a national ban on cell phones.

She also fielded calls from listeners -- like Lisa in Forest Hills, who called to ask about generational differences in cell phone capabilities.  "I'm 45," she said, "and if I try to have a conversation while I'm driving, unless it's with someone physically in the car it's very distracting." So: if you grew up talking on cell phones, is it different?

Hersman said the generational differences have to do with the actual activity, not level of distraction.  She said while older drivers talk more -- younger drivers are different.  "What they're doing much more than talking is texting, or posting to Facebook, or tweeting," she said.

And are hands-free devices safer than holding the phone next to your ear? "What we're concerned about," said Hersman, "goes back to...the cognitive distraction. How the brain is engaged, and not just the hands or the eyes. It's that you're focusing your attention away from the task at hand...accidents develop and happen in the blink of an eye."

To which Brian interjected: "It's Siri versus the NTSB at this point."

Karen in South Harlem called in to say she's often "a completely cognitively alert passenger" on highways between the city and the Adirondacks. Frustrated by the amount of texting while driving she says she witnesses, she wanted to know if she could participate in "a citizen's arrest situation" using her cell phone -- either to call law enforcement or to photograph offenders.

Hersman wasn't willing to deputize passengers, but she agreed that there needed to be a mechanism in place to report on activities like this -- "just like if you suspect someone's drunk driving, making sure those types of things are reportable to law enforcement and they know how to handle those are important."

But the question of what constituted a distraction behind the wheel got the attention of both callers and Brian. Is listening to talk radio distracting? Music? Or eating? Why are those things any less dangerous than talking on the phone?

"Distractions have been around since the Model T," Hersman said, "whether it's people eating, or looking at things on the side of the road or reading billboards...I think there are a lot of distractions but what we're seeing with personal and portable electronic devices is that they're becoming more prevalent, being more used, and people are being more distracted behind the wheel."

You can listen to the segment below, or swing on over to the Brian Lehrer Show page, where you can also take part in the discussion via the comments section.

 

 

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