Kate Hinds appears in the following:
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Following on the heels of Staten Island, the Bronx will become the second of New York's five boroughs to get real-time bus information.
New York's MTA is currently installing GPS units on the 1,025 buses that serve the borough. The agency said the service will go live sometime this year.
In a press release, MTA head Joe Lhota heralded Bus Time as a time saver (and caffeine-enabler). "Knowing how far away your next bus is means you can spend more time with your family or more time at a coffee shop instead of waiting at a bus stop in a state of uncertainty," he said. "About 90% of our customers carry text-message enabled cell phones, so this is a big step forward to help make the lives of our customers a lot easier."
This technology debuted on Brooklyn's B63 last year and went live on all buses in Staten Island earlier this month.
The MTA's press release enigmatically states: "the next borough will also come online in 2012," leaving two more boroughs -- which the MTA says will get Bus Time by 2013.
Want to read more about Bus Time? TN's field test of Staten Island's system is here.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
(New York -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he plans to veto legislation that would put an end to the Sanitation Department's so-called 'shame' stickers on cars. The mayor said he supports the 25-year-old practice of plastering a fluorescent sticker on cars that violate alternate side parking rules.
"I think it’s one of the less productive things that could be legislated," Bloomberg explained. "Stickers are an enforcement tool that have helped to keep our streets clean and if you take them away, there's no reason to believe that we won't go back to the dirty streets that we had before stickers were put in there."
The City Council approved legislation last week that would ban the stickers, saying they unfairly punish drivers before they're allowed to prove their innocence... and because they're too difficult to remove.
The Sanitation Department has said the threat of the stickers has helped increase compliance.
TN MOVING STORIES: Real-Time Bus Info Extends To the Bronx, The Port Authority's "Mission Drift," And Mexico City's Parking Evolution
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Top stories on TN: Work is about to start on the first phase of a billion-dollar redevelopment project at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. NYC's first ever weeknight subway shutdown could be the first of many. The House is set to vote on a month-long extension to the Federal Aviation Administration authorization. KQED takes a look at California's high-speed rail woes. And: the city of Houston reached a deal in its court battle over its cancelled red light traffic camera program.
The human problems of driverless cars -- legal liability, privacy and insurance regulation -- might prove more difficult to resolve than the technological ones. (New York Times)
The new head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says the agency's focus on rebuilding the World Trade Center has led to "mission drift." (Crain's New York Business)
House leaders have increasingly meddled in the affairs of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, slowly turning the bottom-up legislative process into a top-down regime. (Politico)
New York's MTA could jack up the fine for farebeating from $100 to $500 under legislation the state Senate passed Monday. (New York Daily News)
Breaking down the DC Metro's proposed fare hikes. (Washington Post)
Real-time bus information will come to the Bronx later this year. (DNA Info)
Mexico City's franeleros -- the ubiquitous men and women who control parking spaces -- are being forced out by parking meters. (Los Angeles Times)
Plans to extend NJ Transit light rail service into eastern Bergen County will face public comment today. (The Record)
Microsoft just received a patent for a new trip-planning app that has an “avoid ghetto” feature. (Transit Wire)
The long reach of American TV show "Pimp My Ride" extends into Morocco, where car-tuning has become a mass movement. (Marketplace)
TN MOVING STORIES: GM Once Again World's Largest Automaker, LA Reaches Out to China to Fund Transit, NY Area Airport Terminals Among World's Worst
Friday, January 20, 2012
Top stories on TN:
Union Suspends Talks with NY MTA Over Contract (Link)
Children in Low-Income Manhattan Neighborhoods More Likely To Be Hit By Cars (Link)
MTA: Subway Blasting Not Creating Pollution (Link)
D.C. Metro Workers Charged in Coin-Stealing Scheme (Link)
Rural College Campuses Solve Student Transportation Challenges With Shuttles — And Bikes (Link)
General Motors reclaims the title of world's largest automaker. (Detroit Free Press)
Federal safety regulators lack the expertise to monitor vehicles with increasingly sophisticated electronics, says one agency. (New York Times)
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke with a Chinese investment group about funding for a dozen transportation projects. (Los Angeles Times)
But what happened to the opossum after he rode the D train? (New York Times)
More information emerges from Capital Bikeshare data. Most common trips? Bike lane usage? It's in there. (Greater Greater Washington)
Opinion: Obama Throws SOPA and Keystone Red Meat to Liberals (It's a Free Country)
Watch a bicycle get stripped down on NYC's mean streets over the course of a year. (Video)
What's the best way to get users to embrace mass transit? (Slate)
New Jersey is preparing to use facial-recognition technology to scan 18 million photographs for signs of driver's license fraud. (AP via NJ.com)
Airport terminals at three New York-area airports are among the world’s 10 worst, according to travel group Frommer’s. (WNYC)
Road rage bleeds over to the bipeds in Canada: pedestrian bites driver. (CBC)
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Children under 18 account for 43% of car crash victims in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood. But just a few blocks south, in the moneyed Upper East Side, the same age group accounts for less than 15% of neighborhood car crash victims.
That's the conclusion of the new report "Child Crashes: An Unequal Burden"(pdf), released Thursday by Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group. According to the group's research, of the East Side's top ten intersections for motor vehicle crashes that kill or injure child pedestrians and bicyclists, "nine are located in close proximity to public housing developments in East Harlem and the Lower East Side."
The report draws upon data from 1995-2009 that the group received after filing Freedom of Information Law requests to the New York State DMV.
The city DOT is disputing the way Transportation Alternatives (TA) is presenting the data.
"There were a record-low three child pedestrian fatalities citywide last year, none of them in any of the neighborhoods cited in the report," said Seth Solomonow, a department spokesperson.
He cited agency statistics that show serious crashes went down 64% in the Lower East Side’s Community Board 3 and 38% in Harlem’s Community Board 11 over the course of the study period. In 2011, the number of traffic deaths in New York City fell to the lowest levels in a century-- a 40% drop from 2001.
A deeper dive into the data shows rates did indeed drop everywhere -- but that injury rates remain consistently higher in poorer neighborhoods. In East Harlem in 1995, for example, 107 children were injured by cars. By 2009, that number had fallen to 47. But that's still higher than the Upper East Side, which had 32 injuries of children at the highest point, and 17 in 2009. Children under 18 make up about 30% of the population of both neighborhoods.
TA concludes children on Manhattan's East Side are three times more likely to be hit by a car in a neighborhood where public housing is nearby. Just last week, a 12-year-old girl was killed crossing a street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. She was a resident of the Jacob Riis Houses.
The report singles out East 125th Street and Lexington Avenue as the worst intersection in Manhattan for children.
Melissa Mark-Viverito, the New York City Council member who represents East Harlem, called the report "alarming."
"This really just kind of exacerbates the urgency and really demonstrates that particularly in my community, where I represent the most public housing in the city of New York, where I have the most number of developments, that this is a real immediate danger," she said.
She said she will bring together community groups and the NYC DOT to work collaboratively on the problem. Mark-Viverito has also been working with the local community board to bring protected bike lanes to East Harlem -- a project which was recently derailed but she said is expected to go before the board again in March.
In an email, Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives' executive director, said “the NYPD must protect these children and hold dangerous drivers accountable.” The report calls for more targeted enforcement of traffic laws by the NYPD, as well as speed cameras. The group also says other city agencies, like the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as the New York City Housing Authority, need to further study "what neighborhood built environment factors...may drive these neighborhood-based differences in child crash rates."
Transportation Alternatives acknowledges that the DOT has worked hard to make the streets safer. “We’re pushing the NYPD to step up,” said Jennifer So Godzeno, pedestrian advocacy manager. But, she says, "the NYPD is completely failing to use these penalties. When you look across time, 60% of these crashes are attributable to drivers breaking laws. But we don’t see the NYPD making enforcement of these laws a priority at all.”
No response yet from the NYPD.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Children under 18 account for 43 percent of car crash victims in Manhattan’s East Harlem neighborhood. But just a few blocks south, in the moneyed Upper East Side, the same age group accounts for less than 15 percent of neighborhood car crash victims.
TN MOVING STORIES: DC's Proposed Airport Metro Rail Station Under Fire, San Francisco's Central Subway Moves Closer to Reality
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Top stories on TN:
President Kills Pipeline: Full Statement (Link)
Backers of the Keystone XL Vow To Continue To Push For The Pipeline (Link)
Federal Money for Transpo Robot (Link)
Governor Jerry Brown, In State of State, Makes Impassioned Case for California High-Speed Rail (Link)
House To Hold Hearings on Cruise Ship Safety (Link)
NY Gov Cuomo: MTA Considering “Additional Transit Applications” For New Convention Center (Link)
VIDEO: How the Dutch Got Their Bike Paths (Link)
Canada said it will begin selling oil to China after the U.S. rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. (Bloomberg)
The authority in charge of building DC's Metro rail extension to Dulles International Airport is considering eliminating the Metro station at the airport. (TN's emphasis, not the Washington Examiner's.)
Indiana recently became the second state to approve an LGBT license plate. (NY Daily News)
San Francisco has received a key approval from federal officials to move forward on its 1.7-mile Central Subway. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Cuts to school bus service in Death Valley, CA -- where 85% of the students are from low-income households and parents say monthly gas prices for round-trip school transportation could exceed $1,000 -- will be "catastrophic." (Los Angeles Times)
China is about to roll out the world's largest bus, which is 82 feet long and can carry up to 300 passengers. (Digital Trends)
The California High-Speed Rail Authority takes issue with the Los Angeles Times' reporting. (CAHSR blog)
Hoping to boost sales, GM is revamping its Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric vehicle to meet California's strict emissions requirements. (Wall Street Journal)
Despite pumping 2 million barrels of oil daily, Nigeria's four national refineries are barely functional. (Guardian)
China's Ministry of Railways expects a record 235 million passengers to travel across the country between Jan 8 and Feb 16, the country's most important holiday season. But: new ticket policies make purchasing tickets "torture." (China Daily)
How to make transit more family-friendly? "An open-stroller policy is a crucial first step." (Grist)
Occupy Boston is taking on that city's proposed transit fare hikes. (Boston Globe)
Hudson Valley legislators returned to the capital this month ready to fight any attempt by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration to merge the New York State Bridge Authority into the New York State Thruway Authority. (Albany Times-Union)
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The City Council passed three pieces of legislation Wednesday that would ease parking regulations — but Mayor Michael Bloomberg has indicated he will veto at least one of them: a bill that says traffic agents can cancel a ticket if shown a Muni-Meter receipt that’s less than five minutes old.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
In the wake of an Italian cruise ship running aground in the Mediterranean, House Transportation committee chair John Mica (R-FL) announced Wednesday that he will hold a hearing reviewing U.S. cruise ship safety.
“The Costa Concordia tragedy is a wakeup call for the United States and international maritime organizations to carefully review and make certain we have in place all appropriate standards to ensure passengers’ safety on cruise ships,” Mica said. Congressman Frank LoBiondo, who will co-chair the hearings, said "although it is early in the investigatory process, it appears the Costa Concordia was a preventable tragedy."
No date was given for the hearing. You can read the release here.
TN MOVING STORIES: Colorado Town Fights Beltway, Troy Transit Center's 2nd Chance, Headphone-Wearing Pedestrian Catastrophes On the Rise
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Top stories on TN:
NJ Governor Christie’s State of the State: No Transpo Talk, But He Worked In A Driving Metaphor (Link)
MTA, Unions May Be Talking for A While (Link)
Bike Share to the Alamo, Santa Claus Bike/Ped Trail, and Other Transit $$ (Link)
NY Gov. Cuomo Budget: MTA Not Gutted, $$ For Amtrak, Infrastructure Fund (Link)
$77 Million in Transpo Grants To Universities (Link)
The number of headphone-wearing pedestrians seriously injured or killed near roadways and railways has tripled in six years. (Bloomberg News via Albany Times-Union)
NJ Gov. Chris Christie put the brakes on legislation that would have required teenage drivers to clock an additional six months of practice time before getting a license, while forcing their parents to take an orientation course about their new, young drivers. (NJ.com)
Nigeria's government backed down on fuel price increases and reimposed fuel subsidies. (Christian Science Monitor)
Meanwhile, Chevron says an oil rig is still burning off the Nigerian coast. (Washington Post)
Still no contract, but talks continue between New York's MTA and the transit workers union. (WNYC)
The city of Golden, Colorado, is fighting a beltway. (New York Times)
Troy's transit center got a second chance, when members of the Troy City Council voted last night to approve a scaled-down version of the controversial project they blocked last month. (Detroit Free Press)
One reporter rode all 139 bus routes in Chicago's transit system. (WBEZ)
California bullet train promoters predict it will cost $171 billion to build new airports and roads if the trains aren't completed. But experts say that figure is greatly exaggerated. (Los Angeles Times)
Former mayor of Atlanta: mass transit brings freedom. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest in the nation. They also have some of the dirtiest air, thanks to thousands of cargo trucks that pass through each day. (NPR)
The head of New York MTA's capital construction is on a charm offensive. (TXCHNOLOGIST)
The average age of a car in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 10.8 years in 2011. (Marketplace)
An opossum rode the D train in Brooklyn. (New York Times)
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The two transportation references in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's State of the State address involved a driving metaphor and a shout-out to people listening while behind the wheel.
"Now is not the time to put the brakes on New Jersey’s growth. Now it is the time to put the foot down harder on the accelerator. Now is not the time to turn back. Now is the time to make New Jersey greatness a reality again."
"To everyone in this room, to everyone watching in their home or listening in their car, I have one simple message: for the New Jersey Comeback to continue and grow, we must all come together."
Christie's State of the Union address focused on education, taxes, jobs, and crime. There were no lofty promises about infrastructure improvements or making commuters' lives easier -- or even fixing potholes. Although, to be fair, there were some images of shovels breaking ground in his recent video, "The Jersey Comeback has Begun."
By way of contrast, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed an infrastructure bank in his recent State of the State address and talked about the need for coordination between the state's various transportation entities -- although he also didn't actually utter the word "transit."
You can see the text of Christie's speech here.
TN MOVING STORIES: U.S. Fast Train Program Off To Slow Start, Transit Options to New Marlins Stadium Still A Mystery, TSA to Test Workers for Radiation
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Top stories on TN:
For California High Speed Rail, A Season of Woe (Link)
Mica Endorses Romney (Link)
Trucking Through the Port of Oakland (Link)
Boomtime for Ferry Boats (Link)
D.C. Metro Board Looks At $6 Fare for Peak Paper Tickets (Link)
Obama Administration Fast Tracks NE High Speed Rail Review (Link)
Why Don’t More Blacks Use DC’s Bike Share? (Link)
High-speed rail plans off to slow start: President Obama promised in his 2011 State of the Union address that he would connect 80% of Americans to high-speed rail in 25 years. But: "Virtually none of the projects has gotten off the ground, and the one that has is in trouble." (Washington Post)
Hoping to take transit to the Marlins game? Think again: Miami-Dade County officials have secured none of several promised transit improvements for the city's new $634 million, publicly funded stadium...which opens in April. "After more than a year of meetings between city and county officials and a transportation planner working for the Marlins, the transit blueprint remains little more than a wish list, hampered by lack of funding and the Marlins’ apparent unwillingness to help pay for improvements." (Miami Herald)
Ports in New York and New Jersey are starting to gain market share over West Coast ports. (Star-Ledger)
Transit agencies nationwide are trying to figure out how to widen seats in the face of a population that's growing ... sideways. (New York Times)
After years of rebuffing health concerns over airport scanners, the Transportation Security Administration plans to test airport security officers to see if they are being exposed to dangerous levels of radiation while working with the scanners. (Los Angeles Times)
One town in New York's Adirondack Mountains says it needs to build trails to encourage snowmobilers to visit local businesses. (Watertown Daily Times)
Talks continue between New York's MTA and the Transport Workers Union, after failing to reach an agreement before the current contract expired on Sunday night. (WNYC)
For the first time, the urban population in China has surpassed the rural population. (Marketplace)
A New Jersey woman gave birth on a PATH train. "They said they took the PATH because driving into Manhattan would have risked getting stuck in Lincoln Tunnel traffic." (Star-Ledger)
BMW is recalling almost a quarter of a million Mini Coopers worldwide because of a fault with an electric water pump. (BBC)
The House is back in session today -- and is facing a mountain of unresolved transportation issues, like FAA funding and the soon-to-expire surface transportation law. (Politico)
Connecticut's governor defends the New-Britain-to-Hartford busway -- and his view of an integrated transportation system. "People on the transit side think I'm spending too much on bridges… People on the road side think I'm spending too much on transit," Malloy said. "What I'm really trying to explain to everyone is that their system will do well individually only if the other systems do well." (Hartford Courant)
TN MOVING STORIES: Another Speed Bump For California Bullet Train, Canada Annoyed with U.S. Over Keystone Pipeline, FreshDirect Wants Rail Access
Friday, January 13, 2012
Top stories on TN:
PICS: Haiti’s Transportation Two Years After the Earthquake (Link)
NY MTA Completes Four-Night Shutdown For Repairs Along Stretch Of Busy Subway Line (Link)
Boston Launches App Challenge to Link Transit and Bike Share (Link)
California’s Diesel Decade (Link)
Bloomberg Not Budging on Bike Share, More Bike Lanes (Link)
Mica Praises Romney, Stops Short of Endorsement (Link)
The chief executive of California's bullet train project suddenly announced his resignation, just months before construction was supposed to begin. (Los Angeles Times)
Canada is annoyed that pro-environmental groups in the U.S. are delaying approval of a pipeline that would move Canadian oil. (NPR)
Access to rail is a big factor in NYC grocery delivery service FreshDirect's relocation plans. (Crain's New York)
Pennsylvania's governor will unveil his much-awaited plan for dealing with the state's transportation funding shortfall in his budget message Feb. 7 or sooner. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; h/t Stateline)
2011 milestone: for the first time ever, the roughly $2,800 dollars that a household spent at the pump was more than a year’s worth of car payments. (KQED)
Bike share GPS data will help plan NYC's bike lane network. (Streetsblog)
TN MOVING STORIES: Beijing Bike Scheme, Florida Traffic Deaths Drop, Airlines Sue DOT Over Advertising Rules
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Top stories on TN:
Trying Out Staten Island's Bus Time (Link)
Montana To Parents, Kids: We Know It’s Winter — But You Can Still Walk & Bike To School (Link)
As Presidential Race Moves to South Carolina, Pothole Ads Do, Too (Link)
Amtrak: In 2012, We Want eTickets, Electric Locomotives, and Speedier Trains (Link)
Beijing will put 20,000 rental bikes on the street this year to ease congestion -- and open four new subway lines. (Xinhua)
Parts of Nigeria are under a curfew after protests against the ending of fuel subsidies grew violent. "Overnight, prices at the pump more than doubled...The costs of food and transportation also doubled." (NPR)
Adding mass transit to the Tappan Zee Bridge would delay the project at least two years, says the head of the New York State DOT. (Journal News)
New MTA head Joe Lhota says he'll continue to pursue a smartcard system for NYC transit. (New York Times)
Traffic deaths in Florida dropped to a 33-year low in 2011, although the state's population doubled in that span. (AP via Miami Herald)
Some airlines are suing the DOT over its requirement that advertisements include all taxes and fees in ticket prices for flights. (The Hill)
Sales of diesel-powered cars in the U.S. rose 27.4 percent in 2011 while hybrid sales dropped 2.2 percent. (AutoBlogGreen)
DC's Metro would have to condemn many more properties than originally thought in order to build the Purple Line. (Washington Post)
Volkswagen unveils the E-Bugster -- an electric Beetle concept car -- in Detroit. (Gizmag)
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Amtrak will begin the groundwork for faster trains in New Jersey, building electric locomotives, and extending electronic ticketing to all trains in 2012.
The rail company released a list of major projects (pdf) it hopes to begin, continue, or complete in 2012.
Amtrak also will roll out an e-ticketing system this year that will allow passengers to receive tickets via email, and then display them on their smartphones in the form of barcodes -- which conductors can then scan. The rail provider said it would also continue to work on modernizing its 30-year-old reservation system.
Many of the new projects focus on the Northeast -- the most heavily-traveled rail corridor in the country -- and also the region that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee head John Mica says represents the best hope for high-speed rail.
In New York, Amtrak will be moving forward on a study for the Gateway Tunnel -- a replacement option for the now-canceled ARC trans-Hudson tunnel. Amtrak had initially requested $50 million for the study but was granted $15 million by the Senate.
Amtrak will also begin working on upgrading a portion of track in New Jersey to allow trains to travel at 160 miles per hour (a 25-mph increase over current speeds), and will continue upgrading track switches at the western entrance to New York's Penn Station to minimize congestion.
The first of 70 new electric locomotives will also be built in 2012, and will be put into operation on both the Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington) and the Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia to Harrisburg.) In the spring of 2012, Amtrak says it will release a plan on how it will meet the forecasted growth in ridership nationwide.
Amtrak set an all-time ridership record of over 30 million passengers for FY 2011 -- the eighth ridership record in the last nine years. Congress cut its funding to $1.42 billion for FY2012, or $64 million less than Amtrak received in FY 2011.
TN MOVING STORIES: BART Extension To Silicon Valley Clears Hurdle, Edmonton Transit Riders to be Scanned for Explosives
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Top stories on TN:
A Whole New York City Borough Gets Real-time Bus Information (Link)
Lhota: Don’t Hate on the MTA (Link)
NY Gov Cuomo to NY Pols: I Don’t Have To Ask Your Permission To Build the Convention Center, But Let’s Work Together (Link)
Senator Dianne Feinstein Wants To Save CA High Speed Rail — As Republican Assemblywoman Tries to Kill It (Link)
The deal to extend BART to Silicon Valley is finally clearing its last major hurdle after a six-decade struggle -- and is likely to win $900 million in federal support. (San Francisco Examiner, Mercury News)
Status update: I'm driving right now! Mercedes-Benz USA is bringing Facebook to its cars. (Reuters)
Because it's become so popular, organizers have made some changes to New York's 5 Boro Bike Tour. (New York Times)
Transit riders in Edmonton will have their train tickets scanned for explosives. (Vancouver Sun)
Metro's proposed fare increase is infuriating riders. (Washington Post)
What happens when the NYC subway closes for repairs: workers work, and riders swear. (New York Times)
The new head of NY's MTA hates peeling paint. (NY Daily News)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Called NYC Street Closures, it pulls information from a variety of city agencies, including the Department of Transportation (which handles work permits for groups like large contractors and Con Ed) and the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management. It's searchable by date and location, and a tab on the bottom allows readers to toggle between event closures and construction closures.
“We all know how frustrating it can be to wake up and find your street has been unexpectedly blocked off for a street fair, a parade, or any other event,” said Council Member Garodnick, the author of the bill that created this online tool, in a press release. “The least we can do is make sure that New Yorkers know in advance what is happening out there. This online tool will give all of us a chance to find the events when we want them, and to avoid them when we don't.”
One caveat: the map shows planned closures. So if work or an event has been cancelled due to weather, the map will still show the street as closed.
NY Gov Cuomo to NY Pols: I Don't Have To Ask Your Permission To Build the Convention Center, But Let's Work Together
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just sent a letter to state political leaders urging cooperation for his convention center plan, which he wants to build in Queens. The convention center -- with its proposed express subway link -- featured prominently in his State of the State address.
"While I may have the legal authority to proceed unilaterally," he writes, "I choose to only proceed in full public view and with support of the legislature in a spirit of cooperation."
Cuomo also said: "Transportation to the site is an issue that needs to be addressed and we have been discussing the feasibility of MTA service from Manhattan to Aqueduct, with Genting paying the cost of such service." (our italics)
The full text of the letter is below.
GOVERNOR CUOMO SENDS LETTER TO LEGISLATIVE LEADERS REGARDING PROPOSAL TO BUILD THE CONVENTION CENTER AT AQUEDUCT
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver regarding the proposal to build the convention center complex at the Aqueduct site.
The letter is below:
Dear Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Silver:
In my State of the State message last week, I spoke about a comprehensive program to foster economic development across the state. As the state’s resources are limited, our task will be to leverage private sector activity without significant funding from the state; no small challenge. Two projects I discussed were development of a convention center complex at the Aqueduct site in Southeastern Queens and the redevelopment of the Javits Center. As you will recall Genting New York LLC was granted in September 2010, the only franchise in New York City to operate a video lottery terminal (VLT) facility under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct. Genting has proceeded with the project, which from all perspectives, has gone exceedingly well.
In the past selection of gaming operators, race track issues, VLT designations have raised serious ethical and legal issues for the state. To be sure, the state’s current gaming arrangements are varied and controversial. I look forward to the opportunity to bring a logic and strategy to gaming operations in the state over the next two years through development of casino legislation and regulations.
In the interim, any transaction that the state makes with Genting or any modifications to the current state agreement will be submitted to the legislature for full review and action before becoming binding. Given the past history, while I may have the legal authority to proceed unilaterally, I choose to only proceed in full public view and with support of the legislature in a spirit of cooperation.
Genting has proposed further development of the site which includes the creation of a destination location of international potential. The destination location will include gaming, hotel rooms, entertainment, exhibition and convention center facilities. The economic impact of the project would be enormous, estimated to create thousands of construction and private sector jobs. The state investment would be minimal with potentially the greatest number of jobs produced in the state in many, many years. As you know, in each of the VLT racinos across the state, the state has, through legislation, negotiated a revenue sharing agreement and such an agreement would need to be negotiated here. Importantly, the new agreement would be binding only upon the new VLT terminal revenue which would be granted to the Aqueduct facility; while the terms and conditions of our original agreement remain in place. Hence, there is only the possibility of additional revenue for the state as our current revenue stream would be untouched.
While the discussions are preliminary and conceptual, at this point the first phase would include construction of 1,000 hotel rooms, theater and entertainment components, approximately 3 million square feet of convention and exhibition space, expansion of VLT gaming space and a parking facility. Importantly, Genting has the exclusive lease on all the land anticipated to be used in phase one and is the only legislatively approved VLT operator in New York City.
The second phase would require additional land beyond the 67 acres currently under lease to Genting. The Port Authority controls an adjoining 22 acres which Genting is considering for an additional 2,000 hotel rooms and approximately a half million more square feet of convention and meeting space.
Genting is prepared to work with the relevant labor unions and execute a project labor agreement. They will also work with the local communities and local governments on zoning, and meet or exceed all state MWBE requirements.
Transportation to the site is an issue that needs to be addressed and we have been discussing the feasibility of MTA service from Manhattan to Aqueduct, with Genting paying the cost of such service.
There is also an issue as to how this racino expansion at Aqueduct would affect operations at the nearby Belmont race track.
The Aqueduct project is linked to the Javits Center redevelopment as the New York Metropolitan area needs a convention site and if we do not plan to develop one as an alternative to Javits, then Javits would need to continue to operate. As I stated in my State of the State message, the Javits Convention Center is too small to be a competitive exhibition facility, and redevelopment of the current Javits site has exciting possibilities for the West Side of Manhattan and beyond. I also believe the redevelopment of Javits will render significant economic benefit to the State of New York which is essential during these challenging fiscal times.
I will also ask the legislature to consider passing language authorizing a Constitutional Amendment to allow casino gaming in the State of New York. That referendum would be at best two years from now – if ever – and should be considered as a separate issue from these current proposals. We would hope that the Aqueduct project could be finalized within one year on an expedited time frame.
Opponents to the project point out that many conventions centers lose money. That is a true point. Most governments weigh the issue of building a convention center with public money as a “loss leader” for the net economic gain of additional tourism dollars, etc. That is a debatable proposition. However, that is not the case here. The state is not building anything. We are not spending public money on a convention center. Genting, a private entity, will take the risk of economic success. I have never been a casino or racino proponent, but we are here now and the question is how to best maximize the economics and protect our citizens.
As you know, we are working aggressively to attract business investment to New York State. It would be ironic to say the least if New York did not seize an opportunity of this scale when presented with it.
The bottom line is that this is a low risk, high reward business opportunity for the state. The Genting organization already controls the land under phase one and already is the only legislatively approved operator for VLTs in New York City. Our only “cost” is noneconomic: the issuance of additional gaming machines at a preexisting gaming facility. The reward is approximately 10,000 construction jobs, 10,000 permanent jobs and $4 billion investment in the state. This investment would be one of the largest in the state’s history at no cost to the state.
A new convention center also frees the Javits site for redevelopment. I think the merits are clear.
I would appreciate your respective staff’s attention to engage in these conversations on a joint basis to see if they can be brought to fruition.
I also think it would be advisable for us to meet together with Genting officials in the coming weeks to discuss the proposal in person.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
TN MOVING STORIES: LaHood Defends Auto Bailout, Christie Ready to "Get My Arms" Around the Port Authority
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Top stories on TN:
Joe Lhota, The MTA’s Rider/Chairman, Uninimously Confirmed (Link)
Transit Advocates: Where’s the Money for a Direct Train to New Convention Center? (Link)
Severe Weather Events Continue to Cost US: Big $$ to Alabama, Vermont, NY, NJ (Link)
New York’s Night Riders Unhappy with Subway Sleep (Link)
Rick Santorum, as Senator, Preached the Gospel of Transit (Link)
NJ Governor Christie says he and NY Governor Cuomo are ready to work together on the Port Authority: "It's my time to get my arms around this agency now." (NorthJersey.com)
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood kicks off the Detroit Auto Show; defends government bailout of automakers. (Detroit Free Press)
And: automakers are flooding the auto show with new hybrids, but with gas prices below $4 a gallon, consumers are not buying them. (New York Times)
Chinatown bus company Double Happyness -- under federal orders to stop operating after being deemed an "'imminent hazard' to public safety"--has continued to sell tickets, violating a cease and desist order that was issued last week. (DNA Info)
Canceling the ARC tunnel last year cost NJ Transit nearly $300 million, according to an audit. (The Record)
DC's Metro is proposing a 5% fare increase. (WAMU)
Detroit's light rail project may yet live again, just .. shorter. (Transport Politic)
Want a state road for free? A Nevada transportation official said Monday that there has been "zero interest" in his agency's offer to give counties and cities 903 miles of state-owned and maintained roads. (Las Vegas Review Journal)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
After sailing through two committee hearings, Joseph Lhota was unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate to be chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday.
"I'm very pleased and honored," Lhota said afterwards, speaking to reporters outside the Senate gallery. "I'm looking forward to this opportunity to make a difference."
But it was the state senators themselves who sounded humbled.
"We're honored Joe would come back to public service," said state Senator Malcolm Smith, who seemed to be speaking for most of his colleagues. Lhota was a former New York City deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, and had been an executive vice president at Madison Square Garden when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tapped him for the MTA to replace Jay Walder.
Many senators expressed astonishment that the new MTA chair would want the job. The MTA is largely viewed by legislators as "insular, inefficient, and — dare I say it — arrogant," state Senator Andrew Lanza said. Senator Charles Fuschillo, chairman of the senate's transportation committee, summed it up: "We’ve heard this is the most bloated bureaucracy in the country, we’ve heard about the double books, we’ve heard about every problem – we’ve even seen people on the front page of the (New York) Post the other day, playing chess when they should be working."
Lhota, for his part, was even tempered throughout, although he did use his time on the hot seat to to impart a couple of teaching moments. After hearing several legislators trot out the old trope that the agency has two sets of books -- a misperception that is almost a decade old -- he bristled. "The fact of the matter is when you go to our website and drill down, you’ll see an enormous amount of information," he said, adding that the MTA is one of the most transparent agencies in New York State. "There never was two sets of books," he said, "and there never will be two sets of books.”
But the senators knew they had a political macher, not a transportation wonk, in their court, and they seemed to be going through the motions. While Lhota fielded questions on everything from the MTA's finances, to overtime pay, to his stance on tolling the East River bridges, the only legislators who seemed able to muster genuine indignation were the perpetually offended Ruben Diaz, who was unhappy about a subway station in his district, and representatives from Dutchess and Orange Counties -- two of the four so-called "quarter pounder" counties, who share one vote on the MTA board and feel overcharged and underserved by Metro-North.
When senators opined wistfully about the possibility of cutting back on taxpayer support, Lhota sought to nip that in the bud. “I do have to bring up one thing, and I’ll be very honest and very blunt," he said. "There is no way that the MTA can operate without taxpayer money. It was never envisioned to be run nwithout taxpayer dollars. There is not a transportation or commuter rail or transit system in the country that doesn’t work without some other infusion of cash...The entire operation of the MTA cannot be paid for from the riders. It was never envisioned that way when the legislature created the MTA in 1968. I just want to be able to say that.”
During the hearings he talked about his vision for the MTA -- one in which the already pared-down agency further streamlines while improving service. Lhota said he'd be looking closely at the agency's back office operations. “Each one of the operating agencies of the MTA (has) an enormous amount of redundancies," he said. "They all have their own legal staff…. All of the administrative functions are duplicated. I think the time has come for there to be one MTA.”
And he said he was realistic about the challenge: “The bottom line is there’s no consistent standard of excellence across all the MTA. In most cases the service is reliable, stations are clean, and employees provide good customer service. But we’ve all seen dirty subways, we’ve all seen elevators and escalators out of service, buses that crawl at four miles per hour, commuter rail service crippled by bad weather, we’ve heard about projects over budget and behind schedule."
By the end of the afternoon, when the full senate convened to vote, legislators buoyed by the promise of a new era at the MTA rose to their feet to give the new chairman a standing ovation.Lhota told reporters afterwards that he's ridden the subways all his life, and he'll continue to do so. (But with a power that few straphangers can exercise.) "As a rider, I’m also going to be a critic, when I see something wrong on the subways I’m going to make sure it gets fixed," he said. "So the type of chairman I’m going to be for riders? I’m going to be a rider/chairman."