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Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

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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TN MOVING STORIES: Detroit's Light Rail Plan is Dead, a BRT Plan Emerges; Republicans Link Payroll Tax to Keystone Pipeline; Rio Relaunches Bike Share

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The NTSB wants a federal ban on cell phones while driving. (Link)
Overcoming travel phobias: a success story. (Link)
Picture this: got a flat? Call the tow bike. (Link)

Bike share in Rio (photo by riopravoce via Flickr)

NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman tells the Takeaway the urge to tweet in a car is just too great (The Takeaway).

A controversial Republican version of the payroll tax -- now linked to the Keystone XL pipeline -- passed the House and heads to the Senate. (Washington Post)

California's governor announced $1 billion in budget cuts; free school bus transportation is among the programs slashed. (Los Angeles Times)

Plans for light rail in Detroit have been scrapped in favor of a system of high-speed city and suburban buses. (Detroit Free Press)

Rio de Janeiro relaunched its bike share program -- with better results. (Atlantic Cities)

The cost of canceling Toronto's planned Transit City light rail lines could exceed $65 million. (Globe and Mail)

New York's Court of Appeals rules that selling MetroCard swipes is not larceny; overturns 2009 conviction. (New York Times)

Indiana unveiled a ten-year, $1.3 billion transit overhaul. (Indianapolis Star)

New York Times editorial: Governor Cuomo, you don't need more meetings about the taxi legislation--just sign it.

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NTSB Calls for National Ban On Cell Phones While Driving

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(photo by mscholar14 via flickr)

Federal investigators today called for a nationwide ban on using cell phones while driving.

"More than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents," said National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving."

The Board is normally charged with investigating accidents, not setting policy.

The board's recommendation came on the heels of an investigation into a multi-car pileup that happened in Missouri last August, when a pickup truck ran into the back of a truck-tractor that had slowed due to an active construction zone. The pickup truck, in turn, was struck from behind by a school bus. That school bus was then hit by a second school bus that had been following. Two people died and 38 others were injured.

According to the NTSB's press release, the investigation revealed that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the truck-tractor.

Department of Transportation Ray LaHood has made distracted driving one of his key issues. When he unveiled crash statistics for 2010 earlier this month, he announced a new category: the "distraction-affected crash” measure, which collects data about the role distracted driving plays in accidents. He wrote in a blog post that "data confirms that driver distraction continues to be a significant safety problem. For example... more than three-quarters of the drivers told us they answer calls on all, some, or most trips when they're behind the wheel."

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PICTURE: Got a Flat? Call the Tow Bike.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Seen on SoHo's Charlton Street Tuesday morning: a bicyclist with two additional bikes in tow.

(Okay, we have no idea why these bikes were being towed, but we like to imagine that there's someone roaming the city, ready and able to provide a helping hand to bicyclists in need.)

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TN MOVING STORIES: GOP Ties Payroll Tax to Keystone Pipeline, New Marlins Stadium Lacks Transpo Plan, Big Changes for Chicago Taxis

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Mitt Romney: metro-friendly moderate? (Link)
NY's governor signed the MTA tax reduction into law. (Link)
Northern states are looking for eco-friendly road de-icers. (Link)
Protesters disrupt West Coast ports. (Link)

The new Marlins stadium (photo by Ghost of Fire via Flickr)

The GOP is tying the payroll tax cut extension to the Keystone pipeline. (WNYC)

The Los Angeles MTA released a one-year action plan to address civil rights violations cited in a federal audit. (Los Angeles Times)

The New York MTA’s final 2012 budget plan won’t restore any of the bus or subway service officials eliminated last year. (New York Daily News)

A group of senators is pushing to extend the commuter tax benefit before it runs out. (The Hill)

The transportation plan for the new Miami Marlins stadium remains incomplete -- four months before opening day. (Atlantic Cities)

And: The city of Miami --which owns the stadium -- has yet to lease any of the store and restaurant spaces in the new ballpark's parking garages. "The city administration’s effort to fill 53,000 square feet of commercial space in the publicly owned parking garages flanking the stadium has barely gotten off the ground." (Miami Herald)

The City of Chicago is introducing broad changes to its taxi industry regulations. (WBEZ)

An article about Finland's education system yielded this factoid: "Speeding tickets are calculated according to income." (New York Times)

Cities and counties across Texas are increasingly demanding that drunken-driving suspects who refuse to take breathalyzer tests submit to blood tests. (Wall Street Journal)

Colorado decides today whether to make energy companies list all the chemicals they use to do hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But environmentalists want them to disclose much more. (Marketplace)

Mobile speed cameras in Maryland are racking up ticket money from nailing drivers who speed through work zones. (Washington Post)

Check out an 1896 map of California bike routes. (LA Curbed)

And on this morning's Brian Lehrer Show: tune in around 11:30am for a conversation about one scientist's subway sleeping experiment. (WNYC)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Texting While Driving Up 50%, House To Hold Hearing on CA Bullet Trains

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top stories on TN:

What Cuomo's tax bill says about transit. (Link)
And: Cuomo says he'll include transit in his infrastructure fund. (Link)
Bloomberg is still optimistic that the governor will sign the taxi bill. (Link)

Waiting for a bus in L.A. (photo by Laurie Avocado via Flickr)

A federal audit says Los Angeles's transit agency failed to fully research its impacts on riders and communities, especially when eliminating bus lines, adding service or changing fares. (Los Angeles Times)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing this week on California's high-speed rail project this week. (Link)

The pre-tax commuter benefit rewards drivers more than transit riders. (New York Times)

And: if Congress doesn't act before the end of the year, the benefit expires. (Washington Post)

New Jersey's Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program has become popular that it may be expanding to other types of communities -- diluting the original intent of the program. (NJ Spotlight)

Texting by drivers is up 50%, even as states pass laws against it. And what’s more, many drivers don’t think it’s dangerous when they do it — only when others do. (AP via Washington Post)

Ford kills a line of small pickup trucks, says demand is for full-size. (Marketplace)

The new Apple store at Grand Central Terminal is a good deal for New York's transit agency. (NY Daily News)

Deaths on Caltrain tracks are increasing--horrifying train engineers, who are the last people to see the victims alive. (Bay Citizen)

More on Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor problem. (New York Times)

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TN MOVING STORIES: House to Hold Hearing on Volt Fires; Christie "Concerned" About Port Authority Toll Explanation

Friday, December 09, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Port Authority: no transportation funds are going to WTC reconstruction. (Link)
The redistricting proposal put out by Florida's House spells trouble for Mica. (Link)
The number of New Yorkers commuting by bike has doubled in the last four years. (Link)
Houston drivers + winter = danger. (Link)
The number of electric vehicles able to power buildings and feed the power grid will grow to more than 5 million in 2017. (Link)

London taxi (photo by kenjonbro via Flickr)

A U.S. House subcommittee will hold a hearing into reports of GM's Chevrolet Volt catching fire (Bloomberg); meanwhile, Ray LaHood insists the vehicles are safe and that information hadn't been withheld from the public. (Detroit Free Press)

Governor Christie is "concerned" about the Port Authority's changing explanation for the toll hike, calls former head Chris Ward "an awful manager...who didn't tell the truth."  (The Star-Ledger)

Salary information for all Port Authority employees is now on the agency's website.

Talks continue on an FAA bill. (Politico)

Suspension cables on the 80-year-old George Washington Bridge are being replaced. (New York Times)

New York Daily News op-ed: Governor Cuomo, sign the livery bill already.

Learning to drive a taxi in London changes your brain. (Atlantic Cities)

Does my EV's butt look big in this docking backpack? (GizMag)

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Port Authority: No Transportation Funds Are Going to the World Trade Center

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Holland Tunnel (photo by mrZiad.123 via Flickr)

The Port Authority didn't mislead anyone last summer when it raised the specter of a large price tag for rebuilding the World Trade Center while arguing for steep toll hikes for its Hudson River crossings.

That's according to Chairman David Samson, who says the authority's been clear:  it needs the money for its transportation network.

"Do I think there was consistency? Yes," said Samson after a Port Authority Board meeting Thursday. "Do I regret that somebody may have misunderstood  that, in some of the public statements? If there was misunderstanding, on the point of view of the listener, sure I regret that."

Samson's remarks came just hours after the AAA said in court on Thursday that the Port Authority's Interstate Transportation Network -- its revenue-producing bridges and tunnels -- is a cash cow. The motorist association says the Port Authority is using that money to pay for the financially draining World Trade Center rebuilding.

The Port Authority says the ITN is drag on its system and has operated at a deficit for half a century -  since the agency acquired the PATH train system in 1962.

That's the issue at the heart of a lawsuit wending its way through federal court. AAA is suing the Port Authority over toll and fare hikes which took effect in September. The judge heard arguments today and said he'd issue a written decision, but gave no timetable.

The Port Authority's ITN consists of  several bridges and tunnels, as well as the Port Authority bus terminals, the PATH train system, and trans-Hudson ferry service.

When the agency made the case for the toll hikes in August, it repeatedly talked about its 10-year, $25 billion capital plan. Forty-three percent of that amount -- or $10.7 billion -- is slated to go towards projects for the ITN, including hoisting the Bayonne Bridge, replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix, and modernizing the PATH system.

The next big ticket item, coming in at $6.9 billion, is the cost of rebuilding the World Trade Center. The Port Authority insists it's funding the WTC rebuilding through borrowing, federal grants, and insurance -- not toll revenues.

Samson wouldn't comment on any of the specific details of the pending litigation, but he disagreed with the AAA's assertion that the agency had misled the public into believing toll revenues would support the WTC.

"I think we were pretty clear about what we were talking about at the time," he said. "There's no doubt that in discussing the proposed toll and fare increase, we attempted to describe the overall financial condition of the agency. Inevitably, if you're going to be talking about the overall financial condition of the agency, you're going to talk about security that was added post-9/11 and the World Trade Center redevelopment site. There was to my knowledge, no reference, no specific statement, that said the proposed toll and fare increases were going to some other use, or some other place, other than what the executive director said was the integrated transportation network."

Pat Foye, the Port Authority's executive director, wasn't heading the agency in August. But he said the Port Authority's message has always been consistent. And the bottom line, he said,  was if the agency hadn't raised tolls this summer, "there would have been a drag in the amount of $3 billion dollars on the rest of the organization, the non-interstate transportation part of the organization. And the fare and toll increase reduced the drag, reduced the burden, on the rest of the organization."

 

 

 

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Judge to Decide on Challenge to Port Authority Toll Increase

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A judge said he would soon issue a written opinion after hearing arguments from AAA on Thursday claiming that the Port Authority is turning a profit from its bridges and tunnels and has no need – or legal authority – to raise tolls.

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TN MOVING STORIES: LaHood Wants Federal Ban on Texting While Driving, Cuomo Threatens to Veto Street Hail Legislation, and the 10 Best Transit Poems

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Transpo advocates are livid over deeper cut to NY MTA revenue stream. (Link)
A lawsuit challenging Port Authority's toll increases is in court today. (Link)
Cities have their moment -- and the 2012 TED Prize. (Link)
LOOK: NYC unveils haute scaffolding. (Link)

One of the approximately 200 wheelchair accessible cabs in the city. (photo by Kate Hinds/WNYC)

Ray LaHood wants a federal ban on texting while driving -- and he'll announce today that traffic fatalities in 2010 have hit the lowest level since 1949.(USA Today)

Governor Cuomo says lack of resolution over accessibility issues means he'll probably veto Mayor Bloomberg's plan to allow livery cabs to pick street hails and start over next year. (New York Daily News)

More people are walking in New York City, according to the increasing "pedestrian volume index." (New York Times)

Public transit ridership is up. (USA Today)

Why Gabe Klein (Chicago's transportation commissioner) is the way he is. (New City)

And: Chicago further proves its bike lane street cred, gets snowplow especially for protected lanes. (The Northwest Passage; h/t Gabe Klein)

Atlantic Cities has a list of what it says are the world's 10 best transit poems. Like this one, by Carl Sandburg: Night from a railroad car window/is a great, dark, soft thing/broken across with slashes of light

Peer-to-peer bike sharing gets rolling. (Fast Company)

A new app turns riding the London Underground into a game. (Good)

How a bike recreated the light ribbons from Tron. (Guardian)

Recreating the light ribbons from Tron (photo: Laura Aldred)

 

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