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Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

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)

Bicyclists in Beijing (photo by Superflow via Flickr)

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)

Capital Bikeshare has posted data files with individual (but anonymous) trip data. (Greater Greater Washington)

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)

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Amtrak: In 2012, We Want eTickets, Electric Locomotives, and Speedier Trains

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

(Photo: Amtrak Locomotive (cc) by Flickr User Slideshow Bruce)

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.

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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)

BART train (photo by Keoki Seu via Flickr)

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)

Tweet of the day, by @lhrtobos: I like this kid's technique: "I WANT A SEAT!!!!!" Seat granted. I'm trying that tomorrow. #mbta

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There's a Map for That

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An image from the NYC Street Closures map

New York City -- which has put street ratings online (in the winsomely named Daily Pothole) and promised real-time snow plow data -- has now added street closure information to its toolbox.

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.

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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.

Thank you.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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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)

Ray LaHood (center; blue tie) at the Detroit Auto Show (photo courtesy of US DOT/Fast Lane)

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)

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Joe Lhota, The MTA's Rider/Chairman, Unanimously Confirmed

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Joseph Lhota (center), officially the new MTA head

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."

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Lhota Confirmed as New Head of MTA

Monday, January 09, 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.

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TN MOVING STORIES: One-Way Streets Losing Favor, Nigerian Unions Launch Strike Over Fuel Costs, Taking Parking Lots Seriously

Monday, January 09, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Exploring Grand Central’s Secrets, With the Author of Hugo Cabret (Link)
California Budget Supports Bullet Train, Would Create New Transportation Agency (Link)
Houston Starts Small As It Tries Out First-Ever Bike Share (Link)

A Christian Lacroix-designed tram in Montpellier, France (photo courtesy of Montpellier Agglomération Officiel)

Transit advocates are expressing doubt over the capacity to run an express subway train from midtown Manhattan to a proposed new convention center in Queens. (WNYC)

Montpellier, France, is installing "what may be Europe’s sexiest tram system." (New York Times)

Nigerian unions have launched a nationwide strike over soaring fuel costs. (BBC)

Taking parking lots seriously as public spaces: "Lots don’t need to be dead zones." (New York Times)

One-way streets are in the crosshairs of some city planners. (National Post)

The Detroit Auto Show is happening this week. (Detroit Free Press; coverage)

Legislation being drawn up in Atlanta could play a key role in determining the fate of the state's $6.14 billion transportation referendum scheduled for this summer. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

To market more cars to Americans, Volkswagen is getting less German. (NPR)

Los Angeles Times pro-high-speed rail editorial: "The point is, you can take the long view or the short view toward the bullet train. The expert panels are taking a short view; we prefer the long."

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wants to start construction of a new Central Terminal Building at La Guardia Airport in 2014. (Wall Street Journal)

Police are ticketing passengers for subway infractions like propping up feet on a seat, blocking the doors, or taking up more than one seat. (New York Times)

Transit advocates haven't given up hope yet for a bus lane over the new Tappan Zee Bridge. (Journal News)

"Let's do a bicycle ride!" Ron Paul wants to prove he's healthy enough to be president. (Politico)

Before the "L," Chicago ran on cable cars. (WBEZ)

Reminder: New York City's first-ever subway line work shutdown begins tonight. (TN)

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: GM Reinforces Volt Battery, Queens Convention Center Builder Wants Swift Subway Link, Buenos Aires Doubles Subway Fares

Friday, January 06, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Getting Around the Bay in 2012 Just Got Harder and More Expensive (Link)
Now He Can Say It: Walder Calls NY’s Infrastructure “Terrible” (Link)
Filling in the Blanks Of New York’s Infrastructure Plan (Link)

Buenos Aires subway (photo by posterboy2007 via Flickr)

GM is reinforcing the Volt battery with extra steel. (Detroit Free Press)

The company behind a proposal to build a new convention center in Queens said it will work with New York's MTA to fund uninterrupted subway service between Midtown Manhattan and the proposed convention center. (Wall Street Journal)

Buenos Aires is doubling subway fares after Argentina handed control of the system to the city--and decreased subsidies. (Bloomberg News via San Francisco Chronicle)

The feds have given final approval for a $1.7 billion transit line along Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles. (AP via Sacramento Bee)

Freakonomics quorum: can Amtrak ever be profitable? Discuss. (Link)

RadioBoston kicks around solutions to prevent Boston's transit service from being slashed. Two words: congestion pricing. Other ideas: quasi-privatization, automatizing trains, and implementing zone fares. Read the comments section for even more. (WBUR)

NY Senator Charles Schumer wants the commuter tax credit back. (Staten Island Advance)

Yet another rescuer tries to save Seattle's historic Kalakala ferry. But: "It may have looked cool, but it was hard to maneuver and kept running into things." (NPR)

Ron Paul video from 2009: "By subsidizing highways and destroying mass transit, we ended up with this monstrosity."(Streetsblog)

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Now He Can Say It: Walder Calls NY's Infrastructure "Terrible"

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Jay Walder greeting passengers in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of MTR)

Jay Walder, who abruptly resigned from New York's MTA last year to run Hong Kong's well-funded rail system, told reporters on his first day at his new job that New York's transit system was cash-strapped and crumbling when he took over in 2009.

"New York, when I arrived there, was in a financial crisis," he said on Tuesday. "The system simply did not have enough money to continue to operate. The assets were not being renewed. And the infrastructure was in terrible condition."

He went on to say: "What I did was to be able to right that financial basis and to be able to put the system back on firm financial footing."

Walder presided over some of the most severe cuts to the city's transit system in a generation, ending dozens of bus lines, shutting down two train lines, ending weekend bus service in some areas, and making trains noticeably less frequent. He also eliminated 3,500 jobs.

But the system now is also facing some -- how to put this gently -- financial complexities. There's a $10 billion budget shortfall in the agency's long-term capital construction plan. Governor Cuomo just signed an MTA payroll tax reduction into law -- with no concrete plan in place on how to replace those lost funds. And the MTA and its main union have cancelled a bargaining session only ten days before their labor contract is to expire.

But Mayor Bloomberg praised Walder's management Thursday, and said the MTA has started to make some improvements. He also said the agency is in good hands with Joseph Lhota, Jay Walder's successor.

Lhota's confirmation hearing is coming up Monday in Albany.

To hear Jay Walder's comments to the Hong Kong media, go here.

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Former MTA Head Says NY's Infrastructure Was 'Terrible'

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The former head of the MTA told reporters on the first day of his new job that New York's transit system was cash-strapped and crumbling when he took it over three years ago.

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Filling in the Blanks Of New York's Infrastructure Plan

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by Joseph A. via Flickr)

How much of his prepared remarks did New York Governor Cuomo skip over in yesterday's State of the State?

A lot. But he got in plenty of time for a whimsical PowerPoint presentation.

TN's Andrea Bernstein talks about the governor's speech and his $15 billion infrastructure plan on today's Brian Lehrer Show. "He so rarely says the word 'transit," she said. "He talked about roads, he talked about bridges, he talked about the energy highway, he talked about The Tappan Zee Bridge. But again, it's very revealing about what he's thinking and what's going through his mind."

(But what exactly is an "energy highway?" It's unclear -- but in theory, it will bring power from Western New York to downstate residents. Although Cuomo likened the transformative power of this idea to the Eisenhower interstate system, Brian said it's "more like the Taconic than Interstate 90.")

Brian and Andrea also discuss the news that former MTA head Jay Walder told Hong Kong press that New York's transit system was cash-strapped and falling apart when he took over in 2009. Listen below!

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TN MOVING STORIES: U.S. Automakers End 2011 With Big Gains, Cold Weather Cracks DC Rails, St. Paul Businesses Get Rail Construction Relief

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Top stories on TN:
New York Governor Cuomo Proposes $15 Billion Infrastructure Plan (Link)
In Cuomo’s Speech, No Mention of the Word “Transit” (Link)
NY MTA Contract Talks With Transit Workers Union Delayed (Link)
New Jerseyans on Toll Hikes: We Don’t Care Why They’re Being Raised, We Just Care That We Have To Spend More Money (Link)
This Traffic Light Senses Bikes, Promotes Road Harmony (Link)
New South Florida Rail Connection to Miami International Airport Almost Done (Link)

NYC subway platform (photo by Kate Hinds)

U.S. automakers had double-digit growth in sales in 2011. (New York Times, NPR)

Jay Walder, the former head of New York's MTA, says at a press conference in Hong Kong that NYC's "assets were not renewed and the infrastructures were in terrible condition." (The Standard)

He also said he put the city's transit agency on "firm financial footing." (New York Times)

Gibson Crutcher Dunn -- the law firm that sued New York City over a Brooklyn bike lane -- is also defending Chevron in Ecuador, which was slapped with an $18 billion fine for environmental damage. (New Yorker; subscription; update)

JFK airport security workers make $8 an hour, and get neither get sick days nor health insurance. (Village Voice)

US DOT head Ray LaHood is touting the FAA's 2011 accomplishments. (Fast Lane)

Facing complaints about light-rail construction disrupting St. Paul businesses, the government will spend $1.2 million on a marketing campaign to entice shoppers to visit the beleaguered area (Minneapolis Star Tribune). (Note: for more on the Central Corridor construction, listen to the TN documentary "Back of the Bus.")

This week's sudden drop in temperature cracked rails on DC's Metro. (Washington Post)

West Windsor, NJ, is now a transit village. (The Times/NJ.com)

Maryland's department of planning created a smart growth web tool, GamePlanMaryland. "Choose...the direction for our transportation program — more roads, more transit, what combination? Then click the mouse ... and see if the future you’ve plotted will achieve the priorities you established."

The Brian Lehrer Show kicks off a month-long look at the airline industry today. (WNYC)

NYC's former taxi commissioner weighs in on a the recent taxi deal to improve service for the disabled -- and says it's "well-intentioned...[but will] in all likelihood rarely be used by the target ridership." (New York Times)

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New Jerseyans on Toll Hikes: We Don't Care Why They're Being Raised, We Just Care That We Have To Spend More Money

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

(Photo by William Hartz via Flickr)

How do New Jerseyans feel about the New Year's toll hike on the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway?

Notsogood.

"I don't think the commuters really care how you want to characterize it," said Star-Ledger reporter Mike Frassinelli on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. "A lot more money is coming out of their pockets. You can call it a tax hike, you can call it a toll hike. They just know more money is coming out of their pockets and they're not really happy with it."

Wednesday's Brian Lehrer Show devoted the last segment of its show to talking about the impact upon drivers.  (You can listen to the segment below.)

Callers were generally unsupportive of the hike -- like Joe in Madison, who said he worked for the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. He called the toll hike  a tax on small businesses. "It makes it harder for us to do business, and to provide the arts to the community."

One topic on the segment: what Brian called "the political blame game:" NJ Governor Chris Christie is blaming the toll hikes on his predecessor, Jon Corzine -- a statement that is factually correct.

The toll increases were initially planned as a way to help fund the now-canceled trans-Hudson ARC tunnel. Earlier this year, the NJ Turnpike Authority voted to redirect that toll revenue to the state's transportation trust fund.

This week NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg -- an ARC supporter --blasted the governor for allowing the toll hike to go through. "It's shameful that New Jersey commuters are paying more without getting more in return," he said in a statement. "The governor was quick to cancel the badly needed tunnel, but flat-out refused to cancel the associated toll increase."

You can listen to the segment below.

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TN MOVING STORIES: California Bullet Train Hits Borrowing Bump, Boston Faces Steep Fare Hikes, and the Rise of the Gondolas

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Romney: I’d Stop Funding Amtrak, and Have Big Bird With Ads (Link)
Chicago, New York to Make Snow Plow Locations Live During Storms (Link)
Coach Bus Files Chapter 11 (Link)
And: have you seen "New York’s Lost Subways" yet? What are you waiting for!

Billboard on the Bay Bridge (photo by Colin Mutchler/LoudSauce.com)

Expert panel: California's high-speed rail plan isn't financially feasible, and the state must delay borrowing billions for it. (Los Angeles Times)

Boston would raise subway fares by up to 70 cents and dramatically cull bus routes, eliminate ferries, and end weekend commuter rail trains under a plan unveiled Tuesday to help erase a projected $161 million deficit. (Boston Globe)

Work has begun on BART's Oakland Airport connector (Oakland Tribune). (And learn more about the battle over the airport connector in our documentary, Back of the Bus.)

Honolulu's $5.3 billion commuter rail line will break ground in March -- unless a judge halts it. (New York Times)

The Transport Politic has a map of transit projects underway in 2012.

Pay the toll, or spend the extra time? Two reporters test-drive whether it makes sense to pay the new tolls on the NJ Turnpike -- or spend more time on free side roads. (New York Times)

Two retirees are suing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for canceling their lifetime free passes over its bi-state bridges and tunnels. (Star-Ledger)

In San Francisco nearly 2 in 3 trips in the city are made by car -- but transportation officials want to get the number to 1 in 2 trips before the decade is over. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Chicago's street parking rates are increasing. (WBEZ)

Gondolas: the transit wave of the future? (Toronto Star)

The 2012 presidential elections will decide the fate of transit projects nationwide. (City Limits)

Thanks for paying taxes, San Francisco! Learn the story behind the billboard on the Bay Bridge. (SFist)

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Coach Bus Files Chapter 11

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

(photo by Port of San Diego via Flickr)

Coach America, which calls itself the nation's largest tour and charter bus operator and the second largest motorcoach service provider, has filed for Chapter 11 protection.

The president of Coach, George Maney, said in an emailed statement: "I want to emphasize that it is business as usual for Coach America throughout the Chapter 11 process." He said the company expects to continue normal operations as it restructures.

Fenway Partners, a private equity firm that also owns 1-800-CONTACTS, company, bought Coach America from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in early 2007 in a deal valued at more than $400 million. Earlier this year credit ratings agency Moody's downgraded Coach's ratings and warned that the company might need to face restructuring. Although the company has a good business model, Moody's wrote, "it is in a cyclical industry currently under duress and continues to carry the onerous debt burden taken on in 2007 when the company was bought by its current equity sponsor."

Coach employees 6,000 people.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Public Transit's Budget Squeeze, Presidential Candidates Not Talking Transpo, High-Speed Rail Protest Song Tops UK Charts

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Top stories on TN:
New York’s Lost Subways--Complete with Map and Dusty Pics (link)
NYC Tries Out First Ever Weeknight Work-Related Line Shutdown (link)
Union, Veolia Reach Deal On Long Island Bus (link)
Invasion of the Body Scanners: They’re Spreading, But Are They Safe and Effective? (link)

New York City's abandoned City Hall subway station (Courtesy of Shane Perez)

Republican candidates on the presidential trail in Iowa aren't talking transportation... (Politico)

...but they do tend to support high-speed rail. (New York Times)

Massachusetts transit officials begin a process today that could lead to the first fare hikes on the T in five years, and possible service cuts as well. (AP via Boston Globe)

Construction on Miami's Metrorail extension to Miami International Airport is almost complete, and the line will open this spring. (Miami Herald)

Direct flights from Long Island’s MacArthur Airport to Washington, D.C. will begin by the end of March for the first time in a decade. (AP via New York Daily News)

The price of oil has doubled in Nigeria, after the government ended its oil subsidy. (Marketplace)

North Dakota's oil boom is bringing lots of money into state coffers -- as well as necessitating a lot of state spending. (Minnesota Public Radio)

New York Times editorial on public transit's budget squeeze: "More people are finally realizing that public transit is a better deal than driving. The question is how we turn that into a broader cultural shift."

A high-speed rail protest song is topping the charts in Britain. Sample lyric: 30 billion is the cost, far way beyond belief/And look across my valley, it's like a pound for every leaf. (Atlantic Cities)

An exhibition about Manhattan's 200-year-old street grid is on display at the Museum of the City of New York. (New York Times)

A New Zealand company is developing technology that notifies enforcement personnel is a non-handicapped driver parks in a handicapped spot. (Gizmag)

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NYC Tries Out First Ever Weeknight Work-Related Line Shutdown

Monday, January 02, 2012

(photo by tracktwentynine via Flickr)

Starting on Monday, January 9, New York's MTA will be suspending all 4/5/6 subway service between Grand Central/42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, in both directions, for four consecutive weeknights, from 10pm to 5am.

New York has one of the few transit systems in the world that runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That’s why what will happen next week on the Lexington Avenue subway line represents a sea change for the city.

This is the first time the city is closing down sections of an entire subway line for track and signal work. And it's not the last. The MTA is piloting something it's calling Fastrack, which it calls "a new way of working on the rails."

In 2012, sections of four subway lines — the 4/5/6, the B/D/E, and 1/2/3 and the A/C/E — will be entirely shut down. Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said it's worth looking at.

"There's some good arguments," he said, "particularly about worker safety, not having trains do movements around repair sites, but it's a big change for the riding public and for some riders it could mean serious inconvenience."

Deirdre Parker, a spokesperson with the MTA, said the agency knows it will affect a lot of people. "The late-night weeknight ridership is approximately 250,000," she said, "so this will affect 10 - 15 percent of riders." But she said the shutdown makes conditions safer for employees — and it will save the MTA between $10 and $15 million a year.

The MTA added it's only doing this work on lines where there are a lot of alternatives, but that the shutdown will add about twenty minutes to riders' usual travel times. While it's not adding shuttle buses, Parker said for the upcoming Lexington Line shutdown, the MTA will operate the Times Square Shuttle all night, and it will have additional N/Q/R trains standing by.

To learn more about the upcoming Lexington Avenue line closure, see the MTA's brochure here (pdf).

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MTA to Shut Down Lexington Avenue Line for Repairs

Monday, January 02, 2012

New York has one of the few transit systems in the world that runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Which is why what will happen next week on the Lexington Avenue subway line represents a sea change for the city.

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